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McDonough Clan

Date: 02-20-09
Poster: Maurice McDonough
Post # 1

Relaxing with Good Company 

Maurice was stretched out in front of the fire, comfortably in a wingback. One hand rested on the table aside where fingers curled loosely around a glass. One filled with potcheen, bottle close at hand. He wore a wool heather brown sweater over brown woolen pants. Boots of leather laced up to below his knees. Curling russet hair was tamed back as ice blue eyes held a distant look to them as if here but not. Like he was concentrating on something beyond sight.

Chandra's days had been hectic with the new foals, her niece coming down with a cold and everything else that was involved in helping to run the house. Eventually she knew Melantha's sisters would be joining her, and she would gladly relinquish that job to Gemma, or as much as Gemma wanted to take over. She had spent the evening visiting an elderly woman she had befriended and decided a stop at the Thistle would be in order. Stepping through the door,  she closed it quickly. She spotted Maurice but didn't want to disturb him. He'd notice her soon enough. Removing her cloak to reveal the burgundy velvet gown she had worn, she turned to make her way to the bar and ask for a glass of punch. She had enough tea tonight to float a small ship!

He was well aware of her but didn't pull back from what he was doing, where he was on another level. The search had been a hard one and he finally managed a link this very evening with the quiet the tavern had possessed. He knew it wouldn't last, wasn't suppose to but he grabbed the moments as elusive visions, snippets, told him enough. An answer he was looking for and relief as well. It took the edge off that had been growing. First there was only the flash of ice blue eyes shifting before he eased up to gain his feet. Movement was good at this point as he pulled back fully to the here and now. "Good evening Chandra, I trust you have been well, your family. It has been a while." Few days, more like a few weeks at this point. He'd been busy and not out as much, how it went at times. Roguish grin came naturally tucked within the thick beard.

Perhaps she had felt there was something more than his just being distracted or thoughtful. She knew there were times one shouldn't disturb another and it had seemed like that type of moment. She had her glass in hand when he spoke and turned to greet him with a warm smile. "Good evening, Maurice. Save for a few bouts of illness, and the three foals coming into the world earlier than expected, all is quite well." She crossed the floor to join him. "I want to thank you for what you've done for Davin. I don't think he's been happier." Because he was so tall, she motioned him to lean with a beckoning wiggle of her finger. He well deserved a kiss for that!

That sparked a flare in ice blue eyes, amusement too as he took a step closer then another without leaning just yet. He was within her personal space, half a foot distance if that. "I believe the lad will stay but only once he makes the decision. He's a determined one, stubborn, but that very stubbornness, if one learns to control it, can have them do great things. Not give up when others would long ago." Only then did he lean in, coming closer and face on, not offering her cheek per say. Scent was of leather and something spicy to tease the senses, much like the man.

"Davin comes by the stubbornness honestly. He gets it from me." She laughed softy but was pleased with his prediction. When he leaned in as he did, she didn't back away or lower her eyes though a hint of color did touch her cheeks. She cupped his face with her hands and placed a very tender kiss against his lips, even though the beard tickled.

Lips were warm yet firm that met the almost chaste kiss. Since it was on his lips it was not completely chase. The way they shifted, subtly, briefly, held other promises if such came about again. Roughen large hands folding over hers to encompass them the moment against his cheeks before fingers traced away, lips parting, as he straightened. "I like being thanked that way." Indeed he did.

She hadn't forgotten how much she liked kissing him and they parted, her eyes held that glint that would tell him so. "I like thanking you that way." She answered softly, lowering her hands though she ran fingers of one along his bearded jaw. Reluctantly stepping back, she motioned toward the chairs. "Shall we sit and talk a while? How have you been, and your family?" She was truly interested in the man and what he had to say. Every detail meant something to her.

"Then I'll have to find good reasons for having you thank me again.." pausing that fraction with the spread of a wicked smile or was it the gleam in ice blue eyes? "..and again." He stepped back as she motioned to the chairs, "aye, I was about to invite you to join me. You can tell me more of your plans." If she had any other than what she was presently pursuing. For some reason he felt there was more. Odd that but then he was use to those odd inclinations. Waiting for her to take up the seat near his before easing down comfortably again. "I've been well as well my family. My grandson grows fast like a weed, he'll be tall," which wasn't a real surprise considering his height and his son Rory's. "He looks like his Da who looks like his Da," grinning again before a shadow crossed blue eyes fleetingly. "We still await my one brother's return from an assignment."

"Yes, you will." The look she gave him confirmed she'd not mind at all. "And it sounds like he'll be every bit as handsome as his Da and Grand-Da." She teased then frowned slightly. "And you're very worried about him, aren't you?" Thinking perhaps that explained the distant look in his eyes earlier. "As far as my plans, they're just beginning to form. Melantha's sisters will be joining her soon and while the manor is plenty big enough, I may move into the small cottage on the estate." A dimple appeared with her smile. "After all, they're young and may need a bit of space. We'll see though." It could be they wouldn't want her to leave. "I've gathered a bit of an extended  family it seems." And loved it when the house was lively. "How long has your brother been gone?"

"Aye, there are reasons to be though he's gone on many dangerous missions before and is very gifted. I feel now that he'll be all right in spite of any challenges that he faces." He'd been scrying if she recognized such a method used. He could do more if needed but it was always wise to let thing proceed without interference. When one stepped in, it could have worse consequences so wisdom was needed in such choices. He would keep watch in his own way instead. The medallion he gave Joe was a good link even if for a day or so, it had only been blackness. That had not set well with him but could ease from that now, whatever happened
was passed. "Sometimes a person needs a space of their own." He could well understand that but too many times he had too much space to himself he would rather it had been shared. That wasn't an option presently in his life so he didn't dwell on it. "Close enough to be there if needed but not hovering, as you say, they too need some space to be happy as well." Taking a drink before continuing, "my brother left right before Thanksgiving but the trip itself was long."

She had been sipping the punch as he spoke but now lowered the glass. "If they're like Mel, they'll be out and about so much, it won't be necessary." She chuckled then nodded again. "No wonder you're worried. You did say he had children, didn't you?" They had spoke of his family previously.

"Yes he does, one reason I think he should consider stepping down from this profession. He has two children and they need him. He has the ranch to run and a private investigators business that can give him enough intrigue in that area, three agents working for him. It is his children that are the main concern. Joshua can handle it but Tamara, well, she is far more emotional. Joshua's mother died over a decade ago, Tamara's mother up and left without much word at all. She was flighty, took off on him before only to have him find her in a brothel in France. Luckily Tamara is nothing like her." He was getting off on a tangent. "I will say this much, Joseph deserves better. There were a few others afterwards, some more serious than others but they didn't work out for one reason or another. I can't say it's been much different in my life. Still, our cousin with a similar past found a wonderful woman and is very happy so I believe it can happen for any of us no matter past experiences."

She watched his face as he spoke, mostly those expressive eyes. "I'm sure he'll consider it if he's been away so long." And had missed the holidays. She smiled slightly at his mention of things not working out, a smile with a touch of sadness. It was obvious both men had become stronger rather than fall into self-pity like some might. "There's always a chance. Do the children stay with you?"

"Our never been married cousin, Garath, is staying at Joe's ranch home with them. We all pitch in but felt it better for them to stay in their own home being it was possible. They will get to know this elusive uncle that has finally come home to stay." Deciding to move from this topic of conversation as he preferred relaxing before heading home, giving his worries a rest. "With spring around the corner, do you plan to put in gardens? Flowers? Vegetables? I've seen robins already which is early for them to be back so most likely an early spring."

"Oh yes, both. It seems there were flowers beds everywhere on the grounds. I'm going to sit down and make plans and talk to Mel about them. And we've already decided on a spot for a vegetable garden. A large one. She's planning to have some of the fields planted with oats and other grains for the horses, figuring between that and what she can buy, she'll have a good mix." She looked at him a moment. "Do you think Tamara would like to come visit the foals and maybe stay over night with us sometime? Get in some time with 'girls' so to speak." It had just occurred to her. Of course, she had her cousins but this might be a bit of adventure for the lass.

"I can supply you with seeds and even some growing plants already started once the ground will stay warm enough. Usually the end of April it is safe to start planting. You can get grains from Draven MacShire's farmlands, either to grow or as supply. He grows hundreds of acres, supplies these lands and supplements our sister castles." Smile was back to easily tuck in the russet beard. "I think she would love that as well her brother Joshua. It might be a good distraction for them both. Tamara is around twelve and Josh is becoming a man at seventeen. He's been working with the cattlemen, learning it all firsthand." Which had him considering something else. "Might be good for the lass to be around other women, she is coming to that point where she'll be growing into a woman and really doesn't have anyone to talk to, that wouldn't be embarrassing for her. Well, she could with Kia, though she's kept pretty busy."

"Would he come? I knew he was older and didn't want to presume. There are times that Sir Gabriel is there as well as Sir Aiden. We could even visit Davin at the lighthouse." She smiled again. "Aye, and we're not that far away.  Speaking of women, how is your daughter?" She thought she was seeing someone but wasn't sure.

"Aye, the lad will go. He's very protective of Tamara and would feel he should, best to invite him so he doesn't have to ask. If he can't he will politely decline if there is work for him to do but at least better the offer." He was pretty certain Josh would feel honored to be invited, "any of the knights being around will draw his attention. Joshua is still at an age where he will need to decide what he wants to do with his life, even if he eventually takes over his father's ranch. That wont be for some time and I would not doubt him wanting to learn to use weapons, trained properly." Which had him pause, "my daughter is doing well. Seems the one man I thought she would marry ends up a good friend while another, wild Gypsy, has her heart race. Luckily she does the same to him that he is giving up his wanderlust for something better. He's taken on a job with the ranches, herding cattle, branding, mending fencing, seeing to the breeding and so on. Works hard, I give him credit there." It was getting late as he finished off what was left in his glass. He didn't need more as he gained his feet. "If you are heading back this night, I'd be honored to escort you."

"It's amazing how things work out, isn't it?" She had finished her drink and stood when he did. "I would be delighted for your company, Maurice. And while I'm thinking of it, why don't you come to dinner some evening? Bring the children then, and your own if they're free. Just send me word the day of or the day before so I make plenty." She was over to leave her glass at the bar while she spoke, then made for the door and where her cloak was hung.

"I would enjoy that as I feel they would too. Night out amongst friends or new friends to make." Giving a wink that came in a flash of blue as he headed for the bar to set the glass and bottle of potcheen away to. "I will let you know of a good time." Turning back around as they headed for the door, he would see to helping her with her cloak before donning his. The door gotten and held before both were out and closed off behind them. His arm offered with a bend to ensure her footing although the walk would not be far. He might even stop for a cup of coffee if offered before heading to his ranch. He would have time for one.

It would be a perfect night and of course she'd offer him a cup as well as a slice of pie if he was so inclined. Sliding her arm through his, she leaned against him just enough to keep herself steady and to share a bit of warmth.


Date: 04-11-09
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 2

A late Christmas Celebration

Joshua's mood was growing worse with each passing day and their father still not having returned. He knew his uncle Maurice was getting to the point to go after his brother. If Josh had any influence it was constantly to push at Maurice to go now, not wait. Though his uncle waited and held patience for him by the look he'd finally give that had him shutting up. He felt like he was tied up in knots inside and even long walks nor chopping firewood seemed to get it out of his system. He had gotten looks of concern from the other workers and he knew it but still couldn't help himself, splitting enough wood for next winter. Today was another of like and even he was getting not to like being around himself. He laid awake in bed staring at the ceiling willing his father to return.

Tamara's unfailing faith in her father was still unflagging but she was worried about Joshua. Every night when she went to bed, she would stand at the window and stare out the window. If she saw a star, she made a wish. If not, she would talk to her Guardian Angel. Tonight, there were stars but even after her wish, she couldn't sleep. Finally she left her room and tiptoed to Josh's room. Tapping lightly on the door, she glanced down the hall and sighed. Maybe they could raid the kitchen for some of the cake from supper.

Hands were tucked behind his head in a half sitting position with the pillow behind him. The light tap startled him from wherever his mind had wandered as he sat up while speaking, "come in Tamara." Who else would it be or just the fact he knew it was her and not his uncle.

She came in silently on bare feet, closing the door behind her. Quiet until she stopped by the bed. "I can't sleep." Simply. "I know you're really worried, Josh. I'm starting to be too." She didn't want to admit it but she did.

He shifted over and patted the area next to him. His nightwear consisting of a light poet's shirt and cotton pants, kind he could be up and out in if needed to be, yet more comfortable to sleep in. "I haven't been able to sleep much for a while either. I must be getting enough because I'm able to do all the chores and working with the cattle," though he knew the men were keeping him from doing the harder chores because he looked dragged out like he wasn't getting enough sleep and certain things needed a man fully aware or they could get seriously hurt if not killed. "Only thing that gives me some comfort is knowing that Uncle Maurice will go if really needed. He's got that extra sense, though I think he is starting to get worried." Or he was worried about him over his father's well being.

