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The Highwayman

Date: 10-07-04
Poster: Fox Frasier
Post # 1

Shadow Fox

Stars dotted the velvet heavens, a multitude of white twinkling lights which mesmerized the eye or intrigued the mind.  The new moon lent no glow to the night, hidden from view, watchful yet unseen.  A masked observer to the earth below it.  None of this was seen, however, from the carriage which traveled along down the narrowed road created within the grove of various species of evergreens.  The rig was new, the burgundy coat of unmarred paint practically gleamed in the near darkness.  There would be no denying the wealth required to purchase such a vehicle pulled by the six.  With whatever business had transpired to the North, the carriage and any it carried, was once again on its way South. 

Eyes that were a deep forest green watched the progress of the carriage, speculating on who might be inside. It hardly matter however, since it was the target for tonight.  With a soft word to the horse, he rode, the highwayman known as Shadow Fox took another path, less traveled by well known to both man and horse. Before the carriage reached the end of the grove of evergreens, the shadow figure stood in it's path.  Horses shied as a single shot rang out, directed into the air.  "Hold and stand down, or my next shot will be for you." There was a hint of a brogue in the man's voice.  He seemed fearless as he waited for them to come to a stop.

At first the team continued forward, as if the driver meant to slap the reins at just the right moment and plow the bandit down. But, much to the man's good sense, he tugged back on the leather straps, bringing the horses to a reluctant halt.  Still skittish from the previous shot, they snorted and attempted to bump one into the other.  The reins were tucked beneath the driver's leg and both of his hands raised, keeping them in the highwayman's view. "Ain't nothing here for you, Chap.  Be about another road and let us pass!"  Bravado. All...feigned bravery, for the legs that held those reins pressed against the wood of bench seat...quivered with fear.

"Ah, such a fine carriage and you would have me believe that?" He tsked, almost good-naturedly, then aimed one of his pistols for the driver. "Why don't you let me be the judge of that, friend?" He raised his voice as he continued to speak. "You. In the coach! Come out, and keep your hands where I can see them." The Fox stepped back into the shadows just enough to keep himself from being a target.

With one hand still raised, the driver lumbered down from his perch in order to see to the door of the carriage.  The very door that was opening even before he could make contact with the ground.  The light from within was snuffed throwing the confines of the carriage into pitch darkness before the form of a man could be made out exiting his previous comforts.  Dark head dipped to clear the low door frame and then black boots, shined to perfection, were next to show.  He glanced back into the shadows which made up the inside of the vehicle, then closed the door. When he lifted his head to seek out the obscurity which hid the thief, none other than Frasier greens searched the tree line.  His arms were held out to his side, no threat, although the sword at his side could pose a danger should the scoundrel venture too near.  "Had I known I was to have a secret rendezvous, I would have purchased more wine."  The coachman came hurrying over to the other man's side, turning too in order to face the trees. "I thought to just run him over.  But I remembered you telling me not to scar up Mr. Daniel's wedding gift."

There might have been a groan from the treeline where the highwayman was hidden, or perhaps it was just a branch rubbing another in the wind. For a moment, there was no sound and then he stepped forward again, pistols held on both men. "The wine would have been appreciated, but alas, I don't have the time." The brogue was a little heavier suddenly, the voice harsher. "Now, I'm sure you still have some gold left from your purchase. Why don't you just give 'em to your driver and he can bring them to me since he doesn't have a fine sword?"  There was a flash of white as he smiled. "And, if you've a lady hidden inside, ask her to give over her baubles."

The driver shifted foot to foot, not exactly wanting to get closer to the miscreant sporting those two loaded weapons.  The very weapon pointed, at the moment, at the center of his chest.  He tore his gaze from the highwayman to look up to the nobleman beside him.  The Frasier didn't even seem to move a muscle save for a slight tensing and releasing of his jaw.  "Your Grace?"  The threat of possible death could not match the inability to act without his lord's permission.  Slowly Neale pulled his eyes from the highwayman, nodding to the driver. "Yes, Bandy, be about the gold...and those baubles the man seems so eager to possess."  Bandy blinked, not sure exactly what baubles he was supposed to be collecting, but, keeping his hands raised, he turned to face away from the man.  A silent prayer was lifted that the blackguard wasn't one to be shooting anyone in the back.  The door of the carriage was opened and Bandy bent the upper half of his body within to do as directed by both the masked man and his Lordship.

He never shot anyone in the back, in spite of the stories that had been spread by the upper class. "Be careful what you bring out, less you cause the death of your lord."  He warned in a near hiss as he stepped where he could see them both more clearly.  The rogue kept his head lowered slightly, making certain the shadows hid his eyes.  "There is no crest upon your carriage, m'lord. You will forgive my curiosity as to your identity?"

"Come on, Missus, give over with it now."  A grunt and a muttered curse followed, the driver backing out of the cabin holding in one hand a heavy purse and the other hand was cupped to his jaw. "Bandy?"  Neale addressed the man, turning his head toward him although his eyes remained glued on the thief.  "She ain't giving over, My Lord."  Then Bandy looked to the bandit.  "A slipper foot to the jaw for a treasure not worth the ball in that there barrel."  Neale actually smiled, slanting a look toward the door of the carriage, then back to the stranger who, for some odd reason, didn't seem very strange to him at all.  The voice, though heavily tinged with brogue, tugged at him to remember, the way the man held his shoulders, proud yet with the tilt of threat.  He didn't address the carriage nor did Neale offer his name.  He was giving over enough as it was.  "I feel the gold will well cover any small token you might obtain from the female within."  A motion of head started the driver forward, reluctantly, toward the black holes of those pistols.

"Is there a reason she won't show herself?" Odd question coming from the Fox but he wasn't pressing for whatever the Lady inside was protecting. Curiosity could be a dangerous thing in his trade and he visibly shook his head, then held out one of his hands, tilted to allow him to take the gold and still hold the pistol on Neale. The other was on the coachman. Again, there was a slight lowering of his head so the wide-brimmed hand shielded his eyes.

"Shy?"  Neale's voice was a low in threat as the other man's had been earlier. He would go down in a puddle of blood before he made the lady within the carriage, step out to confront this man.  "Who is it that we give credit to for lightening the load of our journey this night?"  Greens watched closely as the other man managed to collect the heavy pouch and still cover both Neale and the coachman with expert skill.  This man had not only done this before...but from what Neale could see, he had done this before...many times. 

"Merely cautious.  The locals call me Shadow Fox." There was a hint of amusement in his voice as he answered. "So I've taken the name as my own. You'll be glad to know, your money will go to help some of the poor of this area." It wasn't his usual speech. There was no need for showmanship here.  "You may entered, again, m'lord F... " There was a slight sound, almost as if he started to say a name and caught himself. "Your coachman may take his seat again and you may leave after a count to one hundred. You are capable of that, aren't you? It's amazing how many nobles aren't."  There was another hint of amusement. Almost as if he knew something about Neale.

That hint of amusement rang true.  He heard it often around the table at mealtime.  It sang in familiar resonance whenever kin gathered at Falkirk.  Neale didn't turn away, but took one step, then another, back from the bandit, green gaze attempting to slice through the shadows provided by the brimming of the hat and the dimming of the shadows. "If neither of us can, the lady will see to the count for us."  The hand that had remained out and away from his side now reached behind him, seeking blindly and then finding the handle of the door as Bandy skirted around him to scramble back to his perch.  The coachman was more than ready to be on their way again.  He anticipated many rounds of ale coming his way for this harrowing experience.  All without him spending a coin as he told this story over and over how he had come chest to barrel with the Shadow Fox's weapons, and lived to tell about it.  Neale pulled open the door, managing a reassuring smile for the female who remained hidden in the safety of the cabin, then looking back to the concealed one.  "I've heard of the Shadow Fox."  He said, gripping a gloved hand within the opening used as a window in that door.  "Rumor has it he is as sly as his name implies...with eyes the color of the evergreens he uses as his hunting grounds."  With that, Neale turned his back on the assailant, dipping his head again beneath the top of carriage and entering, pulling the door closed behind him.  A few softly spoken words were shared with the other one inside before he leaned forward, squinting out into the darkness toward where the bandit stood. "Be mindful of your humor, Fox, it may very well be your undoing."  The hand which gripped the window then slapped against the sturdy entryway.  "Start your count, Bandy ... "

There was a slight exhale at his words, so soft it mixed with the rustle of the breeze through the branches of those same evergreens. "So I've been told before, m'lord." The brogue was still heavy, the amusement gone from his voice.  As Bandy started the count, Fox headed back into the safety of the trees where his horse waited. He leaned his forehead against the black's neck briefly. "God's blood." Just a whisper of words, then he mounted and rode back the way he had come.


Date: 10-13-04
Poster: Fox Frasier
Post # 2

Prelude to the Tale

Late night was the worst time.

      The still air, the lack of sound, the emptiness of the room.

      Fox tossed the thin blanket off the bed and stood with a stretch to ease the ache of muscle within her legs and back. Restless, completely and utterly restless, she did not know what to do with herself. Too early to sleep, too late for any tavern visit, there was only time to do ... nothing. Nothing but pace back and forth until she wore a trodden path on the flimsy rug. It'd become a ritual to see how many times she crossed the same spot before losing count. Once count lost between thirty and thirty-five, bare feet stomped across to the lone window that provided an overview of the other markets and merchants on the lane and opposite the inn where she stayed to break her journey to Falkirk. With the pane pushed open, the seabreeze filtered inside and touched her face with a mix of salt, water and sea. One hand pulled an empty crate toward the window where she sat in a slump, elbows propped on the sill and the side of her head touched the wooden frame. Another ritual took place -- the late night surrender to memories.

Scotland, one year prior

Cold waters slapped against the jagged stone coast, spraying sparks of white foam against the stormy gray skies overhead, the sting of the sea air touched all in its long reach. There was no sun to be found in the limitless sky, only darkened clouds which were, unknown to the habitants of the lands, a harbinger of the days to follow. An eerie quietness surrounded the whole of the land. The village was still. None of the townsfolk ventured to the marketplace, even the church was empty and silent. The battle had been fought. The battle had been lost.

A trail of black smoke drifted upward from one stone house on the edge of the fortress wall. A simple home, inside a fire roared to life, scents of baking bread and cooling cakes filled the one-room home of Jamie MacDonald. A scurrying across the kitchen sent a burst of dust-like particles into the air. "Saints!" the lone voice cried out.

Fox hurried back to the table and quickly covered the jar of flour she left unattended. Jamie would be returning home and she wanted the house to be picture of how a newly married couple lived. The fire warmed every corner, food was prepared, flowers were arranged, and the bed was turned down.

Fox and Jamie had been married only a short while before the call came for all men in the village to sail toward Glenmarrin to take care of business there with the English.  "Tis only a wee skirmish, Fox, I'll be home soon." He had promised his new bride with a soft kiss. Fox believed him. She did so because her own mother believed the promise spoken to her by her husband, Fox's father, Colum Frasier.

After the last of the meal had been prepared, Fox opened the dark wooden shutters to allow any trace of light to creep inside. She had grown tired of seeing through only candle- and firelight. Although the storm brewed close, the illumination of daylight was a welcomed one. In the distance, a noise broke through the silence. Fox, in an attempt to strain to hear, bumped her forehead against the window pane. With a muttered curse, she ran outside and down the winding path toward the fortress village.

Shouts and cries mingled in greeting as Fox rushed by the homes. "They're home!" "Well fough' lads." The cheers were not as enthusiastic as they would have been had the army won, but that is the highland way. Pride was all that mattered. Fox ran through the crowds, her voice interrupting other couples and families. "Jamie!" She ran further, deeper into the village, longing and excitement straining her voice hoarse. Bagpipes blared in greeting to the returning soldiers, making Fox's shouts to find Jamie mute.

When a large hand clamped down on a tunic-clad shoulder, Fox stopped in her tracks and whipped around, expecting to see Jamie. The smile on her lips radiated with pure joy and admiration, reaching twin pools of warm hazel green.  But standing before her was not the man she married.

Battered and beaten, it was Colum Frasier. His broad shoulders were bloodied, tears in the tartan gave more view to the wounds on his knees and lower thighs. Colum stared down to his only daughter. Matching eyes met. No words need be spoken between this father and daughter. The recent bride had become a widow.


Date:  10-13-04
Poster: Fox Frasier
Post # 3

Blind Decisions

      The night enveloped everything it touched in folds of shadows and gray darkness. Fox remained by the window as she kept a silent vigil of memories. It was all her fault. And she took full responsibility for her husband's fate. With a brush of fingertips against her brow, she could not push thoughts away. Perhaps this was her due punishment for not being stronger and more adamant in her demands. Damn it, she wanted to be a good wife. A wife that accepted her husband's decisions -- but what good did it do? It made her a bloody widow. Her head hit the edge of the windowframe twice, as if batting it against something hard might make the memories disappear. It never worked.

She returned to the home she so diligently prepared for Jamie's arrival expecting to weep as soon as she stepped inside, but she walked through the house to retrieve her belongings with no outward display of emotion. Within two hours, her bags were packed, candled extinguished, and Jamie's clothes set on the bed for his parents to retrieve for their other sons. Ready to depart -- and leave forever -- Fox casually walked to the door and closed it behind them. A curt nod in Colum's direction was the only sign of communication.

The ride to the Frasier lands inland of the coast was a long one for both travellers. Fox remained silent for days. Colum knew his daughter better than anyone, so he was not yet concerned. After all, she would be a widow longer than she was a wife.They rode in silence, they rode in mourning.

Annie Frasier peeked out of the kitchen's window to watch for Colum's return. Ol'Hess had hurried to the blacksmith's home to tell the matriarch that the soldiers had finally arrived. Like Fox, Annie went to work in preparing a meal, warm fire and had all the preparations needed. When the sound of hooves neared the house, she rushed outside, arms widely extended. She would have hugged the horse just to be close to Colum.

Dirt was kicked up as Ann halted to a stop. She saw the top of a russet-haired head tilt to the side of Colum's arm. It was Fox, and she knew instantly why she rode with her father. She once felt that same heartbreak when the second child she bore died in birth, since then Annie prayed to the heavenly Father never to know that feeling again. He did not grant her request.

Colum helped Fox slide down to the ground. Hours of riding made her legs weakened, so she fell instantly in a heap of tartan. Mother rushed to daughter's side and helped her stand. Knowing Fox almost as well as Colum, she did not make any effort to speak, knowing it would be wasted breath. The feisty daughter they raised would not talk until she was ready to admit what pain was in her heart.

Fox was quite thankful to her parents for understanding the need for her to not speak. How could she put into words how it felt to lose Jamie? She'd known him since they were children. They scared each other senseless with ghostly tales on Samheim, they sailed until dusk on the rocky waters off the coast, and then they shared a kiss the night of Fox's sixteenth birthday.

Jamie was a strong man, filled with pride in his country and the traditions they held close to heart. His light brown hair was always worn loose, falling well past his muscular shoulders, and he wore a kilt well with his toned thighs and calves underneath. Ever quick with a laugh, Jamie would always recite tales to make Fox smile. He offered her a simple life being the wife of a fisherman, and live in peace under the church of God and rule of Scotland.

It was a life Fox accepted, although secretly she wished for more. Tending to a home and husband had been her mother's dream in life, one she was successful in accomplishing. However, Fox, ever since she was a child, held a deep admiration for life of pure adventure.

Dreams end, though, when the dreamer awakens. For Fox that dream ended five months before she was to marry Jamie. She had spoken to her betrothed about the possibilities of her help with the fishing trawlers. After all, it would save on the cost of hiring a navigator for the fishing boats he owned. Jamie adored the idea. He'd be with his wife more, and he secretly knew of her wish for adventure. How could he deny her this wish?

In preparation for Fox's new occupation, Jamie went into the village for supplies. Even though she was more than capable of handling herself, he wanted to feel confident that should any trouble arise, she would have more to use than just her wit and strength. In the village, he first paid a visit to Harold Griffin, the local sword and dirk manufacturer. Then, having more time and coins in his pocket as Harold did not charge Jamie for the trim-edged dirk since it was for 'precious Fox,' he went to see MaryMac in hopes of finding a simple dress for Fox to wear on Sundays.

He was halfway to the dressmaker's when the yell for help erupted from one of the shacks close to the dock. Jamie did not even think of the consequences as he rushed into the burning home of Widow MacKeilage. He helped the old widow and one of her cats out to safety before returning, hoping he'd be able to save at least some of the woman's belongings. It was a near-fatal choice. Once Jamie went into the shack again, he had lost his chance of easy escape. And when the villagers found him crumpled, but miraculously unburned, all he had lost then was his vision.

