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The Thistle Tavern

Date: 10-29-09
Poster: Joseph Walsh
Post # 41

She smiled listening to Segan and nodded. "That sounds like a fantastic idea. Maybe I can drawn Setsuna and Zira out of their habitat to join us." She turned to Karina. "What do you think? You and I can go shopping for a few ornaments the day before or something."

"Okay." Her response might have seemed a little lukewarm, but look closer and anybody could see she was beaming at the invitation. Being included in something she was normally such an outsider with. Hardly a shy sort of gal, nonetheless all she could do was sort of grin sideways at the both of them from halfway behind her mug.

"Wonderful." She beamed a smile and sipped from her mug again, reveling in the warmth and soaking it up. "It should be a lot of fun. Maybe make plans for it shortly after Thanksgiving."

"I heard they used Greek Fire. Your brother and the Frasier ships were very lucky. Two of the Frasier ones, Neal's and Adrian's along with your brother James, the Frontier." He was half listening to the other conversation as well. Hard not to. "I've heard rumors that Doom has surfaced from time to time. He got another ship so one story goes, then disappeared again. That is his usual MO. If he is around then certainly Black Beard is, the two are like unlikely twins glued at the hip. This Stirling fellow is lucky they tolerate him, especially Eric," which was Black Beards real name. "I have a little something that very few know for those that do usually end up dead. Doom's real name is not Duncan but Percival."

And the wicked glint surfaced in Segan's eyes, "we could invite a few lads around Karina's age and a few ladies near me brother's age.." if he could get into trouble, he was headed there.

At which point Karina's elbow promptly found Segan's ribs, none too gently.

"Aye, they did. Beautiful sight that was." She smiled slightly then looked at Joseph over her glass. "Stirling amuses Doom I think because he irritates Blackbeard on purpose. And I take it he finds the name ... not suitable for a pirate?" Her eyes had changed to a dark shade of blue with all the talk of the three. Then a thought occurred. "And how did you find out his name and live?"

Hand flew there but he was bent over laughing and moving out of pointy elbow reach.

Grin given to Segan with a gentle shake of her head. "Is there going to be a Yule ball or anything like that?" Laughing quietly, she gave Karina a little nudge.

Karina just gave Segan an exasperated smirk, leaning back with arms crossing before her chest. "Ugh, I hope not." The last, and only Ball she'd ever been too had been something of a disaster.

"It is well known a few had their tongues cut out for using his real given name. Only one could write of the lot and how it was finally found out. That is of the lucky ones that survived the torture."  He was nodding as he filled his glass with more of the pure. "Aye, that is what it is about on it. Doom tortures in many ways and a love hate relationship with Eric. Jon Stirling the upset and used like a pawn. I think they end up losing to their betters because of their inner strife."

Brow quirked up to Karina's apparent dread of such an event. "Oh come on. It would be fun." Vanessa had a heart for such events.

"I think if there are enough interested in a Ball, then one would probably be held or so that is what Melantha spoke on."

"More than likely though I wonder why Stirling stays with them." She shuddered slightly. "All three of them are insane, each in their own way."

"I think a winter or Yule dance would be a lot of fun." Of course, she was just speaking for herself. She couldn't say everyone would agree with her.

Regan didn't.

"I think one who could answer that more accurately is one that got to watch them interact for a while. Few days in the least." Maybe a few hours, "though that would mean putting your life in danger."

"From what I saw, Stirling seemed to be like a lad who has found an idol or something. Even with Eric. I won't be surprised if he ends up dead though." She finished her drink and stood to gather up the bowl and glass. "Though if I see any of them, I've a special knife just for that occasion." Though whether it was for them or herself would remain to be seen.

Mutter, mutter. "Fun.... right." A hasty sip of cider was taken. If anybody thought they'd be getting her into a ball gown again anytime soon, they had another think coming! Stubborn little thing as she was.

"You have been to a Ball, Karina?" Wondering now if she had been to one here or had been to one in some other lands.

Guess it was a good thing Vanessa didn't think everyone would agree with her.

"If he has come to have either Doom or Eric as an idol, he will probably end up dead after they use him to gain anything they need and then figure he will be of no further use."

Her nose wrinkled up at the mere memory, the details of which she'd never shared with any of the other Quinn brothers. "Aye. Not here though. Does the word 'satyr' ring a bell?..." Oh yes, Segan had been at that particular event as well, even if he'd been so bedazzled that he'd failed to notice her there and in a DRESS no less.

He cleared his throat, "only through a blurry intoxicated memory."

Regan wouldn't mention it though. She'd just be away at the time. "I think Eric will kill him when he pushes him too far. Then that will end that." She gave him a slight smile. "Time for me to be off though. I promised me family I'd head to the manor. I think we'll be going to Kildare soon." Or back, in her case.

"Yeah. THAT one." And that was her point exactly. Well, sort of.

Well, he just blurt it out at that point, seemed to be the moment. "Do you still have a crush on my brother Conor?" Certainly knew it wasn't him or Eion. Had they talked about this before? Had it changed anyway? Would she kick him this time in lieu of an elbow jab? He was moving out of range. He didn't say it unkindly or teasing, he was honestly wondering, maybe even worried for her in a way. He knew his brother.

Oh dear lord, Segan was going to get a kick to the shins if he kept that up.

That's when Vanessa decided it was best to keep to herself and turned attention to her mug and work on finishing it off.

Actually, Karina didn't react fiercely right away, though her mug did pause halfway to her mouth. Instead she just eyed Segan for a long moment, her features slowly hardening into a withering stare. "No." She answered emphatically. "That was goin' nowhere fast and I soon learned better." She spoke in short tones and left it at that. Scowling to herself at the mere mention as she lifted her glass to reclaim that aborted sip.

Though it was interesting. Conor had seemed nice enough but distracted and she didn't see why Segan would ask that. Mentally shrugging, she carried everything to the bar and accepted a letter from Alex that had been sent to her care of the Thistle.  Then again, she'd never seen the man flirting. "Good night all. Good to see each of you and to meet you, Joseph." She gave Segan a wink since he wasn't limping or trying to defend himself, and retrieved her cloak.

"And I'm honestly sorry about that, Karina." Easing back to where he left his drink. He wanted her to know that. Certainly Conor would be a friend but hard when one has a crush on them to remain so if nothing more comes of it. Well, he wasn't all that certain how that worked out, maybe depended on the individuals?

She snorted through her nose. "I'm not. Like I said. I learnt better." It all felt like a really long time ago now, honestly. In a lot of ways it was. She was still frowning slightly, but in a way it was a relief that it could finally be aired aloud and laid to rest. It didn't matter anyway. Conor was one of the flightiest people she'd ever met, and she'd not even seen him in ages. A faint smirk was given to Segan as she added. "Guess he took off somewhere or somethin', anyways, I haven't caught wind of him in ages... Night, Regan," adding as the woman took her leave.

She smiled over to Regan and waved to her. "Be safe and warm."

"Do you need an escort home, Regan?" Rising from his seat in all due respect. He needed to make his way up to the castle then over to the shipwrights to see if Collin was about tonight. The rest of the glasses and plates were collected and brought over to set at the bar.

"He got a job making saddles for Maurice and Rory McDonough, stays there at the ranch and at times to Clearview to help Grandmother out, as well our aunt and sister. But aye, he's not been out socially in a long time." Regan was given a wink back. "It was good seeing you again Regan, as well of you Joseph."

"Ah." She shrugged slightly, swallowing another sip of cider, this one smaller. "Well.... I hope he's doin' well, whatever he's up to." Which was grudgingly spoken, but the solid truth. No matter how furious she'd been because of him at times, the truth was that he'd been a confused young man and she a too-emotional adolescent about the whole thing. She could recognize all that now.

"No, thank you. I'll be borrowing a horse to ride back so I can get there quickly, and you'd be going out of your way." She grinned at him. "Besides, I'd never hear the end of it if me crew saw me." And with that, she was heading out the door and around to the stable.

"Ah, so being seen with me would be embarrassing," teasing as he waved to the others and headed out the side door.

The others might hear a laugh. She heard that.  "No, not that at all.  But they'd be having us courting and..."  And anything else said wouldn't be heard.

"He's doing well, maybe best all the hard work. I'm sure he will be around again." Although he silently prayed it didn't end up like a few times how it did before.. especially with him unwittingly dragged into it.

"Nice to meet you, Joseph." Waving in return. Vanessa felt a bit awkward with the tension now on the air. Her cider finished off, she smiled to Alex when setting the mug on the counter. Off her stool and over to the hearth for a few minutes. Collective warmth before heading home.

"That's good." The part about him doing well, she meant. The part about him being 'round again, well, she wasn't so sure. Either way, she kicked back the rest of her drink and stood. A gentle smirk sent Vanessa's way. "Don't get put out on my account, Vanessa, I'm goin' up to bed anyways. Goodnight," that was offered to both of them as she set her mug down for Alex.

Maybe he should go as he seemed to have stirred a hornet's nest some would say but it wasn't quite that bad, maybe good it was aired too. Karina at least got to know where Conor was. "It seems to be that time of night.."

Attention went to Karina with a small smile. "Not at all. Just chilly." Which was truth. She was cold. "Have a good night, Karina." She watched Karina go and glanced to Segan with a small smile. "It is getting late. I should return to the cottage."

He kicked back his drink to set aside. Thoughtful now in the quiet that settled with the others leaving. "Was it unwise for me to have asked on her crush?" Though it was one of those things he went with than debating the logical of it.

She thought on it for a moment and shook her head. "I don't think so. I think if she'd held onto it, it would have made her bitter eventually."

"She got to find out where Conor is at least, seems she didn't know and would not have asked on him, just make assumptions." He wasn't real good with this or so unsure anyway. "Can I see you home?"

A nod given. "It's good she got to find out, and yes please. That would be nice."

A smile finally surfaced again as he got her cloak. He would get his as well to don and bring hers over. Coming up from behind as he eased it over her shoulders. A thought came to mind he'd think out.

"Thank you." A smile given over her shoulder as she fastened the cloak around her neck and withdrew her gloves from the pockets. "I think later she will thank you, Segan." Spoken quietly as she turned towards him. "How is Eion

"Well, I don't need any thanks," more he didn't feel that would happen, like a snowball's chance in hell. Karina was not the thankful kind in that way, to voice it anyway. Least the street rat he knew. She was changing. "Eion is back to the field and working on maneuvers. Back to normal." Though he had been more tired than really sick.

Perhaps Karina wouldn't speak her thanks, but it would be there. Vanessa believed that. A wave given to Alex, she awaited Segan's lead. "That's good. I'm sure he's glad to be back to his routine."

They had just about reached the door when he stopped and turned her into his arms. He didn't say anything but held her wrapped securely, cocoon in warmth. His face lightly pressed into the crown of her hair.

She was a bit surprised by the sudden embrace, but happily surprised. Her arms wrapped around his sides beneath his cloak and head laid lightly against his chest with a small smile, though likely he wouldn't see that.

He might not see that but she would hear the rhythm of his heart beating. Eyes closed as he soaked in the moment, in the quiet of the room, warmth shared before they faced the wet cold that awaited them. It was moments stolen out of time like this one that he would remember most, the way she felt in his arms, her scent, her warmth.

She could indeed hear the steady rhythm of his heart, like a melody never before heard. The moment was warm and the feeling memorized to cherish and recall. It was one of those moments that seemed appropriate for things that might not otherwise be spoken. "Segan? I have a confession to make." Spoken quietly, but so close he would surely hear it.

It took away any of the unsettling feel from the room, from him. "Hmmm," like one awakening from a dream though it was not the case as he lifted his head enough so he could look into her eyes. Chin dipped as eyes searched in wait.

She lifted her head from his chest and turned golden hued eyes up to him with a soft smile. In searching, he would probably find a sense of nervousness that was unmatching to the truth of the words to follow. "When you asked about my crush, I wasn't trying to deny, but afraid perhaps of the response I would gain if you learned that it was you." Flutters set in again, she could feel them down to her toes as the confession was spoken, hoping that it wasn't
spoken wrongly.

"I will just have to disprove that letting one know of their crush will not ruin it." His voice was serious though only a hint of a tease in that as a hand shifted to cup her chin as it was gently lifted a tiny bit. "Let me say this, I am flattered first and foremost." Though not wanting it to sound like he was also turning her away. "I am attracted to you Vanessa. Why I keep finding myself in your company and those bets. I don't know where the attraction will go but I do know I want to find out. That in the very least, one fear I have is that if it should only prove nothing more than a deep friendship, I do not want to lose it for other hopes."

It was really more than a crush, and even she understood that much. Though understanding any further than that, she was lost on. Cheeks colored just slightly for his assurance regarding the silly tale of losing a crush if it was spoken who they were. Chin rose just a hint when urge, she listened to what he spoke and hoped that she'd not made him feel obligated to say anything he didn't want to or perhaps wasn't ready to say. His words were kind and calmed the flutters into a sense less nervous and more joyous. A small step back with a subtle tilt of her head. "Segan, we are friends first and foremost, and I cherish that more than you know. It's been a blessing for me. Anything beyond or deeper than that, could only increase what we already share."

"Then, we both have a new step we have taken. Admitting we are both attracted to the other but not putting any demand other than letting it grow on its own if it is there." Which was easier for him to approach it that way, one step at a time. There were times if such raced ahead too fast for him it would cause him to balk no matter what he really felt. That was the key.. to know what he felt at an easy pace. It was getting late and they could talk more when he was not so tired. "Let me get you home. I hope to be to the gardens to visit you soon." Not knowing exactly when but it would be in the next few days. He would keep her snug at his side even with opening the door and seeing them outside. Closing it behind them as steps would be taken in haste for the wind but not overly for the close proximity.

This was all new to her. Feelings like she had for Segan and she had no intention of rushing things faster than they moved naturally. A nod of agreement to what he said, things would happen as they were meant to, when they were mean to. "Aye. It'd be nice to have you visit. One of these days I'm going to have to surprise you with a visit." Seemed he always came to the cottage or they met at the Thistle. Before getting outside, her hood was pulled up over her head, then she snuggled up against his side to share the contributed warmth for the walk to the cottage.

"Down to me ship?" Which would mean he'd have to really put some of his crew in line. Fair warning, put fear in their hearts if they bother Vanessa if she visited. "Or the manor?" which would be easier but then she would have to spy on him in a way to know which place he was at! He kept her close as they turned up Oak street heading for her cottage. They passed very few still out for the hour and the weather. Only those were like them, bent on getting from point A to point B .. fast. Heads dipped against the cold and pace fast keeping to themselves. Not a social kind of evening outside. Through her gate and up to her porch as the rain started to pelt again with ice bits.

Thoughtful expression given to that with a smile. "Hm...good question. I suppose the manor would best." She didn't really want him going out of his way to prepare his ship and crew to have her there. Down Oak street and on to the cottage all lit up with warm light. Up to the door and under the awning, she looked at the rain and ice falling again and frowned. "I feel bad leaving you to walk home in this."

Oh, he would prepare his crew no matter just in case. He kept her close, "I have been in worse but at least I've a hood on me cloak," obviously he had the experience of being out at sea in a storm and with not the proper clothing. "Although I could stay the night downstairs on yea couch." Being he knew she had her brother there so would not be improper and she had brought in male friends to stay.

Yeah...but out at sea, she didn't have to know he had the long walk home to get out of the storm. "The hood will do you no good if the icestones get bigger." One glove removed so she could pull her keys from her pocket, she smiled to him. "You can have the room next to Aiden's." Good thing she furnished both of those rooms. She didn't have a couch yet. The door was opened, they were greeted with warm air from the hearth. He was ushered in with a giggle before trailing in after him and closing the door.

He was in and taking his cloak out to hang where she kept such. Didn't want to continue wearing it for it being wet. "Shall we have a hot cup of tea, coffee, soup." Anything that was warm before they got some sleep.

The door locked and key hung on a hook near the door, other hooks there for cloaks and coats. Her own cloak removed with a nod. "Aye. I think tea would be nice." A smile given, then onward to the kitchen for some warm spiced tea, then it would be time to retire for the evening after making sure Segan was settled in the unoccupied room.



Date: 11-06-09
Poster: Rahmirre alAzhar
Post # 42

A Delayed Date

Seemed a quiet night at the tavern. Vanessa hadn't been out or away from the Gardens in a few days and missed her nightly ritual of warm cider before retiring for the night, so here she was. Seated at the bar with Alex to keep her company, cider in hand to collect the warmth from the bitter cold she'd collected not too long ago. Heavy dress made of rose colored velvet fashioned with an empire waist, blonde curls were worn back in a long snood to help keep her back warm.

Mirre wore silks of gold, orange and brown complimenting the season under a woolen cloak lined in fur. She was becoming a combination of old and new for the differences from her native lands and here demanded it or she would certainly freeze to death. Something of a chilling thought. The cloak was fur lined and she shivered within as she all but rushed into the tavern fleet of feet for the drizzling that had started making the cool night even colder. "Brrrrrrrrr," more vibrated upon her lips that were turning into a smile seeing another woman there as she reached the bar. "Fair of night, MamSieheb."

Hearing the door open and feeling the momentary rush of cold air, molten gold hue shifted to the door with a smile to the other woman. "Good ave to you. I was thinking I would have to bother Alex all night for none would come out."

"Some nights there are not but Alex is always good company." Giving the older respected man a winsome smile before settling onto a stool. She was keeping her cloak on until the chill left her bones. Certainly it had seeped that deep or so felt. "I will never get use to winter. Mostly the cold part of it but it has its beauty. Not so much this night in a downcast one with drizzle." Then remembering her manners. "I am Mirre, Rahmirre al Azhar. I have come to stay at the Thistle for a few days to get shopping done I cannot in Ballicastle."

"Aye, but I'm sure he'd get tired of all my giggles and pestering him to hear some of his stories." A bright smile flashed to Alex who waved off such a silly notion. Her attention returned to Mirre with a nod. "The cold isn't so very tempting to me either. The only thing it tempts me to do is stay beneath my quilts." Though she was getting more used to it. "A pleasure to meet you, Mirre. I am Vanessa Baltimore. Are you shopping for the coming Yule?"

She leaned a little closer in a conspiracy way. "I think he would have many stories and many of which he could not share." Alex was a mystery to her as she straightened and ordered some of the raspberry punch, luckily there was enough time between her whisper and his approach. Or had her words gotten caught? A light blush would probably have the older man wonder on her thoughts.

Brow quirked, she glanced to Alex and eyed him briefly before subduing a snicker by biting the inside of her cheek. "Quite possibly." Her own blush to such thoughts, she occupied herself with a drink from her mug.

"It is pleasure to meet you Van-es-sa," trying out her name with a slight tripping over the tip of her tongue, mostly the Egyptian accent. "I have come shopping for the festive days coming up. There is one to feast then one to give gifts." She was pleased with the concept of both. "Maybe I will have a man to cuddle up with in front of the Yule log, drink wine and feel good all over." She'd been reading the lyrics to some of the Yule songs.

Tripping over pronunciations was exactly why Vanessa went with calling her Mirre rather than her full name. Vanessa would never get that off her tongue without butchering it. "You can call me Van if it's easier." Listening to the other speak of the coming festivities, she smiled again, setting her mug aside. "I am looking forward to the festivities as well. Well, Yule at least." Being that family was spread and busy, she doubted they would get together for Thanksgiving. "I'm sure you'll find someone to keep you warm and share wine with." She was really a very lovely woman.

She smelled of blue lotus which was an intoxicating scent if one got close. Most of the other women with her family wore it as well. Something traditional with them. "You will not be feasting? I think they feast here for those who do not have a place to feast with others." She understood it was not just the feasting but the sharing and something about the bounty of harvest in there too.

Not sure she'd heard about the community feast. She shook her head. "Not that I know of. Perhaps though I will join the others who have no one else to share company with."

"I am sure you will get to feast with others, here or with friends. You have made friends?" Which she was sure the nicely spoken social lady would have many friends.

Gus had been working overtime to finish the bows needed for Kildare and they were finally on their way. He'd only taken off when the races were held and even then just because that was usually when the Clan held a informal meeting at Falkirk Manor. He had lost a little weight during that time because he would forget to eat but that would be fixed soon enough. In fact, he was hoping to be able to enjoy a piece of Hazel's apple pie tonight. He stepped in through the door quickly, closing it to keep out the cold and there, lo, and behold was the lovely reason that he avoided coffee when out. "Mirre and Vanessa! Are you lovely ladies enjoying a night out? Or in out of the cold, as it were."

"Aye, I have." She smiled. "Most of them have their own families and such though. I'm sure I will see them plenty over the holidays though." Attention turned tot he door with a smile and wave to Gus.  "Ave, Gus. I am enjoying my night and making a new friend it would seem." Flashing a smile to Mirre.

Seeing Gus she leaned once more with quick lowered words in a low whisper. "There is the man who asked me on a date but I've not seen him since." Though golden brown eyes sparkled with a wicked thought. "You are wasting away to be blow off in the first gust of wind, Gus." Having fun with gust and Gus of course.

Leaning close, she heard the whispered words and smirked some. Nothing said, just a passing glance between the two before attention settled on Gus with a snicker to the wind comment.

"I am?" He looked down at himself and frowned. "I've been told that by my kin but I don't think I've lost weight." He was over to ask for the pie and then turned to look Mirre over. "You, on the other hand, look more beautiful than I remember. And now that I've finished my work for Kildare," he put his hand over his heart, "when might I take you out to dinner at Sibio's?" Maybe he was just tired, but he felt like he was prattling and promptly shut up!

Well, he got her there as the blush was dark enough to be evident on dusky bronze skin. "You can take me out this weekend." She was grabbing a day! "You may have lost weight but you are still as handsome and I wish not the wind to take you away on me. Sibios is a good start in fattening you up." Which he might be plied with Egyptian dishes as well those Hazel had taught her when she first arrived years ago.

Vanessa listened quietly with a smile and finished her drink. Turning to Alex with quiet request for a refill.

"This weekend it is then." He grinned as he bowed, "and thank you. I only hear how thin I've become." And since the pie was there, "and if you'll excuse me for a few moments, I'm going to attempt to start putting on weight by eating this pie."

"I would like to see one of your finest bows. You also make the arrows?" Biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing as she asked the questions just as a piece of pie near made it to his lips.

Wicked woman. The fork hovered in the air before he lowered it, bite untaken. "Aye, I'm also a fletcher, though I've got two apprentices who are going to be excellent at their work. Is it for you?" He didn't resent the question at all.

"I wish to buy ones for my brothers for there are forests to hunt in. I would like to learn how to use one." Which had her wondering as she turned to Vanessa. "Do you know how to use the bow, Vanes'sa." She was getting better for she felt Van wasn't as pretty sounding as Vanessa.

Vanessa had been content to listen and sip her cider. When asked, she looked to Mirre and shook her head. "No, I don't. I'm useless when it comes to any sort of weapon or hunting device."

"Have you tried, least with a knife to protect yourself?" She was curious as she heard it was good for women to learn some self defense.

She shook her head gently. "No, I haven't. Where I was before coming here and the position I held, I wasn't allowed to learn the use of any weapons."

"Archery is a good sport for a woman to learn, and the Crown Princess was a warrior before she married the Prince. She taught classes for a time on defending oneself for women, and young ladies." Not that he was being critical. He understood how it was in most lands.

He took a quick look through the window before he managed the door open while keeping something behind his back as he made his way in. "Good evening." Hair was nicely combed back and he wore a dark blue jacket with matching pants, fancier white shirt beneath. He looked the part of some lordship as he advanced on the bar. "Gus, good to see you again... Miss.." last but lingering, "Vanessa."

"Then maybe she or another might be willing to teach us?" Glancing from Gus to Vanessa then the newcomer. "Fair of eve Sieheb." Politely with a fractional dip of her head.

"It looks fun." Speaking on the archery. She'd seen others do it, but wasn't sure she had the coordination to do it herself. She was kind of clumsy sometimes. Eyes lifted to see Segan come in, fond smile given to him. "Ave, Segan." A motion given to Mirre. "Have you met Mirre?" Since he greeted her by Miss, she assumed not.


He caught enough of the conversation as a brow lifted. "You wish to take archery lessons, Vanessa?" Then a dip of his head in the lady's direction. This close they might pick up on the scent of flowers at least. "A pleasure to meet you Mirre." He brought the basket of flowers around. Something that would bring a bit of summer back and there was the wrapped box within it in silver foil with a red ribbon tied about that could be used in one's hair. "This," indicating the flowers, "is my way of saying thank you," and more, not voiced, "for seeing to me when I was sick. The box contains what I owe you to square my bet." The flowers were of a variety, roses, lilies and carnations.

She took in a deep breath for certainly the flowers made the air about them sweet. Golden brown eyes took in the gift before upon Gus where her total focus turned. "Do you give archery lessons?"

Small smirk to Segan. "Uhm...I'm not sure." Not that she was against the idea. Attention to the conversation of archery was lost when the flowers were offered. Smile softened, she took them with a deep breath of their scent. "Mm... thank you, Segan. But you didn't have to get me anything. Seeing you up and about is thanks enough." But the flowers were certainly a nice surprise. The box taken with a grin, she set the flowers gently on the counter before she went about opening the box, careful of the wrap and the ribbon, which she thought would make a nice tie for her hair. The box carefully opened to reveal the dagger inside with its ornate decorating. "Segan, it's beautiful." Not at all what she expected. Box lid set on her lap, fingers brushed over the excellent craftsmanship.

"I'm sure they'll be starting those again since the order of Athena is growing from one I understand. Evening, Segan." He smiled at the man, then settled to eating again. As much as he could before the next question came. "Aye, I have in the past and think I can find the time now." The last teasing. He'd make time.


"I would like to learn from you," she had moved down close to Gus, the scent of blue lotus mixed with the other flowers. She was also giving Vanessa room with the handsome man bringing her flowers.

"It was the one I liked best even if not designated as a lady's dagger. It looked prettier than the others and slim enough. Maybe I should show you how to use it?" It seemed she was not privy in the use of weapons.



Date: 11-06-09
Poster: Rahmirre alAzhar
Post # 43

Little blush and shy smile. "You'll have to show me how to use it. I've never been able to handle a weapon, much less learned to use one." Kitchen knives didn't count.

With that lovely scent surrounding him, Gus forgot about the pie. He smiled at her and nodded. "Then I'd be honored to teach you, Mirre."

He had gotten it from Rhett Shawnesey who gave him a descent price on it, certainly the craftsmanship was there. "I will teach you, dagger and the bow with arrows." Being he had come in on that conversation. We can at the spar hall, it's kept warm and areas for archery practice. Daggers, swords, mace, lances, bars, many different weapons."

She slipped the fork from his fingers getting that kind of close as she speared a morsel and brought it up to his lips. Brown eyes almost golden at the moment taking on more of that hue.

Once he got past swords on that list, he lost her on the various weapons. The lid returned to make the box whole with a nod. "Alright. I will hold you to that." The box set with the flowers, she smiled back to him. "How are you doing? You look very nice this eve."

This close, she would see the light green of his eyes were flecked with a darker green, but hers were so much more intriguing. He smiled as he took the bite, not really tasting it. He was wondering if her lips would taste as sweet.

"I am doing very well," as he moved closer to take up a stool next to her, she might notice he was wearing some smelly stuff. Cologne splash of sandalwood and woodsy. Something that fitted him. "Thank you, I thought it would go with bringing flowers." Now he wondered if he was too dressed up or something or too obvious. He was not savvy in this area so was doing his best. Trying to impress, yes he was.

The next bit speared was brought up to his lips but shifted to hers as she drew it in, slow motion while eyes held his. Could he see her smile in them? Certainly there was one. It was probably a very good thing he didn't have any coffee to spill on himself or have the fork and spear his hand or something of the like?

She reached out to smooth down part of the collar of his coat with a brighter smile. "I think it goes very well." Handsome devil. Always handsome, but this was a different look for him. "Thank you again, for the flowers. I have the perfect place for them at the cottage."

Yes, a very good thing. He opened his mouth to take the bite then chuckled as she treated herself. A hand lifted to tuck a bit of stray hair behind her ear. "I was worried that you'd think I didn't want to see you."

"When it is time to go, I would like to walk you there. Escort you home as you should be, escorted." So he was half tripping over his words. Which had him chuckle than really become self conscious. He had escorted her plenty of times. "How did your day go?" Drawing up conversation.

"I was not sure," Mirre was very honest, "I wondered if you had changed your mind but you had not contacted me to say that was so. I have shopping to do for the season as Ballicastle has only certain goods while Heathfield has more. So I came, I was hoping to see you and find out." So she would have visited him at his shop if necessary but luckily he had come tonight. She was not real comfortable showing  up unannounced though prepared to buy the bows. Armed with a legitimate excuse.

"That would be wonderful." Smile never faded, she picked up her mug and took a small drink. "The day was busy, which was good. It kept me from thinking how cold it has become in such a short time. Would you like something to drink?"

"The order for Kildare was bigger than I realized, and I even had to hire two men to do the preliminary work with the wood. I kept thinking to write you a note saying I was delayed but still wanted to see you but then something would come up... " He shook his head. "There's no excuse for not writing you, I am sorry for that."

"Yes," which he gave an up nod to Alex and soon a tumbler of the pure was set before him. One drink would be enough. "I was wondering if you'd like to take one of the shorter trips down along the coast with me before winter sets in?" Which he flipped back to the other conversation. "Have you sold more of your birds then?"

"I would love to." Spoken with a tone of excitement, hopefully not too much though. "I have. Mike and Logan Cunningham came to collect on some birds their brother had purchased for them."

"Sorry need not be, one should take the new day from here instead. We will have the dinner you promised me." Which she felt he was one to keep his promises, why she hadn't given up. "There is upset in Kildare?"

"Good to hear, they are both of the kind that could use well trained birds. How is your brother Aiden doing?" Knowing he had been not well though not deathly ill that he knew of or she would not be here tonight and he would have continued on to the cottage to see her.

"Aiden is well. He's taken to his exploring again with that impossible horse of his. I've not seen him in a week or so now." A bit of concern laced her voice, but it was really nothing new for Aiden to take to exploring the way he did.

He smiled and nodded, though the smile faded slightly. "They have some unrest still and want to be certain they'll have the bows they'll need to replace those that wear out, or break, or need to be given to new archers. I believe one of my apprentices will move there when he's ready so they'll not need to send to Heathfield. He had some training before his family moved here so I think he'll be ready sooner than most."

Which had him blink, "has it been that long since I was to your cottage and he was there not feeling well?" He was slipping or more like shipping as he had run a couple more cargos for Bovee Shipping.

"It's been at least that long since you walked me home last time from the Thistle. Aiden left that next morning, leaving a note that he would return."

"That will be good, a bower, a blacksmith and a weapons maker. They should have all if battles come to their fortress walls." She heard some but a lot was still lost on her at times. War was universal however.

"Time keeps on slipping, slipping," more mussed under his breath as he leaned a touch closer, arm braced against the bar in his half turn body towards her. "I will just have to make up the time." Smile swept bring a dimple with it.

Shifted slightly to unfold her legs from beneath her, she leaned a bit closer with a grin. "Something else I will have to hold you to. Be careful, or I will have enough of those to keep you busy for some time to come."

"Aye, it will be." He smiled slightly. "Though hopefully this will end soon enough and their land settled. I hate to do this, but I need to leave and get some sleep. I need to be certain that the bows and arrows are packed and shipped out tomorrow."  He cleared his throat slightly. "And if I may, I'd like to escort you back to your home."

Which had him laugh, one that was low and infectious sounding. "I might have to move in with you to see to all of them.." giving a waggle of his brows which was suggestive of course but more to tease her as he was hoping the reward of a blush.

"In a few days then?" Smile teased fully, "I'm staying here for a few days, perhaps a week but maybe a stroll along the streets of the commons would be nice?"

Oh yes, he got that blush. Along with a shy smile and playful swat towards him. "You don't like the journey from port or your kin house to the cottage? Seeing you run late would be rather amusing."

Which had him grinning even wider. Yes, her home was a distance away, but he still would offer. The fact she was staying had almost been forgotten. "Yes, it would , and perhaps tomorrow, you can come visit the shop and see the bows that I have after I've gotten the shipment out?" Luckily, he had a large workshop in the back so his smaller shop out front wasn't cluttered.

"I don't mind at all considering my reward at the end of the small journey. Far better than coins or pats on the back." Though his eyes wandered from her eyes down to her lips on a thought, not really being aware they were having a mind of their own.

Well, she had been distracting him? Or was it the blue lotus that tended to fog up his mind when around her? "I would like that. It is a very good idea. You will help me pick out good ones?" Obviously she would not know the difference.

