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The Thistle Tavern

Date: 03-05-10
Poster: Lancely Caster
Post # 81


Claire was standing outside of the Thistle this night, leaning against one of the posts on the porch of the Tavern. Diamond like stars glittered above in a blanket of onyx, totally enchanting. A crisp yet gentle breeze stirred heavy skirts of lilac and teased the curly locks of brown that framed her face. Arms were crossed loosely across a torso that was enveloped by a woolen cloak. She inhaled deeply, enjoying the peace of the night.

There was a ruckus going on down the street. Muted yells got louder but stayed the distance to the square. What was left of the banks of snow were being utilized by the local gangs. Balls flying every which way and turned on the knight as he headed for the tavern. Of course he reciprocated and got the better of the ring leaders until one called out in recognition who the bully had tried to take on. They scattered like flies under siege of a fly swatter. Probably afraid more of the knights would join their buddy. That happened more often than not but Lancely was alone this night. Hair was loose and curling wildly about his shoulders, a mass that should have been tied back. Grin remained that reached his eyes as he kept up the lanky stride. Long cloak over the fairly tall male was smattered with snow of a kind only a snowball would make on impact.

Startled emerald eyes launched in the direction of the shouts down the street. She pushed off the column and ambled a few feet down the porch, gaze peering into the night to figure out what the chaos was all about. Seconds later, a figure appeared in the distance and Claire looked on brazenly in the comfort of the darkness, in an effort to discover who was approaching. Little glimpses were not enough however and she resolved to wait until he neared. As always, Claire was eager to reconnect with those she once knew in Heathfield and meet those she had never had the pleasure of meeting. As such, she called out, wrapping a slender arm about the post on the porch. "Good evening, Sir."

He wasn't expecting to see anyone outside and his hair was caught silver blond in the moonlight lending him a Fae appearance or some ancient god for his chisel features. Dimple came with the smile as well the twinkle in blue eyes as he reached the steps and headed up them in more a bound. "Good evening Miss, enjoying the night?" Noticing the splattered snow on his coat he started brushing it off as well moving over to the mat to get the caked snow from his boots.

"Oh, certainly for how could one not in the midst of such beauty.." A smile played with the corners of her mouth as she watched him. There was something familiar about the form she was studying from under her long black lashes however....she needed more light. "It seems as if you've also been enjoying your evening so far," head motioned to the road behind her as she turned more fully towards him and the tavern door. Despite the absence of snow flakes, the cold had not disappeared and it was snaking its way through her cloak and up her spine. "I am Claire O'Reilly. If you've no other pressing business, would you care to join me for a drink within the warm confines of the Thistle?" This being said as she moved forward to the door, knowing the heat that lurked just behind it.

He got the door for her as she approached, his task done with the snow. "Aye, enjoying all the minutes I can. I was working on the water gauntlet aside the regular one, for soon spring will be here and along with it the warmer weather. If you've had a mine to go sledding or ice skating you may consider doing it within the next week. Soon all will be melting." He took a moment to breathe in the night air, nostrils slightly flaring, eyes half closing a moment before wide open again. "Nice to meet you Claire O'Reilly. I am Sir Lancely Caster, knight under King Peter O'Neill. I'm the one that keeps the other knights on their toes." Near literally with the beastly contraptions he devised. "I would advise watching your walks for the gang of youths that are snowball bound."

Claire sank into a curtsy. "A pleasure to meet you, Lancely Caster." She rose and proceeded through the door and pausing to the side to remove her cloak. "Yes, I was thinking about indulging in a little ice skating before it all disappears. I have more of a fondness for swimming, I daresay, however I can find enjoyable activities in each season!" She laughed softly, shrugging her shoulders. Cloak was hung up securely on a peg before shaking out her skirts  and moving towards the bar. Something hot. Chocolate? The request was given to Alex with a murmur of thanks. Turning, she propped a hip against the bar and glance focused on him. "Gang of youths? Are they dangerous or simply mischievous and troublesome? Or harmless?" Grin there.

He was right in behind her closing off the door and cold. "Brrrr," but sounding more like a laugh than shiver. He was use to being out in it. It was when he hit the warmth that it became prominent in difference. His cloak removed and hung to a peg as he was able to brush the splatter of snow from the back. It would melt away anyway so didn't take long to the task. "Potcheen, my good man," turning with a grin Alex's way. Respect in the tone from one warrior to a much older respected icon. "The youths are atypical, not dangerous unless an accident. They don't always realize they might actually hurt someone. So the leader gets a pounding by some of us now and again to keep him humble. Eventually he will grow out of it. So, mischievous and troublesome is most accurate." Claiming the glass of potcheen along with the bottle before heading over to the hearth to soak in the warmth. A wool sweater was worn over durable pants and boots lacing up to below his knees. Special made kind that was form fitting. A wingback claimed as he sunk in comfortably, legs stretched out before him. He may have let a sigh out for finally getting to sit down.

"Ah, well, that is certainly good to be aware of and I shall keep that in mind. When the snow melts, I shall be wary about the other tools they may decide to use." Smiling widely there. Mug of chocolate was handed over and Claire too headed over to the hearth to settle comfortably for a few moments. The steaming liquid was sipped cautiously, warmth seeping into the two hands that cupped it tightly. The waves of warmth that passed over her felt wonderful as she was not particularly fond of the snow or cold. "So how is that you keep your fellow knights on their toes?" Curiosity shimmering in the deeps of deep green eyes.

It was quiet now that the youths had scattered though Regan didn't mind noise. She crossed the commons with long strides, hands shoved into the pockets of her black Captain's coat. Nothing fancy on it except for the gold buttons. No hat was worn, instead blonde hair was pulled back with a black velvet ribbon.

Maggie, was freezing. That was all there was to it. The type of chill that crept into your bones, and wouldn't be banished by anything except a prolonged period spent indoors...  and that was something she'd not had the luxury of for hours. It was times like this that she missed her stupid big brother, who at least would have pulled her under his coat with him as they walked... even if it was with a teasing comment. Tears stung her eyes, helpless tears of cold and loss and generally, just fed up with her fate.

"Well, they calm down pretty much as far as bothering others in the spring. They don't start throwing rocks instead of snowballs. If they are at the lake, you may get pushed in, however. So, tell me of yourself," then laughed as she had asked about him. "I developed and built the gauntlet that tests a man's skill, so much so it can have them crawling or bouncing on their toes and the timing is changed without warning so it is never learned to where it is no longer a challenge."

There was another out tonight and that cloaked being was stalking the one in the Captain's coat. Of course he recognized her as he went from tree to wall to brush managing his way closer. Quick enough he got past to soon come running from the side street, arms up and a howling growl as he pounced on his poor sister. That would include scooping her up into his arms.

Ian slipped quietly into the tavern and sat down near a window so he could keep an eye on his mare. He leaned back in his chair and waited for a server.

He noticed the man coming in with a cordial nod, "Alex will see to any drink or food as you need but he doesn't wait tables," so the one knew. Alex being an older gentleman.

Claire too chuckled and then nodded slow. "Well, that is certainly beneficial. May your men remain ever wary...and on their toes!" Claire glanced up at the entering gentleman and gave him a smile of welcome. "Good evening, Sir. Alex --" and then cutting off with another laugh as she and Lancely seemed to be reading each others minds this evening! "I paint. Portraits, landscapes, still-life. Whatever begs to be painted and that is generally, well, everything, much to my pleasure."

She turned when she heard running, yelping as she was scooped up. Hand balled up into a fist, she was ready to slug her 'attacker' a good one when she realized who it was. "Faelan, yae crazy git!" She scolded but she was laughing as she did. "Are yae tryin' tae give me a heart attack?" Accent was a bit heavy tonight. She had been making a few runs along the coast and was picking up bad habits from her crew.

"My thanks for your information sir," Ian said to the man, and he stood up and strode over the bar. He ordered a large tankard of ale and a serving of whatever hot food was in the kitchen.

"Do you have your paintings in the gallery?" He had stopped there now and then as well the library but hadn't in some time. The man got a tall cold one of a fine German ale and what was handy in the kitchen was the speciality of the house, Irish stew with large chunks of tender lamb, thick broth, cut up potatoes, carrots, celery the usual stock for a stew. It was served with thick brown bread lavished in freshly churned butter. It would sate any appetite. "Lancely, and this is the Lady Claire," by way of introduction. "You're welcome to join us at the hearth." Where it was warmest.

Which had him laughing outright as she squealed, even a punch would have been worth seeing the expression on her features. He let her down but gave her a quick hug at the end. "Too long, we need another adventure. I haven't seen even Morgan in a while. James needs to get out too as well our sisters. They are all down with the winter blues." Like some kind of cold.

His eyes lit up seeing the food as it had been four days since he had eaten any kind of meal. "I also need stable for my mare, a bed for two nights and a hot bath....and I will be honored to join you at the hearth."

She had barely enough coins to count on one hand at this point, but that was it, she was too frigid and weary to go on. So she stumbled up the steps of the next tavern porch she came upon. Nearly blowing in with the wind, she slammed the door shut behind her - the bang making even her jump. Oops. She tried to look casual as she stalked across the room even though her teeth were chattering. The young woman was in her late teens, dressed in clothes which had once been fine but had been reduced by travel to worn, stained wear.. an off-green gown which laced snugly from her small waist up to an ample bosom, a thick wool scarf which she'd also wrapped around her head as a shawl of sorts. Her cloak had a few rips here and there but she held it about herself snugly as she went to the bar. Sharp green eyes settled upon the tender. "A hot chocolate, sir. Please." She added that off-handedly as she tilted her head down, tugging at the drawstrings of her sadly depleted little purse... slowly and deliberately counting what was left.

"Morgan is likely off to warmer climes since he seems to look for trouble in Tortuga." She chuckled as she hugged him in return. "Though I'm thinkin' he should be back soon. He doesn't like to stay away for too long, aye?" She nudged him before slipping an arm around his waist. "What trouble have you been lookin' for?"

"Not yet," in response to Lancely. "But hopefully soon!" Excited about the prospect of getting to in a way, showcase her artwork in the official gallery. "Now who are the knights you train with? I believe I may have met some of them a few years back."

"How much for feeding my mare, myself, my drinks and my bath?"

"There is a stable down the back. a lad will take your horse there. Alex will see to it and the rooms are let free. Did I mention that? There is no cost here for the way the monarchy set it up. It works and pays for itself." He rose to his feet as another came in. Lady no less. "Good evening Miss, come get yourself warm by the hearth." She looked cold! At least her drink was being taken care of.  "No cost here," sometimes that had to be repeated. "There is this tithing set up, many businesses, ranches, and so on that it pays for this tavern. Other establishments have a cost however."

Maggie's eyes turned over to Lancely as he spoke, running him up and down almost doubtfully. Then she snapped herself out of it and gave a, "thanks." She blinked a couple times before it sank in that there was no payment due. Well, that was odd but she was almost too tired to even register it. Maybe she just looked that pathetic. Either way she muttered another thanks to the tender and wrapped her ungloved fingers tightly about her mug. Making her way closer to the hearth to stand before it with lips tautly pressed together.

"I'm surprised you haven't taken to the sea, off by yourself." But see, Faelan was here even with Morgan gone so there was one that would follow her. "Sea is rough this time of the year." More mussed as he guided her up the steps to the tavern and soon within. He would see to the door behind them too before he was shrugging out of his cloak, hat and scarf. Gloves came off last.

He shook his head, "but there must be someway a stranger can repay his host."

"I've had a couple of runs along the coast. Not too bad, but we've been careful to keep an eye on the weather. In port more often than not." She grinned, "and staying out of trouble since my little trip in Kildare." Faelan would know what she meant. She removed her gloves and tucked them into the pocket of her coat then hung it on one of the hooks. She was making a conscious effort to drop the accent, though she'd likely slip before the night was over.

"Of course, there is always work to be done around the tavern. Wood chopped and brought in. The snow removed from the sidewalks, a door fixed, a keg brought up from the cellar or bottles of wine." All he needed to do was ask Alex. There was a need of two kegs to be brought up replacing the ones now empty of the five behind the bar.  As the lass approached he gave introductions, "I am Lancely and this is Claire. The lass coming in is Regan with her brother Faelan, I've not gain this man's name," indicating Ian. Which reminded him, "if you wish to spare a few coins, they go to the orphanage." Which was another good cause. He had missed Claire's question for all going on presently.

"Well, I think both you and I can find a little trouble soon?" Nothing like meeting the notorious pirates at sea like they had that one time. "I think I need to find another ancient map," like one could so easily be found.

He finished the stew and pushed the bowl away. "Sir I am many things...soldier, scholar, druid priest, alchemist, sailor, but no laborer." He pulled a leather bag from under his cloak and took out two silver-colored rods....each the size of his middle finger. "Each rod is one ounce of pure silver, they should pay some peasant to do those chores you listed."

Distracted from those thoughts as introductions were given, dimple smile on the rise, "good evening one and all. A pleasure to meet you Claire," being the only name given of those he didn't know.

She laughed and nodded. "Aye, we should. Maybe Morg will be back in time to join us." They had to stop their quest for the animals until the pleasanter weather came about. A brow lifted as she glanced toward the bar, then she looked toward the hearth.

"A pleasure to meet you all!" Claire's gaze shifted to touch on each person, warm and friendly smile greeting all.

"Good eve, Lancely. A pleasure Lady Claire." She smiled warmly at both then turned to Alex and requested a glass of the Peach flavored punch.

Claire polished off the last few sips of the chocolate and rose."Much to my dismay, I have some matters to attend to that I had forgotten about. Shame on me," she laughed. "It certainly was a pleasure to make the initial acquaintance and I hope to see you all again. May you enjoy your evening. Good night!" She brought the mug back to the bar for Alex to snatch up and then retrieved her cloak from it's position on a sturdy peg. With a last wave of farewell, she mounted the stairs and disappeared down the corridor.

Lancely was up to bid her farewell, "sleep well Claire. Nice to meet you."

"Good night." She gave a slight bow then turned to retrieve her drink.

"So, when will I get a ride on that ship of yours, Regan?" Teasing her as he collected his glass and headed for the bar. It was late and he was going to turn in soon too.

She leaned against the bar, and gave Lancely a grin. "Whenever you'd like, so long as the weather isn't rough and the wind is cooperating." It grew a touch wider. "Then again, if it's a wild, wintry day, you would have an experience to remember, aye?"

Which he gave Regan a nudge when Lancely asked that. Such a wicked twinkle in blue eyes. He collected a drink to kick back. "I am going to hit the sack," deciding to stay here the night and be warm! No more cold for the next eight to ten hours. Grinning as he abandoned his sister with Lancely. Collecting a key and he was off down the hall, taking the bottle of potcheen with him.

"Aye, it would be a new kid of gauntlet experience. At least I would find out how I am at sea. It's been a while for this landlubber, I think you call them." After giving Faelan a wave, a handsome smile turned on her as he was close in standing where she leaned. "I would like an adventure." Decisive nod as it was time to move on, get out, meet others and have some fun.

Hey! He didn't need to be getting that look. She narrowed her eyes at him, then hugged Faelan before he escaped. Hmmm. Warm sounded like a good idea. Maybe she'd stay here the night as well. She turned her attention to Lancely then laughed. "Adventures seem to be on everyone's mind this time of year. And landlubber is the right term." She took a sip of her drink, studying him over the rim of her glass and liking what she saw. "Things can be a bit dull I would think for knights, just as they are for the rest of us."

"The a trip to sea is just the answer, come storm or naught. I think it is time to get some sleep as I need to be on the king's field come morning." A field that had been missing its king for over seven months. He worried on that when he was not the type to worry. There was speculation, words whispered amongst the knights, especially with three of the four horsemen gone missing too. Regan may have caught a fleeting glimpse of that worry with the crease of his brow a moment but it would be gone quickly too for he was use to schooling his features. "I think I will stay the night here, too nice and warm to leave."

"I was thinking the same. I've no need to go out in the cold tonight and the thought of a soft bed and Hazel's cooling come morning is just too tempting to pass up." She finished her drink as she wondered on his change of expression, however brief it was.

"Then, I shall see you at breakfast?" Smile was back as if those daunting thoughts had never happened while he collected a key from Alex. "I shall see you to your door unless you are going to stay down here a while longer?" He would not be bringing the bottle with him but he kicked back one last one before he would find sleep. A few didn't affect him much at all and certainly it would cause him grief he had too much for he would be picked upon then.

She accepted a key from Alex after Lancely and nodded. "Aye, you will and no, I think bed sounds much too tempting this night." And she would be up bright and early as well, so she could get back to the Dream. "And we'll have to discuss a bit more this adventure you're looking for." The Callihans could find trouble easy enough.

So could the knights as long as it didn't break any social rules or status type. He offered his arm with the ever charming smile before leading her upstairs, conversation would continue lightly the duration.



Date: 03-16-10
Poster: Faelan Callihan
Post # 82

Land Bound

Faelan was land bound for a while and only recently able to make a few short runs down along the coast as the weather was finally changing. Back from one of them he was going over in his mind what kind of adventure he could find. Something like the treasure hunt but not as much as being captured by the Pirates known as the Unholy Trinity again. He still didn't dare to recall that adventure for they were lucky to escape with their hides intact. He was comfortably attired, poets shirt of wheat under a black leather vest and black woolen pants with boots lacing up. Blond hair had grown some and was tied off in a small tail at the nape of his neck. Booted feet were kicked up on the ottoman as he lazily lounged in a wingback in front of the hearth. A fire still burned to keep out the dampness as much as the still cooler temperatures.

And.... here she was again somehow. Maggie stood outside the tavern as the chilly rain beat down, staring in disgust up at the sign which hung over the door. She had been here not two weeks ago, briefly, and hadn't meant to return. Hell, she was no good at directions and navigating, things she had always left to her brother. And once again she was out of food, out of money. Well, if her memory served right at least this was the place where everything was free. And, it was raining. So she closed her agape lips and hurried up the porch and inside. Shaking herself off at the door, tiny water droplets flew from her long, dark hair. Her cloak was soaking too and she hung this up to dry, sharp blue eyes glancing around the place in bemusement.

Too lazy to even get up, or turn his head as it was from the sides of his eyes that he glimpsed towards the door to see who the rains brought in. He was expecting a face he'd recognized so the first bit of a surprise came when he did not. Had him turning his head and even gaining his feet for a better look. "That reminds me of a soaked kitten," slow smile rising that met the spark in unique violet hued eyes. "I'm Captain Faelan Callihan," giving a short bow with the swing of his hand down and back up as he straightened, "at your service."

Maggie still had that confused air as she looked around the place, yep... it was the same place. She was genuinely flummoxed about how she'd gotten so turned around. Her head felt sort of floaty and light too... but then she couldn't have named her last meal if asked. There was not much kindness in common people, she'd discovered, and refused to go begging like an urchin... The girl at the door appeared young but her elegant features held a certain knowing maturity, even if they were currently wet and haggard. A blink at the stranger's comment and then a wry smile started. "At least a kitten has fur to keep it warm, yes?" An involuntary shiver made her point. Ah yes, he'd introduced himself. "I'm Margaret but I beg you to call me Maggie." She hated her full name, which sounded oh so stuffy in her mind. Before she could think of advancing any further there was a sweep of dizziness through her head, bringing a hand up to rest against the wall to hold herself upright.

"Aye, even wet fur is better than no fur at all.." teasing as shown still in his eyes. "Please, come dry off by the fire and I will see to something to drink if you've a thirst and something to eat if you've a hunger? Maggie, since you have begged of me, how can I refuse?" Smile dazzled in a charming way but he was quick by her side to help her to a chair, if need carry her, in front of the hearth. His tone becoming serious, "how long have you been out in this weather, soaked to the bone, and the last time you've eaten?" Realizing she was not one he'd ever seen about and good chance not from these lands. He was strong and easily assisted her part way before deciding to take no chances and swooped her up into his arms for the rest of the way. His scent was of sandalwood, ocean spray and a touch of spice in there. He eased her into the chair next to the one he's been sitting in as he knelt down aside her, violet eyes searching hers as if it would clue him in as to what ailed her.

She let out a soft laugh, not immune to his charms even if her head was reeling. A brief closing of her eyes as she shook her head to his worries. "Oh no, really, I'm fine, just been on the road quite awhile..." protests murmured uselessly because then he was picking her up. "Oh, really, this is - unnecessary." Even if her next step might have seen her flat on her face on the ground. Still she wasn't able to do much except say that, her frame limp and light in his arms. Her nose nestled briefly against his jacket she could not help but catch scent of his particular aroma, which was rather nice... exotic, but comforting in a way. Then she was being settled in a chair as gently as a doll. Oh how her head was pounding, and she closed her eyes, hand pressed gingerly to her brow. Even so she felt him watching her and summoned the words to her lips. "You mustn't worry, truly.."

"Someone has to," she might now see the growing smile again, "relax, I'll get something to help from Alex." Which he pushed up from a heel and was over to Alex, giving what he noticed of the lass and certainly the older man had seen enough probably with how she came in for he had the medicinal tea already prepared and steeped long enough to be effective. Faelan was back over again to kneel by her side and offer up the mug, holding it for her to take a sip. "Drink this, slowly, it will help what ails you."

She didn't budge an inch when the man - Faelan, had he named himself? - went off to the bar. She would've happily drifted off to sleep right here, if her head had not been hammering. Tips of fingers massaged her brow and she only lifted her head when his voice came beside her again. The aroma of the steaming tea caught her nostrils, reminding her that she was in fact parched, and she leaned forward to take a small sip. Soon her fingers lifted to curl about the mug so she could hold it herself, and a longer sip was taken. He'd said to drink it slow so she resisted the temptation to gulp. With it about halfway gone she sighed, leaned back in the chair again. "Thank you.." A faint smile came to her face, wet crimson-streaked locks pushed back from her face.

Her hands over his at first were gradually relinquished as he found hers to be steady and not end up dropping it or spilling it all over herself. "Are you hungry? Perhaps some broth with bread, something easy to digest if you are not well." Obviously she was not well as far as he could see, although not on death's bed either which was a good sign. "Where do you come from? Are you from here that I can get hold of any family?" Which he was sure if that were the case they would come running. A slow smile finally as he got up from his crouched position by her side and eased back into his chair near hers. "You are welcome and you are safe here." In case she was one running from somewhere or something as they occasionally got.

"I think I could manage that," she assented to the bread and broth with a soft chuckle. His next question brought a brief sigh. "I couldn't even tell you anymore where I'm from." That was a bit vague as she massaged her head again. In truth she'd become so turned around and lost, she couldn't have retraced her steps had she wanted to. Which she didn't. "No. No family." That was murmured before she suddenly perked and sat up a bit straighter. Blue eyes opening to latch onto Faelan's violets. "You haven't seen a man come through here, have you? Looks a bit like me but with redder hair. A tall man, and broad? Name of Richard?"

Which had him turn a look Alex's way as the man could hear a fly fart from a half mile away, or so he had joked with him one time. Alex gave a nod which he knew would be a few more minutes before the small respite was ready. "...and you shall have in a few minutes." The last he considered on the question asked, "can't say I have met a Richard, what would be the surname?" Which might help. "I have only return from a trip down along the coast this early afternoon."

"Oh." Well there went the hope again, extinguished like a tiny flame beneath wet paper. She sank back in the chair, eyes half-closed in the wince as she answered him without much spirit. "Callahan. Oh, I'm sorry..." she realized she hadn't fully introduced herself and gave a brief laugh under her breath at her omission. "I'm Maggie Callahan." If he had introduced himself by full name earlier she had completely missed it.

The last came as a surprise having him sit up in his seat and leaning a little her way as he studied her under an intense darker violet hue. "Callahan, I am a Callihan, perhaps we are long lost cousins? I will see to you until this other can. Is that a deal?" Which he noticed the tray being set on the bar counter. "One moment," as he was up and over to get it, only taking a few minutes for him to be back to set it on the table next to her chair. "Nourishment to help get back your strength."

Again feeling that intense gaze she opened her eyes, arching a brow at him slightly as he stared at her features. Her eyes were large in a narrow face, with a small pert nose and full lips. She blinked again when he named himself as a Callihan too and though it was most likely a coincidence, it was oddly comforting. His words of taking care of her til her brother could, brought sudden tears to her eyes, difficult to prevent in her weak state. Luckily he was off for the tray a moment later, and she nodded, managing to whisk the tears away before he returned. "Thank you." She said it again, shifting some in the chair to reach for the bread. Her hand a bit shaky but she pulled off a piece and dipped it into the broth. "So Faelan... what is it that you do.. besides sit around here, and wait for wanderers to come stumbling in?" The last a jibe at herself more than him, attested by the brief smile.

"I am captain of a ship, The Dragon's Tooth," realizing she had not really heard his introduction before for her condition, almost fainted right in his arms she had. He was still watching her closely in monitoring her that she still didn't faint away. "I go on adventures across the great ocean that takes me to many different places. From the cold of the Artics to the warmth of the tropics, from rocky landslides to buried temples filled with gold and dragons. What has me curiosity is where you are from Miss Maggie Callahan and how you lost this Richard. Be he your husband?" Not having a clue who Richard was and might be a good idea to find out. "I am one of seven children born of Ronan, still living and Meira Aine, who has died long ago. I spend time in these lands but I am from a sister land called Kildare."

"Oh my, that does sound like a lot of adventure.." said with another slight laugh though her eyes were remote a moment. Ah yes, she'd yearned for such adventures like the ones read in stories.. once upon a time. As it turned out, the real world didn't work that way. His question brought her focus back. "I'm from a land called Limuria. It is quite distant." She doubted he'd heard of the small, but noble and wealthy kingdom. "Richard.. my husband, no. My brother. My stupid big brother..." but the words held no venom, rather a fondness as she smiled briefly. "He went off to fetch us something from market and never came back." Her flat voice was quiet. She'd gone over and over all the things that could have happened to him, some more horrible than others.. but the only clear fact was that he was gone, unable to be found by her at least.

The warmth was luring even without the bright snow. There was a very noticeable change from cold to not so cold and Vanessa planned to use up as much of it as possible, even if it was raining. That's what umbrellas are for! Ysa was bundled up to keep her warm and dry, then the two made their way to the Thistle because it was a good place to get out of the cottage for a bit and not be out to get soaked. The walk was never long. Vanessa opened the door and paused to leave the umbrella just outside on the porch, then closed the door with a smile to the pair inside. "Afternoon." Rain was much better than snow. At least she knew now that winter wouldn't last forever.

"Aye, it was, some good, some dangerous, some bad. I've not heard of Limuria not even in my travels. World is a big place but it seems far away and it seems that something has befallen your brother for he would be at your side if he's a Callahan." Something he knew of their clan, fiercely protective of their siblings. "Maybe when you're feeling a wee bit better you can show me where you last saw him?" Whatever else was to be said faded off as he stood from his seat. "Lady Vanessa, it is good to see you again. This is Maggie, Callahan, but not known if related." In explaining.

She just shook her head in a lost sort of gesture. "I'm not sure I could find it again, it was... some small town... and several months ago." The lump in her throat was swallowed, for Faelan had hit on Richard's personality exactly. Fiercely protective. Which was why without him she was rather clueless about how to fend for herself. The pale young woman glanced up from her chair when another came in, a woman and a baby, and she summoned a wan smile of greeting. "Well met, Lady Vanessa."


"Faelan, nice to see you again." She looked to Maggie with a nod. "Pleasure to meet you, Lady Maggie. This is my niece, Ysabeau." Spoken on her way to the couch, wrapping the small bundle. Well, not as small as she once was. The child seemed to grow more than a weed every day. "How are you both?" Seated on the sofa, it was easier to remove the bundles from around Ysa, who was dressed in a pink footed thing with a little hood that had cat ears on the top.

"What might be cloudy now may clear up once you are fit as a fiddle again." Encouraging her to get well as at least she had not fainted away on him still. The special tea Alex had made seemed to be doing its bit of magic. "You've a niece," he felt out of the loop for his time away in Montrose, Kildare. Still standing, he was over to see the little one. "Ysabeau, a unique name." More mussed with the last as he added, "I'm doing grand, spring is near here and we'll probably be going to exotic lands to fetch more animals and birds for the zoo."

"Perhaps." He was being so kind with all of the reassurances, so she didn't want to tell him that she doubted it. Heaven knows she'd searched for him to her full abilities only to come up with nothing. The teacup had been emptied by now, and the broth emptied from the bowl, leaving bits of bread for her to nibble on. She looked across to the sofa, and the baby Vanessa held with interest. "Oh, she's very beautiful." Her smile growing warmer now as she watched the pink-clad babe kick and wave her arms. Might have been the exhaustion but for a few minutes her eyes went somewhere distant, while the other two conversed.

Ysa looked at Faelan, big blue eyes completely filled with wonder while gumming her hands and kicking out her legs. "I am so very ready for the warmer weather. Not that winter wasn't beautiful, but I prefer being outside without frosting on my nose." She turned a bit on the sofa so she could see Maggie and smiled to her. "Thank you." Van had a lot of pride for Ysa. Such a good baby she was, thankfully. "Even the rain is more welcome than the bitter cold."

"Winter is beautiful in a frozen sort of way," chuckle slipped free under his breath as he watched the wee lass. "I think spring has perfect timing to have almost everyone glad to see her coming." He reached down with a slight lean as a finger smoothed against Ysa cheek. She was adorable and he was captured already. Breaking free from the mesmerizing as he remembered something he forgot, "I'll be right back," as he headed past the bar to the hall leading to the offices in the back.

"I agree. Everyone must be ready for spring by now." Ysa squealed happily, reaching for the finger. Motor movements were still slow and far from precise, but that didn't deter her from trying one little bit.

Maggie was drifting along in a tired state of contentment... at least bodily contentment, with her toes finally warm and food in her belly. The tea seemed to be making her drowsy too but she was not quite ready to lay her head down yet, so in the meanwhile she focused on Ysa and Vanessa. "How lovely of you to care for your niece." A gentle smile was given to Vanessa. "I do not know if I could do that..." The woman looked to be about her age, early twenties, and perfectly comfortable with her role as a mother. Whereas the thought of caring for a tiny defenseless baby was a daunting one to Maggie. She realized that her crimson-streaked black hair was drying in scraggly waves. It was pulled over one shoulder to begin a slow braid. "And you are from here?" She assumed this, since she'd known Faelan on sight.

