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Thistle Tavern

Date: 04-15-10
Poster: Padriach McDonnell
Post # 1

Wanderer in Time

Three paces forward, five paces backwards, Padriach looked about him with a sigh here in the side garden of the Thistle. "Where glows the Irish hearth with peat, there lives a subtle spell. The faint blue smoke, the gentle heat, the moorland odours tell.. why can't I find the key?" It was if there was a rhyme he couldn't get just right. Turning on a heel to face south he started slow steps backwards to the north. That was until his back legs hit the fountain's wall having him almost fall in. Hands caught the lip as he stood straight again. An oversize tunic was worn to fit loosely, cinched at his waist by a wide belt. Color of wheat, pants of brown and the leather boots worn and faded.

The Tavern was quiet this time of afternoon, after lunch hour but before the dinner rush. With all the customers gone it gave her some time to clean up the place a bit. With sleeves rolled up and an apron atop her fetching blue dress, she worked industriously, losing track of time and place. She was probably rare amongst most in that she actually enjoyed cleaning. It was simple work but important, for a tidy place could bring up anybody's mood. And it had a certain rhythm to it too, one she could hum along with as her mind wandered. It wasn't until that muffled scuffling sound came from outside that she looked up from the shelf she was scrubbing, and rose to step over to the ajar side door. With the damp cloth still in hand she peered outside, then stepped fully into the doorway, looking at the young man by the fountain. She gave him a curious smile as he righted himself. "Decided not to go for a swim, after all?" Referring to the fact that it seemed he had nearly gone arse-over-ankles into the fountain.

Finger tapped against his lip before remembering, "of white roads winding by the edge, of bare, untamed land, where dry stone wall or ragged hedge, runs wide on either..." giving a blink as his hand fell away and the woman who stood in the doorway. He stepped away from the wall into the flourish of a bow, "madame, good day to you. My dame, the fountain is too small for a swim." As one that had taken her remark seriously.

She dipped a curtsy in return to his bow, straightening as he answered. A glance went from him, to the fountain, and back again. Amusement dancing upon her features as she replied mildly, "Of course it is."  It seemed he was the sort to miss her joke and she wouldn't enlighten him, instead acting like it had been her mistake, though the smile remained. "Well, perhaps not a swim but the day is warm... would you like a cool drink to refresh yourself while you.." what exactly was he doing out here? She finished uncertainly, "recite poetry....?"

He seemed satisfied with that, that she agreed that the fountain was too small to take a swim in. "The day is warm, the lake is still cold," sounding like the remark came from experience. He made his way over to her, dark eyes taking her in and although her joke went over his head, there was intelligence seen in his eyes, perhaps of a different kind. "Hair of fire, spirit of silver and heart of gold.." more mussed but he seemed to be speaking of her. "It is rhyme that brings about change, misty field bathed in moonlight upon the summer solstice, opens doorways."

"So you speak in poems as well as recite them," she mused, but seemed flattered by his assessment of her. A hand tucking a crimson-streaked black strand of hair behind one ear. "In all truth, good sir I cannot understand a word of what you say... though it certainly sounds lovely." A full smile was given now upon lips that had a sensual curve to them. "Was there a request for a drink somewhere in there?" Yes, she was teasing him again though whether he missed the joke this time too, remained to be seen.


"Poems and rhymes, flow like time. I seek one of the doors. This door the only available one," which had a slight smirk for she stood within its frame. "No matter, no worries, the Faefolk had their day with good ole Padriach. In time they will get their due. Today, I shall drink with a lovely lady within the cooler confines of the tavern. Perhaps she will spin a tale of her days that brought her here?"

Another blink and Maggie gave him a long, bemused look. She still wasn't sure exactly what the meat of his words were, beneath all the poetic trimmings. His latter statement was clear enough though and she stepped out of the doorway to let him pass. "Perhaps I may, though it is unlikely to be as lyrical as your words." A light smile as she let him pass then stepped in as well. The whole place had a clean, citrus smell and a bright look after all the cleaning she'd done. Maggie moved behind the bar, tossing the cloth in her hand into a hamper of other dirty linens, then gave him an expectant look. He never had offered a drink order.

"Lyrical, symarical," teasing tone laced his words as a megawatt smile flashed in place as he passed her. Now near she might notice he was fairly tall. "May I have the name of this lovely maiden before me?" He gave a low whistle under his breath, "this place shines." Though Alex always kept it spotless it now had polish upon polish and shone. "A light ale, Alex," as the older gentleman was aware of what Paddy usually took as his fare, although there were the nights he would ask for something completely different. He straddled up a stool making himself comfortable.

Maggie had spent her life in the role of a maid... house maid, lady's maid and now barmaid. As such she was used to strangers flirting with her and she answered his compliment with an easy smile. "I'm Maggie." She did notice his sudden grin, which was unexpected from one so seemingly serious at first. Her own smile expanded some as he praised the way the place shone, pleased he had noticed. A smile over her shoulder to Alex as the gentleman went to fetch Padrich's drink and in the meanwhile she got a clean cloth and started wiping the side of the counter. "Would you like anything to eat with that ale?"

Sniff,sniff, "is that citrus? Such a clean scent," lifting his tankard as he spewed forth more poetry, "to cottage lights that lure you in from rainy western skies; and by the friendly glow within of simple talk and wise." Taking a long good dose to quench his growing thirst before it was set with a dull thud to the bar and the swipe from the back of his hand over his mouth. No foam left to coat his upper lip or the whiskers there. "I will have some bread, meat and cheese if you are willing to share it with me, Maggie. The pleasure in the meet."

"Yes, I use diluted lemon juice to make the wood shine." She watched him as he posed his toast, that smile teasing her lips again as he spouted the eloquent words with ease. A dark brow quirked as he made that offer and then she smiled again. "I suppose I have time for a snack." All the cleaning had made her hungry, she only now realized. Mags turned away briefly to go to the kitchen window, giving the order to Hazel. It wouldn't take long since such things were always on hand, and a few moments later she had the tray balanced on one hand to carry back over to the bar. It was loaded with fresh-baked bread, new cheese and cold cuts of beef and turkey. Her other hand held a couple of plates and she set all this down on the counter before Padriach. "Here we are. Now, since I agreed to sharing your meal perhaps you might give me your name in return?" It seemed only fair.

He had gotten a damp cloth from Alex as she moved to get the tray requested. Wiping his hands clean then drying them before he would touch the food. He had a way of taking the bread to hollow then layering meat with cheese. Not too much nor too little then twisting them like a braid of which he set one for her then did up one for himself. He paused almost appalled, "I did not give my name," a mussing under his breath in reprimand before easily stating, "Padriach McDonnell, of the two Ls and not ALD," like it made a main difference and it had where he came from. "Paddy for short as some like it short than too long." Spinning a grin before taking a bite of his twisted up cheese and meat sandwich.

She watched him amusedly as he made up the sandwiches, "That's one way to do it...." beneath her breath. Then for his ears she gave a sweet, "Thank you." A delicate bite taken and nibbled as she listened to him give his name. A brow arched slowly at his suggestive manner of speech, 'some like it short and some long'... and she could tell he was aware of it too. Which made her grin a bit though she hid it behind another bite. "Very well then, Padraich." Using the long version of his name... and you could be sure by the dancing of her eyes, that she was also making suggestive innuendos!

Actually he was not thinking along those lines but she didn't know him that well and it would be natural to assume if one's mind wandered to that area enough. His had been so long remiss it would take a while but he would probably rise to the occasion once there! Using the long of his name brought a warmer smile before taking another bite. "Are you finding the ease of heart you needed while here in these lands and do you plan to stay or shall you wander again?" In between eating as once asked he finished off the rest of the twisted elongated sandwich and proceeded to make two more.


Hmm... once again it seemed to go over his head. She'd expected a bawdy remark rather than that genuine smile from him, though it was a rather nice change from the norm. As before she didn't point out his lapse but went on eating, lifting a brow at his questions. The way it was phrased was more personal than just a general question, and more insightful too. She chewed and swallowed slowly before replying. "It is a nice place, these lands and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon them, yes." Light smile as she took another bite. Whereas he inhaled his food, she was still not halfway through her first sandwich. "I've a job here now so I plan on staying awhile, at least. And what of you? Are you born of these lands or a wanderer yourself?"

She would only confuse him until it was painted red. Blunt in his face for he'd been away far too long from suggestive speaking, although he'd probably do a good job of it being he already was accidentally. "You are lucky, yes indeed, we are lucky as well, indeed. I ended up here, wandered, yes." Indeed but how did one go about explaining they were from an ancient past. At least not upon first meet. There might not be a second then. "Now that I am here, here I remain." Unless he found that door to the past again. He had a sneaky feeling he was suppose to be here, was sent here although he says they pulled a prank on him. Smile was quick before he was devouring another of the sandwiches.

"It seems that many who wander here happen to stay. Which was part of what convinced me to stay, as well. This place does have a certain draw to it, though, doesn't it? Something hard to explain, but there."

Something buzzed in his ear as he near choked on the last bit of the sandwich, quickly washing it down with the ale and a pound on his chest to cure the ill. "And tales of magic, love or arms from days when princes met. To listen to the lay that charms the Connacht peasant yet. I must be on my way as the sea calls like the conch shell." Rising as he spoke, "I am pleased you have stayed and conversation still remains for another day. Good day to you, Maggie. Good day to you Alex, then a little louder, "good day to you Hazel." He was quick on the turn of a heel to head out the front door and on his way.

Another smile offered as she finished her sandwich and then licked a crumb off her finger. Pausing as he seemed to choke. Well that was all very sudden, but then he did seem an unusual sort. Not unpleasant, just different from most. A nod given as he took his leave, barely time to call out her own farewell, "Have a pleasant day...!"



Date: 04-17-10
Poster: Joshua McDonough
Post # 2

Strange Night

It was a quiet night in the Thistle, the weather fine enough to have many gallivanting outdoors for once. Out on the street there was the faint sound of bawdy singing, but inside Maggie was enjoying the peace. She was taking a break over by the hearth, legs curled beneath her as she sat in an armchair. Cup of tea steaming beside her and a book in hand.

Joshua was still shaking off the strange effect those in the lands of Camelot left upon him. Women that hated men for no apparent reason or the fact the one had to be preteen. The knife that had been ripped from his belt by another, attacked him as much as they complained about recent attacks, was returned upon his leaving. Needless to say they left a terrible impression on the young man just starting to get out and about. He would think twice going there again even if most of them calmed down after a while. The friendliest was the Bullman he had heard stories about from his father. Bone weary he guided Twilight up to the tavern for he was not ready to go to sleep, nor ready to head back to the ranch. He was old enough to be out on his own. Dismounting as booted feet found solid ground and a dusting of his clothing for the trail accumulation. Josh was still not one to complain unless a real complaint. The sounds of his steps herald his arrival as he was up to the porch and within a few moments later. He had debated to find the source of the bawdy singing but it was better he just had a drink, he was a little punchy after the afternoon trials. "Hello," noticing the woman by the hearth with a ghosted smile that was true enough to reach unique green eyes trained her way a moment before switching to Alex, "potcheen." The tender looked at him a moment before giving a nod and setting out a glass of the potent brew but he didn't leave the bottle.

She'd taken a pause in her reading to rub at the bridge of her nose, but her fingers fell away at the sound of the door. Glancing up, glowing blues met greens for a moment as she nodded her greeting. "Hello," she returned with a brief smile of her own as she pushed to her feet. She supposed with a customer here now she ought to get back to work. Straightening, she left the book on the chair and reached behind herself to re-tie the strings of her apron in a neat bow. The boy who asked for the potcheen looked to be about her own age, not too young to drink but perhaps a bit young for such a brew. At any rate she wasn't surprised when Alex took the bottle away. Maggie approached the bar. "Would you like anything else this evening, a meal or snack? There's bread fresh baked," indeed they could smell it wafting from the kitchen.

At first he stiffened as she came so quickly his way but relaxed when she didn't attack him like the last lass in foreign lands. He shouldn't feel that someone would do so here but this lass was a stranger too. Eyes of green darkened a moment and something of an ancient feel for a split second almost drawn upon if needed. He let out a whoosh of air as a hand went up to rub at the back of his neck. The next smile blended with something shy and yet not. The action there too was brief as he picked up the glass to kick back the potent brew like a pro. Alex poured him another. "I am Joshua McDonough, who might you be?"

Maggie arched a brow briefly, taking note of his discomfort, fleeting though the signs might have been. She offered a warmer smile to put him at ease. "I'm Maggie. Maggie Callahan." No answer to the query about food, but then he seemed more than content with the potcheen. "McDonough, was it? I've heard the name but I'm new here, myself. What is it you do Joshua?"

"A pleasure to meet you Maggie," she had a comfortable name if one were to attach such to a name. "You'll have to forgive me," he read the reaction to his reaction correctly. Smile came a touch warmer, "I've had a strange day. I ended up in other lands were women looked at you with hate in their eyes, one kept exclaiming it so. Another ripped my hunting knife from my belt when she could have just asked for it if there was some rules. It was sheathed. Then went on about having been attacked but she had attacked me." He promptly ended the tirade there before a sort of laugh escaped. A lean taken in against the bar as he was starting to relax. The key word, of which he reminded himself, it was other lands, not here. "I work on me Da's ranch which will one day be mine but that day will be a very long time off. My father is Joseph McDonough who has the private investigators. I hope to have him train me as an undercover agent now that I've come of age. I also whittle."

There were several glasses set out, newly washed and still wet. Maggie began drying them with a cloth while Joshua spoke. His story had her brows lifting in surprise and when he finished, she too let out a disbelieving laugh. "My goodness. No wonder you asked for the potcheen." It made sense now, with all he'd been through tonight. "Well, I'm glad you are back and safe, as I'm sure you are. That's right... I do remember hearing of the McDonough ranch. You've racehorses too, yes?" Her steady stream of conversation was easy and casual rather than overbearing, meant to put him at ease.

"Aye, me cousin Rory has the McDonough stables and has always had horses even before the Frasiers came to the lands and started up the race tracks. Of course it takes a certain kind to be a good race horse. I have my own, Red Knight. He does well. Me Da has cattle as well me uncle Maurice. Doubled up ranch and I've been working with ornery bulls since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I hunt and ride, I can use a sword well enough as me Da taught me. Other weapons too such as knives and the bow. What I enjoy doing the best is whittling." Which had a fuller smile arise and certainly it set off handsome, even if still a touch youthful, features. "Tell me about you." It was fair.

It seemed her questions had opened up his conversational abilities a bit, and she smiled lightly to herself, continuing to wipe down glasses while he spoke. It was interesting to her, that his passion amongst all those skills was the most mundane act of them all: whittling. But she kept the thought to herself. Her smile increasing enough to dimple her cheeks at his question. "I've not nearly as many exciting things to tell as you, I'm afraid." The last glass set aside, she leaned an elbow upon the bartop. "I am from Wales, originally but haven't been back in many years. I'm new to these lands, but then I told you that already." Brief laugh. "Let's see... I work here but you can see that for yourself.."

Josh was shy and yet not and certainly he was not shy when it came to talking but probably would feel the heat around the collar of his shirt if a lass actually flirted with him. He didn't really have that problem yet. Well, not that he noticed. Girls giggled a lot around boys, that he had noticed but didn't think on it beyond that. If only she saw his whittling, she would think differently. He was that good. So had been his uncle Ice. "Well, I don't think I'm all that exciting," just to reassure her as he continued. "What is Wales like? I've never been there." Smiling as she repeated she was new here, the obvious. "You do a good job and it helps Alex out. Have you met his twin brother yet? Well, most likely you've not being he's in Ballicastle most of the time."

"Wales?" She tilted his head as he asked it, spilling sun-streaked waves over one shoulder. "It's... very green. The land is rich but many of the people poor." For a moment her inner eye went somewhere far away, and then the smile returned and she shrugged slightly. "I was quite young when I left, I really don't know. No, I've not met his twin... Alex did not tell me he had a twin brother!" That in a teasingly accusing tone, over her shoulder to the older gentleman nearby.

"So it is a lot like Ireland where me Da is from? Green rolling hills I will one day see, I hope." He fell silent as he watched her, knowing she was seeing things of a past. "Do you wish to go back? Do you wish to go back any place you've been? Even in time if you could?" Alex was obviously leaving them to their conversation than adding anything about his brother.

Maggie shrugged offhandedly to the comment about Ireland, for she'd never been there to compare the two countries. Alex was given a gentle smirk before Joshua brought the conversation back 'round. They were direct and personal sorts of questions and her smile faded accordingly. It was clear that she was taking the queries seriously, considering them deep within herself. In the end she decided... "No. No, I wouldn't wish to go back." In a way it hurt, to realize that. And made her feel a bit guilty, thinking of the parents she'd not seen in so long. They probably thought her dead and it gave her pangs when she thought of that... but not going back... it was for the best. She took a breath and re-focused on Joshua, smiling slowly. "And you? Would you wish to return to another time or place in your life?"

He had drawn closer. So close she could see the coppery flecks in green eyes. He still had the innocence of youth in that there was no ulterior motive behind his questions other than pure curiosity and something wiser. "They say you can never really go back so best not to try to. To grieve over what you should and then to look forward to what can be. Trust in Fate to bring  you were you should be to find a bit o' happiness. Possibly to bring happiness too. I think that is even better." He shook his head with that particular question back at him, "I am still where I was born, I am still with those I love and those I love still with me." He didn't really remember his mother for he was only five when she died.

She nodded lightly to his words, smiling her agreement. His words were unexpectedly wise... easier said than done, of course, but there was comfort to be found there nonetheless. For some reason his final words, of being still with  those he loved struck her poignantly. Perhaps because his question had dredged up things of her past that she hadn't thought about in so long.... but it was enough to have a lump in her throat. "Yes." She nodded slightly, a tiny smile on her lips as she nodded. "Excuse me." As she spoke she was turning to go to the back room. Ostensibly on some chore but she needed a moment to collect herself. Sitting down on a crate, she laid her hands in her lap then quickly up to cover her face.

He couldn't help but follow her, tentatively. The tone of his voice softened reassuringly. "I am sorry, do not think me callous. I see things becoming better for you. Ease of your heart in spite of things you feel lost to you. They will be found in a different way, in new friends, in peace of mind." He could go on but he didn't just in case he was putting his foot in his mouth. "I would like to become one of those friends. I could use one too." He had come to crouch down by her side feeling very guilty at the moment for his naivety socially.

She hadn't closed the door, of course, so he was free to follow though she didn't expect him to. Her hands were steepled in front of her face as the weeping took her for a moment. In truth... she felt like a little girl for a moment. She missed exactly what he had said he had... being where she was born, with those she loved and who loved her. She might be a woman grown but she still missed her mother. She looked up quickly and swallowed when he came in, wiping off her cheeks. A quick shake of her head was given, for she caught his guilty tones, and she waved her hand to reassure him. "Don't be sorry. I ought to be, for acting so silly." She sniffed lightly and tucked some hair behind her ear. A slight smile produced for him as he crouched before her. She noticed then even despite the dim light, those coppery flecks in his green eyes. "One can never have enough friends... aye?"

"I don't think you silly at all. Never silly to care deep enough it brought tears. A soul cleansing, a remembrance to something or someone held dear. Too many have no feelings, too numb to bring about a tear. They go through life not feeling for feeling brings pain but pain assures you are alive and feeling." He was looking into her eyes steadfast at this point as a smile lifted with his affirmation to her words, "never too many and better the true of heart ones."

"I suppose... being alive and feeling, even feeling terrible. Is better than being numb to the good feelings." She murmured this reflectively. Another sniff and she brushed the last tears away. They'd made her eyes very blue, a brilliant blue that glistened still. A longer breath was taken and released slowly as the worst of the lonely aching ebbed away. "Yes. Thank you, for..." hard to describe exactly what he'd done, so she smiled a bit and said it plainly, "making me feel better." A pause given and she ran her hands along her apron. "I suppose I should get back."

A hand lifted to wipe away some of her tears, at least the one cheek. His left hand, her right cheek, it would turn out to be. He had the hands of a working man for he worked hard on the ranch but he didn't smell like he'd been mucking manure all day either. A pleasant scent that combined leather with clover and sun dried wheat. "If I helped at all, you're certainly welcome and I certainly feel better your feeling better considering it was I that opened that door." By his questions though it had not been intended to have her feel badly. He wondered if maybe those tears were long overdue. He gradually stood and offered his hand to help her up, not that she needed help up but more the gentlemanly thing to do.

She flicked a glance to him when he brushed her cheek, a tender gesture that took her by surprise, but made her smile nonetheless. "Perhaps you did open the door. But it has been ajar for some time." She admitted with a faint smile. A glance to his hand when he offered it, and she took it, resting her fingers upon his only lightly to rise, ladylike. "I suppose I'm just a bit homesick." It sounded silly and childish, but it was true. Now on her feet she turned towards the door that led back out into the commons. "Speaking of it, Wales that is... well, even though I would not go back given the chance, I still miss it." A soft smile as she glanced his way, wondering if that made sense to him.

"You miss it because that is where your last real home was." Which wasn't silly to him as she rose with the guide of his hand. There was a pause, a consideration, before he drew her into his arms and into a hug. Perhaps a little stiff at first, not so much he was stiff but that initial not knowing if she would want or hug back. Friends hugged and if they were to be friends, this was his first step.

He was right about that, she realized. All of the places she had lived and stayed since leaving home... they didn't really count. It brought the lump to her throat again even before she was taken up in his hug. She was tall but of a slim frame, easily engulfed in his embrace. She, too stiffened at first, if only in surprise but then her arms lifted to return the hug. A few moments taken with her cheek against his chest, eyes closing briefly to hold back another trickle of tears.

He seemed to have that quality of bear hug, the kind that wrapped you up like a comforter on a freezing night. Solace to stirred emotions. Strong yet gentle and long enough without being overly long before ending. Easing from it but kept his arm around her shoulders. "Never think true emotions are silly," words came low with a touch of a smile as he started them back out to the main room. "It is however, time to get some sleep. I am going to stay here the night as I've got a key. If you're staying too, I'll walk you up to your room," much like he was already.

She gave a small squeeze at the end of the hug, her wordless gesture of gratitude, that along with the soft smile she gave when he pulled away. Dabbing her eyes one last time, she walked with him back out into the bar area. If Alex was giving them strange looks.... what with her tearstained cheeks and his arm about her shoulders, she gave her employer a brief smile to reassure him. It was past the time she usually left to go to bed, anyway. "Yes, I've a room  upstairs I'm living in." She allowed herself to be guided to the stairs and up, finding comfort in the friendly arm about her shoulders. It felt almost like her big brother... different of course, but that same sort of protective concern that soothed her spirit. "Thank you, by the way. You've barely just met me and still willing to.. wipe away my tears." A brief sheepish laugh. "You're in no way beholden to me, you know."

He set an easy comfortable pace too, no hurry yet no lagging. Josh was the protective type too, not that he had to really use that quality in a life and death matter. He was very protective of his sister Tamara. He guided her right to her door as only then did his arm slide away from her shoulders. A slight chuckle under his breath as she came up with the last. Surprising him some with it, "aye, no beholden at all." That really didn't come into the equation in his mind. "But.. I am very pleased to make a new friend, Maggie. Sleep deep and restful. I will see you again about I'm sure." Being she was working in the Thistle, good chance there. Sincere smile touched the spark of green eyes before he gave a bow of his head. Cordial gesture, respectful too, then on the turn of a heel he headed back up the hall a distance to unlock the door to his room and disappear inside.

"I'm sure you shall." A slight nod, and then a true smile warmed her lips. "Sleep well, yourself. Goodnight." A hand on her doorknob, she bowed her own head in return, the slightest of curtsies that was a knee jerk reaction to the formalities of her last job. She watched him till he reached his door, then pulled out a key from her apron pocket and let herself into her own room.



Date: 04-18-10
Poster: Joshua McDonough
Post # 3

New Friends

Joshua had long finished lunch as he sat near an open front window. Light warm breeze flowed into the tavern. A quiet tavern this lazy spring afternoon. Comfortably situated with a lean back and a foot propped on the adjacent chair as he whittled away. The shavings would fall to the floor but he already assured Alex (who believed him having known Josh all his life) that he would clean it up afterwards. Poet's shirt of a pale maze would capture some of the shillings as well the brown pants and short tan boots. Josh was playing hookie, a short of vacation from ranch duties. Whiling his time away in the tavern since yesterday.

Earlier she had been bored stiff, to the point where it became apparent not only to herself but to Hazel who she was peppering with questions that she needed something to do. It wasn't that Bea enjoyed being annoying, it was simply that she had felt utterly useless after so many days of being without chores or duties. It was monstrous for a tidy creature like herself so Hazel was happy enough to allow her the pleasure of hanging some sheets out to dry. Having been nothing but a lay-about for so long, she practically floated away with the damp sheets, only to return hours later to pluck them from the line while humming. Sneaking a sniff or two, she delighted in the smell of Spring sunshine, of soap and lemon. It made her almost tingle to be useful even if the chore was a small one. Folded and neat, she carried in the basket right on through with a beaming grin from one ear to the other. "Afternoon Mister Alex!" Her voice chirped, literally as eyes of dreamy green flittered about. No dust specs, a cleanly swept floor. A hearth that was ready to be lit if need be. Her neat little soul all but sang. Until she saw the shavings on the floor. It made her pause mid-stride, lips pursing. Alex might have known the stranger was going to clean up, but it made her twitch. "Hello." Not impolite, just neutral really. Shavings, all over Alex's clean floor.

A light whistled tune had started up until distracted by one coming in. At first he thought it was the lass he met that had been hired by Alex but, lo and behold, it was another and one that was around his age as well. He straightened up setting the carving of an owl he had started on the table. A hand coming to swipe the wood shilling from his shirt and pants as he then realized the small mess around his chair. He was up quick, the whittling knife tucked away on his belt before he was over to the corner where the broom was propped, dustpan with it, taking them up so he could clean up the spot. If others were going to come in, last thing Alex would appreciate would be a mess of wood chips. "Afternoon," glancing her way as he saw to the task.

Fingers tightened over the basket with a rustle of wicker as her palms all but itched for a broom and pan as he went about sweeping up his mess. It made her shoulders relax then and the easy smile return. Happy to see that the mess wouldn't be left, and that the stranger knew his way about a broom she went back to the kitchens to deliver the linens. "Miss Hazel! They're all folded just as you asked. Thank you for the pick me up. I needed the kick." Sometimes all it took was a well mannered swift kick to the rear to put you into better spirits. Rewarded with a grin, Bea left the kitchen with a sandwich of cold, smoked meat, cheese and new season vegetables. Seeing that the stranger was there, she decided it was best to take up the same manners of those she had met by being as polite and cheery as possible. "Would you like something to eat? Y-y-you could have a sandwich." She bit her tongue over the stutter, he looked about her age but who could tell these days?

By the time the woman saw to ridding herself of the basket full of linens, Josh was done sweeping up, not missing a single shilling, and off to the side door. A door that was left open leading to the garden. One that was really starting to bloom well in all the flowers planted. The trees' buds bursting with either flower or leaves. The scent enticing filled with enough warmth. He dumped the shillings into the mulch of the flower beds where it would be of use, gradually decomposing. Sunlight played over his tall frame of six feet and three inches. Still growing at his age, he would be as tall as or taller than his father or uncle by the time he was done. Hair was dark and curling down along his neck and over the neck's edge of the poet's shirt. He was back in after a couple moments to return the broom and pan to the closet, not the corner of the room where he had it out to. "I already ate but I think some cold cider would be good," which Alex would see to. "I am Joshua, or Josh. What name do you go by?" Settling at the bar as he made himself comfortable.

She gave a nod when he came back in with his answer, but not before she was leaning a bit to watch him depose of the shavings. That he put them in the compost rather than simply dump them outside garnered a pert nod and a little grin. Neat as neat could be, she set the plate onto the bar and then tucked herself onto stool with napkin folded over her lap. He was quite a ways taller than she, but then Bea was the runt of her own litter so she never worried when she wasn't the tallest in a grouping. Her lack of height made it easier to clean some places so she counted it as a blessing. The little grin turned to a wide smile as she nodded to Alex in agreement. "Cider does sound good on such a pretty day like this. Please?" Those wide, green eyes beamed at Alex while she took her first bite of her sandwich careful to answer only when she was finished chewing. "Beatrice, but you may call me Bea if you like. Joshua is a very nice name. It was nice of you to clean up after yourself. Not everyone would." At least, some of the people she'd known in the past wouldn't have.

He was tall but not quite as tall as the McAndrews lads his age. At least he wasn't dwarfed. "Beatrice is a nice name, but Bea it shall be at your request." Or she would not have offered it up by his way of thinking. "Aye.." holding a light chuckle to edge that one word as he glanced back to the spot he had occupied. Only thing left was the half carved owl on the table which he would get later. The fine details would still need to be added before it was finished. "I promised Alex to clean up so that he would allow me to work in here." Dark green eyes held orange and gold specks if one got close enough to see. Gave them (and his father's) the unique coloring. "Do you work here too like Maggie?" Not that he would know who Alex hired but he had one lass he discovered.

"Do you prefer Joshua or Josh?" She was never quite sure, since at times it was a matter of how long one knew someone. Taking a quick sip of cider, she let it cool her throat before she ate more of her sandwich, listening to his explanation. It was nice to see manners in action. Her brother was an utter slob much to their mother's dismay. "That was very nice of you." Humming for a moment to herself to keep her words on track, she laughed a little. "No, I just needed something to do today. I think perhaps I was annoying Hazel with some of my questions so she let me hang out the wash." To which, she smiled at Alex again before returning her eyes to Joshua. "I've met Maggie though. I did not realized she worked here. I am somewhat in between jobs, and I've read all my books, cleaned my room as much as I can. It was either do something constructive or get swatted. I chose the better path." Laughing a little, she finished her sandwich at that point. "What are you doing on this fine day? Besides making things of wood in a rather canny way. You've a knack don't you?" She was always happy to learn something about someone new.


"I would prefer Joshua." Pausing a heartbeat before he continued with the reason, "in the past I've gotten in trouble and had one say, oh gosh Josh, why did you do that? Which only had me bust up laughing when I was suppose to be serious. Got them madder than a hornet so made things worse." He then added something that was a bit of insight, "me ma died when I was five. The mother of me sister Tamara up and left me Da for no real reason other than she was a dingbat." Which is what he called her but not in front of his father who might box his ears for it. Even if it were true he would say it was disrespectful. "So we learned to keep things clean around the house and keeps one from getting sick much during those seasons too. A cattle ranch would be a muddy mess otherwise and smell terrible if one didn't keep it up. Me Da insisted since we were knee high to a grasshopper and it became second nature." He paused another moment in consideration of her last statement. "Sounds to me that you need to get out. There are a lot of other places here to see and do things. You could visit the Zoo or the Avian Garden where Vanessa has a lot of different birds. She's real nice too. There is the lake which, I confess, I'll be spending more time at than here too. Most will be going there as the weather gets warmer. Some have probably already started. There is the commons with all the shops, a theater there where they put on plays. Valdez family. There are other places to see but they would take needing a guide most likely. Sometimes they hold a fishing contest down at the lake for Ole One Eye. This huge bass that lives there. He's been caught but the ones set him free rather than eat a Legend." Joshua could rattle on with the best of them once one got him talking.

Bea might not know what a dingbat was, but it sounded pretty funny to her to the point where she couldn't help but giggle. Of course, since he was talking about his own family she choked a little thinking that he might not like her laughing about something so personal so a hand was clapped firmly over her mouth followed by a muffled "Pardon." He was a good talker, but then Bea was a good listener. She preferred it since the more she talked the more likely there was a chance she would start stuttering. "I have been to the Avian Gardens. I got lost there while trying to find the lake. That is how I ended up here. I got lost." She said it with a shrug but it was obvious from the flush on her cheeks that it had been a point of contention at some point in her own young life. "My mother used to say that being clean was the next best thing to being faithful to God." Smiling then, she set her napkin neatly onto her plate before asking for another glass of cider. Hanging laundry was work that made for a powerful thirst! "She is chatelaine to the MacKinnon laird. He's old and hasn't a wife. I've always worked so, it doesn't usually seem like work at all usually." She hadn't ever been on a ranch but if it was anything like a farm, then she knew what was what mostly. "Other than the lake, which places do you like to go for fun?" If you wanted to know what to do, ask a local!

