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The Thistle Tavern

Date: 12-07-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 61

"No...that's something else. It's just there..." Pointing again to the same spot, trying not to laugh.

Meanwhile, the ebon clad figure had simply dazed out while staring into the fire. For a moment, those dark mahogany eyes tore away from the fire to look about the room inquisitively. "Hm... does anyone mind if I smoke?" Said a meek voice which defied masculine or feminine origin to no one in particular while fishing out a pipe from one of their cloak pockets which had conveniently been left exposed.

Her smile brought one of his to follow as dark eyes of an ancient druid lifted to the couple. There was something about the two that spoke in their favor. To the other, "you may smoke if you've a need." And it would be interesting for all the smoke to go up the fireplace and out that way so it didn't bother anyone else. Back to the couple in a discreet light study.

A slow nod came in response and the pipe was packed deftly with tobacco then a piece of paper was shredded off, placed into the fire then placed to the tip of the pipe to light it nonchalantly then the paper was tossed into the fire to burn up with all the rest of the logs. A slow, deliberate drag was taken by the darkly clad stranger.

Isabelle was clearly cheerful now that they were warm and amongst friends and food, and for that, he was grateful. At her grinning glance a smile came to his own lips, one which quirked teasingly as he answered in her own native tongue, "De nada." A long sip of his ale, the mug lowered as he smiled gently back at Nycole. "We thank ye. Aye, we've traveled long today." And nearly every day before that,  for the past couple of weeks. He was beginning to think it was time to pick a place to settle again, for a bit. He glanced back to Izzy for a moment, thoughtfully at the idea.

That's when both hands were up to rub over her mouth and nose to make sure it was all gone. Wicked glean in dark eyes when she was done as she hummmmed.. Vanessa and ...... sitting in a tree. more like hum and hum,  hum, sitting in a hum, hum humhum hum.

Actually everyone was at the hearth as well, except for the tender. She nodded at Isabelle and again smiled. "Well, then welcome to Heathfield as well as to the Thistle."

Eyes narrowed to that hum...she recognized it having done that to her own sister. "You best watch it, Miss Concessa. I'm sure your brothers have plenty of things they could brag upon to rose those cheeks a bit."

Karina just giggled madly at their teasing back on forth.

She wiggled her bottom for certainly it would upset Vanessa sitting right next to her. Then she stuck out the tip of her tongue, real quick like. "Ha, I have more on them.. "

She just wiggled right back with a grin and giggling. "Perhaps, but they do not blush as easily." Which she knew for a fact!

"They don't blush at all that I know of." Which was actually seriously said. With a hmmmm.. kind of way about it.

She smirked and gave a nod. "I can see that about Eion. I'm determined to make Segan blush one of these days though, for all the blushing he's made me do."

"Eion and Segan may be blushin' when they show up as an elf and Santa Claus." Another grin spread as she couldn't wait to see the boys all done up in costume. Hopefully Segan would actually go with her suggestion of tights!

Lets out a long, drawn-out sigh, exhaling the smoke along with it. "Uh-uh-um..." Came the nervous stutter. "D-does anyone here... l-like... mmmusic?" Those dark mahogany eyes blinked a few times, desperately seeking approval in the eyes of the other hearth-goers.

A bright smile given to Karina. "Mm...Not sure about Eion. Segan though, he might."

She grinned all the more, he had learned the tidbits bits of her language so well, and yet some how she seemed to struggle over his. Blue eyes lit at the laughter between the three, and fell to her usually curious and nosy nature. Swiftly her attention was brought back to Nycole and Owain as he cast the thoughtful look her way. "Heathfield.. Aye." A nod to Nycole, "Thank you senora have you lived here long?"

"I wonder if Eion is even capable of blushing." The thought of the stoic eldest Quinn turning crimson had Karina smirking thoughtfully. And she had that certain gleam in her eye. Her new mission now of course being to find a way to embarrass the hell out of Eion!

"If you can get him or Eion to blush.. I want to know about it." Like headline news!

Lets out another long-drawn out, defeated sigh then slumps back into the seat, furiously piping away.

One more wiggle just for good measure, she stood up with a grin to Cessa. "I will have it posted!" She looked to Karina then and motioned her away from the others for a moment. "Speak with you a moment?"

"I'm from one of the sister realms of Heathfield, Innis Daingneach, which is a island kingdom to the south. I'm one of the Ladies-in-Waiting to Princess Elaina. We come here often to visit, and we tend to come this time of year because we like the snow. Then after the holidays, we return home, though I may remain here this year." She looked up at Myles again and smiled.

"Music is enjoyed here," it was an odd question as he was pulled away from listening to the couple. Fingertips still in a light touch against Nycole's shoulder as a reminder he was there with her, not that she would probably forget. He liked this couple, found them down to earth and genuinely good people, hence the interest in their answers directed to Nycole. Myles often went silent, listening to much more than even words.

"Oh don't worry, I'd try ta make sure it all happened very publicly." A wicked grin which softened when Vanessa rose. She glanced up curiously, then nodded, setting down her mug and walking a short distance away with her friend.  "Everything alright?"

Perhaps. Certainly his initial impression of this place was inviting and Izzy was already chatting away with the others. Her outgoing nature was something he admired and just another thing to love about her. He smiled gently as he reverted to listening to the conversation. Though he did reach out to take her fingers in his own in a comfortable grasp.

Over near the bar to set her mug down she nodded to Karina. "Aye." Hand dipped into her pocket for a key to the cottage. "I'm tired, so I am going to go back to the cottage. Here, this way you can get in." The key set in her hand with a smile. "I will see you in the morning."

When Vanessa moved from the seat, she sprawled out, lady like enough but more in the illusion of claim.

Stands up, walks over to the fire and dumps out the remaining contents of the pipe then squirrels it away again, giving a saddened look to all the others after turning around, then a glance towards the door.

Which he gave a nod to and the hint of a smile for her words. She may come to live here permanently and Elaina was going to need new ladies in waiting. She was losing them to the men of these lands.

"Oh." Once again her friend caught her by surprise. She looked down at the key in her hand then back up to Vanessa with a crooked grin. "Okay... thanks." And just like that, without further discussion on the topic it was decided that Karina would in fact be moving into the cottage. She simply didn't have enough good reasons not to. Besides, there weren't that many of her own belongings left here to collect.

"Thanks for the warmth..." Tucks their hands into their pockets and starts heading for the door.

A nod was given, she reached out to give her a hug. "Alright. I will see you in the morning." She smiled and walked Karina back over to the gathering. "Cessa, it was nice to tease you again." Then to the others. "It was a pleasure to meet you all, but my pillows call and I am not one to ignore."

"You are welcome," tracing glance followed the neither male nor female persona. The place was for ones to get warm when needed. There had been no music forthcoming either but he didn't press the matter.

Isabelle followed Nycole's gaze back to Myles and she smiled up at the man. She gave a gentle squeeze of her fingers as Owain took her hand, her other lifting the hot cocoa to her lips and sipping carefully. "It still surprises me how any can truly love the snow so much." A knowing glance passed back to Owain. "It has its beauty I'll give ye that but give me a warm summers night  with a large fire and music.. " She cast a wink in general as she took another sip of her cocoa.

"I will walk back with you both as it is most of my way home. If you are going back to the cottage." Besides, she left the Mrs Claus outfit there. She was up, time to go, and all warmed up to last her the distance.

"Aye, I guess it's time to brave the cold." She'd get the rest of her stuff from the room upstairs tomorrow, as well as let Alex know that she wouldn't be living here anymore. The thought was a slightly sad one, but eclipsed by her  looking forward to moving in with Vanessa. Still couldn't quite believe that Van wanted her there permanently, but it sure made her happy. Up she went to collect her various layers and join the two gals.

"I do hope you stay at least this night and not go out into the cold this late." Directed to Isabelle and Owain. "You can stay as long as you want." Some continued on and some remained. There was never any pressure either way.

She was over to get her coat and things to bundle back up with a smile to Cessa then to Karina. "Perhaps we should walk you home, Concessa." She'd have to walk the remainder of the distance alone, and Vanessa didn't like that idea. Not since she and Karina could walk from the manor together.

He caught her eye as the topic of weather came up, his smiling stretching briefly into almost a grin. They'd traveled to many lands together and it was clear that as far as preferences went, that was one difference between them. Luckily both could deal with the opposite when need be. Though even Owain could admit that this was the type of cold that was just downright unpleasant. "Aye, we'll be stayin' tonight at least." Maybe longer but that would have to be discussed. "Goodnight," he added to the gaggle of young woman who were moving towards the door.

"You just want to see Segan if he is there," whispered words before she was darting out the door so Van couldn't swat her. She was all for them walking her home first as they would have each other's company back to  Vanessa's cottage. She could collect her outfit tomorrow... or better ... have Segan pick it up for her.

"Since our homeland is tropical, the snow is a treat to us." She chuckled softly. "Good night, ladies. Again it was a pleasure."

She sighed softly and turned back to the others with a wave. "Stay warm this night." Then out the door in Cessa's wake, with Karina. A mock sniffle of hurt. "You're all so mean to me..." Joking of course.

"Good night everyone," sticking her head back in for a split moment as she near forget then back out again lickidy split.

She smiled toward Nycole's mention of her home. "Hmm Perhaps that is where I ought to spend the holiday months then." Grinning still. "Good eve!" She gave a small wave to the ladies.

Karina just laughed as she tossed the scarf in one more wrap about her neck. "You're just easy ta pick on," she answered Vanessa. A wave to the others and out she'd go!

"Good night, stay warm," called after the three as he knew that Nycole would be wanting to get back soon as well. It was the bewitching hour.

So they would walk Cessa home then back to the cottage! Sounded like a plan, probably delayed with at least a couple snow balls along the way.

Yes it was and she was finishing her drink so they could start back. "We should bid you good night as well, for the hour. Perhaps we'll meet again soon." Said as she stood.

"I would like that... best wishes to you and yours Senora." A smile as her and Myles seemed to be gathering their things.

"Aye, I hope so." Owain stood as well for politeness' sake as the other two prepared to leave. Though his muscles protested every movement. Given a real bed, he would sleep like a brick tonight.

"It has been a pleasure meeting you both. Owain, Isabelle. The accommodations here, the rooms are warm and clean. Hazel is a fantastic cook with three meals served a day." He was over to see to Nycole's cape before he would don his heavier cloak. They would head up to the castle where both had accommodations in separate wings. Well, he had one of the towers.

"Its so much more then we could have hopes for thank you very much Myles. Truly."

Owain's sentiments echoed Isabelle's thought she put it into words much better than he could have. But his smile was genuine as he bid them farewell. "Travel safe."

"Thank you and rest well. And enjoy the breakfast come morning." She lifted her hand in a wave to Alex before they stepped out.



Date: 12-13-09
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 62 the Thistle
(Continued from Crystal Gold Lake same date)


They practically ran most of the way, he throwing off snowballs at both Vanessa and his Brother in a fun way, not really hitting hard or even hitting at all because it was that kind of cold.

Vanessa could have ridden if she wanted but he lobbed a few back, mostly not aiming at all. It was more to keep moving so he'd not feel the cold so much.

Segan got a few snowballs back not really aimed at anything. When they reached the Thistle she was more than happy for it. The reins dropped, knowing Tenni would stand there, she dashed inside laughing.

Well, they had a bit of a straggler, and soon she would be outside of the Thistle along with them. Seeing they were throwing snowballs, her slightly big claws would toss snow in their direction with a purring, chirping kind of giggle. These were fun peoples!

"Alex, coffee with a dash of the pure if you would." He wanted to warm up and after spending the evening out in the cold, caffeine wouldn't keep him awake.

So he tossed a few towards the dragon, nothing that would really hit but for the fun of it. He dashed after Vanessa, holding a fist what seemed to be of snow, "I'm coming to get you.." wicked grin on his face.

Spinning around to face Segan, both hands held out in front of her. "Don't you dare, Segan!" Big threat, considering she was laughing and backing up further into the tavern.

She didn't get hit, but it was ooon! Soon moving to finally set the shiny down, she opens her mouth and would attempt to fire a stream of icy cold water at Segan's back. It was all in fun for the dragon.

He stalked her, dodging back and forth if she tried to escape and once he had her close like he was going to squish the snow onto her head, he opened up his hand as there was nothing there. He was back pedaling real quick as he called out, "Alex, got anything good for a dragon outside? Luckily he was already inside by the time the stream of water came and hit the door.

Though the door might have a coating of ice on it.

She reached out and swatted at him, still laughing. "That wasn't nice, Segan." Alex got a wave. "Cider please!" Sounded really good right about now. they had all gone inside! Pouting as she moves to come towards the door, she lightly scratches at the light sheen of ice that had formed on the door. Then coming to peek her head at one of the windows, looking around inside and seeing the others there.

Alex came out with a wide bucket that had fresh bits from the soup made. Lettuce, meat and veggies mixed in suitable for the dragon. Plus the soup it was in was warm. He got it from Alex, while grinning Vanessa's way as he took it out front, through the door noticing it iced up, as he set it out for her. "You'll enjoy this I hope." But he wasn't staying outside as he was quickly back in with a brrrrrrr to vibrate his lips.

She just smiled sweetly like she had nothing in mind of revenge. The mug taken with a thanks to Alex, then it was over to the hearth to gather up some of the warmth.

Blinking as she looks to the bucket and Segan, she tilts her head and comes closer to sniff at it. It smelled yummy, and slowly she leans her muzzle into the bucket, licking at the soup. The many different tastes interested her, and now she would begin to munch on the soup until she licks the inside of the bucket clean. If that bucket was shiny too, well, they wouldn't be getting that back either!

It was a dull grey beaten up one. Suitable for something like what he used it for.

He was already at the hearth in one of the wingback chairs, stretched out so the fire warmed his boots. His eyes were half-closed as he watched the fire.

Eion looked far too comfy. She kicked a booted foot out to nudge his own with a grin and looked away, then sipped from her mug like nothing had happened.

The soup was warm, but she liked it anyway. Now she had the bucket, and finally figured out that she could put the bucket inside the disc she held, and that the disc could rest on her back if she made her wings hold it. Now that she had a mostly full belly, she moves to push at the door with her nose to try and get it to open.

"I just realized something." He looked at his brother, a touch of a lazy smile appearing.

He collected a glass of the pure before heading to the hearth as well. It was the place to be as the heat chased the cold from his bones. He took up a lean and idly watched. Well, he got to watch Vanessa flirting with his brother! "What is that?" A brow lifting his brother's way.

She was not flirting with Eion! She looked between the two brothers with a smile to Segan and a step closer to the fire to listen.

And he had given Vanessa a look before he looked back toward Segan. "Me backside feels like it did after we got that switchin' for stealing Gran's pie." And that seemed like ages ago.  And if that was flirting, it was news to Eion!

Door would soon be pushed open, and as much as she tried to silently approach, the clanking of the bucket within the metal disc would make her rather obvious. "It warm in here."

Which had him burst out laughing and speaking only after it subsided enough he could. "You didn't wear some padding knowing the run would be rough?" Well, teasing him. It wasn't the kind for him to take offense.

"I didn't think I'd be testing the blasted thing." He shook his head. "Not that I'm going to try it again, but I'll remember next time. And Ada, Alex will be takin' a broom to you if you leave that door open." Could she fit inside? He didn't look to see.

And ... Incoming. A little surprised but there'd been creatures of various kinds in the tavern before. Long as it was house trained Alex would not have a problem or that it wrecked up his clean room.

She blinks at Eion, tilting her head some before she scoots herself in the rest of the way, and uses her tail to close the door. With the metal rattling around on her lap, she moves to come closer to them. "This where you lives?"

He shifted in his lean to move closer to Vanessa, giving a poke to her side to see if she was still awake. It was very late and she was getting quiet.

Curiously she watched the dragon try to fit her way through the door, still sipping slowly at the cider. A couple steps closer to where Segan was, she shook her head lightly to Ada. "No, this is where we come for company and warmth.  Playful swat to Segan's hand with a smile to him.

They bumped right into each other by then.

"Sorry." Spoken to Segan for bumping into him.

"Ada company?" Now sitting on her haunches, she gently lowers her shiny things until they clatter along the floor, and she looks each of them over now that she was a bit closer, in a more well lit environment.

"I'm not." Said like a challenge which also came with a slight hip bump-nudge. "Do you like warmth, Ada?" Being of the serpent type family she probably adored it.

"Then I'll have to bump into you more often." He'd get a nudge of her elbow in return before looking to Ada. "Most any company, as long as it's good company."

He cut a hooded glance toward the two, before looking at the youngster. "You don't live here and you're behaving, so I would say, you're company." He was seriously considering staying in the Thistle tonight, being he felt chilled through and even the short walk to the castle seemed daunting.

"Ada good!" She chirps up, and now looks to Eion, then to Segan to answer his question. "Ada like snow more. But warm is good. Not too warm." Now making herself comfy, she comes to lay down on the floor by them, her head still craned in curious expressions. "Me Adalinda. But like Ada."

"I'm Segan. My brother Eion and the Lady Vanessa." Completing the introductions.

"Nice to meet you, Ada." A smile given to the dragon as she bellied down to the floor. "Where are you from?"

A smile comes to her muzzle, and now she looks to Vanessa. "Ada come from place where it always cold. Like water too, swimming fun."

"Swimming is nice. Usually during warmer weather though." Small lean taken towards Segan with a glance between the now quiet brothers.

He was tired, it was starting to show but a hand snaked around her waist to rest lightly there at her hip.

Giving a nod, she looks to the two brothers as well. Now seeing what Segan did with Vanessa, her head tilts curiously. "Segan and Vanessa mate?"

And on that note, it was time for Eion to go. He stood and headed for the bar, leaving his empty glass there as he pulled on his still wet gloves.

Little blush from the dragon's question and about to answer when Eion got up to leave. Concerned frown, she looked up to Segan quietly.

Which only had a slow smile but he caught Eion's quick exiting. "Not quite. We like each other." Words low and it was time to depart. "I should get you back." This to Vanessa then to the dragon. "You can sleep in here the night, guard the place.." if she wanted than put her back out in the cold unless she wanted that.

"Ada can guard?" Looking to Eion before looking back to Segan and nodding. "Ada do good job!"

A nod given to Segan, she finished her mug and returned it to the bar with thanks to Alex, then returned mittens over her hands. "It was nice to meet you, Ada." Spoken as she took Segan's side.

"I'm sure you will, Ada." He had kept his cloak on so it was only the gloves, hat and scarf that would need putting on. "You staying the night here or to the barracks, Eion?" If he was going to the barracks, he would head there after he saw Vanessa back.

"Good night, Segan, Vanessa. And Ada. Stay warm. Segan, you're welcome to bunk down in the barracks again after you escort Vanessa home." He saluted Alex with two fingers to his temple before making for the hall and the back door.

Well, that answered his question and with helping over the winter, they gave him his own bunk.

"Night night!" Ada would wave them off, moving away from the fire so she could be closer to the cold, and watches as they leave. She would stand guard...until she fell asleep.


Date: 12-15-09
Poster: Niklas Traugott
Post # 63

Christmas and Elves

Niklas was taking the time to add decorations to the tree. The place was quiet and after a conversation with Alex set to this task. Boxes were there and left to anyone who wanted to, or had the time. He was humming a melee of Christmas songs. Checking out each handmade ornament, many with names on them.

Amory had been to the lake to check out the Dragon run though he didn't try it himself. He was cold by the time he reached the Thistle, having taken his time to enjoy the scenery. The teens were out but were too busy pelting one another to worry about another adult. By the time he entered the Thistle, his cheeks were red and there was a smattering of snow on his cloak. "Evening, Niklas. It's started to snow again." Not that he minded the snow. It  reminded him of Luneberg.

"It is a good night for a snowball fight, ja, Amory?" Turning as his friend came in from the cold night. An ornament in his hand that certainly looked like it had been made by the hands of a child. "I wonder where  this little Joey is today. If he one all grown up." Which had him thinking. "Isn't there a squire about fifteen that is called Joey?"

The ride hadn't been overly long, but the run had been nice and helped pass the time. Crossing the borders, finding their way into Heathfield was simple enough and then it was on to the Thistle for a night's stay before going on to Ballicastle to find Zira. She recalled things that had been spoken about the Thistle and such things on her prior visit, so the horses were stabled not far from the tavern, and then the walk was made with Saitou at her side. "This is the kingdom I hope the Empire will fall into good relations with. I happened across it during some travels, and then the Ambassador found his way to the Empire." Which she was sure that Saitou remembered seeing Meekel about the palace.

Saitou had left a few things behind with his unnamed horse. Though against his left hip he carried that sheathed katana of his. It was probably one of many items that he'd keep close to him at all hours during their travels. That almond gaze though looked in all directions as he walked beside Yviene, keeping quiet for the most part, and only speaking when spoken too.
“.. I suppose in a sense the two of us are Ambassadors of the Empire?” A simple question that he probably already knew the answer to. That crimson scarf remained wrapped around the lower half of his face, concealing it from most people, but also keeping him warm. Then again, with the baggy black attire that he wore, he seemed warm enough. Just remember Amida, this isn't Rokugan. From behind that scarf, lips curled into a smirk of sorts.

Ghostly eyes turned to Saitou with a nod. "Sort of, though I highly doubt we will be presenting ourselves to royalty while we are here. We shall be doing that soon enough." She planned to further communication with the Royals upon her's and Saitou's return to the Empire. The tavern lay just ahead, she looked over to Saitou once more with a small smile. "You can relax. This is not really official duty." This was more personal. Well, personal for her at least given the reason for being here.

Movement distracted a look to the window as he could see some others out there but not who they were. There and back to Amory who seemed to have gotten caught up in his own world. "That rough of a day?"

"Ja, very good night for such but I'm not getting involved in a snow ball battle, thank you." He looked thoughtful then nodded. "There is a boy named Joey among the squires. These ornaments were made by the children here?" He removed his cloak, hanging it near the hearth before he retrieved a tankard of dark ale. "Not so bad, no. Just tired."

Right arm bent at the elbow allowing that gloved hand to grasp the crimson scarf to pull it down to reveal the rest of his features. Almond gaze shifted to Yviene nodding slowly to her.
“I'll relax.. but I can't promise I'll keep my blade sheathed if someone talks down to you.” It was a fair warning. After the events that had taken place over the course of the last few days, he had grown rather fond, and protective of her.

Pale brow arched up at his warning, and he'd receive a nod in return. She doubted anyone here would speak down to her, especially after such a friendly greeting her first visit. Once they reached the porch, it was up the steps and into the warmth of the tavern with a glance around. Pupil lacking eyes of white taking in unfamiliar faces, except for the tender, as she moved aside with the door propped open for Saitou to make his way in.

"Ja, from many, many years. Some this year, some a decade or more ago. There are some of the royal children when they were young." As he pointed out a few of the ornaments on the tree he had noticed of such names. It was at that moment the gust of cold air was felt as the ones he'd notice outside, were coming inside. Logical way of things on a cold wintry night. "Guten abend, come in and get warm. Alex will see to food and drink without cost for the hospitality of the Crown of these lands." Finally hanging Joey's ornament on the tree with a look back to Amory. "How is he doing at being a squire? Better than an artist?" Although some would  argue the elephant with a crooked trunk, one leg missing and a wreath around its neck, endearing.

Keeping up with Yviene he followed her toward the tavern, and soon up the steps on the porch. A second later the two would be seen entering the establishment. While she held the door for him, he slipped inside allowing that almond gaze of his to wander around the room for a moment. That crimson scarf he wore wrapped around his neck, and hung over his left shoulder down to the mid-section of his back. He was different, and he knew it. Though he didn't care if other stared or questioned his ethics.
“So we'll be staying here...” Almond gaze continued to glance around the establishment.

He chuckled, studying the ornaments as he took a good drink of the ale. "He is doing well." He said when the tankard was lowered. "Better than an artist." It would be hoped that the man entering had his blade tied with a peace knot since not only were two of the King's men here, but guards as well. "Guten abend." He gave a polite nod of his head, watching the newcomers with some interest.

Her attention fell to the one who greeted them, giving a nod as she spoke. "Good evening, and thank you." Trio of voices were soft spoken. Once Saitou passed through the door, she took a step back to close it with a nod to her guard and companion. The other to greet them received a nod as well. "Thank you." Octaves spoke at different levels, but the same words layered over one another. She motioned towards the bar; though she wasn't hungry she could use  something to drink. "We will stay here the night, then in the morning head out to find Zira."

That was unique and piqued his curiosity, abandoning the tree decorating to fully face the two. "I am Niklas and this is my comrade Amory. You have come a distance? They have clean warm rooms here if you stay the night. Hazel is a wonderful cook." As the room still smelled of apple pies, Irish stew and a roast that was done special this night. Which he would know having had his dinner here instead of cooking for one. Aleric had gone to Luneberg to help out the king. Aleric being his brother as the two ran the Clock Shoppe. His words riding along with hers he realized on staying.

No peace knot, but his left gloved hand wasn't touching the sheathed blade. That almond gaze shifted between the two others within room. A slow nod given to each as they began to greet him and Yviene. He moved away from the door over toward the bar. Truthfully, he wasn't a people's type of person. It was bad enough he heard another voice in his head a majority of the time. But ever since they had left the Empire's grounds, the other voice hadn't said much to him.
“Niklas...” Repeating one of the two names he had heard a few moments ago. He even turned his almond gaze in the direction of the two. “.. any type of drink you'd suggest for me?” Might as well get drunk, or at the very least fill his belly with something to keep him awake.

Which was a good thing, on the blade, 'cause there were guards within the tavern to ensure it stayed peaceful. Niklas didn't have a weapon on him although Amory might. "I would suggest the German ale, ja." Slow smile showing before adding, "unless you want something that will put fire in your veins and immune you from the cold, it would be the homemade potcheen. Irish whiskey."

"Niklas, Amory. Pleasure to meet you. I am Yviene and this is my companion, Saitou. We've traveled from the Empire of Tides, to your west." Spoken as she moved to the bar, listening to the suggestions made, but opted go with Elven wine instead.

Whiskey? He had seen that drink do funny things to people he had traveled with in the past. And honestly he wasn't keen on reliving a situation that ended with blades being drawn. But for now he ran to the bathroom, long journey, and he needed to drop a few pounds.

Amory was never without his sword even on his down time. It was unthinkable! He smiled at the two then continued to drink. It took him time to warm up to newcomers though he wasn't in any way hostile.

"Yviene, your name is as unique as your beautiful voices," being there was more than one. "Empire of Tides to the West. I heard it being said there were Peoples made contact with after the vastness of forest in that direction." Then to her companion as he ran off, "it is a pleasure to meet you Saitou," voice getting a little louder towards the end to follow the one all the way to the privy.

That was like Saitou. The man probably didn't sleep without his sword. A moment's watch to see him wander off, she shook her head. Quad-digits reached for the glass given with a nod of thanks to Alex. East..west...she must have been tired. "Yes, one of your own has recently arrived at the palace as Ambassador sent to explore the Empire."

"That would be Meekel of the Silver Elves of these lands. A reclusive race related to the Sylvan Elves of which the Queen is descendant. You are all Elves of these lands?"

A nod in recognition to hearing Meekel's name. Not a race of elf she was familiar with, but there were many of the races. "Not all are elves. Most are, amongst humans though."

"As these lands are mostly human with Elves amongst. Humans of many different races and of abilities beyond even race. Many Druids are here." Which Elves usually got along with well. Had something to do with not the norm for attitude attributed to humans.

Elves were generally picky and thought little of humans. A nod was given to what was said. "Diversity is a good thing." Though the Empire really didn't have much beyond the races of what gathered there.

"Diversity makes for a learning experience. We can hope the experience is a good one, ja?" He was over to collect a glass of the potcheen he'd left on the bar. A good burning drink to follow before setting the glass back.

"Indeed. Though without the bad ones, there would be nothing to compare all else to." Free hand rose to loosen the collar of her coat before taking a small drink. "What part have you in the kingdom?" Speaking to both men.

"This is so but the hope is the better ones outweighs the bad ones." Which set a twinkle to periwinkle eyes and the natural dimples to appear with his smile. Some would accuse Niklas of always smiling and so it seemed until he really smiled like now.  "I am one of the King's men although I am not one of the Four Horsemen. I come from the King's lands of Luneberg."
  He would let Amory speak for himself in answering the question.

Curious expression...a term she'd not heard before. "Is that like a knight?" Something a bit more familiar to her.

"And I am also one of the King's men and a knight, also from Luneberg." He would let Niklas explain that one.

"Yes. I am knighted but it is a step more. I have proven my loyalty to the King when others failed. I have stayed true to him when it put myself in danger. My father giving his life in his name." Not something one tried out for but happened in how things went down. And it was a long story. "My brother, Aleric has done the same and we continue to serve the King and Queen of these lands."

She still wasn't sure what the difference was aside perhaps the honorable mention value of it, but she left it at that with a nod. "Interesting. I look forward to learning more about Heathfield."

"We look forward to learning more of you Empire of Tides." So it would be mutual. He glance to the door that led to the privies. "Your companion, he is not sick?" He had been gone a while.

Her attention followed that of Niklas with a grin. "I certainly hope not. He warned me it had been a while since he traveled by horse back." Amused though at the thought of him being motion sick.

"Ah," not adding more as a few comments could be made and not knowing how it would be taken he held his tongue. Although he couldn't hold back the smirk, even that had dimples to accompany it. "I am going to need to leave soon as I am on the King's field in the morning for practice." Giving Amory a glance as he'd gotten quiet. No wonder he was still single, than again so was Niklas.

A nod was given. "Yes, I should probably attempt to gather my companion and gain rooms for us both." The travel hadn't been overly long, but it had been a long day.

"It has been good to meet you and maybe while you are here, you will meet the Queen of the lands in the least. The King is away seeing to some dire matters in his homelands."

Amory was quite happy to be single, thank you. "Ja, I am going now." He had finished his tankard and was growing sleepy. "It was a pleasure Lady Yviene. I hope your companion is well."

"That would be nice, and I can hope." A nod given to Amory. "A pleasure to meet you as well. I am sure he's fine." maybe he found some figurines to knock over.

"I will stay at the Barracks tonight." He would collect his sword on the way there, taking a slight detour. "Sleep well, I know you will here in this tavern. Safe travels if you part before paths cross." He was over collecting his cloak to don as well all the extras, hat, scarf and gloves for how cold it was outside. Once all was on, he was out the door with a last wave to Alex in departing.

He gave a nod of his head to Niklas then bowed slightly to Yviene. "Rest well, this night, and enjoy your stay. Good night." Outerwear collected and donned, he was moving to the door with Niklas, saluting as he left.

