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The Highwayman

Date: 01-05-05
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 21


A snap of a twig came under the foot of
a stag as the doe stayed close to her mate. They were scrounging though the snow for blades of grass frozen beneath. A pair of forest green eyes watched the duo from where man and stallion stood hidden within brush and forest trees, waiting. He watched as tails went up along with the heads of the deer. A snort came from the stag in a cast of frosted air before taking off in leaps and bounds. His mate quick to follow as both disappeared into the maze of trees. Patrick readied himself for someone was coming even if no noise could be heard in the quiet of the night. The deer gave that much away as they would pick up sharply on sounds the human ear could not. Fingers flexed beneath the warmth of his gloves that barely stayed the freezing cold. The Shadow Fox mask kept his face warm in duplicity of it being worn along with the hooded cloak. A nudge of his heels brought Lightning out from the more camouflaged area but still kept within the barrier of trees to shield him from being seen. Dusk had fallen as well snow to start a feathery descend. Once more he fully intended making a mockery of those ruling Haclymas by another robbery.

The rambling
roll of a carriage soon came within hearing distance as Patrick honed in to the sound, gauging it for that precise moment to come down from the embankment and cover of trees. He ticked off the moments as a gloved hand withdrew one of Robert's pistols he needed as part of his standing in for his brother. With the urging of heels, rider and beast were down to position themselves sideways  in the middle of the road a short distance from the bend. Frosted air billowed from the pair of horses pulling the carriage with a family crest showing it was one of the lordships of the lands. A wry smile spread unseen beneath the mask he wore. Metal clicked against metal as the pistol was cocked. The guard drew up the reins fast halting the steeds as Patrick's own danced in a tight half circle. The man drew his sword but then threw it down when the pistol was leveled at his head. Flintlock pistols were not all that dependable but this close there was a good bet Patrick would hit his target and the man knew it.

Voice was gruff in command as Lightning was eased closer and the other pistol now drawn and cocked to level upon the carriage. "Down wit' yea, ge' 'em ou' an' th' mon'y pouch's." He put on that thicker Scottish accent as a roughen coarse edge was added. The man was down and around to open up the carriage door. Patrick guided his steed by nudges of his heels alone. The surprise came in not the stocky built man to emerge but that glint of steel of a pistol he was lifting to aim at him. The flare of red split the darkness as he
jerked back just in time reflexively. The bullet grazed the side of his cheek as his finger squeezed the trigger of his own pistol in return hitting the man in the shoulder. A deep scream in pain split the night as blood dripped into white. Patrick nudged Lightning closer still cocking the other pistol to the man's head while the one held his shoulder. "Now ge' th' pouch's." The guard was quick to take the one from his lordship and his own to hand over. The fired pistol was slid into his belt as the money was taken and shoved into the pocket of his cloak. He flicked one of the Shadow Fox's cards onto the ground before galloping off into the cover of the woods.


Date: 01-11-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 22


After speaking with Patrick, Robert had a good idea who the noble had been that had fired back at him. The man exemplified everything bad about the ruling class of Haclymas, arrogant, greedy and certain he was right always. His one saving grace was he cared deeply for his wife.

It was she that Robert was watching now from outside the Inn. She was alone, which concerned him, but he had known Elise for a long time. Not even her husband had tamed her spirit and she had not allowed his jealousy to interfere with her friendship of Robert. He waited to be certain she hadn't been followed, then slipped into the inn.

They had continued to meet long after her marriage to David Ellison, but always in public. But this time, she had asked to meet him in private. Rob nodded at the innkeeper before making his way into the private room. Elise stood at the window, watching the rain that fell lightly. At the sound of the door she turned and as always, Rob felt a catch in his throat. They had never been lovers but she was the type of woman who could take your breath away with a look.

"Robert." Her smile made the room light up. "It is good to see you well. David was most displeased when you were released." She moved closer to him, studying his face and Rob knew she was looking for the mark that his brother carried. "You are as handsome as ever."

"And you, dear Elise, still have my heart. Why don't you run away with me?" He leaned close to her and laughed when her hand thudded against his chest. "Tease."

"Brute." She laughed as she hugged him carefully. "I'm as fat as a horse." The child she carried bumped Robert as if in protest and he chuckled.

"You'll always be beautiful, Elise. Even when you're ancient and terrorizing your grandchildren. Now, tell me why you wanted to meet me like this? It's not like you." He paused as a knock came and the Innkeeper entered, carrying a tray with a light lunch. Rob waited until he left before looking at her again.

"We always meet. David may not like it but he will not stop it. And he sends his thanks for the cradle. He was most impressed with the workmanship." She smiled then sat at the table. "Something is going on, Robert. David has met several times with some of the others. Not just because of Fox. There are imitators."

"There were highwaymen before Fox came onto the scene, Elise," He watched as she poured tea for them both. "In a land like this, there always will be. Too many wild places."

"I know, but they're determined to stop them. I know they intend to have armed patrols now."

Robert groaned out loud. "Elise, they'll shoot one another before they hit anything else." He was totally serious with his assessment. The nobles didn't pay their soldiers enough to have the brightest and best.

"Robert, this is serious." She was worried. For the first time since she had learned he was Fox with an earlier encounter, she was worried. "You will need to be very careful."

It was like hearing the voice of Neale again when she spoke and Robert nodded. "I have been warned to be careful three times now. I will be, Elise," He reached for her hand, squeezing it gently. "But you need to be too. No more coming out for visits. If you need to get word to me, there are safer routes. You and I have been friends for a long time. I would be devastated if anything happened to you or your child. And I know David would be as well."

Elise smiled and shook her head. "He wants you to come to the manor, Robert. He's finally convinced that you do not mean to steal me away." Rob put his hand over his heart, greens filled with laughter.

"I'm hurt. Not a threat anymore."

"Rogue." Elise laughed. "Will you come?"

"Of course. You've only to say when." He smiled at her delight, though there was a brief moment of concern. Out of the pan and into the fire?


Date: 02-21-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 23


Robert and Cavalier had been riding since dawn of the previous day and finally, he had arrived at the inn in Haclymas. Tomas had started to accompany Robert back to Falkirk, not only for his own safety but so he could continue his apprenticeship to become a surveyor. His younger brothers had taken the other part of his 'work' for Rob and would keep the two updated on anything that had been happening.

Morning found the middle of Tomas' three brothers joining the two men for breakfast. Martin was a bright enough lad, with a quick laugh. It was hard for anyone to suspect him of being anything but a good-natured village lad. And that made him a nearly perfect spy.

"You're getting fat, Tomas." Martin teased his brother while checking the few patrons of the inn. The colder weather kept travelers to a minimum and it was too early for the regulars. He lowered his voice as the other two began to eat. "There are a group of bandits who have decided to take retribution for the increased patrols. They've began attacking the nobles, sir."

Robert paused and lowered his fork to stare at Martin. "What?" He managed to keep his voice lowered as he spoke. "Explain." The meal was continued though Rob barely paid attention to what he ate.

"They're attacking the coaches in groups, not bothering to be careful of who is hurt. And they set fire to one of the manors. Lord Averant's. The family and servants escaped but they lost everything."

"It was bound to happen." Rob shook his head as he reached for the mug of coffee sitting in front of him. He didn't add that he felt somewhat responsible. "I just wish things hadn't gotten so bad so quickly."

"It's dangerous to travel the usual routes even if you don't have any money." Martin continued then took a deep breath. Rob nearly groaned but just eyed the young man. "Aye, there's worse. Lord Ellison was attacked. He's been taken. They're planning on making an example of him."

The coffee cup was lowered without the liquid being tasted. "What of Lady Ellison?"

"She's fine. Her family whisked her off as soon as they got word but she delivered the child early. Little girl. Last we heard, she's surviving." Martin leaned forward as he watched Rob. The surveyor was looking down at the coffee, his expression unreadable. "Terr found out where they're holding him, Master Rob." The youth grinned when dark greens snapped up to look at him. "Aye. Guarded heavily, but ... if they got word of a good reason to leave the man ... "

"Martin." Tomas nearly growled his brother's name then he looked at Robert. "You're mad, Rob."

"And you work for me, Tomas." Rob grinned wolfishly at the younger man. "But you know I'd not ask ... "

"Don't even say it." Tomas shook his head as he put up his hand. "You know better'n that. But tell me why -- why save a man who would happily see you hang as be your friend? Why not let it go and maybe things will change? And I know it's not just because of Lady Ellison."

Rob watched Tomas until the man fidgeted. Not because of Elise? In part it was true. But how could he allow her to become a widow and her child fatherless? "Because this is the wrong way to go about it, Tomas. The men who are doing this are not doing it because they want things to be better for everyone. They just want it better for themselves. If they kill Lord Ellison, things will only get worse."

"That's what I figured you say." Tomas leaned back and patted his stomach as if full. "All right then, what are we doing? And how many men will we need?"


Date: 03-04-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 24

Plans to Be Made -- Falkirk
Neale, Patrick and Robert Frasier

On nights like this, the kitchen was the place to be. A fire popped and crackled pleasantly in the large, stone fireplace. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee beckoned to those who favored the brew. The desserts from dinner were covered in their crystal containers but remained on the wooden expanse of kitchen table. Few staff remained, leaving the Duke alone for the most part in the well tended room. Coffee mug in hand and, both of those, resting on the table before him. The cast of the Bremen Town Musicians had made their appearance this night (no small task for the man who had to voice all the parts!) and now the children were enjoying their dreams of other fairy tales. Ah yes, nights like this made the kitchen quite the place to be.

On nights like these it was time to RAID the pantry. For all the warnings about eating late at night, that always seemed to be the best time to pick or even chow down. Not an ounce on any of the Frasier men that didn't belong there. Patrick took the back stairs down from above that left little chance of running into any of the staff. He rounded the bottom of the steps taking him right into the kitchen from the back. "Coffee and desserts, I'm in heaven."

Rob was coming in from the stable, after a stop at the Thistle and a bite to eat. This late, he wasn't sure who would be about. Stomping off his boots, he pushed open the kitchen door and closed it quickly behind him to keep out the cold. And on finding two of his brothers there, he grinned. Of course, he knew where Daniel was. "Evening Neale, Patrick."

They outflanked him! Neale looked first to the left and Patrick's descent, and then, toward the kitchen door and Robert's arrival. "Good evening, Brothers Mine." Neale smiled, stretching his legs under the table, a nudge of the chair directly opposite him in order for one of them to claim it. "As Patrick said, heaven ... might as well enjoy it."

A forefinger was in a swirled point at the array of desserts left over. "You didn't really think you had them all to yourself, Neale?" Grinning like the devil he was as he now moved down along the table, lifting a lid here, finger snaking out a little icing there, checking out the goods and probably wouldn't eat much of anything in the long run but drink a lot of coffee.

Rob might have dessert later, but it was the coffee he wanted. He watched Patrick a moment before pouring a cup and then took the chair that Neale had nudged. "I'll be glad when it's finally spring." Not quite what he had in mind to talk about but it was an opening. "Seems like the snow will never end. Makes the boundary disputes up north hard to deal with."

Neale could well understand how the rougher weather made Robert's chosen profession difficult. However, his comment did crease the fine lines at the corners of Neale's eyes. "Aye, Rob, and with the spring comes summer and the heat will have us wishing for autumn which will inevitably bring about winter and the snows again. Don't wish my life away." Neale hadn't touched the desserts which remained on the table. As always, the finely brewed and freshly ground beans suited him just fine.

Boundary disputes caught his attention as the sweets were abandoned and a mug of coffee gained. One of those specially made huge ones he liked using on certain occasions and this was one of them. Strong. Black. He was over to take up a chair near Neale. After all it was his right being his thorn in the side and bringing more within his reach it seemed. Accidents, Purely accidental. He settled down in as legs were stretched beneath, boots crossing a the ankles and he swore his body groaned in relief to finally settle.

"True enough." He chuckled as greens raised to his two brothers. "But I can find the markers left easier. Then again, there's more chance of a stray bullet come summer, though ... things are stirred up there right now, and it's none of my doing." For once.

The mug stopped midway to Neale's lips. "Stirred up more so than before?"

Stray bullets has him subconsciously lifting a hand to run over his cheek. At least it hadn't left a mark now as that special salve, make it two, had done wonders. The intensity of forest green eyes were on his brother as he listened. Rob took his time about things, getting to the point or points, eventually.

"Aye. There are a group of ... nothing more than brigands who are causing problems, supposedly rebels, but I found out they're using it to line their own pockets with gold." He frowned as he continued. "They've also taken one of the nobles prisoner. Rumor has it that they're waiting until a festival coming up to execute him."

"So they are capitalizing on the Fox for their own purposes. Renegades if they're stupid enough to execute one of the nobles. It's going to start an all out war and destroy them all. Think you can stop it?" So he posed a few questions before the mug was lifted and a long pull of the coffee finally taken down. He waited long enough it wouldn't be too hot to handle.

"Not Fox. They don't even bother pretending. Just put on masks and rob anyone who gets in their way." He nodded. "I think I can stop it. There are some watching the place where Lord Ellison is kept. I just can't help wondering who's behind it. They don't seem the brightest."

A dark brow twitched upward with the mention of the exact noble's name. David Ellison, well, looked like the stakes had just been raised. While Patrick and Robert spoke, Neale sipped his coffee. With that last from Rob, the cup was placed on the support of table. "It doesn't take brains to create chaos, Robert. Bright or, as you think, not ... this is no backyard boy's game of Highwayman and Watch. You think you can stop it, hmmm?" The cup on the table was tipped toward Neale, that green gaze dipping to the contents a moment before flattening out again. "How the hell do you plan on doing that?" Slowly Neale's gaze lifted from the insides of his cup to look to Robert.

"With a little bit of help?" From his brothers as Patrick sat up, mug sliding back to the table as forearms folded in that lean. He didn't need to look to Neale, if he said anything out of line he'd crack him upside the head so focus was on Robert as if trying to pull out any bit more detail from him just by that intensified look.

"I mean his execution. The rest? I don't think I can. But ... Lady Ellison is a friend of mine and she's pregnant." He shrugged as he looked at Neale then Patrick got a grin, though he didn't say anything further. Just in case Neale wanted to give him that hit upside his head.

Neale nodded with that offer from Patrick but he kept his gaze on Robert for now. "I see..." Tap, tap of his forefinger on the warmth of mug. "I don't wish to even know how you plan to stay or even thwart the execution of a man that most nobles would even desire. Lady Ellison has a good friend in you, Brother. Let her not lose a husband ... or a devoted friend." That cant of head toward the brother opposite him was command enough. Robert, and Patrick if the need arose, would be on their own ... at least, where any would realize other than those within the halls of Falkirk.

"Do you have a plan to thwart this execution and what might stop this internal rebellion from happening." Pausing that heartbeat. "Or is such a rebellion needed?" A mini civil war.

Neale wasn't so sure he wanted to hear this!

"Right now, we're trying to find out how many are involved." He rubbed at his chin, thoughtfully as he spoke. "They make regular raids on places. Even burned down the home of an elderly noble who harms no one. Luckily he and his staff were away at the time and no one was hurt." He looked at Neale and grinned then looked at Patrick again. "If they leave only a few men to guard Ellison, that's when we'll strike. As far as a rebellion, if this were truly such, I'd say yes, but it's not."

"Men of this ilk can be bought, Robert. Send someone you trust and who will not be recognized... " Here, Neale looked at Patrick. HE was not the choice in this particular venture! "...out into the midst of those you suspect. Men with egos of this nature, are sure to brag amongst themselves...and if your man is astute, he'll notice which one would be willing to offer a little more information for a tidy sum." Neale stood, moving away from the table to refill his coffee mug. From here, he'd be taking his leave and both brothers would recognize that. Any further discussion regarding this 'venture' would be done between the two of them. Robert knew where to seek the resources if funds were needed. He had managed Falkirk's books. Beyond that, the Duke of Falkirk could not step in unless his kin was at mortal risk. "Good evening, Brothers."

Patrick had a temper that exploded when it could but he wasn't a hothead if that made any sense. He was one of the best actors. "Evening Neale. I'm sure we'll talk soon again." Hell, there was that dinner yet to happen.

"Good night, Neale." He knew Neale would do what he could, but he would not expect him to step in.  He looked over at Patrick after watching Neale walk out. It was time to do some serious planning.


Date: 03-04-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 25

And Carried Out -- Haclymas

There are different forms of darkness, the gentle dark that wrapped a child in comfort with soft soothing sounds, or gave lovers privacy, the kind that smothered and oppressed with fearful waiting; the darkness that made it nearly impossible to see your hand in front of your face. It was the third that covered the realm this night as Robert, dressed as the Fox, moving forward on his stomach toward a small cabin hidden in the very forest he had used for his own night time activities. As he drew as near as he dare, he stopped and watched. A moment later, he could hear the breathing of Tomas' youngest brother, Will. The fourteen year old had led he and Patrick to the cabin while Tomas and Martin waited with the other men they had collected with the horses. Patrick was circling around the other side to try to do his own count and see if there was another way in.

"I counted fourteen horses earlier." Will whispered as he settled beside Rob.

"Looks like more now." Rob whispered back, dark greens narrowing slightly.

"Where?" Will raised up to look and Rob put his hand on the boy's head, pushing him back down as the door opened.

"You daft, boy? Stay down." Rob whispered close to Will's ear, then watched as a number of masked men came out of the cottage. He counted ten as they mounted their horses. One man remained standing and Rob hissed when he heard him speak. He knew that voice.

"Ye understan' now? The coach wi' the gold will be a' Hangman's crossroads in abou' an hour. You'll hav' a chance ta be ready afore it gets there." The one not on horseback spoke.

"Aye. An' everyone on it dies. We'll repor' back inna a day."

As they rode off, Robert closed his eyes briefly, thinking. They knew Lord Ellison was still alive. The brigands, Rob couldn't think of them as rebels, were planning something that had to do with the man's execution and they needed to know what. That meant they needed one of the others alive. "We have to stop that attack on the coach."  He muttered the words softly, not realizing he spoke them out loud.


Post # 26

The Rescue Begins
Robert & Patrick Frasier

The words were no sooner out of Rob's mouth when he was crawling backwards, then turning to make the path, Will following right on the man's heels. Once they were far enough from the cabin, Rob made the sound of an owl's hunting call, to let Patrick know they were moving off. He waited at the bottom of a small hill for his brother to join him before heading back to Tomas and the other men.

Patrick had moved in silent stealth to the other side of the camp. He noticed there was a grouping of horses not far from where he took cover to watch. So they were smart enough not to keep all the steeds in one place in case they were discovered and the bigger grouping set free. Eyes long adjusted to the darkness narrowed in across the way where he knew approximately were Robert and Will laid in wait. He at least gained an important bit of information as he was backing out from his hiding place to circle back around. He heard the telltale owl's hunting call and diverted his path to intercept finding them at the bottom of a small hill. Words came low between them on his find and then waited for further instructions.

The coach they spoke of sometimes carried passengers, which was one reason Robert was concerned. They only needed one man alive to find out the plans the brigands had for Lord Ellison though he was sure others would escape. After speaking with Patrick briefly, the three rejoined Tomas and the others. Masked as well, it wouldn't be hard to convince the first group they were being attacked by another band of outlaws. The carriage could then escape. Rob w
arned the others this was dangerous -- they could lose their lives if not careful. Then, with that warning given, he mounted Cavalier and headed for the crossroads.

With the plans made and mask in place, Patrick was quick to mount up Lightning and head out with the two. Such intrigues were always dangerous and so he was mentally prepared already. His concern laid more in the lad Will but the lad seemed to be holding his own in all of this in spite of his youth. He followed behind, taking up the rear for a duo purpose, one to follow Robert's lead and the second in case anyone followed.

As they drew near, Rob raised a hand and dismounted, moving forward to see where the brigands were. He returned a few moments later, mounting Cavalier again. "They're waiting on both sides of the crossroads. We can take them now, before the coach gets here." They ha
d two more than the brigands, counting Will but no one counted that in their favor. Better that way. He looked at Patrick to see if he had a better suggestion.

There was a low nicker from Lightning he stilled with a draw of a hand down along his neck. The stallion was picking up the tension that came with this kind of wait. All quieted as Robert went to scout then back. "You, me, Tomas, Will, two others." Separating the group into halves but he would stay with his brother. "We'll take on the furthest group. Let's get to it." He didn't know these men but trusted his brother's judgment in them.

Just as Rob trusted Patrick's. He nodded, expression grim as he picked out two others. Without another word, he urged Cavalier forward into a run. The brigands were expecting the coach, not
a group of armed men. A few of the horse started, taking off at a run with their riders, who seemed to do little to stop them! Rob had his flintlock out and fired at the one who was leading the raid, then pulled his sword to attack anothe
r. Tomas had drawn his sword to attack as had Will. Behind them, they could hear the second group as they swept into the fray.

Patrick packed a flintlock this outing also. His drawn near the same time as Robert's as the horses sped onward. He aimed and fired at another one of the group who had drawn his, getting him in the shoulder and his flintlock dropped. The spent firearm shoved into his belt as his sword was drawn in its place by the time they descended on the few left who were trying to mount up. Meanwhile the other group was doing the same to the other group of brigades. The element of surprise in their favor.

The man that Rob had shot was the one he targeted to capture. He had fallen from his horse and was staggering into the brush. In the middle of the fighting, the coach came down the road. When the driver saw the two groups, he urged his horses into a run, scattering men and hor
ses alike. Rob hid his grin as he shouted out. "Let's ge' ou' o' here. They'll be sendin' th' guard on us." He motioned to the man fleeing into the woods on foot and rode in after him, leaping from the back of Cavalier and landing on him. It didn't take much to take the wounded man down. Will joined him, tossing down a rope.

The fighting went easy for the group was more trying to get away at this point. He could hope the same for the other and they certainly would find out soon. He turned Lightning around as the coach came rambling through and geared Lightning around to cover for Robert in case of any comrade deciding to be brave and help the one. Seems there wasn't that kind of loyalty as the shout had what was left of the brigade to get the hell out of there and back to wherever they came from. Once Robert had the man tied up, as he kept watch, and mounted up he headed back to regroup with the others.  They would need to go back to the cabin still.

He wanted to get them away from the crossroads and back to the place they had chosen to keep the man they captured. It was a deserted building, an old farmhouse. Later, someone could see to letting the man free, or turn him over to the authorities. At this point, Rob didn't care. Especially after he pulled the mask off and discovered another of the guards from the Keep. It just took some pressure to the wound and a promise of medical attention that had the man singing. They were planning to hang Ellison at the beginning of the next week, during the festival for Solstice.


Date: 03-08-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 27

Robert & Patrick Frasier

Patrick looked on in disgust leaving the interrogation to Robert and the others while he moved back outside to keep watch. Once they were done and out he was quick to mount back up and be on their way. Rescue this lord Robert felt an obligation to do and get home. He had more reason than just his family for now there was one he was missing. A wry smile tipped knowing how Sinead would react if she knew where he was at the moment. No moment to waste but make haste to see the deed done.

Rob was hoping most of the men would have not returned to the cabin, since they had failed in their mission to get the gold off the coach. Of course, he knew they couldn't count on it either. A hasty plan was made and they set off again. Once more it would be Rob, Patrick and Will scouting ahead before the others
were brought in for the rescue. They needed to be quick since it was likely they'd kill Ellison rather than let him be rescued. Rob had reloaded his pistol and would use it to get inside. He and Will were in position again, waiting for Patrick's signal that he was in place. As they waited, the leader of the men came out of the cabin. It seemed he was restless, almost as if he knew something had gone wrong.

The plan now would be for Patrick to set that group of horses free that were further away and hidden. This way the men would be drawn even further away from the cabin and more time for Rob and Will to get in and out. The horses left at the bottom of that small hill to hide them so the rest was taken on foot. This time he approached the horses from the other direction, giving Robert and Will time enough to get into position. Minutes seemed to tick off as he noted the one step from the cabin. All the better for he'd alert the others. It would take the ones here to gather this many horses set free before they could get away. Patrick ducked in amongst the steeds with low comforting words as he untied each. Once all six were done he gave a slap to one he could tell had leadership qualities to send him into a gallop towards the cabin. The others followed as Patrick would make his own escape back down the way he came.