He thought it was pretty funny. The woman that had been married to his father, he had never met and any woman that would leave Joseph McDonough would have to be a dingbat in his opinion. A whole lot of prejudice there but might not be far from the mark anyway. He thought the word was funny too and had him grinning when she giggled. His smile tended to light up his eyes. Mirth seeming to dance there. "At least when you get lost, you end up in good places instead of one of the old manor homes that have ghosts in them. Those unsettled souls from a war long ago that have not found their way to the light and hereafter. They're stuck." Or what was called earthbound, Joshua just put it in simpler terms. "Cleanliness is next to godliness or something like that," giving a nod, he had heard the phrasing. "Me uncle Maurice is Laird of our clan and me father a Lordship but they always worked with their hands and started a small cattle empire here in these lands. Both are Ambassadors to the Crown and me Da was an undercover agent, something I would like to be one day with his training." Little did he know how such training would go, learning how to become the Chameleon like his father. "But he recently stepped down but still has the Private Investigators of which two have gone to the Colonies to help the Quinn brothers that have recently arrived. Cousins of the original family that has returned to the lands." Like she needed all this information! It just seemed to flow with all the rest.

"Oh stories of ghosts and ghouls don't bother me." Or so she would say, putting on a brave front while sharing in his mirth and grin. "I think I've met your father! Joseph, but he called himself Joe. Right?" Happy to put two and two together gave her features a more excited flush rather than one of embarrassment. "It is next to Godliness! I was so pleased when I did lose my way here to see how clean it is. Some places I have been I was too afraid to sleep on their bed for fear of fleas." Which coupled with her appalled expression was something of a horror. No doubt dust was one of her many enemies too. And mud. Bea absolutely hated mud, tracked in or otherwise. "He was speaking with a woman named, Claire! Something about her having a home now. It was very nice. He told me a little of himself. And you! Your the son with the knack for carving. He seems very proud of you, but you've proven to be quite nice. Just like he said you would be." Humming a little to pull her scattering thoughts and run away tongue together, she threaded her fingers together to hug one of her knees while sitting up straight. "He said there were lots of people my age and reeled off so many names, I nearly fainted." She laughed, just as happy as a lark to sit and chat.

"Aye, he goes by Joe or Joseph. Doesn't seem to matter just as long as he's called to dinner." Laughing a bit as he added, "so he would phrase it." There were some good stories of ghosts that got proven to be real. At least for the many that got to witness it. There was a slight dip to his brows as if a storm cloud appeared overhead, "I wandered to foreign lands and they were not very welcoming the other day. I don't think I will go back there to visit again. Seems some of the women have this hatred towards males and one ripped my sheathed hunting knife from my belt. I told her all she had to do was ask, I didn't know they had this thing about collecting weapons before getting in the gates." They talked about being attacked but the one had in essence attacked him. So, they were not much better over what they complained about in his mind. Distracted by something she said, "I remember Claire, not that I knew her much personally. She use to live here then moved away for a few years and now is back I hear. Me Da has found her a house to live in." He gave a glance to the Traugott cuckoo clock over the mantel that sounded on the hour with the little bird coming out the door chirping the hours off. Distracted there a moment and back. "You are comfortable then with your room, the food and so on? There are a number of those between fourteen and twenty-one." Figuring that twenty one was a cut off to being older. Fourteen a bit on the younger side.

She could only nod in agreement regarding the unfriendliness of neighboring areas. "If ever there were boogey men, one need only travel to some distant place where they jump out from the bushes at you." She sipped at her second cup of cider, giggling into it over the phrase his father used. "My father says that is how my mother won his heart. It was her roast duck in a pie. Food is the way to a man's heart, although with the manners some have... I tend to wonder." She had seen some eat like pigs, swearing and sweating as they did so. It was why as a norm, Bea tended to stay away from Knights and Soldiers. Most that she had met, hadn't been quite as courtly as those here. "I suppose it is a good thing that she has returned after a time, then!" She wasn't sure but it always seemed like going home was a good idea. Most of the time. Happy to talk about the Thistle, she beamed a smile at Joshua. She all but oozed sunshine at that point. "It is by far the best place I have stayed. I really am enjoying it muchly!"

"Well, I think we all like finely prepared food. Me Da taught me to cook but I think a woman's cooking would still appeal to him over his own." Although he knew his father to be an excellent cook. They also had a Cook and for a while a governess for him and his sister and one still for his sister. His father would have to leave for periods of time, that was why he finally gave that up even if their uncle was just on the other side of the cattle ranch lands. He could start on the stories of Ferdinand the bull but it was getting late and he was to stop in at the ranch. "She was not originally from these lands but had wandered here. I think it was home she went, original home but ended up missing those here and being here. She's a good artist too and will be showing her works in the art museum up at the castle. It and the Library are open to the public. That section of the castle." He knew a lot through his father but only things it was fine for him to know. It would make him a good Ambassador if he should decide to serve the Crown in that capacity as well one day. His father and uncle would eventually retire. Like Alex retired from being a First Knight long ago and took over the Tavern to serve the Crown. Look at all the information that came through this place! "I'm glad you like it here and maybe I'll see you again. I've got to get going or I will be late to dinner at the ranch. I might be found down at the lake eventually." Getting home, seeing to a few things and washing up before dinner would give him just about enough time if he left now.

It was nice to hear about the dynamics of others when you were a visitor. It made her feel more like she was at home then far away. "Not to worry! I completely understand and I am sure I shall see you again!" Beaming still, she thought perhaps a stroll out and about in the early evening would be good for her anyway. "Be safe on your travel home and thanks for all the information. It will be useful I know!" Humming again she swung her feet a moment before turning her attention to her empty glass which she stacked atop her plate. Everything in order and everything in its place.

Big old grin as he was up, giving his farewells to Alex and Hazel then picking up the carved piece to finish later before he was heading out. That smile would remain all the way back to the ranch.



Date: 04-19-10
Poster: Anhur al-Azhar
Post # 4

The Sun God

It was getting to be a chilly night, though the sky was crystal clear as the stars began to come out. Not a cloud in sight and a light breeze moving. Inside the tavern there was a nice fire going to warm the place. Maggie stood between the bar area and the storage hall putting a big crate of bottles carefully into place on the shelf for Alex's later perusal. The doors had been closed against the chill but brightly lit as it was, the place beckoned, offering comfort to travelers.

It had been some time since Anhur came this way. Chilly night for some but not the Elemental. The winter had broken and so he had discarded the typical clothes of these lands that covered men and women alike complete for the winter. Anhur came from the shadows although any light would pick up on the golden rays of Ra in the breast plate worn. Situated on a bare chest of bronze tone muscle. A white kilt and sandals completed his attire. Hair was pitch as well thick brows that left the translucent blue of his eyes very striking. Ones that took in the woman he did not recognize within. "Fair of night MamSieheb." Giving a slight forward bow of his head as hands pressed together then away as he proceeded to the bar to greet Alex. He would partake of their homemade brew.

"Good eve and welcome to - Oh." Her routine greeting faltered when she looked up and saw the strikingly foreign man in the door... namely his warrior-like attire, the likes of which she'd never seen before. She stared for a full two seconds before regaining her manners. "Ah.. can we get you anything else tonight, a bowl of stew maybe?"

"I have egg on face?" He obviously had heard the analogy. Smile was dashing of such pure white teeth offset by bronze skin. "I am Anhur alAzhar, high priest." And obviously Egyptian.

"High Priest," she repeated curiously, returning his smile reflexively. He had such a dazzling smile a girl couldn't help it. "No, no egg," she let out a laugh. "I'm sorry, I've just never seen quite such a.... breastplate before." Not to mention an Egyptian! Though of course he matched descriptions of stories she'd heard.

"It is finely crafted pure gold in honor of our god Amun-Ra. Here in these lands, I have come to know other beliefs that I find truth in also." So he admitted and had been incorporating these beliefs into what had been theirs and becoming as shattered as the life they once lived to a better one. Usually Egyptians had dark eyes, and his were once until he came into his Element. "You are called?"

It wasn't really the fact that it was gold that had taken her aback, it was that, well.... the breastplate was the ONLY thing he wore besides the kilt! Eyes back up to his, and hers were a deeper blue but just as shocking for the way they blazed beneath her dark eyebrows. "Maggie." Replied with a smile. A glance over her shoulder, she didn't want Alex to think her lazy, so she went back to putting bottles on the shelf behind the bar.

It wasn't like it covered up much of his chest either. "Ma...geee." Trying it out with a very Egyptian accent. "I am pleased in making acquaintance of Ma...geee." He was studying her with an intensity in his eyes, water blue at this point which at times reflected the sky. "You are new to land and have come far but you like it here?" Dark brows lifting slightly with the impressions.

"Maggie." She confirmed in her own faint lilt, not quite Irish but not of Heathfield, either. In fact if one had a good ear they'd identify it as Welsh, though it was very faint. Amused by his pronunciation, she glanced over her shoulder to talk as she worked. "Aye, I am new here and I like it well enough so far." Offering a bright smile as she put a bottle on the shelf and turned it so it was facing out.

"You are working with Alex, helping much honored man." Kind of a question and yet a statement as he took up the drink set out. He drank it down like water and had another to follow. Once done he set the glass away before having any more. He had been from the social scene so long, he found nothing more to say at the moment. Instead of allowing it to become awkward, he asked Alex of the tube kept here that he worked on last spring. Alex of course had it handy as it was taken from under the bar to set out for him.

"Yes, he was kind enough to let me help." And hopefully Alex heard that! as she sent the older gentleman a smile. Alex had earned himself a warm place in her heart forever, by taking her on. She fell silent then to let the two men converse though she did flick a curious look to the object that Alex brought out.


So he stood there looking straight her way as hands deftly drew out the homemade map that had been kept here. Something that had been put aside a few times and he had not seen Maiden Star in too many months to count. Life had its way of diverting from some things until the proper moment. A few years had still not found the proper moment but it had not discouraged Anhur one iota. He still had not gotten the concept that staring was rude but he thankfully looked away with a dip of his head as the map spread out beneath his hands. Some would say the line of his lips were sensual especially when he set to deeper thoughts as this map seemed to bring him.

Maggie was still keeping her hands occupied, putting away those bottles but her brief glances did eventually notice that he was looking at her. Staring at her, more like. Maggie could not be called timid but the hard stare was unnerving enough to bring some heat to her neck. He looked away at about the same moment she did, though curiosity soon brought her gaze back. Eyes fell onto the map, though she didn't crane her neck to see it, not wanting to be rude. It seemed this map was of deep importance to the man, and so she tried not to look at it too obtrusively.

He finally thought of some questions to ask. Anhur had a direct way about him and his mind worked differently too for his cultural background. A finger was drawing over the forest behind the temple that was drawn by himself and Desh long ago. Some of it took years in the making and it still wasn't complete. Translucent blue eyes lifting so startling against bronze skin and pitch hair, marking her movements like a predatory cat. "Are you with a man?" Which he then tried to clarify his words, "married or with one in particular?" Finger stalled, without needing to look, at the Fork where they had built his temple. The woods spread out from there and up. Areas outside were marked off in broken lines, ones protected by the Elves that few had ever seen. He knew of them for Star had told him.

She glanced away from the map when he looked up again, but like a magnet his eyes drew hers back. Those eyes of his had that power, no less blue than hers but with a different sort of intensity. Mainly though, she looked at him in surprise to his question. A laugh escaped as she cast a brief glance to Alex, wondering if this man was always so blunt, before looking back to him with a smirk. "No, not married nor with a man in any way." Was there a touch of wryness about her tone? Indeed, but it was rueful rather than bitter. Mags had to wonder why he'd asked that question all of a sudden - likely it had something to do with his culture or maybe just simple curiosity. She pulled the long tail of her burnished hair over one shoulder as she regarded him. "Why do you ask it?"

Alex was use to Anhur and all that had happened around the man, much of which was in this very room years ago. He would only shrug but there might be a twitch to his lips too. "I am surprised," taking a long moment as he studied her features more in depth. "Most women of beauty are taken young as wives or asked into the world of a kiana to serve their High Priest and Vizier. Here it is different, women are allowed a free mind as is granted a man and not women in most cultures." He seemed to approve of this idea although they still had kiana at their temple and manor. It was their choice to remain so, never had they been treated like slaves. It was more a position in their society but many were slaves. They had none here.

Her eyes flicked down modestly at the compliment but were quick to rise to him again. It was clear she was pleased rather than embarrassed by it. Nor was she a novice to the art of the flirtation... though she never did it conspicuously. A smile teasing her lips as she reached beneath the bar for a mopcloth. "It is a shame that in so many places, women are taken for lives they would not choose for themselves. I feel grateful to have my small freedoms and at the very least, ownership of my own mind. What do you think, is it dangerous to allow women such liberty?" She arched a dark brow, posing the question teasingly though she was curious too.

"My sister Desh was decreed to marry Isaac alDwalda by wish of our fathers. Our fathers are not known to still live so such matters fell upon my shoulders and that of my brother Yusuf. When the two asked to follow traditions here in these lands we had escaped to and live amongst, we decided that such a union should be by their decision. In time the two knew there was love between them and married still. So all happened as our fathers had hoped without being forced to do so. I think this is good. One day I may marry," first he never had such thoughts and then he had but still he remains single, "and I would wish this was a choice of the woman to share my bed, life and children." So in his way he answered her question.

He answered it, yes, but in a roundabout way that had her quiet a few moments. Thinking, as she wiped down a damp spot on the counter. "I suppose you cannot really predict the future.. an arranged marriage may become a happy one, but a match made in love may eventually become miserable. So it is senseless to judge how different cultures do things. I suppose the only thing that really matters is following.. what makes your heart sing." Her smile returned enough to dimple one cheek as she spoke her thoughts simply. "If such a match is what will make you happy, then I'm sure you shall find it someday."

"It is so, such had mostly worked in our culture. I think it is what you get use to but when you are exposed to new ways, then you must make new decisions. It is hard for many to change, it was hard for some I know to accept that my beliefs have changed. That I feel they can be expanded to encompass new ideas yet not oust our gods out of my beliefs either. I find there are certain fundamental truths that exist in all religions. The need of a god to worship, to honor who will guide you in better ways, wherein all the gods do not need us as we need them." He shook his head and genuinely laughed. A rich sound from the High Priest of Amun-Ra. Perhaps even startling for those not use to his unique personality. "I speak too much on religion when I'm told it is not a good social topic along with government." Meaning politics. Which the last of her words had him ask, "what makes your heart sing?"

"Oh no, I don't mind," she reassured him genuinely. "I find it rather fascinating." As one who had been raised staunchly in the Catholic faith - told that it was the one and only way - and who had then left it, discussions of religion with others of different viewpoints were always interesting. She was skeptical of most religions but that did not mean she judged those who held onto theirs so faithfully. In some ways she envied them that conviction. Even if it was not something she could rely upon any more. His question had her smiling again, more softly. "I haven't found it yet."

"You have not found it yet," he had drawn closer, silent way of his as the scent of blue lotus, an intoxicating exotic aroma, would tease her senses. His eyes were ones that another could drown in if they let themselves. Some would say Anhur had the perfect looks and body, well proportioned, strong and sensual rolled into one. "you trust this Fate that one day you will know when you have? I have not found this singing either."

Maggie forgot that Alex might be watching when he drew closer, his very presence enough to draw her in a bit as well. Her hand ceasing the motion of wiping the counter as her eyes teased his features... which were, yes, all too handsome. Temptingly so, bringing a smile to quirk her lips almost lazily. Part of her always aware that this was a game, however, as she played along. "I'm not certain whether all of us are meant to hear singing," her voice dropped to a murmur for the closeness of them. "I have a good job, and roof over my head, and I am content with that. Though... a man like you.. surely must be destined for greater things." Her vibrant blue gaze flicking down over his exotic, well-built form for only the briefest of moments.

Close and closer still. A man that knew well how to please a woman on many levels although he was not trying to seduce her. He was trying to meet her on another level. The touch of his fingers barely upon her cheek as he leaned in close enough he could whisper in her ear. The warmth and masculine scent mingled with the exotic one for a very heady experience as he closed his eyes for the whisper was not that of words but like a conch shell she could hear the call of the ocean, the constant flow from sea to land then back again. Something one's spirit could ride like the birth of creation in being a part of the whole no matter how many grains of sand moved beneath. He was sharing a gift. Small one before easing back. "All are important as all things are important or there is no important at all. To whom much is given, more will be expected too." Enjoying the color of her eyes at the more normal distance taken on.

A smile was upon her lips, eyelashes dipping downward as he leaned in. Then instead of a whisper it was the sound of the sea, and she involuntarily pulled back with a sharp intake of breath. The amusement of flirtation wiped clean from her features as she looked at him with something closer to wariness. The blue of her eyes seemed to almost deepen, or sharpen, as she stared at him while he spoke. Finally she found her voice as if none of it had happened. "Yes... or at least, that is how it should be." She smiled a bit as she resumed cleaning with the cloth. Laughter entering her voice as she went on, "I've known plenty of very entitled persons who seem to believe nothing ought to be expected of them at all."

It was that involuntary reaction that had drawn his curiosity. Something was there that he had stirred. The fact she covered it up, warned him it was not something to just ask on for the answer would not be given. Instead he went along with the light airy touch she masked it all with. "These are called English fops?" Somewhere along the line Anhur had heard that phrased used for such men at least that were titled and did nothing at all except abuse that title. He was back to where his drink rested to finish off what was left of it.

That phrase, spoken in his thick accent had her laughing genuinely. "Precisely." She granted him a sunny smile, content to go back to a more easy and casual conversation. Though she was trying not to look at him too hard, her pulse still racing from that strange sound he had made in her ear, which certainly had to be magically produced... no human tongue could produce that sound. The thought gave her dread... but she didn't realize that part of the reason for her quick-beating heart, was excitement too. The sensation of possibility, and wonder, but these were so far repressed that what it translated to was the simpler emotion of fear.

He was one of the Elementals though he had not stated so. The draw was there of something beyond what was considered the norm but he was human. He just had abilities that were not considered human. Perhaps he was catching on some, perhaps it was just the late hour. His laugh that mingled with hers like spiraling wisps of smoke to entangle came genuinely too. He was realizing she was grounded in what was considered normal and to have that foundation teeter under her feet would be a trying force of her beliefs and how adaptable she was. "I must be
away." He would not stay here tonight but wander the forests under the pale moonlight. He rolled the map up carefully and placed it back in the tube for Alex to take. It was more a reminder not to forget about it and the figuring out of the puzzle to come one day soon.

She glanced to the window, realizing how quickly the hours had progressed and her own fatigue. "It was a pleasure to meet you... Anhur." Just as he had troubling pronouncing her name, so too did his name feel clumsy on her tongue. But she smiled nonetheless. "Take care and be well until next we meet."

"Will we meet again?" Smile touched and something else in translucent eyes as Alex settled the tube the map was in under the bar. He stepped away with a forward bow, hands rising together to touch then back down in a sweep to his side. "May Amun-Ra watch over you and kept safe. That your wonders find their path to knowledge. Sleep strong and those you meet guide you on the planes of dreams." Eyes held upon hers the duration before cut as he turned on a sandal heel and headed out the side door that led to the garden.

She shrugged lightly. "That'll be up to you. You know where I work after all." A blithe smile added, though the teasing warmed into something more sincere. His parting words kind and true. "And you," she replied, a farewell smile touching her lips just before he almost abruptly turned and left. She watched him vanish, giving her head a slight shake as if to clear it. What a strange man... though certainly not unattractive. Was Alex watching? A glance to her employer and she went back to wiping the counter, finishing quickly before untying her apron strings. "Good night, Alex." And up the stairs to her room she'd go!



Date: 04-22-10
Poster: Joe McAndrews
Post # 5

Kissing Bandit

It had been some time since Marcy came this way but it was such a nice night it had her out enjoying the warm breeze. The moon and stars above and the sweet smell of flowers everywhere. With a shawl about her shoulders over a dusty blue dress, she headed up the steps of the tavern. A smile to herself as she doubted it had changed much under Alex's care. It seemed quiet but then there were many days and evenings that saw such and other times quite a few gathered in this community pub. A glance in the front window didn't show anyone else about except Alex so confirmed her suspicions. Door was left open she sauntered through with a smile for the elderly man. "Good evening Alex, it has been some time," knowing Hazel would be in the kitchen as well, she spoke loud enough for her to hear, "good evening Hazel." Reaching the bar by that time and asking for some lemonade.

Joe had been in the mountains for a few weeks, seeing to the opening of the mine. There were a few things that needed seeing to, and he had gone to the mercantile to order some new equipment. Time for a drink and then he'd head to Michael's to stay the night. He was dressed casually in his usual manner, poet's shirt of blue beneath a leather vest, black leather pants and boots that laced up to the knee. Blonde hair was pulled back with a strip of rawhide though not all would stay confined.

Joe was being shadowed by a younger, yet taller carbon copy. Although none looked exactly alike, even his nephews looked much like the uncles. He was here in these lands for he heard King Leoric was in town and a good way, if he caught up with him, to find out how Kildare was doing. He had invested time with that King and sister castle. Right alongside Mikhail MacKay as the two worked together on tactical warfare. He looked more the knight than a crown prince with one of the empowered swords strapped to his left hip. Dark blue tunic was worn over a poet's shirt of haze, black pants and boots. His steps were quick and quiet for his size as he gained the distance on his uncle and a hand coming to rest against his shoulder.

Lemonade was sweet and tart at the same time, just how she liked it. A light conversation picked up with Alex on anything new about the tavern and shared news of anything new about town that she got to hear about in her shop.

"Rick," he turned his head to grin at his nephew, then he chuckled. "I know the younger generation is usually taller, but I do hope you've stopped growing." He would have called him lad but Rick was a young man. Stopping he turned to face him, and greeted him in like manner with a hand clapped to his shoulder. "Buy you a drink?" Even though the drinks were free here, that was an oft repeated joke.

She had been off somewhere, mentally distant. She had been happy enough to assist Hazel with minor things around so she wouldn't mope as she was told she had been prone too when she wasn't keeping busy. Only, this time she had been  polishing flatware. Most if it had a nice, high shine thanks to her little daydreaming bout. Promptly scooted from the kitchen, she beamed at Hazel by way of an affable sort of apology while her cheeks flushed. "Good evening!" Green hills coated with fog, her eyes weren't yet completely clear of the webs but at least her features were bright as she swept from the kitchen into the commons. New people, obviously since she knew not a one but that didn't matter.  Everyone here was so nice, so she immediately relaxed a little.

"You can blame your brother for this, plus the Douglas family are no shrimps." The lot of ten brothers were doomed to be tall and all were blond, blue eyed, born of Chadrick and Danielle. "Aye,  I was hoping you'd ask," not that a coin needed to be spent. "I'd like to share a pint with me uncle," did it make him feel old? There was the McAndrews grin, dimples and all as he set a leisurely stride taking them in that direction. "Fine night it be and thankful spring is here. I hear King Leoric is in town."

She noted the hazy eyed girl and wondered if she was caught with spring fever or more accurately, in love with someone. They usually wore that look. "Hello, I'm not surprised Hazel chased you from her kitchen, those are sacred grounds to the fine upstanding woman. Excellent cook but she keeps all out, except Alex," which had her send a wink the older man's way. He was privileged. Then there were a few select that could walk into the kitchen, like the queen of these lands. Back to the young lady. "I'm Marcy McQuire, I have the linen shop in the commons."

"I was polishing flatware. It was something to do." She was a person who needed things to do, to be useful. Other than the dreamy look in her eyes, she was neat as a pin and kept it that way. From the covering on her hair to the hems of her skirts. "She is a marvelous cook to be sure! I am not really good at being, idle." She could be a complete pest, which she was sure Hazel had seen in her otherwise she'd have gotten a swift kick, rather than some little chores to do. Sunshine poured out of her as she regarded Marcy. "Wonderful! I am sure you shall be very busy now that it's Spring."

He just chuckled and motioned toward the steps. "I've heard the same though I've not seen him. Come to think of it, I've not seen anyone but the miners and their families for the last few weeks. What about you, what have you been up to with things so quiet?"

"Then your hands should not remain idle. Do you embroider?" She was asking for a reason for she was getting a lot of orders for monogrammed handkerchiefs and scarves. "You do have a name I can address you by?" By her overall demeanor, Marcy would suspect that if she could do needlework it would be perfectly done.

Her laughter was quick, covered by one hand as she shook her head while her cheeks went to flame. "Oh my! I'd forgotten to give you my name. I am sorry. It's Beatrice." Happy to show off her own work, she peeked around a bit before  lifting one skirt to show the lighter under skirt where she had bees and flowers. It was Spring after all. "My mother taught my sister and I." Of course once the door was opened up, she made sure she wasn't showing off her work as it were.

He headed up the steps but it didn't halt him talking one bit, "I've been home learning from Da how to be a good king." Which included a tremendous amount of learning. It was not just walking around the palace giving orders on a whim, one had to know a lot of information, assimilate it and come up with the best results then put them to work or into law. Door was open so he continued on in, "two pints Alex."

Marcy was much older than Beatrice but certainly not old. Her smile was warm, reassuring as she watched her show off her handiwork. She was up and over to get a closer view. "You do a very fine hand. Very fine." The petticoat whooshed away in the next moment so quickly as the young McAndrews came within. Almost had her laughing but she had long since learned to hold it under certain circumstances. "I would like to hire you to do some embroidery for me, monograms and edging of table cloths, ladies gloves along the wrist and so on. If you are interested? You can do them here at your leisure." A smile came easily as she knew the young man. "Good evening Rick. This is Beatrice." In case they had not met.

Joe grinned as he followed Rick inside. "No hello for me, Marcy?" He teased the young woman as he made his way to the bar. "Well met, Beatrice. I'm Joe." He rarely used his full name.

They had not, but that did not mean she wouldn't be friendly. So many here had been so friendly to her, it was hard not to be just as friendly back. The prospect of something to do though held her interest just then and if it were possible her grin widened. "Another Joe? Are there many Joes here?" She had met another Joe, she was sure but then if there were many then she was bound to be confused. "I think I can do a very good job for  you if you would allow me that, Miss Marcy." She needed something drink and Alex helped her out with a cup of cider. With it in hand, she drank before answering. "It is nice to meet you, Rick as well!"

She would of course pay her a decent price according to the amount that needed to be done. The next had her blink with a smile to brighten, "oh my, Joseph! It has been a while. I didn't see you behind your nephew!"

"He is a bit tall, isn't he?" He sighed and shook his head. "Once his brothers are all grown, my brothers and m'self won't be seen at all." That was a pretty funny thought all in all.

Rick was laughing with just the way it all went down. "Good evening Marcy, good to see you again. A pleasure to meet you Beatrice." Blue eyed glance her way and those dimples were getting deeper with the laughter still in his eyes. "It is a sad state of affairs when you can call your tall uncle, shorty."

"I will bring some items around tomorrow, along with the needles and threads needed. The orders that specify what is to be done. Start off with a couple easy ones and work up to harder ones if you continue to be interested." She couldn't help but saying then to Rick, "and you've grown into a fine looking man. You take much after your father and uncles."

"That it can be! How is the weather up there, where you are?" She wasn't usually given to teasing, but it seemed appropriate and light hearted enough not to offend Rick. Happy to be of assistance, she nodded then to Marcy. "That would be lovely! It is better to have something to do than not." Humming then a little she went back to her cider and drank while contemplating the niceness of the prospect of a job, no matter how small to do.

"Well, I no longer get nose bleeds." Going right along with the humor of it. "Sometimes I miss the little people around me, just don't see them at all until they squeal, or even screech after stepping on them. Accidentally of course." He hefted up the tankard to salute his uncle with, lifting it his way before bringing it up for a long thirst quenching draw.

He nearly choked on his drink and gave Rick such a look. "Call me Shorty and I'll get Eddie to help me dunk you in the lake." He muttered, though it was good-natured. "And how have you been, Marcy? Been too long." He had been spending time in Ballicastle, knowing he'd be at the mine most of the season. A salute was returned to Rick. He was proud of his nephew.

"It will also keep you from getting underfoot of Hazel." Quiet words as she stood close still while enjoying the conversation and banter.

"I try not to be underfoot. She has been exceedingly nice to me." She was completely aware of the Laws of the Kitchen, and entirely grateful that Hazel had given her something to do. It kept her from pestering everyone.

"Well, you do have the meat on your bones that I've not earned yet. Between the two of you, you might manage it but I may come up with some tactical maneuver to out maneuver both of you." That was almost like throwing down the gauntlet to his uncle. Rick was coming into his own and new challenges.

"Once could stand here and feast with their eyes," words very low that hopefully only Bea heard. She cleared her throat in order to answer Joe, "I've been doing very well. Beautiful weather that I've been thinking of getting out to the lake again."

From up the road a horse pulled at the reigns, wanting to gallop but kept in check by the rider. Big beast, 17 hands of dark brown muscle, the riders dark cloak billowing with each burst of hooves. Once the Tavern was reached, gloved hands pulled the horse to a halt, small figure launching herself over, and down, landing in a soft thud of leather soled boots. Leather was the name of the game; baby soft leather pants tucked into the boots, traveling up not-endlessly-long legs, topped with a poets shirt under a leather vest. The cloak was black silk lined with red satin, worn fedora with a feather tucked in the side and..... a red mask over the eyes.

They'd have to get the king of pranksters, Seamus, it on it too. He just grinned at Rick then looked at Marcy again. "Always a good place to spend time, though the water will still be icy." Since it came from the mountain snows.

She heard, but given the confused expression she wasn't sure what Marcy had been referring to but she smiled in answer regardless. Fingers curved over her cup, tapping a little as she hummed.

He glanced toward the door then back to the others. "Have you been there, Bea?" Politely asking.

He might not have a chance against Seamus! Then again he knew the legendary stories of his Uncle Jon and the kissing bandit. He got Joe pretty good with that one. Rick had yet to try his hand at such but in time he would discover if he had the family knack.

"Me?" She blinked, green eyes snapping toward Joe. Of course he had meant her! Chuckling a little, she shook her head. "Each time I try to get there, I end up somewhere else. I have a very terrible sense of direction. I manage to get lost everywhere I go."

Gloved hands reached up to snag a few roses from the side of the saddle (meaning she had to jump up to reach), a few murmured words as she handed up an apple to the beast of a horse. Nostrils flared, ears flicked, but he stayed put and behaved. For now. Quick check to make sure the hat was set, cloak wasn't strangling her, then she tried casting it out, which didn't work so well. At least she didn't trip over it on her way up the steps.

One should never assume that the lakes or waterways were safe, well maybe for now they were, Charlie was planning a romantic evening on a castle mount, except she had to find a castle mount, and hope that she was not baring her umm soul to the whole kingdom, and really she didn't know if her friends would let her do anything of the sorts on their ramparts, but a gleaming it would have right?

Certainly Bea was not blind to the handsome men before them. She had the privilege of knowing them all over time. Even the ones long married with children at this point. "I will refrain from swimming in ice unless I've one to warm me afterwards." Giving him a saucy wink as her smile brought a dimple too.

She wasn't blind but the gist of the words had gone over her head momentarily. She would have gladly agreed, but was still happily turning over the prospect of her job in her mind. "Nothing gets the blood moving like a brisk dip in some nigh unto freezing water." Her mother thought it was good for the skin. Bea had always thought it nuts.


"Aye, now that would be better than a fire." He chuckled and gave a wink in return as his eyes met hers. "I think it be something to enjoy with the right person."


"I don't think blue lips are all that becoming," words held the lace of laughter to them as she tried to picture Bea with blue lips. It was brief as Joe distracted her back with the banter. He had always been the more reserved. Perhaps for his past history it had made him more cautious. "A fire and woolen blankets to snuggle under. Such a scene would be tempting to anyone, aye?"

Date: 04-22-10
Poster: Joe McAndrews
Post # 6

Rick was in a lazy lean, back braced against the bar with the lift of his tankard here and there as he enjoyed the ale. He loved watching his uncles socially, so much could be learned from them. Although some of that learning may well get him into trouble. Good kind of trouble however.

Up the steps, she paused to lean and look in the window, checking for her targets; one of which was spotted. Before she could change her mind she threw the door wide open and swaggered her way in. It was hard to swagger with curves, but she gave it good effort! Long braid beat to its own drum, most of her dark skin covered.

"Neither are chattering teeth. I assure you." Nodding sagely, she rounded out her thoughts and focused on those around her. "As long as said blankets don't have fleas. I'm sure it's a marvelous prospect." Rather than giggle, she drank her cider and then promptly shut her mouth. She was commenting on things she knew nothing about and there was no quicker way to look a fool than to be foolish.