"Thank you. travel safe, the both of you." A wave given to the both of them upon parting.



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 64

Evening Gathering

Patrick decided to head for Heathfield just to get away. Still, he took his work with him as he sat at one of the larger tables with sheets spread out as he juggled what horse would run in which race. Always trying to balance it out and have it so they were in different gates, different races each month. It wouldn't always work that way as there would be repeats but it was always different anyway.

David had been busy since coming to Heathfield but the holidays were giving him some respite. He left the office in the commons and headed for the Thistle to have bit of supper and maybe some company. Whistling as he moved up the steps, he peeked through the door and grinned. There was a familiar face. "Evening, Patrick." He called out after he entered, opening and closing the door in a way to keep all those papers Patrick had in front of him from blowing

Head lifted from the sheets of paper as a smile wandered aimlessly. "Evening to you David, it's been a while since I've seen you. You plan to make some bets for the races on Wednesday?" Taking a break as he sat back, green eyes intent on his cousin as he motion with a gesture of hand to the many empty seats around his table.

Patrick wasn't the only one with papers. Concessa had a few things to make notes on and sort out for David as she came bounding in from the snow, for certainly it was snowing outside again, with a satchel stuffed with papers under her arm. Vacation time given but it meant that a lot of cases were put aside for the few days. Stopping short when she saw the Bossman here but there was snow on the bottom of her boots as she near skidded right into him.

He hung up his coat and headed to the bar to retrieve a glass of the pure for himself and to ask for a bowl of Irish stew with some good brown bread. "Aye, it has been. Indeed I am and hoping to be there to ... " His eyes grew as Concessa came in and slid toward him. Laughing, he caught her to keep her from going any further. "Evening, Concessa." A quick grin down at her before he released her and then he continued with Patrick. "I'm hoping to be at the track. Have either of you eaten? And if not, would you like something?" He'd just add it to his order.

Karina was glad to have her friend back in town. The cottage had been far too quiet on her own, even surrounded as it was by all her avian pals. She walked arm-in-arm with Vanessa, quickly due to the plummeting temperatures. "And they put another tree up in the square, and Eion built this HUGE contraption, to clear snow... you'll have to ask him about it." Chattering away about the small things Van may have missed. "Did you have a good time?"

Vanessa was more than happy to be home, despite having left her father in kind of a lone position at his home, which made her feel bad. He insisted that she go back home though and enjoy the rest of her holidays. Keeping Karina close by hooked arms, she looked at the tree and smiled. "Eion made a snow clearing contraption?" For some reason, that kind of caught her off-guard. Quick to the Thistle! Far too cold, chattering teeth and all.

A nice flush of rose spread across her cheeks as he caught her up. The smile shy but she quickly recovered herself. "I would like some of the stew." She was a little hungry and easier to brush off the embarrassment by agreeing on food, setting the satchel on the bar and then removing her cloak finally to hang back near the door on a peg. She was quick, usually bounced around like that for all her excess energy. She was wearing a wine color crushed velvet skirt and vest over a lacy blouse that had the same color satin ribbons down the sleeves. Festive looking. "I'm ready to get back to work, Mister Frasier," all formal like being her boss. "I have Mrs Fletcher's files along with Mister Harrison's all sorted out, information inserted as you wished."

Patrick watched in a detached but not distracted way as David saw to Concessa. There for a moment then back to adding in the horses from each of the stables in the different races.

"Aye, they call it the Roller. You shoulda seen the looks on the kids' faces when it rolled through the town! Even the dogs were barkin'," she snickered at the memory, then hurried up the steps to push open the tavern door. Quickly into the warmth, she started tugging off various layers - mittens, the many windings of her scarf - as she glanced around and smiled her greeting.

"Good, but why are you working on your days off?" He offered her an easy smile as he continued. "Not that I don't appreciate how hard you work, and please, David when we're not in the office." The last was said in a lowered voice so as to not embarrass her in front of others. "You're a good worker, Concessa." And would be receiving a raise with her next pay. He looked at Patrick again. "Patrick, would you like anything?"

Vanessa snickered quietly, trying to imagine such a thing, but she'd probably have to see it firsthand. Once Karina was moving quicker up the steps, Vanessa let go and moved right in behind her. It was nice to be home. Not that she didn't like her dad's place, but place like home. A smile to those within as she pulled off her mittens and pushed the hood of her coat from her face, she waved to Concessa as the first person she recognized right away.

Karina waved to Concessa too then bobbed a nod to the Frasiers, whom she recognized from a few prior meetings. Her floppy wool hat was tugged off and she shook the snow off those amber curls.

She sucked in a breath, "Davvvvvvvvvvvid," came out in a whoosh with a smile to follow. "Because I don't want to get behind and I had some time I could work on them." Why she brought some home with her but it was only the two so not like she took all the cases. Quieting then as focus turned on Patrick. Another handsome Frasier. She knew she was still wearing the blush. "Vanessa, Karina," squealed next as she rushed over to give each of them a hug. "Ihopeyourholidaywasgreat," came out in a rush of words as she was still a little flustered.

Vanessa wasn't quite ready to shed her coat just yet. But she pulled her curls from the back and nodded to the men who were there before heading over to the bar with a smile to Concessa, returning the hug. "I hope yours was too!" Giggled lightly.

He stood as more ladies came in and reprimanded himself for not having done so earlier. He was losing his touch for being out of society and social quo. "Good evening Concessa. David, I'm fine as I have already eaten. Good evening Vanessa and Karina." Cordial dip of his head that matched the friendly enough smile.

Karina had to laugh at Concessa's exuberant greeting as she returned the hug clumsily. "Aye, wasn't half bad...." A little grin. Then another nod to Patrick as he greeted them by name. "Hallo.."

And a very becoming shade of rose it was. He watched her rush off then gave Patrick a nod. "All right then." He took up a lean against the bar while he waited for his food, then he'd join Patrick at the table. "Evening ladies."

Vanessa dipped a small curtsey to Patrick and smiled. "Ave, Patrick." And looked to David with another small dip. "And you too." A small squeeze to Cessa's hand, she moved off to the bar for some cider.

She was all whispers as her hugs were doted out. "He's my boss," quick look David's way, "the one the ladies all fall over themselves around, crash into things taking second and third looks," and of course she started to giggle. That lasted a moment before she was bustling over to the bar with them. "How was your trip, Vanessa?" She found out she'd been gone away.

Karina cast a discreet look David's way as Concessa whispered the gossip. A brow quirked as she withheld comment, but she could see why.. neither gentleman was hard on the eyes! Tossing her coat onto the rack she headed with the other lasses over to the bar, greeting Alex with a howdy-do and request for a cider, extra hot. Karina wore the sage green dress tonight, one of the cast-offs from Van. Though as usual she wore her clunky work boots beneath it.

"David Frasier." He nodded cordially then motioned to the second bowl of stew waiting for Concessa. "Welcome to join us, ladies." He invited them even if Patrick hadn't intended to. And carried his meal over to the table. "I was wondering if you were planning on having the races with the holidays and all."

Segan had been down at the port when he finally made his way up to the Thistle. More to check on his ship and to see to his crew that they were being kept busy and not getting into trouble. Some found some temporary work for the winter, while some would bum about until they could sail again. Those where the ones he kept track of and pretty much that if they cause trouble they would not be signing back on with him. He was bundled up against the snow that was coming down harder, or fully, depending on how one viewed a heavier snowfall being snow was not hard.

There was only so much resting a girl could take! While attempting to remain on good behavior it was a bit... well boring. Dressed in an burnt orange shift over a and white shirt she found the common rooms at the base of the stairs. Black hair loose and set in long ringlets, she was glad to see so many faces at least she might enjoy a bit of company for a change of pace, and she wouldn't even have to go out into the cold. That in it self would make Owain happy. She smiled and waved to a few as she moved toward the tender for a cup of hot tea.

Vanessa glanced in the direction of the one Cessa spoke of and smirked while pushing buttons of her coat through the eyelets. Nothing said though about the man, she nodded though. "It was...definitely not what I expected. But it was nice to see my father." A sad visit, but she always welcomed a chance to sit and see her father. "How was your holiday?"  A look sent to David with a smile. "Thank you, David. That's very nice of you." For the invite.

Concessa was over to set her bowl of stew on a tray. That way she wouldn't spill it all over her pretty outfit and look like a fool. Which reminded her that it wasn't even a year since her father died. A soft sigh. "Mine was good, lots of family around and I didn't have to work." Although she did last evening. Carefully bringing her stew to the large table where the two Frasier men were now located.

Karina glanced up and offered a wave and smile to the woman Isabelle as she came downstairs. "Have all ye lot met Isabelle?" She piped up with a gesture towards the young woman. She knew Vanessa had met her and maybe Concessa, but not sure about the Frasiers. Thanking Alex, she handled her mug of extra-hot cider very carefully, cradling it in both hands as she made her way to the group table.

He turned out a few chairs to make it easier for any of them who wished to join them. He collected his papers to pile in one spot out of the way. "I hope you all had a peaceful holiday and the best in the new year to come." There was always a good chance he would not run into anyone before the New Year. "A pleasure to meet you Isabelle, I am Patrick Frasier."

He had set his own tray down but hadn't sat as of yet so when the woman entered, he was at least already standing. "Good evening, Isabelle. It's a pleasure." Then he smiled at Concessa and Karina as she joined them.

Wasn't long before the snowy evening wind blew Segan in through the side door. The storm was picking up as it howled, flakes being plastered against window panes and he looking like the abominable snowman coming in from the cold for clothing head to toe. Boots, long coat, collar turned up, scarf wrapped around most of his face with a knit cap pulled down to his brows and the hood over all covered in white as well shoulders and his back were it was being plastered against.

"Hm? Oh! " She smiled and dipped her head in the direction of Karina, as she gave an off handed introduction. She smiled and nodded to the gentleman. " Good evening Senor."

Vanessa draped her coat over the back of a stool, leaving her in a plum colored dress. Smiling brightly to Isabelle. "Ave, Isabelle." Her own mug picked up and cradled in both hands, she followed Karina and Concessa to the table to join them, watching the snowman make his way in with a smirk when he made it far enough into the room.

A second nod as blue eyes settled on Patrick. " A pleasure I'm sure Patrick." She accepted the hot tea from the counter and meandered through the maze of tables and chairs towards the rest. "I trust everyone is doing well?" Brows lifted as she smiled to Vanessa and Concessa before she brought the cup to her lips.

"Good evening Isabelle." Big smile her way before she caught sight of the next one. About the only thing she recognized was that scarf! "SEGAN!" Abandoning her stew, luckily she had set it down, before she was pouncing her brother, snow and all, laughing as she scooped up a handful into a ball. First one was thrown at Karina, second at Vanessa but she overshot and it went flying towards David instead.

"Ahhh! Snow monster!" Karina cried out but it was half giggles as Segan came staggering in, seeming more snow than human flesh. "Better make his extra, extra hot, Alex." Snickering as Concessa went to tackle her brother.  Then, "Ach!" As she ducked-and-covered from the snowball! Which missed her, only to crash onto the bar. "Oops.... heh, sorry, Alex...."

He scooped her up into a hug, snow and all before released. More snow was probably left on Concessa than she threw at the others. Hood was taken down, hat off with the scarf to follow before his coat was removed. He was taking in all who where there. "Evening everyone." He knew everyone too.

He nearly missed the chair when Concessa yelled. For a petite lass she had a good set of lungs. He closed his eyes as the snowball hit and well, at least his stew would be cooled off some. "If you were aiming for me, you did well, Concessa." Wiping off his face, he sat and looked at Patrick before he started to laugh. "Evening Segan. Good to see you."

Vanessa damn near spilled her cider moving out of the way of the snowball, but giggled nonetheless and smiled to Segan. "Ave, Segan." Fond smile, laughing lightly at David's comment.

Her cheeks were as red as Santa's at the moment. "Oh, I'm so sorry David. I was aiming for Vanessa." Out came the bottom lip in a pout like a child that had been caught doing wrong.

She snickered hiding her grin behind her cup as Concessa ran at Segan even side stepped to hope she wouldn't become a target of one of those snowballs. "Evening Segan." She gave a nod.

Another snicker, she looked at Cessa. "Lucky for me you have bad aim at this distance." Teasing, of course.

She had terrible aim. Something she needed correcting and why the hope to get in some lessons with a sword or bow and arrow. Brave would be the man or woman that taught her.  "How are you doing Isabelle?" Drawing attention from herself in a hopefully smooth way.

"Evening Segan," smirk was there for all that was going on. "You're welcome to join us." Certainly plenty of room at their table as he finally retook his seat.

Karina glanced over at Concessa and snickered again, this time more to herself as she settled in at the table where the Frasiers had established themselves. "What's all these papers?" Curious question as she brought the rim of her mug to her lips, even though it was too scalding to drink just yet.

"Oh.. I'm just fine thank you. Keeping out of the snow and cold," she cast a wink.. "And yourself?"

After collecting a drink of potcheen from Alex, he was over to join them as invited, purposely moving by Vanessa with the trace of cold fingers against her neck before choosing a seat. Next to hers or close depending on who was sitting already.

A small shiver to the brush of cold fingers against her neck, she reached up to grab his fingers and smiled to him. "Did you have a good holiday, Segan?" Releasing her grip on his hand so he could seat himself.

"Yes I did, although you were missed for the days you had to be away. How are your fathers doing?" Words quiet between them as he settled into his seat. Glass set after an initial drink.

Karina casually scootched her chair over so Segan could move his in between herself and Vanessa.

"I'm sorry I couldn't make it." Smile faded some, she lowered her voice. "I was only able to see my father, and not my step father. Unfortunately they have parted ways."

Which put Karina closer to her. A hand sliding to poke her side as she gave a kissy look towards her brother Karina would see but Vanessa would not, being on the other side of Karina.

Karina nearly snorted into her drink as Concessa pulled that expression. Giggling ensued as she gave Concessa a gentle kick beneath the table.

"I'm sorry to hear that." Although it had not lasted long, a few months? "Your father is adjusting?" Any breakup would be hard and he cared about her so cared about those she cared about.

Which had her snort, a laugh caught and swallowed sound.

Which just had Karina chortling all over again. It was contagious!

"He is trying to." They'd only been married a few months, but they'd been together quite a while. "I tried to get him to come here for a couple of days, but he has far too much to do." Deep breath, she smiled again, glancing over to Karina and Concessa giggling and laughing, and laughed a bit herself just because they were laughing.

Which had her going into sniggle fits. Kind where she tried to hide and suffocate the sounds behind her hands and when that didn't work, head was down to bury her face in against her crossed arms. Hard to tell if she was laughing or crying unless one knew. Shoulders shuddered and tears ran down from her eyes.

While he ate, he watched and shook his head at the two young women. They had him chuckling but nothing near what they were doing.



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 65

Karina lost it then, dissolving into laughter that she tried in vain to smother behind her hands... but which nonetheless escaped in a guffaw or a snort every now and then. Cider set safely out of the way, she too bent over towards Concessa, barely able to choke out between giggles, "ye alright there?"

He watched in a curious distraction. Oh to be so young again that little things had one laughing as they did. With such thoughts he glanced to David wondering if he felt the same. Eye contact would tell.

She was strangling the sounds bobbing her head which finally lifted. Teary eyes had as much laughter in them and one look at Karina only started it all over.

She chuckled and smiled at the two, still on her feet she circled around a little to stand in front of the fire. While she wasn't exactly cold it just made for a nice comfort. It seemed infectious while she didn't fall over in a fit just watching Karina and Concessa was amusing in itself.

He leaned towards Vanessa, "that's what happens after she has been shut in for a few days with the weather so bad." His hand slipping over hers to give a squeeze. "I'm sure your visit helped a lot," hand slipping away as his smile followed watching his sister and Karina.

Oh, he felt the same way. In fact, he felt downright stodgy at the moment!

Karina's cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright by the time she was able to gasp breath enough to separate her giggles into speech again. "What's so funny?" She asked it even as mirth still choked her own voice. Trying so hard to press her lips together to dam another flood of laughter.

Vanessa snickered softly, looking between her friends and returning the small squeeze before releasing Segan's hand. "I hope so. And I have gifts for you." She had one for Concessa also, Karina had received her gift early.


Owain had noticed the stock of firewood within the Tavern growing low, and so had set out some time ago to seek brush in the woods. But the heavy snow had driven him back to the indoors, and what had begun as dry-ish firewood was now sodden in his arms. As both arms were loaded he pushed open the door with his shoulder, looking much as Segan had a moment ago: snow-dusted from head to toe. He stomped what snow he could off his boots before stepping inside. An offhand nod of greeting was offered to those within as he juggled that firewood, then his roaming eyes caught sight of his wife. His features relaxed and warmed as he added in his deep quiet voice, "Good evenin'."

"I don't know.." which was worse than if there was a good reason! She finally got control, or so she hoped as she lifted her head again and drew in a deep breath. If Karina gave any little giggle, she'd be lost to them again.

Patrick was up and around the table to help the man at the door. Reaching him in a few strides to relieve him of some of the sodden wood. "I think it will dry fine next to the hearth on the bottom ledge." Which was where he was taking what he acquired to set there then would help the one with the rest in his arms, stacking them so they would dry with the fire going already.

Karina only stared at Concessa, teary eyes wide with the effort of being solemn. Her lips were buttoned tight but only barely restrained the helpless laughter locked just on the other side.

"I thank ye." Owain gave the man a grateful nod, surrendering part of his load and carrying the rest over to the hearth. He'd join in to stack them where suggested. Still wearing his hat and gloves but as he was rather frozen, those could wait. "Evenin'," he answered Segan, then smiled softly when Izzy approached. Arms free now, he reached out to lay a hand briefly on her arm and leaned down for a kiss to her cheek.

Which was good. The longer she locked back her laughter, she would get past hers. The seconds ticked when she hiccupped a giggle out. Eyes went wide in a where did that come from look.

Oh.. She moved forward and set down her tea as the second snowman of the evening walked in. But Patrick was just that much quicker then herself. She smile nodding to Owain. "Evening yourself." She settled to reclaiming her cup and followed each of them to the hearth, nodded a silent thanks to Patrick for helping him.

"Evening Owain," called over to him before blue eyes were on Vanessa. "As I have for you and Karina. Maybe I can come by tomorrow?"

Which completely undid her. It was her turn to plunk her head down onto her arms as her shoulders shook with laughter. True she didn't know the reason either, but sometimes you just didn't need a reason!

She slipped a glance David's way feeling a little mortified. Surely he would be looking upon her as a child. Barely there when she was reduced to those giggles again. Up from her seat she was dragging Karina  outside with her as the cold might help to stop the giggles. This was worse than the hiccups.

"I have yours and Concessa's gifts here. I had them delivered here. I figured I would likely be meeting you both here."

Karina only chortled as she was dragged up and away, though she dragged her feet when she realized where she was being taken. "aaach no! It's bloody FREEZING!" But she was laughing still as she managed to snatch up her coat on the way out the door, which swung shut behind them.

"I'm Patrick Frasier, I don't believe we have met?" For running the races he met many he might not remember when it was in gangs of introductions. The firewood stacked he offered his hand.

He didn't see her as a child. Actually, it was a bit refreshing. Though he laughed when he heard Karina. And he pushed the empty bowl aside as he had finished. "Evening, sir." An easy smile appeared when he saw the man greeting the woman who had come in earlier.

Their breaths were coming in funny looking puffs and it was Freezing.. a few deep breaths and she was calming down. "We can't go back in until we stop the giggles." Which meant they could end up freezing to death!

Owain straightened up again and turned back towards Patrick. He recognized the name, and tugged off his glove before reaching out to take Patrick's hand in a firm shake. "Owain Marsden, well met Sir." His tone might have been formal but it was friendly as well. "My wife, Isabelle," he added with another smile towards the lovely young woman beside  him (whom he still sometimes wondered how he'd managed to win her). A nod offered to David as well before intelligent blue eyes returned to Patrick. Yes, he recognized the name but that could wait a moment. "I thank ye for the help and for the offer," he answered the man with another brief smile.

"Yes, we have met," giving Isabelle a smile before hands were released after the introductory shake. "You're welcome to join us once you're settled." Knowing the man had his winter outerwear to discard and probably a drink that would warm him up to collect.

She smiled tilting her head just a bit to receive the kiss. Eyes shifted to Patrick as he introduced himself.. "Aye, yes, we've just met a bit ago dearest. Shall I get you something from Alex? You must be half frozen."

Beginning to peel off his coat as he nodded to Iz.  "An ale if ye don't mind, mo chroi."

Wait, she didn't have a coat. "You CHEAT," but she was laughing the words out as she tried to snatch Krina's coat, hide inside it with her friend.

"David Frasier, Patrick's cousin." He introduced himself as he motioned to a chair at the table that would also be closest to the hearth and the warmth of the fire.

"Oh! Shyte!" Karina gasped, still laughing as she immediately began to do the Chilly Dance, bouncing from foot to foot with arms crossed tightly as they stood in the cold. "Hey!" She snickered as Concessa tried to steal the warmth.  "It's not cheatin' to use my head," she smirked broadly, still chortling a bit. Sure Karina loved to laugh but it was rarely uncontrollable like this. She actually had to tell herself to take a breath.

He was back over to the table, discreetly leaving the obviously in love couple some time together. There was a smile to linger on his features a moment, perhaps a memory to bring it there.

Giddy moments happened but she was starting to freeze without a coat. She ended up tugging on Karina's but more to bring them back inside. Once there she was over to stand in front of the hearth shivering.

She smiled at his request and it was only a moment as she claimed her own cup and went to Alex for an ale and refill on her own tea.

The freezing temperatures had done the trick and stifled her mirth. She was still grinning a bit as she stepped inside after her friend but she hurried to the hearth. Stretching her hands out towards the flames with a sigh of relief.

"Well, then I will give you yours tomorrow if I am welcome to stop by," drawing closer as his words lowered. Eyes holding to hers to assure himself she was doing well after being gone on a few levels.

He had a suit coat on and when he saw the two lasses come in, stood and removed it, placing it over Concessa's shoulders. As he sat back down, he grinned at Segan. "I understand your brother and some others have made a way to make the roads more passable." Oops. He hadn't meant to interrupt his discussion with Vanessa.

"Well met David," he added to the next introduction, the faint brogue audible in his deep voice. He watched Isabelle at the bar for just a moment before hanging up his coat, and going to meet the others at what seemed to be the general group table. He paused to give a small bow of greeting before reaching for a vacant chair and settling himself there. For the first couple of moments he'd let the others go on with their conversations and only listen.

Eyes held to his own, she smiled. "You're always welcome. Wait here." A good break so that Segan could speak with David, she set her mug down and got up to go to the bar to ask Alex for the parcels.

Warmth surrounded her as dark eyes went wide and a smile came in a thankful way David's way without saying a word. Eyes tripping back to Karina with lowered words, "he's my boss and doesn't want me to die." Like that was the reason!

"As if that's the reason," she muttered back out of the corner of her lips. Glancing back over her shoulder to watch David retreat before giving Concessa a knowing smirk.

Which she returned with a knowing pinch. She would get her back!

Smile spread before attention was turned on David. "Yes he did, a Roller it is called. It makes a very large pathway being drawn by a pair of Clysdales. I'm sure they will be running them after this storm tonight we are getting. It flattens them enough that wagons can be used." Which usually was not the case when the snow got too deep.


"Heard a few folks talking on it when I was in one of the shops. I might stick around tonight to see it." Being he had rooms over his office, he could stay there when the weather was bad or he had an early appointment.  Then again, he had no appointments tomorrow so he could go home and spend the day there.   He'd likely see it another time.

It was only a moment to receive the Ale and then tea with a bit of the summer's honey added for god measure. Quick steps brought her back to the gathering about the table and hearth. Not ready to claim a seat just yet she handed Owain the mug of Ale before letting her own hands cradle the cup to keep the fingers warm. A brow arched a bit as David and Segan spoke, eyes glanced outside the white against the dark of the night. "Seems enough snow to keep me in for the rest of the winter... " her nose wrinkled remembering the winter Owain had returned to Skai for a time and the awful storm that closed Port City.

"Rhett Shawnesey did all the metal work which lent strength to the whole frame. Raphael had it built in his warehouse and made the wheels to form either side of the drums with Sir Lancely Caster."

"I am going to see if we fund the cost of it and pay the four involved or allowed to hire ones, to make a few for Ballicastle, one for the Race tracks."

Owain murmured his thanks to Izzy, even as he half-rose to hastily pull out the chair beside him for her to sit... though he sat again slowly when she elected to stand. Setting his ale down on the table, his gaze returned to the others with interest. He'd never heard of such a thing, but the mechanics sounded fascinating... he'd like to see it.

Vanessa came back to the table with one large parcel and two smaller parcels, and sat down next to Segan. The large one was passed to him first, then one of the small ones with a smile. "Those are for you."

Karina glanced over her shoulder idly as the others conversed behind them... then snapped her eyes forward again to the fire. La dee da... her cheeks were nice and rosy now.

"Thank you," eyes lighting up that held to hers as he took the smaller package first to open. Like one getting their feet wet. Wrapping was carefully discarded and the small box opened.

"That's a good idea, Patrick. I'm always in awe when someone has an idea like that. Wonder where it comes from.." It was good they had such skilled craftsmen here. He smiled at Isabelle with her comment. "I know a few folks who feel the same way."

A step to the side as she nudged Karina not missing that look. "A ha'penny for your thoughts..."

She smiled over to Concessa. "Concessa,..." And offered out her gift.

Which drew Owain's eyes back to his wife, a soft smile reflected her thoughts. "Mayhap's not all winter," he relented with teasing gentle in his voice.

Karina blinked and looked back to Concessa. Lips started to part, and then... she was saved by Vanessa! A little grin as she nudged Cessa right back. "There you are, open your gift..."

He gave a low whistle for the cuff links with dark blue sapphires. Without thought to his actions but coming naturally, he leaned to place a kiss upon her lips before he was back to opening up the larger box. Here too he carefully took the wrapping off to set aside. "Skates!" Like a little kid that had gotten what he wanted for Christmas. Holding up the black racing pair. "Now I can take you skating in style."

She poked Owain in the shoulder eyes shifting to David. "Indeed? Well at least I'm not alone in the sentiment. I much prefer summer nights to winter." Another smile hidden as her tea was lifted to her lips.

A finger lifted like one moment assuring Karina she would not forget the thought! Wicked little smile as she was over to Vanessa to gain the present. "I have one for you but it is under our tree, next to the ones Segan has for you." Confessing up as she took the gift. She had one for Karina there too. She would have to bring them here or to the Gardens. Unlike her brother she was quick to tear open the gift as eyes went wide. "OH MY.. it is beautiful. The tree of life," well something like that in a broach. She was hugging Vanessa next.

Owain's own smile was muted behind his ale before he swallowed a sip, and turned back to Patrick and David. "Are ye the Frasiers of Falkirk Downs?"

He smiled at the couple then nodded toward Patrick. "He is. I'm afraid my line of work is rather dull."

Eyes went wide briefly, surprised with a kiss but it was returned with a bright smile. "The cufflinks reminded me of your captain's coat." Which she thought would look fantastic with it. She smiled to Concessa. "You and Segan can come to the gardens tomorrow for tea or something." She returned the hug and smiled up to Cessa. "I'm so glad you like it."

"I am. Of the Frasiers of Falkirk Manor and Downs. David is one of my cousins that has come to the lands and the position of barrister if you need a lawyer."



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 66

Karina had gone quiet but not because she was being sneaky.... actually, she was a little embarrassed. She still hadn't come up with gifts for her friends yet. Figuring out presents for the kids had been easy, but for her friends...  these people who had taken her in, well, those had to be special and no matter how she tried she couldn't think of just the right things.

They were always harder. "I love it," leaving Segan to Vanessa as she bounced her way back to Karina to join at the hearth and attach the broach carefully to the vest of her outfit. Once done dark eyes were up, "that thought, one that fitted your cheeks going rosy like apples.."

Owain offered a small smile to David. "In nae need of a barrister at the moment, no," though he inclined his head respectfully towards the man nonetheless. "Actually... I've been hoping to speak with ye." That was spoken to Patrick.

"Oh lord forbid I should ever need such services, though it is always good to know where to go if one is needed.." A nod to Patrick at the mention of David being a lawyer. Eyes lifted to the gift giving trio and smiled as she watched their reactions.

"No idea what you're talking about. That's a nice looking broach..." She leaned forward to inspect the broach with oh-so-much interest. "What is it, silver?"

He chuckled under his breath as his sister headed off again with her treasure. Blue eyes swinging back to  hold upon Vanessa. "That would work out perfectly and perhaps Karina will be there too." Vanessa might notice he was taking off his boot and already trying one of the skates on to make sure they fitted.

Seeing the presents being opened had him thinking of something else. "Did anyone else hear that Father Christmas had been down at the docks Christmas eve? He was said to be passing out gifts to the uh ... " pausing to consider his words, "the folks that lived there."

"I hope she will be. It would be nice to sit around. You're welcome to invite Eion too, if you like." She moved her chair back a bit to give him room and watch to see if the skate fit. She had to make a guess. Hoping she guessed right, but they might have been a bit too big.

He settled back with his glass of potcheen, distracted to the gift giving and the two young ladies before concentration shifted to turn on Owain. "What do you have on your mind, Owain?" Curiosity taking hold easily enough for the Frasier man.

David's words caught Karina's genuine interest as she glanced back to the table curiously. "Father Christmas at the docks?" Which had been her abode for awhile in the beginning. "Sounds a bit unlikely..."

Owain pushed his ale a bit out of the way so he could lean forward slightly, hands coming to rest folded upon the table. A more serious aspect coming over his earnest features as he answered, "I was wondering if ye might have an opening at your stables. I used to train horses and I'm lookin' for a job here, since we only just arrived." His voice was low but the words clearly spoken. "Of course, if you've any sort of opening there I would be grateful..."

"He was?" Turning to David with a slight cant of her head. "Did you see him there? Did the ones who live there appreciate the gifts?" That was the start of her questions. But it got Karina from answering her question. Luckily Concessa had a steel trap mind when it came to certain things. "I think it is silver and a pretty stone." Slanting a look back to Karina, she would try to find out what that other was all about.

"Aye, I was visited the family of the lad who delivers papers for us," who Concessa would know, "and he mentioned he saw him there, passing out gifts. Even had a sleigh though it was drawn by horses not reindeer. Joey said the people were enjoying themselves immensely. They were small presents, trinkets and coins, cigars or pipes, candy. Even had some toys for the children that hang about there."

