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The Tree House

Date: 09-20-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 1

The Vision

The night was quiet, the breeze gentle, the air cool but not overly. Autumn was in the air most definitely even if there were days as warm as summer ones. Some of the trees were starting to change, the hint of  gold amongst green. Days were getting shorter as Gabriel sat upon a ledge that jutted out over the water's edge. One just down a short distance from where most went swimming from the sandy shore. He was attired a little warmer, heavier cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up. One of a sage brown, black pants and boots lancing up to just below his knees. Hair was still damp, curling down against his neck. He sat somewhat lotus style with the bend of his knees up that he could rest his forearms over them while watching the last rays of the sun, one dipped down behind the mountains, streaking the sky in those golds and reds. He stared at one section of the lake, one large tree in particular that was to the right of where he sat nestled in a cove where the lake curved around down that side. Up behind him, at the foot of the path traveled to the lake, was a buckboard loaded with wood. Oak no less that he had bought from Jon after being given permission to see a vision made real. He was working it out in his mind before beginning.

Raphael ended up staying at the cabin a week or so longer than expected. Something called to him that he needed back, not just the oddity of the storm not long ago but something else. Flashbacks that were being picked up on as the form of wings spanning near twenty-four feet would appear on that sunset streaked horizon coming out from behind the mountains into view. He was circling high, gliding most of the way as he focused in on the culprit of the flashbacks, visuals he was seeing as well. 

Ones that had him grinning as he closed in on Gabriel. With a rush of air, strong wings moving forward to pull him into a landing as feet met ground and the wings gone. "I see what you see and it will become real."

He had caught sight of Raphael and was up to stand on the ledge. The grin mirrored by the time his soul brother landed and he to jump down, greeting him as brother, shoulders clasped a moment before stepping back. "I had wondered at first if you had brought me the sight so clear but then realized it was my own as I remembered things." Pointing out the buckboard loaded with lumber as well equipment that would be needed. The workhorse seemed content eating away at clover from the grassy spot he was halted upon earlier. From there back to Raphael. "I have not had a chance to talk to Aiden but in figuring this out, his aid would be most appreciated."

Shadows were growing deeper against the rocks as the sun went down. One seemed to stir and shift and there was a feel of a door opening. Aiden stepped out in almost a stumble and looked around as he brushed clinging wisps of shadows from his shoulders. He grinned when he realized he had succeeded, even turning to touch the rock. Almost boyishly, he turned to Gabriel and Raphael and let out a whoop. "I did it!" Amazed, yes and it would take time for him to use shadows in that way with any ease but one step was taken.

He met the clasp of shoulders in kind before stepping away with a turn to view what he talked on. His grin only growing more. "I see you chose the wood wisely, like times before." A brow lifting followed by a laugh, "speak of the devil and there he is," moving to greet Aiden with a clasp to his shoulder and released. "Now what is it that you did? Unless there is a woman involved.." teasing him as well with a chuckle.

He too was over to grasp Aiden's opposite shoulder. "That doesn't sound right if it is about a woman." He too could add to the teasing as he waited for him to answer Raphael on just what it was he did.

He looked at them both, mouth opened and pointed to the rocks as if he couldn't believe they hadn't seen him.. "I came from the field behind the spar hall to here, using shadows." The grin returned. "I have to visualize where I want to go and ... well, here I am." He didn't add that it had taken more than a few tries. "Why were you speaking of the devil?"

From the direction of her cabin, Neesie trailed down from the foothills of the mountain and through the trees towards the lake. Her steps as always were quiet, an instinct as natural to her as breath. She didn't mind the walk, but rather preferred the more secluded nature of the place they had chosen for her.

"Because you are needed to help us out. You have progressed with your gift as well as Gabriel has. Although there is still more that needs to be seen to, to practice but that can wait." He was not ready to tell them of things to come that he saw in his visions while up at the cabin. Why he had been there longer than planned. Some things took precedence. A glance was given up the distance to the buckboard and perhaps someone one else tripped on his ethereal peripheral. "The storm, tell me of it from your side of it." He had picked up on it that night but it was cloudy. Perhaps for the driving rains that accompany it.

"Indeed you have progressed." The hair on the back of his neck prickled as he too glanced up towards where the buckboard was but his focus was not on that which was loaded with lumber. Neesie. Smile touched but he'd wait until she arrived to greet her. "I was hoping that you would show so I can ask your assistance. The easiest way to get this lumber to that area," which he pointed out the very large oak across to the right where the lake curved, "using your shadow nets. Can you make them so we can use them?" Or was he limited to only use by his hand?

"Help with what?" He had been spending much of his time alone of later, driven to learn that which Jewel had been teaching. "They remain until I command them to dissipate now. Just as they did in my vision." He looked at Gabriel. "Can you get it close enough to the tree?" There was another question he needed to ask. "This will be your permanent home?"

Neesie heard their voices as she came into view of the lake and so directed her steps in their direction, lifting her hand slightly in greeting as she approached. There was a little smile for Gabriel and Aiden before she tilted a  cautious gaze to Raphael whom she vaguely recognized, but knew very little.

"No. I will remain at the castle with the other knights as expected but I have been granted permission to build a .." which he started laughing for all the teasing, "nest." It was more than a nest which they would see once done. One that he knew Raphael saw as well. "It will be a place to spend time as we can when needed." Glancing towards the tree again as he measured with his eyes, even if he had done so before. "Aye. Close enough to be accessible and where the tree coverage will also keep the lumber from the worst of the weather as we use it. Turning with a grin. "You can help us build it if you like. I can get you across." Smile then turned on Neesie. "Evening Neesie, I have something for you." Which he left them for the time it took for him to get up to the buckboard then back down with this large box. Not too heavy. "These are for you as my home warming gift to you." He could have waited but being he had it, decided now was as good a time as any. He set the box down on the grass, nothing fancy as it was tied closed with twine, not ribbon. Inside she would first find a wool blanket covering up some other items. One was a pair of finely made leather boots, lined for the winter. Brushed doeskin so they were soft, not hard but thicker soles. They were cut in a way they would fit for the wrapping of the leather straps fitted to her foot and leg each. There was also leather pants, made for a female in what he figured would fit when he bought them. A thick dove gray woolen sweater that was also brushed so not prickly like wool tended to be and the biggest part of the present was a lined leather cloak. One with a hood that would keep her warm in the winter.

There was a subtle shift in her gaze to suggest the gift had caught her by surprise, though perhaps it shouldn't have. Angel had received several gifts upon moving into her new home. But then she had also held a gathering there of a more social nature than Neesie was typically given to. She hesitated at first, but took from Gabriel's stance that he expected her to open it then, so she crouched down and tugged the twine free to open the box. Each item was removed with particular care and though her expression was controlled her gaze was intent and her fingers brushed each item softly. Her touch lingered particularly on the doeskin boots, for her own boots were worn thin with too much use, and Gabriel had known well enough to get her a pair still soft enough to step quietly. Too her fingers trailed over the cloak. The outfit in complete was unmistakably something she had needed, but would not, perhaps, have thought of herself ... and the subdued colors, particularly the dove gray of the sweater, were perfect. Finally she tucked them all carefully back into the box and said, softly, her head still bent, "Thank you."

"Evening Neesie," smile was friendly her way before making an aside to Aiden as Gabriel saw to this box for the lass. "That's the tree I favored when I first tacked Gabriel here to watch from. It will be more than what once was. It will be useful to us." Not explaining at the moment how it could become a nexus to an ancient past in what was to come. He would wait for Gabriel to tell him of the storm, there was no hurry presently.

"Of course I'll help." No question about it. He smiled as the girl approached. "Evening, Neesie." He watched as Gabriel presented her with a gift. He gave a slight shake of his head. There was obviously a bit he was behind on of late.

He was near holding his breath. He wasn't sure how she would respond to such a gift. Had he overstepped? Would she like them? Find them useful as was his intent. He knew her simple replies, that he expected, relief was evident she accepted the gift in the way it was given. Yes. He knew she needed such and would not think of it herself until her feet froze through too worn boots and chilled to the bone for not having the lined leather cloak with a wool sweater to wear beneath. He was concerned for her health, for certain a harsh winter would be very harsh upon her otherwise. "You are welcome." Smile tipped off to the side before the dark eyed focus was on Aiden with his words. "Let's give it a try then?" The sooner they got the lumber over there, the first steps could be taken in building the tree abode.

She was perhaps more deeply moved then she would show, but Neesie rarely displayed her emotions openly, and so her gratitude could only be reflected in those two simple words and something of the way her hands had lingered on each gift. She straightened up now and lifted her head to smile a little at Aiden, though it faded soon enough into her usual serious demeanor. "I'm glad to see you," she told Aiden simply, which was not a phrase she used often.

"Lead on." He motioned to Gabriel though a warm smile was given Neesie. "I've been training more then I should. It's good to see you also, Neesie. How have you been?"

"I'll bring the buckboard down here to the lake's edge where we have more room for you to lay out the nets." Which Aiden could work on as he headed up to lead the workhorse down, slow and careful so it didn't overturn. Once parked and the brake kicked in again he would wait for the nets before piling a few lengths of wood. "While you do this, I will bring over the saw, hammers, nails." Extra stuff that would be needed. All put in two sacks wound up well he could sling over his shoulders. "Neesie, if you can help you're welcome too," wings spreading out from beneath the shirt through the slats before he was airborne. His wings had become strong since those months ago when first discovered.

"Well enough," she told him with a little movement of her shoulders. "I've moved. Perhaps Gabriel can show you where I live, sometime." She glanced then to Gabriel and from him to Raphael, conscious that they were in the process of some project. She stooped down to pick up the box of things Gabriel had given her and stepped back a little.

"Congratulations, Neesie." He knew she didn't know him well but he probably knew more of her through Gabriel. One Gabriel had taken under his wing by the looks of the gifts. Something that was good to see in his soul brother. He waited at the wagon, taking some of the lumber to lean against the side. "There are a number of shorter pieces of lumber that you could probably handle in stacking on the shadow nets."

"What is it I can do?" Neesie offered carefully to the two who remained earthbound. She set her box down and stepped closer again. If they felt she could be a help rather than a hindrance, she would assist them.

"I'm sure he will." He chuckled as he headed to the shore. "But for now, he's putting me to work." Not that he was disagreeable to the idea. "How do you like your new home?" He could talk now while he concentrated on weaving the shadow nets. Another accomplishment in itself.

Shadow nets? She didn't voice the question but there was something of it in the way that she turned to watch what Aiden was doing. Her brow even lifted a little. Not in alarm, simply intrigued. She studied them a little longer and then took Raphael's advice and joined him at the wagon.

His fingers working, he pulled strings of shadows from larger ones and began to weave them. In a short time, there were two nets, then three. "How many do you want, Gabe?" They could expand and contract as needed.

While Aiden continued to weave, Neesie spoke up to answer his question, keeping it as brief as possible for this didn't really seem the time for an extended conversation. She imagined what Aiden was doing must require some concentration. "It's quiet and has a view of the lake." Which were, presumably, positive things.

Gabriel was back by the time Aiden asked the question. Landing to his feet as wings drew back down into the tattoo under his shirt on his back. "Three or four, we can bring the ones back as we unload them under the tree picked." He started to pile about 5 good lengths of lumber into the bigger net.


Date: 09-20-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 2

He was right by Gabriel's side to place the slats of lumber onto the nets. "Gabriel, have you tried keeping your wings out? Control over whether they are out or in?" Which he was pretty sure Gabe could do, "keep them out, get use to walking with them, doing things." There obviously was a reason or he would not suggest it. Once the one net had enough lumber, enough he could fly with, he gathered up the ends to work across the back of his neck and shoulders above where his wings would appear. The netting with the lumber would hang below like a hammock hung in a tree. Wings spread in the colors of black, blues and whites as he took wing headed for the great oak chosen down in the curve of the lake.

Neesie would help as best she could, though, in comparison to the loads that three strong men could manage, her own contribution might be small. In fact, she determined fairly quickly that she would be of more help simply staying out of the way and stepped back to where she'd set her box, settling down on the ground beside it to watch them. She tilted her head slightly as Raphael spread his wings and watched him fly off with an interested gaze before she looked back at Aiden. "Do you have wings too, that I don't know about?" she wondered with a half smile, though it was a serious question.

Gabriel gave Neesie a quick wink, maybe she could try the boots on, see how they fit and break them in before winter set in. He was piling the pieces of lumber into the second netting before taking it up much like Raphael, around the back of his shoulders to support the weight as his wings sprouted out before he took flight. This was a little heavier as he probably flew a little lower than his brother but well above the water.

He completed the fourth quickly enough then moved to start loading the nets. He chuckled and shook his head. "No wings. Only shadows to work with." Though he could run as fast as a wolf it seemed. "I'm happy with my feet on the ground."

"I think if I were to choose one or the other, shadows would fit me better," Neesie mused. Though there was something to be yearned after in the freedom of wings.

As Gabriel was coming to land at the oak, Raphael was already in flight bringing back the net as he would spread it out once landed on the sandy shore. With the other filled with lumber he would take it up, leaving the one just brought back to be filled. Which he would pile some in before back in flight. Wings stayed out, folded back in a way they were out of his way until he took off again.

Once more the two passed in flight as he was returning with the net to be filled again until all the lumber was over at the chosen tree. He had to remember to keep his wings out although that wasn't that hard as he landed but as he started over he tripped up on the tip of the one for dragging. He was down rolling and luckily since a few accidents already, had the instincts to fold them in so they didn't get harmed and still keep them out instead of the usual instantly disappearing. He was up to his feet with that kind of surprised look upon his features. Wings looked like they had been ruffled up good as he tried quick flaps to straighten out the longer flight feathers as well smooth down the more downy type.

"I'm sure if I were younger, I'd be wishing I had wings." He watched as Raphael landed, then helped him again. They could keep things moving easily enough. "But each of us have our own purpose." Even if he wasn't sure what that was yet.

Neesie made no comment regarding Gabriel's mishap, though there might have been something like the ghost of a smile at the corner of her mouth. It was not so easy, she imagined, to walk with large wings protruding from your back. She lifted her knees and wrapped her arms loosely around them as she watched.

Raphael was back again as he landed going straight over to Gabriel. He helped to set the flight feathers correctly before taking hold of the strong arched curves of the wings. Carefully positioning then back and up. "Feel how that sits, learn to hold them this way when walking and doing things. Keeps them back as well off the ground." Giving a pat on his shoulder as he stepped away. "You'll get use to it quick enough and not even  have to give it a second thought." It was how he held his wings as he was over then to help load the last of the lumber into the shadow nets. Enough for both of them to carry in one last trip.

It was easier for Raphael to fix the ruffled up feathers and he well memorized how he was shown to hold them. He could tell the difference. "So I learn something new today." For all he had learned, walking and the like with his wings remaining out was not something he'd done yet. "Don't laugh.." spoken Neesie's way with wink, chuckle too as he knew she would not laugh even for the mishap, even if it had amused her. He was over to gather up the edges of the netting to wind over the back of his shoulders and neck before he was taking flight. This part he had no problem with!

He paused to watch Gabriel then let out a little sigh of relief. He didn't look any worse for the wear and Raphael was there to help. Flashing a quick grin at Neesie, he set back to loading the nets.

He gave a nod more to himself as Gabriel picked up quickly on how to adjust his wings while on land and walking. He would need to ask him about his landing in trees. All these things would be necessary for what was coming their way. A mission. He was quick to adjust the netting over his shoulders in like before he too was in flight headed down the distance over the lake to the chosen oak.

Humming softly, Morgan trod the path toward the lake, a shawl wrapped about her to ward against the slight chill in the air. Taking in the tableau before her, Morgan made a beeline for Neesie, wherever that might be. "Hullo," her voice quiet in lieu of the action going on before her. She plopped down on the ground next to the lass, settled her arms around her curled knees. "What are they doing?" she murmured.

Neesie tilted her glance over to Morgan and smiled a little bit. "Evening," she returned quietly. She looked back out at the working men, then, and after a moment said, "Building something." Her powers of observation were, after all, unmatched!

"Another shed for potcheen?" arching a brow with a smirk. "Can't down it fast enough, eh?"

"Only if it is their own exclusive stash," she returned with a slight tilt of her mouth. She nodded to what they were doing. "In a tree."

With the two of them at the great oak, work went faster stacking the lumber and covering up the sack that contained the equipment they would need. "This is enough for today, tomorrow we can choose the limbs to be used and what ones needed to be trimmed. We try not to trim any as this tree may not need, I'll show you tomorrow." Being he had used the tree quite often, he knew well the layout of the branches already. Once done he was in flight back to the shore with the others.

"Well that would make sense, actually, because they would be the only ones who could reach it," smiling sardonically.

Down the path she came, Damon and Rena bounding ahead of her. A soft sing song whistle escaping as she made her way to the lake, drowning out the sounds of other people there.

He leaned against the wagon while Raphael and Gabriel remained in the tree, arms crossed as he listened to Neesie and Morgan.

He took it all in with a nod, dark eyes lifting to traverse the outline of the branches above them. He could see the possibilities that would fit what he had in mind. Once all was done he was a few moments back in flight in Raphael's wake. Once landing he would keep his wings out to practice that which his brother suggested. "Evening Morgan," setting the netting down near Aiden as he tried leaning with his wings at that angle shown and crossed somewhat in back to keep the flight tips from dragging, tripping him more like it.

"That would leave Aiden without the potcheen," she observed, her voice so even, it would be easy to think her serious and not simply responding to Morgan's banter in kind.

"Mayhap they would drop some down to him in a basket on a pulley, out of pity." She chuckled and glanced up, nodding to Gabriel. "Good evening."

He was over to Aiden with the other two nets, something he needed to know as he spoke low. "Absorb them back. You will find that you can only extend so much in shadows at any given time or depleted. If you absorb back that which is no longer needed then it gives you more."

He gave a slow nod as he took the nets from Raphael. Though it sounded a bit daunting, absorbing the shadows proved to be a little easier then he thought. "Thank you, Raphael." Jewel obviously hadn't explained that.

Arms crossed over his chest as he got use to leaning with his wings like that. Wry grin, "so, you've found out I'm about to build my ... nest." Not quite the truth but he knew they would find it amusing.

"I will explain more in time." Which he eluded to before and there was a lot more he could tell them now that both had grown in the use of their gifts. There was that sign of the storm the time was coming. That too  would be explained. Aiden had been brought back with his guidance and soon much more of it would be enlightened upon.

She arched a brow at that, canting her head as she considered the idea. "You're going to live up there? You're not about to lay any eggs, are you?"

Neesie tilted her head thoughtfully at Gabriel's revelation. "Why this tree?" She asked after a moment. "And not one more isolated?"

In a loud stage whisper, she cupped a hand in Neesie's direction around the edge of her mouth. "So he can watch the lady swimmers."

"Males don't lay eggs, I would have to find a female that would be willing." Chuckling at that ridiculous visual before adding, "I may have wings like Raphael has wings but we are not birds." They didn't turn into birds nor a bird race in that way.

"And are building a nest, which was your word, not mine."

"I can watch the women swimming without the tree." The tree was isolated enough, high on that embankment with ledges of stone going down to the water's edge one would have to be a good climber to get up. Thick woods behind as well precarious, still, "there is something about the tree itself." That was the only explanation he could give and obviously he had picked the same one Raphael had used without realizing it.

Apparently he'd left his sense of humor in the in the tree, as well, as he was taking everything so literally. "I'm sure this is a stupid question, but why are you building something in a tree?"

Neesie's concept of isolated was a little more all encompassing, perhaps. His tree was, after all, still in clear view of the lake. His explanation though, however obscure it may be, seemed to satisfy her and she nodded, once.

"We are of the ancient race once known as the Saoi Eunlaith," pausing a moment as focus turned Morgan and Neesie's way in clarification of the conversation, "reborn you might say."

The three came into the clearing, Damon and Rena bounding off to greet everyone while Angel waved her hellos though when she spotted Raphael she paused not knowing who he was but giving him a smile right along with everyone else.

Neesie tilted her head a little at the term Raphael chose to use, 'reborn', but rather than ask a question, Angel's approach caught her attention and she looked over to her and nodded in greeting.


Date: 09-20-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 3

She offered a wiggle of her fingers to Raphael, wondering if his comment was meant to be the answer as to why they were building something in the tree? If so, she didn't understand. Twisting to her right, she gave a small smile to Angel. "Good evening, hon. How are you?

Saoi dhean eunlaith to be exact," not all of them were dhean which was the elite amongst that race.

Well, there was one way to explain it, "because we can." How many things did people do .. because they could! "Evening Angel," also distracted as she approached, "Meet my soul brother Raphael."

Dimple came with the smile and laughter in his eyes for Gabriel's reasoning. It was part of the truth. "Nice to meet you Angel." Smile still kept her way politely with a dip of his head in his greeting.

He gave an upnod to Angel as she arrived then bit back a chuckle. Gabriel's explanation was probably the best.

Neesie climbed to her feet and touched Morgan's shoulder lightly with her fingertips. "I'm going back to the cottage," she said quietly. She hesitated and then added, "You may come there, some time, if you like." She stooped to pick up the box containing Gabriel's gifts.

She merely shrugged in response to Gabriel - if it was some sort of grand secret, they could just tell her that, but no matter.

His wings had disappeared by that time to the tattoo on his back as well. He just had a few years on Gabriel in discovery and practice. "It was nice meeting you Neesie. Stay safe."

If it was a secret, they wouldn't have been working in full view of everyone, now would they? "Good night, Neesie. Rest well."

Smiling up to Neesie, she nodded. "Sure, I'd like that. I'll bring you some things to help you get settled."

"Have you all moved in now, settled?" As in making the place a home. Which he was hoping for her. "If you need anything just let us know."

"We'll put some more wood in for you soon." He wanted to make sure she didn't have to worry about that.

There wasn't very much moving in to be done with her few belongings, but she nodded at Gabriel's question. "Good night," she said to the group at large.

She smiled and bowed her head to Raphael. "Pleasure to meet you." She was totally lost on their conversation but when Neesie rose to leave she went to her and handed her a small pack that she had carried from her place with her in hopes of seeing Neesie at some point while here tonight.