Little more blush when his eyes traveled from her own. "I must admit that I enjoy having you there." His company was always welcome.

A little of both. "Wonderful. Shall we enjoy a short walk then before we both retire?" He thought that was what she suggested, and so he stood and would offer to fetch her cloak.

Eyes lifting as they met hers again, slow smile rising with his retort, "I must admit I enjoy being there."

"Good." Her smile brightened some. "Perhaps after your drink you'd walk to the cottage with me then?"

"Yes," she was still wrapped up in her cloak having forgotten about it after he came in even if she had warmed up. She would keep that warmth and if really too chilly, they could stop under the covered sidewalks to window shop. Stop in any that were staying open late as it depended on the individual owners.

Even better. He rarely wore a cloak unless it was very cold out and tonight was no exception. The heavy sweater over a cotton shirt, and dark pants were sufficient. "Good night, Vanessa, Segan. Good to see you both." He'd likely escort her to the Thistle door and leave after she was safely inside so if the two were still here, he wouldn't see them.

Wave given to Mirre and Gus. "Good eve you two. Be safe and stay warm."

"Fair of night Vanessa and Segan," getting both names right finally. Warm smile to them both as she vacated her stool and was off into the night with her charming knight.

"I think I already offered," smile spreading with the dimple again as he kicked back the rest of the pure. It would warm him blood, not that he really needed. "When you are ready," and he'd make sure she didn't forget her basket and prize dagger. A wave to the departing couple.

She finished her mug of cider and set the mug down as she slid from her seat. Her coat picked up from the back of her stool. "You did, I just didn't want you to forget." She beamed a teasing smile to him, pulling her coat on and retrieving the snood full of curls from the back so she could comfortably button the coat and draw up the hood before collecting her things.

"I would never forget," leaning in close as there was an undercurrent of meaning there. He helped her with her cloak then as he straightened away taking the necessary step to do so. All wrapped up, he handed her the basket before the offer of his arm in escort. He looked the part attire wise this night.

"Thank you." For his assistance with her coat, she took the basket and smiled to him, taking his arm and fully intent to enjoy the walk and company.

He'd keep her close but would not dally this night at her door for the late hour, instead he planned to see her very soon. After all they had an accumulating account of things to do. She might well realize his were and had been on purpose.



Date: 11-15-09
Poster: Dalila Valdez
Post # 44

Breaking Away from Routine

The night was chilly but that didn't stop Dalila from wearing a colorful outfit. Lacy blouse that rounded bronze shoulders yet were full length sleeves. Skirt was to her ankles of a black background and ribbons of colors ranging from pinks to roses, to yellows, blues and light greens that shouted in a pleasant way. Hair was done up with lengths of curls to bounce down along her back as she was in an animated conversation with Alex, hands on the move and a few times just missing her glass of blueberry punch.

Cold with a hint of rain in the air as clouds began moving in. It was a typical late fall night. Eion kept his head down against the wind as he walked from the manor to the Thistle. He had spent the evening amongst his kin, playing cards with Mary and his sisters while his aunt worked on repairing cloaks and checking over gloves and scarves. He was glad for the quiet but also missed the gaiety that filled such nights. Moving up the steps, he quickly opened the door and closed it behind him though he was unsuccessful at keeping out a few stray leaves. After removing his long coat, and hanging it, he made for the bar, leaning there and waited patiently while Alex and the lively lass talked.

Words ceased causing the room to fall into silence. Alex had looked towards the door and moved down to see to what Eion drank. Dalila, curious as ever, turned on the stool enough to give the man a good looking over. Tall and handsome for certain but there was something lacking she couldn't put her finger on accurately in this first appreciative pass over. Mischief danced in large dark eyes as her smile was certain to follow as they lifted from that quick perusal. "Good evening, it is cold out with a bite, si? You come and warm yourself with a drink."

He requested potcheen, though tonight it was a chaser with ale. He nodded his thanks as Alex moved away, then looked at the young woman and smiled slightly. "It is cold and promises to be colder. And yes, the drink will warm." He inclined his head slightly. "Eion Quinn." Giving his name in introduction.

"Si, but there is something else missing or colder that has nothing to do with the weather?" Being quite bold but that was in her nature. It was not said in a way degrading but more with concern. "I am Dalila Valdez, my family runs the Theater. It is my pleasure to meet you Eion Quinn."

Actually, the statement left him more confused than insulted. "It may be." Was all he said in answer to that then he nodded. "I've heard your name. It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Miss Valdez. Are you seeking warmth this evening as well?"

"Si, warmth and company other than siblings. To get away, to flee the theater and the practicing, the trying on of costumes, the arranging on stage and Raul getting frustrated," giving a wave of her hand to the tirade that never dulled her smile. "I come here and drink punch. Maybe meet someone new and that is you, si?" Not really a question as more starting the obvious.

"Aye, siblings can be wearing and I suppose an artistic family even more so." He lifted the tankard and toasted her. "And I supposed that is me, aye." And with that he took a long drink of the ale. Once lowered, he studied her a moment. "Do you like the theater." He wore a poet's shirt of a heavier weave in dark green, tucked into black pants. A vest was also worn as well as a highly polished pair of black leather boots. His usual garb though the vest was a new one.

She lifted her drink as she slid off the stool and sashayed her way down to the stool next to his. "Is much better si?" Easier to talk to as a winning smile was mustered but it was his eyes she was watching, delving some but never too much. "I love the theater, it is in our blood, in our veins, it is what our family has always been." At least what she could remember. "I wish to know about you?" Not saying why but perhaps something there or lacking in his eyes.

"Better on the voice." He smiled slightly, then nodded. "I've heard it so of all the great theater families." Another drink was taken before his smile grew a little wider. "About me? And why would you be interested in me?" The ale was followed with the potcheen chaser and from there, he'd fill the small glass from the bottle.

"Because there is something in your eyes that speaks on pain well hidden or so you try. The passion is missing, the desire, the flame of life. Not to say you are not living, nor that you do not care." She was at a loss at the moment to explain what she was seeing, over all feeling by his eyes. "You are handsome man but it no matter to you.." another impression. Most men, women too, it matter on their appeal in a normal way of things. "I wish to know what happened."

He frowned as she spoke then looked away to refill the glass. "It doesn't matter to me, no, and I am sorry, but I have no wish to talk about what happened. " Blue eyes shifted back to her. "It's in the past and I'm moving on."  Firmly, though not unkindly.

"Si, it is no my business. I am too bold in asking. It wrings my heart to see. I will say only one thing. Whatever happened it has killed the passion in your eyes and if you do not heal then whomever did this has won." There were all kinds of battles and her words were soft, full of the compassion that ran in her blood. "We drink together," lifting her glass in a way of making amends for her words then taking a taste of the punch. It was sweet, lip licking good as the pass of her tongue got that which was left on her lips.

"The only one to blame is myself, Dalila." He smiled again then nodded, and lifted his glass to her before drinking it down. "And have you any questions that I might answer? I have a large family, with six of us, plus my grandmother and aunt living with us and a cousin who runs the lighthouse. One brother is a saddlemaker and lives at the McDonough ranch and the other a sailor. My sisters live at the manor, each with their own choice made. I think it was Heathfield that helped each of them. And with that said, you act, but do you have your own passion?"

"Si, I have passion but it has never flown free. It is still waiting. Back home there were men that had fire in their eyes when they looked upon you, some wanting to devour your flesh, some wanting to devour your soul. It would take special man to allow that much giving, to trust. It takes more than the passion but the passion is the fuel is it not?" And she went right along, "you have very large family and I can tell the loyalty and love you have for them. It is fierce as I feel it is returned in like from all with each other. You find solace in them. Pride. Si?"

"Very much so. My brothers and I would risk our lives for one another," and they had, "and I can say the same of my sisters. But part of the strength of my family is the care and love that's shared. Even if not in obvious ways.  Do you not feel the same about your own family?"

"Si, I know each one of my brothers and each of my sisters would protect me as I would protect them. It was shown when we were in Spain. I hit a man over the head with a vase that got too friendly towards my sister, unwelcome by her. His friend came after me and she clocked him one. He had glass jaw, he went down out cold and we ran. Our brothers then saw to them and they never bothered us again."

"Well deserved. I don't care for men like that. They're cowards who have no respect for women, though I'm sure they did before your brothers saw to them." He gave a soft laugh. "I think anyone that tried to force their attentions on my sisters would find themselves in trouble before my brothers and myself even had a chance to reach them. It's good to know others are like that. Do you do more than act in the theater, Dalila? I've heard of the performances but haven't been lucky enough to attend yet."

"Si, I am makeup artist. It is why I see much. I see eyes and what they have to say or what is missing in them that should be there." Which she was studying his face as a hand lifted to touch along his cheekbones. Light and warm. "You have strong features, that of a leader but there is more that should be there, no?" She couldn't help it, it kept coming back strongly.

A few months earlier, he would have pulled away but he just watched her. "Perhaps that will change when I become a full knight." Though he wasn't certain that would happen of course. Still, he'd be in the service of the King in any case. He also knew that the eyes showed more than most cared for others to see.

Some got uncomfortable with the way she studied yet it was not meant to be offensive. It actually was meant to help. "I believe that if you desire it to change, you will make it so when you are ready. It will not be too long. You do not like?"

"I'm not sure what you mean by your question." He was a little uncomfortable but then his Gran did the same at times. Even if she didn't say a word. "What don't I like?"

"What has happened that has you different than you are meant to be." Trying to explain. The touch of her fingers still upon the strong boneline of his face which once aware, traced her fingers off to then rest her hand on the bar. "I am sorry if I confuse..."

"Ah, I see. No, I don't like but it's something I have to live with." He smiled again and though it wasn't a full smile, it was warm. "It's all right. I'm a bit ... lacking on social skills so sometimes it takes me a bit to understand. You've done nothing wrong, Dalila."

She was absorbing his words as her chin lifted some. "No, I do not believe. You can change what you wish to change. You do not yet. But you will when you get angry enough and realize whatever it was.. was beyond your control that you are the kind of man true to yourself and the other not." She was riding on that someone did this to him though not sure exactly what, could be a few different reasons but the outcome would be the same. "I wish for you this. You will be happier then. Settle, content in your heart, you will have yourself back to do what you will, not what is willed upon you." If that  made any sense but she was going with the flow of feelings.

He stared at her a long moment before laughing. "You are persistent, Dalila Valdez. We'll see what happens in time, and if your words are true, I'll be the first to tell you. All right?" He held the glass in his hand, not drinking more until she spoke again.

"It is deal," which had her smile bright as she held out her hand to shake on this deal. He might not notice the wicked glint to dark eyes but he would soon learn.

He took her hand after setting the glass down and shook it then released and finally downed the shot. Oh, he had noticed the glint in her eyes but said nothing. In that, she reminded him of his sisters when they were plotting.

Except she caught it back up, not easily so let go of as she pulled herself up using his arm as leverage. The arches of her feet on the bottom rung. He barely got that shot down as she kissed his lips firmly. It was something quick, fierce with passion, then gone as she basically let go and ended up back down on her stool. "I steal from firm sensual lips one time." Like the cat that ate the canary smile.

Of course it would be then that Segan would come in from the side door and catch what appeared his brother kissing a lass. Brows went up but so did the grin! Things were looking up in the world.

He stiffened, his lips growing tight as she kissed him. He lowered the glass and placed it on the counter, refilling it without saying a word and then downing it. "One time." Was all he said as he looked up to see his brother.   Not. One. Word.

He didn't have to say a word as he slid up against the bar, looking around his brother to the pretty lady. "I'm his brother Segan and who might you be?"

If he had stiffen his lips, one would not tell by her wide smile that he had not really wanted her to kiss him. It had affirmed what she suspected. That reason was in there too. Why the one time. Well, that she would kiss him. If there was ever a second, he'd have to kiss her. She was not counting on it. She liked the knowledge that her lips had touched his for some reason she didn't address and probably would not. Those things were dangerous and best ignored. "I am Dalila Valdez, it is pleasure to meet the brother of Eion, Segan."

"It is a pleasure to meet the woman my brother just kissed, Dalila." See the growing grin that brought on the dimple. He didn't know, would his brother tell him the truth and embarrass the lady?

"Segan." No, not in front of Dalila. He turned back to refill the glass one more time, well on his way to a buzz.

Dipping glance from one handsome face to the other though she didn't see in the brother's eyes that she saw lacking in Eion's. "I would like to claim that but it no true. I kissed him though he were not very pleased." So she admitted the truth and would not have the brother thinking otherwise.

"Well, that is a shame then. Still, I am very pleased to meet you Dalila. Eion is grumpy where women are concern." Which he felt by her words she had come to know firsthand. "So, how is your night going?" Taking the drink that was offered by Alex to kick back near immediately. That initial hope dashed but he was not overly surprised as he refilled his glass and Eion's.

"Si, grumpy," she could tell the tone held affection while hers held the trace of laughter. "It is all good and he has good strong lips like I thought he would." Then she quieted, something that almost seemed alien to the feisty Spaniard. Settling to nurse her drink so that she would not waste it.

That surprised him and he looked at Dalila and when he lifted his glass, it was in a salute to her. "It was ... very nice, Dalila, but unexpected." He glanced at Segan. "And yes, I'm grumpy." Agreeing with both. Though that had been said about him several times.

Which held warmth to show in her smile. "No grumpy one day but happy in heart." She was predicting, she looked the part of a mystic if it wasn't for the theater. "Life should have some pleasant surprises." It wasn't like she hauled off and punched him which would be an unpleasant surprise. She lifted her glass in a return salute before draining what little was left. Setting it on the bar before she was stepping down from her stool. "It has been good pleasure to meet you both. I hope that I will see you again sometime." Though she would not count on such unless it were a situation where one made an effort too.

"As I said, I'll make sure you know if that happens." He straightened and bowed his head, this time his eyes holding a bit of mirth. "It was a pleasure to meet you Dalila of the Theater. Good night." He knew the theater was close but paused. "Do you need an escort?

He wasn't saying a word but he certainly was listening, watching too, as he drank down the pure in a much slower manner.

For the light colorful clothing she had a nice heavy cloak she managed over slender shoulders. Almost looked too heavy for her frame but there was strength in Dalila. "I would like escort, si." Oh and the smile was back. One that reached her eyes. "It is not far but I am alone tonight." So the escort was appreciated even if she was not scared to walk the distance on her own.

He nodded then looked at Segan. "Join us, or should I come back here?" If Segan was coming with them, Eion would grab the bottle. There was still plenty in there. Otherwise, he'd get it when he joined back up with Segan.

"You will need to swing by here so I will have another drink while I await your return." Slow smile with a dip of his head to Dalila. "Good night, a pleasure meeting you too, Dalila."

He did reach over to help her with her cloak then retrieved his coat before waiting at the door for her. Once she was ready, he held open the door and stepped outside to escort her to the theater. And he'd return to walk back to the manor with Segan, if that's where his brother was planning to go for the night.



Date: 11-16-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 45

An Odd Night

Segan was there at the bar still wearing his slicker. One with the residue of salty water splattered on it. A glass of the pure setting in front of him along with the bottle. Conversation with Alex was light in more a catch up of comments than anything really engaging. His ship was in tip top shape as he worked the crew in getting it all spruced up in a before winter cleaning. He was comfortably attired, thick tunic over a poets shirt, heavy cotton pants and boots that laced up. Ones also sporting the salty residue.

Concessa was tired of staying at home near all the time and so let the others know she was off to the Thistle to have some fun. She tried to convinced Gemma to come with her but to no avail. Her brothers would most likely be around and she even rode in so late at night it would be faster getting back. Wearing riding britches at least made it easier as she dismounted with a little hop down at the end. Hands patting and swiping at twigs, leafs and other debris collected on the way. Amazing what lifted from the ground or fell from the sky.

Cold outside. Vanessa was on her way back from a ride after delivering the turkey to the Quinn Yaya. The darker it got, the colder it got and by the time she and Tennison reached the commons, she was ready for some warm cider. And apparently she was arriving just after Concessa. In time to see her brushing away twigs and such from her hair. Tenni was drawn to a halt with a smile to the other woman. "Ave, Concessa." Her own attire nothing out of the norm. A warm dress coat worn over the dress beneath, made of suede with wool lining on the inside colored in white with white fur trim around the hood, neck line and cuffs. Her leg unhooked from the horn, she slid down from the saddle with a pat given to Tennison.


"Evening Vanessa, you have come to socialize and get warm too?" Smile was bright that lifted with an upturn of her head towards the woman. She got as much of the debris as she could or would. "That's a fine looking horse you got there," moving closer to get a better look under the light that came from the tavern. "Have you had him long? Does he race?" Twenty questions could easily come rapid fire from the youngest Quinn.

Eion's mood hadn't improved since last night. He felt he had performed badly on the field earlier. Diablo had decided to be uncooperative during training and had sent Eion into a large puddle, and a young, newly made squire's swing with the wooden practice sword had proven to be unavoidable. At least after a good meal and hot bath, he felt tolerable physically but had stayed in his room until restlessness drove him outside. After a long walk, he entered the Thistle through the back door. Along with the Aran sweater dyed black, black pants and black leather boots, he sported a lovely black eye. A greeting was exchanged with the guards before he made his way to the common room and a full glass of potcheen.

She smoothed out the seat of her coat and came around to join Concessa on the same side of Tennison. "I have. Nothing better than a warm drink and good company." Then attention went to the horse. "I've had him about ten years. He's not trained to race, though I did race him in the home town. He's trained for dressage and front line battle tactics though." She motioned to the door. "Care to join me?"

It wasn't the black outfit that his brother wore that caught Segan's attention but his brother's nice shiner. "You were in a brawl without me and Conor? I hope the one that gave you that is worse off." He filled up his glass and would refill his once he kicked it back. He doubted Eion's glass would stay full more than a minute.

She was over close enough to dare running a hand down along the sleek neck and mane. "What is dressage in front line battle tactics? Special gear, like they dress them up at jousts?" Stepping away to bound up the steps next. "I'm looking forward to some hot chocolate tonight. They make it with whip cream, shavings of chocolate and cherry on top." Although she might have them use Bailey's cream in hers. Such a smile as she paused for that thought of spiking up her innocent looking drink. That's when she spotted her brothers and C H A R G E .. across the room as Eion got hit first with a hug. Jumped up to hang around his neck like a living ornament.

Tennison enjoyed that attention, giving a playful lipping at Cessa's hand before she pulled away. Vanessa gave him another pat and turned to follow. "Dressage is fancy jumps and gaits. Front line tactics for battle are defense moves the horse is taught to keep the enemy away from him and his rider." She fell silent as Cessa went charging at her brothers. The door pushed closed with a quiet laugh, she followed at a walk in the woman's wake, pulling her gloves from her hands.

"The lad that did it was too old to spank and too young to beat." He answered tersely before that glass was picked up and yes, kicked back. Not a drop left when he put it back down and waited for the refill. This one he'd drink slower and luckily, he had put the glass down before he was charged. "Argh! I've been hit from behind. Tell Gran I went down fighting'." Well, it was his baby sister after all. He put his arms around her and swung her around before putting her back down and planting a kiss on the top of her head.

Roseann was quiet as usual, so quiet it was most likely she would not be heard entering through the side door. Just in time to see the young lady hugging Eion. She recognized the brothers but said nothing, seeing to her cloak to hang on the rack by the door. "Good evening," here too quietly spoken but certainly cordial to all as she approached the bar to order some of the punch.

He was to his feet as not only his sister arrived but Vanessa there too. His smile was growing enough to bring out the dimple. Roseann also recognized as she came in from the side. "Good evening." Awaiting his hug next.

She gave him a good squeeze, laughing with his words before she was on her feet complete and Segan was next to get his overkill hug. It was her way and if it ever stop, they might regret that day. Big sloppy kiss on purpose to Eion's and Segan's cheeks before all was complete and she ordered the chocolate made up special. Then Vanessa was addressed again. "I would love to see him go through such moves. I've never seen one before in dressage and battle tactics."

He wasn't disappointed either with her hug and sloppy kiss. A swat to her backside as she was already distracted to her drink and back to her conversation with Vanessa. Blue eyes lifted there to meet hers as his smile remained.

Smile and a wink given to Segan as she approached where the siblings were gathered, Eion got a wave, the other woman who'd entered she smiled to. "Ave." Segan was greeted with a kiss to the cheek. "I'd be happy to show you sometime." Turning back to Cessa. "Whenever you're free."

"You may wish to put Andrew's salve on that," words quiet and found near Eion as she gained one of the canisters. "If you would allow me?" Her smile warm that turned on the other women. "I am Roseann Cleary." Deciding to use her last name in case they had met any of her siblings or cousins.

"I will have to become free soon." Her job with the magistrate was not all that burdensome that she couldn't find time. "Nice to meet you Roseann." Big smile her way before collecting her hot chocolate.

"Good evening, ladies." Politely to both before he checked to see if the glass had been refilled. He was lifting it when the offer was made. "Ah, no thank you. It looks worse than it is." He didn't look at Segan as he took another long drink. Longer than he had intended.

Segan could say a few things as Eion refused the salve that might have it heal faster.  Like he wanted some punishment or the like but he settled on a different track instead.  "It's probably as bad as it looks, don't let him kid you."

He lowered the glass slowly and cut a look toward Segan but then mumbled. "No need for me to be a burden to anyone."

"Pleasure to meet you, Roseann." Waggle of fingers to her, gloves were tucked away and her usual drink was requested from Alex. "I certainly hope you free some time. Perhaps we can go riding." Spoken to Cessa.

She had started to twist the lid off but only twisted it back as she looked between the brothers. Blue eyes darkened a moment but nothing was said as she handed the canister back to Alex. Her drink collected before she headed for the hearth to claim one of the wingbacks and relax.

"Oh, I am Concessa and this is Vanessa. You seem to know my brothers," making a face at Eion for his black eye. "You wait till Grams sees that!"

Setting her drink to a side table a smile turned back upon the two ladies. "A pleasure to meet you both. Concessa, Vanessa." Kind of a rhyming sound there. She seated herself at that point.

"A pleasure to see you again Roseann," being he had not really greeted her before. He had refilled Eion's drink as it seemed he could use a few tonight. "How is business, Vanessa?" As he was interested in how it went for her each day that he got to see her.

"It's nothing. One of the newer lads was swinging a practice sword and he got too close to me. I turned and got hit in the eye." Gruffly before he leaned back against the bar and watched his brother, eyes narrowed slightly.

"I would like that, to go riding too, so I will be sure to ride a horse that day to your place." She was a little wide-eyed wondering why Eion was looking at Segan that way. Was he mad at him and the two would get into a fight here? Grandmother would surely box both of their ears.

"Business is well. Quiet for now, which I suppose is a good thing since I have new birds to train." A smile given to him and then to Concessa with a nod. "Sounds nice. I'll look forward to it."

"Enjoy the quiet before the rush as I'm sure you will get ones picking up birds for Christmas time gifts." He wasn't quite sure why Eion was narrowing his eyes unless in warning for him not to make any remarks about his attitude towards women in general.


Vanessa looked between the two brothers curiously, but wouldn't inquire since it was none of her business. "I delivered the turkey to your Yaya this afternoon."

Which had his brows lifting as focus turned on Vanessa and that blank look there for a moment before he cleared his throat, "what is a Yaya?" She should be expecting the question!

No, it was something he had noticed. The look disappeared as he took another drink then lowered it to look at Vanessa. Wondering the same.

Blink..she looked at Segan with a tilt of her head. "Your Grandmama." Apparently it never dawned on her that not everyone would understand the term.Then she smiled.

She was happily on a stool with her Bailey's hot chocolate. The whip cream to go first with the cherry on top. She would have asked but Segan beat her to it.

"Ah, something like Nana." Which a smile came in a flash with realizing what she meant. "I'm sure you were fussed over and were not allowed to leave until you had a piece of pie or whatever she had recently baked. Tea too."

"Aye. She insisted. A very hard woman to resist or turn down when she offers baked goods and hot tea." Her mug finally picked up and sipped from.

"Indeed she is, Eion can tell you how she got into the barracks to make sure they were all fed properly.." which had him turning a look his brother's way that he might share the story.

She was quietly listening to the exchange even if she faced away from the ladies and brothers. Nice to at least hear others talking than the usual quiet of her workshop. The empty glass was finally taken up as she headed back to the bar and set there. A few words with Alex as he pointed in the direction of a hall. With a nod she headed there, disappearing into one of the smaller rooms.

He looked at Segan and shrugged slightly. "She decided I should have breakfast when I hadn't been there for several days. Marched right up to the guard, flustered him into letting her march by, and came into the barracks. Fed every lad there and still does it once a month." He might have smiled but he watched Roseann disappear and the frown remained.


She looked from Segan to Eion curiously, and with a light smile. "I have no doubt that she could manage her way anywhere she wanted even if she shouldn't." She too looked to Roseann as she took her leave. She'd have said something, but seemed she was a little late as the woman disappeared into another room.

That was their Grandmother! Concessa had stopped with her chocolate, a smear of cream over her top lip as she was grinning hearing the tale again.

She hadn't taken her leave permanently as she came back a few minutes later with a box that was just big enough she could manage. Slowed her down a little so she didn't trip over a chair leg as she tried looking around it as she made her way to one of the tables to slide it upon carefully.



Date: 11-16-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 46

He watched their faces which in turn had him looking upon Roseann as she returned then back to them. "I'm waiting for her to show up at the docks and march onto me ship to check it out and the crew."

She quietly requested a mug of whatever Roseann had been drinking from Alex and smiled to Segan. "That should be quite the story as well." After some of the things she'd heard, should be rather funny. When Alex delivered the mug, it was picked up with her free hand with a flashed smile to Segan, then over to where Roseann was. The mug offered to her. "Are you enjoying the cooling weather?"

She proceeded to open the box, using a small scissors she brought with her for it was secured closed. There were wood chips inside that she carefully moved aside to draw out the first object. Blue eyes lifted with the soft smile seeing the mug being offered. It had been some punch mulled over and warmed. "Yes, I don't mind the cold weather overly. The fires for my craft keeps the place intolerably warm at times that cold becomes a blessing." Setting the turkey stained glass candle holder onto the table before inserting the candle she had gotten, "I made some table centers for the upcoming holiday." Taking the mug at that point to set aside after a sip.

He met that smile and watched her approach Roseann. A smile lingering on his features for the scene before stealing a glance back to Eion. "Is that what really happened?" Gesturing to his eye and low enough that Concessa should not hear him.

"I still have to come by to see your shop." Vanessa had met so many people so quickly, she sometimes had a hard time keeping up with those she'd met, though she'd been sure she'd met Roseann. The stained glass was a good reminder. She looked at the candleholder, picking it up gently for a better look. "Those are really very lovely. You're very talented." Set back down with a smile to Roseann.

He had placed his empty glass on the bar top, not bothering to refill it again. Arms crossed over his chest, he watched a moment then looked at Segan, answering as quietly. "It really was. Lad nearly ran off but luckily one of the others stopped him. Don't need him quitting before he even starts."

"I do think we have met formally before." So she too had a lapse in memory, "although it was some time ago and sometimes life brings us to new places quickly.." she well understood. "Thank you, I thought it would bring in the holiday mood. I have Christmas ones near done to exchange in a few weeks." The next one was of a haystack of beveled golden glass that would pick up the light from the candle well. That one was taken out and brought over to the table next to the one the box was on as it too was equipped with a candle. Only took a few moments and she was back. The next one was a cornucopia styled of various colors. All autumn shades. "I may come to your place and get a talking bird so I have company while I work." Somewhat teasing but then a serious tone.

"I agree with you there. Accidents do happen so I'm sure Grandmama will not be boxing your ears over it. The lad was probably frightened to death and better you were able to stop him and let him know. You may find him following you around for a while to make up for it." Which he hoped his brother let him do.

"They sound lovely as well." Mug rose for a small drink, watching Roseann set out the lovely centers. She was quiet for a moment in thought before smiling again. "Perhaps then we can work a trade. I'd love to have a few small ones for the windows of the cottage. If you could fashion a couple for me, I would be grateful and you could pick out a bird of your choosing."

"Aye, he was and homesick on top of that." He rolled his shoulders in a shrug. "He's a quiet enough lad most of the time. He was just excited about learning to use a weapon."

"I can design anything you like, candle holders for the season or to use all year round. There are also sun catchers that pick up the light nicely to add to a window. Perhaps some like the birds you sell?" It was some ideas she was throwing out there before she was back to take a break and pick up the mug for a drink. It was nice and warm, enough hint of a spice to it.

She was being quiet because the Baileys in her finished cocoa had the effect of near putting her to sleep. From bouncing to hardly keeping her eyes open. She was listening. Her brothers might suspect she had alcohol to drink.

"I was actually just thinking something seasonal for now. As much as I am not a fan of the cold, I do love the snow. Perhaps something with snowflakes? Then when spring comes, maybe something colorful with birds.." Sounded really pretty and welcoming of the spring.

"Snowflakes would be wonderful. Blues with touches of green and silver. I also have ones of Fairies and flowers. Though the winter season would be more snowflakes. There are also the Celtic crosses. I will bring a sampling and you can pick out that which you like."

He glanced at Concessa and gave a slight shake of his head, then leaned to nudge her. "Shouldn't drink it if you can't handle it, Cessa." His voice low though he knew Segan would hear.

He was trying not to laugh as he too caught sight of Concessa and was over to catch her when Eion nudged.

"I can come to your shop. Make it easier for you. Then you can come out to the garden and pick out a bird. I think the snowflakes sound wonderful."

The nudge came unexpected as she was having a nice daydream induced by the alcohol. One day she would get use to it. Luckily Segan was there for she half fell off her stool and caught onto him.

"That would work out well. Do you know how to get to the Ballicastle Commons?" It was where her shop was located, why she offered to come here. "I am considering putting some of my creations in another one of the shops here such as Marcella's Linen shop."

"I do. I have a couple friends who have just opened shop there. Or..are in the process at least." She hadn't spoken with Zira or Set for a couple weeks now. "I think that's a wonderful idea. I'm sure having them in two locations would prove to do well."

"I would like to meet them. After you visit my shop I can close for the day and accompany you. It is always good to meet others that have shops, you never know when you might need them."

Which he caught her up and made sure she was back on her stool. "It does something to your balance Concessa. Luckily we are here to make sure you don't fall."

He didn't laugh, just reached out to help steady her as Segan put her back on the stool. Just a slight smile for Segan's comment. Cessa was old enough to decide if she wanted to drink or not. He leaned back again, and glanced at his glass, then decided on one more refill.

She set her mug aside to take out more of the festive autumn candle holders to set out. She could easily talk while she saw to the small task. Wouldn't take long and she finally lit the candle in the one at the table where they were.

She swatted at both of them before the laugher spilled free. That too came far easier with some alcohol in her blood. "I wont feel the cold on the way home." Sucking in a breath as she vacated the stool and steadily this time. "Which I am going to head back as I rode in before it gets later and I do fall asleep." So each were getting a hug before she took her leave.

She nodded. "I'm sure Zira and Set would enjoy that. I think that would be quite nice." Maybe if the couple met other people they'd be more inclined to sneak out and socialize more! she smiled to Concessa. "You're going to be alright?"

"You best hope Gran is asleep too, or you may be finding sitting hard." Again, teasing before he gave her a hug. "Maybe I should go with you." Just to make sure she had no problems.

He readily accepted his hug and a kiss to her cheek. "It is good you are getting out." Enough said.

"Yes I am, I will be fine. Only head home if you want to leave, Eion. Not on my account. It's not that far and I rode here." He knew the riding horses were all well trained to make sure their riders didn't take a fall. She was already collecting her cloak with a wave to all on the way out. "I hope to see you soon Vanessa," she had not forgotten their earlier conversation.


"Good night Concessa," smile the young lady's way as she drank the last of her drink. Her mission done that brought her here in the first place aside socializing. That too she had gotten in thanks to Vanessa and held a smile to linger. "I should get back as well. I will see you then Vanessa one of these days soon and look forward to meeting the new shop owners." She was cleaning up the debris from the box as wood chips they were packed in did get around some.


Being he had walked, he doubted she'd ride slow enough for him to keep up.

"I hope so as well." Wave returned with a smile. "Please be safe on your ride home." Her drink finished off, she walked the mug to the bar to set it down with a smile to Segan. "And how was your day? I noticed you smell lightly of sea salt."
She smiled to Roseann. "I look forward to it as well. I hope to make it out there soon. I'm thrilled to see your crafts."

"Good night Roseann!" Bright smile her way before she dashed out the door before her brothers decided to baby sit her.