Which gained her a laugh, "chattttteerrrrriiiinnnngggg teeth, definitely not a luring trait for a woman," imitating the chattering on the one word. "Good evening," greeting the masked woman coming in.

She wasn't heading to the tavern just yet, having an idea, her friends would have to forgive her for her single minded attempts to romance her wild gypsy. Though wild was relative, Charlie the worst of the pair. Though one of her  friends was definitely going to make a big splash. Oh yes she recognized that horse's arse. Knowing the lady who owned it, and oh such fun those two had when they got together.

"Aye, that it would." He looked toward the door, blue eyes going wide. It couldn't be! Trying to keep from laughing out loud, he placed his tankard aside and watched the nearly perfect swagger.

They had all stuck their foot in their mouth more than once in their lives. "What brings you back to Heathfield, Joseph? Though certainly welcome and far too long not being here." So he didn't get the wrong impression. She was very glad to see him again. Something else there but it was of a matter only to bring up under the right circumstances.

It was always nice when the target made things easier! With the tankard out of the way she swaggered right for him, though manners had her flashing a smile all around. Nice white teeth. Another swish of the cape had it a tangled  mess behind her, didn't deter her in the least! "Juuuw!" Bad accent was required, right? She thought so. Rose was pointed at Joe. Pointpoint, jab. Soft jab.

A masked woman? Now there was a switch as dimples dipped again with his growing grin. Blue eyes danced over the one then a quick look over the others and back. "Good evening Miss." More, the masked woman was zeroing in on his uncle. "You hired her to do this Joe?" Teasing his uncle as if he would do such a thing.

A person wearing a mask wasn't something you saw everyday! So, Bea was pretty much just going to watch her eyes straying every now and then from what was going on to the others gathered.

If the folks could hear that insane laughter, oh she knew alright what was going to occur, yep she did, and she thought it was about time that some one else started mischief.... She would have applauded if she was there, but she was meandering to the castle, to check out the mounts, not that she knew what it was, it just sounded good, and she could imagine Kenneth draped over one...

"A visit to Michael, overdue." He did start to laugh. "No, I didn't hire her." And then he was being pointed at and jabbed? He started laughing, pointing to himself. "Me?" Oh yes, the bad accent was required.

Swat swat swat with the flower, which was more like a swish swish across his chest. "Jesss, juuw. Have a problem with your hearing?" So much for butchering the English language, it made her twitch. Now came the technical difficulties; how did a short person kiss jolly green giant dudes kissing bandit style. She probably should have thought this idea through more from Jon's stand point. Literally. "Excuse me." Beaming smile to Rick before she snagged a stool to slide over in front of Joe.

Remember dear friend, the dip must be performed swiftly, though the dipped might return the favor post haste .. AH to be a fly on the wall, Charlie was going to miss the best part, she could have given proper instructions too, how to lower a giant to their size.Not that Charlie ever had that problem, unless well one never knew with Charlie..

It certainly was interesting to watch the woman work, but she wasn't entirely sure what she was doing. So caught up though, Bea leaned forward on her own stool, completely entrapped by what was happening.

"That's the way to do it," he helped to slide out that stool for her to use. Then he was clapping, clap.... clap.... clap... in an encouraging way.  Foot stomped too as in a count down.

"He's a McAndrews too." He lowered his voice to inform the masked woman, then chuckled and watched her. Yeah, he'd definitely have to work with one of his brothers and prank Rick, or make a good attempt. Being he was leaning, he wasn't quite as tall though he might have to lean forward to help out?

Poor Joe was getting used for support, one hand on his arm, probably poking him in the face with the roses, one on her hat, and she hiked up onto the stool. Now she stood far above her victim; such power, such strength. Such a  different view. Hm. Right! Cloak whoosh! Tangled up poor Joe this time.All the better to lock her arms around his neck (fix her hat again) and try to bend him back, which wouldn't work, she gets an A for effort! The part she -did- get right was the kissing. After puckering up comically she laid one on him like she was a long time lover and knew him inside and out. No shame for the kissing bandit!

Poor dear friend, one must remember too that the Giants were well versed in escapades with their encounters from Charlie, the results might be worth peeking in the window to see.

They could get him drunk and into the flower garden, put five flowers on him at once like they did on Uncle Seamus. Rick heard all the stories.

And his epitaph would read, even the undertaker couldn't wipe the smile off his face. Died young but grandly.

They must be some whopping stories!

At least she didn't poke him in the eye in the rose and there was no time to untangle the cloak before an attempt was made a bending back. He might have laughed at the pucker but the kiss followed kept him quiet. Lucky Joe! He was her first victim! The only thing she wouldn't get, that the original bandit had, was blushing or anger.

Somewhere in the back of Charlie's mind came the song freight train wooo woo, as the giggle rose in her throat, turning into gales of laughter, just in case they heard she waved, then bolted, there were castle mounts to check out, and a poor cold gypsy to romance.

Even he heard about the freight train and the one man, besides Kenneth, that could leave Charlie speechless.

"Oh my!" Impressed with the woman's forthright way of going about things she leaned back herself and just blinked. That wasn't something one saw back home, of that Beatrice was sure!

Yush, he literally shut her up, so sad but true.

Amazing. So much he learned in the castles he stayed.

There was a reason she didn't get paid for this gig; she wasn't serious enough to pull it off the way Jon did. She didn't give up trying to dip him, even if it meant they landed in a heap; her main goal was to wipe that laughter out of his mind. No laughing at her kissing skills! To secure her goal she nipped his lip before letting him up for air. "Hi." Dimples were etched deep, pretty hopeless to keep her identity secret.

"I think we have another bandit on our hands but of the opposite gender. Too bad Jon wasn't here to see his competition!"

"So this is most common then here?" She wasn't sure about that, but then again when one was in Rome as her mother said, one learned to be a Roman.

"Oh, no. Just such things are common around the McAndrews of this sort." She had been right there to witness a lot of them.

A near heap, though he caught himself on the bar so they didn't fall. He smiled at her when she graciously let him up for air. "Very nice." Murmured low, then he grinned. "Hi yourself, Lady Bandit." He chuckled. "I have to say, you look better in that outfit than Jon." And he proceeded to untangle the cloak now. "That's Marcy, Beatrice and my nephew, Rick. This is the Lady Bandit." If she wanted to give her own name, she could!

If they were at the bar at this point, she had to move to get out of their way and give them room.

Good idea.  He might get the three of them tangled in that cloak.

He shifted a bit out of their way, tankard in hand but he was chuckling. "I hope you didn't get kissed by Jon like that, Joe?"

There was a slow nod and a little bit of a bobble of her cup of cider with Rick's words before she thought better and covered her laughter by greeting the Lady Bandit. "Good evening!"

"I'm going to give them the flowers instead of you, they're prettier." Scolding him with too much humor, and letting him help with the cloak before they did end up on the floor. Both roses were offered out to Bea and Marcy with a wide eyed grin. "Bloody hell you are a giant." Finally getting an up close, way way the hell up there, look at Rick. Her hat fell off when her head tipped back to look up.

"Nice to meet you Lady Bandit," like it was a real name. "I think if I was to do that, I'd pick the McAndrews men too. The single ones, married ones, wouldn't go there!" Like she was serious.

She took the offered rose with a flush of her cheeks and a healthy laugh at Rick's expense. At least the woman could say what others were thinking. "I'll leave the banditing to you then, Miss Marcy. And the Lady Bandit of course."  Smiling at the flower, she hummed a little then, keeping herself on track.

She took the rose, "does this mean I can consider the rest?" Laughter in her eyes as she lifted the rose for a sniff, it was sweet smelling.

He slouched down as only one his age could do, lanky and muscular, "better?" Grin was beaming as well those infamous dimples the whole clan of them claimed. "Lady Bandit."

"Are you married yet, Joe?" Didn't dawn on her to think to ask that -before- she kissed him, minor details. Quick dip to snag her hat off the floor, brushing it off along her leg. Ohho, he was a smart ass little McAndrews! His slouching had her laughing low, swatting him with the hat, and a quick step-climb on a stool rung so she was tall enough to.... kiss his cheek. Pop!

"They are, aren't they?" He agreed and her comment to Rick had him laughing. "We grow 'em big here. And aye, the wives are dangerous when it comes to their men." He picked up his tankard and grinned at Marcy. "Are you  considering taking up the kissing bandit profession, Marcy?" Married? Luckily he hadn't taken a drink or he'd be choking. "No, I'm not." Much to his sister-in-law's chagrin.

"Let see, Joe is not married so safe territory. Seamus, Eddie and Jon. Michael I think has an interest and the interest has an interest in him." He had his cheek right there for her to kiss and didn't he just scoop her up as he straightened, popping a kiss to her cheek before setting her on a stool once done. Wouldn't do to drop her!

She was watching Rick becoming much like his uncles. "It is in the blood," more mussed under her breath and laughter lace. That subsided with a blink upon Joe and didn't color rise some to her cheeks in being taken off guard. "It could be a consideration but if I told then there wouldn't be much need for the mask."

"I had learned people were friendly here. I had not realized just how friendly they were." Murmuring to herself as she stroked the petals of the rose, having set down her cup of cider now.

He had over a foot on her, damn giant men! She knew enough of his relatives so she had no fear about being dropped, they were all too gentlemanly for such things. "Oh good, then I can get down on one knee and propose to you, Joseph!" Squealed like a school girl; and she waited until he was taking a drink before she came out with that bomb.

"Ah, true." And there was the bandit's reward, as Joe choked on his drink. Though whether it was from the thought of a proposal or the way it was said, could be anyone's guess. He couldn't answer for cough/laughing.


"I think you got him all choked up there." Grinning like the devil himself as he settled back with his tankard taken in hand to watch.

Paige squealing was wrong on so many levels, she'd deny it if he ever told Jon! For the moment she preened, pleased to have caught the prankster off guard. Score! Rick got a wink since he was helping her out.

"It would seem so." She wondered if someone should swat him on the back? Or something like that!

Squealing like a little piglet kind of squealing?

Squealing like a teenager seeing her idol, one level up from piglets.

Always good to know the right kind of squealing level!

Wow. That is some squeal!



Date: 04-22-10
Poster: Joe McAndrews
Post # 7

It was late though, perhaps a warning to her dear friend, but what the hell, you only lived once. Paige would be well warned that the McAndrews were potent, it was easy to fall under their spell, she remembered the mischief had, smirking all the way to the side gates of a castle somewhere.

Butchering the English language, squealing, if it wasn't for the dark skin no one would believe it was Paige. Patpatpat to his back, nothing light and tender in the touch. "Was that a yes, Joseph?!" Paige fell under no spell! Only under swooshing cloaks...

He'd get Rick to verify it. And another drink was taken to try to ease the coughing. "You ... " was all he managed to get out though as he pointed at his nephew. He grinned at Paige though. "Well, I might consider but you'd have to give up your errant ways, and breaking ear drums." His nieces had never squealed so loud!

Waitwaitwait. Might? She was torn between running like hell and standing her ground to soothe her ego. Hazel eyes behind the mask flashed gold flecks of indecision. "What do you mean, might? Might! You could never tame this bandit's errant ways!" She puffed up, all shortness and unimpressive. Didn't even have much of a chest to puff out under the leather, and when her chin notched up her hat fell off. Again.

"You'd be better off sticking a rose up his nose..." which he promptly started laughing for the 'might' business.  Rick was a lot of help being the peanut gallery on the side.

"Alas, you're right." He put a hand over his heart after picking up her hat and placing it back on her head. "You're untamable, and it wouldn't be right to keep you from pouncing on other unsuspecting men." He narrowed his eyes at Rick, trying to maintain a touch of dignity. Wasn't going to happen.

Bea had long since been lost of the conversation so she just watched. Happy to do so in fact.

One hand swung back to swat at Rick, who was not helping! Not much of a dignified crew were they. "I'm retiring after I find Jon, we have to have dueling bandit kissing." It was good to have goals.

"Hmmm. Dueling bandit kissing." Now that might be a goal Jon would enjoy. "I won't warn him." But he would tell him about tonight! He had to look at Rick again. "Stick a rose up his nose?" Not realizing he was rhyming in the same way Rick had.

He was laughing too much to even duck the swat, not that it would do much on one his size. "Jon is around, although I think he is up at his lumber mill yet?" The question more to Joe as an afterthought. Joe's repeating only had him laughing, good hearty kind as he raised his tankard his way in salute, "by George, I think you got it." Like the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

"I will find him. Bandits know all." Spoken in a creepy deep voice, crouching some and pulling the cloak over half her face. The short stuff she was good at!  "What did you get?" Leaving off being evil and creepy, too nosy by half to figure out what had Rick laughing so hard.

By this time she had Alex put a couple shots of potcheen in her lemonade along with a few more ice chips.

"And aye, at the lumber yard." He chuckled and shook his head. "He's laughing at the fact that I didn't realize I was making words rhyme." It was bad enough the lad was taller then he was. He didn't need to be smarter too!

Marcy was brave. Poor Paige got more goofy with a single shot of that stuff. "You're a poet and a singer. Have him serenade you." Stage whisper to Marcy. Another whoosh of the cloak (still no class to it) "Do tell Jon he is being hunted by a better bandit, he must sharpen his skills lest his lose." Yes, she stressed the word lose; because that was a challenge no McAndrews could pass up.

Bea watched as Marcy went about having more than a single shot of the special  brew that they made around here put into her lemonade. Listening to the easy banter, she shuffled from her stool in order to take a more comfortable seat in a chair with a pat-pat given to the apron she wore habitually even though well, she needn't.

"Joseph or Rick?" as a smirk rose when she turned. "Rick is much like his Da, Chadrick." Which was a compliment but deadly to the ladies, she was certain Rick would be following in his  father's footsteps. "You speak on Seamus but it was the eldest that paved the way for the rest of you and would have continued if he had not met Danielle Douglas." So there was a good woman  behind the fall of a good McAndrews man.

Bea blinked at that. "Your the son of the son who is one of ten, right?" She was ultimately impressed with his grandmother who suffered ten sons! Which was a lot in her opinion.

She was right on that! And he wouldn't be able to resist taunting his brother with it! "I will. It'll have him quaking in his boots." And he saluted her with his tankard. "Travel safely, Lady Bandit! And good hunting!" He took a drink then added, "And Rick is the eldest of ten himself."

"Aye, I am Chadrick the third, Rick to make it easier." He was proud of his father and proud of his uncles. Proud to be a McAndrews as he could puff up his chest just enough, squared his shoulders.

"Sweet Christmas, the poor woman." Her mother pulled her hair with only three, how did one deal with ten? It made her shudder just a little. "Don't you ever feel ... lost? With so many I mean, it has to be a little crowded?"

The pride had her smile turning soft, something more mother like, there and gone with a sweeping bow, wave of her hat, swoosh of her cloak, and she swaggered for the door. Had to work on that sad swagger. "Have a good evening, all  of you." Highly amused call back. The cloak was removed before she used a rail to hike up and get herself onto the beast horses back. Off they went!

"Aye, I am the eldest of ten and me Da the eldest of ten." Which had him smiling again. "I would say that after the third born it gets harder for the others to find how they are different when we all look a lot alike too."

"You look alike?" It wasn't too hard a thing to swallow given the resemblance of Rick to Joe. But still. "Are there any girls?"

"Good night lady Bandit, too bad I wasn't old enough for you, being Uncle Joe is aged nicely like a fine wine.." he was asking for trouble.

Yes he was and Joe leaned to swat at Rick's head.

It only had him laughing. "Another tankard, I'm buying this time around," not that there was any buying at all here.

"There are seven girls, all told. Though cousins of Rick, not sisters. Thirteen boys." Which meant only three were Rick's cousins.

"Only some cousins. Seamus has a son and twin daughters. Michael has a daughter, as do a couple others."  It would be a good memory test on someone to name them all!

Joe gave them all nicknames. Might be hard for him to remember the right names.

"That sounds a bit one sided." But then again it wasn't as if she had any way to be sure that theory had legs to stand on. "It just seems, a little one sided to me." Not that she was trying to be difficult.

"Go on and name them, Rick." He chuckled.

Nicknames like Tiny, Sneezy, Itchy, Snuggles, Bubbles, Buggers?

Something like that.  Pretty ones for the girls.

Hopefully on the littler ones.

Well, once they got older, he had to remember. Seriously, he did know their names when he saw them. Just saying them otherwise could be tough. He chuckled as he leaned back against the bar then looked at Marcy. "Things are going well at the shop?"

He moved closer to Beatrice. Blue eyes dipping down as he studied her. He wasn't quite sure what she meant. "How do you mean one sided, by the fact there are so many boys over girls?"

"Yes they are, in fact I have some extra help with the extra orders coming in so I wont be staying up all night too to get everything done. Will I get to see much of you now that you'll be opening your mine? Will you have Michael use his gifts to make sure all is safe?" That was a hard thought, a mine cave in so she wouldn't let her mind go there.

Misty green eyes blinked, since well he was taller than her! "Well yes. With more boys than girls, your mother has no one to pass on her well, motherly secrets to." Whatever that meant! Her own mother was often saying she had knowledge to pass on, but never quite got around to it.

"Well, I think Michael brings his daughter Lei to the castle more these days so that my mother can pass on her motherly, womanly advise as I'm sure my uncle Michael would be at a loss with those kinds of secrets." Not that men didn't learn about women's secrets in that way. Needed to for when it came time to bedding them. Well, to impart them to his daughter and not embarrass her. He certainly would know them.

"Aye, one reason why I'm going to his home tonight. I won't allow the men to go into the mine until he does." He smiled at her, watching her a moment. "And if I'm usually in Heathfield more often. In fact, I think I'm owing you a dinner being I never did get here to take care of them, much to my regret." Winter had brought its own problems this year.

"Well, if you are going to be around over the next couple of days, maybe we can see to a picnic instead of any formal meal." In her mind, it would be more quality time than sitting at a formal dinner table and being waited on. Although the Sibio Bistro was the talk of town in a place of fine elegant eating.

"I am sure that is very nice for her. Having boys isn't a bad thing, but there are some things you want to pass onto your daughter." At least so Bea would think! Her mother showed them how to keep a house, and care for others. "It must be like running a herd, having so many boys."

They could do Sibio's another time. He liked her suggestion. "I will be. I'll be seeing to supplies for the miners and their families, few other things, so yes. I'll be here." He smiled as he continued. "I'd make sure to be here in any case since you still want to have dinner with me." He nearly laughed when he heard Bea. Their own mother could still cause her sons to quake in their boots with just a look. Danielle had that same knack.

"Luckily my mother is a Queen so can afford enough nannies and teachers to keep us in line. More in self defense but she has ten boys that will grow into men that will protect and care for her if anything happened to Da." Not something he liked to think about but it happened to their grandfather. His uncles took very good care of their mother.

"I will be bringing some work for Beatrice to try out here tomorrow morning." Even if she left the items with Alex, all would have instructions. "I will have the afternoon open as Violet will be taking care of customers. I'm sure Hazel will pack us a basket." Marcy was here even before Hazel came.

"Oh well then, I suppose that makes it different. My mother always said we drove her crazy, my sister and my brother and I." She smiled then, but still wondered. Such things only came with experience she surmised.

"Then I'll meet you here, say around one?" He wanted to make sure she had time to do what was needed and he could take care of what he needed to do.

Getting up, she made sure to remember the rose from the Lady Bandit. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Marcy, Mister Joe and Rick. I should retire though." She was excited that tomorrow would bring her something new, and something to do! She would give the embroidery her very best!

"Good night, Beatrice. Sleep well." He inclined his head slightly in the girl's direction.

"It was a pleasure meeting you Beatrice. I will see you soon," giving a warm smile her way as she took her leave.

"Good night Beatrice. Maybe I'll see you about again when up this way." Smile was bright with dimples and all.

Nodding to all the well wishes of a pleasant sleep, she smiled broadly. "You as well!" All but floating, she wandered up the stairs and to her room.

"One would be good." She was smiling and such a thought had a impish glint in her eyes."The night is warm, and if you are heading to the castle or Michael's, perhaps you can walk with me back to my place?" or ride. As it would be a distance to walk. More the idea. She was thinking the nights she usually just stayed at the shop if she had to work longer hours.

"I'm heading up to the castle, so don't wait on me for I'll be having a few stops. I'll catch up with you Uncle Joe, before you disappear into that mine of yours for the summer."

"All right, Rick. You should come there and visit." He turned back to Marcy and nodded. "I'll walk you back." He could lead his horse until she was safely inside. He'd be thinking about how grown up Rick was now but that was to be expected after all.

It was best she stayed at the shop this evening so she could be prepared for tomorrow easier. The things to drop off with Alex and gain the picnic basket. "Good night Rick, it was really nice seeing you again. I wont keep your uncle long as he has a good ride ahead of him." Like Rick would worry on such things as she gave him a wink. Curling her arm with Joe's before heading out with good nights given Alex and Hazel.

"Keep him all night!" Called after them with a humorous laugh before he was finishing off his tankard and would be heading up to the knights' hall. From there they might get into some fun one way or another.

He just shook his head when he heard his nephew. After a moment's thought, he decided to stay at the castle instead.  He would do what was needed in the morning, enjoy his time with Marcy and then travel to Michael's in the early evening. Otherwise he would be arriving at the manor very early in the morning.  He waved to Alex and Hazel before placing his hand over Marcy's where it rested on his arm. All in all, it had been a very enjoyable evening.

Of course it should be for Joe... he got kissed!



Date: 04-23-10
Poster: Allan Cleary
Post # 8

The Dairy Man

Allan hadn't seen his brother in some time and well, he missed having him around. It was amazing how days rolled into weeks and just as quickly months went by. It had been months and so he sent him a note he would be to the Thistle with the delivery of milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and ice cream for the warmer days they were enjoying. The wagon rolled on up the street to the side street of the tavern where the Clydesdales were reined in. Two of his men in the very large wagon jumped out to unlatch the back and started sliding the milk canisters out.

The arrival of such a large wagon drawn by such huge horses could not help but to be heard even inside the Thistle. Pausing in her cleaning, Maggie wiped her hands on her apron and went out through the side door to see what it was all about. She did not recognize the men but it was clearly a delivery of goods for the tavern, and she addressed the man who seemed to be in charge. "Would you like any help?" She offered, having seen the amount of items to be brought inside.

All the other products were packed in large crates so that they kept cool until put where Alex would show his men, which at this point they knew pretty well. Bluer than blue eyes lifted the woman's way as he was down from the buckboard and reins twisted around a knob. Horses would not go anywhere at this point, break was on too. "If you could let Alex know that Allan is here, Miss.." realizing it was not someone he knew. Smile was there for the moment as he headed around to the back to help his men carry get out the large canisters of milk, while they took in one each, he saw to one of the crates.

"Of course." Maggie bobbed her head in a nod. A quick smile and flash of bright blue eyes before she turned and slipped inside. "Alex? A man named Allan is here with some deliveries," she called to her employer before crossing to the kitchen window for a few words with Hazel. She thought the men might want a break and a snack after all this heavy work, so foreseeing the need she asked for a platter of meats, cheeses and bread.

Alex was over to open up the door that led to the cellar and cold storage. The two men went down with Allan to follow, making their way carefully down the steps. Allan had the clipboard on top of the crate he carried so when he emerged he was over to Alex at the bar while his men proceeded outside to continue unloading the wagon and bringing the goods down to the cellar. "All that you ordered," which the Tender could see plus some extras, "I added the blackberry and cherry jubilee ice creams to try out." They were something new so Alex would not have known about them.

That caught the barmaid's ear. "That sounds delicious," she piped up as she carried the heavily-laden tray over to set upon the counter. The cheese sharp and fresh and the bread newly baked, no doubt delicious smells to entice the stomach. "For you and your men when they are done," she told the man called Allan with a smile.

Michael had to travel from Ballicastle to Heathfield and had been unable to leave until late in the day, so his arrival at the Thistle was also late, but perfectly timed it seemed. He smiled when he spotted the wagon. He rode closer and dismounted, leaving his horse to graze near. He headed in through that side door and to where his brother was talking to Alex. Instead of interrupting, he just clapped a hand to Allan's shoulder to let him know he had arrived.

"They are new, perhaps you would like to try some?" Which he left the list for Alex perusal and stopped one of his men to take out two small samplers of them, "blackberry and cherry jubilee," turning as his man continued down the steps with the crate to put in the cold room down there. He was over to set them on the bar for her. Feeling the clap to his shoulder as he turned to take his brother into a bear hug. "About time I got to see your hairy hide again." Laughter in his words as he released Michael then attention turned upon the unknown lady, "I am Allan Cleary, owner of NorthStar Dairy and this is my brother Michael, illustrious knight of the realm."

"I would love to," her thanks given with a smile as she looked curiously at the samplers. Perhaps she'd be fetching a spoon and trying them in just a few moments. For now, she lingered at the bar, chuckling at the hug exchanged between the men who seemed to be brothers. Then when Allan addressed her again she gave a quick bob of her head that was also a slight curtsy. "Maggie Callahan. Pleasure to meet you both. An illustrious knight... is there any other sort?" A wink given.

"A few bad apples. But none in Ballicastle." He paused then added with a grin, "Or Heathfield." Or anywhere in the realms but that was pretty much a given.

"You wouldn't want some of the knights from here or those of Innis Daingneach staying here to hear that implication.." Then back to the woman as Alex set out a glass of the pure for him. Time to relax as his men did their job. They were still unloading the wagon and down to various cheeses. "Pleasure to meet you Maggie, related to the Callihan's here?" He had heard Alex hired on one to wait on the tables.

That was a common question from those she met, she'd found. "No, I don't believe I am. Though I have met a few of them, and found them to be quite pleasant. The sort I wouldn't mind to call family, were that the case." An easy smile as she would then step back, busying herself a moment to allow the men to chat and catch up.

"You might want to try those before they melt." Giving a wink her way with such a charmed smile.

"I said none in Ballicastle, or Heathfield. I'll add Innis, Kildare, Tyremoor." He chuckled then nodded his thanks as Alex set out a glass of potcheen. He looked back to his brother. "Looks like things are going well."

She'd forgotten all about the samplers for a moment. "Oh! You're right," she agreed with a smile in return, turning on a heel to go get herself a spoon. Now the question was.. which one to try first? She decided on the blackberry and pulled the small lid off, setting it aside before dipping her spoon into the ice cream, now softened some for its time sitting out. The spoon brought to her lips her approval was clear... "Mmm!"

Which had him chuckling right along with his brother. "We need to get out, get in to some trouble, good kind as in not land us in jail for we've become too tame." Lifting his glass as he waited for agreement. Of course Michael couldn't get into too much trouble for being a knight but there was fun to be had.  He heard that pleasing sound from the young lady too, had him grinning again.

"Jail." He sighed and shook his head. "don't think I could manage that if I tried. Grown too set in my ways of late." Eyes held a twinkle, showing he was suppressing his laughter as he looked at Allan. "We're getting old, aren't we?"

Which he shot a brotherly punch to Michael's shoulder. "You may grow old but I refuse to until I'm 90 and then I will consider it." The humor evident as he kicked back the drink then saw to refreshing their glasses.

He laughed as he rubbed his arm. "And you'll be every bit as ornery as you are now, or worse."

Maggie was smiling at the camaraderie between brothers, but more so she was enjoying the ice cream. The blackberry tasted like fruit right off the bushes, and she had soon finished it off, reaching next for the cherry. Which she seemed to enjoy with just as much relish. Maggie tended to eat like a bird but she did foster a strong sweet tooth.

"Most likely worse for if I reach 90, then I've earned being an old ornery cuss! Probably see so many changes I would naturally be disgruntled. Now, tell me how all has been in Ballicastle? Have you been to the family homestead?" Already putting his hands in a defensive way, "I know I've been slacking and working far too much. I am waiting to find Roseann and Diane on my front stoop to drag me to visit."

"I visit at least once a week, if not more, else I'd be in trouble, not only with them but with the Queen." Who was very strong on family. "Things are going well. The King keeps us on our toes and watches the sister Kingdoms as well." The King was close to the other rulers of the realms, especially Heathfield for the history between the two lands.

Faelan was in a grand mood as he swung up the front steps and headed through the open door taking him inside. "Hello, hello! Cleary Brothers and fair Margaret!" Sweeping a bow to the last, "you look much better than last we met, fair of skin has a healthy glow to it now." All the while gaining on the bar where a glass of potcheen was set out for him on the rocks.

Maggie had to swallow her latest spoonful of ice cream quickly, as a familiar face came bashing into the place so jovially. The man seemed in such a good mood that his smile was infectious, and she wouldn't even wince at his use of her proper name. "Thank you, Faelan. You seem well, yourself." Her smile clearly curious, wondering just why he was so cheery.

"Once a week, ouch, that means I'm going to be boiled in water or grease! When are you heading there next? You can gain brownie points by dragging me with you and I, at least, might not be pounced or reprimanded too greatly." With Faelan coming in, focus shifted there, "good evening Faelan, good to see you again." Leaving him to speak with Maggie as it seemed they knew each other.

"You are eating well I see," noting the ice cream, what a way to go back on the path to good health. The lass could use a few pounds in all the right places. "Indeed I am well. It is glorious spring and a captain can sail the seven seas again." He actually had the start of a tan which could be seen down his chest for the poet's shirt left partially open. Tucked into black pants and boots to top off his attire.

"Evening, Faelan," he greeted the Captain then laughed. "Wednesday, likely. Seems to suit everyone. I'll be sure to send you a message to remind you." He'd still be pounced but in a good way since their sisters missed him. "But with the season, they're expecting you're busy with calving as well as everything else."

Following his gaze to her ice cream, she let out a giggle. "Yes... not to worry, I had a proper dinner first." The ice cream being her dessert! Indeed the young woman was slim from head to toe, but with her tall frame it seemed more  natural than unhealthy. "Will you be sailing soon then?" She asked Faelan. "It does seem the perfect weather for it."

"Or come and stay that night. I've a big place that gets lonely." He had built it to suit a family, now all he needed was a wife and eventually children. He had a few members on his staff so it was not totally deserted, echoing footsteps would surely drive him insane.

"Aye, to Australia to start and find some of those funny sounding, funny looking animals for the Zoo. Have you been to the zoo yet? Kaylea MacKay runs it. Me brother Morgan and me sister Regan will be going with their ships. Three ships will have us bringing back quite the fare and the Zoo here will grow." He leaned a little as if sharing a secret, "it is the adventure I feel in me blood that draws me the most for it will turn into one somewhere in the outback I'm certain."

"Australia?" Her eyes widened like a little girl hearing her bedtime story of exotic lands. "My goodness.... and half your family sailors too," which had her smiling at the thought. "I am certain you will meet all sorts of adventure there, whether it be with people or strange animals or even both. I haven't been to the zoo yet..." in fact she didn't know there was one. "I'll have to come and visit when you return."

"I could do that. Maybe start visiting you on Tuesday nights, then we could travel back to Ballicastle Wednesday morning?" Sounded like a good idea to him.

"Aye, we were there last evening. Kaylea had a mess to clean up from a storm that cycled through. So we helped and got the list, Wallaby, Bilbiees, quolls, Tasmanian Devils and nunbats to start." He was grinning for he actually got them out correctly. This was a list to memorize. Next he would make notes and pictures of them from the library. "I want to see Ayres Rock and meet the mystics there." He kicked back the shot a little too fast and had him cough. A bit of smoke seemed to come out though he wasn't smoking. It disappeared fast enough to have one wonder if they saw such at all!

"I might not make it every week but it's a good start. If I can get in twice a month I will be further than I am now." He was listening to Faelan and such the idea certainly sounded like a good start of an adventure to him.



Date: 04-23-10
Poster: Allan Cleary
Post # 9

She listened to the strange names of all the animals with a little smile, which expanded in a dreamy way when he mentioned all the sights to see. "I would love to see such things. You'll have to come back and tell me all about it." Maggie had a heart that still dreamed of adventures far away, though she realized she had likely traveled as far as she ever would, at this point in her life. She was content with that but still liked to imagine far off lands. A blink at that tiny plume of smoke which was there then gone, she must have been seeing things. Attention shifted for a moment to all three men present, with a gesture to the platter of meats and cheeses there on the counter. "Feel free to have some, everybody for I don't want to bring a full tray back to Hazel!" Not wanting to offend their beloved cook, though the woman's scolding would probably just be in good fun.

He nodded, though he'd been watching Faelan. A blink and he rubbed his eyes. Nay, he hadn't seen a thing. "And won't have any sibling stalking you."