"Good night, sleep well when you do." Appeased she was doing well as much as knowing how well Neesie was doing by subtle ways, certainly not by words.

Neesie's arms were full that was certain, but she hesitated and then offered Angel a little smile. "Thank you," she said softly. She would take her boxes and head away from them, up towards where her cottage was nestled against the mountain.

She watched Neesie leave, one of the reasons being so she could gain a better concept of exactly where the cottage was.

He led the workhorse hitched to the buckboard up to the upper lever near the trail in so got to walk her a short distance of the way. Nothing said, just the quiet company for that short distance, putting the break on for the buckboard before he returned to the others.

She smiled back at Neesie as she went by then looked back at everyone else. "How is everyone tonight. Some of you hard at work."

He also picked up a couple bottles of potcheen which he set out in the grass, taking one as he was over to the ledge where he'd been leaning to partake of the one bottle. He was not use to keeping his wings out  and certainly was a challenge as time wore on. At least he was doing better, getting around with them.

"Fine," she mumbled to Angel, glancing at the ground as she wound her fingers between blades of grass and then ripping them out violently.

She arched a brow at her mumbled response followed by ripping grass from the ground. Perhaps not as fine as she said but chose not to bring attention to it for now. She went to Aiden and offered him a hug in proper greeting.  "How have you been?" It had been a while since she had seen him, when Gabriel came back he too was given a hug. Then she looked to Raphael. "You are Gabriel's soul brother? How do did you meet?"

He coughed at the end of that swallow for the way Morgan was behaving. "What is wrong?" Certainly it couldn't be this tree house they were going to build. "I'm doing well," focus shifting to Angel as he was. In fact enjoying this little project, well not so little, taken on. He felt like it was a step to where needed.

"Not working anymore." He chuckled as he lost his leaning spot with the moving of the wagon, then smiled at Angel, when she hugged him. "I'm doing well. Staying out of trouble as much as possible."

He was over to collect one of those bottles with a glance given Morgan as she ripped those blades of grass out like she wanted to such on someone or something else. Directed at the blades but certainly something else. He didn't know her well and Gabriel already asked as he found a spot to sit on the boulder that jutted out over the lake near. "I caught up with him here. When his wings appeared it allowed me to find him for the flow on another level." Trying to put it into words that which was not that easy to and be understood. Letting it ride a moment as focus shifted.

Glancing up, she saw that the last question was directed at her. "Wrong? Why, whatever gave you the idea something was wrong?" She gave a sickeningly sweet smile but stopped pulling at the grass.

"Because your ripping that grass out like you want to strangle someone or something and you got that smile that says you'd rather sink your teeth into that something or someone that has you aggravated." Wrapping Angel up into a hug, something he savored for the moment for it felt good then released her in the next couple moments.

She smiled as Gabriel hugged her back then kissed his cheek before finding a place to sit near everyone. A glance given to Morgan a brow lifted curiously at the way she was acting.

"My, what violent imagery. Do all knights think in such terms?"

"Of course, we're stereotyped didn't you know?" Lifting the bottle to take another drink but dark eyes held an edge to them.

"Are you? I can't say I've ever come across that school of thought," leaning back on her hands and unfurling her cramping knees.

"Perhaps not but certainly implied, seems you come from another school of thought. Verbal sparring with undercurrents, like burrs on a saddle. Does it make you feel better?" Except he didn't come from that school of thought so lifted up from his lean to take a walk down along the shoreline away from conversation distance.

He grabbed another of those bottles then sat on the rocks near Raphael though he didn't climb up higher to join the man. Dark eyes shifted from Gabriel to Morgan then to the others, just to take note of reactions.

Deciding it was best to change the subject. "So where do you stay, Angel? Are you a citizen as well?" Which he figured she was.

"Actually, pulling at the grass made me feel better, but it seemed to offend the general populace so I desisted. As for verbal sparring, it only feels good on a full stomach." Standing, she stretched her hands over her head for a moment, stifling a yawn. With a joker's grin, she wiggled her fingers at the others on the rocks. "Sleep well, everyone."

She turned her gaze towards Raphael and smiled. "I live up that trail there in a cottage not far from Neesie's." She pointed across the clearing to the path. She waved to Morgan. " Good night."

Down a distance he decided to try flexing the wings to find different positions for them. A few flat rocks picked up to skip over the still surface of the lake would have them skipping a distance.

Turning on her heel, she traipsed down the path toward the commons, humming loudly.

"Good night, Morgan." He nodded at her, "Sleep well yourself."

"Good night Morgan, sleep well." Watching her take her leave.

Aware Morgan had left for the tension that went with her, he worked his way back. "Can anyone tell me what is wrong with her? She seems like she wants to pick a fight for no apparent reason."

She looked to Gabriel. "I have no idea she does not talk much to me."

Raphael was scratching at his ear with a wry grin to surface. "Maybe she has a crush on you Gabriel," hand lowering to rest at his side, "and doesn't like the fact such notice is not return. Nothing of your fault, I haven't gotten the impression you notice anyone in that way. Yet."

He stared at Raphael in disbelief. Then again he had not gone through such stages or reactions in that area. "I hope for once you are wrong." That was about all he could think of to say to that.

Angel had to nod in agreement. It did seem like Morgan might have a crush on Gabriel from what she had observed though she had not seen anything that would have caused her to act the way she had when she had arrived.

"I hope for once I'm wrong as well.." lifting his bottle in salute to that very thought before taking a long drink of the pure. Now that felt good, it had a way of warming him up nicely.

She would quietly appear from the path she was walking holding the reins of her horse as she looked around the area not knowing the place keeping quiet as to not disturb anyone.

He really had nothing to add to that. So, he kept quiet and kept drinking.

Damon and Rena moved out of the woods towards her making low sounds that had Angel looking up and towards the woman and her horse. She smiled and spoke softly to each wolf as they lay down next to her. "Good evening."

"Evening," politely given the woman that came to where they were, or at least within sight.

He had kept quiet after his remark as an outside view. Smile came with a dimple as he greeted the newcomer as well. "Good evening Miss. I'm Raphael," using the bottle held hand as he indicated the others, "Aiden, Gabriel and Angel."


Date: 09-20-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 4

He looked up when Angel and Gabriel spoke, then nodded at the woman, smiling slightly. "Evening, miss."

Loli would smile brightly to the one that held the bottle to the air a slight chuckle would escape her lips. "Evening, I am Loli ." She would hold on the reins tightly as she was a bit nervous at the new faces.

"Nice to meet you Loli, have you traveled far?" Hard to tell other than he had never seen her before. He still had one of the bottles of potcheen as well so took a good long drink of it before settling down in a lotus style sitting, wings having disappeared by the time he had come up from the short walk he'd taken. So at least there were no wings to be seen between him and Raphael to startle her at all.

She smiled warmly. "Nice to meet you Loli." She pointed to the wolves on either side of her. "This is Damon and Rena." Damon was the black male and Rena was tri colored of brown black and white.

"Aye, nice to meet you Loli," being Gabriel asked the usual question asked of one, he went quiet and waited on any forthcoming answer. Aiden and Gabriel might notice eventually he was not speaking with that harder to understand accent. Something he worked on while up at the cabin aside the visions.

That's what was different!

She was the playful spirit but she did not know them so she tried to act as proper as she could. "Well, I was visiting the lands of Queen Julia Noir and previous to that I was on the isles of Kaapal." She would look to the wolves as she smiled to them keeping her eyes on them but shifting to the others.

With all that went on this night and a rather vicious type reaction coming from an unexpected source, he would probably realize the lack of accent in a bit as he settled down. He couldn't shake the feeling it was aimed at him without due cause. "Is Telarus, the queen and king, back from their hiatus then?" He had heard they were on one and there didn't seem to be any life coming from those lands that he knew of. No events attended and the like.

He was not privy to much knowledge on either places mentioned so had noting to say other than listen to the conversation. Focus there between them before distracted by the wolves. A smile hinted as they seemed a good pair.

She would shrug slightly as she blushed not knowing the answer to his question the whole time she stood there she was still holding the reins. "I actually was visiting my dear friend, Lady Alexandra Skye I am sorry.. I did not ask for the King or Queen."

That name he knew, seen her at a few events as well the woman showed up one night here as they were leaving. "It's no matter, more just curiosity being mentioned. We use to attend a few of their events." He was not trying to put her on the spot or make her feel uncomfortable.

She listened to the conversation but noted Raphael's attention on the wolves. She rose and went towards him, the wolves following. "Would you like to meet them?" She asked low enough to not disturb the other conversation going on.

"Where are these other isles of Kaapal located?" He knew of Telarus and the previous existing rapport until what it seems was a hiatus.

Her cheeks would still hold the redness in them as she nodded to him politely. Turning to look at the others she would smile to Raphael. "The other Isles are about a week or so from Telarus. The Isles are part of the Empire of Lord Henry Perrenius. He would be the King of the Isles of Kaapal Empire..." Was not sure if she answered the question but her gaze would stay on him..trying to be polite.

He was up and over, approaching slowly of the two wolves. Listening the while as his hand was slightly fisted that they might get acquainted with his scent. Knowing well they went by scent; could tell if one feared them as well. Smile turned the woman's way, he might not know of them but at least he could store away the information given. "You are on a sojourn of sorts then?" Otherwise she'd still be on these isles.

He stretched out his legs in front of him as he leaned back against the rocks, content to listen. Working as he had been the last few days, he was starting to feel the affect. He'd need to leave soon and get some sleep.

She smiled as he approached them. Damon would venture forward first sniffing his hand his body stretched out his tail, still his ears perked forward. After a moment he gave a small whine then his tail began to wag and his tongue darted out to lap at his closed fist in acceptance. This brought Rena forward to lick at Damon's muzzle then Raphael's fist.

Which certainly was a sign of being accepted. "Good boy," Raphael loved animals by nature as he was down to a bend of a knee more level with the wolf to show his acceptance as well. Strong hands and fingers would work the thick fur in a more grooming way. "You are a big fellow, I see you got yourself a good mate too, wisely chosen." Rena would be next, "now aren't you the beauty," more gentle with the female but well worked her fur in petting her.

Her attention drifted away as she noticed the wolves, smiling to the way they approach the man. She would blush some as she watched him enjoy the presence of the wolves as her eyes would then shift over to look at the one that had gotten quiet after a while..smiling to Gabriel some.

He was watching his brother of soul get introduced to Angel's wolves. Dark eyes there before switching to Loli and a touch of a smile to follow. "They're friendly if a person is of like."

She chuckled softly as Damon gave a wolfish groan at the petting his back arching and then Rena would lick his face. She grinned at Raphael. "It seems they like you, but then I have yet to find anyone they object to since I came here."

His lips twitched as something caught his amusement. Pushing to his feet, he covered a yawn. "I think I'm going to head back." No stopping at the training field on the way back. He was tired. He'd even walk. "Aye, they even  like me." He winked at Angel. "Lady Loli, it was nice to meet you. Gabriel, I'll see you on the King's field come dawn. Raphael, Angel, rest well when you find your beds."

Which had him tilting his head back while grinning as his face was licked. He was enjoying it before finally rising back up. "Most are nice people around here but I'm sure they will let you know when someone is not so," no matter the outward appearance they might give.

She would nod looking to him but not wanting to stare at him as she would turn her gaze to Aiden. Giving him a farewell nod.

"I'll head up with you as I need to get up just as early as you to be on the king's field. Not going to have you take advantage of me as well otherwise." Grinning as he turned to the others. "Nice to meet you Loli, always good to see you Angel. Raphael, we will talk on that storm tomorrow," while working on the tree house as planned. They never did get to discuss it. "Maybe Aiden will join us?" They could all talk.

She chuckled and grinned back at Aiden. " Has Mira traded Gabe's bed for yours yet?" She asked with a grin.

"No. She knows who gets her the soup bones she enjoys." He laughed. "Besides, she's a loyal lass." He'd join them if he was welcome. "The King's Men as well as the Kings are still here. We don't dare be the least bit tired or we'll pay." He laughed again. "I for one, have eaten enough dirt."

She laughed. " Yes she is very much so I am glad she chose someone so worthy of her loyalty." She glanced to Gabriel. "You're leaving too? Well goodnight to you both then it was good to see you."

"She's out hunting or probably back waiting for me to return so I can get her those very soup bones." He was over to give Angel a quick hug as well a chaste kiss to the cheek. "I need to or Aiden will have me eating dirt in practice tomorrow," then adding with a glance his comrade's way and back, "not by him but he'd tell the horsemen to test me out."

Especially when he faced Sir Vincent lately. He just grinned at Gabriel before he started for the path.

She laughed and hugged him back returning a kiss to his cheek. "Travel safe the both of you." She said before moving to Aiden to give him a hug as well before they both left.

He could get used to getting hugs.


Date: 09-20-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 5

She pointed a playful finger at Gabriel. "Don't let her get too fat on those bones. She will get lazy if your not careful."

Smile was infectious before giving a wave to all and catching up with Aiden before settling into the same pace at his side.

She would watch quietly smiling to them as she stayed quiet as fingers played some with her horse's mane.

As Raphael stood and the attention was placed else where the wolves would wander off to play. Angel would look to the woman Loli. "You are welcome to come sit and join us. Damon and Rena won't bother your horse."

"Would you like some cider to drink," not getting the impression Loli drank potcheen. There was a canteen of such with the bottles of potcheen setting on the grass in one spot.

She would let go of the reins as she patted the side of her horse to let him know he could wander off for the moment. Watching the two she would move to sit near there but still keeping her space. "Thank you."

"Your welcome." She offered with a gentle smile then found a seat for herself too this time on her favorite rock where she could dangle her bare feet into the water. She had dressed tonight in her "amazon" clothes which would be the best description for them still warm enough yet to wear them though come a few weeks she would need to find some better clothes." Are you traveling about for long Loli, or are you heading home soon?"

She would smile to her question, "I really have no intended time to leave or to stay. I guess my departure depends on the lands if I am allowed more time to visit and enjoy them then the stay if longer." Smiling to her. "May I know where exactly am I?" Blushing brightly at her question.

"You're in Heathfield and there is a tavern open to all travelers without cost to stay if you wish to at least stay the night. No obligation if you do or even stay longer, all up to you." That he knew well of as he offered up the information before taking another drink of the pure. He would be sleeping well this night when he finally turned in.

Looking Raphael as she would nod her head to him. "Thank you, Sir. I know I should be more careful in where I visit as in knowing the lands before I step foot on them but I just curious." She would look to the waters.

"They say curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back." Bottle lowered as a smile went a touch lopsided with the dimple to the opposite cheek. "Nothing wrong in being curious mixed with caution. The lands here are well guarded on a few levels so you'll be safe."

She glanced towards the woman. "Take it from someone who has traveled much over the past several years. If they do not welcome you to stay when you first arrive they are not lands worth staying in." She grinned at Raphael in full agreement to him as well. That was close to what she had meant to say in the first place but had not found the right words to say.

Hearing Raphael's comment on the cat, Loli would laugh some as she looked to Angel as she smiled. "Thank you, you two are very kind."

"If you wish to stay we can walk you there before we all turn in," not that he was getting up from his seated position on the ground at this very moment or such.

"I would not like to be a burden." Looking to him as she smiled some as her fingers would play with the grass that was there. "I am sorry but I already forgot your name..." Blushing brightly. "May I know it again?"

"Raphael," not minding at all for there were a few introduced. "You'd not be a burden or I'd not offer," giving her a reassuring wink as well the smile that seemed to settle there naturally.

"Raphael, how long have you been here in Heathfield?" She asked curiously this was the first she had seen him but she thought perhaps she had heard Gabriel mention him a time or two.

"Raphael." She would allow his name roll off her tongue as she smiled to him still keeping that color on her cheeks as she looked over to the lady smiling to her as well listening to them.

Which set him to recalling as time seemed to fly as much as he did! "About four months. How long have you been here?" Although he'd been around waiting to find Gabriel before showing himself right off just in case he'd been wrong.

Looked to Raphael as she would hand him some grass she has picked not knowing really she had done this but she would just smile to him.

Another grass puller but at least she was not ripping it out from the ground like one earlier. He held out his hand as the blades fell to his palm. "Is there a special reason for this?" Looking a bit clueless.

She would think of a quick answer not really knowing why she had even done such action. "It reminded me of you?" A slight smile as she gave him an innocent look.

Which had him chuckling as he tried to roll that one over in his mind. "I'm attached to the earth?" Or detached that was once attached. Amused nonetheless as he glanced Angel's way for her becoming that kind of quiet. Maybe it was time to head home for sleep.

She chuckled and came out of her daze having been lost in thought for a moment trying to remember how long she had been her. "About two months I think or close to it." She answered.

"I'm surprised we've not met sooner but then I have had taken a few trips up to the cabin I originally found and stayed in. That and I'm setting up business, I'm a wainwright."

From the entrance she had came from two men dressed in the uniform of Kaapal knights stepped in the clearing holding the reins to Loli's horse. She would watch the men as she would slowly stand to her feet as she brushed some grass off her lap and her clothing as she smiled to the two of them. "Thank you for an enjoyable evening." She would glance over to the men a little.

"What type of business?" She asked with a smile. "A Wainwright? I don't think I have heard of them yet."

"I build all kinds of buggies, carriages, buckboards, things on wheels." He rose as Loli did, "a good night to you then," obviously she was not taking up the offer to stay at the local tavern not far from here. "Sirs," giving a respectful nod their way.

She smiled at Loli. "It was a pleasure meeting you Loli." Then to Raphael. "Do you think you could make something that would make up that path and back, strong and sturdy?" Not that she doubted he would make anything less.

"Aye, I can or might have it in the inventory being shipped here which should arrive sometime the end of this week."

She was accustomed to giving a hug and a kiss as her departure. Not really knowing the two but she still gave Raphael a small kiss on his cheek and then moved over to place a kiss on Angel's cheek. As she made her way over towards her "babysitters" as she thought of them. She could never go anywhere without having them a few feet away.

Which was a surprise but a nice one at least as he returned the polite hug and a touch of his lips to her cheek as well before stepping away. "Good night Loli, sleep well. Be safe."

She was surprised by the kiss on the cheek but smiled. "Good night Loli. safe trip home." She rose and stretched whistling softly to Damon and Rena who appeared almost instantly then smiled to Raphael. "Do you happen to make them covered. I make Instruments and it is important to keep them safe from the whether if I have to haul them in the rain or on a hot day."

"Aye, got covered ones as well open." He'd take the bottle with him as the others would be returned to the shed that were not opened before walking with Angel for part of the trip back, until she had to go in  another direction to get home. "At least you'll be safe with those two at your side."

She smiled down at them. "Yes, they have been my life savers on more then one occasion." She grinned then paused at the foot of the path that lead home. "If you have anything in your shipment please let me know and I would be more then willing to work out some sort of trade." Though what she had she could trade with she really wasn't certain.

"I will do so, until then may the wind be at your back and fate smile fondly upon you." He had an easy smile as well the dimple adding to it as he gave a slight bow while stepping back and around before continuing on.

She smiled back. "Good night and safe travel." She answered before the three of them stepped off down their path the wolves bounding ahead.


Date: 09-22-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 6

Building the Tree House

The base that held up the flooring as well the flooring was completed. It was going to span up three levels and so each had to be blocked out and secured to the tree so there would be no collapsing. It was also decided to build a smaller one in the nearby tree with a walk of wood slats and roping between. They had their work cut out for them but he seemed to know how to construct such a house. This one being a smaller one than another he remembered. After they were done for the day, Raphael off to do something else needing attention... mainly some of his shipment came in, Gabriel set to fishing and soon the scent of cooked fish over a fire built in a pit filled the air.

He had been helping as much as he could, constructing a type of ladder so he could climb up and down. One that Gabriel could pull up when Aiden wasn't around. After Raphael left, he headed back to the Thistle briefly and returned to the smell of fish. A grin appeared as he carried a basket with potatoes already cooked. Just needed some heating. "Hazel's compliments." There'd be slices of apple pie in there as well.

Well that was something to herald the senses, the rich smell of cooked fish. Justin sniffed the air appreciatively as he made his way down the path towards the lake. Cradled into his arms he held little Kenzie whose thumb was hanging half in her mouth and half out. He gave a grin to both Aiden and Gabriel. "Good evening." Kenzie would spot something and started to squirm to be let down. Justin obliged but warned her to stay close and to stay away from the water.

Pyper was restless as was seeming to be normal for the elf of late, and so decided to step out for a walk, letting her feet take her where they wanted. Seemed she was heading towards the lake, and the smell of cooked fish had her mind intrigued, a smile on her face, and her tummy rumbling. She had to chuckle at herself, and quietly made her way up to the waters calm vista.

"What did she send?" He rose from the crouch as the fish was sauteed in a cast iron skillet. Bit of herbs, butter and lemon added. He had filet them into fish steaks so there were no bones. He was dressed warmer this night and stayed from swimming for all the work and sweat, he didn't wish to end up ill and not get this project done. Barely had Aiden returned as a smile couldn't be helped seeing little Kenzie again as well Justin. "How are you doing Justin? The little one?" Luckily he caught enough to feed them all and then some. Figuring he could wrap up any left to share with Mira, who by the way, was bounding out to greet Aiden first then circling Justin as well Pyper. "Evening Pyper, good thing I cooked enough. Is everyone hungry? First batch is done."

"Cooked potatoes, smothered in butter and herbs, cooked vegetables and slices of apple pie. She loaded the basket. Said there would be others about." He chuckled. "Likely still hot." He greeted Mira after placing the basket down. "Evening Justin, Pyper."

"Evening Sir Aiden, Sir Gabriel...." she had to try hard not to use Uasail for them and use English instead. "And to you sir, and the little one as well," she added with a smile as she watched the toddler, thinking how cute. "It smells wonderful Gabriel."

He grinned. "Good tae see you all as well." He bowed his head to Pyper. Meanwhile, whatever had caught Kenzie's attention was fully distracted by Mira and the little girl began to toddle off after the wolf calling, "Mouse...  Mouse... 'c'ere' Mouse." A strange thing unless you lived in the McDale household where there was a female wolf named Mouse that tagged along after Davin most times.

