Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 1
Kildare: Coveted Time
Two days before they were to set sail home, he sent word the night before to Alaina at the drydocks that he would be there to meet her for an afternoon spent together. The cook fixed him a basket full of various meats, bread, cheese and cold cider as well as lemonade and a bottle of potcheen. Yes, he had that brew sent up by a few cases while here. It helped to take the edge off a long day to ease into a good sleep at night. He rode a large dapple gray stallion with a mane and tail of black, bringing along a white Arabian mare with gray markings on her face and forelegs that matched the dark gray mane and tail. She was spirited and quick but well trained to respond to various commands. Attire was casual, tan poet's shirt left partially open, sleeves rolled up and lightweight durable brown pants. Riding boots and the usual sword strapped to his left hip with a hunting knife and smaller eating one. Once arriving, he dismounted to walk out onto the great expanse of decking to take a good look over all the improvements made and the port waters beyond. There seemed to be even more ships coming in to trade as well bringing in people that wished to make their home here once again or new.
A thriving, bustling port was a good sign of returning prosperity, peace and fair trade. The drydocks were in an ideal position to watch the comings and goings from the harbor, and Alaina enjoyed taking a few minutes every day to look for her cousins as well as observe the flags each ship flew as they made for port. The morning was spent working up a design for Queen Julia, but the afternoon was intended for James, especially when the draught foreman heard of the plans. When the bells rang the noon hour, he all but physically shoved her out of the door and onto the docks. Wearing her usual attire of loose-fitting breeches, boots and a close-fitting sleeved shirt rolled to the elbows, the dark hair was confined in a sensible braid, the eyes shaded by a hand as she watched him approach. A smile appeared, of course, and her free hand rose to wave him on.
A chuckle came under his breath as he could tell Alaina had help separating her from some project. He knew the feeling but was also grateful they would not be detained or he'd have to find a way to distract her from work. Some images came to mind that he may well use in the future if needed. Smile was lifting as his steps quickened taking him to her and into his arms. He didn't care who saw them, nor the kiss that seared over her lips all too briefly but that was as much he'd do in public. "I'm pleased we can finally have this time together in spite of that which would otherwise consume all our time. You are ready?" His hold easing with a glance up. "I'm impressed with all you have done."
"I'm ready. And I've had a lot of help." Still, the pride in her eyes and smile was unmistakable as she followed his look around the exterior of the drydocks, seeing one hull nearly ready to be turned and the crew working on it, while another crew was sanding down another to apply the pitch. "It's coming along nicely. The crews seem to be happy, and the few problems that have come to light have been easily handled." Looking back at him, she grinned as her arms slid around his waist, leaning into him briefly. "Where are we off to, Your Grace?"
shall have my ship brought here. It's in need of some repairs, last it
was used was to find my brothers and sisters who were besieged by
Doom, Black Beard and the Stirling Scourge." More mussed to
himself before eyes dipped with another smile to bear. "Into the
lands of Kildare, we shall ride to some of the boarders that are
officially Kildare lands but are met with resistance in acknowledging
the Crown." This way she would be aware for taking up the
position in the lands she might well need the information or if she
overheard anything as sailors sometimes liked to talk with a bit of
whiskey or rum in them that happened to know something. He gave an
upnod seeing one of her men stick his head out to see if she was there
still. Chuckling as he stepped to her side, leaving his arm around her
in escort to the horses. "I'm thinking, if you don't mind a bit
of a gift from His Grace, this Arabian is yours if you happen to like
her and will be good for riding quickly anywhere needed." It was
why he chose this particular one for her speed as well as training.
Once there he would easily lift her up to be seated in the saddle
before mounting the dapple gray. "She's called Grace, for her
speed and gait. Mackie is what I call this devoted workhorse."
"Indeed she is, when I bought my sister the pair of horses to start her stables, I had purchased a few more to have and brought these two here. There are other horses at Montrose too but most were needed by those working there and the guards. If Alannah chooses to stay in Montrose as her primary residence, I hope to convince her to take over the stable and keep the other in Whispering Pines, with one in charge in her absence. I fear," his voice lowering as they started on their way, taking the main road that led up and away from the port towards the castle, although they would be going far beyond that, "she would become a recluse only taking care of Da and no life of her own." He knew how devoted Alannah could become, especially where their father was concern and put aside any life of her own. The day was warm but not too hot, breeze offered a respite from the heat of the sun blaring down over them. A few clouds on the horizon offered relief in the hours to come with their diffusing the sunlight. The roads were kept clear and in traveling condition well beyond the castle area. The further they got out it gradually changed to more scraggy roads and those upon them at times. There was a wagon to pass with a few rough looking men, that James let his hand settle on the hilt of his sword. They noticed and if there were certain other thoughts they were dismissed with a nod as they continued on. They may well have noticed the ensign on the hilt and the way fashioned in who he was. It was done discreetly in that silent language or more warning but Alaina would be one to notice. Which had him concern, "one reason for the swift Arabian," words lowered as he drew closer, setting a good pace but one they could still talk. "I would request for your safety to have a couple of your men ride with you especially if you travel at night in these areas far from the castle or Montrose." The group they passed were tame in comparison to others about still.
Her eyes were watchful as they rode, aware that the roads could harbor some unsavory sorts looking to capitalize on unwary travelers. She didn't wear a sword, but she had a dagger and wore one of her pistols as a precaution. When they encountered the rough looking men, she glanced over to see the hand on the hilt, but made no overtly threatening motions, not without his prior command; Alaina trusted James to handle the matter without her interference. At his request, she smiled faintly. "Since you ask it, I'll see that it's done. Even the most capable can be caught unawares, and there's safety in numbers." It wasn't him suggesting she was a weak female or incapable of looking after herself, not at all; she recognized that, but the concern of someone who cared for her well being. "As for your sister..." A teasing gleam appeared in the dark eyes, "It's a pity the Regent's betrothed and rumors have the King with his eye on someone. Lady Alannah would make a fine wife and lady of the court. She seems like an angel to me." Not that she knew Alannah all that well, beyond Cait's letters and James's references to her.
"Aye, you are as wise as you are beautiful, Alaina." Stubborn in some areas was just foolish to downright stupid to take such risks. It was what got skilled men and women killed. The thanks was in his eyes for he would worry on her if he knew and he knew she was mobile a lot. One of the reasons for the ride aside spending time together, she would at least start to know her way around. He slowed the pace they were riding as he looked for a small road, or more like path that was not so easily seen for the growth of oaks and pines. "Here," indicating a breach in the brush that he led his horse up over the embankment into the forest. Once a short distance in it became more pronounced as a well laden path that would fit two horses side by side.
"Lead on, I'm right behind you." Alaina prided herself on not being a fool, and though she didn't have the experience he did, admitted when she was out of her depths. Wanting to prosper, not just survive, she wasn't averse to accepting prudent advice. "Thank you for thinking so, but it's just common sense, wouldn't you say? You know these lands, I don't. Always defer to the wisdom of an expert." It was half teasing, half serious. Looking up as they guided their horses in, she felt the immediate drop in temperature that signaled a thick canopy of trees overhead.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 2
"It is but we both know how many are born without it or so seems. Even those with common sense could misstep and it be fatal." The forest was alive with game as they startled deer, grouse, pheasant and even quite a few wild turkeys. There was the usual amount of various birds, squirrels, chipmunks and even snakes. Most harmless but it was wise to be careful there too. There were rattlers especially in the more rocky areas and deeper forest. Sunlight filtered through the foliage of leaves shifting in near blinding spots at times. The light drawing pictures on the bark of trees where it filtered through, one looking like the head of a bear before gradually changing as they passed. "It is said there is still magic in these forests but the spells of the witch died with her. Some are kept out just by the rumors, beastly creatures still exist that managed to survive in spite of her demise." He wondered if she had heard such superstitions as sailors tended to speak on them a lot more. He gave a signal with the press of a finger to his lips as he slowed Mackie to a stop to listen. In spite of the sounds of the forest there was a distant one of tools being used like an axe to cut wood. Voices indiscernible from this distance and the tint of smoke just barely there in the air. He studied the trees that had grown so much in the years he was away but gradually figured them out, the markings made up a lot higher before indicating they continue a bit closer but quietly. He veered the stallion off this small road and into the forest picking his way carefully. It would bring them up to a higher point of a small mountain as the various noises grew louder.
She followed quietly, taking her cue from him to guide the mare into placing her feet daintily on the forest floor. Fortunately, the pine needles acted as a carpet to muffle the horses' hooves. Alaina too heard the sounds of axes as they thudded into the trees, occasionally a loud crack or a sound of splintering rang out. Frowning, she loosened dagger and pistol in case they were needed but again would take her cues from James as the landowner and resident here.