As the leader shouted for the others, Rob and Will waited to move forward. What they didn't see were some of the others returning and spotting Patrick. They were turning their horses to follow him. When the others poured from the cabin, Rob waited until they had all disappeared down the hill then ran forward and to the wall of the cabin. He and Will stayed close until the corner then he motioned for the boy to stay. A slide around had Rob come up behind the single man left behind. He used the hilt of his sword to knock the man unconscious then went inside. Ellison had been tied up in one of the rooms. He cursed Rob as he entered, thinking he was coming to finish him. Instead Rob cut the ropes and led the noble outside.

So, some men were brave to come back as Patrick cursed under his breath for they had spotted him as he tried to duck to cover. There would be no waiting now as he couldn't tell how many but he was certain there were at least three, on horseback and he on foot. He could run like the devil but these woods were unknown to him. He'd take the hardest route for horses to follow. Density of trees, brush and fallen branches, even whole trees he ducked under. He could only hope Robert got in and out for the ruse might be up and they'd forget about the scattered horses as being a freak incident. As one was skilled enough to maneuver his horse over a fallen tree, Patrick got off another shot that hit his arm at least. He knew it hit for the yelp in pain as he was back around to start at a run. Just his luck the tangled roots of a tree would catch his boot for a hole made and unseen in the dark, sending him head over heels and down an embankment where his head hit something hard and it was lights out.

Rob heard the shouts as the others started out after Patrick. They had reached the bottom of the hill and he grabbed Tomas by the arm. "Get Lord Ellison to safety. I'm going after my brother." Words were harshly whispered before he released the man's arm and swung up into Cavalier's saddle. Charging back up the hill, he paused to listen, then turned the horse in the direction of the shout of "There he is!" Cavalier was sure footed as he surged forward. Pausing at the top of a crest of a hill, Rob tried to get his bearings again. He felt responsible for Patrick. With the noise of the hunt, he didn't see the man coming up behind him, one of the others who had circled back to the cabin. Not recognizing the horse or man, the brigand pulled his flintlock and fired. Rob felt the bullet burning into his back, hitting with enough force to send him tumbling forward and startling Cavalier into a run.

Leaving Rob for dead, the man joined the others. They found Patrick lying unconscious at the foot of the embankment and dragged him up and to the cabin. Tomas and Will didn't join the others as they took Ellison away. They circled around when things became quiet. Cavalier had returned to stand over Rob and they lifted him over the horse's back. Will went on to find out what had happened to Patrick. He hid when he heard the men, saw them taking the unconscious Patrick to the cabin and ran back to tell Tomas. This had not gone as planned at all!


Date: 03-10-05
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 28

Substitute Captive

Patrick never felt the bruises, scrapes and even tears in his clothing as he was dragged back unconscious to the cabin. Didn't feel a thing until ice cold water was dumped on him and the void he'd been in
ended with a shocked gasp followed by a kick into his side. "That's for shootin' me friend." One hard enough it broke a lower rib and the air knocked out of his lungs again before more ice cold water flew in his face. They were going to make sure to keep him conscious. The man was about to shove the hilt of his sword in his face as the blur just missed as another was pulled the man away saying something about needing to keep him alive. Blood trickled from his mouth as he could tell it was such by the salty taste. His lip was at least split and swollen, he didn't know exactly how it happened. A drip of wetness went into his one eye he wasn't sure if it was blood or water. He didn't feel the small gash up under his hair above his forehead.

He went to move but found the restraint of ropes against his wrists behind his back and around a pole pressed into his back. His ankles were also tied one over the other. As more nerve endings revitalized, he realized his ankle was twisted but the fact he could move his toes, it was at least not broken. Once his vision cleared up enough he was quick to scan the room.
A bit of relief was garnered that Robert had not been captured. He would only believe his brother escaped for he'd not think of it being otherwise. He was alive but at the moment he wasn't so sure it was a good thing. His breathing was labored as each breath has to be shallow. If taken too deep it caused a sharp pain. The man with a vengeance was led outside. It was then he noticed eyes upon him in study and once he did the man spoke up. "I recognize yea. Bloke tha' came after that Frasier fellow that was celled up for being the highwayman." Patrick realized he recognized the one too. One he'd all but threatened when led to his brother that day.

A wry grin spread
on the guard's face as he continued to watch Patrick, rapier crossed over his lap where he sat on a crate across from him. It was hard to tell what the man was thinking but he didn't attack so that was a good sign. Long minutes passed as it was easy enough to hear the few gathered outside talking over a plan. There were angry words for Lord Ellison being rescued. The one man that kicked him wanting to kill him immediately and the others had a time of it calming him down. There were a lot of irritated mumblings right down to having round up the spare horses. The whole while the one guard watched him intently knowing well he could hear the others outside where they probably thought no one could. He mumbled something that sounded like 'stupid idiots' and right afterwards came the announcement from the one heading the group of substituting the bloke they dragged up in Ellison's place. An execution that would show the man had been tortured slowly before death claimed his body and hung in the archway gate to Haclymas Keep as a threat.


Date: 03-12-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 29

Close to Death

Rob urged Cavalier forward when he heard the shouts of the men after his brother. Patrick had come with him because he wanted to help and now he was in trouble. If anything happened to Patrick, Rob would never forgive himself. Pausing, he listened to narrow down the exact location of the men and his youngest brother. Catching a motion from the corner of his eye, the surveyor started to turn. He caught the puff of smoke, the sound of a flintlock being fired. Time seemed to slow, an eternity passing before he felt the incredible burning as the ball slammed into him, sending him tumbling out of the saddle and sent him falling forward into the ground. He was vaguely aware of a stone digging into his cheek, of the cold wetness of snow against exposed skin. He was more aware of the way his heart beat was slowing, the heated wetness growing beneath his cloak.

"Fox. Hold on. We're going to get you out of here." Tomas' voice sounded odd, faraway. He felt hands lifting him, and as pain shot through his lungs, lapsed into blessed darkness. Time became an unknown as he saw faces from his past, father, mother, sister, recent events and then Tomas' face was over him. He realized he had gained consciousness.

"Pa... Patrick?" That was the only word he could get out.

"Alive." Tomas answered. "We're taking you back to Falkirk, Robert. Hang on." He was in a wagon, still on his stomach. Blankets lay under and over him but each jolt of the wagon sent pain coursing through him. As he began to fade into darkness again, he only managed a single word. "Please... " A prayer to live? To die? Or to know if Patrick was alive.


Post # 30

(Neale, Robert, Daniel & Shiloh Frasier, Sinead NiAhearne, Tomas & Will Stanton - npc's)

A wagon was making its way slowly toward Falkirk, Tomas guiding the horses while his youngest brother, Will, sat in the back with Robert. He had not regained consciousness for several hours though they had managed to slow the loss of blood some. It was with relief that the manor house was finally seen. As they neared, Tomas yelled out, trying to get someone's attention.

Danny was in the stables last this night for he'd gotten Shi her own equine. A dapple mare that would be a surprise and give her freedom not having to wait on a spare horse. There was also a carriage included and he was checking the ropes and making doubly sure everything was in perfect condition. It also gave Shi some time away from her hovering husband that worried every breath she took. Even he was getting so he couldn't stand himself! He heard a yell as he tossed the saddle in the back of the buggy and headed out to see who it was. A stable lad came running out and ahead. "Greetings, who comes?" Not recognizing the one as he drew closer.

Even though a fire blazed in the hearth, the window was raised a crack in the study, allowing the fresh air of evening in. Had it not been so, Neale would have never heard the cry of arrival. Moving from the desk to the window, he pressed the curtain aside and looked out, more of the colder night air breezing into the room. He squinted past his own reflection to the arriving wagon. Not one he recognized. Ah, and there was Daniel...he'd take care of those arriving. The weight of drape eased from his touch and he returned to his desk.

"I'm Tomas, sir. Robert's apprentice, and my brother, Will. We have Robert here with us. He's hurt bad." The worry was apparent in the young man's voice as he answered Daniel. Will looked up at his older brother then back down to Rob. "He's barely breathing, sir."

"How hurt? NEALE!" Pierced the night as Danny was already around to the back of the wagon as it pulled in. Drawing back the cover thrown over his brother and he could tell, and smell, the blood. "Shit." He tested the side of his throat along the jugular and could feel a pulse still. "We need to get him inside."

That shout was enough. The study was left behind as the eldest Frasier slammed past the two men at the doors, watching. From what Neale could see as he bounded from the front entrance, there was a body. "Get Diana and Trudi, have them prepare." So unlike Neale, he had shouted this over his shoulder to the men who then darted off to do as ordered. Long, ground-eating strides carried him down the stairs and to the wagon's rear and there to find..."Robert..." He shot a look to the two younger men, then waved another lad over. "In the stable, bring that large board where the saddles are polished...hurry, Lad...get Gary to help you!" Without knowing the full extent of Robert's injuries, it was best not to just heft him up and haul him into the manor house. "Daniel..." A flicker of greens to his brother. "Please...wake Shi."

The days were too long without his presence, too long for Patrick. With the sure-footed gallop of Barley, horse and rider made for Falkirk with intentions to see him. He could have been busy and that was what kept him. But the shouts, the bustle that loomed before her -- growing all the more close, had dark red brows forming a line. Sinead was on them quickly, swinging from the mare's back before Barley ever halted. With a quick pace, determination yet caution packaged. "Wha' is amiss?" Not her place, but it never stopped the curious creature she was.

Tomas was off the seat of the wagon in record time, moving around the back to pull the board off and setting it aside. He and Will were both splattered with blood and mud from all that had happened. Once the board was out, Tomas helped to get Rob onto it while Will kept his head from bouncing against the wood. He'd help carry Rob inside if allowed.

Daniel gave a nod and rushed back into the house, down the hall and up the stairs to their room. Door flew open and held "Shi, you are needed. Emergency." No matter how she was dressed he was soon ushering her back down and explaining what she was about to encounter as they went.

Neale stepped back as the two with Rob took over. Greens studied them as well as both worked to make sure Robert was ready to be brought safely within. "Are either of you hurt?" Where was Patrick? That was the question which bore like a mole through his mind...but..."Sinead..." Neale attempted to keep his manners with the woman's question and ... her appearance at this particularly inopportune time. "Would you run on ahead and make sure that the ladies have hot water and bandages prepared?" Set her to work, yes, and get her out of the way for now. Even better. For the question which plagued him would, no doubt, be spewing from her lips. First tend to the brother at hand, then to the brother ... at large.

It came in a hush from her lips, near pallid at the sight. "Robert ..." Seeing the two taking him on the board when she was finally close enough. A flare of golds shot towards Neale, though she held her own manners in check. "Donae bae pushin' mae tae busy work. Wha' happened? I saw Daniel goin' inside, where's Patrick?" He should have known the Celt a little better than that. To set her from worry with other things.

Shiloh was still awake and dressed, having been looking at her clothing and seeing what could be let out and what would she would need to replace. When Daniel came in, the gown she had in her hand was placed aside as she joined Danny. By the time they had reached the room where Rob would be taken, she was ready and set to checking on the items needed though she wasn't sure what she'd need until she saw her brother-in-law.

"No sir, just some scratches and such from the wood." Tomas fell silent then and helped to lift Rob. Will guided the board from the wagon, jumping down and running to the side. He was a big enough lad at fourteen to handle it just fine. Even in his state, Rob knew those voices and tried to open his eyes. They wouldn't cooperate, felt as though they were weighed down. He managed a soft groan and nothing more.

The men were coming in with Robert on the board as he backed up a few paces to let them get by. Keeping Shi close as he directed them into the parlor being a few here it would give all plenty of room. "Need to get his shirt off." Seeing that was where the blood was coming from as they eased him onto the couch. The knife he wore was flicked out as he carefully cut away the material to expose the wound.

Now wasn't the time for attitude, Sinead, and her words didn't sit well on the already frayed nerves of the concerned Duke of Falkirk. "I have no answers ... follow or stay behind" Neale started alongside the men carrying Robert. "I care not which." Falkirk came alive with efficient movement and worried words. One of the Lords was seriously When Robert was transferred to the couch and Daniel prepared him for Shi to look over, Neale pulled one of those younger men aside by a firm grip upon the man's elbow. His voice was lowered, shared with that man alone. "Where is Patrick?"

Her throat suddenly felt as if she'd swallowed a mass of wool, constricted and dry. He doesn't know? Right behind Neale was where she moved, though her gaze was a flurry of search. Not able to settle on one thing over another. There was something lost in translations. For she hid worry behind that hot head, one that clipped words from Neale right back. When Neale pulled the lad aside, there she was, following. He didn't care, remember. Golds trained on the boy as well, though she tried to keep her stance loose -- even if those muscles were tensed.

Shi watched as Robert was brought in and laid on his stomach. Once his shirt was off, the Singer moved to his side and began to probe the wound. Her voice was going to be a soft background to what was going on. First, she needed to know the damage, then she would remove the ball. That would be the most draining on her, especially now. She had to stop the blood flow as well as be certain lead poisoning hadn't set in. Following that, she'd work on replacing some of the lost blood, but it would be a slow process, likely done in steps.

It was Tomas Neale grabbed and he looked scared for a moment. Dark eyes moved from him to the woman then back. "They got him, sir. Will saw them carrying him off." Tomas wasn't cringing but he sure didn't look happy.

The maids had clean water and towels as Danny stepped out of the way but he would linger close enough to Shi in case he was needed. Finally a glance was given to Neale and only then did he notice Sinead. She got a slight dip of his head before he was focused back on his wife and brother. him? Neale jerked his hand free from Tomas with those words. Good Lord! If Robert was proof of what they left behind, Patrick would be in worse condition! Neale did look in Sinead's direction, the woman was practically crawling up his arm as she...eavesdropped. Will saw them carrying him off...Will...where was ...ah... Neale called to the man who still hovered near Robert. "How many would you say, Will?" The eldest Frasier touched Sinead on the upper arm before he left her to join Will closer to Rob.

Danny received a dip of her head in return, but her attention ripped towards Tomas and those words. It was rare for the warmth to drain from her, but this was one that caused the deathly chill. Even the touch was nothing more than numb brush to her skin. Robert was laying in an immobile. What of ... No. She wouldn't play on that weak idea. Hardheaded and fierce with the fire of life. Steps had her near Robert, grabbing a warm wet linen that was used to brush over Robert's forehead as she knelt near him. Though ears were perked to any details.

"We got a couple of them before, so there's may be eight left. Two of them were draggin' him between 'em. But he wasn't awake." He glanced over at Tomas then looked back. "He was tryin' to get their attention and we don't know what happened. Mr. Robert was goin' after him when he got shot." That was all he could tell them and he fell quiet again.


Date: 03-25-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 31

Fire and Ice
(Neale, Robert, Daniel & Shiloh Frasier, Sinead NiAhearne, Tomas & Will Stanton - npc's)

Danny stepped away to approach Neale but he kept an eye on Shi in that overprotective way. "This is not good." Stating the obvious no less but more to say something to start. "I hope he comes to consciousness soon so we can learn more. Looks like time is of the essence." Like now to put them into action. Neale would be the one to make the decision but he there to help as always.

Neale always counted on and trusted Daniel's input. Robert's information could be crucial, but Neale had heard enough to know that they couldn't wait for their brother to return to consciousness. The Frasiers had Tomas and Will. Those two knew where the men had taken Patrick. The younger bucks had attempted to handle matters, now the elder stags would step into the fray. No mention had been made of David Ellison. That man's circumstances could wait. Neale never did care much for that particular Lord for reasons most didn't. Still, by the looks of Robert, he'd not want the noble in the hands of those roughshots. "We'll need Lan, Daniel. And ..." God help them. "Channing. If Patrick's fate is to live through this, then, by the Gods, we better go prepared."

She heard and noted all the information well. With a final swipe of the linen against Robert's brow, she quickly set it aside and moved towards Tomas, tilting her head up at him then up at Neale. "I daenae have any of mae blades wit' mae, so if yae want tae bae sharin' one," she was already preparing within herself for a ride, working her strategies in mind.

Shiloh was busying working the ball from the flintlock and not totally aware of what was happening. It was dangerously close to vital organs and then there was the risk of lead poisoning. That would be addressed once the bleeding was dealt with. She smiled gratefully at Sinead as she moved away and dropped the lead ball into a small glass dish with a clink.

Tomas and Will just listened to the men as they talked, the younger lad fidgeting some. He was warm finally, his fingers had been nearly frozen before.

"I'm ready." Danny was always ready. Ask Shi! Dark eyes turned upon Sinead, of course he knew about her and his brother. One missing. A touch was given her forearm in that sympathy. The muscles long his jaw set in determination. He shook hands with death three times already, they were old friends but he always managed to slip past the old geezer. "You know how to fight?" Trying to keep the surprise out of his voice.

The sound of the lead ball drew Neale's gaze and a long exhale of relief followed. Now just to get the man past any fevers. Sinead's comment, and Daniel's question stole any further attention that Neale had on Robert's condition. "Whether she knows how to fight or not is irrelevant at this point. Robert's condition is kind compared to what the likes of those men would do to a woman who challenged them." Neale cocked his head toward the sister-in-law who tended to his brother. "We'll need your help here, Sinead, with Robert. Patrick's return can be accomplished without placing you in harm's way." That said, Neale left Daniel and Sinead and crossed to Shi, bending over her right shoulder. "Keep him alive and treat him well, Sister. I'll need him in fully healed when I beat the life from him." He kept an eye on Robert as he spoke, the devotion to his brothers throbbed in his veins, pounded in his temples. "We'll be bringing you back another who'll, without doubt, need your skilled hand." Channing, now he had to find Channing and alert Lan.

"Aye, I can bae fightin'." But she knew, perhaps even all along, Neale was going to be the proper male arse which would do them no good. "Shi can bae workin' well enough, 'cause I bae goin'. Yae can eit'er bae acceptin' it, or nae. But I'll nae stand an' argue t'e whole of it, yae can dae t'at wit' mae shadow." She had little concern for the right etiquette when time was more important. Her attention came to Tomas, stepping closer to rest her hands loosely against his biceps, holding him at arms length. "Which way tae bae goin'?" She'd go alone if it came to that.

Shiloh winced when she heard Neale's words and looked toward Sinead but her attention was drawn back to Robert when he stirred slightly. She had stopped the bleeding and closed off most of the wound but had to rest again. When Neale spoke, she hid her smile at the threat. "Just bring him back." And that was all she got out when Sinead spoke. She watched her a moment before dark violets turned to Danny.

Tomas' eyes grew wide when he heard the woman talking to Lord Frasier. Talking like that to a noble? She had to be daft. When she approached, he shook his head. "I can tell you north, but I can't show you." There was an almost stubborn set to his chin. He didn't know her, barely knew the others enough to trust them, but they were Mister Rob's family.

Sinead would feel Danny's hand on her shoulder to turn her enough around gently. There was compassion in his eyes that might just halt her protest. One didn't bite the hand that fed them unless very foolish. "If I was the one captured, Shi would not hesitate to go after me at the risk of her own life. If Lan was the one, Hannah would be blaring a trail to get him free. The women in our family have always been fighters. I need to know two things, can you fight like a warrior and do you love Patrick enough to risk your own life? Only other thing if the answer is yes to both of those is that you get the approval of the one heading your family. We would not jeopardize those of another family without them even knowing." His hand falling away with a glance to Neale. He had spoken where all could hear him. Neale knew the women in their family could fight like demon spawns. "Would that be agreeable Neale?"

Neale and Daniel would speak about this after Patrick was back safely. Neale had already said Sinead should not go. Should not. He had paused at the doorway when Sinead had spat defiant venom at his back, he didn't turn, though, until Daniel spoke. Daniel's words to everyone in the room defied Neale's previous decision even with the question at the end. Greens locked on Sinead. "You are not the only woman who would risk their life for their love. But, realize this, Sinead, a true woman knows when she should wait ... and when she must wield her weapon. Whether sharpness of blade or tongue." Another look touched upon Daniel as he started to turn away. "Arm her Daniel..." Neale was off to find Channing and Lan.

She stared at Daniel a moment, before her head gave a shake. "Aye, I fight alon'side mae own brot'ers in battles. As for Patrick, I'd lay down mae life for him wit'out a breat' of t'ough'." Ruarc knew the power of love, he also knew her talent with battle tactic and a blade. But they didn't have time to ask. Neale's speaking had her attention shifting towards him. He might think her less of a 'true woman,' but it wasn't his approval she sought in that manner. It was more important to have Patrick back and safe. Not another word was uttered his way, looking back to Daniel, hands held out for weapons. "I fight better wit' two blades an' nae shields."

The Singer watched Neale leave before she pushed to her feet to join Daniel and Sinead briefly. The two young men were smiled at. They could at least be given something to eat while Neale looked for Channing and Lan, and she had sent one of the maids to do just that.

Will nudged Tomas briefly, barely hiding a grin. Fiery lass reminded him of his sister. And he wouldn't turn down any of the food. Tomas stepped away and over to Rob a moment, just watching him. He was going to stay there where it was safe.

He too hoped the lass had brains enough that if she couldn't fight like a warrior honed she'd step down for that alone could cause more damage than help. He also knew of love. Something he really finally knew just how strong it was. Strong enough to cross the chasm of time and risk in front of peers to be turned down. Made a laughing stock of in front of all those others who vied for her. He had been driven that night in spite of all odds against him. He motioned to one of the tables off to the side that had writing materials. "Write him off a note we'll send out soon as you're done then I'll bring you to where we keep our weapons and test your skills myself while we await a reply. By that time Lan shall be here and Channing." Hoping the latter hadn't wandered off. Getting Lan might well bring Hannah too. Neale has his work cut out for him there. Whatever repercussions for giving Sinead a chance in this, he would face later and hopefully not regret stepping in. It was rare he countered Neale and even when he felt compelled it was always done with respect. Hence the last of his words to be turned down. Dark eyes turned on his wife for he would be riding out in this too. She would worry as a brush of his hand fell down along her arm then slid around her waist for a moment. "How is Robert doing?"

She fell into that silence that her kin knew. The one that meant she was plotting. Working the kinks out of a situation. The woman thought before she acted, even if people thought she didn't. Even then there was reasons. With a tip of her head towards Daniel, she moved over to that table to take up parchment and quill, sketching out the letter quickly. She would welcome the 'test' before embarking. The last thing she needed right now was a moment of idle nothing. Sinead couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't let her mind dwell on the possible outcome of what was happening. She'd unravel quicker than a century old scrap of linen.

"Resting now. Tonight will be critical." She leaned against him, not hiding the worry he knew would be there. "You best come back unharmed, Daniel Frasier." She'd give the same threat to all of them, even Neale, though she knew the man had to be furious right now. Shi was going to stay with Danny and Sinead while he armed her. She needed to be close for as long as possible.

She barely had the note finished and the delivery lad they employed was there all ready to ride out and find the Ahearne Laird. Danny felt if there was any problem the man would come back with the lad and haul his sister home. Danny was covering all bases. Soon as the lad left he escorted her to the weapons room. There was quite the display and probably even those kind of hand axes she used there. Flintlocks too.


Date: 04-05-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 32

The Rescue
(Neale Frasier, Channing Royce, Lan Kearney, Daniel Frasier, Sinead NiAhearne, Patrick Frasier, Will & Tomas Stanton - npc's)

Once Sinead was armed and Channing and Lan found, they left Falkirk. It was still dark as they headed north, pausing once to gain a few hours sleep. Finally, they came to the fork in the road where the first battle had taken place. The bodies had been removed and all seemed well. Tomas stopped his borrowed horse and pointed. "The cabin is in that direction. Don't know if the road will be guarded or not."

Neale squinted through the early morning darkness, surveying the landscape where Tomas had delivered them. They remained mounted for now, concealed in the lingering shadows just before dawn. Neale shifted on the saddle, glancing to Channing. "Check it out."

Channing dipped his head in response, tapping a heel to start his horse forward -- disappearing into the morning. Channing Royce may be thought mad, a man obsessed and possessed, but he was also a titled lord, a seasoned warrior. In this, his focus would not be found lacking.

Lan hung back from the group, just enough to guard their backs. Distinctive blue eyes in a constant scan of the terrain around them as they rode on. Once to the road he pulled up his steed as he turned a glance to where Tomas indicated while listening to Neale give out orders to Channing. If he wanted him to go with Channing, he'd say something. One thing he had in common the man, they were the brother in laws but still welcomed as one with the family.

Danny had set a quick pace to his stallion as he went down the one fork in the roada distance in the opposite direction of where Tomas indicated. Down one then crossed over through the wooded area to come back up along the other. One hand with the reins in guide while the other rested against the hilt of his sword. He made sure all was clear along that side to avoid surprises. He watched Channing disappear in the other direction as he waited.

Eyes trained on the area, like the feline predator, gold eyes reflecting the slightest hint of light to illuminate her vision. Barley knew the moment, holding still and steady for any moment that called for the equines instinct. Ears were also perked for sound, listening beyond the normal song of the forest to that of voices or feet scuffing on the ground. Sinead was in tracker mode, honed through years of training given by father and oldest brothers.

Rain began to fall lightly as Channing disappeared. A short distance from the fork was the road that led to the cabin. Four men guarded it, two on either side, hidden in the brush. Not as well trained, they'd be easily seen by one who knew how to stay quiet. The road Daniel checked showed signs of heavy travel but nothing else. It was early yet. Tomas and Will waited as patiently as was possible for the two, the younger boy showing his nervousness by fidgeting in the saddle.

Time seemed to stand still and, at the same time, what was surely only fifteen minutes, twenty at the most, seemed to be an hour or more. Neale said not a word in that span of unknowing. He eyed thetwo younger men and then, just looked out into the nothingness. A faint chirp, like the beacon of morning, drew his attention and he nodded. "These men, no doubt, have wives, children. And as foul as they may be, they may still be the only means for their support. Spare those you can, we are here to claim Patrick." Though Sinead remained just a form in the dark, she was the most petite of the gathering and not difficult to pick out. "Only." Revenge and justice were two totally different matters. Revenge only bred more bloodshed. Justice would see this all to an end.

A well placed butt of flintlock in combination with a skilled application of elbow took care of the first two guards. The second two proved a bit more challenging. Still, the road now waited for the passage of the rescue party. Four men, probably still unconscious, tied with their own horse's reins to an obliging sycamore trunk. Channing rejoined the group, a bit mussed for the effort but smiling in the glow provided by the rising sun along the horizon. "I can report no reasons to delay, Neale."

Patrick was smart enough to play possum but he was nearly sure that one guard knew what he was doing. He'd gotten a few more kicks when one of the others could get one in while passing where he was tied, feigning half consciousness with a moan in pain that didn't have to be faked for his ribs. At least he could breathe a touch better so it was possible it wasn't broken, just very bruised. Any trickling of blood had dried on the one side of his face untouched by any washing. He knew his one ankle was swollen for the tightening of his boot. He didn't try moving his footand it would put a damper on any get away even if he could get past being tied up and the others. Right now he had no other choice than to stay put but his fingers worked at the ropes, nails digging in to slowly fray them apart.

Lan understood the comment well. He'd rather not kill but would if it became a matter of his own or the others. Family. The Grunt blacksmith had the kind of skill in weaponry that match what he forged. He drew closer to Neale with the guide of his horse. "Sneak in the back or just storm the front?" Words lowered between them as he figured either could work and the latter for the surprise. Ride the horses right into the place would probably have the men scatter than fight.

Danny's eyes were trained on the road up ahead where Channing had disappeared while he listened. His sentiments exactly as he now had a wife and child on its way. More compassion gained as most times ones were forced into the service of others with the threaton their families. Caught between a rock and a hard place, one usually chose the route to keep all alive until a better route was offered. A grin quirked seeing Channing's return and the state he was in spoke much.

She didn't know the whole reason for this situation. Why it was created. All she knew was the man she had come to realize, she loved dearly, was not safe. That alone fueled her passion for this mission. With a cluck to the roof of her mouth and knees pressed into the mare's sides, Sinead moved closer to the group of men, listening to what would be the plan.

When Neale looked at the two youths, Will gave him a nervous grin, then looked down quickly. The forest started to come to life as the sun rose, birds chirping, squirrels and chipmunks studying the humans who invaded their home. Time might work against them as the four men were to be relieved soon.

If time didn't work against them, they would not be Frasiers! "Channing, Daniel ... Sinead ... ease around the back, come in from behind. My guess is they will have Patrick in one of those rear rooms. Tucked away, out of the way." His mount danced to the side, feeling the change in Neale's body, recognizing that subtle shift in movement. "We'll charge from the front. Draw their attention and their fire. Hopefully we'll beat any change of post and the ones there will be groggy from a long night of standing guard." He looked to the other two, Tomas and Will. "We'll be counting on you two to make sure that any that do come to relieve the shift are reduced in number before they arrive." A nod to that pair and he drew in a deep breath. "Let's be about it."

Channing was already pulling his mount around. "No time like the present. And ... presently ... I've a yearning to deliver a surprise." With the red-orange stain on the lower ridge of sky, they had just enough light to see their mission completed successfully.

Lan gave an approving nod of his head as the groups were being listed off. He too had noticed the two younger ones were not really cut out for this in experience. Once more his respect of Neale moved up a notch as the man well recognized the best part they should take and embarked them on that mission. "Let's get to it so we can be back in time for dinner." Hannah's cooking was that excellent although it was better to see to this mission before total sunrise as they headed off.

Danny listened then guided his stallion around to come up alongside Sinead. "Don't worry, we'll have him back soon." Encouraging with the tip of a smile before the threesome took the trail up through the woods that would lead them behind the cabin. He had been impressed with her fighting skills but still all the same he would protect this woman the best he could in this mission.

So many had been pulled from her lately. First Kegan, then Linn, and now Patrick. Though the smile was encouraging enough, she still had her mind set in that mode of survival. Element of surprise would come from her being with the rescue party. She was a woman. Small at that. Keeping with them along that trail, eyes kept their watch on the area -- everywhere at once.

Both boys nodded, Will glancing at Tomas before speaking. "There's a trail that leads to the cabin. Don't think they know about it. You can take it, cut off a few minutes." He pointed it out before he and Tomas headed to the road. They would leave their horses in the forest then walk to watch for any 'changing of the guard'.

The lads may not be skilled fighters, but they were eager, willing, and well prepared. Neale nodded off his gratitude for that additional information and watched a moment more as everyone set off before looking to Lan. "Je suis prest." I am ready -- the Frasier motto. It would be up to them, together, to make the captors believe at first that, again, only two had arrived to make the attempt at rescue.

The three designated to infiltrate and locate sped down that trail. Low over their mounts, speed and training on horseback kept them easily on track. Before they broke from the cover of trees, Channing slid from his still moving mount, the horse careening off to the side to mingle in the denseness of thicket. He remained crouched in that run, drawing forth dagger and flintlock. They had to be in place, perhaps even within, before Neale and Lan made themselves known.

Two of the men came in to start up an argument over Patrick as the other guard set to watch him stood. One shoved the other before taking up the club he carried about to swing it at Patrick's head. The man's wrist was caught in a vice grip by the other with the point of a blade against his back. "Now mae friend, I'm told tae kee' 'em alive an' by God I will. Ye ge' yourselves out o' 'ere an' bae useful somew'ere else o' I will skewer yea both." The other man was back out the door already as he didn't wish a part in this to begin with. A few heated curses were given as the other threw down the club and headed back out to stew some more. Patrick only glanced up in the haze his consciousness was in just as he caught the other man's look as he turned. Eyes met but nothing was said as the one took up his post again. It was stillhard to tell which side of the bed this one got up from.

"Fast and furious. Let's go. Je suis prest." He headed up the road that lead directly to the cabin alongside Neale. Lingering just long enough to give the others time to get into their positions before he spurred his stallion into a gallop when they were within a few hundred yards. Sword drawn as knees pressed against the saddle to secure his seating so he could use both hands. A flintlock was brought out into the other but he'd aim to maim if needed. It was a one shot deal and more if the ones here managed to put out such weaponry, they would be the one he was aiming for.

Danny kept that low profile with Channing and Sinead. Once the cover of trees would end he was down from his saddle making haste towards the back of the cabin and a door there. It was a dodge in more a crouched run so they'd not be spotted through any of the two windows in the back. He was next to Channing as he indicated one of the windows over the other. Design told him it was a bedroom type one rather than kitchen. A glance was given Sinead also and hoped she read his meaning.


Date: 04-05-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 33

Quick to keep in time with both men, dismounting quickly and bolting across the stretch to hunker down near them. Golden eyes shot upwards to that window, before looking around for any other hitches to their current plan.

There were two men outside. One watching the other drawing water from a well. He dropped the bucket when the two men charged and ran for the cabin. The one who had been watching let out a shout of warning as he drew his flintlock. The window they had chosen had curtains drawn, making it nearly impossible to see inside. Patrick's guard moved to the door but didn't step out. He wouldn't leave his post. Inside, there was chaos as men grabbed weapons and moved for the door. Eight in all, plus the two outside and Patrick's guard. The man who wanted to crush Patrick's skull hesitated, glancing over his shoulder toward the door.

The rumble of racing horses echoed in the early morning silence, that and the shout of "Amhor-fhaiche!" as the guards were spotted outside the cabin. The flintlock was never an accurate weapon. Neale had drawn his, primed it, and with the pressure of his knees guiding his mount, forced back the trigger. The shot rang out, hitting just above the door frame where he aimed, sending wooden debris showering down on the men rolling out to face the attack. Men dove to the sides, thinking the target had been human in form instead. The weapon was tucked away, sword and dagger now drawn for closer combat. A swift, mental count was made just as a shot and the white billowing smoke of returned fire rang true. The whine of passing ball whizzed past Neale's ear, causing him to flinch to the side. He could only hope the other three had time to get in.

Channing caught Daniel's look, nodding his head ... the woman was petite enough to fit through and these windows were not made for locking. She could enter there, he would enter through the rear door and Daniel, well, Danny would take care of himself. It would appear that Channing Royce had performed this sort of intrigue before. One moment he was there ... the next ... disappeared within.

Patrick heard the stir of the men but he kept his eyes on the one guard as he moved to the door. He'd finally worked the rope loose enough he could get his hands free but being behind his back it would not be noticed and he wasn't about to disclose that advantage, if it was even an advantage considering his condition. He was having trouble enoughin keeping aware. Not having been given anything to eat or drink in the couple days here already was taking its toll.

Lan aimed for the gutter system where the ones were ducking off to the side. Shattering the holding as the metal duct came down on them in another confusing clatter. He too shoved the spent flintlock away as his dagger was drawn to that hand. The charge of his stallion alone had the men dispersing as he all but ran them down to keep them on the move and he as well. A kick of a boot in passing sent one flying down onto his back while he sideswiped another with his sword to throw him off balance. Lan was in a frenzy back and forth but keeping near the front door. Moving target was harder to hit especially on horseback.

A nod given and he was on the move as Danny would see to helping Sinead get the window open if it meant breaking the glass then hoisting her through. First they would make sure none were at the window and if so then the flintlock he had would be discharged. He already heard such out the front so it wouldn't make much of a difference. He wouldn't fit so he'd be on the run coming in after Channing and into the room as fast as he could get there.

Lucky for her small frame, she could always sneak into the tiniest places. With none in that room, she perched on the framing on the outside long enough to pry the window open and crawl in. Feet found the cushion of a mattress first, lowering inside to an empty room. Enough time could afford her bearings and the dual hand axes at her side to be pulled from their loops. Off the bed and across the room, knees were bent as she moved in a line of foot before foot, opening the door to a crack -- just enough to peer out and see her obstacles.

A few had flintlocks but moving targets weren't the best to take on. A few puffs of smoke announced the firing of the pistols though some didn't try with things falling down around them. Some of the men charged Neale, some Lan. Three remained at the door. The man inside turned and made for where Patrick was held. He intended to kill the man now, guard or not. Patrick's guard was still not about to let that happen and the two grappled, falling to the floor. Down the road, Will and Tomas took out two more men, the younger boy using a slingshot.