Ysa was turned around to face Vanessa and settled on her lap. "It's a joy having my niece. I'd not trust another to her care and growing." Not in any permanent sort of way. "I'm very fortunate she's a good baby since I know very little in regards to infants." A thoughtful smile, she looked down to Ysa, then back to Maggie. "I've been here about... 8 months now. I have a cottage not too far a walk from here. Are you from Heathfield?"

That made her smile again. "Ah, I'm sure you've learned a lot since you took her. And you seem quite adept." Not meant as flattery, it was a simple truthful observation. A dark brow quirked in confusion as Vanessa went on. "Heathfield?"

She just smiled to the kind words. She did the best she could by Ysa. The child was happy and healthy and at her age, that was what mattered. "Aye, Heathfield. Where we are now?"

"Oh. Yes...." Maggie shook her head, laughing beneath her breath at her own silliness. "Yes, of course. I'm sorry, I've been traveling quite a bit..." The given excuse trailed off as she tried to recall the original question. "No, I'm not.. not from here. I'm from a far distant kingdom." Clearly still just a bit fuzzy but then it had been a long road.

Faelan returned to find the two in conversation which had him smiling. He was one that smiled more often than not anyway. "You look tired Maggie," knowing well the tea would be kicking in. "When you are ready, I've gotten a key from Alex for a room upstairs. Yours for as long as you need, get you back on your feet then see about finding this brother of yours." A key that he pressed into her hand when over to her before he claimed his seat again and drink: coffee with a bit of potcheen in it.

She glanced up when Faelan came back into the room, accepting the key with a look of gratitude. She was quite weary, hardly able to keep her eyes open as the moments passed. "I think I'll go now. Thank you.. for everything. You've been so kind." Which had tears start in her eyes again though there was a soft smile on her lips. She rose slowly from her chair with the key in hand. "And it was lovely meeting you, and your niece, as well." Murmured this to Vanessa as she gave one last fond glance to the infant.

Vanessa blinked out of her momentary daze and smiled to Maggie. "It was nice to meet you as well, and hope to see you again."

"I will see you up there then," in case she had a fainting spell come over her as she didn't look that kind of perky yet. He was up and offering her the bend of his arm. "Vanessa, it was really good seeing you again and to meet your little angel." What he had collected in the office would need to be seen to and so he would head out once Maggie was secured within her room safely.

Date: 03-17-10
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 83

Concerns That Weigh Heavily

With no one around, Peter was pacing the length of the tavern area near the hearth. Drink in hand was hardly touched. For the square of his shoulders and the dip of his brows, something weighed mightily on his shoulders. Although there was no outrage shown the turmoil was kept in check. Alex knew, his concern was just as great as the King of Innis, his friendship ran deep with the King of these lands, long before either of them were kings. Now, he was gone. Everything was being done that could be and still it felt like there should be something more he could do, something overlooked, an area not explored that might lead them down the rabbit hole Karl had obviously taken.

Vanessa was out and about once more, but this time alone. She'd gotten someone to watch Ysa for a bit so she could have some free time, and figured she'd venture to the tavern to see who was out and about. Entered, dark blue hood of her coat was pulled back with a glance around. Someone she knew, not well and didn't see often, but she offered Peter a small smile. "Ave, Sir." Gloves were removed and tucked in her pocket, she was en route to the bar for warm cider.

The soft sound of a woman's voice broke the spell as he turned to face her. A woman he knew by name but not a whole lot beyond. Sienna eyes warmed as the cloud passed for now. A bow of his head followed.  He was attired in a deep russet tunic trimmed in silver brocade and the emblem of his family over his right breast. Pants of pitch blended in with the boots lacing up of the finest tooled leather. One of the empowered swords hung sheathed at his left hip. "Lady Vanessa, you are as lovely as last I've seen you." The compliment sincere and fell smoothly from one that would pay a compliment honestly noted with nothing more meant beyond that just for speaking it.

"You're too kind, but thank you. You are looking well." Though she'd noted the expression when she entered, before he realized who had entered. Beneath the coat was a sea-foam green colored dress of simple design; scooped neckline, fitted sleeves and laced up the back. The coat was laid over the back of one of the stools at the counter. "I am surprised to see you here. Are you here for business?"

He was a normal blooded male as a dipping glance took in the perfection of how the green dress fitted and flattered at the same time. A slight cough under his breath as he changed the subject smoothly, "I am here for a while, there are matters at hand that will become known in due time. I have actually been here, but not here to the tavern in a while." Another change in subject went just as smoothly, "I haven't had the moment to thank you for the thank you," with a bit of amusement ghosting a smile on the full curve of his lips, ones that should see more of them. "The falcon is training remarkably when I've had the time, usually on the king's training field here." That he was pretty much running but that was not added. All would come out when it should.

Hm...his initial statement about matters had her curious, but it wasn't her place to pry. Instead, she held the smile with a nod of understanding. "You're quite welcome. I'm pleased to hear that the falcon is doing well. It was the least I could do after your assistance in the garden and the fire wood you were kind enough to send my way. It was certainly needed and used to warm the cottage." She paused, thanking Alex for her cider as she seated herself at the counter. "How are the days on the training field going? Seems quite a few of the gents who frequent the tavern are there on a daily basis."

"They are .... going," catching himself as he crossed the distance to the bar for a refill. Refill after he finally kicked back that which he'd been carrying. Alex filled the glass and left the bottle before he was off to see to inventory matters. "Morale is low, spring might lift it." Or so he hoped as he struggled to keep a positive attitude in all those here waiting for something that might not never come. "It has been a very long time since we last met. I hear you have settled in and found yourself a gentleman from a well respected family." A lean taken a third stool down which afforded her ample space and still easy to talk with no one else about. So far.

"Hm..." She was thoughtful for a moment, taking the first drink from her mug and thinking over the low morale thing, but it was cut short with mention of a gentleman. "I have. Settling was easy with all the help I have had, and less lonely with two additions to my house. And Segan makes me a very lucky woman." She hadn't seen as much of him lately as she would have liked, but with the weather warming, she was sure he was busy helping Yaya and getting things on the Anaconda prepped if they weren't already.

"I was pleased to hear it," and the smile came to warm all of his features in the way it tipped. The King had a dimple. "I've recently attended the wedding in Kildare of Gaidan McLarkin to Corina Turlough of these lands. A touching ceremony that actually had me thinking along those lines. My father keeps reminding me I'm not getting any younger and time.." well he didn't finish along those lines. They were dangerous ones and he clung to that. "My sister, Elaina, is soon to be wed. Love is a good thing for those who can find it, or it finds them." He wasn't sure it really mattered how it happened.

She didn't know the first couple he spoke of, but nodded with a silent congratulations to them. Elaina..."I believe I've met your sister." She was pretty sure she had. The name was familiar, but if they had met , it would have only been once, or maybe twice. "My congratulations to her. Love is a wonderful thing." Another small drink taken, she set the mug aside to cool some. "Don't let your father's words bother you. Love happens as it is meant to and can work no other way."

Though the night was cooler, the day had been lovely, and certainly gave everyone the hope that spring would soon be here completely. Lorelei had the shop closed for a few days while it was repainted, and now that all the instruments were packed away, counters moved and shelves taken down, she had decided to take a few days respite. Tonight she made her way toward the tavern dressed in a pretty gown, the skirt purple and black stripes, the bodice purple covered with black lace. Three quarter length sleeves ended in a lace trimmed flare. The only jewelry she wore was a pair of onyx earrings while a simple black ribbon acted as a choker. Heading up the steps, she opened the door and stepped inside, removing the warm black cloak she wore. "Good evening," was said to the two inside as she moved to the bar.

"Yes, I do my best," which had a chuckle, "but a father of a king wants an heir for the kingdom, responsibility that goes above and beyond what is expected of most others. I may have to consider adopting to appease him." She would have to know his father to know the humor in those words. Such a subject was easily switched from with the arrival of another. "Good evening, lady..?" Leaving it open to be filled in as he offered her polite introductions. "I am Peter and this is the lovely Vanessa."

"You're still young with plenty of years to grow...wiser." Rather than older. Elders were history of so many things, but they didn't get old. They got over the years. His humor wasn't completely lost on her, even though she didn't have any history to what might have been an inside joke, but soon greetings and introductions were being made. A smile to the woman. "Good evening, Miss. Would you care to join us?" Seated at the bar currently, but could change to make things more convenient.

"Lorelei." She inclined her head slightly as she gave her name. "It's a pleasure to meet you both, and I certainly will just as soon as I get a drink." Alex, ever vigilant , was back out long enough to see to her order. Which would be peach flavored potcheen punch.

There were enough stools between he and Vanessa that she could take one and all carry on a fine conversation. Hazel had sent out a tray, half with breads and cheeses and the other with pastries and cookies for them to enjoy. "A pleasure to meet you Lorelei, you are of these lands as well?" Curiously asked as he got that impression.

"Yes, I am. I own the music store." She made a motion in the general area of the docks. "I came here when Marlana Cherill, owner of the Blue Marlin, did." In fact, they had arrived together.

"A pleasure, Miss Lorelei." Offering her a smile as she settled further back on her seat and picked up her mug again. Attention on the other woman, curiosity into interest! "A music store?"

"...along with Keifer Douglas if I'm not mistaken? I've yet to visit the Blue Marlin but I've heard a few speak well of it, of the proprietor and the food set at a reasonable price. What kind of instruments do you sell and do you play any of them? Play as in could be hired to play in court?"

"Yes, Keifer is a good friend. I sell flutes, violins, harpsichords, just to name a few. And I play several, perhaps well enough to be hired." She laughed softly. "According to my mother, at least, I could. I'd have to play so the person looking to hire could decide that for themselves."

"Have you any harps?" Curious, she missed her harp, but hadn't been able to bring it with her for lack of having means at the time.

"Perhaps the harpsichord or the harp. Anyone else that plays with you if they do. A day soon in the castle hall for the Queen. Something to.." catching himself from saying cheer her up and amending it with, "to welcome in spring. Open the doors of the castle again for anyone wishing some music, food and entertainment." Which he would see to the expense. It was the least he could do in his comrade's absence.

She looked at Peter and nodded, a hint of a smile playing. "I know Sarah McDonough plays the violin, and Tara MacShire plays harp and harpsichord." Though she was quite pregnant. "Aye, I have several types, from lap harps up to  the finest lever and pedal harps. Celtic of course." She winked at Vanessa. "Though my shop is closed until next week. I'm having some painting done. It was painted when I moved in, but with spring and all, I felt the need for change."

"Perhaps they will come and play as well the Lady Vanessa?" Not trying to corner them, although if they knew the reason behind it they would probably volunteer without a blink.

"I think a small concert would be a wonderful idea." Spoken to Peter before looking back to Lorelei with a nod. "I will have to come see what is there. I would love to have a harp at the cottage." Ysa would probably enjoy that as well. A nod given to Peter. "I'd be happy to play." Perhaps Concessa would be kind enough to bring Ysa and sit with her during it.

"It's possible. I think Sir Gabriel plays an instrument as well." There were a few she knew of, both male and female, who played instruments.

"All would be welcome provided the Queen allows it." Which he didn't think would be a problem or he would not speak so freely of setting it up. He was noting the time and it was getting late. "Do any of you need to be seen home, that is if you are leaving soon as I must. Dawn is not all that far off and I need to be alert on the field." Even if he could get away with it, there was the thing about being an example.

Vanessa nodded. "Aye. I need to return to Ysa and relieve her occasional nanny." Her drink finished, she smiled to Lorelei. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Lorelei. Do send word when your shop is open again."

"Thank you, but I think I'll stay a bit longer and enjoy my drink. It was nice to meet you both. Rest well when you find your beds. I will, Miss Vanessa."

"I will see about stopping by soon. A pleasure to finally meet you Lorelei," he would see to any wrap that Vanessa might have and escort her home as the gentleman he was. He had no need of a cloak this evening for him it was warm.

Date: 03-20-10
Poster: Niklas Traugott
Post # 84

Talk on Settling

"Oh, well, babies certainly do get all of the attention." She wrinkled her nose in jest, accompanied by a laugh. "I positively love it here. Always have. 'Tis business that always drags me away, you know." A nod there to emphasize her point. "I foresee future trips here and there but I plan to remain here permanently. This place has such beauty and peace...'tis difficult not to like, wouldn't you say?" Arch of a brow there, another sandwich made and demolished.

"Then perhaps you should start business here. Then you'd never have to leave home." She smiled lightly, picking up her mug. "It is very peaceful here. I fell in love with Heathfield my first time through with someone visiting." Ysa was perfectly content with her cracker, quickly turning soggy.

There was the fall of footsteps on the porch mingled with the rumble of voices drawing closer. Those becoming more distinct and words recognized as the door was pressed open. "Ja, it will only be a week and you can pick it up then." Moving within as Niklas held the door for the one he was talking with.

"That is great, it will be a..." but he never finished the sentence as his voice drifted off when he stepped within. One certain lady spied, "well hello!" Smile growing as Segan shrugged out of the light cloak worn to hang off to a peg.

"Well, I've already resumed working. I paint and plan to have a few of them completed soon and showcased in the gallery. Now that the warmer weather has made an entry, I shall be able to work faster." Grin there. The sun really did improve Claire's mood. The opening of a door caught her attention momentarily and green eyes trailed over. Head tilted slightly as she studied. "Good evening, Segan, Niklas." Eyes widened. "Niklas Traugott, is that you?" Another familiar face reminding Claire of how many she truly had met during her time here before.

"You paint!" she couldn't remember if Claire had told her that or not, but it was a nice talent to have. Something Vanessa couldn't do. Anything further though was cut short as attention went to the door and a bright smile dawned. "Well, hello to you too!" Seated with Claire at the counter with Ysa on her lap. "Ave, Niklas. Nice to see you."


"Ja," a twinkle sparked in periwinkle eyes that matched the spreading smile over his features. "It is myself. It has been a long time Claire. How have you been?" He passed to the bar to pick up a drink on his way as he drew closer to the two. "How are you Vanessa, I see you two have met. This is good."

Segan wasn't far behind Niklas as he headed for the bar where the ladies were and where he could get a drink. Stepping away with a glass of potcheen in hand he took up a lean near Vanessa. "Beautiful night to be out. Good to see you both."

"Yes, I certainly do try to paint!" Claire nodded her head at Vanessa, trying to keep up with the whirl of things going on. "Wonderful, Niklas. I hope you have been well. And your family, as well." Wine picked up and sipped as she studied the small crowd that had gathered at the Thistle.

"We have. We're on our way to being good friends." Wink given to Claire, she then looked to Segan with a turn of her stool so she could view them all. "A wonderful night after a lovely day." Ysa was looking at Segan now, one hand fisted around the half dissolved cracker, she squealed happily. Vanessa looked down at her and laughed. "Seems I'm not the only one happy to see you." Mug set down, she reached into her coat pocket for a cloth to wipe cracker and drool from Ysa's chin.

"I've been well and my brother Aleric, my sister Julia. She has twin girls, one looks like her and the other looks like Vincent. He is surrounded by females including the dog they were given." There was poetic justice in that and had Niklas grinning before hidden behind the lift of his glass.

He leaned down to place a kiss upon Ysa's forehead, murmured words about missing her then about missing Van as he stole a kiss on the way up all sneaky wise. He'd been too busy but time to make amends on that.

Claire returned the wink to Vanessa and then burst out in laughter at Niklas, having known Vincent. "Oh, just his luck!" She couldn't help but laughing. "Well, congratulations are in order then, Uncle Niklas."

Ysa reached one pudgy little hand for Segan when he was close enough, but reaction time was slow. Van returned the kiss with a bright smile. "How are you tonight, Captain?"

There was a cloud to pass turning periwinkle to storm blue eyes that were averted with the downswing of his glass. Eventually everyone would know the situation but Niklas found himself reluctant to say anything that it might further the bad luck. Or justify it in some way by being voiced. "You're still painting?" See how smoothly he changed the subject. "Just back to visit or to stay?"

Very little escaped Claire's notice, especially as she had trained herself over many years to study even the most minute details. However, she had changed some on her travels and unlike the old Claire who would have thrown caution to the wind and inquired aloud about his well-being because of darkened eyes, she forced down the temptation. Had he the desire to speak of it, he would have. "I do indeed still paint. My passion grows every day. Should you have need of an artiste, I am at your service." Warm smile toying with her mouth. "I am here to stay permanently. I grow weary of travel."

"I am grand tonight and hoping to come by your place, sleep on the couch so that we can spend some time." With spring having sprung, his missions would also pick up taking him out to sea. Although he was thinking of an alternative than going on too many.

"Of course you can come to the cottage tonight. It'd be nice to have the company." Spring...yes would take him away for who knows how long at one time. "How is the family?" She looked over to Claire and smiled. "Perhaps when things bloom, you would come to the gardens with your paints and canvas."

"It would be a great, great pleasure, Vanessa. Thank you!" Hand touched her heart briefly as she gave a smile.

"It would be a pleasure to have you there. With the lake and flowers, when they've bloomed, the gardens are really very lovely."

It was one of those things she and the others would learn eventually rather than some caller yelling it throughout the commons. "Ja, it comes a time when the wanderer ceases to wander and grows some roots instead. Perhaps take some trips that will ease as they settle?" He was watching Segan with Vanessa a moment as well the infant in her arms.

"Everyone is good. My newfound cousins are on a mission so keep them in your prayers. I feel they will return in time and hopefully successful to take up residence here." Out of curiosity he turned the next question Claire's way, "have you met Liam and Ciaran Quinn as well their friend Evan Hunt?" Then back to Vanessa. "Grandmama will have us all out seeing to the gardens, it will be the first she has them this spring."

Ysabeau had managed to wiggle herself to laying down kind of sideways on Van's lap. Cracker long since dissolved, now she was just babbling to herself. Vanessa maintained the cloth, now and then making noises at Ysa while listening to the others and nodded to Segan. "I have no doubt. If you all would like some help, I'd be happy to help with the gardens. She's done so much for me."

"Indeed," she murmured to Niklas' last question. "I have a couple of unfinished things to take care of so I have some trips to take but home is Heathfield." Glance swiveled to Segan as she nodded. "Yes, I have met them. Charming fellows." Smile there as she listened to the hum of conversation. Talk of gardens sprouted images of beautiful flowers and trees in mind. Heaven! She inhaled dreamily. "Niklas, what are you up to now?"

"You should see Maurice then." He was sure she remembered the McDonough Laird or if he was not available then his brother or such other would talk to her about becoming a citizen. "I hope that which you need to still see to, is nothing dangerous."

"I think that is a great idea, we can make a picnic of it too. Grandmama will whisk away Ysa, you can be sure but that is easier for her to do than bending and digging." His grandmother was getting up in her years and while she could still do a lot of different things, and should, too much would be bad for her to attempt. "It would be a great way to help her out."

"Yes, Maurice. I shall speak with him." Claire cast her glance downwards. "Dangerous? I hope not but only time will tell. The situation remains mysterious. I'm not exactly sure of the circumstances." She had not received a letter back from St. Helene yet and was uncertain about conditions there. "Are you still working with your clocks, Niklas?"

"It's a plan then. I'll bring Ysa to be whisked away and help in the gardens."How long will your cousins be gone?" She thought to ask what they were looking for, but that might be prying a bit too deep. "Oh...I have tons of flower seeds. Should I bring some?"

"I'm not sure, they have been gone a few weeks already and for the distance, it will probably be a number more. If they are lucky, means they found what they were looking for and will be home sooner." Deciding not to leave it too mysterious and possibly wrong assumptions, "they are looking for their lost sister. The Private Investigators went with them. Yes, I think you should bring some seeds anyway. One never knows what might not have anything planted and run out of seed."

A slow nod was given. "Well, I will certainly give my words of hope for them." She looked down at Ysa who was kicking and babbling and happy and stuck her tongue out at the little one, making her laugh. "Alright, I'll bring a little of everything then."

"Ja, all of us. Here and in Luneberg," but her comment had thinking on how she said what she did. "If you do think it will be dangerous, or as soon as you know, let me know and I will help you." With possible assistance but that he would not voice presently. Too many if this.. if that to get through first.

He was starting to feel the wear of the night, "would you like to take that walk now while we can dawdle on our way, enjoy the night air," even if they had Ysa with them, not like she would tell on them! Not yet anyway.

A nod given to Segan. "Aye. it's time to get Ysa into bed. Perhaps the walk will put her to sleep." With that, she picked up Ysa's blankets to wrap her back up.

"If your arms grow tired, I've two strong ones," giving her a wink before kicking back the rest of his drink. "Good night Claire, good to see you again as well of you Niklas." About to say something else but just locked a glance Nik's way before he was seeing to Vanessa and Ysa.

"Thank you, Niklas, that's a very gracious offer." She nodded her thanks, gratitude shimmering in green eyes. It was a sore subject but then again, matters of the heart usually were. "Goodnight, Segan, Vanessa. Enjoy the rest of your evening!"

"Oh" She smiled and offered Ysa to him so she could get her own coat on. She smiled to Claire. "You as well. You should come to the gardens when you have a chance. You don't have to wait until the flowers bloom."

Niklas caught the look that triggered a minute dip of his head hardly discernable. "Good night Segan, Vanessa and little Ysa. I will see you all again." It only had him realizing the time as he would not be lingering much longer either for he needed to be up at dawn.

He cradled her in his arms and started heading out, "she's all mine now.." wicked grin and didn't Ysa giggle like the two in conspiracy. The door seen to as he waited for Van outside.

"I will absolutely take you up on that offer. I look forward to it! Thank you again." Enthusiastic nod and a bright smile. "The night grows late. Are you off as well, Niklas?" Discreetly covering a yawn there. She'd been awake since dawn and exhaustion was creeping up.

"I'm sure Yaya Quinn would have something to say about that!" Buttons were fastened, she smiled to Niklas. "I'm sure I will see you again soon." A nod and small wave given to Claire, she was following Segan out the door.

"Ja," seemed a good time for them all as he noted the yawn but didn't verbalize that noting. "I will see you again, Claire, sleep well and.." shifting up from the lean he had taken, empty glass left behind, "welcome home." The wink to follow set off the usual twinkle as he would take the side door, giving Segan and Vanessa privacy.

"Thank you. Have a great night." Emptying the wine glass and then shaking out her skirts as she rose. With a smile to Alex, she bid him good night and disappeared upstairs to her room.



Date: 03-24-10
Poster: Peter James O'Neill
Post # 85

Home from the Sea

Peter was making a gallant effort to be out socially as the quiet night found him here with a drink in hand and conversation with Alex. The two had time to talk on that which laid heavily upon both without the presence of others, or precisely, others in general. There were others that could share in this conversation. He knew that his sister would be getting married soon and would have to take off for a week or so to be present at her wedding. There was the matter of finding their brother who had been off on a sailing trip and not heard from in overt a year. It was a realistic concern that Jerome might miss his sister's wedding completely. It was one of the reasons he knew Elaina held it off but she'd not be able to much longer. Peter had sent out a few ships to try and discover the whereabouts of his brother but came up empty handed. Jer had hidden himself away pretty soundly and he wondered the reason for it.

The brother that was such a cause of concern was even now making his way from the docks, to the tavern. He had the swagger of a man long used to standing on the deck of a ship. His hair, though dark, showed some streaks of sun-bleached blonde. He winked at a young teenage lass who accidentally stepped in front of him and did a flustered two-step to get out of the way. Chuckling as she giggled and hurried off, he headed on up the steps. He was dressed casually in a poet's shirt of pristine white cotton, black pants tucked into boots that came to the knee and were folded over, a vest of burgundy brocade and a deep blue Captain's long coat. As he stepped inside, he saw Peter and closed the door a little more noisily than necessary.

In mid conversation, Peter stiffened as if one had sent a chill up his spine. Something was in the air although he was not certain exactly what that was. Had him glancing to the door which in turn had Alex glancing there in expectation too. Peter was dressed casually but even so, the cloth was of the finest quality, the finest tailoring. Wheat was offset by russet and deep green of the tunic worn and pants of a rich earthly brown that match the finely tooled boots lacing up. Hair had streaks of gold from his recent trip to Innis and back. "Davy Jones' Ghost," he was up, any negative thoughts of his long absence slung aside, as he was over to grip Jerome's shoulders in a brotherly grasp. Strong one as he surveyed his face. "I was beginning to worry I would have to come after your hide soon to appease our sister who has put off her wedding so you can be there." Although there were a few reasons, it was one of them. Hands easing from their grip, "you look hale."

Lancely was in the back going over the listing of those they were to try out on the Gauntlet. The Monster, as some called it, had been oiled and fixed up back into perfect running condition after the long winter. More safety issues were addressed so that even the younger squires to give it a try. Best to start their training young and honed their skills. The murmur of voices was noticed in the recess of his mind before coming to realize it was his king's he was hearing. The list tucked under his arm as he headed from the office, down the hall and out into the main room. Seeing Jerome brought a bit of surprise in a good way of course as he took up a lean to observe the reunion. The list set on the bartop in wait.

"Not quite a ghost," Jerome laughed as he was across the room to meet his brother halfway, greeting him in the same manner though with a hint of a wince that was quickly hidden. "You know how it is, your ship gets blown off course and you find yourself in unknown waters. Takes time to get back on course again, with a few obstacles always thrown in." He stepped back to study his brother and nodded. "So do you. I suppose I have a lot to catch up on?"

"There is a lot to catch up on," brows dipped as his brother winced even if he tried to cover it up. "Either I have gotten very strong or you have a hidden injury?" He knew Lancely was there but he was one of his knights and nothing needed to be hidden in his talks. "Sounds like a whopper of a storm to get the best of your sailing and ship." Implying he might be symbolizing for he knew of certain things that had him wonder once his brother didn't return in a reasonable amount of time. "I have a feeling there are a few stories to swap, come join me and Lancely for a few drinks, swap a few to get us started." Although it was fine to speak freely in front of Lancely and even Alex, there were certain things that might not wish to be shared with them and only his brother, if him at all. "First tell me how you got wounded and the extent of it." Which the look said for him to be completely honest for Peter could tell if he tried covering up. A bottle of potcheen was collected as he greeted Lancely, "you're welcome to join us."

"Good to see you again Jerome, it's been some time. I can hope the days, years, have been treating you well." Which had a grin to follow as he was sure to join them, the list taken up and passed over to Peter before he forgot.

He watched as Lancely gave Peter the paper, then grinned. "Aye, well enough and it's good to be back." He settled in, taking a drink to wet his throat before speaking. "A injury that is healing to be honest. I guess there's no point in sugar coating the tale, is there? I left because I wasn't ready to commit to Lah, to settling down. And then there was Collin. It wasn't the best thing to do but far too easy. So I set my ship to exploring. We hit a storm off the coast of South America, found ourselves in the middle of the ocean and took months to get back around to the Caribbean. By then the Boundless needed repairs and badly." He frowned as he studied the drink. "I had sent a message to you, along with a chest that contained some of the treasures we had found. They never arrived?"

He took the list from Lancely with a quick looking over, "thank you," mussed and meant before he tucked it away into a pocket of his tunic. Peter would always be up front and honest with his brother, and any others for that matter. "You were not ready to settle and I think there was always something between her and Collin, as it turns out they got married again. I think that was meant to be and if you are to ever settle, if I am to ever settle, it will be with the right woman for us." There could be many before that right one, although in Peter's case he would not go through as many his playboy brother would, or had. Possibly he was moving from that kind of life? "If you sent it to Innis, I've not been back there in a few months for things going on here. I'm filling in for King Karl and the training on the king's field." Here he took a long pause, "he is missing a good seven months, had left for Luneberg about eight months ago, all seemed fine until he rode out to check out some disturbances in the forest just beyond Luneberg borders. Forests that connect across the way to Kildare where there are similar rumors. Unearthly beasts, well, three of his four horsemen went and they too are now missing. I'm not sure if it's connected with Kildare or not or something about an underworld below Luneberg. The area of forest is now off limits until things can be more accurately determined."

So he got to hear more on what the situation was with Karl, some facts were starting to seep out but he had not heard about the forest or the Underworld. He relaxed against the bar, drink in hand and content to listen while he partook of the potcheen.

"Lah deserves a good life and I'm glad they decided to marry again." He felt a sense of relief, though he'd always feel some guilt perhaps. As he listened to Peter speak of Karl and his horsemen, a brow rose. "Seven months.  That's a long time. How is the Queen faring?" He'd continue with his own story once he heard about Queen Honeee. "If there's anything I can do, please let me know." His wandering days would be over ... for a while.

"She is holding up. I don't see her as one breaking down in front of everyone or not even anyone. She has to be strong but it sure has to be hard. If anyone is needed or she needs anything there are many that would help her out, do what they can. Time will tell what will happen, we can only hope for the best in a bad situation." There was a pause as he kicked back some of his drink before continuing, "are you home to stay?"

"Aye, I am, though the Boundless is ever at your disposal." He grinned at his brother, saluting him with his glass before taking another drink. "Would you care to hear more or shall we save it for another time? And where is our  lovely sister? Here or back on Innis?" He would make the journey there soon enough.

There wasn't much for Lancely to say and he'd take off if it wasn't for the fact he was intrigued with all being said. He took the moment to have sandwiches brought out to munch on.

"Presently she is back on Innis to see to the wedding plans, gowns, flowers, food and so on. I'm pleased to remain here. She may be losing another lady in waiting." Which had him chuckle. "please continue with your story... at least some of it." He was sure there were many to be told.

