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Thistle Tavern

Date: 09-14-10
Poster: Aaric the Black
Post # 81

When Elementals Meet
 

Thunder rumbled as Storm made his way up the cobblestone side street. It was as each hoof marked the rumbles while he carried his hooded rider. Rain pelted down bringing leaves that were starting to turn. In a few weeks the change would be far more noticeable. There were few out and about and those that were, scattered to find shelter from the rain as it continued to mount into a downpour. Autumn storm would not last long especially after Storm was rein in at the post in front of the Thistle. Aaric dismounted as booted feet settled solid on the ground below, rain pitter pattering all around as droplets bounced. A few words spoken in and ancient tongue as a hand ran down the neck of the stallion. Storm's nostrils flared with a snort while dipping his head up and down then was off in a trot to head for the stable down the back. Those there were use to the horse coming in on his own when he wanted, knew to take care of him and always the coin would be given in extra. Aaric turned after watching his friend take his leave to head up the steps onto the porch. A glance through the window assured him the tavern was quiet at this moment, this didn't alter his decision in coming here as he headed on in, closing the door behind him to stay the cooler wind.


Alas for Maggie, the morning had dawned cool and clear, luring her out to spend some time wandering about the markets. She planned to look for some things for Bradley's new manor, which she'd begin decorating soon. Unfortunately, it was after she had an armful of shopping that rain began to pelt down. There was a mass exodus from the markets of customers and vendors alike, and she was one of them, running from the stalls and back towards home. She'd brought no parasol or even a shawl, so she was nicely soaked by the time she made it back. Jogging steps could be heard coming up the porch before she flung the door open and stepped in, swiftly turning to close the door against the downpour. Then she was laughing, only because she knew she was a sopping mess. Her dark hair was straggling wetly around her face, mostly escaped from its ponytail, and the hems of her dark red dress were even darker from moisture and muddy. She set all her shopping down on the floor, then reached down to pull off one muddy shoe at a time, balancing perfectly on each leg. Only in the midst of this did she glance up to greet Alex, and saw a stranger instead. "Oh, hello," on a bit of an easy laugh.


He was amused as his trek to the bar was stalled by another coming in behind him. Swift she was to set her things on the floor, which had him those few steps over to help pick them up and set to the nearest table. Something he took upon himself without a by-your-leave even. "Hello, it seems the rains caught you unaware as it has many." Something that happened a lot with Aaric's appearance with little to no affect on the man. He was use to it, welcomed it, riding in the rain seemed to soothe both beast and rider. "I am Aaric," no surname for he had none. Well, it was unknown to him and he'd claim no other than what was his own which remained to be discovered.


"Aye, but it's lovely, isn't it?" Maggie loved the rain in fact, relished it, especially after a long hot summer. "Thank you," she added as he collected her shopping and put it more safely on a table. A smile quickly flashed, a glimpse of dimples and white teeth. Then she was crossing the room on bare feet, her skirts gathered in one hand, shoes dangling from the other. Maggie opened the back door and put her slipper-type shoes outside; they were already soaked, so she left them there to let the rain wash the mud away. "I'm Maggie," she called back.


Smile had a way of reaching his eyes and making them brighter still. "I happen to like the rain, especially in the summer, warm and full of life giving qualities, good for both body and soul." He found it easy to smile when she did, she had that kind to respond to. With the packages all safely on the table, he continued his trek to the bar as she took off to see to her shoes. "I'm pleased to meet you Maggie. You are the new waitress here I've heard about then." He would have an ale this early which the request was given to Alex as he took up a menu in debate of something to eat also.


She had one bare foot out the back door, leaning over sideways to wring the water out of her hair, which she'd tugged loose from its ponytail. Blazing blues glanced back to Aaric when he spoke and she smiled again, naturally. "Aye, that's me. I hope it's good things you've heard." She straightened again, reaching up to sweep her hair back. She moved with the unconscious grace of a ballerina with her straight shoulders and slender arms.


"Let me see," as if mussing over all he heard on the Thistle waitress, "fetching lass with fire in her hair and her soul." Which she might in that moment make a connection to unseen forces as intense darkened blue eyes met hers and held. She might for a split second get the image of a tornado with his features within its heart, the force tremendous that he controlled when needed. There was something else, an empty spot that needed fulfillment but hard to tell what exactly was the need, there was more but those layers were closed off at the moment. "Would you say that is close to the truth?" Eyes followed every graceful sway as he took up the tankard that was set.


His words had her gaze settling upon him with a curious smile, an expression which froze into something more serious as their eyes met. She felt something like a spark in her veins, a jolt of electricity as she noted all she saw, and there was an answering fire in her eyes of deep blue. Something in her own soul screaming to be free, her own holes which needed filling. Then she blinked and the moment passed, with only a distant crackle of electricity lingering. Leaving her to continue watching him, intrigued. "Aye... something like that."


He saw, he recognized the hidden ability deep within her heart, her soul. It piqued his curiosity that she seemed unaware, not something totally unusual either of those not brought up to develop that which laid within. He was tempted to say something but he learned from experience to take it piece meal and bide his time to make certain. He felt the electrical current, especially him. The answer was in her eyes. The last had him smiling again, "there is modesty which has its place but truth should be recognized, besides there is far more to the waitress of the Thistle than her beauty and spark in her eyes."


She could feel the pull of power like a magnetic force, almost tempting her to say something about it. It was a temptation like a lake on a hot summer's day, but she resisted diving in. Instead she smiled lightly, pulling her hair over one shoulder as her eyes bounced away then back. "Perhaps, but that is for you to find out." She had that flirtatious streak too, and it was easy to revert to that demeanor. She gathered up the wet hems of her skirt again. "I need to change out of this mess. Perhaps I'll see you again if you're here later, aye? It was a pleasure to meet you." She flashed her enigmatic smile once more and was gone, down the back hallway.


"Indeed, we will." Trailing after her as he watched her take her leave. A bit disappointed they didn't get to talk more but there would be another time. It seemed to be in the stars. Aaric already knew what he saw, already could take a good guess but it would be more fun to find out as she put it. Time would tell but it gave him something else to think upon that was pleasant to do so. He stayed awhile but then went out to see to a few things before he returned to Thistle. He still mussed over the brief meeting with this waitress, Maggie. She had a spark in her few had, one that was found in Darragh, Desiree and Orlaith, in the kingsmen and in Hugh MacNeil. There were other sparks too, or such abilities they were above and beyond the average human. Such was possessed by the knights under Peter and under Leoric. Some were not aware of their potential, this is where he classified Maggie. He was seated at the bar presently going over the menu.


Darragh had been away for a few days, though where he had gone was a mystery. If asked, all he would say was family business. Of course, he had spoken to the Crown Prince before he left and had likely informed him of the exact reason. He could have come in with a rumble of earth but instead he came in quietly. His horse was left at the Thistle stables while he headed inside, planning to enjoy a good meal tonight.


Aaric had been informed by the Druid Prince and didn't think much further on it until now that Darragh showed up. Was there a reason? Rarely would his comrade do anything for the heck of it. "Evening, Darragh, did you get done what you left for?" A round about way of asking and such his friend could answer as little or as much as he wanted to. He still hadn't decided what he wanted from the kitchen as he added, "care to have a meal?"


"Evening, Aaric." He gave his friend an easy smile, nodding at the question. "Aye, I did. I needed to check on things to do with my family." He didn't say more though in time, he intended to fill Aaric in on it all. Just not here, in the Thistle. "And I was planning on it. Better than eating me own cooking." Or the cooking in some of the inns he had stayed at. "How have things been here?"


"I think I'll have the venison pie with mash potatoes and gravy on the side. A slice of blueberry crumble pie and a tankard of ale to wash everything down with." This more to Alex who would let Hazel know his order. "I know little of your family." Thoughtful way as he added in more a mumbling, "at least you know who your family is."


"Chicken and dumplings for me. And the blueberry crumble pie as well. Coffee with it and ale with the meal." He looked at Aaric and nodded. "Best if little is known of them for now. I'm still not sure of the situation of late and don't want to put them in danger." He offered a slight smile. In time, he hoped to contact them again.


Which had his brows rising a fraction with the comment of putting their lives in danger. "As you wish but you know where to find me if needed. My sword with yours in protecting them if needed."


"I know and it's appreciated but for now, me enemies think I'm dead. Best to leave it that way for a while longer." He picked up the tankard that Alex had place in front of him. "The right time will come."


"Aye, I'll leave you to judge that time." As in he would not pester him. Which left him thoughtful a moment or two. "Have you met the waitress here, Maggie, yet?"


"Aye, I have, but it was brief as the lass was busy. Lively enough. and personable." He gave Aaric a curious look. "Why?"


"Seems she has that spark as found in each of us and a few others but I don't think she is aware of it." Which one never knew how the person would take having such, welcoming it and learning what they could or act like they had been cursed by the devil.


"Does she? Could you tell what caused the spark or is she suppressing it?" There were a few like that but some would never develop their abilities.


"No, only saw it in her eyes, sensed it as there was an electrical feel when our eyes met. I would guess fire as that was seen in her eyes, a blue fire and her hair is streaked with red highlights. The encounter was brief as she could not stay and I hesitate to say anything on what I've seen as I don't want to alter the natural course of things. I would need to know more."


"I wouldn't be surprised since it seems that those of ability are drawn here." He grinned as he spoke. "Of course, some would argue about that." He rubbed his hands together as their meals were delivered. "So, you'll just keep an eye on her, or inform someone." Either the Crown Prince or someone else. He wasn't sure who should be alerted in such circumstances.


"Aye, she might not want me keeping an eye on her but we'll see. I'm willing to go the natural course of things, perhaps become her friend or even mentor if needed. Good ability should not be wasted and best guided correctly." Which he would know what he meant, one with ability without guidance could go the dark path.


They had each had to make that choice and not all had ones to help them. "No, it shouldn't be wasted. If that's what she wants." He was thinking too that her reaction could be good or bad. It would be interesting to find out.  He started to eat, though did keep the conversation going. "How are Orlaith and Desiree doing?"


Which remained to be seen, what Maggie wanted where her abilities were concern. Once she was aware of them to start. He was guessing on that part. All talk on such was put aside as their meals arrived and he dug in like one starved. Taking a moment to answer him, "they are doing well that I know of. I don't necessarily see them any more than you do.." which had that bit of a smile before he was back to eating his meal.


That had him chuckle softly. No, they didn't see them much but that wasn't a surprise. They had their own training and exploring to do. They'd both be silent for a little while until not a trace of food was left.


Not a crumb left of the pie especially before he was up from his seat, finishing off the ale before the tankard was returned empty to the bar top. "I think I'm going to go pass a bit of air," which was a dangerous statement coming from Aaric. He was joking of course, "so best I head down to The Field," one few knew of except ones such as the elementals.


Luckily he had finished drinking so there was no choking. Laughing, he stood and stretched. "Maybe I'll join you, though I'll go to the far end of The Field to avoid any blast." He lifted a hand to bid Alex farewell. "Good night to be out. Nice and cool." His favorite kind of weather.


"It's my secret weapon and I could get you across the ocean after a night of eating beans, if you want a quick trip?" He was trying hard not to laugh but that didn't last long as he decided to have a tumbler of the pure being he was still there at the bar.


"I think that might be something I'd forgo." He didn't bother to even try to hide his laughter.


Maggie had bathed and changed after her run through the storm earlier, combing her hair and soaking for awhile in the warm water. Even when the water grew tepid she remained floating, suspended and weightless for those few moments. Her encounter with Aaric earlier had been extremely brief but it stuck in her mind, like a splinter that wouldn't come out. She could still go about her activities but it was always there, a twinge in the background. Her head had started to ache not long after and she'd laid in bed for a bit, but that didn't help much. So she was up, pulling on a new gown of cinnamon red-brown and dry slippers on her feet. Her hair was still damp and so left down in a tousled tumble as she ventured out into the taproom. Alex was offered a faint smile. "Could I have some tea, please?" He knew which type. Eyes then roamed the place, recognizing Darragh vaguely, then noting with some surprise that Aaric was still? here. "You didn't get far..." was the comment offered with a slight smirk to Aaric. "Good evening, Darragh."


Well, speak of the devil and certainly she was late as any good looking lass would be. Had a smile tipping boyishly. "I've been waiting for your return the whole while.." liar! "Actually, I left for awhile but came back to have one of Hazel's infamous meals and look what I dragged in with me." Just the slight turn of his hand in indicating Darragh. "Seems you two already know each other?"


"Aye, we had met briefly as I said." He gave Maggie one of his boyish smiles. "Evening, Maggie. Good to see you again."


The two of them seemed a couple deep in potcheen too, making her smile expand some. "Aye, you as well Darragh. Have you lads eaten yet, then?" A brief turn away to thank Alex as she accepted her tea, cup in one hand, saucer in the other. Its strong medicinal smell was bracing and she blew across the surface gently to cool it. Take a sip now and she'd fry her tongue.


"Aye, a very guid meal it was too." Which had him pausing as the scent of certain herbs assaulted his extraordinary senses. "You are not feeling well? Did you take a chill earlier from the rains?" Voice held a natural concern.


Did they? This was the first of the night for Darragh. He took a drink as Aaric asked his question, his glass lowered as he turned his gaze to her.


All eyes were on Maggie.. even Alex.


And then they were all looking at her. Saucer set on the bar behind her, she smiled and waved her hand to assuage their concern. "Oh, no, I'm fine. It's just a headache." They were still looking. She cleared her throat delicately and blew on her tea again. "What did you boys have, the ham, the venison or the dumplings? The dumplings are my favorite."


Smile brought out the dimple as he was assured she was all right. "I'm pleased to hear, I would hate to think you caught a cold from the rain earlier." That particular rain as it had been caused by him even without that intention. "I had the venison pie, mashed potatoes with gravy and a slice of blueberry crumble pie. A tankard of ale to wash all down." Lifting the tumbler of the pure, "and this for a nightcap." Certainly he had not enough to drink to be anywhere in his cups as she might have thought.


"And I had the chicken and dumplings, with pie after." He grinned at her. "Not sure which is my favorite yet, but I'd have to say the dumplings are close to the lead right now. And trying to decide would be an enjoyable pastime."


She relaxed some when they dropped the subject, and was grateful for that too. "Well, all of Hazel's cooking is wonderful, so it's difficult to decide." She agreed with a smile. Easing her frame down for a leaning seat on the edge of a barstool. A cautious sip of the tea and the pain would begin lifting, in a few minutes anyway. Going quiet when Aaric spoke again.


"Aye, it was a hard choice but I had chicken last night and needed something with a bit more weight to it this one." Hence the choice of venison. He was tempted to pry by some gentle questions that might bring out if she knew of what laid hidden within her but decided with it being this late he would not initiate it but certainly would pounce on any opportunity that presented itself all on its own. As she shifted, bronze blue eyes lifted to see how the red in her hair shone under the firelight within the room. Perhaps there as more of a clue there.


She knew what lay hidden, aye... but had spent years suppressing it till it was almost forgotten. Almost. Her hair did gleam under the influence of firelight, like molten copper, almost seeming to glow with its own light. Her eyes caught the fire too, shining with its reflection. They'd all gone quiet again and she looked around between them. "Are you from here, Aaric?" She asked only because she hadn't ever met him before.


Darragh was growing quieter, if that was possible, and tired as well. He finished the potcheen and pushed off the bar. "I'm needing some sleep. Aaric I'll talk to you tomorrow. Maggie, it was good to see you as always."


"Aye, safe journey Darragh, nice to see you as well." She nodded towards the man gently with a smile.


"No." Although that might seem an abrupt answer. "I'm from the Isle, born there but I've no information on who my family is. It lays hidden, a secret, one I am to uncover one day and by then I suspect will understand the circumstances better. Until I do, I've no surname to call my own." Then switching focus to Darragh, "I wont be long behind you my friend and we'll have to do some practicing on The Field to keep our senses sharp and our skills honed."


"Aye, we will." He clapped a hand to Aaric's shoulder, bowed slightly to Maggie, waved to Alex and headed out through the hall. First he'd collect his horse then head to the castle.


Maggie blinked, features going solemn as he mentioned having no family. "How terrible," she murmured. Though in truth she had no family of her own, anymore. But at least she had the memories, dim and distant as they were. "I hope you find them, someday." The smile she offered was sweet and warm.


"Well, don't be feeling sorry for me, things happen for a reason even if I don't know the reason yet. I had a wonderful woman take care of me since I was an infant until grown and on my own." He was watching her in that way, way of one perceptive but said nothing on what he was seeing, "I will one day when I know it is time for me to find out."


"Aye, you shall." She agreed with another smile, then went quiet a few moments, sipping her tea while it was still hot. It was beginning to fill her with that cloudy tired feeling but at least it helped with the pounding. She was glad too that it wasn't busy here tonight, so she could sit and relax instead of waiting tables.


He was tired, exhausted, but he was one that could push himself no matter. Except he could tell she was tired and needed sleep too. "I hope to talk with you again. Soon." As much as one was tempted to rush steps, it was not a good idea. First off it would be taken wrongly and in his experienced if one chased, the other ran, that would do neither any good. "I will be by again, hopefully when you are. Have a good night Maggie. Sweet wind and dreams until our paths meet again." Kicking back what was left in the tumbler, he would be making use of the back hall to the office in Darragh's wake although not catching up with him.


It was a little strange, the intent way he said Soon, but it was easily dismissed. She came back to earth when he spoke, glancing back up to nod and give another smile. "And you as well. Goodnight, Aaric."

 

-e-

Date: 09-19-10
Poster: Lancely Caster
Post # 82

End of Summer
 

Lancely made his way to the tavern, peeling off the soaking wet vest from as much soaked shirt. He left the shirt on as he plucked it away from his skin and hurried inside headed straight for the hearth. Here he hung up the vest to dry where it would get most of the heat and let the lighter material dry right on his body as he soaked in the warmth from the fire. He noticed Alex looking his way in wonder although he said nothing. "Little accident down at the field," given with a slight smirk as he turned to warm up his back. "I'll be needing a bottle of potcheen to stay off any cold." Right. Good Excuse.


It wasn't long until Lancely was followed by Aiden. Since he hadn't been on the field, he wouldn't know why Lancely was wet. He studied his friend as he made his way to the bar. "Potcheen for me as well." Yes, he had heard the comments. "What kind of accident?"


Accident? That's what Cole picked up as he entered from the door leading from the side street into the tavern. He followed Aiden's gaze to Lancely and noted the soaked shirt, which immediately brought a light chuckle.


"Accident or a prank. You know how the Water Gauntlet got many a knight, warrior, squire and layman. It was time to close it up for the winter. I got under the holding tank of a section and the bottom broke off at that very precise moment as if timed, soaking me." Mostly his upper body and clothes. "There were too many smirks and muffled laughs. I'll find out who the culprit was and fix him good once I do." This given to both comrades. Perhaps they even heard something through the grapevine. One would want to make some claim to the deed thinking he could get away with it.


"What is the saying about turn around...and fair play?" Cole was still laughing to himself as he nodded a hello to Alex, picking up a tankard in passing that the efficient tender had placed out for him. He crossed to where Lancely had staked his claim near the hearth, drinking once in the process. He lowered into a chair facing the back warming, shirt drying warrior.


"Aye, but dangerous as one of the squires was hit by the board that gave way and lucky he wasn't knocked unconscious." He knew that part wasn't intentional but the one needed to realize he could have harmed even Lancely with this particular prank. "Ah, and you didn't bring my drink over." Chiding Cole in a teasing way. If Aiden did the same then he'd be over to claim it. He was getting dry.


He joined in the laughter as he picked up the bottle of potcheen, his glass and an empty one. "Have you been hard on any lad of late?" He joined his comrades, taking up one of the chairs.


Not that Cole had anything to do with it, or that he would even consider 'pranking' anyone, he still commented. "There are dangers in any chosen call of duty." Cole grinned, bringing up his tankard to drink, and making a slow go of it just because he hadn't maid-serviced Lancely's drink over to him.


Lancely could wonder if Cole had something to do with the prank. Eyeing him in that way for he so stuck up for whoever had done this. "Where were you tonight?"


Cole grunted out one final laugh. "Not anywhere near that contraption of yours."


"So, now we need to do some detective work? Or scare the truth out of the squires?" His lips twitched as he tried to keep from laughing. "Maybe sic Cole on them?"


"There is that and most likely if you were to set a boobie trap, it would probably have fallen on your head instead." Smirk there before he was over to where Aiden had the extra glass and bottle as he poured himself a full tumbler. First was kicked back before a refill was given the glass and he was back over to the hearth to dry off more. "I think scaring the truth out of the squires, see which one rats on whomever, would be the most fun." They would get to know a thing or two about the squires. "I'll have to come up with some really good scare to get them talking, provided they know anything." Chuckling too as focus switched upon Cole. "I think you could do a good scaring job.."


Cole lifted his chin in a nod, resting his tankard on his knee. "And not a'one better say a word. By now there should be an allegiance between them. And more so to the knights they serve." Cole would step up to the task just to see if any of them squealed, and he'd skewer the piglet himself for turning tail on his comrades.


"You might have to lecture them all, Lancely." He motioned to Cole. "He'll have them keeping their mouths shut." The new lads wouldn't know who the prankster was so they'd be safe.


A twitch pulled at the corner of Cole's lips. "Would you not?" He motioned to Aiden with a tilt of his tankard in that one's direction, then brought it up to drink.


"That's what I'm thinking too. Do you need a squire Cole?" As he had one for a while already. Cole would train the lad right and it was one from a prestigious family.


Cole shrugged to Lancely's question, he didn't have the patience for a fumbling, stumbling, eager-to-please, fresh from the 'I-want-to-be-a-knight-farm' squire. But he was Peter's man, and if the King required it of him, may whatever godly force be out there, be with the unfortunate lad assigned to the less-than-compassionate Lachian.


"He's not too young," glancing Alex's way as he was the one that mentioned the lad to him, "seventeen-eighteen. He's had some training under his father, Rhett Shawnesey. His name is Shaun. I'm sure Peter will be informed or Karl." Although Karl was newly recovering and had his hands full in dealing what had transpired. So that left his brother in arms, Peter. One who covered for Karl when needed.


Even as newly acquainted with the family names of this realm as Cole was, the name Shawnesey held a great deal of influence and he knew it. "If it will serve the kingdom." Is all he said, taking another drink. His gaze shifted to Aiden over the rim of his tankard and rested on the silent man.


Which he pretty much would probably be the one to mention it to Peter if he saw him before Alex, which was a good chance right there. So now he could say the Cole liked the idea!


"If he's anything like his brother, he'll do well enough, Cole, and not be like the youngsters that are newly arrived at the castle." Homesick and unsure of themselves. He suppressed a smile again at the thought of Cole dealing with that.


"He is stubborn and head strong I'm told," which any of them could claim when they were that age too. If rightly directed it became a plus and got them to where they were today.


"Well enough." Cole grunted under his breath.  Well enough might not be good enough when it came to battle. Well enough would get you in the depths of the sword swinging, blood splattering mayhem. It wouldn't necessarily get you out alive. Lancely's comment brought a slow nod to the Lachian. Stubborn, headstrong ... noted. It would then be up to Cole to make sure the teenager no longer did well enough, but rather more than enough and without hesitation. "Feel free to mention it, Caster. Peter will  know whether or not the lad and I should test each other." For a test it would be for the both of them.


"Rhett ensured the victory in Kildare by saving Aiden's life, willing to give up his own taking the sword's thrust instead." Motioning to Aiden who could explain more if he wanted. "Luckily he survived." Of course there was more to that too but the fact remained, Rhett Junior was alive.


"The brother you spoke of?" Cole looked to Aiden as he asked the question.
 
Peter liked to test them all so most likely that was a shoe in now. "Rhett Junior was squire to Aiden at the time."

"Ahhh." Again that single nod, this time of understanding as his gaze remained on Collins. "Loyal to the death. He'd not divulge any secrets unless there was an actual danger to the crown by holding to them." Ever so slowly that gaze drifted to Lancely, and what could be interpreted as a smile grew. The squires better not 'rat' anyone out, or they'd be getting a rather impressive lesson from Cole on brotherhood and loyalty. And then, he did actually smile, but it was hidden behind another drink from his ale.


"The very same." He liked the lad well enough but hadn't obtained another squire since, though he didn't bring that up.


"How is Maureen doing?" Finally feeling like he was dried most of the way as he kicked back what his glass contained and then headed over for a more. Refill poured as he lingered between chairs and hearth.


"Very well. Busy, just as we are all, but things have slowed down a bit for her as well. They were extra vigilant during the time the King was missing." And rightly so, since none were sure what had happened.


The night brought out others. Restless. The heat subsiding to cooler air. Hair was as flames around vivid near glowing eyes as she sauntered into the Thistle. It had been a while but one never knew what they would find any given night, or who they might meet worthwhile. Lips had a way of teasing a perpetual smirk as her steps fell silent of one use to being nocturnal and moving about in shadows when needed. Her voice sultry but here too was that elusive tease in the throaty tones. "Good eve gents." Although she recognized the maker of the gauntlets, they had never been introduced. Attention was swift over the three before it was upon Alex, "I think a brandy would be perfect tonight, make it blackberry and thank you."


"I'm sure it was a trying time for many of them." For them all to some degree and he was certain Trevor was having a difficult time of it to be forced to stay here, make certain the Queen remained safe in case it had been a plot against the kingdom and striking out at its royal family. He was watching the woman entering. Trying to recall where he had seen her before but when he was running the gauntlet, he would have been too busy no matter how striking. The fact he recalled having seen her someplace before said a lot right there. "Good evening. I'm Lancely and these are my comrades, Aiden and Cole." Indicating each being there was more than one other.


Though Cole had been listening to his comrades, when the female entered, Cole glanced in that direction. The introductions made produced an additional nod of head before he returned his attention to where it was prior to the distraction. "Including those attempting to survive and make it back." He added, tilting his tankard to look within and note the level. He could use a refill but it would wait. The near empty vessel found a resting place on his thigh for now.


"Good evening." He nodded his head to the woman, certain he had seen her somewhere as well. His thoughts drifted though, to Mo. Maybe he'd leave early and see if she had some free time tonight.


With her glass in hand she turned, giving the men a sparkling smile, one that went nicely with the sparkle in her eyes. Hard to tell what she was thinking other than she probably had a lot of thoughts going on as she looked each over more thoroughly. "I'm honored to meet three of the knights of Innis." So she knew of them if not more. "I'm Orlaith, I work under the Druid Prince." Which might say a lot in that one statement. "Luckily we are all working on the same side." Which had the quick curl to the corners of her lips. She didn't join them but took up a comfortable lean there. A good distance to observe or converse. Also gave the room in case they were in conversation with each other that didn't need interrupting.


Luckily? "Were we not, chances are we wouldn't be having this tete-a-tete." Did he even speak to her or was he grumbling under his breath?


Cole reminded him so much of another, that he was almost tempted to ask if they were related. He glanced at Lancely and bit back a laugh then looked at Orlaith. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Lady Orlaith."


"Exactly my point." Which only had the smirk curl more.


Then Cole would have to consider what luck had to do with it. He studied her smirk, for quite some time, then lifted his tankard and finished off the remainder of his ale. He leaned forward to place the empty thing on the floor by his foot, resting back once more.


He was leaving this live wire to Cole, taking a back stance and watching except for, "nice to meet you Orlaith."


Because that smirk was for what she didn't speak, that they could find each other facing off on a battle field someday. She lifted her glass in a silent salute before taking a bit of a taste.


Regardless of the cause for that smirk, it was duly noted, and rightly so since she didn't even attempt to contain it. Cole had as much use for a live wire as he had for a turtle named Bub. As far as he was concerned, the conversation which never started, was at an end. Odd how perfectly that worked.


There was something to be said for vibes and that bit not minding one bit to face off one as sour as Cole came across as being on the field, where skills sparked instead of words. She took to enjoying her glass of brandy.


As surly as Cole was in the tavern, he was twice as serious on the field. This may be considered life, here in the Thistle, as they found a bit of quiet relaxation. But on the field, there, one knew what they prepared for was life or death. His less than friendly nature paid off when a sword was in his grasp and your arse was in the midst of a chaotic battle.


So she had thoughts of liking to play with Cole on the field, like one played with fire and set his pants on fire. She ended up in a light conversation with Alex as she updated him on a few things and he, of course, updated her on a few things. It was how it went. Leaving the knights to their own company, quiet as it seemed to be amongst them.


There was no doubt that Aiden trusted Cole as much as Lancely and the rest of the knights. He stretched out his legs, amusement in his eyes as he glanced at Lancely to see his reaction. He could have felt sorry for the young Shawnesey lad but he felt he'd be getting one of the best teachers on the field.


He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. Cole was like a wet blanket around women. He was probably better around men. Well, he was fine around them. He took a half turn to finish drying off his clothes.


"Will you need help repairing the beast, Lancely?" They could put it back to rights in no time. While he spoke, the shadow cat suddenly appeared, stretching lazily as she came from beneath Cole's chair.


And thank you, Cole never claimed to be a dashing, debonair Dan. His brothers-in-arms knew that about him.


"Aye, then covered for the winter. It's getting too cold to leave it running and I'll have the healers after my hide. I also intend to improve the regular gauntlet which will have a roof made over it to keep  it from the elements so it can be used all winter long."


DAMMIT! Cole hated when that feline did that! He almost snatched his legs up when she appeared but fought his first instinct and narrowed his gaze at her instead. Like she would be intimidated by the likes of him! He kept his eyes on that thing even as he spoke to Lancely. "Just let us know if you need help with the roof then." Though his gaze was narrowed at the shadow cat, there was a glint of amusement there just before he finished. "It is part of  what squires are good for." And then he looked straight at Lancely, grinned and reached for his tankard. He stood from there, stretching an arm above toward the ceiling as he twisted his head to the other side. Not much unlike a cat himself, other than he was more canine than feline.


"Strengthen their muscles." He agreed about the squires and laughed as Jewel  gave Cole that vastly superior look that cats were so very good at. He watched as the cat made her way to the hearth and began to groom herself. "When do you want to go to the field, Cole?"


He had started toward the bar but with Aiden's question, he paused and turned. "Whenever. Peter mentioned it, we should be getting to it."


"Maybe tomorrow then, after the morning training, or after we help fix the Beast." That was one beastie he wouldn't miss! Though it did provide a great deal of laughter.


Cole turned, pointing a finger in Aiden's direction as he did. "Just let me know. You usually know where I can be found." The tankard was placed on the bar and he thanked Alex in the same way as when he had entered. With a nod. "Check with Gabriel, his presence was requested as well." He cut a look to Aiden as he spoke, then a flicker of a gaze touched on the only female in the common room.  Enough of an acknowledgement she was still there. He raised a hand in farewell. "Until then. Lancely, just let me know if you need help, man."


"You wish to have a three way on the field then?" He had been lost in his thoughts which sometimes happened to the man. Where he went to built things like the gauntlet.


He continued on toward the door that led to the side street. "Not my wish, the King's request." He called over his shoulder as he stepped outside. The more deserted streets were always better suited for the likes of a Lachian.


She was still there but going over a document that demanded all her attention. Still, she was aware that the knights were taking their leave or some of them, "good night." Although she didn't look up.


"I will." He would make sure Gabriel was there, certainly. He looked at Lancely and chuckled. "Welcome back to the land of the living. Good night, Cole." He still had his drink to finish. The shadow cat was over and up onto the back of Aiden's chair. Likely scolding.


"Looks like a good time to head out too." Which he finished off his drink and got his vest on so he was ready and heading out. Lachian would have a Caster in his wake. "Good night Orlaith," leaving Aiden behind unless he was coming too.


"Hold on, I'll join you." He stood and followed Lancely out, the cat hopping down for the chair and fading into the shadows. "Good night, Orlaith. We'll see you on the field."


She finally lifted her head from the page she was reading, a smile for the two that addressed her by name. "I would enjoy that." She watched the few moments they departed before she was back to reading the document.

 

-e-

Date: 09-20-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 83

Date Night

It had gotten cool enough that Rhett could work all day long at the forge. A few hours off during the warmest part of the day but still, it was not blazing hot like most of the summer had been. Fall was here, and the turning of the leaves in various colors attested to this fact. Most of the harvests were in and where there had been lush crop growing, now it was dead remains and earth that had given its all for the season needing a rest. The white blanket hadn't fallen yet as first the layer of leaves would help to replenish. They had not really started falling other than a few mostly green ones. Rhett took off to the Thistle to have a good meal than preparing one himself this night. There were nights like that, easier to come here knowing the meal would be excellent. A plaid shirt of blues was worn, sleeves rolled up. Black pants and boots and the wide belt that held an empowered sword. One he had not crafted but his father had.

Karina was having the same thought. Usually she and Vanessa ate dinner together, even now that Karina had her own place, since whenever Karina so much as turned on the stove disaster struck. But she didn't want to impose on her friend too much, so often would make the walk into town and eat at the Thistle. It was a beautiful clear crisp night, cool but not yet unpleasant, and the fresh air actually felt grand on her cheeks. It wouldn't be long till she'd have to be swathed in scarves and mittens again. Banish the thought! She was in a simple dress, pale blue with a yellow ribbon at the waist and a thin trim of yellow lace at the neck and sleeves. Her ringlets were past her shoulders now and tied half back with a spare length of ribbon. Sandals on her feet as she stepped in, swept a glance around then grinned. Sneak sneak.... veeeeery quietly up behind Rhett then she reached around with both hands to tickle his sides. "Evenin' stranger."


He had just picked up a menu, distracted there when he heard someone come in but it was the voice and touch up his sides that had him around. Quick as a whip too as he snapped her up into a hug. Knocked his hat right off his head but that was to come off anyway. "Not ticklish," pressed smile came as he suppressed saying 'there' because she would probably try exploring and only end up frustrated. Perhaps. "Are you hungry?"


"Waah!" She yelped but it was laughingly as she got seized with a hug. Which was return, her hands rubbing his back lightly instead of tickling now. "Bet I could find a ticklish spot.." She replied with a wicked spark in her eyes. She stood on her toes for a quick kiss then nodded. "Aye, hungry as a horse. Did you eat yet?"


"Bet I would enjoy you finding one... if there is one." The pressed smile turned into a full one. "No, going to have the stuffed pork and parsley potatoes." He danced her right over to the nearest table being it was easier to eat there than at the bar.


"Oh I bet I would," she agreed and grinned again when she was whisked away. "Why thank ya kind sir," she said with an exaggerated curtsy before sitting. "I'll have the same as him," she called out to Alex along the way.


Maggie was out and about, doing this and that as the woman never seemed to stop. She was over to swoop the serving platter of their dinners, once they were set to the serving window, and over to set them down in front of them. Rhett nudged his chair closer to Karina's because ... he could. "Need any more firewood? Anything done inside, anything made?" Did he seem eager to find a reason to be around her cabin?


That was quick! She thanked Maggie then picked up her fork to dig in, but paused when he spoke. Aqua-hued eyes moved to Rhett, brow quirking curiously. A smirk creeping in as she realized what he was doing. "Always need more firewood. And if you could take a look at my cabinet door that'd be great. It's sorty.... squeaky." Eyes held his to dance mischievously.


The best place to go this late at night was the Thistle. Most likely it would still be open and something still warm to eat or just to have a night cap. It was a cool night, touch chilly but it also had all the stars clearly to see as he walked with Melantha; out for the day to enjoy and a stop before he headed back. "I would like to take you to the tree house before winter sets in." More an aside as they headed up the steps and he to step ahead to get the door for her.


"I'll be over tomorrow noon time. Will you be around then?" Although steps heard had him glancing to the door as it seemed there might be ones coming in. Sometimes, they never quite made it over the threshold. Disappeared or were swallowed up by some floating vortex. Pressed smile before he dug into some of his food to start.


"I would like that. It's been a while since I've been there." She had been busy of course, but since she had hired more stable workers, she had more free time. And now that they were prepared for winter, there wasn't as much to do. "How has Raphael been?" She stepped inside and smiled at the two inside, nodding a greeting.


"I will, especially now that I know you're coming over." A quick grin and then the door heralded new arrivals. She glanced over her shoulder, recognizing both, though it had been awhile since she'd seen either. She waved in greeting but her mouth was full of food at this moment.


He was right in behind her and stepping back to her side as the door was closed over. "He is doing well actually. I think it would be good for him to find himself a woman, however." More mussed in lowered tones before he was greeting the two within. "Good evening Rhett, Karina." Leading Melantha right to the bar, "are you hungry or just something to drink this late?"

 

"Is he looking for one?" She asked slightly bemused. "Just a drink. I'm still full from dinner." It was nice to be out and away from the house even though she loved her family dearly.


"Good evening to you Gabriel, Melantha." Greeting them both with a pressed smile after his food had been swallowed. A wink given Karina for her reply. He would think of something to bring too, basket with food from here most likely or he might even cook up something to bring.


"If he was, he would never admit to it but I know him well enough at this point to recognize certain things." Leaving it go at that as he ordered up some of the potcheen for himself, leaving Melantha to make her request.


"Evenin'," she echoed Rhett once she could speak again without food dribbling everywhere. A quick lopsided smile to the pair before turning the same over to Rhett, a quick little grin as she then continued eating. "Oh, I met your brothers the other day. Douglas and Shaun." She'd almost forgotten to mention that.


She smiled at Alex as she turned to face him and order the peach potcheen punch, partly because it was fun to say.


Which had him nudge her as he swiped a bit of food from the corner of her mouth after speaking. Except the last had his brows lifting. "You met Douglas before but Shaun is out too now?" He'd been too busy with forging the swords and other things needed on the norm.


"Aye, Shaun was with him, fishing. It was at the lake," she clarified. Another big bite of food, chewed and swallowed before continuing. "Shaun looks a lot like you. Thought he might be you from far away. Almost ran up and gave him a big smooch." She was only teasing and gave Rhett a broad grin and wink.


It was the PP she ordered, which he mouthed and had teased her on before. "I would like to have you show me how to work with Blackbird as he has not been doing as well."


"Aye, he does look a bit like me." Which had him smirk in that pressed smile of his. "You should have except I think me little brother, who is not so little and only a year younger than me, might like it too much and try to win you away from me."


"D'you think he might?" The thought had her smirking. "I'd like to see him try." Beneath the table she nudged his boot with her sandaled foot. "He caught a huge fish that dragged him under the water. They seem nice.. both of 'em. Douglas and Shaun, I mean. Not Shaun and the fish."


She gave him a little poke to the side, laughing but then she became serious. "I think that's a good idea. He's a good horse but a bit slow to start at times. If we can get him passed that, he'll be hard to catch."


"That's what I'm thinking and the best person to help me with that is you." Kicking back his shot of potcheen he would wait on her, take her time, to finish her drink while they talked then there would be the walk back.


He had to actually think about that. "Douglas would not and I don't think Shaun would seriously but he might act in a way to present it that way to tease me. See if he could ruffle my feathers." Which he nudged her foot right back under the table, even hooked his leg with hers for a brief moment.  Dare in his eyes before the pressed smile appeared. "He's a good woodsman, fisherman, I'm not surprised. He probably dove under to secure the catching of the fish if it was that big. So you think the fish was nice or Douglas looked like a fish or Shaun," teasing her with a play over the words in a tease. "I'll have to let Doug know.." like he really would!


She could linger over the drink but she had in mind for them to stop at a certain point in their walk. There was a stream on their land and Eion had built a gazebo for them to enjoy. Screens were replaced with glass during the colder months. "Are you ready to go back? If you want, you could stay the night and have breakfast with us in the morning." He had his own room at the manor after all.


She let their legs tangle lightly, her sandal running along his pants leg but at his words she used that hold to give him a playful shove. "The fish was ugly as sin, but your brothers look like you so they're handsome devils too." She could tease right back but quickly stuffed food in her mouth before he could retaliate.


"My mother would like you right there with those words," laughing as she shoved him which didn't get too far. "Good night Melantha, Gabriel," as he caught one of them saying about leaving. His food was nearly done and he would be suggesting the same soon. That way Maggie could finally get some sleep as well Alex and Hazel.


"Aye, I am. I think I'll take you up on that offer too." He knew Herself made a grand breakfast, the kind a man would stay around for a long time to be fed like that every morning. "Good night Rhett, Karina. Good to see you both." Which he was setting his glass aside to offer Mel the bend of his arm in escort. There was a nice walk ahead of them to enjoy.


"Your mother would wonder who in the hell you had brought home, I bet." She grinned wryly before turning to wave at the other two as they mentioned leaving. "G'night you both."


Which brought a dimpled smile, knowing Herself would be as pleased as Mel was. "Good night, Rhett, Karina." She also lifted a hand to Alex and Maggie before sliding her arm though Gabriel's.


"My mother would like to meet you being word is around I've been seeing you a lot." He would not doubt that the Quinn matriarch had gone out and visited his mother for a little chat.


With her arm in his, he whisked her away leaving the two to some privacy.


She almost choked on her last bite. They'd just been kidding around, she thought, now suddenly she was meeting his mother? She coughed and pounded her chest to clear her throat. "Uhh aye sure, alright." She didn't hate the idea but it was definitely intimidating.


"Aye, in time. Maybe come over for a Sunday dinner." It was not in concrete being it was only mentioned and Rhett had not denied it. "I have two sisters you've not met yet either." Eyes narrowed a bit as he leaned in a little closer, close enough she could see the wavy lines and specks of gold in blue eyes. "You're not afraid to meet me Ma and Pa?" Wait until she found out his father was titled. Earl of Dunshire he was. Something that just was never mentioned.


"No, I'm not afraid." She scowled at him when he suggested it. Of course that was a good indication that she was, indeed, a little bit afraid of the idea. She just couldn't imagine what they would think of her, gallivanting around with their son. She'd become comfortable with who she was, with Rhett, but with 'the parents' well.. that was another story.


Which maybe he picked up on as he leaned close enough to have their foreheads meet and to be able to nudge his nose with hers. "Let's go take a walk while it is still nice enough. We can go to my place or yours."


At least he dropped the subject, for now. That nuzzle won a smile back to her face, and she playfully nipped her teeth towards his nose without actually biting. Reaching up to brush his cheek before nodding and pushing back from the table. "A walk sounds real nice."


He was up with a grin and soon whisking her out much like Gabriel had Melantha before them. Alex got a quick wave and then they were gone!

 

-e-

Date: 09-21-10
Poster: Brogan Frasier
Post # 84

Jabbering
 
Brogan left the closing up of the Casino to Charles as he needed a break. Time was shared fairly equal between the two. Neither had women in their lives so being a work alcoholic was no problem. His family usually got to see him once every two weeks at Falkirk where he even spent the night between Saturday and Sunday. A drink sat on the table of a fine red wine with the bottle left. The suit jacket was gone, the tie undone to hang loose from under the collar. The vest left on over the ruffled shirt, black pants with minute gray pinstripes and dress boots. He was amusing himself with shuffling a deck of cards, sleight of hand in the way he could fan them and even airborne that passed from one hand to the other without missing a single one.

Maggie had been busy getting things prepared for her journey. There wasn't alot to pack, really, but it was confusing because she had no idea what to expect. What does one pack to face the demons of their dreams? Sturdy shoes, to start, and plenty of spare socks. Some warm clothing too, with the seasons turning more and more each day. She was more or less ready and now it was down to her schedule and Matthew's to determine when they'd leave. Til then she kept herself busy as usual. Maggie appeared from the back hallway, her apron tied over a delicate pale blue dress, much of its bodice worked in lace; it was a bit dressy but most everything else was packed. Her hair was tied back simply, low at the nape of the neck with a purple ribbon. Out she came with apron on, signaling she was 'on-duty'. A pause and slow smile appeared when she noticed who'd stepped in. "Good evening, Brogan."


Hearing another come in had the pause of hand over the deck, settling it to the tabletop as he leaned back and slightly around. "Now, isn't that a pretty sight for a man to see after a long day." Which the words were flattering but certainly true. Smile charmed upon his features as a twinkle surfaced in olive green eyes. Slow perusal in appreciation was given, slow but not so it was too improper. Improper enough in that it was a thorough going over from head to foot and back up again. "How have you been Maggie?" She looked good.


Liam made it to the steps then porch of the tavern like one who snuck out and ran the whole distance. Fifi was on one of her color scheme rampages, the fluff stuff that added a woman's touch to the manor. He locked and bolted the windows and barricaded the door so she couldn't do his room up right as she put it. He had it just how he liked it. Punching bag and all.


Ciaran was feeling very little pain as he made his way through the streets, toward the Thistle. For some reason, his feet always carried him in this direction when he was in his cups. Probably so he didn't upset the women. His physical condition wasn't much better, with his shirt untucked and torn, the knees of his pants looking like he had fallen in mud and the beginnings of a black eye. Still, his pockets were filled with coin and he was happily drunk!


She smiled faintly in thanks to the compliment, an expression which deepened into more of a smirk as he began his eating-her-up-with-his-eyes. At least that's how it felt and she put a hand on her hip, feeling her cheeks go a bit hot. "I'm well enough, how about yourself? Having anything to eat tonight or just stopped by for a drink?"


"A delicious meal," not saying which, a real one or devouring her with his eyes. His smile showed the rogue but in good humor. "Quiet place that I can still hear the ringing in my ears from the Casino. A drink now if you'd like to join me?" The chair adjacent to his was moving out from the table as if a ghost was seeing to it but of course it was his foot beneath helping it out. "Have you ever played cards, Maggie?"


Of course he recognized his brother as he tidied up a bit, loose tails of his shirt being tucked into his pants. He was all in browns, earthen colors. "You got away early today and had some fun by the looks of it, Ciar," called out loud enough his brother could hear. "I finally escaped. It was either throw Fifi out, kiss her into a heart attack or run, I chose the last. My room is barricaded but I saw her heading for yours and Evan's."


What a devil he was. But she didn't dislike it.... far from it. That smile of his was fairly irresistible and she glanced around the otherwise-empty place thoughtfully. There were more voices but they were out on the porch yet, so she conceded. "Alright. And no, not much. Which game is your favorite?" She went over to claim the chair he'd pushed out for her.


"Had t'work." He called back. "And I'll just take everythin' back out again an' put it in storage. Up in the upstairs." He meant attic. Didn't really matter as long as he had a bed to sleep on and a place to sit and read if he got in the mood. He stopped at the bottom of the steps and eyed them before looking at Liam. "What she have you doin'?"


"Black Jack and Poker, depending on how much time I have to play. Black Jack is more luck than Poker is. Here, just for fun," he dealt out two cards each, one down and one up. Maggie had a seven down and a king showing. He had Jack with a two showing. "Now, you have ten showing and you want to get twenty one without going over or you automatically loose. Depending on what you have hidden with the card down, you decide to have me hit you with another card or not." Explaining how much each card was worth. Numbers the same, face cards ten except the ace which was either eleven or a one depending on how you wanted to count it. Get five hits without going over twenty one then you won automatically.


"I wonder what is up in that attic. The door is jammed and I couldn't get it open without destroying the door. Which may have to be the way of it." His voice higher and gradually getting lower as Ciaran got closer. "The usual, bring this chest here, no, put it over there. Angle it a little left, no, angle it a little right then huffed when I took me shirt off to continue. I think seeing manly muscles just frustrated her, she turned more shades of pink and red than I ever seen but I didn't put me shirt back on again."


"She's gonna have to get used to that." He decided then, instead of attempting the steps just yet, he leaned against the railing. "Should hide at the warehouse."


"Well, you can hide but when you do, it means extra work for me and Evan, where a man's strength is needed. There is still a lot to be done but it would go quicker if we all pitched in." Certainly he was playing on his pity, on his being honorable and fair. Liam ended up doing Ciar's share today but he didn't complain. Evan was around after a while so he got some of it.


"I only "hide" when I have to work," he said with a snort. "And tonight the potcheen was for medic ... medicinal purpose." He gave a nod. "And I promised I'd clear the side yard tomorrow so bulbs can be planted." He grinned. "I got paid so she and Fawn can get groceries or whatever we need." One step was taken though he stopped when he spoke again. "She's planning for next summer already."


"I think she's planning for the next ten years at least. She wanted me to get a cedar chest for Fawn for her dowry or such nonsense where they save things for when they are to get married. That's like buying a cart without owning a horse." Which had him frowning, "I've the funds for groceries. If you want to contribute by all means but don't feel you have to supply us all with funds for groceries." Liam had saved up a lot of money over the years and the funds from the estate was turned over to him after their father's death, he saw it as a means to support his family, all of them until they moved out on their own and supported themselves. Which there was no need to as that money was as good theirs as it was his.


"I'm just using that as an example. I always give Fiona something so she feels like we're all pulling our own weight. Only thing, don't ever ask her to pick up some shirts for yourself. End up looking like a dandy." He laughed as he finally topped the last step. "Don't care if she tucks it away, but it seems to make her feel good."


"Luckily you warned me, she started saying something about me dressing like the lordship I was but I gave her a look that had her hand fly to her mouth and she ran from the room." Kind of look he gave his opponents before a boxing round. One where you kind of look up at them from under your brow, eyes narrowed and the look to kill. "Well, it eases your mind, I've a bit of money she can access to get anything she needs for the house, a household fund, then there are her wages of a handsome amount for her position every week, that too is put in the bank here that she can access as she wants." Which he added, "I've no doubt she can be trusted to know the difference of which is which but she is to keep a log of everything spent so I have an idea of how much is needed each year."


"It's not for any other reason than I like to give them a little extra." He took a drink of the potcheen, then grinned. "And I'm not trying to take over your duties, big brother. Promise." The bottle was offered over to Liam. "We goin' inside?"


Which had him throw back his head in the laugh that followed, "no, I would not accuse you of trying to take over my job. Can I assume you give little Fawn as much money as you do Fiona? If not, then there will be talk you have a shine for her and they will be putting her name with yours." Which had him go silent a moment as he eyed his brother. Maybe there was a surprise in store for him, "do you have a shine for Fiona that I'm not aware of? If so, I will promise not to step on your toes."


He just stared at Liam for a moment. "Wha? Fiona? Nah, she's family and aye, I give money to Fawn too. They can go shoppin' together." Though he knew sometimes Fawn ran off by herself. "Fiona's a nice lass but too intense for the likes o' me."


"Well, maybe you can get her to have the cook make you that extra dessert you like or such so it's like earning the money and not supporting her like you would a wife." Something to be careful with or so Liam was thinking. Even if none of them cared, they had staff and if word got out that Ciar was giving money or buying things for the head household mistress, some would really warp it for both of them. In that moment he understood why his father refused certain things and giving easily in other areas.


"Do you fancy her since you were asking about stepping on me toes?" He chuckled as he started for the door. "I'll do the same for you, y'know."


"I was running that by you to see how you would react. I've set me eyes on no one yet in particular, but I got me eyes open just in case the right would should come along and it would be just me luck she wouldn't look twice me way." Which only had him chuckle.


"Everything in its own time, Liam." He clapped a hand to Liam's shoulder. "Just watch how hard you look. Might miss her." He found himself yawning. "Hmmm. Maybe I should get some sleep instead." Manor? Thistle? He wasn't sure he could make it back to the Thistle in his condition.


"We should head back. I've got a stash of potcheen in my room. Talk some then sleep, we can get up early and see to that yard being cleared for the bulbs. I'll send Fiona on her way to buy the bulbs."


"Sounds good. Maybe there's something in the kitchen we can sneak." Like when they used to sneak goodies but their mother always knew. He took care of the empty bottle then started down the steps. "Might catch up to Evan on the way."


He gave a look over his shoulder before he was back down the steps and pulling out a cigarillo which he pressed between his teeth and lips, once lit it would leave a vanilla scented trail behind him. "Aye, being he spends time at that lass' house a lot." Easy stride and on their way.

 

-e-

Date: 09-23-10
Poster: Calhoun Quinlan
Post # 85

Getting to the Point
 

Calhoun had also been to Innis with Peter and Cole and newly returned. Having spent more time in Innis after tracking down Peter once he became king, he had friends there of many years and counting so took the opportunity with leave of his king. They had been gone many weeks and he now paced in front of the hearth with something on his mind. He had asked Cara to come back with them as Connor and Elaina were still celebrating their marriage in visiting many different lands. Her duties were few with her Mistress gone and would probably be gone a while longer. He had been on the king's field then a few things to see to in the Commons of which an item purchased rested in his vest pocket. Vest over a pristine poet's shirt tucked into black pants and boots of the same hue. Before he left for the marketplace, he sent a message to the castle to Cara in his whereabouts at this hour to be at the Thistle.


Cara had been more than willing to join in the return to Heathfield. She knew the weather would be changing soon and this was a nice opportunity to do a little shopping. It might also be a while before she came here again since it was possible Connor and Elaina would travel less. She had been back at the castle when the message arrived from Calhoun. It was one of those warm days, when then sun was bright but the scent of fall was touching the air. She wore a cotton gown the color of antique gold, her long hair braided and coiled against her neck in a neat bun. A shawl was carried in case she was still out when it grew dark. Stepping in through the open door, she paused as she watched Cal pace then with a smile to Alex, she made her way over to the knight.


On a turn he came to an abrupt halt as Fae green eyes came to rest on Cara. A smile quickly followed. "How are you this day fair Cara? Are you enjoying your time so far at the castle and lands surrounding? Are there any places you'd like to see that I may escort you there once my time is freed up?" He had duties to his king to see to first as she well knew but he had free time during the course of the day and willing to schedule that time with her.


"I think we should have a picnic near the lighthouse." She smiled up at him. "All too soon, the weather will change." And likely she'd be in Innis again. "I'm well, and yes, enjoying my time here. It's a bit odd without the others. I was also thinking about seeing Ette before I return." Eyes held a sparkle that resembled the sunlight dancing through the leaves. "What has you pacing, Calhoun?"


He entered the Tavern dressed in a long dark robe with a mandarin collar, head was shaved in the front but the back grew out in a long braided tail. a skull fitted back with a small bit of gold as decoration rested on his head. He looked about the inside of the area before he continued further.


"A picnic it will be at the Lighthouse and maybe a trip to the Celtic Gardens unless you have seen them already?" Anything else was set aside as another came within the building. A cordial dip of his head was given as sight had lifted from Cara to the man. "Welcome, food and drink are free here as the Monarchy of these lands deemed it so. Alex there will see to any choice." Indicating the older warrior looking gentleman at the bar.


"Oddly enough I haven't." Plans had been made every time they visited, but something always came up. A polite smile was given to the one entering. "Good afternoon." Greeting with a slight nod of her head before her attention was back to Cal.


"Thank you. Actually I came here to attempt to see if I could find old friends of the family. I've had no luck, but this is the place many of them usually use to go.. I'm in search for people from the land of Telarus.


"Lands of Telarus were allies of ours but it has been a few years since I've heard word, almost as if they have vanished into the mists. They had been very social with many functions those of these lands had been invited to. Then they stopped abruptly, two or three years ago. I do not know of any of the citizens coming here although I've been to a tournament on the Moors lands and Tarro was there under a different flag. I am sorry that the kingdom is no longer active for I had enjoyed those of Telarus."


She knew a little about Telarus but had never met any from there. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't help you either."


"I figure that was the reason for it being hard to find on the map. I had a relative there who notice it had died out or disappeared. I was hoping to find those that once served there and were friends, someone called Jaul Min Tien."


"I would suggest traveling to the Moors. Are you familiar with them? King Byron Meldrum may be able to help you more. Tarro is very good friends with them too and possibly through him  you may be able to find out where the others have gone. Perhaps they moved to start their own lands and ruling family? I do know none have come here that I am aware of and I think that is something I would have heard about. I am one of the King's knights, of a sister castle but he is very close, like a brother to the King of these lands." Then on a thought he added, "or the Kingdom of Golden Horn, I believe that is the banner Tarro joust under."


"It would be impossible for us to meet. I'm not suppose to have left where I hold residence , but if there was a way the moors could know of me maybe they could send taro to where I stay?"


"Perhaps send a messenger to them with this information." Cal didn't see himself being to the Moors in any time to come for his duties presently and a situation that held his King's attention.


She decided to sit in one of the chairs in front of the hearth while the two spoke, smoothing the skirt of her gown as she did. While she had sympathy for the man, she really had nothing to add.


Cara had barely taken a seat when the man abruptly left, leaving Cal to blink once then shrugged.  There were all sorts of strange people in the world. He could hope the man found his friends but he was not taking up the mantel and becoming a foot soldier or messenger for an unknown. Attention reeled back to Cara. "Can I get you a drink?" He had not gotten himself one presently as he had waited on her.


That was a bit ... odd but really not her concern. She smiled at Cal when he asked his question. "Yes, please. Strawberry punch would be wonderful right now." One of her favorite drinks.


He gave a slight nod indicating he heard her request and was promptly over to get said strawberry punch and an ale for him. He was not a hard whiskey drinker and would only partake of that stronger brew later in the evening. Certainly not before his evening meal. With each in hand he returned, offering hers down and once taken, taking up a seat next to the one she chose. The peat that burned in the hearth was a welcoming scent, one that he relaxed in as he sat back. "Now, where were we?" Hint of a smile went well with the touch of a glint in Fae green eyes giving them a mischievous look.


She watched him as he crossed the room, then returned and accepted the drink with a quiet thank you. Her smile grew wider with his question and she laughed. "I believe I had asked you why you were pacing." Perhaps it had something to do with Peter.


"Oh, I was not aware that I had been." Which had a slight frown that such thoughts would have him pace so. Next he went silent, took a drink from his tankard before setting is aside. "I am stationed here." Stating the obvious but he would start there. "With Elaina married and once home, you will be stationed in Innis and your duties to her. It leaves me in a quandary for I wish to see you and those times will be rare at this rate. Maybe once or twice a year." So he started the conversation and waited on any reaction first before he continued.


He nodded lightly, thanking the suggestion from the man. "Thank you for your help sir."


Another blink as the man reappeared from wherever he had taken himself earlier. "You are welcome.  I wish I could be of more help but your situation is beyond my further knowledge," that what was offered. "I wish you well in finding your friends." He would get back to the other conversation in a short bit instead of having them overlap.


Nodding he turn to take his leave.


Cara frowned slightly and looked down at her hands. She had thought of that herself a few times. She glanced at the man then looked at Cal again. "I know. And I have to admit, I'm not happy about it. I like being able to see you when I want." Cara remained quiet until the two men talked. Once the stranger left, she frowned slightly.


The man took his leave for good at that point before focus was back on Cara. There was a slight smirk for the oddity of it all before he took a deep breath. "The situation brings me to a conclusion," as he was up from his seat to go to bend of knee between them. Taking her hand in his, "I wish to court you with the intention of marriage within the year. I am hoping that Elaina will allow you to be here most of the time," as when they would be married, her duties would cease and she would be replaced much like Ette had been. Although she would get to go to Innis more often than Ette would for different circumstances. "Or, I will be stationed in Innis and you can continue to wait on the Princess." It didn't matter to him which way his King or his sister wanted it as long as they could see each other often enough and not just barely.

 

Cara's eyes went wide as she watched Cal go down on one knee. She thought perhaps someday this would happen, or rather, hoped it would. Her free hand was raised to allow her fingers to caress his cheek. "I would be honored to have you court me and I'm sure Elaina can come to some kind of agreement with us." Her smile deepened as she continued. "After all, she's found her own fairy tale ending and she would want the same for the rest of us." A touch of pink colored her cheeks not because she was blushing, but because of how happy she was.


"I wish you to wear this ring," one hand lifting from the hold of hers to draw out the small swatch of black velvet it was enclosed in from his vest pocket. "Since there was no one to contact, I have gotten the approval of both Peter and Elaina in this." Which had the show of a slight twitch to his lips that this was not a spur of the moment thought but thought out. The ring was unwrapped to be placed on her finger, hoping she approved of it but if he knew her at all, she would love it just for what it meant.


Her smile brought out the dimple that showed only rarely. Peter and Elaina knew her heart. After he placed the ring on her finger, she studied it them laughed and threw her arms around Cal's neck. "I love it." She told him as her eyes filled with tears of joy. "You will have to meet my family now, you know. Especially my father."


She may have heard 'whew' but a deep laugh followed quickly, "I'm pleased you do for it will be one to wear the rest of your life with me." Being they had never talked of family brows lifted, "I was not aware. Of course I should meet your father. In fact if you feel such would be better, I'll ask him and leave the ring off for the time until he gives his blessing?"


She laughed as she brought her hand close to her chest and covered it with the other. "No, I'm not taking it off now. My father has told Peter that should there be one who wished to ask for my hand, Peter could act as a proxy in giving permission. The meeting would be informal, Cal." She leaned forward to brush her lips over his. "Though his blessing would be one from the heart." She was sure they'd approve in any case.


The kiss stopped any other thoughts of meetings that were to take place and he'd have to be on his best behavior (a challenge for Cal). He was half up, hand moving to the back of her head for the thorough kiss that followed. Gradually bringing her up with him for he was not a young sprout that could bend like gumby any longer. This measure would evade any aches later or pulled muscles for the awkward position. He didn't care if Alex saw them or Hazel or anyone that might wander in  as he took her into a slow dance as if their bodies knew instinctively what to do while lips plundered renewing that knowledge of the other over and over as they moved.


She had said all she needed to on the subject and as Cal deepened the kiss and brought them both to a full stand, she forgot anything else she wanted to say. The kiss said so much, promised so much, and as instinct took control, she could feel her heartbeat growing faster, the blood singing through her veins. When she could think clearly again, she would understand what her friends had felt.


The song was one that was fed between them to grow into a symphony all its own. Their feet matched the beat of their hearts as they moved about the room only to finally come around back to the hearth. As with all things, it had to come to an end, for now, at some point although it had lasted longer than any real dance. "Come sit by me and we shall make plans. Plans on what season you wish to become my wife, of places we shall see in the meantime. Perhaps a wedding in Innis," which was pretty much summer all year round.


A year. She knew there would be times it would seem to fly but other times, go too slow. But in that year, they would come to know one another better. "I think that is a wonderful idea." Now she did blush, laughing softly. "Both  the celebration and the plying." She would tease him too about fattening her up!


If she teased him about fattening her up, he would say on how he could really fatten her up. Cal would get that wicked and worse, he could see any threats through.

 

-e-

Date: 09-26-10
Poster: Bradley Harrington
Post # 86

A Little Better Encounter?
 

Sometimes the commotion at Sunday morning breakfast could get to be just a tad too much.  Sometimes.  Not often ... only sometimes.  This morning was one of those mornings.  Conor had lingered and interacted with the hubbub of Mary Quinn's kitchen for as long as he could handle.  The throbbing of his head, that constant frick'n ache that follows a much-too-enjoyed night, hurried him out the door as soon as he could.  So, on his way back to the ranch, he stopped off at the Thistle, where things might be a little less hectic this hour of morning.


Fawn had been out to market early this morning in hopes of escape Miss Fiona to get her a small, but well deserved gift. She'd woke before any of the others possibly and snuck out of the house. No doubt, Madame had a fit to find out that Fawn had snuck out, but that was neither here nor there. Fiona could never stay mad at Fawn for long. Fawn was far too darling. Not quite on the other woman's heels, she pushed through the door with a bright smile. "Good morning all." Basket of acquired things from the markets in hand, she wore a simple coral colored dress beneath a wine colored cloak to bay off the fall chill.


Coffee cup was on the uprise, but it stopped as he turned to look to the one entering.  "Morning."  He replied, giving her a nod of hello as well before finishing the course of that steaming cup to his lips.

 

She was in such a good mood today! "How are you?" Asked to the man at the bar as she approached, setting her basket on the surface. Unfortunately, she didn't recognize Conor. Likely that her brothers would, but when first arriving, Fawn kept to herself until she got used to her new surroundings. From Alex she requested a glass of cider.


"I've been better for sure, but considering the ultimate alternative, I'll not be complaining." He was smiling, and he settled back on his stool. "How are you?"


Sometimes the rain followed the sunshine, sometimes it was a welcome kind, sometimes it was not. One never knew until that moment. Brad was dressed down but still dressed wearing a ruffled shirt with a vest over it. One of a fine spun wool that was lightweight and perfect for this type of weather. Reminded him of England, hazy, somewhat warm, somewhat not. Tailored pants had a fine pinstripe that overlaid dressed boots. Top hat worn was tipped to the side somewhat askew as he carried a few packages. These were set to the nearest table once within before he was headed for the bar, "good afternoon," cherry, cordial greeting given both.


She eyed the man for a moment and smiled. "Doing quite well. You look as though you've had a night of too much fun." She knew that look. Her brothers often came home with that look. Well, when they returned from the docks. She knew that voice as well. "Oh lord...." Mumbled to herself hearing Brad enter. The man who took her attempts at explaining as an attempt of attacking his person. Facing the bar, she scrunched up her face before straightening it and looking over her shoulder to the man. "Good morning, Lord Harrington."


"Always..." Was Conor's response to too much fun. His smile faded a little with the woman's change of expression when the man entered, he looked to him with a nod. "Morning, Sir." He offered, cutting a quick look to the lass then back to the man then took another sip of coffee.
 

Brad ignored any looks, in fact didn't actually look her way other than a fleeting glance. Hat was removed now that he was inside as well leather gloves peeled from his hands, folded and tucked into his belt. "One of your German ales, thank you Alex." He took out a piece of paper from the vest pocket to glance over, looked like a schedule of some sort. Finally he looked her way, hard to read expression at best, "the Harringtons are due to arrive tomorrow." Her surrogate parents. The schedule tucked away as focus easily turned upon the man. Eyes narrowed somewhat as he looked familiar. "Brad Harrington, have we met?" He was over to offer a hand to shake.


She didn't make any looks at Brad. She did that before turning to greet him. Seemed a bit early to begin drinking, but to each their own. Hearing the man at the bar, she offered a small smile, then went digging around in her basket. She heard Brad and scrunched up her face briefly before pulling free a small pouch to offer to the other man. "Here. Aspen bark will get rid of the ache. Just chew on it." A slanted glance was given to Brad with a nod. "Do you have an estimated time, or shall I just guess?"


Conor met that offer of hand with his own, providing that necessary grip of a shake. "Not officially, I'm thinking. Conor Quinn. I've seen you around...with my cousin, if I recall correctly." He released that hold as the woman spoke, dipping his head as if to check the level of coffee in his cup, but he slanted a look her way. If 'uncomfortable' had a 'look', she was sporting it to be sure.


Good strong handshake had the rare smile to emerge. Brought a dimple to his cheek. "Conor Quinn, cousin of Liam, Evan and Ciaran. I hang around with Ciaran and sometimes Liam." Liam was kept pretty busy these days with the new manor and Fifi decorating. He stayed clear for a few reasons but then too, he'd have to be invited. Next he answered Oisin, "early evening as long as they don't get beset by a storm. It will probably take a whole day for my aunt to settle down." He could envision her with her salts and tea all day.


His free hand slid over the offering of medicinal remedy and he pulled it to him, a silent nod of thanks in her direction. "Aye, then it's good to have a name with the face for I have seen you about with the likes of them." He had let the man finish his comment to the lady. It seemed they had business to attend to. "Excuse me." He offered softly, slipping from his stool with cup in hand. He'd move to a table, close enough should the lass need anything, but far enough the two could converse as they needed without his ear tuned in to their private affairs.


Tch...Brad. