Since 1998 

Page 1  2  3  4  5      Main

Kildare Saga

Date: 05-28-08
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?"

"I 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."

"She's a beauty. One of your sister's stable?" Remembering that Miss Alannah enjoyed raising and breeding horses, Alaina gladly settled in the saddle and slid her feet into the stirrups, leaning over to stroke the mare's neck. "Since it's a gift from you, I think I could be persuaded to accept her. I've been looking over places to live and one or two of them have a small stable on the property. It would be a good idea to keep at least a horse or two for traveling inland; they haven't yet invented a flying ship." Grinning at him, she nodded to his horse. "He's a sturdy lad, by the looks of him. Shall we be off?" The news of the disputed lands was sobering enough, but in agreeing to throw her lot in with the King and Regent, Alaina also gave over her service to them if she was needed. Routing out those who would pose a threat definitely was included in that service; it wasn't just about building ships and establishing their navy. The people of Kildare deserved better, and from what she could tell, Leoric and Gaidan intended to see they received it. She respected that. Receiving blessings from her grandparents to make her home in Kildare only firmed her resolve.

"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.


Date: 05-28-08
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.

He 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.

Held close, she kept her arms around his neck as she let his words sink into her mind. There was no doubt in her mind that he meant every blessed word; he was not a man to speak the words lightly or capriciously when hearts were involved. Closing her eyes, Alaina regained her equilibrium and her breathing, searching her heart before she offered any kind of response, choosing her words with care. "If love means my heart beats faster every time I see you, or that I count minutes until we can be together... or that I fear for you when I know you take risks, then I think you're not alone in those feelings." It was a roundabout way of expressing herself, but that was Alaina.


Date: 05-28-08
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."

"Indeed 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 treat was.

She chuckled, watching the mare dance impatiently waiting for the apple. Withdrawing her dagger, she cut it into quarters, offering each to Grace, who lipped them greedily enough but with manners, chewing each with obvious enjoyment of the treat. "I think then, aye... but it truly came home to me that I was caring for you more than a friend when we were in Montrose." Sobering with the memory, Alaina sighed. "I've never been so frightened and determined all at once as I was when I saw that man going for your back. Time itself seemed to slow and I felt like I couldn't move fast enough." Handing the mare the last piece, she left Grace loose as she went to join him on the blanket.

"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.

Meeting 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."

"I don't consider it prying for I know you are discreet. Alannah can be as stubborn as a mule even if seeming sweet and docile. A good trait actually," moving along with her before helping her spread the blanket and taking a seat. Opening the basket as he continued, "I do not think she has found anyone." Except there was that talk before on Daniel, "unless your cousin? If she has spoken to father I do not know of it but she doesn't seem to be with anyone or have her eyes set on someone." This was that walking on eggshells feel even without that argument that time having their tempers flare. More a whole new area for him he was uncertain about. "She would make a lucky man an excellent wife one day and mother of children if so blessed. It is more that I hope she has that then seclude herself away. My father will not arrange her into marriage, which I agree with. Just if she doesn't get out of the house to meet others, then she locks that chance away."

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!

That 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.

"It does?" He had that clueless look coming with the realization this was a far more intricate thing in determining attraction to another. "Old hen and her rooster?" Outright laughing, "I honestly would dread to go there where wise men fear to tread. I'd read something wrong quite easily I think. I do know that Niklas is an upstanding man as well your cousin. I could invite the brothers both, so it doesn't look conspicuous. Perhaps we should find out if there are any others she's been around. At least with ones she knows, there is always friendships to form if nothing more. Through friends you sometimes meet the right one." If they proceeded discreetly and not overly or too fast nor too soon, they might get away with it. Taking up some bread, cheese and meat to roll up, he sat back soaking in the comforting scene of the river flowing in a constant pattern, some swirling around rocks here and there and so clear you could see the fish in the shallower water. "There are times when the waters become torrent after heavy rains. Serene now but could become quite dangerous in such times."

"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.

"Of 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."

They would wait until they finished their food and for him to hold her in his arms again for a while, all in all not too long but certainly milked that next hour. Two more would see them back at the port and drydocks as the sun was lowering midway to the horizon. He would help her in what he could then take her out to dinner. He would dress up a little for a change of clothes with the things sent ahead even if the place was not that kind of classy, he didn't care because it was for her he wanted to.


Date: 06-05-08
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 4

Eldest Sister

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.

"We 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.

"Come and meet Merlin, and to be sure I will think over what you've said. It makes rare good sense, but we'll see the how well I manage. I'll go to fetch his tack while you get acquainted. Be a good lad, Merlin." A fond pat to the bay's nose as she went into the tack room kept spotlessly clean and organized, sorting out Merlin's and Daisy's tack for riding. Alannah was proper attentive  to the details of her horses, making sure as their saddles were fitted correctly to the horse's size, and the horse itself capable of bearing the weight expected.

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."

"I 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
seafaring siblings into port if need be if they slacked from their words.

"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.


Date: 07-30-08
Poster: James Callihan
Post # 5

Under Watch

Henry Robinson stood starboard side of the forecastle's rail. His thoughts were many this quiet evening. The Pontiac dipped and lifted silently in the inky ocean waters below. A calmer night upon the sea. He was dressed in duller clothes although those of his station. The right bright red and white clothing forsaken in the face of disguise. The flag off the mast was one from the colonies, pretty much nondescript and neutral. Presently they were neutral but that might well change. Orders were to find out certain information or in the least make the best assessment. There was something about the air here that made him feel more alive as he drank in a deep breath. Truth be told, he didn't care for this mission knowing well it was more a minor detour compared to squelching those starting to rebel in the Colonies. It was an insult to be sent on what seemed a pipe dream but he would make it a reality for the glory of his country. For his glory in being promoted which was promised. That he covet most. They were far out from the coast of Heathfield although the high cliffs could still be seen in the setting sun. The castle that stood high upon them gleamed golden with the last rays of the setting sun. "Heathfield," was muttered under his breath as if saying the name would being the information he hoped to obtain. He was starting to get impatient waiting.

"Commander Palmer reporting, Captain." Standing at attention once he approached Henry. Roger noticed that the man seemed so lost in thought he had not noticed his initial approach. Saluting him as he turned before back in that rigid stance that came so easily after many years.

Think of the devil and there he was. The thought he was due barely registering when he heard the well known voice. It could not really be said they were friends, but then Henry didn't really have any friends other than a few back home in politics. Political friends in that the politics kept them that way as more a means of survival. Turning as he stepped away from the rail he studied the man under his command, one who had command over The Amethyst and over The Moonstone under Lieutenant Walter Edwards. All ultimately under his command. For a fleeting moment he wondered how they felt about this assignment. None of them were on the outs with the Crown. Or there was even more to this assignment than information made privy to him at this point. The Crown worked that way, not letting the left hand know what the right hand was doing until they smacked together. You followed Orders without question. Any questions stayed in your thoughts and not voiced unless asked or you might not live long afterwards. He gave a gesture of hand as he spoke, simple and to the point.


Which meant Roger could ease some in his stance but still at attention. "We found these mostly Irish immigrants, to be friendly on the surface but didn't seem to know much about the naval force of these lands. We know only of three warships although there are a lot of ships that come and go from the port. Most fly neutral flags, no kingdoms or countries we are aware of." Which meant they were probably insignificant; knowing well not to add his opinion unless asked.

"The Irish lice you mean," Henry spat out, his contempt of that particular race evident. Obviously he'd like to see them wiped off the face of the earth. "Go on. Did Lieutenant Edwards see to his orders?" He was not much in the mood for this game of weeding out information.

There was a ghost of a frown before his features were quickly schooled again. Not one for genocide and Henry made it clear in such remarks that he was. Roger continued, knowing well not to voice his opinion at all there. "They visited a few of the port taverns as well lingered in the port. There is a shipping company of a good size," which went along with so many ships in trade going in and out of the port, "by the name of Bovee Shipping," which was obviously French. Presently the French were not liked at all either but held higher in regard than the Irish for without political negotiations, they could become a real threat. "There are two land masses, kingdoms, above Heathfield they consider sister castles." The setup of sister castles alien to him as he didn't really come in contact with such a setup before. At least one that worked as these seemed to. "Ballicastle and Tyremoor, which the latter is right below Kildare. Tyremoor's port is a small trading one as we know. Ballicastle's is down further along the southern coast." Which they had not gone that far down the coast to investigate it and wouldn't unless Robinson got such orders. This information could possibly have him gaining such. "Edwards' men got into a couple of brawls as was wished. The portmasters came in quick response to squelch the ruckus." So they were organized in keeping the laws. "Adrian Frasier and Adam Callihan." The latter of which would be of importance.

Henry noticed that fleeting change of expression but said nothing on it at the moment. Commander Palmer was one that followed orders to the letter so any of his personal thoughts didn't matter. Henry simple didn't care to know them. "Irish again. Do you have names of the royal families at least?" Brow lifting as he would have to pull this from him too?

Roger flinched inwardly as he recognized the impatience in his Captain. It was a tight rope to walk if he presumed the questions; giving answers before asked. He was walking the line of damn if you do and damn if you don't. It would not be the first time. One of many. "Yes, sir. McAndrews and Douglas, respectively." In order as mentioned of the kingdoms. The names really meant nothing as they were not connected in any political affiliation with their motherland. Adding then, "Frasier is Scottish."


Henry's impatience flared in his eyes. "Scottish, Irish, they're both the same." Gesturing with a hand to move from the topic to what they were here to learn. "Out with it, all you've found out." Tired of pulling each part from Roger as per usual. Three months here was wearing on him in not finding out all they wanted to.


Roger knew he was treading on egg shells and did his best to word the rest, at least what they were able to find out, information needed or not. "The lands are wealthy in goods and trade. Thriving. There are a number of races here aside the Irish, Scots and French. English, German, Russian, Egyptian, Italian for example and," here he hesitated as this was a big speculation, "some not all human it is said." He had felt the difference when upon Heathfield soil that defied logic as he knew it. He quickly went on as ordered, "such is said about the royal family of Barrett itself. Corlin," cringing to mention the mage's name stationed aboard his ship for Henry's usual reaction, "said he can't penetrate things he calls wards to gain insight his way. He admitted to a power greater than his." Which had not set well with this particular mage for he considered himself the most powerful. "The Royal family here is of the Queen's origins." There was one other bit of information collected. "The Callihan family that is here, is scheduled to sail to Kildare soon. They will be loaded down with supplies for Kildare. None seem to know exactly when. However, we found out there is some association with an independent Captain that has been reported in conjunction with the Callihans. A female; Captain Alaina MacKenna." Well knowing female captains were another sore area for Henry.


"The Crown will not take kindly to storybook, fairytale, qualities of races. They simply don't exist." One of the reasons he despised the mage sent with them. "Hocus-pocus in not set in reality. They are human and can be overtaken if the Crown so wishes." His tone warning Roger in how he delivered some information that bordered illusions. "Tell me more of this Queen at least." That information might come in handy when he sent his report back.


Roger cleared his throat and rephrased that part of his report. "There are many highly skilled warriors in these lands." Which would suffice in what the Crown would want to know even if how they were skilled was not defined. He didn't know those definitions as it were. He paused as eyes narrowed a moment. He knew Henry's reputation of plunder and what he did with prisoners. He didn't consider that part of Orders but the Crown didn't seem to care how their militia won their battles or of the prisoners gained. Long as they didn't cost them money in upkeep. "She is well beloved of her people of which it seems she has a direct rapport. I have not seen her, none of us have, but there was something overheard that she mingles as one of the commons." Which was unheard of except for a few noble born women in Ireland without proper upbringing to the ways of court. "It is said she is quite beautiful." Lips pressing together a moment for that came with the comment about her Fae nature. He didn't really see where information on Heathfield mattered but then he was not privy to much information other than to follow Orders under Robinson precisely as given. Which in turn had him knowing Henry knew far more than he'd be telling him.


"It doesn't matter how skilled her warriors are if we blast them from the sea." Henry sneered under his breath, if they only had three warships, they were sitting ducks. Ones he would like to blast out of the waters before the lands considering most were Irish or Scots. He would have his whole fleet if Orders were given. Any of the other races didn't matter if they lived with them, they became the same infection. "Maybe I'll make a present of her to the Crown along with the female captain, dispose of the rest as I see fit." Flights of fancy he was not prone to long bouts but something that could come about for the mission, intense for those few moments. Once more he gave a dismissive gesture of his hand. "Your orders are to have Lieutenant Edwards pull from the port but not before knowing how many ships, names, captains, flag they fly, with the Callihans." He would not waste his time going after just any ships out of port from Heathfield. "He is to leave two trusted men with carrier pigeons behind. When the Callihans are leaving, they are to send the message by this means. We will wait around the opposite side of a small island not far from here. We will waylay them half way up the coast between Tyremoor and Kildare. This information is to be given Lieutenant Edwards as well but kept under guard until that point." So the men would not know until the last minute orders were given from all three. "We shall see to the supplies not reaching the Kildare port if we can but if there is retaliation, we will pull out. The Crown doesn't want a confrontation at this point." So they could have some fun at least chasing a ship that it went aground or crashed along the cliffs. "You are dismissed." One could tell he got satisfaction saying those words as he turned back to the rail.


Roger stiffened with the curt dismissal, "yes Captain. Right away. Good day Captain." Parroted words without real meaning other than expected before he turned on a heel and headed out to dispatch his orders as expected.



Date: 11-15-08
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 6

The Undercover Assignment

Joseph 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.

Tamara was to the age that she knew her father could be called to duty at any time. It had been a while since he had gone away, but there was always that dread when he asked herself and Joshua to his study. She wasn't running to beat Joshua to the door this time. Wearing a gown of blue with matching eyelet lace along the yokes and sleeves, her legs covered in white stockings, she was feeling very grown up. Of course that changed once she knocked on the door of the study. Bright eyes held a sparkle as she waited for their Da to invite them in.

Josh was wearing attire much like his father, poet's shirt of beige tucked into brown pants and boots lacing up. Fifteen now, he was getting to look more and more like his father and getting as tall as well. The door was ajar as their father usually left it when summoned and so she'd find it opening up as he reached over her head to ease it so. "Da is expecting us," words lowered with a trace of teasing for the invitation was there already unlike if they just showed up knowing he was in his office working. Ushering her in with him before closing the door over so any of the staff would not overhear that which they possibly shouldn't even if trustworthy. Once in he stepped aside, hands folded behind his back in a leisurely way, he was already picking up habits of those older. Nothing more said as he'd wait on his Da to start and direct the conversation, after all, it was he who called them here.

The distant look flicked back to the present as his children arrived. Arms unfolded as his hands rested against the edge of his desk either side of his hips. He let the moment linger as he studied each in turn. They had grown up so much already, these undercover jobs so dangerous even if he was the best qualified for his skills, natural and not so natural. Addressing them both, "do you wish the good part first or last?" Setting a glint to surface in green eyes a moment for the good part.