There were many so he'd only speak of the most recent. "We headed off again, to see if we could find a land that was rumored to be hidden in the jungles of the Amazon. The Boundless was attacked by two ships as we disembarked. I gave the order for them to take off to the open sea, hoping they were the faster. What I didn't expect was one of the ships followed and the other dropped anchor. We went deeper into the jungle as they sent a landing party after us. "
He looked at Peter, and frowned. "They knew of us, knew who I was because of a crew member I had left behind when he proved to be a black-hearted dog. Their captain was the Stirling Scourge. I'm not sure who captained the second ship but the Boundless lost them. We also lost the landing party only to find ourselves surrounded by natives. A no win situation, wouldn't you say?"

Which had his brows furrow when he heard the name. "That is the one that joined up with Doom and Black Beard. They became known as the unholy Trinity but there is much said that Beard and Stirling don't get along, it's surprising the younger one is still alive or the other. There are many that would love to see them kill each other off until one is left then someone will kill him off." Which had him take pause, "maybe Doom. There have been rumors he has set himself up again. Something about that one that keeps coming back, landing well on his feet with money to spare." The last had a wry grin to show, "a no win situation but the natives were probably more friendly than those pirates, how did it go down?"

"Aye, I was surprised to see he was alive. I'm certain the second ship was neither of the other two." He chuckled and shook his head. "They weren't friendly at all and we were in a fight for our lives, with pirates behind us and the natives attacking. Next thing I knew Stirling and his men were also fighting. That's when I took the injury and my men and I slipped away, leaving the pirates to deal with the natives. We managed to make it to a beach a distance away from the Scourge's ship and my uncanny luck held up. The Boundless found us and we got away with little damage. I was ill for a time," which might explain his being a little thinner than usual, "but here we are. And my men are due for a well deserved vacation." Most were from Innis, so that would be one reason he'd be returning there.

He was intrigued though he was one of the few of Peter's knights that sailed much, being more land oriented. The hour was getting late and time for him to introduce some of the squires to the Gauntlet. Rising with a grin, "hope to catch you again, Jerome," then fisted his hand over his breast, "I will see you later Sire," Knowing he would come later to watch some of the men with the Gauntlet and had the list to follow. Giving a bow of his head before heading out by way he came in, down the hall to the offices first then an exit in the back.

Lancely was efficiently quick as he knew the men would be waiting on him if he lingered any longer. "I will catch you later," giving a nod as his knight went to see to his duties then turned his attention back on Jerome. "What kind of ill, jungle fever?" If it was something like that he was going to insist he see one of the healers here. Even the good doctor Barrington, who knew both skills. There were probably a few families and loved ones waiting on those men he had as his crew in Innis.

"Good night, Lancely."  The man was fast though he remembered Peter being the same here at times.  "Not sure. Could have been poison though I'd likely be dead instead of sitting here with a sore shoulder, talking to you.  I'm thinking of taking the Boundless home, leaving the men off and visiting father and Elaina and then coming back with a small crew to have the shipwrights go over ... " He paused and gave Peter a look. "Wedding?" That word suddenly popping into his thoughts. "You said wedding?"

"Yes, Elaine discovered she was in love with Conor, which we knew Conor has been in love with her for some time, well, must have been while you were gone. They're getting married soon. I insist you see a doctor or healer here, before you go back to Innis, make sure on that wound and overall health. They actually have better healers here." Which was something he should see to, getting a few trained under those here willing to take them on.

"About time." He chuckled then nodded. "I will. I'd rather not have the fever come back if it can be avoided. Nasty thing it is." He studied Peter over his glass. "What about yourself? Have you been getting out or are you still avoiding social situations?" The grin he gave his brother was downright devilish.

"I'll never be the height of the party like I once was and which title you have taken over and can keep." The wars had changed him a lot, matured him the more preferable idea. Too many battles, far too much blood seen that was spilled of good men when he walked away. Calhoun had been there, where they had met then eventually Karl and later ending up here to participate in a tournament. "I am making an effort to socialize but  it seems it is not one of my luckier areas. I am finally at a point in my life," which he knew this would be a revelation to his brother as it recently was to himself, "where I would like to settle down, have a family. Problem is, I first need to find someone that can love me and that I can love. Not someone wanting a title either. Maybe I should try and meet ladies not as a king." Though it might be impossible at this point. "Or some way of determining, if it can happen, the one is not just seeing a crown." Which he realized he was probably doomed before he even really tried.

"Somewhere there is a woman who won't care if you're a king or pauper. Hopefully you'll not have long to wait but don't get discouraged, Peter. It'll happen." Maybe Jerome was making a prediction of sorts but he felt it to be true. "You'll need to make sure you make the time too, with watching over this land as well as Innis." He placed his empty glass upon the bar and shook his head at Alex. One drink for now. He might have more later.

"Father is quite capable to look over Innis while I'm here. His health a lot better and he's been looking over Innis a good fifty years." Reaching over to give his brother's should a squeeze, not of the hurt side, before released. "Perhaps I should dress as a pauper to meet the lovely ladies. What of you Jer? Do you ever see settling when you came so close before or never ending seas your bed?" Which in a way he hoped his brother could find such happiness and a family of his own one day.

He laughed, shaking his head. "I'm afraid even if you do, it won't hide who you really are. You project the fact." He looked down at the empty glass, turning it. "I don't know. I would hope I don't run each time it seems close to happening, but the life I lead still has too strong an appeal for me. Perhaps if I meet the right one, the siren calls of the sea will end."

"Aye, maybe we'll hang out together and see what there is to see. Although this evening grows late and there is the knight's hall and a feast, one with spring in mind and the good work they all have been doing," things they did for morale, "would you like to come join us? After we go visit Doctor Barrington on the way." He was not forgetting that his brother needed medical attention. There was also the stop at the spar field and Gauntlet contestants to see.

"I'll join you and gladly. Be good to see some of the others." He laughed and held up his hands. "After we see Doctor Barrington." He wouldn't argue with his brother on this. Other things perhaps but he truly didn't wish to become ill again. He gave Alex a wave, after stealing one of the sandwiches to save for later and clapped a hand to Peter's shoulder before they made their way down the corridor and out.



Date: 03-24-10
Poster: Claire O'Reilly
Post # 86

Spar of Words

The day had been beautiful. The sun had been a bright orb high in the sky and nary a cloud was present to cover its shine. Even at this late hour, despite the sun having set some few hours ago, a warm breeze still stirred. Claire sat in a window at the Thistle, nursing a glass of punch. Instead of the usual paints and canvas, this evening she was sketching. The subject was the street, dimly lit under a glowing moon. She tried to capture the texture of the buildings and the stone pathways and the rustling leaves in the wind. Absently twirling a lock of rich brown hair around a finger, green hues focused on the scene before her, uncharacteristically silent.

Spring days had Matthew up early to see to many chores about the Thistle. From morning to dusk he paced his tasks so that everything got done in good time. At least he was no longer fumbling about when a pretty lady showed up. There was knocking outside one of the front windows as hammer met nail of some shutter boards, beaten up from the long winter, he was fixing.

The sudden banging had Claire snapping out of focus. Setting her art utensils aside, she rose from the chair and shook out pale green skirts. Curiosity sparked as an eyebrow arched and she made her way to the sound. Creeping slowly, she made it to the window and poked her head over the window sill, wide green eyes searching. "Hello?"

Maggie was feeling much better after some rest in a real bed, plenty of hearty meals sent up by the thoughtful Hazel and clean clothes. As her health improved she realized it was not the blustery winter still that it had seemed... Spring had snuck up on her and it made her impatient to get out of her room. This evening it was time, and she ventured downstairs, neat and clean after a bath. Her auburn-streaked dark hair was smoothed back into an updo that spilled thick waves down her neck, her dress snug along her slim curves and the color of red wine. One hand traced along the stair rail as she stepped downstairs.

Which had Matthew miss the head of the nail when a pretty face was suddenly there. "Yeoullllll," taking a moment to put down the weapon, hammer, and his thumb into his mouth a moment to try and still the pain. Luckily it was one that was there then gone as he popped his thumb from him mouth. "Hello," leaning to get a better look, almost bumping noses. "..and hello," as he noticed another pretty lady coming into the room.

"Oh!" Claire gasped and then rose to her full height to get a better look. "Oh my, are you all right, Sir? I didn't mean to distract you!" Claire covered her mouth with her hand and then looked up at the lady entering. "Good evening.." Bright smile to follow before she was once again leaning out the window. "Can I get you something?"

Blazing blue eyes moved to Claire, her neck arching to allow a graceful incline of her head in greeting. Then both brows arched when the woman leaned over to speak out the window. From this angle she could only assume the woman was daft, but when she moved forward she could see the handsome young man standing outside, hammer in hand. A smile dimpled her cheeks as she nodded again. "Good evening."

He finished up fixing the last slat before hanging the hammer on his work belt. "I'll come in," so not to have her running around. It was getting too dark to continue this type of work anyway. A few moments later he was heading in through the open door, slight swagger to his walk and a lazy smile that reached golden hazel eyes, now that they could be seen, touch of green to them. "Good evening ladies, I'm Matthew Myers, I help out Alex here for quite a number of years." Although some never saw him in all that time, he was good at being elusive for all the right reasons. Those had changed as the Curse had been lifted. Now any fumblings he couldn't blame on any curse.

Well, he seemed all right! Touch of concern in emerald eyes. "Hello, Matthew, Miss." Nod to both and a quick curtsy. "I am Claire O'Reilly. 'Tis a pleasure to meet you both." Snatching the glass of punch off the table to take a sip.

"Hello, Matthew," she echoed Claire, and went on politely to introduce herself too. "I am Maggie Callahan." The ends of her skirt lifted gently for her to bob a gentile curtsy. As her chin lifted again there was a light smile on her face, eyes meeting Matthew's just a moment, tripping down his form then casually turning away. "May I get either of you a drink?" She asked with the lift of a dark brow as she turned towards the bar.

"Claire O'Reilly I do believe you have been here before. I recognize the name of being at least a guest here and now recently. Maggie Callahan, new guest here. I like it when I can put a face to a name, especially when they are as lovely as both of you possess." Smooth words but they were true ones too. The glass of potcheen set, was taken up and kicked back. "To spring, as her flowers already blossom within the Thistle."

"Yes, I do believe you are a familiar face," she studied him carefully, trying to place his face and then zing! The light bulb went off. "You are the handyman!" Claire remembered. He was always cursed--tripping, falling, stumbling. The most memorable incident was when he took a tumble down the stairs. "Have you gotten rid of your bad luck, Matthew?" Added with a little chuckle. She was only teasing and meant no insult. Eyes were sparkling with jest. "Hello, Maggie." Claire took a seat again, happy to enjoy the company that had gathered in the Thistle.

"The flattery falls so easily from your tongue, I wonder whether you are accustomed to bestowing those same compliments on other girls?" She wondered aloud, her tone airy. She crossed to the bar, ordering herself only a tea tonight, foregoing alcohol until she had her full strength back. The handyman, hmm? She tossed a curious glance over her shoulder, before thanking Alex with a pretty smile and turning back to the others, steaming mug in hand.

"That is I and luckily the Curse has been broken, took a kiss to dispel it. Considering what a disaster I was around the ladies it took one brave enough." Certainly he was not ugly so at least that had been in his favor too. Not that he would think of it that way. "I bestow compliments where deemed and certainly there are lovely ladies in these lands especially." Truthful to a fault. "It does not lessen the compliment to be shared, the same as a heart can love in many different ways, so beauty comes in many perfections."

"Well said, Matthew." She lifted her glass and then took another drink, eyes traveling between the two. "In Heathfield, there are many compliments to be had--to many people and for many reasons!" Emphasizing it with a nod.

He seemed rather serious about his reply, which made her all the more eager to continue the jest. "Ahh... but then, does the word 'beautiful' have any true meaning when used so generously?" She did enjoy a spar of words, especially when it left her opponents tongue-tied, but moreso because it was an exercise of the mind as well. She lifted a brow between both of them as she took a sip of her tea.

A slight smirk twitched to the corners of spreading lips. The intensity of unique hazel eyes trained on Maggie for the wanted spar, play with words in a friendly manner, not to be taken seriously, "it is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so that leaves as many to behold as uniquely and not limited to one, hence it is logical to deduce that there are just as many beauties as there are men." The smile growing as he took a comfortable lean, "with that in mind then yes, it has true meaning even if I reflect for ideally more than just my one opinion."

Oh, she caught that smirk of his and the striking blue of her own eyes sparkled. She acknowledged his clever reply with a slow smile. "True enough. But you must admit, there are some things which seem to hold beauty common in all eyes... the setting of the sun over the lake, or the sight of a fine physique." Again the subtle tripping of her eyes down him before returning with an arched brow. "I wonder then, what makes these things beautiful to all the unique people of the world?"

"Aye, the work of the Greatest Artist of them all. This I had not denied and if you wish not the compliment of being beautiful, I can pluck it out of the air forevermore," making a motion of his hand like a snap of his fingers could easily have this done. Giving a wink to the quiet Claire who could jump in anytime as well.

Oh, Claire was having a blast listening to the conversation! As they playfully bantered, she had once again seized the paper to sketch the two who were so intensely debating beauty. The scene was rather comical and she was attempting to capture it in art. Punch sipped as eyes darted back and forth from paper to lady to gentlemen. Should she add captions to it?

She could probably draw Matthew holding what might represent beauty in a form of a flag waving it above Maggie's head in taunting her possession of it. At least he wasn't ripping a hole in his britches, mooning them as he face planted in a lady's lap.


Maggie didn't say anything for a moment, just fixed Matthew with a quizzical look, thoughtful and with eyes narrowed it was difficult to read. Then the light smile returned. "Who am I to dispute your opinion? Which is yours to keep and can be taken away by no man... or woman." A gracious bow of her head but when she looked back up the smile playing across her lips was impish.

"Then when an opinion is a good one, seize it and tuck it away to ward off all the bad ones that those of hatred hearts are prone to." Which he worked his hands as if holding this length of cloth, named beauty, to drape over her shoulders, even flicked one side as one would the one end of a scarf over their shoulder in a sort of defiance to the world. A dare to bring it on.

That made her laugh for the first time tonight, a tinkling laugh like music. "And so I shall, with my thanks." She pretended to settle the 'scarf' more comfortably about her neck, giving it a light fluff.

He gave a bow of his head, quite pleased with the turn out of sparring words between them. No one a loser and certainly both winners if one were to judge it. "I do believe our newly found friend is sketching us at this very moment."

Claire too chuckled, shaking her head. With a last few flicks of her wrist, she pulled back to look at her piece. Perfect. With a mischievous wiggle of her brows, she held it up. Their faces were sketched in the middle of two flowers, both reaching upwards around a rock to bask in the sunshine, their roots and leaves entangled. Licking her lips, she shrugged. "All this bantering about beauty and such...I couldn't resist!" It seemed appropriate it to her and it was all in good fun anyway. At least they were both blooming flowers! They could have been pestering weeds!

Maggie leaned over to look at the parchment and let out another laugh. "I daresay, Claire, the way you have tangled those flowers together is rather suggestive!" She dared a glance to Matthew, pretending to be offended even if her eyes danced vivaciously.

"I should have added a scarf to the picture, no?" Laughing there. "Ah, it has been a most enjoyable evening. However, the hour grows late and I should retire. A pleasure to meet you, Maggie. Matthew, ever glad to hear your curse has been lifted." Wink tossed in there. "I shall be the best pollen collector you ever did bear witness to. I swear it." She rose, snickering. "May the two of you enjoy the rest of your evening! Au revoir, mes amis." With ease, she executed a curtsy and then headed upstairs.

"Reminds me of old times and at least I wasn't mooning the sun while at it." He too was laughing in a rich flowing way of a husky baritone. "As long as you keep your petals closed and I keep my stamen to myself. Claire can collect the pollen safely. Claire is right, it is late and I've to be up at the break of dawn to see to the Garden to the one side of the building," a whole world of its own with even a fountain. "I hope our paths cross again." Finishing up his drink as he'd not waste it. It seemed Maggie was in agreement too as they all headed for their respective rooms.



Date: 03-28-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 87

A King's Return in Visiting

Vanessa was out for the night being that Karina was as well, and she'd promised Alex that she'd bring Ysa by for cookies. So currently the two were sitting at the bar. Ysa on Van's lap, drooling up a cookie and babbling to herself, while Vanessa was talking with Alex over this and that and other things. Nothing specific really. She was trying to convince the man that he should come to the aviary for a bird to house at the tavern to keep him company when things were quiet, which she got a laugh for.

It had been a long time since Leoric stepped inside the Thistle. Hard to read expression other than cordial in a platonic way. Certainly not unpleasant nor really stoic but one would get the impression there was a lot under the cover of noble features. Steel blue eyes had a touch of warmth to them or more the overall feeling of tranquility. A tranquility that could mask a raging storm if needed. Dark blond streaked hair was tied back in a tail at the nape of his neck. A deep purple tunic worn with the Kildare emblem over his heart, trimmed in deep gold and wine cording, black pants and boots. The colors striking for his fair looks. Fae look about him. "Good evening," pleasant, almost musical tone to his voice as he continued to the bar and the request of a glass of potcheen.

Hearing the door open, Vanessa looked to the man entering and offered a smile. "Ave, sir." She recognized the Kildare emblem so figured he'd been to the Thistle before. "A lovely night, yes?" Inquired after he'd made his request to Alex.

Regan had been visiting at the manor and decided to stop at the Thistle before she went on to her ship. She was dressed in pants of dark blue pants tucked into boots that came up to her knees, a buccaneer shirt of a paler blue with full sleeves gathered at the wrist and a red coat. Her hair had been pulled back into a french braid, a bow tied at the end. As she entered the Thistle, she saluted Alex on her way to the bar, then smiled at the others there. "Good evening."

"I am Leoric, I don't believe we have met," though he knew her name and even recognized her for his natural abilities. He would not let on for it upset some, bewildered others and less chance being looked upon as some freak. Which he was not. "A very lovely night and one of many to come. Your daughter is charming," Fae voice held that quality having it sound beautiful and charming as good as beautiful. "Good evening Regan, I see you are about to set sail. With one of your brothers?" Only a hint of a smile as he asked that question.

"A pleasure to meet you, Leoric. I'm Vanessa." She agreed with his comment of the night, then looked down at Ysa with a smile. "My niece, Ysabeau. And thank you." Happily gumming her cookie while watching Leoric. A smile given to the other as she entered. "Ave, Miss." New faces tonight! She always enjoyed meeting new people.

"Leoric," she gave him a respectful bow of her head, in spite of not using his title. "With both, hopefully, though not for a day or two." She smiled at Vanessa as well. "Evening. My name is Regan." And taking a lean against the bar, she asked Alex for a glass of potcheen.

He reached over with a touch of his fingers upon Ysa's cheek and his thumb to graze her forehead. "Vanimle sila tiri, cormlle naa tanya tel'raa." Even more beautiful sounding in Elven as he blessed the young girl in his own way. "Ysabeau," saying her name last as the touch fell away. "Lady Regan, if you know of anyone that would make a good shipwright, please let me know of them." Something he needed as Kildare continued to grow. Days of late were especially bright being there were no present controversies, though none let their guard down. Not in Kildare.

"A pleasure to meet you, Regan. I'm Vanessa and this is my niece, Ysabeau." Ysa reached for the fingers within her reach with her free hand. At least that hand was dry. Vanessa looked at Leoric with a curious tilt of her head, unsure what he'd said, but it sounded nice!

He caught her look as a disarming smile appeared, something rare to see for the seriousness of his duties in life. "Her beauty will shine bright and more, she has the heart of a lion." Beauty and strength.

"Well met, Vanessa, Ysabeau." The little one got a wiggle of fingers and a grin. Eyes the color of cornflowers lifted to Leoric and Regan nodded. "I'll keep an ear out, certainly. Though we'll be heading out for faraway ports soon." And she couldn't wait.

Ysa chimed up with more giggles and a couple kicks. "Such kind words." To Leoric before falling silent for a drink of cider and letting the other two talk.

"Then allow me to give you a list of things to acquire for the castle if you come across them." Being they were in service to the Crown, this was a good way to see to those exotic acquisitions. Usually practical. "I hear you have birds that are trained for prey and those that are more pets, such as the macaws, parrots and love birds?" This, of course, addressed to Vanessa.

"Of course." And they were always glad to be of service. Now it was her turn to become silent while she enjoyed her drink and Vanessa answered Leoric.

A nod given to Leoric. "Aye, that I do. Have you interest in such birds?" The question given to both with a glance between the two of them.

"I had brought some birds back with me after a trip to South America. Kept one, just because Captains are supposed to have pets." She laughed. "Never figured out why that is."

"Yes I do, for some of my men for hunting as well companionship. Three of such birds of prey and one to have in the castle for the ladies in waiting to dote upon." Pausing as Regan spoke up and a hint of a smile came with a chuckle. "The Art Gallery needs some fine artifacts from exotic lands, the rarer the artifact the better if it can be acquired along with some oils, and silks."

"You're more than welcome to come by the gardens to see the birds. For the hunters, I would suggest that the men come to be chosen for themselves. The other you can take back to the ladies yourself." A light smile given, she looked to Regan with a nod and quiet laugh. "Seems there are a lot of unexplained traditions."

Which he paused, "this task being given to you and your two brothers." Perhaps he knew too much of Regan's ways.

"Aye, there are." And the look she gave Leoric was almost but not quite rebellious. After all, she could have been in a great deal of trouble after that near invasion. She gave him a impish smile though. "Of course. We're planning to possibly head for Australia, maybe some of the islands of the far east."

He imagined she was a handful for her brothers but she was wise in not being rebellious of her King. Not that he asked a great deal of her and certainly she would be rewarded well if she was amicable to his modest requests. "There are spiritual secrets in this land down under and a few places that have power in them. Make a list of the places you plan to stop this trip." He would make his list accordingly. Then to Vanessa, "I plan to be here a short while so I will be up to see the birds." And pretty much go from there. He would have to send his men down, one by one to receive their gifts then.

"Of course. You're welcome any time." She smiled and glanced down to Ysa who had settled back and was on the verge of sleeping. "I believe my night is coming to an end."

It wasn't that she would be rebellious but sometimes she just wondered why they all felt she couldn't handle herself! From Leoric to Adrian to her family. "I'll speak to my brothers so we can make up the list for you." For some reason, she liked the idea of stopping for silks.

He was drawn to the child as a touch of his finger went over her little hands, "she is tired as well yourself. I am as well. I will see you both home as it will be the castle where I will be staying, I've come to visit my mother," cheer her up was more like it after all that was going on and she saw little of the Twins as it were.

"Thank you, but I don't want to take you out of your way." Ysa's blanket was picked up to wrap her up for the walk back to the cottage and gave her something to snuggle into. "Regan, it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope to see you again soon."

"You don't take me out of my way and perhaps Regan will join us, stay at the castle this evening so we can have a night cap there and speak further on these items, what I am looking for in more particulars." That way it would all be proper, for Vanessa should be escorted home with little Ysa and Regan would have company too.

"That would be wonderful." She smiled to both as she managed with her cloak while holding Ysa, then waited for her company.

She had finished her drink and was about to consider another when Leoric made his offer. "I believe I will. I pretty much know where we're planning to go, and bearing any ill winds or other surprises, can talk it over with you."  She slid off the stool and waved good night to Alex.

She had help managing that cloak, "if you wish, I would love to carry her." It had been some time since he held his younger siblings when they were that little and kind of reminiscing. "A trip may bring you places unexpected but if you have an idea of things I seek, then you'll know them when you come upon their path." Which was why this talk would be a very useful one. He would see both of them with their cloaks, he not needing one, before a wave to Alex with a promise he would sit and talk with him on the matters of Kildare very soon.

She offered Ysa to Leoric with a small smile and finished fastening her cloak before moving to the door with a wave to Alex. The door held open for both so they could all be on their way.

Leo had a way about him that fitted Ysa so comfortably in the curve of his arm, held close to hear the steady strong beat of his heart. It would probably have her asleep in minutes. The tone of his voice like a lullaby for the pure quality and lilt that was yet masculine at the same time. The walk would be set at an easy pace and he enjoying the feel of the child in his arms.



Date: 03-29-10
Poster: Maggie Callahan
Post # 88

Enlightening Evening

Leo had spent the earlier hours in conversation with Alex. Steel blue eyes fixed on the flames that danced low in the hearth for the fire that burned down to keep the dampness out more than the cold. He was plainly attired considering his status but the clothing was clean and well made. A sleeveless tunic of a leather patchwork was worn over a off white poet's shirt. Pants of black and boots of the same that laced up mid calf. Lounged out in a wingback he looked the epitome of relaxed unless one caught sight of eyes that saw so much more with a pensive look to them.


The land of Heathfield was an idyllic place, a sweeping landscape of grassy hills dotted by sheep, smaller towns of a few homes, and larger towns where trade flourished, such as the place the Thistle Tavern called home. It was a rustic structure, timber framed with a thatch roof, and a sign swinging from a post over the door announcing its name and business. The inside was homey and comfortable and perfectly clean, a long wooden bar opposite a hearth and seating area, with tables and chairs scattered in between. Maggie was enjoying the peace and quiet this time of night, for only a few occupants sat in small clumps, drinking their nightcaps and discussing the day's affairs. An older gentleman whose name she'd learned, was Alex, stood behind the bar mopping up the countertop. It was a comfortable sort of place but Maggie was discontent, so she'd placed herself a bit away from the others, before the hearth in a chair (not far from Leoric). Long legs were crossed one over the other as she absently twirled a strand of dark hair between her fingers.


Her day had begun with clouds and ended with balmy sunshine. Atop a sway-back palfrey, she regarded the sights with a quiet grin and wide brown eyes. Opposite the aging horse she was a spry lady in the bloom of youth with a prim countenance that belied a very fastidious nature. Given the soft air and the birds singing she kept going rather than stop until the horse she had purchased refused to go any further than the thatch roofed tavern. Lips quirking, the serious-eyed young woman dismounted with an air of patience. Rather than chat up her mount though she was oddly silent as she handed over reign and a few coins of etched copper to a liveried stable hand that seemingly appeared from thin air. Seeing that she would be stuck for the evening she glanced toward the door. It seemed quiet enough, so highed herself up the steps and inside where she promptly all but marched herself toward the bar and the tender there. Focusing all her attention she spoke carefully and slowly, as if speech were some sort of strange portent one had to be wary of. "Rooms for board?" She wasn't even sure they catered to women. Some places, didn't.

The gray-haired older chap behind the bar paused long enough to inform the woman that yes, indeed they had rooms for board, and that there was no cost to travelers, courtesy of the Crown. Maggie glanced up from her curled-up position in that armchair, curious blues glancing over the new woman who spoke with an odd cadence in her speech. "I'm staying here too. Don't worry, it really is free." Her knowing smirk told the other woman that she too had doubted the veracity of free room and board when first she'd heard it. Alex, the tender, would offer the young woman drink or a meal.

Emma nodded toward the older man as if such things happened everyday, then ended up starting mildly when another stranger spoke to her. Lips picked up a little at the corners but it was apparent enough that she was a woman of few words that were grudgingly given. It wasn't because she wished to be impolite but because speech was difficult. "It is clean?" Not that, again, she wanted to insult anyone. She was a fair housekeeper, so her standards might have been a little more stringent.

"Aye, we are stopping here again. So suck it up." She narrowed her gaze on Oly. "It's a free room." A small pat to his rump sent the horse walking away to the stable. "And no messing with the mares again." Laughing at the comment left in her head. Shaking her head, mixed matched eyes looked to the door of the tavern. A small nibble on her lower lip. She wasn't big on social. Time spent alone, or it could have been getting raised by the hermit. A smile tugged at lips as she headed inside. Not much a chill to the air, but still enough to wear a cloak, that was hung up. Simple, and easy to hide with browns and greens covered her form. Flexing her fingers, she headed to the bar. A smile to Alex. Mostly just to order a drink.

Something stirred as he came out of his own daze and glanced to the window first then the door. He gained his feet to stand his full height as it was good to do too at this point besides courteous. He'd been dazed off far too long. "Good evening Miss, and welcome this spring night." It had rained earlier and he wondered if it had stopped by this time. There was that fresh scent to the air that a spring shower always brought.

Lashes fluttered to her cheeks a few as a voice reached her. Making her turn her head to glance to the man's way. A slow travel from his feet to the top of his head, taking in his stance and clothing. "You people are formal here.  Always with the welcomes. But is nice then a grunt. Good eve'." Head bowed to him in a greeting, blonde strands falling around her features. "A fine spring night. Glad the rain is over. Was stuck under a hang over for a few hours. And all the wood was wet..." A roll of her shoulder, she turned back to pick up her mug of cider.

Which had him clear his throat, somewhat in a muffled laugh, "I am sorry, I've not been out socially in a while and have forgotten how to relax. I shall endeavor to improve on this. From my understanding, most are not so formal here." He would blame himself. "I am Leoric. Luckily it was not winter and a blizzard."

"Very clean," she replied with a gracious smile to Alex, who turned to attend to something in the back room. Uncrossing her legs Maggie rose to move towards the stranger, her gait panther-like in its slow and nonchalant grace. "I'm  Maggie," she offered her introduction with a bright smile, easing herself onto a stool and propping her elbow atop the bar counter. "And I'd recommend the Irish stew and brown bread," she added with a little wink. The young woman looked hungry or at the least, travel-worn.

"Kelsey....Aye, I am glad winter is over. I was stuck in a horrid township." The mug was brought to her lips for a small sip. Turning her body to Leoric, a bigger smile spreading across her features. She raised her mug to him. "To the non social folks like us who need to relax." Blue and brown hues turned to Maggie.

He noticed the other two in quiet study as they spoke with one another and with Alex. There and back with the hint of a smile to appear. "A pleasure to meet you Kelsey and Maggie." Being he had picked up on the other lass' name. One of them.

Somehow knowing the establishment was "very clean" seemed to relax her somewhat because her shoulders dipped a fraction beneath the light weight half cloak of wool. She wore a simple garment of beige. It did little for her complexion but the woman really didn't seem to mind. Clothes were clothes. "E-E-Emma. My n-n-name is Emma." She had been to quick to speak, and to quick to forget that she needed to concentrate before she opened her mouth.  Her stutter was no stammer of embarrassment. It was a simple affliction that she could normally get around if she thought long and hard before she talked with others.

"Kelsey, or Kel is it pleases you." Eying the fire now, the lanky blonde head over to the hearth and wiggled her toes in her boots. Warmth. 

"A pleasure to meet you Emma. Enjoy a drink, food, and if a room is needed tonight, they are available too." He was not aware of the exact conversation Maggie may have had with her. "There is no cost for it is already paid for by the tithing of the lands. Many businesses, ranches, shipping, mercantile, restaurants and so on that do charge. This tavern, however, remains free for the traveler, a haven for some do not have a coin to spare." That had been the reasoning behind setting it up so and it had worked out just fine. Taxes turned back into the community.

"Both a pleasure to meet you too...." She blinked and looked over to the window. Lips pursing a bit, she set down her mug and headed over to the door. Opening as a tan ferret ran inside, circling her legs before siting back on his hunches. Giving her that strange purr as if talking to her as she shut the door. "I'm sorry, but you were sleeping, Jerry."

"She knows." Maggie smoothly answered Leo on Emma's behalf, having noted the girl's stutter. Perhaps she was cold and chattery of teeth but more likely, it was just a natural speech abnormality. And Mags suspected putting the woman on the spot wouldn't help matters. So Maggie turned to Leoric herself, a pretty smile dimpling her cheeks. "And I don't believe I caught your name, Sir?..." Her keen blue gaze was stolen away a moment later though, as she glanced to the door and let out an eep. A long finger pointing at the rodent. "What, is that?"

Everything seemed in order as it were for those who chose to stay here. And since the menu had been recommended, she pinched her lower lip between her teeth before conferring once again with the older chap who seemed to run the establishment with apparent ease. She did however, smile and nod politely toward the man and other woman there since she did not want to be rude. Words just didn't seem necessary, nor with a mental wince, were they her strongest suit.

Mixed gaze looked up from Jerry to Maggie, then back to Jerry. "This is Jerry." The ferret turned his head and looked to the woman, squeaking at her before Kel leaned over and placed him on her shoulder to curl around her neck. His head rubbing into her chin as she itched under his own. "This is a ferret, the newest orphan to join my band."


"I am Leoric," steel blue eyes held far more beneath them as they met her eyes and held a moment, the same for Emma as it was his way in meeting them on other levels. There was something about Leo, much like his older brother Andrew, that gave off a tranquility that spread through the room, a subtle thing but strong. This was a place they could relax, where they were safe while here. Alex had an air about him that spoke of a Warrior at one time. Gentleman. He spoke little, cordially when he did and saw to the needs of those that came in or found one that could. He didn't wait tables but the place was immaculate under this meticulous older man.

Blinking when Jerry looked over to Leoric, then back to Kel, speaking his little chatter as she headed back over to her drink. She hummed and nodded. Picking up her mug she took another sip of cider.

"It looks rather like a mix between a squirrel and a rat..." Maggie replied dubiously, if a little bluntly. She realized her mistake a moment later and looked back up to Kelsey, offering a tight smile of apology. "I'm sorry, I've just... never seen one before." Nor would she have ever really wished to, but politeness dictated that she hide her distaste at least behind a mask of gentle words. A slight clearing of her throat as she settled her hands in her lap and quietly ordered a hot cider from Alex.

Animals were allowed that were trained, that didn't cause problems for other patrons. In fact, Alex would see to some scraps for the critter. There was a shift of a smile as Leo noted the ferret, he was aware of their species and made for good pets.

It certainly was a place that a fastidiously minded young woman like Emma could appreciate. Though she might have seemed to be dressed plainly it was apparent she was meticulously cultivated a proper appearance. It was a way to have order when one's words came out little better than minced chaos. Taking a seat just a little ways off from the crowd, she waited for the dinner she had been promised was quite good with hands folded in her lap. She was as still as a statue, save the faint tap-tap-tap of a foot, to some unheard music or other.

"Have you traveled far?" Glance included all three ladies as he knew none of them and none of them being from these lands in particular, though certainly welcome. To afford that air of comfort, he lowered back into the wingback near the hearth. A low burning fire kept the dampness from the room, offering the tint of peat to the air, much like Ireland.

Kel just laughed softly. "Well he is not rat, he hunts mice and rats. Even snakes. He saved my life from one..." Jerry on the other hand was looking at Maggie like she hurt his feeling. Sniffing and sticking his nose in the air  he just turned back to Kel, chattering to her once more. Till his nose went to twitching and he jumped off of Kel's shoulder to the closest chair and took off for a run to the bar. Peeking around the side to watch Alex. "Perhaps,  perhaps not. I think its how you look on it, traveling I mean..." Sip, sip.

"Ahh." Was Maggie's prim and brief reply to Kelsey's defense of the creature, which still looked like an elongated rodent to her. Taking her cider with thanks to Alex, she sipped and then strolled back over to the hearth to re-claim the wingback she'd been sitting in before. She wore a cream-colored dress, long in the sleeve and skirts, and cut to snugly cling to her lithe frame. Her legs were crossed as she seated herself, a slight lift of her chin as she tucked a stray black tendril of hair back into her updo. "Won't you join us?" She asked Emma. And then on to answer Leoric's question at an unhurried pace. "Oh yes, quite far. Is this your home Leoric?"

"Ayrshire." Not that it would mean much out of context but it was at least a reference point on a map that would be familiar to most. And besides that, she was enjoying the overall patina of the taverns interior which measured by a very shrewd eye was indeed very, very clean.

She took a turn to warm the other side of her body, since she was standing to the side of the fire. A hand came to rub over her chin before she eyed an chair. Jerry on the other hand was trying to steal away small piece of bread... he found, yeah just sitting on a counter...Tricky little guy. Watching Jerry, she let out a small noise and he stopped. Looking crushed before begging to Alex for food. Soooo hungry, please feed me. Dropping her frame into a chair, she looked before looking to the three people. She never talked much.

"My home was here, will always be in my heart but I now claim Kildare as my home." Which was all true without getting into specifics. Specifics that might make some uncomfortable. Perhaps. He wasn't sure but if it came around to it, he would not lie. It was not in Leoric to lie to anyone. It was not the Druid way. "Ayrshire has a nice ring to it although I've not had the pleasure of hearing of it before." This to Emma with a gentle smile.

"Nor have I," she added but it was with a thoughtful air as she twisted her hair about her finger. She wondered if she and her brother had been through Ayrshire at any point.. half the villages they'd gone through, they'd never  learned the names. "Though I've heard of Kildare. A bit... rough for my tastes," she admitted it with a self-conscious smile.

She glanced between them all. She could barely remember the name of her village. Had it been that long. Jerry headed back over to Kel, some food in his mouth as he climbed up and rested in her lap. Happy to tear into the chunk of meat he was given.

"Small it is." And relatively unnoticed in the highlands if one past through it while blinking. "In highlands. Scotland." Every word was carefully pronounced, albeit a little slower than most which gave each vowel a rather distinct sound. She hadn't the brogue of the Scottish hills, but that was because she focused too much on the words so they came out plainly and without the usual stutter.

"Indeed it is and to be expected for how the Witch had left it." Not getting into twisting men's minds around that didn't so much put them under her thumb as she wanted but drove them mad. His father being one of them and set the stage for years of hardships on quite a few, even between he and his twin brother as the same Witch had tried to manipulate them. Thalan kept them safe and eventually Leo's own abilities grew. "There are some here of Scotland born. Sir Trevor Cairns for one is from Aberdeen."

"Scotland, never heard of that place before." Setting her mug down, she turned Jerry over to rub and play on his belly. The Ferret making small hisses, biting at her fingers. The meat getting gobbled up quickly.

Her features seemed to beam momentarily, a spark of "oh are there" briefly alighting brown eyes before she turned her attention to the food that was set before her. Her hair was nondescript in that it was covered with a plain white cloth, tucked neatly at the nape of her neck. Again, she was a creature of control and order, so she went about eating in a very concise sort of way. "North of England, it is. Much like Ireland in color and culture." It was the most she would probably speak in an evening, enunciated to a consonant and rigidly controlled.

"Scotland! I've heard it's lovely there. How I'd love to visit," she said to Emma with a sigh and smile of appreciation. Then it was back to Leoric. "Witch? Do you mean an actual witch... gnarled and toothless, luring unsuspecting folk with her potions?" Playfulness sparked in her bright blue eyes but she was clearly curious, too.

Blank stare. She didn't know of these places. So she just nodded like she did and took a drink of her cider.

Rhia had taken some time to return home to visit. She had yet to be accepted into the Order but it was to happen soon, as well as at least two others. Her return came late at night and as she stepped in through the side door after seeing her horse to the stable, she was surprised to see a few people there.

"I believe you are more held back than I am, Lady Emma." Which amused him, gave him a bit of a lift as he had been removed from the social aspect of things far too long. At least Kildare was quiet after warring of  a few rebellious Keeps. He never liked killing but some was necessary to keep the innocent free, and alive. A moment's lapse in reflection, introspection, before back to Maggie. "A woman who cultivated the art of mystics for personal gain, manipulation and deception. She wanted to rule Kildare." Plain and simple and worse than just an ordinary ambitious woman. "Actually, she was very beautiful in appearance, but her soul was Ugly as Sin."

Blue and brown turned to look to Leoric, wincing when Jerry bit her harder then he meant to. Bring her bleeding finger to her lips, she sucked on her finger.

She blinked with a spoonful of stew on the way to her lips. Held back? Seeing as he didn't seem to mean it in insult, she contemplated the spoonful for a moment longer before skirting her eyes to her lap. Maybe she was held back, but order and hard work should prevail over chaos and speech imperfections.

"She sounds dangerous." In light of what Leoric was saying, Maggie was more solemn now, but still just as interested as before. Shifting a bit in her chair to face Leo, she took another sip of her cider. "That seems to happen all too often.. what did the Witch of Kildare do?"

She shook her head. "I once had to deal with a witch. She wasn't one of the lovely lasses. But she had a wicked way of wielding a knife."

"She drove the former King of Kildare insane that he tried to kill himself and his wife but only succeeded in his own death." Which there was a very sad feel to the way Leo spoke of this king before adding, "she is dead. Dead for many years but what she left behind is the chaos Kildare was left in that presently there are many striving to bring back to order. It will take time." The presence of another was a welcome diversion at the moment. They had not met but her heritage sang on another level he was tuned into. Eyes met and greeted, "Elen sila lumenn omentilmo," beautiful sounding in Elven with a masculine tone.

Date: 03-29-10
Poster: Maggie Callahan
Post # 89

Her eyes widened at the enormity of what the witch had done, making Maggie catch her breath, though as she was sipping her cider it turned into a coughing fit. The sound was hollow within her lungs, seemed to be a lingering part of the illness she'd come in with. Still trying to clear her throat and catch her breath, Maggie flicked her gaze to the new woman and then back to Leoric, not recognizing the language that rolled off his tongue.

Blinking hearing that saddened tone, she knew it very well. That kind of tone. So she nodded. "I see, well at lest she is gone." The clashing gaze was soon on the woman who entered, even Jerry stopped his playing with her fingers to look over at the woman. Flipping over on his stomach and crawling his way up the wing back of the chair to settle and watch over Kel.

"Quel undome, Alex." She spoke quietly to the tender so as to not interrupt the conversation. "Might I have some of Hazel's brown bread and butter as well as the peach punch." She turned to smile at the man who had spoken to her. "'Quel undome, nin Heru." She inclined her head and then greeted the others. "Good evening to you all."

It was only the tip of the iceberg in what this particular Witch had done. The first knight had been twisted against his king and country and she created beasts to kill her enemies with that ended up filling the Northern forests. The list went on as he reflected a moment then pulled himself back to the present and a smile to touch with Rhia's words. "I am Leoric and these ladies are," indicating each as he spoke their names, "Emma, Maggie and Kelsey."

And that was when it hit her. She suddenly looked over to Leoric. "I passed through the forest of your home. Didn't like what I had to run from." She shook her head and looked over to the woman. "I'm Kelsey."

"A pleasure to meet you all. I am called Rhiannon." A hint of laughter appeared in her eyes. "My mother heard the name once and decided she liked it." It may have been a human name but there was that quality to it. "I know of you, Leoric. I have been training with the Order of Athena."

Another smothered cough and she glanced up at the introduction, spots of color rising to her cheeks, likely from the embarrassment of being caught voiceless. "Well met, Rhiannon," she replied a bit breathlessly but with a smile nonetheless.

"Aye, it is best to be avoided," all he would say on it nor his thoughts at the moment. "It is my pleasure to meet you Rhiannon, you are of these lands." That much he knew for her heritage. "I am sure your initiation into the Order will come soon. There has been some things afoot that has put such on wait but soon they will be seen to. I believe there is another lady or two wishing to join the ranks of the female bodyguards." That and more but an honor for them in who they protected. A slight dip of his head had eyes of gray blue turn on Maggie, "are you all right?"

There were introductions going on along with the surprising tale of a witch which although she might have seemed like she was off in her own little world, she had been listening to. "Well met." To the lady who had joined them and Emma then turned her attention back to her food and her ear toward the gathering.

"Oh yes, yes I'm fine." She reassured Leoric with an airy wave of her hand even if her voice came out a tad constricted. Another cough hidden behind her hand, she took a breath as the color slowly came back to her face. Then a light smile was given to them. "The Order of Athena did you say? I have not heard of it."

Kelsey closed her eyes, setting down her mug and let her head roll back into the seat. Speak, she should speak. She knew it, but nothing was said. Fingers rubbing her stomach. Chairs were so nice. All comfy like too. Wiggle, wiggle. And she relaxed even more.
  She tucked back the strands that framed her face behind a delicately pointed ear, almondine eyes shifting to Maggie briefly but then her food was there and she was delighted to see Hazel had added a bowl of Irish stew. A smile appeared with Maggie's words. "It is an Order of Women Knights, here in the realm. A high honor to be inducted into it."

Although happy to enter the conversation, she saw no reason since she had little knowledge of the matter itself. It was better at this point to listen, to learn rather than stumble unerringly toward an insult she wouldn't have meant by being ignorant. Food finished and dishes set neatly aside, she was back to her foot tapping but there was a hitch of a hum every now and then, some inner mental process that required a few snatches of some tune or another.

She peeked an eye open. She was in Caden's army, but she lost track of them after a battle. So she roamed around looking for the army. But a band of women. Back straighten up more as she looked to Rhiannon. A blue now looking at her.
  A small shake of her head, she looked away from her and to Jerry who was had fallen a sleep and was about to fall into her lap. Flick of his nose sent the poor ferret in a small scream and he rolled off on to the floor. Only to take off to Maggie, trying to get under her skirts to hide. "Jerry....Don't!"

"What brings you so far from Ayrshire, Emma? Will you need a place to stay this evening or even for a while?" He was curious as she seemed a quiet one and so questions would help in getting to know of her more.


"Women Knights," Maggie repeated in surprise; she'd never heard of such a thing and had a difficult time envisioning it. Women in armor and riding into battle... it sounded like a fable, not something that might actually occur. She  looked at Rhiannon with a mix of uncertainty and respect and then suddenly... let out a shriek. Jumping to her feet and lifting the hems of her skirts, feet dancing around in an attempt to get the rodent away. "Oh, what is it doing, it won't go away! Get away, get away!" She ordered the tiny beast ineffectually.

Eye lids flickered with a quick glance given to Leoric before they zeroed again to the neat stack of dishes before her. It was imperative, or so it seemed, that she keep focused there while trying to answer his questions. One at a time and carefully. "My employer died. I left to find it elsewhere." Which of course led to her thinking of her former employer with a fond smile and a complete lack of concentration. "Y-y-yes I w-w-will stay the n-n-night." The stutter was horrid, she knew it and she fought it but it was still a minor embarrassment that on heated cheeks and pursed lips could imply.

She was already rising from her feet. Laughing under her breath, watching the poor lady dance around as Jerry tried move away from Maggie kicking legs, running around in a circle. Still trying to get under her skirt, look stocking.  Kel dropped to her knees. Trying to crawl around Maggie to get to Jerry who was running under the chair. "Come back here, you little fool. There is no monster trying to chase you." It was Leo's chair she went diving for. Only to miss and land spread out beside his chair. "Damnation." Blinking, she rose up and tried to spy where he ran off too. "Jerry....."

She was about to say something when the small weasel-like creature suddenly scared Maggie. She blinked and tipped her head then looked at Kelsey. Since it seemed she was tending to the beast, she removed her bow and laid it on the bar top. Extremely calm in light of what was going on.

He sat up as silver blue eyes held upon Emma as impressions crossed his vision. "You are welcome to stay here and that which you have left behind will ease. Have you been having heightening of the powers of intuition? I see an encounter of some kind with the hidden inner world with an uncanny sense that something is at work in your life. There may be a time of bewilderment and confusion but it will pass to a more clear purpose."

Maggie was hopping around as if her feet were bare and had stumbled upon a bed of coals. Trying desperately to both avoid touching the rodent and scare it off. "Get it away!" She beseeched Kelsey until finally, the little critter took off. Maggie's chest was heaving as her breath came quickly, and she sank back into her chair, looking a bit pale. Perhaps the wee rodent had scared her for indeed she was a bit shaky as she lifted her mug for a sip of the now-cool cider.

She looked to Leo, he sounded like a prophet. Shaking her head, she started to crawl around on the floor. Looking for Jerry. "Come out, come wherever you are." A look over her shoulder to Maggie. "You okay there?"

That certainly made her think twice before she opened her mouth again, which made for a rather odd sight of her opening and closing it in the first place. Rather like a fish left to flop about on the ground. "He was rather old. Died in his sleep, peacefully." He had been quite an old coot, but it was why she had in her own way loved him. Like an uncle or something.

There was a silence to settle a moment, yet the tranquility of his being persisted. In his way he was seeking out any ways needed to help her. He could have been off or maybe it was something yet to happen as it seemed to pass over her head at this point in time. His smile was gentle again as he switched topics, "what was it that you use to do for him? Your skills?"

"Yes, fine." She said for the second time this night, a hand pressed against her chest. Breeeaaaathe. Expelling a slow breath she wrinkled her nose towards the ferret named Jerry. "You really ought to consider getting it a leash."

"I was h-h-his keeper." Which said much, and nothing all at once. How did one describe the sort of tasks she was asked to complete for an eighty year old? She did not seem ill contented nor did she seem sorrowful. It had simply been her employers time. "Wh-w-why do you ask?" Who knew, there might be employment for an elderly persons nurse, or housekeeper. Or maid. It wasn't as if she wasn't used to hard work.

She snorted as Jerry peeked his head out from under chair. Squeaking at Maggie about the leash comment. Picking up the ferret, she cuddled him to her chest. "I dare not think about putting him on a leash. He is nature and he was only looking for cover. They are creatures who like to burrow in holes. He was only doing what was in his nature and he was scared. Which was my fault. And I am sorry."

Kelsey was lucky the Thistle cat or the cook's dog weren't out in the commons.

"I ask for conversation sake and because you seem like a very nice person. It is a way of getting to know you, of you opening up. I'm sure what was required of you expanded a few areas of skill, such as cooking, sewing and seeing to errands, groceries in the market, medications, reading to him or playing chess." It could cover a few areas as stated and examples given. "I've not socialize in a while for that which has been required of me, I don't mean to sound nosey or critical in any way. I had only wished to make you feel more comfortable, joining in conversation instead of doing the Irish jig around a ferret that is probably more scared of Maggie than she was of him." Throwing in some humor there with a smile that actually lit up his features.

Talk about it being crazy, fur flying high. Oh the fun in that!
  She adored Jerry, cuddling the creature of her chest as she made her way to her seat and sat back down. Muttering softly to him in calm words and touches.

She finished her dinner and thanked Alex and asked him to thank Hazel as well then turned to face the others. Normally she spent the evenings in her room though her mother had chided her during her visit, reminding her she should be more outgoing. She hooked her heels on the lower rung of the stool, then looked toward the window, her gaze intent on the darkness beyond.

"Oh." It was obvious from the over pronounced word that she hadn't expected to actually partake in a conversation. Carefully thinking everything through brown eyes glanced toward the others, then returned to the tabletop. "It is hard to speak at length with a stutter. He was not very well, so I kept him as I would a babe. Neat, tidy and happy." Clearly it was all but painful to speak at such a great length but she was shoring up well, or so she told herself. "He liked, he liked birds. I would take him outside to watch birds." There. That was something, wasn't it? More than a little pleased, she smiled if only to herself.

"It's alright. You cannot be expected to control a creature with such a mind of his own." Even if Maggie was still a bit disgruntled, she wasn't above accepting the other woman's apology. So she offered a tight smile to Kelsey and tilted her head back against the chair, letting her eyes flutter shut for a moment. Though she did catch Leoric's words from across the room and it brought a soft laugh to her lips. Yes, she had probably looked a fool dancing around with a ferret but the damn little thing had frightened her!

"There is a woman here, I met last evening, that keeps and trains birds in an aviation garden." Actually he would not consider Maggie a fool for dancing but certainly it had been entertaining. A glance spared her way had something in those laugh crinkles aside his eyes.

She looked over to Leoric and shook her head. "I don't know if Jerry wants to be trained. But I do say keep an eye on your shinny trinkets. He likes to steal." Mad as a hatter ferret too.

Alas, Maggie was unable to catch that smile from the Druid, being as her eyes were shut as if suddenly tired. Which indeed she was... the hour was growing late and she had been attacked by a mad ferret, both weariness-inducing factors.

Brows rose as she nodded. That was certainly interesting, as was the fact that she had completely missed the Irish jig. But such things sometimes got by her as she enjoyed going off into her own little world.

He wasn't sure where Kelsey's comment about training was based in addressed to him for he had not spoken to her on the ferret at all or training of him. Had that blank look for a moment. "I have nothing shiny on me at the moment."

But he was talking about a woman who trained birds. She looked away, mostly to look over his bodily self. "No, I see nothing. So you are safe." A flash of a smile before she turned her blue and browns away from him over to Maggie. Opening her mouth to speak up about something, but she failed in such question. Shaking her head, pale blonde stands fell back around her face. She looked around the room. "I heard there is an archery range around here. Are mere guests allowed to use it?" It would be nice to get a real equipment to use to practice with.

"Have y-you any h-h-hobbies?" If they were going to have a conversation she was just going to have to try a little harder to control the jump from brain to mouth. She sat there, prim as a well behaved flower and a little more curious than a kitten. He had said he hadn't been socializing, so she might as well ask the more easily answered questions.

The only shiny thing on him was sheathed and the ferret would not want to get near an empowered sword, not of the ordinary. Like a squirrel getting up on a lightning rod during a thunderstorm. "I like riding," if that could be considered a hobby. He didn't have time of late for leisure. "I use to like getting my twin brother into predicaments as he did of myself and so was the ongoing challenge."

Long lashes lifting to bring her gaze back about the room, she reached for her cup, took a sip, and made a face. The cider had cooled to an unappetizing temperature, so she pushed to her feet and went to the bar. The cup was delivered there and she had a few soft words with Alex, then leaned her hip against the bar to await her latest order. "I always did love riding horses, as well." She rejoined the conversation though not in a pushy way, her tone a bit nostalgic.

She was up again, deciding to check on her horse before going to her room. Moving to the back door, she paused, "Good night." and then, like many did who came here, she disappeared.

She waved to the woman leaving before she looked over to Leoric and Maggie. "I ride also. But my stead is bit different, he is my soul companion..." Blinking, she looked away and came to a stand, mostly to get to the flames for warmth.

Riding could be considered a hobby she supposed, not that she herself saw them as much other than a conveyance to get from one place to another. Others though seemed quite happy to ride them for pleasure. "You mean, pranks?" She had known many of those when she had been child, but she was certain that that was where the parallel ended between herself and Leoric.

A thoughtful look was spared Rhia as she left so abruptly. It was getting late and this was noted. There would be a few things he would speak to his mother upon come morning. One, he would offer to knight any of the men waiting for this honor than have it go any longer. Blinking back from where his mind wandered, duty always coming first, "yes," with a slight humorous laugh. "On each other and on others who happen to be here."

And so it was getting late. And she would have to get up early in order to find what needed in the markets and shops before heading off. Another few days getting supplies before she left out for the roads and where the wind would take her. "Good night all." A small tip of her head and she headed over to bar to get a key for her room. "Thank you Alex." A small yawn and up those stairs she went.

Nodding slowly, she offered the makings of a smile while smoothing her palms together. "I-I am sure you m-meant them in good j-j-jest." It was rather late, wasn't it? With a nod of farewell given to the next to fall prey to fatigue, she found herself blinking at the warmth of her own eyes. She knew she was tired when her eyes felt warm to her, or when she couldn't keep her words from lapsing into the familiar stutter no matter how hard she concentrated.

Alex delivered a steaming cup of tea for her, the scent strong and sharp, almost medicinal. Maggie took a careful sip to not burn her tongue on the hot liquid as she breathed the steam in deeply. The long lines of her body relaxing
: some as she leaned up against the bar. A nod of farewell had been given to Kelsey (and Jerry) and then she looked back to the other two with a light smile.

He was up from his seat finally, heading over to the bar to drop off his glass. Even the potcheen had little affect on him unless he drank an enormous amount. "It was all in good humor, though some of the ladies would have like to swat my brother and myself for you see, we are identical twins and to have one go out the side door there," indicating the door leading out to the tavern gardens, "and in the next instance step through that door," indicating the opposite side from the side street, "it can have one question their sanity." That there too was just an example.

Identical twins were uncommon in Ayrshire, so the fact that he was one was somewhat fascinating. Although, she wouldn't have wanted to be on the end of such a jest. Good humor or not. "Do people g-g-get you m-m-mixed up often?" Absently, she clenched one hand together as if somehow that was going to help her out. It was rather like someone who had a nervous tick in their face, or another part of their body. Hers just happened to be her speech.

The thought of that lured a tinkling laugh from her lips. "Or perhaps their eyesight."

"Yes, unless you get to know us. My brother is recently married too so there will be no jests on the ladies anymore."

"I wonder w-w-what it would be like, t-t-to have someone that l-l-looks like myself." That wasn't herself of course. And maybe couldn't hear so well, so at least they didn't have a double stutter. There was a thought.  One who couldn't speak well, and one who couldn't hear well. All they'd need was a third, who couldn't see well and they would have the full accompaniment.

They could stutter in harmony? "Good night ladies, a pleasure having met and perhaps our paths will cross again. Stay safe and happy." Smile was warm before speaking briefly to Alex. Once done he headed down the hall taking him to the offices in the back, a stop in his before a back exit would be utilized as a shortcut to the castle.

Maggie was smiling faintly to herself. "My brother looks nothing like me. We were often mistaken for a couple instead of siblings.... frightening thought," and a soft laugh given. Then Leo was taking his leave and she nodded her farewell. "Goodnight." And then it was only her and Emma, and she gave the other woman a slight smile. "Suppose I ought to be off to bed as well. Pleasure meeting you."

"It was a pleasure." She smiled that little smile again while both Leoric and Maggie took their leave. Eventually, when she was good and tired, she'd find the room allotted to her was neat as a pin. Just as she liked it.



Date: 03-31-10
Poster: Kevin Finnerty
Post # 90

Visit From Ballicastle

It had been a long time since Kevin was this way. His duties in Ballicastle keeping him to a regimented schedule for the continual training. His King even more busy as he came in representation to the crown here. Many hours spent in the castle meeting with various ones including the Queen. With his duties done for the day, he headed for the Thistle, dressing down some out of the more formal clothing as First Knight of Ballicastle. He was mostly in black, vest over a pale grey shirt. Silver cording on the shoulders, black pants and boots.

Sorcha had come to the Thistle earlier, to enjoy a bite of supper and a little company. There had been a few folks in earlier but they were gone and the Thistle quiet. Not quite ready to return home, she was seated at a table, papers on the table in front of her. Some were inventory, some were orders. There were a few samples as well. She had chosen to wear a simple dress of cotton, in a pale spring green, with a white, sleeveless vest that laced up the back. Her hair was pulled back with a bow that matched the dress. A cup of tea sat there was well and occasionally she'd take a sip.

Fingers were driven though dampened hair for the drizzle outside. Spring showers, it was bringing the earth to life in leaps and bounds. His hand lowering in a sweep down over his vest as he wiped his boots on the mat before continuing in to the bar. Alex was greeted in a familiar way but a long time since they had talked. Alex looked pleasantly surprised to see Kevin and asked on how the McAndrews were all doing. That in itself would be a lengthy conversation so was put in a nut shell. If Alex had any particular questions they were answered. During the conversation he gave him the heads up of the lass seated over at a table. Clear grey eyes shifted with the turn of his posture to address her properly, "good eve Sorcha," his smile lifting more with an encompassing glance. "It has been a while, how are you?"

She was looking over one particularly troublesome entry and hadn't looked up when the door ended but did when she heard Kevin and smiled. Perfect timing as she had found the solution. "Good evening, Kevin," her tone said she was pleased to see him, "it certainly has been. I'm doing well. How are you this lovely drizzly eve?"

"I'm doing well, at least spring is here and even the drizzle welcome. I think it has gotten greener out there in the past hour." Though it would be hard to see unless out under a street lamp. "Mind if I join you?" Having picked up his glass of potcheen as he eyed the obvious work she had brought with her and would not interrupt if she needed to continue, or join her while she continued.

"I wouldn't doubt it has." She laughed as she glanced toward the window. "The earth is thirsty for the rain rather than the snow. Please do. I just finished up and would love the company. I'm a bit tired of numbers dancing before my eyes." While she spoke, she straightened up the papers, and put them into a folder. "Seasons change and so does the merchandise. Alex, could I get a glass of blackberry brandy please?" Her tea was finished as well and the brandy would make a nice nightcap for the evening.

He was over to set his drink then turn out a chair to take up next to hers. "What kind of merchandise are you getting in for the spring?" He was genuinely interested as a hint of a smile played to the corners of his mouth. The kind that brought out a spark in grey eyes. He realized it seemed too long ago since they last saw each other. He was terrible when it came to socializing.

"I'll be ordering parasols from Paris and London since no one makes those here. I'm nearly sold out of the lace gloves that women and girls love so much this time of year. Pinafores for little girls, and bonnets. Spring shawls, which are a touch heavier than the lacy ones for summer, and I found a woman and her daughters who make the most wonderful purses. I can hardly keep them in stock." She tipped her head slightly and gave him a smile that held a hint of impishness. "And new hats for men, if you're interested. Top hats seem to be the rage right now."

"I'm not sure how I would look in a top hat and gent's clothing," the idea amused him, "although there are times in court such might be appropriate for my position. Most expect me in uniform. If there is a springtime ensemble fit for a queen, about your size, I have been asked to purchase such for King Chadrick for his wife Danielle. A few outfits, full trimmings, such as the parasol and gloves."

"I have some lovely new dresses that would be perfect. I'll be sure to set them aside when I go back tonight. And I can certainly match them with the right accessories." She was already planning it all out, right down to the shoes which she had from the local cobbler. "And it would be a honor to do so. How are things in Ballicastle?"

"Things go along well there. I am here in representing Chadrick in offering news, support and trade of information," that obviously he would only send one he completely trusted. "The royal children grow like weeds and their training in the art of swordplay and riding, is left mostly to me as Chadrick spends time with them as well so they are getting a double education."

"So you'll be here for a few days at least?" She smiled at mention of the children. "I can imagine the castle is a lively place with his children, and those of his brothers who live there. I would imagine they all have a huge case of spring fever about now."

"I avoided the castle the past number of days the best I could. It is overrun but in a good way, just hard for one to concentrate that needs to so I have this assignment presently. Perhaps we can spend some time, if you wish, show me around?" He knew of some landmarks but had been to very few for spending near all his time in Ballicastle.

"I would like that very much. Have you been to the Celtic Gardens? They're lovely all year around but spring is extra special there?" There would be other places too, but the Gardens were one of her favorite ones.

"No, although I know of them. Most in these lands and sister lands know of the Celtic Gardens. Perhaps we can bring a picnic lunch if I can convince Hazel to do me up a basket." It was getting late as he glanced to the cuckoo clock over the mantle after it chimed the late hour. "Can I see you home?"

"I'm sure Hazel would be delighted." She laughed as she picked up the folder and stood. "That would be very nice." She was glad she had come to the Thistle tonight. Once the papers were tucked away, she moved to where her cloak was hanging.

He held out a hand to carry her things if she wanted. Nothing pressing for some preferred to carry their own important papers. He had finished off his drink and set the glass back to the bar on his way out in escort after assisting her with her cloak.

Being she trusted him, she handed them over. Once he was ready and she had her cloak on, they stepped out. The drizzle had eased up some but still fell and the air smelled wonderful. It was a good night for a walk. As long as one didn't mind getting a little wet.



Date: 04-01-10
Poster: James Roy Callihan
Post # 91

Gathering at the Thistle

The night was one dreamed of by many for long winter months. The air warm with a touch of moisture from the earlier showers. Crocus, tulips and daffodils bloomed in clumps here and there adding color as well scent to the air. A lone figure leaned against a post of the porch, lazy stretch of long legs with his back braced against the wood. A round derby hat worn and his clothing casual with a brown vest over a maze poet's shirt. Brown pants and lighter boots that laced up. He extruded the epitome of comfortable at the moment. An eating knife was being used in making thin slices of the apple he held and guided to his mouth in an orderly fashion. Eyes as dark as the night held a spark in them of one that spoke of much more under the exterior.

She had been spending time on her ship again, sailing along the coast to make deliveries from Heathfield to Kildare and back. A late arrival had her making her way to the Thistle where she'd stay the night then head for the manor in the morning. She could have stayed on the Dream but she wanted some of Hazel's home cooking. A warmer night had her leaving the long coat off and wearing a buccaneer's shirt of red tucked into black pants. Her favorite boots were worn as well. Blonde hair was woven back in a braid.

She had been cooped up in this tavern far too long and today, the glorious weather called her outside. With interest she wandered around this new town she had found herself in, surveying the markets and shops, the parks and town square. She did not buy anything, but had she wanted any manner of trinkets or goods, she would have been able to find it here. Certainly a well-established town and Maggie counted herself lucky that this was where she had ended up. Rather than one of those horrible, godforsaken tiny hamlets, too many of which she had passed through already. Now tired from a long day on her feet, she made her way back to the Thistle and slipped inside, cloak hung up by the door before she glanced around with those blue eyes that seemed to blaze from beneath her dark lashes. Long, crimson-streaked black hair was twisted back in a messy bun at the nape of her neck, her dress a faded blue color. The cut of the garment was fine, and any tears were neatly mended but the garment had seen better days.

A slice of apple paused at his lips as one walked right up to the porch and into the tavern without ever seeing him. A wry grin followed before the slice was eaten. He had mastered invisibility! The prickling at the back of his neck herald one of his siblings about as he carved another slice. Seconds to tick away when he would discover which one.

Never one for dignity, she spotted James and made for the Thistle at a run. Up the steps and she was pouncing him for a hug. "James!" Big impish grin as she did. Hopefully the derby stayed put!

Blink. Maggie glanced over her shoulder just as she was hanging up her cloak. And back peddled, stepping back out onto the porch with a rueful smile. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to just drift past you... I am still a bit off." With a vague gesture of her hand as if to say, whatever that meant. A pause as she watched the two embrace, noting their similarities and dubbing them siblings.

"Whoa Trigger, hold your horses," teasing her as the hand with the knife went up out of harm's way as she pounced. It was quickly stuck, apple through it, into the rugged post before he had her up into his arms and around a few times as he lifted her from the ground. Setting his sister down to feet again finally as the derby was pushed a little bit back from his brow. Dark eyes lifted to the lass that has passed before. "Spring does that to some, puts them in a daze of a sort," rich quality to a baritone voice. "I'm James and this is my sister Regan."

She didn't worry about the knife because James was that quick. Laughing, she turned to face the woman and inclined her head slightly. "Evening." She even reached up and adjusted the hat though she was eyeing it. "I think I like the wide brimmed one better."

A light laugh tinkled on the air. "Yes, I suppose." Then a dip of her head was given to each of them in turn, a smile appearing to dimple her cheeks. "Maggie Callahan." She could see that the two of them hadn't met in awhile, so to give them a bit more of a moment together she excused herself. "I'll just get myself a tea." And back into the tavern she slipped, over to the bar to greet Alex warmly and request her tea.

"Callahan, we are Callihan of Montrose, Kildare. Here on visits, second home to us as I have an estate not far from here. My sister and two of my brothers sail the seven seas, although Faelan I think found at least nine by now." Which held the edge of laughter to the tone of his voice. "Nice to meet you Maggie Callahan of no relation." And a wee bit of an Irish accent came out there.

Callahan. That had her looking though with James' words she laughed, then slid her arm around James' own. "Grab your apple and let's go inside. I've a terrible thirst."

The door was propped open this eve to allow the warm air to drift into the tavern, so Maggie was able to hear James as he called out behind her. Tea in hand, she turned from the bar with a bright smile. "More Callihans of Heathfield? Yes, I've met Faelan... he rather rescued me my first night here," she admitted with a soft laugh. "It's a pleasure to meet more of my name, even if we're of no relation."

He pulled the eating knife out of the post as he headed in within, removing his hat once inside and tossed up on the shelf by the door. "You've met Faelan?" Which meant he was about. "How about Morgan or Deirdre?"

She headed for the bar, curious about the rescue she spoke of, but she wanted that drink so that was her first priority. She was listening of course.

"No.... neither of them." She glanced between Regan and James, head tilting lightly to one side. "More siblings?" It seemed as if perhaps none of them had seen each other in awhile, and she wondered why that might be. She eased her narrow frame down onto a barstool as she lifted her teacup for a small sip.

"I'm sure way back in history we have a relative of a relative," giving a quick wink with a trace of a smile. He would leave Regan to ask on any rescue although it piqued his curiosity. "There is enough of us, a couple cousins." Although one cousin needed to be found and the other was still taking things hard on the exile of her father even if she didn't like the man, he was her father. "Do you have any siblings, Maggie?" Reaching the bar as Alex knew to set out a glass of potcheen and where James took up a lean to finish carving the apple into slices which he offered one to Regan first.

"Thank you." She smiled as she took the apple slice and then settled on a stool. She had asked for a tray of cheeses and meat slices and bread for anyone to snack on who wished. "And how did our sibling rescue you?" Her smile grew. "That is, if you don't mind the telling."

Her smile trickled away. "Yes. I've a brother. Or I did." There was sorrow about her features now but she took a breath and turned towards Regan to answer her question. "Oh, it was not so very dramatic... I was ill when I arrived, and he got me settled with tea and some food, and a warm room where I'm still staying."

Faelan as a care taker, that was a surprise as brows slightly lifted, cutting another slice of apple to silently offer Maggie. "That was kind of him," not adding good to hear. Pleased was his expression. "I've not seen them in a few months for helping the King of Kildare, who happens to be here presently and so finds me with a bit of a break to see to my estate in these lands and my siblings."

"That was. Kind of him I mean." She agreed with James, then turned to pick up her drink though she was wondering if Leoric had said anything about her little attack on the British ship.

"It was, kind of him." Though she hadn't seen a trace of Faelan since. She figured, as a Captain he must be always kept busy elsewhere. She took the slice of apple James offered with a soft smile and took a nibble.

If Leoric had said anything to him, it would not be something he'd speak of in public. Most likely Leoric spoke to her directly at the time. "Apples are good for you," pleased she had taken the offering for such sharing was like a handshake in friendship. One newly forming. "Are you visiting or staying in these lands?"

She offered a smile of agreement as she took another small bite of the apple. "Well... I had not intended to stay, but it seems a rather nice place and.. I am weary of the road," she could admit as much with a sheepish quirk of her lips.

"It's a good place to stay," she piped up, "and comfortable too. Have you done any exploring?"

"I'm pleased. It means you'll possibly be around long enough to become friends. You can never have too many of those but then too, a true one is worth a million casual friends." Leaving his sister to talk as he would listen, something honed for his position in society. He had always been more the quiet one in his own way.

James' words about friends, so honest and forthright had her smiling again enough to dimple. Then over to Regan. "Ah yes, a bit today for the first time. It's a lovely town."

"Make sure you visit both the Celtic gardens and the ones at the castle. They're lovely, no matter the season. There's also an art museum and a library in the castle." She smiled again, adding, "and it's always fun to window shop." Especially when everyone was putting out their spring merchandise.

"Oh?" She lifted her brows at Regan in interest. "I shall have to visit the castle then. And anyone may go inside to those areas?" In some places, the royal castles were more like fortresses, forbidden to any not in the inner circle. In others they were more open and part of the local commerce and community.

He was more than tired after a very long day and the trip in. "I think I'll stay the night here before heading out to Whispering Pines in the morning." The apple gone as well kicking back the tumbler of potcheen which he then set to the bar while straightening from his lean. "If you're around in the morning, little sister, we can break fast together." And catch up on any news but the no news was good news usually in the Callihan family.

"Oh yes. They have certain times they're open but I believe it's every day." She was up from her stool to hug James and place a kiss to his cheek. "I'm planning to stay here tonight too instead of on the Dream. And I was going to head for the manor in the morning too, so you're going to have a tag along." She looked at Maggie and smiled. "And because James is an early riser, I think I'm going to get some sleep too."

She nodded thoughtfully then tuned back in when they rose to leave. A light smile given in return. "And I as well." Her teacup emptied, she placed it back on the bar counter and rose from her stool.

He gave his sister a good hug, one that twirled her around and then he was over to tug Maggie into a hug, just because. Sometimes a person needs one especially when he noticed how her demeanor changed when speaking on her brother. "Then we shall all get some sleep and break fast tomorrow morning together." Releasing Maggie from the hug as they could all head upstairs together.

"Oh my" that murmured in surprise when she was suddenly wrapped up in a hug. She didn't resist it though, despite how it took her aback. In fact when he finished speaking she had to blink away a brief misting of tears. They made her feel as if she was already family even if they weren't related by so much as a drop of blood. A nod of agreement to breakfast, along with a smile that warmed her face. "Thank you for the invitation." Hems of her skirts lifted as she climbed the stairs.

Awww, well Regan gave her a hug too since she seemed to need it before she headed for the stairs. "Then we'll all meet in the morning and hopefully the sun will be out again." There had been a red sky when the sun set.

"Aye," she agreed, "And I hope both of you sleep well." Her hand on her doorknob she dipped her head, offered another smile and vanished into her room.

"Good night, Maggie." She blew a kiss to James as she opened her door, "Night James." And then she stepped inside.

"Sounds like a good plan if I say so myself," considering he had said so and it brought about one of those disarming smiles he possessed, rarely given but there it was. "Good night ladies," had a singsong touch to it before giving Regan a kiss to the cheek then he was to his own door and within.



Date: 04-02-10
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 92

Out and About Again

The afternoon was winding down as the heat had built up this day to the eighties. A light breeze was refreshing. Luckily there were not as many bugs as next month would find, the only thing that Broch didn't like about spring and summer. The hordes of insects. Not all bothered him, only the biting kind that got in your face laterally and even up your nose or got sucked into your mouth and down your throat before you could stop it. Bug meat was not his favorite. Putting thoughts on bugs aside, he headed up from the commons having spent some of the day in town. Things his sister wanted for the manor as she was in charge being he was not married. She had the cleaning to see to of which he had provided her with a maid, plus there was a butler and a cook for their staff. So he volunteered to pick up the things she needed in town and save her some time. They were sent to the manor by delivery boy and a note that he would be back later. She'd been on his case to socialize so that was were he was headed and if there were none about, one could blame him he didn't try. Steps gained as he moved across the porch and into the cooler confines of the tavern. Eyes held a glint as a smile tipped, "yea bae 'ere like a solid pillar. I'll bae 'aving an ale Alex," as he reached the bar while greeting the respected tender.

Maggie had spent the morning walking about town again, stopping back by the Thistle for some lunch. Now, though, her meal was long finished she lingered there with a cooling cup of tea. She had the place to herself this time of the afternoon, between the normal hours of lunch and dinner. Only Alex was there and he kept his own company in the backroom or behind the bar. She was seated at a small table, one elbow atop it and her hand propping up her chin as she leaned against that arm. A recognizable posture of boredom, or perhaps deep thought. Her free hand was toying with the petals of a tulip, which sat in a vase on her table. The leaves of the single flower were tinged with brown and the petals seemed to be drooping. She glanced up only when the door swung open, admitting a man who spoke with such a thick brogue it was difficult to understand. But her interest was elsewhere for now and she went back to idly stroking her fingers along the tulip.

He thanked Alex for the brew as he turned into a lazy lean against the bar. Burnished green eyes in study of the lass that looked bored more than anything else. Hard to tell what he was thinking other than a slew of thoughts were probably being processed. A glint of humor as he was not the death and doom kind of man. He'd been dead and wandered as a spirit for over a year. "A ha'penny fer yea t'oughts o' per'aps a copper depend'in o' t'eir wort'."

The blazing blue of her eyes was unblinkingly fixed on the tulip as she ran a fingertip along a petal, then down the stem. The color of the stem was a brighter green now, the leaves fleshy and healthy and the bud of the flower itself, a rich yellow and downright perky. It was something... but it was like jumping between tidepools when one could be flying, arms spread like a bird from the highest peak. She sighed and pushed off her elbow, which was when the heavily-accented speech of the man rang out. Was he talking to her? She blinked and lifted her eyes to him, the blue color of them striking and almost seeming to glow in that briefest of moments before she blinked. "Don't waste your money for they are not worth much." She rejoined with a light smile as she straightened up in her chair and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

"Aye? T'ey are nay?" Questioning her outlook on herself. "If I bae bot'ering yea, I can take meself and me ale out o' t'e porc'." Shifting up from his lean as if he was about to do so, "aye, bout yea smile makes t'e moment wort' w'ile."

She only shrugged modestly, and then probably as he had intended, her smile deepened at the compliment, enough to dimple her cheeks. Eyes fell away as if shyly, but when they lifted again there was a knowing air about her. "A charmer, then, are you?" She wasn't offended though, and actually decided that a bit of company might be good for her. So she gestured to the empty seat opposite her. "No need to retire to the porch. You may join me, if you wish, Sir....?" And she trailed off in expectation of his name. Even if he were not a Sir, that was the polite manner of addressing a stranger, and her entire mien spoke of proper formality. For now.

"I bae work'in on it." Which he had a way with the ladies a different lifetime ago and for not honorable reasons at all. He had changed a lot so compliments now were meant to be pleasing, possibly a modest blush to a lass' cheeks. There was some innocence here which was not a bad thing, if it wasn't, well, would mean she was a different type of woman that would be better off down at the docks for a quick tryst with a desperate sailor to pay coin. He headed over, a confident man in the way he moved, confident in himself, not pushed importance over others. "I bae Broc' Cunning'am o' t'ese lands." Not too many of them but there was a sister and two brothers. With an easy flick of his wrist he turned the chair about, straddling it in against the heavy wooden table as he set his ale to the tabletop. He was not so much a Sir as he was Laird of his clan but that was not needed information nor requirement presently. "And yea bae?" Asking for a return favor of her name.

She sat up in her chair, shoulders straight though it was not a tense posture... merely as if such a formal pose came naturally to her. She pushed the bright and lovely tulip into the center of the table, and moved her teacup and saucer aside as he approached. A brow lifted in a surprise that she didn't try to hide. "Of these lands?" She echoed. She had not heard others of this land speak in such an accent, so it seemed a bit strange to her, but then he was asking her name. Up from her chair with a curtsy, "Maggie Callahan," before seating herself again.


"Aye, o' t'ese lands," tipping a smile off to the side as he kind of spoke from the side of his mouth at times too. "A pleasure tae bae meet'in yea Maggie o' t'e Calla'ans. Yea bae related tae t'e Calli'ans o' t'ese lands?" There was a twinkle in burnished green eyes that hinted upon a mischievous mind as he played around with the words in a friendly way.

"No, I don't believe I am," she replied with a wry lift of her lips. It seemed improbable that she was related to the Heathfield Callihans, though as James had suggested, she supposed they could be very distant cousins. "Though I have met a few of them and found them very kind." She caught Alex's eye as he seemed to anticipate her desire for more tea and gave him a nod to request another. Then back to Broch with unbridled curiosity. "Have you traveled much, Mr Cunningham?" A clever sort of girl, she asked the question as a roundabout way of determining just why he spoke in such a foreign fashion.

"Aye, t'ey bae a guid family, guid friends tae 'ave." Which held the serious tone that showed the side of him that could be. "Aye, I've traveled a bit 'n me time but I am fairly settled 'ere now wit' mae brot'ers and sister." Taking a drink of his ale with the lift of the tankard before it was set to the table again. He had needed that, "ahh," hissed from a now moist throat. "Mae family and I bae from Eire originally. W'ere dae yea 'ail from?"

"Mmm." She was still curious, that was clear but held her tongue for now. Especially when he turned the conversation back around on her. It was a natural question to follow but it was always a tricky one. She maintained her unruffled air though as she gave her standard answer. "I come from a small village but spent much of my girlhood in England." Her eyes remained on him for a moment, his accent similar to the one she held dear and his heritage close enough, too to have her yearning. Then her tea arrived and she thanked Alex with a smile, raising it for a sip.

"Aye, bout yea nae bae Englis'?" She didn't come off as English but he was not prejudiced against anyone. "T'ere bae a few Englis' families 'ere, Italian, German, Egyptian, Scots, Iris', Spanis'..." which trailed off as she would get the point. "T'ere bae somet'ing about t'ese lands t'at 'as t'e 'eart o' Eire and more." Which was why it called to some, something paranormal.

"No, not English." She paused and supposed there was no real harm in naming her home country, though if her brother were present he likely would have pinched her arm. Well, he wasn't here, was he? "The village where I was born was in Wales." And indeed as she spoke he might realize that while her speech was carefully proper, almost British in that respect, there was also a lilt to it when she said certain words. She nodded then in agreement, "I can understand why some might be drawn here. It's lovely. And everyone I've met so far has been friendly.. surprisingly so," she added with a blunt smile.

"Wales bae a guid place. Yea bae far away from 'ome. I was far away," more than distance too as in a kind of time factor being a spirit and certainly a whole different experience. "T'is bae 'ome tae mae now." And he seemed very content with those words. "Dae yea 'ave plans? Going a certain place and t'is a place tae stop o' bae yea stay'in about a bit decid'in iffin yea bae lik'in it 'ere?" He too possessed a lot of curiosity.

She only nodded, the fogs of nostalgia creeping over her gaze a moment before clearing. Everyone was asking her that question, and like everyone else she had to answer him, "I'm not sure." A helpless shrug of her shoulders, along with a rueful smile. "I haven't any plans at all." She still felt a bit adrift since losing her brother, the one who had made every decision and every plan for the both of them. And certainly had done so more expertly than she ever would. He used logic while she tended to follow her own whims and impulses. "All I know is, I'm weary to the bone of tramping roads with no result at the end of them. So I suppose I'll be staying here for awhile, at least." Until she had a better idea though her secret hope was that Richard would find her.

It was a natural curiosity question, why so many asked her and he had been asked one time too and said about the same at first. "Some times t'at bae t'e best, not tae make plans but let life s'ow yea w'ere yea are tae bae." Taking another moment for a long drink of the ale as the tankard was finally getting low. Once more it was set with a muffled thud to the table. "T'en 'tis guid fer yea to set a spell 'ere, rest, relax and tackle t'e big decisions anot'er day. One t'ing bae, yea bae safe w'ile 'ere." And that was important considering how many lands were.

The rumbling smoothness of his accent added an extra element of soothing to his already-reassuring words, and she nodded. "Aye. At any rate it seems a nice place to.. set a spell as you put it." She was not making fun of him, but rather smiled in a friendly fashion. She hesitated and then went on more seriously. "If ever you come across a Richard Callahan... will you let him know that I am here?" It was a long shot but she would take every shot she could get.

He didn't take it that way at all either. Easy smile but it was his eyes that were the most expressive. "Aye, t'at I would and I mig't drag 'em 'ome tae yea tae. Mon s'ould not leave 'is pretty sister all by 'erself."

"Good." The smile returned and there was a tinge of relief about it too, now that another person at least knew Richard's name. Every little bit might help. "Do not tell him this but I may kill him for leaving me so." Unlikely... despite her anger at him leaving her alone in the world, that was far surpassed by her worry for him and more probably, she'd tackle him in a hug if ever she saw him again.

"Aye, t'at would bae between yea and yea brot'er." He had a way of saying brother that held affection and at the same time brothers could be rivals. "Just bae getting 'im tae yea if possible." He honestly wanted to see them reunited. Presently his brothers and sister were technically his cousins but by physical, siblings. Yes, very complicated but he finally told them the fantastic story. "I must bae about me business now but I'm pleased tae 'ave met yea Maggie, and 'ope tae bae see'in yea about again." Rising from his seat as one hand gripped the back to swing the chair back around under the table. Tankard in the other hand of which he would drop off at the bar on his way out.

"Aye, and a pleasure to meet ye as well," there was her own lilt creeping out to meet his! Though she didn't notice it, but rather smiled, the dimples appearing in her cheeks as she rose politely to see him off. "Perhaps we'll meet again some evening, for I am staying here in the Tavern for now."

"Aye, o' afternoon, as long as fate is kind tae allow mae tae see yea smiling face again," which had a full smile sweep, eyes locked for a moment before he was on his way. Dropping the tankard off at the bar with a few words to Alex then heading down the corridor that led to the offices in the back.

Something about the way he looked at her had her eyes dipping away, lifting again once he'd turned toward the door with a smile to herself. She tucked a stray strand of hair into place and brought her teacup over to the counter, then went upstairs to her own room.



Date: 04-04-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 93

The Unusual Gifts
Leo was standing in front of the window that look out over the porch and beyond. Beyond as far as the eye could see down the street leading to the square, mountains in the distance and a blue sky up above. Except that his distance went even further than that. Hands tucked behind his back as the only sounds presently in the tavern were that of Alex in the back with Hazel, muted sounds, and the low crackle of the low burning fire in the hearth, enough to keep the dampness out for the earlier rain. Clad in a dark blue tunic, poet's shirt, black pants and low boots, he was comfortable

They were here again.... those miniature demons inside her head, the tiny banshees that seemed to careen about her skull in a madcap desire to wreak havoc. The headache had begun last night, stealing precious sleep from her and now come morning her temples still pounded. The small fire in her room had gone out, and the place felt damp and chilly, so she decided to venture downstairs. Dressed in a garment of lavender, like all her clothes it had once been of fine quality but had grown a bit threadbare. Any tears though were neatly stitched and mended to be nearly invisible. She had a heavy woolen shawl draped over her shoulders and a wan look about her features as if she'd just risen. Over to the bar was the first order of business, to order a soothing hot tea, but as Alex was in the back momentarily she waited there.

Of course there was the empowered sword, one of the one hundred swords of Heathfield, attached to the belt worn hanging from his left hip. "Good afternoon, Maggie." Not even looking her way and still seeming to be in whatever trance that held him a few moments longer. There was a soothing tone to his voice that held a quality as ancient as the sword's power sheathed at his side. He turned, that fraction of a moment after speaking, to face her and then move in her direction to the bar. Alex setting out a fresh brewed mug of coffee. "It is warmer outside as the sun beats down over the lands again, drying that which the rains soaked earlier."

She glanced over to Leoric at the greeting, blinking when she noticed that he'd named her without so much as a glance her way. With her head pounding it didn't phase her, though and she replied in tired tones, "Good afternoon." She sat on a stool, leaning in to speak quietly to Alex when he reappeared, requesting the numbing tea that by now the bartender would know was her 'regular'. If he wondered why she constantly asked for it he had never questioned her and she was grateful for that. Blue gaze returned to Leoric and she gave a small nod. "It is cold upstairs but more pleasant down here," likely thanks to the fire burning in the hearth. She'd be moving there soon as she had her beverage.

He came to stand behind her, "may I?" but he really didn't seek permission as fingers touched upon her temples then soothed in a circular motion of massaging the skin beneath and something deeper still that poured out from his finger tips. Like a comforter thrown over one's shoulders in the dead of winter to offer warmth and security all rolled into one, here it offered to relax all the tensions and with it that which caused her headache to melt away. "The river of trouble runs deep but in time it will flow smoother." Then after a few heartbeats, "it will take work to achieve but such is life."

She didn't have time to reply before his fingers were upon her temples. Surprised, she tensed for a moment but it was a brief moment as his fingers seemed to massage the ache away. Her eyes closed, slim shoulders sagging in relief as the pain eased. It was not entirely gone, for it was not only simple stress that was the cause... but it was less present than it had been for days. Her eyes opened only slowly to regard him with a mix of amazement and bewilderment. "How did you know?"

"I am Druid born and have come into my own over the past years. More than just the King of Kildare," there was more to him before he gained that part of his heritage left by his father. A father whose name he and his brother needed to clear so that they could hold their heads up again. He eased his fingers away as the pain lessened. Something temporary as the cause was that deep unsettled river he spoke on. She might have laughed if she had seen him that day, drinking far more than most could just to get drunk and the end results. His hand going through his glass when he tried to grasp it. "I feel you search for something but are not quite sure what it is. That once you find it, you will know then it has been what you are searching for?" As he would not totally presume as this was taking new steps for him. Taking the seat beside hers that he could enjoy his mug of coffee

Indeed, beneath the Druid's fingers he might be able to feel that the river was a turbulent one, something far beyond the mundane of personal troubles... something whose meaning was greater than that. And he'd also sense that she was entirely unaware of that fact. For now though her attention was on him, eyes widening. "Druid born?" She repeated and even dropped her voice slightly. Curiosity warred with her reminder to herself to be careful. "And do others know this? You must have led a difficult life...." even if the sympathy was undeserved, for she didn't know his story, it was there. And something in her eyes said that she shared a unique understanding of what it meant to have those gifts, or in her case that curse. To his comments of searching, she only shrugged faintly. The only thing she was searching for was her brother, and the headaches had begun before he vanished, so she wasn't certain what he could mean.

"Life had its difficulties. I have an identical twin brother who was turned against me and I of him over a woman. Not an ordinary woman but a Witch. One that caused the humiliating death of our father. Druid born in that I was gifted like my older brother Andrew that in time would manifest under the training of the wizard Thalan. I may not ever be as gifted as the eldest but that doesn't matter for my path is not his, nor is his mine. My twin brother's gifts were more the warrior and when we reunited after near destroying each other, we started to teach each other that which we were better in. It would round us out and then be able to defeat the Witch as One. Thalan had warned us that if we had continued the way we had become that we would be destroyed instead of her. I know that he also averted some of what she would have done to keep it balanced especially while we were young." His gifts were not considered a curse, although he was careful about it, when remembering to, around certain ones. "I am pleased that I don't have you looking at me like I grew another head."

Maggie listened quietly, keen blue eyes intently upon Leoric as he shared the spellbinding tale. It was a good story, all the more fascinating because it was true, but it was not the plot itself that had her thoughtful. It was his casual talk of magical gifts and wizards that had her looking at him so hard. "My goodness," was her only quiet comment on the whole thing. Though she snapped out of it some at his jest, which lured a laugh to her lips. "Not at all." There was a pause as she tried to suppress against that sharp curiosity and soon failed. "This Witch... why was she called so? What abilities did she possess?"

"A witch can be white or black, good or evil. As any gifts that are given are not good or evil of themselves but how they are used. I choose to use my gifts for the benefit and protection of others, while this woman chose to use hers for self gain. She had hypnotic abilities, making a man feel he was the only one loved or trying to twist it as in my father's case to turn him against my mother, to kill her so that she could convince him to marry her then she would become the Queen of Kildare. She sought power. When he set his chambers on fire, a phoenix who resided here at that time, flew in to rescue my mother, shielding her against the flames with his wings. That day saw my father burned to death and the black deed to hang over our heads, we were very young at the time, too young to know. It turns out he was not of his right mind with the deed and tried to kill himself to free him from this mental torture. It was not planned that my mother be there or taken with him. The curse lifted when my brother and I killed her eighteen years later. She had also filled the forests with magical beasts not like other animals, it was believed that they have died with her but rumors about will have me investigating if any such remain."

Again she listened but she was mainly absorbing his earlier words of choosing how to use his gifts. Clearly the Witch had used her powers for selfish evil but Maggie still had questions. She thought a moment before wading into the discussion. "Do you think, perhaps... it was not her choosing how to use her gifts, but the gifts choosing how to use her? I am not defending her," she hastened to add, "for clearly she did horrible things and scarred your family forever. But maybe.. she had less of a choice herself than anybody realized." She met Leoric's eyes dauntlessly but there was an intensity there too, as she was genuinely wanting to know what he thought about that.

"In her case, it was her choosing. She wanted power and she saw gaining that power by becoming the Queen of Kildare. Actually, her powers had flaws. She was not as powerful as some others in this world and of times past, other worlds, other levels of consciousness. If she had more honed abilities, she would not have lost Seamus McLarkin to her will nor the first knight who fought against her twisting of his mind but still not strong enough to get out from under her spell. Most of her spells backfired. She tried to put the first knight into the position of King but never quite managed it nor to get him to desire her to make her his Queen. There was also the problem of Seamus having twin sons, destined to the throne. She tried seducing us both then set us against the other, not caring which one died to eliminate one and have the heir. This is where Thalan stepped in and when we separated he kept us hidden from her sight so she could not pursue either." Which was quite a bit more of that earlier part of his story but the tip of the ice berg. "Tell me of you, Maggie, if you posses such gifts how would you use them or would you feel they control you?"

She listened with thinly-veiled impatience, not ignoring his words, but itching to get to the heart of the matter. He never really answered her question, and she would have asked again when he finished, had he not concluded with an unexpected question of his own. She was unable to look away from his piercing gaze even as she cast about for an answer. "I..." She was on the thin edge of a confession but the ghost voice of Richard stopped her. "I suppose I can not know how I would feel." She shrugged and tossed her head a bit, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. She lifted her mug for a sip of tea, gaze drifting off as if bored of this topic. Of course, being a Druid he might be able to sense the lie beneath the facade.

He was not fooled one bit but it only had him press his lips together to keep from speaking at the moment of the many questions it arose. "You only suppose?" That was probably laughable but concern edged the piercing blue of his eyes. He could tell this was at the bottom of her turmoil. Allowing that one of many questions first before presenting another. "Do you know what your abilities are to start?"

"Yes, I suppose. How am I to know?" She answered with a sharp tongue, but alas her front was being battered by his uncanny ability to see straight through her. She eyed him for a moment then answered coolly. "This is a silly game. How am I to say what my hypothetical abilities would be in this hypothetical discussion? It's absurd." The pulsing of blood was creeping back into her temples and she sipped some more tea.

It was no game but when she became uncomfortable, he would let it go. "Then we should let it go." Simply said before lifting his mug for a drink of his coffee. All the while that calm serenity continued to pour out from his center. He would let the turmoil that started to boil up, cool back down with the calm silence to follow. Just when she might disrupt that silence she'd find him smiling her way and a slight nudge of his shoulder against hers. There was something that came to mind but he debated to say anything more for her getting upset. The fact remained that if one had abilities that ruled them, then it would mean they were possessed by another that commanded the ability wherein if it was their own, then they commanded it.

"Yes, so we should." She replied with that same sharpness. Even if she HAD been the one to start this whole conversation. She pressed her lips together and sipped her tea, and slowly her agitation subsided. She was still uncomfortable with where this had led, though, and was about to mount another defense - mouth opened to do so when she looked over and saw his smile. She relaxed some, features softening into a wan smile. "I apologize. I let a silly discussion get the better of me, when what really matters is all you went through because of that Witch." Just another reason she vowed to keep her secret and never allow herself to become such a monster. The simplest way of ensuring that still seemed to be denial of her powers, which hurt nobody.

"That can happen to the best of us." Which again were true words. She knew of the Witch's abilities, at least that which was told, in his story but she knew not much more about him. In kind, as much as he could pick up on a few things about her for the strong feel she gave off, being Druid meant he would not try to force his way to planes uninvited. He had opened up the discussion as much as she, but his questions were not meant to make her uncomfortable, defensive or angry which the sharpness of her tone indicated, but to help if he could. There too, that had to be by invitation and her response showed more she was closed to an outsider although she had broached the subject by her question. So, there was a part that almost reached out. Question would be if it did again, perhaps under different circumstances and when she was really more open to do so. She may have asked but still was not open. Still, it was a step. "Do you have other talents such as painting, drawing, music or such?" Far safer grounds to step upon.

At least he did not seem angry or upset himself, and his reassurance calmed her as well. He seemed peaceful in the silence which followed, even as she was striving to recall serenity into her own being. That was something she'd never been very good at. She did not miss his subtle use of other talents, as if intimating her magical abilities still, but she pretended not to notice. "I'm afraid I've very few talents," she replied with a modest smile. "I've always worked as a kitchen girl, Lady's Maid and such. I suppose I've a fair hand at sewing... I've made my own clothes for years." Not to mention whatever little embroidery projects Lady Philippa had asked of her, though these were often just frivolous ways of passing the time while they were obliged to do little else, as Ladies ought.

"Very few talents then you go on about quite a few. Kitchen work takes a certain talent or like my sister Lah who nearly burned it down. Lady's maid takes discipline, knowledge and being one step ahead all the time. Sewing is another, so you've a few right there." Teasing smile as once more his words were true. A glance outside gave him an idea of time for the angle of the sunlight. There and back as he had finished off his coffee. "I would like to continue this conversation or another," which had that pause of a heartbeat coming with a smile, "another time as I've a knight to meet bearing news of Kildare."

"You're being very flattering about a few petty skills that do not really matter in the world," she replied but he had managed to draw her smile back. Following his gaze she gave a nod. "Oh, certainly, I did not mean to keep you. Perhaps we shall meet again sometime soon." For her part, the conversation had sparked an idea. Perhaps she'd begin looking for work this afternoon.

"If you took some of the base blocks out from a pyramid, it would fall." He used analogies a lot for it portrayed the thought better. "I enjoyed the afternoon company," so in short she had not kept him. "Enjoy the afternoon and stay safe until our paths cross again." The smile sincere as were his words before taking the back hall and seeing if Vincent had arrived as expected. He volunteered because he'd never been to Heathfield before.

Date: 04-08-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 94

Time Out

There was a bet owed as he collected Vanessa from her cottage with Concessa agreeing to watch Ysa for them to give them time out at the tavern. "You have two hours," wondering if she would be kind or wicked as they headed to the establishment. Beautiful night to be out, warm with the heavier scent of flowers as more bloomed in the last week.

When had Vanessa ever been known to be wicked? Passing through the tavern door with Segan, she smiled to him. "I'm not sure that was part of our original agreement." Teasing lightly as she unclasped her cloak to hang near the door and offered Alex a wave before turning back to Segan. "Though I think the night should start off with drinks."

"Two hours is a long time, we can cut it down to one." Like he was doing her a favor as a charmed grin followed. He saw to the door and to her cloak but that he always did actually. "What would you like this evening, cider or lemonade," being a warm night he doubted she'd be wanting her cider warmed up. He was heading for the bar as he asked.

The day was so beautiful that it simply begged to be thoroughly enjoyed. And so she had! She had waded in the Crystal Gold lake, done a little bit of shopping, painted the landscape, amongst plenty of other things! As it cooled down, but not by much, Claire was slowly strolling back to the Thistle, tilting her head up to the soft breeze, inhaling the fragrance of the surrounding blooming flowers. Rich brown curls danced with the sway of the wind, eyes twinkling as they caught the bright reflection of the moon. She was donned in a cream-colored gown with short puffy sleeves and a ribbon of robin's egg blue tied underneath her bosom. A small pendant of a similar shade sparkled at her throat and tiny pearls adorned her ears. It may not have been necessary but she was a woman and she did enjoy her jewelry, small pleasure as it was. Hands clasped loosely behind her back, she took her time returning to the Thistle.

"Segan, if I didn't know better, I would think you were trying to get out of our deal." Teasing more, she kept her snickers quiet as she walked to the bar with him. "Lemonade would be fine." A quick sweep of sunny gold curls back from her shoulder, she claimed a seat there at the counter for the time being. "This was quite the pleasant surprise." Though she felt kind of strange not having Ysa with her, since she'd gotten so used to having the babe with her.

"Never!" near in a gasp full of humor. He got a bottle of the potcheen for himself as he might need a few belts this evening. Lemonade was served up cold in a tall glass with ice chips and handed over to her, "perfect drink for tonight." She would need to get use to some time away, good for her and for the little angel. He took up a lean next to her seat. "Have you thought of buying one of the racing horses?"

She kept her laugh to herself and straightened her posture a bit. It was good for her, but still felt like she was forgetting something. "I'm considering it. I think Tennison needs a friend."

"I do believe you promised him a filly?" Brows shot up then into a waggle with the tease. He looked up thinking he heard footsteps outside on the porch being the door was left open. Although only shadows could be seen from the door when one was inside looking out.

Footsteps did sound now as Claire approached, mounting the steps and with a cheery stride, found herself in the Thistle. Warm like the night, a smile tipped up the corners of her mouth, green eyes wide with curiosity and mischief.  "Good evening, Segan, Vanessa. How do you do?" Quick curtsy to follow before she was aiming to the bar, eyeing her glass of lemonade. "I shall have one of those, Alex. It looks divine..." Patiently yet eagerly awaiting her own!

"That I did. Though I'd like to get a lady Andalusian as a companion and hope for foals come next spring." Her glass picked up and a small drink taken from it, she looked to the door and waved. "Ave, Miss Claire. I believe we are well. How are you this eve?"

"Good evening Lady Claire," sounding a touch formal but said respectfully. Then back to Vanessa, "there is enough land with the Gardens so you'd have the room. A race horse would be better suited stabled with one of the race track official ones or part of the time. So you would want a male race horse?"

"Splendid, thank you." With a grin of thanks to Alex, Claire graciously accepted the glass of lemonade and took a long gulp, albeit as gracefully as possible. She claimed a seat at the bar, long slim legs to cross under her skirts.  Fingers on one hand absently traced patterns on the shiny bar top as she listened quietly, embracing the peace of the moment.

Vanessa wrinkled up her nose some. "Mmm...I think I'd rather have a companion for Tennison. So, a female that I can stable in the barn with him." She smiled to Claire. "You glow with spring warmth, Miss Claire."

"Indeed! I am so much more fond of the warmer weather than the cold breezes and snow of the winter." She chuckled softly. "'Tis much more agreeable with me and makes for a better painting on my part. The budding of the flowers, the glow of the sun, and the rolling green grass of the meadows calls to me whereas the blankets of white snow urge me to spend more time abed. And more time abed is what I do not need!" She had so much energy and wrapped up in her covers and pillows would not help channel it elsewhere. In fact, it'd make her far more restless and that was a recipe for disaster. "Does the warmer weather improve your mood as well?"

"How much do you charge for a portrait?" Curiously asked as it gave him an idea of what to bet next time at the races. "Did you manage to get to the races last week, Claire?" Pausing in wonder if her question was addressed to Van, to him or to both. Deciding to chance both, "I get to sail more with the warmer weather which means making a small fortune." Although he didn't plan to go on very long voyages like he use to.

Vanessa could very much sympathize with how the colder weather drew her indoors rather than outdoors. Though this past winter she spent quite a bit of time outside. "The warmer weather does indeed improve my mood." She smiled  brightly. "I so dislike winter covering my gardens, but it makes my fondness of them all the more come spring when I can dive back into them."

"The winter has her birds huddling together to keep warm. Have you been to the avian gardens, Claire?"

Her questions were naturally addressed to them both! She did not wish to exclude any! Private conversations had a time and a place and this certainly wasn't it. "Perhaps, one day, Segan, I may get the opportunity to paint off of your ship. I have a weakness for the ocean." Not so subtle hint there but then again, not much about Claire could be described as subtle. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the previous race, much to my dismay though I certainly hope that those who attended fully enjoyed themselves. I know that the last time I went, it was quite the pleasurable experience!" Huge grin there at the memory. She'd done pretty well too, much to her surprise! "What size portrait are you looking for? I can do sketches and then the paintings are small, medium, and large, and I generally include the frame in the price...unless you want it crafted out of gold." Wink there.

She found herself lingering in her little room far longer than she had meant, but the space had to be just so before she could leave it in good conscious. If anything she enjoyed a neat and tidy space, one that reflected her own neat and tidy appearance. Her hair was brown, but it was kept braided and covered. Her clothes were modestly cut but of a good quality. Quiet as a rule, she enjoyed the scent of the fire as it rose up to greet her when she came down the stairs. Lately she'd been able to better master that horrid stutter of hers, but from time to time when she was nervous it just couldn't be helped! "Good evening." Country by the turn of vowels, a transplant to be sure. It was a quiet night, just as she liked it though she didn't see anyone familiar to her. That meant absolutely nothing since those she had met were very polite indeed.

Vanessa was content to sit and listen to the conversation between Segan and Claire while sipping from her glass. The stool seat turned so she could see both easily. "He's got a lovely ship." Spoken from memory of her one outing before the winter.

His clothing was rather simple, if not a little dirty and worn. He didn't seem to come from much money, as the shoes barely held to his feet, and he could barely walk. Despite his appearance, there was a charming smile on his face, not so strong as if he were happy, but certainly not displeased. A good look at him might tell you he was no older than his mid-twenties, and yet he could barely hold himself straight without that cane of his. Upon entering, white, button down shirt, wrinkled and all, was straightened a bit, and khaki colored pants dusted off, as if to make a proper entrance for the people inside. Charming glance faded just a hair as he looked about, to check for familiar faces, and finding none, he meandered to the closest wall, to rest for a moment.

"Good evening to you," greeting the man. "Food, drink and lodging are free here as set up by the monarchy." Which surprised some with had a ghosted grin to follow. "It's done in a way that taxes go back into the lands this way from the many businesses, ranches and shops to list a few. I am Segan and the ladies are Vanessa and Claire, I've not met the one," indicating Bea.

"No, I haven't yet. Though I certainly plan to broaden my horizons in the upcoming days, weeks, and months, here at Heathfield. I have missed so much but I mean to make up for it." Smile and a brief nod for emphasis to Segan before a mischievous look was given to Vanessa. Maybe they could hijack his ship and do what they would with it ...for a little while anyway. "Good evening," to the newly entered man and woman in the room.

Then back to Claire, "portrait size when the time comes about, nothing presently to order." He was only getting an idea.

"I couldn't possibly receive services without some exchange of goods." A gracious smile to the man who'd addressed him, and a nod to the woman, and he went back to silence, as was his preference.

She looked at Claire and smirked. "Aye, and I can sail the thing." Vanessa didn't know the first thing about ships. She looked to the newest entrants and offered a wave to both. "Ave to you both."

"Sail what thing?" Looking a bit confused as Van came out with that confession.

Polite as polite could be, she returned the greetings before speaking briefly with Alex regarding her dining options for the evening. She ordered tea as well, spiked with a healthy dollop of the local brew to thicken her blood before bed. "You should eat, good sir. It is rude for a lady to dine alone." She spoke to the man who seemed a stranger to these lands while taking a seat as close to the fire as she dared. She didn't wish to be overly warm, nor overly cold.

"Your ship." She grinned, but then it vanished as she took another drink from her glass.

Leo made it as far as the porch where he loitered with a lean against the rail. The night held that kind of lure to it as Druid eyes skimmed the shadows then that which laid beyond normal sight. He was waiting for someone to come about knowing they had arrived.

Claire burst out laughing! "Yes, she does mean your ship." Oh, this was getting fun. Could they pull it off? Emerald orbs were set to twinkling. "Well, prices range from roughly 50 to 200 coins, more or less depending on the service rendered. It's just an estimate. Feel free to inquire at any time." Nod there before she was back to silently scheming with Vanessa.

"My.... ship?" She was joking before a wicked gleam settled in blue eyes. "With my arms around you at the stern in case a storm whips up and you don't get pummeled."

"Why, Segan, you don't have faith in Heathfield's ladies?" Claire posed the question with an arch of her brow. Seemingly serious yet the jest obviously lurked in her eyes and the trembling of straight lips that wanted to curl into a grin.

Brow quirked slightly to the comment from Segan with a tilt of her head. "More that he's afraid that the wind would carry me off than what I might do steering his ship." Which she couldn't help but laugh to.

After considering her words, a nod, and a smile. "I wouldn't want to be rude, now would I?" A smile, as he took a few steps towards the fire as well. Brown locks kept his eyes hidden from view for a moment And he dared not make eye contact with her, not yet anyhow. "Thank you for reminding me of my manners Mrs...?" Words trailed off, as he waited for to receive her name.

It was late but the distance from Kildare to Heathfield made for a long trip. His horse was more than ready for the stable and Simon himself wouldn't be up for much longer. The Thistle was a welcomed sight though the castle would  be the true destination. He brought his horse to a stop when a familiar figure was noted on the porch of the establishment.

"I have plenty of faith in most but in some it is not sailing upon the sea." Daring look locked upon Vanessa. "A strong wind or wave could carry you off unless you've had training. You can say to me that you have had training upon the sea?"

"I would certainly hope not. It is completely free, honest." She waited while tea was brought and poured first for their guest and then for herself. "McCarrin." Gentile was certainly a descriptive enough term for the young lady who sat primly waiting for her meal.

Vincent had arrived a few days before Simon but heard he was here. Taking his leave of the soldiers practicing down in the spar field, he headed for the tavern in the hope of catching up with his comrade and king.

Posture straightened with pride, she notched her head up just slightly, still with a grin in place. "And what if I say I have? Even if not, I would return to the ship on wings."

He shifted from his lean as the feeling had been that kind of strong. "Simon," then beyond, "Vincent, I'm pleased both of you could make it this night." He didn't expect them to stay up too late for the hour and there would be much to do tomorrow. He moved from his spot to the door and waited on them there.

"They have quite a potent brew that is special here. I find it helps mellow the blood for sleep. Just a dollop and no more, of course." She wasn't one to imbibe in strong spirits but Alex had recommended it, and she found the results only satisfactory.

A hand came to rest on Simon's shoulder as he caught up. Attired in black this night except for the pristine poet's shirt under the vest. "The trip was not too bad? Did you come by land then?" Sea would have been quicker but such were the sights if one rode down from Kildare. He continued up the steps as their king awaited on them, "Sire, it is good to see you tonight." He would have a lot to talk on about the spars he witnessed and the training skills of those here but presently it would be for Simon to catch up with any news from Kildare.

He waggled a finger toward Claire as if by that motion accusing this humorous accounting of Vanessa the sailor. "Then I shall have to get you a patch to wear over one eye, britches and a peg leg to complete the look. At least you can come with a parrot on your shoulder."

A moment there and then she was alone. Ah well, she sipped her tea before looking up to see that her food was being delivered. Though the fare was light given the hour, she didn't mind. Late season dried fruit, and tiny new season vegetables along with bread and the hard yellow cheese that was sharp against her tongue. It was a new flavor to her to be sure but one she was beginning to enjoy.

She really tried not to laugh at that. "No no no, you have it all wrong, Segan. Layers of colorful shin length skirts, under-bust corset and a white peasant blouse with one of those pointy caps." She understood sailing so well.

"Aye, I did." Not just to enjoy the sights but to do a little checking along borders and to see how the other lands fared. "Though I think I'll be returning by sea." He was up the steps and greeted Leoric with a respectful salute, before speaking. "Sire. It's good to see you, and to report all is well in Kildare." Meaning nothing had changed.

"You come dressed like that then you'll not be seeing the light of day as I will have you locked in the captain's quarters with me just to see how many layers there truly are." Giving a firm nod and trying hard not to laugh at this point.

"Yes, that's it!" Pointing to Vanessa and nodding enthusiastically and then peals of laughter ringing out as her mouth formed into an 'O' at Segan's words. Grin there.



Date: 04-08-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 95

She reached out and swatted him playfully. "You're going to get yourself in trouble with such comments, Segan Quinn." She couldn't hide her amusement if she had to. She looked at Claire and that was it for her ability to not laugh, because now she was laughing.

Brows went up as he caught part of the conversation. Ah, the grin to follow. "Such news is good news but I don't expect it to last for there is much more to be done in the days ahead." There were the smaller Keeps to flush out and dislodge the rumors of the Northern forest. Stepping within as a smile came easily. "Good evening everyone." Then near on the polite greeting. "Lady Vanessa, here are two of my knights that will be acquiring a hunting bird."

She nibbled and sipped, contented by the warmth of the fire and the slight draft that was brought in each time the door was opened. Thus far, she had been content to sight see and enjoy her little room above the tavern. Some snatch of music was hummed but other than that, she just smiled and resumed her meal. Once her mouth was no longer full of food or drink, she dabbed at her mouth with a square of cloth before returning the greeting. "Good evening." Her little world was slowly expanding, and with it came the concentration on her words.

Claire shook her head, still brimming with laughter. The two were a riot. The sound of an opening door drew her attention and gaze swung over. She recognized that face. Discreet study under long black lashes. "Good evening," she offered to all those entering before taking a sip of the wonderfully chilled lemonade.

To the lady that had finished her dinner, "I don't believe I caught your name.." Correcting on his manners, one would have to forgive the Captain as plans were being made to confiscate his ship. Then back to Van, "I can hope I get into trouble with the visual you presented if it were to turn to a reality!" Wicked, wicked grin.

Dark eyes glanced up from her lap where her fingers grasped the cup in them a little harder. "Beatrice McCarrin." It was out without a flourish, as speedy as possible without tripping up along the way. Tart with a smile, she all but nodded to herself on a job well done. Not a single stutter the whole way thus far.

"Claire, it is good to see you again." Having moved form the door and further in. One glass of the pure before addressing the others within. "A pleasure to meet you Beatrice McCarrin. I am Leoric and my kingsmen, Sir Vincent and Sir Simon." Not overboard on their titles.

"How are you, Leoric?" Attention then went to Segan with a small smile. "Well, I know how I'll dress come Hallow's Eve." Wicked grin of her own, she said nothing else on the topic, but smile to Claire.

She nodded to each, but her attention fastened somewhere beyond them. It was important that she concentrate when speaking. "It is a pleasure to meet you, gentlemen." She quickly ducked into her cup of tea.

Which he gave a nod to as he collected a vessel filled with ale. "Evening.." deep voice under his breath as he would not interrupt any conversations but sated propriety.

Hunting birds? He glanced at Leoric before bowing slightly as he spoke. "Good evening, everyone." And then his attention was on the business of gaining a tankard of ale.

"All Hallow's Eve is many months away. 'Tis possible that we may arrive at far more... interesting ideas for costumes by then." Wiggle of her brows and a playful wink before turning. "Good evening, Leoric. It has been a while. A pleasure to see you again. I do hope all is well with you and your family." Warm smile given there, hands coming to rest loosely clasped in her lap. Eyes drawn to the one with a deeper voice and her study began anew. Ever the curious Claire.

"I do well, as my lands do well." Which was a bit part of whether he was doing well or not. He eased into a lean against the bar in a deceptively comfortable way.

Yes, birds! She'd heard that. "Birds." She smiled to Leoric again.

"Aye, you would make me wait that long after tempting me so, Temptress Vanessa." Giving her a wink as the good nature banter continued. Giving Claire the thumbs up with her comment that supported his retort.

"Indeed I will." Spoken to Segan with a smile before finishing off her lemonade.

She couldn't help but laugh at Segan. His humor was contagious and the banter between the two was too much! "Good evening, Sir!" Welcome to Simon. Had she gotten everyone? Glance around the room. Boy, there was a party at the Thistle this evening.

He was over by Simon as he watched those here unknown to him. Hard to read any thoughts but he was interested in this bird of prey. "Do you have many birds, Lady Vanessa?"

She looked to Vincent, though she didn't recall his name and had been too busy laughing apparently when introductions were given. "That I do. The young from last spring are now old enough to begin training."

"We'll see about that," muttered under his breath with a flash of a smile. If Vanessa had missed Leo's introduction of his kingsmen, she probably didn't hear the comment but Claire might have.

He smiled at Claire but remained silent as to listen to Vanessa answer Vincent's question.

It was pleasant to listen into the conversations even if she wasn't quite sure what the basis of it was. Choosing among the plate before her, she nibbled until it was clean. Ever tidy, she took the barren plate, her napkin along with tea cup and kettle up to take them straight away into the kitchens and some hot water for washing. It was a habitual gesture so she barely noticed she was doing it at all.

"Her place is not far from here and while you are here there is a retainer for you to pick out a bird. or the bird picks out you, before you take leave back to Kildare." Which would be on his orders. He would have to see about Thane getting his in due time. "I am to pick out a colorful, talkative parrot to have in the castle for the ladies to dote upon."

She looked at Leoric kind of puzzled. "Are you wishing to get birds tonight?" A small tilt of her head. If that was the case, well then Segan would be cut short of his two hour duty, and they'd all go to the gardens.

He glanced from Vanessa to Leoric, combining the information with a nod to follow. "It will be done soon then, Sire." It would be interesting too as there was a lot to hunt in Kildare.

"No, I just hoped to introduce you to two of my men. Daylight would be preferably I'm sure." Quickly amending so he wasn't taken wrongly.

Segan went to the door between the kitchen and tavern with a psssssst, "Hazel will have her broom after you if she finds a stranger in the kitchen." Giving her a wink and holding the door as Alex was momentarily down the hall were extra supplies were kept.

An enlightened expression and a nod, she smiled. "Oh, very well then. Feel free to stop at the gardens when you all have a chance."

She got through to the kitchen but was promptly shooed back out. It had been the absent look on her features that had done it. She'd gone off on some mental tangent and was only now coming back to reality. "Mmm. Habit."

"Daylight would be better." He nodded agreement, then looked at Leoric. "And I'm sure the ladies will greatly appreciate such a pet." He was glad he'd not be dealing with such though.

"A good habit to have too Lady Beatrice." Like kids trying not to get caught as he grabbed a few cookies from a tray just inside the door to offer her as he ushered her back into the proper. He figured he would owe Vanessa at least an hour of that bet for he'd not really fulfilled it. Although she might ask for him to take her on his ship.

Though she was sure she hadn't done anything wrong she did peek back to where she had just come from. "So it is." Though she past on the cookies with a polite shake of her head. Sweets before retiring? She'd have nightmares, wouldn't she? The spirits in her tea helped though with that. It made everything just a shade softer around the edges. Pleasant really.

"Where do you hail from Lady Beatrice?" Curiosity herald his question as he studied her a moment. Glass still in his hand was slightly rolled.

"It's been a pleasure seeing those of you whom I know and a pleasure meeting those of you who are new to me. May you all have a wonderful evening!" Time to retire. Lemonade was finished off and she rose slowly, shaking out her skirts. As she prepared to leave, a thought struck her that she should probably look for a more permanent residence now that she was a citizen. The Thistle wasn't a bad place at all, roomy and inviting. However, it was an inn. And  if Claire was planning on settling, she'd better take care of that sooner rather than later. Vincent caught her attention. Something about his reserved demeanor had curiosity ringing bells. Oh, great. Just what she needed: a lapse.

"Lady Claire, may the night find you in good slumber." First few words spoken from him as she came under his brief study. She was leaving.

"Here and there. And no where in between." She sighed happily while settling into her chair, turning those dark, wide eyes onto Leoric.

"Good night Claire, I'm sure our paths will cross again." Biding her a good night as well. "A wanderer with no place to go or do you have a destination in the long run of it. If not, then a hope?" This addressed to Bea.

"Good night Claire, nice to see you again." Having moved nearer to Vanessa again.

"Good night, Lady Claire." He smiled at her, inclining his head slightly. "May your dreams be sweet ones."

She'd had kept it tied up and well-behaved for a long while now. Oh, well, she knew it was only a matter of time. "Thank you. To you as well. Bon soir, mes amis."

"Oh, I'll go I suppose where the spirit moves me." She almost giggled then, catching herself just before to give Alex a playfully scolding look. She was certain there had been more of a dollop of that special brew in her tea. Ah well.

"That of a Gypsy or Nomad, that within your blood or do you plan sometime to settle?" He was just trying to pick up on the aura about her. Which was a bit more difficult in a crowd. 
"It would be perilous not to settle. Not all people are honorable." It was heavenly to just relax into the chair, to let her feet be warmed by the hearth while the brew warmed her insides. It kept her from stuttering too. "Neither gypsy or nomad. Just myself."

"So the spirit that moves you is trusting your instincts and Fate to lead you where you need to be. That those that should come across your path will be ones that will help you along the way along with those you will help."

She propped her chin into the palm of one hand, regarding him seriously while at the same time she was partly off in another world. A little mental side trip. "You put it rather cleverly, I suppose." Shoulders rose then settled,  brushing back against the cushion of the chair.

While the others talked he saw to Vanessa through quiet words and saw her out as his younger sister was watching Ysa for them and would not be right of them to keep her too long. With a wave to encompass all, he was out into the night in escort of Vanessa.

He waved as the two left then leaned toward Vincent, a slight smile playing on his lips. "Maybe I should have gone directly to the castle and bathed?"

He watched as Segan took his leave with Vanessa, giving them a solemn nod then back to listening to the conversation at hand. He wore silence like a cloak at times in a very comfortable way.

Which had him smile at her comment, "the truth is always far more clever than otherwise." Which it was a truthful opinion on his part in the way he saw things. He also noted her distraction but didn't comment on it. If he were, it would be another time and place better suited.

"Good night then!" She watched as the two departed, contented enough to remain mute otherwise. "It would depend upon the truth, wouldn't it?" She hummed then, another absent habit while tapping her fingers to her thighs. She was perhaps a little touched in the head. Or simply used to being alone most of the time. One could decide either way, as she seemed happy either way.