"My day was long and filled with work. We got the Anaconda all spruced up. Decks washed down, all brass polished and new sails that I had made replaced the old ones." Eyes brightening as she approached.

Her attention went back to Segan. "Sounds like a very busy day. Productive though, which always feels nice. I bet the Anaconda looks fantastic."

"I hope to get you down there to see it while the weather holds up." Which was something they had discussed. Smile taking on the dimple again before quickly kicking back the drink he still held in his hand.

Scooping chips up from the table and back into the box before she was down to get any that had fallen on the floor. Disappearing under that very table as some had managed there.

"Whenever you are free to do so. I have a friend who said she would come and look after the birds if need be." Smile brightened to see his dimple showing.

He stared at the door for a moment, kicked back his drink and put the glass down hard. "Good night." And with that he headed for the hall. He'd walk to the manor and make sure Concessa had arrived safely, then return to the barracks.

He stared a moment at his brother's quick exit as a frown played but then put aside. Whatever was bothering him, he would address later. "Can I see you home?" He was not going to address his brother presently for the obvious foul mood he was in.

She was done as the last were gathered and she out from beneath the table to put the last into the box. The box then was returned to the small storage room to bring the stained glass back in later. She was back out to collect her cloak as it seemed everyone was leaving. "Good night to you both. Stay warm. Let your brother know I said good night as well though he was too quick." With that she would take her leave by taking a room upstairs, a key collected from Alex as it was too late to head all the way back to Ballicastle, though she could visit her brother at North Star, still, it would be unexpected.

She looked in Eion's direction. "Good night..." And quirked a brow curiously to his quick leave, then looked back to Segan. "Perhaps you should see to Eion?" Definitely something seemed off there. She was more concerned for Eion and wanted to see to him. A smile given to Roseann. "Good eve, Roseann. I will see you soon. Stay warm."

"If I did, I'd probably only get into a row with him. He is being more ornery than usual." This time his eyes narrowed as well the muscle along his jaw to clench. He shook it off, "good night Roseann," catching her before she left.

She frowned slightly. "I hope he is alright." Eion was usually quiet, but he seemed rather grumpy tonight. The frown gave way to a soft smile after a moment. "Then I'll not turn down the offer of your company for the walk home."

He would be better off and wiser! One should not change their night in what they would do for another getting out of sorts. He would see to her cloak if needed then head out with her. "I don't have my horse tonight." So they could walk Tenn.

She actually hadn't removed her coat. Gloves were pulled from the pocket and pulled on, then the white fur lined hood as she walked out with him. "I'm sure he'd enjoy a lazy walk after being run today."



Date: 11-18-09
Poster: Roseann Cleary
Post # 47

Holiday Plans

Roseann was inside. Quiet night so far but that could change. She had finished fixing up all the tables nicely with the stained glass candle holders appropriate for the holiday coming up. The deep wine pigment gown worn whispered with her steps as she paced slowly in front of the mantel. Eyes held there as she was visualizing different scenes done up in stained glass once Thanksgiving was over and the next holiday would be on its doorstep.

Vanessa had just recently finished tending to the birds for the night and decided to venture on to the Thistle to see who was out and about. The walk was luckily a fairly short one given the colder weather, and the warmth was instantly appreciated as she passed through the door. A smile fashioned for her new friend in greeting. "Good ave, Roseann."

Diane knew Roseann was in Heathfield and decided to surprise her sister by joining her. She stepped in through the side door, smiling as she watched her sister pace. Another woman entered and she nodded at her but didn't say anything as of yet. She wanted to see how long it took Roseann to spot her.

"Hello," her smile already spreading as Vanessa came in, "Vanessa. It is good to see you again. Another chilly night after such nice days. I don't think we'll be getting anymore lingering warmth." She had a drink set on a table near one of the wing backs, blackberry punch. A bit on the sweet side but she didn't mind some of such. A double take as another came in and instantly recognized. She was over in a light pounce of her sister. "Diane, come meet Vanessa. Vanessa, this is my sister Diane. She runs one of the stables for the Falkirk Races."

A nod was given to the woman she'd hadn't met with a smile to welcome before looking back to Roseann. "I know. I wish it would settle on something between the heat and cold." She moved over to the bar to request her norm of warm cider while removing her gloves and looking back to Diane with a nod. "How wonderful! It's nice to meet you, Diane."

"I missed you." She offered with a smile before hugging her sister tightly when she pounced. "Hello, Vanessa. It's nice to meet you as well." She laughed and nudged her sister. "You're too used to being warm in your workshop." Working outside a good portion of the day helped to make Diane somewhat immune to the changes in weather.

"I think you will get your wish but it will be the cold to settle on. The snow to come soon afterwards then in a couple months the bitter cold that freezes the air in your nose and crunches beneath your feet even if  it is only barren ground." Her smile warmed with her Sister's words as an arm went about her shoulders. "I missed you too, seems our busy days have not been side by side like times before. Come, get a drink then join me at the hearth," the invitation extended to both of them with an inclusive glance. The light touch of her arm about her sister's shoulders relinquished as she moved to the hearth. "I could use both of your opinions."

Cider was set on the counter, she unbuttoned her coat to lay over a stool before picking up the mug and turning to join the sisters. "I look forward to the snow from anywhere warm." Laughed quietly as she claimed a seat, looking curiously to Roseann.

"I'll just do that." She smiled as she moved to the bar, there to greet Alex and then to request a glass of punch, but her choice was peach. Cloak removed, she carried it to hang on one of the hooks and by the time she returned her drink was ready. A riding skirt with a matching bolero jacket, both in dark green suede, was worn, along with a pair of finely tooled leather boots. She thanked Alex and moved to the hearth to join the two.

"I have offered to help decorate the Thistle this year for the Christmas holiday. Yule and Solstice also celebrated so I was trying to come up with a scene that all could coexist together and not have one slighted over the other." A hand moving in a sweeping gesture of the mantle. "The mantelpiece I have to decorate as well the candle holders for the tables. There are more areas if others want to do something as well." She was not going to hog decorating the Thistle on anyone else. "I know some of the men volunteer to bring in a tree and there are boxes of ornaments kept in storage. Many done by children that are put on the tree the night chosen to decorate it."

Matthew may have been released by a curse set upon him but that didn't mean he wouldn't have incidences all his own to happen. He hadn't had any since that faithful day a year or so ago. Until tonight. Whoever had taken wood from the pile last, had taken a log from beneath a couple others, unbalancing them. So with a whistled tune upon his lips he took down kindling and smaller pieces of logs. About to turn when the pile gave way and half came tumbling down on him. Those in his arms spilled out as he tripped up doing fancy footwork in avoiding the fall. One that could not be avoided after all and he tumbled down. Luckily he didn't get hurt. Twigs and debris covered his clothing and hair. Most he got off that he could see leaving that behind him unseen. Unseen was the ripped back pocket of his trousers showing a section of firm butt. He collected his original stack and would leave the fallen for tomorrow morning in the light. He came in backwards through the side door, up and over the threshold to cross the distance of the room right to the hearth. Setting the pile down to the side of the fire as he half crouched down, and moved the screen so he could start the feeding the wood.

Oooo that got Vanessa's attention and it drifted to the mantle thoughtfully. "What about perhaps decoration like a gingerbread cottage?" The first thing that came to mind. Her attention went to the new entrant, offering a nod and smile. "Good ave, sir." Then to Roseann to hear what she thought of the idea.

"Or something that incorporates stars, an outside fire for Yule, and the gingerbread house." Though that might put some in mind of Hansel and Gretel. She turned her head when the door opened and covered her mouth to keep from laughing or making a comment. Now, there was a sight you rarely saw.

Forgive Roseann, her cheeks were turning a nice shade of red as she stared in total shock at what she was seeing. A man's bare backside, or part. She was tongue tied. Worse, he was really good looking too.

"Sorry me back is to yea ladies." Matthew turned a smile over his shoulder. One that reached gold speckled bronze eyes. "I'm Matthew, the handyman here." Not wanting to interrupt their conversation yet not wanting to be rude.

It took a moment, but Vanessa too was blushing and looked away with a meek smile. "Pleasure to meet you, Matthew." she cleared her throat softly and took a small drink from her mug.

"Maa.." came out in a choked whisper that didn't really get up out of her throat. Hand lazily fanning herself if from the warmth the fire gave off. A look stolen to her sister in plea but she was suppose to become bolder, get away from her shy ways. Deep breath gulped in. "It is nice to meet you Matthew. Ithinkyouhavearipinyourpants." Came out so fast all the words were strung together.

Luckily she hadn't been drinking or she would have choked when Rosie did her imitation of a goat. And she didn't even get to say anything at all when she heard the last thing Rose said. She hurried to take a drink to keep from laughing out loud and embarrassing everyone further.

The kindling in his hand stalled, though the end was close enough to the fire to catch as he turned a look back. Blank look at first as he tried to decipher the string of words. Brows finally went up. "Oh.." trying to look around to what he thought she said to make sure. "Oh," again, "you're right," one hand grabbing the flap hanging down that had once been his back pocket. Just as he did and started to rise up, the kindling piece burned down close enough to his fingers to have him howl as he tossed the rest of it in the heart, flap forgotten as he grabbed up his finger with the other, "excuse me," taking off quickly to the kitchen.

Vanessa just bit her lip, trying to keep from laughing, which was no easy task as Roseann strung the words together. It was no use, so she covered her mouth with her free hand at Matthew's antics.

"Aye, looks like it was ... be careful!" She winced when he howled then watched him take off to the kitchen. "Oh dear." And she checked to make sure none of the wood was in a place where it would cause a fire inside the Thistle.

She was up, needed to move about to sort out the crazy thoughts entering her mind. "Oh my, my, my, my." She was over to pick up the missed kindling while the man was gone and toss it into the hearth. Around finally to face the two she stood there for one of those suspended moments before the laughter came. Tears in her eyes, it couldn't be helped and she had a hard time stopping the outburst. Maybe after the run in with Eion, this was one of those breaking the overall gray cloud that seemed to loom over her.

"Roseann, are you all right?" She asked then started to laugh as well. Though she felt sorry for the man, it was funny. She placed a hand over her stomach, laughing so hard it hurt!

Vanessa was trying not to laugh so hard even her eyes welled with tears and finally broke out in laughter with the other two.

Their laughter mingled as all tried to keep it down, or so seemed to her. Glancing towards the kitchen door beyond the bar, hoping he didn't come out too soon and hear them. Then she would be trying to explain that it wasn't laughing at him. Finally she cleared her throat and swiped her eyes dry, sucked in a breath and tried to concentrate on their conversation before the entry of the handyman. "A gingerbread house. I think would make a very colorful stained glass piece that could safely contain a candle. Show off the beveled glass I have in mind. A Christmas tree with a star on top outside and the small manger denoting it to be the birth of the Christ child." Except the other visual clouded over that having a giggle escape before she realized it.

"With a full moon?" She added, though not really meaning that the piece would have it on. She was teasing because of the giggle.

She snickered softly to the jest from Diane and sipped her mug again. "I've been thinking about doing something with my gardens. Something for the yule holiday. Perhaps invite the children of the orphanage and make something for them."

"I think the children of the orphanage would love doing any decorating asked of them. I believe Princess Henna Suex is in charge of them again." Gaining her poise finally as she was back to her chair to sit and take up her glass of the punch. Drinking it all down almost in one gulp! That would settle any residue.

It would be a little while before Matthew reappeared from the kitchen. If he heard any laughter, he didn't assume it was upon him for women usually laughed when gathered. His finger was wrapped up, his pocket was sewn in neat stitches that certainly he had not done. He was also carrying a tray that contained an assortment of cookies and delicacies. "I was asked to bring this out for your enjoyment." Big smile held sincere warmth as he set it to the table in reach of all three. "Compliment of Hazel and me." Being he brought it out. "Please continue and don't mind me about my job." Which he was back to feeding the pieces of wood into the fire.


"Actually I was thinking that it would be for the children. Have it decorated for them to wander through. Perhaps a present for each of them and a chance to tell Mr. Claus what they wish for the holiday." Biting the inside of her cheek to keep from giggling, she nodded to Matthew. "Thank you."

It was the rush of her drink that had her cheeks feel hot again. So she would claim. "Thank you Matthew, it is very kind." Only passing a look towards her sister once the man's back was turn. Mouthing, there is a nice one for you. Followed by a somewhat wicked grin. The grin turned into a smile that turned back on Vanessa. "Do you have someone to dress up as Santa? A lot of warm cocoa or cider would be needed," adding thoughts as they came to mind. "Sounds like a Christmas Treasure Hunt," a take off on the Easter holiday. Interesting idea to play around with. "There will probably be a foot of snow by then." Usually started snowing around Christmas in particular, Thanksgiving was hit and miss.

"Thank you, Matthew." She smiled warmly, "is your hand all right?" And she helped herself to one of the pastries that were there, sticking her tongue out at her sister before leaning back and taking a big bite.

"Not yet. It is a recent thought. I was cleaning up last night and thought it would be fun. Though I have a couple of men in mind to ask. I think it could be nice. Adults of course would be free to join as well." A nod to mention of snow. Of course there would be snow.

Diane only got a flashing smile for sticking her tongue out. "You know what they say about that if caught," words whispered before looking towards Matthew.

He turned in time to see Diane sticking out her tongue too, for she asked him a question before she had done so. "Yes, cold water and some salve did it up fine but wrapped up for the blister," words trailing off with a quick smile. "It is said you best know how to use it if you're going to be sticking it out like that." Eyes turning a golden green in amusement.

She was smirking! They came rarely but, oh yes! Watching her sister than looking towards Matthew and losing it to a peal of laughter. "I think it would be great for the adults to join in too. I hear there is going to be a Solstice Ball run again this year." She didn't think there was one last year but then she had rarely gone to such events. Smaller gatherings were more her forte.

"I think it would be fun. Especially if I can get a good deal of people to help decorate the gardens, and someone to dress as Santa. I'd like to try and gain donations as gifts. One per child." Her expression lit up at the mention of a ball. She'd been hoping for something along those lines.

"Oh, I do. Best for licking the whipped cream filling in these sweets." She answered with a hint of a devilish smile, then she glanced at her sister, just to see if she got her to blush.

"If there is not someone you know, I can for you. I have the outfit as I dress in it for the children that come in here those few days before Christmas." He would offer but not in a way of expectation for the offer. Rather if they ended up needing someone in a pinch that had done it before. Slow was the turn of focus back on Diane from Vanessa with a quirk of a smile. "Aye, whipped cream, just make sure you don't touch any metal with it outside. If another is willing you can use it as a sword and get into a spar with them." So the idea was put across after all.

Attention went to Matthew with a smile. "Really?" Hm..she mused over that for a moment and offered a sheepish grin. "Can I get back to you on that offer?" She had someone in mind she wanted to ask, but she kind of figured he might not go for it.

Her, no, wouldn't matter anyway for the rose on her cheeks already. They could only get so dark and they had long been there. Just a smug smile as Matthew added the last and eyes locked on her sister.

"Of course, I would not expect an answer tonight but if you have need, let me know." If she didn't contact him, it wouldn't be like he'd been waiting to hear but leaving the offer there.

She just laughed and bit into the pastries again, listening instead of getting into more trouble. Though it was fun!

She picked up her sketch book which was left lying on the table to quickly scribble out a preliminary of what was discussed before she lost any of the ideas. This way it would be worked on too and refined.

"Thank you. That's very kind of you, Matthew." She looked to Roseann. "You could possibly do various themes. One perhaps for each corner and something different behind the bar for Alex. I'd be happy to help in whatever way I can."

Looking up from her sketching with a smile. "I will make extra scenes but I would not want to overtake if others wish to do something too." She knew others decorated but she could be prepared if not. "That reminds me," setting her sketch pad aside, she was absent minded at times for her mind constantly stealing away to that other world creativity came from. Up and over to the bar she retrieved a box with wrapped up items in it to bring back over. "I sent for some of the snowflakes to see which you liked." Setting the box, which was open for she made sure they made the trip in one piece, in reach of Vanessa.

Setting her mug down, she moved to where the box was set and peeked inside, then to each as they were unwrapped. Snowflakes! A bright smile, looking at each as they were uncovered. "How lovely."

"It was snowflakes you wished? For your windows?" Recalling but uncertain. "Oh, in trade of a bird." Yes, now she remembered the deal!

A nod was given, she picked up one of the snowflakes fashioned of diamond shapes with a rainbow/iridescent sort of look. "Oh yes. I think they'd be lovely. Especially with candles in the evening. I really like this one."

Matthew was listening all the while as he finished up stoking and replenishing the fire so it would last all night and smoldering by morn. He would be up by then to start it up again. He reset the screen in place before quietly excusing himself from the presence of the ladies. A lingering look caught upon Diane with a hard to read expression before he was back over to the bar and an awaiting drink. His work was done for the evening.

"You can have all four. How many windows did you wish to put one in or just one?" She had not really asked for details. Something which she should remind herself to do in the future. Had Matthew lingered in his look upon Diane? That question slowly seeped in like one replaying a scene after the fact it really had happened.

She thought on that for a moment, trying to count the windows that faced the road and the garden. Those were the ones mostly seen. "Mm...five windows downstairs. But I think four should certainly be enough. The one about the back I don't think is seen that much."

She leaned slightly to peek in the box and grinned. Roseann did such lovely work. She caught the look and smiled at Matthew before she leaned back in the chair again. The sweet gone, she concentrated on her drink.

She held up the one in her hand to Diane with a smile. "They're beautiful. Roseann is so talented."

"Oh, wait," see how absent minded as she noticed only four, "there are two more on the bottom." Which she was over to move more of the filling of papers to reveal them, they were still wrapped up. "You can pick one of these too," as she set them out after carefully unwrapping them. She knew she had more, still had more at the shop too.

"Yes, she is. She's the artist of the family." Pride heard in her voice. "I'd have trouble picking out just one or two."

She picked up the other made mostly of diamond shaped glass, along with tear drops and circles and smiled. "I am having trouble. Perhaps one of each." A modest smile given, looking over them all again. Vanessa liked them quite a bit. She really couldn't decide. "Do you think you can make them with stands to set them in or remove them for the candles. The light might reach them easier with the candle behind them."

It was then she would have one of the sweets as she retook her chair. Her smile bright that they liked the snowflakes she had made. "I could make stands for them that would hold a candle behind them."

"That would be wonderful. I will pay you extra for the stands, and for the glass, you can come choose a pair of companion birds."

"You would not have to pay extra for them. The stands would be easy to add the snowflakes onto." Warm smile Vanessa's way for she meant it.

Meek smile returned. "I don't wish to give you extra work without proper compensation for your time, Roseann."

"I understand but certainly a companion bird is worth far more than coins or exchange. They are alive with personalities.." at least how she saw it, she was getting the better end of this deal!

"Fair enough. A pair of companion birds. They're far more entertaining when they have another to talk to when you're quiet."

"..and I do get too quiet I'm told." By her sister, by her brothers and by her cousins. This was a big step coming here for the number of days to socialize and shop. Already she had done some business too.

A smile to her. "Well, you're welcome to come pick out the pair any time you like. I'll have a house and everything ready for you as well, so best to perhaps bring something to carry everything in."

She was getting tired, so Diane stood and stretched. "Yes, you do get quiet. Especially when you're working, but that's to be expected. I think I'm going up to my room and get some sleep. I'll meet you for breakfast, Roseann.  Vanessa, it was a pleasure." She was over to the bar to deposit her glass and Matthew received a bright smile. "And it was a pleasure to meet you also, Matthew. Thank you again for the treats, and thank Hazel as well."

"Perhaps my brother Michael or Allan will come with me, bring me about a carriage as they are to come with such once I'm done shopping to carry everything back in." That would work out even if she got the birds and kept them in her room here until they came. The carriage would afford protection from the cold weather also.

"It was nice to meet you as well, Diane. I hope to see you again once more."

He had finished off his drink and idle conversation with Alex for the time. Once Diane came over he was up from his stool. "Can I escort you home," all if needed as he glanced towards Roseann and Vanessa. He would not mind at all, nice to walk in a group at night and know they all made it home safely.

"I'm staying here tonight. Home is in Ballicastle but it was a kind offer, thank you." She'd collect the key from Alex and head on up the stairs in a moment.

"I should get some rest, and see you out Diane." Out meaning a short distance, like to her horse or however she came here or was she staying? "Or are you staying a few days?" They could go shopping together. Well, that answered that as she barely asked the question. "Thank you Matthew but we are staying here." Turning to Vanessa, "I'm very pleased to see you again and I will come as soon as I can while here. Most likely during the day." She would not be bothering her at night.

"I was planning on staying at least a couple nights. " And visit Allan as well but not this late.

She smiled to the sisters, then to Matthew. "That's kind of you, but I wouldn't wish to walk you out of your way." She finished her drink and moved to the bar to pick up her coat with a nod to Roseann. "Sounds wonderful. You and Diane should come together. We'll have tea while you're there."

There was always Allan's place to stay the night if they continued for a while longer.

"It would get me out into the fresh air as it seems the Cleary sisters are staying here." He lived here, in the back in a special area for those that served the tavern on a daily basis and needed a place. A home to him after a good many years. "It would not be a bother at all." With a dipping gaze their way and a quirk of a smile. "I will probably see you both for breakfast." Being he got to meet them and they were staying, he would eat in the kitchen with the guests for a change.

Once her coat was on, she moved to the table to wrap up the stained glass snowflakes. "Alright, then the company would be nice." A smile given to Matthew, each flake carefully placed carefully in the crate.

He grabbed his coat and would carry the box for her. He was bred a gentleman, English one at that. One day he might let out his true identity. "Good night Roseann, Diane, I will see you top of the morning." By this time he had the door open and holding it for Vanessa. Once more a lingering glance caught upon Diane before he broke it away.

She approached the sisters to give them each a small hug. "I hope to see you both soon." Gloves pulled on and her coat buttoned and the hood drawn.

"Good night, Matthew." She offered a dimpled smile before turning to Vanessa and giving her a hug in return. "Rest well, Vanessa."

Her hug held warmth that was returned and a smile towards Matthew. "Thank you for the offer and we shall see you at breakfast." Diane was going to get teased tonight!

As if she hadn't before!

She would do the same on her! Luckily she had not been here for her encounter with one Eion Quinn!

"You too." A wave to the two, she then followed Matthew to the door, holding it so he could scoot out without it catching on his heel since he was kind enough to carry the crate.

"Sleep in peace, Vanessa," waving to the two before she collected her sketch book and was ready to head upstairs and let the teasing commence.

She linked her arm through her sister's and grinned as they started for the stairs. "He's quite handsome, isn't he?" So she had noticed.

He was out and awaited her the moment she to join him. Then it was off to where she lived as he had a good idea where it was as well.

"Yes, you should have accepted his offer, walked around for a while then recall you were staying here.." light laughter punctuated her tease with her arm linked and off they went.

Seemed everyone knew where she lived! She walked with him at his pace provided he wasn't running.



Date: 11-20-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 48

Ideas Formulated

Vanessa was already at the Thistle, sitting at the bar probably babbling Alex's ear off. Poor guy. Listening to her go on about her plans of things she wanted to do for the orphans for the yule holiday. Having already settled in, she shed her coat and hand muff, and was folded up (appropriately) on her stool with legs tucked on the seat beneath her and skirts of the plum colored dress she word draped down towards the floor. Hair tucked back in a snood to help with the warmth, she was thrilled over the idea and couldn't wait to talk to some of the others about helping out some.

Segan headed up from the port having seen to a quick run after all. He would grab the ones that came up before it was too cold to sail, or at least put his crew and ship at risk. Cloak was worn over the usual attire, blue shirt under a vest, tailored pants of a dark blue and black boots. Cloak was charcoal and no sea spray on it for having switched the slicker. He rounded the fountain whose waters were still running. Probably wouldn't be long before they were turned off and the large bottom area left to harden to use as a rink.

"Cold as a dead witch's tits out there...." So some things never change, no matter the effort Karina had been making lately, though at least this colorful phrase was muttered under her breath. She blew in through the door with a flurry of snowflakes, red-cheeked and grinning despite her criticism of the weather. Cold indeed it was, but with a lacy layer of snow drifting down it was pretty beautiful too. She stomped off her boots at the threshold, then tugged the door snugly shut, chapping her hands together as she glanced around. Wearing warm layers of green and brown wool (slim-fitting pants and tunic this time), she gave Vanessa a wave then offered Alex the same greeting.

Hearing the door open, Vanessa perked up when she saw who wandered in. Been a while since she'd seen Karina. "Ave, Karina. How are you?" Already there at the bar with her norm of warm cider, curled up on her stool.

Was that Karina? Seemed to be even made out in the dwindling light. Speak of the devil, or so both he and Vanessa had voiced their concern last time they talked on their friend. Fingers dipped in the water as he passed to gauge the temperature. Wouldn't want to fall in there tonight. Which said it all.  Couple more weeks it would be turning solid. Quicker than the lake certainly. Steps quickened taking him to and up the steps to the porch then catching the door just before it closed complete to open it again as he stepped within. "Evening," greeting all as he closed off the door again.

"Not too bad," she answered readily enough, though her smile faded away into something more rueful as she went on. "Ah... sorry I haven't been 'round the aviary lately." She did feel bad about that, indeed had missed it, and briefly she scuffed the toe of her boot against the worn wood of the floor below. The familiar voice drew her eyes back up briefly again, as Segan got a crooked smile of greeting too, just a brief flash of turquoise hues from somewhere behind haphazard copper curls.

"No need to worry about it." She smiled, and brightened when Segan came in. "Ave, Segan." Waving to him from where she was seated, then sipped her drink briefly and set the mug down. "How are you this evening?"

He moved away from the door, hanging off his cloak to a peg. "Vanessa, Karina, I trust the night finds you both well and hale. Vanessa, you certainly look comfortable," as he headed barside to claim the glass and bottle of potcheen being set out for him. "I think the fountain area will be ready for ice skating by Christmas. Yuletide," whatever they referred to it as.

There was a loud crashing sound outside, more towards the back of the place. Like a garbage bin being knocked over of a much larger size than trash cans. There was just as much cursing but luckily in Gaelic. Although in these lands some knew the language, even the more ancient tongue of it which was the one he was using. In for a landing and didn't account for the embankment he landed on to give way, sending him into a somersault into the bin.

"Nah, I shoulda let you know I was goin'-" She began on a low note, a hand reaching up to scritch beneath her curls. But then that crash from outside had her jumping nearly out of her boots.

"I've been here for a while. Talking poor Alex's ear off." Warm smile given to the older gent, thanks for his eternal patience to listen to her babble. The sudden commotion had her turning on her seat to look in direction it was coming from, curiously. "Wonder what that was..." Legs unfolded from beneath her and off the stool to investigate!

He too heard the noise as it had Alex turning and heading fast to the kitchen probably to use the back door in seeing what had hit the tavern. "Sounded like a tree fell or something like that." He too was curious and so fell in step of Alex's wake.

Karina meanwhile was trying to keep her heart from exploding from her chest, an inordinate reaction to be sure but loud noises still had that power over her. Swallowing, she gave her head a quick shake and finally fell in behind the others.

At least his wings folded back in under the heavier tunic vest worn, over another tunic that had the same kind of panels cut into it. Special made, like the man though there were two others. It was trying to get out of the darn thing that had it tipping over to spill him out with the garbage. Alex, seeing as to who it was and the situation, was kind enough to grab a shovel and back out to hand it to him. Hazel was more concern he hadn't gotten hurt.

Eion had been walking toward the Thistle when he heard all the noise coming from the back. He turned from the front and made his way around the back to see what was going on. He paused there to blink at what was going on, though Alex seemed calm enough. If Raphael needed a hand to clean up the garbage, Eion would do so.

That's because Alex knew the man hadn't gotten hurt. Just by the fact he could get up and attempt getting out of the bin. Hazel was having her kitchen invaded but under the circumstances it was allowed. Alex would get another shovel or more a dust pan type for Eion to use if he wanted.

Vanessa followed behind Segan and Alex, trying to peek past them both to see what was going on. The man she'd not seen before watched for a moment. "Are you alright, sir?"

"Thanks," lopsided grin turned on Eion. "Nice to see you again," taking the shovel offered as he would see to shoveling what spilled back into the bin. It was the least he could do. He recognized Segan also. Well, his very best friend, once upon a time brother and certainly brother of soul, was dating their elder sister. "I'm fine, just a surprise. Luckily I learned how to do those barrel rolls." Mid air ones but he didn't need to add that.

"Good to see you as well." He bit back a chuckle as he helped to clean up. "Aye, or you could have done yourself some harm." Landing in the dark couldn't be easy either.

"Vanessa, Karina, this is a friend of a friend and a friend," playing with words with a grin, "Raphael. Raphael meet the ladies Vanessa and Karina." If they had not met him. "This is Eion, he's my brother," like they had not met him..

Karina ended up behind the rest of the crowd, and she stood on her toes and craned her neck to be able to glimpse the source of all the commotion. She let out a breath to see the familiar face, though it was one she hadn't seen in a long time. "Hiya," the petite teen offered from somewhere behind Segan, waggling her fingers and offering the flash of a crooked grin towards Raphael.

A wave offered to the man. "Pleasure to meet you, Raphael. Ave, Eion." Wasn't much fun, being short. Vanessa could sympathize with Karina. She smiled over to Karina then. "Karina! How do you feel about Christmas elves?"

"...." There was a long pause as she absorbed Vanessa's out-of-the-blue question, accompanied by a blank stare. Before answering very slowly and cautiously, "In... what... context?"

He stepped away from the door so they could see. More in that if he was needed to help he would have gone out but there wasn't that much that two couldn't see to efficiently fast. Besides, there was apple pie in the kitchen to be had and then being chased back into the main room with it by Hazel. Though more a tease but the show was pretty much over.

"Nice to see you again Karina," recognizing the lass and studied Vanessa a moment longer being new. "A pleasure Vanessa." Then back to scooping up the rest of the mess with a, "thanks for the help," addressed Eion's way.

Her arm wrapped around Karina's to walk back to the common room with her since it seemed everything was handled. "I hope to plan a Yule event for the orphans and I need Christmas Elves."

That's when Karina would hear him yell back in from the kitchen door where he stalled. "She's been practicing magic and going to turn you into an Elf to live at the North Pole forever more making toys and delivering them this time of the year. It will take a year to make enough, from dawn to dusk.. work, work, work.." then quickly disappeared back into the main room leaving the door between to swing shut.

She bobbed a nod back towards Raphael before heading back inside, towed gently along by Vanessa. "Oh." Alright, so that made a little more sense. A glance was cast back at Segan, a wide smirk creeping across her face. "Like hell she will." A brief grin to Vanessa as she went on, "Well, I guess I'm pretty neutral on the thought of - wait." And her gaze suddenly hardened as it sunk in. Cue deadpan tone. "You want me to dress up and prance about like an elf for yule, don't you."

"You're welcome, Raphael. Two of us will get it up faster than one."

Brow quirked in Segan's direction with a small grin. "Aye, if you're not careful, I'll be turning you into one as well!" About to snicker to Karina's retort when she went deadpan, Vanessa turned to face her. "Well, you don't have to prance. You can waltz if you prefer, but yes. I was hoping you would. I will be as well. With luck, maybe even Segan. It's only one night."

"Indeed," shooting a grin Eion's way as he shoveled up the last of the pile he'd made of the mess back into the bin. "If this were left out, we'd have every stray dog, cat and wild animal in the neighborhood fighting it out over the scraps." Alex knew what he was doing. Raphael recognized that and he had not been hurt, just jostled. He was over to clean off the shovel in the trough water before taking it into the kitchen to put back in its place.

"Forget it," Karina said by way of answer though her tone lacked venom. "I ain't prancing OR waltzing around in tights and pointy shoes." A pause and turn of her head to call out an order to Alex, her usual ale.

"Aye, they would be at that." He finished up a last bit, washed off the dustbin and then followed Raphael into the kitchen.

"You don't have to wear tights." She snickered softly, heading out towards the commons. "I'm wearing a dress, full length. No pointy shoes. Something either red or green, and a cap to match."

They would probably want to see him in tights! That was the ploy in asking him?

Who wouldn't want to see Segan in tights?!

Blood hell this cold was just...cold. And snows were blinding during the day. Miserable weather. Hard to decide if it was worse summer or winter. Regardless though, travel was made. The inn was more than a welcome sight when view of the fire light from within was spotted through the windows. Up whatever steps might be and through the door, steps were silent and the door closed quietly behind the oddly thin figure. Pause made to view those within before quiet steps kept the hood hidden figure towards the bar, not wishing to intrude upon the conversing.