Movement. Sensations. Sounds. A chaos of sensory bombardment. Shouts. Shots. Slashing. Mounted the two men remained at the advantage. Neale's boot found the temple of one man, sending the attacker sprawling in the dirt unconscious. A downward slice of sword sent another reeling away, only to slam head to head with one of his comrades ... both men buckling to their knees. The warm stickiness which plastered shirt to side was ignored along with the sickening pain so that Neale could spur his horse forward toward the door, hacking and kicking as he did in order to clear the way.

The lighting within the cabin left much to be desired. For reading, that is. For Channing's purposes, the dimly lit confines came as a godsend. With his back pressed to the rough interior wall, he edged his way along until, right there in front of him so that he could continue on no further, were two men rolling and punching and growling and cursing. Interesting turn of events. Channing paused a moment, scratching the handle of his dagger along the line of his jaw, watching a moment. "Don't mind me, just passing through." And Royce did just that, easing on around them, stepping over a leg that shot out, avoiding a missed punch. Whatever was in that room was definitely worth getting a look at.

It was as if Neale and he were going the jousting length passing amongst the fray of men trying to land a killing blow, only to stumble back with a more precise hit. Not a killing blow as they would have land but disabling. Sweat beaded from his brow and splattered as the hilt of his sword made contact with the side of a man's head in a downward swing as he passed. The flintlock dropping fromthe man'shand as surely as he fell to the ground unconscious. He reared the stallion up as his sword followed suit, hooves having the other stumbling back into the dirt now that was dusting up all around them. Lan was in his element.

As the three men scuffled, Patrick freed his hands to quickly undo the ropes from around his ankles before moving back into his former position as if still tied. The ropes laying over his boots would not be noticed as being otherwise as the guard that watched him was now in a heated knife slashing battle with the one after knocking the other out the door to go help the ones out front. Like the two should have been to start with.

Danny was in behind Channing as the two were moving fast past empty room. Well, one wasn't as he motioned Chan to keep going and he stepped in long enough to motion to Sinead to follow them.

Out that door quickly, peeking back and forth with the flurry of sounds to slam against her ears. Hard to pinpoint everything with the ruckus going about. Falling in line behind Danny, watching behind them in turn.

The men were falling or scattering from the attack of two who surely had to be madmen. Two fled into the forest, leaving only the ones still inside to be dealt with. Tomas and Will were making their way toward the cabin after having tied up the men they took out. The man trying to protect Patrick was wounded and the other turned to head back to finish Patrick off, stopping when he saw the three there. A flintlock was drawn but he didn't fire yet.

It was amazing what hooves could do! At the door, Neale dismounted, meeting the men there hand to hand in his attempt to gain entry. His family was inside.
  Satan himself and all his minions would not keep Neale Frasier from joining the others on the other side of that blockade.

Channing, with his hand on that door ready to enter, turned back to the armed man. Yes, no doubt about it, Royce played the madman well. "Rather interesting evening, is it not?" And he shoved the door open with one hand, the other zinging the dagger through the air to its mark, the flintlock gripping paw. As smooth as mercury's silver, Channing had entered and stepped to the side to make sure the chamber was free of further threat. Let Danny handle the large, foul-breathed bear in the corridor.


Date: 04-05-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 34

Didn't fire and in that moment Patrick made his move. So with his good leg he turned to sweep the man's feet before struggling to get up. No. He wasn't in any condition to actually fight someone and expect to winfor ashe stood he tethered, eyes struggling to keep focus.

Little did they know but yet another had circled around from the front to get away from the madmen out thereand hopefully take a stance inside. He caught sight of the woman and started to come up on her fast when Danny had gone after one and Channing into the room. Danny charged the other that was making a get away taking him down with a good right hook to the side of his head and jaw. They would not have to worry about this one, either inside or out as he was back up and around to catch up with Channing and Sinead.

Lan was down as a fist, more like the anvil he used, hit one square in the jaw that would block his way from getting inside. Or more clear the way for Neale as he would linger to watch his back if any of those laying about regained consciousness and decided to continue this hopeless pursuit of theirs.

Sinead caught sight of the man, suddenly pulling on that guise of being the helpless lass, just there out of circumstance. Hands at her back, while fingers held a loose grip on the axe handles. She had a bit of thespian in her as well. Couldn't be helped with a lineage in favor. While he grew closer, thinking it an easy nab, Sinead pitched forward to grab the man about the waist. More shock factor, so that nothing would cause her to take the man's life. Aiming to simply put him out of the fold, the flat of the axes blade slapped quick against the back of the man's head with a force, leaving him in a crumple of weight on her. Letting go and stepping back, shemoved to gain ground towards Channing.

The two young men stared wide-eyed as they came up the road. They had expected the fight to still be going on but it seemed to be done. Tomas grabbed Will by the shoulder, telling him to wait and they stayed back, somewhat out of sight. If any of the men had regained consciousness, they weren't moving.

These were the elder of the Frasier fold, not the young pups who had come before. In addition to that, the wisdom gained with age always made sure there were enough blades to see a deed done. And with the thought of blades, Neale entered the cabin just as Sinead sent the man into a bell-ringing spin of oblivion. He slid to a halt, looking from the downed man to the small woman. She said not a word but turned, heading to one room in particular. That was the room where Neale rushed to as well.

Channing dropped to a knee, and that knee found a sensitive soft spot on the man's head. Patrick would not need to exert himselfany more than he already had. Still on that one knee which had dropped to the floor after impact, he grinned up to his brother-in-law who swayed in a certain threat of tumbling. "You look like you've had enough fun for one night." Agile of movement, Channing was up and over to Patrick, slipping his shoulder beneath Patrick's armpit to steady him. "I swear you Frasiers never know when to call enough." As he spoke, Channing attempted to appraise the damage on Patrick's head, neck, chest ... but his survey went no further as Sinead entered. "Care to bend his ear for a tick?" Patrick needed to remain conscious until they could get him out of here.

A hand moved to grab the post he'd been tied to or he'd be on the floor next to the man. Hefound he couldn't put a lot of weight on the one foot as pain shot up his leg when he initially tried. Pain there and from his ribs in unison for having changed position. It was that daze that filled his eyes but he would not pass out. That determination was there too as he watched from that pain induced distance. Lack of food, water and sleep were alsotaking their toll. Patrick was one hurting camper. "I am alive, Channing." Yes, he recognized him and that was a very good sign. He might not have to survey as the groan of pain was immediate when the shoulder went under his arm in support. The post not needed but the pressure on his ribs made it difficult to talk. Channing would feel his weight in that support.

Danny was up, stepping away from the prone body as Neale came in. "He's right down there in that room. Everyone is accounted for." Which from the doorway Channing could be spotted already in there while letting him know none of them were hurt. He headed that way with a wink given Sinead. No words needed but he'd seen how she took care of the one.

Lan remained outside keeping an eye on the ones laying about. At least in the front but he kept his ears acute and any motion coming from the sides of the building. He was the sentinel at the moment to hold down the fort. He caught sight of the two lads but made no motion to them just in case.

There were no words indeed, for she didn't come for social hour, or to be praised. Channing didn't have to ask twice, as Sinead stepped forward, those axes dropped in the process with a clatter to the ground. Lifting her hands to carefully cup Patrick's face, inspecting while verifying he was there before her. "Yae bae t'e damn luckiest man I bae knowin' Patrick Frasier." Arrow, bullet, now this. Easy signs came of certain injuries that had her stepping back quickly to gather her axes and slip the pair back in the loops. Gold eyes flicked out the door, the view of the hallway with the Frasier brothers.

"Look at that." Will nudged Tomas, his grin wide. "I want to learn to fight like that." The older brother rolled his eyes but grinned. One of the men on the ground groaned and started to push himself into a sitting position.

A moment was allowed Sinead with Patrick before Neale entered, moving around her to slip beneath his brother's left arm. Patrick's grunt with that position caused Neale to cringe. His own left arm dangled by his side, sword still in his grip but the tip dragging slightly on the floorboards. "Too much fun with the ribs, eh, Brother?"

Channing relinquished his position to Daniel and he took a moment to tug his dagger free from the back of the man's hand. He wiped it on the unconscious lout's shoulder then went to join Lan outside and prepare Neale's horse for the extra burden it would soon be bearing.

"Sinead." Came in that tone he was more happy to see her than angry as in -what the hell- was she doing here? Luckily thoughts couldn't really take hold for his body demanded attention. That was the wake up call of pain. How one knew they were still alive too. "One kicks like a mule." Would have been worse but Neale didn't need to know that. Dark eyes drew to Sinead, however, as he started that weight shifting hobble as the two moved him in support. The niggling of words in anger to come down on him and worse his own mental reprimands filtered but he was hurting too much too linger on such presently. "I can ride." Whether he could or not, he would. One quality he had was stubborn.

Danny exchanged places with Channing keeping the one dagger in his other hand in case needed before, in unison with Neale, he was helping their brother get out of here. His condition could be a deterrent for the slower process needed. He could have empathy with Patrick. Been there and worse.

Lan noted the one moving as Channing arrived outside. He indicated with a hand. "Think he's stupid enough to even try?" One of those wry grins slanted but he could move quick when needed if the one did. He'd allow the man to run instead. At this point by the time he could contact anyone, they'd be long gone.

She watched Patrick for a moment, knowing something was going on his head. But his stubborn mouth had her smiling instead. At least he was senseless, in lacking his normal traits. When the group started out the room, she moved out of the way, keeping up the rear again. But it would be purpose. The man outside might not be stupid enough to try, but the one she pounded in the back of the head, was. His closest target was Neale. Pulling sluggishly up, his hand brandishing that dagger lifted high. Right in time for gold eyes to spot and pull one axe free and launch. Landing the weapon into the man's chest, right below his throat. The tip of his dagger hooking on the pant leg of Neale, snagging material before he drew lifeless. Moving to the man's side, keeping her to quick, silent stalk, Sinead worked the axe free and closed the man's eyes. "Go in peace." Before golds turned up towards Neale, that intended target.

The man took off in a weaving run and Will finally darted forward. He snagged up a couple of horses before letting the others run free. The man Sinead had killed was the leader. It seemed this band of brigands was disbanded.


Date: 04-05-05
Poster: Neale Frasier
Post # 35

"What the..." Garrett circled around Neale, leaning in close to his side then straightening away. "You've been shot!"

"And here I thought you were only good for flirting with the kitchen help. Dammit, Garrett, help me get this blasted shirt off." Neale's left arm was useless at the moment, numb and limp at his side. With all of Patrick's injuries, Neale's had gone unnoticed, much to the eldest Frasier's relief. "It's no more than a flesh wound."

Garrett helped Neale remove his ruined coat and shirt - not at all consideringNeale's discomfort. Garrett wasn't the gentlest of men as he heftedNeale's weakened arm to see his side. "A flesh wound? Flesh and the muscle andmass beneath. Looks like it went clean through though. In the front. Out the back." He jerked Neale's arm back and forth to follow the course of the lead ball from one side to the other.

With that motion, Neale grit out a response. "Just see to it, Garrett, aye? I want to check on Patrick."

Garrettlet Neale's arm just drop, eliciting a gasp and grunt of pain from the Duke of Falkirk. "You are a grouchy assed patient, Neale."

"You've the bedside manners of an ape."

Garrett chuckled as he headed for the door in order to get the necessary medical supplies. "This insult coming from a man who wishes my help and my discretion."

Neale chanced a look at the hole in his side then cast that green gaze Garrett's way. "She saved my life today." A slow shake of his head and he returned his attention to the wound, running his thumb through the blood to keep it from dripping from his skinto the floor.

That paused Garrett's stepsat the door. "She?"

"Sinead." Neale took those few steps to wipe his finger on the discarded shirt Garrett hadtossed on a nearby cushioned chair. The damaged material was balled up in his hand and pressed to the skin below the wound.

"Sinead saved your life?"

"That's what I said." He didn't look to Garrett.

"I know that's what you said, Neale, but I find it rather intriguing, don't you? Considering you were adamant that she shouldn't go." Garrett was the one who had to hear Neale's arguments for keeping the Celt safely here at Falkirk until the men could bring Patrick home.

Neale slanted a look Garrett's way. "A bitch of a situation, no?"  He attempted a smile and dropped his gaze back to the wound.

The other man cleared his throat and muttered through his suppressed amusement. "I'll get the bandages." Closing Neale and his secret away in that bedchamber until he could return.

Garrett knew when to leave well enough ... alone.


Date: 04-07-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 36

Robert Frasier had never been certain which path his life would take.  When he was younger, he was certain he'd be a warrior like his father.  He was trained as one and in time he used his skills to aid his brothers.  Sense of family was strong in every one of the Frasiers.  His path took him in a different direction as the years progressed.  He became a surveyor, and then, he used his profession as a cover for the Shadow Fox -- his greatest accomplishment, and biggest failure.

He was dying.  He could feel his life ebbing away with each beat of his heart.  His family was there; he could his their voices.  Patrick? Where was Patrick?  Will and Tomas?  Patrick had been captures.  Robert groaned as he tried to speak but something strange was happening.  He felt drawn away and found himself a young lad again, sitting in the forest near a home that should have fallen to ruin. Someone was walking toward him and young Rob smiled.  "Lily."

The girl that had been his first love smiled as she approached, holding out her hand. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew she was long dead, victim of a fever that none had been able to heal.  But she was here and he took hold of her hand, looking into eyes that were as blue as a summer sky.  No words were exchanged as the lands around them changed.  He saw his own life unfold from his birth to the last shot.  He saw things that he would never be able to explain or not remember because they just hovered on the edge of his memory.  Finally, he saw his mother, father and sister standing in the distance.  As he started for them, Lily stopped him.  She was singing and the music surrounded him, filling him with longing.  He needed to return to the living but he also wanted to remain.  Lily seemed to move away from him as he held out his hand, fading into a soft mist.  Pain, intense and sharp, caused him to groan and open his eyes.  Shiloh leaned over him, violet eyes soft.

"Shiloh.  What ... ?"  It hurt to take a deep breath, hurt to talk.

"You are healing, Rob.  You were shot and suffered a fever but it's broken."  He could almost feel her relief as she spoke.  The Singer helped him to drink and even that simple act exhausted him.  It would take time to heal and he was well aware of that fact, yet it caused no impatience.  There was only one question he wanted answered.


"He's safe and resting.  And you must do the same."  Shiloh's cool fingers brushed over his cheek and he closed his eyes.  Rest. Heal.  And face the consequences of his actions when he was well.


Date: 04-11-05
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 37

Healing with TLC

At least Patrick was taken to his own bedroom. One that a woman could tell a man occupied as soon as they came in even if it was neat and spotless. Thank the chambermaids for most of that! Nothing frilly and mostly a cut and dry look. Nothing ornate and comfortable. A good size hearth with a couch in front of it. His own bathroom and walk in closet. An alcove with a window and a desk there but wide enough to walk around the desk and take in the breathtaking view. Shelves of books and one large four post bed. King size with good bedding, firm enough without being uncomfortable. He wore only short type breeches as the coverlet managed down while he slept. Restless sleep but he was coming awake.

She stood near the window, thumb pressed to her lips, watching the wind brush through the trees in a comfortable solace. It had been a day or so, unable to keep track, but every moment had her in the room with Patrick. Meals delivered and Linn had brought her a change of clothing, being her petite size was hard to fit into anything else. The soft yellow silk of a straight gown offered free movement and pleasant feel. With a turn from the window, golds set on Patrick, noting he was pulling from that veil of slumber. Quick strides carried her closer, pulling up the hem of dress to move on the bed and checking the bandages with a warm touch of fingers, feather light.

One eye peeked open before its twin followed. Next came the smile as he was looking right at her while consciousness was fully regained. There was the dull throb of pain but seeing her there at his side was far more important. "Did I ever tell you you're beautiful?" Hand slid over hers as fingers curled in against her palm while drawing it up with slow effort before the heat of his lips touched to its very center. Pressed and held as he watched her. This time there was clarity in his eyes.

The rush of air pushed from her lungs, that content sigh that was prelude to the smile curving her lips. Watching his actions, then closing her eyes with the feel she had missed in this whole time before they opened to a shimmer of gold. "Yae tell mae wit' yae'r eyes all t'e time." With a careful shift of her body, leaning into to press a kiss to his forehead and backing away to view those greens. "Mo tiogar. Yae ..." Stopping with a bite to her lower lip. It was something that had scared her in the lapse of time, though her healing abilities were a honed skill, she was still afraid. And now, that wash of emotions slammed into her chest. Unable to even finish what she would say.

"My beautiful Sinead." She wasn't getting away too quickly for there was one thing during that time that kept him conscious and the will to stay alive. Even if he was sore and the moving up only attested to the pain that dilated his eyes a moment but no groan or wince to give it away. No. He had hurt more while there as a hand slid under the silken thickness of her hair and the softness of the skin along the back of her neck while drawing her down. The slight slanting of his head made it so lips easily met and the heated kiss that follow was like none other. The passion, the missing, and the love he knew he held for her alone was all there intermixed.

And the dam broke in that final draw, sinking into the mattress to lean down and reap the adoration he plied upon her. In turn she gave back the same, with the claim and seize that was a laugh to fear's face. Gentle enough not to injure what already caused pain on him, but fierce enough to draw out that moment with a velvet touch of lips. At least until the healer in her rose as she did from his kiss, taking a suckle of the bottom lip, before away enough to brush the pads of her fingers against his forehead. "Are yae hungry?"

He was easing her down in against the pillows with him to ease any discomfort but that kiss held him tranced until it was broken. Green eyes had darken with what was felt clearly there. "Famished." But his look upon her was if he could ravish her there on the spot had he been fit to do so. "You have cooked?" He didn't know if she could cook.

He was the only man that made her realize the woman she was, in the blistering heat that ran through her blood from greens. With that knowledge, a smile curled her lips, stealing a brief kiss before pulling back again. "I've nae left t'is room since yae were brought in, so nae able tae cook yae anyt'ing. But t'ey brought up somet'ing fer mae. An' yae, in case yae woke." Nodding her head towards the tray set on the desk.

"Food is made well here. I do hope to sample you're cooking some evening." There was a pause and now she would know the old Patrick was back. "If you're good enough I might just have to marry you." Like there would be some stipulation like that but the quirk at the edges of his lips foretold he was teasing yet.. there was something in his eyes that showed another quality that had nothing to do with the teasing.

"Och, an' it would bae mae luck t'at when I make yae somet'in', I'll end up burnin' it." Jutting that bottom lip out, proving she caught that tease and played back. It was so welcome to have him back and with her. But that extra beholding in his eyes had her locking golds against his. "But at least, I remember a tradition yae spoke of, where yae'd have tae kiss t'e cook."

"You make a meal for me, full course including dessert and I will kiss the cook. Might make dessert of her too. Once I am fit which..." Dark brow lifted. "Should be soon?" Way he was feeling at the moment was going to make it difficult to wait too long. He wanted to hold her in his arms as the warmth of their skin soothed each other, to wake with her and watch the sunrise set her hair into a blaze of a fire. To kiss her shoulder while slumber still keeps her and have her haze from those dreams to find the heat of his kiss.

Being greedy at that moment, lingering against him and the soft scent he gave. She'd seen to sponging him clean, using the soap from his bathroom, even his hair cleaned to avoid any infections to the wound that settled back there. "Aye, soon. Yae've been a guid patient and already healin' verra well. A lot will bae sore mainly."

Sniff. Sniff. "Did someone bathe me and used baby powder or is that you?" He could smell again. That was good news and it came with a baby powder scent or so it seemed. Maybe his scent was off and he disillusioned? "I have missed you." The draw of his hand lifted as he ran the backs of his fingers against her cheek. "I will mend quickly although I will have to face, possibly, the wrath of Neale for getting wounded." Except Neale knew he went with Robert. "Robert, the others, they are all well?"

"It was mae t'at bat'ed yae. An' t'e baby powder smell is t'e salve I used. Made it smell better t'is time." Almost proud of herself while leaning into the feel of his fingers. "I've missed yae tae, greatly. Robert is healin' an' sae is Neale. Shiloh has seen tae t'em all." Squinting an eye at him before she sighed some. "T'ough I t'ought maeself I'd bae hollerin' at yae. Yae soot'e t'e anger righ' out of mae, e'erytime." Turning her head enough to brush a kiss against those knuckles, each at a time.

"It was you and I didn't wake?" So that surprised him being he considered himself virile. "All parts accounted for?" Was that a waggle of brows added too? Then switching to the serious. "I am pleased to know all got out." Couldn't add unhurt being he was a case in point. The last had his hand running along hers in a caress. "I wish we never have to holler at each other. Besides there are plenty of others more deserving. I didn't do anything you would not have done for your family. Unfortunately I got hurt but I did come out alive with the help of my family. I can only hope this matter ends with those to stop the killing."

Did he remember that she was there, that she was alongside his family to get him out? "All parts dear. An' yae might have been out of sorts, but yae'r body may have known it was mae." Quick flash of her grin, as she squeezed his hand. "An' aye, yae'd dae anyt'in' tae help t'ose yae care deeply about."

"I bae lov'in yea mae 'eart." Turning on that Scottish brogue which came in a far more deeper baritone than the lilt of her voice. "I am wondering how you managed to persuade them to let you go. Neale is not known to have anyone outside the family take on such a risk that involves the family."

"Aye?" Slipping that hint of her playful side into the fold, before she drew serious, leaning to kiss the tip of his nose. "I bae lovin' yae tae, mo tiogar." Though, that wondering of his had Sinead recalling the evening, wincing a bit. "It was more Danny pullin' over on Neale. But would only do sae, knowin' t'at I love yae sae, an' wit' Ruarc's permission an' mae fightin' skills."

Now he winced. "Of all of us it was best Danny did. He is the second oldest and can hold his own. Neale listens to him and I'm glad you were there being you didn't get hurt." He didn't even want to imagine her being hurt. Although it was ok for him? "Seems you have a friend in Danny. This is good. Ruarc is a good man." His stomach growled at that point ...speaking on tigers!

Golden eyes widened at the sound, dropping her gaze towards the protest of his stomach before she busted out in a throw of laughter. Pushing up from the bed slowly, not wanting to disturb it much. "I'm goin', I'm goin'." Moving across to the desk were she plucked up the tray and carried it back to the bed. Sweet meats and candied yams with warm brown bread and cut cheese. "Can yae pull yaerself tae sit up some? I'll nae have yae t'is far, only tae lose yae in chokin' on cheese."

He pulled himself up as she went over for the food. Famished was indeed correct "Is the rib broken or bruised?" Being he wasn't sure and that was where it mostly hurt in moving. Seemed the swelling had gone down on his ankle at least. Once she was over he took the restraint not to eat too fast even if he could eat a horse at this point.

"It bae bruised, dear." Bringing him a drink as well before setting back on the bed. She'd stay at his side till and beyond when he needed his rest again, content in knowing his status was much improved and he was fully with her again.


Date: 04-14-05
Poster: Robert Frasier
Post # 38

Robert was growing impatient.  Recovery was a slow process and even with Shiloh's abilities, it would take time.  He knew he had been close to death, the lead ball from the flintlock dangerously close to a lung.  There had been the threat of blood poisoning or fever, but he had survived thanks to Danny's Angel as he teasingly called her.  Danny's violet eyed Angel who had a stubborn streak as deep as the ocean and whom he suspected, kept him sedated.  Not that he blamed her. 

Robert knew he made as terrible a patient as any of his brothers.  They likely would have been as restless as he was, eager to get out of bed and out of the manor, into the sunshine to enjoy the warmer spring days.  There were sparrows making a nest outside his window and as he watched them, he did find some inner peace.  But the guilt always returned, like a shadow, to haunt him.

He had nearly died, but Patrick had been taken by those men.  He would have died in a far worse way.  Neale had been shot.  Danny, Lan and Channing had not been injured but they could have been.  Neale hadn't said a word but Rob knew it was just a matter of time.  Tomas had come given word on Lord Ellison.  The man was recovering and seemed to have no less pride than before. 

Rob sighed with a shake of his head.  Guilt he couldn't help, but regrets were foolish.  He knew he wouldn't have done anything different except perhaps kept his plans to himself.  He turned his head to watch as the little female settled on her nest, her mate watching over.  Dusk was settling over the land, and as it did, his restlessness grew.  A few more days ... that was all.  He would be out of this bed, and back to work come hell or high water, or the wrath of the Frasier family women.


Date: 04-20-05
Poster: Neale Frasier
Post # 39

The Possible Confrontation

Robert's excursion last night had left him tired but at the same time exhilarated. He was sitting in a chair, fully dressed, a book in his lap. Eyes were on the window instead of the pages and he seemed lost in thought. It was too dark to see the nest but he was watching the way the curtains stirred in the night breeze.

Patrick was in to see Robert as he was still wound up over a few things. He had planned this but not planned for it to happen last night. A knock came to Robert's door as he was sure he was in there. At least getting out last night he'd not be attempting to climb down that tree like a kid escaping.

Danny waited downstairs near the large window of the living area. He was giving Shi a break from his hovering...and a break from himself for doing so even while trying not to. A very strange challenge as he watched the stars that shone in the sky beyond. A clear warm night as the gentle breeze filtered in from the open door just down the hall and could be felt. Neale was away on some business matter and was due to be back this night. At least both Patrick and Robert were given time to heal. It made Danny wonder if that was why Neale purposely took himself away for a near a week.

Neither of his brothers needed to sneak an escape. This was not Scotland and they were, none of them, school aged lads any longer. The Duke of Falkirk had many matters which required his attention. Some of those took him far from Falkirk's walls and others ... more importantly but demanding distance for a period of time ... within Falkirk's walls. His return home would have many inside the manor house on the move, even before Neale entered the front doors. There was never any questions when the Lord of the Manor returned from one of his excursions. But then, there was never any doubt when any of the Frasiers returned after a period of absence. Such a close-knit family would always prove to be a pleasure to serve and serve well. The doors opened to him and Neale returned ... ahhh ... home. He glanced toward the large staircase that lead above as he tweaked off the leather of riding gloves and handed off the pair, the hat and the light jacket he had worn on his journey to the ever-present butler. If a look alone could give evidence to intent, then there would be no mistaking exactly what was on the eldest Frasier's mind. Or perhaps that would be who ... two who's to be exact.

It wasn't that Robert had to escape exactly. It was just that both Shiloh and Hannah were very adamant that he stay at Falkirk until he was healed. And Rob had been suffering a very bad bout of cabin fever. He looked up as the knock cameand closed the book. "Come in." He was in the mood for company, his thoughts too morose of late.

Patrick eased the door open enough to stick his head inside at first. Teasing. "Are you descent?" Like it would matter! He started to push it open more when he heard the commotion downstairs. Everyone knew Neale might return this night. Scheduled. Not that scheduled always happened on schedule. He was quickly in to close off the door. They might have a half hour? Hour? Less? Before there would be another knock. "You ready for this?" His ribs were still sore but that was about it. Seemed Robert was taking longer to heal but then he didn't have the TLC like Patrick had in this. They were going to have company all right!

Danny saw him from the window and was well on his way to the door to intercept his brother. Hand in a clasp to Neale's shoulder as the first of the brothers to greet him. "All goes well here." Like all was quiet on the eastern front. Nothing major had happened and that he knew would spare Neale a good measure of relief. All other, more staff and business matters, would wait until tomorrow. Papers of such were stacked on his desk waiting. The usual there to come home to but not this night.

Neale knocked a brotherly fist against Danny's other shoulder in response, a nod with the short but efficient update of Falkirk's affairs. "All goes well, hmmm? Perhaps you speak prematurely though, Brother." Neale smiled, dipping his head toward the stairs as he continued to speak. "Are they above?"

Rob bit back a groan but nodded as he grinned at Patrick. "As ready as ever. Just wish I could run a bit better." Patrick knew better than anyone how hard it was for Rob at times. Shi did well, but he wouldn't allow her to exert herself anymore than Danny would. He glanced at the door then at Patrick again. "Let's hope all went well on his trip."

He too glanced to the door then back. "I'm as ready as can beto wing it." Like he always did no matter what the circumstances. What would be said instead of trying to predict what would be said. That never worked. "One thing. About last night, I will wait and see how this goes to mention it this night if Neale decides to see us now." He figured he would but he knew not to predict Neale. Not to predict any of them only in that no matter what there was strong family ties.

The fist to his shoulder was a little unexpected but not totally. It brought a hint of a grin. He stepped away with a glance to the stairs with almost a wince for his brothers. Ready or not, Neale was coming. "They are above, probably in Robert's room." At least Robert was there. Patrick would be close about for he knew he was upstairs also. "They are pretty much healed." Which he knew Neale would wish to know and no complications. For a few reasons. Instead of prolonging this he headed in that direction. Neale would not ask unless he intended to go there.

Neale didn't immediately follow Danny. He watched from where he stood as Daniel seemed to plan to join them above. It was just as well. There was a matter of importance that needed to be addressed with that brother as well. A clearing of his throat started him forward and he glanced to one of the men stationed by the door. "Have some coffee sent above ... and a bottle of poteen, three glasses." When the man indicated he heard, Neale headed off to join the other Frasier brothers above.

If he could handle pacing right now, Rob would have been up and doing so. Instead, he laughed. "Why do I feel like a schoolboy about to face the head master?" He knew this was far worse but it was the easiest way to describe how he felt at the moment.

"Because you.." Pausing that heartbeat. "..we are?" Certainly felt like it but Patrickwent straight across to the door and swung it open wide in invitation. Once done, as he heard footsteps on the stairs, he was over to take up a stance. Feet planted apart and arms crossed over his chest in a way it covered the still healing ribs.

Dannycould feel those eyes bore into his back all right but he continued on without a hitch to hisstride, up those steps to pause on the landing. He heard Neale give the request of coffee and poteen. He debated a moment but seeing Robert's door open he headed there to step within. No words spoken but it as much as said Neale would be stepping in near behind him.

Even though the door was opened and Daniel had entered before him, Neale rapped his knuckles to the wood of the door frame before stepping in as well. "Good evening, Brothers." Patrick and Robert were as stiff as Sarina's first - and thankfully final - attempt to starch Neale's shirts for him. "I'm pleased to hear you're both well on the mend. If you've nothing pressing ... " Neale heard the footsteps of the maid carrying the requested libations for the evening and lowered his voice, but finished before she entered. "I'd like a moment or two of your time." And as the maid entered, pouring each of the three a glass of poteen and then handing them off with the final mug of coffee presented to Neale before she departed, the eldest Frasier remained silent. Family ... business .. was only discussed with family.


Date: 04-20-05
Poster: Neale Frasier
Post # 40

Rob was slightly pale but it was from his injury, right? "Nothing pressing at all, Neale. Good to see you back safe." He wasn't saying much more than that. Patrick and Danny were also here. This couldn't be that bad, could it?

He watched the maid before taking the glass of poteen. Arms unfolding as it was cradled near his chest but remained untouched. Once the lass was gone, Frasier green eyes turned on Neale. "Always time." Giving his brother the floor of course. Like they would object?

Danny only gave a nod as he waited to the side of the door where he came in. He would wait and bide his time.

Neale continued in, crossing to where Robert remained seated and joined him there. For all the turmoil of thoughts and concerns assaulting Neale at the present, the man remained the epitome of calm resolve on the outside. The silence which followed him into the room remained as he lifted his coffee mug for a sip, but as it lowered, he began, breaking that silence as if it were no more than a fragile, thin sheet of glass. "As my memory serves ..." He touched the shared green of gaze upon first the closest to him, Robert, then on to Patrick and even Daniel as he continued. "I could not have made it any clearer the lack of involvement I desired for Falkirk where Haclymas was and, I suppose still is, concerned." Neale knew that Robert had acted for the Lady Ellison, who was a dear friend to his brother. Honorable in itself. But, still. "A pitiful request, as it proves to be, since every Fraiser, through blood and marriage, was pulled dangerously into this foray." Neale's gaze dipped to the contents of his coffee mug a moment as he tapped a forefinger against the warmth of the vessel. When he lifted his attention again to his brothers, each in turn, his voice held that 'Duke Tone' he could not escape. "Including Sinead." With that, he looked to Daniel. Sinead was a touchy subject for Neale. Daniel blatantly usurped Neale's authority and yet, without her, Neale would not be seated in this room tonight. He silenced his words for the moment, taking another sip of his coffee, allowing for whatever response may be coming from the brothers three.

Neale was right and Rob knew it. What could he say? He looked down at his glass then up at the older brother. I'm sorry just wasn't going to work here.

"Well, that has been known to happen to our Family if any of us get involved in something like this. It goes with risks and when has it ever been predictable to go as planned?" He offered his help and did the best. It was not planned to get hurt or captured but that happened too. Then again, he also had survived it thanks to his Family and one close to him.

"Including Sinead."Repeated as hestepped away from the area of the door where he'd been situated as now it included him. "My only say is that I went by instinct. Right or wrong although proven right. There was no time for a discussion behind closed doors and a moment's decision to make. Still it was made that you could turn it down but I felt compelled to speak on her behalf, not only for her loveof our brother, as well we love them both,but on the stipulation she could fight and not be a deterrent." Although spur of the moment, he had done it with a level head in a situation one might not be so. "I do apologize in that it was disrespectful of your authority but it is not something common place for me and I wish you to consider the circumstances for this abbreviation."

Although Patrick may not have intended his comment to come off as such, Neale narrowed that green gaze on the family thorn. "Such a flippant remark, Patrick." It wasn't as if Neale Frasier didn't know the possible risks involved in such a venture as Patrick and Robert had entered into. "And love is a damn good incentive for action, Daniel, but think you Sinead loves Patrick any more than Hannah? That she cares more deeply for his well being than Shi? I appreciate that you felt 'compelled' to speak up on her behalf, but, quite honestly, Brother, I have no second guesses that Sinead is capable of speaking for herself." With that, he looked to Patrick. No doubt, that brother well knew the woman's abilities for expressing herself better than any of them. Neale may have agreed in the end but Daniel's quick compulsion stole that possible choice from the one it belonged to. Then again, Neale very well may not have agreed. It would never be known now. "All that aside ... " And speaking of aside, that was where Neale now placed his coffee mug. "Tell me where we stand ... to the North? Have you had word from the Lady Ellison, Robert?"

"Yes, I have. A letter arrived two days ago. Her husband is recovering. He was as mistreated as Patrick had been. He also is rethinking his position it seems though I won't hold my breath." He paused, looking thoughtful. "Neale, words can't even begin to express how sorry I am that Patrick was hurt, and you. And that you were all drawn into it." And that was all there was to say.

Best the thorn not say anything more even if he wasn't trying to be flippant. A hand rose to rub the back of his neck before he kicked back the whole glass of poteen. He didn't have a voice to speak with presently anyway. Luckily the conversation went onward to the present situation.

There was a tick to one corner of his lips but he had his say and Neale had his. With due respect he wasn't going to argue that it would have ended up in a bloody battle of words between him and Sinead and she'd go anyway. They would have to stop her and well allthe possibilities there were all ugly. She was a good one for Patrick. Another hothead and hopefully they negated each other out in that area. He'd swallow he'd been wrong in Neale's eyes for it was a far better choice between two evils. A slow nod was given before he stepped back to his original spot while listening to the update.

Now, Neale didn't think the decision for Sinead to go was necessarily wrong, but at this particular moment, the eldest Frasier couldn't admit it. Even Neale Frasier had faults. Imagine that! He stood slowly, leaving his mug there for now and looked between Patrick and Robert. "I spoke with Shi before I left. She seems to think that some sort of physical therapy might work well to speed up your recovery and I ... " Was that a tight rein on a smile that almost slipped past his control? "tend to agree. Since the kennels and stalls have long gone without proper attention, I've had the hands mounding up the muck. Once Shiloh gives the okay for you to begin, some shoveling to see the manure delivered to the gardens and the dogshyte buried in the far field will work well for the likes of that. What say you?" Was that really a question that required an answer other than agreement?

Rob had yet to take a drink of the poteen and he was glad he hadn't. He looked at Neale a long moment and gave a slow nod. Other than agreement, what could he say? Danny seemed to have gotten off easy. "Of course, Neale."


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