"Always," touch of a smile to linger with a tip of he head in study. Although he wondered if she really wanted to converse over keeping to herself. With that in mind there was nothing more forthcoming to keep this particular conversation going.

"Do you suppose truth is part of perspective, or is it more ... concentrated? Solid?" She hummed again, this time tapping her foot. It seemed to help some mental process.  It kept her from stuttering too.

His ale finished, Simon found himself covering a yawn with his hand. He gave Vincent a somewhat sheepish smile then looked toward Leoric.

"I believe there is truth that exists no matter one's perspective on it. How do you see it?" As he was not prone to one sided conversations even if her outlook differed from his.

He understood that look as a low rumble of his voice would hold Simon in conversation. "I have a few places to show you on the morrow after we see to the hunting birds."

Sitting up a little straighter, the tidy young woman seemed to come more back to the reality of where she was. "Sometimes there can't be a truth if there isn't a perspective. But I'm sure that is nonsense." She had been told often enough how she thought was nonsense. "I'm sure you are correct though. I am certain you are." She offered that quickly enough.

"Call a truth a solid foundation that stands the same for all no matter if all believe it or not. It has existed before we were born and it will continue to exist long after we are gone. It is not dependant upon us though our lives in the quality of spirit is dependant upon coming to know these truths. This is my belief but it does not have to be yours. One who tells you that your thoughts are nonsense is one that is frightened by them, to give them credence would mean to give them possibility and then conflict."

"I look forward to it. Do we stay here or are there rooms for us at the castle?" He did not want to be rude but he was growing quite tired.

"We stay at the castle," which he could tell his comrade was fading for the length of a long day for him. "Sire, by your leave," quietly but knowing Leo would hear him.

She waved one hand a bit then, while drawing her eyes just off to one side beyond him. They weren't clear, but a little cloudy. A little dreamy. "Quite clever. You see? I am certain, you were certainly correct."  If she were any more rude, she would have slapped herself. Hushing herself while the two men spoke to Leoric, she contented herself with another hum of music.

He heard Vincent as he addressed them. "By my leave, sleep well. I will speak with you both at dawn tomorrow on the king's field." Which he realized the time and this conversation becoming a play about a theme that was in the long run, in one's perspective of things. "I will bid you a good night Lady McCarrin. Sleep well." She seemed like she could use a good night's sleep. He would accompany his men up to the castle.

"Thank you, Sire." He inclined his head then realized Leoric would be accompanying them. "Good night, Lady McCarrin." Politely said before he also bade Alex good night.

"Lady McCarrin, good eve." Straightening as he headed for the door and would wait there on his king.

"Good night then." She bid them all at once, keeping it short as it seemed they were all fatigued. They were men of action and honor no doubt, so she was certain to keep herself from yammering on.

Which he stepped out first after the polite farewells were given then would seek more details of Simon to see if there were any more upsets from the Northern Forests of Kildare. How his twin brother was managing in his absence.

She'd find her bed soon enough, once the night was well closed around her. "Thank you for the whiskey in my tea, Alex." She was certain she'd gotten more than a dollop, but at least she'd have an uneventful nights rest.



Date: 04-12-10
Poster: Maggie Callahan
Post # 96

A Job for Maggie

A rainy evening brought a chill to the air, one more harkening of winter even as Spring took hold of the lands. It was a good night to stay indoors and that was just Maggie's plan. Fresh and clean after a long bath, she came downstairs with a book tucked under her arm, intending to while the hours away with it before the fire. First, though she had something to bring up with Alex. The slim young woman wore a well-cut dress of faded jade, her dark hair swept back but the waves falling down her back. Over to the bar, she gave the tender her usual smile of greeting. "Good evening, Alex."

The scent of cooking filled the air still, especially that of baked apple pies. "Good eve Maggie lass," crinkles at the corners of his eyes deepened as Alex looked up from the ledger he was marking in what had been used and what was needed for the coming week. He did it weekly as it made it easier although some things were done on a monthly basis. Those were kept in a different section of the ledger. He folded it over once the ink dried, "now what can I be getting yea? Your usual of cider or shall it be lemonade tonight? Or, will you be trying a bit o' the punch?"

Maggie had made an effort to make herself look extra presentable this evening, as if it were a prearranged interview. She perched herself on a stool, tucked a strand of hair away and then laid her hands to rest in her lap. "Could I just have a cup of tea? The kind you gave me the first night, mayhap just a bit weaker?" She'd requested it a few times too since then.

He gave a nod but there was concern in those aged eyes of his. As usual he didn't question her but stepped into the kitchen where Hazel was, "a big o' tea for the lass," which Hazel would probably know whom he spoke of already having heard her voice. Alex got the medicinal part to stir into the mug once handed over to him and used about half compared to the first night she came. Actually that was a good sign. He was back out to set the mug to the counter. Still he didn't ask any questions but she was being given 'that look'.

Alex had a sort of paternal aura about him that was very comforting, but because of that it also had the power to sometimes make her feel childishly guilty. Like now, with him giving her 'that look'. She saw the concern in his eyes but wasn't sure what to say to it, so instead she only wrapped her hands around the warm mug and gave another smile. "Thank you." Her gaze dipped away as she took a long sip, already looking forward to the soothing sensation it would bring. Setting the mug back on the counter she glanced towards the kitchen. "It smells wonderful in here..."

She obviously had a reason she had to take such a medication, luckily they had such here. What was the concern was she didn't talk on it so he, or someone else that could, might be able to help her. "Would you be liking a piece o' apple pie? Hazel is the finest cook in all the lands and all the neighboring lands," which he hiked his voice up an octave so he was sure Hazel heard him as he even looked towards the swinging door that beyond was Hazel. There was a deep affection in his voice too that some picked up on that knew him better. "Nourishment is a good way of healing too."

That made her laugh. "Yes, she is." She had noticed the fondness that Hazel and Alex held for each other, and thought it rather adorable. It made her wonder if they had any sort of official relationship going on, but politely she did not ask. "I would love a piece of Hazel's pie." She added this and then looked at Alex at his comment of healing, considering for a moment how to answer that. "I suppose it is. I'm feeling much better now, though," she assured him of this with a nod and a smile, knowing he'd seen how pale and weak she was when first arriving. Truthfully she did look much better these past few days, color in her cheeks... most of the time.

"Aye, you can see it in your eyes and in the color found upon your cheeks at times." Giving her a reassuring wink, though he felt there was a lot more to her story. This coming from a tender who had a lot more to his story than most would ever guess. Hazel set the pie to the small serving window between kitchen and tavern which he then collected to set to the bar. If it was a big fare, like a huge platter, then it was brought out for the window was not that big and not meant to be. It was for quick smaller things.

She was reassured by that, and gave another smile which then turned over to Hazel when she appeared ever so briefly in the kitchen window. "Thank you," she said again, taking another sip of tea before abandoning the mug for now and lifting a fork instead. A small bite of pie taken and nibbled in the shared quiet before she lifted her bright blue eyes to the older gentleman again. "Alex... I wonder if I could talk to you about something?"

He was over to put up some of the new bottles of wine and leave her to her eating when she spoke up. Wiping his hands off on a cloth as he was back around and over to where the conversation would flow in normal tones. "Aye, are you up to trying the punch now?" Which she would know by his tone he was teasing her. He used the cloth to wipe off a spot on the bar so it didn't mark the fine wood.

She laughed again but it was a softer sound. "No, I don't think so." Another pause to collect her thoughts, she set the fork down neatly on her plate and set her hands in her lap. "I was wondering... I was hoping you might give me a job. Here, in the tavern." She was a little nervous asking this and took a breath before continuing. "I can clean, or help Hazel in the kitchen or serve drinks. Whatever you might like some extra help with. If you don't need anyone, I will understand perfectly but.... I thought I would ask." Her fingers intertwined on her knees as she met Alex's eyes levelly and yes, hopefully.

Claire descended the stairs into the common room of the Thistle. A warm smile of greeting was in place for all as she bounded off the last step. Dress of lilac swirled around her legs as she propelled forward to the bar. "Good evening, everyone." She claimed a seat at the bar, arranging her skirts comfortably. "Alex, I'd like a lemonade, please." Ever since the other night when she'd indulged, she'd been unable to choose another. Perhaps it was the sugar that was so addicting. "How have you been?"

There was a deep kindness in the man's eyes in a way one could wonder all that he had been through in his lifetime. Old soldiers.. he was the epitome of one even still serving the crown in this manner. It had proven noteworthy many a time. This was the place most came to when they first arrived in the lands. For the pause taking a few, he was getting a lemonade in the next moment and setting it out for Claire. "Good eve Claire lass, have you met Maggie?" As he would introduce the two and he wasn't senile by any stretch of the imagination but taking care of first things first. He would soon answer Maggie. And yes, Alex had a Sean Connery brogue!

"I believe I have once before. 'Tis pleasure to see you again, Maggie." Claire dipped her head and then lifted the glass for a long-awaited sip. Sighing with content, she took a moment to simply relax.

The answer was put on hold a moment as Claire came downstairs, but Maggie understood the pause and turned on her stool to give Claire a smile. "We have met, yes. I hope you've been well?" It was a force of habit, that polite inquiry.

"Ah, good." He was pleased they had met as both were new here in a sense. Claire starting anew and Maggie totally new. He was back over to Maggie to answer her question. The moments between had given him time to consider her quest. Usually they didn't hire one in the tavern but they have had in times past under certain circumstances. "I can do that. The kitchen is off limits unless Hazel invites you there, except the dining area for breaking fast in the morning. I don't serve tables and there are some that would probably like this service and tip you." Which would be her means of making some money too. "Keeping them clean and the area would give me more time to things of my responsibility." Which he had more than the tavern. "It would be good to have a pretty lass as yourself greeting newcomers, or even old comers when they arrive. There will be times you'll be real busy and most of the time it will be easy work."

There was a thud in the hall and what probably was cursing under one's breath before Matthew arrived a few minutes later laden with chopped up wood for the fireplace. "Evening!" Greeted all as he sauntered pass going directly to the fireplace to stack the wood carefully.

It took a few moments for her to realize that he was saying yes. An immediate smile lit her features, then went into something more serious as he named the responsibilities. She gave an astute nod, taking note of all he said. "I can do that. And anything else you might ask of me." A pause given as a man she recognized came bashing in, though for a moment she couldn't remember his name. Still she nodded her greeting, then looked back to Alex with a smile. "Thank you, Alex. I truly appreciate it. When shall I start?"

Claire blinked at the noise and then looked up, laughing. "I could have guess it was you." Wink tossed in there so he'd know she jested with him. "Good evening to you as well, Matthew!"

"Evening Matthew, were you able to get the trough replaced out front?" One for the horses that the Roller had damaged during the winter accidentally. It was more the trough was rotting away and gave way when backed into under the heap of snow. Then back to Maggie. "Start tomorrow or the next, soon as you are ready and feeling up to it." As per the tea she'd been drinking for a reason. "And if you get bored, you can ask Matthew here what you can do to help. He is far more aware of things needing fixing."

He turned a look over his shoulder as he was carefully stacking the wood, "aye, got a brand new one made and replaced the other. Burning some of that wood now." Glancing then to Claire as a smile stole its way over his features. "At least I didn't trip over you," giving a quick wink before he finished stacking the logs. Once that was done he proceeded to remove the screen and take up the poker. Wielding it like one did a sword before he was poking the life out of the half burned down logs to sputter while breaking up into burning embers beneath.

"I'll start tomorrow," she said with a determined air. She was beginning to think she was as well as she'd ever be, at least until the source of the problem was discovered. She was relieved by the answer Alex had given and it showed in the lightness of her smile as she glanced over her shoulder. Catching Matthew's antics with the poker out of the corner of her eyes. It made her giggle and then she nodded to Alex. "Yes.. I'll do so."

He leaned in a little closer as one sharing a secret, "the lad is good and if you need help he will help you out." So she didn't have to feel like she carried this whole weight by herself. There was a pleased cast to the more stoic features of the Elder Warrior Tender as he leaned back and set to cleaning up some of the earlier dishes to the tub near the hall leading to the storage rooms and delivery door.

She leaned in as Alex did so, the smile growing at the 'secret' shared and she gave a conspiratorial nod.

He was oblivious to the whispered words as once the fire was stoked, he added a few more logs so they would burn until morning. By then he would be getting rid of the ashes and starting a new fire for the day. Once the screen was replaced, he headed over to the bar as he considered his work done for the night and an ale would quench his thirst.

A sunny smile turned over to Matthew as he joined them at the bar. "I am to work here as well," she told him, obviously pleased by this and another look of thanks given to Alex along the way too. Her fork reclaimed to take a bite of her apple pie, which tasted all the more delicious now that she had some prospects. A job at least was a good start, something to occupy her days with and it was the type of simple work she enjoyed.

It was clear that the day had taken its toll on her. Even the sugar from the lemonade couldn't keep her from dazing off. With an apologetic wince, she covered a yawn with her hand and slowly rose, pushing the empty glass forth. "If you'll excuse me, I think I shall retire for the evening. Good night!"

"Good night Claire, do you wish to contact Laird McDonough to see about a place for you to stay? Congratulations on your citizenship."

"Congratulations and congratulations to you too Claire," first to Maggie then echoing Alex as the ale was served up. "There are some that come and to be served at their table would probably be a good convenience to them." He didn't serve tables but would if he were around. He usually didn't come around when others were in the bar for the curse and it became sort of habit.

"Thank you, Alex. I believe I shall seek him out within the next couple of days or so...Hopefully as soon as possible. You are too kind." She bobbed a quick curtsy. "Thank you, Matthew. Goodnight!" With a wave of her hand, she aimed for her room.

"Goodnight, Claire!" Maggie echoed the others' farewells, giving the girl a smile before turning attention back over to Matthew. A nod given, "Alex said the same. I've done that sort of thing before, so I think it shall suit me." It was amazing what the simple development of having a job could do already for her... just the idea of having something to do, some small purpose made her feel much better. And certainly less aimless.

"I think I hear my bed calling me too." He drank down, guzzled more like it, a good portion of the brew and would give his good nights before the air pocket made its way up in an explosion of air released. "I shall see you soon!" Which he would if she were to be working here, already heading down a different hall that led to his accommodations that were separate from the guests.

After giving Matthew a wave good night he turned back to Maggie on a more serious note."You know, it's a better chance of your brother finding you if you stay in one place for a while." Also would give her time to heal from whatever ailed her as there was progress. He didn't add that part but it was there in the concern of his eyes.

Her smile faded into solemnity and she gave a slow nod. "Yes... that's what I was thinking, as well." She was quiet for a moment, wondering for the hundredth time if her brother would ever find her or she him. Or if he were even still alive... but she pushed the thought away. She'd hold onto that last shred of hope even if it was to her grave. The smile returned gently as she looked at the older man. "Thank you again, for the job. It means a lot to me."

His hand was worn with aging skin and those tell tale brown splotches but his touch was comforting as he folded his hand over hers a moment. "Keep a stiff upper lip, you will do fine and make new friends. You are protected here too in lands that have seen peace for more than two decades and will be kept that way for ones like the Druid Prince. Thank you, for your job will help me out and that is how things should be. Helping each other." Giving a dashing smile that one could tell the man had been devilishly handsome in his day for he still had it about him in an older more distinguished way.

She glanced up when his hand covered hers, fingers meeting his in a brief squeeze. The gratitude was written all over her face, and in the warm smile she beamed at him. "Yes... it will be fine here." She'd finished off her pie by now and took a last sip of tea. Even at the weaker dose it still made her a bit drowsy, or mayhap it was the late hour.

"I'll see about having Hazel get you a couple of those fancy aprons to put on. You can wear whatever is comfortable." In short, she needed no uniform. "I think we should both get some sleep," well he would be out in the kitchen once he locked up to help Hazel finish up if she wasn't already done, most of the time they would sit and have a cup of tea together before finding their beds. A short time to unwind and one looked forward to. He figured the tea would be kicking in, well what was put in it at her request and she needed the sleep. "Good night Maggie, sleep well."

"Alright, thank you." She nodded affably, setting the empty teacup down and rising from her stool. "Sleep well, Alex." She returned the sentiments with another warm smile, truly grateful to the man for all the kindness he'd already shown her, a virtual stranger still. It was a large part of why she had chosen to stay on here in Heathfield, rather than anywhere else.



Date: 04-13-10
Poster: Joseph McDonough
Post # 97

Setting Up Claire

The vision in her mind's eye was as vivid as Alex's face before her. With fierce concentration turning down her brows, one hand worked quickly to sketch the image. The other lifted a cool glass of lemonade to full lips as she worked tirelessly. She sat comfortably at the bar, donned in a light gray gown with a high waist and short puffy sleeves. Rich brown locks were tugged up into a coiffure at her nape, a few tendrils loose to curl around her face. Feet were oddly bare but hey! The Thistle was home for now until she could speak with Maurice. Mouth tugged into a smile as memories flashed before of a childhood long gone. Pausing for a moment, she looked up to meet Alex's eyes and engage in comfortable conversation that was the norm for every evening. Laughter rang out as one of his comments before she was shaking her head and fingers rapidly moved across parchment.

A whistled tune accompanied Joe as he came in the back way, bringing him to their office first. Through the door as the guard there opened it, still the tune kept up in a light airy way as he went through a few papers then headed out back into the hall, "evening," interrupted the tune as he greeted and gave his farewell to the guard John in one word. He headed down the hall connecting the back with the tavern as he stuffed the few papers into the pocket of the dark brown vest. One worn over a cream poets' shirt. Pants and boots of the same hue as the vest while an easy stride had him there a few moments hence. "Evening," to both Alex and Claire as he was quick to take up a lean against the bar. Potcheen automatically set out for him as the bottle was left as well.

Claire looked up with a warm smile, greeting readily at her lips. "Well, good evening, Mr. McDonough." Playful grin to bloom as the art was momentarily pushed aside. "How fare you this eve?" Fingers to brush aside a distracting curl before returning to the bartop to engage in the usual practice---tracing aimless patterns on the shiny counter.

He edged closer as a dimple smile came easily to light up dark green eyes, ones that held specks of gold and orange in them. "I am grand. Spring makes me feel alive again after a long hard winter. Though," raising his free hand a moment, "I am not complaining as we didn't lose many cattle, nor was it a harsh winter. "Call me Joseph, or Joe, Claire. I heard you were back so welcome home."

"Well, that is certainly a positive note, one I am happy to hear. And I share your sentiment about the winter. I am only too happy to embrace the blooming springtime which will ease into the heat of the summer." Eyes turned wistful for a moment as she recalled moments at the Crystal Gold Lake. "I am, indeed. Thank you for your hospitality, Joe. It warms my heart to receive such welcomes." Gaze locked on his, she tilted her head. "Alex was telling me that I might  be able to speak with either Maurice or yourself about acquiring a house. As much as I love the Thistle, I think 'tis time I found my own 'home'." She laughed softly, shrugging her shoulders. "I'm sure you can understand."

"Aye, that you can and I might even listen," which he was teasing her as one could tell for the twinkle in his eyes, the quick wink and dimpled smile. "I saw that on the notes. I just need to get an idea of an ideal place for you. Do you wish it close to the commons or a bit further from society? Something small or medium," figuring she would not need large. "Near water or not?"

Claire chuckled. "Might listen? How gracious of you!" She polished off the last sip of lemonade and slid it forth to Alex. "The size does not concern me overly much. 'Tis only me and my art. Something near the water would be preferable but not at an inconvenience to yourself. Perhaps not too close to the commons. I enjoy the peace of nature and like to surround myself in it. Although I have my preferences, almost anything will do."

"Aye, wont be an inconvenience to me at all. Mostly I will find out tomorrow what is available and where. Easier to do if you have an idea of preferences. I do think there is a place near one of the small lakes, not far from the Avian Gardens which is heading away from the commons too. Willow Lake is behind a few places there which is shared. I can check into it soon if not tomorrow and then get back to you to show during the day if possible, if not, then the evening.

With warmer weather Beatrice found it hard to remain indoors. And today had been a beauty with balmy sunshine cooled just enough by a light breeze tinged with the scents of Spring. Grass growing, trees budding -- it was marvelous! So much so that she'd lost track of the time and was just now coming back after a day of wandering. Her feet were sore, her stomach empty and her features glowing. Every fiber of her being tingled and it was wonderful. Still beaming she grinned at both strangers while waving at Alex. "Good evening." Nothing was going to get her down, not even a stutter! She was too relaxed anyhow to stutter as she might have when normally faced with strangers. "Wonderful day, wasn't it? Oh, tea if you would Alex. And just tea, nothing extra tonight. No doubt I shall sleep like a babe in arms." Happily sighing, she sat at the closest chair in order to pull of her shoes and rub her sore feet.

"Whenever you can, Joe. I am certainly in no rush and am making myself comfortable here." Snicker there as she wiggled her toes. "You just inform me of the where and when and we shall find me a new home. I appreciate the help more than you know." She dipped her head to emphasize the gratitude and then looked up at the entering lady with a welcoming smile. "Hello, there. I am Claire and this is Joe." Motioning with a sweep of her hand to herself and then the handsome man standing nearby.

Joseph's lazy lean seemed almost boneless in the way he shifted as another entered the tavern. Dipping glance was followed by a lazy smile, one that touched off a dimple and initiated a twinkle in dark green eyes. "Hellllloooo there lil lady, we haven't met yet." But he didn't need to throw in the introductions for Claire had beat him to it, instead he gestured her way as the smile deepened a moment. "A grand spring day it was too." For he was still in high spirits after a long hard day of working around the ranch, getting things aired out and the like. "You will be the first one to know when I know." Teasing tone still held with a quick dipping glance Claire's way and quick wink.

"Oh, I'm Beatrice and it was indeed grand a day it was. A pleasure, Joe and Claire." It was becoming so much easier to be well, at ease with others even if they were strangers. Since coming here, she had to say the idea that all strangers were scary, impolite and crude people was more and more a myth her father had used to scare his children into remaining at home. Why, the people here were just as pleasant as a ... they could be. It was in its own way a sort of ice breaker. Humming a little as her mind wandered, she rubbed at her stocking feet, seemingly uncaring that she was doing so in a public place. Her mood reflected the sunshine that had warmed the land, she had some how bottled it inside of her.

"Enchantee," Claire murmured, studying her discreetly for a moment, as she did everyone. Claire was notorious for her brazen personality and although the years had muted it, it had not been elided. "Everything is provided by the King and Queen free of charge and----" Claire paused with a shake of her head. "And I suppose you must already know that since you've ordered from our dear Alex. Well, in that case, welcome again!" Resisting the urge to slap a hand to her forehead, she laughed instead and then turned to Joe. "How is work going for you, Joe?"

"Beatrice, indeed a pleasure and such a nice old fashion name." Not one that was used often but rolled off nicely from the tip of his tongue. "How long have you been visiting?" Curious always and a normal run of conversation made it easy to ask. "Work goes well, I've the cattle ranch to run as you know so there will be delivering of young to come then branding. I've sent two of my private investigators to the Colonies to help out the Quinn brothers. Liam, Ciaran and Evan, if you have met them? They are fairly newly arrived and already off on an adventure. Their cousins came in the years you were gone. Eion, Segan, Conor, and Melantha has taken over the royal stables her grandfather use to run a couple decades ago." Well, he could go on but that was quite a bit already. There would be quite a few new faces for Claire to meet.

There was a nod and a pause in the humming before she too, laughed. She might have been a hermit mostly, but at least she was an amiable one! Giving the one foot a final rub, she started on the other while smiling at Alex for tea. "I' have been visiting for a few weeks now. It is really quite wonderful." Of course, everything at this point was wonderful but she seemed a happy, harmless soul. "And thank you. For the compliment." Bea hadn't ever really thought of her name as old fashioned but she supposed it was. Slipping her feet back into her shoes, she settled for tea and contemplated dinner.

"Surprisingly, I have met quite a few of the Quinns. Interesting bunch to say at the least..and varied! Some quiet, some bold. What fun." She gave a cheeky grin there before looking upon Beatrice. "Visiting? Where are you from?"

Gently blowing against the surface of the tea to cool it, she sipped tentatively before looking up to answer. "Ayrshire, Scotland is where I was born. I have moved too often to consider it home though. Bits of everywhere really." Giving serious thought to the slow cooked chicken she had heard was being put on earlier, she debated before settling for tea a little while longer.

He melted into quiet as the two talked. Dark eyes shifting from one to the other and certainly a pleasant view both ways. Seemed to keep his smile and the dimples aside it to peek in then out again. He kicked back the tumbler of potcheen before refilling his glass. Thoughts would wander then remembered something, "you may get to meet my son Joshua out and about, he's sixteen now."

"Oh, Scotland, a beautiful country." Claire smile gently, reminiscing about her past travels which were quite extensive. Although she enjoyed traveling, she looked forward to her life here as a permanent citizen. No more moving around from place to place and that thought brought on a sigh of pleasure. "Well, I hope your visits here have been enjoyable." Claire glanced to Joe. "Sixteen already? My, how time flies." She shook her head in disbelief. "I hope to meet the lad soon, especially if he's as charming as his father." Wink tossed in there.

"I suppose it is. Though I was born there, we did not remain long after my birth. My father was the restless sort when I was young." He had also finally set down some roots but who knew when those would be plucked up for pastures elsewhere. Gargling tea for a moment, she realized she should have slowed herself up because the liquid was still quite hot. Rising, she shuffled a moment to get her shoes on more firmly while laughing a little at herself. "He is a year younger than I, your son. I suppose he is quite independent then as well?" If he had charm like his father, why not independence too? "Hmm, yes very enjoyable." She would have the chicken, and told Alex just that with a pleasant, if you please to go right along with it. Her mother had taught her manners after all. "If Hazel has any of those seared leeks, I think they would be lovely with it. Please, again. Thank you." Settling on a new chair, she waited and kept on smiling. It had been such a nice day.

"He's a little on the shy side but that's all right." Had him chuckle for he was sure his son would grow into his charm. Some said Joe was smooth but his brother was even better, or so he would claim or declaim on himself being so. "Sixteen or seventeen," so he was that close. Thinking on her comment, "aye, he is independent. He can ride well, rope and tie up a calf from horseback in 8 seconds flat. He does a lot of carving too, talented like his Uncle Maurice."

"If he is anything like you, Joe, then he too shall be very successful." Not meant to butter him up, not that she had any reason too, just an expression of her perception of Joe. She genuinely liked the man and admired him for his accomplishments. "Very impressive!" Claire rose, snatching up the sketch as she stood. "Well, it's been a pleasure but I fear the hour grows too late for my old age." Wink given with a laugh. "Beatrice, pleasure meeting you once again and enjoy your visit. Joe, I look forward to hearing from you soon. When you too reach your bed, may you find sweet dreams and peaceful rest. Good to see you again." She laid a hand on his forearm a moment before heading for the stairs.

It made her grin to hear, if only because he sounded like an accomplished hand to have around. "From the sound of it, it is to his credit to be capable at such tasks." Her hands clasped together when her dinner was delivered, flavorful and hot right before her. She could have eaten the bar, but this was much, much better. "It was a pleasure, Claire. Sleep well!" Youth if nothing else gave her energy so she couldn't quite see getting to her bed anytime soon.
"Old age? Darl'in, I'd be dead and buried in comparison!" All said with humor laced and one could tell by a near laughing tone. "You sleep well and I shall be in touch. I will find the cottage most suited that is available. Well, me lad would never brag on himself so it is left to his father, sister, aunts and uncles." Poor Joshua! He would be curling up inside and probably his ears were ringing at the moment.

Date: 04-13-10
Poster: Joseph McDonough:
Post # 98

Claire had to pause and turned to laugh. "Oh, Joe, I am not old and neither are you. A jest of sorts though I certainly feel older at times! Good night!" With that, she pivoted on a heel and disappeared up the stairs, dreaming about her new home.

She laughed then to hear that there was a male of the species with some modesty, but when she realized why she was laughing she stopped so as not to seem rude. "I am sure he is a very nice person." Bea had yet to meet someone who was truly cruel though. She ate with gusto yet in neat, precise sort of bits as if she was afraid some crumb might go missed. When her mouth wasn't full, she made sure to speak. No talking with your mouth full, her mother had always said! "What sort of things does he carve, your son?" It was getting easier to ask questions. Everyone had been so nice, there was no reason not to and she hadn't stuttered very much except for when she had first gotten here. Thus far, she had been too relaxed!


"I'm sure you'll get to meet him eventually or one of those around your age here. There are quite a few and of the sister lands." There were no flies on Joe, she would find if he ever bragged, it was done with humor, not seriously. He had enough heartaches in his life to be down on himself but refused to be. A wife that up and left him twice, a man could kick himself. A fiancee that decided being with him wasn't enough, she needed position and power in some other lands so left. There was a saying about being burnt. "Do you have family?" Some that came here did and some didn't. Some were looking for siblings.

She licked her lips before dabbing at them with a square of cloth napkin, then answering. "I do! An older sister, a younger brother and then there are my parents. I'm the odd duck in that I didn't wish to stay at home." At least, it always seemed as if she had been the odd duck. Her life was still in the first blush of youth, so heartache was a distant relation of the future which she couldn't see but was ready to embrace. Bruises and all. "Your family must be large. You've the boisterous disposition of having a large family." Not that she wanted to put him into a particular category. She was just trying to be polite while finding out about him.

"A bit o' t'e Gypsy blood in yea?" Which was something he laid claim to. He had wandered in his younger days, being an undercover agent for the Crown on dangerous missions had given him all he needed for the excitement of living on the edge. It was only recent he decided, for his children, to remove himself from the more dangerous missions and stick with the private investigators as well the ranch and as well the fact he was an ambassador when needed and helped the new citizens settle in. He or one of a few others including his brother Maurice. The last had him laughing, a deep and rich kind. "Big, but not as big as some of the other families. The Frasiers and McAndrews are larger families. I do think the Quinns have become so."

"I suppose you could call me that. Although I've not gypsy blood in me. Plain stock and a bit of tattered blue." The tattered part came from her mothers side but who cared? She certainly didn't. It was nice to hear a man laughing once more. Her father had been a big man, like this Joe and had a similar big laugh like that. The sort that when you were little made you warm and happy and feel safe. "I have always wondered what it was like to be crammed in with so many relatives in one place. I am sure it has its own excitement of its own." There was just a trace of wistfulness in her voice as she tucked into another bite of chicken, sopping the  juices with a bit a bread as she ate. "But then again, I am sure when you are little in a family like that ... teasing can be merciless." She laughed then herself, enjoying the thought.

"In these lands you'll not be judged by what papers you have, meaning titles," so he was clear, "but by your actions and personality. People here on the norm are very friendly but if you snub them they will turn, although politely, from keeping your company again. There are a few of the more brooding or stoic stock and may not be too social but they should not be rude. You mostly find them amongst the knights, warriors or kingsmen but only a few." The last had a twinkle in his eye to surface again. "Think of a family that the woman, god bless her, had ten sons and the oldest of the ten has ten sons as well. The eldest lad is twenty I believe and there are a few sets of twins and one set of three. The lads, like their uncles, had to find their niche and they will have a ruckus with each other but dare another try to harm one of them."

She attempted to think on that poor woman and really couldn't quite fathom such a large brood who spawned a brood of equal size of their own. She could only, shudder. "I take it, she lives then? This poor woman?" Poor might not have been the best description though, given a woman's wealth was sometimes measured by how many children she had. Nodding once or twice, she gave no thought toward the stoic and silent. "Oh, they usually are a little on the stony side. I won't mind. I usually try to avoid their sort, since well ... they seem rather intent on being warrior-ish and knightly." She knew what it was to be underfoot of soldiers and had learned early in life that she was better suited to staying well out of their way. "And I've no titles. Nor does my mother come to think on it. Her father was a squire, tis all." Her shoulders shrugged up before she thought that such an action might be rude but her grin was ear to ear. "She preferred a life other than that of a pampered lady. She makes lace, and my dad breaks his back." Or so he always said with a gruff ruffle of her hair. In a good natured way.

"Aye, she is the dowager queen of Ballicastle. Her husband died in battle long ago in a dark age that had besieged the lands. Her eldest married twenty some years ago and his oldest is now nineteen. A fine lad with acute tactical warfare skills he was able to use in the lands of Kildare where a few battles have raged over the past five years." Then onto the next. "They do at that and good we have such in the lands to protect them. Good to have as friends if you get the chance. Many, you will not know what title they bear unless it comes out in conversation. The queen of these lands could walk into this room as any other, not putting on pomp or being overcrowded with guards. Not that they hide their titles they are just not flaunted." So she would find these lands a bit different but then the Queen was part Fae! By her words, she should feel comfortable in these lands.

Her eyes, which were wide and dark widened moreso if possible. "That is quite progressive." If a system worked however, it worked! "I am sure they are nice people. I just naturally tend to annoy their sort, I suppose." It was the sunshine her mother said she poured out when she was happy and comfortable. It beamed out of her in a way that might be grating to some. Ally, her sister, often said it was because Bea was in such a rush to see so much of everything that she was often tripping her own two feet, or her words. It was why sometimes, she stuttered when she was confronted with a stressful situation. Leaning forward a bit, she laughed good natured. "No doubt she is a fine woman, with fine children and equally well grands. Though to run tame with so many must be daunting at times." Her family had been so insulated compared to such a large brood. So no doubt she couldn't quite take in the full scope.

"You annoy knights and warriors?" This amused him actually, "how about Kings and Queens, would you annoy them too?" Which had the laughing edge to his words in a good way. "You 
 may have possibly met one of her sons that I know has been about the tavern. Leoric McLarkin. A twin brother and now King of Kildare his father's kingdom that had been long abandoned after his death."

Her eyes narrowed but in good humor as she shook her head, which was covered out of habit rather than necessity. "Sometimes I find myself asking a question when answering one, so I suppose I could." She did that when she was trying too hard to keep herself from stuttering. It was a reflex she detested but couldn't be helped. "OH! I have met him, and yes I think I perhaps did annoy him a little. When I get over excited or anxious I tend to stutter. Sometimes quite badly." Hideously she wanted to say, but didn't. "He was very nice, but I am sure I annoyed him a bit." The poor man! It made her wince to think on it, but perhaps at some junction she might make up for it.

"I doubt your stutter would annoy one like Leoric. He has the patience of a saint, much like his older brother Andrew. Both are very gifted in Druid ways. Ways that one lives their life in harmony with all around them, including people whose harmony is not in sync. There are many that came to these lands because they called to them on another level and just as many who happened by and ended up staying. Others stayed a while then continued on. What matters for an individual is finding out where they belong. What is good for another may not be good for you." And he was starting to sound like he was preaching so, stopped. Flash of a smile before the tumbler of potcheen was kicked back instead.

"I've known a wandering Druid or two, so I understand what you mean." She was enjoying the company and so let her shoulders slump a little as she relaxed. "I suppose I shall have to see what I see. It's not as if there aren't other places if this is not the one for me. Everyone is so nice here though. It's almost too good to be true." And with that she smiled wickedly before laughing.

"Well, odd as it does seem to ones to find friendly people, it is true, they are here." Though a mean one could end up here. Fate had a lot to do with that. "Have you met Rhett Shawnesey, Douglas and Shaun his brothers? Rick, Trevellyn and Douglas McAndrews and their cousin Riley?" He was trying to think of ones around her age offhand.

Her head spun a little as she heard the names reeled off, yet she shook it with each name. "I have not been as ... out going as I should have I suppose. I have not met any of those you have mentioned." Her palms broke out in a sweat which she wiped down against her skirts before hurrying on. "I am sure they are all very nice though! They sound nice, so I am sure they are." She could feel a lump forming in her chest, working its way slowly up toward her throat. Of course they would be nice, because everyone she had met already would be nice. There would be no braid burning, or hair tugging, no name calling or tarring.

He wasn't sure how old, or most likely young, Claire was, "there are other lasses here your age too to make friends with if possible. Claire, Karina, Vanessa, Mariah, Kuwan, Solarina, Mary and Marissa McAndrews, Stephanie, well," laughing now, "you will not feel too young and there are many younger too."

It was certainly heartening to know that there were girls her age, but with that came another greasy lump. Girls could be catty and snide and cruel. However, she reassured herself that they would be nice. "It does indeed sound as if this land is quite populated!" Enough to make ones mind goggle no doubt! "Certainly I'll meet more as I venture out." Of course that meant actually going out and thus far she had begun to feel like a slug, loafing about with little more to do than sleep in, walk about and eat. It was vastly different from her former life at home but the change was nice. If only for a little while longer. "They are all polite and beautiful I am sure." Which she said with a bit of a laugh. "It's a beautiful country so I assume the people reflect it as it does them." Which settled away those knots and lumps just fine.

Clearing his throat, "well, they would most likely come here and probably off doing this or that young girls their age do until they get here. Many of them run or help run a shop." So they were hard workers she would discover. Even the royals did things to occupy their time than order others about. Worse he hears was the young girls getting together and into some form of trouble than getting catty. "Aye, I'm sure you will and will get along just fine. Most likely they will be heading for the lake for summer fun, swimming, canoeing and fishing." Like the time a group of them set off to go camping in the deep woods before the snow was gone and ended up finding a dead body frozen under the snow.

She blinked a few times then laughed. "Oh I do not swim. I sink." Like an iron weighted stone. It was an anomaly her mother couldn't figure out for the life of her. "This or that which young girls do at our age?" She couldn't help but laugh. "Why we braid our hair with flowers and skip around dancing." Or so she thought they might. Ally had always been too serious for such activities. And Bea's head was far too full of butterflies, so she had been told. "I do know how to fish, and ride. To read and write. I'm sure I'll find something that suits soon enough. For now, I am enjoying not having to scrub, or polish." Although she did keep her room fastidiously tidy.

"That's what I thought you all did," going along with her tease as if giving it real credence. It had him laugh for he knew his daughter, although she did a lot of that, also worked hard and did things that his son would not do. So there were difference and it was meant more in that way. Though some girls preferred doing what boys liked doing than girls. And he was noticing the time as the Traugott cuckoo clock over the mantel struck the hour and a half. He finished off his drink as he shifted up from his lean. "I have enjoyed the conversation and your company, Beatrice, but it is time for me to head home for dawn still comes at the same hour, early, no matter how long or not I stay up."

Her grin was wide and toothy as she shifted back from her plate which was empty now save the crumbs. "It has indeed been a pleasure to speak with you, Joe. I understand dawn's wish to rise early, so I will bid you a good, restful night." She would no doubt walk a little more, then bed down when she was good and tuckered out herself. Or maybe read then sleep. Who knew! When dawn came, she would snuggle deeper under her borrowed covers and relish being able to do so.

Which he would take his leave by way of the back and the exit there that would end up a short cut.



Date: 04-13-10
Poster: Trevet MacKay
Post # 99

Time Before the Joust

Treve was waiting on his brother and so took to the tavern this evening. Quiet night was one to relax as he spoke with Alex on the Joust coming up. He had joined up again, having missed the first one. He and Kynan had done it last year so he wondered if his brother would do it again this year with him. Having had supper here and conversation with Alex, once done he headed for the hearth and one of the comfortable wingbacks. His attire just as comfortable in wearing a black vest over a pale gray poets shirt, black pants and shorter boots.

The sound of a horse's whiney carried as the large creaking vardo lumbered towards the tavern. Brightly-colored in shades of red, yellow, blue and green the Vardo was hauled by a large black and white Tinker horse, as close to the tavern as the lady holding the reigns would lead it. Pulling back, and whispering a few words under her breath seemed to calm them and practically stop them on a dime as the woman stood up from her seat at the helm. She didn't approach the tavern just yet as she was tying up things, and making sure the horses wouldn't just go without her.

The noise outside was not of the ordinary and had Treve up from his comfortable slouch and over to the window to take a look out. "It would seem a seller of goods is out late tonight," more to himself but in a way to let Alex know what he was seeing outside that darkened window.  "Seems whoever it is .. going to park themselves right outside." Held a chuckle to the end of his comment. "I wonder if they are from the fields in back of the McDonough ranch."

Kynan had taken a seat in one of the wing backed chairs, his legs stretched out on a footrest. He yawned as he looked over at the window then looked back toward the fire. It was low tonight, just enough to keep the evening chill from the common room.

Like all lineages the same blood that pumped through the veins of those in the fields behind McDonough's ranch could possibly pump through her own, but she did not know if she knew of anyone in Heathfield directly. It was just another place to visit, and explore before the vardo, horse and herself would be on the next cargo ship to the next land. That did not mean that she did not hear of Heathfield from the lips of travelers, and it had peeked her interests enough to give it a whirl. Donning an indigo colored chemise that was tucked into a large red wrap that tied a few times around her waist and still hung down at her shapely hip a bit. As far as her skirts, it was adorned with little shells that were sewn in around the various layers of the skirt that was dyed black as night. Brown curls were unkempt, and hung around her shoulders to make her skin that was smudged with the muck of days of traveling on end. Finally, the woman mounded the steps and moved through the doors towards the lit tavern that had been suggested to her. Upon arrival within the room, she cut a glance to the one who had been looking out the window. A slow smile grew to epic size.

"You have arrived finally," having seen his brother come in via the reflection of the glass window in front of him. Turning in teasing him just at the point the woman that he'd seen outside came in. "Good evening and welcome." Pleasant smile while he held a tumbler of the potcheen tucked in near his chest. Then dipping a glance to his relaxing brother. "Have you sent in the note you will be joining in the joust Thursday?"

"Aye." Kynan looked at Treve and nodded. "I sent it tonight." He grimaced. "Otherwise, I'd probably never hear the end of it." At least from Aedan.

Maggie wasn't sure what time Alex had wanted her to start, but she hoped she wasn't too late. Down she flitted on the stairs from her upstairs room, tying the apron Hazel had given her along the way. It was her first night on the job and she was a bit nervous, but excited as well... excited to have something to do with herself and her time. The apron tied in a neat bow at the back, she alighted the stairs safely and moved towards the bar, glancing around for Alex as she went. Her slim, tall frame was clad in a dress newly washed for the occasion, a form-fitting dark pink. It reflected color up into her cheeks as she cast a smile to the strangers along the way. "Good evening."


Brows lifted as yet another came dashing down the steps. He felt very out of sync in that moment having not socialized most of the winter. Instead he was doing some exploring up in the mountains and on a small island not far from the shores. "Good evening," glancing between the two ladies as he stood there, feet slightly apart but otherwise seemed to be a relaxed posture. "I am Trevet and this is my brother Kynan," giving a slight gesture of hand to the wingback his brother sat within in front of the hearth. Just in case he could not really be seen by them at that angle.

Kynan yawned again, covering it with his hand then he stood. He didn't need Aunt Hazel chewing him out for his manners. "Good eve."

"Good eve'!" She calls out merrily as she stands by the door for a moment before smiling at the lady and gentlemen in the room. Silently and gracefully, she moved with eased and light step towards the bar where she began to fish out various coins before she turned around to face the men. "Ah, well met," The accent on her words were heavy but understand. "I'm Nadja Dalma, traveling entertainment, and foreign goods provider at your services." She curtsied with a little laugh.

"Kynan. Trevet. Nadja," She repeated both as greeting and a way to impress the names upon her mind. Each of them was given a nod and a smile, shockingly blue eyes moving between the brothers and then to the woman, curiously. "I'm Maggie. I'm new here," she shared this with an almost sheepish smile, stepping around to stand behind the bar as she figured she ought. She noticed the coins in Nadja's hand and spoke up. "Oh - there's no charge for food, drink or room here. Courtesy of the Crown." Now that was something she'd enjoy telling everyone! She remembered how that fact had made her feel on her first night here.

"A pleasure to meet you Nadja, what kind of entertainment?" That certainly got his curiosity as he finally moved back to the hearth to reclaim his seat. Settling back in comfortably with a stretch of his legs. "A pleasure to meet you Maggie. Alex could use the help," as he picked up that much and there too curious for he'd not seen one under his services before. Not a bad idea mind you, just took him by surprise was all.

He nearly plopped back into the chair, stretching out his legs again. Treve got a look. She was helping Alex?

"Yes, well, perhaps once I learn my way around a bit more I will actually be some help." Another smile dimpling her cheeks as she laid her fingers lightly on the countertop. "May I get either of you gentlemen anything? Nadja, would you like a drink?" Yes, she was trying to play the hostess as well as possible.

"Really?" Though posed as a question it was more a reflection on her offer. He'd not been waited on in here before and the idea was .. appealing he decided. "Could you see about a tray of cheeses, breads and meats?" Then adding, "please," for he did have manners.

"Oh, I read palms, and perform various circus acts like juggling or spinning plates.  Things you usually seen when the other caravans pass through but... I'm on my own." She then listened as they spoke about this man Alex and Maggie being the new help.  "Yes, please. Whatever you wish to offer," She says with a grateful grin as she continued to pull out various denominations of coin.

"What do you charge to have one's palm read, Nadja?" That too had him curious and if not a steep price he would consider it. Something his brother Mikhail did but they all did it differently.

"Yes. Of course." She nodded with a smile and turned away, stepping toward the kitchen. Then stopped, remembering Alex's warning that she oughtn't set foot into the kitchen unless invited. And so she stepped sideways, leaning over a bit to peer into the small window and asked Hazel for the tray Trevet had asked for. It was a standard request and a few moments later, she carried the tray on one hand over to where the others were sitting. "Here you are," said brightly as she set it down along with some napkins and utensils. Then she turned to Nadja, "We have.. quite a few options," a small laugh as she turned to look at the bottles stacked behind the bar. "Let's see.. ales, rums, wines, whiskeys. And we could make you some cider, or tea or coffee if you wish it.." was she forgetting anything?

He had that 'wow' look as his smile grew. "Thank you," and he would be leaving her a nice tip before he left tonight. Sitting up as well as he reached for some bread, ripping it open to fill with some cheese and meat before he dug in. He always had his appetite.

"Right now, I believe I am doing them at a fair price. I cannot discuss this things aloud," She tried to use a very mysterious voice but couldn't help but laugh. Truth be told, Nadja always thought her readings were a bit... off. So she didn't really charge the proper price for them as other did. "I'd like a bit of... water. I really should be going back to the horse soon. Is there a place that I can set up camp for the evenin'?" She asked Maggie with a hopeful smile.

"It would be too late then to have a reading done?" Being she was asking that last of Maggie but he would clarify for this opportunity might not come his way again.

She quirked a brow at the rather anticlimactic request for water, but went to fetch a cup and some cold clear water. This was brought over to the woman as she considered. "I believe there are some fields, off to this side of the tavern," as she gestured to the side where grew a garden. "There is a wide path leading to the fields and may be another vardo there set up already."

He lopped a chunk of bread at his brother to see if he was still alive or had gone snoozing.

Kynan just picked the chunk of bread up and leaned over to place it on the table. "Our brother's lady used to have her vardo in the upper meadows but she keeps it by the manor now days." He was close to dozing in his chair and sat up straighter in an effort to wake himself up.
She caught that exchange between brothers and smirked slowly, then leaned towards Trevet with a stage whisper. "I could get a pitcher of ice water, that may rouse him..."

"Didn't she sell the vardo to Mikhail?" This could get confusing for his brother and it had a gleam to spark in dark eyes with the prospect. Grinning more with Maggie's suggestion. "That may come in handy..."

"Maybe for this eve, but I will not disappear out of your lives just as quickly as I came in," She made up her excuse as she listens to where she should go and the talk of other vardos. More Roma, hm. She sipped the water, and handed over a tip for the service. "Thank you kindly. And I must be off. I need to see a man about a horse, or something like that." And then she put down the water, and headed out the door with a wave behind her.

"No. Mikhail bought his from Sara Devonshire when she didn't use it anymore since she opened her shop in the hospital." He eyed them both before standing. "I'm going to stay here the night."

"She is quick to disappear, I'm sure Kynan has scared her away. He has that affect on women." Like it was true and an everyday occurrence. Treve was just full of it but having fun with his brother. "So, that means Adara and Mikhail both have vardos in that field past the tavern gardens?"

A tip for just a glass of water? Maggie blinked and had just enough time to give the woman a smile before she left. "Thank you and goodnight," as she slid the coin into the front pocket of her apron. Se laughed at Trevet's comment. "Oh now, he isn't so terrible to look upon..." clearly meant as a tease as well, for the way her eyes flicked down Kynan ever so briefly. "Do you already have a room, Kynan or need a key?"

He just made a snort sound at that. "Women don't even notice me, Treve. Too young. They're more interested in you. Yeah, I guess so though I think Adara's moved her horses at least to the manor stables." He was over to the bar, blinking at Maggie. "Uh ... Alex gave me one earlier." Was he supposed to have her get it now?  He'd have to remember to ask either Aunt Hazel or Alex tomorrow.  "Good night, Maggie. Nice to meet you. Night, Treve."

"I would argue the point but another time as the hour has indeed gotten late. I would say that Lady Aly had her eye on you, even both."

Now, this was an interesting exchange. Her dark brows arched as her gaze moved between the two brothers, amusement dancing in the blue pools. "Goodnight Kynan."

Grinning with a hand to his brother's shoulder, "I think I will head up with you as I've a key as well. We need to prepare for the joust so maybe some practice tomorrow down in the spar field?" He left a nice tip for Maggie for he really enjoyed her service. What they had not eaten, Hazel would pack away or give to the tavern pets in what she could not.

He just waved his hand at that. He had been seventeen when they had jousted last.

With a smile tipped and a quick bow to Maggie, he was around on a heel to start after his brother, asking him questions on his gear and that they would probably need to stop by Rhett's to see what he had to offer in the way of armor.



Date: 04-14-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 100

Foreign Visitors

Segan was lounging in a chair on the porch of the tavern. Legs stretched out having him slightly slouched into the cushions of the chair. Arm resting on a small table that held the tankard of ale he was presently enjoying. He was listening to the sounds around him, people off in the distant square shopping, vendors pronouncing their wares. Birds fluttering about chirping, sky above with a few scattered clouds. Perfect late afternoon to be doing nothing more than he was sitting having an ale. A least they could utilize the porch now that spring was here.

Eion's day had been busy. Training in the morning, some time spent with the young squires and working on their fighting skills, a visit to Dolly to see if there was anything she needed, and another visit to the manor. He had promised to be back for dinner and headed for the Thistle, thinking perhaps he might finally relax for an hour or two. Seeing Segan on the porch, he headed up the steps and grinned at his lounging brother. "You look comfortable."

Grin lifted easily as he squinted a look his brother's way, "I am." His smile only growing larger before settling back. "About time to take some time off. How about you? How have you spent this fine day?" Giving a slight lift of his head towards the open door of the tavern, "get yourself a tankard, some food if you're hungry and join me." Time for the brothers to catch up for it had been some time he got to talk with Eion in such a way. Both had been busy that took them in different directions when for a while they were almost inseparable.

"I was at the manor so hunger isn't a problem," he laughed with his answer. Segan would understand! "I'll be right out." He headed inside, greeting Alex and asking for a tankard of ale as the tender started to pour it. When he joined Segan, he was still chuckling. "Alex has great hearing." Settling into a chair, he sighed. "I spent this fine day in training for the first part, working with the new squires for an hour, visiting Dolly for another, and then going to visit Herself. And here I am. What about you?"

A long day had past since she took to her white horse after leaving the docks. Eventually the Tavern came to view , and her trip was coming to a close. She came towards the porch at a slow pace, taking her time to observe the scenery of spring . The woman was dressed in a red gown of damask worn over a skirt of golden orange with tiny flowers of gold woven into the fabric, and pearls centering each. The sleeves matched the kirtle, and were adorning the laced hems of her elongated finger gloves. The gown was worn over a white high necked smock, with a key hole slit showing just a small tease of cleavage. Her hair was red, and wavy, pulled from her face in a gold net, crowned with a red riding beret made of the same fabric as the gown.

"Playing hooky," which had him laughing, "that is after I ported. Quick run down to Ballicastle for an exchange of goods which are now in the Bovee warehouse. How is Dolly?" Being his  brother told of the situation there and he would watch him in that keen way of his. Except he was distracted as red caught his attention. Words fading off with a slight tilt of his head. She wasn't someone he had seen before but she was richly dressed as he soon gained his feet, "good afternoon." Greeting her cordially.

He had just taken his seat when the lady appeared, and so stood again. "Good afternoon, m'lady," bowing slightly as he greeted her. Blue eyes shifted to his brother to see if he recognized her but apparently she was a stranger to them both.

"Good evening Gentlemen" The greeting was returned, toward the men, as well as one to the other. "What Tavern might ask have I found my way to?"

"You are at the Thistle tavern in the lands of Heathfield." Which told him right there by her question that she was not from anywhere near nor knew the lands. Smile was amicable that followed, "I am Segan Quinn and this is my brother Eion." His attire was comfortable, nothing fancy but well made. Brown vest worn was left open over a poet's shirt of haze. Brown pants and short lightweight boots. Blond streak hair was worn tied back in a tail. Blue eyes much like his brothers were keen, edged with curiosity.

He inclined his head as his name was spoken, smiling slightly at the young woman. Like his brother, he was dressed casually. Pants of black were tucked into knee high knight's boots. Poet's shirt of blue but today he wore no vest.

"I see.. we were traveling by ship to head to another part of the great Isles to see one of my friends, Lady Loli. Our ship got hold of bad wind, and changed our course." The smile was returned to both man. "A pleasure m'lords Quinn, I am Elizabeth Vladstove Rejima. Might I join you a while until my comrades catch up to me?"

"Your ship must have gone off course," no wonder the woman was wondering where she was! Lady Loli didn't sound familiar to him. "A pleasure to meet you Lady Rejima. Certainly you are welcome to join us." He even pulled up a chair near where theirs were and a couple of tables to make use of. "How far have you traveled?"

"Would you care for a drink while you wait?" He'd see to that for her since she was a stranger to the lands.

"Aye the weather has been windy in Kaapal for a while, I believe it's the wicked breeze, must have been the last remains of winter desperately trying to give one last person a hard time, before spring conquered it fully." She got off her horse smoothing out her skirt before approaching the porch, "Not too long in these lands, but on sea, this would be my fifth voyage by ship." She smiled at the offering of drink, and she nodded. "Aye thank you Eion, I would love a glass." She turned and lowered down into the seat nodding a thank you toward Segan who got it for her.

Which had the rich tone of his laugh to fill the air, "aye, winter trying to shove spring before gone 'till next year." Once she was seated he took up his again, comfortably like before. "So you like to sail the seven seas? Or do your trips come of a necessity?" Then to Eion, "I believe Alex has a batch of sweet lemonade made up for this day."

He looked at his brother, lips twitching slightly. "I'll see to that then, unless Lady Rejima would prefer something different?"

The sounds of something approaching and stopping would be heard then as he would exit out then and shrug his shoulders off, looking around silently as he did, "......Hmph." Was all he said before taking more view of his ----- surroundings.

"Lemonade would be fine, I never touch anything else that may corrupt my wits unless three cups of water is added." She smiled toward Segan. "Both, I am afraid I can't enjoy such pleasures unless needed, but when I can I take joy and pleasure of all its worth."

"That's a good way to take on necessity, make the most of it. Never know what Fate will throw in your path." Distracted as another came their way. Here too it was one he'd not seen before. Elizabeth had said there were some others to catch up so maybe this was one of them. "Good afternoon," cordially given the man.

He nodded and headed inside to see to the drink, speaking to Alex as he did as he leaned against the bar and waited. It wouldn't be long until he joined them again, offering the glass to the woman before taking his own seat.

"Aye," she looked up, and saw her adviser. "Ah my Doberman, there you are, I was a afraid I road too far from thee." She took the lemonade when offered by Eion. "Thank you Eion, Please Rahkur, come join us, this is Eion Quinn, and his brother Segan."

"Well met, Rahkur, welcome to Heathfield. If you wish a drink, Alex will serve you up inside. No cost for the queen of these lands has set it up thus." Acute study of the man but not disrespectfully so.

He would half bow before sitting down silently into a chair. "Nothing for now please..." He would say before closing his eyes then.

"Well m'lord Rahkur, I can see my sea hawk Sir Marius has not followed you, has their been any news at all of his training.. or has he deceived me to keep his title a few days more again?"

"No word from him as far as I know of... Probably slacking off somewhere instead of doing what he should if I think I know where he is right now..."

As they turned to matters of affairs he turned a blue-eyed glance on his brother for earlier questions they had yet to discuss the answers. "So, how is Dolly doing?" Genuine concern there in quiet words as he watched his brother keenly again.

She sipped the lemonade, thinking, "we'll have to speak with Raijin, and see if the sea hawks wings have improved or have been clipped to point his wings are unworthy." She turned to the two brothers and smiled. "Do you both enjoy sailing the sea m'lords?"

He nodded cordially to Rahkur before lifting his glass for a drink. Segan's question had him smiling again. "She's doing well considering. Still very independent." He'd understand the last without Eion having to say more. "I don't sail except with Segan, who has his own ship." Dolly was healthy and her pregnancy had given her little trouble. But they could talk more later.

A glance cut from his brother back to the lady with the hint of a smile to show, undeniable so. "Aye, I've me own ship, captain of the Anaconda and glad to see spring here so the trips along the coast and further can resume." From her to his brother with his answer. "Aye, seems she is so but hopefully she will become not so independent when the truth sinks in." More for his sake if that was what he wanted and certainly they could talk more on the delicate situation later if he wanted. Segan was just checking to make sure the lass was well and healthy.

"A captain mmm," she smiled. "I'd like to see it if I may, before Sir Rakhur and I continue our journey. Perhaps one day You shall and your brothers shall visit me in Vorwend?"

"Yes, one of a few here in these lands. The Anaconda sits proudly in out port down past the commons." The pride in his eyes for his ship showed easily. "Which way does one find  Vorwend?" Which reminded him of something that he turned Eion's way, "have you heard anything on Liam, Ciar and Evan from the Colonies?" He had hoped their cousins would have sent some note but no news was good news being the Private Investigators with them would have sent back word if things went wrong.

"It's located on the tenth isle of Kaabal in the east coast below the main island. If the captain of my ship documented this location right it is half a day away from here toward the south east.."

"Nothing yet, but it would take some time for a letter to arrive." He felt the same about the no news being good news, though it was hard not to be concerned. He looked at the Lady. "It's always possible though my duties to the Crown do not make travel easy." Especially right now.

He was getting hungry as the light rumbling growl of his stomach foretold. A hand coming to rest against the tone muscle. "I think it is time I get back to the manor as Herself will be waiting dinner on us." This more to Eion as Segan had not checked in and their Grandmother might be boxing his ears. Only one that could get away with such too. His ale long gone as he stood taking up the tankard to drop off inside. "I wish you well on your journey, Lady Rejima. A pleasure in the meet."

"Aye, I promised her I'd return,. I think she was hoping I'd find you and drag you back." He had gotten a few hints along that line. "It was good to meet you both. Safe journey and hopefully you'll find no more foul winds." He also picked up his empty tankard to carry in to Alex, following Segan.

"The same to you M'lords Quinn, and when ever you sail on the Anaconda, your always welcome in Vorwend." Her hand moving up offering it to him.

"Lord Rahkur," the Quiet. For the man barely spoke two words, "a safe trip as well." With the farewells done, he stepped to take up Elizabeth's hand. He had courtly manners, not all wild as was most in his nature. Fingers slipping beneath guided it up to meet the touch of his lips upon her knuckles with a slight lean down before straightening. Her hand guided down and released. "Take care," and if their grandmother was making hints to Eion, then best they got home with the rest of the family or she would be coming on the march. He was waiting for the day she marched on his ship!  Stepping away with a slight bow before he was around on a heel and heading inside to drop off the tankard. From there he would make use of the side door leading out onto the street and off in the direction of the manor. His brother at his side.



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