Hazel offered them a tray of the sliced up apple pie to take into the main room with them. "Looks good," brows up Eion's way, he did like apple pie or he was not normal! "Pie time, come get your slice." Announced as he and Eion made their way in through the swinging door between kitchen and tavern. "Nice and warm, spicy with a flaky crust." Could they tell it was one of his favorites? "Evening," to the one he didn't recognize, well, if he knew the one she was covered up in a hood and all anyway.

"I'm not that in love with dresses yet either," She grumbled, really just making excuses at this point. Trailing along just behind Vanessa. "Bah... Promise no tights or jingly bells or nothin'?"

"I promise, no tights, no jingly bells either. You can wear long pants and a tunic if you prefer, but they have to be red and green. I'm going to make the caps myself." A nod given to the one who'd entered. "Ave." And returned to seat with a smile to Raphael. "I'll have a slice."

Oh, he liked apple pie. Hazel received one of his rare smiles in thanks before he was following Raphael out and making sure that door didn't bump the man with the tray. "Evening ." A general greeting to everyone.

He took one of the dishes to slide in front of Vanessa. One for Eion, one for himself, one to wave under Karina's nose...

Such merry folk. Welcoming and everything. Shake of her head to drop the hood, oddly large eyes lacking any color took them all in. "Evening." Elven ears parted through the fall of silver hair, framing a winter white complexion.

He was going to get one of those dishes before they were gone, curling it to himself like one protecting his larder from another that might take it.

"Fiiiiine." She relented as if reluctantly, but she was already thinking about what she'd wear, a finger twisting one of her ringlets about. Green she had plentiful of, but red? Hrm, she might have to get creative there....  Ooooh sweet smell of cinnamon and apple! Her face lifted, nose sniffing like a bloodhound after Raphael. "Heya.... any of that left?"

"Thank you!" She gave Karina a quick hug and leaned enough to look at Eion. "Eion? Might I ask a favor of you?" Her fork picked up for a small bite of Hazel's wonderful pie.

He almost dropped the plate when the lass unhooded herself. HOLY! She looked like she came straight from the North Pole, all white and silver, no color to her eyes. Luckily he bit his tongue. Although after the initial shock, at least she was becoming in a different sort of way.

"Bah." She said again, but Vanessa was given a good-natured smirk. "Only 'cause I owe ya one." Oh wait, Segan had pie! She was up on her feet, passing him on the way to the kitchen. But just as she did so nimble fingers snaked out lightning fast to grab herself a little piece to eat along the way! Quickly dancing out of the way before retribution could be had, or so she hoped. "That'll be my second piece then," She called out to Raphael just before slipping into the kitchen!

"This one is for you," which was why he had tempted her with it.

Whatever reactions her color lacking appearance received was ignored. Just a very subtle tilt of pale tiers to a smirk. From the black suede coat she donned, coins were drawn by hands fashioned of only  four digits; thumb and three alien like fingers, releasing the metal onto the bar with request of Elven wine. Ears fluttered with the sounds around her, not quite used to such a friendly crowd.

Naha.. he got that one as she stole his. "I'll get you my little pretty.."

"You're fantastic, Karina." Waiting for Eion's attention, she went about another bite from her plate, glancing to the fair featured...elf?..and the odd make of her hands. Politely though! Certainly not staring.

They had Elven wine for the Elves in the lands but Alex touched her coins back to her with a smile. "The monarchy has set this tavern up for the weary traveler without need of coin. Food. Drink and a room to stay."

Karina chatted it up nice and charming with Hazel in the kitchen, and soon emerged triumphant with a fork and a big plate of apple pie. She was already chewing a sizeable mouthful as she headed into the commons, though her brows came together when she saw Segan had appropriated her second piece of pie! "Hey!" She accused, thickly, around pastry and apples.

Ears perked slightly, ivory gaze set on the man who pushed her coins back to her. "Thank you." Spoken softly, keeping the trio of octaves to her voice, quiet from the ears of others.

He waited for everything to settle before he looked toward Vanessa. "I'm sorry. What did you want to ask?"

He wasn't staring at least and got over the initial surprise quickly enough. Hell, they looked at him that way when the wings appeared! "Would you like a slice?" Hovering another plate by the silver lady.

"I am trying to set up an event for the orphans. A night theme at the north pole held at the avian gardens, and was hoping perhaps you would be Santa for them?" Hopeful expression given to him.

Watch him try to eat it down whole, what was left for Karina's fast fingers. Obviously he couldn't say anything! Well, he tried, but it didn't work out too well, bhempmepielele holbembubleh." he quit at that point.

A glance cast to the plate offered, brief though, before quad-digit hand reached to grasp the edge of the dish. "Thank you." Choir of voices were soft, one more direct than the other two, all pitched slightly different.

"Mmph!" She wasn't letting it go without a fight! There was a clatter as she set her current plate and fork down on the bar, then charged. Quick thieving fingers trying to reach around Segan to snag what bits she could! Of course, she too soon had a full mouth and was fairly helpless with giggles.



Date: 11-20-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 49

She was a quartet in herself? Voice was beautiful but that other surprise to hear a few in melody. "Ah, you're welcome," luckily not stumbling over his own words and feel his voice harsh and crass in comparison although it had the smooth Gaelic flow to it even if he had conquered the heavier brogue. "I'm Raphael, Segan and Eion," pointing them out then the ladies, "Vanessa and Karina."

"You want me to play Santa? Around small children?" He was a bit surprised that she'd ask.

"Aye, I do. Or well, I hoped you would. I'm also hoping to dress Segan like an elf for the hay ride to and from the garden."

Hard to discern what exactly she looked at without pupils, but eyes drifted to each as they were introduced, giving a nod. "A pleasure to meet you all. I'm Yviene." Elvish lilt spoken in constant multiple voices.

All she got was a bit of the crust that just wouldn't fit in his mouth. He looked like a chipmunk at the moment with his cheeks swelled out so much it was hard to chew what he managed to fit in.  It would not be wise to poke his cheeks!

Vanessa looked at Segan, wondering if he'd heard her hopes and giggled, seeing his cheeks puffed up with pie.

A glance at Segan from the corner of her eye and she burst into explosive laughter, or at least she would have, if it hadn't meant she spat out all her pie! As it was she barely kept it all in her mouth, and turned away slightly to cover her mirth with her hands. Somewhere between choking and laughing, she finally managed to swallow that massive amount of pie, giggling breathlessly as she lifted a finger slowly and thoughtfully towards Segan's cheek.

Worse, he tried to smile around it, really looked like the Cheshire cat without the teeth per say. It dawned on him the comment of dressing him up as an Elf. He near swallowed the lumps whole, one from each cheek in succession. "Huh?" Karina got a snap of his teeth towards that finger sneaking his way.

Vanessa was laughing around a bite of her own pie, which she swallowed before speaking. "Would you kindly be the elf driver of the hay ride for the night I am planning for the orphans?"

Yipes! She snatched her hand away but quick, giving him a narrow-eyed smirk. "That's right. You get to wear tights and pointy shoes." A quick glance to Vanessa, hoping she would enforce that rule on Segan but not her!

"In green tights or red or striped?" He needed to know!

Plate in hand, mug of her drink picked up with the other, she quietly journeyed away from the bar to claim a seat at a table, out of the way.

"Your choice." She smiled brightly. "And a full lined cap. And elf ears..." Pause for a moment. Hope the silver elf in their company took no offense.

"Sparkly tights would suit him best.... don'tcha think Vanessa?"

"With little bows!" She started laughing again.

No offense taken.

"NO," sternly to Karina's addition. "I'll be your Elf but I'll dress as I see fit looking like one."

He just shook his head at the antics, finished the slice of pie he had and reached for the glass of potcheen he had requested. Not a shot glass, a full one.

"A pleasure to meet you Yviene," loud enough so the others might hear there had been an introduction. Granted they were pulled into a moment and not their usual not noticing.

Vanessa took a moment to collect herself from the bouts of laughter and finally nodded. "Fair enough. I very much appreciate it." Her attention then went to Eion with a curious expression. "Can we call you Santa?"

"Aww... but think of the children, Segan..." She pulled a pouty face. "Don't you think they'd want to see a real live Christmas elf? Complete with sparkly tights?" She stifled a giggle and kept her features sincere.

"Then you'll have to dress just like me, whatever I pick.." slow grin but he heard Raphael as he turned to the Elven woman with a bow, courteous and to make up for taking his time addressing the introduction. "A pleasure to meet you Yviene, welcome to the Thistle and if you need a room, they come free like the food and drink."

Ears flitted within the fall of silver hair and her head turned towards Raphael. "Thank you, again." --for your---hospitality-- Three voices spoke separate words, but all in unison to one another. A tip of her head towards Segan, in thanks for the offer.

"Nice try, but no deal." As Karina offered her own little grin and wave towards Yviene. A strange looking sort of lady, aye, but Karina had seen stranger. Though her features went a little blank when she spoke. Okay, so she'd never heard a voice like that.

A chorus of voices. Like she had swallowed two others that lived in her voice box. Raphael had that goofy smile again.

"That's a bit like asking a Boggart into your home." He rubbed at his forehead then sighed. "Aye, I'll do it." Reluctantly.

Segan had said NOT A WORD during the whole of Eion being asked to play Santa. In fact he seemed like he heard none of it, but he had. Maybe this was what Eion needed. He could hope.

Vanessa would have hugged Eion, but she refrained. "Aye, you're too kind, Eion. You'll have to pick out a Mrs. Claus to help hand out gifts."

No, it wasn't what he needed. "A what?"

Looking back to Raphael, pale brow arched a bit at his goofy expression, but was mentally shaken off. Some beings were just odd. At least this lot was friendly though.

He was very odd!

Her head tilted. "A Mrs. Claus. Can't have the Mr. Without the Mrs. I figured perhaps you had a female friend who might accept?"

They were all odd. Especially the giggling girls.

Nothing wrong with giggles!

Glancing between Eion and Vanessa, Karina felt a strange sense of awkwardness.....

Karina usually did when it came to Eion. She should be use to it by now. He filled his glass, not even stating he was really pleased Eion had accepted.

"No, I don't, actually." He gave a slight roll of his shoulders as he answered. Oh yeah, this should be good. The man who barely talks as Santa.

A slight clearing of her throat as she just jumped right in to dispel the weirdness. Or maybe to save Eion from having to elaborate on his lack of a lady-friend. "Oh hey, Vanessa. I can help out with some of the gifts."

"Well," finally speaking up, "I could find someone for you." Expressionless so any thoughts could not be read.

"Mm..." Smile faded some. "Well, perhaps I can find someone to take the role." She had a few female friends, she smiled to Karina. "That would be fantastic. There's going to be plenty to do. I'm going to fashion the entire gardens to look like the north pole. Perhaps even have a few reindeer there for the evening if I can find some."

"Don't worry." Karina seemed almost inspired suddenly. Indeed this was an idea which was developing nicely in her mind. "Leave the gifts to me."

"Alright. We'll have to find out how many children there. We can't leave any of them out."

"They may have some at the Zoo. If not, I can probably get hold of a pair of them at least." There were ports where he headed that had many different animals.

"I'll find out." Karina volunteered easily, an ironic sort of faint smirk on her lips. She already knew a good number of kids at the local orphanage. It would be no trouble to get exact numbers.

"Well, if you want, I can dress up as Mrs Clause for you Eion," kidding of course as he nudged his friend. "After all, you helped me out."

"Thank you, Segan. That would be nice. I think the children would like to see real deer. maybe pet them if they're friendly." A nod given to Karina. "That's a big help. I'm going to have to start decorating the gardens within the next few days to be sure they are ready. I am planning it for the 9th."

"Oh, aye, that'll get some rumors going." He snorted out a laugh.

"They'll love it." She answered, genuineness warming her tone and a smile given to her friend for her thoughtfulness.

"I hope so." She looked back to Eion, smirking to Raphael's offer. "So will you still be Santa for the event?" She didn't want to pressure him. If he was uncomfortable with it, he could decline.

He was over to his brother with low words as he refilled his glass.

"A-yup, that's what I thought," kicking back his drink with a wink Vanessa's way and that lopsided smile to follow.

He just nodded then looked at Vanessa. "I said I would. Maybe Concessa will dress up for it."

"I will ask her. Thank you, Eion. I am grateful to you."

Drink and pie finished, the pale Elven woman ever so quietly took her leave, perhaps to return another time.

The kids were going to be goggle-eyed with wonder, of that Karina was sure. Nostalgic thoughts were left free to wander for a moment, her gaze drawing within herself as the others chatted and she absently sipped at her ale.

He was watching Karina at the moment and wondered if she had ever seen the insides of an orphanage when she was young. Wasn't something to out and ask her, even if he had a tendency to be blunt on other subject matters. Instead he let it go, possibly she would say at some point, or just how she was about it all.

Karina couldn't read minds of course, but just at that moment her remote gaze lifted to Segan's. Her expression cleared and she took another gulp of ale as she caught him watching her. None of them could know just how deeply she could sympathize with all those orphan kids, but indeed that was a discussion for other times (if ever). After all, the story she'd always told them was that she'd voluntarily run away from home. "Well. Guess I better get some shut-eye if I'm gonna be helping out with this grand plan o' yours." A wry grin to Vanessa as she kicked back the rest of her drink, then set the mug down on the counter for Alex.

Maybe why, for once, he didn't just blurt out a direct question with his thoughts. He refilled his glass instead. Made this comment, "I think you'd look good in a Mrs Clause outfit stuffed with a pillow, Raphael." Grin.

"Aye, and I'll let me wings hover behind me in an aloft way. Would go over fabulously." Grinning right back.

She smiled to Karina. "I am appreciative of all your help. I'm going to start collecting decorations tomorrow. When you find out how many children there are, let me know. Have to make sure the sleigh is big enough, and that there are plenty of treats to go along with the ride."

She gave a nod, pushing up and off her stool. "I'll letcha know. I'll be by the aviary tomorrow." She'd take over all her usual duties as if she'd never left them.

"I will see you tomorrow then. Stay warm, Karina."

"Won't be too hard, I'm just goin' upstairs." Her signature lopsided grin was offered to each of them before she turned towards the stairs that led up to all the guest rooms, hers included. "G'night, all."

She offered a wave to Karina and finished off her own drink, then set the mug down. Looking over to Raphael, she grinned. "Would have to find a silver wig for you, but I think you would fit the part nicely." Raphael could be the angel on the tree!

"Have a good night Karina," called after her as he settled back into a lean at the bar.

"Good night, lass." He downed the last of his drink and placed the glass behind him on the bar.

"Me wings are black with blue and white, hardly an angel," but there was something in his eyes that spoke on ancient. How they were mistaken for archangels and passed on in tales that grew over centuries.

"We'll decorate them with lights or something along those lines. No one will know." A sweet smile passed onto him.

Which had a tilt of his head and such a warming grin. It was all in fun so he just smiled. He was probably one of those more than he appeared. Appearances to hide far more. Usually not taken seriously. The ploy. "There is a seamstress, I believe Brigid MacKinlay has a shop along with another." Though he was uncertain of the other ladies' name. "In the Commons that will see you suited properly as a Santa." Unless any of Eion's sisters knew how to sew.

She just smiled and looked over to Segan who seemed comfortable in his lean. "Been near the docks again?" She could smell the sea salt on him. Barely, but something she was learning to recognize.

Blue eyes shifted focus from Eion and Raphael back to Vanessa with a growing lazy smile. "I am beginning to think you could sniff me out if needed." Quick wink assured the tease. "Aye, short run of some goods. Taking them still while the weather holds up. I think Andre and Pierre are seeing to as many as they can get out then taking a sort of holiday. They make money off the storage warehouses rented to hold them over the worse weather."

He grunted in answer then pushed off the bar. Not having worn a cloak, he didn't need to make a show of putting in on. "I'm going for a walk before I seek me bed." And he started for the back door.

"I'm learning." Brighter smile to Segan and a nod to the latter of what he said. Looking then to Eion, she offered a wave. "Good night, Eion. And thank you. I'm sure you'll make a fine Santa."

"Perhaps it is time to head back. I can escort you, Vanessa, if you are heading back." Not to push her either. Maybe get to finally talk to his brother.

His pie finished as well his drink, Raphael was up to bring over the tray and empties. "Good night Eion. Good night Segan, Vanessa." Tipping a salute off with his hand before he was bringing the tray into the kitchen with the pieces  not eaten. Not that there was many but a few. They could be put away in how Hazel preserved them to the next day.

She shook her head gently. "I'm going to talk to Hazel about a few things before walking to the cottage." Soft smile flashed to him. Wave of fingers to Raphael. "Good to meet you."

"Good night Raphael. Good to see you again. Come up for a meal any night you can. You're always welcome."

He lifted a hand to the farewells before stepping outside. A deep breath of the cold air was taken before he headed away from the Thistle, and the commons. He'd return to the barracks in an hour or two.

"Then I will see you soon," Being they were alone, Alex having gone into the kitchen as well, Segan lean to warm her lips beneath his as he drew her in close. Arms snaking around in claim.

"That you will." Happily claimed fro the moment, she leaned up to meet his lean down to share the warmth of a kiss with him.

Which made him reluctant to go but go he would for he needed to. He had put it off but now it was time. Provided he could catch up with his brother. "Mmmm," half growled under his breath as lips parted and he sucked in life giving air. "Soon," she may well notice how dark his eyes got when passion flared.

The kiss was sweet, and though she would have enjoyed it lingering longer than it did, she understood his need to talk to his brother. When broken, she took a breath, tucking her lower lip inward briefly as she noted the color change in his eyes. "Soon." The soft smile returned. "Go catch Eion before he wanders too far." His concern for his family was something she very much adored.

Intense too, if a look could devour she was a goner! The smile winsome, daring, held a moment before he was off, grabbing his cloak on the way, out the door with the colder air to sweep in before cut short with it closing.

A look she could and would happily be lost in for ages. She watched him go before touching fingertips to her lips with that smile that couldn't be rid of.

Date: 11-22-09
Poster: Trevor Cairns
Post # 50

After the Solurius Ball

Although they left later than the others, they arrived first at the Thistle. He saw her within and made sure the man would be ready when he saw Vanessa to her front stoop. She would ride in style this whole evening. The place was quiet at this time but such was welcome as he escorted her in. Made ones' eardrums hum after so much noise at the ball. "I never though I'd be attending any balls but in your company they are enjoyable."

She was surprised that they were the first to arrive. Following Segan inside, she smiled to him as she pulled the ties of her cloak. "Good company can make all the difference. Being actively part of one with you was quite entertaining." Hand muff removed as well so she could hang it with her cloak before making her way to the bar. "It was nice to have the company of others we know as well."

"I knew very few there although my sister seemed to know a few." Which thinking upon, it was expected. "Would you like a wine?" Being that was what they had to drink so far. "I found out something new tonight. You dance as graceful as you look. You shone like the north star amongst the others gathered." Seeing to her cloak before over to the bar with her. He would order a glass of the same kind of wine they had at the ball.

They had taken a longer route which had been very enjoyable for the more solitaire man. Though he was far more social when he and Vincent use to make the rounds as the younger men now did. Tonight was an exception as he was out of the carriage once arriving to help Henna out and see her within the warmth of the tavern.

"I'm not sure I knew anyone more than you did." The Royals and those she knew from Heathfield. "No, no more wine for me. Cider, please." Wine went right to her head far too quickly. A small blush to the compliment given. "You have only yourself to compliment for I dressed to match your attire." Not an exact match, a contrast in shades of blue, but the color was inspired by him.

Time made many changes. Tonight Henna had enjoyed being social and in the company of Trevor. She had enjoyed the ride back as well, since she spent much of her time in the company of children. She thanked him as he helped her out then looked at the Thistle. "It's been a while since I was here."

"Then I am honored." Blue look good on him for the darker blond hair and true blue eyes. Hearing a carriage outside he turned into a lean, opening up his jacket so he didn't overheat. "We have company.." tipped smile her way as he raised his glass in salute but didn't kick back wine though a hearty taste of it.

He had his arm about her to keep her from the chill as he escorted her in, stepping away once inside to see to closing the door too. "Good evening Segan, Vanessa. I'm pleased to have your company again." Seeing to Henna's cloak to hang off but would keep his jacket on. His body temperature remained even no matter that outside in nature.

Her mug of cider was picked up with a smile before her attention also turned towards the door at the sounds of another carriage. "I believe you are right." A small drink of the cider as Trevor and Henna entered, she smiled to them both. "Good ave. Nice to you both again as well." The quieter environment was more welcome for conversation and keeping the company of others.

"Good evening, Captain Quinn, Lady Vanessa." She smile politely to both. "Did you enjoy yourselves this evening?" Another quiet thank you was given to Trevor as he helped her with her cloak.

"First ball I've been to in so long I wasn't sure if I remembered how to dance. Vanessa  made it easy for me to relearn quickly. Please call me Segan if you don't mind me calling you Henna instead of Princess?" Slight tease but he'd find out if she conformed to the relaxed ways here.

A hand at her elbow once the cloak was seen to and over to the bar. He would see to a tumbler of the potcheen for himself and what Henna preferred.

"I don't mind at all. In fact, I prefer it." Her smile brightened as she answered.  Much like the rest of her family in that. And she'd have the punch of course, strawberry if there was any left.

Which sat well with him. "Do you like the idea of the event for the children of the Orphanage?" He was looking forward to it though not so sure about wearing tights.

He wouldn't have to wear tights if he didn't want to. "The ball was very nice. Little warm but nice none the less."

Of course there was strawberry as he saw to her glass then settled in to listen. Something Trevor was very good at.

"I think anything for the children is a wonderful idea. They enjoyed the ball that was held at the orphanage last year and still talk about it."

"Do you plan to be there?" Asking mostly for then he would toss around the idea of being her escort and bringing his son.

She smiled lightly to Henna with a nod. "My parents taught my sister and I that Yule is for everyone, but the magic is for the children. I hope that they enjoy the night dedicated to them at the gardens."

"If I'm invited." She laughed softly. "After all, they see me every day and that might ruin the magic." She turned her gaze to Vanessa. "They delight in every thing given them." She made sure they had plenty of course, but they loved doing different things.

"Of course you're invited. Perhaps you can join them for the sleigh ride and read to them from a book of yule stories?" The ride wouldn't be overly long, but give the impression of going to the north pole.

"I'm waiting for the child at heart and grown fairies the size of children to be wanting to sit on Santa's lap too."

"Yes, I could do that. Would it be all right if I bring my niece and nephew with me? They'd enjoy it."

She smiled to Segan then nodded to Henna. "Of course. You're welcome to invite and bring along as many as you'd like. The more the merrier."

"I would imagine the children not of the Orphanage will need to go there to get on the hay ride. With enough kids we may need three wagons or more?"

A nod was given to Segan. "I thought perhaps to have three there just incase. If one's not needed then it can be returned and whoever's driving can hopefully come help at the gardens."

"How many children at the Orphanage that will be going?" This addressed to Henna as he figured all would but there might be a reason one or more may not.

"I'm sure not one of them will miss out. There's 30 plus some older ones who lived there before and stayed to help. I'm sure they'll want to come, not only to help with the children but to watch them enjoy themselves."

"Ten to a wagon is a good amount and with others coming, you might need a fourth."

Vanessa listened quietly and sipped her cider, making mental notes to herself of things that still needed to be covered.  "Four can be managed. A friend of mine from Eldyn said he would lend two wagons, I have one. So I'll have to find someone with a fourth."

"Unless you think the wagons are big enough?" Not being sure how long a hay wagon was over other types.

"I think ten people to a wagon will be about the limit. As far as I know the three I have access to are about the same size. Figure with hay, blankets and comfortable room for the ride...?"

"Raphael has wagons of all kinds being a wainwright. So if you don't know of another, I'm sure he would lend us one of his for the evening."

A nod was given. "I'll leave a letter with Alex before leaving tonight. So, Karina is taking care of the presents, the wagons are being taken care of, I'm going to make cocoa and cookies. We have Santa and Mrs. Santa, elves. Zira and Benji said they would help with decorations, which is going to take the most time."

"I can help as needed, with decorating but I don't think you'd want me baking." He could cook but that wasn't the same.

"You could always take the trays out for her."

Nose wrinkled with a smile. "I'm going to make the cookies the night before, and Cocoa the day of. I'm going to need help with the decorating though. I plan to have the entire gardens and front of the cottage decorated for the event." A thoughtful smile was given to Henna. "Perhaps you could help decorate them?"

He was taking it all in, ghost of a smile as he worked on his drink. His son would be one of the youngsters to enjoy all the effort put into this.

"I may be able to. It depends on what might be going on that night with my family."

"Alright. Well, I'm planning to make cookies the night of the 8th. If you can make it, perhaps Concessa would like to join. We'll have a cookie making and decorating party."

"I'm sure she will especially if I am coming over." He would make sure and possibly Eion if he wasn't needed at the barracks. "Do we get to test the cookie batches?" Not implying to eat all but have a couple while they worked.

"Of course." Smiling to Segan. "If we can all get together, then I'll have dinner prepared and you can test cookies for dessert."

That had her chuckling. He sounded like her brothers.

Trevor had wandered towards the front window, glass in hand and certainly being able to hear all of their conversation. The intensity of dark eyes to penetrate the darkness beyond and if one saw his face they would know he was seeing that which most could not. Though for those there, they got to see the back of his head.

"That sounds a very rewarding evening for all who contribute in helping."

"I'd just be happy if it's a fun night."

She watched Trevor a moment, a touch of concern touching her expression. There was so much about the man she didn't know. "I'm sure it will be."

"I'm sure it will be and so all that needs to be done will get done quicker." Way it seemed to work out in that way. He was noticing it was getting late. "When you are ready, Vanessa." Not to rush her but they all seemed to be unwinding. Conversation stalling and taking longer, less animated. Which had a snicker under his breath as he drank the last of his wine.

"I hope you can make it, Henna." She smiled to the woman than nodded to Segan. "Aye. I am." Off her stool, she finished what was left of her cider. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Henna. I look forward to seeing you soon." Her attention went to Trevor. "Nice to see you again, Trevor."

Whatever had caught his attention he seem to brush off without any further concern as he turned then headed back to the bar. He set the glass aside. "It was nice to see you both again, Segan, Vanessa," giving them a minute dip of his head in respect. Something he only showed to ones he considered friends.

"Good to see you both, to meet you Henna." Having not met her before as he was soon seeing to Vanessa's cloak if needed then the carriage that was brought around and them within.

"Good night to you both. It was a pleasure and I look forward to seeing you again, and to the night for the children."

"I hope you both have a pleasant evening." To the door, she thanked Segan for help with her cloak and picked up her hand muff with a wave to the other two.

"You as well, good night." She smiled warmly at both as they left.

"Shall I see you back to the castle, Henna?" He would need to be up early to be on the field at dawn and he was sure she would need to be at the Orphanage in a reasonable hour.

"Your company would be most appreciated, Trevor." She finished her drink and said good night to Alex before moving toward the door.

A few words with Alex before the pleasure of seeing Henna home. It was a pleasant night to keep memorable for him.

Date: 11-27-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 51

Festive Preparations

It was a quiet evening in Heathfield's favorite tavern and Karina had gone up to her room fairly early, not to seek sleep just yet, but to inventory what she'd gathered and determine what was still left to do for the Christmas/Solstice event. She sat crossed-legged on the floor of her humble room, humming to herself as yet more snow fell outside her window. On an evening like this she was content to be inside, fairly warm in some loose old pants and her wool coat with the husky pup Amergin curled up next to her. Karina reached beneath her floppy knitted hat to scratch at her scalp, tilting her head at the piles of shiny knick-nacks strewn around her. Good stuff so far but still more items to find... and she wanted to personalize them somehow, make each gift special. She wondered if she might get ahold of some colorful scrap paper and perhaps ribbon anywhere. Karina cast a fond smirk down to her pup as he nuzzled sleepily against her, then continued carefully arranging the gifties in piles of five.

Vanessa had spent the day as she had most days as of recent, which was decorating for the upcoming festivities and trying to put together a pattern for the dress she was going to wear to the solstice ball. Usually when it was time for supper, it was time to put the work away for the day. Her meal over, she had some curious thoughts that rolled around in her head and decided to see if maybe some of those things could be answered. Once she was bundled up, she made quick work of the walk from the cottage to the Thistle with greetings to Alex and request for her usual cider and Karina's usual of ale. Along with inquiry to where her friend's room was. Her coat left over the back of a chair, she thanked Alex and made her way up to the room specified, a mug in each hand and tapped lightly on the door with the heel of her boot, hoping Karina was about.

Karina thought she was hearing things at first, gaze lifting and swinging immediately to the door. That was strange; she rarely had visitors, but she figured it must be Alex. Pushing to her feet she padded in bare feet over to the door and leaned against it to call out, "Who's there?"

She waited patiently to see if she was about. Hopefully Vanessa wasn't waking her up. "Karina? It's Vanessa. I bring drinks." Smiling to herself, she took a small step back from the door and waited.

"Oh!" Karina was surprised, confused even but not displeased. "Err... just hold on one second." And she slid to her knees on the ground, hastily scooping up all of the trinkets that she'd strewn about the floor. They were all piled into the wooden box where they lived, the lid snugly slammed shut and the whole thing shoved beneath her bed. She tugged the blanket further along the side of her bed just to make sure it was hidden, glanced around - the rest of her room was impeccably neat - then went back over to open the door. Amergin stood at her feet, tail wagging to greet the young woman. "Hi there."

Now she feared she'd woken Karina up, but if that was the case, then there was little sense now in at least not saying hello. So, she waited. When the door was open, she offered Karina an apologetic smile. "I hope I haven't woken you up. I thought it would still be early enough to come see you." The mug of ale held out in offering.


"Nah, nah, wasn't sleepin' yet." Not hardly, the girl was a night owl by habit. And Karina was still fully dressed (in layers against the chill of her hearth-less room), not in pajamas. She accepted the mug of ale then realized her manners. "Err, sorry... come on in." And she pushed off the doorframe, opening the door so that Vanessa could step in. Her room was small and simple, with very little in the way of personal touches. A low bed with one blanket and one pillow, a rickety nightstand with two drawers, and a chest where presumably her clothes were kept. Nothing out of place or unclean, surprisingly Karina kept a tight ship. "Um.." But she realized she didn't have a chair, so she gestured towards the neatly-made bed. It was the comfiest place to sit, Karina herself would sit herself down on the chest. "Surprised to see ya..." She admitted. A little warily. Had she done something wrong at the aviary earlier, left something unfinished?


"Oh good. I'm glad I didn't wake you." Never know what sorts of sleeping schedules people kept. Once invited, she stepped into the room and closed the door behind herself. Simplicity of the room was really very nice. Offered seat was taken on the edge of the bed, careful not to mess it up more than what her weight would do sitting on it. "I'm sorry, I should have asked if it was alright to come by before just popping up." She glanced down at her mug held on her lap between both hands. "In truth, I was a bit worried about you. You seemed somewhat off last night. I wanted to make sure you were doing alright."


"Nah, it's alright..." She shook her head at Vanessa's concerns about showing up unannounced, settling on the chest. She reached down to rumple Amergin's ears as he flopped on the ground beside her, listening with new surprise as Vanessa went on. Vanessa had come all this way just to make sure she was alright? Both brows lifted as she shook her head again. "Oh... nah, I'm fine. You didn't have to come all this way - and it's snowing..." Now her brows tugged  together in a light frown. She lifted her mug then and took a long sip of the ale.

She looked at Karina and shook her head. "Snow covers a lot of things, but not the concern for a friend. I know we haven't known each other long, but you are my friend. If you need anyone to talk to, I'm here for you." Cheesy sounding, but she meant it genuinely.


She swallowed her ale. "Oh..... Nah. Really. I'm fine." She offered a half-grin but in truth, this entire line of conversation was throwing her way off and she wasn't sure how to react. Acquaintances she'd had plenty of, but friends.... true friends who would walk several blocks in the snow to make sure you're alright? Of those she'd had very few. Err... make that none. Kneejerk reaction was to smile and brush it off. But Vanessa was still looking at her in a way that made Karina shrug and glance down to Amergin. "I just... had never really been inside someone else's house before, and there were lots of people there and I guess.... Sorry if I seemed mad or somethin', I wasn't, really."

That's not true. She had at least one. Vanessa was there. Pretty sure Segan would do the same as well. Vanessa wasn't going to press the topic if Karina didn't want to talk about it. She was concerned and had spoken it. She figured Karina would come around if and when she felt like it. The confession though gained a small smile, Vanessa got up and moved to sit next to Karina on the chest. "I didn't really think you were mad. Just...out of sorts, maybe? But you're always welcome to the cottage. I enjoy your company and hope to have many years of friendship with you."