"So it's true," almost under his breath in a whisper to Michael. He knew well the stories of adventure the Callihan lads and lass had behind them. Obviously he saw the puff of smoke. "Well, it would be good for Roseann and Diane to get here and socialize. They will become old maids if they never get out to meet some of the fine men about."

"Of course I will, maybe bring you back something too." Which he had no idea presently of what but he'd know it when he came across it. Oh, this is perfect for the tavern lass Maggie sort of thing. "Have you met me brother or sister?" Morgan probably had not been here but it was possible Regan had. He took up some bread to roll some cheese and meat in, keep those smoke bubbles down. He dug in.

He started laughing again as he lowered his glass. "Don't you be saying that in front of either of them, or they'll be after you for sure. And how much socializing do you do?"  He eyed his brother curiously.

"Aye, I have met your sister Regan." She leaned in a bit across the counter. "She seems the sort that can take care of herself!" Which would make sense, being a Lady Captain, and it was meant as a compliment.

"Then we need to devise a plan that will get them out and too busy having fun to be worried if I get to the manor or not." Which had him hesitate, "do you think that either Roseann or Diane can have fun or have they become too stuffy maids?" Which was a horrid thought in his mind.

"They're not stuffy at all, Allan." He laughed at the thought. "Roseann is quiet, Diane is often distracted but they're not stuffy."

"They need a good man in their lives." Although he knew his sisters would deny it. "Nothing wrong with that. Someone for them to grow old with that are interested in each of their professions."
  Was this a long stretch. "Do you think me wrong in thinking so on their behalf?"

"You might be able to find men interested in your sisters, I've got one that it would take a miracle." If that were encouragement. He was grinning like the devil too as that sister could walk through those doors and hear him.. then the fun would really begin.

He wasn't quite sure how to answer that to be honest. "I don't think it's wrong to be hopeful for them. Just don't start pushing or they'll both start digging their heels in." A family trait, stubbornness.

Maggie knew exactly what sister Faelan was referring to, and that thought had a little grin on her lips too. With two small samplers of ice cream in her stomach, Maggie finally ceased leaning on the bar and sat herself on a stool. Where she could polish some glasses while she relaxed and conversed. One of those jobs that didn't really need doing, but something to keep her hands busy. "Alex, would you mind making me some tea?" Her eyes found her employer for a moment with a slight smile.

"Well, good. I was beginning to wonder if my way of thinking was getting out of line." Of course Diane and Roseann would definitely say it was. "So, maybe I should have them come after me and instead, get them socializing." It was a thought and a fairly solid one.

"Well, Diane does some when she goes to the races though I'm not sure how often she does." He rubbed at his chin. "Though that could work. They've been talking about it and seeing how things are going at the dairy."

"There are enough bachelors in this land alone I'm sure they could meet." He didn't really consider himself because he was about to embark on the trip to Australia and would be gone a few weeks. He was safe to say so. Lifting his glass of potcheen in salute of the brothers before kicking it back.

He looked at Faelan and laughed. "Yes there is. Though some don't seem interested in marrying."

The glass lowered as he refreshed his and the brothers' glasses. "You work round the clock Maggie?" Yes, he noticed she was polishing glasses. "A man never seems interested until he meets the right lass," surely they knew that, although it took some balls to admit it! "I should cover your ears, Maggie. And I'll deny it if you spread such blasphemy!"

She shrugged to Faelan's question. "I work whenever I'm around, really. I like to keep busy," said with a small wink. Then she laughed at Faelan's next words. "No need to cover my poor ears. I believe you are absolutely right!"

He was laughing at that point. "I do think you are right too. If some of the men took a break from their professions to get out and meet others." He rarely got here, this the first night in many months. "Of course if there is only one lass to three men, we'll have to draw quarters or fight over her?" Of course he was joking.

And hopefully Alex was getting her tea....!  "You wouldn't dare draw a knife to me, would you?" Said to Faelan with a mock pout which quickly turned to a mischievous smile. "As for myself, I would much rather see a fight."

"You brought in enough dairy products we could have a food fight, the winner take all. Avast!, arrr me comely wench, make your choice! Me or the barnacle covered scurvy dogs over there," giving a hand gesture the brothers' way. He was giving it his all in sailor talk, "I've a fierce fire in me belly for tasting those wares," such implications there. "We can swill a pint or two of grog until Allan's cows come in..." grinning.

"Alex doesn't allow fighting in here, so it would have to be outside." He gave a slight nod, then nearly choked when he heard Faelan.

He was laughing too much to make any retort to that. Or even take any insult, or even pretend to be insulted.

Faelan's salty-dog talk had her giggling, which turned into brighter laughter as he went on. It mingled with the men's laughter though she cut a brief look over to Alex before looking back to the boys. "You give me a difficult choice, with three such fine men before me," a charming smile of her own.

"We can't fight in the tavern and I can't speak like Faelan, so you'll just have to draw straws.." trying really hard not to start laughing again.

"And when I choose a straw, then what happens?" She posed the question with an arch of a brow, playing along with dancing eyes.

"After you seize all yer doubloons yea take off with the winner of the lot, have your way with him or toss him out if yea like."

"Ye know it will be Michael here that wins for he is the quietest."

"What? Quiet has nothing to do with winning." He shook his head, again, though he was laughing.

"Michael is also clever, for looks have nothing to do with which straw is the shortest." Laughing along still as she glanced briefly to the one named Michael.

"Well, I must be on me way. If I have time before we set sail, I'll stop by again. Otherwise it is bon voyage." Placing a hand over his heart, "I leave you to the two brothers." Followed by a wink.

He winked at Maggie and saluted her with his glass. And then turned to Faelan, "May your journey be a safe one, and profitable, Faelan."

"Oh, thank you," that had her smiling wryly before giving a truer smile. "If I don't see you before you sail, have a wonderful journey, and watch out for - what was it - billibies?" A little grin. "Travel safe, Faelan."

"I will have to stop by the Zoo and see what you, Morgan and Regan bring back. Safe and prosperous journey. Give my regards to both brother and sister."

"Aye, billibies and all the other rascals," grinning as he saluted Alex before making use of the side door and on his way.

"It seems the zoo is doing well." He finished his drink and placed the glass on the countertop. "Are you heading back to the dairy or staying here a while?" If Allan wanted to continue to socialize, Michael would take a room here for the night.

"You're welcome to stay at the dairy, we can make plans on how to get our sisters out and socializing. You know they would do it on us so better we do it on them first."

Alex by now had brought her tea and she was halfway through sipping the contents down. A soft sigh emitted to herself as she let the brothers chat amongst themselves for now.

"Aye, it's true." He straightened from the lean he had taken and smiled at Maggie. "It was nice to meet you, Maggie." He was growing tired.

"And you. Both of you." She smiled in return but she was seeming a bit tired, herself. "Thank you for the ice cream, Allan, it was delicious."

"If you were our sister would you appreciate us planning such a devious way to get them out socializing?" A smile swept with her compliment, "thank you. I shall continue the flavor ice creams and perhaps try a few others once fruit is more plentiful." He finished off the potcheen in a quick kick back before setting it to the bar for the last time. "It was a pleasure meeting you Maggie. I'm sure I'll see you again if you remain."

"No, I would be appalled if I were your sister," she replied with a wink and a smile. It was true but all in good fun, and hopefully his sisters would see that. "I'm sure you shall. Sleep well, both of you."

"You as well, Maggie." He bowed slightly as he was inclined to do because of his training.

"What fun then," which had him laughing as he headed out with his brother. He wanted to find some trouble but not the kind to land them in the dungeon. He found it.

And there would likely be revenge on the part of their sisters. This could last for some time!



Date: 04-24-10
Poster: Vanessa Baltimore
Post # 10

Back at the Thistle

Bea loved being at the Thistle. It provided a warm atmosphere and a great opportunity to meet others. It was also neat as a pin, much to her own tidy heart's desire. Happy to walk side by side with Vanessa, Ysa and Mariah, she beamed as they came back to what she considered home. "You know, I think Hazel made meat pies tonight." Which reminded her that she hadn't had any lunch! "If she made it with those new potatoes she had in there earlier, I could probably eat a barrel full." She all but slid into the warm interior, made so by the lighting or the company. Bea wasn't sure and didn't care. She was just happy! "I'm going to put my things away and be down. Be right back." Grinning at the three young ladies she was with, Ysa included she all but dashed upstairs.

Mariah wanted to stop and see her sister quick before heading to the Thistle, so Vanessa walked with Bea, stroller guided with one hand, Ysa held in her arm. The stroller left near the steps of the Thistle, she followed in with a bright smile. "Sounds wonderful. I haven't yet eaten evening meal." And it would be nice to dine with Bea. A wave given to Alex, she shifted Ysa and headed for the bar for the time being, until Bea returned to join her at a table. "Cider please, Alex. And a bit of juice for Ysa." Setting the child's sippy type cup on the counter.

Segan had swung by the Cottage to find no one home at all. That was a bit strange unless they had gone off to the tavern for a meal out and cooked well too. Sailor's swagger came naturally as he turned from the side street to the main. Spotting the stroller a grin tipped more to himself as he headed up the steps and right on in. Doors would be left open more than not as the days and nights grew warmer. "The most beautiful ladies in the lands!" Coming right towards Vanessa and Ysa. Bold as you please to steal a quick 'public acceptable' kiss of Vanessa then a rather sloppy and loud sounding one on Ysa's cheek. One that would have the little one laughing. A sound he had come to enjoy.

She was quick, but not quick enough to catch the publicly acceptable smooches. Setting everything in its place she let her eyes roam the painfully tidy room before nodding with satisfaction. In some universe, surely dust feared Beatrice like most feared the devil. She checked the covering on her hair out of habit rather than desire and tucked a loose strand of brown hair back before finding her way back downstairs. Seeing Segan there made her grin and flush just a bit at the same time. "Good evening, Segan! Alex!" Over to the bar, she engaged the man she saw as a rather honorary uncle in conversation pertaining to dinner. As luck would have it, she was right! Meat pies and roasted potatoes. Yum! "I bet she has garlic loaf too." When Alex grinned, Beatrice beamed right on back with a whoop of laughter. "Wonderful! I can't wait." Which she could and did, neatly on a barstool with a cup of cider well on the way.

Hearing Segan, she turned towards the entrance and smiled brightly. "And if it isn't the most handsome of men to sail the waters." The kiss returned with a bright smile, Ysa giggled and laughed aloud to the affections and reached for hair or ears or fingers up the nose; anything she could get a moist hand on. "How are you this evening?" Inquired to Segan before smiling back to Bea. "Glad to have you back. Mariah stopped to see her sister at the book store." Letting Bea know why Mariah hadn't accompanied.

He got the finger up the nose before it could be stopped and snorted afterwards turning into laughter. "You do that to them when your sixteen and they bother you." Rubbing his nose as he straightened. If hey called a wet finger into the ear a wet willy, what did they call a wet finger up the nose? A wet Harry? Good thing they didn't know his thoughts. "I am doing well, even better now. Has Karina gone off to see Rhett? She wasn't at the cottage and I would rest easier if she was with the blacksmith knight." Settling onto a stool as he ordered the glass of potcheen, Alex leaving the bottle. "Good evening Bea." Welcoming her with a smile.

Beatrice nodded while taking in a large sip of cider, happy to see firsthand now what Vanessa had meant. It made her grin, which of course was secreted behind her cup. "I do hope she remembers to bring by those gloves so I can take them in for her. I'd hate for her to get sores." It was an after thought about Karina, while it dawned on her that Karina might be like Vanessa and Mariah. Interesting. She was happily distracted by food, and a good quantity of it since she ordered not only for herself but for the lot of them. "Hope you're hungry Segan. Vanessa says she is not a cook, so we're eating meat pies and roasted potatoes with garlic loaf bread." And she was already eyeing the butter.

Riley stuck his head in through the side door from the side street. More to make sure who was about before he stepped within. Something that was quick and hopefully went unnoticed. He was one of the few darker haired McAndrews but the dimpled smile was a giveaway that was there near immediately. "Good evening ladies." Not recognizing either but he recognized Segan, fellow captain. "Good evening Segan, I see the rains that are to come have you secured away where trouble will not find." The lands needed the rains to come but the sea did not! He was over to straddle up a stool and order some of the pure.

"She's getting her practice in now." Laughing quietly, she seated herself next to Segan and settled Ysa on her lap with her handled cup. "Karina was heading in way of the smithy when she left us this afternoon. So yes, I would guess she and Rhett had plans for the evening." Laughing some to what Bea said, she greeted the man she'd not met. "Ave, sir."

"I always have my appetite." Wondering there for a moment if Bea could even possibly eat all that was on the tray of food delivered! He'd have to nickname her hollow leg if she could. "Good evening Riley, please to meet Vanessa Baltimore and Beatrice, ladies this is yet another McAndrews, Riley. He captains a ship too."

She might try, but she had ordered more or less to share. "Then please! Dig in!" Always happy to oblige the hungry, as she was to be polite since everyone had been so polite to her. Turning toward the stranger, she hummed a little while nodding. "Good evening. Which one of the ten of the ten are you?" If he could figure out what she meant of course, Bea sometimes lost a little of herself in translation. Plating a meat pie and some of the potatoes, she motioned to it all. "Um, there is enough. If you'd like."

"I am the first born son of the second born of ten brothers." With dimples dipping deeper and blue eyes to hold a devilish twinkle for those few seconds. "Merry meet, Vanessa and Bea." With the invitation, "thank you, I don't mind if I do," which he was one to dig in. If there wasn't enough then more would be requested.

With her sitting so close there was the subtle touch of his hand over hers. One not needed to lift the glass of potcheen to kick back nor to make use of the food on the plate between drinks.

"A pleasure to meet you, Riley. This is Ysabeau." Motioning to the babe on her lap now content with her cup. "Thank you, Bea." She too would dip in for a couple of bites and smiled to Segan. "A pleasant surprise to see you tonight." fingers brushed lightly over his own. "How is Yaya? And your siblings?"

Mariah managed to convince her sister to come with her to the Tavern for a drink or two, something to eat. Wasn't too hard to get her out of the bookstore and close up for the night. Arm linked with hers, kind of more special after hearing about Van losing her sister.

Well that answered the question nicely in her mind! With food in hand or plate rather, she could satiate the little gnawing going on her stomach while the conversation blossomed. "I have met your cousin Rick then, and your uncle Joe. They were very nice." Everyone was nice here though, which was a blessing in Bea's mind. Content to munch, she did so with a beaming smile and wave to Mariah as she came in.

Which he turned that bright smile on the child. "Now isn't she a sweet little angel." He was use to being around kids staying at the castle in Ballicastle. Catching his cousin's name, focus turned back on Bea. "He is out socializing then? Tell me he swept you off your feet and I will buy him a few rounds." Rick was the one held back in Riley's mind, while Riley got into all kinds of trouble. Like stealing his uncle's ship to impress two lasses a few years back. Accidentally falling on an Egyptian woman, having her sprawled out under him on the northern tavern's floor, hand ending up where it did not belong.

There was a foot tap and a hum at the back of her throat before she decided laughter was the better part of valor. She hoped he wasn't insulted. "Oh no. He was very polite. Very nice." She was going to start repeating herself soon.

"Everyone is doing well but myself. For I've not had the time, or more to match our times to spend time together," which he let stall before adding low, "alone." This came by her ear in a whispered tone.

It was nice to be out after a long day. She had been busy earlier then as the customers thinned down, she put out a new shipment of books. "I'm so glad to see the end of winter." She knocked on the rail of the steps, knocking on wood since it could still snow. Up the steps and she held the door for Mariah to go in first.

She smiled to Segan after the low whisper. "It will come soon. Hopefully as things finish planting, we will have time." Of course, warmer weather took him to the water, but they would find time. "I have some flower sprouts for Yaya. Soon Ysa and I will bring them to the manor."

"Aye, alas, me cousin Rick is the makings of a good king." Not the English type that took all from everyone around them then tossed them aside when they grew tired of them. At least he never had that pressure on him and he would do anything for his cousin. They were pretty close.

"I am too," which given another time there was a lot she wished to tell her sister. "We need to get out and play hookie to the lake soon, talk like we use to." Her smile then swept as she as much did the same through the door, "hello everyone, this is my sister Carisa. Carisa, this is Vanessa, the lady with the birds. Segan of the Quinns if you have not met him. Riley of course you know, and Bea who has come to lands by way of getting lost and has stayed." Heading for the bar so they could order some of the flavored punch made from the potcheen.

"That is nice to know, I suppose." Bea shoveled food in her mouth and tried not to think on it too much. "Good evening, Carisa!" Mariah had already talked about her sister so it was nice to meet her in person too!


"I will just have to come the days I have not needing to sail and help you plant. Then perhaps go for a swim down at the lake, Yada or Concessa will watch Ysa for us. Time to ourselves again," but this time all to themselves.

"That sounds like a fantastic idea." She smiled to Segan and lifted her mug for a drink of the cider. "Have you any ventures any time soon?"

That lit up blue eyes with a smile upon Mariah but one dashing upon Carisa. "It's been too long my pretty.." like he was going to get her some way or another, or where and by who knows what he would be doing it.

"I have the choice of cargo runs through Bovee shipping and I was thinking of taking some of the shorter ones down along the coast when you could accompany me. They would range from a half day, a day, to a day and a half where we could stay in Ballicastle overnight. We can bring Ysa or leave my mother in seventh heaven to watch her. At least getting her fix of a baby around to coo over, she has not been on any of our cases to get married and produce her great grandchildren though she considers them grandchildren, we are not to get too technical."

"Good evening, everyone. Nice to meet you Vanessa, Segan and Bea." She felt her cheeks turn pink when Riley teased her. "Yes, it has." Eyes twinkled as she added, "but you're always welcome at the shop, Riley." She knew he had plenty to do but still had to tease a little.

"Good evening, Carisa!" Smiling to the woman then looked back to Segan. Listening to him, she smiled thoughtfully. "Half a day I could leave Ysa, but I'm not sure I could leave her a whole night with so much distance." She looked down to Ysa for a moment. It would be different if they were staying in Heathfield, but to be so far was different.

"That would mean having to read something where I like to get my hands dirty, firsthand experience," really teasing her now as he rubbed his hands together, "too long, what do you suggest we do about that besides becoming enclosed when there is the great outdoors? Nature calling.." which could have its implications.

She was over to the bar to get a drink and maybe a bowl of Irish stew if there was still some left. A glance given to Mariah to see if she was going to have the same then she looked at Riley and laughed. "Well, if you're not off to exotic ports of call, I'm sure we could come up with something. Maybe a picnic at the lake on a day when the sun is shining?"

"Only where you would feel comfortable, Yada has great experience with children or bring her with us." They would get to explore the market places of Ballicastle. Still, if it made her uncomfortable then they would only do the half day ones together.


"Perhaps I will steal you away, make a pirate of you like you once wanted to be. We can go see a far off exotic port and leave the selling of books to another for a few days." He sounded serious even with the waggle of his brows for ideas that might wander in with all the rest associate with pirates and the ideas of debauchery.

"Let's start with the half days and see how it goes." She hadn't spent much time away from Ysa since bringing her to Heathfield. Smiling to Segan. "I look forward to it though. Short trips at sea."

She would have some of the stew too as well some of the bread from the platter. She didn't say much as there was more to listen to and that dealt more with her sister and Riley, seems there was still a possible spark there?

"That is a good and comfortable approach. It wont be for a while but I will let you know when I take such a run for you will need to make arrangements." Way it was and he wasn't complaining, working with it instead.

He had her laughing as she remembered that. "And will you give me an eye patch, and boots and a cutlass so I look like a good pirate lass in my tattered gown?" She grinned then looked at Mariah and winked, mischief in dark eyes.

It was the only thing she could think that would work as a compromise. Ysa had become her own without question and much like a real mother, it was hard to leave the young one. "Thank you." She smiled to Segan.

He was up and around to take up the stool next to hers. So close their legs could bump. "I will give you an eye patch, I'll even give you my sword.." which was punctuated with another waggle of brows for the suggestion. "I will give you the cabin boy's cabin for you could be my cabin boy and then the crew will not be ogling you and I having to poke out their eyes with me sword, in your hand, being I gave it to you."

That had her giggling and trying to smother it over by eating some of the stew place in front of her.

There was the alternative to bring Yas with them to explore Ballicastle together on a longer run. Segan would not give up on trying to find ways to have them together without either giving up what was their means of a profession. Or having Vanessa leaving Ysa for too long a period of time.

She couldn't answer that because she was giggling too, well, not at first. "If I'm a cabin boy, I'd have to wear boy's clothing then. Be a bit awkward poking eyes out that way, wouldn't it?" Trying to ignore the implications wasn't working to well!

"Well, me darlin pirate lass, that is why we would have to disguise you as a cabin laddie, or you would then be needing to poke out those sailor's eyes with me sword."

She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek with a smile. "And how is the Anaconda? Coming along and prepared for travel?"

Which he leaned in to gain that kiss without her missing, tempted to turn that it landed on his lips but they were out in public. "She is fine and dandy, taken her on a few short runs already. When I came up with the idea to run by yea. How are the birds doing? Sell any more?" Her business seemed to do well. The while he was tickling against Ysa's cheek.

"Hmmm, I think I can manage that. Just have to swagger and keep my clothes baggy and my voice deep, aye?" She didn't dare look at Mariah or she'd start laughing.

She burst out, "she can do that!"

"Well then me pretty, we shall have to see how well yea can ride the seven seas or even one sea." Dimples never left but got deeper then not back and forth with his smile as it came and went just as easily.

Ysa was all giggles and laughter, but it was quieter than normal, she was getting tired. "The birds are well. We have hatchlings." Which made her very happy. "And business is well. Leoric purchased hunters for some of the knights."

Which he could usually tell, they had been together long enough and perhaps one of the things he wished to speak on when they had time alone. "Shall we head back before it rains," yes, it was to rain tonight. It was in the air. "Get Ysa to bed and have a cup of tea, maybe have you fall asleep in my arms while on the couch..." nice visual there for him and he would bring her up to her bed when that happened, tuck her in then went back downstairs to sleep on the couch or head home.

She laughed and looked at Mariah then her attention was on Riley again. "Might be best to test me on one sea first, Captain, sir. So we can learn if I'll get seasick or not." Giving a sage nod, she wondered how a sea trip would go over with their Da.

A nod given, she looked at him for a moment. He looked like he had something on his mind, but she would ask when not in the company of others. "Sounds like a wonderful end to the night. Shall we?"

"Sea sick? Are you implying you'd be hanging over me rail sailing the seven seas, pirate patch over your eye and a parrot on yea back?"

He was up and a hand to help her up. "Good night Mariah, Riley and Carisa, hope to see you all again." When it happened. He would see Vanessa out and a nice walk back to the Cottage. Even there it was not certain they would find time alone if Karina was there and possibly Rhett. Not that he minded, just seemed to be the way of it so far. He might have to kidnap Vanessa! Whisk her away for a couple hours but it would have to be arranged for Ysa.. Karina would do that for him. Ah yes, plotting and planning to take her by surprise.

A parrot on her back? She used Segan's farewell to regain her composure. "Good night Segan, good night Vanessa." And she waved at the babe. Then she turned back to Riley. "It's possible. I've not been on a ship before. Only a rowboat on the lake." Which wasn't nearly the same.

Well, if she was hanging over the rail, parrot couldn't very well be on her shoulder. Could be on her rump. "Good night Vanessa, Segan, sleep well."

Cradling Ysa in her arms, she too rose with a smile to the others. "Riley, Carisa, a pleasure to meet you. Mariah, I hope to see you again soon." Ysa coo'ed in response, Van followed Segan's guide out to where the stroller waited.

"I think I'm going to head back," she rose up too, "good night Segan, Vanessa, Carisa, Riley," whew! Big old smile, "remember, Carisa, a picnic at the lake or such so we can talk like old times." Which had not been in some time and even back then it was about boys! With a slight smirk she was out the side door and on her way. She would stay in the flat over the shop this night.


"Well, looks like it is time to head out, care to take a walk Carisa?" Being her sister quite abandoned her and suspiciously so. Yes, he would take full advantage of it.

"All right, Mariah." It had been a while, hadn't it. She slid off the stool and nodded. "A walk would be nice. It's been a while since we've talked." She'd have to thank Mariah later.

It wasn't like they were strangers even if some time had passed since they last saw each other. There might not be a whole lot of talking if Riley had his way. Enough though. He finished off his drink, took the bottle in one hand while the other fell to the small of her back in guide. Once she was up. He would go the garden door way to start off the night.

That ... wasn't a bad thing either. She waved good night to Alex as they started for the door, steps light. And if it rained, she wouldn't mind that either.

"Seems we cleared out the place." Although it was getting late and Alex could close up, spend some time with Hazel. "Perfect night," more mussed under his breath or maybe it was because they were spending time together again. Once Ysa was in the stroller, he helping where needed, they were on their way heading home.



Date: 04-25-10
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 11

What a Quiet Night can Bring

It was very, very quiet this evening as Mat emerged from the woods leading to the lake. There was nothing covering his chest as the darker tones of his skin had only been getting darker with the sunny weather they'd been having. The urge to hunt was strong in him so he had gone off longer than he had planned. He had gotten quite a few hares that were strung to his belt, leggings worn still with the leather flap in front and back. Eventually he would only be wearing that. Boots were as moccasins tied up to perfectly form to his feet and shins. Hair in braids with feathers woven in. He crouched down becoming part of nature in the bushes near the edge of the garden belonging to the tavern. Eyes of dark blue were black presently as he silently watched those walking along pass the place and the light from inside gave one a good view from outside through the windows and open side door.

She had taken the afternoon off but guilt over not being constructive eventually got the best of her so the evening found her marching herself purposefully back toward the Thistle with the firm intention of finishing the men's kerchiefs she had been set to do by Mistress McGuire. And there was still the rest of the table cloth, for which she was already chiding herself for not getting to sooner. "It could be someone's wedding present and your going off getting lost for no other reason than because you can't find your feet if someone pointed you in the right direction." Firm but not too severe with herself, she sighed with a little chuckle then while sweeping up the steps with a hop of a step. It would be fine! "I'll just work tonight, and then it won't be so bad." Raspberry colored skirts swished a bit as she crossed the open doorway. "Alex! I did it again!" The man would knew what she meant simply by the flustered look on her face. It wasn't as if it took science. Bea constantly was getting lost, and since she was generally oblivious, she didn't notice the stranger all but lurking in the bushes.

Not a sound from the brave but there was a quirk of his lips when it was easy for him to pick up on the woman talking to herself. Silent as a soft summer breeze, he left the hares to hang up in the tree he was crouched by. Only one did he leave on his belt as it would be a present for Hazel when he got to it. Right now he was intent on his scouting. Watching, although some of those here would be able to feel eyes on them as it was put to him. He considered them more of shaman blood.

With the constant hum as her companion, it was hard for Beatrice to know when someone was watching her. It was one of the reasons why her brother enjoyed sneaking up on her, popping out from the corner and scaring the wits out of her. And it wasn't in her nature to get him back. "After I ate, I decided another walk would settle me down but then I got lost again and well you know ..." It was almost as if she had to justify what she'd done but she was already rushing upstairs to her room to get the last of the kerchiefs, the thread, the needle before barreling down the stairs again. She would finish something by God. She would.

He eyed the tree he hung the hares in to retrieve later. One sturdy branch went very near the roof of the tavern. Becoming one with the shadows it was as a cloud passing on high, like a large bird flying overhead left a shadow below in its passing. Steps were soundless even on the shingles as he wove his way across then down over the porch. Crouched down, not many looked up or might think it was one of those gargoyle statues. Lights lined the streets enough to see all the way down the square and the fountain whose waters were running. He was listening to the night.

"I need to finish these because what if these are gifts? And then if they aren't ready for Marcy then what do I say?" She was talking to Alex a mile a minute while threading her needle and setting the frame. It was a very masculine M being stylized on the corner per the instructions and she rather liked how her handiwork was turning out. Each stitch was exact, as tidy as her own person was. Bent in one of the wingbacks, she set herself to the task while setting an ear to listening to the nice night sounds. It went right along with the nervous humming she had started.

Mat said something in his native tongue with a roll of his eyes heavenwards. The sky littered with stars it was so clear. Basically it translated on women who talked a lot, spirit guides to grant them deafness. He swung down from the roof of the porch to land on the planks below as silently as walking. There was a way to land that took the impact than a large thudding sound to follow. He straightened, adjusting the leather straps across a muscular chest, those of a sack to collect things in, the string of his bow and the strap of the quiver holding the arrows. Squaring his shoulders he proceeded in just like anyone else arriving in a more traditional way and heading for the bar. "I will have strong water," meaning the potcheen as it was clear as water but burned like fire.

It was easy to ramble to Alex, Bea knew him. Now though she was busy, covered head bent close to the frame as she put a steady hand to her work. She was still humming though, just softly enough to herself to keep her thoughts in line with what she was doing. Being as everyone she had met though had been polite, she paused long enough to look up in order to smile brightly at whomever the person was and greet them accordingly. Who she saw though didn't quite register in her realm of what was possible. Feathers? Leather? She had barely formed the words and sat there staring for a second before she remembered the manners her mother had drummed into her. Swallowing while she paled a little, the smile falling somewhat she cleared her throat. "Good evening."

He unhooked the hare which he handed over to Alex like something that had been done before as the man took the dead creature and brought it into the kitchen. Mat turned as the intensity of dark eyes almost devoured the petite and somewhat timid female across the way. A distance that he ate up in a strong purposeful stride. "Good evening, I don't bite too much." Which he flashed her a set of very white teeth. His scent was that of pine needles, clover, fields of wild flowers and forests he'd been through as he came to loom over her. Curious as to what she had in her hands and was doing. "I am Matoskah, White Bear."


He didn't bite too much? Exactly what did that mean? Did he bite a little? Was that normal? Though she would have preferred to ask the questions that were there on her tongue she couldn't quite get them past her lips. He was like most here, tall. Very, very, very tall. And just a tad intimidating. If she was truthful with herself, she would say he was more than just a tad, but Alex was there and they seemed on friendly terms didn't they? Leaning just a little to the side, she caught the older man's eye before venturing to even chance meeting the man's dark gaze. "I-I-Its nice to m-m-me-meet you. Bear." She blurted the last out, humming loudly then while she started to tap her foot.

Mat was still rough around the edges. At least he no longer circled the women sniffing them. White women had smells about them under the perfumes and other scents they lavished on their skin. "You have different accent," taking her stutter as an accent. "You have come from far lands too?" Where he came from was far lands but he had a good grasp of the English language, especially after he, his brother and three others came to these lands four years ago. "You have name to call you by?"

Anything to keep her in that mental rhythm that would allow her the ability to speak. "Bea. B-Beatrice! My name is Beatrice." It was interesting that he thought she had an accent, enough so that she could laugh a little while breaking eye contact long enough not to stab herself in the finger with the sharp end of the needle. "N-n-no, from far. North." A little hum and a breath and she would be fine. Just fine.

"Bee," pronouncing it like the small heavy insect, "you are Buzzing Bee." That fitted! She talked a lot, buzzing about talking. It was a good Indian name for her until he came up with something else. He took off the quiver of arrows to lay across her table and the bow to follow before he moving back across the way to the bar to get his drink and the bottle. He also got another glass which he brought back with him. Maybe he could feel that his brother was near. "I am from across the great waters that the eye cannot see from one end to another. They call them Colonies after the white man came." He was back over to claim a seat near her, invited or not, he had not gotten that bit of propriety correct yet. She was talking to him so he was welcome to sit by her.

Buzzing Bee? She wasn't quite certain that she should correct him or not about the actual spelling of her name. At this point it didn't seem like quite the idea. "Oh, of course." That explained the feathers and leather. Sure it did! Bea however wasn't quite certain that she was as well informed as most. "A-a-across th-th s-sea." Keeping herself intent on her task, careful to keep the stitching straight and even. "Why?"

He had not really leaned to spell yet so it would go over his head. It was something on the agenda to teach the twin brothers. Teach all of them since they decided to stay. He and his brother may still go back to see certain ones for the last time, until the next life. "Because we had been lied to that our father was dead and he came to find us for he needed inside," placing his hand over his heart, "he was lied to that we were dead from birth. He could not get rid of feeling we were alive so he hired men to search. This was four years ago."