She crawled in beside him, tucking her legs under her nightgown as she sat. "I know he will but when. Da has been gone so long. Do you think maybe he forgot about us?" It might have been a silly question but it was one that worried her. "Or maybe he can't leave." She didn't want to cry but she was very close to it now that she was talking about it.

"No, he would never forget about us," tucking his arm around her to draw her in against his side. For now not thinking of himself and being strong for her. Convincing himself as well, "I'm sure he is all right or Uncle Ice would have gone after him so it must be something that came up that is making him late in getting back." Very late, that was the problem, it wasn't a week or even two, it was months.

She leaned against his shoulder and sighed. "But then what can it be? If Uncle Ice doesn't go after him soon, I'm going to explode. Or ... or I'm going to go after him myself." She wouldn't really but she was that frustrated. She was so close to crying but she didn't want to upset Josh more.

If there had been a moon this night, it was clouded over as a lone rider made his way up the road taking him to the ranch. All was quiet except the hooves of his stallion hitting solid ground in a steady rhythm. Any lights were dimmed with barely a glow until he noticed one flare up in one of the lower windows. Michael, his handyman was awake, watching and had caught sight of a rider as he was to the door to open it. He recognized the stallion and then the rider as Joe reigned in and dismounted. The duffel bag taken off as well the box of gifts that had been secured behind the saddle. Michael was out, grin spreading over his face, "good to have you back Sir. I'll see to your horse. I think your children might still be awake." Perceptive man but not hard to hear even soft footsteps in a quiet house at night. "Thank you, I'll go right in and wake them if not." Giving a brief clasp to the man's shoulders as he glanced up towards the windows of their rooms. There was no light to really be seen but that didn't mean they weren't awake. A smile touched as he was up the steps and across the porch to head on in. The door shut behind him but not locked as Michael would be back and see to closing up. He was over to set the box on the nearest table and shrug out of his overcloak. About to hang it up, he remembered the gifts stowed away in the secret pocket. A deft hand slipped in to draw them out for they could now be returned to their rightful owners. The fossil fairy stone looked different, an off notice that he'd probably think on later. Right now, there were two dear to his heart and mind that mattered most.

He didn't know what to do if she cried, it would probably be his undoing. Hugging her more, "he'll be back, we need to keep faith in that like you said." It felt like those very words herald the sound of a horse approaching as he shuffled around, drawing Tamara with him as he got up. "Someone is here, maybe it is Da?" He hoped to god it was for they would be triply disappointed. Getting to the window but whoever it was were already out of sight under the porch's roof and Michael, whom he caught sight of, was leading a horse away towards the stables in the back. "C'mon, let's go find out!"

She perked when she heard the horse and slipped out of the bed to peek out the window. "I hope, I hope, I hope." She said, crossing her fingers before she was darting to the door. She paused though to wait for Josh, bouncing on her toes with excitement. "Then we'll know our good luck worked."

Barely with the items out Joseph heard movement upstairs, bouncing was it? That could only be Tamara. He started for the steps down the hallway, pausing at the bottom, "anyone awake up there?" He was getting ready to be accosted as his arms move out from his sides.

"It's da!" Scooping Tamara up in his arms as he raced out, not wishing to be detained a second for she wasn't quite as quick as he. "Da!" Setting her down at the top of the steps as he charged down them and out of his usual reserve, his arms went around his father's neck in a quick hug like he use to when young.

She let out a squeal that was a combination of delight and surprise, laughing as she was carried to the end of the hall. She was right down behind Josh, her feet barely touching the steps. She was hugging him and Joshua too, half laughing and half crying. "Da! Oh, we missed you so much!"

The sight of them running down, brought tears to his eyes as arms went around them both. Burying his face against the side of his son's then his daughter's. "I love you both, you know that. I'm so sorry this mission took longer than any of us expected and that I couldn't even send word. A number of reasons but I'm home safe and sound now. Birdie has come back with me along with the son of a friend who is going to stay with us, not tonight though. They will be by tomorrow." Keeping his arm around them both as he headed for the large waiting room where he left the box. "I didn't forget you for Christmas." This reunion only strengthened his resolve it would be the last mission. "I still may need to go to Kildare, the information I gained will help the King and Regent there." At least it was not away to England. "I'm thinking maybe you'll both would like to go with me, at least to the castle for the time I'm there." The better of his information came in the form of a woman which they would eventually find out.

"I love you Da," all his worries wiped away as he was on his father's heels after the hug ended. "We have a surprise for you that is waiting, meet us in the living room please." Giving Tamara a glance with a spreading grin as he averted his steps in that direction as their father continued to the waiting room.

"I love you too." She was nearly dancing as she followed after the two then she gave Josh a wide grin before she was grabbing his hand and leading him to the living room. With Uncle Garath's help, they had gotten a live tree, keeping it in a large barrel of dirt so it could be kept alive. It was still decorated and they had packages under it for their father.

Upstairs, Garath had awaken with the sound of the horse. He opened his door and listened while the two greeted their father. This was their time, their moment and after a moment, he shut the door, a smile on his face. He had enjoyed staying with the two, even with all that it involved, but for their sakes, he was glad it was over. He'd cherish the memory of these days forever but even more, the joy heard when Joe came home.

Joe got the box and something he had hidden in his cloak, something big and long that was wrapped up in cloth then an oil skin. That tucked under one arm while the box was tucked under the other. Smile on his features as he stopped upon entering the living room. Eyes got a bit wider and a bit misty for the truly memorable moment. "You still have the tree." He knew his cousin had to have helped them but he figured it was their idea. He set the box and long wrapped item to the coffee table before bringing his arms around them both. "This is a remarkable Christmas but the last I will be away while you both still live here." A promise made he would keep and never gone so long as this trip took. He was home for good and the Investigator Business would keep his hand in something he was very good at. "Come, open your presents," in one very large box for Tamara was a porcelain doll but what was unique, she was attired in the same sunny yellow and white fancy spring dress with lace and little blue and pink flowers. There was a bonnet and slippers to match. Another box for Joshua was a finely tooled sheath and once he opened that, he would give him the other, a sword he had specially made for him by Rhett.

He hugged his Da then his sister before getting the presents he had waited to give them both. Silk ribbons of rainbow colors as well a carved owl for wisdom for Tamara. The Owl would watch over his sister, so he felt a totem of sorts. His father got a carved fox for he knew he was that kind of cunning and a totem as well. Aside that he had bought him one of the saddles made by Trevet he befriended. That wasn't wrapped but had a cloth covering it to be easily pulled off.

She was of course, delighted with the gifts, squealing with delight over the doll and the ribbons as well as the owl. She had a special place for him. For both her father and brother, she had made shirts, with help from Sarah. They had used shirts from their closets and Sarah had showed her how to measure and cut. The stitches were tiny and nearly perfect. Her father's was a dark blue while Joshua's was a paler shade. His was a little big because they had to allow for growth. She also had miniatures of her and Joshua for her father and for Joshua, a new leather belt. She had bartered for both.

"I do believe you get better at your carving by the day, Joshua." There was pride in his eyes and the fox would be cherished because it was made by his hand. Something he would proudly show to Ice for he had the gift as well. He set it on the mantel before taking the cloth from over the saddle as indicated by his son was his. Giving a low whistle as a hand ran over the fine leather and tooling. "I will have to recommend the maker of this saddle to others." Which he got the name of the one from Josh in the query. The shirt he held up against his chest. "I've not seen one made so well, Tamara?" Having a wondering if she made it.

Unwrapping the sheath, it took him by surprise. One, he didn't have a sword and it was empty but seemed to be a promise of one. Which came right along as his father indicated the long wrapped up package was for him. Unwrapping it with zest before handling it carefully. It was the finest made sword he'd ever seen. Holding it up so it caught the light that ran down a perfectly balanced blade before tucking it in the sheath so no one got cut for the blade was sharp as it should be. A real sword. Tomorrow he would try it to hand while outside. The shirt, when he held it up had him giving a glance to Tamara with a gleam in green eyes. "I'm not that fat you know..." Like she had thought him bigger than he was.

"I made it, Da. With a little help from Sarah." She giggled and wrinkled her nose at Joshua. "But you're putting on muscles with all the work you're doing. You'll have all the girlies drooling over you." She was over to throw her arms around her father's neck. "I love it, Da, but the best present is you being here." She buried her face against his neck. "I knew our lucky presents would keep you safe." Even if she did start to worry.

"I'm impressed, seems both my children are very talented." There was a moment of silence before he worked past the lump in his throat. "The best present is being here with those I love most." Grabbing her up into his arms as he hugged her snugly. One day she would be a grown woman and he planned to be the man that gave her away at her wedding. Which reminded him as he eased from the hug. "I found the presents, which I have to give you back so they can continue to bring luck for each of you." He had put them in his pants pocket in order to carry the presents in. Taking them out as the stone was returned to Tamara and the fossil fairy stone to Joshua. The talisman he had made for him he would keep. "I do believe they brought me luck for there was a time I had gotten hurt but mended far quicker than believable."

"At least it will be muscle and not fat like Georgie that keeps making eyes at you." Teasing her good of one of the hired men's sons that kept coming around whenever Tamara was. Oh.. realizing he said it in front of his father. Well, best he know that the boys were already starting to look at Tamara.

He caught onto the teasing, surprised and yet not. It was bound to happen. "Georgie is a nice boy and will grow out of his..." trying to be kind, "roundness as his father has him here to start learning the cattle business."

She blinked and looked at Joshua as she took the stone from her Da. And she darted over to Joshua to tickle him. "Georgie doesn't make eyes at me. He comes round cause he likes that Cook gives him pies and cookies." She was red too, well aware she wasn't totally telling the truth. "And boys are silly, except for you." Back over to her Da for another hug. "And men like Da and Uncle Ice don't count."

Which, unfortunate for her, he wasn't ticklish but tickled her back, deciding not to push it on Georgie for she couldn't get any redder. "I'm sure he does like the pies and cookies.." leaving it go there as he finally yawned. All the nights of not sleeping were catching up as he finally became exhausted. He would sleep well tonight with his worries and concerns lifted.

"There is nothing wrong if Georgie notices you, Tamara. I would say the lad has good taste." For he could tell by the color of her cheeks she was not admitting to the fact she knew better. It was more than cookies and pie he was coming around so conveniently, probably using them as an excuse. Poor lad, he could feel for him, probably gain twenty pounds in his excuse to be around Tamara. He noticed Josh yawning as he took Tamara up into his arms in a hug. She was still small enough he could carry her upstairs. Two more years, not so. "I think it is time for us all to get some sleep, tomorrow we can have breakfast together and the day to ourselves. You're off duty tomorrow as well Josh, you can practice with your sword. I'll show you some techniques to start with and we can have a picnic out in the grove by the lake."

"Will Uncle Garath have breakfast with us too?" She knew he'd probably leave after talking to Da, but it would be nice to say good bye. She leaned her head against her Da's shoulder, yawning now as well. It was very late. "My presents." Didn't want to forget them.

"Of course he will, I need to thank him as well. "The presents aren't going anywhere, we can get them tomorrow." He had a gift for his cousin that was special in thanks but he'd not wake him up tonight figuring he was asleep and probably well earned. Heading up the steps he would not only carry his daughter but tuck her in before getting to sleep in his own bed.

He headed up a step behind his father and sister, making faces at her where she'd only see. Something near a routine.


Date: 10-14-09
Poster: Rory McDonough
Post # 3


The sun was setting and all the horses were up from the fields and seen to their stalls, settling in and being fed. Each brushed down as well. Rory was out at the corral with his men as they were taking turns riding the broncos. The last of a herd brought in and those that could be tamed weeded from those that never would be without breaking their spirits. He had a wife to go home to in an hour or two and those thoughts lingered at the back of his mind, she was tending to their son and he would see him before he was tucked in bed for the night. Right now the coins were turning and skills being honed amongst the hoots, laughter and encouragement mingled with teasing.

Eion rode to the McDonough Ranch, one of the horses meant for riding. It was a night to be enjoyed, in spite of the cooler air, which was heavy with the scent of leaves. One of these days it would be the touch of snow that would be tainting the air. He could hear the men and turned the horse in that direction.  He remained on his horse while he watched the men and horses.

Rory was up next and glad Kia was not about to see him ride the bronco for it made her hold her breath. There was always danger involved but rare had anyone gotten hurt for they took precautions. The rise of hoots and hollers went up in volume for Rory was that kind of good and he managed to stay on that second longer over Slim who had done the best of the men so far this night. The horse was wore out and so gave up the chase as Rory slipped from the saddle instead of thrown. He reassured the fiery red stallion with strokes along his neck and the reward of grains he knew he would enjoy. "It's not so bad and there will be many things you will enjoy over the wild given time. It is in you to be a spectacular companion one day to the right one."

Rory had been described to him and he had met Maurice so he was pretty sure the one who did so well was the one he sought. He dismounted and led his horse to the fence, nodding at the hands there as he waited for the younger McDonough. While he did, he studied the red that had just been broken. Magnificent animal.