"I can always use a good hand at the stables or help at the race tracks. Depends on which you prefer and your qualifications. My stables and tracks are in Ballicastle." Which he would make him aware of. "Although one can live here in becoming a citizen or live there whichever is more convenient. If one lives here they will need means to get to Ballicastle by way of horseback." Starting with that much information until he got to hear more.

She smiled as she listened to David's telling of the Visitor at the docks. "That just completes the season I think.. Nothing better then to see others happy form the simplest things..."

"I will invite him," with a look up that as much said he could not be certain his brother would come. Hearing David, he wondered if that had been Eion down at the docks.

Karina pretended not to notice that look from Cessa. Instead she snickered at David's words. "Oh come on. They saw Santa Claus himself? Isn't that just a children's tale?"

Owain glanced over to Isabelle but she had joined in the conversation with the others around the table. Returning his gaze to Patrick he nodded slowly. "Well... we haven't a place of our own yet, we've been staying here at the Tavern. But I do have my own horse.." Another pause to consider. "Is it a long ride to Ballicastle?"

The skate fitted perfectly with just a bit of room for heavier socks and not choke his feet. He took it off once that had been ascertained and got his boot back on. "They fit perfectly."

A nod given to Segan, she picked up her cup and took a drink then smiled. "Wonderful. I had to take a guess." Which was not easy.

"That was really wonderful of the man," being her brother had dressed as Santa, she wondered if he had gone down there to do that. She felt Eion had a big heart under it all.

"Aye, he was positive. Said he wasn't a man you'd miss all in red, with the white beard and a good hearty laugh." He looked at Concessa. "You know young Joe. Do you think he'd make up a tale like that?" He smiled at Isabelle. "It does, doesn't it?"

She smiled and nodded to David. Eyes Shifting to Karina.. "Not really a child's tale in believing what he stands for.. so why?"A Brow raised.. a bit as smile lingered.

"Suppose that's true." She shrugged but gave an easy smile to Isabelle. She was beginning to have a sneaking suspicion she knew just who might have been playing Santa, anyway. That big old softie. "Well, I'm glad those folks got some cheer." Especially in this bitter cold. Many of those who lived in that area didn't have it easy to say the least.

"You can stay here until things smooth out. I have rooms at the Downs not far from the Stables they are kept when the races start. There is also a couple cottages close by that are not occupied. We needed ones to tend to the grounds all year round. We are also set up to race dogs which will be coming in the near future. It would take you a good portion of a day to get there." Which made it a little harder unless one lived there and rode in here.

Owain's grave features brightened a bit at the mention of cottages. That sounded lovely. Perhaps, a real home for he and Isabelle later... glance slid to his wife again before returning to Patrick. Hm... though that distance put a kink in it. A thoughtful frown as he considered with a nod. "Aye, well... perhaps I'll ride over soon to talk more, if that's alright, Sir?"

"No. I don't think he would make up a tale but late at night at the docks, man in a beard, red outfit." Well, she wasn't so easily convinced.

"We can set up a time. Tell you what, come to the races Wednesday night and see the place." Knowing a package had been sent to him and his wife as a courtesy from the Crown to have fun at the races. "There  are two stables in Heathfield. The McDonough ranch which has been around the longest and the Royal Stables which was recently re-established by Segan's family. His sister Melantha runs it."

He chuckled at the two. "Tsk, are the two of you skeptics who don't believe in holiday magic?" A hint of a grin appeared as he teased.

"I believe in holiday magic but feel more that it is the spirit of Christmas represented in Santa Claus than an actual person."

Karina gave a shrug and crooked smile to David. "Not as such. Guess it's more the point of the season," which was her less eloquent way of agreeing with Concessa.

"You made a great guess." He was listening in on two conversations. With everyone occupied in those conversations, he could get away with taking Vanessa's hand in his as fingers entwined.

Owain nodded. He'd heard a bit about this around the town when he'd inquired about stables, but it was good to learn more about each of his options. "I'll do that, aye, thank you." To the suggestion to come to the races Wednesday. He shifted a bit, leaning forward slightly again as he admitted, "I'm not vera picky when it comes to which stable. I'm only lookin' for work to get us through the winter to start." After that things such as plans got a bit hazy.

"I'm not making the point to discourage you from coming to work for me. As I said, I have the horses and the race tracks. What exactly is your experience with horses?"

She smiled to Segan, lacing her fingers with his gently and settled into her seat, listening to the conversations of the others. "How is your yaya doing?"

"She is doing well, catching up after the holidays on her cleaning. The girls helping her as usual. She baked up feasts and now she can rest feeling good about the holiday."

He smiled again as he leaned back in the chair. "Aye, I have to agree though I would have liked to seen it. I'm surprised the man didn't lose his beard though a few of the lasses there tugged at it and from what the lad said, it didn't move."

She smiled a bit as she listened to the skeptics.. "I think we all could do with a bit more of the magic all year long, at least in that seeing the younger ones smile more would be worth it." It really was a bit of magic in it.. no matter who Father Christmas was or where. "More should believe in it and him," lips accepted the rim of the tea cup as she shifted a bit moving to the hearth again.

Owain lifted his ale but set it down again when that question came. Now was the time when the private man had to speak a bit of his history, though he had expected as much. "I've worked around horses my whole life. As a lad I trained all of the work animals for the farm where I grew up. In Britannia I began in the royal stables as a page, dealin' with the upkeep of all of the animals. Eventually they allowed me to work with the royal mounts directly and train them for the Knights." Of course there was much more to the story and to his experiences but he hesitated to share more than the necessary facts for now.

"That's great. Tell her I wish her a happy holiday. I'd love to see her again sometime soon." She enjoyed the Matriarch's company.

"My brother has a friend down there." Although she didn't know who the friend was only that Eion disappeared to the docks a lot of times. She followed him once but lost him down the side streets and didn't stay because if found out she would be in a lot of trouble.

Free hand smoothed over the other as he was leaned in to talk and listening to the others. A look shot Concessa's way and quickly recovered. He would warn Eion. "Of course I will and she had sent her wishes but you were gone on the trip."

"You're right there." Karina offered a more genuine smile to Isabelle before glancing back to Concessa. She too had seen Eion around the docks several times but his business was his... just as her business down there had been her own.

"I wish I could have been here for the holiday, but there's still the new year to celebrate." Which she was looking forward to as well. Not that she had plans, aside from what she'd been doing since she was a child and would have to get Karina in on.

"These are race horses so the training is not the same as for war horses. Although, if that is your preference then it might be the militia you would wish to talk to. The stables need to put the horses through their paces. To keep them limber and in the best of health and condition. The race tracks have a number of jobs from the flagman to the ones that clear the tracks between races. Here too we ensure the safety of all horses, before and after the races. Donovan McKnight along with his sister check the animals to make sure they are fit to race and any strain or injury that may incur."

"Our cousin Adrian, is harbor master down there." He just gave that as a bit of information. "I think there might be a bit more folks who plan to give during the year. It seems to be spreading more than usual." There were always those who cared for the poor but he was noticing a few things in those he dealt with of late.

Karina had been more or less idly listening to the conversation as she finished off her now-tepid cider. But as the lull came now seemed as good a time as any to mention casually, "I'll be goin' away for a little while myself soon."

"Maybe we can spend that together? Or all at our manor?" Tossing out ideas as he finally released her hand before it became too noticeable.


Owain nodded, listening to Patrick with brows knitted in concentration. "I'd be willin' to try nearly anything." Even if it was different from his own expertise, he wasn't too proud to try. His gaze strayed away then before returning to Patrick. "I thank ye for all of the advice. I'll look forward to speakin' with ye more at the Races, I hope. If ye'll excuse me?" He rather felt he'd been neglecting his wife this evening. She seemed somewhat quiet now that she'd wandered off to the hearth.

"What did you do for Christmas, David?" She had a little gift for him he would get when she got back to work. It was a leather bound copy of some lawyer's works that the librarian said a barrister would like having.

Christmas had been spent at Falkirk and it had been the liveliest holiday he had spent in some time. Hopefully she wouldn't ask him who had gotten him what because he couldn't remember most of it. "Some fine shirts. A pocket watch,  and a journal." Among other things. He fell silent as he listened to Karina and the questions being asked.

"That would be nice." Giving Segan another smile, brushing her nails over his palm as he released her hand, then glanced down into her mug at the room temperature cider. She'd forgotten all about it until now.

"Of course, bring your wife too." Which he figured the man probably would be doing and should spend some time with her instead of talking to him all night. "Besides, she is better looking than me," adding a little humor in there or so he hoped would be taken as such with not really knowing the man.

A hand stifled a bit of a yawn as she turned away to hide it. There was truly no reason for it as she nearly slept the day away. Though another followed on its heels. She shook her head and glanced at the remaining tea and wrinkled her nose a bit before setting it aside. A brow raised as she looked to Karina. "Going away? In this weather?" A glance outside.. Ooh or maybe she was going to get away from it...maybe she could tag along?


Owain was rising from his chair though paused at Patrick's comment, which earned a chuckle from the otherwise-solemn man. "I will." Giving Patrick one last gracious nod, he left his empty mug behind and went to join Isabelle at the hearth. Perhaps at just the right moment, as he caught that exchange between her and the lass called Karina. A curious gaze sent between them before he returned the smile warmly to Iz.


That was wishful thinking and she knew it. A glance to Owain and Patrick as they seemed to conclude their business. She offered a small smile.

"Where will you be going? Can I come?"

A look of concern filled Segan's expression as Karina had gone away a few times for a while then always came back. He was glad she came back of course but it was the condition she usually came back in that had the concern. "How far and maybe you will let me see that you have proper equipment and mount this time?" He could try.



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 67

"Nahhhhh, you'd only be bored." That answered to Concessa to dissuade her before she looked to Isabelle. "Aye, weather doesn't wait for anyone!" Cheerful smile offered then disappeared behind her mug. And then Segan was asking questions that made her squirm. "Dunno how far, exactly.." Which was the truth. She knew approximate days' distance but certainly not miles. "What, you didn't like my mule?" A light smirk to Segan as she referenced the pitiful mount which had since been sent to greener pastures.

Which she gave a pout to but that didn't last long. Realizing this was not a typical trip someplace friends went along. Drawing focus from Karina to her brother as she grew silent (for a change) and listened.

"Ha, well I'll wait for the better weather I think even if it won't wait for me.." A smile subsided as Owain joined her offering a smile as she listened to Karina.

Vanessa was just listening quietly, a concerned look towards Karina. Saddened too that her friend would be leaving, even if only for a short while.

"Your mule had you take forever if not standing still. He was completely unreliable and in this weather, I'd rest easier if I knew you had a good workhorse, one use to wintry conditions."

"Bah, I was only kidding, that old mule wouldn't last a day in this weather." A slight shift from foot to foot as she looked back to Segan. "Really I'm fine on foot." She didn't want to be responsible for a horse not her own in this weather, for one thing.

"You can take mine. He's more a mountain horse than racing. Big Red. What of Amergin?"

Owain glanced to Karina briefly, and then to Isabelle. He hesitated a moment before speaking up. "I've a horse ye can take. He's nae young anymore, but strong, and well used to rough travel in all weathers." Another flickered glance to Izzy. Needless to say he hadn't discussed this with his wife but... they had another horse between them, her mare... and he agreed with Segan. The little lass, however spunky needed a horse to make a trip this time of year.

She had two offers of a good winter horse as he glanced to Owain with a slight nod in agreement. Hopefully she would take one of the offers.

"Oh. Uh..." Suddenly there were offers for horses coming left and right. Not sure how to respond she answered the easy question first. "I was hopin'... maybe Amergin could stay with you Vanessa at the cottage?" Much as she hated to leave him, she didn't want to haul him along in the winter time.

Hm? She glanced to Owain, she didn't Object, but well for him to lend out Blaze, well that was just truly saying something. It was true he was a strong horse and had been with them through thick and thin..

Vanessa had just been listening quietly. She didn't want Karina to go and would of course worry about her. A nod given to Karina's question. "Of course he can stay with me. If you'll accept one of the offers to take a horse. It would be a wise decision."

She nodded to him first then Karina, "Truly told Senora. In this weather I don't care who you are.. a horse at the very least is needed to go anywhere at this time of year."

Sneaky Vanessa and her contingencies! Karina shifted a glance between the men before giving a slight shrug of one shoulder. "Alright. Guess I'll take Big Red, Segan, but only if you're sure it's alright?" A slight wince to the question, hating to even ask it. But it was easier to ask of Segan than of Owain, who was still virtually a stranger even if he seemed very nice.

Owain nodded slightly. He wouldn't be offended if Karina chose to take her friend's horse instead... as long as she did have a good sturdy mount for the journey. Attention moving back to Izzy he turned towards her with a soft smile as he caught her eyes. "Are ye feelin' alright?" His voice dropped to draw the conversation into the more private realm.

"I'm perfectly sure it's all right. He's a big horse and will see you through a Blizzard if it happens. At least I know you'll be safe with him and if anything happens, he'll come back to the manor and then we'll be coming for you." It was a good plan. He also had many horses at his disposal for his sister having the stables. "Owain, if my sister is not too busy, maybe you can talk to her as well. Talk to Rory too."

Vanessa won. She smirked to her friend. "And you have to promise to take plenty of warm clothes and food which I will help you with."

"Ach, nothin's gonna happen..." A slightly gruff mutter which tended to happen when others showed concern for her. It was still difficult to know how to react to that. "Alright, alright, don't worry, I'll be set for the worst." A smirk towards Vanessa.

A nod given to Karina. "I'll see to that because I have full intentions of you returning to the cottage and all of us who love and adore you."

She nodded at his question and moving to rest on his arm though a verbal reply was paused as Segan was up and suggesting that Owain speak to his sister and a few others.

Just watch her cheeks turn bright beet red... far worse than they had before! As a hand lifted to scratch the back of her neck. "....Yeah well. Don't worry, alright? I'll be back soon enough."

"Better be or Tenni and I and Amergin will come hunting you down." Wry grin given to her friend, Vanessa stood from her seat to take the mug back to the bar.

"We will see you outfitted," glancing to Vanessa and back to Karina. "This way you'll be better prepared." Dried foods, clothing, even some weapons, equipment like a first aid kit, ropes and shovel.

"I would like that, aye." A grateful smile to Segan, along with a polite nod. Then he was turning back to his wife. "You're vera quiet." Again the soft tones as he searched her eyes. A hand reached out to lay lightly along her elbow.

"You really don't have to do that. I know how to pack for meself, you know..." Not that she wasn't grateful but this all seemed a bit much for what was, for her, a regular pilgrimage.

She tried to wave of his concern though she knew she would have no luck in that no matter how healthy she was. She nodded and offered a small smile as she look dup to him. Eyes meeting  his, "Yes, love I'm fine truly, just tired is all see?" Eyes closed a moment to more or less consciously relax and open up. She had at long last learned to hold back some emotions though not at present.

"Where will you be going or is it a big secret?" Concessa wondered why nothing was mentioned. Like was she going North to the Wastelands or Rhydin, or some other village up there or Luneberg or Kildare which was pretty wild and crazy from what she heard.

"That's my fault," he murmured with a soft smile as he ducked his head to better see into her eyes. "I know I was up and out early this mornin'..." Though she was correct, he was still concerned. But just as she did he tried to make himself relax as per their agreement. He drew a bit closer, never overly lovey-dovey in public but he couldn't help but lift his other hand to rest along her other arm. Any small contact was a blessing. He watched for a moment as she closed her eyes and he stepped in closer. For a moment it was as if the others weren't around as he instinctively drew her into a gentle hug.

He was still quiet, just listening. Concessa made him smile with her questions. Her mind was constantly going, and he knew she wouldn't be satisfied as a clerk for long.

"Ahh.... no big secret," Karina hedged with a light shrug. "Nowhere special. Won't be gone too long."

Being a Clerk was perfect for it organized that constantly running mind of hers.

Vanessa thanked Alex as he offered to warm her drink, which she declined and picked up her coat. Turning to Karina with a smile. "Karina, I think I'm going to walk home. I'm exhausted."

Perfect time for an exit before the questions really began to flow! She bounded to her feet, going to deliver her empty mug to Alex. "I'll go with ya."

"Well, I hope you're not gone too long." She and Vanessa had become girlfriends as she saw it. Although it had her wondering on taking a trip off by herself. "I should go too."

"I will see you all home. With your permission of course." The party was going to go with Karina! He was up to see to Vanessa's cloak and his to don.

Vanessa adored and loved Karina more as a sister than a friend. Though she worried about Karina, she understood on her own level the desire to explore. Difference was, Karina was brave enough to do it, where Vanessa was not. She smiled to Concessa. "Would you like to walk with us?" Since Segan would be joining them. Once her coat was on, she held her gaze to Segan with a smile. "Thank you." He was always welcome to walk with her. Buttons fastened and hood pulled up, she tugged her mittens from her pockets.

"Oo foo, she shook her head even as he stepped in for the brief hug. Arms settled around to his back as she just took the moment for what it was. "It was not your fault, I was likely back to sleep before you found the snow.. "Mumbled against his shirt before stepping back a moment eyes lifted to his, before glancing as the others made their intentions to depart. She smiled to Patrick and David, " It was nice meeting you both .." a nod to the rest as they bundled up. "And a good night to the rest of you."

Where had the time gone? Certainly it had taken wing as the cuckoo clock on the mantle struck half past midnight. He was up to collect his papers. "Seems like a good time to be on our way." He was going to
  go stay at Adrian's place although he would like to see David's down along the coast at some point. He needed to be invited. There were a few Frasiers in Heathfield. "Have a good night. A pleasure to meet you Owain and Isabelle. I hope to see you at the races on Wednesday. Please get in your bets soon."

Inward groan. Oh well, she'd just have to divert the conversation awaaaaay from herself. Heading over to the door, she began to pile on the various layers of wool once more. "Night," she called out to those remaining.  Which would probably just be the Marsdens at this point.

"Yes," as she was over to collect her cloak. "Good night David, I will see you at work tomorrow." One reason she could not just up and leave.

"Aye, it is, isn't it. Concessa, you need not come in until after the new year's if you wish." He stood then looked at Patrick. "Are you headed clean back to Ballicastle. You're welcome to come stay at my home." A smile was turned to the couple. "As it was to meet you both. Rest well this night. Ladies, Segan. " He chuckled when he heard Concessa. "Thought you were visiting Vanessa?"

Or not? She was over to hand him the satchel. "At least you have these done."

"It was nice to see you all." Smiling to the Frasier brothers and the Marsden couple.

That was better. "Aye, I do. And you enjoy your visit with Vanessa."

Owain pulled his eyes from Izzy's long enough to nod to those departing... which seemed to be everybody. A smile offered to each who addressed him. "Nice to see ye again. Aye, I will, Patrick. Goodnight."

"I look forward to it." She nodded to Patrick's invitation to the Races.

"It was good seeing you both again, Owain. Isabelle. Have a great new year." If he didn't see them for that time as he was ushering out the ladies.

"Good night Patrick. Owain. Isabelle!" Giving them all a wave and a shy smile back David's way.

"Stay warm!" Quickly called after as she waved her fair-wells.

He winked at Concessa then turned back to Patrick. He would at least join him in the walk partway.

Karina smiled to the couple at the hearth before disappearing outside into the snow with the whole gang.

"Being you are headed there, I'll come stay," this to David. "I've always wanted to see that manor that was built along the cliffs. I hear it is spectacular."

A wave to everyone, she was ushered out the door, pulling the hood of her coat around tighter about her neck.

Turning back to Owain she smiled and nudged him a bit. " I think it is time we do the same Aye?" The bed up stairs was calling to her once more.

"It is. I was lucky to have been given it." And on out they headed, following in the wake of the others.

"I have missed you," words low in the hubbub as his arm went around Vanessa to draw her close as they headed out. Concessa and Karina in tow.

Concessa made the kissy face again behind her brother's back, and Vanessa. Though it was all in good humor and what had started her and Karina giggling earlier.

And it might just start off one more snickering fit!

Pulled in close, she smiled up to Segan. "I have missed you too." Her arm wrapped around his own, stepping in closer to him, she offered her arm either to Cessa or Karina, whoever would take it so they could all walk together.

His arm offered out to the other, so all four would be huddled against the storm that was fairly raging outside at this point.

Owain nodded his agreement as he pulled back from the hug. One last nod to those leaving before he offered his arm to his wife to escort her upstairs. Even if it was only a room in a tavern in a strange land... it was their little place.

She hadn't seen Vanessa in a while and so skipped ahead to take her arm. Huddling in with her friend.

She wrapped her arm around Cessa's with a bright smile. "The brooch looks lovely on you. I'm so glad you two were at the Thistle tonight."

"I love it," came in a frosted breath along with a big smile as the foursome headed for the Avian Gardens first then it would be her and Segan to the manor over the well trodden path in the snow between the two places.

Karina would trail just behind with long strides to keep up, arms crossing tightly against the chill as she pondered why everyone seemed so concerned when she mentioned leaving. Heck, it was the first time she'd even brought up the idea before just taking off.

She would not get to trail as he slowed enough to scoop an arm around her and draw her in with them.  Because.. friends did those kind of things. Meant they cared and didn't want anything bad to happen to someone they cared for. Though it could be a pain in the butt at times to be loved.

Yes it could. But as much as it bewildered her... she appreciated it nonetheless. When Segan slung his arm around her shoulders she glanced up from her short height with a crooked smile, snuggling in a bit for warmth as they headed home.



Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 68

Outside the Thistle then Within

Concessa tossed snowballs at Karina when she got as far as the tavern. They weren't shot to hit hard nor around her head, mostly at her legs and boots. Either that or she was just a horrid shot. "Where's Van and Segan?" Yelled out that Karina could hear and anyone near for that matter, "neck'in again do you think?" They were not in sight yet.

Karina was hot on Concessa's heels as she pounded through the snow, yelping as she ducked a snowball aimed her way and hastily scooping up her own. "Probably," she called back with a grin as she beamed a snowball at Concessa's shoulders.

"It is the best part of mine too," words shared as the two were not in sight. "They can really run." Snow was coming down good that coated them both and more picking shades of shadows over others as he slowed to a walk once nearing the tavern building.

She pulled her hood further up over her head to keep the snow from her eyes. "Aye,that they can. Trying to keep up with Karina's much like trying to keep up with Amergin."


A loud rumbling sound would announce the fact that the Roller was being used this night. An experiment had shown they would need a smaller one for the streets at the docks, and some of the side streets. There was also no lack of volunteers for the huge invention but tonight, Eion was alone. He had laughed when he had arrived to hook up the horses. Someone had rigged a covering of sorts over the seat though if the snow was too heavy, it would likely collapse under too much weight. He had nearly finished for the night with only the roads at the commons and near the Thistle. In a few hours, someone else would be tending to the streets.

Which splattered off as she made out two more shadows drawing closer. Finally. "Speak of the devils.." and then the giggles started as she was over near Karina to toss snowballs at her brother and Vanessa. That's when she heard the sounds of The Roller and abandoned the snow throwing. Blinking away flakes from dark lashes as she peered out into the street that led down to the commons.

She snickered and tossed a well-aimed snowball towards Segan as well, then jogged over to join Concessa and watched as the Roller rumbled into view. Even though she'd seen it before it was a striking sight. Her arms crossed over her chest for warmth as she shook her head slightly. "Amazing what a person can do when they get an idea in their head..."

"I think we found them," arm had gone around her shoulders as they drew closer to the two. The snowballs splattering harmlessly for Cessa's throw against their cloaks. Karina's hit a shoulder however which had a wicked grin her way. "I'll get you for that my pretty.." in time as obviously it would not be present.

Vanessa just stepped in closer after being hit with a snowball and giggled. "Just wait until next time we're out at the lake!" And continued walking with him, but looking around for the roller that she had yet to see.

She was very proud of her brothers and that pride beamed in her smile and in the light of her eyes. "He is so smart to come up with that amazing machine." The machine taking a shadow form through the snow as it drew closer. It was loud for the large iron balls inside the drum so it was like watching and waiting for a dragon.

The horses didn't mind the snow at all as they made their way into the Commons and they ignored the dogs that usually followed, barking at the rollers. At least they had the sense to stay out of the way. So far there had been but one mishap and that was when a small shed had been backed into though it wouldn't take much time to replace it. He spotted the four standing there and brought the Roller to a stop near there.

Guess who charged ahead so that she could climb up in the seat next to her brother! Once he stopped of course, she'd not get near it while moving. "This is like being up on a mountain. One that can move."

Karina grinned as the two lovebirds meandered up, then waved at Eion. "He is at that," she answered Concessa. She too admired their ingenuity in solving a problem with their own invention. A snicker as Concessa climbed right up onto the wooden 'monster'.

"Come on Karina..." wiggling her fingers for her friend to join her, two of them could fit on the seat of the monster Roller.

She didn't need much prompting! Nimble as a kitten she climbed up the side of the Roller, swinging herself into the seat neatly beside Concessa. It was snug with them side-by-side on the seat. A grin flashed towards both Quinns. "This thing really is amazing Eion.."

He smiled as he watched her climb up. "A noisy one too. The silence is nice once it's done." The horses tossed their heads, looking back over their shoulders. They wanted to finish so they could get back to their shelter. "Thank you, Karina." He offered the reins to Concessa, which might be a mistake! "Like to take it around once?"

Vanessa watched from where she stood with Segan, smiling and looking over the contraption. "That's fantastic!" Genuinely in awe.

"Do your ears ring for a few hours afterwards? Do the dogs ever try attacking the drum? Do you get a lot of people asking a lot of questions?" Not unlike his sister!

Another little grin as she noticed that Eion was calling her by her name more often these days, instead of 'lass'. Tugging her cap a bit more tightly over her curls, she gave a bit of a bounce as Concessa got the reins. "Aye c'mon, take us 'round the square." Questions could be answered while they were moving!

She took the reins and tapped the backsides of the Clydesdales with them and soon they were jerked forward.

"They did a very good job of it. I hear the second one is nearly done and they are going to make a couple smaller ones for the smaller areas to clear." Keeping Vanessa close as he stepped back once Concessa got the reins!

"Aye, they do, but more because it's so quiet. The dogs wait until the thing isn't attached to the horses to check it over and yes, ones like you." He braced himself for the jerk then nodded. "Just like driving a large wagon. The horses can't go fast because it's so heavy. There's a brake to keep from going too fast down hills as well as the horses themselves keeping it slow. The lads know the route pretty well, so don't get panicky."

She bounced on the seat with that one but she was thrilled. Spine straight as an arrow as she concentrated. This was a very large machine put in her hands and she would do her brother proud. She managed to miss the steps leading up to the porch of the tavern as the edge did go over where the walk was in place beneath the snow. "It's hard to tell where the road's edge is.." big brown eyes turned up to her brother in wondering how he did it. He had said something about backing into a shed. Oops.. missing a fence as she turned the horses just in time.

And they were off! She wiggled her fingers at Van and Segan before looking ahead brightly as they moved. She felt the contraption rumbling beneath her, the way it thrummed in her chest cavity. It was rather thrilling to be up so high. Eyes widened as they came close to that fence and she let out a chortle. "Just give everything a wide berth then..." She teased her friend with a sidelong smirk.

"Really?" Had she been gong that long? Fingers waggled back to Karina with a step back as they passed. "That's really something. Eion did a good job with it." Looking up to Segan.

Realizing the lads were the horses in reference, "what are their names?" Nudging Karina with a grin then back to watch where she was taking those lads.

"That one is Trey, pointing to the one on the left. When he was looked at straight on, one would see a white star on his forehead. "The other is Justice. And Karina's right. Give it a wide berth. And if they think you're going where you shouldn't, they won't move over." The horses seemed proud of their job. Even refused to move unless the harnesses with the bells were put on them. "If you're nervous about going around the fountain, I'll take over." He cut her a look, eyes holding a bit of mirth.

"Eion has help," or the Roller would not be rolling right now. "Rhett does the steel framework, Raphael and Lancely make the wheels that go on either side then the slats into place with Eion's help. Being the first one worked, others were sent to help so the production will get the few needed out and some to Ballicastle and Tyremoor next."

"It's really a fantastic invention. It's going to become very popular very quick." Everyone would want one!

Which he pointed in the general direction through the snow, not seen of course, where Raphael's warehouse was located. "Raphael is a wainwright and has a warehouse on the edge of the Commons before the port."

She was nodding, taking it all in and slowly getting the hang of it. Keeping a wide berth as was recommended. "You want to try a bit too, Karina?" It wasn't really hard to do as she offered her the reins.

She'd been eager to do so but waiting for the offer... and so she seized the reins with a grin. "Course I do!" Sitting up straighter, she scooted forward on the bench and wrapped her fingers securely around the reins.

Once freed of the reins she bounced enough to give her brother a peck of a kiss to his cheek. One that was saying thank you for allowing them to ride The Roller, not only ride it but drive it.

"I think they are having a good time." He kept a strolling pace with Vanessa behind the Roller that they would all end up together once Eion's route was done. Snow falling down all around them, it was a beautiful night to be out provided they were all dressed warmly as they were.

Karina's tongue poked between her lips as she concentrated, though she was glad the thing moved so slowly. Carefully guiding the horses widely around the fountain as they began to circle it. A quick peek behind her to see the snow flattened in their wake, and she tossed a grin to Segan and Van as they trailed behind.

She'd glanced in direction of where he spoke and nodded and continued walking along with him. "Looks like it. Can't blame them. Looks like fun." It was a beautiful night, snow and cold and everything.

He nodded, hiding a smile as he glanced at Karina. "Time to head back, lads." He yelled out and the two horses turned to head for the warehouse. "You two want to ride along or shall I meet the four of you in the Thistle?" He'd have to removed the horses from the harnesses but there was a lad hired to see to them once the work was finished and while they had a rest.

He waved to Karina when she glanced back then dipped a look to Vanessa. "Would you like to climb aboard once they stop?"

He'd let Segan and Vanessa take it to the warehouse then. And follow them.

"We can walk back with you. I want to see Raphael's warehouse. I hear he has a fantastic sled in there for horses to draw through the snow."

"Oh!" As the reins became useless and the horses moved the proper direction of their own accord. "Smart beasts...." And a nod of agreement to Concessa's words. Handing the reins back to Eion to complete the journey.

"Whoa, Trey. Whoa Justice." He made the horses come to a stop then looked at Segan and Vanessa. "Want to take it back to the warehouse?"

When the Roller stopped he guided Vanessa around to the side. "If she would like to take a ride." It would not be far from here as the warehouse from this distance could be seen.

She followed Segan around and nodded. "Sure." A smile to the brothers. "Sounds like fun."

Once stopped she would get down once Eion or Karina did being she was in the middle.

Karina hopped down, her new boots landing stoutly in the snow. Rubbing her mittened hands together she was ready for a hot drink! She stepped to the side to let Vanessa and Segan give it a try, she passed them a wink.

He climbed down, jumping down the last few feet and waited to give Vanessa a hand up if she needed it. And if Concessa was still up there, he'd help her down.

Once everyone was down, she smiled to Eion and took the help in getting up on the contraption. "It is like a mountain!" Recalling Cessa's earlier statement.

She would have both of the brothers' help and once she was up, he would be right up behind her to settle by her side. "Would you like to drive it?"

Seated herself and pulled her cloak closed tightly around herself with a smile to Segan. "No, thank you. I'd probably run over something."

She was down before they were up, big smile up their way as the snowflakes touched upon her face. She scooped up some snow to throw at the barrel being it was covered in snow anyway.

He leaned over to steal a kiss with a wink to follow as he straightened. A whistle under his breath with the light tap of the reins had the horses urged forward with that initial jerk as the big roller started into motion again. Once in motion it was far easier to keep it in motion.

He stepped back away from the roller, and looked at Cessa. "You walking along then?" Just shaking his head as she tossed a snowball. "Imp."

The kiss returned with a bright smile, she moved in closer to him as he picked up the reins and put the horses and roller into motion, giving a little wave to Eion, Karina and Concessa.

"Yes, unless you think we should head for the tavern and get the drinks ready?" She could always visit Raphael's warehouse another time during the day. Glancing back to their sibling and friend, "they might like being alone to walk back," almost saying necking but then Eion would know she knew about such things.

He might start to worry if she didn't know about such things. "Well, I should unhitch the horses." He rubbed at his neck as he watched them. "Though I guess Will can take care of that this one time." He offered both young women an arm to hang on to if they wished. "What do you think of the monster now that you drove it?"

While the others made up their minds they were drawing closer to the warehouse. The contraption was kept behind the place as an area had been made with a tarp covering across to keep them from getting loaded down with snow during the storms. Like the one now. Will was waiting for them as he drew the horses to a halt. The man was over as he was down then hands raised to help Vanessa down. Once she was down he would help him unhitch the horses before they would head back to the tavern.

She curled her hand around Eion's arm. She felt small when she did so for how much taller her brothers were than she. "I liked it. I wouldn't mind driving it if you can't." She was volunteering.

A snicker as Concessa tossed that snowball which turned into a smile as she watched the two of them up on the Roller snuggle close. "Think you're right about that," she said to Cessa in answer to her suggestion of giving them some alone time. A brow quirked as Eion offered his arm, but she took it - even though he towered over her! "Very impressive." Seeing it in action from atop it had been a whole other experience. "I'll help," she added quickly to Concessa's volunteering.

The ride was nice, it was plenty interesting watching the snow beneath the roller until they pulled in to where the thing was meant to be. Once Segan was down off the thing, she was down with his help and a smile to him. "Thank you." And brushed some of the snow from the front of his cloak before he went to help unhitch the horses. Patiently waited for him to finish up helping Will then headed off back towards the tavern with him. "Perhaps tomorrow we can try out our new skates." She was looking forward to falling on her bum!


"I'll remember that." Though he had more volunteers than he knew what to do with. He was going to have to work on some rules but then again, there would be other rollers and eventually the newness would wear off. He led them up the steps of the tavern and would open the door once he was released. If there had been any snowballers about, they wouldn't have attacked the two being he was with them.

Date: 12-28-09
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 69

She was bobbing her head. "If you can't and a driver is needed, Karina and I can." Smile was growing to beaming quality as they walked to the tavern. "Hot chocolate and Bailey's for me." Yum.

"Does Gram know you drink Bailey's?" He teased as he opened the door and waited for them to step through.

Once Will led the horses off to the stable, he drew Vanessa in close as he had before. Arm around her shoulder as they started off for the tavern. "I think that is possible and if not tomorrow then very soon." First day they both could. Not putting any pressure on either for neither knew what might arise in the meantime. "How are your birds doing now that we have the real winter upon us?" Some nights had been near zero already.

Double yum. "Me too!" She ducked in through the door and started the process of peeling off mittens, hat and coat. A smirk to herself as she looked between the siblings, knowing how protective the Quinn boys were of their little sister.

"I'm old enough," eyes a little wide as she passed her brother, ducking in under his arm as she entered the tavern. "Besides, she's let me taste the whiskey she keeps in her knitting basket." Oops.

Protective but they had to let her try her wings sometime. It was likely Grams had introduced her to Bailey's and hot chocolate. Or to whiskey. "For medicinal purposes, right?" Teasing again. "Two hot chocolates with Bailey's for these two, Alex, and a potcheen for me, if you would."

"Yes." Not adding about the stash of bottles she kept in the kitchen. Grans had a lot of hiding places. Knocking back a dram or two while cooking, added it to some of her dishes. Why they turned out so good. She was right over to the bar, cloak slipping from her shoulders to be caught in time to hang over the back of the stool she claimed.

Drawn in close, she wrapped an arm around his back and nodded. "The birds are doing well. The heating spires help keep them warm. In the mornings, they're all flocked in close to them and huddled together. It's interesting to see."

"This was the real test." Nodding in approval that the spires had held and did their job of keeping the birds warm in these months. "I'll have to come up early enough to see them." A horse drawn sleigh swooshed by them as those within waved. Obviously the group was out having a good time as laughter followed in their wake. "We can do the dragon's run when down the lake if we take a break from skating." The wind had picked up having the snow coming down almost parallel a times in swirling around. Huddling her closer he picked up the speed of their steps and soon up to the porch where the wind seemed to relent.

"Aye, I thought so." The Quinn lads weren't foolish. They knew where the stashes were and saw to them being replenished as needed. He hung up his cloak then joined the two at the bar. "I'm thinking by the time winter comes to a close, we'll be ready to see green again."

"You should." She smiled up to him. "It's quite the sight to see. Especially with the more colorful birds." She nodded to mention of the run and skating. "Sounds like a good time." She was starting to get used to the cold and enjoy it more. She followed his steps and pace up to the porch of the tavern and reached out to open the door. That was a little more cold wind than she preferred. Shaking it off, she stepped in and held the door for him with a smile to the others. "It's certainly getting colder out there."

Karina had gone off into the back room for a few moments to retrieve something she'd stashed there. Heading back out, she handed off a small bulky package to Eion, wrapped in brown paper. "Sorry it's late..." Small crooked smile as she settled into a comfy chair to watch him open the gift.

Grans had few vices. She liked her whiskey and was never caught drunk. Just a taste and most often they got a dram when a cold started setting in. Special toddies made to keep them well. Certainly feeling well after just one and sometimes they got two. Knocked her out. Fingers curled around the mug to help warm them up before it was lifted and the taste was just a little bit of heaven.

"We can pack some food, extra blankets into the sled." He would be bringing a horse drawn sled for the occasion. "Potcheen and some brandy, warm tea in canisters. Enough to share if needed." Whisking her in through the door before seeing it closed then their wraps to hang off to the pegs.

Well, that was a bit of a surprise. "Thank you, Karina. Late doesn't mean anything. I haven't given any that I have out save for my family and a few others." He had seen to the squires that had remained at the castle instead of going home. A glance at the door and he nodded at Segan and Vanessa before he tore open the gift. He didn't waste time.

"I can pack all of that." She smiled to him and unfastened her cloak to be hung, then walked with him to the bar. "I have most of that at the cottage and things to pack it all in." Then spun right around and went to her cloak, having forgotten something.

She took her mug over to the hearth at this point and settled into a wing back for they were the most comfortable. Between the cushion seats, the warm enhanced chocolate and the fire, she might fall asleep.

Eion would find a pair of black leather gloves, fairly thick for warmth but supple and flexible. They were long enough to fit snugly to a few inches past the wrist. The ends had a downy lining of fur. Karina bit her lip as she watched. "Figured they might be good for while you're trainin' out in the cold...."

"Grans will make a basket." That much he knew he'd not escape the manor without one. She would know too, somehow always did and rare was ever the moment she didn't. "Eion, do you still like to skate?" All three of the brothers had learned early on in the northern highlands of Eire when it got cold enough.

His usually stern face softened some as he tried them off. "Perfect fit. And they'll be much appreciated on these cold mornings." He looked up at her and winked, likely the closest he'd get to a smile. "I haven't gotten on skates since I left home." He looked at Segan as he spoke. And left the gloves on since they were warmer than those he'd been wearing. Once his hands were warmed up, he'd take them back off.

After digging through he pockets of her cloak, she brought back a slender wrapped present to the bar and offered it to Eion. "Belated merry Christmas."

Karina beamed as Eion put the gloves right on and clearly liked them. That wink and smile was a big reward from the usually-stoic man and she knew it. So she returned the gesture with a lopsided grin. "Glad they fit."

Another? He accepted this one as well. "Thank you, Vanessa." And again, would have to see that his gift was delivered, also late. After he opened it, he held it up for the others to see as well. "This will certainly be used. I go through a few quills." He had seen other pens but not one as elegant as this. "Again, thank you." And another slight smile was given.

A nod given to Eion. "You're very welcome." She hoped it would come in useful for him. It was unique though, she thought he might like it. From Alex she ordered some cider and leaned against the bar counter.

It was good to see her eldest brother smiling and there was an air of comfort about him tonight that hadn't been there in a while. Maybe things were getting better for him. This would be the best Christmas present.

He had some potcheen set out and in a lean near Vanessa. If he knew his sister's thoughts he'd agree as he was watching his brother. "Now there will be no excuse in keeping your journal." He knew about his although he didn't know what it contained. Just as Eion knew about his but not what it contained.

"I write in it though it's more a keeping of my thoughts than a day to day one." He looked over his glass at Segan. "Just have to wait until I die to get your hands on it." And yes, Eion was teasing his brother. Which reminded him. "We got a shipment of things from Uncle Brady and his family. Gifts and letters. I had them sent to the manor."

Karina too was feeling a sense of contentment creep warmly into her bones, as she curled up in a chair by the hearth. Just watching the others with a faint smile upon her lips that wasn't without a touch of sadness. Tonight was just making it harder to convince herself to do what she had to. But she found herself vowing it would be the last time. She had no idea how she'd swing that but... she must.

She leaned in a bit closer to Segan, laughing quietly at the comment about the journal and sipped her cider. A glance over to Karina, giving a warm smile while she listened.

"I don't know about that. Maybe one night we'll exchange journals and read them?" Probably with a couple bottles of potcheen to share too. Giving a nod to the other announcement.

The gloves were removed and tucked into a pocket in his pants, where they stuck out! He checked on Concessa to see if she had fallen asleep. They might be carrying her back tonight. "Maybe." He gave a non-committal answer. Not entirely sure he wanted his brother to know the darkness he hid.


Cessa was sleepy eyed at this point but managing to keep them from closing completely. "Maybe sometime we can hike to one of the cabins in the forests, Karina." Being she liked to go on adventures and her voice sounded as sleepy as she looked. "Get a few others," their age like many had done before with a teen camp out. "You know a bunch had before and found a dead body in the snow." Not realizing she spoke what she had heard.

She smiled softly and began to answer that she'd like that... before blinking at that rather dark comment from Cessa. "Well uh... I'm not lookin' for dead bodies but a hike would be nice." Smothering a snicker as her friend seemed to drift between sleep and wakefulness.

He paused in his drinking to look at Concessa. He didn't want to warn her off, but didn't really like the idea of her hiking in the mountains this time of year. He had yet to read the letter that Brady had addressed to him, but he'd be needing to talk to Segan after he did most likely.

The trade off would probably be worth it. All those adventures on the high seas, the Amazon and lost islands not charted on maps even. The darker ports, the slums and black markets ones dealing with slaves that he confronted. The battles, the wounds, the days without wind where they got down to the minimum of food trying to keep sanity amongst his men. Watching his brother as a hand lightly caressed against Vanessa's arm then over to Concessa too. They could talk about that idea later on.

His stories were probably better than the ones in the book she'd given him! Karina hadn't ordered a drink but she was warm by the fire and didn't feel the need to get up. Curled up there in the chair her eyes took on that faraway glaze as she just half-listened to the others.

Vanessa just blinked at what Concessa said about the dead body, then looked over to Segan with a smile. "Eion, perhaps you'd join us skating when we go." Whenever they could find a chance to all get together.

"Karina, Concessa, any others can join us as well. Skating and sledding." He was noticing that Karina was half asleep as a few words were exchanged with Alex. One of the horse drawn sleds would be brought up so that he could easily see to all of them home shortly.

Segan would lose out on the deal if Eion agreed. He wasn't writing of adventures. His expression changed back to the more stern one when he looked toward Segan and Vanessa. "Perhaps. My duties are heavier of late."

Of course all were welcome to come. She looked at Eion and gave a solemn nod then went back to drinking her cider with a glance to Concessa and Karina.

Karina wasn't half asleep so much as far away in thought. Brows lightly drown together in almost a frown as her head was propped on her hand, gaze set motionlessly on the fireplace.

"All the more reason to take a break from heavy duties to keep your sanity." Glance shifting from their sister to Eion with a slight smile. The jingle bells on the sled could be heard as it was pulled up outside. It was ready for whenever they were.

She was comfortably snuggled up in the chair. It had been a long day, a good day but leaving her tired. A comfortable tired.

He finished his drink and looked at the others, one at a time. "I think it grows late." He had to work with the pup and Diablo come morning, a prospect he wasn't certain he looked forward to.

"Aye, I've a sled we can take to get us all home. It is that time." Eion might still have to carry Cessa once her cloak was gotten on.

"Aye, that it is." Spoken quietly, she finished up her mug of cider and set it on the counter with a smile to Alex.

He had his cloak on in the meantime as his drink had been long consumed. He would help Vanessa with her cloak while handing Eion, Cessa's as she had left it at the bar over the back of a stool.

He would, with no hesitation. "Concessa, it's time to return home." Gran would be listening for her return at any rate. He was over to the hearth, standing in front of her.

With Segan's help, her cloak was wrapped around her shoulders, she fastened it and went about pulling out her gloves and such to pull on.

"Mmmmmm," she curled more into the cushions but in a moment lids lifted as she noticed her brother hovering over her with her cloak. A soft sigh escaped but she forced herself up with the thought that soon she would be snuggled up in her bed. She slipped into the held cloak with a look towards Karina, "you coming too?"

Karina snapped back into the here and now with a couple of blinks. A glance between each of them as she realized it was time to go. Pushing up from her chair, she glanced to Cessa and nodded. Crossing to retrieve her things from the coat rack by the door.

Being over by the door at this point, he one handed helped Karina with her cloak too. "There are blankets in the sleigh that can keep you all warm in the ride back." Opening the door to hold for them all in leaving, giving Alex a wave good night as now he could close up and get some sleep too.

Her pup would be waiting to warm up with her. "I'll bet the fire's going in your room." He wrapped her up in her cloak, then guided her over to the door behind Karina. The lass was very thoughtful tonight. A salute to Alex before he stepped outside.

"There's a sleigh?" Yes she was just now tuning back in. A nod to thank Segan as she shrugged into her coat then tugged on her hat. Just as soon as that was done she was heading out the door and to the sleigh, glad they wouldn't have to walk the distance back to the gardens.

Vanessa waited for Eion, Karina and Concessa to exit first before following them out, but waited just outside for Segan with a small smile. Once he was ready, then she was on her way to the sleigh with the others.

She was getting her second wind especially after the cold wet air hit her. "Look, a horse drawn sled." Well, a team of horses being it was a bigger sled with a canopy over the top too! She was easily escorted out that Eion didn't need to carry her.

He saw to the door before a hand was upon the small of Vanessa's back as they ended up right behind the other three, he'd see them all in, well, except his brother for he'd be in the driver's seat if he knew Eion at all or the driver that brought it around would.

Karina piled into the sleigh, settling in beneath a pile of comfy warm blankets, which made the cold air outside seem almost nice.

"Aye, Segan saw to it for the three of you." He placed a kiss to the top of her head. "Rest well, Concessa." No, he was heading for the barracks "I'll see you at the manor soon." Though he wasn't sure when he'd head there it would be soon. He didn't want their grandmother coming after him. "Segan, Vanessa, Karina. Good night to you all, and again, thank you for the gifts."

Vanessa stepped into the back and sat down, moving in closer to Segan once he was seated. A nod given to Eion. "Have a nice night, Eion." She picked up a blanket to lay over herself and Segan if he wanted it.

"Night Eion." Half a smile as she settled in for a quiet sleigh ride home.

She curled up next to Karina as it seemed there was the driver who brought it. "Night Eion, see you tomorrow," with a yawn.


He waited until they were on their way before he turned to follow the road to the castle. No whistling tonight. It was too blasted cold.



Date: 01-01-10
Poster: Calhoun Quinlan
Post # 70

Happy New Year

Calhoun was standing by the front window watching those out in the cold gather around the tree that had been set up in the square. They sang songs like Ole Lang Syne and other songs of bringing in the new year as a new harvest. One likened that harvest to Golden Apples like the touch of King Midas. Most wanted a year without heartache nor wars and prayed in song for Kildare as well keeping all their lands safe. Calhoun's expression was hard to read as he could hear their wishes quite clearly. Perhaps they touched too deeply which would have him hiding emotion even in the stoic look upon his features. He was attired suitably in mostly wool for the season. Boots lacing up to under his knees. A poet's shirt with the collar left open and a vest over that. The glass held was finally lifted in a gesture of toasting those down in the square. His hearing far too acute for a human but one of the things he had not figured into his past other than an oddity.

Cara had been part of the crowd until she became too cold. Unsure why she was drawn to the Thistle, she whispered to Norma, that she'd see her at the castle and made her way to the tavern. She was dressed warmly enough in a fur-lined cloak of red velvet but even so, felt the cold acutely for some reason tonight. A hint of a skirt of dark blue velvet sprinkled with glittering sequins could be seen as she stepped inside. Lowering her hood, she smiled at Alex then turned blue eyes to Calhoun. Her hair was curled and fell over one shoulder. "Good evening, Calhoun and happy new year. You're not celebrating with the other knights?" She knew some were gathered in the knights' hall.

He watched her approach and then watched her reflection in the window as she came in and was over to see Alex. He turned finally as Fae green eyes captured hers and though he stood a good distance away, for that moment he was up close and personal before that feel was gone. "Good evening Lady Cara." Still no hint of a smile as he shortened the distance between them physically by making his way over to the bar. Something more natural. "Everyone celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another in different ways. This year, I prefer being an observer of others than in the midst of merry making. It only.." catching himself with a slight gesture of hand, "happy New year to you."

There was a moment of confusion, as it seemed he came closer and her eyes widened. Even when he approached physically she remained confused, but hid it after a moment. She watched as he approached, tipping her head ever so slightly, her lips pursing as well. "I suppose there's nothing wrong with watching, but are you certain there's not something more on your mind than just the year's end?"  She motioned toward the window. "I think most are just enjoying the moment and hoping for an even better year. We've had a good one both here and in Innis."

He towered over her as he came that close. "When your lips purse such it brings a man wishing to kiss them fully." The intensity in his eyes left no doubt it was more a warning but of exactly what kind was left to interpretation.  "There is much on my mind that will be there until I can resolve it." For some reason it was hitting him harder this year than it had of any in the past. Something overdue, something whose naggling had turned into screams.

Her cheeks turned a soft rose and she lowered her eyes briefly but raised them again. "Do you need someone to talk to? I may not have a solution but I'm a good listener and I promise not to repeat anything you say." By then Alex had placed a goblet of mulled wine on the counter for her and she picked it up in order to distract herself from his all too intense gaze.

"I might." He was obviously indecisive. Not so much that he didn't trust her as her reputation was impeccable. Eyes that held, burrowed then dropped to the fullness of her lips tracing them in a eatable way as if his were already upon them in consumption. "Or maybe I need something else powerful enough to distract my thoughts?" She'd have to be innocent as a child or slow as molasses in winter if she didn't catch onto his meaning especially when it was his eyes that made things so clear when locked.

The rose of her cheeks deepened but her chin lifted slightly, a smile playing across her lips. "Well, maybe I can provide that distraction? Before the New Year, an early wish for you." She didn't doubt he would recognize the offer!

Alex had disappeared into the kitchen probably to spend a few with Hazel as they were both seen to in drinks already. He had his drink of potcheen and the bottle left. A hand lifted as eyes held again, roughen fingertips lightly touched along her cheek tracing a pattern down to her lips. Hesitating there while eyes continued their search as he drew closer minutely, painstakingly. It was his thumb that skimmed over the fullness of her bottom lip. There was a strong magnetism about him he was fully exerting on her, drawing her to him to want that which he wanted just as much. When he felt that power, eyes closed, thumb moving away as lips descended with a dip of his head down on in. There was a heated pulse there in the searing, one that consumed and gave at the same time. Something mutual which made it all the more enticing. No drink in hand as an arm was around her waist in support as the other hand was around to cup the back of her head for the onslaught.

She had felt the draw before but never as strong as this. Not that she intended to resist. Her eyes met his and then fluttered closed as he touched her lip with his thumb. That light caress had her shiver. Arms slid around him as the kiss deepened and she felt a warmth spread from her deepest being.

If one could picture a magical swirl of light that sparkled spiraling up, it would be close to what was happening as his soul entwined with hers bringing it up to new heights through his kiss. The abilities he had he thought were ordinary but they were not at all, they were clues to who he really was. He drank long and deep of her lips as it brought him to new dimensions and taking him away from the pain in his heart that had been there since an infant. It was only the sound of something banging that brought him back. Lips torn from hers, Fae eyes still held a haze as his hand went instinctively to the hilt of his sword. He kept her close still in a protective way. A second later he relaxed when he realized it was a shutter that had blown open then slammed shut for Alex had come out of the kitchen and was seeing to it.

She was surrounded, bedazzled and lost in the sensations that found her. Though not un-experienced, at least in kissing, she had never felt such feelings before. Even the banging didn't quite cause it to leave her as their lips parted. She leaned against him, taking a few deep breaths. That soft blush still colored her cheeks and her heart was fluttering like a bird. She leaned her head against him briefly, then smiled, a touch impishly. "Happy New Year again, Cal."  Her voice was husky and soft.

"Happy New Year Cara," presently he wasn't going to talk on what ailed his heart and mind as she would find herself scooped up into his arms. Alex fixed the shutter and was back out into the kitchen to spend the time with Hazel. He had said something about giving a holler if needed but they knew where everything was. Calhoun was trusted as was Cara and Alex didn't need to chaperone them. He had his own agenda presently. Those outside were huddled together in the cold but they kept their vigil as one had constructed a star to come down a pole as the ole year became the new one. Cal was strong as she might noticed in how easily he carried her off to the couch. The one angled between hearth and window that they could watch. With her still in his arms he eased down to keep her on his lap and snuggled into his arms. His lips would find hers again if she was willing.

She let out a surprised laugh, her arms going around her neck. Heart never ceased its pounding even as they settled onto the couch. She waved at Alex, knowing her cheeks were bright now but what better way to watch the new year come in. Content, she snuggled in his arms, tipping her head so her lips could meet his.

Who knew when the actual second hit the new year as he was far involved in the kiss. This time it was slow and deliberate than fiery as one starved before. Still consuming but with a mission in exploration. Finger tips grazed against her scalp beneath the warmth of her hair. Free hand with a trace of his finger against the shell of her ear. If this was going to get him in a lot of trouble, such thoughts had blown away with last year's thoughts.

It would only be trouble if Cara allowed it to be, and she had no intentions of doing so. She was unaware of the yelling outside as the revelers welcomed the New Year with yells, blowing of horns and banging of drums and whatever else they could get hold of. She fitted on his lap perfectly, as if she was made to be there. The warmth that had started earlier still filled her and she made a soft purring sound when he touched her ear. What a lovely way to spent New Year's eve.

To her purring came his growling in a more masculine response. Lips leaving their heated perusal as the sounds from outside grew louder. Word came in a gruff emotion undertone, "you have given me the best New Year I've had in... I can't remember." Really. It had been a long time since he'd been with a descent Lady. It had been as if he'd been looking forever but tonight he didn't feel that way. He wasn't going to jump to conclusions but he was the type that was fiercely loyal to one if it came about. "If you mean your words I will tell you what troubles me, although not tonight. It is too perfect to ruin." He knew he could not keep her too long on his lap as some of the revelers were headed this way, one could tell by how the sounds grew louder and more distinguishable. He could tell long before others.

"And you have given me the same." There had always been parties and fun but tonight she had wanted a quiet night. And it had become so much more. No, she wouldn't jump in either, but neither would she deny the attraction any longer. "Then, I'll wait for the time that you do so." A promise of sorts, for it would give them another chance to spend time together. She traced the line of his jaw with a finger before sighing. "It sounds like the party is about to begin here."

There was definitely an attraction even if he was rebelling, he wasn't strong enough nor dishonest enough not to recognize it. It would wait. There was time for discovery if he could keep his lips from hers long enough. "Peter said he would give me the time when I am ready to resolve my conflict. He will help me in any way he could." Peter and Cal went back a long way to old battlefields that left few alive and each had saved each other so many times they had lost count. More than a friendship grew but a blood bonding in brothers. Not many knew this for Peter treated all his men fairly, equally. Calhoun would not expect more nor less of his king. "Aye," finally, reluctantly, sliding her from his lap seconds before the door burst open with shouts in Happy New Year, and general cheer.

She nodded slowly, her smile soft, her eyes saying so much more. "Peter is a good man, just like you and I'm sure he'll be a great help in time." She settled beside him on the couch, laughing as the party came in. Greeting them in turn, she watched as Alex came out of the kitchen again then turned to look at Cal. "I should return to the castle, or Elaina might come looking. Will you escort me back?" It would give them a few more moments alone, even if the streets were still filled.

Cal waved to the group now huddled at the bar looking for some food to somewhat sober them up. He watched them for a moment only to draw his focus back upon the beautiful woman next to him. "I will see you there." He also may as well prepare himself for any ribbing having succumb to one of Elaina's ladies. Something that had become more a taboo to stay away from, the dangerous fruit.

He could handle it, Cara had no doubt! And such delicious fruit too. She was near floating as she stood, having taken his hand and acting as if she was trying to tug him to his feet. If he didn't want to move, she certainly wouldn't be able to move him.

Only had her tugged back on his lap briefly and another kiss stolen before he was up, taking her with him. "Good evening, folks," addressing the group as he was seeing to her cloak and his before taking her out in the rude awakening cold. He'd keep her close, arm around her shoulders and gait set to match hers although a little hurried towards the castle.

She laughed again, eyes bright as he stole that kiss. A wave to those at the bar, and they were out the door. She could get to like being escorted in this way, the cold warded off and being protected, even if there was no real danger. Any excuse to be close.

Tonight would be changing his tomorrows but it was something that was waiting, no, begging, to happen. Something that would herald a new beginning possibly for them both but certainly for himself. Anyone still out got a wave and certainly the good cheer of a new year.

Date: 01-03-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 71

Ready to Leave

A light snowfall was drifting down again but Karina had grown resigned to it, knowing that she'd be surrounded by the cold white stuff for the conceivable future. Everything was ready... she was bundled in her warmest clothes, and a pack of supplies was attached to Big Red's saddle - including the new canteen. There was no real reason to stop by the Thistle on the way out but that warm, yellow torch light drew her inside one last time. And she supposed it would be good to say her farewells to Alex and have him pass on those sentiments to the others. So, with the horse securely tied up outside, she headed in. The snow stomped from her boots and brushed from her cap when she pulled it off, Karina pulled the door shut behind her and glanced around.

Rhett finally tore himself from working as it was necessary to relax or overwork himself. He knew this from experience and also knew that all would get done before it was needed. Trusting his instincts on this. They had achieved so much already. Quiet night had him off in one of the wingbacks. Glass of potcheen dangling from his fingertips in a slightly swaying motion as if some tune played through his head. He'd given up on catching anyone else out at this hour. It was on that very thought someone came through the door, cold burst of wind having the fire flicker higher. A roll of his head to the side had him taking the one in under his sights. Next second he was up. Glass turned fully in hand as he was around. "Karina, you haven't gone yet then." Obviously as statement seeing her there but pleasantly surprised edge. "Did you get the canteen?" He'd not know that her horse was all packed outside awaiting her to take their leave.

She, too hadn't expected to see anyone and so Rhett's voice from the hearth surprised her. Already midway across the floor to the bar, she paused and turned that direction. "Nah, not yet, just on my way out. And I did get it..."  She'd had Vanessa read the note for her and a small smile formed on her lips. "Thanks. It'll come in handy." She ruffled her hair a bit to free it from the dusting of snow, then started tugging off her gloves. Maybe she'd stay for just one drink. She wasn't entirely eager to get going.... well, in some ways she was, but in other ways not. Not even a little.

"Good." Pleased to hear that she had having squared shoulders relax some. Pressed smile followed briefly before he indicated the seats about. "You have time to sit and warm up or need to go immediately?" Concern had brows to gather at the bridge of his nose. "You're going to leave at night than wait until morning?" Usually ones didn't travel at night unless absolutely necessary but who was he to say anything? So the press of lips followed as if keeping himself from voicing his opinions.

"I have some time." She waved to Alex, asking for a hot cider to warm up before crossing to the hearth. Settling in another of the wing backed chairs facing Rhett, she tucked one leg up under herself comfortably. "Aye, well..." A crooked smile offered as she gave a shrug, not sure how to explain this old habit of hers. Always leaving at night. "I didn't want to make a big scene of it, or anything. Figured now was as good a time as any to get going..."

"Aye?" Getting seated again once she sat. His parents made sure all their children grew up with manners. "At least you'll be warmed up." Going with that in keeping from prying. "I can understand not wanting to make a big production of leaving." He was more reserved than most others he knew. Quiet sort for the most part until he got to talking with one he was comfortable with.

"Aye, something to start with... at least it'll take my toes longer to completely freeze," but she was only kidding, speaking with a little grin. Then she gave a nod. "Didn't seem to be a reason to make a scene of it." Thanking Alex as he delivered a steaming mug of cider, she didn't taste it yet for fear of burning her tongue, but instead just cradled the mug between her hands. Moving her blue-green eyes back to Rhett she tilted her head gently to one side. "What about you?" Then going on to explain her question, "Have you ever traveled far abroad from Heathfield?"

