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Kildare Castle Tales

Date: 01-08-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 21

Old Woman
Deeper. Thicker. Darker. The climb up the mountain wove a precarious path along steep cliffs and the never ending rocky precipice. The trees were old, thick and tall, blocking out the sunlight with the heavy growth of limbs.  Even though their leaves were gone for the winter, the tangle of aged branches blocked out a good portion of the overcast sky. Snow threatened still with the dark grays.  Beneath the canopy, the layer of white had fallen through, consuming the step to the ankle but no human had come this far into the woods in quite some time. Twisted, gnarled twigs and thorns of bushes and brambles grew in a wide fence all the way along the steep incline, though if one looked close enough, knew enough to seek it out, a doe-like tunnel snaked its way in a mysterious route this way and that up and up and up. Midway, the thickset curtain of aged vines had been swept to the side, tied back by its own weighty strands to reveal the mouth of a cave normally disguised behind the veil of nature. There she stood for a moment within the shadow of the cave's entrance . She stayed within the protection of darkness as she searched more with her insight than her eyes. A low growl of frustration vibrated at the back of her throat and she spun, returning into the pitch of the cave's depths.

Leo rode a white stallion from the castle that seemed befitting the man that had become King of Kildare. Although dressed down, with a cape of purple over his shoulders, he looked every bit the king. A new weight of responsibility upon his shoulders that he was learning to wear well. The whole situation of Keary DeVessey, like a bad penny that kept showing up, was distressing. The kingdom was stressed and strained already due to her and here she was back from the dead. Certainly she knew by this point that she'd been found out no matter how she had tried to keep her existence a secret. Certainly the fact she managed to come back was not something any of them would fathom. Certainly not Leoric, who had seen to her death by his own hand the first time. But, the Wizard Thalan had warned, she needed to be killed by both the twins, one as the other, both as one.


He avoided the Village not wishing to have the curious try and follow him or even (within their minds) to protect their king. Best that no one knew he was down this way at all. He rode as far as the foothills, leaving his well trained stallion to await him here as he dismounted. He stood for a few fleeting minutes as he scanned the mountain before him with the brush and tangling roots that would keep the bravest from venturing forward. The thought had a hint of a smile to follow before he discerned the route she would take when she came out
 from hiding to do what she did best, healing. He took his time making his way up the deer trail until he reached a much denser section; ancient tongue, ancient words flowed as they moved aside from his step leaving no trail in the snow behind him to be followed. One was best not to take chances.

The cave was well disguised and hidden by nature to the ordinary sight of mankind. The eyes that set upon it now were not
 of the ordinary kind. Still, there was a great respect shown this Old Woman that had been here in these lands of Kildare longer than his father's reign. "Old Woman, I have come to seek your council." Disturbing the clear quiet air around them at the mouth of the cave. More than likely the Wizard Thalan knew this woman being he was the one to send him to her Council. He was quite certain, even if she had not the talents Leo now possessed, that she knew who he was.

The Old Woman knew of the man outside her safe house. She knew who he was ... both of title and of talent. Only the whispering of the winter breeze was the initial response to the King's call. A breath, a second, third, fourth inhale and exhale then the bare vines rustled and shifted, leaving just enough room for a man to enter. Inside the shadows, various objects of protection, of illusion, of magic plastered the walls in nooks and crannies, hung from frayed ropes from the cavern's rock ceiling, drawn in the dirt - carved in the rock of the floor. To the naked eye, she remained hidden, only her voice exposed from the black of the deeper crevices. "Welcome to my home, My Liege." Though she had been forced to seek out this solitary life, hidden away from the Witch, she had come to accept and make the most of it. Her skill increased, her focus sharpened. All things for a purpose and all for the good in the end.

A man. A King. A Druid, all three might be considered above this woman that she should be kneeling before him but there were things far greater than what was of mankind. "Wise Mother," addressing her respectfully with this title once within her domain. Mother of Nature of Ancient Ways and respected by this man, this king, this druid, for being such.  He was no longer so much in Andrew's shadow but standing on his own with developed talents of like. "Thank you for welcoming me into your retreat," for he knew this was not her 'home' but a  necessity. "We meet again under dire circumstances. A time to lay the undead Witch to rest. It is by our mutual friend, Thalan, I seek you out for your knowledge of the beasts residing in Kildare's northern forest. That by such knowledge I will not lose any man under me unnecessarily." He looked about as he waited for there was much to take note of in this cave, patience was a virtue he had learned. When the Witch was put back to rest, permanently this time, then the old Wise Woman could move back to her home near the outpost.

As she stepped from the darkness, her head was bowed to the druid king. She may not be of his skill, but the interior of the cave thrummed with this man's energy. She was talented enough to recognize his power beyond just the title of King. She stepped forward with her head still held down in respect, her side presented, the 'V' along her neck exposed to the man's scrutiny. Thalan had visited her in a dream so she had expected the King of Kildare, just not this soon. She had seen the crocus blooms through the snow. In this, her timing, she had been wrong. "I am honored that you seek me out." She began, motioning with a hand to the stalagmite that had been smoothed down to a mottled brown glossy seat. "These beasts of deVessey's, they are not as complex as some may think them. Dangerous, aye..." While she spoke, she moved to a kettle bubbling over a small circular fire to the right of the room. She leaned over it into the steam, drawing in a deep breath to test the contents. "Dangerous..." She repeated, eyeing with a squinted gaze a shelf carved in the rock wall.  She plucked out a vial and splashed some of the contents into the liquid 
 before turning to face her visitor fully, bottle still in hand. "but they are blind save for movement and the scent of their prey."

Of course he was curious of the symbol tattooed on her neck by some ritual, but this was not the time nor moment to pursue any questions. The surroundings suited her, like an extension of herself that she could bring to this cave she made her retreat to. She knew of strategy, this too was noted. With the indication of the natural seat formed, he respectfully sat upon it. A little on the edge as his
 forearm rested over the bend of his knee with the slight lean. "Dangerous, leaving no trace for some time and having any of the locals seem like they had lost their minds to even speak on any attack." DeVessey was no fool. Although she bumbled a lot when alive but still had been a devastation to Kildare for it. She was far better being undead at her craft than she had alive. He quieted as she continued, listening  intently. "This is very noteworthy to heed," and heeded would be the downfall of these beasts. He knew the bottle with the brewed liquid would be next spoken on and its use so he waited. The pierce of blue eyes there as if he was determining what it was made of. Although Leo's healing abilities laid not in potions.

She was old, older than most, but her hair was still streaked with color. A dark black to mingle and knot with the white of age. The strands were not braided, but twisted in thick cords that fell long and heavy down her back. At one time, she may have been a beauty to behold. Even with her advanced age, she still possessed some of her past in the sparkle of assessing, wise blue eyes, the fact that she smiled with a full mouth of teeth, all white and healthy. She may be hunched forward with the arch of age, but she moved with swift agility, and perhaps with more energy than a woman three times her junior. After the king spoke, she nodded, placing the vial back to its spot. A place for everything, everything in its place. In this, she was meticulous. Though her surroundings may seem cluttered and in much disarray, there was a method to this woman's madness that none other than herself might understand. She retrieved a wooden bowl and ladle, spooning out a helping and bringing it over to the man in her presence. Her healing abilities required no such potions, but was this a potion she offered to the King of Kildare? "There are a few creatures in her army, My King.  But two main ones that most know of." She provided no spoon to consume the contents, drinking from the bowl was as much a part of this process as the preparation. "Gargoyle type beasts, these are the blind sorts. And those from the air, prehistoric in looks and nature, their sight is keen but they are far more easily noted before attack for they shriek with anticipated victory as they descend upon their victims."

Sometimes his abilities rose up on their own when least expected. His focus on the bottle that lingered a moment before blue eyes lifted. For a suspended moment he saw the young woman she had been, her hair a glistening black, her eyes like sapphires. Her skin smooth in prefect hue with a dust of rose upon her cheeks that only enhanced her eyes. He sucked in a breath before a blink had the vision disappear in that second. For most, it would leave them wondering if they had seen what they had but Leo knew he had. Perhaps the Old Woman was a disguise for a younger one? Still, this was not the time nor moment to question such thoughts nor pursue them. He took the bowl, assured she knew he needed no healing so the offering was of another. Eyes met in trust before he lifted the bowl to drink down its
 contents. She needed him as much as he needed her. That went unsaid for many reasons. It wasn't bad tasting either as the bowl was lowered, listening as she spoke up. "There will be at least one winged man with us, possibly his comrade of kind." They would be advised. "The other creatures and vines that would entrap, is there any warning on them?" Although the vines he could probably handle with a few ancient spells.

In the darkness of cavern, her smile flashed, and she shook her head. "Nothing you cannot handle, My Liege, where the foliage is concerned. Although, there is another beastie that will catch you unawares, I fear, for it strikes from beneath the ground. Snake-like in nature, with teeth!" She gnashed her own toward him, mimicking the act with a gnarled hand in a strike toward him though not enough to be a threat. "They attack from below, sucking a man beneath the surface with a firm hold of sharp teeth if it's initial attack is successful." She squatted swiftly, crouching with a hand flattened to the solid stone of her floor. "They use the vibration of the earth to track their next meal." She glanced up to him, one heavily wove strand of black and white swaying near her temple. "Those who come with you...these will be theirs, this force of the Witch. You and your brother must see to de Vessey yourselves...and only the two of you, at the same moment ... " She was up so quickly, a sudden blast of air shot through the otherwise silent confines, and she made a slashing movement with her arm and spun, coming to lean in close to the King, her final words whispered at his ear. "...exactly. The two together to end the one." Because of Thalan, she knew he was aware of what must be done where the Witch was concerned, but she added it all the same.

Eyes shifted with each of her movements. The notice of the lock of hair, all words soaked in and absorbed. "Those were not spoken upon but accounted for no bodies being found nor a trace of them." He would suggest these to the Horseman. They could use their forces to attract them away from the main party. He naturally straightened from the slight lean forward with her coming so close to him. A slight tip of his head had their eyes meet in that instant, close, a clash of energy that mingled for a moment. One that was felt on another level. "Yes," was breathed out low letting her know he understood. First Thalan to warn and now her. He had already mentioned it to Gaidan who was not so assured of himself in the mystical area as he would be with sword. Still, one as the other in skill as they had been learning from the other and this would be the test of it. How much had they become as one to lead Kildare? Although he held title of King and his brother of Regent, they were one as leader.

The energy shared was one she had not ever experienced, and it sent such a jolt through her system she nearly forgot her age or her limitations or the fact that this man was not merely male but a druid and her King. She sucked in a broken breath and stood away, nodding toward the bowl he held. "Those of your party that possess powers, this will strengthen and fortify their abilities. Those that are man alone, this will protect and empower them. It will provide healing at the moment of injury. If you so decide, allow them to consume it the night before the battle." The fact he had tasted it, would give him confidence of her words. She slid around him, taking up the granite seat opposite him.  "The dog-like beasts, your first weapon of defense with them is
 .... stillness.  This is difficult for most since the first reaction to their attack is to run. Stand the ground, it will also throw off The Worms. Stillness...and cunning." She brought her feet up, her tattered skirt covering the bend of knees that she now propped her chin on, wrapping her arms around her lower legs. He was wise beyond his years to doubt her actual age. To some, years were but numbers. "The Hawks, they fear fire, and while their talons are sharp and their beaks can rend a man in half with one tear, a seasoned warrior not having to deal with attacks on the ground as well can meet it full on with fire in one hand and a sturdy, sharp sword in another. The Worms, water is their demise, for they can be trapped in their holes and drowned. If they come too close to the surface, for too long, they will also shrivel and die.  They must be lured from their protective paths. Pluck them out, there the very air around them can do them in as well as a mere mortal's sword blow. But with each of these weaknesses, also comes their strengths of swift attack and the surprise of the same."

"You would make a very good undead beast warfare tactician." Seriously spoken as the idea of employing her as the castle wizard of a sort was entertained. Priestess perhaps a better title. "I will take the potion back with me and it will be drank before we enter the contaminated forest. The one that flies, uses fire. One to the air and one upon the ground. Earth, wind, fire and water in combined powers. They
 will heed your words and the Witch will rue the day. I see why you have retreated here so she could not find you and wait upon my arrival. Your help will not be forgotten." Surprise and fear had worked very well with those they had killed or tried to. "Is there anything else I need to know?" He would not keep her nor time would allow him to linger for each day deVessey grew stronger with her beasts.

She shook her head, the heavy locks once more swaying with the action. "Only that all depends on the brothers' success, My Liege. But this, I am sure, you already know. Although you were careful in your journey here, the Witch knows we speak on her, she no doubt feels it, realizes it and with that, even all the talismans I have up against her finding me will be of no use. She is aware now of where I hide. My life, and the lives of all under your rule...depend on the Two to see to the Witch's end...and soon." She shuddered inwardly with the realization that Keary deVessey's power grew with each passing moment. It had well passed what this woman could battle, but not what the man before her could defeat. Only time would tell if the two brothers could pull together, physical strength matched with mystical powers to once and for all put an end to the threat of Keary DeVessey to Kildare.

"Then I shall add another power to your resistance. The vines, brush, barren tree and even earth will be her enemy here if she should tread or her minions. When she is put down," for certainly it was as putting down an animal that had gone rabid, "then I shall see to a favor you ask of me, within my powers." Not knowing what might be of value to her, he doubted it would be coin nor title or that of materialistic. He rose with the last for haste would be made this day and word sent to Heathfield to those who waited on him. "It is said the strength of an army, or of twins, is that of their weakest ability." That he had come to realize why it was set of Gaidan and himself to switch roles. Each their weakest point to put down the Witch ensuring that Kildare would have a strong leadership. He had only the need of the potion and be on his way.

She smiled, he should not be so sure of what a woman might ask of a man when he was indebted to her. Still, to be sure, hers would not be as any other, she was not ... as any other. He finished speaking and she stood as he did, offering a bow of thanks for his extra protection then set off to cork off several bottles of the brewed potion. She would not see him again, not until Kildare was free of the Witch. And should they fail in their best effort, she would see him never again. Keary de Vessey would allow neither of the brothers to live free and would allow this woman to live not at all.

Keary would see to the brothers' demise unless she felt she could make a puppet of the king to handfast and give her the power legally she craved. Those measures had never worked so far. Keary was a deranged woman unfortunately with arcane powers. "Blessed the day we meet again and of one I may know your name wise Mother." Giving a bow of his head before taking the corked bottles to place safely in a pouch he carried so that they would not break during his journey back. Nothing more was said for all was said that needed to be at this point. It was the meeting of eyes once again that spoke on that other level not defined in a written or spoken language that held. Held what could be an eternity and then only a moment in time before he turned and headed out, the path made easy for him and quicker in descending to where his stallion waited.  Mounted up, he took one last look up the natural fortress to set his will upon the area to protect her. For as long as he lived that protection lived.

She followed him out, watching as he worked his way down the side of the mountain. It was only then that she spoke. "Savina." She whispered to herself. The name as foreign to her tongue after all these years as it was to him still. "My name, Leoric McLarkin, King of Kildare, is Savina." She smiled, feeling the energy spread around her as his protection extended to her surroundings, then she returned to her solitude once more.

He heard the name whispered upon the breeze that rolled down off the mountain retreat. It was her voice. Savina became locked into his memory.  Once done he headed back to the castle. Gaidan to see and a messenger sent to Heathfield.

Date: 01-08-11
Poster: Karl von Rundstedt
Post # 22

Talk Between Kings

When the missive arrived from Kildare, Karl sent out messages in all directions.  He made sure the messenger from Kildare got food and rest and sent a reply to Leo by way of  Heathfield's.  He then sought out Honeee first. From there, he sent out notices to Peter, to The Four and to Alex. The majority of preparations had been taken care of while they waited for word, so now there was nothing left to do but to travel North and begin the end. He didn't ask the Four to join him, but to see to making ready to leave. Karl waited for Peter in his office, not even the guards at the door.


Peter sent out word to his three that would be coming, Gabriel, Aiden and Cole. They didn't need to attend this meeting but they would be making the preparations for him and themselves. It would give them time to speak with any significant other or any family they had here for certainly this was a mission that held the potential not to return from. Although Peter was of a mind to never think
 in such ways before entering a battle. He looked upon such as a jinx. As he reached the doors of Karl's office they were opened wide as he came right on in. He was expected. He was straight over to Karl to clasp his shoulder. "The hour has arrived." He'd be a liar not to admit it had his adrenaline already pumping.

Karl met Peter halfway into the room and returned the gesture along with a single nod. "Yes, that it is." His arm lowered and he drew in a deep breath, moving away from his long time friend to return to his desk. "I thought, with the current weather, we could leave first thing in the morning." He looked over to Peter, picking up a letter and folding it as he finished speaking.

Karl had far more concerns than he had. No wife, no children. Of course his family and friends would be affected. He was going to cover Karl's back even if his comrade didn't suspect it. He eyed him in that way, the kind of deep breath drawn as he moved away, spoke volumes. He was tempted to say he didn't need to go but he knew they would fall on deaf ears. Karl had a personal stake in this now. "It is snowing heavily but far better to travel in light during such. I agree. When did you get the dispatch?"


"Only just before I sent out word. I spoke with Honeee first." The King of Heathfield smiled briefly to the King of Innis before he set the wax stick to the flame of candle, pressing the soft tip to the fold of paper. A twist of wrist had the signet ring on his finger sealing off the message. "I am also sending word to Lyons." Garret Lyons would see to any legal matters should Karl not return this time from the Witch's grasp. "I take it your men are ready then? We need but mount up come daylight and ride. I have arranged for two wagons, one for weapons and the other for the necessities of travel. Have you need of anything else, Peter?" The letter was left on the desk to be attended to soon enough. As long as it was still here, so was Karl.

"How is Lyons? It's been a long time since I've seen nor heard from him." Not that they were in constant contact before but they were when he came around and Peter was here. He held a great deal of respect for the man. "Aye, they are ready and willing." It had not been a command where it could have been. Reluctant warriors died usually. "I'm good and my men will be here tonight and ready to leave at the break of dawn tomorrow." He would have a letter sent home to Innis once he left for the night. His father could turn the title over to his brother as would be his successor as it stands presently. There was the thought of spending a few hours at the flower garden but that might leave him too tired.


"Lyons is well, an ever constant, that one." Karl owed much to the master of Lockehaven. More than he could ever repay. He crossed back to Peter, an arm going around his friend's shoulder. "Rest well then, My Friend. The snow will not even slow our pace come morning so we will be riding hard to Kildare at first light." Surely Peter didn't think that Karl wouldn't be seeking Honeee out once he made sure all was in order. Peter should do the same. The wagons would suffice for any who tired along the way due to the necessary pre-departure preparations.

His arm was round Karl near at the same time as long time comrades they were as brothers. "I am told they will be getting horses from Rory McDonough that are bred to withstand the snow and long trail." The warrior embrace eased before adding his farewell, "tomorrow before dawn, I'll be breaking fast with the others." He might well send for one of the girls from the Flower Garden to warm his bed tonight. "Give my salutations to Honeee," giving a slight thud to Karl's back, "now it is time for you to be there and myself on my way." Which he was doing just that as he headed out the door. Tomorrow would come very soon.


Karl said no more, just walked with Peter not only out of the study door, but all the way to the door leading outside. Indeed, tomorrow would come very soon, it had already come soon enough.



Date: 02-05-11
Poster: Lahoneee
Post # 23

Kildare SL
Time to Depart


After long hours dealing with castle matters, Honeee took a reprieve in their antechamber. A place she could be certain she would not be disturbed by anyone but her husband or children. It was quiet as she stood by the window looking out over the vast white landscape, as far as the eye could see facing north. It would not be too long before the trees budded and the crocus came up through the last of the snow. Spring. It was a refreshing thought away from the worries on her sons in Kildare and the man she loved to be headed there.

He closed the door quietly behind him. The last of the preparations he left to the men and he returned to their rooms. He had sought his wife out but as word would have it, she had taken 'some time' according to her ladies. He then knew where to find her. "It would be hard to find such a lovely view." His words were spoken almost as if they were thoughts slipping free as he started toward where she stood looking out over the landscape of Heathfield. He slipped his arms around her waist, resting his chin on the top of her head, joining her in that survey. Although, the view he was appreciating had nothing to do with the outside.

She had changed from the heavier, more royal, robes in dealing with matters of the kingdom, into a light shade of pale green. Soft silken cloth done in layers to keep her warm while a fire blazed in the hearth. The glow surrounding as she turned, stepping away from the window and the serene scene beyond. Big, fat snowflakes were starting to fall in a wintry blue haze that evening brought. His words brought the impish smile with the sassy retort, "I hope you are speaking of me, dear one." But even the light humor couldn't hide the shadows haunting her eyes. "The time has come, but better than the waiting for the sooner it will have you back to me and my sons finally secure in their kingdom." A step or two before she was into his embrace. Arms sliding around his waist as she tucked herself into that one place that gave her the most peace.

Karl held her close, not saying anything at first, just pressing his lips to the top of her head. He drew in a deep breath, kissed the spot where his lips rested and leaned back a little to look down to her even though he never released his hold. "I was speaking only of you, My Queen." His smile was faint and only because of her initial comment. "All will be settled in Kildare and we will return soon."

She smelled like spring, like lilacs, being this close. Warmth like the spring months awaited near impatiently as this point. There was beauty in winter but there was so much more to spring. She closed her eyes soaking him in before the slight movement had her lifting her face up to view his so close. It was all there in her eyes, in her demeanor, the loving way about her when around him. "I will not lose you again but I wish not to lose my sons either." She knew he would be a great asset in the outcome of this elemental war, along with his four and a few others with certain talents, either human or more. "You leave within the hour, do you not?" So it was on another level that told her so. Time was more than near, it was these very moments.

He nodded to her question, taking these moments to soak in the beauty of her, the scent of her, the feel of her. His fingers tightened into the fabric of her gown as his other hand lifted to lace his fingers in her hair. His thumb stroked against her cheek as his palm cupped just below her ear. "I do not love you, Honeee." His hand eased out of her hair, caressing her face, his gaze touched on her lips, his fingertip passing softly along the same path. She would know what he meant. Love could not even begin to describe the depth of feeling he had for her, how she had become more than his wife, she was his life, his heart, his very soul.

The touch of imp was upon the corners of her mouth with those words. She knew. He would know too, "as I do not love you, my King." It was something more akin to reverence, respect, seasoned with a feeling that could not be contained by a word and leave it any justice. A deep breath was taken, one that filled not just her lungs but her being with the scent of him. The flutter of honeydew lashes swept downward with his touch leaving her to lean into it like a butterfly landed on a flower to take in its sweet essence. "My desire goes with you, one that will bring you back home to me." The lift of ocean blue eyes to lock with his as surely her words would lock him to that outcome.

A faint smile touched his lips and the finger that had traced her lips, slipped beneath her chin, tilting her head just so. He leaned in for the kiss, his words a whisper against her lips. "It shall be held dear until it is made so." His hand splayed to the small of her back, and he kissed his wife, the connection of bodies and souls, promises and longings. He kissed his wife goodbye. At least ... for now.

Her lips cushioned that finger that touched there to tantalize but it wasn't the finger she wanted as if she could will his lips upon hers. Something she liked to practice a lot. Something he didn't mind at all. His words met in a sweet warm caress, lowered this close, "as will be your reward," when he returned. Something he could look forward to and may well him go beyond the normal endurance to ensure it. She melted into his embrace, dared not a tear to show even if felt. No weakness, no doubts, only the kiss that would beg for more later upon his return.

It was Trevor who ended up being voted to knock on the chamber door of the King and Queen. He stood there, impeccably attired with a winter over cloak that was not really necessary other than appearance. One of the Four. One that got the Chore. The Guards didn't stop him for who he was but they were probably wondering how the Black Griffon would respond. Then again, the mission was not exactly known to all.

It was the knock that broke the kiss, a low growl of reluctance vibrating against the union. Besides that, only the tightening of his hold of her against him showed his hesitation to leave. He straightened away, passing his gaze over her features once more before glancing over his shoulder to the door. "Yes!" He barked toward the barrier. Not a question of yes, but a yes of understanding.

It was the moment. She'd not make things harder for him or the others. A quick hold that would last with her in his absence before fingertips trailed his and she made herself scarce. "Soon, my King." She would not watch him go but she would be there to watch his return instead. She knew he needed to attend to the one at the door, her Blessings would follow them all.

Trevor knew that bark. Knew that he had happened upon a moment. The guards were too afraid to meet his gaze that passed over them both before one moved to open the door. Just a crack. Trevor cleared his throat. "I was sent." Which had been requested by Karl once everyone was ready.

He watched her leave, standing there near the window. The door opened and he turned in that direction. He repeated. "Yes." And crossed to the door. He caught the opening to pull it fully out of his way. "So it has come to pass..." He nodded a greeting and a thanks to Trevor. "Let us away, my friend." He placed a hand to Trevor's shoulder.

There was that twitch to a corner of his lips that his ass had not been handed to him as the guards were probably wagering as they spoke. As Karl's hand came to rest upon his shoulder, his came to rest upon Karl's opposite. "They await you in the courtyard." The most anyone knew not directly in the party was that they were heading north to Kildare to speak with the Queen's sons. They had an escort to the borders of Tyremoor as they were not encouraged to assist further. Too much attention was not wished as the size of the party would halve at that point. His hand falling away with a slight dip of his chin. If it was noticed the queen was not in the room, nothing was said. One step back before he was around and heading to the designated area of departure with his Leige.

Aiden was honored to be among those going to Kildare though he was well aware of the risks. He had said the necessary farewells and now stood with the others awaiting the arrival of King Karl. He had been amused by the wagers made and now stood slightly off to the side. The comradery of the Four always was good to see.

The men and their horses waited in the square. Two carts had been filled with supplies to see them north and then covered with tarps. No colors were displayed, but the nature of their business or the status of the procession could be known just by the demeanor of the men who would be traveling north. Conversations flowed easily, even if the impending quest sat like a rock in many a gut. They may be warriors, they may be men, but they were not without  knowing that venturing north did not necessarily mean they would be traveling south after.

de Beauvais had mounted his horse, the beast standing as patiently as it could with only the slightest of shifts in a dance of anticipation before the strength of legs against its sides ordered the animal into stillness for the umpteenth time.

Carno glanced up to the position of the rising sun. "It would seem, my friends, time is on my side." They had bet on the time it would take for Trevor to get the king on his way. They were all eager to be done with this mission, but they understood the Black Griffon's regret with the need for such a confrontation.

It was then the King and Trevor exited from the castle, bringing a long, drawn out whistle from Dana. "It would seem, My are just shy of bragging."

de Vimeure offered a nod to Vincent with that Horseman's victory. A twitch pulled at Vincent's lips, and only that, as proof he was aware he had won the wager. His gaze touched on the tarp of one of the carts before he touched his heels to his horse and started him forward.

Gabriel was right by Aiden's side. Though the farewell had been emotional with his wife, newly married, she understood as was needed of her that he would have to go off on such missions to help the good of all. There was a slight smirk for the wages.


The king's horse was made ready and held for him as well Trevor's as he was quick to mount up. Only the dark eyed glance his comrade's way was given in any lieu or words or even the slightest twitch of his lips. The four knew each other that well. As the king would lead, he would be flanked on one side with Vincent as usually Dana ended up alongside Lazare. The contest of words between them would at least lighten the mood. Perhaps there was a method to their madness.