Fox nursed him back to health slowly, constantly helping with the pain in his eyes, the loss of freedom for his dreams as well as her own. She stayed by his side though he yelled for her to leave him be, to find a complete man. Each time those words touched her ears, she suppressed the urge to both scream in despair and slap him. She loved him with the whole of her heart, never would she leave him for another.


Date: 10-13-04
Poster: Fox Frasier
Post # 4

Twenty-one Hours Before
the Pipers Played

When Jamie was able to see shadows, they wed. It had been a cold but beautiful spring morning. Everyone in the village complimented how beautiful Fox looked with her long tresses swept up off her shoulders. She had even allowed her mother to curl the ends, giving her visage a much softer appearance. Fox was tall, one of the tallest women in all of the village even at the tender age of seventeen, and she was strong. Whereas Annie possessed grace and delicateness, those traits slipped by Fox, leaving her resemble more her father. Her arms were slender but toned with muscle from years of sword play and practice, an ample figure and a shapely hips made the men eager to woo her when she reached a marrying age, but the fact she could most likely cause them more harm with a single punch than they could her, made each possible suitor a bit weary.

Yet it was those traits that Jamie loved most about her. He tried not to be bored with the array of lasses, but his interest always led him back to Fox. The intricate and intensity of her personality left him spellbound. She could plan a course for a ship to sail to Glennmarrin during a fierce storm and within moments be spinning a tale to the younger children in the village. No matter what time of day (or night), Fox helped where and when she could. Her generosity could not be matched by any. The villagers called her "Angel from God." Jamie believed that term to be exact.

And on their wedding day, he knew for certain she was his angel. His gift and salvation from God. He firmly believed and accepted that Fox wanted him, even with his blindness. The day after their wedding (and sleepless wedding night), the sound of footsteps awoke the couple. Jamie was the first to dress and greet the men, then came to tell a tousled-haired Fox the news. There was to be a battle with an English troop and every man was needed. Fox stared at her husband as if he had lost all of his senses, not just most of his sight.

"Fight blind? Ye're mad! I am goin' wit' ye."

Jamie grabbed her arm and tossed her back into the bed. "Ye'll nae speak tae me like tha' wife. Save it for yer children when ye have 'em."

"I will nae have them a'tall ifn ye go. Ye think ye can fight? Saints, James, can ye even see shadows?"

Jamie's jaw clenched in anger. As silent as a cat stalking its prey, she slipped from the bed and circled him. It only took one push to have him sprawled on the wooden floorboards. "Saints! Jamie, ye are nae going," she said quietly as she knelt beside him, one hand slipping under his arm to help him sit up.

"Fox, I am leaving tae fight. I wish tae battle the sassenachs but I'll fight ye 'fore if need tae."

One blink followed another. He was leaving to what was certain death. "Nae!"

"Fox," another voice echoed by the bedside, that belonging to Colum Frasier, "Ye cannae stop the man if he wants tae go. I'll be his eyes."

This could not be happening, she told herself repeatedly, how could her father and husband be so confident? Jamie moved toward the doorway of the house, knowing each step by heart as he constructed the home by hand. In the threshold he waited for Fox to bid him farewell and wish him luck. Although tempted to have him meet death without her well wishes, deep in her heart she could not let him leave without telling him just how much she loved him. Rushing to the framed door, he caught her easily in his arms and drew her in for a kiss. "I'll be back for ye, know this."

"Aye, I know ye will," she kissed his lips softly, letting her mouth savor his taste to memory. "I love ye."

"Ye'll know I'll be home when ye hear the piper." With that he stepped away from her, and guided by Colum, disappeared down the coastline to the awaiting boats. They had been married three days but only spent twenty-one hours with her husband, she was a widow. Jamie did not come home even though the pipers played.

Fox glanced at the autumn sun as it crept over the horizon. Once more she found herself without a night of sleep, lost to the hours of memories, regret and guilt. Another journey laid ahead to live with family in a foreign place -- a far cry from her dreams of adventure. But then look what happened when people had dreams. They ended in heartache. At least it was morning now. She'd have at least fourteen more hours before she would have to face another night. Late night was the worst.


Date: 11-03-04
Poster: Fox Frasier
Post # 5

Three close calls.  His luck was wearing thin.  The Shadow Fox pressed against the side of a worn barn, fading into the shadows.  The guards had passed him once.  He was certain they wouldn't do so again.  A glance upward had him catching sight of a window and he jumped, barely biting back the hiss of pain that lanced through his arm.  He kicked his legs upward, catching the sill and hauling himself up, bit by slow bit. Finally he could reach the roof of the out building by jumping.  When he landed, he paused to listen.

The guards and the dogs of the inn were making enough noise to wake the dead, and he let out an expel of air in relief.  Just a few more feet and his escape was made.  At the top of the building, he dropped down, hiding again. There were other men in the courtyard now.  Nobles from the look of them and one looked familiar.

Fox frowned as he tried to remember where he had seen the man before.  Not from any recent holdups, of that he was certain.  He ducked down as the man seemed to look his way, remaining there until they road away. Finally, he finished the journey from the outbuilding to the inn.  Inside the safety of his room, he pulled off the mask and braced his hands on the bureau, staring into familiar green eyes.  Time to take a small vacation, lest Lady Luck decide to pull the rug out from under him.


Date: 11-20-04
Poster: Lisette McTie 
Post # 6

The Fox and the Peacock
Fox, Birdie and Lisette

A carriage rumbled along in an easy pace through the forest north of Ballicastle lands. It was ornate enough to set it apart from the common in that it had a crest, coat of arms with the letter M in the middle, elaborately painted on each door. Curtains covered the windows where the two passengers sat in a light conversation about the lands they were heading to and how they have changed. Mostly the new people that had come. Burgous Northam, Birdie, was tying to catch Lisette up on such general changes. There were none major that he was aware of. Not that he was from the lands but had kept tabs and visited to learn all he could. Lisette would need to make an inquiry for a place of her own to stay as before she was granted a room. For her decisions all these suggestions were offered by Birdie. The footman kept the two stallions in tow as they moved through a narrowed but well worn pathin a denser part of the forest. Ronald had never liked this part of the journey although no mishap was seen personally by him, he had heard rumors. Rumors that were passed on only to Birdie in case any problems arose, he would not upset the Lady they were bringing safely back to the lands. Ronald always wore a sword and a few daggers tucked away for he had seen a few battles in his days.

So much had changed since Lisette last set foot in Heathfield, which was her destination this night in what she considered home. Memories of her family and all that transpired were fresh in her mind but now they would become part of her past. She was starting a new life, one that no longer had shadows hanging over her. In this aspect she was pleased and would smile readily as Birdie carried on and on in conversation. He was talkative but the sound of his voice helped to keep her calm. She had been nervous about this return but more of an excited kind. She wondered how well she would fit in. When last here she kept mostly to herself. She was attired as a Lady even if she was known to wear riding outfits consisting of britches. A deep blue gown of velvet was worn beneath a black, fur lined cloak. A small hat to match was angled in the upsweep of blond hair. Cheeks held a rosy hue for the crisp bite of air this late but otherwise she was warm and blue eyes bright in that anticipation. The excitement held that tightening coil in her stomach whenever her mind would wander back to whom she would remember, who would remember her and the new people she would meet.

The Fox was moving through the woods, keeping with the coach. "This one, Cavalier, will have a fat purse." He patted the horse's neck before urging him forward, along the road to where it forked. Dismounting, the horse was sent into the protection of the trees while he drew his flintlocks. It was aimed at the driver of the nearing coach, the masked man behind it remaining unmoving. He cocked the hammer, eyes of dark green narrowed. In all the time he had been working this area of the forest, he had one try to run him down and he was confident this one would not be the first.

He was wrong as Ronald gave a whistle and the well bred stallions lunged forward into a gallop. He could not turn them around and he was sworn to the McTiel family to give his life if necessary. It jerked the coach forward throwing its occupants backwards. Birdie had been made aware if that whistle was sounded to be prepared. Birdie barely heard the whistle when he was thrown forward into the seat across where Lisette sat. Agile enough a hand jerked out to catch the side and angled where it would keep her from being thrown into the side she sat closest to. Once the initial thrust was over, one arm went around his friend while the other fell to the hilt of his dagger.

Right in the middle of saying something all was lost to the gasp that followed. The hat that had been secured in place now hung down the side as she was thrown hard back against the seat. A small shriek escaped for the surprise and then Birdie was up far too close for her liking. She liked the man but not this close! "What's going on?" As she swallowed the lump in her throat and the hat that hung was pulled off undoing the styled hair so neatly done before. She reached to draw back the curtain but found her hand caught up and drawn away along with being told to stay quiet so that Birdie could listen. She was quick to do so as she now listened too.

Fox let out a curse as the horses lunged forward. He rolled out of the way and whistled for Cavalier. The coach had to be stopped before it reached the second fork in the road. Catching the saddle, he jumped up onto the back of the horse and set after the coach. Fox hadn't killed anyone yet, and didn't plan on it. Cavalier had the advantage to of not being slowed down by a coach and soon was catching up. A deep breath taken, and Fox was jumping for the back of the coach and climbing up. A bump nearly sent him flying off, and he shook his head, suddenly thinking of .. a book. Climbing on top, the gun was drawn again and he made his way toward the front.

There was a gamble taken when one charged stallions over a not well known road and at night. That bump came with a crack of wood in the wheel that was pulled over it, causing the coach to first lunge precariously to one side then leveled again. Ronald was very good in handling horses along with being very alert to certain sounds. He did not know of the man that was now atop the coach when he reined in the horses to a dead stop. He felt bad for his two passengers but the situation warranted a few bruises. The stallions still shifted against the reins rocking the coach some as Ronald leaped down from the buckboard seat. Cape was shoved aside as his sword was drawn. Meanwhile inside Birdie was doing his best in being a buffer for Lisette in taking the brunt of being tossed around. Once the carriage stopped he gave her orders to stay within being it had not fallen to its side. The door flung open as he vacated the coach all in his finery of a yellow gold cape. Black pants and a bright red vest over a ruffled shirt beneath, Birdie almost looked like the sun rising at night. His dagger was hidden under the ruffle of his shirt sleeve as he approached Ronald to scan the area before seeing to the damage of the wheel.

She muffled the gasps and near screams as best she could with being thrown about. Thrown about with Birdie, no less. She could feel an elbow go into his side and her head whack into his shoulder. Finally it all ended as he vacated the coach and a deep breath taken. Her hands were shaking from the ordeal as the moment became surreal. She had a dagger on her somewhere, purse, muff.? She started to search as she heard Birdie's command to stay within the coach.

Now wasn't that a pretty peacock. Fox watched them a moment before jumping down behind the brightly clad man and the coachman. Birdie would feel the touch of cold metal to his temple. "Easy, gents." The brogue was heavy as Fox spoke. "I would suggest any weapons be tossed nicely on the ground." Green eyes raised to the coachman. "Or his brains be sent everywhere, and we'll ruin his fine clothes." He knew there was a lass in there after hearing the shriek but he'd call her out after he had the men under control.


Date: 11-20-04
Poster: Lisette McTiel
Post # 7

Brow lifted in surprise but Birdie was undaunted by the action. He quickly went into his ruse with an insufferable edged to the tone. "Now if you're wanting my snuff its in the right pocket of my vest old chap. I must say I love your accent, so very manly sounding. I was wondering if you might teach me how." Birdie had taken voice lessons and the deeper brogue was rich enough to learn. More, it was to throw the man off than anything else giving him the hint he was very close to a man that might well like men. Would a hand slip to grab his crotch? Such thoughts might well enter the man's mind.

Lisette abandoned her search as she peeked out through the curtain hearing first silence then the command. She saw Ronald toss down his sword as well as Birdie being accosted. She let go of the curtain near as quick as if her fingers were burnt. Birdie's words flying through her mind as she quickly went back in search of her dagger. She could escape out the other side of the coach and take the man by surprise. She finally found it tucked in a concealed section of the new purse that was made to match the outfit she was talked into wearing. Birdie had this idea of fashion, one drawback doing business with him. He always insisted she dressed up.

Fox frowned beneath the mask and grabbed hold of the back of Birdie's neck. He was slammed into the coach and held there by a strong arm. "I'm not in the mood for games. Now, all I want is your purse and any valuables you have, and I'll leave you alive." He knew there was a lass in there from the scream earlier but after the experience he had a few weeks earlier, he didn't call her out. His mistake.

"We're not so dumb to carry much on us but you can have what is in my right pocket. The coachman has nothing." Not mentioning the woman inside the coach as he would rather leave her out. He could hope the man would be appeased by the small gain, something Birdie could easily win back in a poker hand. "I still like the cologne you are wearing. What's it called?" If he kept talking and in turn distracted he might well just take the purse and leave.

She was careful to ease the door of the coach open that faced the other side. Kid boots were of a stylish cut but she made sure they were well fitted and useful too. They hid under the skirt of the gown worn so she could get away with some infractions. Another was not wearing a corset, that she would not be caught dead in. She also didn't wear the extra petticoats most women wore and luckily it aided her in movement as silent steps took her around and behind the man as he had Birdie against the coach and an eye on the other. The mask man would feel that end of the blade against his side. "You better let the man go right now." Counter attack but it was then she realized that what she thought was a blade was a silver comb with a handle. Well, what would the man know? He couldn't see it.

"Just be quiet." The words were growled though in truth, Fox was amused by the man. He reached in for the pouch, curling fingers around it just as he felt what he thought was a knife against his side. "Now lass, do you think that's a good idea when I've got me finger on the trigger?" Suddenly it seemed that letting the coach go would have been a good idea, but it was too late to back down now. He turned to look at the woman, full on with those green eyes, perhaps a start of recognition there that was quickly gone. "So, you might get a good stab in on me, but your boyfriend would be dead."

Birdie stiffened more for the fact Lisette got out the coach and worse, was trying to take the man on. He growled for the first time under his breath and in a way it was not the pompous fop. Of course Ronald was on the move as soon as the man was distracted to Lis. His sword grabbed up as now he approached to point the end into the man's side as he spoke up. "You might kill one of us but you will be dead in turn. Throwing down your weapon would be the smartest thing and be left alive unless you don't value your own life."

She was about to say something that the man meant nothing to her. "He is just a hired.." Words halted with Ronald's approach as she backed off leaving him to take over. She had seen the green eyes that close up and it drew the delicate furrow of her brows. She remembered eyes like them before but wasn't quite sure. "I think your game is up." Slipping what she had realized was only a comb back into the pocket of her cloak.

The purse was in his hand, the lass had backed up and he had a sword in his side. Fox just grinned and let out a whistle. "Now what say you to that, Mr. Fancypants? Do you want to be the one dead?" The words were no sooner out of his mouth when Cavalier galloped out of the forest, bowling Ronald over. In a quick motion, Fox had the peacock twirling and sent him toward the woman. He was in the saddle with a single leap, in spite of the neat slice of tunic and cloak. The hat was off and over his heart as he bowed to Lisette. "My lady. Another time I'll relieve you of your jewels." And with that, he was turning the horse down the road and back the way they had come.

Birdie's reply to the remark was to grab the man's crotch. He almost had that hold which would have been like a vice clamp sending him to double over had it not been for the unexpected rush of a horse and the man turning away. Ronald was sent side stepping as his sword followed, slicing as it went but how much would be unknown to them. Birdie ended up stumbling towards Lisette as he turned a heel to not knock her over but an arm would slide around her to stop both their momentum. He could hope she had good balance. The man got away before any of them could go after him. "Best let him go." Ronald spoke up as he sheathed his sword. "There is a wheel to be mended so we can get the Lady to her destination." Birdie agreed as he would stand guard in case the lunatic decided to come back for more.

Hands went out as Birdie came flying her way then around into a twirl as his arm slid around her instead. This was not her idea of dancing but as all settled she went thoughtful as Ronald fixed the wheel and she stood near Birdie while he stood guard. Those green eyes were imprinted on her mind.

He rode far enough down the road that he was out of sight before moving into the wood again. Dismounting, the Fox checked his side with a hiss of breath. "Extra oats for you, my lad." He patted Cavalier then moved down to make sure the trio were not in any real danger. A grin appeared before he slid back and away. The purse was small, but added to his earlier collections and it would buy warm clothes for a particular family.


Date: 12-01-04
Poster: Burgeous Northam
Post # 8

To catch a Thief

Lisette had been dropped off at the
Thistle while Birdie and Ronald saw to her things being brought into the cottage acquired for her. Much later that night she arrived just as they finished up and soon sat to talk over a cup of tea. Lisette was still upset and even more so when Ronald took his leave
to find accommodation, Birdie sat and listened as she confided in him of her suspicions. She told him how in that brief moment she saw the eyes of the bandit, a certain green, how when talking to a certain lord, there were the same green eyes. Eyes that were imprinted on her mind and would be the cause of restless nights in nightmares to follow. Birdie assured her he would be looking into this matter for there was the matter of a purse taken and more the principle than what it contained. He tried to console her the best he could but it was reasonable she was upset. Her cottage was not far from the Thistle if she needed him as he finally took his leave to procure a room before having to wake Alex to gain one.

After a day of rest and some shopping to purchase some items for this impromptu stay, a plan was put in action
when Birdie was back to his room that evening. The cloak of bright yellow was slid from broad shoulders to rest over the back of the chair at the desk provided in the room. The bright red silken vest and ruffled shirt, polished shoes, all joined the cape as in turn the deep purple silken pants. All were neatly laid out to not cause a wrinkle or crease. The powdered wig was set to the dresser as he stood there half naked in front of the mirror to run fingers through dark brown hair in ruffling it back out. Sly grin emerged aimed at his reflection. "You still know how to fool them, Burgeous." With that he opened up the dresser drawer and soon was attired in all black. No more wigs, no more pompous fop in a bye bye Birdie. The cloak donned was of the same before his room was vacated, weapons hidden beneath. He got a few double takes from some of the guards in passing wondering who it was. The face looked familiar, as his hood was down, but nothing else including mannerisms.

He had purchased a black, fast, stallion and it was to be readied by the time he reached the stables. One that had no markings of white that could be made out even in the dark of night.
There was a certain lord of the lands he was going to shadow as he headed out to the manor home where he lived. Burgeous stayed a good distance away to keep watch before heading North to the very woods around the area of the attack. He would set himself up here, a makeshift camouflaged outpost to keep track of anyone that came along the road that led through this forest or anyone that used the forest. His skill at tracking had long ago been honed along with the pompous arse disguise that served him well. Burgeous watched from his hidden place for patience was a virtue and the end results usually productive in gaining his cause.


Date: 12-05-04
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 9

Turmoil and Secrets
Patrick and Robert Frasier, Gelace MacNeils

Over the past few weeks Patrick was beginning to feel changes coming more in a turmoil within that only seemed to be building. There were many things that could cause it, individually some might say or as a whole, he wasn't at first
sure. His teasing and outspoken words only seem to become more and more aggressively suggestive when within the group gathered in the Thistle. A lot of it was to see shocked expressions or the giggling of the women trying not to respond for outlandish things said by him. The more he did it the more the struggle came within. He was entering a vicious cycle. There were secrets too that were kept he could wonder if they were the end result but as he slowly waded through the cloistering webs of his tormented mind, he knew it was a combination of things coupled with a temper that use to flare kept subdued too. This night was another he ended up vacating the Thistle's crowd for flaring emotions to seek the cold in a long walk, one that brought him down to the port. His hope was more than just the cooling down of the tempest but to understand the whys of the way he'd been feeling and do something to cure it. He had taken the bottle of potcheen with him and feeling no pain nor cold for that matter. He was walking the length of the pier not noticing much at all nor of the ladies about soliciting comments his way.

Rob was following not too far behind, though at first he couldn't find his brother. Didn't take long before he stepped up beside him. "Nice night for freezing."

"I'll not feel it." Words sounded calm considering the turmoil beneath as he offered his brother the bottle of pot
cheen, less than half left. He knew it would be good to talk to someone so who better? "Ever feel like your life is going nowhere although you do plenty..." Meaning the race tracks and such. "..and not quite sure what it is but you feel a new direction is needed?" That caught between the crossroads syndrome.

"Constantly, Patrick." He took the bottle and after a long drink, handed it back. "Felt for a while like I was never going to do anything good." He looked at him with serious eyes. "Still wonder about that at times."

"I tease in a way it is far too much and I know it
's because I cover up the serious side of me. I think it wants out." Slight frown as he continued that easy pace along the boardwalk. "I once felt the first pangs of love, or what I thought was love and would have married the woman had she not just up and left. It only got so far but I know now she was not the right one for me. The problem is I got into this habit." Then added an example. "This is the second time I teased Lizzie that felt more like a slap. The calling over was only to give a peck to her cheek. It seems that the other side of me is trying to be right alongside with the cover-up and its not working out well."

"I've noticed the teasing seems forced at times, as if you're doing what's expected of you." He walked beside Patrick, matching his stride easily enough. "Do you know what you want from life, Patrick? Or is that what this is about, trying to decide a course." He had chosen a road of his own that was becoming hazardous.

"No. Not at the moment..." He paused a step with a slanted glance given the shadows of an alleyway they passed then another woman they passed a short distance from there. This one didn't seem to be from the docks or at least one he'd not seen here before. "Evening." Came mumbled before that glance shifted from her to his brother as they continued that steady pace, or more, pacing. "I have the race tracks and first I felt it might just be I would have a lot of time on my hands when they closed down for the worse of the winter. I no longer think it is just that. I think it is because I have been trying to fool myself with the ruse." He could act very well at times for any situation it called for. Maybe
the woman was from the docks as the tone of her voice would imply, sultry kind, as she greeted them back. Steps halted as lowered words were shared with his brother. "Someone you know?" See, habit, they came out in that kind of tease but also too he really wondered if maybe he knew her. There was more to say but it would wait.

"Evening, lass." He nodded at the woman, then frowned slightly. "So, you think it's that you're looking for that one special one?" He wasn't quite sure what Patrick wanted. The woman's words received a nod then he chuckled and shook his head. "No, I thought perhaps you did." Dark greens went to the woman in a study.

"I admit the thought passed my
mind but I discredit them too as not being the real answer. I need to find me again first. Maybe it wont be so bad." He had that temper too which needed to be controlled at times as fingers dashed through his hair only to dishevel it. The words of the woman had him giving a double take over her. So much for their confidential conversation which was put on pause or even ended at this point. The snow swirled with the gusting winds picked up flowing in off the ocean. Waves seemed to crest higher and more as it drew Patrick's gaze skywards. Ominous dark clouds were gathering, thickened against the pitch of night. Some of the ships came alive as crews saw to tying things down in preparation of the storm. The wind bit but there were many taverns open along the walk that would offer warmth if one should seek them. "We better head back." With Robert having already complained on the cold, he would more now.

"I agree." He stood from his lean, an eye to the sky. The wind brought an increasing drop in temperature. Those ships would have ice on their decks soon.

Gelace was easy to pick out most of the time, due to the fact she was as pale as a ghost and wore equally striking white colors. It was best if no one wondered how she knew where the Frasier brothers had gone. She had her own ways. Shivering along the walk yet trying to walk briskly and not show that the weather had finally struck her, the only reason the Swan came was she afraid the brothers were gone and she would not get a chance to talk to Patrick for several days. Blonde hair was swiftly coming out of the braid with the winds picking up, although she remained calm, if slowly hesitating the closer she came to them.

Gelace of all ones he knew
should not be down here this late at night. Dark brow had lifted as well the tobacco using male got a dip of his head in a silent greeting. "What are you doing down here Gelace?"

"Looking for you." The Alterian was remarkably innocent, as they no doubt had picked up on, and seemed quite careless about walking around alone at night, especially standing out as much as she did. Still attempting to hide her shiver, blue eyes darted to Robert and then back to Patrick. " I came to look for you. I have a question t ... to ask you. In private."

A nod given to the one humming before he looked toward the Alterian, a frown of concern furrowing his brow. He nodded his head slightly to the other two there, then turned to look at Gelace. She had a question for Patrick? "In a warmer place, Gelace."

"We were just heading back up to the Thistle. What is of that kind of importance to bring you down here
?" He was already starting up his walk. A glance to his brother to follow but at a pace. "You can ask as we head back up." Arm went around her to keep her warm and perhaps make it easier for him to match her pace.

She had been trying to see him privately for about a week whenever seeing him in the Thistle, but Robert was always there, and she was too shy and loathe to pull him away from conversations. The reserved Swan rarely liked physical contact but appreciated the gesture for what it was, slight of build and surely not made for this sort of weather. She looked remarkably fragile at the moment, darting a look to Robert. Deception was not in her race, so she was terrible at it! "I did not think you were coming back, so I came to find you. I ... may have misjudged ... the weather."

"Winter storms will happen.." Need he say more. "I would suggest you get on with your question before I freeze my..." Near completing that sentence he managed to halt certain words. "..fingers."

"I think you have, Gelace." He smiled at her. "Speak to Patrick. I'll stay back and not listen in." He fell back several paces so they could talk.

Robert was given a wordless smile of appreciation, although it faltered a bit as she shivered still, and trusted that he would do as he said. Leaning against Patrick, she spoke to him softly. "Robert has been kind and agreed to pose for my painting. We have not had the chance to do so, but it means much to me that he agreed at all. I wish to show my appreciation in the form of a gift. If I asked him what would please him, I fear he would tell me not to bother. So I am asking you. I know nothing of appropriate gifts." She had already attempted to secure others for the Kin, in an attempt to join the custom of holiday, and it was on her mind.

That was an easy one. And something a male would think on as practical. "Robert does a lot of riding so a good pair of leather gloves would be a very good gift. You can add a scarf too but I would warn you not to buy too much or too expensive. It makes a man very uncomfortable when the gift is a token in appreciation." He could just see her now showering him with gifts until he hibernated with the bears.

"I do not understand what you mean, but you know better than I. Lizzie thought you would know better, thank you." Robert should expect a similar inquiry in some time about Patrick, although with a less cold Gelace, who was just now wondering why in the world there had to be winter at all. Sniff! "I am s ... sorry if I interrupted your night." Her teeth were doing the strangest thing by clenching. It was quite annoying and she pressed closer, glad that they were headed to the Thistle. Now she would actually need a tea to warm her up before she became a Swan popsicle!

He was whistling in spite of the cold, hands tucked into his pockets. A snowstorm so early could mean a long winter. The Alterians and Egyptians would be glad when spring came!

A nod given the man in passing
for his suggestion as he had spread his cloak around Gelace to cocoon her in against him where it was warm. "Thank you laddie." Giving him a salute as now he ushered her quicker towards the Thistle.


Date: 12-05-04
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 10

The front door all but flew open as two huddled together were blown in, wind and snowflakes with them. Door wasn't shut off as there were more to pile in behind them. At least Robert.

He was in as quickly as the first two, closing the door behind them. He brushed himself off and shook his head. "Hello again, ladies."

Patrick's cloak had certainly helped keep most of the cold from her on the way back, but the chill had still managed to get into her bones, so the Swan shivered against Patrick still. The warmth of the Tavern was greeted with relief, pale face flushed with the wind from outdoors. Golden locks had been torn free of the braid, which had been loose, and now were tangled down her back." T ... thank you for your cloak, Patrick. And advice. "

"Something hot for Gelace." He hung up his cloak and glanced around. Good. Lisette was gone. The woman set his teeth on edge with her wariness.

He saw Gelace to the hearth before his cloak was dawn away and taken off to lay over the back of a chair. Patrick had drawn quiet as per his conversation with Robert and that which he touched upon troubling him. Sure there was a lot more details but they didn't matter for the whole. At least that was his thinking presently. He retrieved his glass as he still had pot
cheen left in the bottle he took with him and filled it up before setting it off to the mantle. Carefully. He grumbled on all the festive decorations and far too much mistletoe.

He looked at Patrick, a look exchanged. There was still more to talk about and he intended to finish the conversation. He watched Patrick move away then followed, curious what Kimber was up to. "Evening, lass." He greeted the woman who entered before taking a lean near Patrick. He winked at Gelace to show her all was well.

So the night continued on as Neale joined them and ended up leaving for the back office
to talk with Lizzie. Next Gelace took Robert to the back corridor which was becoming more crowded than the tavern. Others came in and out while Patrick slipped into his own thoughts. Little was said by him and he managed the rest of the night without a single word of teasing. Eventually Robert and Gelace emerged back into the room from their talk.

He was chuckling as he rejoined his brother, taking a lean beside him and crossing his arms over his chest. Patrick got a nudge and he leaned to murmur something about the woman they came across at the docks.

The nudge brought him around but the question had him blink at his brother. Surely he was not that naive! "To get in your pants or more accurately get them off." Low enough between them but stated as fact not a tease.

"I thought she was more interested in you." He said that as a fact as well, and quite seriously and no, it wasn't about Gelace.

"I doubt that but either way she seemed that type." Obviously said without any interest whatsoever.

"We need to talk further, Patrick." More for something he had to say than trying to get Patrick to talk more.

"Well, the corridor is popular tonight. Secrets to share and all that." Lifting his mug in that direction before it was up for a long drink. He was going to need enough in him to get him back to Falkirk this night.

"All right." He pushed off his lean and started that way, pausing to see if there was any shouting coming from back there. Maybe he and Patrick should check.

Let's hope it is shouting instead of other noises. He braved the hall with his brother down far enough where he took up a lean against the wall. Arms folding over his chest.

He joined Patrick, glancing once down the corridor then spoke quietly and quickly.

He too took glance down the hall were the light from the room filtered in so far.

"You know how I said about making a difference when we were on the docks?" He looked at Patrick after glancing down the hall.

"I don't think we got that far, refresh my mind." Not admitting it wasn't working all that well at the moment.

"You said you thought you were at a crossroads, asked me if I've ever come to that?" He paused, frowning. "Patrick, what are you looking for?" Off what he wanted to say but he needed to know.

He shook his head. "I don't know. I just know I have a turmoil going on and starting to react to things not like I had been. Maybe its something normal and will pass?"

"What sort of turmoil?" He ran a hand over his hair, restlessly. "I'm sure it will. We all go through types. I wanted to make a difference in what I saw happening up north. It bothered me greatly."

"Emotions of all types." Only way to explain it as it was a bunch mingled in there and not really one. "What exactly is happening up north?" Keen eyes were on him as the whole family had secrets anymore it seemed. Except a few.

Maybe just Shiloh and Hannah? "It's not like here where the poor are helped out in ways that give them dignity. They're oppressed." He looked away a moment. "Overtaxed. I ... you remember Lisette being robbed?" Here came the part that would earn him a pounding. "And Neale."

"There are funds here to help the poor that could be used there or a charity ran. We could put you in a kissing booth.." The tease started and ended with a frown. "Yes. I know about them. Ellyn and Lisette scared to death now although different with a child than a grown woman."

"Things have a way of disappearing if done that way. I know. I've donated money for it and watched it go into the pockets of the officials there." He took a deep breath and looked at him. "The nobles don't care. And that robber would never have harmed either Lisette or Ellyn."

"Well, we could see it got to them ourselves. Right in their pockets without the nobles there knowing." It would be dangerous undercover work. Once more he paused. "The thing is, what happened to them was like a rape. Something taken even if it was only peace of mind and now knowing one out there can do that to them. They would not know if he would harm them or not and it seems they felt he would."

"Patrick, it was me." He waited for the explosion of that temper as he looked up. "I would never have attacked either if I had known." Attacked? Wrong word. "Robbed."

those in the main part of the tavern would hear Patrick's voice raise but the words not clear. "What? You got yourself in a pile of shit on this. You did this on your own, does Neale know??" If Neale knew, wait, he could not know for Ellyn was in there. "Damn it Robert, you're going to have to tell them. Tell Neale. Going to have to bite the bit on this one." He gave a shove at Robert's shoulder with a fist, hard, as he lifted from his lean. His problems just flew out the door as insignificant.

There was a thud and Rob's voice raised in answer, but the words not clear for those in the tavern room would hear from the hall. "How am I going to tell him?!" His shoulder thunked against the wall. "Neale, I'm going to take another trip up north. By the way, that was me that robbed your coach. Sorry. Didn't mean to scare Ellyn." He shook his head. "I never expected anyone from here to be there. And the good I've done ... " He sighed. "Is outweighed by my stupidity."

"Exactly that and hope you don't have a glass jaw. At least after he hits you he can help get you out of this mess. It will be more stupidity not to tell Neale. Too much rides on all of this as it has spread here. He needs to know. Let me ask you this -- which would be worse? You confessing up and telling him outright, up front or him finding out because you were killed or hauled off somewhere, beaten up, got another
kingdom to have just cause to war on the lands here?" The implications were limitless as he only touched on a few.

"All right, all right." He put up his hand. "You're right. It's gotten out of hand and with Lisette looking at me like I'm going to jump her every time she comes in here.. " He looked grim. "I'll tell Neale."

"Good." He well understood the turmoil even if his was not of the same kind. He was caught between punching him out and hugging him. Lucky for Robert he chose the latter in more a support kind before he let him go. "Soon as you can. Think it out but don't wait more than two days."

"I won't, Patrick. I honestly meant well by it." He hugged in return then smiled slightly. "I thought being the oldest meant I gave advice to you not you giving it to me."

The two of them finally emerged, the worse of it was Robert might have a sore shoulder a day or so. It had been one hell of a night and he considered just going to bed to end it. But, he would have that one glass of pot
cheen and that's where he headed to confiscate one of the two being set out.

Rob's usual grin was gone but he did smile at Sarah and Kimber as he joined Patrick at the bar. Potcheen accepted and he drank nearly all of it at once.

He drained his too. High octane that would keep his blood warm for the ride back to Falkirk. Now it was imperative they did for Neale seemed to have. Within minutes the two brothers headed out into the storm after bidding the others still there a good night.


Date: 12-06-04
Poster: Burgeous Northam
Post # 11

To Catch a Thief II
Robert Frasier and Burgous Northam

Rob had stayed away from the North for a few weeks, dealing with problems at home and also work. A note from his apprentice, Tomas, changed that. One of the families he aided was in need of his help. He stayed undisguised after leaving the manor, riding Cavalier northward to a certain inn. It was there he changed into the guise of Shadow Fox to continue his journey.

Birdie had not given up his vigil of watching Falkirk or traveling North. Although, the few weeks in passing had proven no gain as the one Lisette suspected seemed only to stay in these lands. Still, there was no sign of the highwayman either in this time period. Patience was a virtue and usually paid off as this time the man was watched and
found heading in a different direction. North. One would not see that wry smile as he watched from the cover of a nearby forest. The black stallion was set in motion with a nudge of his heels as he kept that greater distance to be neither seen nor heard. When the man stopped at an inn, he remained under the cover of woods nearby and waited.

It was near dusk when he stopped. The sky darkened and grew black before he emerged again in his guise of Shadow Fox. It was from a window that he climbed down, and whistled for Cavalier. The black stood below the window until Rob jumped down. He urged the horse into a run again, heading for the wood where he had stopped the coach carrying Birdie and Lisette.

He recognized the horse and when it moved so did he in that shadowed distance. A hand running down the neck of
his black stallion in silence and guide as he watched. Once he caught sight of the one coming down from the window and connection, he knew for certain who the Shadow Fox was. Pity it had to be one of the lords from the lands but so be it. He would see to justice served. He would not kill the man, even if deserving the fate of a highwayman, but he would set out to capture him instead and turn him over to the authorities of the lands he thieved on. Let them decide. The stallion was nudged forward into a gallop but he took an alternate, parallel, route that would bring him above where this man usually worked from. Once there he guided the steed through the forest, now in a layering of snow, to intercept.

When Rob came to the fork in the road, he paused. A lad from one the villages waited to speak to him. He leaned slightly, nodding when they were through. His ride was slowed from a dead run. It wouldn't do to run into a patrol or pass up a coach in this guise. A turn off the road unto the path normally used had him hidden by the thick pines. He had left a note for Patrick telling him he'd return as soon as he could but it looked as if he'd be gone at least overnight.

He watched the man meet with the lad and waited still biding his time. Precise timing was what it was all about and when the fox turned off to that hidden path, one
he already knew of, this was where he'd make his move. He knew the path well for he'd follow it before and knew where the pines parted enough to charge through. A lasso strapped to the side of his saddle was loosened and readied. Once Robert got to that certain distance the lasso was up in the air circling as a sharp nudge of his heels sent the stallion lunging forward into a gallop. The lasso was one of his expertise when younger, the skill kept through practice. Through the air it flew as he barged from the brush to hook around Robert's torso, pinning his arms in the process. A good yank as his horse passed would unseat the man.

He hadn't expected an ambush on his own 'turf'. As he felt the lasso tighten, eyes grew wide, but there wasn't even time for a yell. The ground came up quickly and he landed hard, air expelled from his lungs with a whoosh. Eyes closed tight briefly before snapping open, trying to get his bearings. Cavalier stopped as soon as Rob was unseated, turning to paw the ground.

Birdie dismounted near as quickly as Robert hit the ground
while his own stallion came between the two and Cavalier. He had made sure to bond with his horse in the near month passing he had him, making sure he got a well trained horse to start with. Made the process easier for it would be needed. Hood and mask covered Bridie's identity as well the attire and demeanor. Robert would find a blade at his throat. "Now your thieving days are over." Voice in a low growl was certainly not of the fop before that blade that would still him was turned in a flip so the hilt came at an angle against his temple. Enough to stun him for a few minutes and the rope loosened to tie around his hands and torso and haul him up to stand as he regained clarity.

He shook his head in an attempt to clear, hands making to pull at the rope when he felt the blade against his throat. Greens turned to the man there, narrowing as he tried to recognized the voice. He felt the hit, saw stars as he was stunned by the blow. The only thing he felt was regret for not telling Neale before this. Feeling the ground under his feet again, he straightened and tried to jerk free. A desperate action, likely to fail, but if he could pull the man off balance, he might be able to get onto Cavalier again.

Birdie was strong as another threat was growled as the hold tightened. "I got a bow latched to my saddle and if you favor your horse you'll cease." The horse would be as much trouble as another thought came to mind as the original play was to haul the man behind him walking with his hands tied. He might not come upon a patrol and in this weather he would be slipping. That's when a split second decision was made and the hilt of his sword hit the side of his head at an angle now to knock him unconscious. A certain whistle had his stallion going down as he guided Rob's body over his flanks and secured him there. He worked as quickly as possible before the stallion was back up and he mounting up. One last look at the other horse, there was an appreciation there for his training and probably would follow them. Reins were wound through gloved fingers before the nudge of heels had him turning around and heading back out to the main road.

Cavalier would follow definitely, keeping a short distance back as he did. Tomas would be setting out to search for Rob soon, but would have no luck at all!

Unfortunate for him there were no highway patrols to come across at this point of dusk and so he headed into
Haclymas Keep to deliver the wanted man personally. In his travels here he had scouted out the place and knew exactly where to go. The head guard's office reached as he sent in a lad to fetch the man. He was rewarded with a purse more than Robert had taken from him although Birdie never gave his identity and it didn't matter to them. They hauled off the unconscious man to their prison as Birdie mounted up and headed home. What goes around comes around and for him all was paid back. Score even but he knew the family was well respected and so he had a note delivered to Falkirk to let them know where their wayward brother was -- in the hands of the authorities of Haclymas Keep. Held for thieving, highwayman. It was not signed.


Date: 12-07-04
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 12


Drip. Drip. Drip. Rob groaned as he heard the sound, keeping his eyes closed tight.  Likely he and Patrick had spent the night drinking and he had ended up on the floor of his bedroom.  It would explain his aching head but he was cold.  No, not cold, near freezing and his head didn't hurt from a hangover.  He wasn't laying on the floor of his bedroom either but on a hard stone floor.  A fight maybe.

While he tried to think coherently, other sounds began to penetrate the fog of his mind, along with narrowing of where the pain was located.  Groans, metal against metal, a door thudding closed, footsteps, voices.  Then the smells followed, dank, acidic, metallic.  Arrested.  They got arrested for fighting.  "Patrick?"  His voice sounded loud so he knew the room he was in was small.  Wincing, Rob brought his hand up to his head and touched where a bruise had to be forming. Not a fight at the docks. He had been riding on Cavalier when someone had lassoed him and unsaddled him.  That explained the aching.  Bruised but nothing broken. Rob finally forced his eyes open.  He was staring at the bottom of a thick, wood door, a small gap between it and the stone floor.

He groaned and pushed himself upward to hands and knees.  His hair hung down in his face, touching skin where his mask had been.  His cloak, gloves and weapons were gone as well.  Rob was surprised he still had on the heavy wool shirt but was grateful for small favors.  Sitting back on his heels, he studied the room he was in.  A bed with a straw filled mattress, a chair and small table, glass on the small and high barred window.  He hadn't been put into the large room with the debtors, the petty thieves and pickpockets. Not a good sign.  Pushing to his feet, Rob staggered over to the window.  He was tall enough to look out.  Still below street level.  They were taking no chances that he'd escape.  The door swung open and Rob looked over his shoulder.  The jailer smiled, showing missing teeth.  It was not a friendly smile by any means.

"Com' on.  Th' constable, he go' questions for ye and he ain't go' all day."  He motioned with the large club he carried. Rob squared his shoulders and walked out.  The man standing there was one he recognized from his work as a surveyor.  "Well, now, Mr. Frasier W'ot a surprise."

"Yes, well, obviously there's been a mistake.  I was attacked by a man wearing a mask. Why am I here?"  Rob didn't like the smile that suddenly appeared on the constable's face. 

"I'm sure we can sort it out.  Why don' we discuss it? In there?" The constable pointed to a room where the door stood open. Thomas turned on a booted heel and walked for the door with a sinking feeling in his stomach.  He knew all they wanted was a confession, and they'd get it by any means they could.


Date: 12-09-04
Poster: Neale Frasier
Post # 13

Highwayman Revealed
Neale and Patrick Frasier

Neale watched as Garrett made his way out, then returned his gaze to the letter in his hand. Something pressing on her mind. Sophia LaRouche. Was the woman her friend that visited here? Lizzie visited at the Thistle. That...was a good possibility. It was the last line, however, where his gaze lingered, narrowed ... until he heard voices in the hall. A hurried greeting by Patrick to Garrett, a reply by the man ... and then the appearance of his brother in the study. That letter from Lizzie found a place on the desk again. "What?" Patrick's expression alone was enough to have Neale coming around from his desk to meet his sibling half-way.

There is saying that when it rains it pours. It was pouring at Falkirk and it wasn't cats and dogs but certain Frasier men. Amazingly, if not shocking, Patrick was not one of the ones in trouble. Yet. The explosion of a temper could be only one as
explicits filled the halls having any of the staff vacate them fast as Patrick made his way in a charge to Neale's office. Those explicits only faded when he passed Garrett in greeting. Took all his willpower before stalking into the office. The temper so bad he only slapped down the missive on Neale's desk before heading to the hearth and wielding the poker as one would a lance to spear one of the logs, lifting and shoving it back as it crackled and sparked. He couldn't talk just yet and it would give Neale time to read the Note.

Neale turned to watch Patrick storm by him, right to his desk, where another letter was slammed on the wood. Considering Patrick's need for some composure time, Neale returned to his desk to find out what had his brother in such a fit of temper. The backs of his legs braced against the edge of his desk and he ... read. Dark brows pulled tight toward the bridge of his nose. What was this? The page was flipped to check for a seal, or some sort of credence to the authenticity of such a claim. Robert was in prison? "Where did this come from, Patrick?"

He stabbed another log but this time the poker got stuck in it and so he flipped it aside as it came down with a clang against stone while the spear end remained in the log. Patrick knew what small prisons like that did for justice. Innocent men died before they ever got a trial. Hung themselves or worse. Suspicious deaths.
He turned back as he started for Neale's desk. "Robert talked to me last night. Told me all about what he was doing up North. Corrupt monarchy that stole from the poor and any monies given from us would only end up in their pockets. So.." Taking a breath before continuing. "He became the bandit to steal from them and give back to the poor. He was the one that stopped you and Lisette. His answer, although with good intent, was not the right answer. Ellyn has nightmares and from what I've seen Lisette is extremely upset." Probably a mild analysis. "I gave my opinion in other ways it could have been done but because it spread here on innocents, to tell you all he got himself into. He agreed and was going to do that as soon as he caught up with you but it seems he traveled North again for whatever reason." Patrick would not assume the reason being exactly the same to continue robbing. Now Neale would understand his anger.

While Patrick filled him in, Neale passed his hand up his face with special attention pressed just between his eyes. His hand lowered and he pushed up from where he sat at the edge of his desk. "This is my fault. I had a suspicion that Robert was flirting with disaster." Neale thought that the talk they had shared and having Robert deal with Ellyn's night terrors would set the man straight. Too late for second guessing. "Where did you say you got this?" Had he said where? Neale paced from the desk to the chair, then back again, turning the paper back and forth as if he hoped he had missed something, anything, that would prove who this was from.

"Rob is to blame for doing all this, I'm to blame for knowing and not just coming straight to you instead of letting him tell you up front himself. You're to blame because you suspected..." Words growled beneath his breath. "None of it matters in comparison to the fact our brother is in a dire situation and those kinds of prisons may have him dead before even a trial. It puts all other matters as less at the moment, in that they are not life and death. We need to get him out of there." He knew about trips being taken and other things but none of them were in jeopardy of their life. "North, Haclymas Keep." Making sure Neale heard it clearly this time. "We need a plan." Get to the heart of the matter.

Patrick was good for getting to the heart of the matter, the man was all heart. At times, though, the head had to be utilized as well as the heart. Neale huffed out a laugh as Patrick ranted in order to set Neale straight. "We do need to get him out of there, Patrick. But, the damn man is guilty. We have to come up with something better than a plan." Neale paced away again, his head dipped in deep thought as he continued to speak what was coursing through his mind. A cant of head took in those books again and he straightened, chin raised, and he crossed to the books. A light tap of finger touched on the spine of one. One that was just as insignificant as the others to his train of thought. It was the object, not the subject, that had him nodding slowly and he turned to Patrick with a point of finger. "You go to the prison ... they'll let his brother visit." A glance around a shoulder didn't bring the bookshelf into view, but that was what was on Neale's mind. "Find out who he had working with him. He had to have had someone." Although Neale didn't feel like smiling, he did, crossing to Patrick as he slapped a hand to his arm. "If ever it is a blessing the lot of us have inherited the same eyes...I'd say it is now."

"I agree he is. Law is law even if you break it for a good cause. Law doesn't look at good causes but the fact it is set up to keep from chaos. There were other ways to approach this problem he saw as a resolution." Still, he could understand, in a way, choosing the one he did to cut through a lot of red tape. Law procrastinated too on the good side but quickly worked on the bad side. A hand slapped to the wood of the desk as the urge to pace, especially with Neale pacing, had him pick up one, paralleling his brother. Those steps ceased as the finger was pointed. "I'll go up there to see him. Anything else
wanted to be asked in particular or said besides anyone working with him?" His mind was reeling but Neale was head of the family in all due respect even if he was treated as a brother most times.

"No, be careful when you ask, though." Didn't need to lose their contact to the noose as well, that would do them no good at all! "While you're there, I'll send a letter to Haclymas Keep, from Falkirk." Neale knew the get-up of The Shadow Fox. Neale had been on the wrong end of that bandit's weapons once ... once too often. Neale would be well prepared when Patrick returned from his visit to the cells of Haclymas. Together, the brothers Frasier would clear their family name and save their brother's neck.

Just to throw something in for consideration. "I know if it had only been Ellyn we could see to that and have
, but what of the Lady Lisette and her escort?" He couldn't remember the one's name as he gave a quick flick of his wrist in a wave. "The brightly colored foppish one." He would be careful in his questioning and in a round about way, that couldn't be used against him, he would let the guards there know nothing better happen to his brother before the trial. Hopefully there would no need of a trial.

"What about her?" This, in Neale's mind, was something that could be handled once Robert was freed. "Robert can take care of that on his own once he's back, safely, at Falkirk." Even as he spoke, he positioned himself behind his desk, shoving aside all the other letters to place a sheet of blank parchment on the wood. The quill dipped into the ink and greens lifted to settle on Patrick. "You're still here?"

"I agree and just hope she doesn't get word that Robert was the one taken into custody as this bandit, nor starts spreading the word around here." A quick shake of is head as he gave a good gripping clasp to Neale's shoulder. His brother knew how much he loved them all including him -- why he had been such a good thorn in the side -- although that may well have changed now for his own personal things he was going through. "Consider me gone." And he was a fraction of a moment later for he already had them ready a fast stallion to ride before he even got to Neale's office. He had
planned to ride anyway.


Date: 12-11-04
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 14

The Cell
Robert and Patrick Frasier

The stallion was readied
while the stable lad watched Patrick curiously as he rushed out of the manor home. Barely a nod given the lads the reins were passed over and gathered up into a hand while he mounted. Patrick rode off immediately into a gallop. Mush and snow lifted in sprayed clumps behind him as the lad watched the Frasier man take his rushed leave before turning back to his duties. The ride up through forest and trails went without incident bringing him to the main road. He saw few on his way, passing a farmer on his buckboard rambling by on his way and some lads on foot but they dashed off into the woods as he rode by. Dusk was setting in but he'd have an hour before night fell completely by the time he reached the gates of Haclymas Keep. The guards there eyed the stranger warily with hands resting on their hilts of their swords. A passing nod was given them but not returned as he rode into the commons of this kingdom. Patrick found the place summed up in one word -- depressing. Few were out along the streets and most moved into a building or alleyway as he passed. Forms in shadows of others were seen in windows as a hand would press the curtain aside just enough to look out curiously on the stranger. He noticed he didn't hear any children laughing, didn't see any either. Odd. A drizzle had set in with the dimming light by the time he reached the guard house and dismounted. Reins were wound around the hitching post before he was to the door with a good pounding knock. It was opened with a grumble as a disheveled, and tired looking, guard stood just inside to motioned him in.

The guard asked for Patrick's name and who he wanted to see. When he received the information, he just shook his head. Permission had to be given by the Constable himself. While Patrick was left to cool his heels in the reception room, the man disappeared through a door. A few moments later, he returned, motioning for him to follow another guard. They went up a narrow flight of stairs and down a hall, passing by several locked doors before he finally opened one. "Yell when ye're through, but don' make it long." Not even offering a time limit. Inside the cell, lit only by a single candle, Rob laid on the bed, back to the door. He turned slightly to see who was there but didn't sit up right away.

Luckily the ride and certainly the oppression that hung like a veil over this kingdom, tempered Patrick's earlier mood. He was still angry but he was not hot tempered as he paced the reception area
while waiting. Once on the move, as the guard led him upstairs, Patrick made a few comments about how healthy his brother was implying he expected it to stay that way. It was more the contact of eyes that got across his meaning and the intensity behind it receiving a slight nod by the other in return. The guard checked him for weapons as as word and a dagger were taken to be returned once back out. That eye contact held with the guard's words before he was through and into the cell. The click of metal came behind him knowing the door was locked. He stood a moment, a foot or so within, as his eyes adjusted to the dim light. "A room at Cat's beats this one." His welcome so far as the room started to clarify. "Far better." Finally making out his brother on the cot as a few more steps brought him there.

"If I had my choice, I'd certainly be there instead of here." Rob chuckled as he sat up, wincing slightly. The room was cold, the furniture sparse. Rob pressed a hand to his side then gave Patrick a half grin. "But I didn't have any choice in the accommodations." He might have warned the guard, but the Constable seemed to have a grudge for Rob. Face was bruised, one eye swollen. "How did you find out?" He hadn't been allowed to send word to anyone. The Constable would likely have the same question later.

"An unsigned note was sent to the Manor."
Spoken as he gave a quick glance over his shoulder in trying to determine if the guard would listen in on this conversation. Patrick would need to be careful. The bruising was noted, somewhat, it wasn't like there was good enough lighting. "Any whiskered roomies too?" Idle talk to throw the one off as he continued. "Neale knows and they should have a letter from him here soon. Any other.." Pausing as he drew close to ease down to the cot. A game they played as kids to hold a conversation for others listening in. "..relatives.." Crossing his eyes when he spoke the word to show the word meant something else. " want to know you're in here in case they are waiting on you?"

"Tomas. He's living not far from here. Small village." He frowned slightly. "Unsigned note. It must have been the one that attacked me." He quickly told Patrick all that had happened. "They claimed I had a mask on but I didn't when I woke up in here. My attacker did though." Letting him know he didn't know who the one was that caught him. "How's Neale taking this?" *

He took in all the information to commit to memory. He had a good one too for certain things. Of course he would reply loud enough so the man outside the door would hear, IF he was listening in and most likely was to report back. "It was probably the real bandit that turned you over so he could get the reward money himself." That should put a bur up their arse they had been hoodwinked. Patrick grinned at this point with that thought. "Neale is concerned of course and will do all he can to see justice served and the right man caught. Wouldn't want this kingdom to look shabby." Actor he was and the words just flowed but not overly while remaining
in a normal tone. At that point the pounding came on the door, the time was up, probably because the man wanted to report what he heard. Look like they had the wrong man! Patrick was up with a hand to grasp his brother's shoulder saying more than words they were helping him. "Anything else?" The click of metal being heard as the guard started to unlock the door.

"My horse. If you can find out where they have him." Cavalier was well-trained, worth money and he didn't want the horse sold. "Tomas will be extremely worried. You know how these young lads are." Tomas would be able to tell him everything that happened up to where Rob had gotten the message.

find him, bring him back with me tonight and when we return for you, he'll be brought." That way the horse would not be mistreated either and there was a good chance that would happen by the looks of Robert. He'd been worked over, that was obvious and would be reported to Neale but possible not any of the women in the family. "I'll console the lad." Gain information instead but the words were heard not the thoughts. The door swung open at that point as the shard of light coming from the well lit hall blinded him at first. Caused him to squint. "We'll be back." Those words came low as the guard was now grumbling Patrick wasn't moving fast enough, he even took a half step into the room as he thumbed him out. No use getting them riled for they would take it out on Robert. He needed to find Tomas so he could get back. Once out and the cell locked Patrick's sword and dagger were returned as they were placed back in their sheathes. All was done as he headed down the hall, stairs and straight outside, passing the one at a desk without a glance. When out he mounted up and headed for the stables where Cavalier was taken into his custody with a few coins in bribery. Once more his stallion was set into a gallop to the village where Tomas lived, leading Rob's horse with him.

Rob couldn't help himself -- he smirked at the guard, knowing it would end up he'd miss another meal. Not that it mattered much. Food was nearly unpalatable. "I know." His answer to Patrick as his brother left. It wasn't until the door was shut that he sank back onto the cot and let despair wash over him again. They were going to need a miracle to get him out of here.


Date: 12-11-04
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 15

The Assistant
Patrick Frasier and Tomas

Night had fallen but his eyes were already more adjusted to the dark. Neale was not going to like hearing how Rob was being treated. Earned or not for his deeds. Patrick steered his thoughts from his brother to concentrate on finding this Tomas. He found the village easily enough but found at first none trusted him to tell him where the one lived. Finally an older man came up with the solution for Patrick to stay at his place where he came knocking on the door and he went to find Tomas to see if he wanted to talk to this man claiming to be a brother. Patrick stood there, barely inside the
room just within the door, as the rest of the man's family eyed him warily. No words. No greeting. Nothing warm about this place. He eyed them warily in return more for the undercurrents he'd gotten since he rode into this godforsaken place. The furnishings along with the clothing worn were all meager.

Tomas had been told by Rob that if disaster ever happened, his brothers were the ones to go to. He had no idea what had happened to Rob yet and wasn't ready to go snooping out. When the older man came looking for him, the young man questioned him closely. He had seen the Frasier brothers from a distance so he would know if this was truly Patrick. Then there were those eyes. He didn't enter the house at first, just peered through a window. After a moment, he accompanied the older man inside. He was also Rob's apprentice, learning to be a surveyor, so Patrick might recognize him as well.

The lad was somewhat recognized but he had not known his name as Patrick looked him over good. "I need a private conversation with you Tomas on my brother and things up this way." A nod given the other man in thanks who seemed to relax some
being Tomas recognized Patrick.

"I know just
the place." Tomas was soft spoken, thoughtful as he nodded to the older man and his family, then he turned back to Patrick. "You'd want to see it anyway." The young man held open the door for Patrick, waiting for him to step out before following. His expression was grim as he continued speaking, perhaps for anyone who might be around. "You like good whiskey, right?" Dark eyes glanced around, and Tomas forced himself to grin. "Know the best place around. Good place to stay for the night too, sir." He lowered his voice until only Patrick could hear. "It's where he stayed when he was here."

A thanks given the older man for his help before he was out the door with Tomas to follow him. Both his horse and Robert's led as the lad would recognize Cavalier. "I like good whiskey and even better, I like pot
cheen." If that clinched knowing who the man was then a hurrah for the consumption of potcheen stilled in their lands. He was in steady gait alongside with the horses to trail behind a few paces. "I'll not be staying once the conversation is done as I need to get back to the family so we can get him the hell out of that prison. They're working him over."

Tomas nearly stopped dead but kept moving. The Inn wasn't bustling like the Thistle. It was dark too, a place made for shifty glances and conspiracies that never came to fruition. He lifted a hand toward the innkeeper, showing two fingers and then pointing to a door. The keep grabbed a bottle from under the counter and followed, handing it to Tomas before he studied Patrick. Inside, Tomas motioned toward a table. "They have this room set up so no one can approach the windows or the door we just came through. The innkeeper was one Robert helped some time ago." He offered the bottle to Patrick. "You said he's in the prison?"

The two horses were tied up outside to the hitching post
as Patrick eyed this tavern. Nothing like home and still those undercurrents prevailed of doom and depression. It caused a frown to crease as he better understood his brother's heart and hope to help. Impetuous as it was, he could understand more. Hell, he felt like showering money to all and getting back at the ones that persecuted the innocent ones too. Patrick wore a bland expression by the time they were in the tavern. Nothing was missed however even if he put on the droll look of how boring. He glanced to the windows and spot chosen with a shake of his head while taking the bottle. "Someone turned him in and rode off. You know what the penalty will be. He gave me your name to seek you out as you would explain everything." The bottle was set before a chair was swung around and straddled. The back leaning forward to press against the heavy table. Forest green gaze settled intently on Tomas. "Tell me all you can so I can tell our eldest brother. All information has the possibility of helping, even small things."

Tomas paled when Patrick mentioned the penalty and nodded. "It all began maybe two years ago. First time we had a surveying job here. Family was getting kicked off their land for taxes. When Rob tried to give 'em money, they turned him down. Said he was a noble, and no better than the others." He brushed a hand through his hair, making it stick up every which way. "Frustrated your brother and that's when he came up with the Shadow Fox. Said if they wouldn't take it from him, maybe they'd take it from someone who was like Robin Hood. He got that from us talking about how the woods could hide bandits. Next thing I know, he's doing it and I'm helping him. He usually left a card with an embossed fox on it, flirted with the wives of the nobles, stuff to throw 'em off him." Tomas smiled slightly. "He never thought it was a game, Mr. Patrick, but he had to make them think he did." Tomas frowned. "When he accidentally held up Lord Frasier, he was pretty shook up, and then those others." Tomas took a deep breath. He drove Rob crazy sometimes with how much he talked. "There was a family here he helped before. The son was in trouble and I sent him a note telling him that I'd meet him here. I didn't tell anyone else and the messenger was one we used before. I don't know how this could have happened."

Long drinks of the whiskey
were taken as he listened. Time was ticking away but all what Tomas had to say was important. Only a trace of a smile showed on the part of his brother flirting with the women. Wives? Hell, he flirted with danger right there. There was another side to Robert even if this wasn't a game it was in parts. "That I don't know Tomas but it has happened. Someone managed to track him down and it may not even have been one from here. Not only those of these lands travel that main road, obviously." He finished off another drink of the whiskey before setting what remained on the table before he was up from his seat turning the chair around in a twist of his wrist back under. "I'm heading back right now for it will take me near a day's ride. This information will help and if you need us or find out anything else, get to Falkirk Manor on Ballicastle lands." He leaned a touch with lowered words. "Even for your own safety." A hand coming to his shoulder in a grasping grip before released. "We will get him out and hopefully with clearing his name too." Patrick had high hopes in this! The idea however was not ungrounded with the fact the one turning him in was masked even if he knew the truth. It was going to end the Shadow Fox's days once this was over and they find another way to still help the families. Patrick would help his brother accomplish this. "Stay safe." With that he took his leave, mounting up on his stallion and leading Robert's horseback to Falkirk.


Date: 12-15-04
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 16

The Plan
Neale and Patrick Frasier

The hour was late when Neale left the Thistle. The hour was later still when he returned home to Falkirk. And the hours continued to age as he bent over the front hoof of his horse, studying the area as best he could in the dimly lit stable. "I'm telling you, Garrett, he was limping on the return from Heathfield." The leg was eased back to the ground and Neale squatted to smooth his fingers up the length to the knob of knee. "Do you think it happened the evening past?" Garrett pressed his hands to his knees, bending at the waist to watch as Neale inspected the horse's limb. "I can't imagine it did." Neale slanted a look up to his friend, then shook his head feeling all around that bulge of joint. "He did fine until tonight." "Could have done something." Garrett persisted. "And it just didn't kick in until tonight." Neale's right hand man straightened then, his tone of voice and his stance made it clear he believed his own assessment of the condition. Neale stroked up the leg as he stood, and ended that with a pat of muscular shoulder. "He's fine ... and you're wrong." Garrett chuckled, slapping a hand to Neale's shoulder, not much unlike what Neale had just provided to the horse. "Wouldn't be the first time, nor will it be the last."

No sleep in two days or was it working on three? Whichever, it felt like a week. It was only the jerking of the horse in an off step that would have his eyes open. He needed coffee. He needed sleep. The latter would have to wait
because the former was more detrimental in keeping him awake. He needed to talk to Neale as he forced his mind to clear. He had galloped most of the way back from the Thistle but now both rider and horse were as weary as the other and it was turned into a clip clop rhythm to the stables. One of the stables boys bolted out calling "Rider" as Patrick reined in the stallion and dismounted. Sliding, half falling, off his back although his legs didn't give out as they impacted against the harden ground. "Rub him down real good tonight Jesse." Frasier voice would be distinctive to those within.

"Seems Patrick has returned." Garrett spoke the obvious, starting away from Neale to glance out of the stall door. "Patrick!" That bellow of deep voice would wake the man, if not for good, at least for an instant. Neale dipped beneath the neck of his horse and joined Garrett, looking to the brother he wished to speak with. "Garrett, in my dresser, I need the cards." Garrett shot a look to Neale, then nodded, leaving the area and the discussion which may take place in his absence.

It had that boost of adrenaline hit with a jerk of his head towards the stable doors. The reins
were handed over to the lad who led the stallion off while Patrick drew in a few deep breaths of cold air. Showtime. Stride was picked up with a purpose. "Garrett, something amiss?" It was not like Garrett to be out here this late and at the stable. Luckily he couldn't let his usual wild imagination run amuck for it was unconscious presently. Now he was looking between the two as a dark brow rose seeing Neale here also. "I have a lot to be telling you." Looking straight at Neale not that Garrett couldn't know too.

Garrett hooked a thumb toward Neale just as Patrick realized his brother was there. "I'll be right back." A nod to each of them and Garrett trotted off to retrieve and deliver the item requested by Neale. "And I you, Patrick." The only one about at this hour was that one young lad who was tending to Patrick's horse. "Walk with me." Neale clutched his hands behind his back and, with his head bowed, he started down the wide area which made up the center of the stable. "Rob is holding up?" He slanted a look to his brother but would ask no more following. He knew that Patrick would fill him in without any more need to prompt him.

A respectful dip of his head was given Garrett. No words needed for that rapport established between them all. No noses out of joint here. With Neale's suggestion he was in a stride to match his brother's. He even mirrored the hands behind his back. Two peas in a pod this moment. Patrick was not one to mince words, especially with Neale. "He's holding up but he is being worked over good." He didn't need to go into detail. "His moral was up by seeing me and I assured him we will have him out." Patrick had no doubt of that. Sometimes he was single focused. It worked for certain circumstances. "The one that turned him in was masked and never took it off.
Rob woke up without his. I'm sure the guard was listening in as I suggested that the man that turned him in was the real Bandit. I asked him if there were any other relatives to contact. Lad name Tomas who is apprenticed to him was given." He took a breath and a brief break before he'd continue leaving Neale to make any comments on what was being digested so far.

They had put some distance between themselves and the boy so Neale paused, turning to look to Patrick. "Where is this Tomas? Did you find him?"

Steps paused in unison as his hands came from their perch behind
and one up to rub over his face. "He was in a small village not far from there. Place is very depressed, oppressed. I was afraid I would not find him for how protective they were. One finally went and got him telling the lad who I was." His hand falling away with that jerked wave to get passed the nitty gritty explanations. "He took me to a tavern Robert stayed at some of the times. Told me the whole story of how it all got started..." Which Patrick went into, relating it as the lad told him. Who knew what might be gleamed useful and the fact that Tomas was involved and could be in danger too.

Neale listened, watching Patrick closely while he spoke and when he finished, the eldest of the Frasiers began his response with a slow nod. "I'm well aware of the sorry state those people are forced to endure. It is no wonder that Robert felt compelled to act." Neale glanced toward the front of the building, awaiting Garrett's return. "You've set it up that Robert isn't the Fox." And to this, Neale smiled. It seemed Patrick was working on the same brain wave link as Neale. "It seems we are, for once, of the same mind, Brother." Perfect timing, Garrett entered and strode toward the pair of Frasiers, holding out his hand and in his palm, several of The Shadow Fox's cards. "And so..." Neale continued, looking from Garrett back to Patrick. "The Shadow Fox should be making an appearance or two, just to prove that point, would you not agree?" The sooner they could clear Robert's name the better. Neale was concerned not only for his brother's health ... but his sanity. Those prisons were not the best of locations for retaining your wits.

He turned to listening as obviously he used what was presented to its best advantage on the one turning Robert in. Worked out well. He shifted in his stance angling it to the side as Garrett joined them. Tired as he was he was more awake at this moment than he had bee
n in two days. "I agree. I had time to think over some things." Glance from Garrett with the cards to Neale which gave him another that fitted in. Tweaked it more. "I was thinking of riding out masked.." His words then lowered between the them as he laid out the plan for Neale's approval or suggestions. He glanced to the stall where Cavalier was and back as he continued.

"You will find all that you need in your quarters, Patrick." Obviously, Neale had already thought this through. He didn't tell Patrick he had already spent an evening in dark attire, mounted and masked, and reeking havoc on those same lords who demanded their brother be hanged. "Those are, as I'm sure you know, The Shadow Fox's cards. Get some rest, we'll talk more in the morning. Garrett will be delivering a demand for Robert's release in the morning as well as a tidy sum to have the authorities thinking it may be better to be rid of the man ... than keep him. Especially if the Shadow Fox does still seem to be on the loose."

"The Shadow Fox is still on the loose." Grinning as he took the cards. He was going to need to get some sleep this night before he attired himself properly and rode out. The fact that Neale had all prepared had him eyeing him a moment. Wondering. Neale would tell him what he wanted to or not. "Timing." A slow nod or more a tired one again. "I'll need the fastest stallion we have." There were a couple including Neale's and the one he rode would need a couple days already to recuperate.

They could find a fast horse! They had a racetrack full of them! Though, in truth, the family members did manage the fastest steeds outside the tracks. "Take your pick, Patrick. But, for the love of Mary, watch your back. One brother in prison is bad enough."

"Lightning." Mussed to himself. A black stallion in particular too which would go hand in hand with the Shadow Fox. "I need sleep as I'm sure you do." A hand came to clasp Neale's shoulder. "I'm not coming back unless I come back with our brother. I will be back hopefully by tomorrow this time. Have a feast ready, Rob needs a good meal in him." A glance to Garrett as he knew he was backing them up as always.

Garrett was, and he'd also be going to Haclymas the next day to deliver Neale's letter and ... ransom so to speak. "Then rest, Patrick, you'll need all your wits about you." He nodded to send his brother on his way then looked to Garrett. "After breakfast..." And that would suffice for now. Tomorrow would tell the tale.

Patrick took his leave as ideas were gone over to work out precisely. It was going to be dangerous and he knew it. He would sleep well knowing they had a plan.


Date: 12-15-09
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 17

The Rescue
Patrick and Robert Frasier

Patrick slept well, in fact well
into the late morning hours. Exhaustion would do that and was needed. There was the matter of Garrett riding north too and would allow everything to fall into place in the plan set. He was up as the final veils of sleep lifted with the cold splash of water on his face before washing up completely. The possibility existed the meal he would have before leaving Falkirk could be his last. He didn't dwell on it as he attired himself in the Shadow Fox attire. Luckily, all the Frasier men were built about the same. Pants were a little tight but not overly. Maybe they were cut that way to entice the married women of Haclymas? The thought brought a chuckle. The mask was tucked into the cloak pocket before he vacated his room. It would be put on later when North. He ate a good meal before Lightning and Cavalier were brought around and he mounted the black stallion with Cavalier in tow before taking off to Haclymas Keep. Patrick waited for Dusk to fall just outside the Keep and well into the woods there.

The guards were usually lax during this time of day. Their land wasn't at war and there were none who would go against the Keep. It was nearly time for the changing of the guard. There were also the rumors that the Constable had made a mistake which had some of the men snickering among themselves. The man was disliked by most and none would care if this whole affair brought his downfall. The guard at the gate stood with an air of boredom and impatience. He wanted to get home to his wife and a hot meal.

There was also the matter of a purse in their hands in a discreet bribery. All was being considered but the Constable had this dislike for the man held. When it hit that point of droll, Patrick set the mask in place but drew the hood down far enough it would not be seen. He hunched
forward as if some old man holding a steady pace through the gates. Another commoner or perhaps merchant from the looks of the stallion he rode although Patrick made sure to dirty Lightning up to look like he was not quite the race horse. Unless the man had a real good eye for horseflesh it would be just another rider. Luckily the guard barely noticed other than to watch the one ride by a moment. Patrick stayed in that same steady pace through the streets until he was at a junction near the guard house. A few others were heading home and he waited those few precious moment for them to disappear on their way. He didn't wish to involve any innocent accidentally. Once all was clear he pulled a Shadow Fox calling card from the cloak pocket before surging his steed forward heading right for the guard house. He reared him up in a halting stop as forelegs struck through air and the high pitch sound of the horse was coupled with him shouting. "HO HO HO." He knew the guard would be out fast. The antic also went along with the way the Shadow Fox worked. A game. He could see him cleaning his sword at his desk in that split second lift which meant he would probably abandon it being that startled.

The guard's chair was sent tumbling when he heard the commotion, confusion making him leave his sword behind as he ran for the door. It was pulled open but the guard hesitated
stepping out fully because of the horse. A moment more and he stepped out, hands cupping his face to see who the madman was. Likely he thought it a prank from one of the other guards, until he dodged Lightning.

Just as Lightning's hooves found solid ground and the hood now back so
the guard could see the mask, Patrick flicked the card right at his chest. One quickly pranced circle around before he was in a gallop for the Gates. He knew the bells would toll three times in warning to close them, so it was now a race against that time. One. He passed the first street as he nearly ran over a man crossing the street. Whatever was in the box he carried was now all over the place. Two. He was barreling down the main road as anyone that came around hurried back inside. Curtains parted and some didn't bother to hide the fact of watching. People came out from their doors in his wake, looking to the rider than back down the street waiting as they pulled back again. Two more seconds. "Come on Lightning" Sparks flew from the horse's hooves as metal met cobblestone. Three. The third bell tolled and the guards first came out of the guardhouse only to see the cloak rider whip through. They halted the gate going down for he was already gone and the guards would be on their way to follow. There would be hell to pay but the one guard on the catwalk got off an arrow. One of their best archers. Patrick was riding low, hunched forward but the searing burn that jolted into the back of hisshoulder came as a shock and near lost his seating. He hung on as knees pressed in to hold him there. About six guards were hot on his tail as Patrick headed down the road towards that path he knew well. He had enough distance between them with the surprise on the guards and their losing time coupled with the speed of the horse he rode.

Rob had been informed by one of the less unfriendly of the guards that he would be released soon. He didn't realize how soon but the appearance of the Fox inside the Keep had the Constable and Magistrate deciding to make haste. Though it had taken two days after Patrick's visit, conditions had been improved slightly. He had been given better food, and a small woodstove to help ease some of the cold. Still, his beard had grown, and there were several of the guards who seemed to like taking their anger out on him. When the door flew open after the tolling of the bell, the guard motioned for him to step out. "Yer free." Rob hid whatever pain he was in, though it was nearly impossible to hid the limp. Pain made him pale but he walked out of the prison as if he were merely out for a stroll. His possessions were returned and he was left to stand alone outside. The place was still in an uproar over what had just happened and he caught bits and pieces. The smile was hidden by his beard as he pulled on his cloak. The thought of walking anywhere wasn't pleasant but there was no way he'd stay in this realm any longer than he had to. Even if it meant walking all night.

He was losing feeling in his arm and hand as he switched the reins over to his left once down that path a ways. He maneuvered Lightning off and up into the cover of the woods. The ground had been worked over from snow to
slush and muck making it so prints would not show with the darkness falling. The ground was all marked up. Timing. He back tracked through the woods parallel to the main road a good enough distance away but not so far he couldn't hear the fall of hooves and shouts of the guards far down below. It wasn't long before he heard the welcoming nicker of Cavalier and then his form made out in the dark, sight having adjusted enough. The mask was torn off and tossed, he would not chance being stopped and having it on him. Those days were over as it were. It was a difficult task to reached around while gritting his teeth hard and break off the arrow to where it penetrated his shoulder. About an inch left sticking out with the arrow head embedded. There was blood on the shaft and his hand as he tossed it into the woods then wiped his hand on his pants. Too dark to show. He carefully removed the cape to turn inside out then back on over his shoulders sporting the dark red side. Any blood would blend with the darker sweat marks there. A click of his tongue brought Cavalier closer as took up those reins too then headed down to the main road not far from the gates. He kept Cavalier between him and the guards for any possibility recognizing his horse but it was a change of guards it seemed. The others were all on a wild goose chase. The one recognized him from the previous night and actually commented. "Ye miss all the excitm'nt." Patrick nodded to at least placate the man he heard him as he continued on through to the guard house. If he was lucky he would not have to dismount nor go inside. More than likely a guard or a few would be outside still.

He saw Patrick riding on Lightning and recognized Cavalier as the other horse almost immediately. A guard stepped over to escort Rob to his brother and though he wanted to wave the man off, he refrained. Dark greens were on Patrick the entire length of the yard. Papers to be signed but they had Rob do it before he was allowed to mount Cavalier. "I'm not smelling like a rose, Patrick. Might want to stay downwind." Others wouldn't catch it, but Patrick would hear the tightness in his voice that indicated Rob was hurt even with the teasing tone.

There was a slight cough as he found his voice but there was a trace of pain there Robert might recognize. It would come off that he was choked up his brother was being freed just in time for the holidays too. "There is a feast waiting you're return. Best to make haste." Words lowered as he drew closer but the haste part would tell him more. Another pea in the pod. Brothers three now. Once
Rob was mounted up and they well past Haclymas Keep he spoke up. "I hope you know a way back that will keep us from the main road. Guards will be giving up the chase by now and I took an arrow in my shoulder." If he lost consciousness and fell off his horse, too many questions that would not have an answer if they found them and found out why.

"I do." He gave Patrick a half grin, shaking his head. "I was getting a little worried that you'd behave through all this." There was an inn beyond the borders where they could rent a coach if need be. Rob never wanted to see Falkirk so badly in his life as he did now but he was worried for Patrick. There was more to be said but it could wait until they were well beyond the keep. He turned off the main road, letting Cavalier lead the way since the horse knew these roads and paths as well as he.

"No stopping." As if he could read his mind.
"I told Neale I would have you back tonight or I was not coming back until I did. I will last. I just don't want to see those ugly guard faces again." Words were strained but the resolve was there. "Lead on." He held his numb arm close to his chest and if they didn't do any galloping he would be fine. A good pace set he could handle, another reason he wouldn't take the chance of running across the guards or them changing their minds. Once back they could find out through Tomas how things went after their departure and that of the Shadow Fox.

Robert appreciated Patrick's determination. A gallop was out of the question for him too. The way he took was actually shorter than the main road. Both of them would need looking after but once they were safe in Falkirk, healing would come a lot faster.

The two rode in silence from there except for the occasional comment to make sure the other was still conscious. Conserve energy and concentration on keeping in the saddle instead of talking. Hours passed that seemed a purgatory in itself as the pain finally went into a more numbness of mind. His eyes were glazed but he kept conscious and the blood had stopped flowing although he knew a surgeon would be needed to cut out the arrowhead. Luckily it was
a gate guard and not warrior's tipped in poison or such. The sooner it was out the better. The road up to Falkirk was soon reached and the glow of the candles in the windows soon spotted in a welcoming sight. Christmas candles for they were in all of the windows. "See Robert, welcome home." Slight cough at the end but newer energy for the short distance home.


Date: 12-20-04
Poster: Neale Frasier
Post # 18

Home for the Holidays
Neale, Robert, Patrick and Lizzie

The night had progressed into the earlier morning hours. Everyone had sought out their beds long ago, peacefully dreaming, while Neale pressed his side to the wooden frame of the
full length window in his study. One arm was lifted above his head, and it was there his temple rested while he held the heavy damask curtain back with his other hand. Patrick had set off as the Shadow Fox, another endeavor to have Haclymas believe they had imprisoned the wrong man when they tossed Robert in that cell. Oh, Robert was guilty. There was no doubt about that. But the Frasiers always took care of their own and Robert's kind heart had managed to get him rather deep in shit he wasn't prepared to be wading through. So be it. First Robert who truly wished to help the afflicted, then Neale and now Patrick who truly wished to help their brother. Each had used the guise of the Shadow Fox for their own purposes and those purposes had always been for another. "Bloody hell, Patrick." Still with the curtain pressed aside so he could watch the road which lead to Falkirk, Neale shot a glance to the mantle clock. Yes, the eldest Frasier was beginning to get just a tad bit concerned that something had befallen his brothers on their return from the prison.

If ever one was known to burn the midnight oil, it was Lizzie. Though, as she paced the length of the desk with a quill in one hand, her mind was everywhere then on the last page of her novel. She could barely concentrate, and when the chimes of the Traugott clock announced the early hours of the next day, she tossed down the plume in favor of grabbing the red afghan that served as a shawl over a thick nightgown. Slippered feet made little sound as she emerged from the library in the hope of finding a kettle to brew in the kitchens. She was in no rush, her gait slow but steady as she descended the necessary flights. All the while, consumed in her thoughts, she hardly gave a glance to the decorative pines that added festive coloring and scent to the halls.

Patrick felt every hoof fall of the stallion he rode even if they were at a slow pace by this time. The candles in the windows were a nice blur of yellows and reds as he tried blinking his eyes into better focus but to no avail. His mouth felt like arid wastelands when he tried to swallow. A stable boy, Jesse, the same one from before came running out as soon as he saw the two riders. At first he was hesitant but quickly recognized the horses and who they belonged to. He didn't shout for the hour but met them at the front of the manor. It didn't look good for the way the two were slumped and it took a moment for Patrick to recognize Jesse. His words came in a thicker brogue and slightly slurred. "Rub him down.." Half falling - sliding - off the stallion as knees first buckled but he had a hold on the saddle horn with his left hand near frozen in place.
Patrick steadied himself while he was held up against Lightning's side. Jesse yell out "They're here!" as he tried to help both. He knew now he should alert those in the manor home that could hear him. Neale at least would be up.

Each time Rob returned from the North, the sight of Falkirk was welcome. This time it was even more dear to his heart since he had feared in the deepest recesses of his mind that he would never see home again. The cough he had been trying to hide had his throat raw and he didn't try to talk. The boy would know what to do. He slid off the saddle but unlike Patrick allowed himself to fall to his knees, certain his legs would no longer support him. He would have thanked Patrick but instead he fell face forward into the snow, eyes closed. Not quite passed out, but very close.

Neale saw the pair approach, and he shoved away from the window, snatching up the coat he had ready on his way out. Jesse had yelled just as Neale threw open the doors and raced out. He was still tugging on his coat as he took the steps down in a quickened, steady stride, the snow on the landings didn't even phase him. "Holy Mother." He looked between the two. Blood soaked, Patrick was pale as the snow which covered the lands and Robert, face first in that very snow, looked none the better for wear. The eldest of the brothers grabbed Robert's arm and heaved him up, slipping a shoulder for support beneath Robert and looked to Patrick.

The blur of movement and the haze of sound caused Lizzie to stop in her stroll. Her eyes narrowed to watch Neale rush out the front door and when she heard the lad's shout thru the now opened door, her heart froze in place. Lizzie hurried in Neale's wake but a strong hand fell to her shoulder and gently pulled her away from the cold of the door. She turned to give a good piece of her mind to the one stopping her but none came forth when she noted the expression on Garrett's face. Serious and stern. "Stay inside." She hesitated a moment but nodded once before she stepped to the side and took a position by the window. Her face was illuminated by one of the many candles glowing a reddish-gold reflection of light against the frost-laded glass. "Please, dear God, let them be all right."

Garrett was in Neale's wake and out by the time he was hoisting Robert up from the ground. Lightening moved and it became obvious Patrick was supported only by the stallion. Garrett was quickly over to him with one strong arm to run under Patrick's arms as he worked free the near frozen hold of his hand around the saddle horn. "Got him." Mentioned to Neale but the sound of a groaned pain came from Patrick as he put pressure on that back right shoulder when he freed his hand. "Arrow.." Trying to swallow and keep consciousness. "Right shoulder." Which alerted Garrett to be careful as he helped haul him away and up into the manor home. Jesse took care of the stallions in getting them to the stables but he'd be around soon as he could to find out what happened.

Robert shook his head as Neale helped him up, trying to clear the fog from his brain. He tried to see where Patrick was, blinking as his head lolled. "Patrick, lost blood." His voice sounded strange, harsh in a loud whisper. He tried to stay awake long enough to be dragged inside but was losing the battle. It wasn't until he felt the warmth inside that he passed out completely. The ride back had been harder than expected.

Neale was well aware that Patrick had lost blood. He had heard his brother's weak warning to Garrett. Together the two helped the other two into the house, passed Lizzie, and into Neale's study where a fire blazed. Dead weight by now, Neale stretched Robert out on one couch as Garrett attempted to make Patrick comfortable on another. "Lizzie!" Neale shouted to the girl he had seen lingering at the door, knowing she would follow them. He started stripping Robert of his outer garments to check him for injuries, but he cast a look over his shoulder to see if the woman had responded to him. "Fetch the healer." Was all he said to her, gruff at best, then he looked to Garrett. "Find out how bad, Garrett. Damn." Neale Frasier feared now that he had just sentenced both brothers to death ... in an attempt to save the one.

Lizzie had just rounded the doorframe when she heard Neale's order to fetch a healer. All she spared was a look to the two wounded brothers as she felt the pang of dread hit the center of her heart. She hurried into the hall and disappeared into the path that led to the servants quarters where she spoke to one of the house men. She did not think it'd be wise to go out alone to find someone - although she'd been tempted for a few moments. No, there was no way she'd leave this house unless absolutely necessary. On the way back to the study, she gained a few blankets, two bottles of pot
cheen, bandages and a small kit that her maid Alicia kept needles and thread. Just in case.

Garrett saw to Patrick who managed to stay conscious. Then again he wasn't subjected to beatings and lack of food for days on end like Robert had been. His was more the loss of blood. Within the light of room it became clear the stain on the cloak was not of sweat nor water but blood as Garrett helped remove it and tossed it aside on the floor. Even more so was the large stain running down from Patrick's back right shoulder with the one inch shaft sticking out of the tunic. "Hold steady Patrick." Garrett's gruff voice commanded as he flicked his dagger from its sheathe and cut away the tunic to expose the arrow in flesh. He took one of those bottles of pot
cheen and removed the cork with his teeth, which was promptly spit out to the side before pouring it on the wound. Patrick let out a yell more in shock of the initial harsh sting. He wasn't completely numb as pain registered. Garrett was quick with using his knife, which was clean, and working the arrow head out carefully. "Wedge in good there Patrick." Tip of his knife to penetrate and work it from the shoulder blade. Patrick's teeth gritted hard against one another to the point he thought they would surely crack. His eyes rolled near back in his head at first as darkness threatened. The deed was done by then as Garrett requested bandaging to stop the blood that started up again naturally. Once the healer was done with Robert he could put a few stitches in it and wrap it up completely.

Under the scruffy beard, Rob's face was a series of bruises, some fading. Same beneath his shirt. When the healer came in, he went to work immediately, finding out first the damage suffered. Any internal injuries were dealt with first, then the worst of the injuries. Ribs would have
to be wrapped, Rob's leg was fractured and he was in the beginning stage of pneumonia. He also was dehydrated and needed some good meals in him. Once he was tended to, Roy was over to Patrick to tend to the arrow wound.

Once the healer arrived, Neale paced back and forth between brothers. Rubbing his face. Raking through his hair. With nothing productive to do with his hands, Neale seemed to be in continual useless movements. If Lizzie had returned, he didn't notice. He was mentally retracing what possible could have gone wrong with Robert's escape. Patrick's blood soaked into the cushions of the couch where he lay, an eternal reminder to Neale that he hadn't made sure his brothers would be safe. Until either brother was strong enough to tell the tale, Neale's imagination would bombard him.

Lizzie paced the opposite way that Neale went, her gaze intent on the healer and Garrett's steady hand. She nervously bit the bottom of her lip and visibly winced a few times. She felt helpless. A few times she hurried forward, offering a soothing stroke of fingers across Robert's brow before she turned and did the same to Patrick. All words soft and whispered in the hopes it'd comfort and calm -- if not them, then herself.

Garrett showed Patrick the arrowhead. "Souvenir for you Patrick." Tossing the bloodied piece to the table near before handing him the bottle of pot
cheen which Patrick took. Left handed for the right was useless presently. He didn't take a big gulp knowing how potent but the mouthful helped to alleviate that desert feel, burned it away. The pain killing effect was soon working too as with each careful drink it spread more through his veins. Just in time for the healer to apply a few stitches to keep the wound closed. Bandaging was then applied to wrap his shoulder and arm up good so he wasn't able to move it much at all. The healer took the bottle, with some protest from Patrick, to give him another drink prepared in its stead to bring back his strength. It would also have him sleep better this night, hopefully without too much pain. He didn't say anything to Lizzie's touch but the appreciation was there in his eyes as well as watching Neale. The whole story would come out soon, if not this very night. Neale probably wouldn't sleep if he didn't get some of it. Once Garrett was done and he was bandaged up, he started in how it went even adding the HO HO HO part to add humor. The arrow taken when escaping the gate of one good marksman were it not for the speed of Lightning would have met its mark.

A hot bath was also something Rob would want as soon as he was able. He had never thought to be warm again. He could hear the voices of the others and slowly his eyes fluttered open. Head turned to watch Patrick and he placed his hand over his side when he heard that one part and laughed. He just watched the others, grateful beyond words to see them again.

Neale wouldn't have slept either way but, when Patrick began talking, he pulled a chair closer to him and listened to the words. He would have laughed, had he not just then looked down to the wound when Patrick recited that one part. Slowly his gaze lifted to Garrett who just stood to the side of the chair with his arms crossed. "Get him above to bed." Then he looked to Robert. "Get them both to their beds."


Date: 12-28-04
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 19

Frasier Brothers
Neale, Patrick and Robert

Patrick had gotten up late for a change. Without the need to be down at the racetracks at the break of dawn, he took advantage of it. His shoulder still acted up and the extra sleep did him good. He headed down to the kitchen for a bite to eat although he was not overly hungry. The medicine he still took when the shoulder got sore had that repercussion on his appetite. A few pounds may have been lost but not noticeably so.

The tendril of pipe smoke swirled upward as Neale lit the imported tobacco within it. A long pull and Neale relaxed in the chair, releasing his breath and the flavored smoke which had filled his lungs. The privacy of his study was always much desired at this time of day.

Patrick would find Robert already in the kitchen, having a late lunch. He was finally eating more and putting on the weight lost from his imprisonment and illness. He grinned at the younger Frasier and pushed away a bowl. Tea was his chosen drink lately. Unless he skipped the medicine he had been taking.

The tightening of his stomach had him pushing up from his chair. He could ring to have food delivered to him here, or, he could wander the distance to the kitchen. He'd been seated behind his desk all morning, so he pushed up and left the study behind. Far better than any food, what he found in the kitchen were his two brothers. Neither of which had been up to their usual appetites lately, so to find them here brought a smile and Neale crossed to the hearth to tap his pipe clean of the lit leaf within. He slanted a look around his shoulder to his kin. "Do I dare ask if there remains any left?"

"I think there's a bit left." Rob chuckled and leaned back in his chair. He was feeling more like himself daily, though it would take a little longer for him to be completely healed. Dark greens still held a shadow from what had happened but it too would fade with time. "Did your stomach tell you it was time for a break?" Neale worked harder than anyone he knew to keep things running smoothly.

Grin slipped into place as he studied Robert. "You're getting to be a fattened pig." Teasing but it also stated he was pleased his brother was recovering so well. Words barely out when Neale showed up and that grin turned on him. "Food is good." Motioning to Robert who looked quite hale at this point all considering.

The pipe was placed on the mantle and Neale rubbed his midsection. "Indeed it did, Robert." He crossed to the table and joined his brothers there, pulling out one of the seats and spinning it around so that his arm rested over the back of it. "You are both feeling well?" Greens moved from one to the other and back again.

"Shoulder is still sore but mending well. Better than expected." He too took up a seat near his brothers as some of the meat and bread were taken up
to be eaten. Small portions but he made sure he ate. A mug of coffee also poured as the caffeine would help. It seemed they were left in the kitchen alone too and the manor quiet as the others were out or about their own business of this day. He sat back with a thoughtful look between them as the mug was cradled in his hand to balance against his thigh.

"Much better." He looked down at the cup then up again, a slight frown furrowing his brows. "I owe you an apology, Neale, and a thank you to you both for what you did." He sounded as sheepish as a boy caught behind the barn with his Da's pipe.

Neale leaned forward, the weight of his body tipping the chair so that it balanced on two legs. He took up a pinch of bread then lowered back down again. The bite would wait as he looked to Robert. "What we did..." A motion of bread toward Patrick as well. "was something that any of us would have, considering." He slanted a look to Patrick for his confirmation but he also continued speaking. "And you need only apologize to me for the money I felt i
t needed to be sent to Haclymas for your release." Especially since Neale knew that bribe would never work. He never expected it to. They did, however, need a cover up that measures were being taken by Falkirk while the Shadow Fox remained on the prowl. "But, the Lady Lisette should be receiving a few words from you."

A nod was given before the mug was lifted and a long drink of the coffee taken. Near drained it before placing it on the table as he sat up. Forearm now resting against its edge. He agreed with the last but could wonder how the Lady took any apology and not deck Robert. Rightfully. Who knew but it had to be done. Best done when Robert recovered enough to take any blows.

"I fully intend to pay it back Neale." He paused when Neale mentioned Lisette, maybe even turning a little pale. "I'm not sure what to say to her." Though he was sure he was going to stand as far away as possible. "My apologies for scaring you near to death, robbing your friend, and threatening him?" He ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head. "Or just I'm sorry?" Neale had some experience with hot tempered women. Any advice would be welcome!

"Say what you mean, Robert ... and be prepared for what follows." That was the only advice he could give. Surely Lisette was lady enough not to come to blows. He tore off a bit of that bread between his teeth, chewed, swallowed. "You may wish to be more selective in your targets in the future." A cut of greens Rob's way, then he took another bite of bread.

"Targets?" Almost implied Robert would go back to be the Shadow Fox. They would surely get killed in the process. "I was thinking there might be a better way going about this to help those families without risking them, such
where Tomas could end up if they associate him at all.." Leaving it go there to start up the ideas or even see if they were open to any.

"Oh?" Neale lifted from his seat enough to pull it around, sitting as he should with his legs stretched out under the table, his arm crossed over his chest. "What do you suggest, Patrick? Heathfield, Falkirk, Balli, Tyremoor, Innis ... none can get involved in the affairs of another realm. Haclymas didn't appear to be a land eager for ... interference. Some matters are best handled ... anonymously." A nod to Robert to indicate his actions before he returned his gaze to Patrick. "Please share if you ...if you have a more productive ideas."

Neale couldn't have surprised Rob more than his words did just now. He stared at him a moment then looked at Patrick. "I know they trust me as Shadow Fox, but not as Robert Frasier." He looked at Neale again, hands spreading slightly. "I don't, Neale. If I did, I would do it another way. And I'm open to suggestions." He didn't want to stop helping them.

"I'm speaking on anonymously. We have funds here to help out and could be gotten to those families in need without the royalty knowing. As much as stealing from their nobility is justifiable it is too risky as proven." That was a start as there could be a way to infiltrate or have the royalty lose money in gambles. He wondered but he didn't know much about the ones perpetrating all of this.

"It's risky because Robert was careless." He shook his head. "Tell me, Patrick. How do you intend to come up with the funds to support an entire lower class in another realm? We have funds, true. But not enough. Not nearly enough. The support the Shadow Fox provides comes from the very source it should. Haclymas' nobles. If they won't provide it willingly, then they will do so ... under duress." Once more he looked to the Shadow Fox. "However, we do have to consider if you get caught again ... it will incriminate Falkirk, worse Balli since Falkirk resides in her domain." A stroke of hand passed over his chin.

"I'll not be so cocky as to say it won't happen again. I didn't think it would the first time." He frowned again, looking from him to Patrick. "And whoever laid in wait for me might do so again."

"I wasn't thinking us alone as I know there is monies set aside for charities." He was still thinking on other ways. "Tell me what you know of the personalities of the nobles there taking so much from the poor?
Their flaws, weaknesses?"

For this information, Neale waited for Robert.

"There's a small group of them." Rob curled his fingers around the mug as he talked. "They're everything I've hated in nobles. Arrogant, sure they were given their position by the gods themselves. They cheat on their wives, cheat one another at cards, rumors have it that some of their money is gained illegally by smuggling, but there's no proof. The lord of the realm himself is weak-minded, and they give him advice."

Neale frowned with the information provided by Robert. "We also have to consider, Patrick, if we request the funds for charities to cover the needs of these people, we are pulling the royals into the mix." While undercover as the Fox, Neale had witnessed the plight of those people. His own heart going out to them as, no doubt, Robert's and Patrick's had. He would have to think on this. A way to help, without drawing these lands into the fray. There had to be a solution.

"Keep in mind they know who we are Robert, you and me at least. Neale would not be hard to associate.." He was mussing. "Cards..." He was good at those. Bring some pot
cheen to share as they would not be use to the potency and too arrogant not to drink as much as them. "Smuggling..." Now there was an area Neale could find out more on for his own interest in the sea and having a ship. He gave a nod to Neale's comment on bringing others into this mix and should not. He was brain storming and expected ideas to be tossed out with the hope others would be drawn into the talk that might work.

"They do know you ... but they have to catch you to prosecute." He shook his head with the next suggestion. "They bloody cheat, Patrick, you'll not win with those." Dark brows shot up with the mention of smuggling. Would that be any different from the Fox? One by land, the other by sea? Yes, Neale did appreciate Patrick's brain storming. While Patrick provided the suggestions verbally, Neale tossed them around within his head. It was, as if, Robert wasn't even in the room. "Not smuggling." A ship was harder to hide, to run in, than a horse. If they meant to make the means illegally, they would need be able to hide themselves better than the open seas.

"There's something else. The Fox's disappearance after my being free." He looked from one to the other. "If I'm more careful in my targets, change when and where, there's less chance of them associating it with me. Especially if it happens when I'm not surveying. I did do that at the beginning." He admitted it. He became over confident.

Pride comes before the fall. Neale's deep breath proved he had thought of that. "I don't think we have to be concerned with the amount of time since you were released and the Shadow Fox was seen, Rob." A squint of eyes, a definite sign Neale was deep in thought. "The rogue wasn't at work every night. He was there ... and then gone ... with periods of disappearance between." Neale knew, for when Robert was here at Falkirk, he wasn't there! "But, until we can come up with something else, those people are freezing and starving. You had better get healed up and back on horseback."

"I have time on my hands with the racetracks down for the winter." Offering his help in this as he did it once he could do it again in shifting turns.

No, they couldn't save the world. But, Robert could make a difference in Haclymas ... enough, at least, to get those people through a bitter winter. "Then you too had better get healed up and mounted, Patrick." A nod to both brothers and he drew his feet in, rising from the chair as he popped the last bit of bread into his mouth.

Rob gave Patrick a quick grin then looked at Neale. "I can write down the worst of them, the ones with the most money." He chuckled, shaking his head. "They make some fantastic stories up. Even to the point that the guards run." And now he'd have that Ho Ho Ho! associated with him. Patrick did a good job with that.

"I'm healed enough to ride and ride well." He was too even if his shoulder was sore at times. Then again it would not be the kind of risk he took before by going right into the commons there and taunting the guards.

It better not be! Both Patrick and Robert had better take this with all the seriousness it deserved. Neale nodded to each of them then slid the chair back under the table. "Anything you need, just let me know." Those funds Falkirk could and would cover. He turned and crossed to the hearth, taking up his pipe and slipping it into his breast pocket. "Mind your backs, Brothers."

Tomas was a good source of information and Rob would make sure he knew to help Patrick. They could work together on this. He looked at Neale and nodded. He'd be much more cautious now.

"Always." He watched Neale a moment in that keen way of his as the conversation would divert for now in a break from it. "All goes well with you brother?" He knew enough weighed on his brother too.

A stroke of hand smoothed the fabric over his chest and Neale looked over to Patrick. He hadn't expected that question. "Well? Yes, Patrick, all goes well." How could it not? If all was not well with Neale, surely the house of Frasier would collapse. Wouldn't it? "The holiday season just drains a bit more out of me than I wish to admit to." And all of the extras that came along with the season.

A slight nod was given even if the comment was to the affirmative he still could see the weight his brother carried on his shoulders. "It can drain in various ways. It was a very good Christmas Eve." Probably one of the best balms for all of them that night.

"Yes it was." Made even more so since Rob had expected to spend it in prison. It had given him much to think about if nothing else.

A finger wagged once in Robert's direction. "You still need to be making a call on one lady in particular." Even if Neale approved of Robert's devotion to his cause, he still was not pleased that an innocent had been involved in the process. That was something that Robert and Patrick would have to be extremely careful about in the future. Neale continued on his way out of the door, a smile for each of his brothers. No, he hadn't eaten much, but that small amount would hold him until the evening meal rang him to the table.


Date: 12-28-04
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 20

An Apology Made
Lisette McTiel & Robert Frasier

Steps paused on the porch as she thought she saw someone or ones move down the alleyway. A shake of her head before the door was opened and she to step within. Warmth was welcome as nimble fingers drew along the fur edging of her hood to lower it. Blond hair was wet free as sky blue eyes swept over the others. Smile curled fully until she saw one to have it falter slightly. "Evening." It was late and she was surprised some were still here as she crossed the distance to the bar.

"From what I've seen, she has her family to help her with that, " He smiled then stiffened slowly. Surely Lisette couldn't have gotten the note he sent to her already. And of course, Patrick had stepped outside. "Evening, Miss McTiel."

nae really trustin' all her family at t'e ..." For some reason Robert was one of those people it was easy to talk to, but the wound for Linn was still raw and open. When his attention shifted hers did as well, dark eyes just as openly appraising the woman as she did to any man, leaning her back up against the bar. " Evenin', lassie. M'names Linn." Naturally friendly!

Cognac was set in front of her and she drank it down. It barely touched back to the bar counter before she stepped away. Cloak still on her as she rounded on Robert. Luckily her hands were small and probably would not do a whole lot of damage as it was fisted and pulled back fast then shoved right into Robert's stomach. She didn't try hitting him in the jaw for it would probably break her hand. She had not gotten any note and he would know what it was for as well the kick to his shin. Now she felt a little better. She stepped away as she turned to Linn. "Nice to meet you Linn, I'm Lisette." So the words were a little strained under her breath. They were still cordial.

That was definitely not something she saw every day! Instead of doing anything she merely gaped, eyes widening ... and then began to laugh. "Sorry, Rob, but ... och, I dae sae love a lassie wit' a guid punch!" It was nothing personal against Robert, she did adore the Frasiers. "'Tis a true pleasure, Lisette. I'm likin' t'e lassies I meet here more an' more every day. Got spirit, ye dae!" Spirit was a thing they shared, and Linn approved of heartily!  Just ask all of her male cousins. They could tell of broken noses and black eyes given many a time from Linn!

A smile graced her lips upon seeing Lisette. "Good evening, Lisette" Softly spoken with a wave before the paper, she had taken with her from the table was folded on her lap.

Caught off guard, Rob let out an exhale of air, doubling over. She hadn't hit the damaged ribs, but that kick to the leg made him collapse in pain. He barely heard Linn as he closed his eyes.

!" Him falling was not part of the humor, and it surprised her, although again Linn had no idea that he was hurt. Concern immediately came, kneeling down on the floor and reaching out to gently touch his shoulder. " Robert, ye were hurt ... oh crikey." Without allowing him time to argue, Linn slipped her head under one of his arms and started to rise, trying to help him back to his feet. She was very strong, but then again, she was Irish !"C'mon, luv, I'll get ye tae t'e couch. What in t'e world have ye been daein'?" Sinead obviously had not been telling her everything. Crikey!

Kimber chose to keep her gaze on the paper, Good Lord!

"It's all right. She just kicked where it was fractured." It came out harsh because that damn well hurt! "I deserved it."

She knew Robert was hurt, but also knew Lisette well enough, or so she thought, she would not belt anyone for the sheer joy of it. "Robert are you all right?" Spoken from her perch on the leather, she did not know he had wounds, only thought he had a cold when he came to Thistle with Patrick that night.

, I dinna doubt t'at ye deserved it, still doesna mean now t'at it's over I canna fuss," any time a woman just strode in and struck a man, they definitely deserved it. Linn would not begrudge the woman that particular joyful feeling of righteousness, even smiling to her in a carefree way, still assisting Rob back to his feet. " Lemme take a look at it, luv. I may nae be as guid as Sinead, but I got me a healin' touch tae."

He would have been laughing if it didn't hurt so bad. Brought down by a wee slip of a woman when it had taken several guards to do it before. He didn't argue with Linn but Frasier greens were on Lisette. Neale was wrong!

That looked like quite a good punch. Lisette was a strong wee slip of a woman!

The fury was in her eyes that turned back on Robert. "He doesn't need to be coddled. He knows exactly what that was for and I'm sure he will agree." She didn't take a dagger to him at least.

Well, that worked for Kimber with a smile given to Lisette, she quickly dropped her gaze to the paper. Leaving this certain predicament between them.

I like coddlin'. I sae rarely get tae dae it, wit' me cousins all manly an' refusin' any help." Winking over to Lisette, in full appreciation of the woman's anger. " Cor, Rob, what did ye dae t'get her riled up sae?" Murmuring to his ear since they were close now, still amused despite it all.  The murmur was the part about her being riled. That was not meant for her, but rather him. Curiosity was just one more feline quality about her!

Arms crossed just beneath the swells of her breasts as a triumph smile spread. She would stand there and watch him being coddled by the woman for his poor boo boos and it showed in her look upon him.

He looked at Linn then at Lisette. "Long story, Linn." One he couldn't share yet. "Lady McTiel, will you at least allow me to explain?" Then if she knifed him, Linn could get Sinead back here with Patrick to take his body back to Falkirk.

It only proved to her these macho men who disguised themselves were really just big babies when it came down to it. The smile faded as eyes narrowed. "What is there to explain?" Maybe she would give him that benefit of the doubt for usually Lis was very kind but she was not wanting to show that softer side to her. Not here. Not him.

True enough. She still allowed him to lean upon her as much as he needed, a sturdy rock of support when she wanted to be, glance moving between the two of them with a big grin. Oooh this was funny!

"My reasons." He answered Lisette before Linn got a slight smile. "I'll let you look at it before I leave." He walked out of the damn prison with it broken. He could bloody well stand on it now, and he straightened though it caused sweat to bead on his brow.

This wasn't good, not at all. And that was clear to any, but she did lift her gaze to smile to Lisette only to lower her gaze once more. Robert she knew, Lisette she knew as well. So she would keep her nose in the paper.

Oooh, grand! I can pretend tae be sensitive an' sweet an' offer tae kiss all yuir pain 'way. T'ough t'at wouldna be verra professional of a nurse would it? Blast!" The outrageous way she spoke and fluttering eyelashes were so overdone it had to be fake, plus the laughter that came after was certainly self-mocking. " Now explain tae t'e lassie, Rob, an' be guid." Slipping away from him to allow him to stand, giving them their space by heading over to Kimber instead. Linn did not like being solo, so someone had to be found to play with! " Kiiiiimber. I heard a wee rumor just a short while 'go." Completely casual, plopping down in her comfortable way nearby the woman, knowing the paper would be lowered soon since it was ruuude to read when someone was talking!

"You wish to explain here." Slight waving flip of her hand but she doubted it very much all considering. Plus, she knew his secret. He may have noticed she had not stated that so in lieu she hit him physically.

Definitely poor Kimber. The only way to entertain her was often by doing or admitting to things! Linn was all about the mischief!

Again Nooooooooooo. Poor Robert. " What rumor is that, Linn?" Paper forgotten as her gaze lifted from the printed words to give her attention to Linn.

, a wee friend o'mine told me ..." Verra wee friend. "T'at ye kicked some bloke in t'e hall nae too long 'go, an' I'm wonderin', was it fer a guid reason?" So very eager to hear, lowering her voice as if they were about to be sharing secrets. Besides, Rob and Lisette were busy.

He couldn't stop the smile when Linn acted the way she did but when she walked away, Rob became serious again. "No, not here." He wasn't that foolish. "Some place you're comfortable." He wasn't getting any closer to Lisette than he had to.

Sinead and Patrick too, so it was up to Linn and Kimber now to keep the fort down! "Ahhh, and what friend would this be?" Curious she was, but the half grin coiled with ease on her lips.

me, luvie, ye dinna even want tae know." Reaching over to pat Kimber soothingly upon the hand, grinning as the potcheen was lifted to her lips. " Sae tell me, was it Brogan?" She knew him, and knew their situation, from Sinead.

"The gentleman I accosted." As she would politely put it.  "Does not understand what he did, perhaps a kick to his shin will make him see the light?" Shrug with a wink given as well and tilt of brow at the pat, but said nothing.

polite words yuir usin', Kimber. 'Tis the silvery words of a person tryin' nae tae answer. " Resting back in the chair, both hands were raised lightly, to show there was no offense. " I willna push ye, lassie, but t'ere's nae one else 'round, sae ye can at least have an open audience wit' me."

"You have an office here?" Little did she know what that office had been used for by a few.

"Yes, we do." He motioned toward the hallway. "Shall we?" He could be as formal as Neale if necessary.

"Yes, it was, Brogan, Linn. We spoke of understanding one another, which I believe we did not. Hence I kicked him in the shin." Smile warmly, not wishing to offend Linn, truly she did not.

Blue eyes trailed over his features, especially his eyes as she passed. She still didn't look none too happy on all of this. She wasn't one to hide things on the norm. Right on by and down the hall as she waited for him there to lead her to the one they had.

wouldna hold yuir breath waitin' fer a bloke tae understand ye, luvie. T'ey never dae. " Dryly spoken, tossing back the mass of black curls, snorting to emphasize the point. " Ye've had a long day, haven't ye lassie?"

He brushed a hand through dark hair as he watched her walk by, tensing slightly. With a glance back at Linn and Kimber, he limped his way down the hall and to the office. Ever a gentleman, he waited for her to go through first.  The guards were there watching. She had nothing to fear.

"Aye, Linn.. too long" Smiles warmly, she still felt awful about the brothel thing. The words with Brogan were not good, yes bad day indeed. "Think I can wake up and start it over again?" Wink given.

"I'm a fond believer t'at t'morrow is always another beginnin.' An' t'at even on bad days, guid t'ings can be found." The evening before had wrecked that day, but still, Linn had managed to salvage some peace from other  events. " T'en again, lassie, I'm an optimist. Gotta believe t'at t'ings'll get better, aye?"

"Of course.. just at times.." Sigh blew thru her lips shaking her head.. "Sometimes you feel only bad things happen, you know? Wondering when the silver lining will come."

She stepped within finding the room warm so she took off her cloak as she headed for the hearth. She stood there while basking in its heat facing him. She wore a figure flattering dress what he could see of it in a deep blue crushed velvet. Low neckline was still discreet but it was the fire in her eyes more noticeable, yet contained. The cloak wrapped over her arms looked more like her holding a shield. Golden lashes lowered some as she waited.

He watched her a moment before closing the door and motioning to a chair. "Would you care to sit?" He couldn't help but be affected by how she looked standing there. Delicate, almost doll-like, save for the fire in her eyes.  He looked toward the window a moment, trying to collect his thoughts.

Perhaps it was the way the soft glow from the fire played upon the gold of her hair? Some parts like spun sunlight while others took on the reds. She tore that look from him to the chair as she seemed reluctant but finally did as he requested being he asked and not demanded. The cloak was still bundled but the length of it spread out over the bend of her knees. Lashes lifted as the blue of the sky itself regarded him.

He waited until she sat before doing so himself, though it likely wouldn't be long before he was up and pacing. That seemed to be a Frasier trait. "I know at this point, these are only words, but, I'm truly sorry that I scared you so badly, Lisette. I was careless and stopped the coach of someone I shouldn't have, for the second time." He held up a hand to stop her from saying anything. "I only ask that you listen to why I'm doing what I am before you make judgment on me."

"It was more than scared. I felt like I'd been r.." Lips pursed as the word couldn't pass them but it was not a good feeling to be robbed even if she was not directly taken any monies from. It still had the effect. She silenced and waited to hear him out. Blue eyes never strayed from his.

Rob nodded and looked down. "Most ... no, all of the women I've robbed, save two, have found it exciting. Which makes you so much more of a lady. Lisette, what do you know of Haclymas?" He looked up again, forgetting the pain as he watched her face. "Of the people there."

She frowned slightly. Other women found it exciting? It was hard for her to comprehend that.  Did they not care for their safety or the others with them? Her thoughts scattered with his question. "I know nothing of this place or their people. We only traveled through that area from further north as my friend offered to see to my safety back here where I had called home before. I had to leave when my family needed me so was gone a few years.." Trailing off with the lift of a small hand from the folds of material of the cloak to dismiss her own prattling and let him continue.

"It's not like here. The oppression hangs over the people like a shroud, and the nobles care nothing for them." He stood and paced, not noticing the limp. "I worked there for several weeks and found they wouldn't take money from me. To them I was no better than those nobles. So, I took on the guise of the Fox. I rob the nobles and give the money to the poor." He gave her a slight smile, almost boyish. "I know. Too many books, but they accepted my help  in that way. Until I got cocky." He looked at her. "I don't ask you to forgive me for what I did. I just ... want you to understand." As he stood now, in the glow of the fire light, the bruises that were nearly faded could be seen. He didn't mention the prison, his arrest. Only that he had been too cocky.

"So you thought we were nobles from there." A tilt of her head came with the slight lowering of her lashes. "A Robin Hood of your own making. The cause one of the heart but the means against the laws but the laws there are corrupt. It could be argued if one wrong warrants  another wrong. In that wrong you had wronged me and my friend plus the guard." Lips pursed in thought. "I think the money taken from my friend should be returned at least. If he wants to donate it to your cause it should come that way then taken." A soft sigh escaped as fingers now fiddled with the fur of the cloak's hood as she glanced down. "I can understand why you were doing what you did." Lifting those blue eyes only to notice the bruises and she had noticed the limp. "You were willing to risk your physical well being for this cause."

"I was riding to help someone there when I was ambushed, and taken to their prison. I was held for a week until they finally freed me." He smiled slightly. "Though I can't explain how." He paused then continued. "I intend to continue though I'll be more careful and I will return your friend's money."

"You live your life dangerously Robert Frasier. On the edge even if it is for a good cause. I cannot say it is wrong if it is right for you. I would take care not to stop those that are innocent for then you become as they are." She rose from her seat as she studied him in a greater intensity. "Two wrongs don't make a right but wrong doing should be stopped and accounted for."

"I swear I'll be more careful, choose more wisely." He didn't look away this time, meeting those blues with a lift of his head. "Thank you for allowing me to explain, Lady McTiel." He hesitated then held out his hand.

A slight hesitation came before she took that step closer to slide her hand into his. Skin was silken soft he might notice. "I do not wish not to like you Lord Frasier." It was a way of asking time for all that happened. "I wish not to see you harmed in this."

Frasier greens meet soft blues and Robert smiled.  "I appreciate your concern, Lady McTiel.  It's my hope we can speak again soon."  He bowed and brushed his lips over her knuckles before releasing her hand and stepping back.  Rob opened the door for her and watched her walk away  before closing the door. First, a bottle of potcheen to help deaden the pain of his leg, then he'd return to Falkirk by way of the carriage.  Lowering into a chair after pouring himself a full glass, he chuckled softly and shook his head.  It seemed the perfect way to end what had been a day full of surprises.


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