She swallowed her ale. "Oh..... Nah. Really. I'm fine." She offered a half-grin but in truth, this entire line of conversation was throwing her way off and she wasn't sure how to react. Acquaintances she'd had plenty of, but friends.... true friends who would walk several blocks in the snow to make sure you're alright? Of those she'd had very few. Err... make that none. Kneejerk reaction was to smile and brush it off. But Vanessa was still looking at her in a way that made Karina shrug and glance down to Amergin. "I just... had never really been inside someone else's house before, and there were lots of people there and I guess.... Sorry if I seemed mad or somethin', I wasn't, really."

That's not true. She had at least one. Vanessa was there. Pretty sure Segan would do the same as well. Vanessa wasn't going to press the topic if Karina didn't want to talk about it. She was concerned and had spoken it. She figured Karina would come around if and when she felt like it. The confession though gained a small smile, Vanessa got up and moved to sit next to Karina on the chest. "I didn't really think you were mad. Just...out of sorts, maybe? But you're always welcome to the cottage. I enjoy your company and hope to have many years of friendship with you."

Karina glanced up again as Vanessa moved to sit closer to her, again taken by surprise. She had a brief moment of hoping she didn't smell too bad, but that was an old instinct, she bathed much more frequently these days! As Vanessa went on though she almost couldn't bear to look at the other young woman. But the smile which curved her lips, if a little uncertain was also genuine. Still smiling she glanced askance to Vanessa and nodded. "Yeah I uh..." Eloquence failed her and all she could say, to say everything she wanted to say was... "Thanks. You too."

If anyone understood awkward moments, it was Vanessa. She had more than enough of them on a regular basis. "Miss Hazel has some of those fruit, flakey pastry things set out on the counter downstairs. We should go have one. What do you think?" As much as she wanted to or could have gone on, she didn't want Karina feeling uncomfortable. A nice change of subject and some sweets was a good way to get past the moment.

Snow swept through the side door, bringing Segan with it. It was getting heavier as he booted the door closed and was over to set down the package that had been tucked under his arm. Hair pulled back into a tie with a scarf wrapped around. Irish cap tipped to one side fitted him well. Cloak was splattered with white as he was back over to the pegs to peel off the scarf, hat and coat to hang there and dry. "I think we're in for a good snow storm this time." Offhanded to Alex before he was back over to the bar to collect his drink of the pure. "Would you see that Karina gets this package." Pausing a second, "she need not know who left it." Inside was a knitted scarf he picked up but in his sense of humor he got one that was made extra long. If she didn't wrap it around her neck and face, only draped it, the ends would probably touch the floor. It was one of those fuzzy heather kinds, dark brown with specks of other colors all through it.

Maybe in time Karina wouldn't get so uncomfortable so quickly when anything personal was brought up. Once she got more used to the idea of real friendship. "Yeah, that sounds good..." But as she stood to get ready to go she hesitated. "Vanessa?"

Vanessa stood up, leaning down long enough to give the pup a quick scratch behind the ears. Upright, she looked to Karina. "Karina?" Little smile in place, waiting to see what she had to say before moving any further.

She glanced down as Vanessa scritched Amergin's ears, smiling a bit as the pup groaned aloud in enjoyment. "What you're doin' for those kids... it's really great." Turquoise hues lifted then to meet Vanessa's with a soft smile that somehow matured her youthful features. "They're real lucky to have someone like you around, to cheer 'em up for one night."

Vanessa smiled lightly to the kind words and shook her head. "It's not just me, Karina. It's all off us. We all have a part in it to cheer up their holiday. I'm sure they'll treasure the toys you've picked out forever. I'm very grateful for your help. I'm not sure I could have done it all by myself."

He took his drink and bottle left over to the hearth to take up a seat there. One close as he let the warmth roll over him like a balm, chasing away the cold from his bones.

Karina gave a shrug and a half-grin. Vanessa couldn't know just how accurate her choice of words 'picked out' was! "I like helpin'. I hope they like everything."


"I'm sure they will." A brighter smile given, she looked down to the pup. "Bet you're ready for a treat too, huh?" Speaking in uplifted tones to get the pup excited. "Time for treats for everyone." She moved to the door and pulled it open, waiting for Karina to join.

Karina smirked as Amergin perked up immediately, recognizing that tone of voice and wiggling past them to get to the stairs. She glanced 'round her room once more, then blew out her one candle before heading out after Vanessa. Preceded by the half-grown husky they moved down the stairs, and Karina waved first to Alex then over to Segan as he lounged by the fire.

Vanessa followed behind Karina, mug in hand with a smile to Alex and to Segan when he came to view. "Look who the snow blew in for our company tonight." Not aware how close to the truth that probably was.

Karina's mail box off to the back of the bar down the one side would have a package stuffed in it. Alex would have to get anything there for ones with rooms or had a box. Hearing voices, a little surprised at this hour, had him get up and turned to them both. "Well, I didn't know I had company tonight. How are you both doing?"

Karina's sharp eyes didn't miss that there was something protruding from her mailbox, which usually (actually always) was empty. "Doin' good..." Karina did seem in a brighter mood this evening, or at least since Vanessa had come by. "Hey Alex... am I seein' things or is that package in my box?" Maybe he'd stuffed it in the wrong box accidentally.

"Quite well this evening. How are you?" A bright smile to Segan as she headed for the end of the bar to set her mug down. "Excuse me just a moment." With that, she dashed off into the kitchen to ask Hazel something real quick.

Motioning to the chairs around him, "come join me once you have your drinks." By way of invitation. He was wearing a cream tone wool sweater over dark brown pants and the usual boots lacing up. Alex would get the package to set upon the bar in front of Karina. Obviously it was for her. Segan seemed unaware really on it all. "I'm doing very well," taking his seat as Alex saw to Karina. Facing away was the only time for the smirk. Something quick and unseen as his glass was lifted for a drink.

Karina wouldn't have noticed Segan's smirk anyway, her eyes were too busy bugging out of her head with surprise. "For me?" Even though Alex had just set it down in front of her. She glanced off after Vanessa, then over to Segan. A shrug and she set about tugging the package open. She peered into the box first, then made a small sound as she reached inside and slowly lifted out the wonderfully thick, soft scarf.

It might come out like a magician's act of pulling the never ending scarf from his hat. Segan relaxed back, kicking up booted feet onto the ottoman.

"Wow..." She murmured, pulling it out of the box... and out some more. Blink. "Okay, so it's for when I grow taller?...." This said to herself, but she was practically beaming. Karina wrapped the cushy scarf around and around her neck to try it on, closing her eyes briefly as she snuggled into the warm material. "Mmm... Alex, who left this?"

"Huh?" Karina was speaking something over there at the bar as booted feet found the floor again as he sat up. Turning around in the chair to look in that direction. "Did you get lost in finding the hearth?" He noticed Vanessa was not back yet. Alex would just shrug, like the package got there magically all by itself.

"Hrm." She narrowed her eyes at Alex, only teasingly. Clearly he was in on this. "Nah... but I got a present, look!" She grinned as she waltzed across the floor, tossing the scarf one more time around her neck as the ends dangled close to her knees. The effect of the fuzzy scarf, her oversized wool coat and her untamed curls was something like a chubby groundhog with just its eyes peering out of its hole. But she was smiling in a way that made her eyes dance as she moved towards the hearth. "Do you like it?"


"Can you dance too?" Teasing her but he recalled a parlor where the ladies had feathery long scarfs they used in their dances. "It looks good on you, should keep that neck of yours warm." Giving a nod that he approved and a dimple showing up with his smile. "What is more, do you like it?"

"Depends what you call dancing." A broad smirk as she plopped down on one of the overstuffed chairs by the fireplace, reaching up to stroke one of the several wraps of her new scarf. "Oh aye, I love it. How'd you know that brown's my favorite color?" A wide grin. Yep, she'd guessed fairly easily just who her benefactor was.

Her neck, her head, her chest, her waist even! "Well, there are all kinds of dancing. I would say that scarf will keep you warm, enough you can wrap it around your whole head in an emergency." The last had him pause as brows lifted. If caught, he'd not lie, it was not in his nature unless it was of a kind it saved someone's life. "I didn't know brown is your favorite color." Which was true there too. He had said something the other day about getting her a scarf, or maybe he had only thought it when she was bared neck and cold.

That took longer than expected, but Vanessa came out of the kitchen snickering softly to something and a bright smile. Around the counter, she picked up her drink along the way.

"Lucky guess then." She passed him a bright smirk. "Sorry for burstin' your bubble, but who else would it have been?" It wasn't like she was very close to many people in this realm, even after all this time.

Vanessa looked between the two of them curiously, then decided it was none of her business. Luke warm cider was finished off, she requested a refill from Alex.

"If I remember correctly, there have been other gifts left for you and not by me." She had that dress she wore to that one disastrous ball and he was slightly cringing bringing up that fact though needed to be said. "I prefer knowing you will be warm." It was why he had been lifting Vanessa's cloak up to see if she had proper boots. If she had not, there would have been a pair left on her doorstep.

She made a noncommittal sound to that. Ugh, that topic nearly had her cringing too. Change of subject! "Well, you didn't have to." But then she added more graciously, "but it was awful nice of you." She beamed him a smile. "I love it, really. Thanks."

Vanessa had the warm clothes thing covered by now. She was not fond of having any part of her cold. So she would be plenty warm beneath her skirts. She looked to Karina and smiled. "What a lovely scarf." Had to reach out and touch it. It looked so soft.

Her loving the scarf brought a sweeping smile before focus shifted on Vanessa. "Is everything all right?" The fact she needed to leave so quickly before. Well, well, seemed Vanessa liked the scarf too and he wasn't certain she had any although she had a warm hooded cloak.

Karina nodded and smiled back at Vanessa as she reached out to touch the comfy scarf, though at Segan's question she shot a look at the other young woman too.

"Everything is fine." A smile given to Segan. "I was asking Hazel for tips on gingerbread cookies for the children's event." The scarf released. "It looks nice on you."

"Thanks. It's uh... sorta long, though..." She dangled one edge of the scarf towards the ground, teasing Amergin with it but making sure the pup didn't actually snag it with his teeth. A shrewd smirk sent back up to Segan, "Or was that on purpose, just to rub it in how... vertically-challenged I am?"

"I'm sure she has a recipe for everything. Are these the ones I get to sample as we help to finish up the decorations?" There was a smirk to show with Karina's comment. "Better too long than too short?"

"Maybe I'll grow into it." She offered in a hopeful tone, though of course that was a joke too. Karina was getting to be the age when there was little hope of growing any more.

"Aye, they are the ones you will get to sample. I'm sure they will not be anywhere as great as Hazel's, but as long as I can follow the recipe, they should be edible." She smiled to Karina. "Perhaps to share while you carry your pup around, while he's small enough for it?"

"It is very possible that you are not done growing." Though however tall she got in probably the next year at best would be it. Pausing a moment as blue eyes locked on Vanessa. "I will have to be the judge of that and I will be

"Just don't make fun of my cookies. I've never actually baked anything before." throwing meat and veggies into a pot for stew was one thing. "Baking...never done it." she smiled lightly and slid onto a seat.

"I can always hope. Oooh, do ya like that idea, Amer?" Karina grinned at Vanessa's suggestion, reaching down to scoop up the husky into her lap, and wrapping the tail of the scarf over him. Of course, the pup was too wound up to do anything but wiggle and nip at the wool. Karina snickered to herself and bent her face down to nuzzle it in Amergin's thick coat.

"Well, I will give you the advice that burnt scrapes off fairly good with a knife." Chuckling then as she could wrap up herself and Amer easily.

"Well, thank you Mr. Quinn for the advice. I will have to keep that in mind." Snickering quietly while watching Karina and Amergrin.

Slow grin rising as he remained standing, glass tucked in his hand. Obviously he had baked at one point in growing up. Probably in his later youth say eight or nine. Burnt the cookies too and scraped off the black so no one knew. That was until they found all the scrapings littered over the counter.

She looked over to Segan to see that grin of his. "What are you grinning about? Already making fun of my baking talents in your head?" She snickered quietly and sipped from her mug.

"You make baking sound pretty hard." Karina had never tried it, herself. She gave Amergin a smooch on the head then set the pup down on the floor. He was getting bigger every minute it seemed, already he barely fit in her lap. She was getting warm quickly with that scarf, even though she had come downstairs without shoes or socks on. She stretched out her toes towards the fire, leaning back in her chair comfortably.

Such a dainty creature, Karina was.

Dainty like a bull in a china shop.

"Oh, just some thoughts of long ago when my mother was alive. She tried to teach us culinary skills. God rest her soul and my father's too." Which the last toned down as it was a more raw wound.

Small frown to that, she glance to her mug then back to him. "Well then you will have to help me in the baking process. Give them something to laugh about." Firmly believing that they would see, and attempting to cheer him up.

"You are looking for a disaster?" He could cook but baking had eluded him. Still he was teasing and soon kicked the rest of his drink back. "It is getting very late. If you are headed home, I will see you there with your permission." The offer need not be extended to Karina because she was staying here in the tavern. "I think Karina looks comfortable enough to fall asleep."

Karina looked over to Segan quietly, but didn't say anything on that topic. Even if she could sympathize (well, sort of). He was right though, her eyes were already half-lidded as she lounged, swathed in wool. "Not yet." A smirk as she opened one eye and waved the end of her scarf towards Segan. "Stay warm in the snow, I'd offer to lend ya my new scarf but I think I'm gonna sleep in it."

"It's going to be a disaster regardless. The more the merrier." It was getting late. Hard to keep track when in good company. Her cider finished with a nod. "That would be lovely." Off her seat to pick up her coat with a smile to Karina. "Looks comfortable enough to sleep in."

He was still standing near where Karina was lounged out so a ruffling of her hair came as he moved pass the chair. "Sleep well, Karina." Then over to set his glass at the bar and help Vanessa with her cloak if she didn't have it on already. From there he would collect his; Irish cap put back on that dipped to the one side.

"Night, you two." Karina opened her eyes again to give them a sleepy, but true smile. She was feeling a little overwhelmed by their kindness, tonight especially. If only there was something she could do for them in return.

The help with her coat appreciated, she buttoned the front of it, retrieved her gloves from one of the pockets and drew the hood over her head. Amergin got a little scritch before smiling to Karina. "Dream sweet, Karina. I will see you tomorrow at the gardens perhaps."

"Aye, I'll be by in the mornin' ta fling some rats." Her favorite term for feeding the birds, she gave a smirk.

He waited at the door and once she was ready would see it open. A winter wonderland in the making outside with thick fluffy snowflakes coming down steadily and getting heavier.

"I'll see you then." Laughing at the term, she followed Segan out, pulling her gloves on with a look at the snow that had fallen while she'd been at the Thistle. "Mm...good thing the snow is so pretty. Makes up for the cold."

Date: 11-28-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 52

A Good Night to Drink

Segan was having a few drinks. Why not? There was snow on the ground in a few inches covering everything outside. Looked great but it was much colder too. Lounged out in a wingback with the glass dangling from his fingertips as he was lulled by the dance of the fire. Mesmerizing effect with a half hooded look. Brown woolen sweater was worn over black pants ending in black boots which were kicked up on the ottoman as he slouched back.

Unable to sleep, Eion made his way from the barracks to the Thistle. He had considered a walk but wasn't quite ready to deal with snow, anymore than he had to. He came in through the side door, brushing snow from his shoulders.  Seeing Segan in a near dazed, he gathered the leftover snow, made a ball and tossed it at his brother before heading for the bar.

Wet. Cold. Splattered from his shoulder against this face drawing him back in a flash. Startled it was so quick as he jumped from his seat. Amazing how fast feet moved from the ottoman so he could stand. Didn't even drop the glass dangling from his fingers. Turning too, all movements an unconscious thought in perfect synchronizing achievement. "Eion!"

Karina had spent a pleasantly quiet evening downstairs at the Tavern, eating dinner there and chatting with Alex for awhile about this and that. A couple hours ago she'd moved over to a cushioned armchair by the hearth and had been there ever since. She was curled up in that chair, sans jacket or cap but wearing her new scarf along with loose-fitting pants and an open-necked tunic. The book Vanessa had given her lay open on her lap but her eyes were closed,
and her husky pup was nestled similarly dozing beside her. The low-burning fire cast a golden light on her features, calm and smooth in sleep, a few curls falling unheeded across her face.

He put a finger to his lips while pointing with his other hand to the sleeping Karina and husky. Been that way since he got here and didn't have the heart to wake her. Although Eion could throw a snowball on her too?

He could and did, tossing it as accurately as he had his brother. Then he continued to the bar to collect the glass of potcheen that was waiting there for him. He had stayed quiet!

Karina often didn't sleep all the way through the night, thus her rest had to be grabbed in snatches at odd times of the day. In this case it was a late-night nap that had shifted into deeper sleep. But that came to an end when she was woken with something wet and freezing cold hitting her face. She came awake instantly with a yelp, jumping to her feet so quickly that both her book and Amergin were dumped to the ground. For a second, still half-sleeping she
could just stare wide-eyed and blinking rapidly about herself.... with the melting snowball dripping down her scarf.

He tried. He really tried NOT to laugh but it came bursting out as certainly he had been caught unaware by the splash of cold snow too. His hand still pointing it was so quick which he tried to discreetly lower.

"Segan. Lass." He saluted them both as he picked up his glass. "It's been snowing outside." He made the statement dryly, a slight smile on his face. He tipped his head slightly as Segan lowered his hand. "You were far away."

Karina was breathing rapidly as she blinked between both of them.... slowly the light of understanding came into her eyes. She looked at Segan, then over to Eion as he made that comment about snow. Curls all tousled from sleeping she stared at the eldest brother with narrowing eyes. "I was sound asleep, ya eejit," she scowled as she pulled bits of snow off of herself. About to throw them into the fire she had a better idea, and packed them into the best ball she could, throwing some at Eion and then at Segan instead.

He certainly had been, all the way to the Amazon and the wild mad chase through the jungle as they ran for their freedom. There was sweat on his brow but the snow covered that up looking a part. "I certainly was and you awoke sleeping beauty but not by the traditional kiss but a cold wet one." Fully awake he dodged what little snow was left in making a pathetic ball. Grinning, "and were you dreaming of your knight in shinny armor coming to your rescue from the snow monster?"

"You shouldn't been sleeping in the common room." He chided as he crouched down and called Amergin over, hiding the grin as he ruffled up the dog. "You should keep her awake instead of sleeping, silly pup. Then she might not call people names."

"No, I was dreamin' of a big hairy wolf attacking your faces." She harrumphed, clearly not a morning person! Still scowling as she reached down, picking up Vanessa's book and smoothing out some pages that had wrinkled in the fall. "Get him, Amergin," she called out but the husky pup only attacked Eion with wagging tail and licks. "Useless pup..." She muttered.

"Hairy wolf," a hand rising to rub along his jaw. "Maybe I should see about growing a beard for the winter." He slipped a glance to the book she had wondering if it was the one Vanessa gave her at the cottage a few nights ago that had all the stories of Christmas in it. About Santa and so on. Glass in the other hand was lifted as he kicked back his drink as the other lowered away. Once done he set it aside. "They finally let you out of the barracks?" Wondering if there had been an infraction on Eion's part that they kept him there a few days. All aside, Segan was just worried on his brother.

"Aye, they have." He gave a roll of his shoulders in a shrug. "I've been helping a few of the lads get through some tests they had. The younger boys still take classes. Escorted a couple home too. They're giving them a break to be with their families for the holidays." He straightened and downed half the contents of the glass.

Karina was still grumbling to herself and still heavy-lidded with sleep as she tugged a blanket off the back of the chair, wrapping it around her shoulders. The boys had brought in some cold air and her shirt wasn't thick linen.  Arms crossed she shuffled over to the bar and mumbled a request to Alex for some hot cocoa. "Traitor..." That was directed to Amergin as the pup happily skipped over to greet Segan too.

He crouched down to meet Amer head on and ruff up his fur in playing with him. Large hands dashing turning him in a circle then around onto his back so he could rub up his belly. "Going to run a thought by you big brother." Still playing with the pup as hands kept moving the while in serious talk. "I'm pretty stranded with my ship for a few months. Think they would take me on as sort of mercenary? Help out the squires with their training. Have my sword." Eion knew Segan's skills and might well assume correctly he got even better those years away even if at sea. There were enough hints of his adventures that saw battle on both land and sea.

He lowered the glass and looked at Segan then nodded. At least he wasn't asking him to play Santa somewhere else. "I think they might. You'd have to talk to one of the King's men I would think. Or King Peter since King Karl is still in Luneburg."

He hadn't asked him to play Santa, it was Vanessa and a surprise to him at the time just as much. "I will do that. I will see if King Peter will see me and if he is busy then one of the kingsmen." Who would need to speak with one of the kings anyway. If he could save a step he would.


Karina plopped herself down on the barstool, tugging the blanket tighter about her shoulders with a small shiver. Her order for cocoa given to Alex she just sat there, hunched and blinking and still trying to wake up. It tended to be a long process, especially after the vivid dreams she'd been having.

"Do you need to get a heavier sweater on, Karina?" Pausing as it seemed she had gotten pretty cold since awaken from her snoozing.

He gave a nod and looked at Karina then took another drink, hiding another half smile. Two Quinns in the barracks. Could be interesting.

"Mmmm?" Blink over to Segan, then she gave a shrug and gave the blanket draped around herself another tug. "Nah, 'm fine." A reach down as Amergin came loyally back over to sit at her feet and she rumpled his ears, then reached down to set him in her lap. He swamped her skinny legs, but he wouldn't be small enough to be cuddled like this much longer and she was gonna take advantage of it.

He was up into a stretch once Amer left to be with his master. "So tell me about these aspiring squires?" He could not go in as such himself for his age and his skill, yet he also would be sailing again once the weather changed in the spring. If he didn't do something over these months, he'd find trouble sure as the sun rose in the morning.

"The pages are the youngest. They learn the basics about weaponry when they're not performing duties in the castle. The squires are from ages fourteen and up to 18 Younger if they show exceptional talent. There's ten in each group.  Have to watch them to make sure they don't grow into bullies, or grow too much into followers. They'll be the leaders when they grow older." He shrugged as he considered a moment. "What else do you want to know?"

"Do all the trainees, older men, help out with the Squires? Do the kingsmen or knights do these duties too or wait until they step up to trainee warrior?"

Karina wondered if there was such a thing as girl squires and such. Yes, she was slowly zoning back into the conversation! But not fully till she had some cocoa in her. She reached for the steaming mug, thanking Alex before taking a deep long whiff of the chocolaty aroma.

Basically he didn't want to step on any toes not knowing how they ran things here if he was to come in off the street as he pretty much would be.

"Sir Aiden does, some of the others. I don't know if they're assigned or step in. Eventually the squires are assigned to knights and they train one on one as well as continued group training. In the situation we're in, with some like myself, who are too old to be squires, we help them out. The lad that smacked me with the practice sword, his name is Ned, is a good example. He came in not long ago, so he's being taught by a teacher that's assigned, plus myself now. Along with two other boys. Good experience for us I guess." He tried to sound displeased but he wasn't. He enjoyed teaching he found.

"I'll have to come by tomorrow. See if King Peter is on the field to talk to him." He knew some of Peter in that he was approachable. "Oh, the outfits are done, I can bring yours there or to the manor. Had the tailor use me as an example for you." Slow grin rising as he watched his brother. He was covering for him in his absence.

"I appreciate it. I'll have more time now that there are only a few of us in the barracks." He had been glad to see some of the boys got to go home, though a few didn't have family. "Gran upset with me?"

"I wouldn't say upset. Worried. I think she is getting ready to march on the barracks soon and demand your release that an old dying woman has only her grandson to see to her needs and they can't hog you." Of course it was dramatized but then Mary could get very dramatic if it suited her needs.

From across the room Karina let out a snort of laughter at that. Yep, she seemed more or less awake and alert now. But she'd let them continue their conversation, for now she just set Amergin down then stood and carried her mug back towards the hearth.

He chuckled and shook his head. "I don't think she'll have to do that and once she hears I was helping the lads, he'll forgive them." He finished the drink. "I'm heading up there tonight. So, we can collect the costumes tomorrow?

"And .. " turning to watch Karina head back to the hearth. "... are you all ready with your gifts for the children? Were you given funds?" Something he hadn't thought about unless she was making the gifts. There was a toy maker in town. He had money he could give her to get anything needed if it wasn't given her already.

"Funds?" She looked over at Segan and then shook her head. "Nah. But no worries... it's all taken care of." A little grin as she thought about the stockpile of goodies she had upstairs. "Just gotta find some sorta wrapping paper and ribbon. Think I'm gonna let the kids pick their gift out themselves, outta a bag or something."

"Maybe have bag for each gender?" So better suited. "I'm sure they have wrapping paper and ribbons here in the storage room you can use." Which he noted Alex giving a nod and pointing to the hall where the one was that had all the extra clothing, shoes, coats and hats in too.

"That's a good idea." A glance to Alex and she nodded back. "Aye? I'll take a look..."

"Maybe I should spend the night at the barracks with you or, maybe we should head to the manor before Grandmama marches on the barracks armed with her wit and determination." This turned on Eion as he was starting to get very tired. The long day catching up to him.

He paused in placing the glass on the bar and gave Segan a look. "I said I was heading to the manor but we can stay at the barracks if you'd rather." The manor wasn't that far but if Segan was that tired, they could just crash there. "There's a guest room you can use."

"Best we get to the manor." Picturing their grandmother's face if she had to wait another day! Which he realized was pretty scary...

"Aye, and thanks to you lot I'll probably be up all night now." She gave them a wry smirk, teasing of course. Even if it were probably true! But she was a night owl anyway through no fault of theirs.

"Stay out of trouble, Karina." He warned as he looked at her, showing a hint of amusement. He was a little concerned where the presents came from if she had no money.

She pulled an innocent face at Eion, a rather convincing one too. "Trouble? Me?"

"That's your middle name if I recall correctly." There had been that incident at the port but Karina was gradually growing from a girl-boy into a girl, and hints of late into woman.

"Aye. You." He put a heavy emphasis on you as he straightened from the bar. "Bite her in the backside if she doesn't behave, Amergin."

"Good night, stay up as long as you want. Your room is just upstairs." Giving her a wink before he started for the bar then on a thought, averted his steps. He came up upon her to wrap her up into a hug. Warm her up a little most likely before released. "I'm proud of you." Words low for certainly she was giving up time and effort for the orphan children and all the children that would come that night. The lands saw to their own but there those that still had very little. No one was left destitute in these lands. Encouraged to not become lazy either in living off others. There was a balance between helping and being abusive of that help.

"No idea what you're talkin' about." The expression dissolved into a smirk though as she waved her goodbyes. Then, taken by surprise by a bear hug! She started to snicker but was silenced by Segan's solemn words. Words which had  never been spoken to her before. Taken aback by it, she allowed herself to be held in the embrace until she could finally murmur into his chest a simple, "Thanks." He couldn't know how much that had meant to her, but her voice was a little husky and not just from sleepiness.

To ease any emotion, he ruffled up her hair as he had done many times before. Smile brought a dimple as blue eyes locked upon hers then with a slight nod to follow. Next he was around and heading to collect his cloak as well his brother if they were to be off and see Grans before she headed for bed. She stayed up late at night yet was up in the morning.

She smiled back, an actual smile at the hair ruffling which was becoming a habit between them. Clear sea-green eyes met his for a moment till he headed off to gather his things. Still holding the blanket around her shoulders she'd glance over to Eion, give him a crooked smile of farewell too.

"Good night, Karina." He adjusted his cloak and put up his hood before pausing and looking at her. "Stay warm and sleep upstairs." A wink and he headed for the door, waiting there for Segan before opening it. And then, they got to step outside, into that lovely cold.

A brief grin at that and she nodded her farewell. But the lads wouldn't get off that easily! After they had stepped outside, she slipped out the door quietly after them, far enough to gather a snowball in each hand. These were thrown none too gently at each of them, socking them square in their backs. "G'night!" She sang out, before disappearing back inside and closing the tavern door shut behind her.



Date: 11-30-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 53

Giving is the Season

Vanessa had arrived at the Thistle not long before the others had, arms full of two packages. One much larger than the other. Upon entering, she found Karina lounging on the couch near the hearth with Amergin and joined them there. The two packages were meant for Karina, which were given for her to open.


Karina lifted the snood up from the packaging, absently pushing Amergin's nose away as he got a little too curious. She ran her fingers along the thick woolen stitches, never having seen something quite like it... a smile began to touch her lips as her answer came belatedly. "Oh, um, no thanks.... Vanessa, this is... thank you."

Vanessa picked up her cider and returned to the couch, watching Karina. She could only guess by her reaction that she wasn't sure what it was before. "It's called a snood." She turned her head so Karina could see the one that Vanessa wore with her hair tucked back in it. "They're good for keeping the head and neck warm. And hair from getting wet from winter snow." Which was a bonus.

"Oh!" Her expression cleared. Vanessa was right, Karina had known it was some sort of hat but wasn't sure of the specifics. She gave Vanessa a smile, a little tentative but true. "That'll be great. Thanks." She'd even try it on right now, though it was a chore trying to shove all her wayward curls into the cap.

She laughed softly. "You're welcome. I was buying a couple for some dresses I recently had made and saw that one, and thought of you." Not too feminine or girlie. It was basic and still pretty. Her mug set down to offer help to Karina. "I practically live in mine during the winter. I find them much more accommodating for long hair than a hat."

"Aye, and mine's getting longer... thanks," she added as she turned slightly to let Vanessa help arrange the snood over her coppery mass of hair. Turning back to Vanessa, she lifted her brows as if to ask if it was right. It did feel awfully comfortable.

She tucked the length in first then fitted the band over Karina's head, tucking in what had been missed. "I've noticed that." That her hair had gotten longer since having met her in the later spring or early summer. Once the snood was situated, Vanessa went back for her mug.

"Figured I'd wait to hack it off again till it's warmer," she commented about her hair, reaching up to cautiously touch the edge of the snood. It didn't feel too tight on her head and she figured after a few minutes of wearing it, she wouldn't even notice it anymore. Karina still had the larger package sitting on her lap, and after ruffling Amergin's fur she moved on to unwrap it next.

"It's easier to take care of when it's shorter, but I usually cry when I cut my hair." So she didn't cut her hair often. Silly really, but that was Vanessa. The second package was a blanket and matching pillow case. They weren't brand new, but they were clean and in good condition. A nice rose pattern on the soft cotton fabric with loops that made patterns of a friendship quilt.

Rhett ran fingers through the scruff along his jaw to rid of the snow and freezing moisture from his breath that was forming. Cold night as flakes had started falling when he left the smithy. A few snowballs made and thrown at the younger kids along the way. Dashing and ducking while whipping a few before he was into the tavern through the side door. Breath being caught and a swipe of his brow pushing the snow coated Stetson worn to tip back. Pressed smile automatically there as he noticed the two within. "Evening." As he started to dust himself off and delayer the winter gear. Hat came off last as fingers ran through the unruly curls only spiking them more. He wore a patchwork woolen sweater with leather panels over black pants and boots. He headed for the bar and a drink of potcheen to warm up his bones.

"You cry?" Karina couldn't help but ask, repressing a snicker as she cut a glance to Vanessa. She glanced up to wave towards Rhett then looked down at the open packaging in her lap. Catching her breath. "Oh... " That quietly stated was all she said for several minutes. Yes Vanessa had managed to render the audacious gal speechless.

A dipping glance to the package on the lass' lap as he headed for the hearth with glass and bottle in hand. A seat selected as he fully intended to warm up via the fire and within with the pure. It seemed they were having a moment as he set to drinking.

"Yes, I cry." Smirking, but Karina could snicker if she wanted to. It was alright. Should see Vanessa's twin make fun of her. "Ave." A wave given to Rhett before sipping from her mug. "I know it's a bit pink.." Referring to the quilt. "But it's warm."

"Vanessa...." Karina bit her lip, still staring down at the gifts in her lap. When she did look up her eyes were even larger than usual. She spoke lowly as she gave her head a slight shake. "I can't take these... it's too much."

It had been a while since he had seen either lass and the pressed smile hinted on shyness yet not. Another drink taken as he went over thoughts he'd not express out loud. The dance of the flames becoming his focus.

"Of course you can." She smiled to Karina. "You've done a great deal to help me with the children's yule and really appreciate it more than you know." She glanced towards Rhett offering him another smile. "How are you this eve?"