"Far as Kildare. Been to Eire when younger with me parents and siblings. I wanted to be a warrior after I learned the blacksmithing from me Da. I felt I could serve everyone better that way. The ideal of being a warrior, someone everyone looked up to. I was good with a sword too, I know swords and weapons. The reality of killing someone, of shedding blood is not the same as the ideal of it." Which had a press of his lips to follow as if showing the end of that conversation or more, for him, continuing along that avenue. "What of you, how far have you traveled?"

Karina was nodding, though at the mention of killing she had her eyes turned away and focused stonily on the flames. Breath drawn in, she relaxed somewhat at the question and gave him a shrug. "Far enough to know that traveling isn't all it's cracked up to be. It has its adventures, sure but...." She shrugged and gave a gesture around the cozy tavern as if to explain her thoughts. "This.. this is awful nice too." Another lopsided smile with a gaze that didn't last long. It wasn't often she spoke her mind so frankly but sometimes words had a way of spilling out.

"I might take a trip up to the mountains with me brother which we do usually once a year. Cabins are stocked there ever since the Great Blizzard many years ago. Why we have so many huskies and sleds around." It didn't really bother him that he wasn't going on any adventures, since the one to Kildare he was kind of cured of them in that way. The daring between life and death became a real personal experience. "Seems you had enough of them. Aye, there is an appeal to being warm on a harsh winter night, to have food in your belly and clothes upon your back."

Karina nodded; she'd stumbled upon those cabins before, long ago, before she'd ventured down into the town itself. "Aye, and it's easy to forget how nice those things are til you don't have 'em." She'd gotten so used to a comfortable life here, it would likely be something of a shock to go back. She shifted bit in the chair, shifting to sit cross-legged (not too indecent as she had pants on) and took a careful sip of her cider. "Mmm. And nobody makes cider like Alex." She added with a small smile in an attempt to lighten her last words.

Douglas was good at sneaking, to the point that some of his friends used to tease him about being part Elf. Thus, he managed to avoid the teens in the square although they were getting ready to leave. The wind had picked up and it had gotten colder. He slipped in through the side door, just opening it enough to slide in and not let the cold follow too much. "Bluidy hell, it's cold out there," he declared with a grin toward Alex. "Evening, Alex. Hello Rhett, Karina."

"You should take some cider in the canteen." She could fill it up, warmed up even for two quarts worth the canteen held. "What was it like, where you use to live?" Although he was distracted to another coming in. Of course recognizing his brother soon as he stepped in. "Hey Douglas, come join us! Aye, it is bluidy cold out there." Which obviously they were warm by the hearth.

That was a good idea, and she brightened a bit at the thought of having something hot to drink for the first few hours at least. Then that question... but she was distracted too when Douglas came in. She offered a half-grin and waved her greeting. Then back to Rhett, she answered after a pause, "...It's nothin' to talk about in such a nice, warm place as this." She spoke on a lower key for Rhett alone to hear, finding his eyes with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Aye," finding his voice to lower as blue eyes turned her way, met and held. "Maybe another time.." leaving it go there not pressuring promises or the like. Maybe he instinctively understood certain things. "What has you out so late? Business matters?" Douglas was a year older than Rhett and his brother was not all that unlike himself when it came to working and forgetting to socialize. One or the other would get it in mind to drag the other out if the span of time got too great. Sledding was a good excuse presently.

"One minute." He hung up his heavy cloak after removing his gloves and scarf, stomped off the snow and ordered coffee with a dash of potcheen before he was over to join them. Though he stopped and eyed the two. "Sure I'm not interrupting?" Hiding the grin that threatened as he spoke, he then nodded. "Aye. There was a late delivery at the warehouse."

Eyes held for just that moment, she nodded, and her smile grew a bit with gratitude that he did not push the matter. Yes, maybe another time... when she could separate herself from it a bit more. Douglas' question broke the spell and her glance moved that way with a little grin, light color finding its way onto her cheeks. "Nope, not at all."

"Interrupting what?" If there was more meaning behind that question it went over his head.

He just looked heavenward and laughed then sat. "A private conversation, of course. Man, Rhett. Can't even tease you."

"Oh, no, not really a private conversation like that." Least in his mind as he took the course his brother set. "Wont be seeing much coming in over the next couple months by way of sea." He didn't mention that Karina was leaving for that would be up to her to tell.

She hid a grin at the teasing between brothers, as she sipped at her cider. She was taking small sips only, wanting to savor the minutes until she hit the road. She shifted her chair a bit as Douglas joined them so that they'd be more of a circle, facing each other. "How've you been Douglas?"

"I've been well. Cold, busy but well. How about you?" He took a drink of the cider. "Aye, they said there was ice as is. Which I won't mind. Warehouses are cold this time of year."

"Give us some time to do some things together. Hey, you want to help us make the Rollers?" He was serious if Douglas was slow on his end, that would give him something to do too.

"Aye, I'd like to do that." Douglas liked to work with his hands, which of course Rhett would know. "How many are there ordered now?" He winked at Karina. "And I want to know how you've been soon as Rhett here answers."

Which made her snicker lightly, and gave a nod of assent. She leaned back in her chair, content with letting the brothers chat for a moment and just soaked in the warmth of the place.

"Got the four done for here. Going to do two for Ballicastle and two for Tyremoor. Started the two smaller rollers first. After those are done and in place, see if any more are needed." So he had his answer as blue eyes turned upon Karina wondering how much she would tell Douglas.

Oh, her turn now? She glanced between the brothers, large turquoise gaze settling upon Douglas. "Well I've been good enough. Leaving tonight on a little trip, but hope to be back soon." Short and sweet.
Which had a pressed smile to show before lifting his glass to partake of the potcheen it held. He'd nearly forgotten about it.

He let out a low whistle. "Good number then." His dark eyes shifted from his brother to Karina as he took a careful drink. The mug was lowered and he nodded. "Rough time of year to travel."

He discreetly went quiet.

"Yeah, it is... but what fun is takin' the easy route?" A light grin, eyes flicking between the two again before she took another sip of cider.

"You going to take the main road north? One that passes through Tyremoor then Kildare?" There were actually two main roads north, that one and a parallel one that ran through Ballicastle and up into Luneberg.

"Guess so. I've never gone on horseback before." Usually she was on foot and just traveled the maze of footpaths that loosely paralleled the main roads. "Think that's the best one to go by?"

"That's not too bad, least up to Tyremoor you'll be safe. You'll need to be wary once you pass those borders. If you need to make a stop, stop at the Owl's nest and tell them you're from here. They'll see you to a good room for the night and a meal. Stay away from the northwest forest in Kildare, keep to the main road." That was about all the good advice he had for her.

"I've stayed at the Owl's Nest before." Well... she'd snuck into the stables and slept in the hay! But those were just details. She nodded, absorbing the information offered. "Keep a wary eye after Tyremoor and don't wander into the northwest forest." She offered a small grin though her gratitude was real. "I'll remember that. Thanks."

"Aye, bad place that." He grinned at her. "Did you get fussed at? About staying warm and taking food along." He didn't know where she had gotten the horse and didn't ask.

Douglas guessed correctly and she had to grin at that. "Aye, just a bit. Segan gave me his horse to use and Vanessa gave me more layers of clothing than I could use in a year." A snicker, but there was a soft line to her smile. Her friends had all been more than kind, jumping into action to ensure her safety. "And Rhett here gave me a nice canteen too."

"She won a canteen from me she is to fill with heated up cider before she goes," sending a grin his brother's way that showed the white of his teeth a moment. A dimple too but both brothers had those. Laughing as he realized he repeated her on the canteen.

He laughed and eyed Rhett. "Racing? I wanted to go but I had promised Maureen that I'd take her sledding." She liked to go to the lake too but not alone.

A glance to Rhett and she snickered too at the near echo to her words. "Aye, by some ridiculous stroke of luck I managed to win the race... just barely ahead of your brother here."

"Well, there were those races. I took second so I get a puppy." Eyeing his brother, "did she insist you take her down the Dragon Run?"  Then on a side note turned to Karina, "Maureen is our little sister who is getting to be not so little anymore at fourteen." Least he hope that was how old she was and not find out she was older already.

"Of course. Shaun was with us. Right wore her out too. She was sleeping on the toboggan when we reached the house."

"Ahh," nodding with a smile. "Bet she adores you two." She knew well the hero worship a young girl could have for her older brothers.

"Shaun is another brother and we have one older sister, Stephanie."

She nodded again, the smile creeping up into the grin. "Everyone here has such big families." The Quinns, the Frasiers, the Shawneseys... seemed like everyone else she met had several brothers and sisters, or at least cousins in the land. "It's nice," she added.

"Aye, if you call adoring getting your older brothers to do just about anything imaginable that will not harm her." Which when asked had him realizing how much she had them all wrapped around her baby finger. "Ours is not as big as the Quinns nor Frasiers and I think the McAndrews have the most. Ten sons and the oldest alone has ten sons. A few of the others married with a few too. There are actually some females born. Rick is a good friend of ours." Who had been with him that faithful day in Kildare too.

That made her laugh. "Well of course, isn't that the little sister's job?" Brief wink as she sipped at her cider, which was sadly dwindling. "That's not a family... that's a tribe," she grinned.

"Aye, a clan in the tradition of good ole Eire." Chuckling under his breath as he wondered sometimes if the brothers could keep each others' names straight. Especially the triplets. Which had him curious, "do you have family? Siblings?"

He laughed and nodded. "Aye, full clan." Probably cousins off somewhere too. He looked at Karina curious.

"Ahh...." Her grin faded some, but remained, with a bittersweet quality. "Not as such. Not by blood anyway, but I have a few who I'd consider family no matter how long it is since I've last seen them." Maybe she'd get to chance a visit with some of them this time. That would be one bright spot in the whole affair. Come to think of it..... she might actually have brothers and sisters, by blood. A full clan even. She'd thought about it a few times before, mostly in her childhood, but not lately. Not that she'd ever know if she did.

Once again he didn't press the issue when he noted her smile fade quickly, "sometimes ones we meet become more as family than others." At least there were ones in her life she had fond connections with and so that wasn't so bad even if she had no family like they had. He was curious but perhaps when she returned he might nudge for answers if the topic went that way.

"Believe it or not, there are a few folks like that here." He stretched out his legs, slouching into the chair with a content sigh.

"Aye, that there is." Shooting a glance to Douglas as he got himself comfortable. "You want to stay at my place tonight then and see the steel skeletons?" Find out now before going out the door.

"You're right there." She answered Rhett whole-heartedly, glancing to Douglas as he spoke and giving him a nod. She couldn't help a snicker as he looked oh-so-comfortable. "Well... me cider's all gone, no excuse to stay much longer. I'll get my new canteen to fill up though," Some hot cider for the road as Rhett had suggested. Unfolding herself out of the chair, she went to drop her mug off at the bar then grabbed her coat and hat, heading out to dig her canteen out of her saddle pack. Brrr... it was godawful cold out. Back inside and to the bar. "Would ya fill this up with extra-hot cider, Alex? Thanks.." And she'd lean there for the moment, watching the brothers while awaiting the canteen.

"Aye, I will. Told Ma I might." He gave Rhett a grin, though their mother knew he'd be at Rhett's or the Thistle. He watched Karina then looked at his brother to see his expression.

It was getting late as he lightly kicked Douglas' booted foot as he got up. Grin. His drink finished as he headed over to the bar to drop off the glass there. "Is it still snowing out there or has it given up for the night?"

"Given up for now though I have a feeling it won't be a long break."

Bah. He had just gotten comfortable. With a grunt, he stood, his coffee was nearly finished anyway.

A smirk given to Rhett, she wouldn't be that lucky to have a snow-free evening.

"Good." Being impulsive a hand lifted to tuck around her arm as he drew her into a hug, Good squeezing one. "Take care, Karina." Not needing to say anything else for he was sure she knew the dangers on the road, especially once out of the protection of these lands. A hug was something good to send her away with, like a good omen.

Surprised by the hug, there was the delay of one blink before she stepped in. An arm raising to return the hug however briefly. "Thanks." Said somewhat into Rhett's shirt. She kept it simple too. They'd already discussed the potential for danger... and he already knew that no matter those, she had to go. It was a warm smile that graced her lips when the petite thing looked up.

Which she got a quick wink and the pressed smile that reached his eyes as he stepped back. "You sure you got everything you need?" In case there was any last minute things forgotten they could try and see her with what was missing.

"Think so." Alex came back to hand back her canteen, now full to the brim with hot liquid that would be a valuable asset for this first night of travel. "Got this... think I'm set." A crooked smile as she made sure the canteen cap was screwed on tightly and just lingered one second more. This was the problem with goodbyes, they just made leaving harder.

"You travel safe, Karina and we'll be waiting to hear that you're safe." He placed his empty mug on the countertop.

"Thanks Douglas." A little grin for him too as she drew a breath, then tugged her hat more tightly over her curls. "Well... bye then. And be well."

Which he reached over the bar to grab up some of the beef jerky kept in a box. "Take some of this along in case of an emergency." They were wrapped up and smelled good, a touch spicy but not too much.

She had a bag stuffed of food already, thanks to Segan and Vanessa but a little more certainly wouldn't hurt "Thanks." Said again with another half-grin as she accepted the wrapped-up jerky. Thinking about how much better prepared she was this time than she ever had been before. Lucky lass she was to have stumbled upon this place all those months ago. "I will." That said to Douglas, the same almost shy grin as she nodded. Heading over to the door she paused to let them join her.

He gave her an easy grin, reaching to tug at a stray curl. "You too, and try to find a warm place to stay each night, aye?" Might not be possible each night, but they could wish it for her.

"We'll walk you out." As they were heading home this late of night. Would see her off properly that way. His coat was there over the back of a stool that he soon had around broad shoulders and the usual brown Stetson scooped up to slide over the unruly curling hair atop. Made him look older once in place.

He grabbed his cloak and wrapped up again. At least Rhett's place was closer than the manor. "Lovely night." Said dryly as they stepped out.

Out the door she'd go, steeling herself with a quick breath for the cold. Big Red was tied up not far off, and she went to tuck the jerky and her canteen into the saddlebag. She pulled herself nimbly up into the saddle, gave the brothers one more wave.

It may have stopped snowing but the wind was producing snow squalls as it whipped it off roofs and up from the slopes of land near the tavern.


"I hope you have some extra wool blankets to put around you?" She had mentioned she was clothed right however. Her wave was met with one of his as he'd stand there until she was out of sight then head for the smithy which was very warm for the furnace that was kept so.

"Aye, one for me and one for the horse." She had to lift her voice a bit to be heard over the wind gusts. Adjusting the reins in her hands as she settled in for the ride. "Don't worry 'bout me..." She added, "I can fend for meself." One last grin which may or may not have been visible, before she was heading off, on the main road going north.

They would worry about her. Quite a few she had met and befriended would.

He just grinned and lifted his hand in a wave, then nudged Rhett when she was out of sight. "Let's go. It's too cold."



Date: 02-01-10
Poster: Eion Quinn
Post # 72

Life's Unexpected Changes

Segan was at the bar in conversation with Alex. A quiet night especially for the heavy fall of snow outside. That was until the Rollers were brought out to keep the roads clear as best as possible. He hadn't seen Vanessa in awhile and worried on her. It had him restless as he headed out wandering the snow laden streets while it fell then to the tavern for a meal and presently good company with the older tender. He had left a note at the manor where he'd be if any of his brothers or sisters had an itch to get out or needed to contact him.

Worry not, Vanessa was doing fine and though she'd hoped to return sooner than this, there wasn't much she could do in regards to her sister's health. She'd been doing so well right after her first born, but her health and that of her husband had quickly gone downhill. It had all come to an end in the most unfortunate of ways and left Vanessa in a very odd position, but she would do what was necessary, as she always did. She was glad to see the Thistle lit  warmly as she and Tennison approached from some wayward direction. She wanted to let others know she was alright as soon as she could rather than wait until morning. Tenn was left to wait while she snuggled the bundle of blankets closer and made her way into the tavern.

Eion wasn't driving one of the rollers tonight though he had been talking to those who were. He headed for the tavern afterwards, mostly to warm up since he had been out for several hours. He stopped to talk to a few of the teens who were outside as one of the rollers rumbled by. It never failed to gain attention though that could very well change by the end of the season. He followed it on his way to the tavern, glancing at the horse as he started up the steps.

As soon as the door opened, blue eyes shot up to the mirror behind the bar. There was always the hope Vanessa would come through that door or any of his friends or family. One blink as one that could not believe their eyes. He was up so fast the stool he was on tumbled backwards as a hand shot out to grab it before it hit the floor. "Vanessa," straightened it so quick it wobbled as he was over to the door. About to crush her into a hug when he realized she was carrying something. "A puppy?" That seemed to be the way of it here for many.

Vanessa passed through the door, grateful for the warmth, and heard footfalls coming up after her. She tried to grab the door before it fell shut on Eion, but missed when Segan stumbled off his stool. "Segan." So happy to see him. The bundle was shifted to one arm to give him a hug but stopped short when he stopped and looked at the bundle of blankets. "My niece." Then tried reaching for the door, hoping whoever was on the other side didn't think her rude.

He hadn't really seen anyone going inside, though he heard the door close. Thinking it likely that whoever went inside didn't see him, he pulled open the door. Brows lifted when he saw Vanessa reaching for him and then saw Segan behind her. "Evening, Vanessa, Segan."

The hug was returned, one armed, before he was catching the door, "Eion, get your arse in here." Grinning as her words sunk in. It was not a puppy but her niece as he turned with another blink. "In there," pointing to the bundle for it seemed so small. "A baby?" trying to piece it all together, then looking over his shoulder and back, there was no sister with her. "Where is Jasmine?" The whole thing seeping in that something was wrong with this picture .. unless, "babysitting?" Long way to bring the infant, so that was not quite right either. "Evening Eion," greeting his brother with a perplexed expression.

A small smile given both brothers, she moved aside from the door so that Eion could get in, and nodded to Segan. "Aye." Layers of blankets pulled away from the infant's head of dark hair. Luckily she was sleeping. Smile faded at mention of her sister and tried to say something that would explain but words couldn't be made. Just a saddened expression that probably explained it all.

Seems he had walked into something. He closed the door behind him and moved from the door to the bar, clapping Segan briefly on the shoulder. He leaned against the bar as Alex placed a drink there, turning slightly to watch.

Which had all those warning signs go off, "come in, sit on the couch," feeling that might be a better place for her to be. "Can I get you something?" Helping her in escort as he would take her coat as it was nice and warm near the hearth. "Your sister is all right?" Not being sure exactly what was wrong. Hoping she hadn't died or anything like that. He had this dark cloud over him for a few days, was going to speak to Eion on the sensation to see if he had it too, like something major was going to happen but he was clueless as to what.

Escort was followed to the sofa and one arm at a time the coat was removed with a shake of her head. "No, thank you." Not particularly thirsty or anything at the moment. She was just glad to be in familiar company. When inquired about her sister again, she looked at him quietly for a moment, then shook her head. "No. She and her husband fell ill. They...aren't around to take care of Ysabeau." Deep breath, she sat down, laying the bundled infant to the very back of the cushion, making sure she had some room to move in the blankets.

She would hear the relief in his voice, "hopefully they will get better soon then." Concern for them even if he had never met them. He knew how close she was to her sister, "so, this is Ysabeau." He had to smile for such a sweet face, "Eion, come over and see a real little angel."

She looked at Segan with a tilt of her head. She had a hard time admitting that her twin and brother-in-law had passed away. A gentle shake of her head and another deep breath. "No, they aren' anymore. Illness took them both. Ysabeau will be staying with me." She'd never give her niece up for anything. It was going to be a big change, but she'd adjust and get used to the change.

Eion pushed off the bar and made his way over to where they were. He looked down at the infant for a long moment., listening to Vanessa, then his eyes lifted to study her.

Which floored him as he wasn't able to say anything for minutes that seemed to tick away endlessly. His voice cracked when he finally found it. "I am truly sorry. If there is anything I can do, you just need to ask." Eyes searched as he took up a seat next to her and slid an arm around her shoulders. No more words, just the action of offering comfort as best he could.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Vanessa." He looked down at the sleeping infant again. "She is beautiful."

She looked at the baby, eyes watered some which she tried to blink away before looking to Eion. "Thank you." To both of his statements. Light lean taken to Segan with a nod to his kind words, she closed her eyes with more deep breaths.

There wasn't much else he could say. Looking at Segan a moment, he nodded then went back to the bar and his drink. Eyes moved to the window and the snow fall. Funny, he had been thinking the same about something happening.

He cradled her against his side. There was still a catch in his voice as he filled that void with words, low rumbling ones. "If you need items to set things up, we can get them to your cottage tomorrow." This was a major turn but more for Vanessa and he minor, being he was seeing her as he was. She would know by the way he held her, this would not change things.

It was a relief to know that her taking her niece in wouldn't change things. She was quiet for a few moments past his offer before lifting her head with a brief pass of fingers over her eyes. "Thank you. I'm going to need... everything. There was no wagon to bring most of her things with me." Which she would have done, but there were no means. She looked at Segan, then to Eion and back again. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to spoil your evening." Apologies to both brothers.

There was a face in the window, darken shadows played with the falling snow. The eyes had a keen sharpness to them that stared back at the one across the way at the bar. His brothers were not in sight and he was restless tonight. What might be wondered as an apparition, disappeared after a moment as he headed back down from the porch to wander down the street a ways.

"You did not spoil our evening and certainly it would have been nothing in comparison," not adding what transpired certainly spoiled more than the past two weeks but a bit on life. To go on without her sister being there for her or to see her child grow.  "Tomorrow we can leave Ysabeau with Grandmama to fuss over her and love her all up while we go and get everything you need. You have a spare bedroom we can turn into a wonderful room for her. Concessa, Melantha, Gemma, Karina, will all want to help."

He might have answer Vanessa but instead he was staring at the window, a frown furrowing his brow. Blue eyes met dark ones briefly and then the face was gone. "What the hell... ?" He placed his glass on the bar and moved to the door rather than the window since the babe was likely to get a draft. He stepped outside and to the steps, looking down at the ground for prints.

Some squirming and movement from Ysa, which took Van's attention while listening to Segan. "Are you sure Yaya won't mind." She certainly didn't want to burden anyone with being an unexpected baby sitter. Hand placed on Ysa lightly as she situated herself in her blankets and fell back asleep with no fuss.

"Grams would be in here this very moment if she knew the baby was here. She would be fussing over her, taking her up and shooing you away until she got her fill, or knew she had to give her up," all the while he watched his brother get up from his lean and head outside. That was odd. He kept his words low too as to not startle the baby.

There were small snow squalls that swept away any sign of anyone having been on the porch. If one went by their instincts they would know and the hint of a smoke left behind. Could be a wayward scent too for the sweep of cold, snow laden air.

A lopsided smirk given to Segan. Sounded like something Yaya would do. "She's not really all that entertaining yet. She just sleeps most of the time." Of course, Ysa was only about a month or so old. She then looked past Segan towards the door curiously. "What is he doing?"

When he returned, he was brushing snow from his shoulders, and shaking his head. He looked at Segan and shrugged slightly. "Thought I saw someone at the window." He had heard the stories about the crones, but was sure they didn't smoke. He was actually sure he had seen someone but there was no point in alarming anyone. "Must be the winter Fae playing tricks."

"You've not seen Grandmama with an infant, no matter how little." He had and stood there in amazement at the time. He was sure they were all fussed over when that young too, still fussed over for that matter. He was up with a concern look upon his brother. He had not seen the face but he had that unsettled feeling still that he knew now was not associated with Vanessa's tragedy. "There was someone there. He is not now though." That came right out and he could not explain why if asked. "It was a female?"

"No, not a female." He frowned slightly. "Unless she's has a beard and whoever it was smoked. Why did you think it was female?"

Vanessa just looked between the two brothers quietly, not really sure what to think about the face that had been in the window that she didn't see.

Although Vanessa had said she didn't need anything he was over to get a cup of herbal tea for her. One with a touch of mint in it as he was back to set it on the table near her. "The way you said about winter Fae."

"I was trying to not worry anyone." He chuckled, shaking his head again. "That didn't work too well, did it?"

"Thank you." For the tea with a small smile to Segan before looking to Eion. He chuckled. Wow! Tea was picked up carefully and cupped in both hands for the moment while it cooled some.

"I don't feel we are in any danger and certainly the guards are out patrolling that would stop anyone suspicious. I will see you home, Vanessa, when time to go to make sure."

She nodded to Segan. "Thank you." She was curious as to where Karina was, but she figured she'd catch up with her at the cottage at some point. Tea was sipped from before looking back to Segan. "Have I missed anything here?"

"Not really. Everyone is doing fine, all hibernated in for the snow we've been having. If out, short trips and sledding down at the lake. I do think Karina has been seeing Rhett," such talk did get around but not in a bad way. He had avoided most socialization for he knew he'd be asked on how Vanessa was doing and he had no idea how to answer that.


Brighter smile to mention of Karina. No doubt now there was no question as to who Karina's interest was. "Nice to know she's getting along with him."

"Well, I should say hanging out with Rhett or be beaten if she finds out I said it that way." Which had him grinning just visualizing it, he would tease her.

"I'm glad she's found interest in someone." Karina had a lot to offer and a wonderful personality. A little nod to herself, she sipped her tea again and glanced to Ysa.

"It's good for her to be out with those closer to her age, to be the teen that she is. Ah, I lost a bet in a race and will have to mulch the bird cages for her one night soon." He just hadn't gotten around to doing it yet.

Date: 02-01-10
Poster: Eion Quinn
Post # 73

"You lost a bet with her?" Lopsided grin returned, she blinked at him, but was amused. She could just imagine.

He didn't have much to say as he listened and enjoyed the potcheen, though he kept checking that window. Normally he'd disregard it but there was that odd feeling. Bah! He was just being paranoid.

"Hometown race. Whole circuit has changed over again. New horses, some up for sale too. Impressive," although he was watching his brother from the corner of his eye. "Whoever it is, is still out there but not seen presently," another odd thought that just came rolling out towards his brother.

"Stop doing that, Segan." He growled as he looked at his brother. He still wasn't comfortable with certain things! "And if that horse of mine doesn't improve, I'm going to put him out to stud."

"For sale?" Hm...No. She was going to have to buy furnishings for Ysa and such things for her. Another horse would have to wait. She looked at the brothers again, curiously this time for the exchange.

Both hands were up defensively, "doing what?" He had no clue as it seemed natural to him. He was thinking Eion was just spooked. "You'll have to work with him or get Melantha to, bribe her." Grinning as he lowered his hands. "Well, I made 3200 on Fandango for the second half besides my winnings of 1950 for December. I didn't get around to betting this past month."

Tea was finished off and the cup set aside, she looked to Ysa, then to Segan. "I think I should get to the cottage. It's been a long ride and it continues to grow colder. I don't want to keep Ysabeau out too late. If you want to stay and socialize, please do." She smiled to him, she didn't want to deter his night. She and Ysa had made it this far, they could surely make it back to the cottage.

"You're doing that mind reading thing again." He gave a half smile to his brother. "Like Gran does and it's unsettling." He finished his drink, then asked Alex to pour another. He was off duty tomorrow and intended to have a nice buzz before he went to sleep.

"Seems I did, didn't I?" Which came as a surprise to him. He shrugged it off, wasn't as mystical when you did it yourself over watching another do it. "I can always come back, Vanessa, but I'm going to see you back." He was up to see to his cloak as well help her by holding Ysa.. if she would let him. He had not held a baby that small but figured there was no time like the present. Maybe let Eion hold her too, soften up the old grouch!

No, thank you!

Vanessa was up to get her coat and pull it on with a nod. She was tired and really needed to get Ysa home for no more travel in the cold at night. Once her coat was on, she carefully slipped her hands beneath Ysa and bundled her up, lightly draping the softer of the blankets over her head and face. If Segan wanted to hold her, he was more than welcome to, and she'd lead Tennison. A small wave to Eion. "Nice to see you, as always."

"If you're still up later, we'll talk over some potcheen." Spoken to his brother as he was all bundled up. It might be better if Vanessa held her for the trip back as she was use to holding her and he would lead Tennison while sheltering her from the snow as best he could. Once at the cottage, he would like to hold her when not all bundled up like he was. So he was a little afraid of her being so fragile looking and dropping her.

There were some shouts outside, hard to tell what was being said but it kind of echoed in the fall of snow and a more distant response echoed back even less discernable.

The bundled infant was cradled in both arms and held close, half tucked beneath her coat. "Good night, Eion." A good night given to Alex, then she glanced to the door when she heard the yelling, and to Segan.

He had the door open as he too heard the yelling. Could be anyone out there and not really that abnormal, although it had him turn a look over to his brother Eion. A silent communication for it was odd if you coupled it with the strangeness earlier. Once Vanessa was out, he was quick to have a hand at her elbow, then collect Tennison before they continued on down the street. There were a few people out, hurrying from one place to another for the storm. Not too many and would do one well not to be out in it too long.

She followed out the door and tipped her head down over Ysa's to help shield her from the cold. Tennison was more than willing to follow, knowing he would soon be in his stall. "I can't believe how cold it's gotten."

"Good night, Vanessa and welcome home." Even if the circumstances weren't what she wished. He looked at the door then at Segan, eyes narrowed slightly before he gave a slight nod. He took a drink, deciding to move to the hearth and one of those wing backed chairs.

"Indeed it has and a lot more snow. It will get worse before it gets better." In that he was not surprised. So the conversation would continue as he kept a hand at her elbow so she didn't slip.

He had another fag pressed between gloved fingers as he took a drag. He was under the shadows of an overhang roof as he watched the Thistle from a distance. At least he knew where his brothers were, well approximately. They were down near the port probably in a game of craps under some protective roofing and huddled against the cold. He didn't feel like participating as he shifted from one foot to the other, the cold getting to him this night.  He heard ones leaving as he didn't really look that way for it was in the direction the snow was coming down opposite. Once they had left, he flicked the fag to be doused in the snow and quickly headed up to the tavern.  Decisive steps herald him up to the porch and directly inside. "Alex if you have some potcheen?" Blessing any god above that he had not turned in. He needed a bottle. Cold to the core. He was frosted over like an abominable snowman. It was then in that second he realized his error as a man remained within. That had not been expected but he covered up any surprise by greeting him. "Good eve to you. Quite chilly outside." Which was an understatement.

The sound of the door opening was what alerted Eion that someone had entered He didn't think it was Segan already so sat up and looked at the snow covered man. "Aye, it is at that, and the snow unexpected, or at least such a heavy fall. The potcheen will warm you up quick enough though." He caught the scent of tobacco but the face at the window had been shadowed so he couldn't be sure this was the one.