He set tidbits of the fish for Mira aside on the rocks forming the pit the fire was in. Mira was caught between the curiosity of the child and that food set out but she ended up walking up to the little one to lick her face, a protective instinct in her overcoming the want of food as she decided to stay near the child while she was away from the father.

"Hello Kenzie." He wiggled his fingers at the little girl then laughed when he heard what she called Mira. He set to putting out the food from Hazel as well as the dishes she sent along and utensils. He'd drop them off on their way back.

Gabriel was up and about to get some dishes from the shed when he noticed Aiden taking care of that via Hazel. "You saved me a trip, presently that's a godsend." Then to the others, "take what you want," indicating the one large pan as he started to prepare the next and last batch to cook.

She dipped her head back to Justin. "I'm Pyper" in case they hadn't met before as an introduction. She had to chuckle at the toddler with the wolf, and grinned at the canine's motherly and protective instincts. She would keep an eye out too, out of habit, being her Elven eyes could see well in the dark. That and she loved children.

"You know how she takes care of us." He grinned at Gabriel. "I just had to promise to make sure to drop them off on the way back tonight."

He grinned at her. "Justin McDale." He introduced himself then glanced over at Kenzie who wrapped and arm around Mira's neck then waved back at Aiden. She giggled then with a playful sound she started to toddle towards Aiden and Gabriel where the highest amount of activity was going on. Justin moved his arm out in indication that Pyper could go first then stepped in their direction as well. "I wasn't hungry but all those smells make it hard to resist."

"Aye, they do at that, don't they?" He took some of the potatoes and cut them up good, making sure they weren't too hot. Those would be offered to Kenzie when she got there.

As the toddler played, she went to help Aiden with the contents of the basket so that his attention could be given to the youngster. "They do indeed." she smiled back to them. It had been quite awhile since she had eaten freshly caught fish, let alone fished herself.

"How have you been doing, Justin?" Seeing to sauteing the next batch while Aiden entertained Kenzie. Mira took the time to grab up what was set out for her and pick a spot not too far from the rest of them to enjoy the bits, placing them on her paws to lick first before gobbling them down, each in turn using the same process. One could tell she wasn't that kind of hungry, well fed, to enjoy them instead.

Justin smiled and watched Mira for a moment then glanced to Kenzie who was reaching little fingers out for the bites of potatoes. "Tantou" She said with a toothy little grin to Aiden. A chuckle given before his attention went to Gabriel. "I have been doing well thank you. Been busy with horses and training and family. The families in Faolan Ridge are having a Fall Festival here in a few weeks or so. And so we are helping them prepare for that."

"You're welcome." He answered, grinning. He was helping himself to some of the fish, careful to keep it from Kenzie while it was hot. A fall festival? Hadn't summer just begun not too long ago?

"Sounds like fun," nice way to end the season before the snow storms rolled in and most keeping to their homes to stay safe and warm. He finished up the sauteing as he soon put some on a plate for himself at this point. He was starving he realized. Working without much of a break nor eating so they could get a lot done during the daylight hours they had to spend here. With everyone safe, Mira took off into the woods probably to go find Rena and Damon while down here this night and they would not be that far.

Justin grinned while she repeated the word. "Potato," very slowly then stuffed some in her little mouth. "It should be. The Villagers have invited us to participate so it is likely that we will."

He had handled last winter fairly well, so wasn't dreading as badly as other years. "How do you like the fish, Pyper?"

She had been quiet, listening, and enjoying the fish. "It tastes as wonderful as it smells." She said with a big grin.

He would wave away the fish and wait for the pie to be served he had eaten earlier as had Kenzie but the little girl didn't mind getting into seconds when so freely offered.

"Don't know anyone, other than Hazel that can cook fish better then Gabe." He grinned at his friend then looked back to Kenzie. "You like carrots?" They were steamed so would taste good and not be hard for the little girl to chew.

"Thank you," which earned a big grin Pyper's way. "How have you been settling in?" He knew she came around but wasn't sure if she had settled in at all or just visited.

She grinned back his way with a wink. "Settling in well.... even found the library..." which had been quite a treat for her. "Am trying to teach myself to read English, now that I am better at speaking it." Though she was no where near proficient yet.

"Help yourself to anything you want, Justin. Including the pie." Hazel would be happy if no food was left.

"You're learning to speak it a lot better," he had noticed as he glanced to Aiden. "Did you notice that Raphael's accent has been tamed down a lot as well?"

"Aye, I did. I wanted to say something to him but we get so involved, I keep forgetting." He chuckled. "I don't have to spent five minutes trying to figure out what he's saying anymore."

"We still need to talk about that storm and some other things but it's been set aside until the tree house is finished. Not sure why but he said there is no rush being nothing else has happened. I told him what I could of it which he seemed to store away." He figured he'd be finding out what Raphael thought on it all soon enough.

That had Justin laughing while Kenzie nodded to the offer of carrots, she loved carrots. While he listened he sliced up the pie and took a slice for himself to munch on while they talked.

"Thank you," the elf beamed back at him. "I hope you all have been well?"

"Aye, been well, doing a lot in keeping busy." Sometimes that was a good thing as long as he didn't drive himself down physically. Which had him thinking on that card read by Mikhail the other night.

He nodded then grinned at Kenzie. It was fun sharing with her. "I'm doing well too. Gabriel and Raphael are keeping me too busy to get into trouble."

"Good to hear." She nodded as she took another mouthful of fish. "And that is good for you Sir Aiden," she chuckled.

"I think Mo has some trouble planned for you Aiden," which had him chuckling for what went down at the haggis hurling contest. "Have you taken her out yet like you swore to her you were?" Really trying not to laugh here as he stuffed some apple pie into his mouth so he couldn't.

She listened in quietly. Seemed Aiden was going out on a date? Interesting.

"Not yet." He looked over at Gabriel and narrowed his eyes but didn't say anything. He didn't really want to be reminded. "I'm hoping to in the next few days, so if I don't show up, you'll know why."

He had to swallow quickly and still keep from chuckling, "wait, I thought I was going to tag along with you two like a lost puppy, third wheel, thorn in your side?"

That had him grinning. "I wasn't sure if you still wanted to. You know you're more then welcome to join us. And I did say I'd pay."

"What man brings another man along on a..." he was going to say date but that would be pushing it even for teasing, "an outing and offer to pay for him as well? Rumors will spread I'm a kept man!"

"Third wheel?...." then she looked at Aiden. "Do you have a thorn that needs removing?" A thoroughly confused look on her face.

"Yes he does, right where he sits. Are you good at removing such, Pyper?" Oh, he was asking for trouble here but after eating he was feeling more revived.

Which had him cracking up. "True. Can't have rumors like that floating around."  Hey, wait a minute! "No I don't!" He was still laughing. "It's an expression. Means Gabriel is being a nuisance and third wheel means an extra person."

"I don't think he really wants to see to the bet he made with Mo, at least not by himself. I'm probably invited so he can use me as a shield so she doesn't take him down." He was making it all up as he went along.

"Oh.... " she got it... sort of.

He scoops up a yawning Kenzie. "Good night everyone it was goo tae visit with ye." Then the pair disappear into the night.

"Why would she want to take him down if he's taking her to dinner?"

"Then no one can say he took her on a date!" Waving then to Justin as he took his leave with little Kenzie.

She just shook her head... this relationship stuff was too confusing in this language... she still had a lot to learn obviously.  She then waved goodbye to the departing pair, a smile on her face at the yawning toddler.

He waved to Justin and Kenzie and laughed. "They'll say it anyway and you know it." He started to clean up everything but the pie. "Besides, it is a date, isn't it?" Don't worry Pyper, he didn't get it either.

"So, this is really a maneuver to confuse them if I tag along in who is really dating who?" He was up to help clean everything up was well, didn't want to be attracting bears or the like.

She was helping too, finding it easier to do that than follow the conversation, though she was trying.

"Maybe?" He laughed and shrugged. "In any case, I'm looking forward to it." He paused a moment. "I mean I'm looking forward to having dinner with Mo."

"Well that is good to hear. One should enjoy the time out with a friend.... even if not a date..."

"Aye, was beginning to wonder if you were afraid to spend some time alone with a lass. I don't think Mo will ravish you." Grinning as the last of the things were cleared up. "Although she might flip you over onto your back or some other maneuver in wrestling. Though if she wears that dress she mentioned, that would make it more difficult."

She was chuckling to herself, thinking Gabriel should not be this third wheel, and allow Aiden and Mo to have a good time.... no need for an extra pair of eyes... or anything else.

"Wouldn't that be a sight." He laughed, shaking his head. "At any rate, we'll have to see what happens. As for now, I think it's time to return the dishes to the Thistle and head off to the hall."

They asked him! What he couldn't understand but certainly was fodder for teasing his friend. "Aye, I'm downright tired tonight, only bright side is I don't need to be on the field tomorrow. Got a longer weekend off." Unless he wandered there anyway which he sometimes did, hard to break habits.

She picked up some of the dishes too, seeing as that is exactly where she was heading.

It was because he was a friend that they asked! "You need it." He said firmly.

"You both do.... need to take time off to enjoy yourselves more...."

"That's true of a lot of folks here." He picked up the basket and motioned toward the path. "Shall we?"

She nodded a gave a bow of her head to him. "Lead the way sir knights...." weren't knights supposed to make sure the path was safe anyway?

He would flank Pyper's side with Aiden on the other that she was escorted in style back to the Thistle with them. "Aye, perhaps but the project at hand has me driven to see it completed," so something good even if it was hard work.

"You'll have it done before the first leaf falls." He chuckled as they headed up the path and away from the lake.


Date: 09-26-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 7

Late Night Working

Gabriel was working by lamplight putting up the walls of the main room in the tree house. They had made the rope and wood plank walkway to access the nearby oak and the platform built, walls studded but incomplete. A roof was finished on the smaller building as well the three tier one of the initial oak. The pull up ladder Aiden had made for them was affixed and presently down. A cooler night but not too cold lent to working easier but it was starting to get late as well he was getting hungry. He purposely left the basket on a picnic table in the usual area most came to. A tunic vest was worn over a poet's shirt and heavier brown cotton pants. Boots also worn lacing up to just below the knees.

Singing wordlessly, Morgan skipped down the path to the lake....oh yes, she was skipping, hands swinging in a very child like manner, every now and then throwing a twirl in for good measure.  Since she didn't see anyone about, she skipped to the water's edge and shed her boots, dipping a toe in to judge the temperature of the water.

There was hammering sounds as he got up the last of the wall. At least one section was finished even if there was still a lot to do. They could store the equipment here instead of on the ground. That was a plus as he rolled up the rope ladder before taking flight. Easier at this point to fly across the section of the lake, landing in the sand as booted feet touched down. The wings immediately away.

With a mischievous look on her face, she glanced about again and started to head off to the left, skirting the bank of the lake until she was almost half way around, deep into the shadows and not too easily discernible from the main path. She was pretty sure that, from this angle, not too many would see her, or even if they did, know it was her off hand.

Aiden had been working with Gabriel earlier but had left to tend to taking Batal to Donovan McKnight. The warhorse had been limping and even after having his hooves and shoes checked, didn't seem any better. He choose to take a  shadow path back to the lake though he didn't attempt to try the treehouse yet.

"Aiden," catching sight of his comrade as he headed for the unattended basket. "Are you hungry?" He was starving at this point and luckily the woodland creatures had not been able to get past the latch. There were fried up tender loin strips, brown bread, veggies, cheese and pie. A carafe of cider would wash it down better than potcheen but the thought of having a few drinks later was certainly on his mind.

As quietly as possible, she didn't even make a splash as she slipped into the water on the far side of the lake, making sure to stay on her side and out of sight.

Dark eyes shifted to the shadows of the path leading left. A pause in wondering before the aroma got to him and he started in like a man starved.

Humming softly, she smiled as she let herself drift down memory lane, back when a large group of her friends used to take regular nightly swims on the shores of Capria.

"Some." He settled on the table as he took some of the strips of meat and a slice of brown bread. "Batal's just a little sore. He's not going to be running for a few days." He looked at Gabriel a moment, expression thoughtful. "Any idea where Raphael might be?"

"He was here the afternoon but said he felt the ripples of the one he's been trying to find. Couldn't find me until my wings appeared and set off those waves on another level. He said they were not strong but for the first time an indication. He was going to travel around the lands see if he picked up on it stronger or possibly where." Then he was devouring pork strips folded into brown bread with cheese added.

"No need. I can tell him who it was." Dark eyes shifted to Gabriel. It was going to be a surprise when he did too.

Brows lifted as he stuffed his cheeks, feeling it might be a good idea to chew it up and swallow it down before he was told. Otherwise Aiden would be wearing his half chewed sandwich. The cider came in handy for this as all was washed down. "You do? That would save him a lot of time looking."

"Aye, I do. Changed partially in front of me. Seemed to get stuck." He looked over the lake a half smile forming. "It's Mo."

A cough came under his breath. "Mo?" How did she manage to be around them consistently and none of them picked up on it? "Did she know? How, what, do you mean by getting stuck?" Which had him looking out over the lake. "Is she the one in swimming?" He knew someone was out there for his better than average sight, eagle eyes, still shadows hid definition for the distance.

Not the best timing, perhaps, for an interruption. But then, Neesie was not exactly a disruptive presence as she drew near the lake, wandering down from her cottage, and circled around the edge of it towards where Gabriel and Aiden sat eating.

Oh, there was lots of definition to be had, if they caught her coming out of the water....but as she was still mostly submerged, all was good.

"We went to the Celtic Gardens after dinner and she thought something was on her back after we were gifted with flowers. I guess it itched like yours did. There were snow white feathers and she has a marking on her back. They didn't seem to want to come out fully." He looked out over the lake and shook his head. "No, it's not Mo. She's back at the barracks."

If that was to happen, hopefully it wasn't while taking a swallow of potcheen. Neesie distracted him a moment, hair on the back of his neck seemed to prickle in a way he knew she was coming once within a certain distance. "Evening Neesie, do you know who is swimming out there?" He was obviously listening to Aiden as focus shifted back digesting the information. "Maybe Raphael will know why. So you two had a good time?" No, he didn't tag along after all the bantering and teasing on that one. If he had, after the last conversation on it, Pyper would probably be chasing him with a switch the next time she saw him.

As Neesie drew near enough to catch Gabriel's greeting she paused and turned to look out over the lake. But her single eye was not nearly as keen as Gabriel's pair and likely wouldn't have been even if she'd had two. She shook her head a little. "No," she murmured before continuing over to their table. She paused to make sure she was welcome before just sliding onto the bench, aware that the two men could be having a private conversation.

"Aye, we did. She's full of surprises. Looked beautiful in that gown and she can hold her own in a conversation." He smiled at Neesie. "Evening, Neesie. How are you?"

Which had him studying Aiden speculatively, "I always thought she kept you on your toes in conversation already." Kept them all for that matter when she joined in on the teasing. "So she didn't flip you over on your back and put her foot against your throat?" Which here it came as dark eyes glinted a moment.

The light sound of voices filtered over to her, though she couldn't tell who it was or make out any words. Grinning slowly, she considered making her way over there and saying hello, but it probably wouldn't be taken well by those in Heathfield. They were a little too proper to get an eye full of Morgan.

Having caught the tail end of their conversation without the context behind it, she was a little curious who they were talking about, but Neesie wasn't the sort to ask so she only offered Aiden one of her small, rare smiles before settling down on the bench. "Alright," she answered quietly.

"Do the boots, pants and sweater fit?" Addressing Neesie as he would be curious his judgement had been correct.

He laughed and looked at Gabriel. "She does but there was only a little teasing and no wrestling." There was something else that Gabriel would likely notice, a shadow of sadness in his tone, even with his laughter. "Glad to hear you're doing all right, Neesie."

"They do," Neesie assured him. She had tried them on, but was waiting until it was a little colder to wear them. Although that may not be long from now, as the nights were growing more chill. She fixed her gaze on Aiden, then, thoughtfully. "And you?" She returned softly. "Are doing well?"

Well, no one said she had to get out of the water...shrugging to herself, she started to paddle over slowly, humming an upbeat tune. After several moments, figures started to come into view and she raised a hand to wave to them. "Ahoy, who goes there?"

"Well enough I think." He smiled as he looked back at her. "I have a present for you that will be delivered tomorrow if you're going to be around." Eyes lifted a moment, recognizing the voice. "Ahoy, Morgan. Neesie, Gabriel and myself."

Neesie was responded to with a grin. One that showed his teeth briefly, nice white ones at least! He took a double take Aiden's way as he noted the sadness underlying his tone. Did something bad happen? The curiosity would have to be put on hold as an 'ahoy' came from the water and distracted there. "Ahoy, you got soap?" Of course he recognized the voice.

With a small laugh, she shook her head. "Nope, I have nothing. How are you all doing?" She didn't come any closer than the shoulder-deep water, comfortable holding a raised conversation.

Neesie turned to look out at the lake and lifted a hand to greet Morgan, though she didn't call back. She waited to answer Aiden's question, for the moment.

"Doing well, air will be cool tonight once you get out." Lake water was probably still warm or at least warmer than the air.

It had nothing to do with Mo. In fact, Aiden's mood had been good previously.

"Well, I won't be getting out anytime soon - why don't some of you come in?"

"Naked?" Neesie mused with a small smile, though she didn't raise her voice high enough for Morgan to hear her.

Neesie was a right cheeky little monkey when she wanted to be.

Which had him flip a glance to Neesie then to Morgan. "Are you naked in there?"


Date: 09-26-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 8

"She may be." He answered then choked down a laugh when Gabriel asked outright.

Neesie was pretty sure those were bare shoulders peeking up from the surface of the water.

"Mmmmm, define naked?" Canting her head, she suppressed a laugh though it was hard.

"Naked as a jay bird, naked as a squealing piglet, naked as a stuffed turkey, naked as in not a stitch of clothing on." That probably summed it up.

"Exactly what Gabriel said." Now he was laughing.

Neesie had the shadow of a smile lurking at the corners of her mouth, though she said nothing herself, simply watched and listened.

"Well if you're going to put it like that......yes, yes I am," speaking over her own laughter. "Speaking of squealing piglets - Aiden, Neesie, did you know you are looking at the winner of the pig catch at the zoo last night?"

"And she was calling it rigged by the zoo keepers!" Just had to add that.

"Congratulations, Morgan." He chuckled. "How'd you manage that?"

"Congratulations," Neesie spoke up enough to reach Morgan in the water, though there was a slightly doubtful note to her voice. Catching a pig was something to congratulate, right?

"I suppose chasing all those unwilling men finally came in handy," a joking grin accompanying her words.

After being covered in mud from head to toe, it certainly was. They all had a work out in the mud pit. He was over by Aiden as he couldn't wait for the curiosity eating away. "Is there something wrong?" Words low between them although he had to chuckle, "you almost lost your skirt too."

Eyes twinkling, she shot back "Well I could demonstrate now what that would have looked like."

"She's lost it entirely, tonight," Neesie observed quietly, though her gaze followed Gabriel. She couldn't hear their exchange, but her gaze lingered on them a moment before turning back to Morgan in the lake. Her attention was pricked in their direction, however, even if her eye was focused elsewhere.

Which had him laughing hearing Neesie add that in, "what were you chasing tonight to lose it all?"

He chuckled until Gabriel asked then looked at him. "Not wrong. A chapter ended, I guess." Which was a relief in many ways.

Shrugging, she waved a hand in the air. "Nothing - just looking for a thrill. Don't you ever do something just because you want to? Ride the adrenaline?"

Which had him tilt his head with a dip of his chin. That would need further explaining to understand the magnitude of it. He could ask one thing. "Is this a good thing?" Then back to Morgan as a smile twitch. "Indeed I do." A few ways and in different ways. Even more now that he had wings.

"Aye." He looked away again. "It means the past will never come back to haunt me." One part of it at the least.

"So why don't all of you come join me for a swim? The water is perfect," and she paddled backwards just a bit, treading water now.

He would still need details but that he would gain later perhaps as he gave a thud of his hand in a grip of his shoulder. "Life is about new chapters but better if the chapter opening up is even better than the last." His hand slid away as eyes turned Morgan's way, "why, you want to see me naked?"

"Always, but I didn't say you had to take your clothes off," arching a brow at him. "Do you want me to see you naked?"

Neesie slid a sidelong look at Gabriel and smiled a little, though made no comment. She wouldn't swim, not only because she hadn't progressed past floating, but because although the water may still be warm the air was too cool. She didn't have anything else to swim in besides her clothing and nothing dry to change into.

He would give him all the details but he was still absorbing them himself. He nodded, smiling then went back to eating while Gabriel bantered with Morgan. "You hungry, Neesie? There's plenty in the basket."

That was exactly why one was better off going swimming naked so they could get into dry clothing once out. "Wouldn't matter to me." Women were more modest than males, on the norm. He stepped away from Neesie and Aiden, back facing them as he started peeling off the tunic vest, poet's shirt to follow as he was over to the boulder he usually sat on to skip stones. They were put there as the boots were next, they took a couple minutes longer for the lacings.

Neesie wasn't likely to strip, for a variety of reasons ... and modesty wasn't even the highest on that list! She flicked a curious look after Gabriel before turning back to Aiden. She shrugged a little and peered into the basket. If there was any bread she would tear off some of that to nibble at.

Morgan merely watched, chortling. They might want to kill each other half the time, but hot was hot and Morgan wouldn't miss the show for anything. "Ya, take it off!" Laughing, she threw out a few cat calls, splashing water his direction.

Neesie would find Hazel's brown bread. He gave a shake of his head, when he heard Morgan, chuckling again.

Neesie slid a glance over towards Gabriel and then fixed her ash-gray gaze on Aiden, that shadow of a smile lurking once more at the corners of her mouth. "You aren't going to disrobe?" She wondered quietly, lifting her one intact brow.

"No. I don't like to swim after I've eaten." It had nothing to do with cramping up, just a personal preference.

If she liked the aesthetic view of rolling muscle along shoulders and arms, she'd have that. Once the boots were off the pant stays were undone and easily slipped off. Nothing beneath and nothing to be ashamed of, in fact could be proud of if one leaned towards boasting. Muscular legs fitted the well honed physique of a warrior. Air was cool as he was quickly on the run through the shallows and diving into the deeper water.