It was at this time that Peter joined them. He would ride up in front with Karl as a fleeting glance was given his two knights in passing with a slight dip of his head in respect of their decision to help. Their gifts would help tremendously. "Karl," was all he said as he came up alongside his blood brother. This was not the first, nor probably the last, battle they would march into side by side.

Gabriel glance over his shoulder knowing Cole would be along soon, probably as they started moving. A respectful nod was giving his King and the King of Heathfield before he got in line near one of the covered wagons.

A salute was given to both Karl and Peter as both appeared. He was up onto his horse before they started to move out, patting the steed's neck. Well trained, the warhorse was patient, but there was always a hint of that need to get started, both of man and beast.

Bundled up against the cold, Cole joined the group. He nodded to the Four but traveled past to ride up alongside his brothers in arms. "I swear the cold here travels straight into the bone." It might be an amusing contrast of this man's attire and the one of the Four that only wore a vest in this morning chill.

Karl mounted, smiling when he saw Peter's arrival. "I appreciate Innis' help." He reached out a gloved hand past the distance between horses to grasp Peter's in brotherhood. "If all are ready, we will head out."

Cole got a grin as he approached. "Aye, it does at that." He gave a nod in the direction of a certain Horseman. "Would that we had a portion of his blood?" He glanced back to the castle, then faced forward. With luck, they'd be back well before spring.

The moment was shared with a clasp of arm and shoulder as his horse naturally responded by moving closer then back the normal distance. He turned in his saddle with a sweeping glance given all before a motion of arm was all it took from Peter and they started forward to leave the immediate castle grounds heading north.

Gabriel gave Cole a smirk, "late for your own funeral," mumbled in tease as they would between them. He nudged his steed forward in time as the others started up.

"So you won the bet.." slight glance given Vincent as they started moving forward. The royal guards situated to the sides and behind them. They were well trained to protect even if some of the ones they were protecting had far greater gifts.

"Late?" Cole grunted out his laugh. "Seems I was right on time..." He nudged his horse into motion as well, his amusement traveling forward with him.

He glanced at Cole and Gabriel again then smiled to himself with his thoughts. Like Gabriel, he was leaving behind his new wife but Mo understood, perhaps better than most.

Vincent slanted a look to Trevor with a nod. "Those two spend too much time bickering like old maids to consider you or the Black Griffon. There was no question as to who the win would go to." He paused a moment, glancing over his shoulder to a particular window. "And the Queen?" Any notice made didn't linger, he glanced back to Trevor for any mention of the Queen's well being.

"I heard that!" Lazare piped up to the conversation taking place in front of them.

"I did not have the pleasure of seeing the Queen." Simple and honest answer but certainly the Queen was fine. Certainly not happy about the situation. A slight dip of his head with a sliding glance towards Karl and back before the laugh came when Lazare proved how good his hearing was still.



Date: 02-12-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 24

Arriving in Kildare

Scouts had been placed strategically throughout the lands for a number of reasons, framing the outer perimeter while a few were even placed further. They kept the Crown well informed. They also checked in so they knew all were accounted for under the circumstances. Those circumstances that had the watch checked on more often. Even with precautions two trackers had gone missing in the last two days. Today, good news came that the party expected was on their way and would be within the castle walls in about two hours. Preparations were made for a feast this night on a more pleasant note than the reason they were coming, one that would be held in the castle, limited to those involved. There was probably a foot more of snow in Kildare than Heathfield. The valleys not as bad. The traveled roads were snow turned to a muddy mush and slick in places. Hay had been strewn as best one could keep up. Snow drifted down that promised to become heavier.

Things could change quickly in a situation such as this but so far, save for the two trackers, things seemed to be holding steady. The snow was a worry, but it could be part of the reason for things seeming to improve. Gaidan had just returned from a quick patrol of the city walls. He stopped to see his wife before seeking out his brother. Two hours could pass quickly and hopefully the snowfall would not be an impediment.

The procession moved with determination and the need for haste. At times the wagon's wheels would become embedded in the deeper snow, but that was easily enough handled by the men in Karl's employ.


"Really, De Vimeure? You can't do something about this?" Carno had grumbled at one point but that only brought a ...


"There is a time and place, Lazare." From the Black Griffon. They neared the walls of the castle, the pace slowing as the ranks lined up to  enter through the narrower passage of the opened gate. The thunder of war horses, weapons, wagons echoed under the final portcullis.


"Take that one wagon to the armory.." Vincent called, pointing to indicate which one. "The other..." He brought his horse around with a tug of reins, riding up alongside the right side. "The Black Griffon will need to inspect before we unload it."

The King was in the Great Hall where he would await family and friend. Once they reached the castle, they would first be directed to suites where they could freshen up. Take a hot bath and be in the hall in an hour's time. Time to share a meal and finalize plans. Leoric paced as was in his nature when he wanted to see a situation resolved that was taking far more time than he liked. His patience tested and his way of dispersing the build up. He knew Gaidan would be informed long before they reached the well fortified castle gates. They would noticed the scarring still over the lands from the decades past where war had ranged in one form or another. Pointed stakes stuck in the ground, with a tumbled down manor of stone behind it. Debris scattered until the outlying villages were reached. A major improvement in them as all was clean even if humble. There were a few new buildings being constructed such as places of worship. The people would live poorly but ones would always see to a temple far more grand to stand out like sore thumb.

Peter gave a passing look over to Karl as the Four started their grumbling. Humorous to all that knew them. There would be something wrong if such comments didn't gradually start and usually it was Lazare. Sometimes Dana. "Vincent seems to feel there is something special about that weapon wagon." An offhand comment as they reached the gates where they had to go two abreast through or single file. It had his curiosity as he would linger by Karl's side when he saw to the inspection.

Gabriel rode in silence most of the way, next to his comrades and not far behind their king. Long ride and it would be good to stretch his legs, stretch his wings once they dismounted. He was appreciative of the comforts offered and would be taking advantage of the hot bath in a good soak. He was hungry too by this point. "I hear the bear," as it was actually his stomach that rumbled but had it seem like it was either Cole or Aiden.

Trevor was nearer Vincent as he noticed his notice and then all drawn to the king's notice. "Tell me you stashed away Julia to bring with you." Teasing him whenever he got the opportunity. Probably the only one that could get away with it for how much they had shared. Years of adventures and sometimes misadventures especially where females were concern. Vincent now had the steady home life where he being the first to marry was now single. Although, he had met some ladies that were well worth consideration. In time. He glanced up in an appreciative way over the immense castle known as Kildare. "Impressive," which he was still impressed by it. It had been a few years since he was up this way and once again it was to help fight a foe. The kind of foe that would be everyone's if left unattended.

Rina was excited as the news spread through the castle that guests were arriving. That was what it would be known to most, a visit of ones from Heathfield and Innis Daingneach. They would be bringing news of her family, Mother and Brother especially. Two were here and she had been staying with Corina as her sister in law blossomed into a watermelon. She had been a lot of help and they enjoyed each other's company. Although she was a few years younger. In that time, Corina had set to making a lady of Rina as she was attired in the most beautiful sea green gown of velvet she had ever seen. It made her glow golden as much as the color of her hair lent to that feel and sight. Hair was woven in braids dotted with tiny pearls and she had matured out from being fairly flat and tomboyish to a delicate very feminine figure. Her wings now had an ivory cast to them, a regal tint over white. She and Corina had prepared and soon headed for the Great Hall to join her brothers there.

As soon as word was received, Gaidan was on his way to find his brother. He had always been the impatient one but that had changed with his marriage. He placed a hand on his brother's shoulder, as much as for reassurance as to stop his pacing. "They'll be here soon." He was dressed in his finest, leaving the mail off tonight. There would be plenty of days for wearing it.

Aiden, like his comrades, was silent while on horseback. Especially when they came into Kildare itself. He was aware, as he was sure the others were, of a change in atmosphere, a feeling of waiting. Once they neared the city itself, he let out a low whistle. "They've done well." Even the people with another situation facing them, were in a festive mood and waved at the knights as they passed.

Bannon had found life in Kildare not so unpleasant as he had feared it would be. Rina tended to stay with her sister-in-law, allowing him to train and even have time for himself. He had grown more and filled out, looking even less like the street rat he had first been when he came to Heathfield, more muscular , more confident and perhaps, more like a knight.  He had even come to an uneasy truce with the Princess. He was following her and Corina into the Great Hall, and found he was anxious to see not only Sir Vincent,  but the Kings and the others who accompanied them.

Karl was as much surprised as anyone, at first looking to Vincent with a frown. Why on earth would he want to inspect a wagon when there was a hot bath, warm food and a fire waiting for them inside these walls? He studied Vincent a moment, intense deep blue gaze set to a more intense dark unreadable gaze. Karl guided his horse around and toward where Vincent and Trevor waited.


"Brother, my wife would have never settled to ride beneath a tarp when she should have a horse." Vincent slanted a look to his comrade before looking back to Karl. He offered his King a dipping cant of head then leaned in to take hold of the tarp, giving it a snatch back. "Didn't want to ruin his surprise."  He spoke low, because there, asleep in the wagon, curled in a fetal position and tucked in between shields and sword sheaths and capped axes and chain mail was a prince of Heathfield. It couldn't have been a pleasant journey, no doubt the very reason the teenager was so soundly snoozing now.
Karl's eyes widened, then he frowned, jerking his attention from Tykir to Vincent.
That look received a shrug from the Horseman. "Figured if he went through that much trouble ... he might as well get to experience what comes of it."
Carno had passed the group of men once, looking over into the wagon as he did, and laughed with a shake of head. "Who would have thunk it?" He laughed some more, looking up to everyone then spurring his horse toward the stablehands that awaited them. It was time to eat!
"So what color does a hiding prince's energy glow, de Beauvais?" Dana chuckled to himself, but didn't wait for the answer because he knew it wouldn't be coming, just followed in a slower course to join Lazare.
"Take the wagon with the others, and be mindful not to wake him. He'll be stiff and cold, and not know where he is..." Karl growled, still watching the prince. "I'll send word to his mother with my message to her that we've arrived so she won't be worried about him. Come on, Peter, let's go find Leoric and Gaidan."

Cole watched the scene, shifting a look to his own brothers-in-arms. "Makes me glad I'm not a prince." Cole truly did not like the cold, and waking up uncovered, unfed, and chilled and stabbed in who knows how many places was not something he would want to be.

Peter stifled a laugh but it was there in burnt sienna eyes. "From testing out castle rooftops to hiding in a wagon, all in one month's time. The trials of being a father." Certainly this young prince tested his comrade well. It amused Peter. "I wonder how he will make his presence known.." more mussed as the wagon was taken away and he dismounting as the squires would see to their steeds. The amused look would last for a while. "See you in an hour's time," directed to his knights as they parted.

Gabriel gave a respectful nod to the order and headed out with the staff member that was assigned to show them to their quarters. "Half hour if you want to join me in checking out this place on our way to the Grand Hall." Offered to his comrades as he was going to feed his curiosity.

Trevor managed to keep a straight face over the matter being more the observer. Vincent would know better for the change of colors in his aura. One could mask their expression even their demeanor and body language but they couldn't mask their aura unless a proficient druid. Trevor was good but he was not that good to manage the aura. Yet.

Aiden watched it all with his usual expression though he had to smile when he observed the dark prince. "He shows a good bit of imagination, doesn't he?" He said to his companions before offering Gabriel a nod. "Aye, I wouldn't mind having a look around as long as we don't miss the meal and meeting."

The wagon was led away and the men all continued to prepare to meet in the grand hall. Peter's men would explore, Karl's men would spend their time in quiet preparation before all coming together. Karl entered the Grand Hall just shy of an hour later, the four men flanking him a little behind, two on each side. "Leoric. Gaidan. The comforts you offer are greatly appreciated." He crossed to the royals of this land, men he knew well, and offered his hand first to Leoric, then to Gaidan.

Leoric was in conversation with brother, sister and sister in law to pass the hour. The table being prepared at that hour as the men were greeted by maids to see to their drinking needs before they would seated to eat. Once they arrived he was over to greet Karl with a clasp of hands while the other gripped his forearm a moment. More clan style, "I am honored and appreciate the help you have all volunteered in the upcoming battle." Releasing the hold as he saw to Peter then each of the Four and Peter's knights. "You will make the difference in the outcome." Leo was certain of it. "Tonight we feast." After they all had their drinks and all greetings were given. There would be a variety of meat as they had good hunters that provided their needs. Some treats as women canned apples that were then used in pies. The castle was prospering through hard work. From the King on down. "Mother is well?" Addressed to Karl as he would hear news of his family. Knowing well Rina was as anxious and his brother.

Gabriel was in line after the king and Four, along with his comrades to greet the King of Kildare and his brother Regent. All due respect. "I an honored to be of service." Although his new wife was probably home sweating it out and would until he return.

Trevor greeted the king and regent in turn. He was here because he wanted to be as well. Once done he would step aside and observe. Impeccable in his attire and his stance as he waited on the cue to sit and appease his growing appetite.

Peter greeted in a good clasp of hands following Karl and then his men. He would directed to a seat near the head of the table next to his comrade. His men spread out with the Four in their seating.

In the midst of all the formality and grunt type stances of the men, came Rina flying near into Karl's arms once her brothers were done. Well, maybe she got to squeeze in there before Gaidan to give her stepfather a big hug. "How is mother?" even if Leo had already asked. "How is Tykir?" She missed him but she would not admit that in public. She hadn't gotten into any trouble since he was gone. She'd been kept too busy and as such, she was overdue. Probably meant a whopper by the time she did.

It was good to see Karl, Peter and all the men, knowing they were here to help, but also because of who they were. He laughed as Rina met Karl with a hug before he had a chance to shake his hand, but he understood. After, he moved over to Corina to see her to her seat.

Aiden saluted the King and Regent then offered his service as well. He then moved to the side and waited to be seated, glad to be out of the cold at least for a time. Though he didn't hate it as much as Cole did.

Bannon waited quietly while greetings were made before he saluted the two Kings and then the Horsemen and Knights. He moved over to Vincent, speaking quietly so that Rina didn't hear. "I took your advice and so far, we've not been at one another's throats, sir." He glanced at the Princess then looked back to the Dragon. No need to mention that Rina was kept so busy.

Each man took their turn after the Kings. Vincent watched Bannon without the lad's knowing until the squire approached to share his news. "I never doubted your abilities, Bannon." That was all. That ... was Vincent. And they all gathered at the table.

Karma was coming up for Bannon and his bragging!

He wasn't bragging. Vincent would have stopped that right then and there!

Karl gathered Rina into his arms, returning the hug of greeting. For all his blood did not flow through their veins, she and Tykir felt as much his own as Carlton and Lydia did. He loved their mother, they were but an extension of his devotion to her. "Your mother wishes Corina's safe birthing and your speedy return, she misses you. Your brother..." He lowered her so her feet touched the floor again. "Awaits your greeting in the stables. He sleeps in one of the wagons. Bring him a plate of food when you go, Rina. But don't go until you finish your own meal in the warmth of this room." And once they were all seated, that meal could now begin.

Once everyone settled at the long table, Leo remained standing as they sat. A solemn expression swept over his features before he began. "As you know, we shall face a dire enemy to these lands and to all lands if we are unable to stop this diabolic force. The undead and not just an undead but an undead sorcerer. The Witch that had caused my father's death, almost my mother's, many citizens here and destroyed the minds of those under her that she could not control easily." Taking a moment as silver blue eyes touched upon each he knew well. "All here are privy to this information for I know it will be safeguarded," which he only paused a moment upon his sister for he was entrusting her not to say anything to anyone outside this group. Shifting focus back as he continued, "I have found the one known as the Old Woman," she had given him her name but that would remain with him so far.


"There are creatures that come up from out of the earth, ones that run like the wind an a few that navigate the sky. None are of natural birth but of demon spawn. I fully understand if any of you wish to stay here to keep the castle fortified instead.." which they could discreetly approach him later. "The mission asks that which is beyond human boundaries but that which is of the magic realm. This is not to say that one without magic cannot defeat what is ahead of us." He watched as the servers brought out the first part of the meal and waited for their departure. They would not be allowed back in until he gave such a cue to the guards at the door. "Please, start your meal while I speak.." Taking a moment to taste of his wine to coat his throat. The vessel set to the table before he began again. "There is a gargoyle type creature, they are practically blind and so go by scent and motion. I trust Sir Trevor can put a mark upon you all before entering the forest. One that will have your scent of tree and moss. It is advised not to move if the creature charges except within reach it can then be brought down. The ones from the air are prehistoric in nature, you'll know they are close when they shriek before their attack. It will be your only warning. I am sure Sir Vincent can fortify the shields to withstand fire. Sir Lazare can use his ability against one that needs the air beneath its wings. There is another that comes up from beneath the ground undetected by most."


Which had him glance to Trevor again, "something to track and know its location before it can, to be prepared. They use the vibration of the earth to track their victims." Which were ones unassuming. "We need to go in like an arrow. I know the center location through my scrying." Which he was able to locate the Undead Witch's location. "Gaidan and myself in the center as we push forward and once reached to have the point open up so that my brother and I can destroy her. When she is destroyed, all else will perish with her. As the Wizard Thalan warned, it has to be my brother and I, not another, that can take her down. We need you to help get us there not worn down to her advantage and to protect our backs while we take her down." That was the plan and one that could work. "The Undead Witch favors evening's veil and her scouts traverse the astral planes as well. We need to leave before morning's light so that we face her at the height of day, her weakest time. Tomorrow will bring the kingdoms this glory when such a one falls." Knowing well they would get there before any one else figured it out.

Karl listened, his hand rested on the table near his glass but he hadn't collected it as yet. "My Friend, none of us here traveled to just hear you speak of these evils. Every one to the man will venture into the fray to see this evil finished. While Kildare is in danger, we are all affected. Until the witch is stopped, we shall not."
Lazare lifted his glass. "To the end!" Either the witch's or theirs. At least three others raised their glasses.
"...within the movement of change." Dana added, allowing the first to be assumed between the Four Horsemen.

Cole also raised a glass to that toast. There was still much to be righted in Kildare. From what he saw, Leoric and Gaidan were the men to do it. They had already done so much according to the people he spoke to while he and his comrades wandered prior to the feast.

Gaidan remained quiet as his brother spoke, occasionally glancing at Corina. She was here because she needed to know what her husband was getting in to. He gave her a smile then turned to join in the toast. These men would be their protection, their backup, their lifelines during this battle.

How could one not join in the toast. He glanced at Gabriel and Cole as he lifted their glass. There was a possibility that some of them would not return home.  "I will see to the shadows." He spoke when the toasting was through.

Bannon sat quietly, moving the food on his plate but not really eating. He looked up at Leoric as he spoke, then frowned slightly to himself.  He would have liked to be part of this but he had no special abilities.  He wasn't even a knight yet.  He glanced at Rina then looked away again.  He still had a duty to perform.



Date: 02-12-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 25

Corina went pale but she knew her husband would have to face such demons for the good of All. That they were honorable to not send others to a death in their name while they waited in the protection of their castle. It still scared her as a hand came to rest over the large swell that was their child. Her eyes met his and held, the barest hint of a smile that would let him know that she accepted what had to be even if she feared for them all.
Rina slipped her hand over Corina's a moment giving it a little squeeze. The fact that Leo's eyes had halted on hers a moment didn't go unnoticed. She would keep her lips sealed, except one. Tykir. It was an going habit to taunt him of what he had missed and that she had not. That she would be the one to tell him. Surely, she could tell him for he was their brother. He would have to wait and she would be busting with the knowledge until it would be spilled out in dribbles to have him getting frustrated to drag it all out of her.

Trevor was nodding when certain things were mentioned. "I can see to those," lifting his glass in toast with the others. They would make a force to reckon with.


Gabriel looked between his two comrades then his king before lifting his glass with the toast, "I can secure the sky." That was why he was asked.

Peter gave an approving nod upon his knights, they would all be tested in their gifts with this mission. "This will be done and all kingdoms free of such an evil." Raising his glass in turn with the others.

The meal was excellent as she had found they were here too in Kildare. Leaving Corina's side for Gaidan was back, she gave both her brothers a good hug before heading for the kitchen. There she collected a covered plate loaded good with all his favorites. That was the only hint he'd get in how much she missed him. Bundled up, she headed outside for the stables. A glance over her shoulder to see if her shadow followed her or not. Wings were tucked neatly behind as she now had a cloak made they need not be hidden beneath it anymore. They were immune to the cold but not so much ice if she were flying.

Bannon waited a few moments after Rina left before he was up and following. He didn't glance back over his shoulder, just grabbed his cloak and headed for the kitchen. Staying back, he waited until he heard her leave and followed again. Luckily it was dark and he stayed to the shadows. It was almost like being back in the sewers, well, without the water, smells and danger!

She had that prickling at the back of her neck that had the feathers twitch at her temples that she was being followed. Yet the feel was not of danger but the dull annoyance it had settled into. She reached the stables only to have one of the young men open it for her. She noticed he was a bit flustered when asking him where the wagons were that came in with the kings this day. They were pointed out as she headed there but had him bolt the door for she was being followed. Just because it would make it that much more difficult for Bannon! Setting the tray aside on a bale of hay. She then drew up the tarp over the one wagon then the next as the first didn't contain her brother, the second did. She waited a moment before yelling out. "THE KING COMES!"

The scrambling, and clambering, and clawing, and twisting that went on in that wagon created such a ruckus of noise, Tykir was completely discombobulated. Shields and sheaths and chain mail clunked and clattered as Tykir fought through the haze of not having a single clue where he was! "I swear it was me, Mother, it wasn't Rin..." Bleary-eyed, he struggled to wake up fully, to find his center, to realize he wasn't having to defend their antics. And there, grinning like she'd won a cake-walk, was the very one he was dreaming of defending! "Rina!" All that motion went back into play as the prince hefted and hauled himself over the wooden edge of the wagon and fell to the straw scattered on the stable ground. He was quick up, like nothing happened. TaDa! "We're here! In Kildare?" But of course they were... because here was Rina! He dove at her, catching her up in a hug.

Bluidy! Bannon grumbled when he found the doors locked. Only took a moment though. There was a rope hanging down, one used to pull up bales of hay into the loft. It would take a few moments, but one thing he had learned from following the princess was it was never easy. He climbed up into the loft, cursing under his breath, his hands sore and raw. He saw Tykir and Rina below him and just sat down, grinning. They didn't need to know he was up there.

Luckily she had put the tray down, in a safe out of the way place knowing how Tykir was when startled. They were lucky he didn't bring down the stable on top of them. Dove at, she only had time to grab him into a hug before the two were rolling in the hay wrestling. Unbecoming a lady! Certainly. One in her new gown and all that she would be lucky not to ruin. Here came the twenty questions. "How much trouble did you get into while I was gone? How are all the others? The McAndrews lads? How are Carl and Lydia? Mother? The Shawnesey brothers? Is there a lot of snow there too? There is a lot of snow here," not even giving him time to answer, "you missed the great feast where Leo talked about the undead beasts and the undead Witch they have to kill. Oh, and there is your food," giving a gesture of her hand to the covered plate if he had not smelled the enticing scents yet. Then she whispered for Tykir's ears only. "I think there is one of the spies talked about up in the loft."

Once he was sprawled on the ground he had just managed to get off of moments before, he rolled to the side, his head resting on his hand which was held up by the bend of his arm. "Quite a ....They're all...We've been...They're grow...They made a ...There's been som...Food?" Although he never really got to answer her questions fully, because, well, this was Rina, he didn't miss the mention of sustenance. He was extremely hungry! He hopped up, searching
until he found what she spoke of. He glanced up to the loft as he collected that plate. "Wouldn't go by the name of ..." He cast a look up toward the rafters, even as he claimed a roll and started it to his mouth. "Bannon! Get down here, Man! It'll be good to see how you've held up against my sister!" And a big bite was taken, chewing, and looking up to where he expected his friend to emerge from.

"Tykir!" He laughed as he leaned over the edge of the loft to look down at him. "It's about time you got here." He descended the ladder quickly, offering a triumphant grin to the pair. "How have you survived without her?" He knew neither would probably admit to missing the other. "She's been with the Lady Corina a lot." More or less admitting that he hadn't as much to do. "How have things been in Heathfield?"

Completely dismissing his manners his answer to Bannon came while chewing the delicious bread. "Welmph, we'ff 'un 'som h'amage, aye?" He toasted his friend with that half consumed roll. That would answer both questions actually to some degree and he grinned to Rina, swallowing hard. "When do they leave for battle, do you know?"

Drat and damnation! "Oh, is that who it is?" Like she had no clue. "He's still sneaking around like a spy." Not adding she had the stable lad bolt the door! Bannon didn't get to hear the speech at the feast so she went quiet as they did the manly greeting. She blinked at his speech and whacked him on the back. "Don't speak with your mouth full like that!"

He nearly choked since he was mid swallow so he could ask about the battle when she whacked him!

"Door was locked." He gave her a pointed look but nearly laughed when Rina swatted her brother. "It's all right, Princess. I won't say anything." It wouldn't be hard to tell anyway, since the men would be riding out. He pointed to the wagon. "That was a good idea." Not one he'd think of!

Tykir looked from Bannon, to the wagon, back to Bannon with a grin, taking up a few long, green beans and wriggling them into his mouth. He chewed and swallowed before speaking this time. "Aye? Was going to ride under it, but I figured, what with the snow, and not knowing the depth of it all ... better to be within, eh? Can't believe they don't know I'm here!" did Rina? He had started to take up a wedge of potato when it hit him.   "Holyhogteets...they...know?"

"Sometimes, you are really slow Tykir," she was grinning with the taunt. A wary glance given Bannon. "Did Vincent say anything to you about this mission they are going on?" Was he privy to it?

"No, your Highness, he didn't say anything. There's been rumors of course, but nothing solid." He smiled slightly. "Should I withdraw so you can speak to Tykir about it without me hearing?" Yes, he was making the offer, no matter his curiosity. And he was still impressed with the wagon idea. It couldn't have been comfortable.

It sure as Hades was NOT comfortable! But it was a means to the end and the end was here, and he was here, and that was all that mattered to the teen. Besides, Tykir was impressed that the door was locked, and Bannon still managed somehow to keep tabs on his sister! He didn't even have wings! "You're de Beauvais' squire! If you haven't, I'm sure you'll hear about it soon enough. Out with it, Rina...really..." Another bite of something creamy he had scooped up on his finger and sucked off.

"Well, being he follows me so good, I'm sure he'd find out if we went to see this place.." sliding a glance from Bannon to Tykir. It spoke of Trouble with a capital T! Except they could fly. "There are flying beasts we could help to keep from hurting the men below with the other winged man knight. I have used a bow while in flight, have you?"

Now he was sputtering. "You can't... Flying things? Wouldn't they attack you if you're in the air?" Now he was going to have to figure out how he could follow them. "If you're asking me about a bow, yes, I've used one." He looked at Tykir, not really expecting help there. If there was a means for Bannon to go with the small force, he would take it without hesitating. And now he faced a problem of huge proportion.

"I think she meant me, My Friend." Tykir chuckled with a shake of head. "You can't go, Rina. This is real shit, here." He motioned between him and Bannon. "We're more likely to be able to, can't." He was shaking his head to the negative, side to side, side to side, a pucker of lips as he thought about it. Nope, no way. These beasts were the real shitake, no way in fungus hell was Rina going. Nope. Head still in that motion.

"Yes I can." Wrong thing for Tykir to say, made her even more stubborn to go. "I'll go by myself if I have to." Biting in with the threat as she actually pouted.

"That's real smart..." He started, probably, yet again, the WRONG thing for Tykir to say. "Don't you remember how The Dark One and his men looked when they came back?" He actually had not stopped that head motion since the first he started it.

"Princess... Rina, think about it. They've brought in the Horsemen. Peter's knights. They're not your average run of the mill knights. They're going up against something strong and evil." H e looked at Tykir and watched him shaking his head, then frowned, remembering that himself. "And I can't let you go by yourself, even if you're flying above me." He got a stubborn look with that last.

"All the more reason we should go and help.." her case was sounding weaker and weaker by the moment. "Well, then how can we help?" She obviously wanted to do something that would be helpful.

"You actually traveled here to help." He shrugged, not belittling her assignment in any way, shape or form. The thought of being with Corina when she was birthing was a far scarier thought to Tykir than flying beasts. "I'm going to approach Karl to see what I can do." He'd have to confront him soon enough for sneaking here, he might as well make himself available for duty, right?

"I'll speak to Sir Vincent for the same reason." Though they could be told to stay behind. "Lady Corina is going to be alone, frightened. It's not what you want, I know, but she'll need you." He really didn't think they'd be convincing the Princess, but if she got hurt, Bannon would never forgive himself. And damn, he had to admit, Tykir was braver than himself. He wouldn't like to speak to the King after being in trouble. "You're the bravest lass I know, Princess, but flying among monsters isn't a good idea."

"You know they are not going to let you go either.." if they went, it would have to be without asking and taking the consequences later on. "They are only taking so many, but most of them can't fly!"

Tykir snorted out a laugh when his sister's tone bordered on a whine. "I'm sure the enemy probably has the same, Rina. And I don't know if I'll be allowed to go or not, but as of right now, Leoric and Gaidan are Kildare, King O'Neill is Innis and you and me? We're Heathfield. The Dark One and his men stand for Heathfield, but we're Heathfield's bloodline." He had the bone left from the chicken leg he had devoured, and he wagged that between himself and his sister. "We're Heathfield. You have your responsibility to Gaidan's wife and unborn babe. That leaves me." Would he present it to Karl that way? You could bet your Great-Grannies-spit-bottle he would NOT! But he had to come up with something soon!

"They leave tomorrow morning so if either of you think you can help, you better seek out King Karl tonight." The look between them as much said she was at least going with them when they asked.

Wow. He hadn't really thought about it, but Tykir was right. He remained quiet, having given all his arguments. At least for the moment.

"Well, yeah, Rina...I'm going to have to seek him out tonight anyway unless I want to sleep hugging a vest of chain mail again." He smiled to his sister. "If I say I've missed you, will you forget it by the time we walk out of this stable?"

"Well, then, if you are finished with your meal, you can carry the tray back up and we'll go seek out the King." He was their stepfather after all and would receive them just for that relationship. "Best we do it now and not so late we wake him." That was if the Black Griffin ever slept. "Only if you will do the same." And she did the unexpected, she stepped closer and gave him an affectionate kiss to the cheek and a squeezing hug. Had he even notice she was all dressed up looking every bit a lady, a princess? She would blame Corina for it and that she did it to please her but she was inwardly liking it. That was part of the change.

Ouch. He glanced at the wagon again and bit back a grin. Somehow, he was sure Rina wasn't done yet. "They're probably still talking." He made his way to the door, nearly scaring the stable boy out of his britches. Mostly it was to give the two privacy. He waited to hold open the door when they were ready to leave, just enough so it didn't get colder inside. And when Rina went by, he said in a low voice, "You look extra pretty tonight, your Highness."  Of course, he'd deny he said it later.

He returned the hug, really tight and when he let her loose he was smiling, following after her on their way to Karl. It wasn't until Bannon commented that Tykir even noticed! After all, they had tumbled, rolled, he had eaten, they had talked....he better find some excuses for not noticing before now. "She got all dressed up for my arrival." Although, Rina would have no way of knowing he was coming! "Thanks, Sis!" He called to her, waiting to see her shoulders tense, her spine stiffen. He slapped a hand to Bannon's shoulder blade in passing and hurried his pace to catch his sister. He couldn't very well have her storming into the castle first. It was Tykir's place to address Karl about sneaking here...and joining the battle! Ooooh, hmmm. His confidence while discussing it with Rina and Bannon had started to fade, realizing soon enough he would be face to face with the King of Heathfield. Blood line or not!

Tykir was behind her as she heard the words low from Bannon and she was quick to step aside and back putting her behind Tykir. For his words she gave him a two handed shove that would send him flying forward, probably literally. In those few seconds her brother would be very preoccupied in not planting his face into the snow, she took hold of Bannon's shirt and drew them quickly closer as she brushed a kiss against his lips. Fleeting thing. "Thanks," and she would deny that later as she sped forward and out before Tykir could be the wiser.

He was laughing at the two, but then .... Holy Hades! She left him standing there blinking for a moment before giving a shake of his head and having to run to catch up. Hey, he'd be right there with Tykir. And would be a bit befuddled besides. Well, maybe the confusion would help hide some of his nervousness. He hadn't spoken to the King since he had first arrived in Heathfield, though there were always words of encouragement to him and all the squires in passing.

Dang good thing he was struggling to keep himself from eating snow for dessert! What he didn't know, wouldn't hurt her. He could regret like the dickens that he had missed that kiss!

She didn't say anything else in the time it took them to get back to the castle. And if Bannon said anything, his next kiss would be her fist!

Tykir was the first through, pausing just within the castle's grand hall to look around. He strode right up to the first guard he saw. "We're needing to speak with Heathfield's king." There was an air of authority in his voice that was inborn, one that couldn't be learned. He didn't even realize he possessed it until he heard it from his own lips. We're...and in the three of them, but the other two hadn't yet joined him! Didn't make for the most influential of demands, now did it!

Rina was right behind him. The young guard knew exactly who the princess was even if he didn't know Tykir from Joe Shmoe next door. She was learning that a smile opened many doors it didn't for others. "Hello Alexander," her voice sweetly soft as was the smile that played over her lips. Alex became all besides himself, "yes, Princess," trying to bow and near speared his leg with his sword. "Right this way," not even noticing Bannon right behind them. She gave a quick smug look Tyrkir's way for all his authority.

As she walked past, Tykir's little head motion and roll of eyes told all about how he felt regarding her success.

He caught up to them quickly enough, skidding to a stop so he didn't run into Rina and ruin the scene before him. Trying to keep a straight face, he glanced at Tykir in time to see his expression. Now that was funny. And he watched the guard who he had come to know turn to jelly with the Princess' voice. Women!



Date: 02-12-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 26

He led them right to the door and knocked upon it. When words were heard beyond for the guard to state his business, Alex announced the arrival of the Prince and Princess along with their guard.

He managed to keep his expression as stoic as he had been taught, though when the guard spoke, he leaned forward to whisper to both of the Royal siblings. "You have hay in your hair, both of you."

Now wouldn't that be something if it got around that the Prince and Princess had been rolling around in the hay. Certainly rumors would spread and wonder. She was quick to get any off her she could find and threw some at Bannon. "Wait, so do you.."

Now that would be something MORE altogether! Bannon and Tykir...rolling around in the hay. He reached up quick and swatted at his hair, leaving a collection of hay straws on the floor just as the door opened.

Hey! He didn't need those rumors either and brushed those off quickly, laughing. And that ended as soon as the door swung open. Hopefully there wasn't any left in his hair but certainly his hair was standing up some.

She swept in going into a courteous curtsy and then stepped aside to leave Tykir to the talking.

There was Karl, standing beside a desk with the other Four, his finger pointing to a half rolled map on the desk though none of them looked at it, but all to the ones entering.

That...was the end of Tykir's confidence.

It was de Beauvais who cleared his throat, glancing to Karl, then moving away to take his leave for the time being. The other three would do the same, knowing they could return once the young royals spoke what was on their minds.


Lazare didn't pause when he passed, but he did speak low. "We do what we have to do." He commented, meaning the fact that Tykir had made it here without permission to do so.

That in itself caused Tykir to squirm where he stood. They must have discussed him! "Good evening, Your Majesty." He offered Karl a bow and started forward.

"He ate well once I woke him up," such a sweet smile and it would not surprise Karl that Bannon was also in attendance. After all, Vincent set him on her.. with Karl's approval!

Bannon smoothed down his hair, then came to attention as they entered the chamber. He tried not to look at de Beauvais but couldn't help himself. He watched the others as well, and partly heard Lazare. He was too nervous. And there was Rina being too confident. He stayed right where he was when Tykir moved forward, and would stay there until given permission to do otherwise.

Karl straightened, allowing the map to curl fully into itself. He waited for the door to click closed then drew his attention from the departure to the three. Bannon and Rina were fine, they had done all that had been asked of them. "It really isn't a good time to speak about why you felt it would be appropriate to stow away, Tykir. We've matters of greater importance to discuss."

If Karl's words caused Tykir's determination to falter, none would know it. None would know his gut was clenched so tight he felt as if he would heave up every last bit of the food Rina had delivered to him. None would know he could barely hear the warrior lord past the pounding of pulse in his head. He started to talk, nothing came out! He cleared his throat and tried again. "It's those matters, that we wished to discuss as well." Right? He turned to look back at his compatriots. Eager for their agreement. Nod for goodness sakes!

Bannon didn't know how Tykir felt and he could hardly tell that the dark prince was nervous. He looked at Tykir when he spoke and nodded. "Aye, your Highness." He had managed to get it out without sounding like a terrified school boy at least.

"No." Karl growled out the answer to any unspoken question, looking past Tykir to Rina and Bannon.

"No?" Tykir repeated, a silly parrot he was, shocked that he hadn't even been allowed to state his case.

Uh oh.

Rina stayed quiet for this was not her time to speak but there in support. Possibly. She gave a nod.

Karl didn't say it again. One black brow arched, that was all.

Tykir swallowed, rolled a shoulder. Here's where the whole He was Heathfield speech was supposed to take place! It wasn't forthcoming! Tykir felt more like if he allowed himself to speak, he'd sound more like 'ah,comeon,areyoukiddingme?' than an aristocratic demand that Heathfield should be allowed to fight against the evil. Tykir dropped his gaze from Karl to the toe of his boots, not hearing anything from the two behind him.

Oh wait, she decided to speak up. Help her brother out. "Tykir wants to represent Heathfield. He is Leo and Gaidan's brother." Adding that small bit as if it would give him more rights right there.


Bannon wasn't going to say anything at this point and even Tykir couldn't hear a nod. He was watching Karl until Rina spoke up. A quick glance her way and he looked back to see what the King's reaction was.

"I know who he is, Princess." Karl stated, although for the lass there was no steel cord of reprimand in his tone. He studied Tykir a moment in the silence that followed. Karl was too aware of the dangers that lurked within the forests of Kildare. He and his men had been captured because of Heathfield, here before him stood one of Leoric's and Gaidan's blood. Would he not be more of a target than any if the witch realized? And yet, he had been a young
man of seventeen, a warrior trained, prepared for his first battle to defend his homeland. He understood completely. "You haven't the time to petition your mother..."

Those words caused Tykir to straighten, to hope...and he waited. And shifted, foot to foot only once. His wings, flickering, but unseen by the King.

Karl brought his hand up to rub his thumb to his temple while his fingers tightened on his forehead. "You possess your mother's spirit." His hand dropped and he looked past the young man to Rina. "You both do..." Then his reply came at first in a single nod. "Seek out Peter, let him know you're coming, and then you'll speak with your brothers. They need to know that Heathfield's Prince will be offering his aid in this battle."

"May I go too? I've been trained. I can shoot and fly," this was her only chance. "I can watch my brother's back."

Don't lose it Tykir...stand tall...don't whoop like a school lad! Tykir bowed low to Karl. "I'll see to it now." He took a step back and turned, his eyes wide for only Rina and Bannon to see. Crap! Was she going to ruin it for him now? He glanced back over his shoulder to look to Karl.

The man had started to reopen his map, but stopped as he looked to the three of them again. "I thought you were here to assist Corina. Do you not think she will need you even more when her husband leaves for battle?"

He gave Tykir a half smile, not sure if he should speak to the King or not. And there was Rina speaking up. He swallowed hard with the King's words knowing he had come here to guard Rina, and this might mean he stayed with her.  He didn't dare look at her just yet,  just looked at Tykir again.

"She is not due until spring and she has her ladies in waiting. This will only be a day's time?" She wasn't sure but it seemed like a go in and get it done kind of mission. Certainly she wanted to go!

There was a flash of something dark, something powerful and commanding within that intense gaze. Something these two had never witnessed. Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt had always been a father figure to the two of them, but when he stepped onto Kildare lands, he was the King of Heathfield. He was a warrior. He was The Black Griffon. "Come here, Rina." Was the reply.

...and he hadn't said no.. but hadn't said yes either. Eyes grew a little wider, leaf green hue darkened and moistened but she didn't say a word. She waited. For the first time she felt her legs go weak like they would go out from under her but she managed to stay erect as she drew closer. It was one thing to speak from afar but another this close. She understood why her mother had fallen so in love with this man. It was not just his good looks but something more commanding. Something that made a female into a woman. She waited.. feeling very small at the moment.

He jerked the ties of his shirt loose, pulling the collar aside to show his neck. A thick, corded band of gnarled scar tissue started at his collar bone and disappeared down where she could not see. It was still red with recent healing. Once he was sure she saw that, he tugged his shirt tale from his pants, rolling the hem up for her to see his side. Another arc of scar tissue stretched from the confines of his pants up and around to the back of his ribs. These were not the only trophies of battle he possessed, but they were the most recent, thanks to the witch's minions. "I understand your desire to see your brother safe, to see these lands and others ... safe. But Tykir will be responsible for his own back, and for the backs of others, as will we all." He started stuffing his shirt back in his pants. "I would like to say it has nothing to do with you being female. We have experienced female warriors in Heathfield whom I would put my life on the line with. But I fear, Dear Princess, you are like a daughter to me. Which puts me in a difficult position with your request. It is because you're female. But more than that. It is because you are my daughter that I will say I would wish you to remain here." He tied up his shirt. "I told Tykir to seek out Gaidan and Leo. You do the same. I will honor their decisions in this. But you know how I feel. I know from experience you can handle yourself. But, this has nothing to do with your abilities and all to do with how I feel about you as a daughter." He offered her a nod. "Go on now, all three of you, and send those Four back in here before I lose my original train of thought."

Her throat constricted, her eyes averted at times to the scars. Not because they were ugly but the pain he had endured in receiving them. She wouldn't cry. No. That would only affirm his decision. She managed to struggle a soft voice passed her lips. "I love you as a father but one day I will prove to be a warrior as my mother had been once upon a time as well my aunt Amberlette." More so the latter. "I accept your decision. I will not place my brothers in such an uncomfortable situation as if whining." She had grown up that much and knew to do so would only cause problems. "I will leave the fighting to Tykir. This time." Well, she couldn't give in completely!

And when Rina finished speaking, Bannon knew he had to speak up now.  "Sire, if I may take one more moment of your attention." He barely managed not to wipe his hands on his pants. "I wish to serve at the side of Sir de Beauvais, as his squire." He was speaking a little quickly, knowing he had been set a task but he felt Rina didn't need him shadowing her anymore. And though he had fought beside the man as a boy, he had grown quite a bit since then. He didn't dare look at Rina though, nor did he think about those scars the King had shown to her.

Karl appreciated her bravery and her understanding and offered her a smile, even though the intensity of his current state of thought and preparation kept his smile from touching into his eyes. Bannon now? The Black Griffon lifted his attention from the young woman who was so close to being exactly like her mother to the young man he had already observed on the field. "Serve at his side as his squire? In this battle?" His words were a growl, though he fought to control it. "I've watched you on the field, Bannon. Do you think for one moment you can walk into the forests of Kildare as de Beauvais' squire and manage to walk out again with your life?" He shook his head. "No." Just as he had started the conversation, he was finishing it. "If you're going to take my time with such a request..." He pointed a finger to the floor near his desk. "Kneel, Bannon Zimmer."

Bannon felt his heart sink and didn't dare look at either Tykir or Rina. He nodded at the no, then blinked in surprise. Only a second hesitation before he was moving over to where the Black Griffon was pointing, and he went down on one knee, his head bowed. His heart was thudding so hard he was sure it was echoing in the room.

The ring of sword being drawn from sheath echoed in the otherwise quiet room. Karl touched first one of Bannon's shoulders and then the next. "As fear of the blade drives back the unarmed, so does the knight drive back the enemies of Heathfield. The two edges of the sword shows that the knight serves his Liege lord and his people. I, Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt do hereby dub thee, Sir Bannon Zimmer, Knight of Heathfield, defender of Her people." Dark
eyes studied the bowed head and he drew in a slow breath. "Rise, Sir Knight. And welcome to the brotherhood."

He had been certain the King meant he needed more training and now ... He had been waiting for this since the day he had become the Dragon's squire. Standing, he saluted Karl again. "Thank you, my Liege. I will serve you with my blade and if necessary, my life." Brave words, but he meant them. He bowed and moved backwards until he could turn without being disrespectful. And now he was the one looking at the other two wide eyed.

She had kiss a squire earlier and if she kissed him again.. if ever.. she would be kissing knight after tonight. Of course if he was kept on her as a guard.. she was still going to torture him! That would not change anything. Yet, she felt pride for him, of his accomplishment of what he had to face. At least he would be taking her kiss with him. Hopefully it wasn't his first and last.

Since Bannon stood between him and Karl, Tykir jerked his elbow back with a fist of  'Yes!' once he had Bannon's attention, but it was subtle, just in case Karl might see and, this was a serious moment after all. "We all thank you for your time, Dark"

Karl was sliding the blade back in the sheath as Tykir spoke, and his brow twitched with what could be mistaken as a frown, but it was more the unexpected amusement that assaulted the man who did not, by any means, think there could be a reason to smile during these trying times. "You..." He pointed at Bannon. "Need to speak with de Beauvais. Good evening." He strode to them, the strength of his hand coming to rest on Solarina's shoulder as he guided them to the door. He leaned to place a kiss to the top of her head and then reached to open the door.


After the three spoke for a few moments, Bannon said good night. He didn't intend to go to bed though. Instead, he leaned against the wall, opposite Alex and waited. By the time they came out, he was sitting in a chair and half dozing, in spite of the excitement he still felt. When the door opened, he jumped up, near knocking the heavy chair over, but catching it after it thumped against the wall. Wincing, he straightened and looked toward the door.

The Four filed out, talking amongst themselves in lowered tones. Dana was the first to see Bannon and his smile flashed. "Well, lookie here, we've a young knight just lingering in the corridors. Why aren't you off celebrating with some lovely lass, Sir?" He used the title as he crossed to Bannon and thumped him on the shoulder in congratulations. "Waiting instead for the ugly de Beauvais instead? You will learn..." He chuckled, continuing on his way to prepare for tomorrow's threats.


Lazare next, giving the young man's hair a muss. After all, Carno had spent some time with the squire himself and felt a bit of pride for the young man's accomplishment. "Celebration is just as easily found in the kitchens here." He shot the newly knighted a grin and he too continued on. They each would prepare in their own ways, but all were necessary for the battle.

"Would the lovely be a young princess or have you had your fill by now. Did Karl relieve you of that duty then?" Trevor gave him a thump on the shoulder too but he'd leave him really to address Vincent.

He smiled at each man, moving his shoulder after the thump from Dana, smoothing his hair down and grinning at the words and answering each. "This late I think all the lasses are asleep." Though it was unlikely all of them were asleep.  "I might do that before I find sleep." Food had been the farthest thing from his thoughts until mentioned.  "I didn't mind it so much but the King didn't relieve me, no. He told me to speak to Sir Vincent." He gave him a sheepish smile and watched the three go.

When Trevor finished with Bannon, Vincent didn't step forward, just kept his distance. There was silence for the moment between them. "You did well, Bannon." A twitch pulled at the corner of his lips. "For a street rat." Although the words seemed to be an insult, the young man knew the truth and pride beyond the words.

Finally there was Sir Vincent, and he grinned when he heard him...  "Thank you, Sir Vincent. I had an excellent teacher. You and your family have helped me more than I can say." He stopped before he embarrassed himself. "The King said I should speak to you."

He watched Trevor go, then looked back to Bannon. "The princess has her brother now, and you, your welcome to the world of life and death, My Boy. You should find it familiar enough." Only then he move, offering Bannon a bow of respect and then extending his arm to shake.

Life and death. He had avoided death often enough in a time forgotten by most but that seemed another lifetime ago. "Thank you, sir." He took his arm in a warrior's grasp, just as he had been taught. "I'm not certain if the King told you, but I wish to accompany you tomorrow. He told me to speak to you." He stepped back then, meeting the gaze of the man who had been most like a father to him these past years. "I know it's dangerous. Especially for one with no special abilities, but I would be honored to fight at your side." He found the words coming easier then he expected.

They were brothers now, perhaps that helped. "He didn't tell us you wished to accompany me. He told us you would be aiding in our battle, as a knight of the realm. That was sufficient for me. This will not be the only dangerous battle you will ever find yourself in. It's the way of it, once you take to a knee."

That nearly took his breath away. It was settled that quickly. "Then, I'm proud to fight beside all of you." He smiled again, feeling a bit of pride. "And I'll do my best, just as I always have." Oddly enough, he wasn't afraid. Perhaps that would come tomorrow. "You ... did more for me than just teach, Sir Vincent. I want you to know that. You and your family... " He trailed off then shrugged slightly. "Thank you." That was all that could be said, wasn't it. "I should probably prepare, then get some rest." He had mail but not plate and that would have to do.

A slow nod began his answer. "Sir, I am honored to share the same battle field with you come the morrow." There was plenty of armor and weapons in those wagons. Ask Tykir! He probably knew where everything thing was..exactly!  Vincent said no more. Like his comrades, he had preparations of his own to attend to.

He nodded, then smiled. "Good night, Sir Vincent." Of course, once that King's man was down the hall, Bannon let out a whoop, then he went to see if he could find Rina and Tykir. Yes, he was going almost directly into battle, and yes, he could die but tomorrow but tonight he was going to enjoy the feeling of euphoria!



Date: 02-20-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 27

Taking Down the Witch of Kildare

It was a cold wintry morning before the break of dawn that saw the King and Regent of Kildare saddled up along with their close allies and comrades. The clank of metal sounded louder for the silence of twilight in the courtyard where they gathered. The crunch of wagon wheels against cold hardened ground offset the other sounds or some might say, melted into them. Snow was coming down but that didn't deter a single soul mounted this mourning with a hot breakfast in their gullet. Pristine had already blanketed the ground all around them, the kind that would show the stark blood of kill that would see this day. Once all were ready, Leo motioned to move forward, leading the way with his brother by his side. Eventually they would have the Four move ahead like an arrow to ward off the enemy, the rest to defend as best they could. The trek would take them northwest; a distance north first between Swan Lake Estates and the mountains that would be precarious with the snow and that which was coming down to accumulate. Not much was said unless between men for they all knew what was ahead of them. Each man to prepare himself mentally for the unpredicted battle that lay in wait. Just past Swan Lakes they would come to the grand forest's edge. Fields spread east and west in many acreage barren with winter's touch. Tall aspen, oak and pine stood like a wall in front of them. A forest that would promise good game but the game was not of this world at the moment. Leo, attired in mail but not full armor halted the crew to give them a moment before they continued. Not too long but just that breath to catch in fortifying. He waited for the rest to fall into formation. Each man had been given a potion to drink the night before, one that prepared and fortified them, courtesy of the Old Woman.

With a single look and nod from Karl, the Four slid from their horses to spread out on foot. There was no reason to bring the animals into the fray and with creatures such as these, the animals may become a detriment rather than an aid. Karl looked to Peter, then to the monarchs of Kildare. "Until next we meet over a table of victory." He eased from his horse as well, turning a look to Tykir. "You...there." He pointed to the trees, from there the prince of Heathfield could best assess the battlefield and make his choices for attack. Plus, it would keep him off of the ground where the majority of the battle would be taking place.

Gaidan was watching the forest ahead as they came to a stop. As the Horsemen took the lead, he looked at Leoric. It seemed a good idea to leave the horses behind but he would do as Leoric. A glance at Tykir had him nodding at their younger brother, even giving a hint of a smile. He noted with approval all seemed ready. Even the youngest among them.

Peter gave a look to his three as he dismounted. Two squires had come with them to stay behind with the horses. It would not do any of them any good to bring the beasts to slaughter and the trees too thick for them to maneuver properly. The asset of riding was for open ground and speed. Here they would use stealth, movement slow but sure. The sky was still a darken grey for the snow that still fell. A shriek of an ancient bird somewhere off in the distance broke the silence. Probably a mile and yet could be heard as it gained its morning prey.

Gabriel dismounted, then was quick about the quiver of arrows to attach to his back and bow over his shoulder as he gave a nod back to his king. Wings of pitch emerged from the fashioned cloak with slits. The expanse impressive as were the flame red patches to each shoulder as he lifted in flight. Tykir would not be alone and the beasts of the air would have more than their match.

Trevor was quick to dismount, handing over the reins of his steed to one of the two squires to stay behind. He would head up the front point of the arrow along with Vincent most likely. He would feel the first of any tremors as they moved towards the foreboding forest and warn the others of which path they came from. There would be a lot of sign language than verbal for it was sound and vibration that would alert most of these creatures.

Once both feet were on the ground Leo turned to his mirror image and approached. Words were low between them, "one last thing." He drew out his sword and switch them, both empowered like the others by the Druid Prince. Now they were the other as fashioned they could be exchanged willingly by the one that yielded it. "She will come after you first." Forewarning him and it might turn out they used both skills they now possessed. Once done, he would fall into line behind the others.  Leo set his knights onto the task of securing the castle until their return. If they did not return they were going to need them to defend it with all the might they could gather, what forces were left under their disposal.

The Horsemen ventured out to set up the lay of the land. Through the thick mass of trees to a glade just beyond, rocks jutting out from the earth like monuments to the gods. These could be safety points away from attacks from below if needed. The canopy of trees were close enough to not allow too many beasts from the air to swoop down at a time and with Gabriel and Tykir airborne, hopefully not too many would make it this far down. It was best to bring the battle to where your defenses best suited, not hunt them down. They had come up against the dog-like creatures before, and without a doubt, the scent of men had reached them and soon enough the battle would begin.

Vincent stood, sweeping his arm out in front of him and turning as that action continued in a circle, setting the stage for things to come as they were needed.


Since the Four had spread out, Karl took up position with Peter. Together these two men were a deadly force to reckon with. Strength of might and mind would make it difficult for any beast to gain the upper hand...or in this case claw, talon or tooth.

Tykir looked to Bannon, smiled, then shot into the air to weave a path through the trees and then find a perch until the time came for him to join in.

Cole looked to Gabriel taking to the air, then shot a hand out to Aiden's shoulder. "This is as good as it gets when it's as bad as it comes." He shot off a wink then left his horse behind to join the others. Already his skin twitched and itched with anticipation, preparation. His pupils had narrowed to slits and his vision spanned out for a good mile if not more. Even with the trees, he would see the beasts coming and be prepared.

Gaidan nodded at Leoric, then smiled slightly. "Let her come then, and we'll send her right back to the hell she came from." He looked over what would soon be a battlefield. Now all they could do was wait and each knew it wouldn't be long. He thought of Corina and touched the scarf around his arm as if to gain extra strength from it.  The magic felt strange and familiar, welcomed in this battle to come.

Aiden did the same to Cole and grinned before he dismounted. He moved to a position slightly to the side and behind Peter, shadows coiling at his feet while the great wolf, Hesperus, appeared silently.

Bannon grinned at his friend as he grabbed up his quiver and bow. No one would have the time or inclination to watch over him and he would go where he felt he was of most use. Though he couldn't fly, he could climb and see to any that might get passed the deadly arrows of Tykir and Gabriel  He was quick to scurry up a great pine tree, much like a squirrel   A good sturdy branch was found; one that was high enough and still gave protection should any dive at him, high enough to give a good view of the battle below and the sky above.

Although they had taken precautions, right down to the spells of Trevor to disguise their scent, it wouldn't last forever but long enough to get them to this spot and ready before the first onslaught. If they survived it, better the victors, then they would have to move forward, killing as they went, to enter the fortress that Keary built around herself to fortify her existence here and probably working on a way to make it permanent. A way back to have what she could not or so felt. Deeper in the forest was her domain, one made of shadows between the living and the dead. A tower that reached as high as the tallest trees. Her pets had spawned like rats in a sewer and trained by ones set as overlords. Not all shadows were evil spawn for there were others that lingered to watch how fate played out good pitted against evil in this realm.

Gabriel was set to wing as he flew high above the tallest trees. First there was nothing in the grey of early morn until first one, then another silhouette appeared a shade darker. Perhaps it was more the vibrations set to the air than sight but brought a keen eye as he prepared his arrow, notched and aimed. The first screech shattered the silence in a deadly call that became the first death of the battle. The hell spawn of the air minions, children, were appearing to come after that which took down its sibling.

On the ground Trevor felt the earth tremble as he made motion of hand where the ground would break open with what were called Worms. They didn't come where there was rock jutting but more the open spaces. "On guard," hissed through his teeth as his sword was drawn and he cut off the head of the first worm that shot up through what had been hardened ground.

Peter was right by Karl's side then back as they would cover each other's back as the hounds were let loose. The pounding of the many came to surround the area where the disturbance was felt. He knew they would have to steel themselves in order to defeat the beasties.

"Here we go!" Cole could see the gargoyle creatures' approach, swift and gangly they darted to and fro. Some bumping into others, setting the frenzy within the rank of attackers. As he scanned, they seemed to be coming from every direction, leaping and growling and snarling and dashing. He whispered to himself and disappeared into the woods. The cries of brutal injuries just prior to death echoed into the valley, a chorus of that sound as the beasts met with a foe that took no prisoners, left none in its path to fight another day.

Weapons were at the ready and Vincent shot a look to each of his comrades. Life was a conscious continuity...within that movement of change. A shriek and his gaze shot upwards, as did a ball of fire the size of the creature that dove down upon them. Unable to cease it's descent, it smashed to the ground aflame, and a sword of Heathfield save it from a burning death, but a death none-the-less.


As worms surfaced, Dana marked the spot and water filled the hole, drowning the large snake like enemy as it slithered back into its once protected domain.


Swirls of air caught the flying creatures unexpectedly, sending them spiraling and, unable to regain their wings, crashing to the ground with broken bodies. Everywhere there was movement, no matter the necessity to remain still to thwart the attackers. No, they welcomed the fight, each of the men, swords in motion to slash and still any that came close enough to feel the chill of blade. From the tree line, arrows took to flight with the precision that would make even Dana proud if he had the opportunity to notice.

Though he knew that the greater battle would come when they reached the fortress, Gaidan was unable to keep from battle. There were too many of the creatures attacking and he would not leave an opening for them to attack those who came with them and had not the protection as those in the fore. The empowered sword flashed as he fought, cutting down both beasts attacking from above and beneath the ground. They would all be covered in ichor and blood long before they faced the witch.

As the attack began, Jewel appeared and grew until she was as large as Hesperus. The two flanked their master while Aiden drew the shadows into shapes that would confuse and entangle the beasts and then each animal attacked with claw and tooth that were far more substantial then shadow. He fought too, with his sword, and like the others would be surrounded with the bodies of vile creatures not of their world.

Bannon jumped when he heard that first screech but quickly recovered. Arrows sang and the creatures fell. He choose his targets carefully, not wanting to waste a single arrow. Even when one came terribly close, he kept his balance and fired. Later, when all was done, he would find himself shaking but not now.

What usually had the prey fall and devoured, stained the snow in red. Carcass upon carcass as he fought alongside his brother. The steady beat, the freezing as the gargoyles first came trying to spy its enemy right in front of its face until too late.

Fireballs from below rose up at the swarm of winged bats as big as a man. The screeching piercing the air as surely as the arrows that took them down. "Tykir," called out as Gabriel noticed the hovering shadow the size of a house edge over the section of forest. It was the Queen of the air that had come to save its children. If such could pound in an evil heart to care.  Flames shot from the patch on each wing aimed for the belly of the beast that was descending where Tykir lurked.

A booted foot slammed to the earth crushing the next worm before it could expose itself. The spear of the empowered sword slammed through hardened ground to kill it within its ready made grave. All that would attest to reaching the mark was the ichor that spewed up and spread as Trevor moved much line one doing a waltz killing the beasts before they broke free. He moved forward towards the looming shadows in a darken hole cut out of the forest's heart.

Shield and blade make their mark, side by side, or more back to back as the two kings fought. To the Gargoyles they looked like a trunk of a tree until they dared too close and were cut down before they could destroy. The only motion coming at the deadly end.

Flames shot out, startling the flying creatures, the earth bound beasts before they met their demise. When the majority of gargoyles were within the perimeter, Vincent closed his eyes and with a swift lift of arms, a ring of fire circled the area. It burned not tree or melted snow, but the hairless beasts that bounded into it with their fright caught fire immediately, sizzling to a painful, mangled death. And the creatures seemed to explode as they ran, growling and snarling, then yelping in pain and erupting into a unnatural death. Whatever it was that attacked, was too quick to be seen by their unnatural eyes. Or perhaps, just not able to be seen at all. One after the other splattered and fell, causing a chaos of frantic attacks within their own kind. Gargoyle against gargoyle.

The shadow drifted over the trees, darkness slithering over the young prince. His gaze lifted slowly, almost fearful of what he would see that would cause such a shadow. It was Gabriel's shout that set him to wing! He shoved from his spot, spinning as he did with bow in hand and flying backwards to send a volley of arrows into the sky, one...right...after...the...other in the direction of that darkness. To his delight, the arrows caught on fire, and he didn't need to look to the ground to know that he had received a bit of help from below. That, and the air he flew back upon seemed thick for support, making it easier for him to soar backwards with less of a struggle of wings.

He could feel the fighting around them, breathed it in, let the heat of battle flow through him. Before he had always been the warrior to Leoric's druid but this day they truly fought as one. It would take that and more for what waited ahead.  He crouched low as one of the worms sprung upward, his sword slicing along its belly, ending it's life that quickly.

A near close call had Aiden rearing back, the shadows drawing him in and leaving claws raking only air. Both animals pounced and destroyed as the knight appeared a short distance away. He froze for only a second, just as he had been told, as another started  for the two and struck, sending gore flying as well as a head.



Date: 02-20-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 28

He was a short distance from the tree where Tyrkir had perched but Gabriel's shout caused Bannon to look up before the shadow reached. Tykir was airborne and his arrows flaming and the youth grinned just for a second. Then his focus was once more on the smaller ones that seemed to rally with the appearance of the mother. He hadn't realized that while he stood against the tree, he became as gray with spots of deep green and black, confusing those he managed to shoot down.

A golden crest spread out in a luminous glow beneath their feet for here he use such druidic powers that empowered his allies as well himself at the same time, causing arcane damage to enemies that came within the area of attack. Ever they pushed forward as the shadows of the Hollow in the woods whispered in a way to draw fear up their spine if they allowed it. It gave impressions of horror beyond imaginable. Dark secrets of the Netherworld that they would be drawn there in mental anguish for eternity. Fed upon worse than flesh stripped from their bones but upon their minds. Leo was persistent in the holy warding to keep such whispers to fall upon deaf ears.

Gabriel shot out to distract the Bird Queen from Tykir while at the same time avoiding the fledglings, circling around having him twist and turn to speed past or be crushed in talons as big as he. Just missing with the first swipe, second, third, as he could finally shoot up and grab onto the back between the wings. Below they would hear screeching like never before.

While Vincent helped with fire bolts, Trevor was making the ground unstable under the feet of the gargoyles as they swarmed out from the Forest ahead. Such would also throw off their sense of movement when they were having enough of a hard time keeping afoot. Stumbling over roots that were suddenly there and thus making it easier to cut them down. They were breaching the wall of trees as darkness of shadows enveloped. Buzzing around his ears of vague whispers but he was set on his course. Shadow webs stretched from tree limbs to jagged rocks they had to move around cautiously. The gargoyles ceased to appear within this area.

By Karl's side he slew one after another within their path. First moving, then still until the creature came close trying to see and was cut down. They kept a tight formation but the screeches from above had a quick glance shot there to note the battle above mirroring the battle below.

The two kings made their way cautiously, mindful of the weaknesses of their enemies and of their strengths. He fortified his mind, hearing again that whispered beck and call, to come, to answer. He grit his teeth, slaying yet another of their adversaries as it drew too near. Then, the drone ceased, and with that silence he heard the ear-piercing shrill from above. "Tykir." He hissed, his gaze jerking upward to the battle in the sky, there to see the dark prince engaged in fighting off the threat in the air. His bark of command came as one name. "de Vimeure!"

Dana, in the midst of his own struggle, looked to Karl then up to the young prince. "Merde!" He shot a hand heavenward, shards of ice whizzed past Tykir and sliced into the attacking bird-like-creatures, ripping through their armored flesh and sending them plummeting, dead, to the ground. Drown a worm. Skewer a bird. Right hand down then left hand up.

Tykir used up the last of his arrows, reaching back to find nothing in his quiver. The beastiest of all birds fought off Gabriel's attempts as best it could, but beady, glassed over eyes were set on the dark winged one. It lashed out at Gabriel, then with a sky splitting screech, it flattened large wings and dove in for the kill. Tykir backpedaled in the air and with the speed of the Queen of Birds the dark prince was not going to make good an escape. "Holy Freak Feathers!" He squeaked, slamming both hands out in front of himself, palms exposed, as if that alone would stop the deadly descent. Energy blasted from his exposed hands, a rippling, pulsating round that was even visible to the naked eye. It shot out, slamming into the creature and sending the large thing tumbling back in the air, exposing it's vulnerable underside to Gabriel.

In spite of being busy with his own battles, Gaidan glanced up when he heard the screech from the air. He uttered a curse, one bitten off as another of the creatures charged forward. The sword swung and flashed death once  more before he glanced at his brother. They were advancing but slowly and it seemed that the attacks were lessening.

Shadows were Aiden's realm and he sent them to attack those others within the forest lands. Webs tangling with webs though he had no idea what was beyond them. The screams from above were somehow blocked out though Jewel did tell him what Gabriel was fighting. His attention wasn't long on her however as one of the worms came up from the ground and he used the shadows to lift himself as he sliced off the beast's head.

Bannon fired arrows at the smaller birds swarming the skies where they weren't near either Tykir or Gabriel. His arrows were getting low so he had to pick and choose, not certain what he would do once they ran out. A gust of wind from the Queen of Birds' wings hit the great pine tree he was in, causing him to lose balance. He fell, hitting the next branch and grabbing it. His bow fell further out and caught. Once he caught his breath, he crawled forward along the branch until he could just reach it. Just in time! One of the 'babies' was flying straight for him. He moved faster than he ever had and the beast fell to the ground, the arrow sticking out of it's eye. He'd be thanking Sir Dana for lessons when this was through. IF he survived.

The reason the onslaught ceased to some degree was because Leo had found the chasm they were emerging from. With a bolt of searing blue energy, looking much like lightning, came from his hand as he seared the doorway close the undead were being called from. Now there was only what was left as one doorway was taken care of, the next would be the Witch herself as they made their way to the heart of her domain. At first there was nothing before he and Gaidan were surrounded in darkness, a globe of energy spewed form the bowels of the Unknown surrounding the royal twins and sealing them off from the others. What was left of her minions had been called to destroy the others.

The Queen of the Sky in this domain twisted and turn trying to get Gabriel dislodged from her back but he clung and would not be loosen from his hold as the Bird dove for the Dark Prince for whatever reason she was set on that target. The offspring became helpless in aiding the monstrosity as they were torn from the sky by arrow and shards of ice. With Tykir's aid, and distraction, Gabriel was able to get his arm around and sink the empowered sword into the hollow of the Bird's neck. About the only place vulnerable where the thick scales overlapped and the width of a sword to fit. The last screech was ear shattering but more was the blood that spewed out as the Queen made a death spiraling deacend to the earth. Gabriel let go, leaving it fall as he was then over to help Tykir and guide him down with the others. He was back for Bannon, with an arm to go around his waist and lift him up and away with him to join the others. Gabriel was capable of flying carrying another as Lazare could attest to! By the time they reached the others, the shadow filled bubble had Leo and Gaidan contained. He would work with the others in trying to smash through it but would find it was beyond their power.