He was down to lead the horse onward as they got to the edge of the forest on this small mountain. Keeping within the trees and the horses behind them. They could see out to what was a village and where the more prominent sounds were coming from. Men and women out doing their daily tasks while children played, some in bigger groups of older ones in a field where they were practicing swordsmanship. There was a small market with goods to sell, some riders coming in along with wagons, one with a large amount of hay stacked high as pieces were left on the ground that managed free as the man and woman drove it in pulled by two work horses. It was the sight beyond that was of a descent size Keep, almost as large as Montrose as he spoke in lowered words. "Charles Ackerman, Earl of Cottonwood. Named for the many cottonwood trees. Father came from England, his mother from Kildare. A pretty serving wench that he defied his family and came here instead to avoid a setup marriage. I heard his wife died a couple years ago leaving him two sons and a daughter. He and another, a viscount by the name of Phillip Harman are good friends. I found that they were going to tie in with Ultan but they didn't trust him to give what he offered if they did. Phillip it is rumored is related. If there is trouble to brew they will probably be in it together. We don't know enough for the passage of time in severance but all these lands technically are all part of Kildare. Ones sent out to contact them, didn't return I'm told." This was a more recent development after dealing with Montrose. He pointed out to lands far beyond to the right, "that's where the smaller keep of Swan Lake spreads over very fertile land for planting. Probably where they get the goods for the market here. Cottonwood was known for its forges in making weapons and tools."
Listening as he explained the situation, Alaina committed as much of the information to memory as she could while watching the villagers go about their daily tasks. It was almost identical to the villages under her grandfather's control in Kintail, where there were just good people going about their lives without fear or conflict. A reassuring sight and a promise for the future, though what James said of the two nobles was certainly a valid cause for concern. Those in league with the English were bad enough, but in light of what she knew of Ultan Callihan, their involvement with him was far more worrisome. "Even if they didn't side with Ultan, fearing a double-cross, they might have thought to take advantage of the King's and Regent's instability at the time to set themselves up as sovereigns over their own lands. If they're supported by the English, as you're suggesting, I have a bad feeling it's going to come to an all out battle to reassert proper authority over them, not to mention the mess of trials and executions or exilement for treason." Dark eyes slid back to James with that, her expression all too solemn for the prospect; it was hardly an attractive one in light of the progress being made under the rulership of Leoric and Gaidan. "If they're killing the king's men, that's all but a declaration of war."
"It is believed the highwaymen that hit and run come from here or Swan Lake. There is no proof and I believe that Ultan is either here within these walls or the other. They may still consider him useful for connections to give him sanctuary. Maybe why the two never returned." Especially if they saw Ultan or his son. "I offered to go in diplomatic relations, with a small army but Leoric put a firm no to it once realizing Ultan might be here. He made me give my word I would not do it on my own. Once the idea Ultan could be here, it was easily given for there would be a battle and I'm not ready to die let alone foolishly. He is going to hire two bounty hunters he knows in Heathfield under Pierre Lafayette, who has a lot of connections and word about port along with many other ports. If needed, the two private investigators will be hired but not if Ultan is still there. We're hoping the bounty hunters can flush them out first for they would recognize the two." It was all still being determined what was the best course of action without the need of another battle but well prepared for it now with the extra army instilled from the last. He paused again as the thunder of hooves could be heard and a group of about twenty riders, well armed were riding in from the road leading to the other Keep. "We best go," under his breath as he eased back into the fuller cover of the forest. If groups were out, they might well be keeping check on this road if they knew of it. He knew another way through the forest for having grown up here when things were quite different.
The sight of the riders had her eyes narrowing as she briefly searched for any kind of sigil or insignia to indicate their leader or their employer. The search for Ultan was a necessary one, particularly as she'd heard of the pair's plans for Montrose and various members of the Callihan family, though she was no one to consider going in. The bounty hunters would be the best option, especially if one of the two noblemen were playing host to Ultan and his son. Nodding to his suggestion of departing, she followed into the woods themselves, active mind already working on the situation and its implications. "I fear that Leoric and Gaidan may not have a choice when it comes to a battle, James, not if the two nobles are bulking up their forces and if what we saw there is any indication, they're preparing to trench in."
There was the mark of a black dragon inside a circle indicating they were from this Keep, an envoy that had been sent out to conduct business with Harman more than likely. There was one with three bands of black over the sleeve of his tunic one might get a glimpse of but certainly too dangerous at this point to linger. James saw enough for now and would report that much to Leoric without having stepped over the boundaries. He kept to his word. Once they were out of the forest, or this part of it, he helped her up before swinging up into the saddle on Mackie. He led them down along an embankment that gave way to a smooth flowing river. One of medium size but what was breathtaking was all the flowers in multitudes of colors lining its banks. Patches of wild iris in blues growing a bit higher at the very edge. Sun filtered away to fully washing over the scene as if they had come into a whole new world of its own. Otter, beaver and geese gathered in groups as well other varieties of wildlife. Little pieces of what looked like white fluff floated about in the air giving it a Fae appeal, butterflies, dragonflies also abound.
The change of scenery was welcome after the sobering sight at the village, prompting her to relax more. Studying the landscape, she had to laugh watching the otters at play. Reining in Grace to a halt, she glanced over at him. "You certainly can pick the spots, James. If you hadn't brought me here, I would never have known to look for this place. It's lovely."
"It was one of my favorites for fishing when a lad and older, a lot of rainbow trout are in there as well as other good size fish such as Bass." Taking her down to an area that opened up a little further down where there was sand for a stretch along the shore where it was more trodden down. Most likely for use as a watering area in the evening by bigger animals and the deer by day. He dismounted here, taking the moment to help her down but once to her feet and in his arms she would get a fuller, more in depth kiss. One he obviously had planned and waited for this moment. Grace even nudged her as if making sure she was as close as she could get to James. She might wonder if he taught her that.
She might wonder on it... when she had a minute to breathe and regain her wits. For the moment, she was much more interested in the kiss and the man whose arms were around her. Lifting hers to twine them around his neck, she lifted her chin to make the kiss easier and returned it with equal interest for the embrace, her body against his but not overtly pressing to him.
drank deeply taking his time to fully kiss her complete. She would
hear the result in the thicker quality of voice as he murmured
against her lips, "I have fallen in love with you, Alaina."
Which was a big step for him to admit such but he knew it to be
true. Not expecting anything said in return as he engulfed her in
his arms to just hold her a few moments with nature in one of its
peaceful scenes all around them, as if to keep her safe to him. This
woman he knew could take down a few men bigger than him if
necessary. It was something else within him, of man and woman in
this way he was feeling the profound effects of at the moment.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post #: 3
"Aye, that is what has been happening to me, especially when I hold you in my arms like this. To have you on my mind more often than not, wondering what you are doing at the moment while I tend to tasks. Wondering if you are sassing out one of your men. Wondering if you think of me as often I do you. Wanting you to be in my arms again making these moments even sweeter still. I'm figuring that is what love is about. Loving thoughts, worried that your safe, that the day goes well for you." Smile lifted and grew, "it is far better when the other feels the same." He knew the time was growing later but still time to have their respite here on this embankment that brought back the fondest of memories and time here making them better still. "I believe some apples were packed for the horses," for certain Grace was trying to get at it while attached behind Mackie's saddle and he trying to nudge her out of the way. One last kiss to steal before his arms eased away so he could retrieve the basket and keep the two from any incident.
She needed the moment as he tended to the basket to settle racing heart and steady her nerves, reaching to catch Grace's reins to scold her gently. "You'll get yours, you greedy lass. Mind you behave as a proper lady, or else you'll wait for your treat." The mare tossed her head with a whicker as if she understood, making Alaina laugh. "Do you want some help? There seems to be a blanket of some kind, that I'm guessing is for our use..." Quieting for a moment, the dark eyes rested on him before she added gently, "It's all new to me, these feelings, but I can say, I'm glad they're directed at you. I think I can even tell when they started."
there is," chuckling for her taking Grace in hand, the mare
needed a strong one for her willful ways at times. He
unstrapped the rolled up blanket which he tossed over to her as he
got the basket next. The seriousness in his eyes returning as he
soaked in her words. "This is new for me. I've seen others
over time but never knew firsthand what it was like." He
didn't consider others he met or even slightly involved with over
the years, far too brief with no inclination on his part to change
that. Not until he met her. "I don't know about you, but I
think I noticed that first time when my brothers bought their
ships from you. The way you walked, the way you talked in an easy manner
sure of yourself I found myself admiring. I had all to do about
not going with you to see the ships being it was more for them on
their own." They would have taken it as big brother having to
hover over them. He was around with the basket in hand and leaving
Mackie to roam as he'd stay near. He flipped open the one side to
retrieve two apples, one to give to Mackie before he wandered and
the other to give her to give to Grace who was starting to get
impatient as soon as he took them out. Guess what her favorite
"You insisted in helping us and I couldn't resist knowing you had the skills. The first was notice but it grew far more that day." The muscle along his jaw tightened just remembering how she got hurt and carrying her. That had been the least he could do as his heart pounded that day, seeing her like that and still sassy. Thoughts for another time as it was their time to relax, enjoy what nature offered them in setting and each other's company. If there was to be racing of the heart it would come from another reason like feasting on her lips. "Would you like to choose the spot?" Smile tipping back to life but there was that look in dark eyes that held fast.
those eyes made her smile deepen as she caught up the blanket,
then looked around. There was a shady spot under an oak tree whose
roots made an ideal nesting spot not far from the wild blue iris.