It surprised Karina to realize that she couldn't remember the last time she'd been to the Thistle, her original haunt here in Heathfield and her home for several months. So at the end of one of her long, rambling strolls she decided to stop by for a drink. The scrappy young miss stepped inside and paused first by the door, hanging up her wide-brimmed straw hat. It wasn't the boy's cap that was probably rotting away beneath her bed, but had a tomboyish quality to it that was a contrast to the butter-yellow dress she wore. Sensible short leather boots worn beneath the frock that had short sleeves and a snug waistline just above her narrow hips. Now free from the hat, her amber ringlets were going every which way and she pushed them back impatiently from her face as she stepped across the room. Bea she recognized, and gave a nod of greeting to before going to the bar to greet Alex warmly. He'd been her first friend in these lands and put up with her boarding here for those first rough months, after all.

"Oh." For having been a rambling, or buzzing bee of words earlier she certainly wasn't so now. Karina's appearance however helped to relax her a bit and she smiled more readily then. Still though, she was nearly finished and paused now and then to check her stitching through the fabric against the light. "I am glad you found your father." Which she was of course!

It had been quite some time since her travels brought her through the area. Not overly familiar with it, but familiar enough to have a desire to stop and see how things fared, the winter white elf passed quietly through the door, closing it behind herself while eyes of pearl white (lacking pupils) took in the scene and those gathered within.

There was another in her wake but at a distance he didn't know she had traveled near the same steps he was taking. Stetson worn even though evening more out of habit than need. Vest of dark blue was worn over a shirt of pale grey with black pants and boots. He paused at the bottom of the steps leading to the porch to listen a moment before proceeding up in a quicker step and on into the tavern.

"I am glad I found my father too." Words in answer were distracted as he openly stared for a moment upon the one that had no pupils for her eyes. That was not a sight he had ever seen before and wasn't use to to such a variety of races.

Karina decided to order herself a potcheen.... for old times' sake. She didn't drink heavily much anymore, but eh, it couldn't hurt just for tonight right? She was chatting amiably with Alex when the door opened, twice in fairly quick succession. She did a double take at the woman who seemed all ivory, and of a race she didn't recognize. Karina openly stared for a moment but her attention was soon stolen by the familiar face who came in behind the white one. She hadn't expected to see him here and that smile stole across her features. Alex had to nudge her to remind her to take her drink from his hand. "Oh, uh, thanks. Heya," that added to the blacksmith as he approached.

"Hello, good evening," pressed smile had a way of lighting up blue eyes. Removing the Stetson by the time he reached the bar, exposed the riot of curls beneath. Reddish in color and even some freckles were starting to show across his cheeks. Something the spring brought until the summer had them all meeting to a solid tan. "Good evening Mat," nod his way, "Miss, Miss," Bea and the white elfess then last, certainly not least as he turned blue eyes upon her this close at the bar. "Karina." Huskier sounding for lowered being close.

Yas knew where his brother was tonight. There was a connection between them that give them that ability. He made his way in through the side door, a slight smirk appearing when he caught sight of his brother sitting with a female. Not that he was surprised. His brother had that draw. He silently made his way to the bar, waiting for Alex' attention. He'd remain where he was while he observed though he nodded at Mat.

Ducking her head, she knew Karina and guessed at the identity of the young man she was with. A little smile played over her features, but she said nothing else while plying needle and thread to fabric. "Is yo-your f-f-family big? Large?" She would just keep on trying at least to keep herself on track while looking up once more to nod to Rhett. "Evening." Then again to the pupiless lass. "Good evening!" She could be bright and sunny when need be.

Tapered ears folded inward slightly around the edges, perked as greetings went 'round and others entered after her. By then, she'd made it to the bar. "Good eve." Spoken quietly to everyone else in a trio of perfectly matched voices. A request for nectar from Alex, she settled to watch the others as she usually took to doing.

At least he wasn't offering ponies and buffalo pelts to have her as one of his squaws. One of the things they learned in these lands, you didn't trade for women like that. Actually he had no squaws but then he was not that old either. He stood, moving his gear to the next table in case any of these were Bee's friends. The question had him stall, she must be asking him? "For long time it was only my brother and myself. Now there are many more. This is my brother Yas, we were born same day." He was also wondering how the White Dove, as he named her in his mind so far, made her voice echo at the same time twice over.

"Hi Rhett." She was grinning but there was something hesitant about her demeanor or maybe just unsure. Even though it was clear she was pleased to see him too. Looking at his eyes a moment before cutting her gaze over her shoulder as people continued piling in. It was amazing how quickly the place filled up. Then back to Rhett with a brow lifted in query. "Um, want a drink?" She held her potcheen untouched in her hand still.

There were two of them?! It took her another minute and a little more bravado then she was sure she had to look another one of them in the eye. But she did and rewarded herself mentally for a job well done, thus far. "T-t-twins? He-he-he's your twin?" Her jaw went tight as she stamped one small, slipper foot down in order to bring herself back into line.

"Good evening Yas," slanting a look full of questions upon Karina as there seemed to be some hesitancy. Made him wonder of possible regrets. "You are drinking potcheen?" Which kind of amused him as he got another glass to join her than take hers. Then to the white Elfess, "I am Rhett, this is Karina, the brothers Yas and Mat and I have not yet met the other lady."

Date: 04-25-10
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 12

Without pupils, it was hard to tell exactly where her attention drifted, but as Rhett made introductions, attention fell to him. Each name spoken, she offered a subtle wave of a single hand created of three fingers and a thumb. "A pleasure to meet you all. My name is Yviene." Cup gently grapsed, she thanked Alex and took a drink of the fruit juice.

They didn't look alike except for having the same dark hair and deep blue eyes. "Evening." Greeting to all near grunted out and then he took a drink.

"Oh... yeah," she glanced down to her potcheen with a laugh, looking back up to him with a crooked grin. "Old habit..." Cutting a glance to Alex and praying he didn't take this opportunity to tell any stories! Slight clearing of her throat then attention shifted when Rhett made introductions. Leaning sideways a bit to look past him and nod a greeting to the strange white lady. Rhett seemed nonplussed and she tried not to rudely stare. "Yviene." She repeated, then because she didn't know what else to say... "Unusual name." Ahem. A quick swig taken of her potcheen, smacking her lips after and breathing out as the substance burned pleasantly down her throat.


"Yvvvieeeneee," it was a hard name for him to get out but he gave it a try, "White Dove, Snow Bird." She was a delicate one that he might not ever be able to pronounce her name correctly. "Yas is my twin. Bee is from far north," which he figured that is why she had this accent, speaking to his brother as he motioned him over.

She was just going to go right along with the group, only smile and nod in the process. It was simply easier, since she had never seen an elf let alone met one. Nor for that matter had she ever met a native of the colonies and there were two of them, which from time to time she couldn't quite help but stare at. It was rude, and obnoxious her mother had always said. "Beatrice. My name is Beatrice." The whole of it, so she didn't sound like something with antennas and a stinger. She certainly didn't make honey either.

Did Mat have something to show him? He picked up his glass and crossed the room, looking expectantly at his brother.

Her attention turned to Mat with a subtle tilt of her head, trying to decipher if he was calling her a bird. Ears lifted within the fall of white hair littered with beads and trinkets, then she looked to Bea. "Beatrice." She'd let Karina off the hook since she didn't seem to know what to say.

Rhett had seen elves before. Knew some pretty good like Meekel. Knew a few with wings too, worked as a knight alongside them. He stepped closer to the bar to take up a comfortable lean and setting the Stetson to the other side out of the way. Glass in hand he kicked the first one back only to promptly fill it again. "Welcome to the lands Beatrice and Yviene, a pleasure to meet you both." Pressed smile went wider a moment then back to the norm.

It was more he wanted him to join him. Although he did have something to show him but it was not here with him. "I have discovered an island not far from the coast that I would like to explore." Hearing the full name of the buzzing bee, "Beatrice," saying her name so he was corrected and hearing if he pronounced it better.


"Karina, did-did you b-b-bring your gl-gloves?" She blurted it out, knowing that it was possible she'd forgotten all about bringing them to Bea to have them taken in. Being as close to the two from the colonies as it were, she felt rather like a mouse standing near elephants. They were very, very, very tall and she, was certainly not.

She, too kicked back her drink like an old pro. She'd intended to just have one but found herself nodding to Alex to refill it. Fingers went around the glass once it was returned to her, idly tapping as her gaze wandered. She was acutely aware of Rhett's presence standing so close, but he hadn't said a word to her beyond their greeting and mention of potcheen... and it did the job of heightening certain concerns she'd held since that afternoon in the sunflower field. She felt decidedly awkward, then thank goodness, Bea gave her something to do. "Oh! Actually I did." She set down her drink, casting Rhett a brief glance before leaving the stool to join Bea. The work gloves pulled from a big pocket in the front of her dress. "Thought I might catch you here..." A glance UP given to the two Braves that towered over her petite self. Nodding an uncertain greeting before turning focus back to Bea. "Thanks for fixing them for me..."

He naturally got quiet when there were a few talking back and forth. Watching the interactions until he finally spoke up casually, "you have been busy the past few days too? I got in another order for swords to go up to Kildare and Leoric's growing army." Well, she was there and gone as the question would seem to follow her. He went silent again watching her with Beatrice.


"Is there something special about it?" He downed half of what was contained in his glass after asking.

It was probably best for both of them. Setting aside the frame with the men's kerchief she took the gloves with a beaming grin up at Karina. "Oh, it isn't a problem. It should be easy to fix them so they don't rub. I would hate for you to get sores." She felt much more like herself with Karina right there, between her and Mat and Yas. Her speech smoothed out and she could stop the tapping of her foot long enough to hear herself think! Turning one of the gloves inside out she all but glowed seeing the stitching. "See, I knew it! I can take these in. The seams are far too wide anyways." She'd have Karina right and tight with them in no time, and thankfully she had a seam ripper with her. "I can get them done by tomorrow morning." If she stayed up all night. But it would be worth it.

Guess Rhett spoke too quietly and she was too far away to hear him! She gave Bea a quick crooked grin. "I dunno about sores, I've got plenty of callouses already. But they'll be much more comfortable once they fit right." She watched Bea as the woman inspected the gloves... wondering how she knew that but trusting her expertise. "Nah, there's no rush, don't break your neck or nothin'." Maybe it was being back here that had her falling into old, and incorrect speech patterns! But she didn't notice it to correct it.

Beatrice became buzzing bee again but at least it was with another than herself like earlier. "I don't know yet but I will bring one of the canoes I've made and go across." There were no boundaries that he knew of.


"I will go as well, if you want." He finished the drink and glanced around then looked at his twin.

"I shall not break my neck and you need good gloves." Her reply was firm but good natured as she beamed at Karina. She was already going to town on the seams, pulling them one at a time with a quickness that indicated a deft hand
with that curved little blade.

A breath was taken and released as he turned attention upon Yviene, "you are of an Elven race or one similar? I have met other Elves but not one quite like you." He was finding his curiosity to pour out in his questions.

"Oh, gosh, you don't have to start now...." But Karina couldn't help but laugh at the woman's focused determination. "Well, at least let me get you a drink for the favor? Not that it's costin' me anything..." Since all drinks here were free after all. She cut a quick glance to the bar, which paused when she noted Rhett chatting with the fey ivory woman. And why shouldn't he? Karina looked away and back to Bea.

Watching, something she did frequently enough and never minded, she looked to Rhett with a slight nod. "I am of an elven race. A rare one known as Fae Edhel. Spirit elves."

"I would like that, we can see how good the hunting and fishing is there." The Bee seemed to lose her accent now speaking with Karina. That was odd.

"Anything would be fine." Which she probably should have thought about twice before saying so. "It gives my hands something to do. I get ... nervous." She chanced a glance toward Mat and Yas before looking at Karina. She'd understand what Bea meant. She'd start tripping over herself any minute again. And what was the point of looking stupid because you couldn't keep your words straight?

"Fae Edhel, Spirit Elves," repeating it with due respect, "I like it, what it means. There are Silver and Sylvan Elves here and a race that has special voices too. Silver Tone. Have you traveled far?"

He nodded then studied the empty glass. "I go now. " He had traps he needed to check before returning to the camp.

He caught that glance with keen dark eyes. Nervous was it? Ah, so now he was understanding her accent was not really an accent at all. It was probably a good thing he hadn't gone on the roof of the tavern sooner and jumped down at the precise moment to land a foot in front of her earlier tonight.

"I believe I have met one of the Sylvan elves; Meekel. I've come from the Empire of Tides, to the far west of here."

Did he want her dead?

Exactly why he realized he may have had her faint away dead and then he'd have to pick her up and carry her in.

It would have no doubt been an educational experience for them both.

"I will go with you then and help you to set them. I also have a catch of hares that Kuwan can make into rabbit pies." Then to the others he turned, "good night, pleased to meet those new to me." Taking up the sack as the strap crossed over his chest then the quiver to follow as well the bow. Oh look Alex, I've brought you a dead hare and lass had he scared her into a faint.

"Alright." Karina shrugged slightly to Bea and glanced back. Oh yeah... getting Bea a drink meant she had to go over to the bar. Which she did, landing right near Rhett once more. He seemed deep in conversation with the exotic Yviene... she squelched an odd feeling that soured her stomach and leaned in to order from Alex. "A cider for Bea, please." She didn't know what the woman wanted but guessed she might like something sweeter.

Turning on a heel, he carried the glass to the bar, then raised his hand. That would be his only farewell. He waited for Mat at the door, head tipped slightly as if listening. "Storm soon," was murmured to his brother before he stepped outside.

"G-g-good evening, Mat and Yas." Well that certainly gave for a thought or two later. What, no partridge in a pear tree?

"Good evening Bee, maybe we shall meet again." And he might pull such a prank on her. Giving a nod to Alex and he was out the side door with his brother.

He waved to the brothers, giving Karina one of those quick winks as she came to the bar again. "Perhaps, if you have a few moments later?" Words were quiet as they really didn't get a chance to speak and he was not going to interrupt her conversation with the other so found one of his own. Otherwise he would be tempted to just head back and get some sleep.

Without the towering duo, she felt much calmer when her cider did arrive. It allowed her to put down the gloves, pat her covered temples and then take a drink before blowing out a breath. Heathfield certainly was a place of variety wasn't it? Once her mouth and throat were wet she could get right onto the business of taking in those gloves.

"To the far West, at least you are not North. Has there been an Ambassador sent yet? Meekel is one of the Rangers, well, he helps them out. His son Michael is head of them."

Wait, was he talking to her? He spoke so quietly it took her a moment for it to sink in. He wanted to talk to her. There was a sinking sensation then in her stomach, a feeling of dread as she gave a small nod. "Alright. I'll meet you on the porch in a few." She answered just as quietly then left him to his prior conversation. Carrying the cider back over to Bea and handing it off to her wordlessly.

There was just a note of tension on Karina's face and it made her worry that something might be wrong with her new friend. "Had you meet them before, Karina? Mat and Yas?" She might as well ask!

"Meekel was sent as an ambassador." A nod, she finished off her drink and set the empty mug down, watching Bea with the gloves. Quad-digits sort of twitched in their own way while watching. Sort of a learning process, though her
hands didn't move.

"This is good, perhaps we may become allies then?" Being he was not privy to the encounter and if any actual treaty was drawn up. He noticed her watching the other two ladies. "Do you wish to join them?" He didn't want her to feel obligated to entertain him.

"Perhaps." A slight smile was offered, followed by a shake of her head. "No, actually I must be going. I need to return to my home."

The thumbs would be the hardest part to refit, but she had a very good eye for the little details and took nothing less than perfection as her standard. Once the gloves were completely taken apart she could get an idea of how they could better fit Karina. Bea's fingers were a little longer, the palm narrower too. It was why she could spin thread tighter her mother supposed. She docked the fingertips with that canny little blade of hers and set to taking in the stitching. "They never use good thread in these. There should be some wax or something on it." They were quality, but Bea would make them better.

"If I see Meekel, I will tell him you have come to visit." Which brought the pressed smile back that was warm in the way it showed in his eyes.


"Huh?" Her thoughts seemed somewhere else and she dragged her eyes back to Bea, absorbing her words belatedly. "Oh, no, I haven't. They're big blokes, aren't they?" She'd keep the conversation going to quell her own nervousness. Her drink was kicked back, then the empty glass set down on the table. Hand raking absently through her hair as she watched Bea busily work away. "Wax? Like beeswax?" That seemed curious though, she hadn't suddenly taken an interest in glove anatomy, she was just talking for the sake of it.

Date: 04-25-10
Poster: Matoskah McDonough
Post # 13

"Please do. I would like to see him again." With that, a wave was offered and she made her exit.

Which he waved in return then followed in her wake out to the porch. Leaving the glass behind and bringing the bottle with him. He would take up a lean against one of the posts. He balanced the bottle on the rail as he lit up a cinnamon cigarillo. The scented smoke lazily flowing in layers as he watched Yviene as far as he could. He didn't offer to escort her as Elves usually could bypass anyone unscrupulous anyway.

"At first I wondered if they were the Egyptians that Mariah told me about, but they certainly don't look like Egyptians." As if Bea would know an Egyptian if one spit on her, she was just that naive. "Yes, somewhat like that. Clarified wax on thread makes it stronger on leather products." She spoke in the half absent manner of someone busy at work, her fingers moving deftly over the leather, nipping bits off here and there. She laughed just a little then. "Imagine, I almost asked if he was an Egyptian. I already sounded like an idiot. Can you just picture his reaction?" Bea could, which is probably why she felt so dumb now.


Her eyes followed Rhett out the door, it was almost time to meet him. Karina was staring at the door while Bea chatted away. Again her reaction was delayed when she realized the woman had asked her a direct question. Blink, blink, back to Bea. "I bet he'd just laugh. He seemed friendly enough." A slight shrug. She'd only barely met Mat but he didn't seem the sort to throw a fit at an honest mistake.


Bea looked up at Karina just then. "I bet you he doesn't know what an Egyptian is!" It made her feel better in a petty sort of way, which was not a good way to feel which only made things worse. "I am not a bee. A bee is an insect." which was right at the heart of the matter wasn't it? She wasn't sure if she should have been insulted or not. Shrugging it off, she gave Karina a nudge. "You can't make him wait outside forever you know." She looked then to the open doorway where Rhett had gone.


What about insects? That mention seemed out of place, enough to bring her attention back to Bea. Her expression going slightly sheepish when she realized Bea had noticed exactly the cause of her distraction. Karina pressed her lips together and gave a slight nod, then headed for the door with all the appearance of someone marching off to their doom. Stepping outside onto the porch, she joined Rhett and crossed her arms across her chest. It was chilly outside but it was more a self-protective gesture. "Alright. Say what you need to." Her words were short, not angry but she seemed on the defensive already. She was scared to death of what she thought he was going to say, but shielded it with a chin lifted carelessly.

He had nearly finished the cigarillo as he was up from his lean when she came out, dropping he stub to crush out beneath a booted foot. With that done he found he was at a loss for words for a few moments, seconds really. Her words had him stiffen instead. Blink to follow. "I was going to see if you were mad at me for something? You gave me odd looks from the moment I came here that I wondered if I was not welcome. Then you didn't answer my question, although I'm not sure you had here it as you already started walking away when I asked it." He pressed his lips together before he could say anything else and probably stick his foot in his mouth. Something easily done by a male around a female it seemed.

Wait. What? Her confrontational air dissipated into confusion. "What question? No, I'm not mad at you, I thought you were mad at me... or something. You didn't say hardly two words after you came in, but then started chatting with that other woman easily enough.." Karina was just as likely to step in it, considering her lack of experience with the opposing sex in the romantic arena. "I thought you were gonna break it off with me," she muttered after a pause, losing eye contact as the porch floorboards seemed suddenly very interesting.

"There was much going on when I came in, greetings, introductions, then a few moments to collect one's thoughts. Aye, chatted with the guest while you were away. Seems she is a friend of Meekel's and possibly an alliance in the making." The last had him stop dead in his tracks, threw his line of thought off too, "huh?" was the only thing to come out first. "Nah ah, you're not getting rid of me that easily!" Adding some humor, so he hoped, to try and throw these odd vibrations over to the normal.

It really wasn't eaves dropping if you didn't really hear the conversation and the door was wide open wasn't it? Bea probably should retreat to her room, just in case. Yet she was glued there to her seat. It really wasn't eaves dropping she'd tell herself. Sure it wasn't. She was just there as moral support for her friend.

That brought her eyes back up to Rhett and she didn't crack a smile at his humor. Instead she just eyed him. "An alliance? Is that all?" The storm clouds were brewing in her eyes. Rhett had scared her to death, saying he needed to talk to her! She'd thought he was going to end it all between them, and now he was joking about it? She wasn't really angry at him, but her reaction, the release of those emotions sure made it look like it. "Listen, Rhett, I don't want you to just smile to throw me off the track. If you don't wanna be with me, that's fine, just say so, don't joke around about it."

Ah oh, no humor, it went over like a bomb. He didn't like the implication either that was made by her. Hell, he was out in the room talking to another with everyone around. "Yes, an alliance with a place called Empire of Tides," then a dead pause, "holy cac, Karina. I'm not making fun of you or me, but trying to lighten this mood that has gotten hold. I don't like it. Seems there was nothing wrong but it is growing to something wrong." Guess what, he had a temper under all the usual mild manner. "If I didn't want to be with you, you would be the first to know it." Blue eyes had gotten really dark as it brought back memories, incidents with other females before. Definitely negative.

She'd seen only glimpses of that temper... once, and it had been a similar conversation then. Her own temper only needed a small spark to ignite. She rolled her eyes when he went on about the Alliance, was that really the important thing here? "Oh, well, that's comforting." She replied shortly, arms crossed still as she pressed her lips together and cut her glance away a moment. Taking a moment to push down the anger that deep down, she knew was irrational. "I just figured, after that day in the field - I dunno, you haven't been by the cottage and I haven't seen you at all, I thought maybe you - didn't like it or..." she dropped her voice to more of a mutter. "or that you were - done with me after that." It was a harsh way to put it but Karina came from a harsh world and didn't know how else to frame it.

The farmer stopped his wagon in front of the Inn....he helped Jeb step down and walked Jeb to the door. Jeb thanked the farmer then holding his staff in both hands in front of him, he slowly limped inside..then stopped to listen and try to get a feel of where he was. He snugged up the black cloth that was wrapped around his head and over his eyes.

Actually it was all much to do about nothing. There had been nothing wrong other than what this night was trying to turn it into. A hand was up to rub along the back of his neck, fingers digging in hard enough it hurt to keep him from saying things he'd regret but it was a no win scenario, if he didn't say anything then that would be twisted as to not caring. Fingers stilled as disbelief took over. She really wanted to see him with his mouth hanging open! "Everything was good about that day including being with you. No one else. You know where I am, it has only been a few days and those days were set to forging swords along with a workload I've gotten so I could get it done and see if you were free again too." He didn't even notice the man limping by at first and he was already passed by the time he did. He cleared his throat.

It wasn't eavesdropping. She kept on telling herself that like a litany until of course they got to some details of things that were a little murky but certainly educational for Bea. Lips pursing, she gathered up her things very quietly and crept toward the stairs. If she was lucky, she'd get to her room without really bothering the situation.

It was like watching a train crash!

Tension was all over her features and posture, watching him with tight lips while he spoke... though the man limping by put a pause in the conversation. Probably a much needed interlude. She watched him go inside, then turned her gaze back to Rhett. "My mistake then." Suddenly all her defenses were dried up and she had nothing left to say. And boy was she feeling stupid for reacting... or as he subtly pointed out, overreacting. She readjusted her crossed arms and looked down at the floorboards again.

Exactly! She's creeping good and slow too. Probably pausing to sit on the stairs to listen. The stranger garnered a guilty flush of Bea's cheeks though. "Good evening." There from the stairwell. Curses! Foiled again!

A serving girl walked up to Jeb and seeing his eyes covered and that he was feeling his way with his staff, realized Jeb was blind. The girl coughed as she neared him, then told Jeb who and where she was. He thanked her and asked to be led to a chair.

"This shouldn't be," was all he finally said and he pulled her into his arms in a crushing hug, "damnu," under his breath as he wanted to beat something up, not her, maybe crush a few rocks or something.

The hug was mollifying, as she returned it, at least he wasn't angry with her still... though when he squeezed her so tight she almost doubted that. Survival instinct kicked in, she squirmed free from his arms and took a step back. Eyeing him sharply and was that a shadow that passed through her eyes? "You're mad," she said, not accusingly but matter of fact. Hating the way her pounding heart made her voice sound all breathy, she cleared her throat.

He wasn't angry at her, he didn't like how this night's vibes were setting them on edge with each other, miscommunications. It wasn't a hurting hug, more like a bear hug for he needed one and she squirmed away. That said it all there to him no matter what she said. She didn't want him but was trying to make it seem he was the one not wanting. It reminded him of a time pass that had hurt as much as her saying he was mad. It was there, he knew it was in his expression as much as he wanted to school it. "Good night." came hoarsely as he turned on a heel and headed down the steps in the direction of his shop.

That was the hell of it, she didn't squirm away because she was angry. For just a split-second she'd actually been afraid of him. Which was stupid, he would never hurt her, but it was an instinct like breathing... she couldn't help it. She was reminding herself of that when she noticed his expression changing. Why was he looking at her like a whipped pup? She stared back at him, baffled until the moment he said that abrupt farewell and was suddenly walking away. What had just happened here? Mind now zooming off in a thousand directions, like a hive of angry bees (not happy buzzing bees like Beatrice!). Had she been right after all, and he didn't want to be with her... had decided it was too much trouble? Her insecure self was doubtful, if that was so, why had he looked so hurt? For several long seconds she just stood on the porch, rooted there by her confusion. She didn't want to chase after him like an idiot.. but that's exactly what she ended up doing. "Rhett. Wait!" Jogging off the porch and down the street until she could circle in front of him. "Listen, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." she wasn't even sure exactly what she'd done so her words dried up.

From her ill-gotten step on the stairs, she listened with elbows propped onto knees, gloves, frame, needle and thread all in her lap. A little wide-eyed she thought the whole business a whole lot more nerve wracking now. Why did people do that to one another? Getting all churned up over nothing? Or was it?

He was about to turn back and put the whole conversation into base words as the hurt passed and filled in with the anger to follow. The situation was starting to really piss him off. He tried to calm his voice but it was stern in a black and white sort of way. "I want to be with you, that has not changed other than probably more. Do you want to be with me? If not, I will stay out of your way." Make it easy on her as he did on another a few years ago. He didn't care for any repeats of that one.

She was flummoxed once again. He really doubted that? "Of course I do. If I didn't want to be with you, then I wouldn't." Which was almost exactly how he'd phrased it himself earlier though she didn't realize that in this moment. "I just don't understand. Why'd you walk away just now?" She went on to answer her own question, "I know, look, I'm sorry. I just.. didn't know how you felt after - you know. I shouldn't have acted all strange, I overreacted."

"Good." He reacted differently though. "Then why are we having this conversation?" It really had him confused. The rigid line of his shoulders finally started to relax. "Because the more I spoke the worse it was getting. It was like sliding down a muddy hill that no matter which way you turn, you're still going down. I thought it would be better when that was proven in all I said, to go home instead." He stepped closer with a dip of his chin, Stetson casting a shadow over his face form the street lamp, except she would see the intensity of blue eyes. "I'm sorry too if anything I said was confusing. If anything, for me, that day had meaning."


It certainly was the perfect time to get herself upstairs and to bed. With this little interlude fresh in her brain, she had plenty to think over when she finally did find sleep. They were going to scrape each other raw and she wondered if it had been that way for her mother and father. Love certainly didn't seem to bode too well sometimes.

"I know..." she was wincing, but not at him... at the memory of how she'd lashed out. "It meant a lot to me too." A murmur before she heaved a sigh and looked up to meet his eyes squarely, finally. "I just really thought you were gonna break it off with me." There was a sheepish line about the curve of her lips, but it was the truth, her eyes weren't smiling.

"I didn't come here to break off with you. I came here in the hopes you would be here and I could see you, spend some time." Best laid plans and all that. Now it was very late, "can I walk you home at least?" Salvage a little of the time to be together.

It was becoming blatantly clear that what they didn't know about each other COULD hurt, wasn't it?... But she wasn't about to start spewing all the sordid details of her past, and neither was he. Time would tell whether they'd get to that point and whether there could be real trust between them. "Sure," she replied simply to his offer, the smile expanding some and warming her features as she fell into step beside him.

It brought his smile to bear warmer as his hand slid to capture hers, entwining his fingers. Actions were what said a lot to Rhett and his actions said more than his words. "So tell me how you have been keeping yourself these past few days?" The question he had asked much earlier in the tavern she had obviously missed. He was concern about her welfare and how he days went that he could not be a part for his work.

She glanced down when he took her hand, and intertwined her fingers with his and just the slightest squeeze. Suddenly the world seemed alright again, all those worries silly and trivial and now free to fly away. "I've been fine." Not true, she'd been fretting away about what HE was thinking after they had... done the deed. Not a concern now since he said it had meant a lot to him. It brought her mind back to that sunny afternoon and the words tripped from her lips before she could reconsider saying them. "I didn't know it could be like that." Quietly spoken, and hopefully he got what she was talking about.

Although there was a lot he could say, saying a lot tonight was not the best way to go and things had gotten better. He wished them to remain that way, "neither did I," which his words rang true for he'd been in other situations, so he spoke from some experience even if not worldly. It had him tipping a smile in reflection.

A semi-surprised glance his way, which turned quickly into a smile. At least she wasn't the only one, then. They each had their own experiences which were likely very different, but for tonight... that was enough. Her hand kept in his until they reached the cottage door.

Date: 04-26-10
Poster: Matthew Myers
Post # 14

Making Ready to Move In

There was a lot of banging going down in the Thistle, hammering, and the like that echoed down the halls, out through the main tap room and even outside. The noise also traveled out the back and side windows that were open this bonnie night. Once in a while it sounded like something crashed. Such had even Alex looking up, waiting, when no vocal sounds in alarm followed he shook his head with a chuckle.

It was a few days ago that Alex invited her to move downstairs and into one of the staff rooms, since she would be living and working here permanently now. Maggie was touched by the offer, even if it was the right and proper thing, and set about making the small apartment into a home. She had very few personal belongings, so moving from upstairs to the new room had been accomplished in just a couple of trips. That was this morning, and this afternoon she had  gone about the markets to get some things for her new place. Nothing fancy nor extravagant, but things to add a more personal touch... a vase to put flowers in, a small rug for the wood floor, a set of bright yellow curtains. Her arms were full of parcels as she stepped up onto the porch, blinking at the cacophony of sounds coming from within. Sounded like the whole place was being dismantled and she hurried up the steps, pushing the door open with a hip. She glanced around for the source of the sounds, seeing nothing obvious, then looked at Alex and spoke over the din. "What on earth is going on?"

After having been up all night and most of the earlier portion of the day setting Karina's gloves to rights the symphony of sound coming from downstairs was neither appreciated nor pleasing to her ears. It actually hurt to blink, having been roused from her evening nap with the racket. Barely able to cover her hair decently and slip on some shoes, she all but clomped down the stairs. Her usually sunny self a little on the cloudy side at the moment. "Sweet Christmas, Alex. What is that?" It was unlike Bea to be this way, but she'd just gotten into a particular good part of a dream after being up all night and day when the sound woke her. Nose wrinkling, she all but poured herself into a stool.

He made new shelves in the kitchen and in the bathroom. The cabinet under the sink needed repairing and the door that wouldn't close right. There were debris all over the room but he had put blankets over anything Maggie had brought into her new lodgings to keep them from getting messed up. She was very lucky the curse on him had been broken or everything she possessed would probably be in ruins. Alex pointed to the hall leading to the staffs' lodgings. Which was off limits to anyone but the staff who stayed in them. He called out then, "Matthew it is late," A reminder to cease any hammering. Which Matt had stopped for the hour. Grumbling under his breath for he really cut it that close. He had hoped to be done sooner as he started cleaning up the debris in Maggie's new rooms. There was a master bedroom, a smaller room that could be used as a study. A small kitchen as the one in the tavern was used for all their meals so the one was in case they stayed in and a comfy living room with a hearth. Presently peat burned low to keep out any chill for the rains that were to come this night. So predicted anyway.

Ahh... it all made sense when Alex called Matthew's name. Maggie shared a smirk with her employer, having learned Matthew's rather... haphazard habits quickly. He must be working on some project in his apartment. She smiled a  greeting to Bea then stepped past them, down the hall and towards her own door... wait... she smelled peat. A delicious smell full of childhood memories, and her curiosity grew as she stepped inside her rooms. The place clearly in the midst of some construction that she hadn't expected. And there was Matthew standing in the midst of all the dust and debris. A smile of surprise given him as she ventured in - carefully. "Well, it does not look as it did this morning... what are you up to in here, hmm?"

A thankful if a worn grin creased her features as Alex prompted the Handyman Mariah had told her about to knock off for the day. "Bless you." Murmuring as she all but laid her head onto the bar. She really shouldn't have stayed up but Karina would need the gloves and she gave her word. Taking a breath she asked for coffee, thick, dark and potent coffee.

"There were repairs that needed to be done before you were to move in. They are done now. The door doesn't stick and you have shelves in the bathroom, in the study and the cabinets are all fixed in the kitchen. You can paint them any color you want, decorate as you want. I've gotten you some logs and peat stacked by the hearth." All the while he was sweeping up the debris and putting them in a canister he would then take out with the rest of the trash. He was half way done.

Surprise lifted her brows, she looked around while he named all the things he had done. "You did all that? Today?" He must have spent hours here on her behalf and she was touched. Which showed in the warmth of the smile she gave. "You really didn't have to do all that.... but thank you. It was very sweet." Made her feel welcome here, though she'd felt that since the start. Why she wanted to work here. Setting down her parcels on a chair that was relatively dust-free, she began helping him to clean up, folding up the blankets he'd used to cover her belongings and furniture. "I was just in the markets getting a few things for this place."

"Alex thought this room was in order, it hasn't been used in some years. He came in early this morning and made a list of things needing to be done. It wasn't anything major but we wanted it all done before you moved in completely. It was no trouble and I was glad I could help out." Which had the sweep of a bright smile as between the two they had the last of it all cleaned up. The windows were open too that kept the dust at a minimum. "I think I could use a late dinner and something to drink like an ale," something more thirst quenching than the hard liquor. Obviously he had worked right through dinner and possibly lunch. His work was done though! With the last of the debris in the canister, he lifted it up and headed out of her domain, it was all hers now. He took the back hall through the kitchen and out the back door to deposit it there.

"Then you are both sweet, and I'm very grateful." Right then and there she began pondering something she could do for the both of them in thanks. She beamed him a smile as he left, which remained on her lips as she looked around her new place. The new shelves and cabinets, even the non-squeaky door... they seemed like simple things but they warmed this simple girl's heart. Realizing that she too was hungry from an afternoon of walking around town, she decided to leave her unpacking for later. Maggie took a moment to wash her face and hands, and pulled her hair free of its bun to sweep in loose waves down her shoulders. Then it was back out into the commons to join Matthew for some dinner.

Oddly,Vanessa had managed to miss Karina all day today! And she had such exciting news. That was okay though. They were bound to run into one another at some point. A little time away from the cottage, Vanessa and Ysabeau arrived at the Thistle. Good place for social networking and all that. Ysa was dressed in a little pink jumper with footies and a hood with ears, Van in a lilac colored dress with her hair left down. Passing through the door, she smiled to everyone else. "Ave, everyone." A brilliant smile!

The coffee at least was strong and black. It helped to perk her up after getting too little sleep but the gloves were done so she hoped that she would get to deliver them soon. Head propped into hand, she smiled then as Vanessa came in. "Good evening, Vanessa." She all but glowed and Bea wondered as to the why of it.

Karina had actually been crossing the market square on her way back to the cottage, when she saw Vanessa some distance off heading up to the Thistle. A grin crossing her features for she hadn't seen her friend all day, strange since they worked together, but their paths had somehow never crossed. So Karina changed trajectories and went up to the Thistle herself. She had to see if Bea had her gloves ready, anyway. Up through the open doorway and a pause to hang up the straw hat she'd gotten into the habit of wearing. "Boo," that said behind Vanessa but not really loud enough to startle her friend, more announce her presence. A nod of greeting given to Bea and the others as well.

There was the sounds of trash cans being set in order and the alley cats chased away before he secured the lit on the one and put back what had been spilled. Once done he was back into the kitchen to clean up.

Maggie was settling herself upon a stool, hair tucked behind one ear to get more out of the way when the others came in. "Good evening, Vanessa, Karina." Using their names was a good way to remember people more unfamiliar to her, she'd found. The barmaid offered a bright smile of her own, in a sunny mood after her afternoon of shopping (headache-free!) and coming home to so much work done in her rooms. A chuckle passing her lips at the crashing sounds, which heralded Matthew's return. If the man had a theme song.. it would be the banging of pots and pans and the breaking of glass!

That and with his pants down when the curse was upon him. He was through the kitchen, one of the few allowed to pass through there for he worked here, with a platter of breads, cheeses, and a hearty big bowl of the Irish Stew. Brown bread lavished in freshly churned butter to soak it up with. He was over to one of the tables to slide his fair there then back to the bar to get a tankard of ale from Alex. "Good evening ladies, Karina, Vanessa, Maggie and one I've to meet yet." Though he knew about her for she was staying in one of the guest rooms.

"How are you, Bea?" Ysa waved her arms around until she heard the familiar voice behind them, then leaned around Van to see Karina and held her hands out to her. Van turned around and beamed the same smile to Karina. "Boo to you." She looked to Maggie and Matthew. "Ave to you both. I hope everyone is well."

He was the root cause of her nap being interrupted. Eyes of gray and green briefly narrowed before she turned her attention to Vanessa, Ysabeau and Karina. "A little tired, a little cranky but other than that ... pretty darn good.  How are you? You look wonderful!" It was her only way of hinting that she'd like to know the why of course!

"Hullo Matthew," she recognized the tavern handyman and greeted him when he appeared too. She blinked at Vanessa and her... incredibly bright smile, but attention was soon stolen by the babe who held her arms out. So Karina stepped forward to take Ysa from Van, giving her friend a break. "Hey, li'l girl," as she adjusted the infant on her hip. A silly face made for the child before looking between Bea and Van, curiously. Yes... she wanted to know why Van looked so 'wonderful' too!

"I'm just dandy," big smile, "I got Maggie's room ready for her so she can move from upstairs to downstairs." He wasn't sure why the stranger was looking at him that way, chin dipped as he checked his shirt to see if there was any debris on it, that in short he was disheveled or something. All checked out so he dug in. The woman seemed the kind you didn't want to meet so he didn't pursue any introduction.

Van was so wonderful! She couldn't contain it, yet it was one of those things that she just couldn't find the words to speak on. Attention drifted between Karina and Bea before she grabbed Karina by the arm and stepped in closer to her. "Segan asked to make me his wife in the future." As much as she wanted to jump up and down and do flips, she didn't. Instead, she meekly held her hand out to show the ring. White and yellow flowed like a ribbon with three diamonds between the ends of the ribbon.

"I am well," she replied with a smile to Vanessa, then eyed Matthew when he came out... more specifically his food... which looked and smelled so delicious! She was up and over to the kitchen window, requesting a bowl of stew for  herself, and some bread and butter, though she forewent the platter of cheeses and meats. She was hungry but lacked Matthew's prodigious appetite! A curious gaze on Vanessa and Karina when they stepped in to whisper together. Dark brow quirking for a moment, then her food came, and she went to join Matthew at the table for the sake of having more room to eat.

Ack! Her arm was grabbed, she parted her lips to protest but was arrested by what Vanessa whispered to her. Blink, blink. A long moment to absorb the news that really, she ought to have seen coming, but it was a shocker nonetheless. A slow grin spread as she bobbed Ysa on a hip and stepped in to look at Vanessa's ring. "Well, I'll be damned..." Looking back up to her friend with a wide smile. "That's pretty gorgeous. Congratulations, Vanessa, no wonder you're lookin' like the sun's shining bright!"

There wasn't much that could brighten that smile of hers, but Segan brightened it very well. "Thank you." She smiled to Karina and finally let go of her arm. "Sorry..."

Something was afoot, as he stopped eating to watch the whispering ladies. Vanessa and Karina with the angelic cherub on Karina's hip. She seemed a natural, questioning look their way but he didn't ask what was up.

Whatever the cause for the whispers, she knew it had to be happy news since they were smiling so! Since Karina was here, she thought it would be a good opportunity to give her the newly stitched gloves. She'd just slip upstairs and get them for her.

Maggie exchanged glances with Matthew, just as curious as he about what might be going on, but like he, not about to interrupt their conversation to ask. Instead she began to neatly tuck into her meal, dipping bits of bread into the delicious stew and enjoying every bite.

Karina had watched Segan and Vanessa's relationship from the start, indeed had been one of the first to notice their attraction for each other... maybe even before they'd noticed themselves! So needless to say she was thrilled by the news. Vanessa's smile was returned with her own rakish quality. "Don't be. Guess I better start looking for my own place." And before Vanessa could protest she went on. "Now don't say anything, you've put up with me heroically but I'm not gonna intrude on your newlywed selves. Besides... think it's time for me to find my own place anyway." Though it was a bittersweet thought. She really did love living with Vanessa, with the gardens and Ysa there.. but that was life, wasn't it? Things changed and a person had to just roll with the punches.

Blink..she looked at Karina with a tilt of her head. "You'll not be going far if I have any say in it." An affirming nod. Vanessa was aware that it could be awkward for all of them. "It's a future plan, and we have time to arrange for your living arrangements. In fact, I had a thought on it, if you'd care to hear it?"

Karina was bouncing Ysa on a hip still, more just to make the baby laugh than to soothe her. "Sure," she said willingly as she gave her friend a curious look.

"The gardens are large and there's plenty of space for another cottage with enough space to offer both privacy with the stable between them. Over the summer, we could have a small cottage built for you. I dread the thought of you being far away. You're my sister and my friend, and I want you close." Yes, Vanessa was being selfish. She was allowed to be.

Another moment of blink, blink as she absorbed that. Then a smile spread, the kind to light her face and her eyes, teasing the corners of her lips towards a grin. "I'd like that." It was her typical minimal response, but Van knew her well enough to recognize that smile as extremely pleased and touched by the suggestion. "Yeah, I'd really like that. Would you like that li'l girl? Hmm?" That, of course was directed to Ysa with a grin and nose-nuzzle for the infant. A big part of why she was so thrilled, was that she'd still be able to spend plenty of time with Ysabeau. And Vanessa. Even though things would change it was a very nice compromise. Her free arm suddenly caught Vanessa up in a slight awkward but from-the-heart hug. "I'm really happy for ya," that muttered in Van's ear before she squeezed her friend then let go.

Vanessa was ecstatic that Karina liked the idea of sharing the gardens with her own cottage. Then she wouldn't' be far, but she'd still have her privacy and Ysa could go running over to her when she got old enough. The babe laughed and squealed happily, babbling on in some language that Vanessa didn't understand that much of. The hug was returned with a smile. "Thank you." Spoken to her friend as she pulled back, then looked around because it seemed the entire tavern had gone silent! Small blush for possibly interrupting things.

With one longing look at her pillow, she grabbed up Karina's gloves and slipped back downstairs. The coffee was just starting to kick in and it was nice to feel herself perk up. "Karina your gloves." They were now a smaller version of their former selves. Matthew and Maggie were eating and Bea recalled that she had skipped every meal of the day.



Date: 04-26-10
Poster: Matthew Myers
Post # 15

Karina followed Vanessa's gaze about the tavern, and indeed it seemed they had an audience. It made her snicker some as she leaned in to speak to Van, "Might as well let the cat out of the bag..." Then Bea came back downstairs and over to them. Karina turned to her with some surprise. "You finished them already? Hope it wasn't too much trouble..." With the infant on one hip she only had one free hand, so she took the gloves a bit awkwardly. "Wow, they look real nice."

Maggie was trying not to stare but she was a curious sort, and kept glancing to the two women while they chatted. The hug exchanged made her smile as she spoke quietly to Matthew. "Well, they look quite happy about something..."

"It wasn't really trouble. I wanted to get them done as quickly as possible for you so you had them." She was happy for doing so and it showed in her smile. Yep, that coffee was kicking in.

A smile to Karina, she reached out to take Ysabeau back so she could inspect her gloves. Seeing the curious expression from Maggie, Vanessa smiled to her. "Segan Quinn has asked that I be his future wife." That should settle the curiosity.

Well that was certainly plenty of a reason for a girl to glow! Eyes widened, crinkling a little at the edges with the beaming smile to go with those twinkling eyes. "Wonderful news! We should toast, shouldn't we?" Bea didn't know.

"Well, thanks!" Karina said to Bea, handing off Ysa and taking a moment to pull on one of the gloves. "Perfect fit." She flexed her fingers then looked up when Vanessa shared the happy news. "Vanessa Quinn. Got a nice ring to it, don't it?"

Maggie hoped Vanessa didn't think her rude for watching, but luckily the woman seemed too happy to notice the eavesdropping. Mags' face lit in a smile at the news shared. "How wonderful! Congratulations." She didn't have a drink but she did lift her spoonful of stew towards the woman with a warm smile.

"Yes, now we know why," smile turned up before his up'ed his voice. "Congratulations to you both." He lifted his tankard in salute before taking a long drink of it.

"What is on the menu for tonight, Maggie?" She couldn't help but peek at Maggie's bowl. It smelled delicious not that what Matthew was eating didn't look as good. She was just a little hungier than she thought.

Maggie's meal was similar to Matthew's, Irish stew and bread though Matt also had his big platter of cheese and meats to go with it. "This is Irish stew, have you had it? It's delicious... and I believe there are some sandwiches leftover from lunch as well." She was already standing, dabbing her mouth with a napkin and ready to get back to work. "What would you like?"

"Hmm, you know I think some of the stew actually. I'm going to attempt to find the lake again tonight." Though it had been raining earlier. And she hadn't yet bothered to look outside to see if it was still raining. And it was dark. Probably not the best idea. But then, Bea could get lost in a closet.

"Best Irish stew anywhere, even Eire." Which was true for Hazel was that good of a cook and was from Ireland. Stew was almost gone he was alternating with the cheese and meats, not too much but enough to sate his bigger appetite this evening. "Maggie, if you need any help in moving or settling in, you know where to find me." Her room wasn't that far from his in the
 staff area. Hazel and the head chambermaid were there along with a few others.

Maggie nodded, tucking her hair back into a messy bun at the nape of her neck as she stepped towards the kitchen window. Leaning in to give Hazel the order for stew before turning back to Bea, surprised. About to comment when Matt spoke and she gave him a smile. "Thanks, Matthew. I will. Are you heading off for the evening then?"

I know! Bea sometimes didn't quite think things through but then she was generally trying to get as much in as possible and the lake's location had eluded her thus far. It was kind of like her own personal quest now. Once her stew arrived, she let her thoughts of tramping about die for the moment.

"Not yet.. " a glint rising in hazel green eyes, "unless you're trying to get rid of me for some girl talk?" There was a back lounge with a full bar he would make use of then.

"Mm, Karina! I am glad they fit well. I worried a little that they still might be too big." Which took quite a burden off her shoulders knowing now that they weren't to big and would stand Karina in good stead. Now, if she could just get that tablecloth finished she would have everything for Marcy finished!

Maggie brought the stew over to Bea, setting it down at her table then turned back to Matthew. "I promise I am not trying to get rid of you. Or else I'd have thrown you out onto the porch already." She gave a wink, smiling because the idea was laughable of course... the slight-framed Maggie throwing a full-grown man out bodily, anywhere!

"Nah, they're perfect." Vanessa had made herself scarce for a moment, maybe to go visit her new fiance! Anyway, Karina settled at the table adjacent to Maggie and Matthew. "Think I might have some stew too. Wanna join me?" The gloves tucked away so they wouldn't get messed when her food came.

He let his gaze sweep down over her with a quirk of a smile that twitched the further he got before lifted to meet her eyes, "you'd be doing the throwing, that I would like to see." The smirk growing into a daring smile. "Then I'd have to either turn you over my knee," which she might like! "or dump you in the trough." At least she would not freeze for spring being here.

"Ahead of you there." She scooped up some of the fragrant stew, eye lids flickering as she enjoyed. Hearing Matthew, her eyes popped open. "Would you really do that?" She was a little disbelieving, but his words seemed to have a ring of truth to them.

Maggie watched Matthew as he eyed her up and down, one hand on the swell of her hip as her brows arched eloquently. "Matthew Myers, you would not dare." Her blazing blue eyes were sparkling as they played this game, one she did  indeed rather enjoy. At Bea's words, she glanced to the woman then back to Matthew, her smile growing most daringly. "Aye, would you really do that to an innocent damsel such as myself?"

"The trough's out front." Karina piped up casually though she was smirking broadly... if Segan were here he'd likely be reminding her of the times she'd taken a 'swim' there!

"Well, yes I would dare if the occasion called for it." Such a wicked smile as he stood up to his full height of six and three in the least. He squinted an eye in all good humor of the bantering, "and just how innocent do you claim to be?" which he added the lyrics from a song, "do innocents taste better than those who are not? Are they salty or sweeter, more juicy or what? Do you savor them slowly? Gulp them down on the spot? Do innocents taste better than those who are not?" Substituting the word in question for virgins.

Her eyes widened for real this time. "Matthew Myers!" She repeated his full name, but his song was SO blatantly suggestive that she had to laugh. "You are wicked," eyes raking down his frame, then Karina's order came up and she crossed the room to fetch the bowl of stew. Speaking to Matt over her shoulder as she went to deliver the meal. "And a lady need never protest her own innocence," she said it with a lifted chin, playing at haughtiness though her eyes danced in a decidedly unladylike way.

Beatrice certainly found his little more detailed than she was counting on. It was humor she had not quite counted.

It was from a song and he had a good voice. Sometimes he sang to entertain or played one of the few instruments, a reed or harmonica, sometimes a guitar. "Aye, time is the teller of no lies." Giving a wink as an infectious type laugh followed, rolling from the belly type. He had his platter with the empty bowl and crumbs left that he brought over to the serving window for the kitchen maid to take while Hazel was seeing to the morning's menu.

Karina, meanwhile almost choked on her ale in laughter at Matthew's song. She'd heard worse in her time and the bawdiness was something that amused rather than embarrassed her. "Better watch out for that one," she said to Maggie with a smirk as she took her bowl of stew. And began to tuck in, gulping down her food in her usually hungry-dog type fashion.

Maggie just shook her head at Matthew, though his laugh was infectious and it brought a snicker to her own lips. "I think you're right," she replied to Karina before crossing the room once more to the bar. Where she would begin to wipe down the moisture left from the drinks they'd shared there earlier. She fixed Matthew with a catty smile. "You are truly horrible and I hope you know it. What if that baby had still been here? You'd have corrupted her poor innocent ears forever." She was teasing, of course!

"She would have liked the tune," which was probably not far from the truth as the words would not make any sense to her. With his hands free he was over to take the cloth from her hand and turn her out with him in dance. ""When I was just a lad looking for my true vocation my father said *Now son, this choice deserves deliberation. Though you could be a doctor or perhaps a financier my boy why not consider a more challenging career?" In up tune as he twirled her around before bringing her back into one arm as he whisked her away across the floor, weaving between the tables and chairs. "Hey ho ho You'll cruise to foreign shores and you'll keep your mind and body sound by working out of doors. True friendship and adventure are what we can't live without and when you're a professional pirate,  that's what the job's about."

She looked at him when he took the rag right from her hand, but before the next blink she was whisked into his arms and a dance! A sound of surprise escaped her but then she was laughing merrily. A hand going to his shoulder as her feet found their way flawlessly beneath her. Maggie was an excellent dancer; she'd had to learn, as a lady's maid. This was more of a jig but she followed Matt's steps easily nonetheless. Even giving her head a bit of a whip as  he spun her about, hair flying as she twirled back into his hands. "And is that what you wish you had been, a pirate?" She asked teasingly as they danced along.

"Now take Sir Francis Drake, the Spanish all despise him but to the British he's a hero and they idolize him. It's how you look at buccaneers that makes them bad or good and I see us as members of a noble brotherhood." Singing more of the song that as they passed Bea, he would tug lightly at her hand to come join them, the same for Karina. Done in a way they could also refuse to join in too. "I have been a sailor of the seven seas upon a time. I've been a tinker, a blacksmith, a carpenter, a clerk," but he stalled to add nobleman. "I'm a Matt of all Trades and master of none." Which might not actually be true but it went with the saying.

Karina snickered but she waved Matt away good-natured. She'd just enjoy her drink and the free entertainment from the sidelines.

"A Matt of all trades," she repeated, amused by the play on words. "Lucky me you are that, because my room looks wonderful." Smiling in her easy way as they sashayed across the room. "I do love to dance," and it showed in the way a healthy color glowed upon her cheeks and light sparkled in her eyes, making them almost painfully bright blue. She twirled again then back to meet him. "Which is your favorite then, of all those trades?"

Karina finished off her drink then raised a hand to wave farewell. As amusing as it was to watch, she had a walk back to the cottage and work early in the morning. "Night everyone," was her general goodbye. Quick smile, a grab for her hat and she was out the door.

"Goodnight Karina!" She sang out in between steps as the younger girl made her exit.

Bea had sneaked off to her room at this point too. "I would say being this tavern's handyman." A serious expression captured his features rarely seen, then again he was rarely seen! "Good night Karina," echoing Maggie as he continued the dance, the lively one turning into a slower dance for variety, tucking her up against him as feet moved in unison, that split second that kept them from tripping over the other or stepping on a foot. "Like the rose that blooms in the wintertime as it reaches up through the snow. The more life keeps apart, the more love will grow. Like the seed that grows in the darkness as it reaches up to the sun. I will always reach out for you 'cos you are the one." Turning steps behind as he drew her around in more a waltz about those tables and chairs.

Maggie didn't look surprised at his choice, but rather smiled in agreement. "Aye.. this place has a certain charm, doesn't it?" Allowing the question to hang rhetorically in the air as the tempo changed. Drawn closer, her feet began
 to glide across the floor automatically in that waltz. There was a quiet laugh as he sang his song, a natural sound of enjoyment for he did have a fine voice. Her long fingers curled over his hand and shoulder, and she watched his face while he sang. "That's a lovely tune," her voice had dropped to a murmur in response to the softer mood between them now. "You ought to have been a bard as well..." There was something comfortable about this, the dancing and the warmth of his embrace. And goodness knows he was not bad to look upon, at this close an angle. In fact she realized anew that he was quite handsome.

"I was when it was needed, sang for my supper I did." Giving a wink but his words were true. A time past and he realized he was free to go back and confront the ones that had put him on the run so many years ago. Eyes a clear grey blue at this point when he got thoughtful. His life had changed so much and his past so far away, he wasn't sure he'd bother to go back. The question only would be to claim the title that was rightfully his. If he wanted. Instead he sang one more frame from the song, one he liked and left the others to go for now, ""As I cross the bridge by the waterfall as I make my way by the stars, there's a shadow walking beside me here in my heart. Like the restless wind in the tree tops, like a whispered voice in my ear, I will always be there for you, I'll always be here." By this time they had reached the bar where her cloth laid upon the polished surface. Releasing her in a smooth flowing fashion as he stepped back into a bow. Perfect execution that a nobleman would have learned like the back of his hand. "Madame, you dance divine, the angels themselves would weep," affecting smoothly an English aristocrat's tone.

A brow-quirk was followed by a quick smile, now why wasn't she surprised that he had been a bard of sorts too? Maggie sensed the thoughtful mood that followed, and she too went quiet, relaxing into the smooth steps of the dance and her own thoughts. She listened to the final words of the song, thinking them incredibly beautiful, and while she did not want to interrupt to say so... the enjoyment showed in her softer smile. Poetry always had that ability to enchant her. When released, she too stepped back and dipped in a deep curtsy, bending the curve of her neck and holding the skirts of her dress aside. Also a decidedly noble gesture and one she performed with well-trained grace. Straightening once more, his affected words made her laugh. "I humbly thank you, my lord." She said it just as dashingly but soon giggled, going back to herself. "Anyone would think you a Duke or Earl," she winked.

"Ah, that they could," airing it out nonchalant and covering it up by continuing, "shall I see you to your chalet?" Giving a roll of his eyes upward implying her room upstairs, "or your manor home?" Giving a glance to he hall that led back to the staffs quarters. It was late and time for him to at least find his bed, she should too as it would allow Alex to get some as well, Hazel in turn although she may have gone already for the kitchen was darker, just a single candle burning in a container.

"Mmm... my chalet is far too boresome and dreary," she drawled in the affected British speech. "I believe I shall retire to my new manor." A smile dimpled her cheek as she played along. And she did so quite nicely, for all the time she'd spent in noble company.

"A good night Alex," tucking her arm with his as he took up her side then strolled down the hall to her room to leave her off there and then he would be to his and fall into bed exhausted.

"Goodnight Alex," she allowed Matthew to take her arm, strolling with him down the hall. A pause at her door to say one last time, "Thank you again, for my rooms." One of her warm smiles given before she bade him goodnight as well, and went to curl up in her new bed.



Date:  04-28-10
Poster: Faelan Callihan
Post # 16

Leisurely Evening

Faelan was up late but then he was use to late hours. They had their list, supplies were being bought to load up the ships before they left. Cages had to be checked over to make sure they were secure. It would probably be a few more days to a week before they set sail. After all the running around, he ended up here for a good meal and a night he could imbibe. Poet's shirt of a soft wheat hue was left partially open down the front tucked into black pants. Short boots of the same pitch were cross one over the other as he lounged in one of the comfortable wing backs in front of the hearth. A bottle of potcheen in hand as he didn't bother with the glass anymore. He was half humming, half singing some old ditty to while the hours away.

It wasn't sneaking if you didn't have a parent to say that it was so when you came slinking back into wherever it was you lived in the dead of night. And she was only minus one sock and a little dignity. That was all! And since she had seen it as an adventure in the first place, she could easily smile over her own lack of fortune and her general inability to find the broadside of a barn if it was painted red and in front of her. Alex never seemed to sleep and his presence sort of made Bea feel guilty for coming back so late. But if he wasn't going to say anything then neither was she. Rucksack slipped onto the bar, she wobbled a little while pulling off the one short boot she wore that no longer had a sock on beneath it. Oh her toe was going to blister for sure! Nose wrinkling, she asked Alex for hot cider, sat herself down and prepared to enjoy her adventure or misadventure if one could call it that until she realized she wasn't just in Alex's company. Turning, she gave a grin to the stranger with a wave of her boot. "Good evening." At least she was in good spirits!

Maybe the lass was color blind and it needed to be painted yellow instead. "The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike." He coughed having a puff of smoke come from his throat that was quickly gone, "The bosun brained with a marlinspike and cookey's throat was marked belike." Lost in his own world until something brought him back, yes, someone said good evening. Getting to his feet, being it was a female voice and when he turned if there had been a male standing there with such a voice, he might start laughing. His voice had a deep with smooth texture to it, baritone, "good evening." Hand swaying out as he gave a dip of his head. Modified bow considering where they were and he had enough that if he leaned forward he could possibly land on his face or in the least do a lot of fancy footwork from keeping him going there. "Faelan Callihan at your service. Is there a boot that needs rescuing?"

He seemed to be a little bit, inebriated. She found it a little mollifying and somewhat fascinating all at the same time. Bea wondered if perhaps he might fall over at one point but he held himself upright which was to her a minor miracle considering what he was drinking. And by the bottle no less! When he asked about a boot that needed rescuing, her immediate response was a baffled look before she realized he meant her boot, which made her laugh then. "I am Beatrice. I've no boot that needs rescuing, but if you find a stocking then it would be mine." Where exactly though would be the question. She'd lost it somewhere between looking for the lake, finding the lake and getting back here. "What brings you here Faelan Callihan?" Did he live here like so many others, or was he too, just passing through?

"A pleasure in the meet, Beatrice. I'm afraid that if I should find a lady's stocking I will be tempted to fly it from the mast of me ship and let my crew conjure up all kinds of scenarios of how I got the blasted thing." Which he gave a wink as he made his way over to the bar so he need not have to speak loud enough over the distance. "Ah, this is better." Easy boneless lean and a lazy smile to match as he studied her. His eyes were a shade of violet, thick curling dirty blond hair and clean shaven presently. He had the finer-bone aristocratic look about him. Pretty boy some had called him growing up until they found he had a wicked punch. A dragon's tooth hung around his neck from a leather strap, usually unseen but the poet's shirt was open. "My older brother has a manor here in these lands but we are officially from Kildare. I've a ship and me brother and sister have theirs too. We're going on a trip to the lands down under to obtain animals for the Zoo." He was really looking at her good now, "wait, weren't you hanging around the zoo when I was there with me brother talking to Kaylea?"

She laughed because really at this point, what else could she do? She had one boot on, was missing a stocking and was talking to a drunken sailor apparently. "I would hope you would give it back, but I suppose I couldn't fault you if you did keep it." Why though she wasn't sure. If he did find a stocking, how could he be sure it was hers in the first place? As he came to sit by her, she shuffled her stuff away down the bar and set her boot atop the rucksack. One naked foot bobbed happily while she drank her cider. She was young, obviously, modestly dressed from the covering on her hair to the one foot that was completely booted. So her hair color wasn't readily visible but her eyes were and they were a dreamy sort of green. She had the fair complexion of someone from the north and rather bad habit of humming every now and then herself. When he mentioned the zoo, she perked and then smiled widely while nodding. "Oh yes! I was trying to find the lake and ended up at the zoo. I did find the lake this afternoon which was nice but then I lost my stocking which wasn't so nice." Heaven forbid if someone found it and then assumed the worst! She hadn't left any other articles of clothing laying around. But then, she hadn't checked, yet. Patting one covered temple, she laughed nervously before looking around. "Where exactly down under are you going?" Bea didn't know so she expected that this would be educational.

He was so tempted to capture that foot and tickle to see if she was ticklish. "You look like you ran into some adventure getting to the lake." Which it dawned on him then, "are you use to getting lost?" She admitted getting lost already. Then to answer her questions. "We're going to Australia. Got a list here," which he was pulling out from his pant's pocket as he shifted up from his lean. "Needed in pairs if possible, wallabye, quolls, tasmanian devil, numbat, platypus, echidna," then turned it to show her the rest. Birds listed Kookaburra, magie, pelican, lorikeets, emu, sulphur-crested cockatoo. In Madagascar to find lemurs, aye-aye, mouse lemur, indri, flying fox, fossa, fanaloka, tenrec and so forth.

It would certainly be an experience then since Bea had never been tickled in her life. How was she to know if she were ticklish or not? Looking down at her bare foot, she wiggled her toes for a moment. She had dainty feet, or so she supposed. When she looked back up it was still with that grin as she drank her cider. "I am very used to getting lost. It's how I found myself here!" To which of course, she silently toasted her good misfortune. When he produced
the list she looked it over, scanning the names with narrowed eyes and an increasing furrow in her brow. She felt stupid, because none of the animals on the list were familiar to her. "They sound exotic, but that is the point isn't it? Of a zoo. So you can see creatures you've never seen, or would never see in your normal lifetime." Murmuring into her cup, she took another drink. "That is going to be some job! But I'm sure you'll pull it off!" Beatrice was ever optimistic about things like that. An uphill challenge was seen as the norm to her.

"Aye, they are. I get to learn about what they look like and their habitats before we take our leave. I know that the wallabye is a small kangaroo. I think what would be the real challenge is to bring home a baby dragon." He found out they existed. Faelan probably had more adventures already at twenty three than others had in their whole lifetime. "I might make the races tomorrow night for I've a horse that runs. If you are betting, bet on Siegfried."

Bea didn't even know what a kangaroo was but if a wallabye was smaller then she would have to take his word on that. "I was thinking of attending but I've never been to a horse race or betting so it should be another experience!" Her words all but chirped out as she thought on it. "I shall indeed put my money on Siegfried then. It should be interesting to see who turns out for the races." Of course, she wasn't ever sure who was going to show up where. More surprises were probably in store!

"There will be others going but if you don't leave with anyone, ask for a guard to see you there. They are always willing to help out a pretty lady and you'd be safe then too. Not that one has to worry in these land and sister lands but better safe than sorry no matter. I think you'd have a good time."


"Oh I don't worry at all while I'm here. The worst I am told is that I could be mauled by a bear." Did she mean that seriously? Of course she didn't and no one in their right mind would believe her for the grin she was sporting. "I shall probably make sure of the escort of a guard. Or not. I shall look forward to it with an open mind." Which she did for most things, unless of course she ran into anything out of the ordinary. Already she'd met a few who were a little strange at least to her eyes, and a whole lot of intimidating. Setting down her empty cup, she took up her boot and rucksack. "Well, I'm off to bed! The earlier I rise, the sooner I can get back to the lake. It's so pretty there and I have a feeling its going to be wonderful weather. With any luck I'll find my stocking!" Or not. She wasn't counting on it.

"Mauled by a bear," which had him chuckling, "you make it sound like fun." Going right along with it as he settled back into his lean while the bottle was lifted and tipped for a dose of the potcheen. The bottle was lowered as he pushed back up from his lean. Alex slid over a key for him with that look. Yes, it was best he stay here the night. "Well, it was nice meeting you Beatrice. Have a good night, something I plan on doing." Well, there could be better nights but this one didn't have those offerings and sleep was presently desired. "I'll walk you up," the key tucked away he offered to carry her rucksack at least.

"It isn't something I plan on having happen to my person." She took every precaution while out and about. "It was nice to meet you as well, Faelan. I'm sure I'll be seeing you!" Happy bobbing from booted foot to naked one, she gave
Alex a winning smile before trucking herself upstairs to her own room for the night.

He had to outright laugh as the distracted lass took off and so he headed up a few paces behind her.



Date: 04-28-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 17

After the Races - The Nothing Fight

It was a nice long ride but they were back in about two hours' time. He kept the horses at a nice easy clip. With the better weather the road was pretty good. Once to the tavern he was down and around to get the door and help both Karina and Bea out. So he could be a gentleman too.

Such a gentleman... even if she was still getting used to such things. She gave a quick grin to thank him and would troop inside with the both of them. "You really had a knack for betting, Bea," as she went through the door and hung up her hat.

Bea gave him a wide grin, happy for the help. "Oh, I don't know about that. It was guessing more than anything." She was hopeful that maybe someone had dropped her stocking off but Alex didn't have it so she would just have to try to look for it maybe tomorrow.

Faelan reined in his stallion, dismounting in a boneless way as he wound the reins about the post. he half waited on the others as he was up to the porch. Door was left open this warm evening. Maybe the stocking was hanging from the mast of his ship? Long streaking thing in the breeze. Oh yea. He headed on in to see about a tankard of ale. "Aye she bets well if she would give it a try." Then with a grin, "Where's the CHICKEN?" Word emphasized.

The place had been blessedly quiet and deserted, with most everyone off at the races still. Maggie had arrived back not long ago, gotten herself a tea and curled up on one of the squishy armchairs in front of the hearth. Which was where she was now. Half dozing with her chin propped up by her hand, she lifted her head when the others began tromping in. She wanted to beg Faelan not to shout but that would be rude, wouldn't it? So instead she looked around the back of the chair and gave him a weak smile. "Now that's not very nice..."

"Welllllll then," turning with a tankard in hand and a slight bow of his head, "Madame Chicken. You had fled and probably would have lost anyway." Grin! He had a great smile when he bothered. Dimples even.

"It really is a whole lot of fun, Maggie. You should try it!" Bea would have roped someone into it!

He would be having potcheen as they entered behind Faelan, he headed for the bar to see to a glass of the more potent brew.


Straight over to the bar she went, to greet Alex and order herself a cider. No potcheen tonight, she'd had enough excitement for the evening. A glance over her shoulder to eye Maggie who looked a little peaked. "You alright?" Offhandedly as she leaned by the bar. Giving Rhett a little smirk as he ordered potcheen for himself.

"It's very likely." She was reaching for a carefree demeanor, a smile as she finished the contents of her mug then pushed to her feet. Tying an apron about her waist. "I'm not a fine rider.." A nod was given to Karina.

"Neither am I!" Bea chirped in, happy to bolster her friend up if need be. "But I held on just fine." Which of course was to her credit that she didn't break her neck.

Brows went up with a bit of concern, "well then, that is a horse of a different story if you were getting ill?" Which was a question, how would he know as he headed over to the hearth area to take a lean against the outside stone wall that enclosed it.

Maggie looked a bit pale and perhaps tired, but nothing of overt concern. How indeed had Faelan known? She quirked a dark brow at him and shook her head. "I'm not getting ill." Tying the apron strings in a neat bow at the base of  her spine.

"You're a wee bit pale for not getting ill. Perhaps you should have a shot of the potcheen? It kills all ills so the song goes." Wondering if they ever heard it.

"Are you sure?" Bea was concerned for her friend, so when Faelan brought it to her attention that Maggie might not be feeling well then she was very much going to be concerned. "Do be careful with it though! Mariah says it can do a whole lot more than just cure what ails you." It obviously had several powers.

A glance to Faelan but then Bea piped up, her comment making Maggie laugh some. "I think I shall pass." She doubted that would react well with the tea she'd already drank.. or improve the headache, especially come tomorrow morning.

"Mariah? She did, did she? Telling you stories of the potcheen? Only if you drink too much then you might find yourself without clothes on and thinking you can conquer the world with a stick in your hand."

Well now that certainly made her open and close her mouth a few times while blinking at Rhett. "She didn't quite say that much." She was going to stay well away from it. Or maybe she would try just a bit of it. Just a sip. How bad could a sip be?

Karina coughed into her cider just then. Might've been swallowing the wrong way, more likely she was choking down laughter. Goodness knew she and potcheen were NOT a good combination... though she had never done as Rhett described! Clearing her throat Karina grinned at Bea. "Aw, don't listen to this one. Just a tiny bit won't hurt ya."

"Oh aye, you can have feelings of grandeur, leap tall buildings in a single bound and irresistible to the opposite gender."

"There is that and it makes all those of the opposite gender sexually appealing..."

"All those of the opposite gender?" Now she would give Rhett that look.

"I could be irresistible to the opposite gender?" Bea had a sense of humor, she just kept it buried when it came to teasing the opposite sex. Still though, she felt comfortable enough with this group to try a little teasing on for size as it were. "I wonder who I would snare into my potcheen fortified web then!"

She knew that pressed smile well by now.

Fae was trying not to laugh and give it up just yet. "All, that is what the man said, by each shot they get better looking." Eyeing Bea speculatively. "The question is then, do you want to be irresistible to the men of these lands. Each and all, take your pick?"

Indeed she did know that smile and she just snickered, relaxing back into the joking atmosphere. It was pretty amusing to watch Bea tease and get teased in return. "Do you agree with all this?" Said to Rhett on a lower note beside her with a smirk.

Bea laughed then, but that laughter held a few edges to it. "It is just a jest, Faelan. R-r-really." Patting one of her temples, she looked around a little before her eyes came back to Faelan. "I should like to be exceptionally irresistible to one alone I suppose. Not all of them! I mean, that would take quite an effort, wouldn't it?" Smiling brightly, she thought that quite the come back!

Maggie just smiled to herself at all the banter, for once not joining into it though she did listen with some amusement. There were a few things to be tidied up about the place... very few since Alex kept it so neat himself, but she straightened out some of the chairs by the hearth and the rug beneath them.

"Of course all this is in fun hypothetically so. You are a wise one for your age for one true is better than far too many you'd never be able to make a decision." He lifted his tankard in salute.

"Believe me, more than one would be a real headache." He kicked back the shot only to fill his glass again. He had Alex put a taste in a tumbler which he then offered to Bea. "No harm in the trying." It was a very smooth moonshine.

"Why, I'd never be able to get anything done of that were the case." And it really dawned on her then just how horrible that would be. Looking to Rhett, she eyed the tumbler before taking it in hand. "My mother would say differently about trying something having no harm in it." She had three children, didn't the woman? Still, she was quite intrigued with it so she drank it down quickly like she might medicine. Her throat closed up as she tried to cough. Her eyes watered. "Oh my!"

Karina's brows shot up again as she eyed Rhett. "And you know this from experience?" She was pretending to be outraged but there was a smirk teasing her lips too. Actually she was really curious since he spoke with the voice of experience.

He was over to help Maggie for he was afraid she might faint away. She had he first time he met her and into his arms, too bad she wasn't conscious while being there and certainly nothing remotely romantic. "See, it's good!" Shooting a grin Beatrice's way before tugging on the bow's tail of Maggie's apron in the back.

Maggie wasn't about to faint despite her pallor. The tea was helping to take the edge off the pain, the trade-off of course being the fatigue that came with it. She was used to working through it but Faelan's help with the heavy armchairs was appreciated. She gave him a light smile at the tug to her apron, turning 'round to better speak with him. "How have you been keeping Faelan?"

There was that pressed smile without any verbalized answer, if he did, he'd be in trouble most likely no matter which way his words turned.

She motioned to Alex to give her something not quite as potent, her cheeks growing warm as her fingers swiped beneath her eyes to pull the moisture away. "It's definitely a different taste." Cider was up next and she drank that more readily.

"It's good in tea, Bea, great in offsetting getting sick, especially colds." Eyeing Maggie with a growing concern for that pallor. "Doing far better than you, though you look healthier than our first meeting. Better at first down at the races." This pallor came on about when the hometown race started. "Have you seen one of the healers here? They might be able to help. Druid ones, medicine lades, Gates who is combination of the old ways and new ways. College learned." With the chairs moved it would at least be easier for her. "Have some more tea, relax, get some sleep soon and enough to get better so you don't need to see anyone."

Maggie was continuing to move around, straightening things here and there while Faelan spoke. There was a soft smile to touch her lips, and when he finished speaking she turned that smile onto him. "I am doing fine, it's only a headache." A brief pat to his shoulder when she passed him, "Nothing to worry about nor see a Healer for."

Well wasn't Rhett enigmatic? Karina wasn't wholly satisfied with that smile of his, but she just shook her head and smirked into her cider. She was curious, yes, but in truth it didn't really matter to her. The past was past and now was now. "That'll put hair on your chest, Bea," a little grin.

"If I may? What is a medicine lades?" She knew what physicians were, and healers too but then she had never heard that term before so she being Bea, had to ask. Laughing a little, those green eyes zeroed in on Karina. "I do not need any hair on my chest thank you. Nor any more on my head." Thankfully she was able to keep the mess underneath the covering under control.

It was more going along with the flow of conversation than personal experience although he knew he'd never be able to have more than one lass to focus on. One was hard enough!

"I was speaking too fast, medicine ladies. Women who have devoted their lives to the medicinal usage of herbs in healing. Of rituals for some to chase away bad spirits that are believed to cause sickness. Hair on your chest that the McAndrews men boasted they would be willing to shave for the ladies." Yes, he had to add that and with it a visual if they had met any McAndrews.

Bea had that strange "oh-ho" look while nodding. The cider was good, but eyeing the bottle that was on the bar, she thought of maybe trying another tumbler of potcheen. Just for experiments sake. Faelan's words though had her making a face. "Not even for a McAndrews, McDonough, McCormick, Frasier, Callihan or Quinn is hair on my chest worth it."

He heaved a sigh, dramatically so with the slump of his shoulders to further the ruse. "Not even a Callihan.." like a woe is me sounding.

Karina was giving Rhett a smirk out of the corner of her eye, but Bea's words had her bursting out laughing. A strong belly laugh that made her set down her cider. "You're right there. Nor even a Shawnesey..." That with a wink to Rhett. Though she doubted he would WANT her to have hair on her chest.

"Be careful there Bea or you'll be getting Karina to pee her pants," with the way that laugh sounded and he was right on it to tease her.

She was still chortling but spared a moment to sucker punch Rhett in the shoulder.

"I am sorry, Faelan." She gave him a smile while still contemplating the bottle. Maybe she'd take some down to the lake with her. Who knew maybe it would help her find her stocking!

She could sterilize it in it. He laughed when Karina got Rhett, see, he understood his comment from before. Poor lad would be beaten up.

Hey, he asked for it! She usually played nice...

"Ow," but it sounded more like a laugh as a hand rubbed the spot automatically.

"Oh, so sorry. Didn't know you were so delicate," she was teasing right back! Her grin disappeared behind her own cider, a long healthy drink taken from the tankard.

"I didn't know you were such a brute." Right back at her.

He was whistling now, glad to be a distance from the two.

She lowered her tankard to level a dancing gaze at him. "Shouldn't you know that by now?"

That was answered by one of those pressed smiles.

"Now, now children." Bea was happy to break it up, as it were. Although there was something to be said for her own education watching them. "I've learned quite a bit from these two already." Thumbing toward Rhett and Karina.

She just had time to flick her gaze down to those lips that formed the smile, before she caught Bea's words. Attention going back to the woman with a laugh. "And what exactly have you learned?"

That broke the moment, which was probably good at this point. They never knew where their banter would take them and sometime not to good places. They were young and learning. "Yes.." he wanted to know too.

Slurping the last of the cider from her cup, she grinned hugely at Karina while that little tumbler of potcheen did a happy dance along her brain. "I learned how to have a nothing fight." Bea sounded like a happy little bird while chirping that out, green eyes glittering while she scratched at her head beneath the covering. "And how to make up from a nothing fight." She gave Rhett a grin then, and a little nudge in the shoulder. "I never know what I'll learn!"

Maggie, too was staying out of it... amusement curving her lips into a smile every so often as she listened and went about her business. Faelan had suggested having more tea and relaxing but with everyone here, she didn't have any intention of doing that.

 He cleared his throat for that was exactly what he told Karina that night, that they were fighting over nothing.

Well that was enough to silence Karina for a second. Her eyes slowly narrowing as she glanced to Rhett then back to Bea. It sank in slowly. "So you heard all that, huh." It hadn't exactly been a flattering discussion that Bea had overheard. Karina wasn't angry at the eavesdropping, per say but she was a little embarrassed. It still wasn't nothing in her mind but still impossible to explain too.

"The Nothing Fight will become the rage of the ages," although one could really hope not! "Do you have a beau to have a nothing fight over, Maggie?"

"Oh yes!" Bea was a little louder than she should have been. Pushing the tumbler away, she eyed it a second. Nothing hurt when you tried it once, eh? Right. "I sat on the steps and listened to you. I figured it wasn't eavesdropping in case Karina needed me to put your eye out or something, Rhett." Obviously no more potcheen for Bea. "It was very sweet though, how the two of you made up." And that garnered one of those happy little laughs then.

Which had him blink then laughed. He pictured Bea like a wet kitten hissing at him to put his eye out if needed. You know, like the Cowardly Lion.. asking him to bend down so she could reach him for starters.

She was polishing a candlestick and glanced up to Faelan at the question. "Me? No," she smiled some. "Though it sounds a bit as if I ought to be grateful for that."

"I was thinking the same," words lowered and only confirmed his standing, his status of bachelor. He couldn't visualize Bea poking anyone's eye out built like Rhett without it being totally comical.

Now most definitely embarrassed to think that their dirty laundry had been aired. At least Rhett was laughing about it, which helped to relax her some. She was still gonna just drink her cider in silence for now.

"Bea does make it sound as if the making up is enough to balance the nothing fight, though." There was a quirk of a smile there. Maggie was not opposed to having a beau... her last experience had not exactly ended well, but she'd moved on past that. It was simply a matter of finding the right man. She was not actively looking for this but one never knew when such things might appear as if out of nowhere.

"What?! I could do it! If I really w-w-wan-wanted to!" She wasn't one to get her dander up at all, but then again she was usually not having to prove herself. "The making up is the better part of the nothing fight!"

"Well, if the making up is the better part, I think I would say, let's have a nothing fight and immediately start kissing the lass into tomorrow."

"That's a good idea, I think I will try that next time a nothing fight comes up." Eyeing Karina as he spoke.

"Oh really." She eyed Rhett right back, but the grin was coming back along her features. "Is that your plan, hmmm?"

"Yes," giving a firm nod. Hell, kissing was the far better part of any argument that ended there.

It sounded like a plan to Bea then. "See it is nice when you and your beau are in agreement about something like this." She nodded encouragingly then to Karina.

"Well then." Karina finished off her cider, swallowed, and cleared her throat. Then turned on her stool to face Rhett completely with a very serious look upon your face. "I hate the way you... tie your shoes." Chin lift and challenging air!

"Well, ladies and gentlemen," including Alex who got to hear all this. "I must bid adieu, good night, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite." Finishing off the tankard as it was set to the bar.

She maaaaaay have snuck a shot of potcheen at some point...! Pausing long enough to wave farewell to Faelan.

"Good night, Faelan. Rest you well!" Bea was happy to watching another would-be nothing fight. She had to learn at some point!

He set down his glass and was immediately over to have her up into his arms. "You do.. well, take this.." and he dipped her to the side as lips drank deep in a searing kiss.

Maggie was laughing at the antics occurring but turned to smile warmly at Faelan. "Good night, and travel safe."

"Bea, Maggie, you'll have to practice kissing then to do a Nothing fight like those two!" Laughing as he headed out of the bar for he would be sleeping on his ship. He would bring the black poet's shirt and leave it with Alex for Bea to embroider tomorrow morning. Not being sure when they would be leaving or to come across her before he was back from Australia.

That had been her intent, of course! She kept that daring look on her face right up til the moment he swept her up. Her own arms tossed around his neck as she was dipped, returning the kiss just as feelingly. Bahaha, her evil plan worked.

There were some traps, one wanted to fall into.

"Oh sure, just let me find someone to fill in that position." She was a little busy here, watching Karina and Rhett. Looking at Maggie, she grinned. "See, where else can you learn stuff like this?"

And she was all too happy to set that trap for the both of them. The kiss lasted as long as it took to remind herself that they were in public, and had an audience no less. Pulling her lips from Rhett's she kept her face close still for a moment, the teasing gone into her trademark crooked grin.

They were in public? Had witnesses? Farthest thing from his mind as he was just about to deepen that kiss with sword play but alas, her lips were gone. Tease. Eyes had darkened to a deep blue that spoke of other things on his mind that naturally came with longer kisses. Instead, he kicked back his last shot. "That works far better." Decidedly.

Maggie met Bea's grin with a broad smile of her own and a wordless shake of her head. Yes, indeed.

They were on the receiving end of some polite clapping from Bea. "It is time for me to get some sleep. I've got to go hunting in the woods tomorrow for my stocking. Again." She would find it if it killed her. It wasn't like stockings with embroidered bee's at the edge grew up from the ground, right?

"It does, doesn't it." She agreed with Rhett though on more of a murmur.... the same was in her own eyes. In fact... perhaps if he was willing they might go for a little walk themselves?... Dragging her eyes away to nod to Bea and offer a smile. "Good luck with that, and goodnight."

Luck she was going to need! Beaming at them all, she hummed as she wound her way on up to her room for the night.

Maggie decided to make herself scarce then as well, the fatigue doing a number on her by now. "I'll wish you goodnight, as well." A smile given them with its own amusement before she headed back, down the hallway that led to her own apartment.

"Time for me to see you back. Good night Bea, night Maggie," as they were all leaving and with his arm around Karina's shoulder escorted her out. Once outside his hand would capture hers to entwine fingers.



Date: 05-03-10
Poster: Jon McAndrews
Post # 18

Visiting Royals

It was a quiet Sunday evening at the Thistle, which was sometimes nice for a change. With no customers to serve and the place gleaming from a recent citrus scrub-down, Maggie occupied herself with a book. She sat in one of the overstuffed chairs before the hearth, her legs crossed demurely and the book of poetry upon her lap. She was deeply engrossed in it, her head tilted and a hand idly twirling a gold-streaked strand of hair.

Jon got his Lumber Yard open, more in that he got his crew there and set them to cleaning it all up and ready for their opening. He had gone over to Joe's mine only to find he was not there, word had it he was down in Heathfield for whatever reason, Jon could not fathom. So, he headed there for he was in the mood for a rowdy night like they were prone to have once they got together. He was wearing a buccaneer's shirt that was left open to show off the tan he was already getting. Blond hair tamed back into a tail, black pants and boots. Eyes the bright McAndrews blue. A dimple already showing as he stepped into the tavern. "Will my voice echo Alex?" There came the rest of those dimples with the growing smile as he headed for the bar and a tankard of ale as his request with a shot of potcheen to follow.

Maggie glanced up when the door opened, following the entry of a man who looked as if he could have stepped straight off of one of the Callihan's ships. She noted his features and offered a smile of greeting, but seeing as he went  straight to the bar, she went back to her book. Shifting in her chair to get comfortable and allowing the stranger to converse with the bar owner, who was clearly and old friend. Then again... it seemed as if there were very few people with whom Alex was NOT acquainted!

Shot in one hand, tankard in the other, once done talking with Alex presently, he was around and over to the hearth to take up one of the wing backs near hers. "So, you are the new Maggie in town that is working for the Crown. How is all going for you? I'm Jon McAndrews." Well, if she met any of the McAndrews she would notice the likeness soon as he had stepped into the tavern. The shot was set to the table as he kept the tankard in hand as he settled back. Focus totally on her.

Well, that drew her attention soundly up from the poetry as deep blue eyes gazed at Jon in surprise. A couple of things noted about his words, one that he knew her name, another that she had a reputation enough for her name to be known. Something not completely right about his words though. It drew a smile to her lips, albeit a slightly bemused one as she shut the book (a finger marking the page) and turned towards him. "Yes, I'm Maggie, though I work for Alex here." Not the Crown. "Jon McAndrews, a pleasure." The surname was a familiar one to her by now.

"Aye, Alex works for the Crown, this tavern," with a sweep of his hand, "belongs to the Crown here, lock stock and barrel." Amused she didn't realize that. "A pleasure to meet you Maggie. First Maggie I met was Maggie O'Brian and she and another use to run the tavern up north, many, many years ago. That was until she met Rhett Shawnesey and helplessly fell in love, the two of them, she married him and came to live here. They settled and had a fine bunch of kids."

She saw his amusement and gave a faint smirk in return. "I realize this place belongs to the Crown, I simply see myself as working for Alex, and not them. Considering I have not met any of the royal family." Usually a sunny sort of  girl, she felt herself being a bit cranky this evening and told herself to be nice. The book folded in her hands in her lap, giving Jon a fuller smile. "I know of them, and some of their children. My question is, how did you know of me.... and moreover how did you know me on sight? I have never met you before..." she flicked a mock suspicious gaze upon him, up and down. "Have you been spying on me?"

Jon was being terrible when it showed she would be contrary. He set the tankard aside (after a good drink from it) and folded his arms over his chest. There was a moment pause before he stuck out his tongue at her for the way she was behaving. One of those quick deals. Devil take him (and usually did), "have it like you want but you work for the Crown. What is even more amusing is when you meet the Fae Queen of these lands you'll be quite proud, just as Alex and Hazel are proud to work for her." He was tempted to leave her guessing but the answer was quite logically clear. "I asked Alex who you were and he told me." She had seen him come in, go over the bar and converse with the tender. "Now there is a thought, I'll have to consider it. Thanks!" Such a flashing grin to follow.

She arched a brow at him ever so eloquently when he stuck his tongue out, but there was amusement dancing into her eyes as it reminded her briefly of someone she knew. "I am certain she is a lovely woman and wonderful Queen, to rule over such flourishing lands." She replied ever so politely, with an incline of her head. She meant her words, but there was just the slightest hint of snarkyness about them as well as she played along with his game. Lifting her eyes again to Jon, she blinked those long dark lashes and then let out a laugh. "Ah. I see." Of course, he had asked Alex just now. It was a logical explanation she had missed and now she felt a bit silly for not realizing that right away.

"What book do you read that holds you so well?" Curious as he dipped a glance to the book she still held with her finger within to mark the page. Obvious to him she was patiently waiting to get back to it. "Then I shall leave you to your book as I've come in the hope my brother was here. One of the many, one I hang out with the most." And got them in trouble. Joe was tame compared to Jon.

"It is a collection of poetry." She surrendered the book without argument, watching him with a faint smile playing her lips as he flipped through it. The book was full of classical poetry, sonnets and even a few longer epics, all in the flowery sort of language that Maggie secretly loved. "Do you enjoy such things?"

"I enjoy a lot of things, it makes life filled with spice," taking the book as he opened it up to a page. He had a wonderful baritone voice that flowed like velvet against skin. "From my study I see in the lamplight, descending the broad hall stair," giving the right pauses, "grave Alice, and laughing Allegra and Edith with golden hair." Blue eyes lifting from the page as he continued while offering her the book back. "A whisper and then a silence; yet I know by their merry eyes they are plotting and planning together to take me by surprise." Smile was growing as if the little rascals were in the room with them. "A sudden rush from the staircase," and his words sped up like one out of breath, "a sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded they enter my castle wall!" Eyes getting brighter, "they climb up into my turret, o'er the arms and back of my chair; if I try to escape, they surround me; they seem to be every where," giving shifty eye glances before steady upon hers again. "They almost devour me with kisses, their arms about me entwine till I think of the Bishop of Bingen in his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!" Now he was leaning a little towards her as his voice dropped as one sharing a secret, "do you think, o blue-eyed banditti, because you have scaled the wall, such an old mustache as I am is not a match for you all! I have you fast in my fortress, and will not let you depart, but put you down into the dungeon in the round-towere of my heart. And there I will keep you forever, yes, forever and a day," leaning back to his normal position with a smug look on his face, "till the walls shall crumble to ruin and moulder in dust away!" Which he figured she knew who the author was of that classic poem.

Her smile was immediate when he began reading, though amusement became delight when he continued all from memory. Her blue eyes sparkled as she shifted a bit closer to listen, absorbing the words with all the eagerness of a child. Her smile grew throughout the poem to light up her features, and she finished with him the words she knew by heart, "forever and a day. Til the walls shall crumble to ruin and moulder in dust away." Her smile overflowed then into laughter and she even applauded his recital. "That is one of my favorites. However do you know it so well?"

"I've a number of nephews and nieces that I have taken on from time to time and they happen to like well recited poems, stories and ghost stories. Things that go bump in the night and scare the beegeebers out of them." He was grinning, dimples and all with a waggle of his brows for his brothers then had a devil of a time with them later.

"Well, I'm certain they adore that." She could picture him now with all those nieces and nephews and it made her smile, but then that was a reflex that came naturally to the serving girl.

Rain. It had plagued Salaria for the past two days, water logging everything in sight. Having spent the better part of that time entertaining her young son whose energy knew no bounds. Watching the streams of water pouring from the arched window of her offices she'd made a decision. She would take a short visit in Heathfield, renew her memories of the land. So it was the journey began, a few squalls at sea, finally to land at the docks and make her way on horseback to the one place she knew best of all. The Thistle. When her party arrived, she remained on her horse, smiling upward at the building as she let her eyes wander over each detail. Her guards remained fixed, not even a sideways glance until the Queen dismounted. Wearing colors of deepest blue trimmed in gold, she removed the hat that kept her wild chestnut hair tamed and stepped inside. The first thing she did was take a breath. "Ahh, it feels just as I remembered."

Attention shifted as one came in through the door. Balmy night out here as it had rained earlier leaving everything smelling fresh and laden with all the flowers blooming. He was up from his seat to cordially welcome the woman. "Good evening and welcome to the Thistle, I am Jon McAndrews and his fine lady reading poetry is Maggie. The new lass helping out Alex and the Crown." Which caused a glint in blue eyes, devilish kind, though he didn't look Maggie's way. She had a nice profile view.

Much as she would have liked to sit here and talk poetry all night, it seemed as if it was getting a bit busier and so she rose from her chair. The book left there on the side table for now while she tied up her apron at the back. She threw Jon a smirk but that became a true smile when she turned to the lady at the door. "Welcome." She echoed the friendly greeting, looking over the lady's fine clothing and judging her to be of the noble sort. Not that it made a difference for they welcomed everybody here. "Can we get you any food or refreshments this evening?"

"Good evening Jon McAndrews.." she inclined her head to him, the hat she wore now held in small fingers brushing against the fabric of her gown as she stepped further inside. Large hazel eyes then landed on Maggie, "Good evening, my lady Maggie. " It was as always, a warm, cordial welcome when in Heathfield. Her steps took her in an odd path, first around one table, then another, while her fingertips brushed over the back of a chair, the edge of a table. A few precious seconds of reminiscence before smiling at both Jon and Maggie. "Ah, no I am quite content. Thank you for your hospitality, and please, do not let me disrupt." Indicating the seat where Maggie was perched upon her arrival. "I am Eliana of Salaria, just making a visit to a land I hold dear." She finally lowered to a seat near the two of them, craning her neck while her hat was placed on the table, to see the perimeter as if there might be something she would miss if she did not take her time to visualize it all.

"Well," grinning just a little more, "She not we. She gets the drinks and food for the tables. Alex serves the bar." See! He even found out all that too. "I'm sure she can sashay a lot better than I can." Which would be pleasing to his eyes as he fully intended to appreciate any and all such views. Then he paused, "Eliana of Salaria, there is but one, her Queen." He may not have met her but he sure had heard of her from his brothers. Don't quiz him on which one for it had been some time ago. "Welcome back in your visit then, Lady Eliana." She may be a Queen but she was first and foremost a Lady.

"I do not usually sashay...." She replied to Jon with a laugh and brief narrowing of eyes... he was a devilish McAndrews, he was! Though she enjoyed playing along with it. Her attention returned to the lady when she was fully named by Jon. A queen of any sort deserved all due respect and she immediately dipped into a curtsy, deep and graceful. She may be wearing an apron now but Maggie had been a Lady's maid in the past, and all those proprieties were an old habit. "A pleasure to meet you, my Lady." Raising from her curtsy she regarded Eliana with some curiosity, for she seemed familiar with the place.

He was a devil, for when she got all proper and dipped such a graceful curtsey, he nonchalantly reached over and patted her head.

"Yes, well, the title of Queen comes with the job, I suppose." She looked from one to the other, laughing at their banter on the subject of sashaying. A small 'tch' came when she saw Maggie curtseying. "No formalities required, we are all here to take our ease and besides, I think I should like to see Jon's face when you sashay." She gave a wink to Maggie and leaned back in her seat. "So lovely here..." more a comment of an aside than any real conversation starter.

"I shall do my best imitation of ogling." Which he would not show until she did. Dare.

That pat-pat earned Jon another big-eyed accusatory look from the maid though a smile was playing her lips, erasing any real anger that might have been transmitted. A soft laugh at Eliana's comment. "I just bet he would." A smirk to Jon and then she nodded her agreement with the Queen. "Aye, it is. One of the loveliest lands I've seen myself."

"McAndrews, that is quite the hefty name in Heathfield. It is my good pleasure to meet another of the princes." She crossed her legs, the soft swish of silk accompanying but soon it was as if she were that young girl again, ready for an evening of revelry. "You compliment Heathfield, Maggie. Your beauty alone brings a light to the Thistle." Fingers brushed hair behind one ear, as her foot took up a slow easy sway. "You've been here long then?" Her mind was working trying to recall the names of the McAndrews. "Eddie!" she finally said abruptly, then cleared her throat at the outburst. Sheepishly she said, "We purchased dogs from him for the children."

"I trust your trip went uneventful, safely, from your lands? How does the lands of Salaria fare?" They were sitting at the hearth, well... standing presently as he took up the shot to follow the drink of ale. "You have met a few of my nine brothers then? Some of their children have reach the age of nineteen on down." Dimples deepened with the mention of his brother Ed. "Eddie is still raising the puppies. He and Patrick have the Meadowland Kennels. You probably remember Seamus? Possibly Michael," then adding, "Joe?"



Date: 05-03-10
Poster: Jon McAndrews
Post # 19

A ready smile graced her face at the compliment, which was accepted with a dip of her head. "I thank you, my Lady." It seemed these two were somewhat familiar with each other, at least by name and so she left them to their conversation for a moment. Walking back across the room towards the bar, she whipped her long locks up into a bun with practiced motions, securing it with a few pins from her apron pocket. Retrieving a few matches, she began to move about the room, lighting the candles which sat upon each table. Even if it was to be a quiet night, darkness had fallen and a bit of candlelight added a nice feel to the place, she thought.

He leaned some, a little exaggerated of course, to see if she had any sashay. Giving a click of thumb and forefinger in a gesture that she had not.

"The seas were a bit disturbed. The storms of late have caused it to be a rather difficult journey. Salaria fares well, as I interact more, I recall why I love the people there so very much." She nodded quickly at the names, "yes, I have met all three, Michael and Joe, I do recall Seamus being quite the flirt, but with good reason. The McAndrews are fraught with the gift of handsome." Maggie's actions had a calming effect. The tasks of settling in for the evening, the candles being lit, then a sideways glance caught Jon's action and fingers smothered a laugh, but it came out in her hazel eyes, twinkling brightly. Shaking her head, she sunk further into the chair taking her ease.

"You have definitely met Seamus then. I'm pleased to hear all goes well in your lands and I'm sure the spring storms should settle." The glint in blue eyes still danced too from Maggie's non-sashay walking.

She was quite in her own world, engaged in the lighting of the candles, which indeed was a soothing act in its easy mindlessness. She was not sashaying, of course, but her steps were light and graceful as she moved about. One who had been trained to dance and sometimes, times like these, it showed in the natural sway of her hips. Something about what was happening behind her caught her attention, and she glanced over her shoulder to the pair, but not knowing they were watching her she merely offered a smile and continued about her task.