Segan had found out where Eion was headed through Grans. So he near flew out of the manor to get his horse and catch up. Made it all the way to the ranch before he caught up and dismounted. Leading Big Red by the reins to come up behind his brother. Grin was growing. "I'm not so surprise Conor is not joining in this." He seemed to keep to the safer side of things though he was scanning the buildings in wonder where their little brother hung his hat.

Black mane and no markings in white offset this magnificent wild red stallion. One that had led the pack of mostly mares. Many of which would probably not have lasted the winter. He handed him over to one of the stable boys as he caught notice of two not known to him. Parting from hired hands and friends he made his way over. Hand coming out automatically. "Rory McDonough, how can I help you?" Looking between the two he got the immediate impression they were related.

"If he's got a warm hearth, and a bottle of potcheen, along with a bit of food, I'm not surprised." He chuckled. "Nor would I blame him if he's working as hard as I've heard." From Herself of course. He turned to face Rory, taking his hand in a firm shake as he answered.  "Eion Quinn, and me brother, Segan. Conor's brothers. Come to talk to you about a horse." Giving him a smile as he finished.

Which he had been reminded a number of times over when he'd complain about their little brother not being around. Wasn't the same without him, even when he was a pain! Maybe that was the reason. He shook the man's hand after his brother and set more to being an observer. Then on second thought, "where is our brother Conor staying that I can go catch up with him while you look over horses." Not one to just hang around when he could make better use of it.

He shook each of their hands, good grip with a grin. Stetson was worn still with longer hair that curled like his father's. He looked a lot like his father, especially the distinctive ice blue eyes. "Conor is probably back from his evening meal and working on the saddles. There were quite a few needed and will take time. I will say that he is a very diligent worker though we encourage him to take a break and go see his family. Get out socially, though I don't think he has on the latter." Turning enough to point out a stable further away, "he has a comfortable room in there and a lot of work space. It's not used as a stable presently but storage on the one side and stalls for only emergencies. It was one built with a large loft, big enough to make a few rooms." Turning back to the two then to Eion especially. "I've three stables with horses to be sold, work types, some fairly fast and some more sure footed like a good mule over the terrain."

He gave a slap of a hand to Eion's shoulder, "I'll go spend time there and be back before you've chosen one." Which he didn't waste any time with a quickened pace in the direction Rory indicated.

He grinned at Segan and nodded, then turned to face Rory. "What I need is a horse that is suitable to both riding and being a warhorse. Ideally, I should have both, and with the manor and stables being close to the castle, I could keep on there without taking up more room at the castle stables. If you have one suitable for a warhorse, or more than one, those are what I'm interested in first."

"You will need a younger horse, a year old so that time put in will pay off in longer terms. And to make that special bonding you need with a warhorse. We have a few, sturdy, strong legs, wider chest and girth." Which the while he spoke he led him to one of the other stables down a way in the opposite of where Segan went to visit the other brother. "I will let you go in and see what one you find a rapport with." If he went in.. all responded well to him as he naturally had that rapport, so best not to have any distractions. "If you don't find one here, I've another stable with more."

He walked with Rory along that path, listening then nodding when they stopped. He was quite impressed with Rory, but then Mel had told him he would be. "All right then." Stepping inside, he moved to the first door, chuckling as the horse inside suddenly appeared, ears up and alert. He held out his hand, running it up and over his nose and neck. Giving a slight nod, he continued to the next and the next.

Rory took care of tasks needing done in the outer part of the stable while Eion went to the different stalls. He was there to keep an eye on things before he remembered something. "Beware of the one in stall number nine," called out loud enough for him to hear. Leaving it go there where the dapple stallion with a chip on his shoulder was kept. Though Rory kept him because there was a keen intelligence in his eyes and it would take a certain person to reach that particular equine. He felt with the right one, this one would be fierce in his devotion and love. Though until that time, a good nip to some backsides, dumpings, nudges, shoving, a kick, little things like that were common around the dapple.

"Aye, I will." He called over his shoulder and moved on to the third. Each of the horses had what he was looking for, strength, fire but he had yet to connect. The black in the fifth stall seemed to catch his eye, though he thought that one might work well as a second horse. He patted him one more time then moved, finally to the tenth stall. Hearing a snort behind, he turned to eye the dapple gray who was watching him, warily. He had lost the horse he had trained himself when he was put in prison but there had been a connection between them. To his surprise, he felt it now. "Does he have a name, Rory?" He asked as he moved to him, hand out and flat for the stallion to sniff. He waited for a snap of teeth but the horse snuffled his hand, lipping as if searching for a treat. Eion had an apple in his pocket and offered it the horse, reaching up to scratch his ears as the gray enjoyed the treat. Odd that he had been warned and it seemed this was the horse who was picking him.

"We don't really name them but he has been called Diablo, Dapple Diablo," as he'd stopped what he had been doing to watch. A slow grin rising as he was leaning against the wall between the outer area and first stall.

"Diablo, huh?" He turned back to the horse and grinned. "I wonder how he'll get along with the other horses." He wasn't sure he should take him but there was something ... "How's his endurance?" As he turned to rejoin Rory, Diablo worked at the latch of his gate. And what Rory would see was the horse following Eion, even though the Irishman had yet to notice.

"After nipping a few of the work hands, I had him pulling the hay wagon. Those bales are very heavy and he did it without any problem and for a number of hauls before showing signs of wearing down. After which he was taken off the wagon and rubbed down. A bit more docile. Seems he needs hard work." Eyes lighting up as he watched Diablo follow Eion.

"Hmmm. He'd be getting a good amount of training every day, plus the extra I give him." He rubbed at his chin, then blinked as he was nudged hard enough that he took a step forward. At least he hadn't been nipped. Turning, he looked at the horse and laughed. "I seem to have been picked. How much for him?"

Which he calculated then subtracted a hundred for the horse being ornery and because he was Conor's brother, "three hundred and a grooming kit is included."

"Done." He held out his hand to seal the deal. A lot less than he expected though he was hoping Diablo wouldn't totally live up to his name, at least as far as his dealings with Eion. "I've the coins with me." Being he was hoping to come away with a horse, he had brought a pouch with the amount of coins needed. Of course, it was in his saddle bag on the other horse.

"I will be wishing you well in training him but I also feel that you've a really good horse in the making, especially for a warhorse." Meeting the clasp of hands in a strong grip before released. "A bit, bridle and reins will be put on him," indicating the one hanging at his stall. Which then he could lead the horse back with him as it was noted he rode in. "If you need a saddle, I'm sure your brother can make you a good offer to your specifications." One of the reasons they rarely included a saddle unless the buyer wanted one. Most were choosey and many were bought to pull wagons so didn't need a saddle.

"Aye, I'm sure he could at that." Meaning Conor, making him a saddle. " Let me go and get the coins." He turned to look at Diablo. "And you be waiting here for me, lad," said sternly before he headed for the other horse.

He laughed as Diablo snorted, some of his men swore smoke came out of his nostrils at times. Though he was more tolerant of Rory as there was that unusual quality about the man. Something he inherited from his father. He was over to get the bit and bridle on the stallion all the while encouraging him to bond with Eion as he would be good to him if he did.

There was that bond with horses that ran in their blood, even if it was stronger in some of the others. Eion was certain he was making the right choice. He counted the coins out and brought them back to Rory in a second pouch, and handed it over. "I can wait if you want to count it out, or you can take anything missing out of Conor's pay." His smile showing he was kidding though it was too bad Conor wasn't there to hear.

Segan finally emerged with a partial bottle of potcheen in hand. Singing a song and feeling no pain with a grin plastered over his features. Though not inebriated nor had he lost body response.

"Count it out?" Which had a good hearty laugh to follow, "I know you can be trusted." Which he had no need to count it out like he was going to short change him. People just didn't do that around here that were of any caliber in personality. He stuck the pouch in his pocket, "I might buy a pretty frock for me wife now that she has lost weight after having our son." He knew it would lift her spirits as well it would come with taking her out, else why bother? New dress needed to be worn to some place nice like the Sibios.

He could hear Segan and glanced his way then grinned at Rory. "Aye, nothing like a new dress to make a lass smile." Hopefully Segan hadn't heard. All he'd need is to be asked how he knew that. "Your family is well, then?" A hand lifted to gain his brother's attention since they'd be heading out so Rory could finish what he had to do and join his family.

"Aye, then you know? Have a lass of your own to treat special?" It would seem about right to him or so his instincts picked up on. Seeing Eion with a lass. "Aye, we're doing grand, getting ready for winter to set in. It will be my son's first so a lot is planned. I think me father spoils him more than I do. Though it is said you can't spoil with love." Chuckling as he heard Segan, "I see you found your brother just fine."

Which he ended the sailor's song to one about love. Hand moving to his chest while the one holding the potcheen swept out as he turned about, dancing up a minuet's sweeping steps as he approached the two and ending there. If he heard, he said nothing in front of Rory. Though he was curious to hear Eion's response to Rory's observation.

"I have a friend who I spend time with, as well as my sisters.." He smiled at mention of his father, and nodded. "And grandparents are supposed to spoil." He looked at Segan and his smile grew to a grin. "Conor's doing well then?"

"Friends are good to have and sometimes they become more." Which he would leave it go at that for there was a twinge of something he got in that statement to have it not quite jive.

"Aye, sometimes they do." Was all he'd say to that as blue eyes shifted to Segan. Should he repeat his question or was his brother thinking?!

He had a good idea who the one was his brother spent time with. Almost came off as a lie being the one was what she was and Eion was safe from it ever being more. "One day, there'll be a grand Quinn wedding of the heir so that there will be an heir. Father would like that even if he never pressured any of us."

Not a lie. They would remain friends even if Eion found a lass since they also did work for the crown. Though they cared about one another, there were no expectations of anything more on the part of either. He chuckled and shook his head. "We'll see what time brings Segan. Are you ready to go, and you never said how Conor is."

"Conor is doing grand. Got him to share a bottle with me and he's sleeping like a babe now. Least he put down his tools for a while and will get sleep tonight. We need to come kidnap him off to a night out at a rowdy bar." Which he had the Snake Pit in mind, put Conor on his toes or find one outside the lands they could raise a ruckus and not have it get back to Grandmama and have their ears boxed like lads the next day. They were not lads anymore. "Aye, ready to go, show me this new horse of yours..."

"It was good meeting you both and I hope you come and visit even without buying any more horses. I hope you don't mind me rush, but I wish to get back in time for a late night sup and time to spend with me family." Waving to them both as he let brothers be brothers and he was off to spend that time with one he'd been looking forward to all this while.

"Good night to you, Rory. Give my regards to your father and wife." He looked at Segan and grinned. "Segan, meet Diablo." The dapple gray snorted, shaking his head. "He's going to be a challenge, I'm thinking." But in a good way.

Which he wasn't so drunk he couldn't side step the turn of Diablo's head and a nip that would have landed on his backside, "I see he lives up to his name." Grinning like a loon, "no wonder you picked him. Maybe you'll find a lass that has that kind of spunk." In that would be what it would take, not convenience with the turn of a coin even if working for the crown. He was over to Big Red to mount up and wait on his brother before heading back. Though he paused. "You want to go wake Conor to say good night?"

"You think he'll wake?" He looked at where Conor was staying then back to Segan and grinned. "If not, we'll have to make sure he knows we were there, aye?"

"Aye, leave a little reminder for him to wake to," which they would come up with something and have Conor coming after them later. Which would be good for their brother. Wicked grin with the glint of conspiracy.

He laughed and clapped a hand to Segan's shoulder as they headed for the stables. They come up with something good. Might even have the rest of the ranch wondering when Conor yelled with rage and then plotting revenge. A bit of  fun always did the brothers well.  And revenge ...  well, they could keep that going for some time.



Date: 08-01-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 4

McDonough Stables

Rhett had gotten the order for the swords done and would have time now to work on individual orders that had been placed. But ... before he started getting into those, he took some time off as he headed for the Avian Gardens to pick up Karina. Unexpected and yet not as he knocked on the cottage door. "Karina, are you home?"

She was home, relaxing in the kitchen while the sun blazed overhead outside. With the morning's chores done she had a bit of time to cool off and have some lunch. She was sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of iced tea and a sandwich, a book in one hand which she'd been puzzling over. Most of the words were still as inscrutable as hieroglyphics but she was starting to pick up patterns. It was slow going though and she'd been thinking about swallowing her pride and asking Vanessa to help her learn how to read. At the knock to the door she looked up, surprised to have a visitor, but a smile split her face when she heard a familiar voice. Sandals on her feet and clad in a deep purple gingham dress with short sleeves and a hemline just past her knees, she scampered over to open the door and grinned up at Rhett. Longer amber ringlets were pulled back in a low braid but with plenty errant strands escaping around her face. "I'm home, and surprised to see you awake at this hour, bat-boy." Teasing him about his more nocturnal summer schedule.