"There looks like a picturesque spot for a picnic. Almost
makes me wish I could paint, to capture it for all time."
Chuckling as she headed over with the blanket to spread it out for
them, she raised another, unrelated question. "Forgive me for
prying, but I've been wondering on something you said earlier,
about Alannah. Is there none who have caught her eye yet? I don't
know the lady well, but if you'll excuse my boldness, if there was
ever a lady made for marriage and family, I'd have to say your
sister would be she."
Nodding as she settled onto the blanket, she sighed, hearing what was said. "I don't believe there's anything between Daniel and your sister; he considers her a friend and a brave lady, but no other warmer feelings seem like they're growing." Drawing her legs up, she studied him for a moment. "No, I don't see your father doing that to his children, though there's been times - at least in my family - where it's worked out well, but always with my cousins' consent to the matter. I wonder if there's a way to either persuade her to leave the house... or to bring others to her without her realizing what's going on."
"I think Da will want to see her off with a family of her own eventually now that he is growing stronger. I think it was more that before he wondered if he'd die and no one would even notice, plus he needed more care and was shut off from all of them. Once we have him home and situated, I, or we," giving her that look she was invited if she wanted, "can talk to him about it. Perhaps some parties there or even guests to be invited at times in a show of good will." There were ways around it to either bring her out or easier perhaps, to bring ones there she could meet. Leaving her to at least have the opportunity. "She was getting out some to the Thistle and Lake I believe. She gave her favor to one of the upstanding citizens in the joust although he didn't do too well and I heard she thought she was the bad luck for him." Which certainly didn't help!
part earned him a long, curious look. "Do you think she might
have the start of an attraction for him? Thinking you're bad luck
for someone, while it isn't true, suggests a level of concern a
degree or two warmer than the norm." Reaching for a piece of
bread, Alaina bit back a chuckle. "Listen to us, conspiring
as if we were a pair of old hens. Maybe you should invite this
upstanding citizen to pay a visit to Montrose. I can certainly
sail down and bring him up if he's willing. That way, we can watch
your sister's reaction to him." Alannah wasn't going to thank
either of them for this, but Alaina wanted to see her happy... and
she suspected that would mean a family of her own.
"Very true." She had a wicked thought but repressed it out of respect for the poor lady and her brother, consuming the bread and a piece of cheese as she studied the river. "That sounds like a good idea. Your sister Regan would probably know who she's been around, and Cait's an absolute mill of information when she wants to be." Following his gaze as he spoke, she nodded, "Definitely don't want to come swimming then, though this would be a nice place for it as we get into summer...." Alaina had a thought and glanced back at him measuringly. "You wouldn't happen to need a cook, would you?"
"I think we have our resources when the time comes to make use of them." He would not be good at matchmaking but he could see she got time to spend with friends and if anything more happened, he'd not be opposed. "We shall come here again, you and I, when calm weather and take a swim. Unfortunately we will need to get back as I'll be staying there at the drydocks if you have room for one more. I've sent any things needed to the Drifter." It was tomorrow night they would set sail in the evening and he'd get to see more than the glimpses so far. He also had a list of things to bring back from Heathfield and needed to set up the unloading at the Dancing Dolphin. Perhaps they could have a meal there, which had him asking, "would you like to have dinner with me tonight at the Dancing Dolphin?" They could talk about the cook he had then.
course there's room for you, and you're always welcome." She
laughed as she nodded, then pretended to consider the question for
all of about two minutes before she agreed. "I'd be
delighted. But if we're going to have dinner, I too should be
getting back. There's plenty still to be done."
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 4
It was a warm morning with a soft breeze, promising the day to get hotter still by mid afternoon at least. James had one of the household lads bring a note to Alannah, who he believed was in the kitchen helping the cook, if she could join him at her stables. He was going down to take a look over all she had done and have two of the horses saddled up. It had been a long time since he and she had time to talk without it being a family affair. They had been the first born daughter and they grew up close in their childhood. Teasing each other, competing as was normal in the way of it. He wore a loose fitting poet's shirt of tan tucked into riding pants of brown and boots that had seen many days of wear.
The note received, Alannah went to change clothes fit for riding ere she went to join James at the stables. She'd been up nigh dawn to clean stalls and tend the horses, then returned to join their father for breakfast and some time spent in tending his needs. It was coming from his rooms that she was intercepted and went to meet James. Tying her hair back in a ribband under a hat to keep her nose from burning, she wore what the Captain called divided skirt and low-heeled boots with a short sleeved blouse for the growing warmth of the day. She'd a notion the which to have saddled for him, as well as Daisy for herself.
He turned a smile her way as she approached then took her into his arms in a good brotherly hug. "You've done well with the stables here," a matter he wanted to talk with her on giving her some options. "I know the stables in Montrose could sure use your direction and hand in turning them back to what they once were. I hate to see you need abandoned the stables here so I leave the option to keep them too with an assistance in your absence to tend to them under your specifications. It would give you a reason to come visit us here at times for I know Da will be shoo'ing you out of the house if he feels you are devoting too much doting on him or hovering. You know how he gets, loves the attention but after a certain amount he is sending you out of the house yelling he's no invalid." Either choice was fine with him but he would at least offer.
"Aye, he will, but that is his way." She laughed with the thought of their father calling after her loudly and chasing her from his room. "I'd be pleased take over the stables up at Montrose, for I've come to enjoy my time spent. Can we find aught to serve as proxy here, I would be glad of it. Otherwise, I'll see to bringing my horses to Montrose to the stabling there. Have you aught in mind for the taking over, or no?" She reached up to offer Daisy a piece of carrot and then one to Merlin, a blood bay stallion she intended for him to ride.
can see to a proxy here. You can come down when you can, once every
few months for inspections. Have the one send you a report every few
weeks or as often you need. Overall your expertise will continue
over the stables here. Bring any of the horses you want with you to
Montrose to breed too. I can always see to getting more, or having
you choose them, which might be better." He knew she could
handle both even from the distance and would be seen to here.
"Shall we?" as he was over to greet the stallion chosen
for him, running a hand down his nose then mane. He had a small
basket in case they wished a respite along the way, something to
drink and eat, as these hours were for them to talk. One long
overdue since he had to leave Montrose that time long ago.
He and Merlin eyed each other a bit in that way of assessment between man and beast. It started the respectful rapport in getting acquainted. He would help her with the tack for riding so they had the two horses ready in short order. He well noted how clean she kept not just the stalls the horses were in but her office too. "I'm right impressed, Lanna," reverting to the childhood affection of her name besides Pumpkin. "No matter where life calls you, you should always have a few horses to take care of if not a whole stable." Which right now she would have good size stables to run. Once the horses were ready, he'd help her up even if she was right capable of it herself before swinging up into Merlin's saddle. Leaving him a moment to adjust to his weight. "I might beg of you to keep him." Giving her a wink before recalling. "Did the mare have her foal yet?" Of the pair he started her out with as a gift.
"She dropped a fortnight ago, a handsome little colt. I've taken to calling him Dodger thus far, though it's an unlovely name." Settled in her saddle as if born to it, she adjusted Daisy's reins and gave the mare a bit of a nudge out into the paddock towards the gate. "The other we expect will drop in the next month or so."
He followed alongside. "I'll have to make the time to see him, maybe a good racer in his blood. Dodger," repeating the name as he rather liked it. A chuckle followed and once out of the paddock, one of the lads seeing to closing it for them, he headed for the open fields. Wild flowers bloomed in abundance as well colors as they took their time. The field leading into another with only the need of passing through the edge of the forest. "There is a lot of game to be had here in these forests." They were situated near the royal hunting grounds with permission to hunt them. He continued through this field that became an incline leading up to a rocky area he let the stallion pick his way up through. Up and between some large boulders before it flattened out onto a plateau of grass and trees again. He chose a grassy spot where it opened up over the cliffs with a very scenic view. "Come take a look, Lanna," reining in Merlin before dismounting and leaving him to explore for some sweet grass and clover.
His words were answered with nods or quiet ayes, for she preferred concentrate on the ride and the scenery rather than talk, but as he reined in, so did she to swing down from the saddle. Landing to the grass, she left the reins loose, commanding the mare to stay with but a word ere she went stand beside him and look over the landscape. "Beautiful, aye. There is ever aught new and lovely to be seen and never the same twice."