A slight nod of acknowledgment at his explanation and she fell silent, still not very adept at making conversation, though her silence was comfortable as she was in the company of the three people she was probably most familiar with in Heathfield. Another brief sidelong glance towards Gabriel as he hurried into the water was the only sign that she may be curious of his unclothed state.

"Damn, I could climb that like a tree," she muttered, swimming backward lazily. That image was certainly burned in her brain at this point and she grinned, eyes closed. She wasn't floating, though - all naughty bits still tucked under the water.

He broke the water's surface out a number of yards, air sucked into his lungs while he shook soaked hair, turning to see the others on shore. "It is not all that warm!" called out. Little cooler or the fact he'd been working hard for all those hours.

Smirking, "That's what all the men say," inching her way towards him. "But I'll be glad to be the judge of that, if ye like," grinning evilly.

Ameila had heard there was a lake around her. So she had wondered that way to it. Stopping a few times to rub her lower back. Oh these little boys were getting to her,. slowly and steady she finally arrived to the lake. Taking it slowly. This place had some wonderful places to visit, the tall red head looked about, only to let her blue-greens see two were in the water. Lucky them, she would sink. Thought made her chuckle and she looked about for a place to sit, or a place she could rest her throbbing feet in.

"Certainly not all men," that was quite an all encompassing statement! He was well aware she was getting closer. Hand fisted squeezing the water through in a squirt her way.

"Well, maybe not all men, but you know I really should make sure," the splashing water not deterring her in the least, laughing silently.

Neesie watched Gabriel and Morgan in the water for a few minutes, fairly content in the silence that had settled between her and Aiden, though she would have been just as glad to find something to say.

Except the squirt was followed by a new trick he learned! Wings were out, lifting him up to his waist as they rushed the water forward like one would get hit by an ocean wave.

"Evening." He looked toward the woman wandering about. They were on a beach area with tables and benches. Or if she preferred there were rocks that jutted into the water. "Anyway, I saw a rug at the import warehouse. Xander  McDonough said it's from India. I thought it might be good for your bedroom. Keep your feet warm when you first get out of bed." It wasn't a huge one, more a runner.

She started to laugh harder, but swallowed some water with that. Rolling under the water, she paused and swam upward, gasping a bit. "No fair fighting the mundanes with your super powers."

Well, the man held more in then she thought, her eyes letting her see in the dark, covering her mouth she giggled. Alas she never know. Turning her head, she nodded to Aiden. "Goo' eve." Waddle to a rock and somehow she got on it, a sigh and slippers came off with stocking. dipping her feet into the cool water. "Blesse' Mothe'."

Ah, of course. Neesie's expression brightened a little bit, which was an accomplishment since she rarely showed much expression. But she seemed visibly pleased even if it was subdued as compared to another. "Thank you ... what  color is it?" She pulled her attention away from him long enough to study the ..pregnant? woman for a lingering moment.

"All's fair!" as the wings disappeared and he shooting down and under, hands, arms and legs working as he clasped a hand over her ankle on the way down to bring her under. Good tug at least before he was going further down where there were even cooler currents. Once deep enough he'd shoot back up with the use of his wings again. Like a rocket he shot up into the air, calling as he did, "Aiden, would you get some towels?" then looped having him head back down in a dive.


Date: 09-26-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 9

"Eep" was all she managed to get out before she was tugged under once more, scrabbling to resurface once he let go. "Oi, you're going to pay for that!"

Very much so. Twins, of course she looked farther along then one would think. Looking around, she slowly letting her feet swing back and forth in the water. Flying man caught her eyes again. Something about his voice. Oh it was him!

"Blues and grays." He grinned at her. "And there are some sparrow like birds along the border." He slid off the table. "There's food in the basket here, if you're hungry. I'm Aiden, this is Neesie, that's Morgan and Gabriel splashing about out there." And he headed to the shed to get those towels for Gabriel," not realizing he had met Ameila at Sibio's, but then his mind was on other things.

A bit of a narrowed looked. Why didn't she pick up on it? Must have been getting rusty. Leaning back on her hands, she looked to the water. "Beautiful..." Blinking, Aiden was talking to her? Oh he was, Ameila looked over to Neesie and Aiden. "Thank yae. Ameila th' name." A small wave.

She shook a fist at him, but her heart really wasn't in it as she was too busy enjoying the view.

His description of the rug was enough to widen her eye just a little and bring a faint flush to her usual pallor; she was definitely pleased. She didn't say anything more, though, only watch him go to the shed before turning her gaze on Ameila once more and offering her a polite nod.

"Pleasure, Ameila." He didn't take long to retrieve the towels but headed closer to the water. "Where do you want them?"

Amelia smiled to them slowly. "All me own pleasure, Aiden. Yer kingdom t'is a pleasure."

"You're a visitor then? It's always good to hear that someone is enjoying their visit."

Humming, she swam back across the lake, towards her clothes, a smug smile on her face.

"A wee bit, aye." A small nod and she kicked up some water with her foot. "Sparke' me intent it did."

He had emerged again only to find her swimming away. Laughter came huskier before he turned working his way up to his waist in the shallower waters. "Toss me one Aiden?" Some might mind seeing a naked man.

She turned as she swam,, going backwards now as she looked to Gabriel. "Revenge is sweet, my friend. Just you wait." She entered into the shadows once more, nothing catching in the light as she slipped from the water and pulled her clothes on over wet skin. Goose bumps raised all across the surface of her skin, hurrying back towards the others in case she missed Gabriel's exit from the water.

"Here it comes." Warning Gabriel before letting it fly in his direction.

He almost missed it but a hand was up real quick catching it in midair as he glanced over his shoulder. Fingers tightened in on the soft material so it didn't drop. "Is that a tease or a promise?" Teasing her before he was wrapping the towel around his bottom as he came up and out of the water completely. Too quick for anyone to really see anything, wasn't like it was broad daylight either.

At this point her gaze was on the stars. Looking to the pattern and reading. "Well....well...great change..." Shrugging, she looked back around only to look to Gabriel. "Yea can fly."

Neesie peeked towards Gabriel too, but given the towel in his hands, there wasn't much to see. She nibbled at some more of the bread, her expression thoughtful.

"Oh, that's a promise. I don't tease about revenge," skipping closer to the others. "The planning of it shall fill my dreams," laughing as she moved over to give a brief hug to Neesie.

He recognized the pregnant lass from that tavern he came upon and visited while wandering the one day. "Amelia, is it?" Pretty sure that was the name given. "How are you doing? Aye," except the wings were no where in sight, they had folded back down into the tattoo on his back.

He was back over to sit on the bench of the table, helping himself to some of the potatoes this time around.

She didn't really hug Morgan back - she never did - but she didn't pull away from it either, which was something. "Evening, Morgan," she murmured softly.

"Me..." She shrugged and kicked the water again, rubbing at her belly. "Please'...." Only one word, looking away from him, she watched the water. "Neve' picke' up on it."

Leaning, she gave Aiden a big smooch on the cheek, grinning widely. "Evening love, haven't seen you around in awhile. How have you been?"

He grabbed up his clothes on the way so a certain someone didn't snatch those up and make away with them. He was dry enough to get them on and not have them stick to his skin. He ducked into the covering of the woods to see to getting dress quickly.

That was a surprise. He smiled at her as he answered. "Well enough. How have you been? And Aislinn?"

Damn, she hadn't thought of that! But it wasn't the revenge she had in mind anyway. "I've been moody and insane, as usual," laughing self deprecatingly. "You caught me on a good night. Aislinn has nigh well been a recluse, still getting over the last of her most recent bout of sickness, but she's on the mend." Her light tone of voice told that she wasn't too worried at this point, knowing well that Ais was slow to mend but it would happen, eventually.

He wasn't sure who Amelia was addressing but figured she'd been talking to the others. A few minutes later he was back out, tunic vest over the poet's shirt, brown pants, boots and the towel swung over a shoulder.

"That's good to hear. In both cases."

Catching sight of Gabriel, she clucked her tongue, grinning. "Such a shame," she muttered.

She was growing tired and seemed a little preoccupied so she'd settled into silence and just watched the others, her hands tucked into her lap now that she was finished nibbling at the bread.

Hands went out from his sides. "I think I look rather good in these," a bit worn as they were work clothes than dressing in some finer threads which he had. He was back over to the food, putting the towel aside on the bench before wrapping up more tender pork loin stripes and cheese into brown bread.

She wanted to get up, walk over to the others. But it was hard to do so. Looking around ,she was trying to figure out the easy way off the rock. "Eh...."

Eyes dancing, she kept her mouth shut lest she blurt out a proposition line. She nabbed a piece of cheese and shoved it into her mouth to help avoid temptation.

"Are you all right, Neesie?" He leaned toward the girl as he asked.

Hearing Aiden's question, she shot a glance to Neesie, awaiting an answer. If the lass didn't feel well, Morgan would walk her home as she hadn't had a chance to see the new cottage yet, anyway.

With Aiden's question he was around with a curious look Neesie's way as he finished off the sandwich, washed down with cider before he was done. "I need some potcheen," more muttered under his breath as he was quick to head for the shed, coming back a few minutes later with two bottles, one he handed off to Aiden if he wanted before opening the one he had.

She focused in on Aiden and nodded. "Yes," she answered quietly. She tilted her head then, and asked hesitantly, her voice cast low, "What do you think of the name Sparrow?"

Hell, Morgan needed to be dumped in a bucket of ice water, but she'd been like that for awhile now. Probably explained her moodiness at times. "As a name for who or what," she asked Neesie idly, wondering if she'd get any of the potcheen being passed around.

"Sparrow?" He nodded his thanks to Gabriel then looked back to Neesie. "I like it."

Well, he almost voiced an opinion but the question seemed directed to Aiden. He took a long drink of the potcheen instead.

Okay she finally got off the rock. Small cheer for herself. Never again, nay no more after this. Picking up her shoes, she waddled over to the others, finding a place to sit, yet slightly way from them. Letting her sweet watery gaze move from face to face.

She studied Aiden a long moment as if to measure his sincerity before sliding a look to Morgan. She hesitated before shifting her shoulders in a little shrug. "For myself." Softly said.

"It's a good name. Pretty for a lass." He nudged Gabriel. "Don't you think so?" And after taking a drink from the bottle, he offered it to Morgan.  "Are you hungry, Ameila?" Motioning to the basket with his other hand.

She fixed her gaze on Gabriel now and there was a question in her eye. It would be his name she would be replacing; the one he had given to her.

With a wink to Aiden, she took the proffered bottle from him, taking a very generous swig from the mouth of the bottle. Her attention, however, was on Neesie, but in an unobtrusive manner.


Date: 09-26-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 10

Renaming yourself. Hmmm, she leaned forward as much as she could. Food....Never ask a woman if she was hungry. "Aye...I be always." A small chuckle and peek inward.

There were strips of tenderloin, potatoes, veggies, brown bread and slices of apple pie.

Pork loin? Not revenge against the little piggies from last night, was it?

Delicate fingers plucked out some food, using the bread she placed some tenderloin on it, taking a small bit. This little piggy never made it home.

Not likely if the basket was from Hazel.

His mind had wandered and took a moment with the nudge. "Yes, it is." Then taking another long draw of the potcheen before offering it to Aiden being he gave his to Morgan.

She had expected something more, perhaps, and uncertainly dropped her gaze away. She swept it over the company in general, then. "It's late," she murmured. "I am going to walk back to the cottage."

With a last swig, Morgan stood as well. "Can I walk with you and take a peek at your cottage? I haven't gotten to see it yet." Of course, if Neesie turned her down, Morgan would have no problem with that.

It would take getting use to but he had once before. She had mentioned at times in a way of gaining her own name, and Sparrow it was. Being that Morgan offered he'd not intrude, it was getting late and he'd like to hear more of those particulars on his comrade in what happened of late to change things. Truth be told, he was feeling a mood come over him. Changes were in the air.

Neesie nodded to Morgan, not minding the company, and stood up from the table. "Good night," she said to them all, softly, her gaze passing over them once more though it slipped away before quite touching on Gabriel. She stepped away, pausing only to make sure Morgan was with her before continuing on towards the cottage.

As he accepted the bottle from Gabriel, watching his friend's face as he did. A touch of concern perhaps. He took a drink then handed it back. "Good night to you both. Rest well."

"Good night Sparrow," no time like the moment. "Morgan," giving a nod their way. He wasn't sure what was bringing on his mood, only that there was that feel. "Amelia, you can take the basket." Maybe it was time to pay another visit to the FG. It was a thought in the wake of the mood. One he would try to shake himself from. "So you've a tale to tell, Aiden." He was ready for it.

Morgan snatched another piece of cheese and some bread for the walk as she hadn't had dinner. With a grin, she blew kisses to both the knights. "Don't fantasize about me too much," in a sing song voice before traipsing after, Sparrow. "Sparrow, eh? I like it, I think it fits you....though you would be a sparrow with great big fangs," a joking smile on her face.

Mouth was stuffed with pie at this point. So she looked over to Sparrow and waved. Licking some filling from her lips. "G'night."

She slid a glance towards Morgan, her expression pensive. "Do you like it?" she asked carefully. "It was a thought." She shrugged a little looking ahead as they walked up the path. "If you had given me a name, like Gabriel had, what would it have been?"

"I wonder what would happen if birds had big, pointy teeth?" Her voice trailing behind them as she followed Sparrow to the cottage.

"Aye, I do." He looked at Gabriel again, frowning slightly. "Do you want to head back?"  The FG had been in his thoughts off and on of late.

She picked up the basket and slowly stood up. Dropping her shoes and her feet fiddled around till they slipped in. Nodding some. "Basket check..." More pie was munched on.

Her gaze flew to the lass then, her answer coming easily and quickly. " means 'seal'. Remember?" Referring, of course, to the night they had discussed animal metaphors for each other.

Neesie? Sparrow? Whatever her name, ultimately, her expression softened a little and she nodded, gaze dropping to the shadowed path. She recalled the conversation clearly; it was the night she'd decided she liked Morgan. Her description of the seal had been ... apt. "Roan ..." she repeated softly. "It's pretty." She hadn't decided anything, yet. Just ... she'd been spending a lot of time alone in the cottage of late and that left a lot of room for thought. She would be mostly pensive and quiet for the rest of the walk.

He chuckled as he watched Ameila. "When are you due, if you don't mind my asking?"

She blinked, sucking her fingers clean of the pie. Smiling, she looked down to her twins. "Eh...four more months."

Morgan just hummed softly, not wanting to disturb Neesie - er, Sparrow's reverie.

"Do you have far to go, Ameila?" He glanced at Gabriel then back.

She chuckled some. "Not fa'." She looked down the path. "I be...." She stopped and pressed her hands to her stomach. "Ooooo." Her face looked shocked. "Neve' felt that..."

"Uh .. what?" He asked very cautiously.

Her face wrinkled up some. "She kicke' lung." Her gaze looked over to Aiden. "That hurt."

"I would imagine so!"

"Wee babe." Laughing, she moved over to Aiden. "Want to feel them?"

He was swallowing, afraid to even say a word and have the woman go into labor or something like that.

Amelia was a strong one. Haha...If they only knew her whole story. She looked over to Gabriel, his fear was felt. "I won' break. Women a'e made fo' this."

"Them? There's more than one?" And what was he supposed to say to that question?! "I don't know if that's proper?" He made himself laugh with his answer.

She nodded. "Aye, twins...a small lass and wee male." Her head tilted to the side. "Yae not touchin' me breast, so why feelin me stomach wouldn' be wrong."

"Not so much break but not have us end up delivering your children." He could probably rise to the occasion but certainly wasn't one he wanted to be in that position to.

She laughed. "Nay, these two are plante' strongly in me womb. I won' be hold 'em yet."

He had to laugh again. "All right." He wasn't questioning how she knew what they were. He'd seen too much in these lands.

Looking back to Aiden she reached out and took his hand. Looking down, she took two of his fingers, pressing them to a spot on her stomach. "Fee' tha'? That me daughter' heart beat." There was small bump bump under his fingers. "That be Shivy."

He watched where she placed his hand, then grinned. "That's ... amazing!"

"Aye I know...." Laughing she moved his fingers more to the middle of her stomach. "And that be Arden's foot. Wee laddie."

Tipping his head, he watched his hand again then grinned. "Aye, but they both have strength, don't they?"

He was content to watch but kept glancing to the path that led up to the commons, the Thistle tavern there and the castle beyond. "You're welcome to stay at the Thistle if needed. No cost, as set up by the monarchy."

He looked at Gabriel when he spoke then looked back. "It's a good place to stay." It was getting time for them to return to the castle.

"Aye...They be my joys..." Her face sadden then. Blinking she looked to Gabriel. "Sendin me off then." Chuckling she nodded. "Aye, me magic is not what it use to be...Wee ones." A small shrug and she let go of Aiden's hand. "Where is th' Thistle?"

"More, seeing you have a place to stay the night this late. It's just up this path here that leads from the lake to the commons. Alex, an older gentleman, is the tender there for the Crown. No charge for food, drink or a room." They would walk part of the way with her as their destination, the castle, would be further yet beyond the tavern.

She looked up the path. Muttering softly under her breath. Something about wish she could change to a horse. "Well then, sirs. I best be getting." Tossing her red hair over her shoulder, she shifted on her feet and turned to head down the path. One hand on her widen waist and side to side was this small waddle of hers. "G'Night, Gabbie and Aiden." Chuckles and headed inside.

"Good night, sleep well," hint of a smile before he would continue onward with his comrade and get to the details he was waiting on hearing.

"Good night." He looked at Gabriel, trying not to laugh.


Date: 09-26-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 11

Walk Back to the Castle

"This has been an interesting night." He said quietly as they left the commons, dark eyes on the path ahead though when he did look at Gabriel, the amber glow was there. "I stopped at the Thistle on the way back from the lake earlier. I received a letter from Daurenia. Well," he frowned as he continued, "not really from there but from one who has left there."

"Not sure I should have gone in swimming o'natural." He had felt a dare of a sort and fell for it this night, maybe because he was tired. Resistance lower than usual. There was that amber glow again! "Who was it?" Might well be someone he knew too.

"You remember the healer, Marta. Her mother was good friends with mine. Tried to match us up when we were younger?"

He was wondering if this all tied in with whatever happened last night or separate. "Aye, had to see her a time or two. If it wasn't you then one of us," chuckling under his breath as it seemed to be the way of it with women, mothers on their daughters even. "I don't think she was too happy knowing her mother was actively trying to gain her a husband."

"No, she wasn't." He smiled, shaking his head. "Had her cap set for the son of the baker and caught him." It had nothing to do with last night. Just a strange coincidence. "She had known from Leith where we were. First, she said that she and her family had left Daurenia, under cover of night and that Leith had been sent into the mountains with a group of men to guard one of the outposts. More or less banished, I guess. Anyway, turns out before she left, a crypt was found." He took a deep breath. "The bodies of the ones missing were there, including Lydia. In some sort of crystal coffins. One was opened and the body of Old Majister turned to dust, so it was sealed off. They think the mage was using them to feed off and when he was killed, so where they." He sighed. "I'm sad and I regret it happened, but ... it's been so long, Gabe. I don't feel the sorrow I thought I would. It's more like a relief now that I know what happened."

"I was starting to consider taking her out, her mother's ways had me hesitant and then she got with George, saved me!" Which had him outright laugh. Wasn't like he had a crush or anything, but she'd been nice. All humor drained from his features and a frown to mar his brow. "You're sure she's not just held by a spell like the others were but revived back to life? Will you be going back to find out?" Although he was watching him carefully for the last. It seemed that time and distance, death most likely as well, had him finally move forward? At least that was how this was sounding.

"No. They're certain they're dead. The Mages couldn't find a trace of any magic except that the crystal held some kind of preserving spell. And I'd not want to risk opening the coffin and see her body turn to dust. It doesn't sound like we'd be welcome there in any case. A few have escaped like Marta and her family but she said things are changed. Darker somehow."

It seemed like a few lifetimes ago as he gave a solemn nod. "I'm sorry," that things had been the way they went and not what had been hoped at the time. Lydia had been a good woman, knew her well enough to feel sorrow even if he'd not been involved with her like Aiden. "I have mixed feelings on that, one part feeling obligated to go back and fight against this new darkness that has descended on Daurenia," not feeling like it was home any longer. The name alone use to bring that pride but now that space was barren, just that odd feeling of obligation but was he obligated anymore? At least not over his obligations here. "Do you wish to go back to help set things straight?" Deciding to find out how Aiden felt on it.

"I'm sorry too, but life takes turns we don't expect." He looked thoughtful. "Like you I have mixed feelings. It was a good land, filled with good people. They don't deserve what's happening but we have a life here now." He smiled slightly. "It's a problem that will take some thinking on." He could wonder if he would have gone back for Lydia had she been alive. It had been an eternity. Or felt like it.

"Maybe Leith can keep us informed and if it gets worse, I know they would allow us to go back to at least help for the good people there. Bring them here even." He could wonder if Lydia was still alive would Aiden have gone back to her or brought her here Something that was a mote point. He tried to lighten the talk some, "I still think you're going to find another that sends your heart soaring," this was not the first he teased him.

He nodded then chuckled. "Maybe in time. We'll have to see who falls first, won't we?" He still loved Lydia but not as he had. It was a realization that had struck him when he read the letter. Maybe he needed to visit the FG too. With what had happened last night, he was thinking about it.

"I've still yet to fall in love. At least you've been there a time or two." He knew there had been another here as well. "I probably wouldn't know it, recognize it, if it happened. Maybe you can tell me what's it like at least?"

"It's ... amazing. With Lydia, it was like I was hit in the stomach. But then I was younger and scared to death. After that first reaction, every time I saw her, there was no one else. I felt like that up until the last day I saw her. She had her flaws, but none of them matter to me. And when I was away from her, I couldn't wait to see her again. With the other, it was more subtle. I wanted to see her smile, hear her talk, make her laugh." He looked at Gabriel. "I don't know if it'll be like that for you or not. There's a drawing to them first. An attraction that grows stronger." He wasn't sure he was making sense.

Here he couldn't even tell another what a certain lass wore the evening before if his life depended on it. "So, if I start remembering what a lass wore, how her hair shone under the firelight, her scent, I might be cruising down that lane?" Either that or he was doomed not to fall in love. It was not the worse thing that could happen for he had many interests outside the romance arena.