The minions may have been called but the void they were coming through prevented them so their job was not as hard as it could have been thanks to Leoric. They had enough to contend with as Trevor also tried various means to destroy the translucent, shadow filled pod that had taken Leo and Gaidan. He knew the Witch was in there, that she would not be accessible to the others but that would not go without trying.

Peter made sure his knight was all right by sight as it seemed Gabriel was as well Tykir and Bannon, other than being well shook up he was sure of the two younger ones. This was their first real battle and one far from the ordinary, ordinary was bad enough! "Stay close," barely spoke as what was left of the birds were first to arrive then some worms. It seemed the gargoyle pit bulls were taken care of.

That dark target possessed some of the same blood, blood that was sought after by the most unholy. That was the draw, and the Bird Queen's undoing. "Did you see that?" Tykir was repeating, mostly to himself, hovering in the sky, staring at his hands, heart racing, pulse speeding. "Whooooop!" He let out that shout, and then realized where he was and that Gabriel had flown to him to direct him down. Below the others managed what remained of the enemy but where were..."Leoric and Gaidan?" As Tykir's feet touched ground, wings flattened and he raced off toward the bubble, pounding on the impenetrable gel-like barrier with his fists.

Vincent was soon enough on Tykir, jerking him back from the spell lest the witch realize another brother was present and sucked the young prince in as well. "It is as it needs to be, Prince. Allow the brothers to do as their fates demand of them."

Tykir jerked free of Vincent, glaring up at the Horseman then stormed away, taking his sword and stabbing into one of the worms just as it popped its head up to grab him. As if it was a planned move all along. He swiped the gooey remains on the side of his pants and glanced back to the bubble. Fear if nothing else ate away at his gut for the safety of his older siblings.

Karl placed a hand on Vincent's shoulder, watching Tykir's angry retreat. "And that also is how it needs to be." He offered to Vincent.


The Horseman nodded, well understanding the dark prince's concern.


"Watch for the is up to Gaidan and Leoric now." If the brothers did not succeed, the battle to be fought would be one that none of them would likely survive but they would need to be prepared all the same.

Gaidan trusted Leoric completely and knew he would be their guide into that world ahead. He was concerned for the others but they would do fine unless he and Leoric failed. And that was not an option.

Aiden called the shadows to him and used them in an attempt to break through the bubble. Those that made it up were not of this world and he shook his head as Jewel and Hesperus rejoined him.  There was nothing they could do beyond keep watch. When they reappeared, he would know as surely as Trevor.

He wasn't ready for the battle to end so swiftly but it was with relief when it did. He had one arrow left. When Gabriel swooped him up, he laughed, understanding now how Tykir felt. It was probably a laugh born of a build up of adrenaline. Once his feet were on the ground, he watched Tykir until Vincent pulled him away. Then he followed the Dark Prince at a short distance. He wasn't leaving him go off alone. Tykir was his friend and even more, the Prince was now his brother-in-arms.

The real world ceased around them as they were swallowed into her domain. The air as thick as charred smoke to suffocate the lungs of the living. She had no need of breathing. The snake like hiss around them intensified until it became audible to words formed. "I'm surprised you got this far. It has been a while," enticing at the same time. "This time I will have your hearts to feed to my pets..." the hiss coming around Gaidan, as she whispered, "Leoric, give in to me and I will spare you and your brother along with the brother that lurks outside this little cozy reunion. You've not a wife... else I will have your brother's wife and unborn son to be tortured.. your weakness is my strength in defeating you both. Kildare will be mine and then.. more."

As Keary set upon his brother as him, he spoke up with her words, brushing her suggestions and claims aside except one, "our weakness will be your downfall."

She flashed an annoyed glance towards Gaidan (really Leo), "I've not know you to be mouthy, perhaps your little wife would like to know the details of our heated embraces.." there was for a moment, confusion. It was then she wove the ethereal webbing around Gaidan (really Leo), "I've changed my mind, you can thank your brother."

Leoric as Gaidan, drew out his sword to lash off the ethereal web she spun as Gaidan would respond as him.

Gaidan as Leoric smirked as he faced her, giving the slightest shake of his head. "My brother is not mouthy. He speaks the truth, witch." He emphasized the last word, making it sound more of an insult than title. "You were always vain, always more sure of your abilities than you should have been. Kildare will never be yours. Only death waits you." As he spoke, he began to weave magic around her, entangling her as surely as she attempted to entangle his brother. "Vain and never truly enticing to any man without your magic."

Something was wrong, troubling her on the edges of her consciousness but nothing tangible, nothing she could seize hold of. "You will both die, slowly, painfully." The touch of magic made her cringe even in that ethereal form and she sought to turn it back and keep the web on the one she though as Gaidan. Even she feared a final death.

He pressed the magic, using it to push her back, keep her at bay so his Twin could move in for the final kill. Squeezing until she couldn't move, keeping her from creating more magic. It was a powerful feeling, one Gaidan would not soon forget. The taste of her fear, the crawling shadows that surrounded them. He could understand why some lost control but he would not. as long as his Mirror Image stood with him.

It was the confusion that would be her undoing as Leo, once more, consecrated the ground beneath their feet. That alone would weaken her as the magic Gaidan performed as him, gave him the edge to precisely pierce through her magical field for certainly she was no longer flesh. It was Gaidan's sword in his hand that had her take her last conscious thought of what she had been wrong. She had fooled them when they were but seventeen and now she was the one fooled. What goes around, comes around and karma would rule this day. "My brother is right about you. Every word." Would be the last that she heard in this realm as it would send her essence back to the one she had been sent to. Her minions with her as they no longer would be here to help her back. The last of them would go with her as the whole pod shattered  in the brilliance of light. What had been dark now became light as the veil was lifted and the forest back to normal as if it had been all along.
  It left Gaidan and Leo standing there with Gaidan's sword glowing in his hand. "I think you can have this back now, brother."

Every man present went to the ready with the explosion of light. There were none who knew what that meant, what to expect, what had transpired within the secret globe. And then, there they were, Leoric and Gaidan. A cheer went up, echoing through the trees, over the glade, carrying on the wind.

On a precipice she stood, eyes closed, arms outstretched, the building current of air whipping about her. She drew in a deep breath and smiled. "Long live the heirs of Kildare." She whispered, opening her eyes and turning to return to the confines of her cave. As she crossed the threshold, she snatched down one of her protective amulets which dangled at the entrance with the softest of triumphant grunts. Kildare, once more, belonged to the people.



Date: 04-09-11
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 29

The Promise

A few days passed after the encounter with the Witch. A comfort fell over the lands after the ordeal that had not been felt in a few decades. A time of peace was promised to all. This day spoke of spring, the robins hopping about the lawns as well the other spring birds to return and set up their nests. The sun shone brightly with a shimmering haze cast over the budding trees; the grass already green beneath the spreading limbs. Leo stood at his chamber window looking out over the lands that were his and Gaidan's heritage. A new day, a new dawn for them all. Yet, there was a pull, a promise made that he would see to today. The right day to see to it. It would not be put off any longer.

Orders were given to prepare his stallion, but he would ride out before any escort leaving only his brother to know of his whereabouts. He foresaw no danger and even if there was, he had special means to avoid it rather than indulge in violence. He actually abhorred violence but there were times it was necessary to protect all that was good or to become good again. An hour later had the King of Kildare spurring his stallion into a gallop and taking his leave by one of the back gates. It would be a couple of hours before he reined in the equine at the foothills of the mountain where the Old Woman stayed. The stallion danced as if frustrated he'd been halted while the pierce of silver blue eyes scanned the inclining terrain before him.

Still just as thick with undergrowth and ancient trees which climbed the side of the mountain, but all was green, welcoming and the path could be clearly seen now rather than hidden from any possible intrusion. Savina stood as she most times did at the mouth of her cave, the heavy curtain of vines remained but not for protection from any outside force except the weather. She had it swept aside and tied by more strands of vine. Her eyes closed and her hands lowered to her sides, palms out, fingers spread and she drew in a deep breath. Well now, she was about to have company...and not an ounce of tea prepared. That thought didn't have her moving though, she remained where she was ... waiting.

A slow smile emerged as he spurred the stallion forward in a walk until it got too steep and here he dismounted to make the rest of the trip on foot. He made sure the stallion was under a protective tree that would also keep him unseen by any passing by through the foothills below. Silent as his footsteps would fall, they would not be unknown to the woman he came to see. No, she would hear them on another level or more, feel his presence drawing closer would be more exact. "The day brings good news you already know," words low as he emerge before her regular sight. "Your wisdom help to save lives. Kings and countrymen alike." Halting just outside her personal space with the slight tuck of his chin. He did not see the Old Woman before him but the younger version somewhere in her twenties. "I have come to fulfill a promise, have you decided what it is you would like?"

"Not even a hello, My King? " She laughed softly with his words which let her know of the outcome of the battle but nodded to his question. "There is a cave on Mount Haslett, it's a four day trek. Deep within are rocks of amethyst crystals. They are too far away for me to trudge to, too difficult for me to dig out. But you, your men, with those beasts you would be a short little outing. You'll have to dig them out of the rock, last I heard they were as large as a man's head. A few of them would do nicely." More...even more nicely. That was all. A simple request. She was not a woman with grand demands of wealth or grandeur. Those rocks held a power that she could use ... and ... they were pretty.

"Your wish will be my command and the command of the men under me. I suspect some of them," which would be the ones he'd pick for this excursion, "will enjoy the adventure. They may even get to practice their skill of sword or other on any disagreeable creatures such a cave may harbor." Possibly Pirates for that matter. There was a pause as he studied her, slow purposeful type yet didn't hold the charge of intimidation. "I do not know if you would care for castle walls but I would be a fool not to offer you a position amongst those of Kildare to train others of ilk and to advise a fledgling King on important matters. Your days would be full, this much I know." If one wanted to keep busy.

The woman felt the heat of a blush spread over her chest, up her neck. "Fledgling king." She shook her head, he was born for this, no matter how recent his reign. "You are gracious in your offer, My King. But would it not be better to have any wishing to train to come away from the distractions of castle life? And, My Liege ... any important matters that might have you seeking out my company? You know well where to find me." She offered the man a curtsy that did not give the impression of age at all. Deep and graceful as she straightened. "And any visits would be greatly enjoyed by myself, no matter the reason for it."

"It was a selfish idea," words lingered to be spoken, "to have you near. To know you better with each passing day. As usual, you are wise. I can at least offer you what you need to turn this into a retreat or an area near if you wish to preserve the privacy of your home, here," giving a slight indication of hand as sight passed beyond her face to the cave opening beyond then back, "only as many as you could handle," not wishing to overwhelm her either and they would need have the trainable talent. He didn't know how she would want to go about this but he was there to see to whatever she needed, beyond the crystals which he would retrieve for her. He knew of a cave that would lead down into the very heart of that mountain.

It took a moment for her to answer. Intrigued for that passing of time by his confession. "One or two can bunk here." Surely there would not be a need for more than that at any given time. "And you, my Highness, you will come to
check on their progress personally on a regular basis?"

"Aye, that would be my pleasure." Deciding saying less was far better than tripping over his own two shoes or tongue as some would say. Not a very good image of one what was more than man, more than a king. "I shall not keep you this day then and be off to get you those crystals. As I know where to find you, so you know where to find me." Knowing too, it didn't always mean a physical place to be able to contact the other. Words hung a moment before he stepped into her personal space, the touch of a hand to cup her left cheek as the touch of his lips were placed upon her temple. A touch that had the buzz of an ancient call as old as the ground they stood on. Brief as it was the tingling sensation would last far longer in a ghosted trail as he stepped back. "Thank you," for she had not needed to help them, for she had willingly and because she was gracious about a promise that another may have taken advantage of. It spoke volumes to her credit.

So many years of solitude caused her to try to take a step back with his approach, but she couldn't, her body did not obey. Lips made contact with her skin, bringing with it a hum of eternity. The old woman closed her eyes, soaked in the sensation, stripping her of the age. Then all too quickly the contact ended and perhaps it was just as well. The vibration, however, lingered, staying with her, thrumming through her . She offered him a nod for the gratitude he spoke, and repeated his words to her benefit. "It was, and always will be, my pleasure." The guise shimmered, distorted, and she struggled to keep it in place with the powerful McLarkin so near. Gray hair darkened but with a grit of teeth, returned to waves of silver. She sucked in a deep breath. "I will await my rocks."

She shimmered in and out, old and young, young and old but he saw the young in her that it was becoming more the constant than the other. He knew she had a lot of tales to tell, rich fabric of life woven into the woman she became due to it. "I look forward to next we meet," eyes held hers locked to his a moment before a slight dip of his head was offered. There was nothing more except the temptation to linger. A temptation that was best not to indulge in at this point in time. The slight bow of his head with the step back was followed by a turn on his heel as he headed back down the mountainside to where he left his equine. It was only after he mounted that he sat a moment, reins laced through his hands, that eyes finally lifted to where he'd been, still seeing her standing there in his mind's eye. A smile came before he started off towards home and a task to be done which he would get volunteers for.

She knew his hesitation, had almost asked him to stay for some tea. Instead she shooed him on with her hands even though his back was turned to her and he made good his departure. She took one step back toward the mouth of her cave, and then another step, putting more distance between that which had tugged with such unexpected strength. She pressed a hand to her chest, drew in a deep breath and looked up toward the heavens, the facade slipping away only because she was once more alone. Kildare was home to her, as it was to so many and she could not have been more pleased to have the King home. To rule as it should be, having brought peace back to the kingdom. Peace. She had longed for it and now ... it was hers once again. Savina actually shuffled a happy little dance before she spun and re-entered her cave home. Ah yes. Kildare. What a wonderful, magical, perfectly ideal place.


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