He slid one arm around her, reminding him of a time long ago when they were little and had gone out exploring. They had found a spot much like this and spoke on their dreams of what they would one day become. "I remember a time when you spoke on riding the wind with the wild horses. How much you loved the horses and still do. I remember telling how I was going to grow up into the most noted warrior this world had ever seen. You teased me about being a Prince and finding a princess and I teased you about being a princess and finding a prince." Pretty much the gist of their long ago conversation. "Are you happy, Lanna? Do you still have dreams? I know they are no longer seen through the eyes of a child when we were much freer then to dream."
"Aye, I remember." Her lips curled in a smile full of memories of a time seemed long ago yet not as she leaned to his side and laid her head to his shoulder. "I would say a Duke is nigh to being a Prince... and perhaps it is that my brother has found a Princess to suit him?" Alannah thought on the conversation with her sisters and Cait from yesternight and raised a gaze to his face a moment. "I've dreams yet, and it's not likely as I'll cease the dreaming, but the older I grow, they change to suit the age. Simple dreams, to be sure, but they're honest and my own. The horses were one, and you saw it come to pass for me. The rest..." She tried shrugging to make it a casual remark, looking back to the scene laid for them by Nature herself.
"Aye, I've fallen in love for the first time. I plan to marry my Princess if all continues to go well. Not so simple as seen through the eyes of a young lad. She knows my feelings and shares them. So in that I've been lucky. I'm a few years older than you and it took me this long. Perhaps we are not so different still in those areas. I hope you do for it would be right proper for you to not only have children one day but to love and be loved in this way. I may not have said it often enough as the time away, living day by day to stay alive in the colonies, it brought home that if I got to see my brothers and sisters again to let them know how much I love them all. I love you very much, Lanna, even if I've never been one prone to such words and I dearly hope you one day sooner or later, have what I have found. I wish this for you most deeply as I wanted to see you have your other dreams too. But it needs to be love and that I cannot make happen for you." Although he could see to her at least having the opportunities to meet others and not just locked away in the Keep of Montrose. "Nothing less than a Prince will do," fingers gently gripping in a little tug against him for teasing that much. "Then again, the man should be a prince in your eyes."
"I'm pleased for you, James. I knew no ordinary lass would do for you, but a woman true and strong, who can stand beside you no matter the what comes." Feeling her eyes mist a bit with joy for this most beloved brother, she looked away so as not to show them. "I love you too, and I think Alaina will make you a fine wife and helpmeet. For what it is worth, you've my blessing and wish to see you two married. I'll be proud to call her sister, for knowing she stood beside you and the others in retaking Montrose." When he turned the talk to her, she sighed and let the smile fall from her face. "I've not lost hope of finding love, but I fear I'm ill-made for it, be he frog or Frog Prince. I am happy with my family, with Da and my horses. To ask for aught else seems selfish, in the way of things, but I'll not turn it away does love come for me. There's naught amiss with waiting for the truest kind that lasts, no matter what age I may be."
don't think our lives will be placid or dull as stubborn and set in
our ways we both are but I think the love we share and intelligence
to know better at times will see us through any clashes." It
was the fact most of the time they saw things eye to eye. One good
clash already but it proved a lot to them both and seeing their
feelings either might naturally overlooked. "I can hope she
becomes like a sister to my brothers and sisters and that her family
likes me well enough once I meet more of them. I'm pleased you like
her for it means a lot to me." Smile lifted with a dip of his
head to meet her eyes. He knew they had misted before, he could tell
by her voice and so gave her that space. "I know you'd not ask
for more, but know that I had not, it shall come like a thief in the
night to steal your heart away with the right one." He knew
there was a bit of sadness they would all be feeling with somewhat
of a separation with two places to seemingly divide them. Except he
felt they might actually see each other more for time would be made
of quality to be spared. Too often they all lived in the same place
and not really see each other than passing for things taken for
granted. "I will do all in my power to see this family stay
strong together." He'd tow all three of their
"We will all do our parts. Regan has promised she'll come to visit as often as she can, and Deirdre is to come once or twice a month if not more. Adam will be the one difficult to bring round, for he feels his responsibility as Harbour Master keenly. I've few worries over Faelan and Morgan finding their way home either." Alannah permitted herself a soft laugh. "We're reunited, James, I do not think you need fear us coming apart, not with Da restored and Montrose our own home again."
"Aye, one thing that has made me very proud of you all, is the loyalty to your word and the honor in your hearts. You all do the Callihan name a great honor even with the diversity of your personalities. You will get to see me a lot, although I will be traveling too." That would be expected even if he was only stationed out of Montrose. "I wish to warn you being you are to return to Montrose and a real concern if Caoime should. There is still unrest dealing with the Earl of Cottonwood, Charles Ackerman and the adjoining lads of the Viscount of Swan Lake, Phillip Harman." She should recognize the names even if there had been little dealings with the English lords over the past decade or more. The names heard more when children. He drew in a breath here. "My concern is that Ultan may have taken up sanctuary with them and they oppose the Crown, or at least not recognizing it. The King sent two men to talk to them and they have not returned." Although no heads were sent back or such to indicate they were dead and a statement back in that way. "I cannot go in for Ultan would recognize me as well if I hired the two private investigators at this time we used here in Montrose. Two bounty hunters from these lands, respected men, are going to be assigned in flushing Ultan out if he is there in either Keep. Alive. What Ultan did makes it hard for treason deserves death. Only reason he may stay alive is out of respect to us." It was a grievous point especially were Caoime was concern. He would need make the time to talk to her, reassure her none of them held her responsible for her father or brother if he indeed was as bad.
She recalled the names well and committed them to her memory for the future. "Aye, I remember them, and will keep an eye and an ear out to aught that may be heard. As I'll keep Caoime close to the keep or with me and one of the guards does she wish venture out. It is not unlikely that Ultan and Gillean will wish reclaim her to use as a bargaining point with either those lords or other confederates in their planning." Nodding for the thoughts, she could not hide the reaction the mention of treason's accustomed sentence brought for concern for Caoime. "She knows well the price to be paid for his deeds, James, and tries to harden her heart, but it's difficult for he is yet her father, and Gillean her brother. I have told her time and again, there is not a one of us blames her for aught they did, but thank her for the care she tried to give Da best she could without raising Ultan's knowledge or bringing both to trouble. It may be best, do you ask me, to find a role for her out of Montrose where she can find her own self and place, and know herself to be a Callihan enough to regain her pride."
"If Ultan thought he could he would. I think presently they are just holding on by the skin of their teeth with little thought of Caoime. Gillean, I am not sure of and wish not to throw out the baby with the bath water. I will find a way to find out his heart. I can hope he is under pressure of his father, that Caoime might at least regain her brother if nothing more." He drew in a breath here for it tore at his heart for his cousin. She had made a huge difference in their father surviving. "I am willing to establish anything you feel suited to give this confidence back to her. I know our father would do anything for her too. She was a very big part in saving his life by saving his sanity and strengthening his will to survive or our coming would have been a mote point by the time we could. What role do you think would give her pride back?" He was relying on her expertise and wisdom in this area as she knew Caoime the best.
"It is difficult to say. She's a love of books as ever, and a talent for things not... usual." Alannah was attempting be careful in her words when speaking of her cousin for she wished be concise in defining Caoime to James. "The lass has a sensitive nature as well. Is there aught you know of who would welcome someone like Caoime, putting her to work but nurturing her heart and soul, not just her mind?"
"We can have her restore the library at Montrose to start then see where these other talents are more precisely. Is she good, like Deirdre, with the small wild creatures of the forest or sensitive to humans in knowing things about them?" He would need more information and possibly find some of that out in talking with Caoime directly if she opened up to him. Thoughtful look on something just as important as any political matters as far as he was concern. "We should get back soon as we have a bit to eat and drink but I wanted to point out something to you here," while they were standing where they could see so much. His free hand lifting to indicate in the distance an area cleared near the edge of the forest, where a river ran and even part with a beaver dam a little ways swelling into a small lake. "There is the Indian camp set up by Downy Feather and Xander's twin sons." They could see the small ribbon of smoke rising and movement even from this distance, not much further was Whispering Pines nestled in its namesake.
Poster: James Callihan
Post # 5
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 6
The Undercover Assignment
procrastinated again but things should be in all good time. Time was
running out as he'd have to leave tomorrow on a ship headed
for England. Everything was set up and in truth, better he tell them
right before than days before when it was still up in the air and
anything could change. This time it didn't after being put off a few
times when he should go. Certain contacts had to be in the right
place for all this to work. He gave Josh and Tamara a few to
wash up after dinner, letting their meal settle with a request they
join him in his study before nearing the time they went to
bed. A good two hours before in
case he needed to answer any questions he could. He could only say so
much and really not a whole lot on the mission itself. The fairy
fossil sat on his desk and the wooden carrier beneath where the
winged cat slept presently. She had been fed and soon that care would
be taken over by Tamara. Two items he had purchased recently and
arriving that morning. The cat especially since it was one Tamara had
wanted many months ago and luckily the woman still had her. He
was attired casually, poet's shirt tucked into brown pants and boots
lacing up, arms folded over his chest as he leaned against the front
of the desk, hiding the area beneath as well facing the door.