That next shot he kicked back, he discovered had been heated up. That was a surprise though it had not been too hot. The glass had been curled in his hand which he stared at trying to figure out what just happened. He blinked up towards Vanessa taking a moment to recall what she asked. The response was automatic in spite of the circumstance. "I'm doing very well. I trust you and Karina have been well?"

Karina had been through a lot of changes since last seeing Rhett, and some of them showed. The boy-dressed-girl had become a young woman, had even grown a bit taller, or perhaps that was just in the straighter way she carried herself now. Her face was scrubbed clean and turquoise eyes clear, hair pulled back into the snood she had just received. She went quiet again at Vanessa's words, though as Rhett spoke she glanced up to offer the man a crooked smile. That much about her hadn't changed. "Doin' alright." She turned back to Vanessa briefly. "This is.... Thank you, Vanessa.."

A little wide blue-eyed as he found himself next staring at the changes in Karina. Almost wondered if it was Karina at first but her eyes had not changed nor the crop of curling hair, nor her voice. He blinked again back to Vanessa.

"I am quite well, thank you." Her attention returned to Karina. "You're welcome. Thank you, for all your help." One arm went around Karina's shoulders for a small hug then released her.

She grinned shyly at Vanessa's words and at the hug, which again took her by surprise but which she returned in the half second just before Vanessa pulled away. She still couldn't find the words to say how much this all meant to her. But inside she resolved to do something for both Vanessa and Segan, something to return all their kindness. But what? It would require some pondering. As she pulled out of the hug she caught sight of Rhett still looking at her.

Which when they started hugging, back to whatever that moment was shared between them, he dipped his glance away and back to the fire. Concentration turned back on his drinking.

Or maybe not, probably he'd just been staring at nothing. Karina too glanced away then, back down to the quilt which she lifted to press against her cheek. "This is gonna be so warm..." She almost sighed happily thinking about sinking into it when she went to bed tonight.

"I'm so glad you like it." A little worried since it was pink and everything, but it didn't change the fact that it was warm and the make was one of those friendship quilt patterns. She wasn't going to dwell on it, for she didn't want Karina to grow uncomfortable. "It's been quite some time, Rhett. Have you been keeping busy?"

Sure, pink might not have been her favorite color but she sure as hell wasn't picky. Color didn't matter when it came to comfort and warmth. Karina ran her fingers along the quilting, then glanced up to Rhett again curiously when Van addressed him.

Kieran was whistling as he made his way toward the Thistle. He was dressed warmly, though he refused to wear a hat. His hair was unruly enough as it was. The hood of his cloak would do. He hurried up the steps and inside, looking forward to a drink.

There was something about Vanessa that had him thinking she was older. "Ma'am Vanessa. I've been busy making weapons. Designing new ones when I get a break. I hear you are doing well with your birds." Half standing only to go fully. He noticed the one coming in as a pressed smile spread only to form fully into one. "Evening Kieran."


Concessa was wrapped up warmly with a package tucked under her arm as she hurried up from the Commons. Next a snowball whizzed by as she let out a squeal, ducking just in time. "You hit me and I'll get my brothers after you. I know your face." Although she couldn't recall the name of last year's snowball bully that terrorized the other children and teens. More balls were coming her way as she dashed up the steps. Each just missing her and one sailing in through the door just ahead of her before it was closed over. It landed on the floor splattering anyone in its path.  She leaned in against the closed door catching her breath.

"Evening, Rhett. Good to see you." He grinned at his friend before heading for the bar and a glass of potcheen. "Ladies." A half bow was given to both, before he turned to Alex and quietly made his request. Now where had those snowball assassins been a few moments earlier? He turned and looked at the door. "Are you alright, Miss?"

"I'm gonna put this stuff upstairs so I don't spill anything on it," she told Vanessa, rising from the couch with the blanket and pillowcase bundled up in her arms. Rhett might have gotten another surprise to see that she was actually wearing a dress. Nothing fancy, just a simple pale blue scoop necked dress that Vanessa had handed down to her, but still. She nodded a greeting to Kieran, and then Concessa when she came in, recognizing both but only vaguely. She snapped her fingers to get her husky pup to follow and then jogged up the stairs to her room.

Vanessa must have dazed off for a moment. Aoh! A smile to Concessa and a nod to Karina. "Alright." Then a look around to those who'd gathered. One man she didn't recognize. "Ave, Concessa. How are you?"

He was still risen from his seat. His refilled glass heating up in his hand without being aware. An appreciative eye upon Karina as she was very appealing in a dress and not mistaken for a lad. Nor was the one coming in with a snowball ahead of her. "Evening." Clearing his throat before kicking back his drink which he found warmed up again and stared at his hand. He wasn't sure who to go to in what seemed to be a rising oddity.

"Evening Karina," before she got away as she pushed up from her lean against the door. Her composure regained and a healthy spot of pink on her cheeks. "I am Concessa and I'm well." Shyer touch in appraisal and a welcome shift of attention to Vanessa as she headed there. The package offered for her to see. "The Mrs Claus outfit is done." Although she had not worn it here.  "Evening," offered to the other male she had not met either.

Vanessa rose from her seat, leaving her mug behind for the time being to join Concessa with a bright smile. "Fantastic. I think you're going to make a fabulous Mrs. Claus." The package taken so she could have a peek at the costume.

"Hiya, Concessa," She greeted the Quinn sister on her way up the stairs with a brief grin before striding into her room. She was gone only for a few moments and when she jogged back down the stairs, her arms swung freely and the dog was missing. Amergin was getting sleepy so she'd tucked the pup in for the night with their new quilt. She held her skirts up above the toes of her boots, still getting used to them, as she jaunted down the steps and over to the bar. Time to order a nice hot cider from Alex. She did so, then turned to face the others as they greeted each other.

"I hope so," she was trying not to think on it too much and work herself up into a frenzy. She'd be the first super Mrs Claus on what might be considered a caffeine high.

"I have no doubt." A smile given to Concessa, offering the package back. "I hope Eion's looking forward to it and not feeling as though I put him on the spot."

"Welcome back Miss Karina," politely her way before a more troubled look turned on his friend. As if he could have a silent communication and a pressed smile to follow.

"His and Segan's outfits are done already and at the manor." So she was told. "I haven't seen either try them on."

Karina thanked Alex as her cider was delivered, and she took a moment to blow across its surface but the liquid was too hot to drink just yet. Instead, she carried the steaming mug with her over towards the others. "Thanks." She  answered Rhett with a brief grin which just as quickly faded as she caught that look on his face. "Something troubling you?" She may have metamorphosed into a young woman but she was still just as direct as ever. Though she wasn't
trying to put him on the spot, just concerned.

"Kieran Turlough." He introduced himself then headed over toward the hearth, a slight frown appearing as he caught the look. He was also trying to picture Eion Quinn wearing some kind of costume. Now that was rich!

"I've seen the outfit. The elf one has stretching pants tights." She couldn't wait to tease her brother. "Santa has a formed cushion with straps to wear like suspenders.  Eion will be fat!" Which she couldn't wait to tease him too. He finally put on weight.

He cleared his throat with a pressed smile to follow. "You look great in a dress," just came out, just like that to Karina. Although it really had nothing to do with the other and obviously he would confide in Kieran another more opportune time.

"That's what Segan said." In regards to the costumes being finished. She snickered softly and looked to Kieran as he gave an introduction. It wasn't to her, so she would introduce herself in a bit.

Actually, it was to whomever needed! He still had trouble with the social graces.

"Nice to meet you Kieran," a shy glance of dark eyes dared to look upon his handsome face again. "I am Concessa Quinn, my friends Vanessa and Karina." Although it seemed Rhett knew Karina.

"Rhett Shawnesey, I am the forger of weapons for the kingdoms and individuals. Blacksmith as needed." Being they were short handed he was capable in both areas. Much like his father before him who fashioned the 100 Swords under Prince Andrew's guidance.

She blinked up at Rhett at his answer to her completely unrelated question. "And that bothers you?" That was all she could think of in reply. It was a weak joke for she was, as always, taken aback by the compliment.

A wave given to Kieran. "Pleasure to meet you." A smile given to him before turning her attention back to Cessa. "Should be something interesting to see them dressed up." One made to be jolly and round, the other in tights.

"No." A little confused. "It was a compliment. I'm not very good at them." Which he was willing to admit before he addressed the other introduction. "A pleasure to meet you both, Concessa and Vanessa." Rhyming sounding.

"Yes, a great pleasure." Though he looked at Karina a moment before he'd sit. "Have we met?"

"He has muscular legs and they are going to bulge under the stretch material!" Innocent enough for she'd seen her brother swimming and he had muscular legs. So the teasing would be a lot of fun.

"Oh. I'm not very good at taking them I guess." Another blink, she recovered herself somewhat with a crooked smile. Wide-set ocean-colored eyes turned over to Kieran when he spoke. "Ah... we might have, aye. Down at the docks?" A pause to think and then she smirked a bit. "I woulda been in pants and a boy's cap probably." The street rat was a far cry from the slender girl who stood here now.

Vanessa snickered softly to the comment made by the Quinn sister. "It should be very interesting." Amusing and everything.

"It seems we are equal grounds then." His smile that was usually a press of lips came fully with a show of white teeth. All even, certainly nothing to hide and the fact he had them all.

"You've been down at the docks dressed as a lad, Karina?" Dark eyes went round as it was giving her ideas to try such a stunt.

"It's possible." He did got there occasionally for a card game. He smiled at the three lovely ladies before he sat in one to the chairs near Rhett.

Vanessa went to pick up her drink and seated herself on the couch so she could watch and listen to the others with a light smile.

"Uh..." She glanced up to Rhett, a little bedazzled by that striking toothy grin of his, then looked back to Concessa with a little grin of her own. "I used to, all the time. Haven't been down that way much lately though." Another sidelong glance and she passed a smile over to Vanessa, "I work with Vanessa at the aviary now."

"How is the training going Kieran," eyeing Concessa with her comment. One could almost hear those gears going and it would probably get her in trouble with her brothers.

"How wonderful. Segan got Grandmother a cockatoo and he has learned a lot of things to say." Well, she figured it was Grandmother's because she had taken it over to keep it in line and its tongue. A little confused on that issue but he was loved by one and all in the Quinn manor. She was teaching it to ride on the goat's back giving it commands.

"Aye, I helped him to pick out a cage and such for it. They're real smart birds. Too smart, if you happen to have a sharp tongue that it can learn from..." With a knowing little grin.

"Oooo.. so you were there the day he got it." Bigger smile with that thought. Segan wasn't always at the manor so the cockatoo had more attention from those around regularly. Then out of the blue a question was tossed to the quiet Kieran. "Are you one of the knights?"

Vanessa snickered softly and nodded agreement with Karina. "Aye. They pick up words and phrases quite easily. I've been told that Master Bently has taken to yelling at some of the Quinn's."

"Yes he has, mostly calling Eion, Segan or Conor when they are there. Like a drill sergeant," like their grandmother to be exact.

Karina nodded at Concessa. "Really?" She snickered to herself at the thought. She'd have to ask Segan about Master Bentley the next time she saw him.  Her dynamic gestures had caused a few shorter curls around her brow to escape from the snood, and she endeavored to tuck one behind her ear. Then took a careful testing sip of her hot cider.

"It was really funny when he grabbed a wooden spoon from the kitchen and waved it in one claw while squawking he was going to take a spoon to their backsides."

Vanessa laughed quietly. "I'm sure your Yaya appreciates the help." She could imagine the three brothers required yelling at frequently.

Karina nearly snorted out her cider at that bit of info from Concessa. Luckily she only ended up coughing through her laughter. Oh she could imagine that all too vividly...



Date: 11-30-09
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 54

Rhett was watching discreetly as the ladies conversed. Kieran seemed to have withdrawn into his own world missing two questions his way.

Two questions? He'd heard them and after a good drink, looked at Rhett. "It's going well. Good way to keep warm during the colder mornings." He offered his friend a slight smile. "Lot of talk about Kildare." And the fact some of the lads were hoping to go.

He had been knighted for the last battle in Kildare. "If they need me.." which he knew he was loyal to the crown here and there. In spite of the workload needed of swords for the military, he had kept up with the practice on the kings field.

"They know that, Rhett." His smile widened. "How could they forget?" He smiled over at Concessa now that she seemed to be done talking about the bird. "Not yet, Concessa. But I'm hoping when the King returns, that I will be." He was old enough.

Which had him recalling and piecing together something. He had been dead, sacrificing his life to save Sir Aiden. Leoric and Trevor had used skills beyond that which was human to bring him back. In a way, for the invasion, they had left residue that was becoming part of him.

Karina was feeling fairly relaxed, which was a strange, but good feeling especially since some of these people were only loose acquaintances. It was nice, being inside in the warm amongst good company as the snow fell outside. A new and pleasant feeling. She took another sip from her cider, glancing around to each of the others in turn.

"You will make a very handsome knight." Not that such counted but more the compliment part. "Maybe I can come and watch the knights train or ones to become a knight." She heard there was an area for spectators.

Rhett had that preoccupied, almost pained look about his features again. Karina cast a sidelong glance his way, concerned and wondering whether or not she should inquire again. He'd dodged the question last time, maybe he just didn't want to talk about it.

Only Kieran would hear the low snicker in taunt but not in a bad way. In a friend's way. He noticed they were all getting more quiet. Except maybe Concessa. She had enough energy for them all. He had no idea what was going through Karina's head, so when she looked his way, he actually winked her way.

"Thank you, Concessa." He cut Rhett a quick glance then grinned at her. "Aye, you can. There's a sheltered area, though it's not all that warm. Spectators are welcomed, especially lovely ladies like the three of you."

Which had her quick smile bloom fully to last a few moments. "I will make sure I do. I will get to see my brother Eion train and possibly Segan as last I heard. Have you met my brothers? Have you practiced with them?" She was full of curious questions.

"Sounds like fun." Commented to Kieran and Concessa in regards to watching the training or a knighting. A smile flashed to Kieran's compliment.

Oh, alright, apparently he wasn't feeling too bad then. Although she still had a feeling something was amiss, but she decided then not to bring it up. Instead she offered him a crooked smile in response to the wink. But that was all for the moment. For once she found herself taking a backseat to this conversation, just listening. Still a little shy in her own way when there were lots of people about.

"Oh, aye, I've seen them both. And trained with Eion. He should be knighted too."  And the compliment had been meant for Karina too. He glanced at her then at his friend, and chuckled.

Yeah Karina had totally missed that compliment aimed her way. Not used to them, still, she'd just assumed he was referring to Van and Concessa.

Rhett was a quiet sort when it came to personal things. Not that he wouldn't talk about them but he'd have to gain a trust to speak on certain things. The crooked smile brought on a pressed one but there was a spark in blue eyes as his friend got hit with a few questions.

"Um, sorry..." Eyes back over to Kieran as she caught his glance. "You're talking about the knights' training?" Tuning back into the conversation at hand!

"Yes. I hear the King is away and such will be taken care of when he returns?" She wasn't sure of the place other than it started with an L, "Lugh... something. It will be grand when Eion finally gets knighted. He's trained his whole life for that day."

"Luneberg. It is where the King is from. The four horsemen along with two of the kingsmen, Aleric and Niklas Traugott." To enlighten Concessa.

Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, swordboy. He took note how Karina seemed focused on Rhett. "Aye, and how the three of you would be welcome. Lovely ladies ... and so forth." He teased then looked at Concessa and smiled. "Luneburg. And Sir Amory."  And he laughed when he repeated Rhett.

"It will be something to celebrate." She smiled to Concessa. She listened to the two men speak and sipped down the rest of her cider before getting up for a refill.

"Aye, and Sir Amory," he knew he was missing someone in the Luneberg lineup.

"Right." A little snicker, she nodded (bouncing the curls along her brow) then took another sip of cider. Karina glanced up as Vanessa headed over to the bar, then said wishfully to nobody in particular. "I'd love to see Eion get knighted. Whenever he finally does." The eldest Quinn brother and Karina had had their ups and downs, but she really liked the guy. He'd done a lot for her, along with Segan and Vanessa too.

"Yes it will." Agreeing with Vanessa as her smile swept fully again. She was looking forward to watching them train although there seemed to be looks passed that left a confused look on her features. She was not yet good at reading some of them.

"Is Mikhail not with them?" Or was Mikhail one of the four horsemen? She couldn't remember. It'd been ages since she'd seen either of them and hadn't met them often. She smiled to Alex as he offered to take her mug for refill and looked over to Karina with a nod. "It would be an honor to watch."

"Bannon is from there too, though he seems to be losing the accent." He added as he looked back to Rhett. "Followed Sir Vincent, Niklas, and Sir Amory from there."  It would be a while before the younger boy would be knighted though he worked hard.  Then again, he was squire to Sir Vincent.

"Mikhail is probably in Kildare right now." Glancing to Kieran for confirmation but it would stand to reason. Then back to Vanessa. "He was the war tactics advisor to the King and had Prince Chadrick under him. Rick." As some knew him. "He was there when I was a squire under Sir Aiden and we faced down the mercenary army gathered by a rebelling Keep."

Names, names, and more names, none of which had any meaning to Karina. Out of her league in this conversation, she nonetheless stored all the details away to be used later if need be. They all knew so many folks, it seemed. It suddenly reminded her of how few people she still knew in comparison, having been here for many months now. Well, she had spent the majority of time alone, in the beginning.

"It was his advice that help to turn that day into a winning situation." Which he would give credit where credit was due.

A nod was given to Rhett. "I suppose that makes sense. I believe he'd mentioned Kildare last I spoke to him." She wondered if he'd seen Sariyelle since then, but let the thought slip from her mind.

"Aye, that's where he is." He took another drink after answering, then smiled slightly. "It was something to see."

He coughed under his breath in clearing his throat. He got to see it by way of a sword fight. There was one part he was told of later on. "They won the battle by way of old tradition. The head of the mercenary army went to bend of knee and offered his services to King Leoric for his compassion shown that day. Mikhail knew this captain enough to advise Leoric to take him on in spite of the situation. He had been right."
"I'm sure that Mikhail earned his position for such advice, so it would make sense that it was taken." He seemed like an honorable man. Especially if anyone asked Sariyelle, who spoke highly of her friend.

She was quiet for a change but if anyone had glanced her way they would tell by the widening of dark eyes she was completely captivated by the conversation. Soaking it all in.

"The King must have trusted this Mikhail bloke." She came back into the conversation without giving it much thought, then gained a faint rosy hue in her cheeks. Glancing around at the others as she went on, "The mercenary fellow coulda been a traitor. Or a spy."

Rhett respected the man highly and the fact he took on his good friend Rick. He had gotten to know them all that day and those that followed. Now he was saluted by Mikhail as Sir Rhett, although he didn't use his title here, to gain that respect of those he respected could not be put into words how it made him feel.

He glanced at Rhett again, a twitch of his lips showing he was wondering if he should mention Rhett's part in the battle.

It would be interesting to get all of these men together and listen to them speak of such times with each other. An amusing thought, and expressed on her face as she leaned against the bar.

"He did and yes, he could have been that and many things worse." Although there was more to Leoric as he found out personally that put him like his brother, the Druid Prince here and stories told of ancient wisdom and sight.

"But he didn't turn out to be?" Karina asked curiously, then added with a wry smile, "I guess Mikhail's head would have rolled long before now, if he had been a spy...."

"Rhett's being modest. He took part on the field of battle that day. His bravery got him knighted." And he saluted his friend with his glass. "Modest as he is, he's a hero."

"No. First you'd have to understand where a mercenary is coming from. Most of them mislead by heads of lands that they eventually left the ranks. Many of these highly skilled wanderers gathering under the skills of one in leadership as was this man. They fought under who could pay them but in the long run, some of them actually had a conscience and knew the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. When it came to the crux, this man showed his real colors and was willing to fight under a good man, one better than himself." If that explained it.

Karina listened as Rhett spoke then gave a nod. "Aye... I've known a few. Mercenaries, I mean. Seems like a rough life, although there's a lot of independence there too. Guess that counts for something.." Trailing off as Kieran spoke, she glanced between the men with a growing smirk. Curious now!

So focused on his answer he only blinked Kieran's way as he could feel the heat rising along against the collar about his neck.

"So you were there that day, Rhett and you were not Kieran?" Looking between the two of them to be certain on this point.

"I was there as Sir Trevor's squire." He smiled again at Concessa.

"Ultan Callihan had turned Montrose Keep against the Crown of Kildare. He was poisoning his brother the real Duke and the first born son, heir, estranged. Ultan had hired an army of barbaric fighting methods. Methods Mikhail was understanding of. What Ultan didn't know was the connection Kildare has with Heathfield and the sister castles, who sent troops to the newly established kingdom struggling to get back on its feet after the Witch was disposed of by the King. So when the army was met instead on their march by Leoric's, they were the ones outnumbered." Hitting on the major points to speed this along.


"They couldn't lose face and so the old way of having one team from each army battle for the win of the day would save many lives and honor. Mikhail advised Leoric to accept these terms of old. Sir Trevor alone could probably bring down this army for his supernatural abilities. There was more here at stake as Mikhail advised. The leader picked Sir Aiden and I as his squire to face off a man and his son of the same size and skill. Mikhail warned myself and Aiden to watch for a diversion by the two to have the son turn on Sir Aiden when his father made a move that might cost him his life but leave Aiden open to a vulnerable, fatal blow. I had been ready but the sword glanced off mine in a way, it went into my chest taking me down. It was what I was suppose to do. I was losing conscious as I saw Aiden take them both out but had spared the son before everything went black. I was taken back to the castle and under the healing abilities of King Leoric and Sir Trevor, my life was not forfeit that day." In short he had stepped into the path of the blow, to ward it off but one of those freak things in how the other sword glanced off his.

Karina forgot to sip her cider as she listened to Rhett's tale. Always captivated by a good story, this one was even more fascinating considering it had actually happened and been witnessed by the man telling it. Her eyes widened at the part when Rhett himself was chosen to represent the army; she winced as story-Rhett was gravely wounded. "And a lot of people lived because you stood up for all of them," she added on a murmur.

Vanessa was content to listen, attention drifting from one to the next as they spoke, interest in the story being told evident. Vanessa had found herself mindlessly seating herself on a stool at the counter while listening to the tale that seemed to enthrall them all. A glance given to Karina then back to Rhett with a small smile before drinking from her mug.

"Aye. It would have been a massacre of their army and I'm sure a heavy loss on ours. The captain's name of the mercenary army is Airtre Madison and he was put between a rock and a hard place. His men were geared for blood as armies are psyched up before a battle. They could not in an honor back from this battle. They were allowed that coup, even a chance to win the day but know the terms were that if they won, they would be paid what Ultan had promised and had not paid them and they to still leave the lands. Leoric had the upper hand and that edge was not being given away."

"We were certain we had lost you. I think once we returned to camp, you could have heard a pin drop until we got word otherwise." He smiled again. "I was never so proud of anyone before as I was with Rhett and Sir Aiden."

There was a bit here that need to be corrected. "Sir Aiden was the one who killed the one and spared the other in winning the battle." Just because he almost died, didn't make him the hero in his eyes.

Karina glanced over to Kieran as he spoke, his words drawing a smile to her lips. It was clear that theirs was one of those rare genuine friendships. Looking back to Rhett as he spoke, she gave a slight shrug. "Aye. But that doesn't change the fact that you willingly stood up to fight for the entire army beside him. Some men would piss their pants and run away, if asked to do so," she added with a smirk.

"You were both heroes by being chosen that day and fighting the best you were capable of." Yes, she had been listening. "And it seems things were accomplished that day far beyond sight except for sight by one as this Mikhail has."

"You were both heroes, Rhett. You kept Sir Aiden from being killed. I watched it all." And he'd never forget.

"When the captain looked our way, at first I felt like surely I would but something comes over you and you go onto this other level that is one minded and that is to fight and win." If that explained it.  Fear was natural but how one took it on made the difference. He didn't let it overcome him even only being a squire as of course Sir Aiden had not and he had been his inspiration. To have him proud of him.

"Survival instinct." She knew a little bit about that, certainly.

"Yes, or fear would paralyze you and certainly you will fall or be captured."

She was getting tired as she wrapped up the Mrs Claus outift back into its packaging for protection. "I must say good night this late hour. I'm pleased to have met you Kieran and Rhett and to be privy to sharing your story of an important battle."

Karina nodded agreement to that. While having never been in battle persay, she could think of some instances where fear had to be shoved aside in order to survive a horrifying situation. She was quiet until Concessa made her farewells. "Night, Concessa. See you again soon, I'm sure."

Dazed into thought once more, she smiled to Concessa. "I'm so glad you came by, Concessa." From her seat, she went to give her friend a hug.

"Good night Karina. Certainly you will as well Vanessa," giving them a smile and a return hug with Vanessa. She still had her cloak on so only buttoned it back up, lifting the hood in place before she was heading out the side door. Shortcut back to the manor.

"Good night, Concessa. It was a pleasure to meet you." He stood but any offer to escort her was cut off as she headed out. Now that reminded him of something his sisters would do.

"Good night Concessa, a pleasure meeting you. I'm sure we'll be seeing you again." Sometime. She was the sister of Eion they practiced with.  He glanced to Kieran and to the door she had just left through. "It is late, we could see her safely back as she lives a good enough distance from here." He knew the place where the Quinns lived.

"Once I'm knighted, I may be moving to Kildare permanently." He wasn't sure if he would be or not. "Good idea, if we can catch her." Chuckling as he carried his drink over to the bar.

"Good luck with that," she snickered as Concessa made a beeline for the exit and could be seen hurrying off down the path. She supposed it was cold enough outside to light a fire under anybody's buttocks.

"Good night ladies, Vanessa. Karina. I'm pleased to have met you both and look forward to seeing you again. Grabbing up his cloak and a pressed smile spreading before he was out the door faster than Kieran.

"Good night, ladies. It was a pleasure." Whoa! He was hot on Rhett's heels though and finally they might be able to talk.

It was getting late and Vanessa had an early morning planned. Her drink downed, she smiled to everyone. "Rhett, it was nice to see you again, Kieran a pleasure to meet you." A wave to Rhett as he took his leave, she turned to Karina. "I will see you soon. I hope you have a good night." She went to give Karina a small hug then pulled her gloves out and hood over her head.

"You too," Karina called after the boys as they hastened towards and out the door. A smile to herself, which expanded as Vanessa gave the little hug. "Night, Vanessa. Thanks again for the hat, and quilt and... everything."

"You're most welcome." A bright smile, she pulled her gloves on and out she went!



Date: 12-02-09
Poster: Allan Cleary
Post # 55

Deliveries Made

The snow was coming down pretty heavily by the time Allan rolled up in the wagon he was driving pulling the team to a halt in front of the Cottage belonging to one Vanessa Baltimore. He sat there a moment assessing the grounds and path beyond the gate before he was down from the wagon. Around to the back he pulled down a pulley cart before lifting one of the large canisters into it. next he was pulling the cart up the path to the door, stopping there to take the large steel canister off and set it on the stoop off to the side. Once this was done he was back to the wagon to repeat the process.
Two forty quart canisters of milk were followed by boxes of cheese enough for her upcoming event to have as finger food along with whatever else she served. Muenster, baby Swiss, cheddar, sharp cheddar, gouda and Colby. Allan stacked the five boxes onto the pulley cart to haul them up to the door and stack one atop the other on the one side of the stoop. Squeaky wheel blended in with the night and drift of snow as he saw to this task. There were lights on in the house but he wasn't sure to disturb the woman or not.

The chill was getting him to the bone as he finished up the task and the idea of going to the tavern for a drink tempting his thoughts enough to make it a reality. He gave a resounding knock at the door just before he headed back to the wagon, pulley in tow that was swung up onto the back. The canisters had North Star Dairy on them and there was a card in with the cheese that wished the best on her event and the fare left, compliments of one Allan Scott Cleary. She would probably recognize the surname. Perhaps Roseann and Diane had mentioned him. The wagon was soon rumbling its way down to the tavern.
Not long afterwards the wagon rumbled up alongside the tavern on the alley street before Allan was down and seeing to the Clysdale. The small jaunt out this night to the Avian Gardens had taken hardly any toll on such a beast of burden. The wagon had been light with the two forty quart canisters and five boxes of cheeses delivered. The snow continued to come down heavily as he glanced up, wet spots dotting his face once they touched. Some held to thick black lashes and brows along with any hair showing from under his cap. "I think we're going to have a snowy winter this year, Clementine." Speaking to the mare named after the song for the size of her hooves.

Heru was sitting before the fire inside the Thistle. He had come to Heathfield to make some purchases for the manor and to do a little shopping. Since they had come to Heathfield, they had started to enjoy some of the celebrations and he also wanted to buy a present for Isaac and Desh. The purchases were all in the room he had taken for the night. A glass of potcheen was held in both hands as he slouched in the chair, legs stretched out as he rested his feet on an ottoman. The dance of the flames was coaxing him into a near sleepy state.

The side door opened in a whisk of cold flurries filled air admitting the bulk of Allan, more in height than width. Although he was bundled up pretty good in the heavy cloak, scarf, hat, sweater beneath as well wool pants and knee high boots.  Pulling off his gloves first as he eyed the only occupant. He had not met the one but he'd seen him before. Somewhere. Then again he traveled far and wide delivering milk as he worked right along with his hired men. "Evening," called out as the gloves were set up on the shelf to dry, his cloak shrugged out of and hung before followed by the scarf and hat.

He blinked as the rush of air made the fire dance more than looked up. Long hair had been pulled back with a strip of rawhide but there'd be no mistaken the bronze of his skin. "Fair of eve, Sieheb." He sat up straighter though he didn't stand. "It is a cold one." He studied Allan for a moment before continuing. "I am Heru of the House of al-Dawla."

"I am Allan Cleary, North Star Dairy," collecting his drink of the pure as he headed over to the hearth to warm up and easier to speak with the man. "I deliver the milk to your manor. Someone mentioned the women take baths in it." He didn't know if it was true or not but a lot of milk was delivered there.

"Aye, they do." His accent was Egyptian but his words were a mix because of his brother. "They mix it with essence of rose oil and bathe in it to keep their skin soft, especially this time of year." He gave Allan a half grin, dark eyes filled with laughter. "And it does seem to keep their skin soft. We also enjoy drinking it." He paused then added quickly. "The milk, not what they use to bath in."

Which had him laugh as he was about to ask if they drank the milk bath water, making full use of it. Although the idea was a bit choke and spit it out reflex type. "The ladies of your race are very beautiful." Perhaps that was one of their secrets. "Although I've not really had the pleasure of meeting them formally." In time that might be remedied but then they were not out that much socially and neither was he. "Do you have a special talent or post within your families?"

"They are only lately coming out more. In our homeland, it was not permitted that they travel alone when the new regime took over. We were all very young when that happened." He was speaking of the father of the most recent ruler. "They are very beautiful, though I wouldn't tell my sisters that. Brothers are supposed to tease." He chuckled and shrugged. "Or so I tell them. I am Captain of the Guard of the House. Our family has served the al-Azhar family for a long time. So long that we are more like cousins. I don't leave my duties very much." He frowned slightly. "What is the word, social?"

"I have sisters to tease and I think they are beautiful. I don't think they think they are." Which might be different or was it much different between brothers and sisters of different cultures? Shifting back to the conversation, "yes, it is called being social. A way for men and women to meet others and perhaps find a mate or such with busy men as ourselves, at least friends if we are lucky. I too have not been very social for working too much. You have a very important position amongst your families. I have met Anhur some time ago, you are good friends with him like a brother?" Not knowing exactly the relationship of the two families. For a while he thought they were actually blood related.

"I tell them they'll become vain." And usually he ended up getting pinched, tickled or pelted with pillows. "Yes, I look on him as a brother though with much respect for both he and Yusuf. Our families are even closer now. Isaac has taken Deshira as his wife. They all tell me it is not good for a man to be so wrapped up in his work and I should get out more so here I am." He took a drink of the potcheen before adding, "though in truth, there is not as great a need to be as watchful as we were at home. I was pleased to learn this land was at peace when we came here, though sometimes, it can be dull." He patrolled their estate, trained and kept busy but occasionally he wished for a touch of excitement.

"I hear those very words too. They are most likely right but some jobs require more of a person's time than others. I wish to see all is done as it should be." Not quite saying he was a perfectionist and should ease from it since his men prove they can handle it without him breathing down their necks. He was responsible for a very large area to cover, one that covered a few sister castles in supplying them with milk and other dairy products. "Have you come to learn with those on the king's field? They continue to practice for to become too lax might find the lands in a dire position one day. Though we are at peace and have been for some time, even these lands were not always at peace and knew the hardships of a tyrant's rule."