"Aye. You'll find yourself remembering her laugh, or the way she looked at a bird or small child." He knew it wouldn't matter if she were plain or pretty, the feelings would be the same. "I've been lucky in that I did find love once. If it doesn't happen again, I'll still have been blessed."

"It will probably happen for you again. You've that kind of heart. I'm beginning to think I don't." Maybe time spent away for a while would do him good. He was getting beset by a mood and unsure of its origins. "I think Neesie may have a crush on you now." He knew she had a crush on another before but he wasn't around in some time. At least his little friend was capable of having a crush. He hadn't managed that even.

"You can't know that for sure. About your heart. Maybe I fall too easily." He smiled slightly. "She may but she's at the age where that happens and changes a lot. I don't think she's had much kindness shown to her." He smiled widely this time. "And you've had a few lasses notice you, my friend. You're just oblivious to it."

"Not anymore than you." Which he felt a true enough statement. Some were just horny so it wasn't like he was special or anything. Or that wanting a man for the sake of having one. He wasn't sure what he was looking for or that he had even been looking. This was the first spark of a realization that maybe he wanted something more but wanted it to be not of desperation either. "I don't know," was the conclusion for muddled thoughts.

"I know. I'm just cautious. Maybe overly so." He clapped a hand to Gabriel's shoulder. "None of us really know, Gabriel. So we muddle on through and it hits us when we least expect it. Maybe you should start dating. I had a good time with Mo. I don't know if more will come of it but I'd like to take her out again. Maybe date some others." As long as they understood it was a date and not a commitment!

"I feel more like becoming a Hermit than dating," giving that lift of brows look Aiden's way. Talk about two ends of the spectrum here. "I was going to ask if you were going to see Mo again. So if you date others, I can take her out as well." That idea if he dated, that chance taking someone out they thought it was wedding bells then, had kept him from dating anyone!

"I think Mo is as confused as we are." He chuckled. "She's an amazing woman. But she's just discovering that herself." He looked at Gabriel and grinned. "No becoming a Hermit. I need someone to keep me from turning into a brooder again."

"I think I caught it from you and we switched places." He was really feeling he'd be better off getting away for a while. There was the cabin and he could fly down to work on the tree house during the hours after practice then go back.

If he did go to the cabin, it was likely Aiden wouldn't be going out and about. "Maybe you need some time to yourself." Not realizing Gabe was thinking the same. "Raphael seems to enjoy it." Then again, Aiden could be by himself, even if surrounded by people.

So could he except those surrounding him didn't always allow him to be by himself. That nudge-nudge poke, you're too quiet. They had reached the castle by this point, and even within as the sounds of their footsteps echoed through the empty knight's hall. Everyone had left as dawn was not that many hours off. "I think I need sleep, see how I feel in the morning and hope that I'm not set against one of the kings men to eat dirt as well." Figuratively usually, sometimes literally.

"You and I both." He couldn't always use the excuse of training the squires to avoid them. "Rest well, Gabriel." If Gabe was going to work on the tree house tomorrow, he'd be helping him too. Stopping in front of his door, he stepped inside. Sleep would be welcome tonight.


Date: 09-27-08
Poster: Raphael O'Keeffe
Post # 12

Informative Meeting

Raphael had checked throughout the lands and called for a meeting when he got back. He would meet the others down at the lake for he would work on the treehouse until dusk set in. He noticed all that had been done in his short absence as well. He had brought food and drink which awaited them at the shore area where most went. As the sun set, he sat having a rolled up sandwich of meats, cheese and raisin bread while he waited. After the initial waves set in a few nights ago, there hadn't been any others to follow so he would touch bases with the others.

He had sought out Mo when word was received from Raphael. Once she was found, he asked her to join them and then looked for Gabriel. The three of them could go to the lake together. It might help bolster her confidence if she felt the least bit nervous in meeting with Raphael.

Mo had kept a low profile for a day or two, still not being sure on all that happened in the gardens if it was fluke or something real. She hadn't talked to Aiden on it, mostly because she had no idea how to broach such a topic. Even in practice she had kept to the other ladies or archery, daggers and the like, giving her time to think. Unfortunately she hadn't gotten anywhere, only seeming to blush for no reason at inopportune times while amongst others. She put it off as not feeling well. When she got the note from Raphael, she readied herself only to find the invite by Aiden to accompany her there. Of course she'd accept as she waited outside the castle with him. "I haven't seen Gabriel since practice." Wondering where he had gotten off to.

Gabriel had made himself scarce this day even more than last but he checked into the knight's hall to find a note waiting for him from Raphael. At least his brother was back and time for a chat. Another note was Aiden looking for him as it became obvious this meeting included them all. He headed outside only to see the two standing there. "We've a meeting!" Like they were dallying. Better mood at least while a smile flashed a moment as he caught up with the two then started in the direction of the lake.

"He'll be along. I'm not sure where he's been." He was concerned of course, but after last night, he felt as if nothing could surprise him. He chuckled when he heard Gabriel then looked at Mo and smiled, warmly. "I guess that means we're heading for the lake." He leaned toward her briefly. "How have you been?" Being he had hardly talked to her the last day or two.

Luckily Gabriel had started towards the lake as Aiden leaned in, the heat rising to her cheeks not being able to help it. Oh, how she was going to work on that. Luckily Gabriel would not see as another strange thing happened, shyness overtaking her that left her speechless a moment. She couldn't lie either, might be something he was use to but it was all new to her and she felt like a ninny, "I'm," and here she struggled as well, "struggling." Feeling a bit stupid for the words as she mustered up a smile in the least to let him know she was fine in spite of any struggling. One word that encompassed a spectrum of emotions she couldn't even put a tag on most of them. "We'll be late," if they  lingered surely Gabriel would be wondering as she gave a tug of his sleeve and started up in a quick step. At least moving helped.

Now, how could he explain what that single word did to him? He watched her a moment as she moved away then hurried after to catch up. Now he'd be the one doing some thinking.

He didn't hear footsteps behind him and started to turn only to note both coming. Not thinking it out of the ordinary either as he slowed his pace until they caught up then set it to match theirs. Sun had the sky streaked in deeper colors by the time they reached the lake. Raphael noted right off as he had to laugh. "He's still eating." Which reminded him he hadn't eaten yet as his stomach rumbled in protest. "Feed that beast, Aiden," dejavu in the teasing as he was right over to help himself from the basket.

He grinned when he noted Raphael and how Gabriel was also digging in. "Evening, Raphael. Have you met Maureen?" He couldn't remember if he had or not.

He had finished off the last bite of his sandwich as he heard the others. "Of course I am and if you got here any later, I would have consumed it all!" Getting up from the seat he'd taken on the ground. "Evening Gabriel. Aiden and Maureen."  They had met before but a while ago, fleeting times coming across each other.

The walk had done her good as a smile came more fully. "Good to see you again Raphael." Well noting the appetite the two had but she didn't have one and so would pass. "Beautiful night," offhandedly as certainly it was. Stepping away from them so she could look down along the shoreline to the cove to see if she could spy this tree house she heard about they were building. She could see it shadowy in that larger tree as lines more in the growing darkness. It was a lot larger than she expected.

He wolfed down a sandwich to appease that grumble, dark eyes shifting as he watched Mo take a look down the way to where the tree house was being built. He spoke up once the food was swallowed. "Once we get it done more, you're welcome to come see it." Glancing to Aiden and back, more Mo's back presently as presented to him, "Aiden made a drop down ladder so you'll be able to get up into it." Otherwise it was too high and the supporting beams had it inaccessible even if one could climb that far up.

He wasn't hungry, having eaten at the Thistle earlier. Instead he sat on one of the benches, resting his elbows on his knees and learning forward. "She'll be able to fly to it in a short time." He was sure of it, even if she might not be.

She turned with a smile upon Gabriel, "I would love to see it when allowed." The whole idea was a drawing one she discovered. Just seeing the outline of it had something alluring to her she couldn't explain. Focus shot Aiden's way as he brought up the topic quite suddenly and not fully either. "Yes," she could feel the heat against her cheeks again. At least the air was cool enough to help that.

He was going to have to keep his mouth shut if he kept making her blush. He looked at her a moment then looked out over the lake.

Which only made her cringe on the inside as the look went from her to out over the lake, wasn't like she couldn't tell but focused away as well. She was going to have to get a handle on this situation come hell or high water.

"Mo?" He had soaked in the information but was watching this byplay between them, something else was there in undercurrents. He lifted something from his breast pocket as he approached the lady warrior. "How do you mean in time?" Glancing from her to Aiden as he had made the initial statement, then back. Either could answer.

He couldn't keep the grin from appearing with Raphael's question. "She's your third." He looked at Mo, the smile still there. "She has wings, though they don't seem to have made up their mind to come out." He winked at her if she looked his way again. "Prettiest one of the bunch, too."

He went silent as Aiden had already mentioned it to him and in this at least another mystery was being solved. He was up to the shed to get out a few bottles of potcheen, least three, Mo could share with them if she wanted any. One he kept the other two he put within reach of his comrades. "Ah, now wait a minute, here I thought," taking a deliberate pause for they might think he would say he thought he was, "Aiden was the prettiest of the three of us." Tsking with a click of his tongue as he stepped out of Aiden's reach.

Aiden wanted to have her blushing again but at least Gabriel's humor overruled it this time. Luckily! There was a hint but the shadows of night would be more kind than broad daylight would have been. "It is true, at the Celtic Garden they tried to emerge, enough to see some white downy feathers. Well, Aiden got to see them more than myself."

Good thing Gabriel moved because Aiden was reaching for him. He just missed too and sat back up and looked at Raphael. "Pure white and soft."

"White. The Dove. Then it is you of all the ones chosen." He had thought it would be another brother but there had been a very few females of their race that rose to warrior. Now it all made sense as he grinned. "The Celtic Gardens here has properties as magical as ancient times and probably triggered the start. Was it the first time? I have something, kept on me for some time when I finally found the one if it was needed."

He was chuckling under his breath as Aiden had not been fast enough but then concentration tuned on the conversation between Raphael and Mo. He realized he was quite pleased and certainly she was very pretty.

Which triggered that memory of him touching the soft downy feathers and the acute sensitivity to them or was it more the man? She felt the heat but forced herself not to look Aiden's way or surly there would be an inferno rising to her cheeks. It was starting to aggravate her she had no control over it. Frustrating, like making a neon sign that Aiden could affect her that way. "Dove," which she focused on instead and a smile came radiantly. "I like that," then in the next breath, "is there a way to have them come out fully like yours and Gabriel's? Will I be able to fly as well or be an ostrich?" She was wearing a poet's shirt this evening of white tucked into brown leather pants and a vest that matched over the shirt. Boots lacing up to below her knees much like the attire they wore.

He was standing that close he could see the blush fuller this time even with the shadows of this evening to cover it mostly up. He would not say anything. Instead he retrieved an onyx stone, much like Gabriel and he had, affixed to a chain with a Celtic design and what could be taken as a flying bird with a fig leaf in it's beak. "If you do not mind taking off the vest and allowing me to make slits in the back of your shirt, we can find out for certain."

Aiden reached for one of the bottles and opened it, taking a long drink. He watched in silence, his expression unreadable. Then again, it might have been the shadows that fell across his face that made it hard to tell what he was thinking.

She looked to the onyx stone, that too hinted on memories she could not recall other than she had seen it before and drawn to it. Eyes lifted to Raphael as one word was spoken. "Yes," if it was her destiny she was going to embrace it like they had each in their own way. She removed her vest and turned, sweeping the length of unbound dark hair over her shoulder out of the way. It was only then focus sought out Aiden for a moment before closing her eyes to what might happen next.

He moved over to where Aiden was, taking up a seat next to him saying nothing. Just the companionship as he watched Raphael with Mo. So there was more to all of this and he had a feeling they would be remembering, well at least he and Mo, seemed Raphael knew already.

"Stay very still," he didn't wish to nick her as he took out a smaller knife and carefully made two slits in the back of the poet's shirt. "I'll have to give you a few like I have given Gabriel," more mussed where she would hear him as an aside. Once done he held the onyx stone from the bottom and pressed it between her angle bones while stepping off to the side so he was not directly in front of it. At first nothing happened but there was a  coiling blue light that spiraled down from the star clustered sky right into the stone. As the ray soaked in the stone glowed a midnight blue with that white edge to the aura around it.

She could tell when the knife slit the material and the press of the stone afterwards, assuming it was the stone. Still her eyes remained closed as silence surrounded until she felt a buzzing first where the stone pressed. The buzzing went to a touch of heat, not burning and vibrations became stronger until the itch started and grew to the point she wanted to reach back and scratch! That was when the white feathers started to slide through the slits, shivering things with so much energy being poured into them and so new. She could feel the extension like extra arms in a way as they continued to grow this time, stretching out for the first time to about eighteen feet span. Not as large as Gabriel's whose she had seen. Still, they were plenty large for her smaller frame. They were so pure white they practically shone in the darkness around them. It seemed as well her sight got better as shadows formed into objects instead of only indications. She had opened her eyes and tentatively stretching her wings as they seemed wont to do.

"You are an angel with wings, Maureen," Mo just didn't seem to fit the vision he saw before him as he had stood when her wings developed and grew.

"All she needs is the halo." Aiden said quietly as he continued to watch. He remained seated and took another drink of the pure.

He stood back as the wings took form and spread. The onyx stone no longer needed at this point. "That's good, stretch them, let the blood pump through to make them strong." Answering questions before she would need to ask them. "Do this for a couple days before trying to lift up. A field is best. It will go smoother than having them burst forth in need unprepared," glancing to Gabriel with a slight smirk. He was around to hand her the stone. "In starting out the stone will help to have them appear or disappear as you need but that will go by fast where you can control it yourself. Trial and error are a little different for each of us but  I think now you'll progress real fast. Once you get so you can lift holding your weight, Gabriel and I will see to taking you flying higher and over terrain you'd not want to fall. We would be there to catch you in such a case but I don't think it will be needed." More for her own reassurance in trying all this out.


Date: 09-27-08
Poster: Raphael O'Keeffe
Post # 13

There was a slight smile as he would hear Aiden even if the other two didn't. His words in like were very low. "Are you going to give her one?"

She hadn't heard but then she was intent on listening to all Raphael had to say, committing it all to memory as her wings still flexed. Taking the stone as it was clutched in her hand. She could feel the unusual energy it held and of a kind linked directly to her. This she knew instinctively than needed to be told. "I will do all you suggest and will let you know how I progress." Sucking in a deep breath as it was a lot to think on.

He set to running his fingers through the feathers in not just a grooming way but one that aligned them for they were so new some were not. "You will find each one sensitive to where you know exactly if it is out of place or not. It is why they are. I am placing them correctly, commit it to memory so you will know the difference."

He looked at Gabriel, blinking a moment as a thought struck him. He smiled then and shook his head. "Being I'm no angel myself, no."

"I don't think there is an angel amongst us men." Chuckling for even with wings he was no angel and his wings, as well as Raphael's, were mostly black. The red tipped in gold gave his color while white and a striking blue lent color to his brother's.

She closed her eyes as she concentrated on the placement. However, the continual grooming was lulling her as she swayed in place. There was a serenity felt, comforting in spite of all the stimuli.

He just couldn't shake the odd feeling of dejavu that had swept over him. A smile was given to Gabriel in answer before he watched again. "So, now you're complete."

He was quick about it and purposely didn't stroke, deft fingers knew exactly how to organize them as quickly as possible even if he couldn't avoid touching. "Your wings are quite striking, Mo." Just letting her know as he finished up and stood back. Now it was her turn to take the steps mentioned as they would be there for her helping her along. Maybe he nor Gabriel had any help in the beginning, they could at least offer that to Mo.

"We are, we might be the ones with wings but there were more than just the Saoi-dhean Eunlaith, but the Saoi dhean tilgeil sgaithan. We became as one family with a common purpose."

He had picked up on their conversation having given Mo her space to work on her wings, taking up a bottle of potcheen to pursue. "As your people came to our people and became part, some married and created yet another species, although the more blending, the gifts were watered down over centuries to this day but the original species had strengths, yet not as strong when separate. Sometimes the children would be one or the other." Glancing to Gabriel then. "Tell me of the storm," it was time.

"I was flying, may be a month ago already, and a storm came up. I've flown through storms before but this one seemed different. There was what seemed a dark split even in the pouring rain. I wasn't sure at the time and thought it more my imagination. It felt like a hand tried to reach through and snatch me from the air but there was this bright steak of light with no sound and the black tear was gone. The force, however, drove me towards the trees, knocked out of sync and I crashed. Luckily my wings disappeared as I caught onto branches to help break my fall. Had they not, I would probably have ended up with a broken wing instead of bruises as well scratches." Well, what he considered scratches others might consider good cuts but he tended to them and the limp eventually went away from hurting his leg in the fall.

Three winged and one shadow. Air and ground. He didn't say anything though as Raphael spoke and then focus was on Gabriel.

That was about the ratio to what was left of Aiden's ancient people when they found their species, three to one.

"What's it mean, Raphael?" He frowned after hearing the story.

While the men talked, more a murmur in the background as she continued to stretch her wings, moving them out, in, up and down until she became ravenous. Once the hunger set in the wings seemed to disappear more on their own as she made a bee line to the basket and ate like a man starved. Never had she been this hungry before! Mouth was constantly full as one sandwich was devoured and the second already half way through. One could wonder if she took a moment to breathe.

He was mulling it over, well noting Mo in distraction a moment with a low chuckle. He forgot to tell her about that but that too would gradually disappear as well the itch. "We have an enemy of the past you both got sight of already. There is an intelligent force behind the brutes that were the warriors following orders. We didn't know if it was only one or more. I think one tried to reach into the present to destroy Gabriel and got zapped by Andrew's wards. We are protected even from the past thanks to the Druid Prince." Here he paused to take a long drink. "We are not ready yet but soon, we will need to go back to fight a war. What ended up making the difference was the winged ones from the future. We look like how we looked back then, minor differences not that most could tell unless knowing us back then personally. Back in that time, we were actually cut off from my understanding of the visions and not where we were supposed to be and could not get there for the inclement weather where we ended up. A fierce ice storm that wings could not be of use nor even shadows could be cast that weren't ripped apart. The thing is, how history went, at least three winged and one shadow caster came to an area far away from where they were marooned. I cannot see the battle and who we even fought but I know it took down the Dubh Daoine once and for all." At least a forcible conscious effort. "It was said the archangels descended upon the enemy with powers never seen before and figured they were in league with the archangel Michael. People will make gods out of common men or maybe not so common even if not gods."

She had come over to sit near Aiden and Gabriel as she got caught up in this story, something more than a story she realized. Something that would involve them and a great battle in ancient times.

A smile hinted Mo's way before hazel eyes were keen on Aiden, "you became known as a great wizard whose name changed over the centuries."

"A wizard?" He chuckled. "One who traveled with angels?"

"Well, wizards keep odd company. That has been written down in history." Chuckling at the thought, "I'm not sure exactly the why of it as that was not shown to me in the visions, probably a minor detail compared to the overall. That we will probably discover when it is time to go back. The tree house will be that connection for us, the great oak it is being built on is one that is descendant a few times over from one that existed then and this is the very place that battle commenced even if it has changed over countless centuries." Now they might piece together why they were drawn here, it had a connection to the past. He by way of them which he had to wait for to be led to the right place. He was not all powerful on his own, he just had the visions and the first to realization.  Which also reminded him of one detail probably in the why of it, "those empowered swords will make the difference, something we didn't have back then." Fate had its reasons for things and their training in this time was far better than the training back then, although couldn't be discounted either as this instincts and knowledge seemed to be kept through time although needed awakening.

Mo had been listening and with her hunger sated she finally spoke up. "I'm honored to be a part. I have always felt like my drive to be a warrior, to prove myself somehow may not have been what I thought in competing against men in a man's world but something far greater still." She had the distinct feeling this battle they were to do was of a great magnitude even if she didn't know the exact facts in why.

"I feel the same, honored, that I can be a part of something that changes history for the better." He knew well of the dark enemy, be it extended through the Dubh Daoine. He remembered how he felt in direct combat that time when he was brought back and became as himself back then. A dark force that intended to consume anything good and lay all to waste.

"You'll have to be careful if you go outside the realm then if the Prince's spells are keeping the past at bay. Avoid storms especially." Not easy of course. "Aye, it's a great honor." Maybe a little overwhelming too.

"I will warn, if you travel outside these lands, make sure you wear your empowered swords for they will protect you like the wards have." He knew they were suppose to wear them at all times. He started laughing then, "I see you are of the same mind as once before so it is again, Aiden."

"I can hope I am knighted before we go back in time then." More mussed but she had not been as of yet and possessed no such sword, then again Raphael didn't either.

It was growing late. "We will talk more on this. If you are not knighted before we need go back or need to leave the lands, Maureen, just stay in the company of Gabriel and Aiden, or one at least." He knew the empowered swords had that kind of power that one who wore it, used it against evil could protect those with them.

"How have you stayed protected, Raphael?" He was curious as the same thought was that his brother didn't have an empowered sword.

"I was under the protection of the old woman until I got to where I was suppose to be. Here. In the meantime I developed a speed that I can shoot from any direct ambush. This took me years to develop and in time you both might as well but I don't think enough time before we need to go back."

Which had brows lifting. That was the very thing he was starting to develop. He now wondered just how fast Raphael could zip if needed. He was getting tired as the night continued onward and would need to be on the field come dawn. "I will be here tomorrow to work on the tree house after practice." Even if he might stick to plans spoken on with Aiden about becoming a sort of hermit otherwise. He wasn't sure yet.

"I'll be here as well." He stood, bottle still in hand. At this point, he wasn't sure how well he'd sleep tonight.

She eased up from the ground and a slight stretch to follow. The vest she near had forgotten about put back on for she was feeling the chill. Shiver ran through probably for more than the night's air, an end result of a few things that transpired. "I'm ready to turn in as I too need to be on the king's field come dawn."

Bottle in one hand as he offered his arm to Mo. "Would you like an escort back, you should continue to stay close." Giving her a wink for certainly a few reasons but she had become a comrade, female or not, knighted or not already. Proven by her merit and determination against all odds set in her way.