He was wearing his Stetson for the sunny day, keeping his eyes shaded as a pressed smile grew wider with a dip of his head when she answered the door. He was clad in work dungarees, low cut boots and a poet's shirt with the sleeves rolled up. "Well, I'm back to normal hours for a few weeks." Hopefully! "Got in some sleep last night as I finished up early morning. I thought maybe we can go see a man about a horse iffin you're still interested? Before any start costing more for their winnings." Dipping glance went down over the dress and she'd see the appreciative glint in blue eyes. "I don't think you have met Rory McDonough? He has Skade and Huckleberry. If you don't like either, then we'll see Melantha on Opal. They are the three left." Which if she waited longer, any or all of the three could be sold.

That up-and-down glance of his made her cheeks burn, but the easy grin faltered somewhat when he mentioned going to look at the racehorses. Sure, she'd told him that she wanted to buy one. But now with the moment here... that miser's instinct kicked back in and made her want to cling to her coin for dear life. "Oh. Yeah..." she scritched at her scalp beneath her hair. "I dunno, maybe.." Yes it might take just a little pushing and prodding.

"Shall I come back then when you've made up your mind?" Glint was there in blue eyes as he started to turn as if he'd head back out.

"No, wait, you pignut," Whatever that insult meant. Probably exactly what it described. But the grin was back as she grabbed his hand to turn him back around. Fixing him with an exasperated smirk. "Fine." She'd consider taking the plunge after she saw the horses for herself. "Wait here." And she'd jog up the stairs to her loft bedroom, calling back down as she went, "There's food and iced tea in the kitchen." Then she vanished. Into her bedroom, she swung the door mostly shut then strained to move her bedside table. Beneath that, she pulled up a loose floorboard and set it aside. Kneeling down to pull up a battered wooden box and she opened the lid. Inside... was nearly every coin she'd earned since coming to Heathfield, except for the few she'd spent here and there. And no, she couldn't count THAT high, so she piled a chunk of them into a couple purses and hoped that would be enough. Her pockets were heavy by the time she came back downstairs.

"Pig what?" Busting out in a laugh as he turned back as she grabbed his hand up. He had only gotten in one step away. Obviously he was not really leaving. "I think you would like Skade, kind of like you. The meaning of her name. A fighter. Lady fighter, a goddess associated with bow hunting, skiing in the mountains from Norse mythology. Blueberry, I think the name comes from the fruit." Which had him grinning. He happened to like blueberries especially made into pies. As she disappeared, he headed into the kitchen to have some of the ice tea as it was hot outside and they had a walk yet ahead of them. Plus, he was thirsty already. He noticed the book on the table too as he wandered there to flip it open, see what it was titled as he drank the tea. The drink done as he looked up seeing that bulge in her pocket, "did you bring the whole bank?"

The book was a book of stories, likely geared towards children for its imaginative illustrations, but the stories were the sort of classic fairy tales that everyone loved. When she came into the kitchen she noticed him thumbing through it and flicked a glance to his face but he made no comment. Instead he commented upon the purses and she gave him a shrug. "I don't know how much they'll charge me for a whole horse." Should he be disturbed by the 'whole' bit? "Probably too much. Ready to go?" She was over to grab her straw hat from its peg on the wall and tugged it onto her head, its broad brim giving good sun protection.

Which had him laughing, as the book closed beneath his hand before he stepped away towards her. "I don't think they would agree to only selling you half the horse." He finally made a comment although there was something else there that had him wondering, "those are good stories." He had read them all but a very long time ago. He figured she never had the opportunity for he knew enough of her background. He almost asked her on it, why she was reading them now at her age but they were ageless tales. Instead lips pressed into that usually thoughtful line. "Ready to go," hand sweeping over to capture hers as fingers entwined and off they went. They would take the main road north, through town, up past the port where they turned slightly northeast, going past the road that would take them to the lake itself as the McDonough ranch was up from the western side of it. They would see corral fencing and herds of cattle, some looking at them warily as they passed, especially in the one small field were a bull was separated from the rest. Almost looked like he challenged them to enter his domain and see what happened.

She just smirked at the half-a-horse comment, then nodded. "They are good." She agreed, even though she didn't know yet whether they were or not! She liked the illustrations though. She did wonder whether he thought her strange for reading a bunch of kids' stories; hard to tell since he didn't say another word about it. She let his fingers capture hers as they made their way from the cottage and up the road out of town. There was something nice about traipsing the roads not by herself, but with someone she cared about, and her steps bounced lightly as they went at an easy pace. "I've never been out to the McDonough ranch." She looked at the big male bull standing sullenly by himself and snickered as she pointed him out. "That one looks like he could use a romp with a nice cow."

As they neared the ranch they would hear whoops and hollers as they had gotten a few wild horses the other day and were breaking them in. This was when they had the bronco competitions but if a horse could not be broken in normally, it was then released back out into the wilds. Rory didn't believe in breaking a horse's spirit. Some were just never meant to be tamed while others would make great companions as well fulfilling work needs of farmers, ranchers and the like. Bets were being placed on how many seconds each could stay on a bronco. They also kept switching them so any one horse would not get worn out and possibly harm them.

He was enjoying the walk as he took his time, took their time. The distance was great enough that was smart first off. "Aye? Did you see all those calves with their mothers in the herds that were born in the spring?" so about half way grown already. "I'd say he's had a few nice cows and would prefer getting his jollies by throwing a human back over the fence with his horns." Hearing the sounds up ahead he took the road leading up.


"I've seen a few calves running about," she replied, then let out a burst of laughter at his latter comment. "Yeah, I bet he would. Let's not give him that chance huh?" As they walked past the field that contained the hateful-looking bull. They strolled together up the hill, Karina's pace increasing simply out of curiosity over the hooting and hollering. The sounds grew closer until they could see the source of it, and Karina broke away to run ahead until she reached the ring where the new horses were being broken. Her eyes widened as she watched the riders atop the wild stallions and mares, horses unlike any she'd ever seen for their power and ferocity. These were wild animals no mistake, their spirits burning brightly in rebellion against the taming of man. "Wow." Awestruck and admiring as she leaned against the fence to watch.

"I'm not that crazy," at least now that he was older. There was the hint that at one time he must have gone inside such a marked off field and dared the devil. Devil with real horns and an attitude to go with them. There she went running ahead and had him quicken his pace into a run to catch up. There was always the thrill of riding a bronco. Something he had not done in a while for his own work keeping him smithy bound. "You never saw the bronco riding?" Coming up alongside at the corral fencing as he climbed up and swung a leg around to straddle the top bar. He also looked for the familiar face of his friend.

Rory was there, he had just gone into his office for another bridal as one was needing repair. Leaving the men to their bets and riding, taking their turns. Smile was quick that sent a flash in ice blue eyes. Startling color for anyone not having met Rory nor his father Maurice. Hair was deep auburn that once was carrot red as a kid. Something he got into many a fight over! "Rhett! It's been a long time." Flicker of focus from Rhett to the lass with him. Not one he had met but then he rarely got out to socialize these days. "Hello Miss, welcome to McDonough Stables, I'm Rory McDonough." Handing off the bridal to one of his men waiting on it before making his way over. Rory looked the part, worn Stetson, plaid shirt, leather vest, chaps over his pants and boots always worn when on the job.

"Not like this." Karina had seen wild horses in the markets before, sometimes with their shady dealers attempting to ride them - which usually resulted in horse or rider or both being killed. Ofttimes the horses would be whipped and lashed til they were half dead and spiritless. A cruel sport. Karina liked the looks of this much better. She climbed up onto the fence beside Rhett, eager to get a better view, and would have sat and watched engrossed all day if they weren't hailed by a man who seemed a friend of Rhett's. Aqua eyes danced over to Rory and she offered a crooked grin. "I'm Karina. These horses are amazing..." She watched as a man clung tightly to the back of a wildly bucking stallion. "Do you catch 'em yourself?"

He was just about to introduce Karina but that was taken care of between the two. "I don't suppose you get out much with the stables and family. How is Kianna and your son? Sarah and your Dad?" Leaving the two to talk from there as he took to watching. Rhett had that look of challenge in his eyes of one who had ridden them, ridden them here with Rory.

"Nice to meet you Karina." He recognized the name for having read the newsletter sent out. He kept somewhat abreast that way. "Aye, see, the original purebred stallions and mares owned by King Andrew Barrett were sent out into the wild when the usurp took over, killing the King. In the next few decades they interbred with the wild horses and so such the variety. Many horses die over the winter so we periodically round up a few throughout the summer and see which can be trained. If not." Which he gave an uplift of his chin towards another pen where a black stallion stood there in defiance, "they get turned back out to rejoin their herd. We also leave hay and some oats at certain points of their trails when winter becomes very harsh so there is a better chance of their survival." In short, Rory loved the horses whether tamed or wild. Then to answer Rhett, "aye, they are all doing well, busy like most folks no matter the season."

She turned her eyes back to Rory when he explained about the horses and she got that wide-eyed look again. "Wow." She let Rhett and Rory chat while she watched the Broncos, and stared off towards the proud-looking black in a pen of his own. Then her feet found the ground again and she was wandering closer to that pen almost without noticing she moved. Some magnetic force of the powerful stallion drawing her there. She had forgotten all about racehorses and the reason she came when she stopped along the fence housing the wild black. Some impulse had her swinging up to sit atop the fence as she had been sitting on the other one. She didn't say anything or try to summon the horse, just watched him with a mix of fascination and respect. She could almost sense his pride and the way he refused to be subdued... and admired it.

"That is good to hear. Kia usually helps you with the horses, is she all right?" Being she wasn't here and genuine concern. All the while he was watching Karina wander off, almost yelled out to her to be careful but kept the words from leaving his lips by pressing them together. She was a grown woman, surely she knew to be careful and he wasn't her keeper. "The stallion is quite the beauty, I would guess he is probably the leader of his herd." One that would protect as determined as the stallion looked from where he sat. "Aside a visit, we came to look at the race horse you have for sale, in particular Skade. For Karina."

"Aye, she was down earlier but she's due in a few weeks and it's hard for her to be on her feet very long. Especially in the hot weather we've been having. We have a pool up at the house now and it's been used most of the summer." He too watched Karina with a slightly wary eye. The horse had recently been ridden and was put there to cool down with that final decision. He was kept from the other horses rounded up to not get them any more riled than they already were. He spoke to his foreman, Hos, who was then over to the pen giving a tip of his hat to the woman watching the wild beauty as he went around to the far side of the corral to open up the gate. The stallion snorted as it lowered his head, much like a bull before perking up with the corral gate was open. He snorted again, shook his head then bolted out the opening before they changed their mind. He didn't look back as he raced full gallop across the field and up into the forest beyond, heading back to where he called home.

Karina nodded slightly to Hos when he came 'round but she was busy watching the stallion. She almost wanted to shout and stop the foreman from opening the gate, to prevent the black from escaping... but something held her tongue. Watching the horse, she knew he didn't belong here. He belonged out in a landscape as wild as he was, amongst his fellows. Karina watched the freed horse gallop away til she couldn't see him anymore, then hopped down and walked back over to Rory and Rhett. She had an impulse to follow and an announcement to make. "I've changed my mind."

Women! That had a blink from Rhett with a glance then to Rory with a shrug of his shoulder. Not much one could say to that. "If you liked watching the wild stallion, I'll take you on the trail sometime where they can be seen in their natural habitat." He was down from the fence and ready to go.

He half laughed under his breath. It would seem that Rhett had his hands full with this filly. Rhett seemed to take that announcement by the woman to mean they were leaving, Rory hesitated and asked, "what have you changed your mind to?"

She grinned when Rhett misinterpreted her statement, but Rory seemed to sense that she had meant something else. "I don't want a racehorse anymore. I want one of those." And the pointed at the broncos. A keen eye turned back to that corral where the men rode and she watched sharply. "That one, I think." She motioned towards a stallion with a glistening chestnut coat, like molten copper in the sunlight. He was tossing his head and kicking up his hooves and putting on a right good show.

"Broncos are not sold until broken in, not broken of spirit but where I know they will not try to kill you and will even respond to basic commands. They are not race horses and if you wanted a race horse, there is no reason you cannot buy a race horse and a horse to ride, one that will be with you all the time." Race horses were not quite the same as a horse you rode that became your friend.

Luckily he had stalled, certainly he had thought she changed her mind on getting a horse at all. In this area he was no expertise and so let Rory talk to her on the horses.

Karina had other ideas. "We'll see." Amiably stated when he said it would never be a race horse. She watched the chestnut and even flashed a grin when he let out a sharp squeal. "How long til he's broken in, d'you think?"

She might have other ideas but a half wild horse would not be registered into the circuit, only thoroughbreds. He could race in the Hometown however. "The chestnut over there, he is from the beginning of the summer and is broken in enough for one that knows their way around horses."

"Good. I'll take him." Just like that. Despite all her earlier reservations about spending the money, she felt no doubts now. This just seemed right. "How much do you want for him?"