"As do I." He shook his head, though his dark eyes brightened. "I came to make some purchases but I was thinking to watch tomorrow and then speak to one and see if I might return and train. I would like to know the way of fighting here and see the differences, and since there is peace here, and our families safe, I think I can take the time to do so. Perhaps two days out of a week."

"I think it would be something to take advantage of. I can stay the night and go with you tomorrow, introduce you to a few I know. Get you started. In turn you can show them skills you have learn and both sides will benefit from both cultures. I know they have ones already from various walks of life and techniques combined and honed."

"That is a great kindness, Allan and I appreciated it. I hope I can return the favor in time." His smile was wider. "I would like to learn the way they fight in snow. There is a difference between that," he motioned toward the window, "and sand and though we manage well enough, I'm sure there will be a few tricks they can show me."

It was getting late as he finished off his drink. The snow was keeping a steady pace in coming down. "Not only trained in snow but in forests, from trees, from water and many different ways. We might get a bit snowed in tomorrow morn before the roads are cleared. Although I've my Clydesdale and wagon which I will have brought down to the stables here. Maybe you can help me in picking out gifts for my sisters? Something of your culture to make them more lovelier still.."

"I would be honored to do so. Some of the women who accompanied us when we escaped our homeland make shawls and jewelry, all to enhance beauty. It is a ... " He looked thoughtful a moment. "A matter of pride and not in a bad way.  We have a sleigh that I used. I will be taking a few things back with me. We celebrate the solstice and I too, am trying to buy gifts." He stood and looked at the window. "Anhur said there would be much snow this winter. I understand others have said the same. It seems they are right."

"Aye, but we'll make do. Those of these lands will work together. Some meeting for the first time that way. I'll meet you down here for breakfast and we can go out together in finding gifts. I think it will make it go faster especially when we can bounce ideas off each other in an area I admit not being skilled in."

"I am only skilled because I am able to get advice." He laughed as he stood. "I am glad to have met you this night, Allan. I think tomorrow will be a productive day." He was pleased to have made a new friend.

"Aye, I think so too, more than it would have been otherwise. I too am up this area to get some shopping done and then get my house ready." Which he might have family and friends over to make it more seasonal for him this year. "Now I must get some sleep." As he was over to the bar to drop off his glass and a few coins given to Alex to give one of the lads in the back lounge the job of bringing his Clysdale and wagon to the stable.  Collecting a key, he headed upstairs.

He carried his glass over and bad Alex good night before heading upstairs as well. A glance at the few gifts he had obtained had him grinning. He could very well finish any shopping tomorrow besides getting the supplies he had been sent for.



Date: 12-04-09
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 56

Tree for the Thistle

Cleansing oneself of the past was hungry work. And Karina had a prodigious appetite under normal circumstances, so tonight she'd gone straight to the bar to order a late-night snack from Alex; whatever scraps had  been left over from the day's meals.  Karina was more than happy to be the garbage disposal and Alex had soon served up a platter full of random foodstuffs, biscuits and gravy, some slivers of ham, an apple.  She was happily munching perched on a barstool alongside her friend. The day had been an adventure at the cliffs... Karina had elected to toss over a strange scrap of cloth and buttons that might once have resembled a stuffed toy rabbit. She hadn't said much about it except she'd found it one time when she was little and it had been her version of a security blanket through childhood. "Want some?" She asked Van around a mouthful of biscuit, gesturing toward her ample platter.

It had been an interesting day indeed, but surely one the both of them would remember hopefully for the rest of their days. It'd been a good way to close one chapter of both their lives so they could properly begin writing the next. The Thistle was a welcome site since the entire day practically had been outside in the winter cold and as evening approached, the bitter held quite a bite. But now they were warm and toasty and perched happily at the bar. To the offer, Van peeked over at the plate with a smile and grabbed up some of the apple. "Thank you." That with the cider was a wonderful thing! "Today was a good day. Maybe we should plan things like that more often." Though the past couple nights having Karina stay with her had been a lot of fun and she was very glad for it.

Karina had to admit that it had been a lot of fun, staying over with Vanessa. There was something nice about falling asleep knowing that a friend was close by. And waking up with them there, too. Certainly Vanessa was teaching Karina things that had little to do with caring for birds or how to dress. They were lessons that Karina couldn't have put into words but the wisdom settled somewhere in her core. Karina pushed the plate a bit closer to Van for her easy access (there was plenty to share!) and smirked lightly. Swallowing her latest bite she replied, "I'm sure I could find a few more things to throw overboard." A brief grin. "It was a good idea. It felt... good." That was a simple way to put it because as these things go, plenty of emotion had gone along with it. But in the end, it had felt good to physically rid herself of that one article from her previous life.

It had been a long day for both Rhett and his brother Douglas. They had gone north into the forest to pick up a blue spruce that was at least eight feet tall for the tavern. Once they finally found the perfect tree, they had to chop it down, load it up then head back down to the Thistle. The wagon came rolling up drawn by a large Clysdale their family owned. They had dropped one off at their parents manse as well. Once alongside the building in the alleyway he reined in the equine. He was cold at this point, even with gloves on his fingers were starting to get numb. His nose wanted to run while his cheeks felt like they were frozen. "I think some hot stew will do us well tonight Doug." Jumping down after putting on the safety break. "We should first go in and get the stand out and in place. Alex said the one corner it goes in will be cleared of tables and chairs for when we got here."

Doug's teeth weren't' chattering yet but he was feeling the cold right through him. It had been a good day and he swore that the horse pranced a bit more than usual when they put on the belled reins. "Aye, stew and coffee and a good trough filled with food for this grand lad." He nodded at the suggestion of the stand. "And get our frozen fingers thawed out so we can put the tree in place."

For everything taught, there was something learned. Just like Vanessa (probably unknowingly) was showing Karina things she'd never seen, the same worked in the opposite. "My mother used to have us do something similar to that when things were wrong for me and my sister so we could get past them." She looked at the plate and picked up a biscuit, not much of a meat eater really, but that was plenty for her to munch on. "She always told us that you couldn't let go of the past without closure, so maybe that will help us both." Smile given to Karina with a glance to the door, pretty sure she heard others out there talking.

"She was smart then." She smiled softly in return. Karina couldn't say that she wasn't a little jealous of Van in some ways, just a little. It would've been nice to know if her mother, too had been wise and kind like that. Or the opposite. Or... anything at all really, but she knew logically that it didn't matter. A shift on the stool and she offered Van a wry smile, "Though a lot of times that's easier said than done."

They would hear the stomps on the stoop outside the side door before it was opened allowing the bitter cold in with the two. Two bundled up they probably weren't recognizable other than being of a tall sturdy build. Door only stayed open long enough for them both to be within. There was snow crystallized and frozen down his lined cloak, boots and pants of what wasn't covered by the cloak. The knitted cap was frozen in shape and even the scarf came off from around his neck stiff, making a muffled cracking sound as the ice having it frozen broke apart. Cap went down to his brows and the scarf had been over his nose and just under his eyes. Blue ones that turned on the two sitting at the bar and looking warm. Warmth he presently covet, "moogh evve." Lips weren't working properly yet though uncovered by the time he spoke. The rest of his outer clothing being taken off as he headed for hearth to hang them there to warm and dry quicker. They would have to go back out before too long.

Doug had managed to obtain a heavy woolen captain's coat but even it didn't escape the coating of icy snow. He was laughing at the sound their clothes were making -- that's how it had been when they'd go out sledding and not want to come in until they reached that point. Eventually he had worked his way out of the first layer and followed Rhett over to the hearth. He held his hands out to the fire for a few moments, grumbling as the needles started in his flesh. "I hate that feeling most of all."

Karina swallowed the bite she'd just been devouring in a gulp. She recognized the fellas, after they de-layered a bit. A glance shifted to Van before returning to the lads in the doorway. Unable to resist a snicker, "You lads look like abominable snow men."

Little wrinkle of her nose to the wry grin. "Yes, that is true. But even so, having a friend to do it with makes it easier and more fun." Her attention went back to the door as Rhett and the other entered. A wave given to them both with a snicker to Karina's comment. "Ave, gents."

"Aye, I think we ran into a few of them up in the forests." Which they had seen glimpses of things that were not of the norm up there. Rhett knew about the Fae that hid from most.  "I feel like one," frozen stiff nearly as his fingers hurt warming up and the deep red color to his cheeks starting to fade some. Pressed smile turned on the ladies before making a request of Alex. "Two stews and mugs of coffee." Coffee to make sure they stayed awake the next couple hours to see this task done they started on.  "We've a big ole spruce tree as the holiday tree for here outside in the wagon."

"And plenty of brown bread." He added then smiled at the two. "Evening to you both. Enjoying the warmth I see." He wasn't moving from in front of the fire yet.

She snickered again at the thought of just 'running into' a Yeti. Though she'd seen enough oddities in this land to not discount the idea completely! "I thought I heard a wagon..." Okay not brilliant conversation. But she was still working on that talent. Karina wore a dress borrowed temporarily from Vanessa, necessary because she hadn't had any of her own when she'd shown up at Van's door late the other night (except the ones she'd been wearing of course). It was a simple affair, just a long-sleeved scoop necked dress of light yellow wool. Her thick leather work boots were still worn beneath though, it was all about the baby steps. Growing curls of bronze and honey sprung freely about her face.

Vanessa had no problems lending clothes to Karina. They were nearly the same size though Van was a bit taller. Vanessa was attired in one of her hooded dresses, the color plum over purple with fitted sleeves and a fitted collar. She watched the two men and nodded to Doug's comment. "Aye. It called us from the bitter cold and who could refuse?"

"It is bitter cold." As he was warmed up enough by the time Alex set out the platter on the bartop. He abandoned the hearth to make his way over and claimed a stool right there down from them. "I hope you don't mind us eating in front of you. Normally we would have eaten by now. It is not easy finding a perfect tree for home and here. It's over eight feet." Which would have it fit perfectly for the higher ceilings of this tavern. It had him glancing up in measuring the distance where the tree was to go before dipping back their way. "Will you both be helping to decorate it? Probably tomorrow or the next." It was too late most likely tonight to start such a project.

Especially after being out in it for most of the day. They had stopped to make a fire to warm up and eat a bite but the day had gone quickly. He was just glad they had reached home with no problems after dark. "Thank you, Alex." He said quietly, then paused a moment before looking at the two with the questions. Then he was glancing around but more to see if the decorations had been set out. There'd be garland to tend to too.

Karina offered a half-grin with a gesture to her own platter, which by now only had bits and pieces of food left upon it. "Eating's natural and you're probably starving," she said to Rhett's excuse of their eating.  "Eight feet?" A low whistle as she glanced over her shoulder towards the door, though of course the tree wasn't visible from inside. "Plenty of room for all of us to help decorate, I guess." With a softer grin.

Vanessa shook her head. "By all means, eat!" She looked over to Karina when mention of the tree was made, then back to Rhett with a nod. "Most likely." Her mug picked up and sipped from with another nod to Karina.

"If you want to get the stand out from the storage room to help, we'd appreciate it. There are boxes of ornaments there too." With just about everything else one could need. Glancing between them with that pressed smile that came off more shy looking than anything else before he was digging in like one starved. The bread used to soak up the stew while the larger spoon got the chunks of meat and vegetables.

"Aye, some of those ornaments are as old as," he paused to glance at Alex but just hid his grin when he looked back, "this tavern." He probably made both lasses nervous right then. And since his stomach was growling, he turned his attention to his food..

Segan was out and about after doing some shopping. The packages sent to the manor before he made his way to the tavern up from the commons. He noticed the wagon along the one side and was over to inspect what it contained. Gloved hand running over the needles as with the bit of light from the window he could tell of the variety of pine. Once done he was making use of the side door and in out of the cold.

Karina bobbed a nod, mopping up some gravy with a half a biscuit to finish off the platter. "I'm up for the mission... care to join me Vanessa?" She pushed up off her stool to stand. "If there's snow beasts in the woods, who knows what may be back there..."A little sidelong grin to the lads at that, almost shy in her own way too. Then a glance over to the side door as she greeted the Quinn brightly, "Hiya Segan." Karina still sported a cut along the side of her lower lip, and still bruising there but thanks to Van's salve it was healing fast.

"Sure!" She slid off her stool and dusted the front of her dress while waiting on Karina. A wave given to Segan as he entered with a bright smile of her own to him. "Ave, Segan. Come to enjoy the warmth?"

He was shrugging out of his cloak with a growing smile. "Nice and cozy in here. Evening Karina, Vanessa," blue eyes pausing there a few moments longer, "Rhett and Douglas, good to see you both. I can assume that is your wagon outside with the huge tree in it?" Hanging up his cloak before he was over to collect a glass of the pure already being set out for him. "How is everyone? It seems we are in for a bit of snow over the next few days."

"Evening, Segan. Aye, that's ours. " He grinned as he looked over at the Captain. "And the tree is for here. We're warming up. How're you?" His food was nearly gone so he was slowing down finally.

"We're about to get some things for that huge tree they say they have outside." A little smirk. She started over towards the back room, giving Segan a little sucker-punch on the arm along the way. Just because! Though she skittered out of the way quickly and into the next room to avoid retaliation.

"More snow!" Giving a smirk, she followed along with Karina to get the stand and ornaments for the big tree. Decorating would be fun. Passing wink to Segan along the way then disappeared.


"And yes, I've come here to get warm and place myself within the company I like best." Although that would normally include any family member, none were here tonight. "Owwwwwwwww..." half howled as he rubbed his arm like she had hurt him. "See, she is picking on me again," trying not to smirk too much Vanessa's way like she would do something about it.

Finally coming up for air as he finished his stew. "Aye, good eve to you Segan." Glancing from him to the two ladies as a pressed smile formed. Then back to his brother to note his progress. His bowl was cleaned out and his coffee done. He would wait a few minutes longer soaking in the warmth before heading out into the bitter cold.

"Oh man up." That was said over her shoulder before she slipped into that storage room.  To Segan, of course! In the back room she sneezed, blinking in the dim light. "Dusty..." Commented to Van as she began to wander about the boxes and crates. Unable to read she'd have to just open them and peek inside. "See anything that looks about right?"

He was finished with everything but one last slice of bread, heavily buttered and his coffee. Hopefully he'd be able to move from his stool to help get the tree.

He followed them in as he could carry any of the boxes needed. Most likely there would be a few as well the stand to bring out and tree skirt, which was probably in one of the boxes. "I can help.." offering up.

Van smirked at the comments between Segan and Karina and wandered into the store closet, fanning dust from in front of her face. Boxes and crates looked over. "I see the stand there in the corner." Which she went to get. "Here they are." A stack of boxes labeled for their contents.

"I'll start to unload it," as it was beyond the witching hour or so their mother use to tease them. It would take him a few minutes to get on all his garb and luckily it was mostly dried for being near the hearth. "I think we should bring it in through the front door as it is bigger than the side one do you think?" Although they would be dragging it in bottom first the branches would not be breaking off that way.

"Oh." Karina dropped a strange-looking something back into the box she'd pulled it from. Kind of looked like a raggedy squirrel pelt, or a desiccated rat. It could have conceivably been either. Wrinkle of her nose as she wandered around the maze to lift up one of the boxes in skinny but capable arms.

"Aye, that sounds like a good idea." He grinned as he finished the last bit of coffee and stretched before moving over to gather up his outer clothing again. "Wonder how much snow we'll get." Making a face as he decided to leave off the scarf. It was still soaked and it had been a nuisance earlier when they were collecting the trees.



Date: 12-04-09
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 57

He followed behind them but not too close as for the dust floating around they were disturbing up in this closet area where it seemed the supplies for the tree were stored. Reading the label of one of the larger boxes saying it was garland and ornaments, he lifted that one up and carefully backed out of the walk in closet area. Back around and out into the main room to find a spot not far from where the tree would go to set it there on the floor butted up against the wall.

Vanessa set the stand on a box and picked the box up to carry out behind Segan. The box set against the wall near where the tree was to go, then dusted herself off and turned to make another trip.

And Karina stacked her box atop Segan's, setting the heavy thing down with an "Oomph." Hands brushed off against each other, she started to follow Van then decided to just ask instead, "got any more boxes in there needing to come out?"

"Enough for me to start the dragon run." Which he was the one that had started the sleigh run that faithful year before he was off to Kildare and almost killed. This would be the third year from that time. "Maybe they will make an event out of it this year." They had the one then last year things were more quiet. Or did they last year? Brows dipped as he stepped outside and made his way to the wagon. With gloves on, finding a good hold on one of the thicker lower branches was not all that hard.

He was back in, "I wonder if that one you took out was a train set," more mussed but that would make it that heavy. "Two more boxes it looks like." Seemed they were careful about packing the ornaments so they didn't break so a few boxes were used instead of jamming them all into one. He got hold of one of the other boxes to bring out, the heavier one which was set aside the others before taking up the stand to set it out for when they brought the tree in it would be ready for them. He noticed Alex bringing over a small bucket of water to use too.

"Aye, two more." She didn't see any others with holiday labels on them. "Come help me with this last box, Karina." Heavier than she dared pick up alone, but the two of them should be able to handle it.

"It's possible." He couldn't remember if it had been skipped last year either. "Maybe we should make a maze too. So high and good and confusing." Then again, that might be too much work. The tree was good and steady, and easy enough to grab hold of but maneuvering was another thing. "Should I go up first?" And backward.

Karina stepped back into the store room as bidden, jogging over to take up the side of the box opposite Vanessa. "One, two, three... heeeeaaave." She lifted her half of the weight and started to maneuver their way out of the room. Though with the big box and the small exit, that was a bit of a challenge. She giggled as she hit the doorframe with her arm, twice.

She picked up her own end of the box on cue with Karina, watching both sides and wincing when Karina hit her elbow. Though since her friend was giggling, she snickered. "Maybe we should drag it out with rope." Take the lazy way!

"If we got some others to help, it might be a lot of fun. The MacKay brothers would help and I'm sure some of the knights." Which he knew a few for having served with them. "Rope?" He only smirked as he hefted the thick trunk over his shoulder, "just guide the top and sides. I think we can get it through the side door." So he was going to take that route as he moved out from the wagon far enough Doug could get the top then work it around taking his time. There were a lot of pieces left in the wagon that would make boughs to decorate with over the mantle and the like.

"Nah. We will beat this box. Alright... go just there... tuuurrn...." Slowly she narrated her own way through that pesky doorframe. And over to the corner with the other decorations, setting it down there.  "Phew!"

Rope? Didn't they wind rope around the tree? "I thought you wanted to try the front?" He chuckled as he managed to get the tree top in place then shook his head. He near disappeared in the branches but he wanted to make sure there was as little damage a possible. "Thanks, Segan." At least there wasn't ice under the snow yet.

"Here they come," as he hurried over to the door to get for them and help steer any branches that needed when they pulled it through the door.


She moved around followed Karina, careful not to move fast enough to trip the other up as the got the box out there with the others. Once it was set down, she dusted herself off again. "Tired already, Karina?" Smirking to her friend.

He dragged it over to where the stand was before easing the trunk on the ground so Doug could right his end with his help in straightening the tree. "If you can guide us in Segan and secure it once we lift it into the stand."

Dusting her hands off too she exhaled, then smirked right back at Van. "'Course not." Glancing over at Segan's call she went to take up a post by the door to help maneuver the thing if need be. But the boys managed to do it all by themselves, causing her to smirk again to Vanessa. "Guess they don't think us ladies can do the heavy lifting..."

He closed the door after them and was over to help them guide trunk into the stand then turn the large screws that would hold it in place. "I will see you ladies home," if Karina was staying at Vanessa's still. Glancing their way with the offer.

A glance to Segan at his offer then over at Vanessa. Smirk faded as she hesitated. "I don't wanna wear out my welcome, Van. I can stay here tonight.."


Blink..she looked at Segan then to Karina and smiled. "No no. Go get the pup. You're coming back to the cottage with me." It'd been nice having her there. It gave her a chance to get to know her friend better, and help get rid of all that empty space and silence.


He stepped back once the tree was secure and nodded. They had made a good choice. Then it was time to collect the branches and clean up anything else left behind.

Segan thought it was great she was staying with Vanessa, like gaining a big sister. Besides the company for the two, it was safer for Vanessa to have Karina with her. Although he was going to come an afternoon and whisk Vanessa away with him that they might talk. There was a lot they didn't know about each other and he wanted to find out more, those very early steps in a growing relationship.

Karina couldn't help but get a warm fuzzy feeling at Vanessa's determined insistence. Expressive features probably said as much but she had to double-check nonetheless. "Are you sure? 'Cause you can feel free to kick me out if you get sick of me ya know."

He too stepped back with a, "thanks Segan, Vanessa, Karina," as he noticed the boxes there too. Now ones could decorate as they came in and felt like it. A community project. "It looks good brother, perfect." Although it had looked smaller out in the wild with so many other bigger trees around.

Both hands motioned to shoo Karina. "If I get sick of you, I will. Now go get your things and bring the pup. Can't leave him here alone." Then smiled to Rhett. "You're welcome. Rhett, can I ask you something?"

"Oh, have you both met me brother Douglas?" Not being sure for Douglas didn't always come out to socialize. He brushed himself off as he turned to Vanessa. "Aye, and maybe I'll have the right answer too." Teasing some with a smile to surface.

"Aye, thank you all." He nodded with a grin at Rhett. "Looks fuller than it did out there, doesn't it?" And pretty with the way the melting drops of snow sparkled in the light of the fire.

"Alright then." Karina gave a little grin and hastened to do as told. Lightly running up the stairs and into the room she usually occupied. Her voice heard only muffled through walls as she greeted her pup and gathered some more supplies, a couple more shirts and such.

A wave to Douglas. "Not yet. I'm Vanessa." Pretty sure he already knew that though. "Are you two going to be at the ball?" Asking once Karina had gone to get her things.

Ooooh Vanessa was SNEAKY! And smart to wait till Karina had gone, else she might've gotten serious flack for it later.

"The Ball?" Taking a moment as he glanced to his brother and back. "I hadn't thought of it but we might. Right Douglas?"

She smiled to Rhett and gave a nod. "I hope to see you both there. The more the merrier, after all." Smiled to Douglas as well as she reached for her coat on a hook near the door.

"I didn't really think about it." He shrugged slightly then smiled at Vanessa. "We'll see what happens until then."

"The two of you can dance with all the single ladies that come and don't have anyone to dance with." Which gave it a different light if they wanted to help out. He had his coat on and was ready for them at the door. "Good night Douglas. Rhett. Hope to see you soon and if you need help building that sled run, call on me and my brother."

Ready to go." Karina came traipsing down the stairs again, a bundle beneath one arm and the other hand bearing a leash attached to one very exuberant husky pup. Who of course nearly dragged his master across the room in his excitement to go meet Rhett and Douglas. "Oh-" A slight laugh as she nearly crashed into the former. "Uh, sorry. He's still learning..." Crooked smile. Her gaze briefly moved to take in the tree now standing there in all its glory. "It is a very nice tree."

A nod given to Douglas, she pulled her coat on and fixed the buttons then it was gloves and the hood while watching Karina and the pup. She moved over to Segan's side, waiting for Karina to finish flirting.  Not rushing her!

Which he had to double step and half catch Karina as the pup attacked his brother for affection. "Seems you have a friendly dog here."

He laughed as he roughed up the pup a bit. "You be a good lad and don't be tugging her arm off." He said then looked up at Rhett and smirked.

Which a hand raised to touch around her shoulder and caught himself tracing his hand down and off. "Grandmama may be down to visit your Ma and Da sometime soon with a holiday basket." This spoken to Rhett and Douglas.

Flirting with what?? She wouldn't know how to flirt if given a three-day course on the subject. She was just slightly more awkward than usual. Another short laugh as she leaned back and away again. "Um, yeah. Too friendly sometimes." The hand with the leash lifted up to scratch her scalp beneath those thick curls before dropping again.

That might be the next thing Vanessa taught her new friend! Which would be amusing and he hoped to be around being Vanessa didn't really flirt.

Flirting should come naturally, and apparently it did! She smiled to Segan giving him a little nudge, then called to the pup. "Time for a walk!" Baby steps, Karina! Wouldn't want her cheeks falling off. Vanessa flirted, just subtle and when she was confident of herself.

"They'll enjoy her visiting." He nodded at Segan before heading for the hearth to grab the scarf. He might use it on the way back home if the wind picked up again.

He got to pet the pup who was loving it up before they needed to go. "We're going to leave the boughs outside in the cold and they can be brought in as needed." To anyone that might as a heads up.

Uh oh, Vanessa had said the magic word. Amergin went against Doug's chiding as he made a break for the door, stretching Karina's arm out to its limit. "Alright, guess that's goodnight then!" One last grin before moving at a forced jaunt into the bitterly cold outdoors.

"Aye, Ma would love the visit from Mrs Quinn." Which they would let their mother know of the impending visit for most likely she would want to share of her skills with the older respected woman. "Good night Segan, Vanessa, Karina and Master pup," as obviously he had control over Karina. Pressed lips formed into a grin.

Well, maybe she had come to think of it. The thing with the scarf, the bit of arguments they had stashed now for a rainy day, the compliments, the admittance to having a crush which floored him. In a good way. He was smiling to himself in a way Vanessa might be asking what was behind that grin. Out into the cold as Karina ran ahead of them for the pup's lead and he would see to the door being closed off behind them.

"Good night to you all." He lifted a hand before disposing of the last of the loose debris. "Ready when you are, Rhett."

She just had a strange way of flirting. A wave to the brothers. "Have a good night." Then it was out the door with Segan. Brow quirked at that smile he had, but she smirked in return and followed pup-prints.

"Ready. Care to stay at my place tonight as it is closer?" Although he would be heading down to his parents tomorrow to give them the heads up.

"Aye, we can stable Lad at your place." He waved to Alex as they started for the door. "And I'll take him back with me tomorrow." And so they were off for the night and Alex could close up and get some sleep too.


Date: 12-05-09
Poster: Allan Cleary
Post # 58


Allan had taken his meal here this night as he first spent time with Hazel in going over her milk needs for the coming weeks. How much to bring every other day as she estimated all the baking she would be doing, holiday pudding making, egg nog and a lot more requests for coca especially by the gangs that did all the snow throwing. Knowing well they could come in here to warm up and something to drink or eat if they were hungry and not need a coin. He had noticed the tree with some decorations already upon it here and there as one or two got the mood to put some of them up. It was time to enjoy some potcheen now that his food had settled, having ending with a large slice of Dutch apple pie.

Vanessa had no idea who Allan was, and thus had thought to thank him, she would have a small basket put together and bring it to Alex to see that it got to the man kind enough for the milk and cheese. The basket had been put together earlier and now it was time to relax and see what company was to be had. Likely Karina would be along eventually as well. Through the cold and into the Thistle in a hurry, she took a deep of the warm air as she pushed the door closed with a smile. "Ave, Alex!" A wave to the man she didn't know. Attired in her norm of outer wear, a dark blue coat, which she dropped the hood back, a basket over her arm covered in a soft white linen. Smile turned to the man she didn't know. "Nice to see another here to enjoy the warmth fairly early."

He was up from his stool in a lazy sort of body stretch that was discreet enough. Done in being polite to the lady while he gave a slight bow of his head as his hand came to rest against his chest. Relaxing back to normal as he straightened. "Allan Cleary ma'am, at your service." The woman was a pleasant sight to see, certainly not hard on the eyes as he watched her from across the way at the bar. Nothing could be said for certainly it was normal to under the circumstances.

Attention seemed to perk up when he gave his name, and her smile brightened. "Ah...Mr. Cleary. You're the kind man who left the milk and cheese at my door step a couple evenings past." Reaching the bar, the basket was set down and gloves tucked away before offering her hand. "Vanessa Baltimore. I am very grateful for the generosity."

"So you are the lovely lady Baltimore, Vanessa if I may be so bold to use your first name." He had deep blue eyes that were indeed trained upon her the while as they spoke. Certainly enjoying the visual before him. "I was late in delivering that which I was alerted you would be needing and didn't wish to disturb you. It is my contribution to the worthy event. It is the least I can do. So I knocked on the door that you would know it was there than leave it out all night as it seemed you were up by subtle noises one can hear outside. Perhaps your beau about to be disturbed." Yes he did! He slipped in that subtle comment to find out if she had a beau. Taking her hand in his a moment before released and back to his spot.

"Vanessa is fine." Her coat removed and laid over the back of one of the stools while she listened, attire beneath a simple dress of dark blue suitable for the weather. "Well thank you for the contribution. It will go a long way for cocoa for all the children and others who attend. And the cheese." Quiet mention made to Alex for a mug of cider before looking back to Allan with a small smile. One that probably hinted to thoughts of Segan. "Actually, I was there with a dear friend. She was helping me make the elf costumes we will be wearing."

Perhaps he caught that more secretive smile but he was not a mind reader, "certainly a lady of your beauty would have a beau if not a few in amore," a compliment for certain and probably true of a few she had no idea they had. "The cheese will last long if kept in a cool place. I'm sure the cottage has a cold room down in the basement." Most of them did. He built his manor and made sure one was built into as part of the plans. In fact he made a very large room so he could store cheese and wine. Allan had become cautious for some trials in the past that he was careful not to tread in the area of another man's lady.  "Everything is going well then with your plans? The day is not far away."

She was rather surprised to find that this was Allan. For some reason she expected someone... older. And it caused her to rethink the contents of her basket for a moment. "Only one." She smiled softly in reply to the comment of her beau. "Aye, the cheese and milk are both stored until the night of the event." She motioned to a seat, as she took her own. The basket picked up and offered to him. "It's not far, and I'm excited to see how it goes. This is for you. My thanks to your generosity." It wasn't much really. A small basket filled with pastries of various sorts, having expected an older man with a wife if not children too, she thought it would serve well. Seemed he'd have the sweet treats for himself.

He was young, twenty and seven but had built a small empire since his arrival here. Following his cousins Victor and Kathleen to these lands along with his siblings. "Only one, then I toast the lucky one." Giving her a wink as he lifted his glass to kick back its contents. It was lowered to the bartop to refill then adjusted as he turned noting the basket offered to him, "for me?" Well obviously but it had taken him by surprise. The basket taken, "thank you very much, I'm touched." And certainly he was for the charming smile that followed. He lifted the linen to take a peek at its contents and the smell of such baked goods. "My sisters will be eating these down when they stop by and asking who made me such treats. I'll have to make up a story to have them giggling and thinking I have a lass with their eye on me." Which in the past there had  been a few. One that was persistent in coming around before he finally shooed her off. She met Billy Joe the next day and eloped with the lad.

A brilliant smile to the compliment but nothing said until he looked at the basket and took a peek. "I was very touched at the donation." A snicker to follow what he mentioned of his sisters. "Well, you be sure to tell them that she followed you home like a puppy and will likely be lingering around. It might give them something interesting to keep an eye out for."

"I've a brother Michael, and two sisters, Diane and Roseann, all of us single." So she can bet there was teasing that went down between them. "Cousin Victor who is the oldest of our clan, is still unwed. The only one that is, is Kathleen. She married Neale Frasier, head of the Frasier Clan. Which is quite large and prominent in Ballicastle. I have the North Star dairy which is nearer the border within these lands to Ballicastle as the rest of my family is in Ballicastle, Golden Dawn. Stables as well. Oh, I shall and I shall describe her like a goddess she is. They will be appeased for a little while, until they find out she is not around." A huge grin to follow before realizing he was having a run at the mouth as some called it so promptly shut up.

Cairenn was taking a badly needed break from the candy shop. Though she had hired two other lasses, this time of year was one of her busiest. After closing up shop, she walked the commons but still would bring the scent of chocolate in with her. She was wearing a simple cloak of dark brown over a simple gown of green trimmed with white. Her hair was pulled back with a wide bow at the nape of her neck. She smiled at the two inside the commons as she hung up the cloak and headed for the bar. "Evening!"

"Diane and Roseann, I've met them both." Not sure if she'd met Michael so she wouldn't assume that she had. Another quiet laugh. "You'll just have to leave things around to keep them in suspense now and then." Opening of the door had her attention with a smile to the woman she'd not met and a wave. "Ave, miss." Greeted happily from where she was at the bar.