There were a lot of men who smoked a cigarillo, had a richer scent to it than ordinary cigarettes. He pulled off the derby which was one of his few prized possessions along with the dandy suit that went with it. He had gotten it when he was boxing a lot and had a lot of interviews. He wore the hat constantly but not the suit. "Aye, these lands see a lot of cold and snow then?" Which gave away he was not from these lands and wouldn't pretend to be. They had a day already to note that everyone seemed to know everyone else or at least about them. Though there was not the usual bitter to the gossip. Gossip came in handy for mercenaries. Focus more on Alex as he saw to the tumbler and leaving the bottle. "You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found nothing is charged in this tavern." Taking up the tumbler to kick back the shot before he grabbed up the bottle and took both over to the hearth to warm up.

"Aye, it was the same for me." He sat up from the slight slouch he had assumed and smiled slightly. "I've been here less than a year myself, but from what I've been told, this is typical. Though they've had a year or two when there was some odd weather." He studied the man as he approached. "Just arrived then? I'm Eion Quinn." He was dressed in nicely made clothes, leather pants, vest to match and a Aran sweater of a natural hue.

He had the signs of a man having recently been in a good fight. The healing cut over his eye and bruising marks there and along his jaw. With the cold, it showed where his lip has been split a few times but finally healing.He was about to take another drink and luckily it had stalled upon his lips, lowering it instead as the name was given. Of all the freak'in luck. He braced himself as he turned to face the man, eyes of a dark brown  met steadfast, some might say clash in that it was usually a surprise to see the intensity there. "Aye, just arrived this early afternoon." Switching the tumbler to his left hand which he still held the bottle in as he offered his right. "Liam Murphy and me brothers have come with me but I think they are down at the port finding all the craps and poker game huddles on this blustering night."

There was a similar intensity in the blue eyes that met brown as he leaned forward to take the man's hand in a grip that was not overly firm. He sat back after releasing. "Pleasure to meet you, Liam. There are some good games down there, and some taverns where a man can go to get warmed up. They shouldn't have any trouble finding their way back. You picked an exceptionally nasty day to travel. Where are you from?" The question was casual enough and not an usual one.

He met the grip in kind, strong but not overbearing before it was released. "Many places. Me and me brothers have been traveling a long time. Last place was north of here in the metropolis of Rhydin." Filling the tumbler to kick back another drink as he would not stay too long this late. "Maybe you can give some advice to one new here?" Get Eion talking rather than himself.

"I've been there but never for long. Didn't much care for it." He twirled the drink in his glass, looking thoughtful. "Depends on if you're just passing through or thinking of staying. You'll find the most excitement at the port. The taverns there do charge but if you're looking for a good meal, the Blue Marlin is the place to go. Portmasters there don't tolerate much foolishness but there's always that underside there so make sure to tell your brothers to be careful, watch their backs." He took a drink before continuing. "There are good folk here, unlike many places. Accepting of strangers. You may find yourself among royalty in here. This is where most come at one time or another." He smiled slightly. "Not sure what else you'd like to know."

"Aye, they were born watching their backs. They wont be use to not if it were the case. Sounds like a well run ship." That analogy came to mind. "Do you spend time down there? You must have a good idea of the way of the lands being here that long." Giving a thoughtful nod to the latter. "Royalty here in the common tavern and dressed as others? What are these royals like? They don't sound like any I've encountered before."

"It is like that, aye. I spend time down there when I'm not on duty" His smile grew. "They're exceptional. This land is ruled by Queen Honeee and her husband, King Karl who also rules a realm called Luneburg. She's part Elven, very beautiful. I would say their clothing is well made, and well, there's a grace about her that she can't hide. Her heir is Crown Prince Andrew, married to Princess Noirin. There are several other children as well. You may find the rulers of their sister realms visiting as well. That would be King Peter O'Neill of Innis Daingneach, rarely King Chadrick McAndrews, but his brothers, son, nieces and nephews might visit. There's the Douglas Clan of Tyremoor, and the twins, Leoric and Gaidan, who are King and Regent of Kildare." He gave Liam a look that held some mirth. "Intimidated yet?"

"I've not met an Elf before or even one part Elf. I hope I get a glimpse of such beauty." Which he realized a slight faux pas, they had pointedly asked Mariah of these lands if there was an Eion Quinn so he needed to fit that in somehow to not have it look suspicious. "Would you be around again, say this Wednesday that me brothers can meet you? Tell them of the lands." He laughed then with a shake of a head. "When you've met situations I have head on, there is not much that can intimidate me. Although I am impressed, does that count?" Why Hercules couldn't intimidate him.

"There are a few here of Elven blood." Which had him thinking of his Gran and what Segan did tonight briefly. "Aye, I can be around Wednesday. I'm not far from here, so it will just take me minutes. And impressed is better than intimidated." He finished his drink but didn't stand just yet.

"Pretty as the lass named Mariah of these lands and others besides her? If so, me brother Evan wont know which way to turn his head or his heart." He might as well let him know they had met her in case she ran into the man and told him.

"Mariah McCormick? Aye, there are plenty of pretty lasses about. Did you meet her here?" He didn't look like the type to go into her shop but one never knew. He chuckled. "Your brother will never want for lovely views then."

"No, a tavern to the north, seems she is on a mission to socialize. Though me thoughts were she shouldn't be going alone like that for her looks especially. She seems a bit naive." He was getting very tired as maybe his opinion would not be welcome, he'd find out. "Time for some sleep and to be sure to wake me brothers up especially early tomorrow." Being they were not back yet, they would probably come in soused too.

"Aye, she may well be." He was thinking of his youngest sister when he answered. Standing, he picked up his glass and the bottle he had been slowly draining. It would go with him to finish in his room. "You sound like me." He paused and added, "or them, if I'd be drinking too much and staying at the manor. It was good to meet you, Liam. I'll see you again Wednesday evening." If Eion was suspicious, he didn't show it. But then, he rarely showed how he felt.

"It was good to meet you Eion," not adding that it felt like talking to one of his brothers in the way it came naturally. Something to think on and certainly it should prove an interesting meeting on Wednesday. "Have a good night, until we meet again." Taking the bottle with him as he used it to hail Alex before turning down the hall that led to the upstairs rooms.

He lifted a hand in farewell to Alex, before pulling on his cloak. Segan hadn't returned so likely he stayed at Vanessa's, talking. He'd see him in the morning. The castle wasn't far and that was where he'd stay tonight. Pulling up his hood, he stepped on out into the snowy night and headed down the steps and in the direction of the barracks.



Date: 02-08-10
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 74

Blustery Night Out

Cold blustery night had Concessa all cozy in front of the hearth. A long day had her yawning too as she sipped on some tea laced with ginger brandy. Hair was a tumbled of soft curls half mussed by this point. Attire consisted of a bulky sweater of creams and browns over a brown skirt along with brown pants and boots. She had dressed well for the weather but a little over warm now in front of the fire.

"Brrrr!" A cold wind blew Karina indoors too. Having gone for an evening stroll, the night quickly grew far too bitter for walking and so she sought refuge in the familiar tavern. Hat and scarf were pulled off at the door, releasing her mop of amber ringlets as she glanced around. The place was all but deserted except for one figure, making Karina grin. "Hey Concessa." She greeted her friend.

Ciar came down the steps, rubbing his eyes and yawning. He had spent the day in his room, being a little under the weather though he wasn't sure exactly what was wrong. He wasn't sniffing and sneezing, just felt off, and not at all hungry, which would worry his brothers. At least his hair wasn't standing every which way. He came into the common room and headed for the bar to request a glass of the pure -- the Cure for everything.  "Evening, Concessa, miss." He greeted the two cordially and hoped he had gotten Concessa's name right.

She uncurled herself with a brightening smile. "Hello Karina, how have you been? I've not seen you in a while, you must be pretty busy?" Although she had been quite busy too. Dark eyes turned upon Ciaran with a touch shyer smile. "Good evening Sir Ciaran. How are you and your brothers?"

"Been good, and busy," she answered Cessa before turning towards the man who spoke. Like Concessa she wore a heavy knit sweater which hung past her hips, sky blue in color, over a skirt of dark gray. Leggings and tall boots beneath  helped add warmth to the outfit. She offered a slight crooked grin to the man who greeted them, recognizing him. "Aye, you're Eion and Segan's long-lost cousin or nephew or whatever it is." Clearly she didn't know the details but her tone was good-natured.

"Just Ciarán or Ciar, please." He smiled as he made the request. "Cousin, one of them. Ciarán Quinn, at your service." He bowed, mostly to be silly and to try to put his newly found cousin at ease. Being from the colonies, he tended to wear buckskin or homespun, but he had bought a few things from the shops and tonight was wearing heavy cotton pants, and a woolen sweater over a light shirt. He did still wear his old buckskin boots, fringed and comfortable.

It wasn't uncommon for the young Zakarumite to go off riding on some nights when he had naught else to do, though admittedly, he didn't usually wander off this far...still, he wanted Thunder to be primed for next month, and so he and the big sable destrier tore across the land, eating up miles as Thunder enjoyed a mid-winter stretch, pushing his own endurance without needing too much encouragement from his the time they were both feeling like a rest, the eastern youth had spotted lights up ahead, and so decided to turn in that direction.

"I think you get to see more of Segan than we do," meaning him being at the cottage because of Vanessa. "What would you be, third or fourth cousins?" Trying to figure it out in a curious way. Wondering if he knew.
  The latter asked of Ciar of course while the former was addressed to Karina. "I didn't get to talk to you much the night you stopped in with my brothers." More like barely an introduction before she had to work on some of the files she brought home from work.

"I think it works out to second cousin." He couldn't help the impish look. "Which means we could get married." She was the same age as Fawn would be, so he couldn't resist teasing. "No, we didn't. Eion explained you work for a lawyer. You don't find that boring?"

A tavern seemed a most welcome sight at the moment, and so after seeing to his horse's needs he'd step inside, eyes the color of storm clouds peering out of his swarthy, youthful face...the eastern knight was clad in dark chain mail, with a midnight blue cloak hanging from his shoulders, the silver star burst of his faith emblazoned across his chest, bull horn-topped helm settled atop his head...he took a look around as he attempt to shake off some of the chill before moving further inside.

"Probably. He's nuts about the baby," Karina answered Concessa's comment before falling silent. Smirking a bit at Ciaran's words she left the two to their conversation a moment, striding over to the bar for a few words with Alex and to order a drink.

His comment had her blink before she fell into a peal of laughter realizing he was teasing her. Much like her brothers would do. Laughter filled her eyes that shifted to the newcomer and went a touch wider. A bit surprised but pleasantly so. "Sir Tolroze, how good to see you again. This is my cousin Ciaran and my friend Karina."

His own dusky face showed a hint of surprise, but he offered a small smile. "A good evening to you, you as well Ciaran, Karina," he inclined his head to them all.

He liked the sound of her laugh and his own smile grew. Chuckling at mention of the baby -- he had seen how crazy Segan was about her and Vanessa -- he leaned against the bar. "Pleasure, Tolroze."

Karina didn't think she'd met Tolroze as such before, but she did vaguely remember seeing him at the Ball (which had been such a whirlwind, it was amazing she remembered at all!). A reserved nod and slight quirking of the lips was  offered to Tolroze as she took her drink, a steaming hot chocolate with a little something special added. Glancing back to Cessa she nodded. "I know. Segan brought a cart full of baby things. Vanessa's real grateful."

"Grams has been going nuts knowing that baby is not far from our manor home. She's got out everything she kept to give as well made outfits. It has kept her in a bright mood considering this time of year's gloom."

He settled into a nearby seat, not wanting to interrupt their conversation, and removed his helm, setting it before him.

"How does the winter find Kurast and those that live there, Tolroze? The winter here has not overly bad, enough snow for the dragon run for those who love sledding. Ice skating and such winter sports." Mussing more to herself, it was that kind of evening and warmth after being out in the cold most of the day, had a drugging effect.

"New Kurast has been doing well enough...some of us have started to become used to seeing water freeze solid, and other marvels," he smiled faintly, "most of us have been looking forward to the spring, though...the settlement has been fairly inactive for the past few months now, but that will change with the planting season..."

"Aye, I think most here look forward to spring. I know I do. Many that can't wait for the first snowfall soon get tired of the cold and more snow by the end of this month. Do you plant too?" Realizing that she knew little about him other than him being a noble knight and bodyguard of his king.

"I have helped with a few plantings before, mostly on mission trips to more rural areas... admittedly, I do not know much about farming, but another pair of hands is usually welcomed."

"What is the main crop or crops?" She was genuinely interested though a straying glance was given the other two who had become quiet. It could well be the late hour they were still up.

Ah, so the knight wasn't from this land. He listened a moment then looked at Karina. "Are you Vanessa's sister?" He was tired and would probably head to bed as soon as he had finished his drink.

Ciaran's question took her by surprise and she let out a laugh. Then gave her head a light shake which had her curls bouncing. "Nah. Just a friend. I work with her at the Gardens and live in the cottage too."

"Back home we subsisted mainly on rice for grain, though in Solurius we're going to be trying more of the things grown locally...also, we are looking into getting a sort of glass structure built to help with the growing of some crops  from home that require a warmer climate."

"A friend that has become as dear as family I would venture. Segan treats you like a sister." Making a slight silly face Karina's way. "Greenhouses. They had a few built here of families willing to care for them. How we can have vegetables all year round. They work out well."

He smiled slightly as he thought of how well most of his people were adapting to their adopted homeland...hardly any of them stared at the draconians any more; well, at least when compared to people who didn't live around them...he nodded, "indeed, thus far we have plans for the one, but I do not doubt that such a structure will become popular."

Crooked grin of shyness to Cessa's words though that soon turned to a smirk. "Aye, and you should know, that means he bugs the wits outta me."

He gave her a sheepish smile. "Going to take me a while to figure who is related to who."

"Exactly, maybe one day you and I can get together and plot a prank on both Segan and Eion, make sure they still have a sense of humor."

"Eion especially needs that." A grin to Cessa which was soon turned over to Ciar. "I'm still figuring it out, but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it." Karina finished off her drink quickly, finding that the prospect of her warm bed was a tempting one, and set the empty mug down on the counter.

"Did you get something to drink, Tolroze? If not, Alex would easily get you anything you require. There is a homemade brew of whiskey called potcheen here. About the only thing he doesn't have is bloodwine." Which she gave a slight shudder to just thinking on it. She was nodding adamantly to the part of Eion needed it especially.

"Actually, if you have cocoa..." that sounded about halfway a question, "that is one of the crops we hope to continue raising with the help of the greenhouse, and it can be difficult to come by in these lands..."

"One of his specialities. Indeed. warm, creamy and smooth." She wasn't going to last much longer herself. "How are you and your brothers settling in Ciar?"

Hmmm. Should he warn the brothers? Nah. That would ruin the fun of it. He blinked and looked at Concessa, then smiled. "Quite well, I think. I don't know how long we'll stay, but for now, we're getting comfortable." He didn't mention the fact they might be journeying to Barbados soon.

That brought a smile to his usually rather expressionless face...Tolroze gladly exchanged coins for a nice, big mug of hot cocoa, sighing quietly as he took his first drink.

"We'll plot later, Concessa." Karina gave a wink to her friend then pushed back from the bar. "Have a good night, all." Farewell nodded to each of them as she passed, heading for the door to retrieve her hat and scarf.

"I would like us to," given Karina with a wicket glint in dark eyes. Good king of mischief.

"Good night, Karina. It was a pleasure to meet you." He saluted her with his glass.

"You are welcome to stay here the night if you'd like, Tolroze.." he would find there was no cost in this particular tavern. She had finished off her drink of tea with the ginger brandy and so finally got up to bring it over to the bar.

"Thank you, I think that would be most welcome." He smiled at that, definitely sounded more appealing than riding back.

Sounded more appealing to her to stay this night here so she didn't have to go back out into the cold and distance to the manor. "I think you are staying here for the duration of your stay, Ciar? Until you decide to stay or continue on?" She had heard something along those lines mentioned by her brothers.

"Aye, we are." Though he wondered what they would do if they did stay. Ah well, he'd worry about that if and when it happened. "Can't imagine staying anywhere else." Being there was no cost for food, drink or board.

"I wish you both a very good night's sleep and that we don't find ourselves snowed in tomorrow morning. If we do, the Rollers will be out on the streets and everyone helping one another in shoveling." She collected a key from Alex and certainly a smile to sweep with slightly lowered lashes over dark eyes.

He inclined his head,  "a good night to you as well, always, it is an honor to see you again."

"Same to you both." He downed the remainder of his drink, then pushed off the bar. A salute was given to Alex as well and he'd escort his cousin upstairs. "What are Rollers?"

She gave a swift graceful curtsey no matter her attire, "always an honor to see you and that you are doing well, Sir Tolroze." Then with an escort as she started to explain the invention of her brother Eion and how well the Rollers, made in two sizes drawn by horses, worked well in leveling the snow on the streets.



Date: 02-20-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 75

Busy Times

Mikhail had been traveling, even the winter weather didn't stop the Gypsy in him and so had been gone the past few months up to one of the cabins nestled on the high mountains. From there he made visits to various villages both of the lands and of other lands. One way of gaining a meal, for the turn of a card, that and meeting many others as he was one that liked meeting people of various levels of humanity. Tonight he sat in conversation with Alex as it had been a while. The place quiet otherwise except the low rumbling of their voices and an occasional laugh.

Karina was already in the tavern, though you wouldn't notice her unless you really looked. She was settled in one of the comfy chairs by the hearth, its tall back hiding her petite form where she sat, facing the fire. Legs curled up beneath her, she had a scrap piece of parchment in hand, flattened against a wooden board. Her fingers were stained black by the chunk of coal she was using to sketch, something she'd been doing a bit more of lately. Head tilted to one side, her tongue was protruding from her lips. Amber curls tumbled about her head, partly obscuring her view of her surrounds, but it didn't matter. She was concentrating so deeply that she didn't even glance up whenever the door opened.

Rhett decided to head to the Thistle this night. Late night and he was hungry. Working on more swords to be sent off to Kildare, he'd not taken the time to eat and when his stomach finally growled so loud it startled him from his work. "That's it," half laughing as he set the sword aside and grabbed his winter coat, Stetson slipped over the thick spiky curls as he headed out and up to the tavern. The wind swept in with him as the door was flung open allowing his entry and closed off as soon as he was in, turning to do so then back again. The rest of the snow dislodged from the bottom of his boots on the mat aside the door.

Dimly she heard the door swing open, boots shuffling and then the door shutting again. But she was too immersed in her drawing to look up. Her eyes flicked over the page nearly as quickly as her hand moved, sketching quick feathery lines. She was drawing an owl, and trying to get its feathers just right... looking downy and soft enough to touch. The eyes were already drawn, which had taken her some time too, but she was fairly satisfied with the alert gleam they seemed to have.

He finished off his drink as he stood from the stool, "evening Karina," he had not disturbed her while she sat quietly drawing, "Rhett, good to see you again. I will be by your smithy soon. If you'll excuse me." collecting his cloak he headed down the back hall to see to a matter.

"Evening to you Mikhail, I'll be around tomorrow. Anytime you're ready." Removing his cloak to hang to a peg before he eyed the area by the hearth as Mikhail had addressed another whose name was familiar. "Evening Karina," swinging by the bar to order whatever Hazel had left overs of from dinner, before he was over to hover by her side, looking upon the sketch she was doing if she didn't try to hide it.

Might've seemed like Mikhail had addressed an empty chair, but hearing her name drew her from her reverie. She looked up and then caught another name as well, which had her poking her head around the side of the chair. A quick grin surfaced in greeting but then he was there hovering curiously at her side. Still somewhat shy about her drawing she sort of hunched over the parchment, though didn't cover it up completely, not wanting to smudge the coal. "Nosy," she chided Rhett but clearly wasn't angry. Actually she was pleased to see him; they'd both been so busy lately, they hadn't spent much time together since the lake. Which memory always had her cheeks going warm.

"Aye, I am." grin was growing in a pressed smile that set off a spark in blue eyes. Ones that lifted from where he tried to see what she hunched over to her eyes. "Fair is fair, you can watch me fashion a sword sometime."

"That's different," she protested and then heaved an exaggerated sigh. "Oh fine." She un-hunched herself slowly for him to see the owl which looked like it might fly straight off the page and snag a mouse in its sharp talons. It was 
 mostly complete, she was just putting the finishing touches on the feathers - more like obsessing. She didn't notice she was biting her lip lightly as she glanced up to gauge his reaction. "Not real creative as far as the subject goes..." a snicker at herself with that, for it was one of the birds at the Aviary.

That gained her a fuller smile as the white of teeth showed. Charming one as he crouched down next to her to see it better. A low whistle came under his breath as he was really impressed. Blue eyes lifting to capture hers as she would see it all there. Rhett didn't school his thoughts normally. Only time was in fighting as a soldier. He noticed her biting her bottom lip as he would tease to help any tension. "Can I have a nibble of that too? I'm pretty hungry." Like an omen, Alex was setting out a plate for him at the bar as he spoke.

It worked as planned, her snicker turned into a truer laugh at the tease though it had her cheeks going a bit pink too. "Maybe later..." A flick of her eyes over his face. She wouldn't mind a 'nibble' on his own lips, but not in the tavern for all to see. The thought brought a grin to her lips though that reflected in her eyes.

Someone they knew would walk in as lips were locked and they would be teased unmercifully. More on her as he noted the color rise to her cheeks. Actually looked good and the fact he was the cause was a bit heady. "Aye," eyes still locked with hers. "I was thinking maybe we can go someplace together soon." Didn't really matter to him where but he had missed being in her company. "Excuse me a moment," which he was up from the crouched position to head over to the bar to collect the plate. Immediately back over as he took up a seat near hers to dig in. He ate like one starved. She might realize he had skipped eating again until now.

That eye contact, along with his suggestion had her heart missing a beat. No time for a reply though when he got up to get his order. Which gave her a moment to tuck the drawing and the bit of coal beneath her chair. She was wiping her blackened fingers off on a small rag when he came back. Her amusement was evident as he wolfed down his food. "What, did you miss lunch... for the last week?" She teased, though she was hardly one to talk with the way she ate! Shifting some in her chair to face him better she let him chew a few moments then went back to what he'd said before. "I'd like that. Going someplace.. together I mean." A little grin.

He paused in his eating, speaking after he swallowed with a turn of his head her way again. Pressed smile lit up his eyes as usual. "I think I have while doing this project. I get started and next I know it's late like this and I realize I've not eaten. My stomach growled so loud it brought me back from that place I go when being creative." Maybe she would understand being she was creative too. There was another world inside one's head. It didn't take him much time to finish up the plate, every last crumb, before sitting back, full focus on her again.

She snickered again at that. "I'm glad it did. Otherwise you might've fainted dead away from hunger and impaled yourself on one of your swords." Just teasing of course. "Actually.. Alex brought me some supper earlier or else I mighta forgotten to eat, too." She admitted with a sheepish smile. She was twisting her hair over one shoulder, the locks having grown out long enough for that now. "What's the project you're workin' on?" Curious about what had won his attention.

That scenario actually had an eye twitch. "I've more bulk on me than you do." Or just he had more muscle mass. "Where would you like to go when we can both get time to do so?" Curious if she had a place in mind, otherwise he would suggest a place. "The project is more swords for Kildare. Did you hear that the Regent got married last month?"

"No, I didn't." Answering his last question first. Probably not surprising since she wasn't much one for social gossip and the like.. though her tone was interested. Maybe she'd ask more about it later, for now she moved on to the other topic at hand. "I dunno... guess I don't really have a place in mind, besides the Lake." Which she had always loved and now loved even moreso for the memories made there. The mention of it had her eyes glowing in that shy way as she glanced off with a smile.

Had him smiling too, "I was there having been knighted under the King," but it trailed off as they could talk about it another time if she wanted. "I'll surprise you then. A place I don't think you've been to yet here." He collected his plate to bring over to the bar and leave there before he was around again. "Are you staying here the night or can I walk you home?"

"Oh?" She perked up, a sucker for surprises. No doubt she'd be bugging him to tell her until they actually went to wherever the place was. She was diverted though by his question. "Nah, I gotta get back to the Gardens.. I'd like the company though, aye." The grin spread of its own accord as she got up to go. Her jacket pulled on and one of her floppy hats, before she reached under the chair to carefully extract her drawing to carry home.

He would help her with her cloak before putting on his as she got her sketch pad. "I might trade you a good knife or sword for one of your drawings." Something he could hang up in his Smithy and in turn might gain her commissioned work. All the while he was getting the door as he talked, seeing her out with a wave to Alex before closing it over. The night was cold but not as bitter and there was a clear sky filled with stars as far as one could see.

"Do you really trust me with a sword?" A rakish grin flashed for him to see as she tucked the sketch pad beneath one arm. Waving to Alex she followed Rhett outside. A moment taken to tilt her face upward and she caught her breath lightly. "So many stars tonight. I wonder if there's anyone alive who can count that many." As they began to walk she discreetly kept close to his side, just enjoying the company.

Her hand was caught up into his and as they started to walk, only a step or so taken before he spun her around into his arms, sketch book and all to warm her lips under his. There was no one about this late for the chill was enough for one to see their breath. It wasn't a long kiss just in case but it was a thorough one nonetheless. Heated one ending in a nip as he teased, "before it was all gone," meaning the nibbling of her lip.

She let him take her hand, of course, having been secretly hoping he would.. but the next was unexpected. A gasp of a different sort as she was swept up and into the kiss, which she returned just as heatedly. Her free arm lifted to encircle his back and squeezed in a hug as she pressed her lips to his, parting from the kiss only reluctantly. The flush to her cheeks was back as well as a smile to his comment. "You still have a bit left too.." She teased back, quietly but with a little glint in her eye. A hand lifted to gently tap his lip along with her comment. But of course the soot on her fingers meant she left a small black smudge behind. "Oops..." She snickered some, then had an idea. Edging closer once more as she stood on her toes. "My fault. I'll get that." And so she would...with another kiss.

"Aye, that I do and will be collecting more. There is something about not being too greedy and lose all in devouring all in one gulp." Teasing as it was easy between them. But the motion of hand with a touch to his lip then her kiss to follow had him hugging her all up into his arms as the liplock went even more intense. So much for saving! He had gone exploring and lost there until someone passed them by with a chuckle under their breath. Caught! He still didn't stop for another minute or so as his hat at least obscured a good look at who it was so wrapped up in his arms.

The kiss was enough to make her forget that they were standing out in the middle of the street, so the chuckle was a rude awakening. Her eyes cracked open, glancing over but she couldn't see who'd passed them by... and his lips convinced her not to care for the time being. Eyes closed again for those last few moments, the kiss so delicious she could've asked for it to last forever.. if only she had the lung capacity. When their lips did part she was breathless from it, her gaze moving up to his with a wry smile. "Guess the cat's out of the bag.." she murmured.

The ability to breathe through their ears would be needed. His head lifting from the heat of their kiss but the one had gone already. "Wasn't one of the crones then." No, they could be hiding behind a bush in watching but it was probably too cold for them to be out this late. "C'mon," capturing her hand in his as he started them off towards the cottage, "let me get you home dearheart before we freeze," or really be discovered if they had not been.

She wouldn't say it, but there was no danger of her freezing tonight. That little pet name he used warmed her all the way down to her toes. Lacing her fingers with him, she glanced up to him with a smile that said as much. Though after a moment it overflowed into snickers as she noticed... "I got some on your neck too." Where her fingers had settled during their second kiss. So the teasing back and forth would continue as they went along.



Date: 02-25-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 76

A short stop at the Thistle after the Races
Claire hesitated a moment before speaking. "Actually, no, I don't have any family here." Fingers twirled a ring around her right finger. "Do you have family here?"

She shook her head lightly. "Not aside from my niece who lives with me and the friends I've made. Will you be staying for a while?"

He let the lull of the ride ease any tension as well the lull of their voices. Presently leaving them to the conversation unless he was brought into it.

"I long to stay for a while, yes. Heathfield possesses a peace found so rarely in other places." Brushing a curl from her eyes, she looked at Segan. "Do you make residence in Heathfield as well?"

He cleared his throat with a smile that came lazily their way. "We came about a year ago. My grandfather use to run the stables under King Andrew Barrett until he was murdered. He let the horses go free into the wild then took his family away before the usurp could harm them. We were raised in Eire but have come home as my grandmother sill lives, my parents gone. It is still home to her after all these years." That was pretty much it in a nutshell. "Our family seems to be growing as long lost cousins have been found recently too. I think they will be staying."

Now it was Van's time to be quiet and listen. A light smile as she listened to the exchange, briefly recalling the night the Quinn cousins had arrived. Or well..the first she'd met them at least.

"A bittersweet tale. May God bless you all and keep you in peace." She inclined her head, studying him briefly. "I had not recognized either of you and I had met so many here during my time. It has been three years though so I am certain many have come and gone. Such is the nature of life. Some stay, some go. I am happy to have returned and happy to have made your acquaintances." This directed towards both.

Vanessa returned her attention to Claire. "I've not been here that long. Six months, perhaps." Maybe not quite that. "Will you be joining us for a drink this evening?"

"You will be staying at the Thistle then?" Where ones first coming usually did. By this time they had reached that very tavern as the horses were drawn to a halt. He was out first and around to see them both out, one at a time of course, no rushing Segan! Especially this late. Once they were out, he had one of the stable boys see to the horses before the driver took the carriage away.

She accepted the hand and slowly climbed out of the carriage. With a flick of her wrists, skirts were shaken and she waited for all before heading for the Thistle. "Oh, yes, I will most assuredly be staying here. Alex is a charm and I am pleased to find that he hasn't forgotten my face!" Laughing, she entered the tavern, holding the door open for the other two. "I would love to join you for a drink before I retire for the evening."

Waiting for Claire to exit first, Vanessa followed suit with a like shake of her skirts, then on to the door. Following in after the other woman, a wave was given to Alex. "He's such a charmer, that one is." Motioning to Alex with a teasing grin. "We'd be delighted to have your company. Seems like it's been quite some time since we've been out." This spoken to Segan as she went about removing gloves and her coat.

"Well respected man," leaving it go at that for it said a lot. He was within and would see to the door so they could see to their cloaks, which in turn he would help them with for he was taught to be a gentleman in spite of his wild ways and adventures before they came here.

"Thank you," she murmured, handing over her cloak and giving a quick toss of rich brown curls to untangle the mess. With a smile, she approached the bar and made her request. A steaming cup of tea was just the thing before bed. "May I inquire as to your occupations?" Turning to look upon them with curiosity.

She thanked Segan for help with her coat and waited for him before approaching the bar with her usual request of cider to Alex. No seat yet claimed, she smiled to Claire once more. "I own an aviary and train birds."

"I am at my Grandmama's beck and call," teasing at it was in blue eyes and Claire would understand fuller if she had ever met the Matriarch of the Quinn family. "Actually I am a sea captain that is grounded for about another month." Although they had taken the one quick trip to Barbados and recently returned.

"Oh, very interesting!" Addressing both with a nod her head. "I must admit, Vanessa, I am quite fascinated with parrots though I've been forewarned to guard my tongue around them!" Small laugh there. "Ah, Segan, ever the dutiful man." Jest there and could be seen in her own eyes. "What is the name of your...ship?" Ships, boats....the terminology of sea life was not Claire's forte.

A keen smile given. "You should come to the garden sometime when the day is warm enough. I'm sure I've got an avian just for you. They make excellent companions. Especially for those who enjoy to travel."

"She is a wonder around the birds." Taking the tease as it was given in a friendly manner. "The Anaconda, it has seen many an adventure." Having headed over to the bar to procure a glass of potcheen and a lean taken up there comfortably.

"I would love to, thank you for the invitation!" Tea taken up and cautiously sipped. "Anaconda?" Eyes wide, she looked between the both. "As in the very, very, very large snake?"

Cider taken up with thanks to Alex, she seated herself at the counter with a nod to Claire and mindful sip of the warmed cider, looking to Segan.

"Yes, some so big they can swallow a horse." Which had him chuckling then a slight frown as he had seen one of his men swallowed alive by one but didn't add that.

Claire shivered. "Oh, but I've only heard of those in tales! You have one here? And you're not afraid?" A gleam entered Claire's eyes. Perhaps one day she could see it....though from a great distance.

"No, only have my ship named after one. They don't make good pets." Good guess why!

"Ah, I see." It was getting late and Claire's brain was slow to grasp the conversation. "Perhaps one day I may gaze upon your ship. And we shall leave the reptiles to their wild habitats, non?" Finishing up her tea, a smile lit her face. "She may not like you for it!" Joking there with a chuckle. "The pleasure was all mine in meeting you both. I hope to see you again but my bed calls to me from above. May the night bring you the sweetest of dreams. Good eve."

"I would not be very popular, bringing my pet with me and having him eat all Vanessa's birds in a few swallows." Which had him laugh, "that sounds like a better prospect than the former." Vanessa was looking tired and he should get her back. "It was nice meeting you Claire, have a good night." He would see to Vanessa in getting her back to the Quinn manor so she could pick up Ysa then to her cottage.

Curtsy to follow before she was heading for the stairs.

Date: 02-26-10
Poster: Liam David Quinn
Post # 77

Typical Evening

Liam was sitting in a wingback in front of the hearth where a nice fire burned. He was flipping cards into his upturned derby hat on the table. There were some on the floor, some on the table but most of them were inside the well of the hat. He wore his better duds, brown tailored pants and a vest over a dress shirt. The cuff links removed allowing them to hang open and a black piece of silk tied around his right upper arm. Boots were finely tooled and polished. He had been to see Joseph McDonough and a meeting arranged now that time proved convenient. The wind whipped outside filled with snow as it continued to come down steadily. The Rollers were heard passing through the streets pressing down the snow so those about could get around as needed.

Ciar was finding it hard to settle in but mostly because he had become restless.  The job of escorting the man collecting money was pretty dull even if it did pay a pretty copper.  He was returning from such an escort now, making his way from the docks toward the tavern.  Huddled in his wool cloak, he cursed the wind softly and almost wished he were back in Barbados.  Almost.  As he headed up the steps, he glanced inside the window and then proceeded on. Though he did pause at the top of the steps and listened.  No footsteps tonight, but there had been other nights.  With a shake of his head, and a stomp of his boots, he continued on in.  The rest of the night would be spent inside!

Claire and snow....didn't get along so well. The moisture clung to brown curls which then proceeded to spring into an unmanageable mess upon drying making it difficult to look composed. She saw a figure in this distance though hard to figure out who it was through the falling snow. Up the steps and through the front door she went. Cloak was removed and hung up to dry. A quick nod to Alex, signaling her hello and a request for a most welcome cup of tea. Green eyes shifted to all inside the tavern, a smile tipping up the corners of her mouth in greeting. "Good evening." She chose to remain standing at the bar, hands smoothing down the rich blue fabric of her long-sleeved gown.

The first gust of cold air from the opening of the door came as the last card was flipped into his hat. "You have come to ease my boredom during this storm brother?" The tease barely out, like Ciar would sing and dance, as a woman followed in the wake of his brother's footsteps. He gained his feet in all due respect and realized who the woman was. One from last evening. "Lady Claire," not remembering her surname if it had even been given, he could not recall. "My brother Ciaran," giving an informal introduction.

"I was hoping you'd have a solution." He grinned as he removed his cloak and then blinked when the lass came in and nearly plowed him over.  He chuckled, then bowed as she went on to the bar. "A pleasure, Lady Claire."

Claire sank into a curtsy and then rose with laughter. "Enchantée, Ciaran. Liam. My apologies for my rushed entry. The snow and I have a long-standing battle." Grinning, she lifted a curl to gesture and shrugged her shoulders. "I daresay, however, that Mother Nature is winning." Trying to pat it down some. "How do you find the weather, gentlemen? Something to run from or something to be enjoyed?"

"I believe the solution is in that bottle," which he gestured with a hand to the very bottle of the home brewed whiskey sitting on the table. One card had landed tipped up against it. "I would rush  in out of that storm too. I heard it change from normal to blustery about an hour ago. Have you seen the Rollers?" A chuckle under his breath as he took his seat again, "you're welcome to join me here at the hearth," where it was warmest against what raged outside. "I find such weather as tonight, confining." Which little confined Liam, even the storm would be challenged if he felt overly confined.

"Depends what it's doing out."  He offered a slight smile as he headed for the bar and waited for the glass of potcheen Alex would set out.  He'd use the bottle to top it off.  "Tonight ...  good night to be inside."  He headed for the hearth to join Liam.

"Indeed, I did!" Claire accepted the tea with a warm smile from Alex and headed over to the hearth as well. The fire was beckoning her forth and she sat nearby, curled on a chair, sipping cautiously. "Do you enjoy sledding or any winter activities?" Quiet words of curiosity.

"Aye, I could be convinced to make use of a toboggan or even ice skate but I've not had time." Ciar would recognize the black silk tied to his arm and its meaning. "Do you like sledding?" Which he paused considering a visual, "I find it hard to imagine you going down on a toboggan at a neck breaking speed screaming like a banshee." The grin was growing as he spoke until it reach to set off a spark in dark eyes. He took a moment to collect his drink and kick back what it held only to fill it up again.

He settled in and took a long drink of the potcheen.  Then he stretched out long legs, crossing ankle over ankle.  "I find the sport of watching a fire in a hearth satisfyin' enough."  He was in a bit of a black mood tonight.

He caught the signs of his brother's mood by the darker coloring in his eyes not usually there. Much like a dark cloud behind them. He silently untied the strip of black silk then leaned to lay it over his brother's knee in a reach. His turn to wear it for a while. Sitting back he kicked back more of the whiskey.

Pale green eyes lowered to the strip of black before they lifted to his brother's face. He smiled slightly and placed his glass on the side table, then tied the strip of material around his own arm.  "Where's Evan tonight?"  He knew their blood brother had been sick but usually he was around somewhere.

"Let me guess, he staked himself out on a snow mound near the wool mill. If the lass comes out she'll find the abominable snowman and run screaming as she should." He was painting a nice picture of their blood brother and his whereabouts.

That got a laugh from Ciarán, enough to ease some of the black from him.  "He really has it bad but I don't know if even he'd dare a storm like this tonight.  I'll check and see if he's in bed when I go up.  He may still be fighting that cold."

Claire drifted into a comfortable silence as she listened to the two converse, polishing off the last few sips of tea. The heat spreading from the fire was warm and wonderful. The cracking and popping of the wood was music to the ears. Quiet nights like these could be good for the soul. It was when thinking got too deep that one might discover the troubles of musing.

"He could very well be upstairs snoring away." Which had him chuckle. Evan might be head over heels but would he weather a storm just to get a glimpse of the lass? Ah, hell yes, he would. He was that crazy just as he and Ciar were crazy. Just they were not crazy over any pretty face. Yet. Ciaran would fall before him. He wondered if Claire had even heard him before when he answered her question. A glance there to see if possibly she'd fallen asleep.

Claire looked up sheepishly. "I beg your pardon. I was lost in my thoughts!" Brushing curls out of her eyes, she nodded slowly. "Yes, I do enjoy sledding. I've only tried it a couple of times. I should like to try the skating! It looks a mite difficult though certainly not something this lass cannot accomplish." Wink tossed in there with a chuckle.

"Well, I'm sure you will get to accomplish both here if you stay around long enough. Seems a lot gets accomplished here," the last more mussed under his breath. Thoughtful kind which had him comment to his brother. "I met with Joseph McDonough, they will do the job for us. He refused to accept all the money we got from Lord Dunbury, said about half would be more than sufficient to see his Private Investigators to the Colonies, outfitted, room, board," which he gave a wave of his hand to include all things that would be needed, "and that any of, or all three of us can accompany them. They still have a budgeted cost whether we go or not, help or not."

"Did you meet with the investigators too?" He straightened from his slouch and sat forward, his attention on his brother.  "What was he like?"  He was impressed that he had refused the money. Well, half of it.

Wei would wonder inside the tavern, sneezing lightly from the chills of the cold evening. Wei wore red robe with a manchurian collar, trimmed in blue, and a long light pink tinted pleated skirt.  Bangs were fixed in loop like curls with a silk sash turban looking head piece with a white cloud shape hair ornament with a large dangling blue gem hanging down on the top. Long hair of midnite was hanging freely, against moon colored flesh, colored with shades of red and pink roodge eye shadow, and lip paint. lantern in hand, and a decorative fan tied with blue string around the wrist of other hand.

"No, they were out when I was there but there is to be another meeting and we'll meet them this time. Lord McDonough might not be present. He's a busy man but all approvals of bigger jobs go through him." Which was to be expected. "By this weekend, Jacob Anderson and Mercedes LaCorte." Feeling the cold air rush in with the arrival of another, Liam gained his feet again politely. "Good evening, Alex will see to any drink or food, no cost here as I found out. Something to do with the royals having it all paid up."

"I will certainly try." Gaze drifted to the window, locking on the fat snowflakes that fell. When a cool breeze stirred the tresses of glossy brown, Claire looked over to the door, a small smile working its way forth. "Good evening," offered to the one entering the Thistle. Curled there as she was in the chair, it was almost like she had never left in the first place. This brought an eyebrow to rise slowly. How things changed....and how they stayed the same.

There was a blink, but Wei recognized the two of the three brothers from the inne back on the isles. "Good evening , good to see you both again." Wei smiled, though kept sleeve over lips, looking to the lady and nodding," good evening."

He nodded then stood as Liam did and turned toward the door.  Studying the woman a moment, he nodded a greeting toward her. "Evening."

 It took him a few moments to recognize the woman. It had been a while and a few adventures since. "You have come a distance, how have you been? This is the Lady Claire." Being he was still standing he offered introductions.

Claire rose from her seat and sank into a curtsy, blue skirts brushing the floor. "A pleasure to meet you, Lady." Straightening, she carried her tea cup over to the bar and then returned to lean against the wall near the hearth, green eyes studying all underneath long black lashes.

" Wei mun Sim glad to see familiar faces of two of three Quinn brothers again. Not too well. Council said to king Valet would not be wise. So Wei had to move in search to offer valet services elsewhere. How are the two of you?" Looking to the lady called Claire, Wei smiled brightly and bowed head greeting her. "Pleased to meet you."

He didn't remember much about that place but smiled pleasantly. Cutting a glance toward Claire, he winked at her then looked back to Wei. "Well enough."

"I am very well." As he too then looked upon Claire, "did I overhear you saying you've been here before?" That popping in his head from conversations last evening at the races.

"Good to hear you both are well, but what of the other Quinn brother, does he fair well too?"

Claire nodded, a smile lighting her features with the surge of memories. "Yes, for a while. I use to own a cottage down the road from here. I had an art studio in there. I used to paint for the Heathfield Art Gallery. It was some three years ago since I was last here. A letter arrived with urgent news, however, I am now returned and eager to start anew. I am very excited for a new beginning." A laugh bubbled forth. "One of my favorite places was Crystal Gold Lake." Mischief glittered briefly. "I used to swim there on a near daily basis during the summers."

"Aye, he fares well also." He settled back into his chair, stretching out his legs again. The wind rattled the glass of a nearby window and he looked that way.

"Evan?" Came with a humorous chuckle. "The lad went head over heels seeing the Shepherd's daughter. He's probably sitting in a tree watching the wool mill in the storm as we speak." He had never seen one fall into a crush, or worse, like his blood brother had. First he thought he was being funny but the lad had caught it bad. He listened to Claire's tale as attention turned there, sitting at this point too. "Do you still do portraits?" Curiously asked. "Do you plan to open a studio again?"

"The name of the lake reminds me of the one I saw in the kingdom of Vorwend. I went there before I left the isles. The lakes there were a fisherman's and artist's dream, fish of beautiful colors too beautiful it was sad they had to become food. everyone seemed really happy the queen was on one of her royal marches, she was so beautiful and everything and everyone blended into her gown as if she was part of the land like an earth mother." A light giggled hearing about Evan, but it was muffled by Wei's sleeve. "I remember he stared at me much I was thankful my roodge was heavy that nigh.t It kept anyone knowing I was blushing.

Attention fixed on Liam for the moment. "Yes, I still do portraits. It is a great passion of mine for there is something so enrapturing about trying to catch the glint in one's eyes or the way the light hits their face. Or the natural curves of the form." Hand glided through the air, eyes drifting past his head as if she was imagining the motions of the brush. "I would love to resume my work here, yes. I enjoy it immensely." Bright grin given to Liam.

He just stared at the woman, not understanding much of what she said. Shaking his head, he decided to take a drink of his potcheen instead.

"Well, I don't think you need worry about Evan staring at another lass after the golden hair beauty, he was a goner upon first sight." Evan had stared at many a lass, that he remembered mostly when they had gone wandering to other lands. This was different, Ciaran saw that even before he had. He wasn't quite sure what roodge was, it might be her accent and meaning rouge. Anyway, she would not need to worry about blushing. "He did that to a lot of ladies, getting them to blush. Now he is blushing!" Which amused him no end. Then back to Claire, "I hope to see your work exhibited sometime." She had mention something about an art gallery. Her smile told him a lot that her words came from her heart and so he hoped she got to realize her renewed dream. "So, you would recommend this as a place for a man to settle in, if they finally came to settle?"

A light nod, "well if either three of you ever visit the isles again you should see Vorwend, you'd get many idea's miss Claire, and it looks like a wondrous place of adventure too." Another giggle came from Wei, "I hope his mouth wasn't gapped open while he was seated in that tree starring down at the girl. Once a man fell into a gawking spell with me as your brother fell in with the girl you speak of.. a water fall of drool soon flowed down his mouth and into the empty glass he carried."

Claire couldn't resist chuckling at Ciaran. Teeth caught her lower lip to hold it in. Sparkling greens swung to Liam. "Thank you. I hope you shall see my works soon and I absolutely recommend Heathfield as a settling place. I've certainly come across no other more suitable and I have traveled far." Claire paused, tipped her head. "Je pense que c'est parfait ici...that is, it's perfect."

He nearly choked on his drink when Liam mentioned settling. That happened a lot here. He turned light greens on Claire then. "Portraits, landscapes, still life? All of that is what you paint?" He wasn't going to say a word about staying, nope.

That was certainly more than he needed to hear, a vessel full of drool. "I hope you didn't drink it thinking it water he offered.." clearing his throat, he needed another drink of the whiskey and so obliged himself.

Claire nodded enthusiastically at Ciaran. "Yes, indeed. They are more than images but interpretations of life."

"Nae, I would never, he himself did not know he did such a thing until he nearly drank it himself, that is why I was worried for Evan if his mouth was hanging open, and the girl was just under him... she wouldn't find him pleasing if she was crowned with his stream." She looked to Claire. "That's what I call it when people continue to stare and don't stop, they've no idea what's going on around them, which is why many of them get hurt... sometimes by their own wife if their starring at another lady.

"Gawking spell?" Wide eyes looked to Wei. "Well, that's rather interesting. Never heard of the like. Poor lad."

"He's afraid we will tease him too much but we can tell when he's gone to see her and it went well, he comes back on Cloud Nine and the best mood I've ever seen him. Isn't that right Ciaran?" Who seemed to notice more than he on such accounts.

"Aye, he is at that. Can insult him and he doesn't take any notice." Lips twitched with laughter as he answered but he just managed to keep from letting it out.

Which had him recalling the Tarot reading Mikhail did on him. Nah, impossible. It had him going quiet, leaving Ciaran to pick up the conversation while he concentrated on having a few more drinks. Posture had changed to lounged in the wingback, comfortable as he kicked up booted feet on the ottoman. One crossing the other at the ankle.

Claire cleared her throat and looked at the two gentlemen. "What is it that you do, Ciaran and Liam?" Ahh, Claire's notorious curious streak coming to life once again. It had gotten her in trouble certainly more than once but she had indeed learned how to curb it...on occasion.

Wei would set the paper lantern down, and move to join the others where they were. "If he settles would your adventures be over.. or would the remaining two Quinn brothers continue their journeys without the other brother?" Wei fell silent not wanting to interrupt when Claire asked the two a question.

So much for a short reprieve as he blinked from the dance of the flames over the logs. "If Evan settles, I will wish him the best but his decisions do not end mine." That was a crazy idea sounding to him. The last answered first before Claire was under the intensity of dark eyes, it had him recalling a remark of a woman met when he told of his profession. "I've done many a trade and done them well, good with a sword, dagger and arrow but what draws my expertise is the boxing ring of which many fights I've done, I'm undefeated." Although he never stayed in a place very long for their traveling lifestyle.

"And I do a little bit of this and a little bit of that." Ciar gave a charming smile to Claire. "I just haven't settled on one thing." Though he was good with knives.

The two were quite mysterious...this brought on a light laugh that danced from full lips. She dipped her head once. "A jack of all....trades, perhaps?" Eyebrow arched in response to Ciaran but there was laughter in the emerald eyes.

"You mean you do a little of everything Ciaran? That is a rare talent. More rare if you do it all at once," a light giggle at Claire's remark to Ciaran.

"Aye!" He lifted his glass in a salute, "and master of none!" Which had him thinking of the reading as well.

Gaze swung over to Liam, studying him quietly. "Then congratulations are in order. May God continue to bless you with success.." Claire pushed off the mantle, skirts swishing. "And may he watch over your handsome face." 
 Claire dropped into a curtsy, head bent low. She rose seconds later, a smile tugging on her mouth. "The hour grows late. Thank you all for your company. May you all have a wonderful evening. Good night."

"Oh, I think you are masterful at a few if you chose," chuckling at his brother and leaving that left to individual interpretation. "Aye, I can hope that he does and if I am to fall, may it not be too hard." Something he was prepared to happen. Eventually would if he kept up his boxing or end up what he was starting to do now, teach younger males how to throw their punches right with the most impact. He rose from his seat with Claire's farewell. "A guid nig't tae yea lass," a thicker brogue coming through he was obviously capable of. "I think it is a good time to retire." It was very late. He added a bow, one with a regal flare to it before he straightened. Something he had not done for any other so far.

Wei couldn't help but giggle from Ciaran's response to the asked question. "Does that mean your master to all?" A nod to Claire, "good meeting you miss Claire."

He stood as Claire prepared to leave, giving Liam a half smile. He didn't want to think about his brother falling. "No, I would never be a master to anyone. Good night, Lady Claire. Lady Wei." He carried his glass over to the bar and finished what remained then placed it on the countertop. A good night to Alex, and he was headed for the steps, that black mood flaring up again.

"Lady Wei, a good and pleasant night to you. If you wish not to travel this late they offer rooms with nary a cost here." The brothers three were staying here as well the Lady Claire. He returned his glass to the bar but would keep the bottle. A few drinks up in their room as they would probably invade Evan's and wake him up if he was indeed sleeping.

With a last smile, Claire turned and headed for the stairs, pleased with the progress she had made upon return. The future continued to look bright.

Wei nodded, "I wish I came earlier and was able to speak with you both more.. but if you decide to go on another adventure try the land of Vorwend, you'll not regret it, and if Evan settles.. or if you can take a fourth, Wei would like to be part of your adventures since Wei can't find work as a valet anywhere." Wei would move to gather the paper lantern, and head out of the tavern and back on the trail.

Date: 03-01-10
Poster: Mikhail MacKay
Post # 78

Another Wintry Night

Mikhail was making use of the warmth the fire in the hearth offered. Legs stretched out comfortably as booted feet crossed braced against the ottoman. He was reading through some of the old gazettes and laughing out loud for some of the things the crones posted. The two old biddies had been quiet this winter, ever since the paper was discontinued, of course news got around just as quickly every day than once a month the issues were published. Attired warmly, the outer sweater had been discarded or he would overheat, leaving him in a poet's shirt and vest. One made of leather patching that blended nicely over pants of wool.

Another cold wintry night but for once it was clear. The stars were bright and numerous in that velvety black sky in spite of the full moon that made the snow seem to shimmer and the shadows look even darker. Gemma had decided to walk from the manor to enjoy it so by the time she reached the tavern, her nose and cheeks were red from the cold. She was dressed warmly in a cloak of lined wool over pants of leather and one of her brothers wool sweaters. It didn't matter which brother, the sweater was large enough to wear layers if needed. She stepped into the Thistle after hurrying up the steps. Closing the door, she stomped the snow off her boots and removed her outer wear. Because of the cold, she was going to have hot buttered rum tonight.

Seeing who was coming in, Mikhail had gained his feet to stand tall by the time she was through the door. "Good evening Gemma, I hope it finds you well." The deck of cards laid on the table as usual and the gazette he had been reading was folded over and placed on a side table with many others of them. They were left out for there was useful information in them that would continue to be such.

She smiled at the man as he spoke, blue eyes warm. "And a good evening to you as well, Mikhail. It does indeed find me very well. How do you fare eve?" She walked to the bar as she spoke and gave her request to Alex then turned so she could continue to speak to Mikhail while she waited.

Though the distance was farther than he normally rode on nights like this, the young easterner recalled the terrain as being somewhat familiar, having passed this way before. Just as his great sable destrier was beginning to feel like taking a break, both horse and rider saw lights up ahead, and so by mutual consensus they headed that way. Tolroze smiled faintly as he recognized the tavern, and after seeing to his steed's needs he'd step inside out of the cold. He was built lean and lanky, clad in dark chain mail with a silver star burst emblazoned across his chest, midnight blue cloak hanging from his shoulders. Eyes the color of storm clouds peered out from beneath his horn-topped helm from within his swarthy face as he welcomed the tavern's warmth.

And she also looked toward the door as one entered. "Good evening and welcome." Another smile curled full lips.

"A good evening to you, my lady," the dusky youth removed his helm, and inclined his head to the woman who'd greeted him.

"I've been well, it has not been that long since we've seen each other right here within these walls," which had a humorous glint arise in dark eyes that soon shifted upon the young warrior coming in. "Good evening," given cordially with a slight dip of his head then a gesture to the many chairs about near his at the hearth. "please do join me." The deck of tarot cards rested near his glass half full of potcheen with the bottle as well near the glass.

"A good evening to you...Mikhail, was it?" Tolroze seemed to recall meeting him before, and the presence of the tarot cards seemed to confirm that. The young Zakarumite inclined his head to the man, then settled into an unoccupied seat, removing his gauntlets and tucking them behind his sharkskin belt.

"Aye, I thought you looked familiar." It had been a while since he met the young man. "Sir Tolroze," if he was not mistaken. "How are your travels and homelands?" Then remembering his manners, "this is the Lady Gemma Quinn."

Trevet was going through samples of leather as he emerged from a back hall and the family jointly used office. One amongst many in the back of tavern. He was deciding how much and of which he should order from the McDonough cattle ranch. Barely setting foot inside the tavern as eyes finally lifted from that which he carried in patches. "Good evening brother, miss. Tolroze it is good to see you again." The leather samples were set to a side table before he kicked back a good amount of the potent brew.

He nodded, then turned to the lady, bowing his head with one hand over his heart, "it is an honor to meet you, Lady Gemma Quinn." A faint smile appeared on his face as he inclined his head to Trevet, "likewise my friend."

"True, it hasn't." She accepted her drink from Alex and made her way to the hearth as well. She settled into one of the chairs and took a careful drink, lowering her glass at the man's name. "Ah, Sir Tolroze. I've heard of you from my sister, Concessa."

"Ah, I see," he nodded to Gemma, as a matter of fact he'd been about to ask if there was a relation on hearing her name.

Catching sight of the bottle his brother already had at the table, Treve collected a glass on his way and soon joined them, filling his glass first before taking up a seat. It was then he caught sight of Gemma and stared a moment for she was striking in looks. Certainly easy on the eyes. He had caught a name. "Ma'am Quinn, a pleasure to meet you. I'm Trevet."

Even after so many years, the Thistle was still one of the most comfortable places she'd ever stayed in---and that said a lot. Her travels carried her from countries to continents and it was a relief that she was able to finally settle and breathe! Pale pink skirts swayed gentle with the rhythm of graceful steps as she descended from above stairs to the common room. Rich brown curls floated freely about her head, green eyes shimmering with warmth as her  gaze swept across the room. "Good evening." A smile tilted up the corners of her mouth as she made her way to the bar.

"Yes, she always has such nice things to say about you. " Those bright blue eyes turned from Tolroze to Trevet. "And about you as well, Trevet. I'm pleased to finally get to meet you both."

His dark face holding just a bit of redness, he'd turn to address Mikhail's earlier questions directed at him then, "Kurast is on the road to recovery, and Solurius is faring well, though many of us look forward to spring's arrival." Tolroze was still getting used to winter in a land where it got cold enough for water to actually turn solid and crystallize.

"Trevet and our other brother Kynan run the Leather shop in town. Kynan is in training to be a warrior." Then switching gears to first welcome the lady entering. "Good evening, we have met before?" He recognized her face or so felt, a distant memory that carried no name to recall to fit it. "I wish Kurast continue recovery. We have lands of such I have been helping," so he knew the trials and tribulations that went with recovering. "I shall have to find my way back to Solurius some evening again." He enjoyed reading the cards for some which he gestured to the deck on the table before taking his seat again. "If you wish for a card to be read," he didn't pressure when putting out the invitation.

"Indeed?" She had heard about the jousting of course. "Do you also make clothing?" Although he might be embarrassed to make clothing for a woman. "Good evening," was then called out to the young woman who came into the common room.

The eastern youth would incline his head to the lady who'd just arrived, "a good evening to you, my lady," then nodded to Mikhail. "Thank you...the Light bless your lands with a swift recovery as well."

Claire halted mid-stride to greet everyone, dropping into a curtsy. "Hello to all." She rose slowly, eyes drifting to the one who recognized her. In a fashion not meant to be bold, gaze swept him from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. Eyes lit and a grin revealed pearly white teeth. "If memory serves me correctly, and I do think it does, your name would be Mikhail?" Claire took a step closer, green orbs skimming over the cards and then back to his face. "I am Claire O'Reilly. I took residence here in Heathfield some time ago and I have just now returned."

He cleared his throat, then rose partially for the lady his brother addressed, "good evening," sitting again as he answered Gemma. "Aye, we have clothing pre made and only need adjusting. Pants and skirts that would fit a lady. All in the finest of suede and patched leather."

"Wonderful, then I'll be paying you a visit within the next few days." She might even ask her other sisters along.

"The lands of Kildare have had a recent blessing. After the rebellious Keeps were put in order, the Regent, twin of the King, got married. A lovely lady from these lands. Two triumphs to help heal the wounds a Witch had caused and cursed upon their father's lands that had seen his death long ago." Long story so he didn't continue.

"Indeed," he nodded, sounded eventful and complicated, but he was glad to hear that apparently they'd gotten a happy ending.

"Aye, that it is, Lady Claire. Yes." Smile growing a moment as he studied her. "You have grown and changed some in the passing years. They have still been kind to you." Happy ending for now, the Northeast forests were going to cause troubles soon enough with the unearthly beasts of which only rumors presently were spread about.  "Claire, this is my brother Trevet, the lady Gemma Quinn and Sir Tolroze of Solurius and Kurast lands."

Laughter rang out and she dipped her head. "My thanks, Mikhail, for your kindness in saying so. Despite all of our obstacles, we are fortunate to have the greatest of gifts: to wake up and see the rising sun." Claire had taken on an optimistic perspective, often perpetuated by seeking aid in the spiritual realm. She turned to face the others. "Enchantée..."


"Nice to meet you Lady Claire." Touch of a smile came lopsided as he studied her features then a look upon his brother. For a hermit he knew quite a few.

Obviously he wasn't always hibernating up in the mountains.

The young knight inclined his head to Claire on being introduced, placing a hand over his heart, "it is an honor to meet you, Lady Claire."

"Well met, Lady Claire." She smiled once more before taking another drink.

"Come join us here at the hearth. Would you like your card read perhaps?" Some were superstitious of the Tarot while others knew to take it with a grain of salt and some found it a forewarning to take heed of.

"Have you had your card read Gemma," hoping that it was fine to use her given name without the titles here in the tavern.

"Yes, I have." She preferred it actually. "Three cards, that all said the same thing. In their own way."

"Do you mind telling and if they fitted?" He found the cards a curiosity and certainly not frightened of them.

Claire looked at his face, then the cards, then his face. With a smile full of her own mischief, Claire walked over and sat close by. "I would love to see what the cards hold for me..." Small chuckle there.

They were ancient cards that looked upon life as a continual learning journey and when you got to the end, you started all over again. He had been shuffling them as he set them down within her reach. "Shuffle, then divide the deck into three piles after which put them back to one in whatever order you wish."

"They spoke of a sacrifice to obtain something. I am not yet sure if they fit but am certain I'll come to know in the future." She would of course, listen to Claire's reading with interest.

Tolroze remained quiet, mostly just watching and listening as he sat back and enjoyed the warmth of the hearth.

"I think we make sacrifices from small to large throughout our lives. For such cards to all say the same, there must be one of the bigger sacrifices and one which is coming up soon." That's how he saw it. Usually these one card reads his brother did, were something soon to happen or had just happened.

"All right." Nimble fingers picked up the cards and shuffled them fluidly. Following instructions, she split them into three piles and gazed at them for a second. Then, she scooped them up: second pile, third, pile, first pile., and then held the mass of cards in her hand before setting them down. "There we are.."


Date: 03-01-10
Poster: Mikhail MacKay
Post # 79

He reached turning over the top card. The Five of Cups showed portraying the aftermath of Psyche's betrayal of Eros. Her sisters have stirred her fears to such an extent that she has broken her promise to her husband and lit a lamp to see his sleeping face. Here we see Psyche standing distraught before the empty nuptial couch, the lamp in one hand, the other hand reaching in desperation toward the departing figure of Eros which can be glimpsed disappearing behind the marble columns of their beautiful palace. In the foreground, four cups lay overturned, their contents spilled over the floor. A fifth cup remains standing still intact, beside them. "When the Five of Cups appear, it implies regret over past actions. Something has gone wrong, a betrayal has occurred, and there is sadness and remorse. Separation in a relationship can occur. But this card does not augur a final ending." Which was a genuine reassurance here, "Something remains which can be worked on, and it is up to the individual to take up the challenge and make the commitment to the future." He paused here as he studied her with some concern but not tragically. "You have been gone for some years, I don't know what happened in those years, Claire, only you know if the card fits or not but it also shows a better future from where you have been."

Which had him studying this mysterious Claire before a glance strayed back to Gemma to watch her reaction and if she had anything to say for his last comment. Certainly, as he went silent as his brother read the card, so she would.

"Yes we do, but I'll not make any guesses. We'll just have to wait and see." She smiled then nodded at Tolroze who spoke of needing to move on now that he had grown warm.

Claire, normally, would have taken the implications of the cards with a grain of salt but his reading had her looking up to him with startled eyes. Paint-stained fingers reached up to brush tendrils of mahogany out of her eyes. "You have given me much to think about, Monsieur Mikhail.." Nervous laugh there, eyes swinging back down to stare intently at the card. Fingers traced over the surface slowly, picking it up so she could look at it more closely. She inhaled deeply, nodding slowly.

"Guesses naturally come to mind but certainly not to put stock in as if truth. Interesting. I hope it comes as a pleasant surprise in how it plays out."

"If you wish to know a little more, another card can be drawn. Up to three to clarify the first. Unless the first is that clear." Which it seemed to be. "I do get the impression that no matter how it fits, you will do well."

His words had a smile reappear, one that set blue eyes to sparkling. "Why, thank you, Trevet. I'll be sure to let you know how it turn out."

"I'm tempted to have my card read but I fear one turned over and saying I will fall helplessly in love." More mussed, half amused and half with that edge of fear.

He slipped the card back into the deck, leaving Claire to think over the card that showed. A chuckle came hearing his little brother. "Then you should pick a card so you don't have your own words placing that very spell on you and if in the slight chance one such comes at least you'll not be taken by surprise."

Vanessa had not been out of the house much since the races, and opted it time to socialize. Especially with Karina gone for the night. She'd not pester Yaya Quinn this eve. Ysabeau was wrapped and bundled warmly and the walk was just enough to lull the infant warmly wrapped within layers of blankets. She passed through the door quickly but quietly with a glance around and smile to those present. "Ave, everyone." And immediately move closer to the hearth.

Shuffling the deck which he placed down in front of his brother. Challenge came in the lift of a brow as his hand retracted.

"I think the first card will suffice." She placed a hand on his. "I must admit, the reading of cards had me as a bit of a skeptic. If there is something absolute that I believe in, it is the power of each of us to meet the challenges of life. That card does indeed have meaning to me but you have given me a glimmer of hope to chase it. Thank you." Claire removed her hand as he continued to read his cards for others. Looking up, she smiled at Vanessa.

He swallowed away the trapped feeling. Trapped by his own words no less as he took up the deck, shuffled then split it into three piles. The piles then stacked back to one as he waited with baited breath.

He reached to turn over the card having it show as the Two of Wands. One portraying the young Jason standing before the Centaur Chiron's cave, poised before he sets out on his journey to reclaim his inheritance. Chiron is dimly visible in the darkness of the cave. Jason, clothed in a scarlet tunic, grips two flaming wands firmly in his hands. Taking a moment to greet Vanessa, "good evening Vanessa, welcome tonight. Have you met Lady Claire?" Figuring she had met all the others. He then continued the reading.

"Good evening to you, Vanessa." Leaning back in her to chair to observe quietly.

The couch before the hearth of her first stop with a smile to Claire. "Ave, Miss Claire. How are you?" Her attention then to Mikhail with a nod. "We have met. Good eve to you as well. Trevet, Gemma." Seating herself on the sofa, Ysa was nestled against the back of the cushion where it met the back of the sofa and loosened the blankets some.

"The two of Wands heralds the formulation of a new aim, idea, goal or creative project. This new idea may not be the final shape of the future, but it is full of potential and sufficient to lure the individual out of his or her present confines into a new creative venture. Everything here depends upon the courage of the individual to take the new idea up with both hands, and to put faith in that invisible creative power which has generated the vision of the new path." Which he grinned when he was done for how he perceived his brother's reaction.

"Evening, Vanessa." She smiled at her then glanced at the door as if expecting someone else. When the door didn't open again, she looked at the card.

When the card was drawn and read, he gave a visible exhale of air that one could wonder if he had held it. "Aye, far better a reading than something else." Nervous laugh to follow before taking another drink of the potcheen.

"I am well, thank you." Nodding once to Vanessa. Arms were crossed loosely as she sat and watched the cards drawn for others. Thoughts collected and swirled in her mind.

She chuckled at his reaction then looked at Mikhail. "I think that was a sigh of relief."

"I need to get back," rising as he scooped up the swatches of leather having decided which two he would invest in. A message needed to be sent off to the ranch which he would see to on his way out. He could feel the heat rising up along his neck against the collar of his shirt. Good thing he was leaving and his step a bit quickened. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, Mikhail, nice meeting you Claire and Gemma. Vanessa," a quick glance Gemma's way that lingered a few seconds longer anyway before he headed down the hall.

Making sure the babe stayed asleep once the blankets were loosened, she removed her coat and moved to the bar, requesting quietly a cup of cider from Alex with a small smile of thanks to him.

"Have a wonderful evening, Trevet. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Hand lifted in a wave.

Which had him chuckle. "I do think your beauty has unsettled my younger brother," not looking at anyone in particular for they would know who they were as he slipped the card back into the pile and shuffled them all up again.

"Good night, Trevet. " She called out, and hopefully he heard before he was out the door. She cut a glance toward Mikhail, a brow lifting but decided the best course was to take a drink.

Which had a full grin emerge to the tune of white and held a few seconds as eyes pierced Gemma's way. "I would say it is a compliment."

Claire hid a smile and rose from her chair to seek a glass of wine from Alex at the bar. Glance cut Gemma's way, remembering her younger years.

A glance back to the sofa before looking to Claire. "Have you been enjoying your return?" She smiled, thanking Alex for her drink and turned full attention to the woman.

Claire too thanked Alex and sipped before turning to Vanessa. Grin curled her lips. "Oh, yes, I simply love being here and am grateful for the hospitality and welcome. How have you been, Vanessa?"

Her smile brightened to hear such words. Heathfield was a wonderful place. "I have been busy, but busy is good. I enjoy it."

"It has been three or more years. How have you faired, Claire?" Rhymed as the came upon the two at the bar, returning the bottle and glass and opting for a mug of coffee at this point. Alex made a smooth blend."Is being here a good sign you might stay?" Alex collecting the glass and bottle then returning with the mug of coffee.
"That's wonderful, Vanessa!" Eager nod there before turning to Mikhail. "I have been well, though weary from travel. My happiness here is a certain sign that I plan to stay. I, naturally, have other business, however, I see Heathfield as a suitable home, just like I did some years ago. I hope all has been well for you?"

"It has been well, peaceful, something of which can be taken away outside of these lands easily." His family still had a few things to settle in time. He motioned with a hand towards the hearth if she was heading back there as he stepped away to do so. "I do hope you find this happiness you seek. Such is always encouraging to others that it is possible. To be happy that is."

Claire followed the motion and with an incline of her head, she moved towards the hearth, finding a seat and settling comfortably. Wine glass was lifted and sipped, play of emotions across her face speaking to her appreciation for it's taste. "Indeed, it can be. Such is what pulled me away from here. It seems as happiness is elusive and to find it, one must discover one's self. I believe that I have done so over the years," smile there with a hint of mischief. "And the peace here is certainly contributing to my happiness. The ravages of war and the cries of rebellion certainly take their toll." Unconscious rubbing of her hands together in an effort to remove the paint that stained them. A bit like the scenes of bloodshed that she had encountered over a life span. "What is it that you seek, Mikhail?"

Gemma was listening quietly, eyes on the fire. She was surprised to find her drink gone then she looked up at the cuckoo clock. It was growing late so she'd not be drinking another.

"I know some that have told me, they need to maker their mistakes to learn than be led from them. I would still plea there are some that need not be firsthand learned." Taking up his seat again as dark eyes turned on Gemma. "You have been to these lands over a year now? Do you find them as home in your heart or does that remain where you have come from?"

Had it been a year? She wasn't sure but she looked at Mikhail and smiled. "Ireland is where I grew up, and though Heathfield has become my home, part of my heart will always remain there." She smiled as she shrugged. "And most of my family is here, so I doubt if I'll be leaving any time soon."

"It is how I feel, mostly. Eire is where I was born and will always bare a special place but home is where your loved ones are as land is not measured the same. If your heart is in a particular country it is because that is where your loved ones reside. I see you getting married eventually and raising a family here. Your esteem grandmother will boast of many great grandchildren to her friends."

Claire listened on with a smile, sipping periodically at her wine. Ireland was an enchanting place and despite having made the decision to settle herself, Claire had a fondness for travel although it would certainly be limited.

"Married?" She blinked and looked at Mikhail then laughed. "I would pity anyone who marries me, Mikhail. I have no domestic talents at all, though Grandmother and my dear mother both tried to teach me. " And she had two breakfasts to make for bets lost. Herself was trying her best to help with that but it didn't look good.

"Then perhaps you can marry him for his domestic talents and he can marry you for your other talents!" Claire grinned, lifting her shoulders. "Bah, domestic talents are not all to being a woman..."

"You may pity them but perhaps the one that falls in love will see it differently." Giving her a wink as he had finished off his coffee by this point. "Ladies," gaining his feet, "I must be on my way. Gemma, if you are heading home, I will escort you." Knowing that Claire would be staying here until things were certain and then taken care of.

"Grandmother insists I'm being stubborn." She had an impish look as she spoke. "And perhaps she's right but my brothers would always head for the hills when I set to cooking." And she didn't mention that she did not find babies, no matter how adorable, appealing. "I should head back. Grandmother won't sleep until we're all where she thinks we should be." And somehow she even seemed to know when Segan, Eion or Conor were out somewhere. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Claire. And welcome back." Standing, she carried her glass over to the bar then made to collect her cloak.

"Thank you, Gemma, the same to you. May you both have a wonderful night." She lifted a hand in farewell as they made ready to leave. She would sit by the fire a few moments longer, finishing her wine and contemplating the card.  Mikhail certainly gave her much to think about and she would take advantage of the peace of the Thistle to do so.

Unfortunately Vanessa had left earlier to see to a fussing baby or he would have escorted her as well. He would see to Gemma's cloak and his before vacating the tavern proper.



Date: 03-04-10
Poster: Allan Cleary
Post # 80

Philosophical Conversation

The Thistle was quiet thus far and Claire took the opportunity to indulge....with Alex that was. She had carted down a canvas from her room above stairs to the common room along with a tray of oil paints. Alex didn't have to stand still for her to capture his regal manner yet always warm disposition. A plate of untouched meats and cheeses accompanied the glass of wine that sat on a nearby table as she worked. Candlelight glinted upon rich brown locks, held back in simple braid with a few tresses to shape her face. Green gold eyes shifted from Alex to the canvas, teeth nibbling at her lower lip. Hands stroked gently with a thin brush as his shape took form. So far, so good.

The Rollers had been out for the fresh fallen snow and soon after they were gone, another noise could be heard of a wagon rambling passed the front of the tavern then down the side street where a door led into the side for deliveries. One that was a hall behind the bar with a door leading into the kitchen and a storage room were the crates and canisters were put to keep them cold. Such was Allan's deliver of milk, cream and cheeses all fresh from the Dairy. Two of his men saw to unloading the wagon as he continued in from the hall to the back of the bar with a list to hand to Alex. He had already been paid with the order sent and so only needed to hand off the list. As usual he threw in extra like a few pounds of cottage cheese for the morning breakfast. He was bundled up good wearing an Irish wool cap and coat, scarf hung free around his neck, one that had been hand made by his sister Roseann. He looked frosted around the edges as a shift of blue eyes had him spotting Claire. "Claire O'Reilly?" A spark lighting up in blue as a smile easily followed. A few exchanged with Alex as he took the list before Allan was around from the bar and heading her way.

Fierce concentration had her browns drawn and lips pressing into a tense line as she sought to carve out his frame with paint. Claire was hardly aware of the paint's effects on her until after. It was no surprise that all sorts of colors stained long thin fingers, up to her wrists and forearms even! Sleeves of a rose colored gown embroidered with white flowers were rolled up to the elbows. She blew a lock of hair out of her eyes and looked up for her next study of Alex. Instead, emerald eyes met vivid blue ones and straightened quickly, paint flying, brush dropping. "Allan?" Startled laugh escaping there as she put the paints down and she too was walking towards him. "Allan Cleary, is that you?" But she knew it was so. A wide smile blossomed, reflecting in her eyes as she moved to greet him. "Well the years certainly haven't touched you..."

He scooped her up into a hug, smelling like wet wool, cold air and snowflakes. The night's air profound in teasing the senses. Strong too as he picked her right up from the floor to swing her around once then set back to her feet again, releasing her in the process. Smile only got wider, reaching his eyes. "I can say the same of you. Lovely as ever before. Where did you go? Are you back or visiting?"

She laughed in delight, bracing her arms on his shoulders as he lifted her up yet mindful not to stain him with paint. When she gained her feet, she looked up into his face, tempted to cup his cheek though stilling the hand at her side. "You are too kind. I have returned to Heathfield to stay, Allan, and I dare hope that you are not going anywhere for we have many things to catch up on. I had some business to attend to though, sadly, still unfinished..." She cleared her throat and linked her arm in his. "Say you'll have a drink with me!" Eager smile as she guided them to the bar. "It's on me.." Teasing wink there as they all knew the Crown had paid for all.

"This is good news then," catching sight of her painting project and the stains on her hands and spots up along her arms. "You are still painting. This is also good to see. I can hope the years away were kind." Without getting into it if it was of a kind she would rather forget." Laughter edged his words, "no, I have come on business but I plan to stay a while. My men are unloading the wagon and leaving my horse behind. I don't think I had the dairy when you were here last?" Three years or more? Tallying it up in his head as he loosened the buttons of the woolen cloak. "Excuse me a moment," he was back over to hang it to a peg by the door, scarf going with it and the Irish cap to set on the shelf above. A hand running quickly through the thick dark curls as he was on his way back to the bar to collect a glass of potcheen. The bottle also taken as he headed for the hearth next were it was warm and comfortable seating. "Now, I'm ready to hear all you have to tell of your years away."

Kel shook out her blonde strands as she came up to the door. A look over to her shoulder to Oly. "What? I am not!" Her brow wrinkled up and she stuck out her tongue to the horse and his rude remarks. Twisting on her heel to point at him. Shaking that lone finger at the most horrid loveable beast. "You take that back right now. I am not a big fat butt human. And I have not gained weight. You know your back is just fine." She huffed and lifted her nose at him, only to turn on booted feet going inside, Oly trotting to the stable. Muttering under her breath. Blue and green mixed match hues fell on the room. Fingers working the scarf from her throat, only to turn and hang it up. Cloak hung up next. Worn clothing draped her tall slender frame. Hues of green and browns to blend in. Rubbing her cold hands together, she headed to the bar for a drink.

Claire abandoned her paints, tossing a smile at Alex. She followed Allan to hearth, gown swinging gently and then brushed aside as she claimed a seat. Her wine glass was seized and sipped as she studied him for a moment. The opening of a door had her gaze turning. "Good evening, Miss." Greeting the young lady warmly before glancing back at Allan. "No, you did not have the dairy when I was here. What a magnificent achievement, Allan. Perhaps 'tis not my place to say so but I am indeed proud of you for that. There's something extremely rewarding about having a stake in a piece of work whether it be the making of a candle or the running of a country." For her, it was art and all it
represented in its glorious colors and shapes. "The years have brought a plethora of emotion and discovery. I am most fortunate to have gained some worldly knowledge from my extensive travels. However, some things continue to remain uncertain and I hope to solve the puzzles soon." She leaned forward, excited. "And yourself, Allan? It is with the utmost sincerity that I hope that the years have been kind and peaceful to you."

Allan rose to his feet as a lady entered. Some habits were die hard even in the relaxed atmosphere here. "Good evening Miss, welcome to the Thistle. Alex will see to your needs be they a drink, food or lodging without cost. It is the way the monarchy here has it all set up and already paid for." Which Alex would go into the long dialogue of how and why it was a workable system in place. "I am Allan and this is Claire," relaxed introductions too as he took his seat again answering Claire. "You sound like one of my sisters," which had him grin only more. "Thank you Claire, it is a big achievement especially two years ago when I got the idea, ran it by the monarchy and started laying out a diary that would see to not only these lands but the sister lands as best we can. Summer is harder for the heat."

Hearing the hellos, she winced a little bit. She didn't like getting noticed, people asked questions and she was just....well felt so awkward. But those mixed match hues stared at Alex. "Light ale, please." Turning around, she turned to face the room as Alex went to get her drink. "Good evening. I'm Kelsey. Nice to meet you Claire, Allan." Head bobbing a hello. Fingers smoothing down her green shirt, two sizes too large. Gaze dropping away as they two seemed to be playing catch up. Which got her ff the hook. Turning back around, she watched as Alex brought her mug and he was given a small nod of thanks. Picking it up, her frame was carried over to the hearth to fight off a bit of the chill. She was just resting here to restock on goods. Winter had been hard one.

"'Tis a pleasure to meet you, Kelsey." Claire looked upon her, smile still fixed before turning to Allan and arching a slender brow. She considered his words, nodding slowly. "You run a dairy for all the lands here? I imagine that is quite challenging yet very impressive. Despite the obstacles you may encounter, be it many lands or a hard season, I've no doubt in your abilities to manage it ably." She lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "I can't say I know much about a dairy or its workings but if I can help, you have only to ask. I am a simple artiste and am on no routine nor schedule."

"A pleasure to meet you Kelsey, please make yourself comfortable." Which it seemed she would easily as they too were at the hearth doing just that. He watched her a moment before attention shifted back to Claire. "I have been well. Both my sisters have come to stay, Diane and Roseann. Michael is still here and I was hoping he would show up tonight." The brothers were usually found together. "The Dairy has been a challenge for its size. I've thirty men working for me with two foremen. I'm usually right in there with them but being the Bossman I can take time to see to other things that need seeing to like all the paperwork, setting up new sales, generating more business. And, like tonight, taking some time off or my family will be lynching me if I don't. I was granted a manor to build along with the dairy and I chose a design that had it fit right in with nature. The Dairy was something needed as these lands grew as well the sister lands." See, didn't get out often and he was running at the mouth. He finally shut up to kick back some of the potcheen.

A deep drink of the ale was taken, only to look over her shoulder. Licking off a bit of the foam from her upper lip. "Thank ye." Crossing one arm over her stomach, she turned around to warm her backside. Gaze falling over the rim of her ale. Mostly to watch and listen to the two. Not like she had much else to do. So might as well learn a bit about the people and place. Dairy farmer and painter. A mix to be sure.

Claire lifted up long legs and tucked them under the gown, shifting comfortably in her seat. Chin rested upon a fist as she listened carefully, smiling at his words. "I can only imagine the amount of stress one might encounter in your position. But your family is right, not that I mean to preach because I certainly don't but I do believe your family is right. Leisurely time is not only well-deserved, I am sure, but much needed as well! You mustn't work yourself to death. I yearn to capture youthful airs on canvas before they disappear into the management of the dairy..." Clearly teasing there as emerald eyes set to twinkling. "Though I highly doubt your family will let that happen." Soft laugh accompanying her words. "You've a manor home? C'est fantastique! Have you a wife, children, a dog perhaps?" Wide grin there.

"I wouldn't say stress, having nothing to do and getting into trouble was stress upon my family and myself." Which had him laughing with the next, rich sounding voice. "Aye, you'll be painting me as a cow the longer I am around them. Like some people have pets that look like them. Not married and no pets. Now, you have a good idea what I've been doing," something constructive from his more wilder years prior. "Tell me of yourself?" Not adding suggestions by means of particular questions but leaving it to her to add what she wanted more of. "And of you Kelsey? Where do you hail from." Slipped that one right in there.

Ugh, she was pulled in. The anti social butterfly blinked at Allan when he spoke up to her. And she would have to answer, a look over to Claire and down to the floor. "Up north. Village don't exist no more, so I'm wonder." Fingers itched at the side of her nose, which wrinkled in thought. "You could say, I hail from all lands and places?"

Lilting laugher rang out. "Fear you not, I shall give you beautiful black spots.." Eye brows wiggled in jest before she turned to Kelsey. "What happened to the village?" She straightened in her chair, concern shimmering. She'd had enough of the ravages of war and couldn't bear the thought of peace being disturbed, especially here in Heathfield, though she doubted that would happen to this Kingdom.

"Up north." Repeating that part as only one place came to mind. "Anywhere near that notorious tavern they say is a nexus so the future can splat itself in there any time that one has to watch their step or be flattened by a metal, beastly, noisy, smelly contraption they ride in?"

"The source of income ran out. We mined for a metal, but when the mine went dry, so did the town, younger people left. Over a few year's it sorta was left to raiders and such. But last I heard, the last person living there died. But that was a few years ago." Sipping on her ale, she gave a small roll of her shoulder. "Well you go North, then to the west and then a little south. Where it is nothing like that. And place is much like this. Kept simple. But those things they do ride in, nearly killed Oly and I." And she muttered a few curses with a drink.

Claire was utterly lost. She'd no idea of the place they spoke as her travels had directed her to other places, however, she was content to listen and learn. "Are you all right? Do you need medical attention?"

A laugh came up from her lips to grace the air. A easy laugh that showed on her features. "No, that was a while ago. Before I came here. Thank you for asking."

Claire breathed a sigh of relief, hand coming to rest on her heart. "Well, thank God." Fingers traced the cross that hung from a necklace around the slender column of her throat as she turned to Allan. "I have been well, though weary from travel. I enjoy the fact that I may live and breathe here in peace. Over the years, I believe I have managed to put a leash on my wild curiosity that used to run rampant. I have calmed also. If you'll remember, I used to be a bit of a whirlwind," she chuckled, tipping her head. "I continue the search for my brother yet from Heathfield for 'tis far too dangerous for me to return to Sainte-Hélène presently." Voice lowered with that information.

He was content to let the two ladies talk and he to listen as he nursed the potent drink. Home brewed whiskey best be taken in slowly. Eyeing the platter he sat up, setting his glass aside as he took up some of the bread to fold in some cheese and was soon having himself a small meal. He cooked for himself so needless to say he was lucky he got around to it with all he had to do. He should hire a cook which he made a mental note of. Speaking up after a couple bites as his stomach lowly growled. "Never squish your curiosity completely, just don't let it run away with you in a way it brings harm. Curiosity is a good thing not to lose." Her mention of a whirlwind brought to mind another, "I've not seen Kizzie around in some time."

"Ah, but that could never happen. As you can see, I've interrogated you this eve." Jokingly stated. "I believe I met Kizzie one or two times though 'tis difficult to bring an image about after so many years." Eyes narrowed in the effort to remember.

And she downed the rest of her ale in a few glups. So the girl could drink! And the mug was brought back to the counter and off to her room she went. "Goodnight!"

"Good night!" Claire called out in return with a wave of her hand.

"Good night," the lass was quick having him wonder if she was skittish talking about where she had been from. "Kizzie became known as the Whirlwind, she hung around Lancely Caster, one of Peter's knights. Good lass, it will be a shame if she has left too."

"Have many people left from Heathfield?" She'd seen a good many familiar faces upon her return yet Heathfield's citizens were many.

"Not really many, seems more come than go over the years. Families that have put down roots seem to become bigger." He was trying to recall being he'd been working a whole lot but he got to hear a lot too with going around with his deliveries. "Some came and went while you were gone but I'd say of no special consequence in the long run. Sometimes the tavern is busy and other times it is quiet like tonight. I don't mind either, noisy or quiet. Do you have a preference?"

"Yes, Heathfield is growing and prospering and may it continue to do so." She shook her head, eyes traveling the flickering flames in the hearth. A crooked smile lit her features. "No, I don't mind, quiet or noisy. Perhaps it might depend on my mood but I would be careful with such. As for tonight, it is nice to relax and enjoy the peace. To talk and reminisce. To appreciate and envision. Quiet is not worrisome. 'Tis the silence that is worrisome for it could be a blessing....or a curse. Naturally, that too would depend on the person and their thoughts."

"So you have matured in the years you've been away. Please take no offense to my words but the compliment they are intended. Ideals molded to fit reality and a comfortable coexistence between them serves not only yourself better but those around you. One might say, oh to be young again, but I'm quite content the age I am at. Although I might be saying that in twenty or thirty years from now."

"I do not take offense but rather thank you for your observations. One could say that I did a bit of soul searching and when one looks at the bigger changes you. I should hope that at my age I'd be far more mature than rash or impulsive like I used to be. I am happy with the way that I have turned out to be and the perspective I have taken on life. Leads me away from trouble, you could say, and I've had my fair share of that. To be honest, I rather enjoy entertaining thoughts and settling and stability and security. 'Tis much more a comfort to be afforded with those than with a evening of frivolity and fun, though not to say those are not desired at times. 'Tis when frivolity becomes a habit that I believe we begin to lose touch with the more important things. However, that is only my opinion, one I do not mean to impose on you. Simply sharing the findings of myself and what they have done for me." Claire leaned over to briefly touch his hand. "To be happy with oneself is one of the most important things. Unhappiness with oneself leads to all other sorts of unhappiness. We are both blessed to be content with who we are."

He had finished off two sandwiches as he listened, never talking with his mouth full but in spurts between as needed. "I'm quite proud of you." Sounding like an older brother echoing her earlier words "We all have had disappointments along life's path. First through the eyes of a child in what the world is, then we find things we thought were, were not, such as an Easter bunny or how Santa Claus is portrayed. Some never get over the disappointment or close their minds to the truth compared to what is believed to be true. It can be disheartening. Then as a teen we still have seen the world a certain way only to find it was still quite not so. I think what is important in all of this is that one keeps an open mind for truth. What seems to be and what really is. I think you've gotten a good grasp of that. Some never do and are easily led down the wrong path. To be happy with oneself is one of the foundation things to learn, one of the most important and one of the hardest for many."

"One must keep an open mind for truth and must keep an open mind in that truth may we change. There are rarely any absolutes in life yet we can battle through them by becoming certain in ourselves. The power of knowledge of oneself is crucial to the foundations that one builds. 'Tis far easier to build my future here when I know who I am and what I want than if I was still that stray girl. 'Tis a change to be most grateful for and grateful is what I most assuredly am." She untucked her legs, stretched them out, and ran a hand down to smooth out the wrinkles, eyes never straying far from his face. "I am also grateful to be able to converse with someone who not only understands himself and the tribulations of life but through that, to be able to understand others, no matter their tribulations. 'T'would seem that we have both grown over the years and both in positive ways." Hand reached out to pick up the wine glass as she inclined her head a single time. "To your future--and to mine. May they continue to blossom under life's blessings and weather the storms under life's obstacles."

"So one can question, do truths ever change or do our perspective change in being able to see truths in spite of lies around them?" A slow smile showing as blue eyes darkened a shade as they held hers. "It is said that knowledge will set us free. There is a difference between knowledge and truths. But they can be used together to strengthen the other. Instincts, if you can learn to trust them, will tell you the truth when knowledge fails for all presented against the truth. Truth is not dependant upon knowledge but knowledge is useless without truth. So I say to you when all information around you tells you something that deep down inside says it is wrong, then go by your instincts for knowledge is dependant upon facts and if the facts are incorrect then knowledge becomes flawed too." He lifted his glass in toast, "and a fine toast that is to drink to. Bravo. May we both find the happiness we seek on all levels, be it profession, friends, knowledge or more."

"You speak words of wisdom and I am glad to be the recipient of them this evening." Claire clinked her glass against his and took a healthy swallow, emptying the glass, and then setting it aside. "This has been a most philosophical evening." The sight of her hands had the gears in her brain turning. "If you'd permit me, I would thoroughly enjoy painting your dairy...and your cows. And perhaps yourself at one point in the future." Some kept letters. Others wrote memoirs and some journals. Claire painted to remind her. She painted to absorb. To keep. To learn. To indulge. What better way to relearn Heathfield and its people than to meet, visit, and paint?

"Aye, maybe best come spring when the flower is in the meadow," sounding very Irish as the accent tinted his words. "The cows will be roaming the fields again and the leaves upon the trees adding more color than presently. There are two areas to the Diary, that which the manor sits upon and that which has the barns and pastures take up. I think you'll be liking it. I have nothing against getting me portrait done either. Although it is time for me to get back so that I can be up early in the morning. I'm very pleased to have stopped in this evening and that you have come back to stay." He was rising from his seat collecting glass and bottle to bring back over to Alex. Turning again, "I'm sure our paths will cross again soon enough. Settle in and get to meet others you knew. I'm sure there are a few of them too."

"Sounds like a plan. I don't mind painting winter scenes though I certainly prefer standing in a meadow of flowers than atop a blanket of snow." Claire too rose, covering a yawn with her hand. She carried the platter to Alex along with her own glass. "Indeed, they shall. I look forward to seeing you again as I look forward to my reunion with many other familiar faces. Be well and take care!" With that, she leaned on tip toes to give him a hug. "Travel safely this night, Allan Cleary. Good night." With that, she dropped into a curtsy and smiled warmly.

"I hope I'm not keeping you up." Teasing for her covered yawn as after the returned hug he was over to get his coat to don, scarf, hat and gloves. "Be well and take care Claire." The smile said it all as he finally took his leave before it got too late. It had been an enjoyable evening.



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