He grinned at Mo as Gabe stepped in. Would she blush for him?

She didn't blush as maybe she was too cold to and certainly would not mention it to them. There were goose bumps on her arms and she gave Gabriel a smile, "no wonder the ladies are attracted to you as well Aiden," sliding a glance his way a moment before forcing her eyes back to Raphael. "A good night to you Raphael, the night has been a very enlightening one." Her hand placed on the offered arm.

"A good night to you all as well. I am going to sleep in the tree house this night." His way of getting accustomed and possible visions in what would prove the nexus for them. He would get his grounding and bearings plus make sure it was secure from any coming through it.

"Good night, Raphael. See you soon." He let Maureen's comment go unchallenged.

"You are going to join us in the walk up, Aiden?" Usually they flanked the woman in escort as dark eyes turned Aiden's way then back to Raphael. "I will see you tomorrow, brother." Before heading towards the castle.

"Aye, I am." He was up beside Mo, offering his arm as well.

He would watch them head off before taking to wing in gaining the distance across the lake and within the tree house.

"Now I've two handsome escorts," her hand coming to rest on Aiden's arm but she didn't dare to look him directly in the eyes or end up blushing!

"And we are lucky to have you to escort." He answered as they headed up the path and then for the castle.


Date: 09-28-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 14

Showing Off the Tree House

Gabriel was walking the shoreline skipping stones, wandering down so far one way then making his way back the opposite. Quiet afternoon as he tried to empty all thoughts from his mind being he wasn't really getting anywhere with them. Clad in comfortable clothes with a vest over a heavier cotton shirt, he was warm against the cooler air and breeze of this day.

Down frown the mountain foothills, through the trees, she came. She was clad, today, in the new leather breeches Gabriel had gifted her with. He had a good eye for size, for they fit her thin frame comfortably. Also the doeskin boots laced on snugly. She stepped along softly pausing only once she broke out of the embrace of the trees into a full view of the lake. She stood a moment to gaze out at the water.

Hair prickled along the back of his neck as he palmed the next stone about to skip and turned on the ball of his foot. "Sparrow," he had not forgotten and best to practice this new name. Dark eyes dipped over her clothing resulting in a smile as eyes lifted in that split second. "You look good." The clothing fitted her well.

Her gaze tilted away from the water and over to where Gabriel was standing. Her mouth tilted up in that familiar shadow of a smile and she continued walking until she had joined him, coming to stand by his side. She looked down at herself, lightly touching the breeches. "They're comfortable and warm," she murmured. She looked up and studied his face. "Not working on the house?" She nodded slightly in the direction of his tree.

"I was but taking a break." With practice in the morning at dawn then down here for a number of hours he didn't want to end up cramping up. Even if well honed there was a limit the body could take before a break was needed. "Do you want to see what we have done so far?" Taking the moment to skip that last flat rock he held in his hand with a quick flick of his wrist. It skipped at least twenty times before sinking into the depth of the lake.

Her gaze followed the rock as it skipped across the surface of the water, her brow lifting a bit and then she refocused on Gabriel, hesitating, before she nodded. "Yes ..."

"I can fly us over there or we can walk," leaving the option up to her. Flying would be far quicker as he would have to once there to get in, leave the ladder down for her to climb up.

She hesitated for a moment, considering. The last time she'd flown with Gabriel had not been the best experience, though, that was mostly due to the darkness and her fear of the water. After a moment she nodded. "We can fly," she decided quietly her gaze fixing seriously on him.

He was quick to dip, bringing her up easily into his arms. "Hold on," which she could do so by putting her arms around his neck or shoulders. Once her weight was adjusted, wings spanned out as they gave a strong flap sending them up and on their way. They had grown really strong since that time and he glided when he could, especially in the approach of the tree house and a landing area he set down on.

Physical contact of any kind was always a little strange to her, but she locked her arms securely around Gabriel's neck and held onto him as they lifted into the air. She was tense at first, but not frightened at least and eventually her gaze turned away and out over towards the treehouse as they swept towards it. She closed her eye briefly at the feel of the wind in her face. When he set down she eased her eye open and slid her arms free of his neck already gazing around her.

The outside walls were all up, roof and secure flooring that one could not get around by climbing the tree unless they could climb upside down like a fly. There were steps leading up to a third tier as they were on the second level. A door of twined branches was eased open that she might enter. This was more a bedroom loft and steps going down near as soon as they entered to the first, main, part of the tree house. The upper part was more like a look-out tower and the smaller building used to keep things stored or if they had many guests, extra room to stay.

She didn't say much, but followed him through the tree house, silently taking in each detail of its construction. She followed him through the door and wandered over to see if she could catch a glimpse of the lake.

Each had a view but the upper most part had the best of course. Windows were placed where tree branches would not interfere with their foliage. The inside wasn't completed but was being worked on. "We are going to put down rugs to make it more comfortable and even an area in each room will have a small pot belly stove," one that would burn wood, peat or coal, fieldstone would be placed beneath to keep from any fire hazard. He let her roam on her own as he stood at the main double window on the main floor. Arms resting along the sill as he studied the lake from this angle. The trees were becoming more gold as the sun picked up the color really well, sending the mirror image over the blue of the lake and few clouds in an otherwise very blue sky.

She had wondered when Gabriel first started building the house that he would choose a tree so near to the lake where people came so often, but wandering the tree house now and gazing out at the mirroring water, she realized how secluded it really was. She liked it, being up high and away, in the quiet of the tree. After a little exploration she rejoined him, leaning against the window to look out as well. "It's nice," she said in her simple, quiet way.

"Yes it is," smile turned her way with a dip of his head, dark eyes hard to read but certainly there was a depth to them. Something touching on ancient as focus switched back out over the scene before them. "When I see such a view, I feel very part of everything created, that there is some greater plan than I can conceive to understand and at the same time, know I need not. Just being part of the ultimate wonder gives me satisfaction."

She could not really understand the feeling Gabriel described, her expression a little thoughtful as he spoke. She continued to gaze out the window feeling, rather than part of everything created, to be safely apart up here; a watcher in a world that could move on without her.

"We are going to winterize it so it can be used all year round. Go ice fishing to cook fresh fish," which they could do easily from their location. "You'll be welcome to join us when we're here and you're about." Which she could probably figure but always best stated. "I noticed you have all the wood you'll need to see you through the winter. Is there anything else you'll be needing?"

She would not have assumed she would always be welcome in the treehouse; she understood that it was a special place that had been made for Gabriel, and Aiden, and that other one Raphael, so it was best he'd stated it. She shook her head a little bit now. "I don't think so. I can hunt in the woods?"

Although largely a man of nocturnal habits, it was not unusual for him to be out amidst the bright of day. Having discovered this Lake when it was lit by moonglow, he wandered back to enjoy it while the sun shone warmly upon the tranquil surface, dazzling the eye. As he strolled -- perhaps visible from the treehouse but maybe not! -- he maintained a leisurely pace. He was seldom one to rush.

"Yes. We'll probably be doing some hunting as well in the deeper parts well away from any homes or such where people are." Helped to keep down on accidents. "I can show you some good spots unless you know of them already." He had always been willing to help her out which she may have realized by this point, and he could be trusted which she had realized. "There is a picnic basket on one of the tables over where we started out." Which was more the public area down from the curved cove a distance away. "Shall we walk back or fly?" Always giving her the option than just doing, respectful in that way. He was over to indicate where the trap door was down the one end and the rope ladder Aiden had made, one that could be lowered.

She caught the sight of movement down by the lake, but at this distance did not recognize the figure; still there was something familiar enough to the shape to cause her to linger by the window and watch for a moment. She straightened up and turned away, then, to where Gabriel gestured at the trap door. "Which would you prefer?" she asked him with a slight tilt of her head. She assumed he would prefer to fly, but perhaps she was wrong.

And 'lo, he came upon an abandoned basket. Curious but wary of this seemingly abandoned surprise, he approached it cautiously, searching the vicinity as he did so for any indication of an owner nearby. Too, he inspected the basket itself (without touching) for traps. Afterall, just because you were paranoid didn't mean they weren't out to get you.

Slow smile spread as he looked up and out through the window with the sky so blue and the light breeze pleasant. There then back. "Fly." He too had noticed someone about in the area, although he would share what he brought with anyone that came, known or not. Taking her smaller hand in his larger roughen one, he led her up the steps to the second story then out onto the landing pad. He had gotten to the point it no longer mattered to him if ones, even strangers, saw his wings. Once she was ready he crouched in a fluid motion bringing her up into his arms like earlier. Once she was secured in her hold, wings spanned out, lifting from the tattoo on his back beneath the shirt which had the special panels so they could. A slight bend of his knees and up as he pushed off with a great whoosh that had them up far enough that he could glide most of the way back.

As they glided back across the lake toward the area were the tables spotted the ground here or there, she holding tightly onto Gabriel as they swept through the clear air, she kept her gaze fixed forward towards their destination to see who it was wandering about down by the water.

To shade his eyes from the sun's glare, he had donned a wide-brimmed hat of no particular style. It was grey, or perhaps a faded black, and sat comfortably upon his head. He tipped it back as he leaned closer to the basket for a better sniff. The while he partly anticipated something to jump out and nip him on the nose. Marginally reassured when this did not happen, he looked around once again -- oblivious to the incoming duo sailing in upon the air -- then reached in, opening the basket if it had a lid, moving aside any linen if it did not. Perhaps there was a muffin waiting for him within?

They coasted in, slowing down as his wings arched in a way they lowered safely on sandy soil. Wings disappearing the instant they had their balance which was only seconds. The basket contained sauteed chicken strips, muffins, brown bread, cheese and a carafe of cider made fresh on the farmlands up from the lake down the other side. It was Hazel's cooking so the one would be assaulted by a rich aroma.

Once they were landed she released her hold on Gabriel and let him set her securely on the sandy shore. She took a step away from him and swept a cautious glance over their surroundings, her gaze fixing almost immediately on Kai bent as he was over the basket of food. A flicker of recognition showed in her ash-gray gaze, though she said nothing yet, but glanced sidelong at Gabriel.


Date: 09-28-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 15

Having found a true and delightful treasure, he was about to settle in to properly enjoy it when a sound nearby distracted him. It was a soft, subtle sound, and were his ears any less keen he would not have heard it. He turned sharply, as one behaves when caught unawares, and saw first the man then the girl. Although his sudden tension eased fractionally, he tipped his head in such a way that obscured his guilty eyes. He did not try to hide his stolen muffin but did lower it from his mouth (he had not yet bitten into it). "Ah...Hello." Brilliantly.

A wry smile touched off to the side as he noted the one at the basket he brought. Amusement glinted in dark eyes as he spoke up, "you're welcome to share in the food I brought. Hazel packed it so you can be sure it is good, much better than my own cooking." Which he wasn't that bad at but rarely needed to cook his own food anymore between the castle and the Thistle. There was enough packed to easily feed six people or more. "I am Gabriel and this is, Ne..." pausing, "Sparrow." Having to catch himself but he'd been quick enough. A gesture of hand to Sparrow that they might partake in a light respite as well.

She ducked her gaze away, a slight smile tipping her own lips for a brief moment before it faded away and she looked back up. A slow nod was offered to Kai as she approached the table. "You have a fondness for muffins?" She murmured quietly.

Gabriel's kind manner soothed any awkward feelings he may have harbored upon being caught as a thief. Seemingly put to ease, he nodded to them once. "Gabriel." His gaze shifted aside to the girl. "Sparrow." And to his credit he did not poke her with questions. Instead, to Gabriel he announced himself, "I am called Kai." And to Sparrow he replied, "I have yet to meet one that disagrees with me." Then more loudly, "Thank you for your kindness, sir. I hope I am not intruding."

It would be hard to be a thief in these lands when so much was offered without cost. Such as he was offered the free basket of food by Hazel. Of course there were other establishments where one paid but even there most were kind if one had no coin. Bartering was used a lot as well. "Well met Kai, welcome to our lands. You're not an intrusion but a chance to meet someone new." How he looked at it as they joined him at the table. He went for some of the chicken strips to start off with. The flask of cider set out mostly for Sparrow. After wolfing down a few for his appetite had been worked up, "have you traveled far Kai?" By way of general conversation initiated.

She offered no explanation for the change in name, not yet at least, where neither of them had yet really acknowledged that they already knew each other. They both seemed comfortable at sliding into the introductions as if it were their first time meeting. She settled down at the table and reached into the basket for a muffin for herself, though she did not start eating it yet, simply turned it over once or twice in her hands and looked from Gabriel to Kai and back again, listening.

He sat only after the others had. Comfortably situated, he broke off a piece of muffin, appreciating the fluffy texture and inviting aroma. "I have, from a land called Taylorn," he explained. The small piece of muffin was held poised to his mouth as he returned the question to Gabriel. "And you, sir? If I may be bold, I would guess you are not native to these lands." The fact that they had flown in had not been lost on him!

Apple spice, banana nut and blueberry seemed to be the choices with a few of each. He took out some mugs and filled one with some of the cider for himself, leaving it there for them to peruse at their convenience and want. "I have been of these lands a good half a year now but you are correct, I am originally from lands called Daurenia which were no more, for a while." Very long story that brought about the wry smile again. Then again, he didn't have wings while there, that too was another long story and perhaps he was more from an ancient past than the lands and people he was reborn to. "Do you still reside in these lands of Taylorn then?"

He was one prone to speaking slowly, as though he considered the weight of his words before sharing them. To some, it may have seemed he were a dolt but his eyes betrayed an intellect that was sharp and cutting. "No," he answered simply. He was not the best conversationalist around. Filling the silence with action, he poured himself a cup and, since he was already about it, filled one for Sparrow also. If she did not drink it then he would.

Sparrow had still not chosen to speak, but listened to this exchange between the two men with a keen, subtle glance. The muffin she had chosen was of the apple spice and she tore off a small piece, now, to nibble at before reaching for the cider Kai had poured her. She washed the muffin down with a small sip from the cup. "Heathfield seems a place for wanderers," she finally observed quietly.

He was not that kind of nosey in needing to know everything about a person upon first meet. What wanted to be told would be, just as he would himself with others. Deciding to have one of the blueberry muffins he chose from the basket, then falling to silence as he took his time eating the more sweet than main food. Such came easily as dark eyes touched on a bright blue for a split second before back to the norm, a small chunk popped into his mouth as it was clear he enjoyed the flavor.

Well weren't they a bunch of chatty kathys. Certainly no knitting circle, to say the least. After a moment of this silence, and partially in response to Sparrow's remark, he asked Gabriel, "What convinced you to stay? If you do not mind my asking." He was painfully polite if not very talkative. Kai's manner was, if nothing else, rather similar to Sparrow's own when she was in the presence of those she didn't know well. His question, however, caught her own interest for reasons outside of just their conversation here and now and she tilted a curious look at Gabriel. She had never asked him that question before.

Which he took the moment to consider his answer, it was not really simple but could be put simply. "I found my comrade here and in time found much more." Popping in another chunk of the muffin before washing it down with some cider. This would be a give and take, he had no reservations in doing such but would find out if this man had. "What has you to travel in seeking something else?" If he was no longer from the starting point mentioned and not returning as indicated, then he would naturally be seeking until his feet settled once more.

Although his expression remained serene and borderline impassive, it was obvious that he thought about Gabriel's response. However his mind was redirected at the question. Again there fell another silence amongst them, though in it was the impression that Kai was merely plotting his answer. "My people are perished," he revealed at last, maintaining a calm mask. He thought it was answer enough and enjoyed another bite of muffin.

"Which is what herald my comrades leaving Daurenia and consequently myself when I returned from a diplomatic mission to find all barren. Wiped out. Only a marker left by my comrade in case anyone survived and found it." The direction was to go north which put them out over the ocean south of these lands to another continent. That was the start of his adventures more than four years ago. A shifting glance was given Sparrow a moment, knowing well she'd be soaking in every bit of information. Much as she knew him once met here, there was a lot before she knew little to nothing about.

Indeed the girl had listened with the attention of one who was missing little of the subtle cues in manner or tone from both men. Now she set aside the bits of muffin she had not yet finished and looked at Kai seriously for a long moment. "What would cause you to stop wandering?" She asked him softly.

He tipped his head, lowering the brim of his hat. He did not reply immediately, perhaps still considering Gabriel's plight or maybe pondering his answer to Sparrow's question. "The weather often does," he murmured in what might have been an attempt at humor though he did not intend to dismiss her curiosity so lightly. "Hazel is a fine cook, Gabriel. Please pass her my compliments." His muffin was mostly gone by now, and his cup of cider empty.

Sparrow smiled a little, but it was a somber sort of expression; she understood perhaps more than what was said. She reached for her cider to take a long sip of it, shifting her gaze back over to Gabriel.

"Indeed I will. You should make sure you stop by in the dead of winter so that you can get snowed in here for a while. Nice blizzard should suffice." Obviously he had picked up on the subtle humor and returned it in kind. A quick wink was given Sparrow before he was finishing off the remains of the muffin, followed by a dousing of cider to wash it down.

"I think I will walk back to my cabin, now," Sparrow said simply as she set her cider down on the table. Her gaze slipped briefly over to Kai.

The lion pads through the fields approaching the lake. He pauses majestically, head high, catching the scents that the slight breeze brings him. He's not hunting, but it never hurts to know what lies upwind. Satisfied that there is nothing that might challenge him, he makes his way to the lake to drink deeply.

He seemed to take some prompt and began to rise. "Then better to settle in before the blizzard hits, I should think," he replied to Gabriel. He was not generous with his smiles, though it seemed more as if he'd forgotten how to do it than from any intent to be rude. He did nod politely to the man. "Thank you again for sharing with me."

"I will walk you back, Sparrow, as I need to get back myself. Kai, you can have all you want of the basket." A hint of a smile followed the comment made by Kai, "nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain. Always wise to plan somewhat ahead, especially where the weather is concerned. I might well be back later," but presently he had some duties to be seen to he had put off already to socialize.

He faltered, hesitated, glanced between them, then edged back a step, holding his silence.

She rose from her seat on the bench and retrieved the last bits of her muffin to finish on the walk back. A small smile given to Gabriel, who was one of the few common recipients of that rare gesture. She turned then to nod to Kai, fixing him with a brief, intent look before she joined Gabriel to walk back up toward her cabin.

"I hope to talk again, Kai. Until then may the wind be at your back and Fate smiling kindly upon your path." He noted the lion as one who had been here before that liked playing with Angel's wolves. He was busy drinking as focus switched back to Sparrow before starting up the trail that would lead to her new place. He would get to see how she had it fixed up, least a quick look before on his way.

He saw it and acknowledged the look with a subtle nod before likewise departing. "And to you," he said to Gabriel before parting paths with the pair. He was mindful to avoid upsetting the lion on his way out!


Date: 10-01-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 16

Tree House Visit

Gabriel met Melantha outside the Thistle as it was a well known place for ones to meet. Having left her a note with Alex that he knew would get to her. He was attired warm enough, poet's shirt with a tunic vest of patchwork leather, brown pants of a heavier cotton with boots lacing up to just below the knees, bit of a cuff and leather strips that hung down where they laced.

She had been delighted to receive the note and dressed accordingly. Doeskin pants that fit nicely were worn beneath a wool blend sweater that was perfect for fall weather. She wore a pair of leather boots as well, fringed at the top and with a knotwork design tooled on the sides. Her dark hair was pulled back into a single braid at the nape of her neck. She smiled when she saw Gabriel waiting. "Evening, Gabriel, here I am."

He was beginning to wonder if she had gotten the note as he paced a bit, fingers running through slightly curling disheveled hair before around on a heel when she arrived. Hand lowered quickly and a smile spread easily. "I'm pleased you could come. Last night ended up being rather odd, strange undercurrents that sometimes happen." Wondering if there was a situation between Aiden and Mo. Aiden never said much of the date than he had a good time. Which he had accepted, expected really. "Ah," pausing in hesitancy, "you might as well know I can fly. Tattoo on my back can turn into wings. It is faster to fly there." And easier to land she would find out as well. He'd have to fly up once there if they walked anyway to let down the rope for her to climb up.

"Fly?" Her eyes grew wide as she looked at him, lips parting slightly with a smile. "Truly? How do you mean faster? As in, you'll carry me?" Which she wasn't too sure of!  She did frown slightly. "Yes, there were some strange undercurrents. I wasn't sure if I was imagining it or not."

"You have such beautiful eyes," having come that close that he could lift her up into his arms if she agreed on the flying, "I can hope they don't see me as some kind of freak," for the first time wondering. It was more than that as eyes turned the bright blue as a emotional chord was struck. That usually set them off. "As in I can carry you, I've done so with others. Are you afraid of me?"

The compliment brought a touch of color to her cheeks and she smiled. "You're not a freak, Gabriel. You're unique. Even to how your eyes change." The last was said softly, then she tipped her head. "No, I'm not afraid of you. Not at all. I'm ready when you are." Chin lifting slightly.

Which was a great relief to him as the rigid line his shoulders had taken on eased. Something he had not really been aware of but for a lot of things of recent by others, he was getting more defensive. Brave lass, had him smile as he dipped down enough to come up with her cradled in his arms. He was strong she might realize for the ease in which he did. Wings came out, spanning a good twenty three feet as knees bent before pushing up as he lifted off taking them up into the night sky.

She let out a little squeak of surprise, one that turned into laughter as she slid her arms around his neck. Eyes went from his face to the wings, her mouth forming an O of wonder. When he lifted into the sky, she gasped but didn't tense in the least. "This is ... incredible!" The lights from the lamps below shrunk but she found it easy to see. "Look, Gabriel. The stars look brighter."

It got her to hold on a bit tighter too and he could see her eyes so much better this close. Forgive him but they were the prettiest eyes he'd ever seen and tried not to stare into them and end up crashing into a tree! "They are brighter this high," welcoming the distraction instead as they were well above the treetops. She might notice something he had not and being dark, the red patches trimmed in gold on his wings, glowed. Soft light like tailgates, a hint of something else to come. She would get to see much of the countryside even if more in dark shadows below at this point.

She was utterly fascinated now. "This is amazing. It must be wonderful during the day when everything can be seen clearly." She had caught a glimpse of the castle too though they were moving away. "Gabriel, do you know the red on your wings glow?" She looked at him again, her eyes thoughtful.

"No. They do?" Which he tried to glance over his shoulder as he usually was not looking that way when flying. He saw mostly the underneath of his wings but he could see a glow just above. Except his concentration best not remain there as they glided now over the lake taking it in a slow circle down towards where the landing was of the tree house. Stars reflected on the water's surface as smooth as glass this night. Wings arched up as the slowed to touch down on the area built just for that. A second or two later he eased her down from his arms to her feet and kept them around long enough for her to gain her balance.

"Aye." She answered, then laughed when he tried to look. "Can you see them? It makes them very mysterious." She fell quiet when she saw the lake, though another soft gasp of delight escaped. Once she was on her feet, she smiled up at him, taking a moment to slide her arms free. "That was wonderful. I didn't feel afraid at all."

"I'm pleased," his wings still out as he learned he could keep them thus for as long as he wanted. The moment lingered with a smile as well before catching himself and seeing to bringing one wing down with a press of a hand. Indeed the red patch tipped in gold, was glowing. He would have to think on that, probably ask Raphael what it meant before they retracted down into the tattoo on his back. He stepped around to open up the door made of twigs woven together that she might enter. A lantern set there was lifted as he set the wick on fire with a match he carried. He held it up so she could see.

She wanted to touch the wings but didn't, though she nearly lifted her hand when he lowered the one. Smiling, she waited for him to light the lantern and then stepped through the door, moving further in while she looked around.

The second tier which they were on, was mostly where they would be sleeping although some could sleep in the upper most one as well. In time they would figure that out but there was plenty of room, like in a house built on the ground. "I added this to all the rooms today," field stone slate over the floor in one spot where a pot belly stove stood. "It should heat the room well, each of them have their own if used. We made sure all the walls were solid and mortar thick in any cracks."

"It's really a house." She was amazed again. "I think this would be a wonderful place to live. High among the trees. How will it be in a storm?" She was over to look out of one of the windows. "And when the sun rises and sets? I imagine it's beautiful." She turned to look at Gabriel then smiled. "I'm gushing like a young lass, aren't I?"

"Yes it is, built like a time long ago, ancient times before the world became like it is today. Of late, I seem to get beset by moods, one of them brought this idea to mind so not all of them are bad." Slow smile tipped off to the side. "Maybe you can come during a storm and find out?" He was pleased as he joined her at the window which was left open. Breeze was cool but not too cold as well refreshing. "Aye, I've watched the sun go down so far but not rise yet as I'm usually on the king's field when it does," leaning in next to her as dark eyes turned out over the lake and star clustered sky above.

This close, he'd noticed the faint scent of roses, though he probably had before. "I'd like that. I love storms. When I was a wee lass, my Ma had to practically drag me inside, especially when the winds were wild." She tipped her head up to look at the stars. "I envy you, Gabriel."

A shoulder touched, rubbed and nudged, "never envy anyone, Melantha." Dark eyes lit to a sky blue glow that turned back her way. "You have been given many things others have not and you can come back again to enjoy this tree house with us. Tell me of yourself, or should we save that for another time as the hour grows very late." Which he was noticing the pattern of stars had shifted. He would be dragging on the field come dawn if he stayed out much longer.

She noticed that change again, and tipped her head as she studied them. "I'm going to say we should save it so I get to see you again." She felt her cheeks becoming heated with that confession. "And I know you need to be on the field before the rest of us are fully awake."

He turned with a bigger grin, "I like the idea of that. I might have even thought of it myself." He had enjoyed her company and talking, plus he got to enjoy those beautiful eyes of hers looking back. "At least we can fly back, be there in five minutes instead of another half hour or more."

"I was hoping you'd offer that." She showed a dimple when she smiled. "I might just get used to traveling that way."

"It's a unique way," which he certainly got use to it. Taking her hand in his, she would note the skin roughen for hard work, he led her back up to the second floor and out onto the landing. Once there, he would bring her up into his arms like before, weight adjusted with a slight bend of knees before pushing up to lift into the air. The whoosh of air from strong wings until they were high enough to glide a good distance of the way.

She slipped her arms around his neck again and this time there was no squeak of surprise. Settling in, she enjoyed their return flight. Besides, it wasn't often that she was held in the arms of a handsome man, winged or not.


Date: 10-02-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 17

Talk Amongst Friends

It was the kind of day to take advantage of as he came early in the morning to continue work on the tree house. He had brought the rugs of a deep brown tweed, the first floor finally done as he sat on the roll on the second floor in a break with Aiden. A bit of potcheen hit the spot as he stretched his legs out. Neither had really spoken much on anything than the project at hand which was a relief for Gabriel, things of late having been too confusing at times. A lot of thoughts muddled in his head that still needed to be weeded out. Attired in a poet's shirt, typical of the panels for his wings if needed, the vest off and lying over a rail outside at the landing, brown pants and boots lacing up of a supple leather.

Sparrow too had a great many thoughts tangled in her head of late and, since moving into the cottage a little up the mountain from the lake, she seemed to have taken on a rather solitary existence. She was simply walking now, the tree house not necessarily the destination in mind - she had no real destination - though her steps had brought her near that way. Her head was bowed and her face rather closed and pensive even in perceived solitude and, though she made no effort to conceal her passage, her steps were as always very soft.

Aiden wasn't better off with his thoughts which made working all the more desirable. He didn't mind the silence either since it was a companionable one though he and Gabriel would talk eventually perhaps but for now, he was enjoying the break. He wore black pants tucked into his boots, as well as a blue poet's shirt, the sleeves rolled up. The breeze kept them cool while they worked. Another benefit of the treehouse.

It was the prickling of the hairs along the back of his neck that alerted him to certain other's presence. About to ask Aiden something, instead he was to his feet and heading out to the landing. Dark eyes turned the bright blue as he scanned the area in search. Bird's eye view had its advantages as well how acute they had become, especially when blue. "Sparrow.." giving a wave to hopefully distract her coupled with his voice.

Despite her apparent pre-occupation, Sparrow was ever alert to her surroundings, and at Gabriel's call her head immediately came up and her gaze slid sharply around and then up. She caught sight of his waving and lifted a hand in greeting, shifting the direction her walk was taking her to go closer to the great tree which bore their house in its branches.

He watched Gabriel stand and stood as well, though there was no sense of alarm. Jewel was close, exploring the upper tree house which she likely would visit a lot. He heard him call out the name and remained standing, moving over to join Gabriel.

He was tempted to name it .. Gabriel's Nest .. for all the teasing he got about his wings. He was back in and down to the first floor where he lifted up the trap door to let down the rope ladder Aiden had made. "You are the first to use it," she'd see him grinning from the now open hole in the floor as he crouched so he could see her as well through the space. Making such a statement could go either way, one honored or to be very cautious!

Sparrow's mouth tilted up just a little at this; she was a good choice for testing, at least, given her slight weight. She reached up to grasp one of the rope rungs and hung her weight on it a moment to see if it would hold, though she expected no trouble. Determining it was stable enough, the girl pulled herself up. She wasn't very strong, but she was incredibly nimble and had very little difficulty climbing the rope ladder, though the way it swayed and shifted as she climbed might have unnerved another. Upon reaching the top she gripped the edge of the floor and pulled herself up and into the tree house.

He chuckled when he heard Gabriel, confident that the ladder would hold. He peered over the winged knight's shoulder before stepping back. "Hello, Sparrow. Nice to see you about. Did you receive the rug?" He was sure it had been delivered by now.

At least it wasn't a shadow ladder as that would not be good for Aiden to do according to Raphael. It would eventually deplete his shadow making if he left such items permanent. Then there was the question just how long a shadow object could last. He leaned back as she made it to the opening and made sure with a steady hand under her upper arm to have her securely in. Once she was he pulled up the ladder and closed over the trap door. Standing after the task was done. "You seem distracted today." More a statement just by her appearance, probably how he looked of late and even Aiden. They were a threesome or was that tree-some?

Sparrow tilted a look over at Gabriel, thoughtfully, and then acknowledged his observation with a noncommittal, "Perhaps." Not trying to be difficult, but things didn't always come easily to words for her. She focused in on Aiden and smiled a little. "I did. Thank you." She liked the rug very much, though her simple words would have to suffice for showing it. She cast her gaze around them and added, "How long until it is finished?" Meaning the tree house, of course.

"Good." He moved away to take up a seat on the floor. There was potcheen to be finished while they talked. Dark eyes regarded Sparrow closely, a hint of amber fire deep within their depths. About that time, Jewel rejoined them, settling against Aiden as golden eyes regarded both Gabriel and Sparrow.

"I would say about another week then as we move some furniture in here." more the essential needs. Some low beds but made comfortable, least six in the open second floor along the walls. He had made a shelf off the side from the potbelly stove, ones he got in over the past day and set on slates of fieldstone. There was a jug of cider and some bottles of potcheen. "Would you like some cider to drink?" Playing host was something different for him but not something against his nature. It came easily enough. Dark eyes switched from Sparrow to Jewel as his turned blue for a fraction of a second.

Sparrow caught Aiden's gaze on her and looked back at him for a lingering moment. Her own face was hard to read, though, the control a well-practiced thing despite her youth. She dropped her single-eye to watch the shadow cat. After a moment she shifted one hand out, palm up, for Jewel to approach if she choose to. Sparrow rarely showed any interest in animals and generally avoided touching them; perhaps knowing that Jewel was a less than fully natural creature altered her viewpoint somehow. "Yes," she said after a moment, to Gabriel's offer of cider. She glanced over at him. "It's a lot of work for a place you don't intend to live." She recalled him saying it was not meant to be a permanent home.

Jewel was an affectionate creature when she choose to be. Today was one of those time. She made her way to Sparrow, sniffing her fingers before nudging her with her head. He grinned at Sparrow, looking around the room. "Aye, but it'll be a grand place to stay when it's done, even if just for a night."

"It is worth it, a place to come besides the castle when I have days off," while pouring her a mug of the cider then around to offer it her way. "How are you settling into your cabin?" The place would end up multifaceted, Raphael may stay here even more but all of them could during some winter storms. Storms, recalled something asked of him as his mind wandered there a moment then caught. The place was going to be a connection to an ancient past and a war to fight in to make a world changing difference from his understanding in undercurrents. Many battles were fought down in history but there were some that made huge differences over the multitude. He poured some more potcheen for himself as he was over to take a seat on the floor, back to the wall and legs at a bend. "We need to get some chairs and a table in here next." More mussed under his breath, the rug was down on this floor at least.

"I don't mind sitting on the floor," Sparrow said with a little shrug. She reached for the cider with her free hand and rested it against a crossed knee even as she watched Jewel nudge up against her hand. She shifted her hand and carefully ran her fingers along Jewel's fur. "Well enough. It was a good choice," she acknowledged in regards to the cabin. She fell silent a moment before sweeping a watchful look at both Gabriel and Aiden. "And you? You have been well?" The question was meant to encompass them both.

The shadow cat started to purr, loud enough to make Aiden chuckle. "I'll see to the table and chairs if you'd like." He told Gabriel then he nodded. "Yes, very well." No point in saying otherwise. "Busy with training, and getting ready for the colder weather. This has been a good pastime when we're not."

"I'll help," retorted to Aiden as he could fly them up than struggling to get them up the rope ladder. Although it would be a sight to watch! The thought had him chuckled before full serious focus turned on Sparrow. "Confused at times although only one area. Practice in new warrior maneuvers and this tree house are not the one. Relationships. Women confuse me in how they react leaving me more confused in how I should act around them. Seems a man can't win either way if one were to put such in a winning way." Except something popped into his mind in a clarity, maybe for having the break from thinking too much. There were only more developments but the last he would wait on, too new. Nothing like adding more to the heap. "Although you just met Kai, I think he is attracted to you." That odd look on the man's face was what popped into his mind and realization to follow.

Sparrow was very, very good at controlling her expression or she might have given far more away then she did. As it was she tilted her head just a little and looked at Gabriel quickly with a fleeting expression on her face that was hard to pin down. "Unlikely," she suggested instead, her tone carefully neutral, which was telling in itself. She gestured, briefly, at the scar on her face. She should probably have said something more, perhaps ... registered surprise, or demanded to know what made Gabriel think that. She had gotten out of the habit of lying, though she'd been very good at it once, far more adept now at concealing her thoughts rather then projecting those that were untrue. She hesitated and then lifted the cider for a small sip. "Why does it matter how women react?" She asked Gabriel, then, attempting to draw him back to his earlier line of thought. "And what is it to 'win', or not to 'win'?"

"I meant, I'll buy them." He chuckled then grinned at Gabriel. After all, he might be able to move them through the shadows now and wouldn't that be a surprise. "I was engaged to one, Gabriel and I can't explain anything." He frowned slightly, his thoughts wandering for a moment before he was looking at Sparrow and Gabriel. "Kai?" Had he met him? "Sparrow, a man who truly loves you will love you for who you are."

Watching her, he realized the look shared afterwards as well and now the look that didn't wish to keep eye contact coupled with the neutral tone. "If you're attracted to him as well, there is nothing wrong in it Sparrow. It would be natural for you to be attracted to others even if not me," giving her a wink with a flash of a smile to hopefully ease any shyness. "I would argue to disagree, I think I understand the look now. He definitely had it. The scar?" focus shifted with the indication and back. "I don't think he is that shallow a fellow. Real question is if you like him, you don't have to tell me but if you do, don't let assumptions stand in your way either." He wasn't so easily distracted. Gesturing to Aiden as the confirmation there. The other could wait, they didn't need to talk about him every time they met. He was not that conceded just it seemed easier being she was not real talkative and only direct words had a chance he was finding out.

Sparrow held quiet for a long moment. Her fingers had long since dropped away from Jewel's fur and she set her cup aside on the floor. Not yet prepared to admit that she knew Kai far better than Gabriel realized, or that he was currently sleeping in her spare room as he had for the past few nights. She shrugged instead, her expression rather serious and her gaze a little distant as she seemed to think over their words. "We are similar sorts of creatures, I think .. he and I," she finally said with a little shrug. Not elaborating any further than that.


Date: 10-02-08
Poster: Gabriel Vaughn
Post # 18

"Similar in that you are both quiet?" A brow lifted as he questioned. Jewel returned to him, crawling onto his lap and he petted her absently. "Well, all that can be said, is be careful." He knew well enough how some men could be. "If you like him, you'll find more then just being similar." He chuckled as he looked down at the cat. "That's a good beginning though, I guess."

It would seem they all harbored a few secrets not willing to share presently. Maybe all were too new, same grounding, same reasons, different personas and not quite willing to admit something that was barely in existence, not solid. "I think it takes two that are similar or at least understanding plus other ingredients," like he was making some kind of pot pie, "that one can't even label other than spices." He got Sparrow to admit a lot more than expected but she was amongst two she could trust, who cared about her welfare. He directed a question to Aiden, "remember our talk the other night and I asked how one knew if they were attracted to someone? You said about remembering the clothes they wore or their perfume? Would the prettiest eyes you ever set sight upon and keep seeing in your mind's eye, qualify?" It was an admittance something at least had finally nudged him but knowing well it was a physical thing this early.

Sparrow fixed a rather serious look on Aiden. "I'm always careful," she told him quietly. Perhaps too careful, sometimes. She might have said something more, but Gabriel spoke up and his question was curious enough that she tilted her head a little when she looked back at him.

He just smiled at Sparrow before looking at Gabriel, a half smile appearing. "Aye, that would qualify, at least in my book." He rubbed at his chin. "Well, since we're asking some questions, why do you think a lass would avoid you after you kissed her? And not say she's angry about it." That might give Gabriel a hint of what happened.

Oh, it did, as brows rose. "I will let Sparrow answer that first if she knows being she is a woman." He would make an attempt if needed but he was studying Aiden.

Sparrow might have been a woman - just barely - but she was so closed off and controlled she had very little understanding of how relationships worked between people ...of any sort. She had certainly never kissed a man. Her mouth tightened thoughtfully. "Perhaps she isn't angry. Maybe she's confused."

"Confused." He nodded as he looked down at Jewel again "That makes two of us." Everything had seemed right and the last thing he wanted was to confuse her. Why he had spoken to Gabriel on seeing others.

"Aye, I think Sparrow's got it. She is probably confused. If she was angry and the one I think it is, she would out right clock you with a right hook good. Probably the one who initiated the kiss should be the one to approach any talk on it to resolve this unsettled feeling." Which seemed to be shared by both. It was only his opinion.

Sparrow agreed with Gabriel's observation and, based off what Gabriel had just said, also had a sudden suspicion who they might be talking about. Last time she had been in the tavern she had been much absorbed in her conversation with Morgan, but not so much she'd missed the watchful way Aiden had looked at Mo when he'd greeted her. It was a suspicion only, however, and the woman's identity mattered little, ultimately. She shrugged and reached for the cider she'd set down beside her, fingering the rim of the cup. "If you kissed her and didn't explain yourself, you probably ought to," she suggested simply.

"I'll try talking to her but I'm not sure she'll listen." Or even if she was ready to talk to him about it. He thunked his head back against the wall lightly then chuckled. "I swear, becoming a hermit would be easier."

That was a mind set Sparrow herself had determined long ago. She tilted her head and looked up at them, observing softly, "That sort of lifestyle lends itself better to people like me." She gave Aiden a small, somber smile. "You wouldn't be any good at it."

"Why is it you assume before tested? Sparrow on her scar that a man could never love her and you think the one you kissed would not be understanding? Maybe she is waiting for you to say something so she has a better understanding of what happened. Was it something passing or something real, meant. We all can get caught up in the spur of the moment that is not intended to be some life commitment. So the next question would be, do you know?" Holding up his hand palm facing, "you don't need to answer that but maybe know the answer before you talk to her."

"I was good at it for a while." He looked at Gabriel and nodded. He thought he knew the answer to that ... no, he knew it but it wasn't her he was worried about. It was himself, making a mess of it again. And no, he wasn't willing to say that. It sounded like he was making an excuse, at least to himself.

Sparrow kept her comments to herself for the moment, instead lifting her cup to take another small sip of the cider. She watched the two men over the rim of the cup, empathizing at least somewhat with Aiden's confusion. Her own mind was a jumble lately.

Which had him studying Sparrow. "If there were no scars to stand in your way and this new man wanted to be with you, would you go to him? Can you see yourself spending the rest of your life with him as the main person, less time with others as relationships usually end up? Here too, I don't need to know your answer but it helps to answer them yourself when confused." Now to see if in the coming days he took his own advice!

Those were tricky questions not easily answered. There were more scars to consider than just the visible; she had far more secrets holding her back then an ugly face. This much she wouldn't say, though her mouth did tighten almost wryly and she murmured, with her gaze cast down, "I can't see the rest of my life at all." Before or behind. She didn't know where she was going anymore than she knew where she had come from.

"Do you ever imagine a future for yourself? Think where you'd like to be a few years from now?" He'd start with that first. Then she could go from there.

Sparrow's expression had grown rather serious now and she looked at Aiden for a long moment before she tilted her gaze away towards Jewel again and held out her fingers once again, more as a distraction then anything else. "Yes," she admitted quietly. "There was a time when I wished to have no future at all. I hoped the years would be few and then I could rest." Her voice softened out at the end. As troubled as she may be still, she had gone through some very dark times before her wanderings had drawn her to Heathfield.

He listened quietly at this point, leaving the questions to Aiden put forth to Sparrow. They also verbalized in his mind what he'd want, least hoped for one day, but it was left unsaid. He also knew Sparrow had some bigger demons to face than most but all had their own as life seemed to bring.

"But you don't feel that way anymore?" He smiled slightly. "I'm hoping you don't. You have a lot ahead of you, Sparrow. I think in time, even being alone won't be what you want." He looked at Gabriel and shrugged. "I guess we all have to find our own answers now." He had resolved to deal with his questions as soon as he could.

"I'm not sure I ever wanted to be alone," Sparrow said quietly, fingers stroking carefully over Jewel's fur, her face still tilted down. "Only didn't know how else to be." She still didn't, really. Most of the time she didn't know what she felt anymore.

"Aye, but there is one thing in all of this, we're friends and here for each other no matter how our lives play out. To be there when there is joy and when it may be sorrow as well." To add to the joy and to ease the sorrow, that was what friends were made of or should be if they were a friend. "Well, you're not alone anymore. You have your friends to start with and you have a few." He knew she had made ones beyond himself and even eventually Aiden. There was Morgan, Aislinn, Pyper and even Angel in what she allowed or rapport. Some friendships were in degrees. "I would think that you are managing quite well from the first day you stepped foot in these lands." No matter her past, she had taken many large steps, "you can even float." Dark eyes turned her way with a hint of a smile to share.

"Aye, you've begun to learn how not to be alone." He smiled then looked at Gabriel and nodded. "There is that as well." His stomach rumbled and he chuckled. "You know, I think it's getting late. I don't remember when we ate last."

Sparrow's mouth curled up just a little. She didn't really have anymore answers now than she'd had before, but she took some comfort from this quiet time spent with the two of them. She dragged her fingers free of Jewel and lifted her cider to drain the last of it.

"I think it is time to head up for some of Hazel's cooking. We've been neglecting her." Rising as his mug was drained and he stepped over to where Sparrow still sat to collect her mug as well, He would put them in the makeshift sink, bucket of water until they got one made or bought. He had quite a few coins left as well so might pay Sean MacGrath a visit. "Oh, did I mentioned I bought another thoroughbred racehorse from McDale stables? A filly, I might breed her with RW Blackbird." Turning back with a look spared between them both. "Care to fly with me, Sparrow?" Except the look he gave Aiden was near a dare he would use that new technique of shadows he knew he was practicing. Got to see it the one night at the lake, well tail end of it. He had a newfound extension discovered last night but he needed to investigate it further before showing.

That was a bit longer to fly than she had ever done before with Gabriel and she hesitated a moment, but then gave a nod, climbing to her feet. She turned a questioning look on Aiden. "How will you get there?" She asked.

"I have my ways." He'd make the attempt, but for outside of the Thistle. If he ended up startling either Alex or Hazel, he could be in some trouble.

He took up her smaller hand in his as he approached then led her up to the second floor. One that needed the rug put down yet that was rolled up against the wall. Stepping out onto the platform from there, like before, with a quick dip down he would easily have her up into the strength of his arms. Once she was settled, arms around shoulders or neck, the wings would span out and with a great thrust they would be airborne. It might be further but it was not far by air she might note and the view during the day was much more detailed with people moving about like small rabbits below. Very few, if any, looked up but then he was becoming a regular sight. Still, not to attract attention he would glide down through the trees behind the tavern to land in the garden there. Wings arching up in the descend which was perfected smooth at this point.

He watched as they headed up then looked at Jewel who yawned, showing tiny, sharp teeth. "Not a word from you, cat." Chuckling, he took a few deep breaths and concentrated on opening the portal. Now if it would just take him where he wanted to go. He actually stepped through beside the Thistle. A grin and he was around to join Gabriel and Sparrow.


Date: 07-20-09
Poster: Raphael O'Keeffe
Post # 19

Furless Wolfmen

Raphael sent word to Gabriel to come this night where the moon was high and certain elements whispered through the trees especially the Great Oak where their tree house was built. One he was given permission from the very Oak itself. It called itself Marx. As much as one could translate tree talk or more feel that came through, past barriers of completely different life forms that shared the same planet. Gabriel was to see if any of the others could come as well. He would have the trap door open and the rope ladder down in anticipation. It was also requested he bring some food and potcheen. Raphael had run out as he stayed close to the tree, the middle level tier of the home. One that had a round shaved off area of the tree, part that had been having the bark coming off leaving a circle of about three feet round.

Gabriel had gotten the note and knew he had about an hour before heading for the tree house. He heard the others had been practicing on the water gauntlet and so headed there to see if they were about. Not finding them there he headed for the Thistle to pick up some food and of course a case of potcheen. He would pay coin for buying a case as oppose to taking a bottle or drinking at the Thistle. He hoped to at least find them there and if not he would send a runner up to the knight's hall as a last resort.

Aiden was making his way toward the tree house. He had talked to Mo, but she had a meeting with the Crown Princess that couldn't be put off. Instead of using the ladder, he used shadows to bring him to the tree house. Jewel was  close on his heels as they stepped out of the shadows near Raphael. "Evening, Raphael. " The shadow cat was right over to the other man, purring a greeting.

As usual, the last resort would serve Gabriel to contact Cole. He received the missive, slid the runner some coins, then took up his sword and went straight away to the Tree House. He'd be the only one that needed to use the ladder and he was grateful to Raphael for realizing that. He climbed up, joining the others inside the home of their winged comrades. A touch of fist to chest was his silent greeting.

He flew in, arriving with basket in hand and a case of potcheen under the other arm. Luckily he could fly carrying weight and not be bogged down. He came in from the top landing then down to the main floor room where Raphael was, setting the goods on the table off to the one side. "Help yourselves, though maybe leave some for Raphael." Grinning with the last as he waited.

Raphael gave Aiden a look, "I still need to get use to you doing that," though the shadow cat gave him away some as she had darted ahead to curl around his leg. "Cole, I'm pleased you could make it." Being this would be the first time for him to see. He had not imposed upon the man when he did some soul searching, he didn't need the worry nor burden. Looking between them as this was as much a brotherhood as the oaths they took under the kings in serving them, "Brąthairel," a brotherhood of skills to serve the good of the whole. "Come watch." Indicating the seats set around circular barren spot on the tree. "It will be soon, a glimpse." He waited for these glimpses to better understand what would be required of them before the portal opened up for them to go back in time. He was over to collect the basket of food to set on the floor near his feet. He was starving at this point for not wanting to leave when a moment could make the difference in getting the preliminary glimpses that were leading up to this one.

He just grinned at Raphael then returned Cole's greeting. All he wanted from the supplies Gabriel brought was potcheen. A bottle was obtained, and glasses set out. He didn't know who else wanted a drink so once his glass was filled, he looked up. "Anyone else?" When that was finished, he was over to one of the seats. "Raphael, you should make sure you have one of us bring you food every day." They could work it out among themselves.

Cole denied any need for food or drink by a single shake of his head, but joined the others in the circle. He unstrapped his sword and placed it aside, he'd have no use for it while here, and then he lowered to sit as a part of the group of four.

He touched off a fisted hand to his chest before taking a seat near Aiden and Cole as he settled in to watch what would transpire. "I'll have one." There was plenty to share but he already had a hearty meal at the manor with Melantha, her family and Grandmother. He had noticed the look in her eyes she was pleased to see him there. Now he would be again as often as he could. "I alerted Hazel to have something sent for the next couple of days." For all Raphael's skills and intelligence, he'd forget to screw on his head when he got up in the morning if it wasn't already attached.

He motioned to Aiden he'd have some but more a gesture of his hand for he was stuffing his mouth. That and looking towards the window that showed the lake beyond in one very peaceful night. The Moon was moving into position as the first rays hit the bare spot, it spread out, like the tree soaked up the light turning it a silvery charcoal grey. Dark enough that images would start to show. Gabriel and Aiden were privy to the scene in a few ways already. The sole male standing on the cliffs, the Saoi-dhean, the valley that spread out from this bird's eye view of strange extremely large trees compared to some of the recognizable creatures such as birds. Though amongst those birds were not so normal in the size of a dragon, leathery skin, hammer shaped heads and split tails much like the lion. One flew across in pursuit of a small group of geese. There was much squawking and honking as the creature swooped in to inhale three of the ones in a row, shattering the V formation and the others diving back down to the protection of trees.

He made sure Gabriel and Raphael had those drinks before he settled to watch. Though he had seen such before, it still was fascinating. He gave a soft whistle as the geese were attacked then glanced at Cole to see his reaction. Only a quick look. He didn't want to miss anything.

Cole sat forward, his hand resting lightly across his lower face, that elbow on his other arm for support. Over the years, this particular warrior had seen many strange and amazing things and still, he could be intrigued when something so fascinating presented itself to him. He didn't speak for he didn't know if words would break the spell, the vision, the incoming information, but the questions were there, so many questions...there.

The vegetation was lush, waterfalls from tremendous heights fell miles below down the sides of rocky mountainsides feeding the river below. Strange sounds would assault their ears not in volume but uniqueness. A few long neck, heavy torso and legged beasts came to the water's edge before immersing themselves partially into the water and feeding off low lying branches that grew there. It was almost as if they followed the descend of the geese escaping the carnivorous bird, spiraling down in a vertigo as the whole scene changed from above looking down to one under the canopy of trees. Rich leafy fauna grew here. Here they would see the winged tribe milling about the great Redwoods in which their homes were built way up high, much like the treehouse they were in and all networked into a city of them. Two men and a woman were talking, gesturing north which they took off in that direction taking to wing only to stop at a canyon area where a man casting shadows joined them.

Always something new. He found himself engrossed as the people with wings took flight and found the one that worked with shadows. Jewel meowed as if speaking to Aiden and he looked at her and just nodded. He looked back, studying the area where the four were. It might be a place they'd need to know when they went back.

Though this was something the others had already witnessed, it was new to Cole and he was engrossed in the images which passed before his eyes. Each and every detail taken in and remembered. He wasn't sure as yet why these scenes were presented to them, shared with him, but nothing as extraordinary as this could be for naught. Only time would reveal the purpose, Cole would be ready.

Like Aiden, Gabriel had seen most of this before. The scenes were altered somehow though it was suppose to be of the past. This is what held his thoughts mostly about it this time around. There had been four starting out with them from the winged village, this time there were only three and one was a woman. Before that had not been distinguished. Either that or his memory wasn't serving him correctly as eyes turned summer blue Aiden's way to see if he noticed the same.

The four at this point were conversing, gesturing in a direction it would be hard to tell without any compass point set in these scenes. They seemed to agree and all went on foot in that very direction. Trees and brush intermittently blocked the view of the four beneath on foot and completely after the trees grew even more dense from this bird's eye view again. In the next moment they were seen again in a field of tall grass as well the sides were moving in on the four from all directions. The movement took clarity of large fur covered men and strange beasts looking like giant werewolves with no fur upon their bodies. They went on the attack, one of the four casting out shadows that turned into beasts looking like giant wolves with fiery eyes. The winged threesome lifted into the air as arrows started raining into the masses along with shards of icy shock waves, bolts of lighting and fireballs. Still the Dubh Daoine came undaunted pressing towards the four bent on destroying them. They were the soulless, mindless brutes of something far more powerful driving them. It was then an army of Elves, sprites and other Fae joined in to help the four, the Saoi-dhean. Still there was an impression this was only one minor battle as a shadow passed over the scene, filling an empty spot that looked very much like a wolf. There was far more to these scenes but the passing of moonlight only illuminated highlights.

Cole's gaze narrowed, his pupils shrinking into mere slits as the furless wolfmen and fur covered men attacked. That scene seemed all too familiar to him in ways he kept to himself at present. No words. Just the tensing of his shoulders as he trained his gaze back to rounded pupils and scanned the enemy lines. The shadow had him casting a look above, then back quickly to the scene lest he miss something of importance and the moon refused continued cooperation.

Gabriel ended up watching Cole as something drew his focus there. "What is it?" He knew Raphael, or even himself, would explain anything needing an explanation of what they knew. There was more to all this.

"Why are we showed this?" He answered, still looking at first to where the image had been and not to the comrade he spoke to. Slowly he shifted his gaze to Gabriel, then scanned the gathering, each of their faces taken in before returning to his winged brethren. "I know of these people. These furred men...these wolfmen. Why are we showed this?"

Raphael held up his hand in a gesture to Gabriel that he would answer the questions as best he could. "For many years I have known that I was here for a reason, that my wings were for a reason that would not be self serving. They say time bends back on itself to certain crucial times. A very Ancient past where the humans of today were a minority to breed such as myself, the shadow casters and Wolfmen. The fur clad giants with little brains and taken over by the Dubh Daoine. I have not seen them yet, nor know what gifts they possess other than they seem to control the Giants and the furless wolves." Wolves that were as big as a human male and not always on four legs but at times upward on two as he would have seen. "There was not the scene of hundreds of years later when many volcanoes erupted that laid waste to the lands below. Many would die, and enough would survive to continue on as the Earth itself changed over time. New races born, some from the old mixed in and the way of life to change with it. The terrain would change as well. There is a fracture in time from what I've seen so far that calls us, much like our ancestors," though somewhat different too, "to go back at a certain point and win a battle for them, they didn't make and were suppose to in having the outcome that leads to today. Otherwise our races will be destroyed and the Earth shadowed in darkness and pain for many centuries. Humans will almost cease to exist for being far weaker."

Cole nodded in thought following Raphael's explanation. "So, we are to go back? Through this fracture you have found? We..." He motioned with a nod alone to indicate the men gathered within the treehouse. "are to travel back in time with what we know of these races to fight a battle or the world as we know it today, will change?"

"That is of my understanding of the situation. Yes. Those that will. It is why the scenes change each time subtly. It takes but one little ripple to change the course of history. Four of us are going, it seems to have reflected the decisions made today. We are to learn to fight together, using all our skills as one to defeat the Dubh Daoine. Those that are the Fae forerunners will help to keep their races alive or at least not enslaved." Though Raphael didn't directly ask Cole where he stood on this, he waited to see by his words instead.

He had nodded at Gabriel, having noted the differences as well. And seeing how the shadows came to life for the other, he knew where he needed to focus his training. His dark eyes shifted from the scene before them to Cole while he too, waited for his answer.

Cole still divulged nothing. "And the woman?"

"I believe the woman is Mo, who has wings also and discovered after coming to these lands. You came this night and witnessed what has only been shown to us so far. You may say, well, you invited me so why would I not come and I will say to you that if you were not to have seen this of the past, something would have come up to not have you here. It may seem a simple way in how this is determined but I believe things happen for a reason, not by chance. Still, you are here, you have seen. What you have to offer, even remains a question to be seen. Even if seen, you have the choice to step aside, have us leave you behind. To face what it is we are to face without your gifts, without your support."

He knew that Cole was avoiding the question though not certain why. Still, in the end, he had to make his own choice, his own decisions. He didn't sense fear from his friend, but ... caution.  And that he understood. It worried him that Mo was to go but he wouldn't stop her even if he could.

Cole passed his gaze over the other men again, lips pursed. He drew in a breath, released it, then drew in another to begin to speak. "You have my support and my sword, Raphael. As in this realm, so in an unknown one, my place remains ever at the sides of my comrades. Aiden. Gabriel." His eyes could even appear to glow slightly as he looked to each as he spoke. "I would have it no other way no matter the enemy we fight. No matter the engage in battle." His talents, his skill other than that which served Daurenia and now Innis, would remain his own secret for now.

Gabriel sat back, watching, listening, ever since Raphael took over in an explanation to Cole. Good thing that he had for he had not known all that Raphael had to say. Knew some but seemed he got to learn more. A slow smile emerged as he heard Cole step forward to meet his fate, his destiny with his brothers. It comforted him. "Melantha wishes to come. Before deciding against it, please talk to her, Raphael." She had told him she could be of an asset and this he would let Raphael hear for himself being all of this turned to have Raphael the natural leader for this expedition into an ancient past to fight an ancient battle.

"We need your support and your sword, Cole. I felt you would but knew how drastic the change would be if you had not. There is a destiny for your kind that is also held in the balance from what I've seen. We all need to meet and practice our skills together as one force. I will do my best to try and find out more about that which we really fight. The minions are led by someone or ones. I'm not sure how I will be able to find this out but if there is a way.. I will discover it." One blink as he was derailed with Gabriel's information. "I will speak to her on this." Though he had wanted to answer with a no, he would give the lass the benefit of the doubt she could be of real help. The last thing they didn't need were extra causalities or ones to cause causalities. Gabriel's concentration could be at risk. "There were shadows that could be others to join us. Those will present themselves." Mel might well be one of them.

Cole cleared his throat softly, bowing his head before speaking. "I can help you find them, I've been told of them." He glanced up to Raphael, sliding his gaze over the other two men, then lowering it again to his lap where he plucked at a leaf that had drifted down near his leg.

"It seems to me, it would be good to look into other possibilities. I don't think it will be a big group but if others can contribute ... " He let that thought trail off.

"I will have her here as soon as we can meet with you." Which would be in the very near future. Though thoughts of Grams plagued his mind, he would need discuss that with Mel.

Cole's words had brows lifting, "I was hoping another that wasn't to be part, would know some of that which eluded me. It proves not one will lead but all of us working together equally. Help me find them," a nod given Gabriel as it was important and if she was to be involved then she would need to train with them. Though he was curious about one thing, "who told you about them?" Directed back to Cole. Wondering if it was like the one that told him originally and had placed the tattoo upon Gabriel not of this world but of a past one.

He looked at Gabriel and gave a slight nod of approval. He could have not said anything to Mel about what they were about to face but was glad he did. It was easier for Aiden since Mo was a part. Dark eyes shifted once more to Cole, narrowing slightly in thought. He was certainly avoiding something but then their comrade had always been private.

He stood, looking to Raphael. "The Dubh Daoine these were stories told to us as children. Much was told of them in these tales." He scratched at the side of his nose with a knuckle. "I've much to consider, Gentleman. Please, excuse me." He offered each a nod, repeating himself. "Please...excuse me." He spun on a heel and started for the ladder.

"It is time for all of us to get some rest. We will meet again soon. I will send word and see what steps we have taken and what changes present themselves." He was up as he needed to take a flight to cure some of his restlessness. Instead of getting drained, he got hyper.

As Raphael took off, to take off, he turned to Aiden. "Shall we go see to our ladies together and have a drink or three at the Thistle or wherever we may speak in private about what transpired tonight and a heads up that Raphael will wish to speak to them?"

"Aye, I think that would be a good idea." He watched as Jewel disappeared into the shadows and then turned back to Gabriel. "She'll join us later. She's going to seek out Duff."  The shadow wolf was often on his own, but Jewel usually found him quickly.  He grinned at Gabriel. "See you there?" He was going to the castle via shadows but their walk to the Thistle would be in the usual way.

"I'm with you as I need head up that way then meet you there. Aye." If Aiden took to the shadows, he'd fly or chase him since he was that close to his friend.

He gave Gabriel a quick grin as the shadows began to grow up around him ... something new he had learned of late. And then, he was gone... and the race was on!

Wings only came out part way which sped up his running ability as something new he learned so the race was on!



Date: 11-21-09
Poster: Raphael O'Keeffe
Post # 20

Good Conversation and Company

Raphael was lounged out in a wing back chair in front of the hearth. A drink in hand dangled from his fingertips as he seemed lost in a world of his own. Actually he was scrying by using the fire in front of him. Here and yet not. He was use to being in two places (in a sense) at the same time. Attire consisted of a regular looking brown tunic that had special panels inlaid near invisibly. Trousers of a black wool and boots.

Eion hadn't been walking tonight. Instead, he had gone to the manor to spend time with his grandmother, aunt and any of his siblings who were there. He and talked with his Gran about the old tales of the Sidhe and asked her some questions but still had too many unanswered ones. He was thoughtful as he stepped into the tavern and somewhat relieved to find it fairly empty. Raphael seemed lost in thought so he made his way to the bar to gain a drink. He was dressed comfortably in black leather pants, a blue shirt and leather vest. His favorite boots were worn as well. Once he had his drink, he made his way to the hearth and took up residence in one of the other chairs, waiting for Raphael to drift back.

He didn't break contact with the flames as he spoke up from that distance he was in, "come join me." Like he was nearly through but didn't want to disengage just at the moment in particular. By the time Eion claimed a chair his focus whipped back to the here and now where he was physically. Out of nowhere he offered up a bit of knowledge if he wanted it. "If you learn how to scry, you can find the answer to any question you have. For all answers are really within you. You only need a focal point to allow that knowledge to move into the conscious."

He had started to lift the glass when Raphael spoke, then he nodded slowly. "I've heard there are some with that gift. Is that what you were doing? Seeking out answers?" He didn't know the man that well, and was curious.

"Yes, but in this instance those answers are locked away in a time long forgotten that swings around to a point in time in the near future." If that didn't sound confusing! One never knew as he watched Eion's reaction. There were others that understood what he spoke on and he actually spoke it to him said a lot. Usually that didn't happen unless he felt he could. A lopsided smile followed but eyes were keen.

"So, you have to wait until that point in time for it to be opened to you?" Half a question, since it was what made sense to him. "You must have an infinite amount of patience to wait."

"Yes. Not only myself but a few others. That part is in place. It is something that needs to be or the future from that point will not be what it should be and much of the past could change from that starting point to the future point, depending on the outcome."

"Sounds like quite a responsibility, Raphael. To keep history as it was, and still do what is necessary. I wish you well in it." He didn't offer help for it seemed to him if his help was needed, Raphael would ask.

If it came to where he needed his help, time would show him that and he would be asked. Presently there were a few of them and the fewer to go back the better because it magnified the windows of alternate realities in proportion to the more that became involved. "What brings you out this late at night. Quiet one but then I've always managed to enjoy quiet just as easily as not quiet."

"I was at the family manor for most of the evening, but decided to return to the barracks to sleep. I tend to not want to leave my bed when I stay there and I don't want to be late to the king's field." He smiled. "Besides, it gets a bit noisy there some mornings."

"The clatter of metal, the low lying curses under a breath for the cold early morning dew that hasn't had a chance to be dissolved by sunlight. The rush to grab something light to eat or go out on an empty stomach or to catch a few more minutes in sleep. The rush, especially now of your breath coming frosted and weapons seem unbending and heavier."

"Aye, as opposed to the laughter heard in the morning while lingering under the covers, the smell of me Gran's cooking, having to hurry after lingering over breakfast. It's a hard choice but I know on these cold mornings, I'd be prone to linger much too long and then pay for it on the field." He chuckled. "Though maybe I should just be laird of the manor and be lazy." He'd never do that of course, even if it did sound tempting.

"That goes with a lot of responsibility to be responsible for a family. Though one does not have to become idle to do it. If they do then they aren't doing it right. We all have battles to fight, most are not with a sword."

"My uncle is really head of the family, though he lives in Ireland still." He took a drink then lowered his glass and chuckled. "Of course, there's Gran too. I doubt Uncle Brady would deny that she's the true head."

"I would say he is head of the family in Ireland and if you're the oldest male of the Quinns here, then you are the head of the family whether you set it aside or not. You would have to formally disinherit your right to pass it onto a brother. Females only come if all males have expired. In their corner is the matriarch of a family and sometimes she is more powerful than the Laird of the family especially if the male is weak. Best is when they balance each other out." He might come to realize that Raphael was opinionated or, for the way he said things, just threw out morsels of information for another to take or leave.

"Brady's not weak, certainly." He rubbed at his eyes. "And he has three daughters." He was thinking he might have to escort Gran there if they didn't come visit soon but that would be in the future. "I think if it came down to it in the event of a decision made, Gran would go with Uncle Brady's wishes. But so far, they haven't clashed that I know of."

"No. I'm not implying anyone is in particular. It was more a view on heads of families." To reassure him as he finally moved up from his too comfortable position. "I should get going as I am moving out of the tree house for the winter into the cottage down behind the warehouse I was given." Which he was stretching to get his blood circulating.

"And I'll be late, even if I'm staying at the barracks for oversleeping." Not likely for all the noise the lads made when they were getting ready." He stood as he finished his drink. "It was good to talk to you, Raphael. I may come to the shop and see about getting a horse drawn sleigh for my sisters if you make those." There was a larger one at the manor, but he was thinking something more manageable for them.

"I make those and recommend getting the team of horses from Rory McDonough. He has the best suited. I'll walk you out." Which he waved to Alex with a good night then grabbed up his cloak to don.

"My brother works at his father's ranch, making saddles. I'll visit him at the same time I go to see about the horses." He carried his glass to the bar, nodded at Alex, and headed out. Hadn't removed his cloak, so he didn't need to grab that for once.

Raphael was thinking he might like hanging out with Eion in the future if he was obliging. His focus on what was coming up kept him from any social life. After seeing the happiness Gabriel and Aiden found, it had him thinking in a new direction. "Ever go out roaming the lands, even other lands?" Making sure the door was closed behind them as they headed out.



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