She let out a tiny squeak then giggled as she tipped her head back and looked at Joshua. "I was waiting for you." She wrinkled her nose before heading inside, watching their Da as he came back from his thoughts. Chewing at her bottom lip, thoughtfully, she looked at Joshua then back to Joe. "Good part." It might make the bad easier to take. Maybe just a little.

It didn't really matter to him, so he would defer to his little sister in agreeing, "aye, the good part first." He suspected what the bad part would be. He worked with the men hired and sometimes elusive things were said, never against his Da but perhaps concern. Men that liked their boss and around every day, things didn't go missed even if covered up or no details to be found. They still noticed and voiced their concerns with each other. Usually not around Joshua but then the lad was silent in his steps and sometimes came upon such a conversation before it was quickly dashed. Which only clued him in more. Hands eased from behind his back to rest at his sides in preparation if needed.

At that point there was a meow, soft sound, before nothing. He took up the fairy fossil as he would address the oldest first as it should be. Shifting up from his lean before closing the distance to his son. "I got this fairy fossil for you. It is said that it has magical powers. If so, then in time I am sure you will find out and make good use of them." By that time the winged cat gave off a higher, more pitiful meow. It would seem she not only woke up but was looking for attention. There were new ones to meet and lavish such on her.

She heard the mew and giggled, then stood on tiptoe to peek at the fossil. It was amazing! The second meow had her giggling again and looked up her at Da. "Can I peek, please, Da? Can I?" Nearly bouncing with excitement.

Joshua took the fossil, looking on it in amazement. The oddity of a meow thrown into the back of his thoughts, even the louder one. Palming the stone he could feel an energy coming from it. Like his Da showed him and helped him to hone abilities. He knew he had a long way to go but all in good time, repeating those words in his mind. He shifted it so Tamara could see and only then did the louder meow, especially, registered. Looking from her to his Da. "Thank you, I will carry this with me where I can't lose it and will find out if it is magical. Tell you if it is of course." Which had a slight furrow of his brow with that trickling thought if his father wasn't around for him to tell for some mission gone wrong. He didn't like that thought at all and pleased for Tamara's exuberant distraction.

He was pleased Josh had liked the gift as well noting the furrow of brows with his last statement, something he'd been mulling over in his thoughts for the past few weeks. "I would like to know, all details." A lazy smile turned on Tamara, leaving the noticed expression ride for now, "of course, it is your gift and best you get acquainted." She would find a sheet of paper attached to the top of the carrier that gave her name, Etsy and what she liked to eat, trout in particular. Also, she didn't like to be caged unless necessary like now. She was only a kitten, although larger than normal kittens and that magical powers would emerge when she matured. Nothing was said on the kind as the woman who sold her to him didn't know, she had not been told. She needed a lot of love and care.

She 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."

He caught her up into a tight hug as Etsy decided to spread those wings in exercise. One couldn't blame her for having been in the carrier. First she flew up onto his desk to walk around then to one of bookcases that luckily the top self didn't reach the ceiling nor had anything on it. Just enough space for her to explore. "I think she is going to keep you quite busy." Easing her from the hug as he let them enjoy their gifts before the serious talk on what had this meeting called for.

Joshua studied the fossil before tucking it away into his pants pocket. Luckily it was not too big nor cumbersome to keep on his person like he planned. He was laughing as Etsy took liberties as soon as Tamara's back was turned.

"I think so!" She was laughing as the kitten flew, dancing over to stand in front of the bookcase. When Etsy leaned over to look at her, she laughed again. "Are you going to stay up there all evening?" She wouldn't climb her Da's bookcases, but she might climb the ones in her room. Etsy meowed in answer, looking pleased with herself, tail curling around her feet. Tamara huffed and looked her Da. "Yep, really, really busy."

He was laughing as well, something good that had not been heard in a while from him. "I do think you two will become best of friends." There was something about the wing cat that spoke on loyalty, that she knew who her family was and would protect them. He pulled a small package out from inside one of his desk drawers, some tuna flavored treats for Tamara to coax the cat with as needed. This he slipped into her hand to use when she decided she wanted Etsy down. It was time for the other matter as he voiced what they were probably waiting for. They did have that kind of rapport besides father and children. "I am called on a Crown undercover mission. There hasn't been need of one in many years in that area but there is a need now and I am the best trained, best skilled, to see it through. It may well save the lives of others here or our sister lands. I leave tomorrow. I waited to tell you for two reasons, one.. it had been put off a few times as some things changed. Things are ready now. You know I can't tell you much. I'm sorry for that."

Josh was feeling in the need for a drink of potcheen. Yes, he now drank the brew but not in excess. "I know you have to go, Da. I know it is all for good reasons and you best qualified but I can't help not liking the idea, not liking the thoughts that you may not return. Isn't there someone else that can do it? Can you retire?" He was wearing his emotions on his sleeve although didn't take to any tears. The furrow of his brow spoke it all and the darkening color of his eyes. "I don't want to become the man of the house." Plainly spoken.

She wasn't as old as Josh, wasn't as brave. She watched him with wide eyes, her eyes growing moist with tears. Josh said it all clearly now it was up to her. And she couldn't say a word except run to her father and wrap her arms around him. "I'm scared for you to go, Da. I don't want you to go even if you are the best. I'm scared." Maybe it was because Josh had spoken out like he had but she was trembling.

He wrapped her up into his arms, he always hated seeing her disappointed so. Eyes closed as he felt his breath become ragged with the emotion that welled up. He could not have asked for better children than the two he had. Proud of them they were so up front and honest. He had to swallow the lump in his throat before easing her from the tight hug. A thumb to swipe away her tears. "Don't be scared, I will return. Say your prayers in protection for me." Looking to Josh as well to be included. "It was different when I was younger and more carefree, the serious jobs were not that many and easily handled. I realize now more the risks each assignment I take on and I'm going to see about having another trained to take my place. Someone younger without a family. I do have to go on this one for there is not anyone trained as I am in this area. Your uncle Maurice is close but his skills are more hone in other areas mine are not. So once I am back, I will talk to the Queen on the matter." Which he was pretty sure she would be understanding especially if he trained another. He was thinking Jacob would be a primary candidate. Perhaps find two that would qualify.

She rubbed under nose as she stepped back then rubbed her eyes as well. "I'll say prayers every morning and night and more. And you'll be okay, Da. And we'll be okay, too. And ... and ... we love you so much, Da." She was going to start crying again but it was at that time Etsy decided to come and stake her claim on her little girl. She hovered in front of Tamara until the little girl gathered her in her arms. "See, even Etsy will help me pray." She could feel a hiccup building up from the attempt to keep from crying too hard.

Joshua finally took the liberty of pouring himself a drink. Hopefully his father would forgive him as one shot was kicked back. He was not a big drinker but the burn felt good on that lump in his throat. Tamara had said it all and he was determined not to let tears show, could blame it on the shot the fact they were probably at least misty. "Aye Da, come home safe and stay. I need you in a lot of ways." He got that out and didn't try more at this point.

It was at this time they might hear their butler greeting one at the door. Enough sounds to alert the arrival. The closed door to the study was indicated by the man as Ice gave a nod. He pretty much had free reign here as Joe and his children had in his manor. Extended homes both ways. He was over to tap at the door and would wait for as long as Joe needed, more just alerting one was here and the tap would give away who that someone was.

"I love you both more than I could ever express. A love that will always remain and never go away or change. You can be sure, I'll be home for Christmas." Trying to ease the situation, "Hopefully sooner." The knock on the study door of a type he knew, reminded him. "You have your uncle to visit as needed, anything you need and your Uncle Garath has volunteered to stay here, so you don't have to leave the house, until I return. I think with how much he's been gone and finally back, you can all get to know each other." Which was a ray of sunlight in the bleakness of the situation. He indicated to Tamara that she could get the door as he noticed her near bouncing again.

It was careful bouncing since she held Etsy in her arms. The kitten peeked up at Ice as the door opened, greeting him with a meow. "'Lo Uncle Ice." She was smiling but her nose and eyes were red, and her eyes were still wet with her tears.

Stepping 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.

"Evening Uncle Ice," moving over to stand near his sister as a hand delved into his pocket to retrieve the fossil stone, bringing it out as fingers folded away from the palm so he could see. "Da gave me this as well. It might have magical powers too."

Joseph watched as a lazy smile emerged. "Evening Ice," leaving the two then to talk to their uncle. The smile slightly fading as he got the impression he was here for a reason in particular over just happening to stop by.


Date: 11-15-08
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 7

"This is 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.

Fingers caressed down around under Etsy's chin before falling away, he well noted eyes that were more than a regular feline's. "I believe she will become your guardian and those you love." A strong Impression there before taking up the fossil Josh held out. There was a pulse and a strong impression here. "You too will have your very own guardian as well those you love. Do not be surprise," lifting his eyes to meet Josh's, "if she manifests. It is a she." Though the impression in the stone might have one thinking otherwise. Some things seen were not what they seemed. Placing it back in his hand with one more thought, "keep it close and guarded." Then he was around to study Joe. Nothing said as he didn't need to. Patience was a practiced virtue.

"A girl?" Color rose up his neck but didn't quite make it to his face, mostly on the fact he thought it was a guy fairy. "I will keep it close and protected." Especially if it was a she. Eyes widened a little at the idea it could come alive, manifest, as his uncle put it. He wasn't sure how he felt about that but gave a slight nod as he slipped it back into his pocket to keep it safe.

He watched as he listened, the lazy smile back for the rapport his children had with their uncle Maurice. It only faded when focus turned on him well knowing the look. Thoughts in that fraction of a second before addressing his children. "I think it is time for you two to get some sleep," which also meant he was to talk to his brother on whatever reason brought him here, well, he knew the reason. He hugged Tamara, carefully with holding Etsy, before a clasp of a hand was given his son's shoulder as he moved over to him. He knew neither would probably go to sleep right away but meet and talk together. They might think he didn't know but he did and it was a good thing in his opinion. Strengthened that bond between brother and sister. God forbid anything happen to him, at least he knew Tamara had a brother as a protector aside uncles, aunts and anything magical.

She bit back a giggle at Josh's expression though she might tease him about having a girl friend once their father was back. She clung to Joe for a moment then stepped back, rubbing at her eyes again. Uncle Ice received a hug too before she could trust herself to speak. "G'night, Da. I love you. G'night Uncle Ice. Love you too." She wanted to run to her room, but she was a big girl now and had Etsy to take care of. She didn't want to jostle the cat so she waited for her brother, all the while watching their Da as if she were burning his image in her mind.

He hugged Tamara up again as well giving Josh a clasp to his shoulder. Words came low between them in near a whisper, "don't worry, I will look after my little brother if he gets in trouble." Giving them a wink as he stepped away.

Josh hugged his father when he gave a clasp to his shoulder. Not something he did often but needed to as he clasped his father's shoulders back before released. It was brief though the emotion behind it wasn't. He grinned hearing his Uncle's words, believed in him as well trusted. He knew if anyone could help their Da if needed, it was Uncle Maurice. He gave a nod before escorting Tamara out with him so they could go talk just like their father knew they would, though he didn't know he knew.

Uncle Ice received a grateful smile from Tamara. She wasn't as scared for her Da as before but was old enough now to know she wouldn't stop worrying. Etsy settled in her arms and closed pale eyes, purring loudly. She was, in her cat mind, home and would take good care of her new family. As they walked out and closed the door, Tamara turned to look at her brother, chewing at her lower lip thoughtfully. Her big brother would likely recognize that Tamara was plotting something.

He returned his son's hug as well, strong and brief before watching them both leave in silence. Once they were out and the door closed, green eyes were on his brother as he waited. Knowing well he would get right to the point.

He 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.

"You probably know in your heart already what I have to say. The tears in Tamara's eyes says it all. I think it is time for you to give up this one area and let another do it. One without such obligations as being a father presently. I feel you have been considering this, seen it in your eyes, make it more than a consideration. They need you especially these teen years." Leaving the words to settle as he drew out a small wooden amulet he had carved attached to a leather strap. Celtic symbols of power, strength and protection in a simple enough design not to be noticed or coveted by others. "I want you to wear this," holding it out for Joe to take. "I am getting undercurrents on this trip of a kind that if you don't watch your back, it could end up dire. I know this type for nothing is really shown clearly, usually means that what is to come could go a few ways, all depending on the person. Don't take risky risks." Although that sounded funny, Joe would know what he meant. "Watch your back. If something happens, for I know your ability and if you die using it, no one will recognize you. This at least will let me find out and wont be robbed. Enough symbols it would spook someone if they even noticed it."

He listened, thoughts whirling on all that was needed of him. He knew the risks, his brother knew the risks he took, took many himself for that matter. So this was something else or Ice wouldn't be warning him so. He took the amulet as a thumb grazed over the symbols while he listened. Ones he knew well and knew their power. There was something to be said about confirmation and Ice voicing his thoughts, his children as well, gave him the confirmation he needed. "I've told Josh and Tamara that after this job I will see to training another to take my place, possibly two. It is time for me to give up the undercover job even if I have the one skill that made me far better, irreplaceable, so far. I will find another that can be taught to do the same that has the skill buried in them." As far as the amulet, he was already drawing it over his head to let it lay upon his chest under his shirt. "I will wear it and trust, if needed, you get there in time to save my hide. I will be more cautious that it wont come to that." There was something else as he was over to pour himself a shot of potcheen and one for his brother. Back again as he held out the glass. "I leave tomorrow before dawn," before his children would be up for it was best that way. They said their words tonight that needed to be said and shared.

Tamara didn't say a word as they made their way up to Josh's room. She sat on the bench, Etsy on her lap, turning slightly so she could look out of the window, even if it was dark and all she could see was her own reflection. Josh used to tease her about her wandering in the woods, talking to the Fae but she was sure he'd understand now. "I want to put my luckiest stone in Da's pocket tonight. He'll leave before he thinks we're awake. It's the stone that was in the Fairy Circle and I asked if I could have it. I want him to come back and if it's in his pocket, he'll know I'm thinking of it. But I have to sneak downstairs."

"I got one I carved as well, the tree and wheel of life as one piece. Something that can be held in the palm of a hand. I used energies like Da taught me to fill it up that could then be drawn upon." Looping his arm around his sister's shoulders in a protective way. She had to know he'd risk his life for her, die protecting her if it be such. "We need to get to bed real soon," they were stealing these few minutes for their Da would be coming up soon as well and would know then. "In two hours after he gets to bed, we'll sneak down and put them in the inner pocket of the cloak he always wears when on a mission." Which Josh had noticed out, hanging on a peg downstairs inside the door. It had not been there yesterday.

"I know life has been a bit rough on you in the past couple months as well, don't let that get you down and vulnerable." Not saying anything more on that area but the intensity of ice blue eyes darkened a moment before clasping Joe's shoulders. "Stop at my place on your way, if you have time, share a cup of coffee. I'll be up and a pot brewed of the finest. I leave you to get some rest as you'll need it." As well he would also. Coming tonight to make sure he had this particular amulet. A flash of blue eyes turned towards the ceiling with a deep throated chuckle before dropping back to his brother. "I'll see myself out," much like he saw himself in. Around on a heel as he headed for the door, "remember the coffee.." words trailing before the door closed behind him.

"If I have time," the clasp returned as well a glance given the ceiling then back. Vacating his office near on his brother's heels and chuckling with the reminder. He would be stopping in provided he didn't end up running late. Which was rare. He headed upstairs mulling over Ice's words on the rough months emotionally and vulnerability. He would separate them to be certain and should be able to at this point. It was odd, he felt quiet in his heart as if it went to sleep in that area. There were times when he reflected back to the months of spring and summer only to find there was no emotion at all other than reflecting events and how they went. The Mind had it's own means of protecting. Soon Josh and Tamara would hear his door close. Oh, he knew they were both in Josh's room but the door was closed. Hopefully he slept without any dreams this night.

She hugged Josh tightly, careful of Etsy then smiled. "I'll go back to my room now and then we can sneak back out. In two hours." She wouldn't be able to sleep and would be listening to the clock strike the hours. Sliding off the bench with the kitten in her arms again, she managed a smile. "He'll be okay, Josh. And he'll be back afore Christmas and we'll have the best celebration ever." She was going to start planning it with Cook and her Uncles because she was the lady of the house.

He hugged her back, they had each other and he was letting her know by the hug. Tight but not too tight it hurt her. "I will give one tap to your door," words fading off as their father's door closed. Words then in a whisper, "go now, quickly and quietly. He'll be okay because many do love him. The days he is gone we can get the place all ready." Seeing her to the door to let her slip out then quietly close it behind her.

The two hours ticked by slowly, but finally, just two minutes before they were complete, there was a tiny tap at Josh's door. Still dressed in her clothes from earlier, Tamara peeked in the direction of their father's door before she turned back to Josh's. Impatiently rocking back and forth from heel to toe, she was nearly ready to knock again. Etsy had followed, walking instead of using her wings. While she waited, the kitten explored her new home, sniffing around the hall.

Josh was sitting on the edge of his bed running fingers through the mass of curling hair. He had almost dozed off for all the work this day with the hired men roping cattle and mending fences. The tap brought him further alert, still in his day clothes as well, he was up to open the drawer where he kept the talisman then to the door. He eased it open without a sound as he stepped out into the hall with her, a tap of his finger to her nose before heading down the steps. They were taken along the wall side so there would not even be a creak.

She offered Josh an impish grin, wrinkling her nose at the tap. Surprisingly, or maybe not considering her heritage, she could move as silently as her brother. Etsy left the corner she was sniffing to hurry after the two. Through windows here and there, the light of the moon touched the landscape with silver light. She tugged Josh's sleeve to point at the flakes of snow that were falling before continuing on. He had seen the cloak so once they were down  the stairs, she let him lead. The kitten used her wings to follow them down the steps then landed and began to nose around again.

He made sure no one else was up either of their staff as he made good the stealth to the coat near the door. If they were quick about this, they would not get caught as he turned the front panel over to expose a hidden pocket. One that was buttoned closed which he unbuttoned and slipped in the talisman he had made for his father. Holding out his hand for the stone she had to slip inside next.

She had something else with her and whispered for Josh to lean down. A pair of scissors would allow her to clip a lock of his hair and she quickly tied in with hers in a ribbon. That and the stone were placed in her brother's hand. She glanced back over her shoulder then looked at Josh again. Giving their Da these little tokens made her feel so much better.

He almost let out a yelp of surprise as he leaned down only to have her clip his hair. A hand shot over his mouth to muffle any sound before tweaking her nose for that one. Not losing any more time he took the objects to slip into that pocket. About to button it closed, a thought struck him and he dove a hand into his pocket to retrieve the fairy fossil. His father would have to come home now and it was suppose to be magical so who best, the one he loved best, to have it as protection. Once that was in as well he buttoned it off then folded the panel back into place like he had found it. He was quickly ushering her with him back to their rooms, being mindful to go up the sides of the steps to not make a sound. He too would sleep good tonight, feeling a lot better they had done something to ensure their father's protection while gone.

She nearly giggled at the tweak but just flashed him a grin then she watched as he tucked the fossil away. She understood fully why and let out a little sigh. Once they were up the steps, she kissed his cheek before slipping into her room. Of course, she had nearly closed the door when she remembered Etsy. There was a flurry of wings as the kitten caught up and then with a little wave to her very much adored big brother, she closed her door. Changing quickly into her nightgown, she crawled into her bed. With Etsy curled up beside her, Tamara would sleep very well, knowing their Da was well watched.


Date: 11-17-08
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.

Rowan already had his heavy cloak on, one chosen by his daughter to ensure he stayed warm for the weather. He was standing at the window watching the drift of snow, nothing of which was the kind to accumulate. He turned as James came in. "Aye, been ready. It's about time as I feel like I'm wasting away here with nothing of importance to do. Nothing against your home here but mine is in Montrose." The words were not harsh even if blunt as he was over to clasp his son's shoulder before released. "Don't get me wrong, James, I appreciate everything you have done as well your brothers and sisters." Glancing to the door with a bit of impatience as he knew Alannah and Deirdre would wish to fuss on him, calling out to one of the hired men. "Be careful with that trunk!" The man giving a look over his shoulder with a nod before continuing out.

Alaina was down at the dock, waiting aboard the Drifter to receive her passengers for the sail to Kildare. Calling an occasional command to her sailors to keep things moving along ship-shape, she surveyed the loading of the various items her ship would carry north. Trusting her quartermaster to handle that, she turned back to the table on which charts and maps were spread, studying the route intently. While she doubted they'd encounter too much trouble on the trip, she wanted to be prepared in light of whom her passengers were. Daniel would be sailing the Andy, much more suited for fighting, that would allow her to get the Drifter away, if necessary, and to safety. A glance over the docks had her looking for the Callihans, wondering where they were.

Aught she wished take north was packed and secured in her sea-trunk, safe delivered down the stairs by one of the servants. Alannah caught up her cloak, going after to find her father and James, that she might lend her aide to the elder Callihan in gaining the carriage for the journey down the ships awaiting their arrival. "Father? James? Are you after being ready as yet?"

Faelan had the Dragon's Tooth ready for when his family arrived. The cargo loaded up the early morning as all this was to be of the last minute for whatever reasons, feeling they were due to things in Kildare. He knew some but not as many of the particulars as his brother James would be privy. He would start out once his father and sisters were safely on the Drifter. Watching them at this point as he stood on the deck, leaning against the rail. He'd been restless for far too many days in getting this taken care of and life hopefully to take on a routine and not feeling it was on hold.

Deirdre was on Alannah's heels, fur cloak in a billow behind her as it was circled around her shoulders. Silver green eyes bright and a shade of pink to her cheeks, she was excited and nervous combined. "Da, James," parroted behind her sister as a smile blossomed. Her father looked more ready to go than James! Then again she knew well of him becoming impatient over the past week even moreso with winter approaching.

Morgan was in the cabin of the Naiad looking over some papers as he waited. A slight frown appeared as he put several into a small chest, locked it and put it into a cupboard. He then went onto deck to watch for the approach of their family. Seeing Faelan standing on the deck of his ship, he lifted a hand to greet his brother then took a stance near the wheel. He'd need to talk to James soon but it would wait until all was settled.

Regan was pacing the deck of the Dream, checking and double checking. She was anxious to be off and have their father safely to Kildare. She was feeling as restless as a leaf tossed about in the Autumn wind and couldn't wait for life to settle into a more normal pattern. She glanced toward her brothers' ships and grinned then forced herself to stand still and be as patient as they appeared to be.

Adam made sure he followed his sisters to their father's room. He had made all the necessary arrangements for his assistants to take over his duties while he was gone. It would be a small vacation in some ways. Clapping a hand to James' shoulder in silent greeting, he watched as the trunks were taken out. He was there if his assistance was needed but Rowan looked healthier then he had in some time.

The snow whipped outside in dusting, wind cold that would cut. Having moved to the window to note the large enclosed carriage below, Tod gave a thumbs up that they had everything loaded. Around then as his sisters and Adam came in as he moved away from the window. "All is ready." Returning the clasp to Adam's shoulder with a glance spared the others. Their father was fine in walking but he would take up the rear seeing to them all getting in comfortable and situated in the carriage. Motioning to them with a sweep of his hand. It was time to go.

Ronan finally grinned, surrounded by his family. "Well, what are we waiting for." As he started out the door with his girls and to the carriage. Leaving James to help him in then the others. The ride would not take too long before the cold cut of sea air would be thick in the air.

Alannah made as if to follow her father with her sister and brothers, a bit apprehensive in the way of things to come. Stepping out the door into a swirl of snow and cold wind, she shivered against the assault and hastened for the shelter of carriage to make the trip down the docks. She was well looking forward to returning to Montrose.

Deirdre was sticking close to her sister as well both near their father. Alannah would feel the touch of her hand against her elbow in a light squeeze instead of any words. They would have been muffled at best. Settling in the coach, either side of their father, leaving room for Adam and James to sit across from them. "I wonder if it is snowing in Montrose." Idle thought voiced as she watched out the window as they approached the port, waiting then for James as expectant eyes turned on him as the carriage stopped. She could hear the two hired males, that rode outside in the back, unloading their trunks already.

Adam waited as their father and the girls were settled, watching the snow fall distractedly. He climbed inside, settled across from the three and winked at Deirdre. "If it is, it's probably laying already." Once they reached the docks, he was again ready to lend a hand if needed.

"You may find plenty of snow there, little Swan," Ronan patted Deirdre's hand for her comment. Worry in his eyes were fleeting when switched to Alannah, "everything will be like it once was, you'll see." Reassuring her as well for what he felt was unspoken words.

James listened, watching the three across from him as they arrived at the port. "There is snow in Kildare although not deep yet." Only comment before he was out the door, Adam next and then helping out their two sisters before their father. Once settled he glanced across the way with a wave to Alaina and their siblings in turn. It would also signal for Faelan to start out, lead the pack with Morgan and Regan to take up the rear behind Alaina. The group then headed for the Drifter to board. Their trunks already delivered.

Seeing the carriage roll to a stop, she swung down from the deck to greet her passengers with a smile and a wave in return to James. Anticipating the old Duke's needs, as well as the others, she'd given orders for Ronan's cabin to be kept warm at all times, and one of her stewards had hot drinks waiting to chase away the day's lingering chill. Calling across the docks to the family, she gestured for them to board. "Come on ahead - we're set to sail as soon as you're all settled."

Alannah alighted with thanks for James in the helping down. She waited for Deirdre, reaching for her sister's hand to give it a squeeze for luck and reassuring, a smile curling her lips for their sakes both. "It will be right good to be home again, aye? And much for seeing and doing; I will be glad to get to it."

Deirdre smiled upon James as she stepped out and right quick to her sister's side. She drew in a deep excited breath only to let out quickly following. Alannah's hand squeezed in return with that wide-eyed look her way she knew well that suppressed energy, excitement and a few other feelings all wound up together. "I can't wait now!" She was eager heading down to Alaina's ship, near prancing on the toes of her boots. Up the plank she dashed ahead only to turn in a spin once on deck. "This is a grand ship!" She planned to watch from the railing once their father was made comfortable in his cabin.

Faelan gave his brother and sister a wave before aimed Alaina's way and family now on board. The Dragon's Tooth already setting sail from when James gave him the signal. Anchor up as he had been ported out a short distance once the cargo had all been loaded. Now the smaller sails were being lowered to head them out of Barrett's bay into the wide expanse of ocean beyond. Orders shouted, men running up and down the ropes as needed before he took over the helm.

Morgan started shouting orders as the family began to board. He lifted a hand to greet their father, then the others before turning his attention fully to the job at hand. Once the Dragon's Tooth began to head out of port, he gave the order to follow. It felt good to finally be starting out. He knew everyone was anxious to get to Montrose before winter fully set in.

Regan would have to wait but after she had her crew make ready she snapped out some orders in preparation. She made her way to the helm and watched a moment, then looked toward the Drifter. As soon as she was seaward, the Dream would be following.

He stayed close to Ronan as they left the coach, making sure an extra hand wasn't needed. Watching Deirdre, he chuckled then saluted his siblings on their ships. Once everyone was settled, he leaned against the rail and watched.

James was last to come up the plank gaining the deck of the Drifter. Something in his eyes that spoke on many things that whirled around in his head, things in Kildare, his father, sisters and brothers, welfare of all and a touch of something else as well there as he approached Alaina. Their schedules had them apart far too long at times. "Do you have a spare bunk in the cargo hold or crow's nest for a landlubber to roost?" Teasing as he waited on Rowan being shown to his quarters and settled in as they would be leaving port immediately. Dark eyes lifting to see Faelan already heading for the open sea.

He gave a bend of an elbow towards Alaina, "I think I shall like this lovely young lady showing me to my quarters." Pointedly glancing to James before a grin appeared. "You can have her time later. Maybe. If she allows." He could be an old fart when he wanted to be and this was the perfect opportunity.

Alaina's grin was impish as she playfully bowed to the Dukes, young and old, and the ladies. "Welcome aboard the Drifter, Your Graces. Lady Alannah," dark eyes twinkled at the younger, "Lady Deirdre. You ladies will hopefully be comfortable in the cabin I've had prepared for you both, though I'm sorry - you'll have to share. The Drifter has limited space. As for you, landlubber," James got an affectionate smile, "I'm sure we can hang a hammock for you somewhere. After I escort this charming gentleman to his cabin." Taking Ronan's elbow, she chuckled amusedly. "This way, Your Grace. You'll be in the first mate's cabin, next to the ladies." With a nod to the others, trusting they'd follow, she called for the sailors to make ready to hoist anchor.

"Good day to you, Captain. Aye, Deirdre, you're right, she's a fair lovely lass." Admiring the clean lines of the Drifter, she smiled back to Alaina for hearing the teases between her father and brother. When told of sharing cabin space, she nodded. "I'm sure as we'll be proper comfortable, Captain, and sure as I never mind the sharing with my sister. I'll come with you, shall I, and see to helping you get settled, Father?"

Deirdre gave a quick dip of a curtsey in return for the greeting. "Good day Captain and it's perfect!" She felt better sharing a cabin with her sister than alone. "Come Alannah, lets go see our cabin then come up to watch from the rail." Already making plans to enjoy the entirety of the trip and get use to sailing again. She had left Seanan a note she would be back in two weeks before it got too cold or too much snow to travel.

"Shall I bunk with the crew, Captain?" Adam smiled easily at Alaina as he turned to watch her with their father. He had no problem bunking with the crew since he probably had to talked to most of them at one time or another.

"If you wouldn't mind, sir?" Alaina nodded in answer to Adam's question with a smile, "We're a bit tight, but we'll all fit somehow. There's plenty of room for you, or else you and James can have my cabin and I'll sling a hammock with my crew." Heading down the stairs, she was gentle with Ronan, but not hovering as she took him and the ladies down the narrow corridor to the cabins; only three, due to the size of the Drifter, but they were comfortable and toasty warm by her orders. "Ladies, you're the door on the left, Your Grace, you're in here across the hall." She opened Ronan's door to escort him in, so that they could get underway. "Excuse me for a few minutes, please? I want to give the order to cast off." Slipping free of the family, she easily scrambled up to the deck; her voice carrying easily down.

"I would never put a lady out, Adam and I will be fine in the crew's quarters." He'd been in worse places certainly, especially the days in running as well the time spent in the Colonies. Once he spent near a week under a pine tree for getting caught in a really bad snowstorm up in the mountains. Had to dig himself out once it stopped. With a smaller bag swung over a shoulder he followed them down. He would come back up once he stored his things and join his sisters at the rail, least until Alaina had time after getting all done she needed to see to in heading out. Which they were by this time.

The Naiad moved out into the open sea, keeping the Dragon's Tooth in sight but not so close that it looked like they were racing. The winds were filling the sails and they'd be making good time along the coast.

Regan gave a shout once the Drifter was moving out of port. She watched as the sails were lowered and caught the wind. "Weigh anchor, lads and let's set to following. And in a few weeks, we'll be heading for warmer climes." At least for one or two runs before Yule arrived.


Date: 11-20-08
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.


Date: 12-02-08
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.

At 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?"

Alexandra didn't say much, listening to the two as she went to find some pinafores, handing them off to both ladies and waiting to tie the sashes at their backs to protect their dresses. When Rosalind finished, she piped up quietly, "Lady Rosalind makes a good point, Lady Corina. People expect to see you as their future Regent Princess, or as their future Queen. I know your hearts are in the right place, but why not give some of your dresses away to those in need instead?"

She had been mulling that very thought over, balance between her feelings on gowns and those who had less. "There must be a balance between the two. If I dress elegantly enough without being overdone like many royal ladies in foreign lands, heavy with jewels and silks, fake hair and the like, it should suffice. Would it not endear the people more to see us take an effort not to flaunt what they could never have?" She took the pinafore after dusting off the front of her gown then around her waist it went as she held the sash back so they could be tied easily. Her smile brightened, "aye, I like that idea at least for ladies of families that should have them but don't have the funds for all that was taken away from them." A fancy dress would not do some ladies any good. So, they would need to determine what was appropriate. They would have a better idea once Vadoma got back, probably take quite a few outings to meet all. "We might consider joining Vadoma in this task so it gets done quicker. With plenty of guards," she knew well none of them would be allowed to wander freely outside the castle walls, definitely not past the outer walls into the wide open areas. "Gaidan said, these were for us to see so we had an idea of what goes on. There are the renegade families, where all has been quiet of late, but all the other daily issues they need address. Some we can help with, some we cannot." Which had her lips purse as before receiving the reports, she really had no idea of all the little things that mounted up for the bigger things.

"Who would think a quartet of court ladies might see aught they should not and report it back? Sure and such people tend look upon us as butterflies with naught of substance between our ears. So we might well glean aught of importance on them." Rosalind smiled suddenly, right pleased with the prospect of being a bit on the sly side for the good of the kingdom. "Aye, delivering gowns and invitations to those families, then food and sensible items to those lower should be in order the next few weeks amidst our plans for the feast, do you ask me. We could accomplish much in little time, doing two things at once. And if there is aught else be done for Gaidan and Leoric, sure we'll see it done."

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."

"I 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.

"Aye, do we tell them what we plan, Alexandra, aught may be done ensure our safety." She nodded in agreement with Corina, for it was oft best ask permission than apologize after the fact. "To be sure, the question is, do they allow us, and to which families of question may we go?"

"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!

"Then 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.

Rosalind looked surprised by that, for she'd heard naught of it. "I've not. Where did you hear such, Corina? And what manner of beasts do you speak of?" She could but imagine the sorts of creatures the Witch might leave behind and found it right frightening indeed.

"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.

"As 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
ladies at table; it was Vadoma's evening tonight.

Giving each a quick hug, "I am hungry," food and for knowledge as well. Millie curtsied to them both as she would attend Corina even if not her regular duty since Vadoma was not here. She was more a maid but had wishful dreams she might one day become a lady in waiting but satisfied to be their maid as well. "I will see you in about two hours." Knowing the time dinner would be served. Millie would take the pinafores so they could be washed. They would find when they returned to work again, it would all be done for Millie would see to it, not asked.

"Aye, that you will. Millie, it was a right pleasure meet you." Rosalind smiled to the lass and returned the hug, ere she stepped away. "Shall we go, Alexandra? There is much be done in little time to do it."

"Lead the way, milady." She curtsied as well, winking playfully at Millie as she followed Rosalind out of the library.


Date: 12-09-08
Poster: James Callihan
Post # 11

The Wait

Captain Henry Robinson was as disgruntled as his men when three months rolled into six and still they kept watch. Waiting. Under orders from his superior back in England. One who firmly stated when he tried an appeal to join the others in the colonies to help squash the uprisings becoming more frequent there, if you have to sit there and rot for a year waiting, you will follow orders or face the consequences. Henry stood at the rail of the Pontiac anchored behind a small island midway between Heathfield and Kildare. One far out enough they could keep watch yet go unnoticed in a hidden cove. A lookout post on the highest point of the island waiting for the pigeons to be sent from Barrett's Bay where one waited there. Morse code then in flashes from the island top to where their ships sat waiting. If at night or little light, a lantern would be used.


Henry mulled those intense words over in his mind, hands folded behind his back. Obviously there was far more to this mission than tracking the Callihan family. Far more to all of this than the two insignificant English families in Kildare that had some obvious influences. There was money to be made here, somewhere, far more than appeared or lands to gain, kingdoms. That had to be it or the Crown would not be bothered. Perhaps these kingdoms were strategically placed in possible wars with Spain or France. Treaties with either were never sound, could change overnight as there was no real trust with any of these Crowns. Perhaps some natural wealth such as raw ores, precious stones, to be gained for a fleet of ships put on hold. This had to be an important matter of some sort that they would send the three ships ahead in spying under the command of higher officials. Either that or a favor was owed someone by the king himself. There was always that to consider as well. The whim of a noble.


"Commander Palmer reporting, Captain." Roger was once more standing at attention having come upon Henry in one of his moments being lost in thought.


Blasted man! First thought that entered Henry's mind for being disturbed in his mussing. The scowl on his features well etched deeper over the past three months. His fuse, short. The fact that Roger didn't look the wear for the months only made his mood more sour. Was it that he was unaffected or hid it so well?


"Report!" Clip tone was very evident.


Roger visibly cringed at the anger that was undisguised in Henry's voice. A fleeting thought, more in the line of his shoulders stiffening which then straightened immediately. Some of the report was the usual which he was obligated to rehash to a point of doldrums.


"There has been no activity reported in Barrett's Bay." Not adding his own comments or that of the men under him and Lieutenant Edwards. Basically that the marks had not shown any further inclination to sail to Kildare. Any goods were still stored in the warehouses. Unfortunately the few attempts to get in them and find out what they had was intercepted by guards and even the man Lafayette himself to thwart any further attempts. If continued it would rais suspicion more than petty theft. They were far more guarded, efficiently, than those in their homeland. His stance slightly altered with the next. "The men grow even more restless after examples of ones were made. Durkin refused to follow orders under Lieutenant Edwards. He was shackled and thrown in the Brig. Unfortunately he is well liked amongst the crews." Implying all three ships so a more delicate matter.


Henry's expression grew near rage to the point of his eyes seeming to bulge with the barely control emotion, skin taking on a ruddy color. "Make a display of him, give him fifty lashes for all to see. That way if they want to follow their leader they will receive the same."


The look on Henry's face near had him stepping back. He could feel the raw anger and hate behind the look. Durkin, not an English name either as men comprising their crewmen were a mix. Those in control were English. The guards all English and hand picked. Crews were pick by experience rather than nationality, work dogs as they were referred to by the higher up. He knew that with fifty lashes the man would probably not survive it but he dare not mention such. It could be the straw in a mutiny if they decided to martyr him. A grim line formed over his mouth but he kept any comments shut behind it. It was at that moment the flick of bright light caught his eye from the outlook established on the top of the island. "Captain," gesturing to the outlook.


Whatever Henry was about to say next was lost when he turned to spy the outlook. Sure enough the code was being sent that the pigeons were sent and the ships were on the move. He didn't even dismiss Roger as he started shouting orders to his men. Only after he was done did he address the Commander. "You know the plan, you and Edwards come down as if heading for Heathfield, colony flags, even wave to the ships when passing close enough. Edwards is to do the cutting off of the last moment, you to box the ship in ocean side as I will be there coming up the coast, leaving the ship the only option of running ashore. We'll see how the others respond and if there are any fleets around that have managed to be invisible amongst the regular." That was the whole point of this mission, to hopefully flush out any fleet ships. The Crown seemed intent on finding this out which gave fuel to his mussing on the whole of this mission.


"Aye Captain," Roger saluted Henry as per usual before he was back around to catch up with his crewmen and get back on his ship, alert Edwards and get out to sea. Finally. The punishment on Durkin would have to wait, although, Henry had not said when it was to take place either. They would leave the man in shackles in the Brig on Edward's ship until the mission at hand was completed.



Date: 12-22-08
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 12

The Blue Whale
Joseph woke with a start, disoriented until the drab walls and furniture came into focus, placing him where he was. Reality setting in as he ran a hand down over his face then jolted up, remembering he was to go out this evening; wanting to get to the Blue Whale before it started to get crowded. Relief washed over him as he noted the window and still light out, hazy as it was. It had only seemed he overslept. Maurice's words once more rang through his thoughts on being careful. Even this little abbreviation from his calculated precise ways gave off some warning signals. He had thought he was more in control of events, emotions. It would be wise for him to be extra careful. Maybe it had been a mistake to take this mission on but there were none better qualified. He was grumbling to himself but the image of Charles Abbott greeted him in the mirror as he was over to splash some cold water on his face in dispelling the last dregs of sleep. Staring at the image for a moment, he recalled a time many years ago when his skill was not quite as honed. Luck played a big part or so he would swear for that night a few henchmen broke into his room at another hotel. One more sleazy than The Dandy, looking for Charles only to find a stranger in his bed and left to continue their search, leaving him alone in their rush. Of course he got up and left at that point not testing fate in that they would come back.
Joseph had not the skill at the time to keep the image while sleeping. In that case it had saved his hide. He shook off the thoughts as he grabbed up his cloak, the duffel bag he would leave under the bed. It only contained extra clothing and the wrapped up yards of silk he was bringing to Birdie. Nothing that could give away his real identity. Though, he could wonder if his real identity could save his hide more than the ruses he could have others perceive of his looks and even build. He wasn't willing to chance his real face to become known. Couldn't chance being linked to home. The method, in its simple form was called Beauty, a means by which one gave off that illusion no matter their true looks. A form of telepathy of perception that had others coming into contact picking it up and seeing the one as such. Joseph had mastered it beyond simple illusion. The saying the world was only how one perceived it, fell nicely with this ability. It also explained how a person with imperfect bone structure and flaws compared to what was considered perfect, could come off as beautiful or handsome even more than ones with perfect bone structure and complexion. He reeled in his thoughts as he donned the cloak and headed out. Locking the door behind him.
Those at the reception desk noted his departure for the evening with a nod as Charles steps were brisk giving off that feel he was in a rush and focused on wherever he was going. He brought his hood up once out the front door. Nothing extraordinary for the windy cold weather he was greeted with. Others of like were making their way along the street as well carriages passing by with ones looking out at the sights of Southhampton at night. The drizzle of earlier had turned into mists, foggy in areas that seemed to creep down the alleyways. It was one of these alleyways he turned down that the image of Charles Abbott melted away into an old man known as Ebenizer Potter. White hair of what was left on a balding pate. A cane procured from within the cloak and used as an old man would. Eyes were a cloudy hazel, a man that hibernated but became known in this particular tavern over the years. He was considered harmless, liked, even if he made no sense at all most of the time. Scrawny looking man, hollowed cheeks, teeth missing and slightly hunched over as what comes with age. Some tried to guess he had to be at least in his eighties.
The bouncer at the door recognized Ebb, as he was called, and saw to opening up the door for him so it didn't take him five minutes to accomplish it. "T'ank yea lad," gruff voice that even cracked as he managed his way into the tavern and over to the empty table he usually chose if not occupied already. There was an alternate one otherwise, and even an alternate on the alternate. All were ones out of the way that were not the choice tables to inhabit. Mary, a buxom copper head woman with a motherly smile and rounded face, caught sight of the old man, recognizing him immediately.  She was right over with an ale, remembering his preference, "how are we doing this balmy night, Ebb?" Winsome smile that was well practiced to gain her the tips she needed in supporting her family. For Ebb her smile was a touch warmer for the old man was not one trying to grab her when he could. Even the slight bend in setting his tankard, exposing more flesh and cleavage didn't seem to be noticed by him. For Joseph beneath Ebb, this was one of those trying moments to keep from noticing! "I be good lass, err," obviously trying to remember her name, "May," which he was gently corrected that she was Mary. "What happened to Mae?" Peering up at her with poor eyesight, "you look like Mae." Mary patted him on the shoulder giving him a wink, "enjoy your drink. I'll be by later to check on you, handsome" She had a nice sway of hips as she sauntered off to see to a few others that were coming in and settling at different tables.

Ebb was carefully trying to take a drink, hand trembled as he lifted the tankard to his lips. Lost in his own world or so it would appear. There was a lone cloaked man sitting at another table not far from him that seemed interested in watching the old man. Features were shadowed so it was uncertain exactly where he was watching or watching at all. Could easily be the door where ones came through to access the tavern. There was a younger male at the bar down one end where it curved that had sight of both the cloaked male and the old man. Three men in their fifties were gathered at another table and there was a clutch of sailors in their twenties playing cards at another. More people were coming in including three that seemed to be together but went separate ways, one to a table and two to the bar at different locations. The three middle aged gentlemen were closest to Ebb as they talked low on some recent occurrences. Those of the colonies and the ships being sent. Names of captains and their fleets. Speculations on the outcome.
Ebb was listening intently while froth rolled down his chin to drip on the table as it didn't quite make his mouth this time. Mary had left a cloth which he used to mop the white whiskered chin then the table. He was picking up talk on a fleet one spoke on that was sent elsewhere on another mission although the man had no details as the mission seemed even more a secret. He brought it up in case his colleagues had any information. One knew the captain, Henry Robinson. A few derogatory words to follow as another made comments of the like. The man had a negative reputation with anyone descent. They speculated on some rumors attached where the noble family of Ackerman was brought up. That then connected to comments about the son rebelling and leaving the country. The father a stern man in both business deals and family was so rumored. The third man at the table confirmed it was not just a rumor, he had connections with Ackerman the elder who he felt dealt in shadier deals but could not confirm them. Words had gotten so low with that comment and afterwards, Joseph barely made it out in spite of his acute hearing abilities. The rest he was unable to as their attention diverted to the door and words ceased completely. For anyone noticing the old man Ebb, he was concentrating on getting that tankard to his lips again and the ale down his throat and not his chin.
Edgar Clarke, one of many private investigators for the Crown of England, had an unusual case to resolve. He struggled his way up in law then investigations to barely get in with connections to the Crown, marginal ones so it was with a bit of luck and persistence. He was good and strove to prove himself and keep his job as well. It paid better than most other occupations. It also gained respect amongst the elite, or in some cases -- one to beware of or try paying off. He followed orders from the Crown and certain well established families in tight with the royals. A number of years back they were tracking a spy then lost his trail. Important information leaked out several times and this one remained elusive. It was an incident a few years ago where some thugs went after him, Edgar learned of and questioned, that a man known about was not the man in the room rented. Now, this occurrence could have other reasons as with the ways of these port towns but something nagged at Edgar on it that it was connected. Other information gained pointed to an undercover spy coined as the Chameleon. It was uncertain to Edgar exactly what the spy's crimes were but that part didn't matter over catching him and delivering him to the Crown authorities.

The coined name was linked to one Charles Abbott in recent fragmented information gained. Charles had not been seen in some time and so the case was stalled. Obviously the spy was not around and that would account for the absence. There was another that seemed to disappear for months or even years at a time, this was the old man that came to the Blue Whale. Now, they might not be connected for the only information linked was the absences. It was still yet to be determined if the two showed up around the same time in these intervals that would place more a connection. Neither had been seen together, in fact totally separate as it stood.

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.
The investigator made his way through the common room towards the bar without direct eye contact of those within. The group of three gentlemen was first recognized, ones near the upper crust although not noblemen by birth but gained wealth. The group of sailors was typical, those faces changed from day to day although one was seen before in here. There were a few consistent patrons, especially the bouncer inside that was following his every step without disguising it. He knew the kind of silent warning that he was being watched and not all that liked. Give him a reason it all but shouted. Crown official or not. Many of those had gone missing, disappeared overnight without a trace. The same as any common man in the wrong place. The cloaked man was not recognized but then his features were shaded, nothing about him clicked nor the other few at the bar.

Edgar was 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.

Date: 12-22-08
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.
A smile appeared, in spite of the gravity of the situation. Edgar was well aware of all those who were in the common room but they were unimportant at the moment. His focus was fully on the old man. "This one will be fine." He leaned forward against the back of the chair while he spoke. "You're called Ebb. I'm Edgar. Mind if we talk a bit?" He tried to keep his voice friendly, a man just trying to make conversation even if some knew who he really was.
He left the puddle the tankard had left in front of where Edgar was to sit, "eh? Edgar." Peering at him more. "Edgar Remmington, sure - sure, have a seat. How is your place in Sussex? Your lovely wife and children? It's been years, eh.. three, five, ten?" As he was trying to figure it out. The oddity Edgar might find, or his drink was having a super effect, was the more he kept focus on Ebb's face consistently it would seem to shift, minutely, kind that left one wondering if their eyes were playing tricks on them. Like a subtle ripple over still water only to smooth out again. Could be the smoke as well for layers were drifting by. "Have this seat," he repeated like it was the best one in the whole tavern as he shoved his foot against the one leg as one trying to nudge it out even if tipped with his weight, might well tip more instead.

He resisted rubbing his eyes as the old man spoke, choosing to blink once instead. "Right. The family is fine. Sussex is lovely this time of year. Quite festive." He wasn't above using the mistaken identity if it helped gain the information he needed. He caught the chair before it tipped and pulled it out, though he made sure to sit away from the puddle. "How have you been since we talked last? Spending time in the city or the country? Didn't you spend time near the coast?" He leaned back in the chair, trying to maintain a casual appearance.

He scratched at his whiskers with so many questions aimed his way and went off onto his own tangent instead. "Did I tell you about me dog, Red? He was a fine setter that hunted with me. Lands use to be a lot different in my time. More forests and game in them. Things sure did change everywhere. Did you say your wife and children are doing well? How old are they now? The children that is." Knowing well the man was just going along with the mistaken identity. One made up on his part as well. "What did you say your last name was again?" Hand trembled lifting the tankard again as ale sloshed down from the sides of his mouth before it dropped completely, spilling over onto the table that would have it run down onto Edgar's leg. He grabbed the cloth and tried sopping it up but the strokes only helped the ale on its way over Edgar's lap for the sweeping motion.

He took a deep breath as the man went off in another direction. "Well, and near grown. I was asking how you've been and where. Did a lot of ... " His questions were cut off as the tankard was dropped. He jumped up, knocking the chair back, and stepped back, staring down at his soaked leg and lap. "It's all right. Let's get you another drink." He motioned to Mary to bring both another cloth and a tankard. At least his coat would cover the wet.

"I've got rheumatism you know." Like it had been a long topic before. "Starts up me right leg, runs up to me shoulders then down me left leg." Talking away as Edgar saw to the mess he just put him in. "It's only ale and will dry." Like Ebb never noticed the stench ale left in clothing it dried on. "Me pappy had the same condition and could tell the weather just by what joint ached him that day. Did I tell you about me dog Red?" Mary was over with fresh towels to help clean up the mess. Another tankard of ale for Ebb was also set in replacement. A sweet smile to Ebb knowing at his age accidents happened and a slight piercing look at Edgar for upsetting the man, or so assumed for him going to the table and questioning him. She was off in a flurry near as quickly as she came for she had a growing crowd to take care of. Another of the barmaids arriving and setting to work as well.
He growled under his breath but waited until the barmaid left. Whatever patience he had left was worn thin, not only from the fact that he was soaked and would smell like ale for the rest of the night but because of the look from Mary. "No, you haven't told me about your dog. And I don't want to hear. I want answers. Do you know a man named Charles Abbot or the one known as the Chameleon?" He leaned forward. "And answer me. I don't need a tale or evasive answer." His eyes narrowed as he watched the old man.

"Yea gots an attitude there laddie that wont get you far in the world." Hazy eyes grew wider, "lion?" With a frantic look around the place as if such a beast was inside. He was up taking his cane that he hung over the back of his chair earlier to wield it at Edgar. The crowd was already starting to stir when the ale was spilled and attention drawn to both Edgar and Ebb. A couple of the sailors had moved from their table and gravitated in that direction. One, large bulky man bumped into Edger's back, hard, as they seemed to be passing through.

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 resistance.

The sailors started throwing punches while the three gentlemen looked on then passed a look to each other before they were up to join in the fun. They had their own gripe against the Crown investigator. Max, the bouncer inside, was moving through the crowd avoiding the ones fighting to grab hold of Edgar and pull him off Ebb. The bouncer outside the door heard the commotion and was immediately in to try and break up the fight. A couple more of George's men were coming from a back hall at a run. Ebb let used the cane like a staff to try and push himself from Edgar as one of the sailors grabbed a chair and swung it, hitting Ebb instead as he pushed away into the line of the swing. It sent him staggering, or more pushed through those who were fighting as others got up from their seats to join in, choosing sides or just to fight.

The younger man at the bar moved from the seat he'd occupied as the hooded man remained at his table, leisurely having a cigar. The smoke curling up and around his hood, leaving his features still in shadow. Ebb fell behind an upturned table, half dazed for the hit to the back of his head and shoulders. Fighting to remain conscious in a losing battle, Joseph's features shifted but in the image of Charles Abbott, not himself. Falling to the floor in a half turn exposing his face where the hooded man saw the change as he'd been watching. Table and seat were vacated as he was skirting the chaotic crowd fighting, giving an upnod to the younger fellow near the bar who was just as quick moving in that direction. Joseph knew he was not going to stay conscious for the black that started to cloud his vision. Last thing he remembered was being pulled at by strong hands. A few words were spared between the hooded man to the younger as they made use of one of the back halls and an exit down another which they obviously knew about, taking Ebb/Charles with them.

He hadn't wanted the old man to be hurt but there was nothing he could do as he was grabbed and swung around. He didn't see what happened to Ebb as he ducked the wild punch thrown his way, and came up swinging, connecting to the chin of the man that had grabbed him. Nearly lifting the man to fling him out of the way, he tried to look for Ebb, only to duck another. One of his men went flying backward over a table and Edgar moved to pull him to his feet before another swing was taken, this time at one of the three who joined in. The remaining two were working together, sending sailors flying.
Edgar started for where he thought Ebb had gone but Max was suddenly in front of him again, blocking his way. Since Max was bigger, Edgar did the only sensible thing. He picked up a chair and swung it at the bouncer. There were crashes behind him but he ignored them though at this point he was completely turned around. A few screams and crashes sounded and he felt a mug hit his shoulder, adding more ale for him to wear. Finally, it seemed the fight was beginning to fade. A few were being helped out and he thought he could hear shouts from the city guard. "Where's the old man?" He grabbed hold of one of his men. "Look around. Find him. He could be hurt." Not to mention he'd have to answer for the mess here. He identified himself to the city guard as they piled in then began to look around himself. The old man seemed to have vanished into thin air. Furious, he began shouting orders but to no avail. Ebb was gone.

When the fight got too wild the three gents had ducked out so they didn't get into trouble with the law. Something they really didn't need. Most of the patrons had been put out by the bouncers, the sailors were some of the first, any left conscious and their unconscious buddies to follow for them to drag away. George had called Max off Edgar knowing the connections and didn't care to get shut down even for a few days. Days open were important and he'd stick up for his man if needed. That it looked like Edgar was manhandling an old man if Edgar pursued the matter. Most likely no one would take blame for the incident and so many over the course of a week that it would only be a headache for the guards to pursue. All finally quieted down as he, his men and barmaids started cleaning up the place like routine. Others were gradually filtering back in but it would not be as packed in the aftermath. At least not until the guards along with the investigator and his men took their leave.

Date: 01-22-09
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 14

Somewhere in a Wooded Area North of Southhampton, England

A cart rambled along a hardly used trail from the main road going deeper into the woods. It was driven by an older cloaked man with his son by his side. The same two that had been in the Blue Whale when all hell broke loose. The back was filled with hay with an overall appearance of the norm as many like them traveled about England. Hay for their horses or livestock. In this case it was very different for beneath the hay and a woolen blanket laid the body of an unconscious Charles Abbott. Once the lone cabin was reached, hushed voices didn't disturb the peace around them as the two managed the body inside and into a room where there was an extra bed to put him in. He was tended to by the older man while the son was sent back to retrieve whatever might be left in the man's room where he had been staying.


A key had been found in the pocket of the man's cloak and would make it far easier. Although that was all that was found along with a few coins. They had not found the secret pocket though they had searched the cloak well to gain as much information as possible. Certainly there were questions for how events took place at the Blue Whale. Both Jack and his son Jed needed to be certain for their keeping out from under the prying eyes of the law and social circles. The men had been after the old man but by the talk, they were after Charles moreso. The son rode out as if demons were on his heels. This night was going to be a long one as Jed returned hours later with the duffle bag of Abbott's personal belongings.


"Did yea have any trouble getting Abbott's things from his room?" Jack spoke as his son returned. The simple question spanned far more than only getting anything from Abbott's room. Had he been seen or worse, recognized. Jack was sitting at their kitchen table while the smoke from his pipe swirled in lifting layers towards the high ceiling. A pot of hot coffee sat on a trivet with the extra mug setting aside it. His was filled with the dark brew and the other in wait of his son's return.


"Aye, slipped in and out quick as an eel through water. As I was leaving I overheard the investigator and his men questioning the receptionist then heading up the stairs in a rush. They wont find anything other than it had been occupied earlier. Had the whole hotel up in a frenzy by then. I was glad tae make me distance." Setting the duffle bag on the vacant end of the table as he spoke. Jed had not gone through the man's things even if curious. He would leave that to his father. "I'm not sure if my eyes deceived me but I swear the old man was there, fell and then there was Mr Abbott," Jed kept his voice low as he took up a seat across from his father. Taking up the pot to fill his mug with the coffee before setting it back. He gave an upnod to the closed door of spare room where Charles Abbott laid unconscious on the bed within. "Has he come to?" Wondering on how much he should be saying and not overheard.


Jack gave a shake of his head to the last question. "With the hit to his head I can hope he lives. It could be a few days before he even regains consciousness. He's probably in shadows between life and death. It will be up to him as we can't chance bringing in a doctor. Not that the lot of them in this area could do any better than us." The disdain in his tone for the ones locally that were all in the pocket of the law. A corrupt law enforced by corrupt men as time had proven. He and his son didn't frequent The Blue Whale, didn't frequent any public place. They had gone this night in the hope that Charles would show up there for he needed to be warned. Jack had his connections and knew he had gotten off The Sheffield earlier this day. "We owe him quite a bit." More mussed or he would never have put his son nor himself in jeopardy by getting involved.


"Aye, me especially. Lad of ten stealing for we were starving. I hated doing it knowing it would have yea and Ma mad at me but I couldn't help it when passing the bakery and all those loaves out within reach that smelled so good. I wasn't a good thief, got caught easily. In the wrong place at the wrong time as the guards bound my arms just above the wrists and dragged me into the square where there was a stump, pushing me down and forcing my arms over it. The axe lifting and even the pleas of the bakery woman saying I hadn't stole it, compassion and horror mixed in her expression of what they were going to do over a loaf of bread. They would hear none of it. The crowd a mixture of emotions, some trying to have them let me go,offering to pay for the loaf while others cheered them on to do it. It was the first time I cried as fear griped me that I'd not only lose my hands but probably bleed to death. That you and Ma would hate me for bringing this on you. They were going to make an example of me, guilty or not. If it wasn't for Charles showing up," he caught his breath as even recalling that vivid day in memory unsettled him. "The axe was coming down but then flew off harmlessly to the ground. I was heaved up from my waist as all hell broke loose. I don't know how he did it, one man against many but he got me out of there, only asking where I lived to get me to my parents if I had any." Jed had never been so scared in his life and Charles was the hero that came to his rescue. That had been near a decade ago but he'd never forget that day.


A day that changed all their lives as they had to pack up and leave immediately before it was discovered who the lad was and come after him. "I was ready to whip your hide but your mother stopped me, reminding me that we were lucky you were alive when Charles brought you to our house. He gave us enough money not only to get some proper food and clothing but to go into hiding so the law couldn't find you and imprison us all as well. Enough money I was able to invest a portion and have it grow. Got descent clothing then a good job." He had a good mind for business and took advantage of their small good fortune. "I never told you but it was this very corrupt government here that pushed us out of a real inheritance to keep it to line their own pockets. Your great uncle had been a Baron with a bit of wealth and lands. They kept it held up saying the Will was not clear and many debtors wanting their money to be paid off. I know they were all paid off for I had helped my uncle, knew he had made the Will clear as well that we were his only benefactors, only family he had left. The Court fees supposedly ate up the whole of the estate instead." He shook his head, tapping the ashes from his pipe into the ashtray. If he went on he would only become angry all over again and it would do him no good at this point. Getting even, which they were well on their way to doing, was the only course.


"So Charles is The Chameleon." More a statement after the night's events. This very title, as Jed thought of Charles as his personal hero for that time, entranced him with even more respect. Built Charles up as being bigger and life, bigger than the corruption that surrounded them, suppressed them. It only pushed his hero up higher on that pedestal.


"Aye, between us of course. This is not something that can get out, not from us." Which he knew his son should be at that realization but he felt it good to make sure he knew the seriousness of the matter. "I had suspected, wondered over the course of the years. Set myself up as his shadow guard when he was here. I'm not sure where he is from or even if his name is really Charles Abbott," he had his reasons in shadowing the man over time. "Don't matter for he's a good man with a good heart. I don't believe he is from this country." That was one of his conclusions as well. "I do know this, I've finally gotten a chance to pay back my debt to him in the way of it. That is if he lives, we'll see him to safety wherever it is he needs to go."


Though unconscious, perhaps blissfully for the otherwise pain he'd be suffering, Joseph continued to keep the appearance of Charles Abbott even in his unconscious state. This appearance was his main alteration and had saved his life as it turned out. While murmured voices trickled in through the closed door, there was something else happening in the otherwise quiet dark room. His cloak had been hung to the back of the door and a bit of a hazy light trickled past the cloth. Inside the hidden pocket the fossil fairy was taking form due to the energy of the other stone. It was enough to break the barrier that had held the fairy prisoner for thousands of years. A curse that had been set was now broken.



Date: 01-23-09
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 15


Jack and Jed talked on tentative plans of how they would proceed under either scenario. Life or Death of Charles Abbott. Neither were aware of anything unusual going on behind the closed door, deciding to let Mr. Abbott sleep for without disturbing him. The plan was to check on him in a little while unless sounds indicated he had c
ome to. Jed volunteered to stay the vigil as he was not tired yet. So Jack headed for bed to get in a few hours sleep. Thus, even the lowered sounds of male voices ceased while the wind blew outside in gusts for the impending rising storm.

The hazy hint of light formed into a pinpoint that dropped down from the hem of the cloak to zip out and about the room leaving a hazy trail behind like ribbons floating in the air all entwined through each other. Chiming laughter of the one set free was lost on human ears. Once the Fossil Fairy had her taste of freedom in movement she hovered at the foot of the bed containing Joseph. For her the illusion of Charles Abbott's appearance didn't work, she could easily see right through. The pinpoint of light grew bigger, forming into a woman nearing six foot. Hair of golden spun shone like the sun, her face a luminous glow. Almond tilted eyes of blue green held wisdom of the ages. She moved as light as a summer's breeze in a wisp over sun drenched meadows. Perfect body form with a light layering of silver shimmery particles in the semblance of a robe. Amongst the silvery particles rested pinpoints of light like stars in the night. The light laughter had ceased as seriousness took over, moving around to stand at the opposite side of the bed that would have her facing the door.


Jed was lost in his thoughts while drinking his coffee. The pot held enough for a few more cups if needed. Though distracted he caught sight of a passing light under the closed door only to focus back there watching. First he thought he was seeing things and about to go back to his own thoughts when it passed by again. So it wasn't his imagination! Strange as it was it came with a bit of relief as well he wasn't seeing things not there. The mug was abandoned on the table as he rose from his seat to make his way over to the door. His hand on the knob as he listened for a few minutes but there were no sounds other than the wind outside and the start of rain to patter against window panes. Easing the door open, his jaw probably dropped to the floor as he stared at the sight before him. An Angel was there. The most beautiful being he had ever laid eyes on. A chill ran up his spine that this might be the Angel of Death come to claim Charles but oh, what a way to go!


Orelinde was quietly studying Joseph when taken unawares by the young man opening up the door. It had been so long, thousands of years, that it unnerved her some to be caught manifested in one of her forms, the most human looking for her species. Yes, he was entranced and that was to her benefit as eyes captured to hypnotize, thoughts whispered in his mind that he was dreaming and to go back to the table and chair to resume drinking his coffee. All was well, he could come back later. Keeping him from calling out to the other male within the cabin as well. She was on a mission which needed to continue and the sight of her would only lend to a dream he was having. Her voice would sound as musical notes and further hold to that illusion.


Jed was certainly hypnotized by the vision before him and the sounds that seem to come from the beauty lulling him back to the table. The door eased shut as he even walked backwards to be down into his seat and the mug lifted again. All went quiet other than the night sounds of the rain outside. The steady patter only enhanced the other that now held him for a duration.


Satisfied she would not be disturbed again, Orelinde was back to studying Joseph. The touch of fingers along the cut of his jaw as she spoke in those musical notes. "A handsome human male you are." Not having found too many human males to be appealing at all, this one was she discovered. "Your children worry as does your brother. You are much loved." She had heard while in fossil form. She may have been condemned for millenniums but she was able to collect information over that time even in such a restricted state of being. "So what has them so concerned, handsome one? Let me find what clouds your mind to make even the smallest of mistakes." Of course she was going to find out. Fingertips trickled along the light scruff of his jaw finding the feel amusing. Soon they were over his brow to press one over where the figuratively third eye was located. Mind's eye. The Window she needed.


It was an invasion of privacy, flitting through one's collection of thoughts throughout their life. It was one that was weighed in the favor of doing for the circumstances and no guilt felt. "You were a little devil when young and oh so much more as you grew older. Differently." Amused for she could appreciate a certain kind of mischief. "You and your brothers." Though she couldn't linger on such memories but more skipping around to find the one needed to keep him safe. His brother's concern had been validated and she was obligated to the keeper of her stone, Joshua, as well the family that had taken her in and given her freedom again. "Oh ....." with a breathless pause, "" Fanning herself with her free hand as she came upon other memories, abilities. "I should not linger there," finding it was having an effect of a kind she skittered from. Well, one last quick peek before skipping away. A slight frown marred perfect features as she came upon that which she sought. The answer to the concern of those who loved him.


"Your brother was right in his concern, though you feel you have a rein on these emotions. One in the far past that has left enough of a scar that only deepens with those between to the last. Silly human females." Tsking sound came under her breath as she searched through a few in this particular area. "I will never understand the human heart. So vulnerable." She was going over her options in the detached way of her kind. What was best for the circumstances without any remorse of what was morally acceptable to these humans. Their morals were different than her kind. They were not so trapped up, regimented, or more, disillusioned to the reality of right and wrong. Humans made so many mistakes. Fumbling. Bumbling along. Caught up where they need not. Not caught up where they should never have gone. Contradictory creatures.


"Now is the question of how much I should take to Keepsake for you." Skipping around all the circumstances in making a conclusive decision. "Best I take it all, it's not likely you will ever run into the one or any of them again. Not like those that love you will talk of it unless you bring it up. You wont need to now. For now. Keep you safe." Taking one of the stars to press over where the pad of her finger had been. The memory soaked into the tiny light before placed back where it had been on her attire; a term loosely used. "Now, handsome one, your mission will go less hindered. No need to thank me." Amused by the sentiment as a healing hand came to rest over where he'd been hit. The blow having rendered him unconscious for a number of hours. Leaning down to touch her lips upon his before whispers words fanned their warmth. "It is time for you to wake up, Joseph."



Date: 02-14-09
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.


Date: 02-25-09
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 17

Sea Battle

Considering 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. It 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.

Faelan was heading the group of ships by a few kilometers. Ship was sailing smoothly as he too was upon deck, making his rounds. Morgan was behind him, beyond the Naiad was the Drifter, and barely seen was Regan's Neptune's Dream. His men were on the watch for any other ships that might come along. Or more close enough, there were two seen off quite a distance heading down the coast. Too far at this point to make out their flags even with the spyglass.

Commander Palmer wore a frown this day though not of a kind his men had to be concern he was going to turn on them at any moment like Robinson was known to do. He didn't like any of this but he was under orders and orders he would follow. He bent one. Durkin. Being they were to immediately set sail, the lashing, that would probably kill him, was put off but he had him put into one of the storage rooms, chained him there so he couldn't get out. His ship, the Amethyst was flying the Colonial flags provided them. His attire a scratchy wool but in a way he preferred it over the stiff English uniform. He stood on deck noticing the ships in the distance ahead.

Captain 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.

The Drifter stayed on its appointed course with the Duke and his family on board, minus the three Callihan ships. Alaina stood on the deck, cloak flaring around her as she consulted the pilot on the accuracy of the charts nearing the waters by Kildare. Before long, the lookout tucked into the crows' nest announced the presence of other ships on approach. Taking up the glass, she extended it to gauge their distance, and if possible, sight their colors. No trouble was expected in these peaceful waters, but that didn't mean she'd allow her crew to go soft either. For the moment, they were too far away for her to identify cleanly, making any action or orders moot until she had better information. Accepting the sturdy mug of tea from her steward, she had a word with her first mate - keep a sharp eye out for now.

Alannah kept her time divided between the cabin shared with Deirdre and the captain's state-room, knitted out for her father's comfort. It was right difficult keeping him rested when he nigh insisted upon popping up every hour to ask after Kildare and the time left for traveling to Montrose. Grown frustrated, she finally laughed and let him have his way, but insisted did he go to the deck, he would be properly dressed for the colder weather. Naught in the way of trouble was expected, and so she sought enjoy the sail.

Morgan's crew managed to keep busy during the voyage, and out of trouble for the most part, though there were the occasional disagreements and fights. Any who continued were thrown in the brig for a day or two and that helped to keep tempers cool. He spent every waking hour on deck in spite of the cold, watching the horizon. The ships spotted would be watched closely but this close to the coast, he wasn't expecting any real trouble. Of course, it was best to be prepared and he made sure his crew was. It was good to be sailing like this but he couldn't wait to head for warmer climes again.

Regan was doing pretty much the same as her brothers. Her officers had been good choices for they kept the crew from becoming restless. When she wasn't on deck, she was in her cabin, pouring over charts and books. She wanted to be ready for anything and not fall prey to overconfidence. This day she stood on the deck, watching the sea around them. The sailor in the crow's nest called out the time and another pointed out dolphins that were escorting the Dream. With a grin, she watched them a moment before turning her eye to the horizon and her family's ships ahead.

Turning the glass to look aft, Alaina confirmed for herself that the Dream was bringing up the rear of the small flotilla, as she thought of it. Her crew, mostly kinsmen as per the habits of the MacKenna, kept to their duties faithfully, several down on the main deck finishing up their swabbing while others worked to repair rigging, or sails, and others climbed the rigging to inspect the masts. The Drifter was never idle, if she had her way. Closing the glass, she sheathed it at her hip and called for the pilot to make a subtle adjustment to the sheets as the wind was freshening. Despite being winter, it was a good day to sail.

It wasn't long before the two ships, the Amethyst lagging just behind the Moonstone that they were close enough for their colony flags to be seen. The attire of the Captains fitted as well the crew. Commander Palmer, with little indication of his title, saluted the first ship for he was sure they were being watched. What he didn't know was that Durkin was frantically working one hand out of the shackles. At least his feet weren't in the hurry. He had fisted his hand in a way that when relaxed the band was looser. Spit worked here as he got it up to his mouth to make it slick. Contorting his hand in a near fold in half he managed to squeeze it free. All were too busy to check on him so that was in his favor as well. He couldn't get the second one off presently but he could reach some of the tables in the hope of finding something sharp to saw through it or an ax to cut it free. Anything. He noticed out of the porthole that they were already passing the first ship. He overheard the name Callihan and knew that Robinson would do something to harm them if he could. Could? He would. These were Irishmen as well even if they were no longer in Eire. There was a loyalty there as he rooted through the paraphernalia on the table. Drawing cloth aside, he realized what he had in his hand. The English flag that usually flew atop the mast. It gave him an idea as he was over to the porthole to work it open. Wasn't easy for they were rarely ever opened. By this time they had passed the second ship and nearly on the third when he stuck out his arm waving the flag. Hoping they were swift enough to pick up on the oddity first and what flag it was.

Faelan saw the colonial flag and the salute which he saluted in return. All seemed to be on the up and up and two ships heading down the coast for whatever reason, probably trade at the various ports along the way or some other destination. He kept track of the ships behind him, not getting too far ahead as they had formed a convoy.

Deirdre gave looks Alannah's way when their father started his fussing again. She was really trying not to laugh as they placated him as they could. Getting him up on deck was probably a good idea, get him some fresh air and maybe clear his head, get him away from fussing. So the two would see him properly attired, flanking him in case he needed any support in spite of him trying to shoo them away that he was perfectly capable on his own feet. At least the waters weren't choppy to have it become more of a challenge than it already was.

James had divided his time from watching the ocean to watching Alaina go about commanding her men. It was a sight to see and a smile appeared more than once. As the ships drew closer in passing, focus turned there. In the next moment he caught someone waving a flag out a porthole. "Alaina, come see this!" First the oddity but then he recognized those colors and design to be of the English. "Odd.." getting that feel up his spine there was something  definitely wrong here. It would be best to alert Morgan and Faelan immediately as well Regan behind them.

Palmer had no idea of what was going on from one of the portholes below their sight, unless one was looking straight down which none were presently. Once pass the third ship the man at the helm knew to turn sharply as they picked up speed. Edward's ship moving ahead as well but then slowed enough to block. It was then Robinson's ship could be seen coming up from behind at a good clip. They were not weighed down as these ships were reported to be.

Morgan had leaned to listen to a question from one of his men as the ships passed. He gave an absent wave toward the two though he took note of the activity. Back to watching, but he glanced over his shoulder to check on Regan though she was still some distance back.

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.

Hearing James, she hopped down to join him, not seeing what he was at first, until the bright white and red against the blue caught her gaze. Dark eyes narrowing, she growled quietly under her breath, recognizing the flag, but to prevent frightening the two ladies and alarming the Duke, suppressed any expulsion of temper. Frowning, she thought quickly, glancing aft to see the third ship turn to cut off Regan's. Dammit. "James," her tone was low, but clipped, "Please ask your sisters to help your father back below decks. Let them know we're going to run a drill, and I don't want them to be hurt, please." It sounded good, though the excuse wouldn't last very long. "That's a Limey and I'll lay wagers that the others are too; they're moving to cut Regan's ship off, if you look behind us. I may be wrong - pray to all the Gods in heaven that I am - but I'm getting a bad feeling about this."

James was in full agreement. "There is something very wrong here and I smell a rat." Not understanding why they singled Regan's ship out instead of the others but then, this was the English! Some twisted reason he was sure as he did what he could not being his ship. It was in good hands as he intercepted his father, Alannah and Deirdre. "Alaina is going to run a drill for safety precautions, she needs you all back below but as soon as it is over, you can come on deck." One look to his father as he was mainly addressed but when he turned a look to Alannah at his side, James gave her a look as well Deirdre, there was something up of dire importance and to stay close to their father. "I'm going to help her out, I'll catch you later." If there ended up any fighting, he was wearing his sword and ready to assist.

"Aye, then we'll be best out of harm's way, so as not to interfere." Alannah smiled serene enough, but catching a look of James as said there was trouble brewing. Sure and it was a fair good idea they took shelter below. If there was to be fighting, they could not be used against Captain MacKenna, James or aught else with an eye to defending the ship. "Come, Da... Deirdre, what think you of making Da some of your chocolate? And there's biscuits in the tin." Keeping hold her father's arm gently, she walked with him back to the stairs leading below, to begin their descent.

Deirdre noticed the look when her father's focus was turned. James was silently telling them of trouble ahead. Possibly in the least. "Aye, a snack and a hand of Bridge you like so much Da, while we wait." Two things that would entice their Father as he'd been trying to get in that game of Bridge but one thing or another had altered the chance.

Once seeing them get their father below as he hovered in case Rowan decided to change his mind. Luckily the offers appeased the man and so he was back to help Alaina as needed. He was under her command on her turf. Ship in this case.

Roger Palmer had not been given orders to fire on any of these ships and so his guns were not uncovered nor manned. He was crowding the ship as ordered, having the ruse of a mast coming down and a little out of control. It was all rigged as the much larger ship would end up in a collision if the captain of the other didn't turn towards shore. He didn't like any of this one bit and the frown only deepened. It would come off as a very concerned captain of things gone array.

Edwards was holding position, slowing down as if he was waiting to see if the other ship he had been traveling with got things fixed. Captain Robinson was now in position that blocked any escape turned around.

Faelan had been watching the ships pass as brows knitted in something just not sitting right, that sixth sense of his. It was when the one ship started to turn in a way it would block Regan off, he called out his orders. "Turn this ship around immediately! Fast as you can without tipping her, helmsman!" He was moving along the rail as that sense was getting more acute as he was watching the formation. Yes! It was a formation! What were the odds? Too big for it to happen unless planned. "Man the guns, get ready for a confrontation." IF he could get back in time but he would certainly try. Morgan and Alaina would see him already turning, though he was the farthest away.

It could have been the connection shared with his kin but Morgan turned to watch the ships as they moved off. He could see they were boxing Regan in and then Faelan's ship started to turn. "Looks like we've got a problem back there, lads. Turn the ship and get ready for a fight." He knew they wouldn't be as fast as usual but he'd be damned if he'd let anyone mess with his family ever again. He cut a quick glance over his shoulder, satisfied that Alaina had taken note of the situation as well. Men took the deck, running as they began to uncover the guns.

Adam had been talking to one of the deck hands on Alaina's ship when things began to move quickly, especially after that flag was spotted. He gave the man a nod and quickly joined Alaina and James, his hand resting on his sword hilt. He added a quick prayer that they'd reach Regan before any trouble started.


Date: 02-25-09
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.

She 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.

Commander Palmer's frown grew even deeper as everything was planned on a timely bases. The other ships responding far too quickly before he could crowd this ship further to shore. At this point, he wasn't sure he could retreat fast enough as he gave the command to turn. The three ships, with the original plan, were to scatter which would likely deter any of them being followed and far faster ships not loaded down. He didn't like any of this plan to start.

Robinson gave Edwards the signal first as that ship pulled away heading out into the wide open ocean at a fast clip. A quick change of plans as he couldn't take the chance Palmer could get out in time and there were to be no capturing. "Sink the Amethyst," he would put in a report of Palmer turning on them or something to that affect, there was the uprising of Durkin to sustain it. "If the cannonballs hit the other, well, accidents happen." His men blinked when he gave the order to sink one of their own. Crew members known as friends but their fear of Robinson would have them obeying and hoping the ones got off, though even so, the cold water at this time of year would probably kill them even if they did. The shore was still a good distance and it would take an act of God. The gunwales were open up as red sparked as the first cannons were sent flying towards the Amethyst. The first one took out their main mast, another splitting through the rails and by chance hitting the ropes that held one of the dinghies having it go down the side. Another ripped through the hull as Robinson was turning to give the full gauntlet of fire from the one side while aiming towards the open sea. A few flew towards Regan's ship but few were spared as it was more important to sink the ship of theirs that would not get out and leave no trace.

Palmer couldn't believe his eyes and certainly they were not prepared nor would fire on one of their own. He tried to maneuver his ship out of range but there wasn't enough time as well the other ships coming his way. He gave the order to abandon ship, least save some of his men as the few remaining dinghies were released but the cannon shots were hitting well taking down his ship. Fire surged up fast as the cripple ship gave off those doomed moans of wood cracking and crackling while losing altitude, even the water would be hard put in putting out some of the fire that now raged. A black cloud rising up that started to spread around and beyond the ship.

When the booms rang out, Deirdre dropped her Bridge hand and rushed to the porthole. Her voice high pitched and forgetting their father there. "Alannah, they're firing on Regan and another. Some other ships," not totally sure what was going on but certainly there was a war and cannon fire.

James was at the rail and if will power alone could have the Drifter there faster, he would move it by such thoughts. He was trying to see what became of Regan's ship through the smoke as they drew closer.

"Deirdre, calm yourself. Sure and naught will happen to Regan." Not wishing alarm their father, she rose to her feet to join her sister that she might lead her from the porthole. "But if there is trouble, we're like to be there directly. Do you stay with Father, while I go to speak with the surgeon and see if my help will be needed. Aye?" A fond hand touched her sister's cheek, asking Deirdre's co-operation in this ere she smiled at their father. "Regan is a right smart captain and will maneuver round aught. I'm not worried for her, but there may be others picked up as need tending." Bending then to touch Ronan's cheek as well with a kiss, she took herself from the cabin to enquire after where she might best be used.

"They 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 treachery exposed.

The other ship shielded the Dream for the most part though one of the cannonballs took off the head of the figurehead. She might just leave it as a battlescar but that would be thought on later. Shouting orders as the Dream started forward, she had the helmsman turn the ship around the burning one. The Dream would come out of the smoke, guns blazing at the second ship and with her kin zeroing in on them, they best flee now. "Get the dinghies into the water as soon as you can and see if there's any survivors. Man the ropes and ladders as well."  Her heart was pounding and she was short of breath but adrenaline kept her going. She could be sick later.

"Oh, blast and d..." Cutting her words off as the ships opened fire, the Drifter cutting cleanly through the water, she scowled blackly. "They're firing on their own, the bloody buggering bastards." The curses slipped out that time as she grimaced. "We can't open fire yet, not until we come around that other ship, where I don't have to worry over hitting the dream. Can you two help fish out any survivors?" The question was posed to James and Adam as she  snapped an order to her pilot to redirect the Drifter to starboard, the better to come around.

There were many screams of anguish coming from the smoked filled area, spurts of fire could be seen and at one point a man leaping from the uptipped bow, clearly on fire as he leaped to his death in the icy water below. Probably a more kind death than burning. The ship had split in two by this point. Palmer refusing to get into the dinghy having his men go first but they were barely away from the ship when the last cannonball ripped it in half. By the time the ship was claimed by icy fingers and the smoke diminishing, there were few left. There was part of a large crate with one man laying over it and another flagging for any of the ships to pick them up. A few others clung to what remained of the ship that didn't go down and had the smarts to keep moving until they could no longer, fighting off hypothermia. Edwards ship was long gone as well Robinson's had fled at full speed, gaining a greater distance by the minute. If they tried going after two fast ships while loaded down, they would be wasting their time and those in the water would surely die.

James helped lowered ropes and ladder ropes, going down one far enough to get hold of a man's hand to draw him up from the icy water. The man on the raft was knocked out, possibly dead but the one with him was insistent in helping James get the other up using the ladder even if it would take some doing by both of them. James noted the man's lips were purple but had to admire his determination.

Morgan cursed roundly as the sip slipped away but once he was back in Tortuga, he'd learn who the coward was. He turned his attention back to the sinking ship and seeing if there were any survivors though more than likely the sea had claimed most. He saw Regan's crew doing the same and searched out his blonde haired sister, sighing with relief when she waved.

Adam was doing what he could to help, but all he was seeing were bodies. He shook his head as he looked over his shoulder at Alaina. There wasn't much he could.

Regan was still furious though her temper was cooling. The cabin boy from the downed ship was brought aboard as well as another young man, probably one who wasn't a sailor long. Both were wrapped up in blankets and hurried down to  the ship's surgeon while she turned the Dream away. Otherwise she might crash into one of the others!

The unconscious man was entrusted to the ship's surgeon, while the conscious man found himself wrapped in blankets and given a mug of steaming tea laced with a good shot of Scots whiskey. There were precious few survivors of the third ship, her expression a combination of suppressed fury, barely veiled disgust and sorry for the innocent crewmen caught in the midst of it all. A hand rested on Adam's shoulder for a minute in thanks and understanding before she swung her gaze onto the man who insisted on rescuing his companion. "You're lucky to be alive. Who are you, man? Your captain's name and your ship? And what you know about what just happened, if you please?" There wasn't a lot of time to be gentle as fresh orders were given to reroute the Drifter to one of the coves and signal the other ships. They needed to have a brief conference, and then get to Kildare with all speed.

Faelan's ship had caught up with the rest as the few men left alive were taken aboard the others. He signaled for a dinghy to take him over to Alaina's ship as certainly they would confer before continuing on. He would be boarded within the next ten minutes or so.

James was up with the two, helping to lay the man down and get some blankets on him before the surgeon and a couple other men would take him below. He had checked him before the surgeon got there, "he's alive." Rising then as Alaina questioned the man, coming to stand near her. "This act of kindness might serve all us well." Just a gut feeling but they would have pulled survivors from the sea no matter. Others would not have like the other two ships. A hand wiped over his face as it was slicked with the spray of ocean water, the slicker blocking most though strands of hair were plastered against forehead and neck. Eyes intent on the conscious man as he was wrapped up, given something warm to drink and asked questions on.

Durkin looked between the two once he could form words as he couldn't feel his lips much. Words were slurred and slow so recognizable. "Paaaaddddyy Durrrrkinnn. Creewmaaan." Slight dip of his head to the man being taken away, "Commaaannnderrr Paaalmerrrr." He could hear his teeth rattling. He had more to say but he would need to warm up first. The Ammmmeeeythysssst." It was catching up to him as eyes rolled behind his lids and quite abruptly passed out. He had pushed his endurance and his body was demanding retribution.

Deirdre was reluctant to leave the port hole but knew she would have all her energy spent in keeping their father from rushing above. He was yelling he was not too old to defend his children if need be. She had to reassure him the door was locked from above when they called the drill. Not really being sure it had been but anything to stay their father. With Alannah off to help if there were survivors or need of such assistance, it became more than one person could handle. Rowan would not be stayed by a lass and soon was bursting his way up onto deck. Deirdre right behind him but luckily it was all over as she had stalled him enough. In that she found some comfort. Coming to a halt just round her father's side, she screamed when she saw the man fall, looking quite dead. Hand flying to cover up her mouth.

Catching the Signal from the Drifter, Morgan turned the Naiad toward the coast and that sheltered cove. He nearly had flashbacks of their battle with the Unholy Trinity and decided that the one who ordered the attack on his own was no better than those pirates.

Adam put his hand over Alaina's briefly, then looked at the men James was helping. He waited quietly until their father flew up onto the deck like some wraith of vengeance. "It's all right, Da. Regan's fine." He was over to Deirdre, putting his arm around her shoulders.

There was one more survivor brought aboard and no others. The man was close to death but she knew everything that could be done to help him would be. "Put into shore, helmsman, with the others. Seems we'll be doing some talking before we continue on. Make sure we didn't take any other damage." In the excitement of the battle, they very well could have.

Mustering a faint smile for Adam's hand on hers, she went to listen carefully to the crewman before the strain of his ordeal proved too much for him. Letting out a sigh, she calmly called for two men to carry him down to the surgeon and his corpsman to be attended. Shaking her head in disbelief, she glanced up to see Ronan and Deirdre, wincing in sympathy. "There's something rotten in all of this." The dinghy caught her gaze, frowning until she recognized Faelan, and confirmed Morgan and Regan were heading for the cove.

With Faelan aboard the Drifter, the Dragon's Tooth would remain just outside the cove as protection. A cannon would be fired if needed to alert the others. He was over with Morgan to put his arm around Deirdre who seemed distraught. "Maybe we can get some answers if any of them survive." He got to see the one lying on deck as well another in not much better shape being taken down below.

"If they are English and sure looks like it was English ships, we'll get the most answers from the Captain. The English don't make important information privy to the crewmen and even amongst higher ranking ones. Durkin seems willing and I think he'll survive. All's well at this point, Da. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get into some dry clothes." Though not thoroughly soaked for the slicker, he was starting to feel the cold where he'd gotten wet. Last thing they needed was for him to get sick. He headed below to see to that so he'd be changed by the time they anchored.

Deirdre was physically shaking and not from the cold. She'd been protected from such sights all her life up to this point. It was a bit shocking. Flanked by Morgan and Faelan, she gradually calmed down and the tremble through her subsided. "You're certain Regan is fine?" She probably would not handle it well if Regan had been hurt.


Date: 03-10-09
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 19

The Inquiry

Order was 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.

Gone to lend her hands to the surgeon when the wounded English were received, Alannah made herself useful as possible to him. Fortunate it was that neither were after being that hurt, mostly well shaken and cold for their dunking. Soon coming round after being tended and warmed, the English Captain asked after speaking to his captor, as he saw it. Alannah nodded and went to seek out her brothers and Alaina on the top deck, that she might deliver the message. "Captain, James... the Englishman is after being awake and wishing speak with you. Do you come below, he'll like as not answer questions of you."

James glanced to Alaina before coming alongside to head down to the sick bay to see to this English Captain. He stopped on his way to see his father personally, reassuring him as well along with Deirdre. He would come with more information as they gained it. Ronan expressed his concerns that this might be related somehow to his brother, which took James a little by surprised for a second and then not that his father suspicions were parallel to his. Deirdre assured him she would see to their father while they waited. Reassured as well Regan was fine along with the others. The English taking the suffering. He was back out to join Alaina in heading to the sick bay.

Faelan lent a hand where needed, deciding to stay on the Drifter for a bit, watching his ship from the rail, who were watching the expanse of sea for any signs of those two ships if they decided to come back. It was not likely but then this was the English.

Morgan watched as the other ships eased into the cove then turned to access the Dream. He spoke briefly to his First Mate before swinging over to join Regan on the deck of the Dream. "What sort of damage did you take?" He asked, then studied her. "Were you hurt? Did you lose any men?" He smiled slightly, knowing she'd likely scold him for his concern. "You did well, little sister."

Adam stayed with Ronan and Deirdre while Alaina and James went to see their captives. He watched Morgan's ship from the porthole, then chuckled when he saw him swing over to the Dream. "We'll know shortly how Regan is."

She prowled the deck of her ship, spotting minor damage here and there but even below decks, save for cargo that shifted when it shouldn't have, there was little damage. The crew was set to righting things and she grinned when Morg joined her. "Minor damage except me poor mermaid lost her head. One of me crew took a splinter to his arm when the ball hit the figurehead. Other than that, we've two near frozen lads on board and both are sleeping." She motioned toward the Drifter. "Shall we?" This time, they'd use a longboat to make the short trip.

Leading the way down to the surgeon's makeshift infirmary with James after he'd seen to his father, Alaina stepped into the circle of light to speak quietly with the corpsman. Assured the man was in reasonably good health, but was in pain, a little disoriented, and bore the signs of his experience, she nodded and sent him on his way, then shifted to make room for James in nearing the man's bed. "How are you feeling, Captain?" A little courtesy never hurt.

Alannah chose to return to the cabin with her father, sister and brother, knowing as she would likely be in the way for the questioning.

"Commander, I was under Captain Henry Robinson following his orders as well the third ship under my orders." Roger had time to think once he regained consciousness in the couple hours until this moment. He was a dead man, better believed that he perished with his ship than to try and go back to a country that had betrayed him through Henry. "I will give you all information that I have willingly if you will grant me sanctuary in Kildare along with those surviving from my ship if they want." He was on his own, they were on their own but he would ask for them as well.

Paddy was listening when he interjected. "He ain't the bad mon, the other one is. It's why meself and a few others were trying to take over yea ship, Roger." Figuring he was free at this point after three years in bondage. "We weren't going tae kill yea though, just lock yea up until we could bring Robinson's ship down. Thar be things ye din know. Me and me brother were shanghai out of Cork when Robinson's ship came in a bad way from a storm. When he got other men and yea needed another, how I got on yea ship. Me brother, he killed after a while, framed him with something he didn't do and flogged him to death." So he had a score to settle. "But yea treated me no different than yea English sailors."

Roger looked on in surprise as Durkin spoke up. Now he knew what had been boiling he had stopped, understood it better as well. "It seems Henry's hatred goes deep for the Irish." Drawing back from the distraction to the two in authority he didn't know their names yet.

A brow lifted as Durkin ended up in a conversation with the Commander and them in turn. "I can see that the King of Kildare will hear your plea. He's a kind man and will probably grant you sanctuary." That was the least he could do if approved. If this man was as it seemed. A good man in a bad situation. "What exactly where your orders?"

Listening in silence, her skepticism was increasing, though she kept it under wraps. When James spoke of Leoric's likelihood to grant the man sanctuary, she frowned, but continued to stay quiet. She would wait until they were in a more conducive location to express her doubts.

"The orders that I was privy to, were to comb these coasts down to the lands of Heathfield to see if there was a fleet. Warships in particular. The orders were coming from someone in a high place in England. Not necessarily directly from the Crown. I am not privy as to who or why but it is not something uncommon to find out the strengths of other lands that draw the attention of England. Robinson has a deep rooted hatred of the Irish and has bent rules, making up a legitimate reason to account for his actions." Which had Roger frowning as he had been near from the onset of this mission. "He had some of us port in Barrett's bay and enter some of the local establishments to see if we could find out any information on the land's navy. There seemed to be none more than a couple warships. Those of the lands were friendly but seemed to know nothing about any fleets, hence this last mission. Robinson was watching your family in particular. Waited for your ships to come up the coast. We were to flush one ship out, the last, and see if that drew any defensive measures by other ships about. There was to be no cannons used, nor have it so the last ship crashed ashore. Just enough to see if there was a fleet. There was enough time calculated but the first three ships caught on we were not from the Colonies." Which they had painstakingly dressed for. This part had him confused and wondered if Robinson would have fired those cannons anyway.

That's when Durkin interjected again. "The room you imprisoned me in was a storage room. I managed to get a hand free and when looking for something to hack off the other shackle, I found the flag that usually flies atop the mast. I got the porthole open and waved it in the wind, hoping they would see us for what this ship is. Robinson would harm that last ship no matter his orders and sunk you anyway. That's me figuring and some rumors that passed about amongst the sailors." Being confined on a ship, there was little that was private unless not spoken on at all, nothing written either.

That was a lot to absorb as James watched the two then glanced to Alaina, he was sure she had something to ask or at least decide on their fate from this point.

"Aye," she finally spoke up, "we saw the signal and that's what alerted us that something was wrong." Studying the two men, she finally had a question of her own to pose to Palmer. "You said there was to be no cannon. Is it possible that your fellow captains left you out of the real plans, hoping that you'd either be killed or captured and inform us of what they wanted us to know?"

He glanced between the two with quite an astonished look on his face that this could have been a scheme on getting rid of him. Yet that didn't make any sense, then he realized that maybe they felt he was a ploy of some plan devised with a lot of ifs in it. IF they would retrieve him from the ocean IF he didn't die there. IF they would believe a contrived story. Then he remembered something as he pointed to his replaced Commander's jacket, the colonial styled one. "Inside the left near the seam, if you run your fingers along it you'll find where it is really a hidden pocket. Inside there should be the orders with official seals to verify I am speaking the truth." Realizing as well they had been watching this family in particular, or Henry had being the Captain and head of this mission. The papers were wrapped in cloth then oil skin over it to keep them from getting wet. Something his father taught him to do a long time ago when he decided to join the Royal Navy in his footsteps.

James was over to the jacket doing as the man instructed. There was indeed a folded up packet in oil skin which he drew out. Unwrapping it to the cloth beneath to protect it from the oilskin as he was back over to offer the find to Alaina.

Accepting 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.

One hand came to rest on her right shoulder from behind at that angle as he looked over her left. The touch of fingers the only subtle soothing as this whole episode had them all frazzled and hard to judge if the man was speaking the truth. Although with Durkin, who was supporting the man's words in spite of a failed mutiny, he was Irish. The orders were legitimate. That much they could be certain or someone went  through a lot of trouble to set this up. From his view, but he hesitated to ask Alaina at the moment.. were the guns that were fired on this man's ship done in a way to allow any survivors? She would better read a battle scene.

"They're all there including the copies of orders I had to pass onto Lieutenant Edwards of the Moonstone." He set to thinking on that question. He didn't usually have to think outside the box of following orders and not asking questions. Questions found many a good naval man dead. Wrong place, wrong time where private information was learned. "He is going to have to report back to England and come up with some explanation why my ship and crew perished. It could be anything from saying we opened fired on them to deciding to sink my ship because I didn't have time to get out to sea before caught. I had time though it would have been close. He could say that your ships fired on us, sinking mine. He can put enough pressure on Edwards to verify what he says. Edwards was already headed out to sea when the decision was made by Robinson."

Durkin had been quietly listening. "He probably shot yea down so he could take some shots at that other ship. He knew you would not be pressured when it came to an inquiry so best you go down with his excuse." Made sense to him that it was a combination of a few things but for malicious purposes on Henry Robinson's part.


Date: 03-10-09
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.

For the first time since the attack, Regan was able to relax enough that she didn't pace the deck once she and Morgan were aboard. She leaned beside him in companionable silence, watching the crew with an almost lazy air. Much like a cat watching birds but not really in the mood to chase any.

"In other words, you're the expendable one, and the one most likely to blow the whistle on his failure to comply with orders." Sparing a brief, soft look for the hand on her shoulder, she folded the orders and replaced them in the packet. "Here's what I see happening, since you mention that he'll have to answer for the loss of your ship and crew. I think he'll either pin this on you, Palmer, that you stepped out of line, or more likely that one of us opened fire on you and sank your ship, then he returned fire to try and save you. That way, he not only looks like a hero, but it will tell the Admiralty that English ships are viewed with hostility in these waters." Alaina looked at James to see if he concurred with her opinion, then arched a brow at the English captain and his Irish counterpart. "You tell me which scenario's the more likely."

Receiving news as Morgan and Regan were now to the Drifter, Alannah looked to her father, Deirdre and Adam. "I'll go fetch them down, shall I? I'd like to know as Regan is well and hale."

"We can get you to the castle in Kildare where the King and Regent will review your case. They will know much more and the authority to pass judgement and outcome. If you are telling the truth, I have confidence they will know." For more ways than were human but that wasn't stated.

Roger looked between the two with a furrow to his brow. "That is only fair and wise for this inquiry by the King there." Answering the last before the first as it gave him some time in wondering on that. "You're Irish, I'm not. My family is well thought of to upset them. That would not be wise on Henry's part. I would say that he will go with you opening fire first and that I had been too close, taking fatal hits as he tried to defend but had to follow orders to get out at the first sign of conflict, using the cannons only if necessary."

"Alannah, please do fetch her at once." Ronan turned from looking out the porthole to his daughter. Concern written on his aging features that would not be disguised at this point. He was also getting antsy to be going again. "See if James and Alaina have learned anything." Though his son had said he would let him know once they knew anything, here too he was becoming impatient.

"Well, aye." Finally, Alaina cracked a small smile. "The Callihans are Irish, but I imagine the MacKenna are no more beloved for being Scottish and refusing to sell our ships to the English." Listening as he agreed with her assessment, the smile faded into a grimace. "And relying on the fact that the Admiralty will take his word for it, rather than conduct an investigation. If I wasn't bound by duty and other reasons to Kildare, I'd be almost inclined to sail to England and register a complaint against the man."

"Aye, I will." Alannah did not waste a moment's time in going to the deck in search of Morgan and Regan. Finding them was right easy as she went straight into hugging Regan in relief that her sister had not been hurt. "Da is below and anxious to see you're well, Regan, and you too, Morgan."

The repercussions were not promising at all but he had a feeling this was only the beginning of that festered pimple that would eventually pop. "In any case, as it will come out eventually, best you rest and mend. As well you Durkin." Hand slid down to rest against Alaina's hip a moment before sliding away completely as he stepped back. They could sort this all out with the help of Leoric and Gaidan once they reached Kildare. Right now he had an anxious father waiting. Such details were not given the two captives, nor even who he was. Although he suspected they probably knew.

"I will do that," as he was getting very tired. Probably whatever was in the tea he was offered earlier to kill the pain. "I want to thank you both for not leaving us to die in the cold waters." He was grateful as lids were starting to droop.

Durkin was pleased and in better shape than Roger, although they were both lucky to be alive. "I thank yea from the bottom of me heart. Me mother and other relatives will be happy to see me alive." Unfortunately not his brother.

Faelan had come around once Regan and Morgan came to the Drifter. Regan got a good squeezing hug before Alannah was next. "Let's find out if anything was found out so we shall be on our way." He didn't like being detained too long, preferring to be on the move as well. In that, he was much like his father.

Deirdre was fussing over her father to keep him distracted but that was wearing thin. He had her checking out the hall for him ever few minutes to see if any of his children were coming.

He grinned when he saw Alannah, opening his arms after she hugged Regan. "We weren't sure if there was enough room in the cabin." Teasing. Truth was, he wasn't sure how upset their father would be. He followed them below deck, expression somber though his eyes were alive with laughter.

"I'm fine, Alannah." She hugged her sister tightly in any case, relief washing over her now that everything was done. "Aye, I'm anxious to see him too. And the rest of you." She wasn't shaking anymore. That had been done with before Morgan joined her.  Faelan was hugged as well and she sighed softly.  Her ship was fine, her crew unharmed. That was all that mattered. For now.

"Rest 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."

Following her brother and sister to the cabin, Alannah kept watch for James and Alaina, anxious for news of the man saved from the water and an explanation so as not to be so confused.

Deirdre was quick to step back into the room after checking the hall once more. "They're all coming Da." Making sure she was out of the way and set to listen.

A cordial nod was given the two men before he was in a brisk step taking him down the passageways to Alaina's cabin where his father, and family it seemed awaited them. They were congregated. Once everyone was inside he spoke up as his father's anxious expression would not have him delay. "It would seem this Commander was under the Command of another who opened fired when they were not to. It was not in his orders. If I recall correctly, there was not a cannon shot from this man's ship. It seems the other turned on him to make it look like we attacked their ships or possibly some other reason of that caliber. We did learn they were sent here to find out if the lands had a fleet of warships and this ploy to find out what they couldn't by sight or by others they met inland. The ship that fired on his, was the Captain, one over him who would, by the way the English conduct things, not know the extent of the orders by whom or reasons. How much this other captain knows is not known though it has become clear he has a deep hatred of the Irish." If he left anything out he was sure Alaina would fill it in.

Ronan first gave Regan a hug, more strength in it than exhibited in a while before turning to his son, soaking in all he had to say. Once done focus turned on Alaina, sparing his son a glance as well. "What are you going to do with these survivors? Do you believe what they have to say?" Not all English were bad and he didn't hold such prejudices.

After greetings were finished, Morgan took a lean against the wall, arms crossed over his chest as he listened. He looked down at the toes of his boots, not meeting anyone's gaze as of yet. "Who was the one in charge?"

She clung to her Da for a moment longer then stepped aside, though she stayed close while she listened. A glance was given to Morgan, curious, but she had nothing to say.

Taking Ronan's question seriously, Alaina answered loud enough to be heard. "I'll do what is proper, Your Grace, and turn them over to the King and Regent when we make landfall. It's not for me to decide their fates. As for whether I believe him?" She considered it, shrugging. "He's got more reason to tell the truth than he does to lie, and he was quick enough to offer up the documents. Palmer knows he's a man without a country now, if his own comrades distrusted him enough to fire on his ship. He's a survivor, so I think he'll stick his neck out to save it."

Ronan was nodding with the reply in agreement. "I think those two lads will figure it out. Something about them that they can sniff out the truth." He was curious on Morgan's question as he waited for that answer.

"If I tell you Morgan, you're not going after him until you speak with the King and Regent. I understand revenge but it could put lives in danger for I think this is a political web that we don't know how big the spider is nor it's sting. The captain's name is Henry Robinson. Now, if you can gain information by those you know in various ports.." He knew his brother well enough to see red but he also knew he had smarts too.

He looked up at James, eyes narrowing slightly then he nodded. "Aye, I'll agree to that. But if I run into the man himself ... " He gave a shake of his head. "It'll be hard to hold back."

"About the same if I run into the man myself, any one of us." Meaning the brothers however the same would hold true for Alaina. "Word to the wise, be sure you have a few good fighting men with you or us." Looking between them at this point as the day was wearing on and best to sail while there was light. "I think we should get to Kildare and have this sorted out quickly." The King and Regent should know as immediately as possible.

Rowan first addressed Morgan. "You be sure to hit one for me when you do." Obviously he approved of the idea, as he would do when younger. "Still, as James suggests, be careful, play it right." Then as James offered up getting on the move. "What are we waiting for? I need some air at this point," as he headed for the door with his daughters on his arms to get that breath of fresh air he was going to earlier.

Morgan grinned at his father, then pushed off from his lean. "Aye, and Regan and I need to get back to our ships." He hoped the rest of the voyage would be more peaceful than the first part had been, though it did serve to break up the monotony.

Wasn't much Adam could add at this point but once he was back at Heathfield, he could start asking questions himself. He had a few friends who might give him some answers.

Regan looked up at James, head tipping slightly before she too, was making ready to head back to her ship. Her thoughts were going around and around, still feeling a lot of anger that it had been her ship that had been attacked.

You can bet Faelan, who had been quiet the while everyone spoke up, would be talking with Morgan soon and some plans laid. He too needed to get back to his ship as he headed up deck, his dinghy waiting.


Page 1  2  3  4  5      Main

Hit Counter