Green eyes had a distant look as he waited, once more reflecting on
things in how fate played out.
grinned at Joe before she was down to open the carrier. First the note
was read, then she repeated the name. "Etsy. I'm going to let you
out now." She said softly before the carrier was opened. All
black save for the inside of her wings, and with pale blue eyes, she
popped out her head and let out another meow. Tamara offered her hand
for the kitten to sniff, petting her and scratching her ears. She
stood, allowing Etsy to become used to her surroundings and hugged her
Da tightly. "Thank you, Da. I'll take really good care of her and
train her and everything."
within and quick notice of those there before focus was on Tamara.
"Lo, little lady," ice blue eyes flashed as he dipped his
chin in, noting the cat in her arms as he reached out, fingers working
in petting her fur about her head and neck. "What do we have
here?" Noticing the wings with a lift of a russet brow. "An
extraordinary kitten it seems." He was getting those flowing
vibes that were not just her purring for the attention. "Evening
Joe, Joshua," not looking their way as he greeted for his
attention on this very unusual cat.
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 7
Etsy." She gave a hint of a smile as she spoke. "Like itsy
bitsy Etsy. She's my friend already and we just met." The cat's
eyes held an intelligence in spite of her young age. She fell silent
when Josh spoke and peeked at the fairy fossil again. Poor fairy but
if it still held magic, that could be a very good thing. She looked at
her Da and was back over to him, leaning against him. He was going to
be getting lots of hugs tonight.
caught that look, had one of his own she would recognize as well,
"c'mon," quietly as he ushered her quickly upstairs and to
his room. There were carvings all over the place, desk, shelves,
bigger ones on the floor along the wall. There was also a
comfortable bench, one with a back and cushions on the seat near a
window where he could watch the weather outside. A bench he had made
of recent and quite proud of the sculpting of dragons, wizards and
knights in bas relief along the back and arms. "So, what do you
have in mind?" Words kept low even if regular tone wouldn't be
heard by their father for the distance between.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 8
Trip Back to Montrose, Kildare
James was in a
steady contact with Leoric and Kildare. Suspicions on where Ultan was
but nothing concrete. Rowan was getting impatient to getting back and
seeing to his Keep firsthand. Still, he had to wait for the safety of
all. Nothing seemed to change, quiet presently so this would be a good
time to finally get his father home to Montrose and those going as
well staying there. Get them all settled in before winter was in full
bloom and far more dangerous. That fact pushed the decision as well,
still taking into account of the other reasons. He sent out word to
Alaina and her crew as well his siblings alerted to pack anything left
not packed yet the day before they were to leave. This also would help
in security for an uneasy feeling on all of this. He went into his
father's room while waiting on Alannah and Deirdre who would help in
getting their father out to the carriage and down to the port.
"Are you ready father?" Noting the trunks packed which he
had two hired men take out. They were on his heels to see to the task.
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 9
Darkness still shadowed his room as he moved in the silence of the hour just before dawn. The silence was near deafening or perhaps it was the weight upon shoulders and heart that made him feel this way. He knew Josh and Tamara had been up to something last night but nothing seemed to be amiss as he headed down the steps. He too knew where to step so as to not have a creaking sound peep. In this kind of silence it would be as good as a bellow. He would travel light as the one duffel bag afforded. In these situations one had to be ready to run. If possible grab anything personal so the less to grab the better. One item, the duffel bag. Simons, his long trusted butler, was up with a few words in encouragement and that the manor would be well kept in his absence. He had received word that Garath would be over early morn which would be in a few hours. The cloak was donned that hung ready in the hall, totally unaware there were some extra items in a hidden pocket. Simons saw to the door as Joe left, mounting up the ordinary roan stallion brought around. One that would be picked up at the stables behind the Thistle Tavern later in the day as he would make it on foot from there to the port and the ship getting ready to sail.
As he rode out passing through the gates, a shimmer drew down over his form changing his face to that of one known as Charles Abbott, an Englishman in his thirties. Beard with a scar hinted where the hair refused to grow leaving a small line along his jaw. Eyes were a faded blue under bushy brows and hair slightly unkempt cropped short with a receding hairline. Nose was small with a near squished look of one that had been in quite a few scraps. Cheekbones squared as well the jawline. The stallion was dropped off without question, borrowed from the McDonough stables which was quite ordinary in these lands and nothing to alert anyone of an oddity. With the duffel bag swung over a shoulder he headed the last leg of his journey here in Heathfield to the port. The ship would be leaving at dawn as the lighter shade was already hinting along the horizon before the sun coming up. Captain Milton Harris was on deck of The Sheffield as Charles boarded.
"Ah, Mr Abbott, good to see you again, it has been some years. I see you're after back to England with us again. I hope your travels have been prosperous." The older man studied the one that he considered an adventurer, mysterious one at that for the various ports he came across him. "The trip shall have good weather by all indications." Something Milton tried to schedule his runs with. He'd been caught in too many storms upon the sea in his early days and didn't care for any repeats after losing so many men during each.
Charles paused in his steps to salute the Captain respectfully. They had talked a few times but he avoided such friendships while undercover as well prying questions of the curious. A wrong thing said could cost him his head, especially with the English and well reminded himself. He hedged them with elusive, ordinary sounding answers but was wise to avoid such completely. "A good day to you Captain. Fair winds is what I wish for." The English accent came crisp and clear going well with his looks. He knew where his cabin was below that was assigned so continued from there not keeping any conversation going, leaving the Captain to his duties.
The long enough trip was uneventful, perfect in Joe's mind or rather Charles as his appearance and identity was known presently. The early morning was overcast as they ported in Southampton. One with a light drizzle, a typical day in England, rare were the ones of sunshine. The air held the oncoming winter cold this far south of the country at the ocean's edge. The Sheffield, a small brigantine, was going to be staying here for a duration from conversations he picked up. A few short trips before winter set in. Joe was counting on one of them being to Heathfield again or Kildare, which was closer, now that their port had become busier. He would prefer the trip back being on a ship he had a good idea of its captain and crew. Harris didn't seem to be directly under the thumb of England's hierarchy which was also a plus. An insignificant ship and captain, if they were even really aware of him.
Disembarking he headed for one of the better port Inns, The Dandy, one without a tavern although had a dining room that served all three meals for a reasonable charge. The rooms were plain but clean as he found in past expeditions. They would recognize him as one of many travelers that had passed through before without causing any trouble. One of an unknown background that spent a night or few and was gone. He signed the registry under Charles Abbott, before handing over a post to be sent, for a few more coins, to one Burgeous Northam in Winchester then headed for the room the key indicated. The note was simple in case intercepted by prying eyes: Birdie, I have the fusia pink silk material you so coveted from India. I'll be by soon to drop it off. CA. Birdie would not only know that he was in England but would be there in the next day or two.
Once within his room he locked the door securely behind him. He was tired he found and planned to get some sleep before an excursion this night to the portside tavern, The Blue Whale. It had been a descent place at one time but over the years in changing hands it had become a haven for the more rowdy sailors. Still it had local citizens that frequented and even some of nobility dealing in shadier deals. A place for all walks of life and information hub for its location. A perfect place to visit where something pertinent might be overheard. The crux being not to draw attention in the process or get into any of the many fights that broke out. Sometimes by their own bouncers that decided they didn't like someone just for their looks. He stashed the duffel bag under the bed before removing his cloak as he sat on its edge. It was in this process his hand happened to slide against the outside area material over the hidden pocket. It would not be noticeable to the eye but certainly to the touch of a Druid's hand.
He turned it open to the pocket, wondering what in the world he had left there, only to pull out the gift reminders from his children. Love so pure and endearing. It was honed into him that a man never cried but here alone in a place far away, he allowed all the emotions that had been regimentally confined their freedom. It wasn't the kind of heaving weeping but cheeks became wet as he sat there staring at the objects in his hand. He knew who the locks of hair belonged to as well the hand made talisman by his son, his appearance turning back to his own with the emotional release. It reminded him sharply of Maurice's words and knew he would need rein them in again. This was done as his features and overall appearance changed to Charles once more. Now that the blur of tears cleared as well, he noticed the fairy fossil seemed different. If he remembered correctly it was more a stone gray and now it seemed to have taken on a more fleshy sandstone color with hints of pinks. It seemed warmer as well, next he noticed the smaller lucky stone of Tamara's under the locks of hair. He lifted those to press a kiss, the scent of them to linger before mentally shaking it off and carefully placing them back in the secret hidden pocket as being the perfect place for them. Laying the cloak along the bottom of the bed, he then twisted around to lay down and get that sleep he was going to need in being alert this night.