"He's only five hundred." Which was less than half the price of a thoroughbred race horse. "That includes bridle, and a saddle. Although if you want something fancier, Conor Quinn makes them for us. Of course there would be a price. There is also MacKay's in the commons that sell saddles too." Conor made them for his family and had his hands full, wasn't like the man was desperate for business but took ones on the side too.

"That's alright, I'll take whatever saddle you got now," she said that awfully quick. A glance was passed to Rhett, who had been pretty quiet since she made her announcement. Five hundred was far less than she had expected to pay and she pulled one of those heavy purses out of her pocket, pawing through it to count slowly.

Rhett had wandered off to look over the various horses as the stables were open for him to wander. Rory had like five different ones with various kinds of horses. Riding, work, war, and the thoroughbreds.

Rory had a quick mind and a quick hand as he stalled her hand when she went for more than would be five hundred. "That is fine there," which was not that many coins, far less than what she had on her it seemed. "You sure you're not interested in buying the race horse too? Seems like you have more than enough coins. Most likely she will be sold soon, and Huckleberry for that matter. Before they start accumulating a lot of money. Skade already won 1000 in her first race this circuit. A circuit being six months."

She paused when he stopped her, giving a little grin and handed over the right amount of coin. Then tucked her purse away. "Nope. I only want him, at least for now. I think he'll keep my hands full.." said as the chestnut kicked up his front legs then trotted off feistily.

He took the coins to slide into a purse hanging at his belt then had Hos get him ready, even put a blanket under the saddle so it was more comfortable. Once all was said and done he led him out to hand over to Karina. "I think you and he will be good friends. Stallion has spirit and you can tell that some of his ancestry was thoroughbred."

Rhett was making his way back across a smaller field from one of the stables. "You certainly have expanded since I spent time around here." Rhett had hung out with Rory and a few others when growing up. Why he was good around horses. Although he would walk any distances he could. "You got a name in mind for him yet?" Coming up to where Karina stood and the horse offered over, giving a nod to Hos before he took off. "He's a beauty." More muttered with the press of a smile to follow.

Grin. "He sure is a charmer." She was beaming as the charismatic stallion was led out, hardly able to believe he was hers. The very first thing she did was to extend her hand for the stallion to sniff, to get her smell... an animal handshake as it were. She grinned again when the chestnut snuffled her hand and didn't try to bite her fingers off. Thanking Hos, she then took the reins in her own hand and looked around. Sure enough Rhett soon materialized and she gave him a broad smile as she stood there proudly with her new horse."Not sure yet, gonna have to think on it." Turning back to Rory, "Thanks Rory. I'm sure we'll get along just fine."

"You're welcome. If you have any concerns, problems, you can always come here and we'll help you out." Which there would be no charge, he was always happy to help others out. Part of the way Rory is, as well his dad. "If you need a vet, I would suggest Donovan MacKnight, he's local. Feed and such you can get from Ravana farmlands or one of the mercantiles in the commons that sell it or down at the docks."

"Thanks again Rory, I think I'll stop over before you're done breaking the broncos in," which meant he intended to try his hand at it again. "Say hello to the others for me," meaning his family, "good luck with the new baby once it arrives." Then to Karina as it was getting late, how fast the hours flew, "shall we head back and see about setting him up in the stable," he knew she had one at the Avian Gardens which had a slight laugh, "if you had gotten a mare you could have bred her with Tennison." There was a thought.

She repeated the names to herself to commit them to memory. She bobbed a nod. "I'll let you know how it goes with him. Thanks!" She gave a wave before she'd start leading the chestnut forward. The stallion was young and full of spirit, alright; he tossed his head and dug his feet in at first, seemingly just for the sake of stubbornness. Karina had to tug the lead line insistently before the chestnut obeyed, with a snort that said he wasn't happy about it. Karina only snickered. "I like his spunk." Then she turned to Rhett with a smile. "You're right, but I didn't get him for breeding." That gave her a thought. "Hopefully he and Tenni get along."

"We'll soon find out," giving a last wave to Rory and the others as they went back to what they were doing. He set an easy pace by her side that would accommodate for any stubborn moves by the stallion although it was said he would respond to the base commands. So, there shouldn't be too much of a problem, he wasn't going to rear up and try to hoof them to death.



Date: 12-07-10
Poster: Rory McDonough
Post # 5

The Sale of a Horse

Although it was snowing, it didn't stop the cattle ranch from being busy, nor the stables located on the same lands. Cattle were being driven from one field to another with whistles and barking of herding dogs. Smoke rose from the McDonough manor owned by Maurice. His son Rory choosing to live in the expansive mansion with his wife and children. They had privacy being on one side while at the same time, grandpa had company whenever he needed it or when not needing it at times. Kiana worked on the ranch with the training of the horses as they had both racers and regular. The regulars included ponies, mules, donkeys, roans, Morgan, Clydesdales, dapples, Arabians, palomino and so on. Many were mixtures of thoroughbred and the wild horses of the planes. There was a story behind that. There was about six inches of snow that had fallen and snow still drifted. That didn't stop the rallying at the corral with whoops and hollers as Rory took to the latest batch of broncos being broken in, but never broken. If one caught from the wilds could not be tamed, they were sent back to the wild rather than break the horse's spirit in order to tame it. That was not allowed. Rory was attired in rugged woolen pants with chaps over them, quilted vest of earthen splashes of color over a black flannel shirt. His heavier coat was off to ride the bronco, which was twisting and turning every which way as even his Stetson flew off but he held on, "grab that Jack!" One of his men shot in quickly to grab the hat from the frozen, snow mashed ground seconds before the bronco would have crushed it under its hooves. The roar went up with cheers for Jack's bravery. Whom was now hamming it up.

The walk had been long, though she had hitched a ride with some passersby who had been kind enough to offer her a lift. Arriving at the sprawling ranch, she smiled in enjoyment as she strolled along the entry to the place. It was a lovely spread, and the scene of the driving from one field to another was charming and rough, both. She paused to lean on a fence to watch it, a bemused smile on her face. The smell of snow and the cold chill in the air had worked their way past her woolen dress and sturdy boots, as well as the fur cloak and gloves she wore, but she just leaned, watching and smiling for several minutes. The daring dash, seemingly right under the hooves of that bucking horse had the girl's eyes going wide, a breath caught in her throat for the man taking such a chance. Seeing he was okay, she shook her head, spoke a few words in French, and then began to head for the stables, assuming that was the place to show up at, if one needed to look into purchasing a steed.

Kiana was watching as Rory rode the bronco and like the men, she was well bundled against the cold. She held young Maurice steady on the fence so he could watch his Da, and the toddler was squealing with delight, in spite of being bundled up as well and the squeal muffled with a scarf. She laughed as she watched Jack who handed her Rory's hat. She placed it on the toddler's head, and though it was too big, he was quite happy to be wearing it. He had his own but in this weather, his mother insisted on a knit cap.

Seeing the woman standing there, with the little boy who was so incredibly cute, she paused again, for the woman looked approachable. Turning in her direction, she skirted the fencing and came round towards Kiana, a gentle smile on her face as she approached.

Young Maurice had the ice blue eyes of his father and grandfather. She might see the shock of red hair sticking out from under the cap where the length was capable of it. Kia had her hands full between him and their four month old little girl. The horse finally tired but not to the point of exhaustion. It was more he realized that Rory was not going to hurt him and being on his back was different but tolerable finally. Rory had a way with animals that went far deeper than just being good with them. Gloved hand tangled in the mare's mane as he coaxed her behavior with praise in an ancient tongue. The forerunner of the present Gaelic of Ireland. He slid from the softer saddle and handed the reins over to Jack again as his foreman came to help. "See that she gets extra oats and a brush down if she will allow it." Something the mare would find out was pleasant. He caught sight of his wife and it was evident in his eyes in the way they flashed what he felt for her. A love that ran deep as his smile swept wide. For her and for his son who was spotted next and he was over to take him up, lifting him high in the air. Rory was very tall as his son squealed in delight. He noticed a woman approaching from the corner of his eye and hoped Kia saw to her as she was obvious not one they knew and presently he was on the other side of the fence with his son.

The girl looked from the man, as he joined them, to the woman and boy, who was delighting in the presence of his apparent father. It caused a sad, very wistful look to fill the blue green eyes, though it was then gone and only a serene expression was visible on her features. The woman was focused on then, as Evony moved towards her with a tentative smile. "Bonjour, madam, I do hope I intrude not, oui?" Her syntax a little off at the moment, for various reasons. She was all covered in fur, and it made her look wider, though not taller. Only five feet tall on her best day, she moved with grace and quiet steps towards Kiana.

Kiana laughed as Rory came over, her smile equal in love and warmth as his own. When he took their son, she turned and smiled. "Good afternoon, and welcome You don't intrude at all. I'm Kiana McDonough, and this is my husband, Rory and our son, Maurice. Is there something I can help you with?" Whether Rory answered or not, she'd give his name.

She smiled at the greeting and the pleasant manner of the woman, her head dipping, the braid that was like a coronet atop her head glinting in the light of the day, the golden brown and the blonde catching the light well, though it looked more blonde in the outdoors light. "Well met, bonjour. I am Evony Rose Miette Jolie. I am new to this place, you understand?" Her accent was there, but mostly well controlled. "I am a furrier, and I have no horse. I am in the market for a good hunting steed, and a sturdy packhorse. Liam and Conor Quinn, I think it was, told me this was the place to come to start my search." She smiled graciously after her words, and looked from one to the other of them, including the boy, her smile soft and sweet to him.

Rory had lowered little Ice by the time Kia made introductions and handed him back over the fence to Kia so he could collect his cloak to put on and his hat again before it got crushed and got cold. "I'm going to have to get over to the MacKay shoppe and get him one that will fit him." Probably a Yuletide present. He swung up and over the fence to truly join the two. "Pleasure in the meet, Evony," being she gave her first name, everyone was pretty lax in these lands rather than titling this one or that constantly. "Aye, I've got some of those, they are right in that. I've been raising and selling horses for many years. Race horses in the last three. If you will follow me I can show you three very nice ones to start." More than likely it wouldn't need go beyond. Kia and his son were welcome to come for his son loved seeing the horses in the stalls where he could pet them if Kia held him up. There were five buildings that housed the horses at this point and a sixth was being built. One that would be finished in the spring when they usually went for the bigger round up of wild horses.

She took the lad and hugged him tightly while he studied Evony with those bright eyes. "Pleasure to meet you, Evony." Rory had her laughing and she nodded. "I think that's a good idea." Little Ice was constantly trying to steal his Da's hat. And just try to stop them from following. In spite of the snow, the toddler wanted down and he followed in Rory's footsteps for a few steps. Then it was up again and on toward the stables, once again in his mother's

Studying the man as he talked, she found she liked his brisk, businesslike manner with her, but he had a softer, warmer side for his family. To her mind, that was the way a man should be on meeting a strange woman. She gave a warm smile to all three of them, and nodded her head. "I would love to see what you have." She moved in the indicated direction, eager to see what may be on offer, her hopes high, especially after seeing the way the man had been breaking in the wild mare. Man that didn't want to ruin a good horse was a man to buy a horse from, in her mind.

Jack caught him just inside number Two stable where he had those ready for sale and of a kind he felt would be suited for the woman looking for one. A few words exchanged as he pointed to another building in the distance then took the papers he had. "Come on in," over his shoulder to the others as he stopped in his office to set the papers on his desk and quickly write down a few notes in what Kia called chicken scratch that she could read! "Go take a look, I'll be right with you."

The girl smiled and moved to check out the horses he had for sale of the type she needed. It couldn't be a brute of a horse with a disposition of a freight train, for she would not have the strength to handle it, being a small thing, herself. Spirited though, and well mannered, that would be a grand combination. Being an experienced horseman, she trusted him to pre-select for her, because he was clearly a man that knew what he was doing. She paused at each of the three box stalls to study the horses within, soft croons in French of a barely audible tone were sent to each one, a charmed smile on her face as she spotted the golden hide of the palomino stallion. Her eyes widened as she took in his lines, finding his conformation to be perfect. Oh, what a fine beast he was!

Once inside, Kiana removed little Ice's hat and scarf. While Evony studied the horses and Rory tended to business, she took the toddler to one of the stalls where a young filly was waiting. She immediately stuck her nose over the stall door, waiting for the boy to be lifted so she could be lavished with attention.

She had already made her decision the moment she saw that gold hide and the flaxen mane and tail. The disposition of the horse seemed to be intelligent and calm, both qualities she needed in a hunting horse. She smiled at him, held the back of her hand out to him, fingers curled inwards, and let him snuffle it. Stroking his forehead gently, she spoke a bit more French to him, and then with a final pat, she turned to make her way back to the office.

"I've a nice dapple gray stallion that is only three years old and in fine health. A gentle nature. A Paint that is a little larger than the usual that has spunk, a white dapple mare that is also gentle but likes to tease," moving by the various stalls as he was down to the last few. "I've four palominos, three gold and one bronze." Who had come to stick his head out so he could get pet and possible a treat. The treat came in the form of a small apple which he gently took from Rory's hand as it curled up between lips and teeth. Whiskers tickled in that moment before the contact was broken.