"The storms feed the land, so I have no real complaints." She smiled at Maggie before schooling her features to allow Jon to peruse for a stray sashay should it appear.

"Aye, but let us hope they don't drown the lands either." He was sure they most likely would not. Straying glance caught Maggie's glance and so flashed her a dimpled smile. There then back to Eliana, "you must have met quite a few here in the days spent years ago?" Not to totally assume, although he had accomplished teasing Maggie with knowing things she didn't think he did.

"The people of this land became my second family. There were fun times, a lot of laughter. A little flirting, a lot of caring. The families I am most familiar with are yours of course, Jon, the McAndrews. The McDonough's, the Cunningham's, many of the royal family, Honeee of course, her children, Peter O'Neill. It seemed there was always something going on here. This very tavern was the place I sought repeatedly over the years. I came here as a young girl of nineteen. Of all the things that have been unpredictable, the Thistle remained the same. " She turned in her seat, uncrossing her legs, "Even Alex ..." hearing the earlier comment from Jon.

"I think Alex has become a fixture," which he was over to where she sat, taking up a seat near so that he could lower his voice as one conspiring. "Peter is about, comes and goes from his island. A few of us a few years older. New families that have come such as the Quinns. I would suspect you knew the Frasiers?" He knew they had been around a long time too.

"Ah yes, the Frasiers, but of course. I do remember them. The Quinns, I am unfamiliar with." Now, Eliana was a warm, cheery natured lady, but she loved nothing better than getting comfortable and having a good chat about this and that, some call it gossip, pshaw, she called it catching up. "Everyone is well, I pray. Joseph McDonough informs me that there is much happiness here."

"I would say that happiness outweighs sadness for most. The lands prosper although Kildare, which the twin princes came into inheritance, is challenging Leoric and Gaidan. My nephew Rick along with a few others from here traveled north to help out. Chadrick's oldest son has a knack for tactical warfare and improving under the guidance of Mikhail MacKay. Now there is a man that reads the cards and tells fortunes on the side. He's been pretty accurate so the information about indicates."

Much as Maggie enjoyed good conversation and becoming friendly with the citizens of this realm, there was still that fine line that came along with her role. They were still customers, and she was still an employee of the Tavern. As such she had to balance being warm and friendly with being overly familiar, something she did well. And since she had little in common with these two who were so comfortably chatting, she would occupy herself some distance away, polishing the old wood of the barstools to make them shine. Ready, of course to serve drinks or food should either be needed.

"Kildare was something of an issue as I recall, it is good it's finally in the proper hands. Though dissent sometimes takes years to squelch. I have every confidence it is being handled well with the forces sent. Though, I would like to offer assistance should there be a need. It would be an honor to send men and arms." Then her brows perked, the full mouth formed a slight 'o'. "Reading fortunes...?" She sat up and put her elbows on the chair arm. "I would be most interested in speaking with Mikhail for something like that...."

"There has been a few battles waged and won. A marriage that brought celebration with it along with the victories. More of the people that once lived there are coming back that had been loyal to their father before them. Families coming in to settle, businesses opening up that can grow now that the Witch is dead." Smile swept with the last, "then I shall leave word that you are interested."

"Excellent." She was beaming now, excited to take part in the experience. A small laugh came, then she took a breath and looked down at her fingers only to raise her eyes to a random candle on a table. "Old ghosts sometimes haunt, but I am finding they have only the power they are given. It took some time to learn that. I should like to see what the future holds. Hope, happiness, peace. All the things we strive for."

"I suppose what hold you allow them to have over you. There were some real ghosts about, manors haunted from the dark times and senseless murders. One day those poor souls will find their way out to the light." Jon was being serious! He had the other side to him too unlike the kissing bandit side.

Jon was a kissing bandit? Oh the things that lies beneath the surface! "Real...ghosts..." She spoke in stops and starts, casting a glance around at the windows and darkness beyond. "Of late, things have been rather....supernatural...on Salaria." She would speak on it sometime, but for now she stood from her chair and inclined her head with a smile to Jon . "I should not keep you, you have been very kind in your welcome. I will  take my leave, but hope to return to Heathfield soon." She lifted her voice then, "Maggie, thank you so much for your kindness."

Hearing her name, Maggie looked up from her chore, rag paused in hand as she gave the Queen an instant warm smile. "Of course, my lady. It was a pleasure having you, I hope you'll come back and visit again." Even dipped a quick curtsy, she couldn't help it!

He rose as she did, "you are welcome to stay the night if you wish." Understanding too that he usually didn't stay if he was in any shape to get to a bed he called his own. "I am pleased to have met you and will tell those you know that you have been here." He wondered on Maggie still working this late.. at least the scrubbing or polishing part.

"I thank you for the gracious invitation, but I must return." She gave a wave to Maggie, and a smile to Alex, and just before she exited she inclined her head to Jon. Once on her mount, she was off. Ever the equestrian Eliana gave her guards a run for their money in keeping up.

Alex probably wondered about that habit of hers too... truth was, she just liked to keep busy. Reading for a few minutes was one thing but she tended to feel a bit useless when idle for too long. She returned the wave with a smile when Eliana took her leave, then glanced inquiringly to Jon. "Can I get you another drink?" She wondered if he planned on staying longer or leaving as well.

"I could use another shot of the potcheen if you don't mind?" Being she asked and he took the moment to down the last of his ale before it was warm.

"Of course." She set the rag down on an empty barstool, brushing her hands against her apron as she walked the short distance to where Alex stood. Once he'd poured the shot she took up the small glass, carrying it so it wouldn't spill over to the hearth where Jon had settled. "Here you are." A quick smile against her lips as she would either set the shot down on a side table or put it into his waiting hand.

Since he was still standing for Eliana's departure, he took the drink and kicked it immediately back. Devil he was, "that was good may I have another?" This time when she went to the bar he would follow her. Like be right there behind her when she turned (which would put him in front of her then).

Maggie's dark brow quirked ever so briefly, but she was not about to judge when he asked immediately for another. Instead she said again, "Of course," and went obediently back to the bar. Once more retrieving the shot, once more  turning to bring it to him - "Oh!" She let out a startled laugh when he was right there in front of her, though she managed not to spill so much as a drop.

He ease the glass from her hand, he would kick it back as one hand came to rest against her hip at her waist. Setting the glass behind to the bar, she was in a way trapped for a moment. "Come dance away with me Cinderella, a Fae ball all around and you are as light as a feather and I the prince charmed." With the glass gone he held out his hand so she could place hers within. He was very tall.

She leaned back just a tad when he leaned in, more out of surprise but when the request came... she looked up (and up!) at him. A skeptical look on her face, softened by a playful smile as she sized him up. "Hmm." She made a show of considering him, but part of it was real. Maggie would never dance with a man she didn't want to. If he'd been at all threatening or abhorrent she would have declined. But he seemed nice enough, certainly charming even if more than a bit on the devilish side. Finally her smirk deepened and she gave a careless shrug. "Alright." Hands wiped off against her apron, they settled into the proper places, one in his offered hand and the other upon his shoulder. She was  fairly tall for a woman but even so he seemed to tower over her.

For one so tall, he could move nimbly. Sweeping her away to move about the empty areas before they moved about tables and chairs where they could. At one part, she would find herself airborne as he lifted her up to make it over the table and chair for two could not fit through the small space. "You are light on your feet," certainly in that moment she was. He was strong, he was a lumberjack by trade, the lifting came easily she would notice. "All work and no play so a bit of play is in order." Which was why he was dancing her about.

"Oh my" Came from her lips as he swept her off so swiftly, but it made her laugh too. After just a few moments she had settled into the pace and cadence of his dancing, slipper feet moving adroitly beneath her. Dancing was something she enjoyed and it showed in her smile. A brief exclamation as he lifted her right off her feet, holding herself steady with her hands against him once she was set down to dance once more. "Mmm. You are not the first to dance me around this tavern." A spark in her bluest-of-blue eyes as she smiled impishly up at him.

"I would hope not and that it was someone of your age to appreciate the loveliness that you are." He was having fun with her in a good way but well aware she was much younger, much too young for anything else. Around and around they went, sometimes spinning her out only to bring her back into his arms again and whisk her away in another turn. That was until the final one that had them near the bar, dipping her off to the side as he leaned. The finale that would have his lips so close she could feel the warmth of his breath. That would be where the two would kiss in such a dance but he only had it appear that way before lifting her back up to straighten as he did.

"What, are you more ancient than you appear?" Maggie teased right back, though she too was aware of the age difference. It didn't really matter. A little light and harmless flirting like this meant nothing, she'd found, and could make a man feel good about himself to boot. She spun like a ballerina, out of his arms and back into them until she was brought back in that dip. Her back arching as he supported her, eyes flicking to his in that brief moment that  they were so close... would he actually dare?... No, and it made her smile wryly when he brought her back upright.

"I am but a young whipper snapper to one in their forties." So it was all relevant and had him laughing too. Then sounding serious, "you wouldn't happen to have an older sister?" Tossing in a wink as he smiled, dimples dipping again. "I will have to urge my nephew to dance with the Thistle maiden when he comes about." And he was not going to tell her his name either.

"No.. only a brother." To which she arched a brow at him significantly as if asking a question. Her eyes dancing mischievously all the while. "Your nephew? One who likes that children's poem? Will I have to stoop to dance with him?" She was picturing a wee lad of five or six!

"That can be arranged too. Or one as tall as me already? Little Darthanian Jon is a heartbreaker already and loves the ladies, if you can handle a six year old?" Brows lifting as if she would even consider!

"I can handle whatever is thrown my way, Jon McAndrews." And she added a wink to that as she moved around to retrieve her rag once more.

"Then I shall take my leave so Alex can close up and send you off to bed instead of having you dust away one particle more!" Which he was saying as he made his way out the side door, sending her a blown kiss before disappearing.

Another one of those smarmy smiles was her reply. "Good night." And yes, she would leave the rest of the dusting for tomorrow, do the sensible thing and go to bed. The hour was late and her blankets ever so luring.



Date: 05-04-10
Poster: Beatrice McCarrin
Post # 20

Girl Talk

Bea's mood was good, fact it was as bright as the sunset had
been. Wearing a simple gown the color of ripe eggplants, and a cover for her hair that was cream colored, edges embroidered in the same color as her gown to match. Up from the path, she came into the Thistle wearing a toothy grin and carrying a basket with what appeared to be an embroidery frame, and a table cloth with a scalloped edge. "Alex, some hot cider please. Oh, and dinner! I am so famished." She had taken advantage of the sun outside that day to finish off the table cloth. It had been a doozy of a job, with so many stitches that toward the end there her eyes had actually begun to cross! Setting the basket atop the bar she pulled up a stool to sit companionably there.

The day had been beautifully warm, almost on the edge of hot and Maggie had enjoyed it. The morning was spent rambling about outside in the sun, which resulted in strawberry cheeks and a ready smile on her face. One which was given to Bea when she came in through the door. "Evening, Bea, how are you?" She, too was seated on a bar stool, drying some just washed glasses but more chatting with Alex.

She all but bubbled but as her eyes met Maggie's. "I am doing wonderfully! It was so beautiful today! You seem to have enjoyed it." Meaning of course, those flushed cheeks and bright eyes. "What is on the menu tonight, Maggie?"

"I did enjoy it. It's becoming perfect weather for picnics by the lake, perhaps we ought to get some people together for one soon." Now there was an idea that came to her as she spoke it. A nice idea as well, an opportunity to socialize outside tavern walls. "Ah... Colcannon, I believe." A glance to Alex to confirm it before looking back to Bea. "Do you know it? It's a casserole of sorts, with potatoes and cabbage and cheese.. quite delicious."

"My mother ma
de it every once in a while." Just talking about her family made her features brighten just a touch more than they were before. Leaning an elbow to the bartop and chin into palm, she nodded eagerly. "A picnic by the lake sounds very nice. I am sure we could find some people to go with us. Vanessa, Mariah and Karina would like it no doubt." She could picture the lot of them, chatting amiably and nibbling on goodies. It was a relaxing picture.

"My mam did, as well." She returned Bea's smile at the mention of their mothers, though her own smile was bittersweet. For just moment, before returning to sunny. "That does sound nice, doesn't it? Maybe Matthew and the Quinn lads or some others might want to join us too. Or, we could just make it a girls' outing." Also a nice idea!

"If you wanted to invite them, I am sure that would be fine. I've met some of the Quinn clan as it were." Nodding toward the kitchen, she gave a sniff to the air and laughed. "I guess I'll have the colcannon for dinner then!" A little taste of home to brighten her memory.

Maggie nodded, the order given to Hazel before she turned back to Bea. A thoughtful air coming over her as the idea grew in her mind. "What if we invite everybody? Everyone we know and like, anyway... We could set up a big table down by the lake, bring lots of food and have people bring their own dishes as well. Like a big banquet out-of-doors." She was really warming up to the topic now. "We could decorate about the place as well, ribbons and bright tablecloths... really make it look like summer. What do you think?"

Bea hummed a bit as Maggie went about bringing the idea to life. It had quite a bit of merit and Bea could see it as being a great time for anyone and everyone! "I think it a marvelous idea! I really do! It would be wonderful for people to get together outside in the sunshine by the lake. Who knows, with the weather as it is, we might be able to have some games as well!" Bea clapped happily, more than ready to be a part of the party.

"Yes, foot races and contests.... it will be an entire festival. A festival to celebrate the arrival of summer." She smiled brightly, already thinking through the details that would need to be taken care of, all the preparations... things she enjoyed doing! "We can send out pretty invitations and encourage everyone to bring their friends and family. It will be a good way to meet people, as well, don't you think?"

She was already nodding but there was a new air of sunniness as she laughed. "I think it a stupendous idea to bring people out into the light! Rather like Beltaine! Oh! Maybe we should have a Maypole?" It was certainly a thought. "We could do three legged races, and horseshoes!" Oh, she really was starting to like this idea more and more as they went along.

"Aye, a maypole!" She replied with as much enthusiasm. Much of it fueled by memories of her own childhood, sunny May Days full of laughter and fun. "Perhaps we can find some musicians to play music to dance about the Maypole. We can weave wreaths of flowers for people to wear atop their hair as well." She smiled brightly at Bea as the ideas kept pouring out.

Bea couldn't help but clap as they brought together some more ideas. "That would be lovely! Oh, and there should be a baking contest! We always had baking contests, and preserve contests. OH!" Her cheeks went flush then, green eyes  brightening. "There should be some tests of strength for the men then." Bea could get behind the idea of that! Who didn't want to see some of the fantastically good looking men around here strutting their proverbial stuff?!

Now THAT made her grin. "Mmm. Aye." She leaned a bit closer, "And we should add a rule that those tests must be performed shirtless." Maggie winked naughtily then leaned back. "Where I grew up they also elected a Queen and King of the fair. They were the ones whom judged the contests, all in good fun of course."

Roseann paused by the garden door, left open to the tavern this warm evening. A blink as words were picked up about shirtless men. "Oh my," under her breath as soft as the warm breeze that whisked by. She closed her eyes a moment, feeling the flush on her cheeks already, she needed more exposure so she didn't blush so easily. A steadying breath before she was up the few steps and within. Luckily there were no men about except Alex whom she was sure was use to such conversation. Her smile was warm albeit a touch shy, "good evening." Trying not to interrupt their conversation but certainly propriety demanded the cordial greeting as she reached the bar. She would have some of the raspberry punch, which Alex knew would remember.

There was now no helping the laughter that came from her then, while her cheeks turned a vibrant shade of red. "Perhaps it being shirtless should be optional." Bea might die of a stroke if it were one of the rules! "There are far too many handsome men here. Mariah says it's in the water. I think it might be the air or something." Her eyes rolled then, playfully. Turning her attention toward the newcomer, Bea's whole face lit once more. So many had been nice to her, and she returned that by being nice to others. "Good evening!" Hopefully she had heard quite a bit of that conversation. "I'm Beatrice!" There, she remembered for once!

"Oh fooh. I say it ought to be mandatory." There came her wicked grin again, before she half-turned on the stool to see the newcomer. A friendly smile was offered as she returned the greeting, "Hello and welcome. I'm Maggie." The apron she wore a sign of her station here as a member of the staff.

"You are far more bold than I, Maggie." But Bea wasn't faulting her for that, just the opposite. "I'll be stuttering no doubt the whole of the day if that is the case." Bea would try her best though if it did end up being a rule. "We should be careful though, or the female kissing bandit might show up. It would be a coup for her I think." Although that idea also had merit and made her laugh once more. When her dinner arrived, she tucked in neatly as Bea usually did. She was neat and tidy to the tips of her shoes. Usually.

Once she received her drink, she turned to politely respond again. Her smile genuine even if there was that touch of shyness around new persons. "Nice to meet you Beatrice and Maggie. I am Roseann Cleary. Perhaps my brothers Allan and Michael have been here?" That was a way to find out some information on those two as Allan especially had been more or less missing in action and she knew he worked too hard. So she had ventured from Golden Dawn manor in Ballicastle to stay a few days, get some inspiration for designs as she had her sketchbook and pencil in the satchel she carried. A small duffel bag with extra clothing set on the stool next to where she stood as she planned to do some shopping too while here.

A laugh at Bea's words before turning to Roseann. "Pleasure to meet you, Roseann. I'm sorry.... I've not met your brothers, but then I'm fairly new here myself." She offered the young woman an apologetic smile then glanced down to the bag she carried. "Have you traveled long? Would you like a drink or perhaps something to eat?"

She left the bag and satchel on the bar stool for now as she took up her drink and was over to join them where they sat further down (as she had not ventured that close initially). "I have traveled from Ballicastle but only over the border so it was not as long as areas further away. I would not mind a small meal of the Irish stew if available, please." She was interested in their conversation too even if it had brought a flush to her cheeks initially, outside, where hopefully it had dissipated too before now.

"Me as well, I haven't heard of them. I am sorry." Bea hoped that they weren't lost or in trouble. Surely if they were the calvary would be sent out forthwith.

She pressed her lips together a moment so she didn't blurt out something that volunteered her brother. "He's the dairy man, I thought maybe you may have met him."

"Oh!" Lightbulb went off above her head. "Allan Cleary? Yes, I've met him, only briefly. I didn't get his last name then so I did not make the connection." It seemed as if Roseann might be worried about her brother, so Maggie gave her a reassuring smile. "He seems quite well, he gave me a sample of some of his new ice cream flavors."

A hand fluttered to her chest a moment as a breath whooshed in relief, "thank goodness he is still delivering milk and such here." She knew he could have let his men do all the work. It also showed he was getting out even if it wasn't the kind of socializing she had hoped of her brothers.

"Does he not get out very often? From his work?" Of course Bea didn't seem to have a clue about the man, but she was obviously able to be concerned for someone who was a stranger in these lands.  But then, everyone seemed to care about her own feelings genuinely, so it was important that she reflect those feelings to the people too.

Maggie arched a brow at Roseann's relieved reaction, glancing to Bea as she wondered the same. Then she recalled something. "Your brothers had an interesting discussion while they were here." She shared this casually, lifting the rag again to wipe down some glasses. "I think perhaps you'd be interested to hear it...."

"I don't think he does. He should meet more ladies and possibly date some." Call it a date anyway! Roseann playing matchmaker was a timid thing at best. She might improve as she was improvising presently and moving right along with it. "He should have muscles with all the work he does," so she had heard some of their conversation and her words proving it. The comment made by Maggie drew her full attention with a blink. "They did, I would? Certainly if you don't mind?"

"Oh aye, he does." She flashed that grin, then turned to Roseann with a confidential smile. "Well. They were discussing their sisters, one of whom I know now is you.... and plotting how to get you out and about more often." Her smile overflowed into a light laugh. "As it seems you are doing for them, in fact. You must be siblings."

"Iced cream?" It was Bea's turn to look the country bumpkin which she didn't mind at all. Chuckling a little at the double up for either side, she shook her head. "I couldn't see my sister or brother doing so. I mean, Ally, well her name is Jesilyn, but we call her Ally, she doesn't like going out and about like my mother. My brother you couldn't get to sit still for a heartbeat unless you had pie. Or cake." Which of course made Bea hungry for sweets.

Lips parted but no words followed she was taken so by surprise. They closed again then finally a response managed through. "They did? My sister will find this very interesting too." Oooooh they would notice the look in her eyes when such a gauntlet was tossed at her feet. "He comes here every week I'm sure with milk and ice cream. I think if he was asked to volunteer to be part of this.." at a loss for words a moment, "festival you speak on, he would not be able to refuse a pretty lass as yourself. One thing about Allan, he has that kindness," some could consider a weakness but she was proud he was like that. They could put him in the kissing booth! Although she didn't venture that far of a suggestion. Yet.

"Aye," she explained the concept for Bea, "a sweet cream kept very cold to thicken it, sometimes flavored with fruits or sweets. It's delicious, you ought to try it." She laughed again at Bea's words about her siblings before turning back to Roseann... cue mischievous smile. "Perhaps we can get Allan to participate and the rest of your family to attend, as well. That way the brothers and sisters will both see each other out and about, and the whole matter laid to rest?"

"It is a good idea, Maggie." Bea had to think over the whole cream thickened and cold with fruit or sweets. It certainly put cake to shame if only in theory at this point. "We hope to have as many people as we can there! To celebrate the coming of Summer down by the lake. We want to do some contests, and games! Maggie thinks the men should be shirtless." Which Bea thought a great idea as well.

"What men were you considering, or hoping, would come to show off their.. muscles?" She did good in getting that out and not blushing. Settling on a stool near the two instead of continuing to stand as they sat. That didn't do well in politeness.

"Whichever men are willing to show them!" she replied blithely with that impish smile. Maggie had that bold streak indeed and wasn't exactly shy around men. At least she had never met one yet that could fluster her. "You ought to come, Roseann, and tell anyone you know about it. If this works as we hope, it should be a large event and much fun."

"Even a small event would be fun." She was one more practical not to get her hopes up too high and had learned to have fun no matter how many or how few were about. She had fun doing her stain glass by herself. Something her brothers didn't understand.

"Maggie's right of course. It is a festival for everyone, so anyone who would like to take part in the get together." Bea was thinking more about what she might be able to bake than see at the lake. "Just whomever." When her thoughts did move to the actual event itself she got a little queasy inside. If there were lots of people, that would mean lots of talking. And she had already demonstrated once how easy it was to get her to stutter in a nervous situation!

Roseann didn't stutter but the idea of a large crowd was intimidating to her too for other reasons. Although there was the thought of getting lost in a crowd as well. That comforted her. "Who, of the men, have you met that you would not mind seeing them there?" That was a good start. She had been around a lot longer and although shy, she knew of many of those in the lands and Ballicastle.

"The more the merrier!" That was Maggie's thought anyway. She was smiling comfortably as she relaxed on her stool, enjoying the conversation and the ideas shared back and forth. Roseann's question had her smiling thoughtfully, a finger tapping her lips and then counting off. "Hmm, let's see.... there's the Callihan men and the Quinns, McDonoughs.... and your brothers, of course. And.." She leaned a bit closer, "There was an Egpytian man that came in one day... he was almost shirtless then and I would not mind seeing him completely so!" A wicked giggle.

Bea was a lot less likely to know as many people as Roseann and Maggie, so she kept quiet with her features somber and serious. As if she were contemplating something with quite a bit of gravity. "Maybe some people in my peer group. It would be nice. To see people my age. But they don't have to be just my age of course! Or come at all." People were busy, they had lives. And she couldn't very well fade into the trees either, no matter how hard she tried. "The McDonoughs, from the Colonies. Maggie did you meet them? I thought they were Egyptians when I first met them." Her voice was quiet, worried they might laugh at her for not knowing.

She was listening very seriously to the surnames. A soft hum under her breath as she was nodding to the choices. "You mean more of the younger men," figuring they were not that old but certainly old enough. Certainly was with Maggie's comment, she knew of the very male she spoke on. "The god body," then slapped a hand over her lips as those words had actually escaped. Then speaking through her fingers, "you want to see him with nothing at all on?"

Roseann might have been embarrassed but Maggie burst out laughing. Even as she nodded her agreement. "Yes! That is exactly the way to put it." Perhaps this Cleary girl had a bit more spunk than her shy exterior suggested! "Well... I  would not look away." A wink and then she looked to Bea. "Aye, I met them. Very strangely dressed and quite tall." And as she recalled, they had made Bea pretty uncomfortable though she didn't mention that.

Her hand falling away, "cousins to Joshua who is their age, the twins of Alexander's." Oh, there was something to share on Anhur and his brothers. "Did you know that they do a community bath?" The one had an alligator they could ride in the lake. Obviously it was no ordinary alligator nor were the type cats, large ones, that ran with some of them. Her seeing any of the Egyptians totally naked was not a far fetched idea. "I don't think I could look away, I think I'd end up staring."

Bea couldn't take it all in as Roseann spoke. God body? Trying to follow along, her eyebrows began to inch toward her covering of her hair. "They were tall. Yes. Joshua's cousins. Joshua himself is very nice, or what I've met of  him." She'd seen him what, once? He'd put shavings on the floor then dutifully cleaned them up. "You'd have to look away!" Blurting that out as she bit her lip. "I m-m-mean that you c-c-couldn't just stare. Could you?" Would Maggie and Roseann really follow through if they were right there in front of them?!

Maggie was stuck on Roseann's first words, repeating with arched eyebrows, "Community bath? Is that exactly what it sounds like?"

"I don't think I could help but stare if I am truthful to myself!" She was kind of pointing at Maggie. "Explain to her what Anhur looks like, what kind of body he has.. his eyes.." oi.. she was getting flustered already to continue. Didn't people stare at train wrecks? Anhur was drop dead gorgeous. Interesting part of it, the man didn't realize it.

Maggie grinned and obliged, turning to Bea earnestly. "Anhur... has the body of a god and the bluest eyes you've ever seen. Long dark hair and bronzed skin... and you ought to see his muscles. Not so many of them it's frightening but just enough to know he could hold you tight." She'd leaned in to share all this with Bea, a grin playing her lips girlishly.

"Yes, I agree, just enough muscles and not that kind that looks like they are not natural, going to explode if you touch them." Giving a nod, too much was disgusting although there were some that would probably disagree with her. Maybe she needed to be more social to learn how to keep certain things from passing her lips for the size of muscles brought out something else she heard, "they say the size of a man's.. man..." rushing right by that, "can be determined by the thickness of his calves." There went the hand again over her mouth belatedly.

"But I don't want a stranger holding me tightly." She was a little bewildered, shaking her head a moment or two before laughing a little at the picture the two of them presented. "If he has the looks of a God, then I would not be blinded by such awesomeness." Of course she was fine until Roseann had to go there and then she only felt worse! She promised herself she wasn't going to look at anyone's legs from there on. "Sweet Christmas!" It came out, she wasn't able to help herself.

"Wait until you see the McAndrews in kilts." Or any of the clans that wore them.

And again Maggie burst out laughing... both at Roseann's comment and the way the both of them reacted. And she just took it a step further. "If that is true... then I hope Anhur can find the right woman for him!"

Her mouth opened, then closed and then opened and closed again. Bea looked like a fish for a second while she pulling together her brain cells. "I think I shall keep my eyes upward." Or on the ground completely! "Is there someone you should like to come, Roseann?" Since she knew many people, she would be the best for making a suggestion.

On a more serious note, and dragging her mind from pictures of Anhur and even any of the McAndrews naked.. "I hope anyone who wishes someone special in their heart can find such."

Roseann mentioned the McAndrews and Maggie smirked broadly. "Ah yes, I met Jon McAndrews just the other night. He danced me about the tavern." Idly she twirled the sun-soaked strands of her dark hair. Bea's question was a good one and she glanced back to Roseann, interested in the answer.

"If you keep your eyes upward or only to the ground you may well collide with a naked man!" There was food for thought! "And if you topple you might grapple and never know what you may take hold of." Would Bea have such dreams tonight?

"Yes, you could accidentally grab a.... calf."

"Or the pig poker.."

was a thought! She couldn't very well think about running into a naked man! She swallowed a few times and then went a little pale. She laughed nervously, giving Maggie a little nudge. "Oh that isn't going to happen!"  She needed something to do with her hands then, and patted at her covered temples a moment. "Most of them are so tall, they wouldn't see me! So it would be their fault, now wouldn't it?" Tall, very, very tall. Awfully tall.

"I doubt they would see it that way. And they might demand some penance paid by you." A suggestive tone to that as she smirked wickedly at her embarrassed friend.

"I'm embroidering Faelan's shirt! That's penance." Nodding, and treading mental water she laughed nervously again. Her head felt warm, her cheeks too. "I'll keep my lips to myself for a while."

"You are embroidering Faelan's shirt?" Which the mere fact she repeated that had her to pause, "now there is another sea captain that had been on worldly adventures. Did you know that they found ancient treasure then were besieged by the Unholy Trinity, notorious pirates of the sea? Their brother James along with Frasier and another went to their rescue. They sunk two of the pirate's ships but the three managed to escape on the last in fairly bad shape."

Maggie would relent then, laughing and reaching out to pat Bea's hand good-naturedly. "Oh, we are only teasing, Bea. Your lips are yours to keep wherever you wish them." A wink before she leaned back to listen to Roseann.

"Yes. I lost in the Hometown Race to him, so I said I would embroider a dragon. It's gold thread against black. It is coming along well." She hoped he liked it. Dragons weren't her usual fair. Listening to Roseann, she blinked, wide eyed. "I hadn't known that. He seems like such a jovial person. He is very nice. Maggie you seemed to like him too." She gave her friend a sly look then. Anything to keep from thinking about calves.

Then she remembered the other, "Adrian Frasier. Now there is another handsome captain although he is the Westside Harbor master. Adam Callihan the Eastside Harbor master." She was a wealth of information. The shy one that soaked in much while others talked, on the norm. Tonight seemed to be different and maybe a new path for her to take. "Ah, the bets, you should have gotten a kiss from them." Giving her a wink being she said she would keep her lips to herself.. and here we go again! Thoughts of kissing one such as Faelan.

"What a story! Sometimes it is amazing to me, that such stories are not fantasies but tales of what actually happened." She'd remember that to ask Faelan about later. Bea's comment made her chuckle. "He's a good man, and a fellow Callihan, so I must like him." No, she would not rise to the bait!

Ah well, Bea had to try didn't she? "Ah, well then I suppose you must." Her thoughts were going to remain ordered and neat just like herself. No straying or anything of the like. "Oh no, no kisses. I want my first to be special. Very special." Not that Bea knew what she would think of as special, but at least she could indulge her romantic nature as she wished. "My mother says her first was wild and free and she fell for my father in that kiss. Something like that I think." A little sigh and a loud snatch of humming and Bea was settled.

"It ought to be special. A first kiss ought to be.... perfect. Magical." She couldn't blame Bea for wanting that and smiled at the thought.

"Well, I think it is something one goes with when circumstances allow the choice. It could be the one that you end up married to, or one of many and earn the knowledge of differences. No matter it be the one you end up with or one that was for the moment magical, either would be good I would think." She was sorting through this as she couldn't really comprehend that her first kiss would be the one she ended up with.

"Then it should be many moments of magical however they come to be." It was a little play on words that made her laugh. Buzzing Bee. Lord. It was hard to think of locking lips with many or a few or just one. For now, she was going to sew and enjoy the people she met. "I should get to bed. It's late and I'm up early to try and finish the last of this tablecloth." Patting the basket she set aside there on the bar, she hopped on down from the stool with a swish of eggplant colored skirts. "Maggie and Roseann it has been wonderful."

She was getting tired too and such thoughts a bit taxing. She had never been kissed so it was a tough call, not even knowing what it would be like. Not something she would admit to either. She had to laugh as she was doing the same, collecting her things along with a key, Room number 9. "It was a real pleasure meeting you both and I hope to again. Please don't mention to my brothers of yet, that I am here if you should run into them." Why, she wasn't quite sure of the request other than instinct after the conversation they had.

Whereas Maggie had been kissed... well, dozens of times but with only a few boys. Still, compared to them it would probably seem like a lot, so she refrained from saying so. "I won't." She promised Roseann, then gave a bright smile. "Good night to you both. I enjoyed our chat tonight."

"It was educational as always!" Bea could just beam a smile. "I'll walk up with you Roseann." She waited for her before starting up the steps.

"I did too," decisively with a nod, smile as well as she headed for the hall and stairs that would take her above. Right along with Bea!



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