Poster: Corina Turlough
Post # 10
Talk on Castle Matters
The museum was completed in being restored as well the gardens, now with a blanket of white over them in winter's sleep. It was a cold day in Kildare, snow falling as seemed the norm of late. Corina had been out earlier but now sought the warmth of the castle. To the library to be exact that was a sore sight presently. Many books had been left, covered in dust as she was seeing to that task along with the help of a maid. One area was clear, an old oak table polished and clean with tea set up as she left notes to the others where she would be if they had time. They had not gathered for a meeting of late with each their own tasks to be seen to, so one was overdue. There was a stack of parchments with reports she had skimmed over as she had been allowed to see them as such affected them all.
Rosalind liked the snow as it fell well enough, to be sure, provided as she did not need to go anywhere or step outside. As was the way of things with her, she kept to the castle when the cold was strong and the flakes fell from the leaden sky. Thinking to seek out Corina for company and to see aught needed be done for the coming holiday, she went to find her by way of the library. "Corina? Are you in here?"
She'd managed to lose her ladies somehow. It wasn't that they were particularly sneaky, but they did tend to move rather quickly. Hearing a voice that sounded very familiar, Alexandra stopped into the library and looked around for a pair of golden heads.
Long blond hair was kept back held by a multi color bandana. Something bright compared to the plain gray gown worn. She was hidden by rows of shelves, some with books, some mostly barren. She was up on a sliding ladder, flicking the dust rag to dispel some devil tails. "Yes," came followed by a sneeze. Milly, down the next isle, offered a god bless you. Coming down from the ladder she moved out into the isle where seen. Smudges on her cheeks didn't stop the bright smile as she was quickly over to Rosalind first for a quick warm hug then Alexandra in turn. "I'm pleased you could make it today. Vadoma is out meeting some of the newer families as well ones not met yet." There were becoming many citizens each week as Kildare was growing now that there was a true King and even a Regent in command.
Returning the hug, she smiled warmly for the greeting. A bit of a laugh given for the smudges to fair cheeks. "You look well busy the day. Are you needing some help?" She laid her shawl aside, intending lend her hands to the re-organizing and dusting. "You ought have told me, for I'd have come when you did. Hullo, Alexandra, are you come to help as well?"
"I can, if that is what my ladies wish. But I think we might need to look into some pinafores for you." She chuckled softly. "This is obviously dusty work." Giving Corina a quick hug, and a curtsy, she reached over and gently removed one of the dust bunnies from Corina's shoulder. "But it'll be gorgeous when it's finished. A library fit for royalty, as it should be."
"It was a spur of the moment as I passed by this room earlier this morning and said to myself, it needs attending. Libraries are important and one day this room will be grand again. At least it will be clean. All the help gained makes it go faster and easier." She enjoyed their company as Millie came out long enough to dip a respectful curtsey to them all then went to get new rags and more polish. A smile flashed Millie's way, thankful for her diligent work. "This is Millie if you have not met her yet. I found her in the kitchen as an extra and decided she would do better as a personal maid." Which she could be shared with the others to keep her hands busy as she was assured it was her wish. Hard worker that saved all coins earned to help out her family. They had plenty of work besides kitchen maids that there might be too many of. Which brought to mind some organization needed.
"I think you should look over those reports as well Rosalind. They are a little upsetting but better to be known. Least the ones on the highwaymen that have ambushed ones riding alone outside the castle walls. The usually thievery and brawls that break out, some with a lot more damage than others. A few cases of men being abducted, shanghai onto ships leaving port. I think they are going to need a port master soon. Although that is more for Leo and Gaidan than us. I asked Vadoma to visit the new families, accompanied by two guards all considering, to find out by seeing firsthand what their needs are, conditions of living that maybe we can get a list and fulfill such with a Yuletide giving. Gaidan had spoken on me getting a new gown but after reading some of those reports I feel ashamed to, but would prefer contributing the money for others' needs. I have enough gowns that I can spruce up one to be more festive. It was mentioned about a feast that will be open to the citizens as well, they would not be in the grand hall, however, first for they would not all fit and secondly for security reasons but the knight's hall will be used." With the army and knights there as well, any potential uprising would be squelched.
mention of the highwaymen, she turned ashen, but nodding, recalling
well her journey to the north and the attack she herself was nigh
spared thanks to the knights and the rangers. "Aye, I will see
to them, however unpleasant, for it is worrisome and will need
be resolved. Does it mean more in the way of patrols and knights,
sure and we will need persuade Leoric and Gaidan to see it done, but
more to my worries are seeing the local families do well the winter
long with enough food and fuel, and those who have not yet sworn
fealty to the King and Regent of Kildare." She looked over the
shelves needing polish, glad for aught to do in the way of keeping
her hands busy. "I understand well your feelings on new gowns,
and to be certain sure, Corina, we will see to the charities of the
season, but I would remind you as well, you are to be a Princess,
wife to our Regent, and thus you've an image to maintain and
present. I had thought much the same myself, but I am nigh in the
same position as you, with wishing Leoric being proud of me. I think
as we can balance the new gowns with the good works needing be done,
especially come the feast and our families attending the holiday
with us. Aye?"
Tying Corina's first, then Rosalind's, Alexandra paid attention to what plans the two were making. Once Rosalind's excited words halted, she finally interrupted to speak carefully. "That doesn't mean you should both go haring off willy-nilly into danger, my ladies. Forgive me for speaking out of place, but you're both very valuable to the King and the Regent. You can't just go visit these places on social calls. Precautions need to be taken, and you both need to be aware all the time of the danger signs so that nothing happens. And I think Vadoma and I will need to brush up on our sword skills too. You both will need personal guards that don't draw attention."
love the way your mind works, Rosalind," that glint in green
eyes brightened with the prospect of a little adventure more than
captured butterflies within the castle walls. Then came the voice of
reason as eyes widened a touch Alexandra's way, "that's why we
will bring you with us, to remind us of protocol... if breech,"
such a bit of a wicked smile. "We will get the approval of Leo
and Gaidan," of course there might be some side things along
the way. "A troop of guards if we venture to any outlaying
villages." Although she was not so sure they would be allowed
to go that far in the more lawless areas even with a troop
of guards. So the question was, how did they find out on the status
of those, who were also citizens of Kildare. She had that hmmm look
to her features.
"Well, when you both put it that way, I can still object, just without the valid reasons. I don't know if King Leoric or Prince Gaidan will be alright with this, though." Alexandra wouldn't, not if it was her fiance going off into unknown territories!
we will just have to find out tonight at dinner. Both will be
in," Gaidan had left the reports for them to go over while the
two were away a couple days to see to some matters directly. Which
she had gotten wind of. "Did you hear any of the rumors about
the northwest section of deeper forests being inhabited by leftover
beasts from when the Witch ruled? They somehow had gotten away from
her rule so when she died, they were not pulled with her." It
was a little unbelievable yet caused a shiver to run through her on
another level that didn't have the problem of logic.
"Do you mean things like the manticores and the beasts that look like bears, but they walk on their hind feet?" She'd heard some of the more wild stories, wanting to dismiss them as speculation and a taste for the sensational. Courtiers did like to scare themselves with a good story, after all.
"I was taking a walk and overheard Niall MacKinlay speaking on it with Sir Vincent before speaking on it with Leo and Gaidan. I wasn't sneaking around, they just didn't notice me." She had on commoner clothing to fit in and not having knights, soldiers and the like keep bowing as she passed. "Of course my steps stopped and I just had to listen! I heard of bird type ones with razor sharp beaks, some kind of bull dog looking one that leaped. That was enough for me to hear and not get caught eavesdropping so continued on. I'm sure Leo and Gaidan will tell us more." Which it was getting to that time to clean up for dinner, she would need to take a soaking bath for the dirt. Glance taken of a window as dusk was coming upon them then back. "We can meet here again as we will know more after tonight's meal."
"Aye, that seems a wise course to follow. We're nigh covered in dust, so there's need to tidy up ere dinner is served. And once we speak to Leoric and Gaidan, we'll better know the how to proceed with our plans." She smiled, well satisfied with the thoughts and plans the three came up with. Four, did they count Vadoma, for certain sure she would be part of it as well.
my ladies wish. I see Milly is waiting for you, Lady Corina, so I'll
tend to Lady Rosalind this evening. I'm sure Vadoma will be waiting
for you both in the dining room." They took turns waiting on
the royal brothers and their
"Lead the way, milady." She curtsied as well, winking playfully at Millie as she followed Rosalind out of the library.
Poster: James Callihan
Post # 11
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 12
The Blue Whale
Edgar was a tall
man, well built that had seen his share of fights. Considered good
looking in a sharp cut of jaw look, one set in determination.
Reddish brown hair and clear gray eyes. He had come to frequent the
Blue Whale for a number of reasons. The least of which was the fine
looking woman by the name of Mary that served him. Information
flowed through this place like the drizzling rain associated with
England. If one frequented enough, bits of the puzzle were gained to
then take back and fit with other pieces. He passed the bouncer who
didn't try to stall his entry but he always got the feel the man
didn't like him solely for his occupation. Untrusting, which he
could understand. He gave a nod nonetheless and headed in.
immediately recognized by the three gents as well, whose
conversation also switched track to ordinary mundane things such as
a few social affairs coming up at certain estates. The group of
sailors also noticed those that came in and Edgar's bearing, as well
the information that flowed through the underground grapevines, had
the one placed as an official of the law. The hooded man continued
to keep to himself un-pulsed. A platter of food had been set of
bread, meat and cheese with a small bowl of soup that he started to
partake of. A few at the bar were talking, seemingly just met except
the one that sat in a position giving him the view of Ebb as well
the cloaked one. He was taking his time with his drink presently
while keeping to himself.
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 13
Edgar's three men were stationed appropriately, all taken in with a skipping glance before resting on George, the tender of this bar. His usual of an ale was requested, something lighter than whiskey which was his preference when working. Coin left to cover it as Mary sauntered by to fill her tray. She gave him the usual sassy look without a word before she was off in that graceful sway of hips. It had him turning to watch as it was one of the highlights in his line of work. It was then he caught sight of Ebb at a table and headed straight over, all thoughts on Mary gone. Coming up alongside the chair adjacent, "mind if I have a seat?" He intended to talk to the old man since his last appearance and tracking him so far had led to dead ends, seizing the moment finding him in the flesh.
Joseph could feel
the change in the air as soon as this particular man walked in.
He was not one he had come across so was fairly new in his position
with the English Crown. A new face but like the sailors he could
tell by his bearing what he was. Ebb was mopping off his
whiskers again as dull eyes lifted to try and peer at the man.
"You be wanting my chair? I think you can take any of the other
three. I'll not be needing those although I don't think you need all
three. One should do for you. There are a few tables left you can
grab one still that already have chairs there." He was rattling
on purposely mistaking the man's intentions.
He was about to
answer Ebb when the man started to swing his cane. Aware of the
crowd watching, Edgar started to grab for it when the sailor bumped
him from behind, pushing him into the table hard enough that he
winced. His three men were up and moving toward the table to
deal with the sailors and make sure they didn't interfere. They were
burly men but that didn't seem to bother the sailors. While they
were occupied, Edgar grabbed hold of Ebb's wrist to stop the use of
the cane. He grabbed the man by his cloak and tried to force him
toward the door. "Come with me," stern command boding no
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 14
a Wooded Area North of Southhampton, England
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 15
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 16
It was Joseph whose eyes flew open as if startled from so deep a dream little was remembered. He thought he heard a voice, a silken coaxing one and still his lips felt like they had been touched by another's. Uncertainty clouded thoughts as he sat up. A lingering dull ache in his head had hands lifted as fingertips massaged his temples. At first he thought he was waking up in bed at the Ranch, but the sounds associated were not there. Then he remembered the mission. "Hell.." not being sure where he was or if found out. The room cast in darkness didn't have the feel to it the one at the Inn had. His features went immediately back to Charles Abbott, or so known.
Jed seemed to pull from his daze the moment the Fossil Fairy disappeared back into the cloak. Not that he was aware of that fact. His hand half lifted with the mug of coffee that had been hot was now cold. That fact boggled his mind for a few moments though idly wishing he hadn't awaken from the dream with the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Certainly it was all a dream, except something nagged at the fringe of his conscious. He rebutted the thought to what was more logical. A dream. Lost for a few moments in such thoughts when he realized he heard a voice coming from Charles' room. The mug was down with a slosh of cold coffee onto the table as he near tipped over his chair getting out of it so quick. The door burst open as he stared a fraction of a second at the man sitting up fully conscious. "You're awake." Speaking the obvious without thought.
Joseph, as Charles, flew out of the bed ready for a confrontation. No weapons except his hands and wit. Once from the covers he realized he was stark naked as cold air hit. "I'm awake, who are you?" He didn't recognize the younger man in front of him. Didn't know if he was foe or friend.
Jed moved his hands up in a quick defensive way. "Wait," a touch of fear in his eyes for the look on the man's face boded he could well defend himself, naked and weaponless. There was something about him as he remembered from his youth how the man managed the impossible against all odds. "We are friends. Pulled you out from the fight at the tavern when you were rendered unconscious..."
"We," cutting him off as Joe picked up on that one word with a fleeting glance to the open door and light beyond from the kitchen. Luckily it was not a bright light for even the muted glow was a touch painful to his eyes after being in darkness for so long.
Jack, a light sleeper from years of practice and need, was up when he heard the commotion downstairs. A robe grabbed and tossed on as he flew down the steps. Noticing his son not in the kitchen area and the door open to the spare room, he was quickly there, blocking most of the dim light. Assessment was quick between son and the man standing prepared to fight before lingering on the latter. He had managed to catch the last of his son's explanation to Charles. He might not remember his son for such changes ten years from ten made but he hoped he remembered his face, older it might be as well but not drastic changes. More gray and less hair on his head. "I am hoping you remember me, us," motioning to his son with a slight turn of his hand, "Jack Mitchell, my son Jed, although we go by Walker now, me wife's maiden name. God rest her soul. You helped me boy out a decade ago and in turn us so we could avoid prosecution." Moving further into the room that he could be seen better and his hands out at his sides showing he held no weapon. He trusted on the goodness of this man he had come to know possessed not to attack.
Joseph visibly relaxed, taking a moment to grab the robe left on the bed to cover himself up with, as well warmth. "I remember you and Jed now. He's grown into a fine man." As he looked over the younger man with a more critical eye. "It has been a long time. I'm sorry about your wife." Having picked up on the phrase that indicated her passing. "Where am I and what happened?" His mind still in a bit of a fog. "Is there a woman here as well?" The recollection had him asking without much thought that it might be odd.
Jed let his father talk from here but the last had his eyes getting a touch bigger.
Jack blinked not just for the last question but the reaction of his son. Almost had him wonder there for a split second if his son had brought a female in. Knew in the next second that it was impossible considering where they were and he would know better. He shook it off. "No. There is no female here. We are quite isolated so we would not be found. This hunting cabin is not known about. A fight broke out at the Blue Whale when inspector Clarke decided to question Ebb Potter and the old geizer decided to resist. Clarke tried to take him by force feeling he knew where you were." Jack paused at this point in that split second decision, "he is trying to find the one called the Chameleon." Watching Charles intensely as he continued. "Some there didn't like the inspector harassing the old man whom they liked well enough, so they interfered. Next there were fists exchanged as Edgar's men stepped in, sailors, the bouncer and others wanting a fight. Ebb managed away but took a hit from a swung chair. Knocked him clear down behind a turned over table. Except, it was Charles lying there not Ebb." Leaving the last statement to sink in that he knew what happened. "You're the Chameleon, Charles. Me son and I got you out of there before they found out. You were in rough shape with the hit to your head, we weren't sure you were going to live. I'm pleased you have, I owe you a great deal for your help a decade ago. Me wife passed away about a year ago from illness. Something that went around and took many with it. Doctors were useless except for the rich."
Joseph, as Charles, soaked this all in, knowing that the time was reached when he could no longer continue as an undercover agent for the Crown. He had lasted decades longer than most and with his hide intact but to continue would not be the wisest decision. Everything in confirmation had come that after this mission it was time to retire. If he did, the Chameleon, as he was dubbed, would remain a legend. That was far more appealing than the other alternative. He knew he could trust Jack and his son or he'd not be standing presently in front of them. He would have been locked away, plus, rescuing him put their lives in grave danger as well. "You know the consequences if I am found with you. I need to get to Winchester, a friend there that can help me get out of England before I'm discovered, before any association with you and your son."
"I got your things from your room," Jed interjected as he motioned to the duffle bag setting on a chair against the wall.
Jack was making a few decisions as Charles spoke and then his son. "I would say my debt is met in returning the favor of you saving my son. I can get you to Winchester without taking the regular route which will be watched. I would like for you to take my son Jed with you, wherever you call home for it has to be far better than here. I'm sure his face was seen and it wont take them too long in coming around snooping to find out if he knows anything or connected with you." Knowing well other things might be found out and would put them both in jeopardy then. "I think you can train him better than I can from here. He's got the blessing of his mother's people." Not looking at his son through any of this for it was ripping out his heart, still, knowing it was the best thing he could do for him presently. "I have a few matters to see to without them getting hold of my boy to use against me." Finally he turned focus on his son, Jack looking the wear of his age and more in that moment. "This is not a whim, son. I've thought it over many times. If Charles will take you with him, there is so much of the world to open up for you that can never be gotten here. Once I'm done with matters here, I'll come an join yea if allowed."
Jed was staring at his father, disbelief written over his features. Stunned. So much so, he couldn't say anything at first. "..but Pa, I was going to help.." knowing well his words were falling short for the look on his father's face told him he'd made up his mind. When Jack Mitchell made up his mind, there was no turning it around. Worse, what he was suggesting made sense, much as he detested that very thought at the moment. He knew the law would use him against his father to bring him down if they could get hold of him. With this last involvement, they would come looking for him. As much as they both had been careful, neither expected the scene that night and a few of Clark's men got a look at him when he barged his way through to join up with his father in getting Charles out. His father at least had been cloaked. There were other thoughts playing on his mind from there that had him turn attention upon Charles for his reaction.
Joseph was soaking it all in. Logic dictated that he should turn it down flatly even if he needed their help in getting him to Winchester. He could manage it on his own as he was use to doing. Except, instinct had other ideas that he should take Jed with him. Not really for his own sake but the young man's. There was the hint of death to linger about the young man to be cheated. Joe had been good at cheating death for himself, why not another? Especially one so young that would otherwise have a long life before him. There was a long silence, or so seemed, as Joe warred between logic and instinct. Instinct always proved the better of the two, "aye, I'll take him with me but you have to follow my orders exactly, Jed. There cannot be any deviation for it could cost both our lives and probably your father's as well." More directed Jed's way but he was looking straight at Jack. "When you are ready to leave England, Jack, get a pass on the Sheffield, Captain Milton Harris, tell him to drop you off in the best port he knows." Being Milton always referred to the port in Barrett's Bay as that. "Head for the Thistle Tavern and tell the tender, Alex, who you are." Not adding details as it would get him there and Alex discreet who he'd tell. Which in turn would get to him and he would seek him out.
"Thank you for getting my things Jed," knowing he risked his life doing so and had accomplished it in spite of the inspector now on his tail. "I'd like to get my clothes on, something to eat if you have anything and on our way immediately. No time to waste in getting out of South Hampton." He wasn't sure how far Clarke's jurisdiction extended but he know they would be spending a few days here looking for him. The port would be watched especially as that would be the logical means of escape. Charles Abbott and Ebb Potter were wanted men so either disguise was not safe. His appearance changed right before them, confirming he was the Chameleon. "Meet Alger Windsor," the name chosen for there were many of the name and all associated with royalty. Enough to get him into places by the surname alone. The facade of Alger was an upstanding looking male. Tall, good looks, old enough to have a few gray hairs at his temples. Full beard and moustache helping with the distinguished look. Blue eyes and slightly wavy auburn hair. The looks not far off from his own brother which made it an easier one to keep up.
Jack felt as if he was holding his breath, never had he thought he'd bargain to help a man out, especially this man. Desperate times. Dire times and it was with much relief Charles accepted his barter in helping. He loved his son greatly, more than his own life. "Jed will follow your orders exactly or he will answer to me when I catch up with you both." He didn't know how long it would take to see to a few matters, months, possibly years, but he was determined to see his son again. He tucked away the information for when he got to that point, name of the captain, ship and tavern of a port with no name other than being the best one this particular captain knew of. "Jed will fetch your clothes while I go make us some breakfast. We leave immediately afterwards." About to turn in seeing to that task when he froze on the spot he stood. Staring. "Amazing," was the only word spoken in reflection of Charles becoming Alger. "Maybe you can teach Jed to do that." Little did he know of the future but sometimes things said came from something more than known presently. "Alger," testing out the name and almost felt like kneeling before him for the nobility extruded as well. A hand on his son's shoulder to pull him from staring before he was out to the kitchen to see to some food.
Jed was slack jaw and staring when Charles turned into Alger. Pulled from the stunned reaction by his father's hand like a life line back to reality. "I will bet you are none of these men. The real you." Which he would really like to meet one day and thank the real man for all he had done for them. Excitement brewed deep in his soul with the prospect of becoming an apprentice to the man he idolized, worshipped, since he was ten. He pulled from those thoughts to get the man his clothes. If waiting on him like a servant would be the way of it, that too would be accepted in spite of his pride. For this man he could step pass it. He went out then to help his father by getting the horses ready, the cart would be left behind in case they had been noticed at all by someone passing that was questioned.
The meal was meager but filling. Enough to hold them over until far enough away to have a bigger meal if anyone was hungry. Flasks of coffee were also taken, keep them all alert and awake for the time it would take taking the back way out of South Hampton. The usual pack horse was used and luckily they had him aside the two that pulled the cart. Riding double would rouse suspicion if anyone came across them along the way, as unlikely it should be, better to always be prepared. Oddities were noticed and it would not have been safe for either he or his son to get into the nearest village to procure another. Blessings sometimes came in small favors and Jack took it as a good omen in getting to Winchester without incident.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 17
the wintry month, the weather remained agreeable, snow at times as
they headed up the coast but there was no ice in the waters to be wary
of. Snow, light enough it tended to blow away although one had to mind
their step on deck. James was on deck of the Drifter watching the sun
come up for another day.
blazed colors across the sky in reds turning to golds. He was dressed
warm, collar up of the heavy cloak against the bite of the
breeze. A new day. A few more and they would be in Kildare. Rowan was
anxious to be home, almost like a little kid once on the road, are we
there yet? How soon? Luckily there was Deirdre and Alannah to occupy
him in passing the time.
Robinson was eager for this confrontation, drilling his men constantly
to get the ship at a faster clip and have the cannons ready. Though
such was not mentioned or was he suppose to, he would fall back on
self defense, hoping he could make use of that excuse. Of course he
didn't talk it over with the other two, because this was just to be a
coup, accost and run without any real confrontation. More to draw out
any warships they might have to come to the rescue. The Crown had
wanted an idea and information was not being gained so this was the
method to try. Lieutenant Edwards ship was a clip ahead of Palmer's
being he would continue straight when they passed the first three
ships and Palmer to cut to the right.
Regan had been
taking some good natured teasing about not allowing the Dream to take
advantage of the wind. Her ship was lighter than her brothers even
when weighed down but she retorted good natured that they would catch
up when she was ready. Eyes narrowed slightly as she watched the
maneuvering of the ships coming toward her. The watch called out about
the third ship coming up quickly behind. "Stand ready and let's
see what they're up to." She called out to her First Mate, who
began to snap orders. Gunners were ready to take up position though
only one did openly. They may very well have to fire off a volley to
gain the attention of the others ahead.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 18
Accepting her sword and pistol from her steward, she scowled at the situation aft. A quick look saw Faelan's and Morgan's ships already turning as she exchanged a brief glance with James and Adam. "We'll get there first, being a smaller, lighter vessel... but I'm hoping it won't come to a fight. Not with your father on board." Stepping aside, she called to her first mate, "Devan! Call the men to general quarters! Cameron, get us turned around on the double and crowd on the sail." The order barked to her pilot, she nodded in satisfaction as the two men leapt into action, the bell ringing with the signal for the rest of the crew. Poking her head below, she added, "Carlen, best prep the guns, but don't open the gunwales until my order." Receiving an affirmative reply, she could feel the activity under foot, as well as hear it around her as several sailors swiftly climbed the rigging to unfurl the extra sails.
didn't need to snap out an order for the helmsman to turn the wheel
and avoid the other ship but it couldn't be helped. "Try not to
get in too close. We don't want to run aground." Cursing in a
way that would likely turn her sisters' ears red had they heard, she
was over to the side where the ship was moving closer. She didn't
need her glass to see the activity on deck or to spot their captain.
The other two ships moving in gave lie to the ruse of a broken mast.
be firin' on the ship blockin' the Dream, Capt'n!" One of the
men shouted as if Morgan couldn't see for himself. They were still
some distance away but he shouted to the Gunners below after making
sure Alaina and Fael's ships were out of the line of fire.
"Fire at that scurvy dog and get 'm off the dream. We'll chase
him to whatever devil's hole he came from." He was furious, not
only for what he saw as an attack on Regan's ship, but for the
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 19
quickly restored aboard the Drifter once their newest passengers
were taken below decks to the waiting surgeon. Alaina was not one to
let her crew go idle or allow them to slack
off on duty if she could prevent it, sending the sailors back to
their posts with a series of briskly spoken commands. The pilot was
commanded in turn to bring the ship into the cove alongside Faelan's
and Morgan's ship, forming a protective cadre around Regan's when
she joined them so that any damage could be assessed and addressed.
Word had also been sent down
to her cabin to assure Ronan and Deirdre that all was well; none of
their party was injured and that they'd be underway again shortly.
the packet, she carefully opened it to remove the orders and look
them over, frowning as she stood so that James could read over her
shoulder. The orders appeared legitimate enough, thanks to the
seals, but Alaina hadn't lived that long without suspicion proving
a faithful companion. "Where will they go next, do you
know?" Exchanging a look with James, they would need to send
a message to the other monarchs along the coast.
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 20
By this time, the two had reached
the Drifter and climbed aboard. They were told that the Captain and
James were below deck as were their father, sisters and brothers. Morg
sent word down to them that he and Regan were on deck, then he took up
a lean well out the way of the crew.
well, Commander." Aware that James was concerned for his
father, she indicated he should lead the way to her cabin, trusting
that everyone else would be congregated around Ronan. "We'll
speak again later."