"Good evening," shifting focus upon the newest arrival. Although he was grinning for certainly he was listening too. "That's a very good idea. At least keep them feeling their brother is desired like they think he should be. Sisters get this funny notion that their brothers are some of the best looking men around that other women should fawn after." Which by his tone amused him and certainly he didn't feel the same. Now back to the other lass he knew he had not met and certainly easy on the eyes too. One thing nice about these lands, it had the most beautiful women around. "I am Allan Cleary," which made him realize who she was. He had gotten a glimpse her of through the window of her shop. Maybe she had noticed the dark haired blue eyed milkman. Not that he delivered all the time as he had men working for him and they took turns on the different routes. "You're one of the ladies from the candy shop. We deliver quite a bit of milk and cheese to your establishment." Which, like the others, was left outside. "This is the lady Vanessa Baltimore." There were no flies on Allan when it came to talking and socializing.

She laughed as he spoke and nodded. "Aye, I am. Cairenn Turlough, and without your products, we'd not do as well as we do. " She looked at Vanessa, thoughtfully. "Now I'm knowin' your name but I'm not sure where or why."

"Pleasure to meet you, Cairenn. I'm the bird lady. I own the aviary." That's where most knew her from. It would either be that or due to the event coming up. "Why don't you join us?"

"Yes, please do." As there was certainly enough room at the bar and he still standing as he went down a stool so she could sit next to Vanessa.

"Let me take a moment to get my drink and I'd be glad for the company." She turned to Alex and requested mulled wine, waiting patiently was it was prepared, then she was over to settle on one of the stools. "Ah, it feels so good to be off my feet."

"I know the feeling." Cider picked up, she took a small drink, looking between the two of her company before inquiring to Cairenn. "The candy shop? This must be a busy time of year."

"For all the deliveries I've made there, I have yet to go into the place." Although his deliveries were made before the stores opened. Still, he had not because if he did, he'd be bringing home pounds of chocolate for his sisters and granted he liked the dark chocolate too. It could become an addiction. "The blond, long hair, that is your sister that works there? I've not seen her around in some time, she is all right?"

"It is. We get a bit of a break after All Hallow's Eve, then it picks up again as orders are placed." And would pick up again in late winter. She smiled at Allan and nodded. "Aye, she is very well. Corina is engaged to the Regent of Kildare, Gaidan. They'll be wed soon as things settle there."

"I heard about the upsets but the Queen's sons did well with their father's kingdom. It takes time as all good things do to come to pass. I wish her the best of happiness in her upcoming marriage." Probably a near fairy tale romance, candy maker to become a princess. "Do you have a beau as well?" Being he found out that Vanessa did, though not whom, he started to wonder, perhaps an inkling of worry that all the pretty ladies were taken. The milkman left in his barn while the world turned and he missing the boat.

"I'm sure she'll appreciate the sentiments." It was a storybook romance with the two of them meeting and dancing as snow fell around them. She laughed and shook her head, a hint of pink touching her cheeks. "No I don't. I've been so busy since she's been in Kildare that I barely have time to think, though I've others to help and my brother takes time when he's not training to come to the shop."

Vanessa had excused herself in a quiet manner to see to something that took her outside. Focus shifted back upon Cairenn with a lazy type smile. "Sounds like my life and I realize tonight that if I'm not careful I will find it has passed me by and I an old man. I'm already twenty and seven, single and no prospects. I don't really cater to the idea of waiting until I'm forty something to take on a sixteen year old bride."

She smiled again after sipping the wine, her expression thoughtful. "Well, you're still young enough to be able to get out and about, and meet some lasses. It seems once you reach a point where you can hire others, you should have more time. Of course, we have to take the time to get out and away, don't we?" She laughed again, a soft musical sound. "I'm a good one to talk, aye?"

"Aye, that is the crux. If you are a perfectionist you stay with even those you hire working as hard as they do to make sure all is done perfectly and smooth running. I know I should let them do their job I personally trained exactly what they need to know and the ones that stayed, the ones that proved they could uphold the pride in their job. So, yes," giving a chuckle here, "to answer your question. I should take more time to pursue some other interests."

"So, what other interests do you have?" With her elbow on the countertop of the bar, she rested her chin on the palm of her hand. "Now that winter is starting, it's a bit harder to get out doors, unless you make deliveries like you do. Of course, you're up before the rest of us."

"Well, before I got into the dairy business, I use to do some carving. Built a gazebo and did some gardening. I was trained to fight as we needed back in Ireland but here it was not. There are many in that career that I found a different one instead that was needed." He paused here with a quick smile. "Aye, up before the break of dawn to get out and around with the bigger wagons where there is no other traffic to hinder or be hindered by. The milk there as others get up and have need of it on schedule. Most are on schedule. We carry extra for others in need might hail our truck to buy a quart or gallon. I'm thinking I need to do some things for fun, like the sleigh run if they build one this year in the field down by the lake."

"There's an idea. I haven't tried it myself yet. Seems like Christmas is no sooner over and we start thinking about Valentine's Day. But the two I hired to help me do well enough that I'm thinking of taking at least one day a week off to myself. Of course, as it gets closer to the holidays, I'll not be doing so. I'll be trying to make sure all the orders are finished in time."  She made a slight face. "Though I'm thinking of putting up a sign saying orders need be in by the 20th so I can go visit Corina in Kildare."

"I don't blame you there. Perhaps we'll both find the same time and meet one another out on the snow field." He would not make plans but certainly Fate might bring it about in what was termed chance meeting. "When is your sister getting married? Once Christmas is done you have a month or so before Valentines then it is Easter. It is the summer months you get more of a break?"

"Aye, things settle so much then. Mostly it's penny candy time when the children are able to earn some money of their own. It'll be soon. She's gotten her gown and is making the plans though I think they want the latest development to be well over."

"Penny candy, now there is a thought. It brings up old memories when I was a child. So you have them. That is great and I'm sure the children find pennies so they can come and fill a bag with those treats. If some of them are old enough you might have them take on deliveries and so earn some coins."

"There are a few that I have." She gave him an impish smile over her glass. "And I have specials where they can come in and pick a paper from a jar and they get their choice of free candies." She leaned toward him, lowering her voice. "Between you and me, there's numbers on each paper so they get something."

"Well, in that case I shall have to add a gallon of milk a week to cover those free bits of candy. One of the few things the young children have to brighten their day, especially the harder it is to be earned, or won."  Winning was as good as earning. Made one feel lucky and that in this world things could change wished upon. That hope not given up so easily.

"That's a wonderful idea, Allan." She finished her drink, placing the empty glass on the bar. "I'm sure they'll love having the extra milk. They're always so well behaved when they come in. I only had once incident since I came here and the lad's siblings told their mother and she made him march right back and work off the price of the candy he took." It was a good lesson for the boy.

"Some children are not so lucky..." His words trailing off as who needed to end the conversation this night on a negative tone. "I hope Vanessa is all right," she had not come back for whatever had her leave so abruptly. "She has a beau," spreading grin as if tattle telling on the lady he just met. Which had him up as he wandered over to one of the larger windows. "Just what I thought I was seeing, it's snowing again and heavily. Never know from in here where it is warm," trailing off again as he stood there looking at the beauty beyond the window, the streets cast in shadows but where the lamps lights gave off their glow, snow glistened. Sparkles drifting down in large flakes to add to the trillions already layering upon ground and buildings alike.

She stood and walked across the room to join him. "I love the snow though by spring, I'm longing for green. Perhaps that's why there's St. Patrick's Day in March to break it up?" She looked at him briefly then looked back. "And I hate to say it, but I should be heading back out into it so I can catch a bit of sleep."

"I wondered if holidays were strategically placed to get ones through the winter as by February and March depression tends to set in. Winter wished to be gone and spring back with its warmth and flowers." Watching the snow fall was wonderful from inside and knowing it was as cold as it looked outside if not more so after being warmed up. "I hesitate to drive back to the dairy in this but I know I should. A night like this has me tempted to stay put and spend the night here." But he wouldn't for more than likely his men would need his help getting the wagons out for the deliveries. Some might do it earlier before too much accumulated. Then sleep in once back while others are just getting up and out for the day.  "I will see you back then, I've my wagon with me and can give you a lift, even with it not far from here it will be slippery."

"I think you might be right on the holidays. I love making up the gifts for Valentine's Day. Just makes me smile." She nodded, looking at him with some concern. "Thank you for the offer. I'd appreciate the ride." When the delivery was made in the morning, there'd be a box with his name on it and a sampling of the chocolates as a thank you, even if he didn't expect one.

And he would be leaving that extra gallon with no charge with it. A wrapped up pound of Muenster cheese and a pint of rich cream. So they would be sharing and it was one of the nice things that made one's day in doing their jobs. He was over to get his cloak, hat, scarf and gloves as well the basket and would see to helping her with hers then out to the wagon. Buckboard had a padded seat and there were blankets stowed beneath.

It would be a nice ride and perhaps one they might repeat in the future. She thanked him for his help, waved good night to Alex as he began to prepare to close down for the evening, and out they went.

Date: 12-07-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 59

New Faces

Their trek here from the cottage was probably made in record time. Arms ended being linked and laughing as much as they were slip sliding their way down and into the tavern. "Alex, hot chocolate with Irish cream." What she needed for some more energy!

Karina was almost running to keep up with her longer-legged friends, though she too was laughing all the while. Just something about being amongst friends in the frigid cold that made them all giggly. She nearly tripped across the threshold, laughing as she let go Van's arm and called out to Alex as well, "I'll second that, and make it hotter than hot!"

It was the type of laughing that had one not feeling the cold until they hit the warmth and their nose wanted to leak. She was quick out of her cloak this time for the tavern was warm. The fire was built up for the warmth of anyone that came. Alex would have their drinks ready by the time they were over to the bar, keeping a kettle warmed up of the chocolate so only had to add the liquor, chocolate shavings and whipped cream.

Oooh! Run ladies! All the way to the Thistle with her friends, then in through the door with a smile to Alex. "Hold the cream on mine. Hot cocoa will do just as well." Then it would be unbundling and hanging everything up.

Then it would be chocolate heaven as the silence fell around them like the snow drifting down outside. Chocolate had that effect when being consumed.

"Mmm..." And the Irish cream was a brilliant addition!

Her own mug picked up, she sipped it cautiously before a contented sigh was given. "Mmm Indeed. I will have to get this recipe as well, just for myself."

The cold had long since seeped into his bones, and it was beginning to snow again. Today had been another long day of travel, made longer than most by the fact that they'd wandered off the beaten path and into farming country. It was beautiful in the dusky snow, but there was little in the way of taverns or pubs to sleep in. He'd tried knocking on a couple doors but most people were solidly ensconced against the chill for the night and didn't answer. Owain glanced anxiously over to Isabelle as they rode side-by-side. His gelding, Blaze, was growing older but kept up with Izzy's mount as they plodded through the snow. She must be as cold as he was, maybe more so, despite his layers of wool clothing, gloves and hat. "There must be somethin' soon..." He murmured to his companion as he glanced ahead. They appeared to be in the outskirts of a town. "Look... I think there's a light up ahead." It was dim in the flurry of snowflakes, and could have been anything besides a tavern, but his tone held hope.

If the cold had long selected in to Owain's bones it likely meant that Isabelle was already frozen through, or so she would let others believe.  However cold she smirked as she noted his optimism and chanced a smile cast his way forgetting the deep blue scarf  wrapped around her face just below her eyes but knowing that the smile reached those blues. "You were always if not hopeful" Easily managing to speak the words with only the slightest chattering of teeth.


Myles strolled up from the Commons with the Innis lady-in-waiting on his arm. Attired properly for appearance's sake in a heavy cloak over a vest and shirt. He kept her close to share his warmth as there was no rush. Every moment to be enjoyed in each other's company. The snow drifted as lazily as they seemed to move. The gang of teens didn't bother this couple and even stood a moment watching them near mesmerized before back to the squeals and balls of white being whipped at each other or anyone else they could entice in their fun. He paused then, turning, as he halted Nycole's steps with his as he picked up on two strangers. "Come this way," called into the night even if they were not in actual sight. For them they would hear a voice in the drifting snow that seemed just ahead of them but would be quite a bit ahead of them. Myles was one of the Mystics of the lands.

"I think anything hot would've been good... but this is heaven," Karina sighed happily as she settled in one of the big squashy couches by the hearth. She'd left Amergin behind at the cottage and briefly regretted it, but then again it wasn't like the husky didn't get enough play time in the snow. With the ice forming on the roads it was probably better to keep him inside the cottage where he had less chance of hurting himself.

The hairs along the back of her neck prickled some, having her look towards the window and the snow that was relentlessly coming down. Just as easily distracted with a huge growing smile back upon Karina and Vanessa, "I love how the Irish cream blends so well..." a bit of whip cream on her upper lip as if to accent her words.

Vanessa buttoned down in one of the seats near the hearth, across from Karina with a smile. "Aye, I agree." She looked then to Cessa with a grin and made a wiping motion over her own lip so Cessa would know.

She giggled at Concessa, nudging Van to take a look at Cessa's milk moustache. "Getting into character Mrs Clause?"

She snickered softly to Karina's jest and just smiled.

Nycole didn't mind the cold at all when she was with Myles and for good reason. She was enjoying their walk, talking quietly and pointing out something that caught her eye here and there. The teens she gave a wave, laughing softly at their expressions. That seemed to happen a lot when she was with Myles. When he stopped and spoke, she looked in the direction he was, waiting.

Which had her finger curl over her lip and scooped it right on in, one swooping motion. "I shall be the envy of the Claus family."

Dark eyes dipped with a hint of a smile that reached them before looking into the thickening wall of snow falling and darkness beyond. He patted her hand and wondered if the couple heard his words. He would try again like a beacon in the night to direct them to where it would be warm, good food, drink and rooms. A very clean place and with no cost for the hospitality of the Royal family. "Come this way.." still to travel if not that far from them even if he was a distance that would not realistically have him in sight. Not just the weather.

She snickered again. "Aye, Eion will be all forms of jealous."

Owain was gazing hard straight ahead, trying to make out the shape of buildings in the snow, then blinked as a voice was carried to their ears, faintly and clearly all at once. A glance exchanged with his wife, beginning to wonder if he were hearing things, and then he heard the voice again. A slight shrug and he gently dug his heels into Blaze's sides, urging him forward. It wouldn't be long before he could make out the  forms of a couple standing along the road a small distance ahead, who he assumed had been those calling. He lifted a hand to hail them and called in his own deep, slightly accented voice, "I thank ye..."

Concessa pursed her lips as she captured Vanessa under her sights. She had the look of one about to just blurt out something and debating if she should. Well, there it was. "Does my brother Segan fancy you?" Certainly  there had been enough signs for even her to pick up, eventually, she was a little naive.

Slow, labored steps carried the weary figure forward. Each step taken as if the walker should fall at any moment, deep, heavy breaths characterized their movements. The newcomer was of merely average height and dressed from head to toe in layers of black cloth. Between the pits of both shoulders was a gauntlet baring, silk laden hand. Shivering just slightly, the ebon clad one looked forward with dark mahogany eyes, hopeful of the warmth of the tavern.  Musing to themselves for a moment, the snow-soaked figure gazed upon the visage of the tavern and spoke, "Ah... this must be the place that was mentioned." With a cowl necked top and robe that split into a four-sectioned skirt, the monkish looking nomad approached the door and pried just one of those silk laden hands away for a moment to knock upon the door to the tavern.

Karina just grinned and kept her lips sealed, but Van would recognize that goofy grin as she glanced between the two girls and then innocently up towards the ceiling. Sipping at her cocoa as if utterly disinterested.

Arooo....blink.....she looked at Concessa with a tilt of her head. And a blush. Hopefully the coloring given by the cold hadn't worn off. "I hope so." She smiled shyly to her own answer.

"Come stranger, we gather in the tavern. Alex, will see to food and drink." By reaching him they would see the lights coming from the place which was a public one. Usually people didn't knock, they just went on in for it was open. "For a copper, a lad will see to your steeds. A stable down the back will have them brushed down and fed." Starting forward again with Nycole close by his side. His words would ring true for the type of person he was. Reaching the steps to see one knocking, "the door is open," so that they might continue within and not have others behind them waiting.

"Psh. You know so." She'd pipe up then. Hey, if Vanessa wasn't going to say it, Karina would! In truth the petite lass couldn't be happier that two of her closest friends had found something more than friendship in each other.

Well, the blush should be noticeable now. Thank you, Karina! "Aye." Was all she had to say before occupying her mouth (and hiding her blush) with the drink of the night.

Owain seemed to hear the voices before she had though soon saw the couple upon the road. Smiling though the scarf she gave a bow of her head towards them. "That sounds wonderful thank you very kindly," just the simple idea of warmed food and tavern commons sounded perfect. She gathered the reins in her gloved hands and set her heel to the flank of the black. Glancing back to Owain, " It seems your optimism has won the day!"

Dark mahogany eyes tore away from the door upon hearing the speech of an unfamiliar voice. The person would turn to face the speaker, standing before them almost silently, looking weak, wincing almost. Their face was obscured by a black dust veil, hiding whatever emotion the person behind it might be expressing with their mouth, only the eyes showed any signs of feeling, and that feeling was a most pained expression set in them. The wind continued to whip at the four dangling sections of their skirt and long flowing cloak all the color of ebony. "I see..." Were the first words spoken, monotone, emotionless.

She cocked her head to the side for the very odd, funny sound Vanessa had made. Had her giggle too. Something that came easily for her. "You like him too!" Like a revelation and seemed to please her. Best if two liked each other equally if they were to like at all. The grin only growing bigger as Karina affirmed her suspicion too.

A wide smirk exchanged with Concessa. Yup.

She looked between her two friends over the rim of her mug before lowering it. She absolutely couldn't help the beaming smile as she nodded. "Aye, I do. I like him a lot."

"Thank ye, Sir," Owain said again, drawing his horse up to a brief stop before the couple. A soft but true smile was offered in gratitude for the information given. His vision followed the pair up into the tavern before he looked back to Isabelle, and the smile warmed on his face to her comment. "Then let's go enjoy it. I think the horses have earned a warm evenin' as well..." They hadn't much money but a copper could be spared for the horses' benefit. They were very important after all, and their closest companions to boot. Urging Blaze forward he rode alongside Izzy around to the stables, and soon a lad was paid to lead the horses away for some well-deserved rest. Once on his own two feet he wrapped his arm around Isabelle's shoulders, pulling her close for a brief hug, something he hadn't been able to do all day since they'd been riding. "Let's get ye warm." This murmured in her ear, before he would walk with her up to the porch entrance.

Being the one stepped aside, he was over to open up the door that both may go in along with the couple that had arrived. The warmth and light flooding out onto the porch would have their way illuminated that they didn't' miss a step up to what would be new for them. If they didn't have a copper, a ha'penny would do as the lads pretty much accepted what could be offered. "I am Myles and the lovely lady I escort is Nycole."  Giving a name to ease them in than unknown faces.

The ebon clad figure looks downward, averting their dark mahogany gaze away from the others in shame. The androgynous figure just stood there, gauntlet-baring hands crossing to hold each other quietly while waiting for the others, respectfully to enter into the warm glow of the tavern first. Defensively, the hands lingered near their owner's belt, which held various pouches and vials, writing implements and an old, rugged looking book that was held in a leather-bound case.

"Good. I've not seen him like this ever around a girl before." But... there were people coming inside as that draft of cold air foretold and she quieted on any more talk of her brother.

She gave Myles a warm smile as he opened the door, inclined her head to the person at the door and then stepped through. It was nice and warm inside and she let out a soft sigh of relief.


She smiled softly and .... wasn't even sure what to say to that, though it was nice to hear. Her attention went to the door as it seemed others were coming in.

"I think it's good too. Though Vanessa here won't hardly talk about it..." She snickered, but then quieted on that subject as strangers began to pile into the tavern. No doubt seeking warmth and company just as they had. Karina watched the newcomers for a moment, studying them in her quiet way from behind her cocoa mug. Sipping casually as if not studying them at all, of course.

She felt near froze solid as she attempted to lift herself off the horse though it was more likely the stiffness from the days ride. Finding a brief moment of bliss  in that hug she nodded quietly and hooked her arm around his and followed to the entrance. Pulled the scarf from her face she smiled to both  Myles and Nycole. "Good Eve to you Both. I am Isabelle and this is my husband Owain..." Glancing up to him with a brief smile before turning back to their rescuers. "Thank you again for direction here."

She knew how it was. She got teased over a knight from the Joust. To the point when she read a clipping from their newspaper it had her cheeks flaming red. The words not as it was and now she was embarrassed to see him around!

Dejectedly, the ebon clad traveler would sigh, shrugging heavy cloak-baring shoulders high. With face-downcast, they would simply wait until all the others had entered, catching the glances of one or two would result in a brief whimpering sound as the apparently wounded sounding creature returning the glance with a veiled half-frown while trying to keep quiet in vain, instead resorting to simply looking back downward at the ground patiently.



Date: 12-07-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 60

He wasn't sure if the darkly clad one was coming in or not as he/she seemed to just stand there dazed. The one gave off very strange vibes and so he would leave them to the decision to stay or to come in. The couple gaining his attention again. "A pleasure to meet you Owain and Isabelle, welcome to the Thistle. No coin is needed here as all is already paid for by the Crown. Such they have this tavern set up and who is to argue?" There was valid reasoning behind it all and how it was paid for, a small part of the tithing of businesses, ranches, merchants, shops and so forth. A little given by many amounted to the ability to afford this option. More to that story they may eventually learn of but that was certainly enough for present. Once they were in, he stepped in as well, leaving the door for the ones still outside to catch or allow to close of its own volition. The heavy cloak he wore was relieved of his shoulders and hung to a peg as he was over to help Nycole's with hers.

Vanessa just offered a lopsided grin to Karina and remained quiet on the matter. Her attention went back to the door as the others ventured in from the cold weather. "Would seem we have quite a bit of company tonight."

Owain was gently chafing Izzy's arm with his hand, hoping the friction might warm her but when they came up to the other couple he reverted to the more formal arm-linking. Not one for an overt public display of  affection, nevertheless the smile he gave down to his wife was full of intimate warmth. He nodded at the introductions, bright blues widening briefly at what Myles said about the charges being covered by the Crown. "How kind," he murmured, then held the door open for Izzy to pass through. Once she was inside he'd follow, just taking a moment to soak in the warmth. He was dressed simply if not poorly, functional thick pants and well-worn boots, a vest and linen shirt beneath his heavy woolen coat which was buttoned up to the neck. Sensing the curious gazes of those already there, he just stood and watched a moment, one hand lightly and absently on Isabelle's lower back.

There was just something off about the aura the darkly clad one was emanating, something about them was just fundamentally different, and no amount of head-to-toe coverings could conceal it. Those dark eyes watched as the others shuffled inward, waiting until everyone else had entered before wandering inward and warily drawing the door to a close behind their big, booted feet. Quietly, with a veiled frown of discontent, the dark traveler gazed about the  room longingly, and simply resolved to wander, quad-split skirt and all, towards the fire place hearth where a seat could be obtained nearest it, and where dark eyes could be lost in it.

"Good evening and welcome. It's a pleasure to meet you both." She smiled warmly at the couple before undoing the clasp of her red velvet cloak, worn for the season. Her gown was a deep green satin with a modest neckline, trimmed with black lace, the sleeves full and gathered at the wrist.

"Good evening everyone. Alex has great hot chocolate mixed with Irish cream!" Share the wealth for certainly it was a creamy delight that warmed one all the way through. There was also Irish stew, brown bread freshly made smothered in butter, meat of the night was probably turkey with gravy over mash potatoes. Crumble apple pies for dessert as one could still smell Hazel's baking in the air. Place smelled great. If one wasn't hungry coming in already they soon would be.

Waves were given to those who entered with a smile to accompany. "Ave, everyone."

"Truly? Well I shall not be one to argue that is for certain. I dare say back home the crown would go broke just from a few we know... " Dark blues shifted to the room as a whole, almost instantly  the cold seemed to melt from her along with the weariness of the days travels. She nodded a quite hello to those that offered a greeting. "Evening .." her own cloak was heavy and worn but still carried a dark blue hue despite its obvious age.

"Looks like," Karina answered Vanessa, watching as yet another couple stepped into the room. They seemed to be average, farm-type folks and seemed to have traveled long as well. Concessa's words had her own stomach grumbling and she hopped up to her feet, heading over to the bar to request an extra-large platter from Alex. He'd know what she liked and would put enough on to share with her two friends.

He took Nycole's cloak to hang next to his. Myles was always aware but not wary for his own abilities and that established by the Druid Prince he worked with as his right hand. No one was in danger here of anything dark. In the very least the light from this place and not of sunlight but feel, would discourage anything negative for it would start filling them with good cheer. All those nice things.

Incoherent muffled mumbling could be heard originating from the veiled one's direction. The chair was then scooted, while seated in it, to a position that faced only the fire, with the back towards everyone else. Only then was that black hood lowered, along with it's matching dust veil, to reveal the pale androgynous face of the youth behind the mask. They seemed to be comforted by the warm glow of the fire.

Well, she wouldn't be sitting with her back to everyone since Vanessa, Karina and Concessa were seated in wingbacks around the hearth, but she was welcome to share the warmth. Vanessa offered her a soft smile, but didn't recognize her since she wasn't with her horse and she was completely covered now.

"I'm Concessa and these are my friends: Vanessa and Karina," said quite proudly as she puffed up some or so it came off as. She was.

Bright smile given to the introductions, she waved again. "Pleasure to meet you all!"

Why Cessa would brag about her petite former-ragamuffin friend Karina had no idea. But added her own crooked smile and wave to the greetings.

Once her cloak was removed, she waited for Myles to escort her to the bar since they had come in together. "Good evening, ladies. It's a pleasure."

Owain had to chuckle at Izzy's comment, thinking of Grania and Elena and a few of the others who no doubt would cause the Crown bankruptcy if such a thing had been in place. Bittersweet thoughts about the home they'd left behind were allowed to pass. He returned all the greetings gratefully, relieved at the warm reception, with a deep nod and soft smile. Helping Isabelle to unclasp her cloak he'd see that it was hung up before pulling off his own coat. Introductions could wait until they were settled and thawed out a bit. As ever he would leave the social niceties mostly to his wife, for even years later, he was at heart a quiet and private sort.

With the others within and they still near the entry where the cloaks were, Myles leaned down some to speak low by her ear. "You look beautiful. Like the star at night that lights the way." He was a bit taller as he straightened. "Would you like something to drink?" He would be having the finest made Irish whiskey offered, potcheen.

She smiled again, pleased with the compliment. Bright blue eyes lifted and she nodded. "Yes, I would. Potcheen punch. Strawberry I think tonight." It might match the color of her cheeks which were of course colored by the cold.

"Shall I get ye some hot chocolate, love?" This asked softly close to Isabelle's ear.

Karina was back by now over to the hearth, carefully balancing a large platter in one hand while picking off it with the other. She'd set it down on a table somewhat between the three of them then beamed a grin at Concessa and Van.  "Dig in, I can't eat all this meself."

Probably because she didn't look upon Karina as a ragamuffin. Only a fleeting glance was given the rather strange person staring into the flames and like a statue otherwise. Creepy.

Vanessa turned her attention tot he food and started picking off this and that herself with a smile. "Thank you." She looked to Cessa. "I meant to show you our elf costumes and forgot."

She nodded a bit again letting go the cloak left her in a couple woolen layers of a rust red skirt and brown waist corset. She nodded quickly at his quiet words. "Please. I'll find us a seat then..."

Of course, cold did wonders upon a lady's cheeks. He guided her over to one of the wing backs before he would see to their drinks. The hearth was the place to be during the winter months. Leaving her there in the company of the others while he spoke with Alex on a few matters while gaining their fare.

She looked to the others that had joined inside the Tavern and smiled to them, motioning to Isabelle. "No no, come join us around the fire so we may get to know each other." That invitation was made for Myles and Nycole as well.

He nodded in return, another grateful smile to the young woman who invited them over. He leaned down to press a kiss to Izzy's forehead. A brief caress with a soft smile, glad for both of them to have stumbled upon such a friendly place, and then he was over to the bar. Lifting a hand to rake through snow-and-cap tousled black locks, he went to stand by the bar and ordered one hot chocolate and an ale from the tender. Another nod was given to Myles, who stood nearby, as he awaited his order.

For how thin she was, she had a wonderful appetite. Hence what she burned up others got to notice after being around her. Cheese and bits of bread would be to her liking and went great with the enhanced chocolate.

It seemed that was what Myles had planned. She settled in the chair with a contented sigh.

He was back over with the drinks a few minutes later. "Concessa, Vanessa, Karina, I am Myles MacKeogh. The ladies Nycole and Isabelle as well Owain, who have joined us tonight and are welcome to stay." If they planned to stay Alex would see to a key for them. Owain had received a nod in return as he waited for his drinks and would soon be joining them at the hearth.

She reached for a quick squeeze of his hand before she left his side and moved towards the hearth fires and the others gathered about. "Our thanks to everyone's warm welcome. We are indeed grateful." she nodded as Myles offered the introduction of the room as a whole it seemed. Their smiles mirrored in her own. How fortunate to have found such a friendly place with food. "A pleasure to meet you all and thank you again!" Rarely the shy or bashful creature she accepted the invitation competently, leaning over to inspect the assortment upon the large platter.

"And if you're hungry, we got plenty here." Karina added, smiling as most of the newcomers seemed to migrate towards where they sat by the hearth. Understandably! It was extra cozy with the snow beginning to fall heavier outside.

"Nice to meet'chas," big bright smile given to the ones being introduced. It was Myles that had her staring a moment as there was far more to the man for all his cordial ways. Had her wide eyed a moment before breaking the spell. "You're welcome to help us eat the pile of food on this platter." If they ate it all, there was more if needed.

Vanessa smiled up to them all as they joined. It's a pleasure to meet you all." She motioned to the other chairs gathered around and watched them all. A smile given to Isabelle. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your names when you came in." Motioning to her and the gent in her company.

He was over to stand by Nycole's chosen seat as he offered her drink down to her. With so many, he preferred to stand as it was a way of protecting all within as well. Nycole would soon be finding out exactly what he did when he took her on an astral plane stroll throughout the lands.

"Thank you." A warm smile was given as she accepted the drink. She settled back again, to listen. Yes, that would definitely be an interesting experience for her.

She made a face at Vanessa, "your mind is just off with someone else. Myles gave their names, Isabelle and Owain," but more she jumped in to tease her over her brother.

Owain soon returned from the bar with two mugs in hand, one steaming, one full of dark amber ale. The former he handed to his wife before sitting in the chair next to hers. Unable to prevent a sigh of  relief from escaping as his aching muscles settled in, he turned a blue gaze over to Vanessa and then Concessa. A smile was offered as he affirmed, "Isabelle and Owain Marsden. Well met. Thank ye  for the welcome..." It was a rare thing in some parts, such a warm welcome.

That's when she was up and over to squeeze onto Vanessa's chair with her being the seats were large enough for two skinny girls.

Brow quirked, she looked at Cessa and smirked. "No such thing. I was too busy trying to get you to brush away your mustache." Ha! Two could play that game. Looking back to the couple, she smiled. "A pleasure to meet you both."

She waved that off. "That was over an hour ago before they even came in. Can't use that one," almost a challenge for her to come up with a better one as she reached for more cheese.

Nycole was quiet as fingers touched along her shoulder to make sure she was all right.

Vanessa pointed to her upper lip while looking at Cessa with a smirk. "There's still some there, right there." Motioning on herself. Whether it was really there or not, Van wasn't going to say. She smiled to Owain. "We love new people here!"

Which had her going cross eyed as she sat up.. leaning back even further to see if she could see it. "There's nothing there." Quick swipe of the tip of her tongue just in case too as she raised a hand to cup that side so Vanessa couldn't see that part.

Karina snickered some as Cessa and Van squished together. Her skinny little self would enjoy her own chair, as her legs stretched out towards the fire. Another giggle at Concessa's words. "It looked so good, though.."

She was watching from the corner of her eye and smirked. "No no...there." Now pointing to where the supposed mustache was left. She didn't mind being squished into the chair at all it would seem. Gotta wonder if she even noticed! "Right there, darling."

She was a little tired tonight but nothing that was a problem. At the touch of his fingers, she looked up at Myles and smiled then she looked at the couple. "Have the two of you traveled far?"

If there weren't so many people in here tonight, she would have Karina attempt to squeeze in too and meet the challenge of them all fitting into a wingback.

"Nono, it's more.....there." Karina would jump in to complicate the game, pointing to the left of her own lips.

She helped herself to platter of food and stole away a few pieces of the brown bread for her and her husband both. Turning back to Nycole as she spoke up. " Far? oh well yes, a bit I should say so!" A bit of a grin once more as she looked to Owain with his ale, and her stemming mug set on the table, "Gracias mi amore."



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