The Frenchwoman listened to Rory as he spoke. She was nodding, having already noted a certain palomino there. "That one there, Monsieur McDonough." Her voice soft, her head tipping towards the one that had stolen her fancy, the one next over to the apple eating bronze.

Little Ice wanted down after petting the filly and he started for his father while his mother giggled at how he waddled with all those clothes on. He was over to Rory, tugging on his pant leg.

"Take your time, be certain for it will be many years together." There was such a thing as a certain rapport." He noticed which one she wished to see more of. "Would you like to take him for a ride?" Jack was already over and in to saddle up the stallion.  Little Maurice was soon scooped up.. and up and up that had him squeal in delight before set to his feet again as he held onto his father's hand. In here he was not allowed to run free because an accident could happen.

She had to admit the man had a point there. She should be sure. An eager nod was given at the idea of taking the horse for a ride. Checking his paces would be a brilliant idea, and so would finding out what sort of manners he had. She watched as Jack saddled him up, a smile tilting her funny, upside down little mouth. "I would very much like to, Monsieur McDonough. Thank you so much. Just in the paddock there, or bit farther, did you mean?"

She was over to join Rory and Evony, taking the two year old's other hand. Of course that meant one thing to the tot and he hadn't learned not to interrupt. "Swing!"

"The paddock is open to one of the fields below," which was fenced in from there in a way they could not get beyond. "If you want to take him down, it would give you a good ride." It was a good size field. He nodded to Jack once he was finished who was out to take care of other things. Little Ice got in his swings too until they reached the stall. Rory offered Evony a hand up.

She nodded at the information, taking a look down at the indicated field, and then smiling, she took the hand up. It was needed, as she was rather unwieldy in the gown and the fur coat over it. Settling onto the stallion's back lightly, for she weighed all of 97 pounds fully dressed, the Frenchwoman settled on the horse sidesaddle, even though it was more than likely a saddle meant for riding astride. She simply wasn't dressed for that, and there was a way to ride sidesaddle, even on a western saddle. She accomplished it, and smiled down at Rory and Kiana, taking up the reins when they were offered. "I shall not be too very long. Thank you for the opportunity to ride him. Does he have a name?"

His sister Sarah could have shown her how had she been here. She had a way of wrapping a gown around her legs so she could straddle the saddle. He paused only a heartbeat. "You do know how to ride?"

She would love for Sarah to show her that trick! For now, she smiled in her serene way, and nodded. "I have been riding for many years, Monsieur, though I do thank you for your concern." The way she handled the reins should show him there was nothing to fear, and the way she seemed to float on the back of the horse as she gave him the signal to move out might, also.

"Mama, mama." Little Ice's attention turned to his mother and he grinned up at her when she looked down at him. "Eat?" Which had Kiana laughing. "Aye, we'll go see if Grandpap is in the kitchen." Though Ice was likely working elsewhere on the ranch, there was always a chance. If not, the nanny would tend to him until his parents came back inside. "I'll be right back, Rory." She put the lad's hat and scarf back on and out they went.

He made sure she was well in the saddle, reins in her hands before opening up the back of the stall that led into the paddock and the field beyond. Their breaths frosted in the air as he stepped outside knowing Kia had their son in hand for his safety. Once Evony was out, he'd close the stall door but would wait outside just in case. One of those, better to do than sorry if she fell or what not.

She was quite secure in the saddle, as it happened, though it was a bit awkward sidesaddle, but not anything she could not handle. She was a Frenchwoman, after all. She gave the signal to move into a trot, and a grin left her at the smooth pace of the animal. Her horse to be...she was thinking, anyway, was quite a gentleman, at least so far. She was cantering now, and loving the motion of it. The stallion was not at all a fractious beast. She was well pleased.

Once Little Ice was settled in the kitchen with cookies and milk and Kiana had checked on little Dawn, she headed back out into the cold and found Rory standing outside. She took that moment to lean against him as she watched Evony with the horse.

A short gallop, and then more cantering, and finally, she turned the horse back around and headed for the stable and the McDonough's.  Evony pulled up at the entrance to the stall, and then slid off the horse with a little spring and a leap. Smiling in pleased delight, she held the reins in one hand, and offered up pets and praises for the beast, before turning to open up that stall gate and then press on through with the horse, returning him. "He is a divine creature, Monsieur McDonough."

Rory had his arm around his wife, had stolen a few kisses in the cold air, warming their lips before they parted and the sound of hooves coming up from the field below had him all proper again. Smile bearing quick and sure, "how was the ride?" Turning in with Kia so that they were all inside where it was a modest warmth for the horses and any stable hands that spent the night.

She smiled at them as she moved up to them, for it was lovely to see happy people, and clearly these two were. "The ride was lovely. He is the one I want, if you please? I will need a pack horse, later, too, but that can wait a bit. If you perhaps find one in the next few weeks, I would appreciate word of it. I am staying at the Thistle for now. How do you want to be paid, sir? Gold or gems?"

Stolen kisses were always welcome, especially on a day like this when they warmed the heart. She smiled at Evony and was quite happy to go inside, though she didn't mind the winter weather as much as some did.

"Coins would be better, were you not given some once staying at the Thistle?" If she was staying at the tavern. "This horse runs three hundred coins. We include a bridle and standard saddle." The one on the horse actually. All the horses had them that were made from a leather worker hired by them and leather from the cattle which was one of the byproducts they sold too. "You can stable him behind the Thistle." Assuming she was staying there.

She nodded to all of this, smiling as she pulled out a coin bag. "This all sounds wonderful. I am staying there, yes. My wagon and team of draught horses is stabled there now. I have a cracked wheel that needs repair, so my next order of business is to hire a wainwright." She offered the bag of coins over to the man, smiling at Kiana and then Rory.

Which he took and stuffed away in the pocket of his coat. "That would be the winged man, Raphael O'Keeffe." Most everyone knew that Raphael, like Gabriel had wings even if they were of a kind to disappear. Best to kind of give the woman a heads up in case she arrived and the man landed in front of her.

Her soft, dark blonde brows rose up at that information, but....she had seen a lot in the last few years, enough that would make a saint faint in terror. And that was just from the wickedness of man. Wings did not sound nearly so bad. She gave a little nod and smiled. "Thank you. I shall venture out tomorrow and try to find him. May I take the horse today..? Oh...and does the horse already have a name?"

"Raphael's very good at fixing wagons. Making them too." She offered as assurance then fell silent again. She was starting to feel a little hungry herself. Cook had been busy making dinner when she had taken Little Ice inside.

"He is yours, indeed you can. I'd only suggest he stay here if you had nowhere else to stable him for the night. Storms are not good to be out in." Which Jack was bringing him out and around for her.

"Oh, is a storm coming, then?" Her eyes lifted up to look, and she frowned a bit, before it smoothed out to serenity again. A warm smile was given to Kiana. "I am so glad you told me of him. My wagon bears a heavy, heavy load, and so it needs servicing soon. I shall trust him to do the deed, based on your recommendations, Madam Kiana."

Nostrils flared slightly as he could determine the moisture in the air. "We only had a reprieve between the light one today and the one that is coming. By tomorrow, if not during the night."

She looked up at her husband and grinned, for he had taken her thoughts right from her. "So, you've time to reach the Thistle and then some. And Raphael's shop is in the commons." More like a warehouse.

"Ah, good. I shall not waste time, then." She smiled and moved to her horse's side, taking up the reins and then lifting herself up into the saddle, again sidesaddle style. "Thank you so much for the horse, he is a real gem, I think. Thank you, too, Madame Kiana, for the information. Bonsoir, to you and your fine famille, oui?"

"It was a pleasure meeting yea Evony, I wish yea well and your new stallion." Arm was slipping around Kia as it was time to get some rest, something he looked forward to at the end of each day. They might well snuggle up into the late hours of the morning if it was snowing heavily. It was why he had hired men, usually right out there with them, but some nights and days are better spent playing hooky with his wife, like how they got together.

She gave them a last smile and then rode off into the falling twilight, learning about her horse along the way and trying to figure out what he wanted his name to be.

"Enjoy your evening." She was happy to snuggle up against him, and head on inside. A little family time and a lot of snuggle time was perfect for a good evening.



Date: 12-14-10
Poster: Rory McDonough
Post # 6

McDonough Stables

Since Anthea had no idea where to go, she was content to follow Charlie. Wearing her heavy boots with fur lined, she was having fun kicking at the snow and watching it spray outwards. The hem of her day gown was soaked, but she enjoyed the cold and enjoyed the time spent with friends. Heavy cloak covered the gown, but that hem was soaked as well, bringing her to laugh as she wiggled fingers, making sure the woolen gloves were on good.

Charlie watched Anthea chuckling, amused by the child like wonder of the elements, it was good to see her enjoying herself, she figured that Rory and Kiana would have something suited to what she needed, and in a good price range, aware that she had limited funds, though she never asked about such things..

Today was one that had the owners and men working the roads, paddocks and corrals to clear them of snow. There were walls of it mounting six feet in places but it made it so all could get in and out from the ranch. Kia was up at the manor but most likely would be bringing him his dinner after she ate with the kids and Maurice, knowing he would probably work through until they were done, or they just could not work any longer. Anyone coming up the road would hear the whoops and hollers of the men while rounding up the cattle in various pastures they were spread out over. A check on the calves especially and some horsing around as snowballs flew here and there.

Charlie smirked the sounds of the heard riders, and the piled snow in places, "we can play king of the mountain," she laughed to Anthea, scrambling up a high pile and promptly fell over the other side laughing, with the uncertain footing, laughing as she pulled her self up .."seems you are not the only one enjoying the snow."

She gazed about to the blanket of snow, and had to wonder if it would be too moist to make a good snow angel. With a shake of her head she continued to follow Charlie, moving slender fingers upward to make sure her woolen cap was on snug. "Oooo let me try.. " She didn't care she had a gown on, it was a mere woolen gown, with men trousers underneath. But when her boot went into the snow, she sank.. "Nevermind.." Chuckle as she moved away from the mountain, and looking about when Charlie.

It may have been later than Rory realized because here came Kiana carrying a warming plate just for him. She was bundled up against the weather, though instead of a knit cap, she was wearing a Stetson made just for her. She couldn't help chuckling when she heard the men and though they almost all looked the same bundled up, she made a beeline for her husband. If she didn't make sure he ate, he'd forget!

What a nice distraction as he turned hearing his wife's footsteps. Yes, he could tell the difference which was not normal, no. "That smells great," taking the dish and ushering her into the stable as he headed for his office there. Once the plate was set on his desk, which was surprisingly neat with room, he was around first for a kiss, "dessert before the main meal." Cheating as he dipped her good.

Charlie grinned, dusting herself off, looking at where they were, "there is the barn, we have to work our way around there."

"Lead the way, mon Captain.." With a grin, almost Cheshire in nature, she was following in Charlie's steps, but still letting eyes of silver gaze about at the beauty of winter.

"It is great." She grinned as she headed into the stable with him and of course, the dessert was always the best part. Once they parted and she got her breath back, she sat and watched him, while she talked about the children.

Charlie decided to take the quickest way to the barn, being they were cold, and Anthea was wet at least on the outside "HELLO in the barn," she called ...

His appetite was ravenous as he devoured the food, "that will hold me over until I get back up to the house." Which he would have more. Hearing other footsteps he set the plate aside and stepped halfway out the door of his office, "can I help you?" Wait, he recognized one, "Charlie! I think Ken is up at the barracks by this time." Which is where some of the men stayed if they didn't have their own home.

Anthea was fine, only the hem, but did not argue the haste in which they walked to the barn. Leaving her to call out, and Anthea to stand near her side still gazing about in interest.

Charlie got a wicked look, "is he now," waggling her brows, "I shall have to umm go dip him." Always fun when others were watching right, "my friend Anthea is looking for a riding mule, that will pull a cart as well," she said pointing to Anthea ...

"Good evening, Sir.." She spoke with a smile, never one to be rude, and also wanting him to know she was Anthea. Well, not like they wouldn't know, she was just silly like that.

She followed after when she heard Rory call out Charlie's name. Though she had to peek around him since he was so tall and she waved at the women. "Hello, Charlie! Hello, Miss."

"Kiana sweetling," holding out her arms to get a hug and smooch from her favorite kiddo, "how yah doing sugar?"

Anthea turned her sight to the woman, smiling for her as well. "Good evening.." Standing back slightly so they could greet one another properly.

"I am Rory McDonough and this is my wife, Kiana. Nice to meet you Anthea, come right this way."

"A pleasure, Rory.. Kiana.." Softly spoken, the home of Greek lacing each vowel as she moved with silver eyes to glance here and there, loving the scent of winter within.

"How have you been, Charlie?" She gave the woman a big hug, a smooch to the cheek and laughed. "Good, though busy with the two little ones. Little Ice is a dynamo, and the baby is a sweetheart." She turned her smile on Anthea. "Nice to meet you as well, Anthea."

Children. She had to smile, children always seem to brighten homes up, and Anthea felt these two were great parents. "I also need .. hmm.. those ropes.. they bite on, to pull them." She made a chomping motion with her teeth, and then a wiggle motion with her hands.. "I am afraid I do not know much about this.. but to ride a wagon hauled by a mule."

While they talked he led them to  the end of the stable then out into a paddock where there was about a dozen mules. "They are all tame. There are carrots and small apples in that tin bin there that you can offer while meeting them. See which takes to you and who you take to."

Shrug was seen, but then all forgotten as she seen the mules and smiled brightly. My they were beautiful.. "Thank you.." She took hold of a carrot and moved slowly within.

Charlie grinned nodding her head, pleased to see Kiana, it seemed like ages, and maybe it was, "I am so glad that you are here," she loved that she and Rory were together they matched perfectly. "I am gonn go catch my wild gypsy," she mused, Anthea would no doubt hear the raucous laughter at some point in time, as Charlie dipped her love ...

"Geia sou" Did Anthea speak softly to the one animal that watched her since she entered. Softly did she speak Greek to the animal, moving with patient and offering, what she hoped was a boy, the carrot.

Kia tagged along partly because she helped with the animals and because she also wanted to see which Anthea would pick. "You and Kenneth will have to come see them, Charlie." Their home was always opened to friends and especially at this time of year.

And indeed they would, as she was always somewhere, whereever Kenneth was ..

She wanted one that was best for hauling the wagon, but also one that would be good for Anthea when she was taught to ride. Gelding.. "Is this one a gelding?" She wanted this mule, smiling as he ate the carrot and let her softly pet him.

"You might find Joshua with him," which then Charlie would have to shoo out the nephew to get some time. Ken took over helping to educate the lad that was his sister's only son, a sister who had passed on.

She gave Rory a little nudge. Question!

"Aye, that one is, do you prefer not?" Which could be a handful then. Smirking for the nudge.

She lifted a smile to Kiana, and then to scritch the mule between his ears. Laughing softly, as he shook his head but almost acted as if he wanted more scratching. "No no.. this is perfect then.. this one here. Does he have a name?" Turning as she asked the question, looking to not only Rory, but his wife Kiana as well. "What is the price? And also a lead rope to bring him home, as well as a blanket to cover him if you have that. " She was so full of questions. Gah. "And anything else you think I might need for him when I purchase the wagon?"

"Not really," he wasn't going to tell her he called that one in particular Fuzz Butt for he was a bit hairy. "You can name him anything you want. He will come with a regulation saddle and bridle. If you plan to hitch him to a cart, then those reins and trappings will come with the cart. He eats just about anything. Normal feed consisting of hay and oats, grains, you can get from any mercantile or farm."

Now with fingers crossed behind the mules ears.."How much?" Saddle, she couldn't ride, but wouldn't let the pair know. She was going to be walking him home. A nod of her dark head was seen, as she did listen to all he said.

"He is 300 coins," which was the going price for any of the 'work' animals as they were termed. Not too expensive like the race horses. "They like attention," to give her a heads up, "Charlie here can give you all  heads up on Mules..." shooting a grin Charlie's way. She was still there?

"He's a sweetheart." She smiled as the mule demanded a bit more attention then she looked at Charlie and nodded. She was the expert on mules in Heathfield!

Oh yeah she was there, but she was hugging on Joshua and Kenneth, tormenting both with her usual mischief... Indeed Charlie was the resident jack ass authority...

"She is going to teach me to ride.." She smiled brightly and softly did whisper to her new friend.."Care to come home with me?" She was so happy, and easily moved from the mule, reaching into her pocket as she did stride toward the pair. The jingle of coins was heard, as she removed her pouch, and slowly did open it to look inside. Counting out 300 as the price was, she held her hands out with a smile to both.. " I cannot thank you enough.. this is very
exciting for me.." She tilted her head and looked to the mule.. only to chuckle.. "sweetheart.. Kiana, perhaps that will be his name?" Soft smile as she did look back.

"He'll let you know soon enough." Animals had a way of letting their owners know if they liked a name or not! Mostly by not answering a call.

"He will? " She was curious to know all, but did not wish to take the couples time, and it was night. "I was thinking a Greek name, but he would most likely tilt his head and think I have lost my mind?" Twitch of a grin. All Anthea needed now was a fainting goat!

He took the coins to slip into his pocket as he would put it in the safe box later. "If you ever need to ask a question there is usually someone around here that can answer it too, if I am not around."

"Thank you very much, Rory.. you and your wife have been so kind.." And she finally had a mule. Not one to take the place of the one she left behind in Scotland, but a new friend, as her new beginnings.

The donkey let out a long HEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAWWWW... which had Rory laughing. "They do have a stubborn side at times. One of my men will see you back to the commons." Being it was late, it was snowing and Charlie would probably be here a while with Ken and Josh. "Nice meeting you Anthea," which he would be heading up to the ranch to spend some time with his wife and kids.

She might be surprised. The mule could very well like the name of it. She slipped her arm around Rory as they concluded their business, laughing when he declared his feelings about the situation.

That noise had her jump and twirl around, looking to the mule with a grin. "Goodness, aren't you the loud one. Hercules?" Perhaps asking Rory and Kiana, and of course said mule.. "Are you ready to go? This young couple have children to tend to.." She turned with a smile to Rory and his wife.."Again.. thank you, and very nice to meet you  both." And she would stay here and spend time with Hercules.. perhaps walk him outside for she had a way with cold. But the mule did not.. "I will wait here for the lead rope and such.. if that is ok?"

"Hercules is a good name." She agreed, "good night, Anthea. It was nice to meet you as well." This time of night was one of her favorite times, and the children's as well.

With that, she gave a fleeting smile to both before moving back to Hercules side. "I am Anthea, and I believe me and you shall have a lot of adventures together.." And then, she proceeded to give him another carrot.



Date: 12-26-10
Poster: Maurice McDonough
Post # 7

Never Too Old - Never Too Bold
At the Thistle


A Christmas Day that had been filled with joy, family all together as well grandchildren. It was the sparkle in their eyes that Maurice enjoyed the most bringing back days of old when his two were young. There was still that twinge of a vacant part of his life that he would have thought he was use to by now, but there it was after the evening pressed on and his son along with his wife saw the two little ones to bed then time alone. His time would be alone, so he headed to the Thistle on the off chance another or others might be doing the same. So far it was quiet as he talked with Alex who kept excusing himself to spend time in the kitchen. Not that Ice needed him being he had the bottle of potcheen and another glass to fill. He couldn't blame Alex stealing time with Hazel as both served everyone so loyally to little of their own private time. So he chased him away as he read through some of the old gazettes while waiting.

Chandra's Christmas had been filled with family and celebration, not only because of the holiday because of all that had happened. But finally, things became quiet and she slipped away from the manor after Davin had gone back to the Lighthouse. The walk wasn't a long one and it helped to clear her head. She loved the way the commons looked and it was while she paused at the fountain, she decided to continue on to the Thistle. To her delight, there was Ice. Knowing the opening of the door would have alerted him to her entrance, she removed her cloak, hung it on one of the hooks by the door, and headed for the bar.

Of course it alerted him, as there was a keen way about Ice to begin with. He was up and off his stool, abandoning his drink and gazettes as he was headed straight for her to intercept, "forgive my insolence," words barely out as he swept her up into his arms, "something I've been thinking on.." but that was all that was said before his lips claimed hers, in a dip, strong arms would not fail him nor her.

She hadn't expected that! But it was welcomed, and something she had been thinking on herself but had never dared voice. Not even time for a squeak, but her arms went around his neck, her toes curling in her boots. Thinking? What was that?!

He preferred one that didn't squeak. It was not like Chandra was a blushing maiden but a wine that only gotten better with age. A wine that he was drinking deeply of being she seemed to be enjoying it as much as he was. In fact, he would leave it up to her to break it off as he continued to explore the sweetness of her lips, no longer dipped but risen up to be swallowed even more in the mountain-of-a-man's arms.

It had been a long time since she had been in a man's arms and kissed, longer than she cared to remember. She wouldn't break the kiss until she needed to catch her breath, and even then, she stayed in his arms. "I was wondering.. if you wanted to kiss me. Have been for some time." Her eyes were still half-closed, but there was a fire within.

His voice was in a deeper tone as he tickled her cheek with his beard, one full enough it was not prickly anymore. Eyes remained closed as he spoke in lowered tones, "aye, that I have. Since the first time we met and I teased you some." Maybe more than some but she had taken it well. His lips brushing against the lobe of her ear as each word came in an expelled warmth to caress against the shell. One he was gradually working his way up to explore.

"You shouldn't have waited so long." Words were murmured in a husky whisper, a shiver moving through her. She tipped her head as his lips began to explore, a soft purr-like sound coming from her throat.

"Since I know," and the trace of his tongue was added to the exploration of her ear as she might notice he had her pressed in so close that he could move as one with her. Very slow and seductive steps taken as hands did some roaming, "perhaps you'd like to explore more?" Enticing her with the tracing of his tongue followed by the slow flow of his breath.

Oh yes, she was glad she had come here tonight. He caused another shiver, then a third before she found herself moving in those slow and seductive steps, her hands beginning to roam as well. This could get dangerous. "Aye, I would." Her voice was huskier than usual.

Danger was his game for it had his heart to race and his blood to heat. It had been too long not to feel again, and feel again he was finding with her in his arms. "Do you wish to know me better or throw all caution to the wind and come with me tonight to the bear's den?" Using bear for another reason. Teeth traced against her earlobe and continued down and around as if torturing himself as much as he would her in the process. The steps slow and given a few turns that had them towards where their cloaks hung if she was willing. That dare the devil to lay with one but not here. No. He'd not have her reputation soiled as this was a more public place.

There came a time when the need for caution passed and Chandra had been a widow for a long time. "Oh, I think the bear's den holds an allure for me this night." Perhaps even Herself would approve but if not, her daughter was well beyond the age of needing permission.

It didn't matter who approved or not, what mattered would be the time they had together in exploration of sensuality that had been lying far too long dormant. Far too long denied. He had reached their cloaks and was seeing to hers before his as he called out. "We're taking off now Alex, spend the time with Hazel," as both were still in the kitchen and he could close up for that matter and spend more time with Hazel as it should be. Next he was whisking her out the door and heading to the stable not far behind the building where he kept a surrey to use. He was not that far but far enough this cold night and he'd keep her warm as the snow drifted downward all around them.



Date: 12-28-10
Poster: Conor Quinn
Post # 8

A Fine Day for a Walk
McDonough Ranch

Snow still covered the fields on the eastern side of the slopes, the sun had managed to bring the grass through on the remainder of the land. The buzz of activity had returned to normal and with the first large snow out of the way, play time had ended and work would remain steady from this day on. Conor sat at a table in his shop, putting the last stitches through a special order he meant to get finished with prior to the holiday but wasn't able to. His deadline had come though. He had asked the woman to come by the shop today to see him, and so, he waited while working for Kuwan to arrive.

Kuwan was bundled up good as she'd never been to this particular ranch before but wanted to see Conor's shop and the fact he made saddles, to see his work. She followed in a wagon's rut made by one of the wheels. Either side had the snow pressed down and lumped in the middle. Else she would be even slower making a new trail through the drifted snow. It reminded her of home in how much could fall, the barren trees stark looking against white below and gray behind, branches reaching up like hands with many fingers. She could hear some of the ranch hands working with the cattle and soon the sight of the stables came into view as the drift of big fat snowflakes started up again.

The last stitch was pulled through and knotted and he held the finished product out to look it over, turning it through his fingers as he studied the piece with the critical eye of the one who created it. He nodded slowly, then stood from his stool to bring it over to a small box lined with tissue paper and placed it within, closing it off and then tying it with a thin gold ribbon. He crossed to the window to look out over the field and smiled when he saw the familiar form in the distance that was headed this way. Even bundled against the cold, there was no mistaking the Goddess of the Forest. He turned, made a quick assessment of his surroundings, then moved to the door and pulled it open. The chill of outside rushed in, eager to join and become part of the warmer air. Conor didn't bother shutting out the cold, he stood in the doorway and waited for Kuwan to arrive fully.

Even with the steadier fall of the snow growing thicker, she could see at this point a figure in one of the building's doorway. One that was recognized and so she hurried her steps being he was letting in a lot of cold. There was some ice that had formed of the slush and the figure that was drawing close all of a sudden went down devoured up into the thicker snow to the left of the rut. A moment later she was back up, dusting herself off, her heart pounding a bit more as it came unexpected to one who was usually so sure footed. She was all right as she continued the rest of the way without incident. "Conor," perhaps a little breathless. The length of dark hair that had escaped the fur line hood coated in snow as was it packed against the front of her cloak. Especially the ends that skirted the snow the whole way.

Seeing Kwuan go down, Conor started out the door, but she was so quick up and on her way again, he practically skidded to a halt where he was. "Good day, Kuwan." He continued to her as she came toward him, reaching out to her when they met to take her by the arm for the short return to the shop. "A fine day for a walk." He laughed softly, allowing his gaze to take in the continuation of snow which would make any return to the island risky if not impossible. "I'm glad you're here." Together they returned to the building, Conor using the boot scrapper just outside the entrance to clear his boots of any residual winter white.

She had others to take care of the halflings in her absences. A few of the other Native maidens had taken up the cause willingly. It had to be willingly. Her smile came swiftly through the melted snow on her face as wiping it with her gloved hand only had smeared more. It added a healthy glow to her cheeks and the glint in her eyes brighter. "It is as long as you can get up when you fall." Knowing he had seen her go down! Perhaps a little embarrassed there too as she accepted the help of a hand for the last bit into his place. "It is nice and warm here, you do not freeze." Which had been a curious concern on her part she had not mentioned. Lots of things she didn't mention.

"No, I do not freeze, it's plenty warm within." He shut the door behind them and released his hold from the woman. A small fireplace held a substantial blaze, keeping the interior cozy enough to keep his fingers working. "If you need, warm yourself first. I've got something for you." With that, he crossed the shop to the small box he had only just tied up and collected that one and a slightly larger one.

"I have something for you too." Which had her smiling even more as she would not have taken this long trip in the snow otherwise. She had enough coins to buy a race horse but they might be better spent on a horse for traveling. She needed to warm herself and so headed straight for the fire. It would have the snow melting away on her cloak and dissolved soon for the heat. As she warmed, she started taking off the layers, the hood to go down, the scarf released, mittens next then the coat itself. The package was secured away in an inner pocket of the cloak.

He placed both boxes on the one work bench of three that didn't have a saddle straddling it. "I wasn't sure how or if you celebrated this season...but I wanted to give you these." He watched as she melted, almost literally, from her outer attire, a smile lingering at the corners of his lips and eyes since she was making herself comfortable in the warmer climes of the indoors.

Her attire was of fur lined leather, something she had made herself in the pure white and white rabbit fur. The top the length of a short dress with leggings and boots of the same leather lacing up over her calves. They were treated to be water and snow resistant even in the depth she had just traveled through. Her hair shone blue it was so black and silken length down her back with two braids, each side. Those were tied off in leather and a few downy feathers. Taking the package from the inner pocket of her cloak as it was tied up in a nice piece of supple leather. She placed it on the bench with the others, figuring it was part of the tradition. "We have come to celebrate that which is celebrated in the lands we live so we are part." Stepping back as dark eyes turned on Conor.

His gaze dipped to her addition to the boxes, then he looked back up to her. "Ah, well then, happy holidays, Kuwan." He leaned forward to nudge his two boxes her way and then took up his own, tugging at the leather string to open it.

The nudging had a soft laugh escape as she took up the one package and opened it up.

Conor opened the box and drew out the dream catcher, holding it up for a moment as he studied it. "You made this, Kuwan?" He knew she must have, but asked just to make sure.

First she opened the one containing the three leather dog collars, her smile brightened instantly as she held each up. "Now they will know their names!" It was rare they would have to put them on a leash but if any of them had them in town with them, then they would. Lowering the collars back into the box as she turned to Conor, "yes, I made it especially for you, the center a crystal that is left natural to help with the energy." There were smaller ones in the spider web working too. She opened up the next as her smile warmed seeing what it was. Perfect, "you made this for me?" Knowing he had but was asking just as he had. Leather beads making a thin bracelet and the small butterfly stitched to the leather shy of the narrow strings. Studying it a moment before she was one handed tying it around her left wrist.

"Aye." He answered her question, moving around to help her tie it on, the three strips of leather might make tying it off a bit more complicated. "Here, allow me." Instead of just tying them, he started to braid them and then slipping it through a loop and tightening it off. He smiled down to her. "It's not nearly so delicate a job as what your people can create out of leather, but I remembered your name meant ..." He let his comment drift away, finished with fastening the strip around her wrist, he bent in to touch a kiss to her cheek then took a step back. "Thank you for thinking of me." He reached over and collected the dreamcatcher. "I'll hang it in my bedroom window." Which was just beyond the shop walls.

It was a challenge to try and do something one-handed alone, add to that it was a different way of braiding as her fingers stilled when he was over and around to do it for her. She set to watching the whole process before turning her head and tipping a smile up at him this close. Her eyes naturally searching his a moment before tipping back down. "I am honored you remember." That had surprised her as her words came softly. The kiss to her cheek, he would find her cheek somewhat warm already. "It is a good place or above your bed." A moment's indecision before she turned on the ball of her foot and went to tip toe to touch a light kiss upon his cheek.

He tilted forward a bit to accept that kiss, his hand cupping to her shoulder to balance her since she was up on tiptoe to present it. "The collars..." He began, straightening as he did. "You can use them to hook to harnesses, should you need the dogs to pull or cart for you. Or if you tie them as a team for travel."

She was just as quickly back to the flat of her feet as the kiss represented a thank you. She had come to realize that they were friends, nothing more to be of it and friends were good. "I will have to try them out for a small sled was sent over by Lord McDonough." With instructions for its use.

"Oh yea?" That was interesting. "They may not like it at first." He warned with a chuckle. Then again, neither did horses at first, but they soon learned the feel of it and settled in well enough.

"I think they are trained by Lord McDonough," she was trying to remember what Mat had said before he left them in her care. There was something about the huskies of these lands trained to pull a dog sled. She loved the bracelet as she became distracted to run a finger over the butterfly and the small smile to appear before it was gone along with the touch. "I do not keep you?" As she looked beyond to notice if he was working on anything that she may have interrupted.

"Keep me?" He shook his head. "No, Kuwan, I wanted you to come today." He gave a nod to her bracelet, for that very reason. "Have you time to go for a sleigh ride?" It was snowing, big, fat, heavy flakes, the best for going for a ride in. That was how much she was keeping him from his work.

"Yes, I have all the time until tomorrow." When she would see if she was able to get back to the island. "The island has a new name," which she got to pick and finally did so. "The manor will remain Ashford but the island will be Kwa'yo. I was choosing between that and Nyakwai, but the latter, is more of a past life and this is new one for them." Meaning her tribe and those of other tribes that had joined them.

Having her consent to go back out in the winter, he crossed to where his coat was draped over a chair. He was tugging it on as he looked over to her. "What does it mean? Kwa'yo?" He struggled with the pronunciation, but managed to some degree to get it out. He moved back to her and took up her cloak, holding it open for her to slip into.

She was back to putting on her cloak, mittens and scarf as luckily all had dried there in front of the fire where she had left them. The hood was last to draw up and secure with a tie so it didn't blow off. "It means Rabbit for there are so many rabbits on the island. I think there are more rabbits than anything else." But that would be good for making rabbit pies. "Nyakwai means bear as our tribe is of the bear."

When she was completely draped, he touched his one hand to the back of her arm and motioned to the door with the other. "Either would have been perfect." Together they would spend the rest of the day upon McDonough lands, bundled against the cold beneath their coats, gloves, hats, scarves and the fur blankets provided at the stables.


Date: 12-30-10
Poster: Rory McDonough
Post # 9

A Horse for Sadie

Evening was setting in as Rory, along with a few of his men, were mucking out the small corral where they broke in the new horses. Many of those still had a lot of training to be done which Kia usually did most of. Of course he helped as he had time but he was the one running the whole of the stables so it was good to hire on those that worked with them and those that trained too. Word had reached his ears there was a new man in town that trained horses and was looking for a job. His father's men were out in the fields whopping and giving a shrill whistles as they rounded up some of the cattle. The trained dogs barking while helping. Anyone coming up the trail that led to this particular McDonough manor would hear and see such on their way. The stables would be reached before the main house.

Sadie finally got herself in gear and hooked a ride to the McDonough Ranch. She'd dressed for the occasion, boots and breeches. She couldn't help the grin as she looked out at the fields. She'd spent a year on a cattle ranch in Australia, so the sights and sounds were more than familiar, they were welcome. When the wagon drew to a stop she bounced down and gave a wave with a gloved hand. She all but bounced in her boots, excited to have her own horse for the first time in years. And continued that long-stride with an occasional bop. She started for the stables, then detoured to the corral, figuring one of the men would know where the McDonough was to be found.

James intercepted Sadie as he gave a wave to the corral in front of the main stable. The first stable built. Grin was there tucked in a full beard as he tipped his Stetson and continued to lead a few horses down to another stable in the back. There were five in all presently. Scattering hay on the ground. He noticed the commotion with a heads up and handed over his armful to another before he was taking the short cut over the fence rails in a leap. Ice blue eyes flashed even with the dimming light that herald twilight. "Good evening Sadie, how nice to see you again. It has been," here he paused while dusting himself off, "well, years." He had his father's roguish grin as he was over to give her a quick hug. "Is this a social visit or business?"

"Bonjour, handsome. There's nothing fair about you McDonough's." She tsked, but nodded. It had been years. She returned the hug, then laughed. "I'm French enough to say both." She winked, "But, le bon Dieu, I need a horse. I'm tired of walking and everyone else is tired of carting me around.." Of course she'd grinned to James too. And given him a wink. She really couldn't help herself.

"I've a wife and two children now. Little Ice and Dawn." Which had him smiling proudly, "little Ice looks just like me Da." Which also meant he looked just like him too! "Nothing but the best for you in a work-riding horse. Just what you need and get yourself a wagon or one of those in between, a surrey and a wagon depending on what you need to cart with you. All the while he was leading her around the main stable to the back. There was a dozen or so horses in a more spacious corral. "All of these are trained well to heed the usual commands and young enough to learn more from whomever buys them. There are a few different kinds and mixes. There is a wooden chest over there with apples and carrots in it to take a few and go meet them. See who comes to you with that kind of rapport." He would take a climb on the fencing to watch. Make sure all went well.

As they were walking she gave him a little bump with her hip at the father announcement. "I'd heard. Congratulations, papa." Impossible not to smile back at how very proud he looked. She nodded as he talked "Will they take a rider bareback?" She asked it even as she was crossing to put some apples and carrots in her pockets. "I'm learning." She smiled over her shoulder, before heading into the corral, one apple in hand. More or less to herself, she murmured, So handsome."

"Aye, they are crossed trained, side saddle, full saddle, bareback and harness." Being they sold for various reasons he made sure all avenues were covered.

When the dark one with the light came up to take the apple out of her hand she couldn't help but croon to him in French. She took it as a positive sign that he continued eating and his ears perked forward. She reached up to give him a stroke, thinking this was a peculiar kind of torture. Just one?! Rory was going to find her hanging out up here talking to his horses, day and night. "How does anyone choose?" She started to move on, but gave her shoulder a little but with his nose. When she turned laughing, she figured she was done. In true Sadie fashion she made her decision impulsively. "Does he have a name?" Sadie moved around the big horse, stroking his smooth coat. She didn't imagine he'd be the fastest thing going, but she also figured he'd work tirelessly. Giving him a pat, she murmured. "It's in the bag." But moved on to the others, at least pretending to consider one of the other gorgeous animals. Of course, as she offered carrots she was all ready thinking up names.

"Many names but no, no permanent name." Whoever was taking care of the horse gave it a nickname of a sort, blondie, blackie and so on. He swung down from the fence over where none of them could reach him. She would find out why as he started up where they could and they all gravitated to him. Rory had this draw about him, druid in origin like his Da. His came out as an affinity with animals.

Sadie turned, chuckling as the horses flocked? That didn't seem the right word, but flocked they did. "Mm. Well, I'll have to think up something acceptably brutish. Mais oui, he's the one." She propped a hand on her hip. "What do I need t'do next?"

"His price is 300 coins and he comes with a saddle. Harness you would get if you buy a cart, wagon or surrey." Which he motioned to James whom was around this evening to get the horse ready. "Do you want to ride him home?" Good way for them to get to know each other!

She'd come prepared. She reached into a pocket and pulled out a carrot. She chuckled and crossed to toss it back in the bin before heading towards him. "I really do. I've been told Raphael is the man to see about a wagon." Finally drawing out two leather bags, she swapped a hundred coins from one into the other and offered it over. She'd come prepared to spend a little more than she'd needed to.

"....and I'm the man to see about a horse and best not to put the cart before the horse?" Grinning as he reached over to feed a few carrots to those that got closest to him.

Sadie laughed back, "Exactly, mon ami." But now she had her horse, still nameless, and was lighter by a few hundred coins. Ah, but she wouldn't be walking home tonight or any other unless she really, really wanted to.

"I need to get up to the manor," giving her one quick last hug. "I heard you were back and pleased. I hope to introduce you to my wife in the near future. Good luck with the horse, I'm sure you'll become good friends."

Sadie gave him a buss on the cheek along with the hug. "I look forward to meeting her, cherie." And then she was rubbing her hands together, too excited about her horse.

Big ole grin as he half walked backwards waving before he was around and into a jog headed for the manor. James would see to anything else she might need and any care she wasn't aware of, so on, so forth.



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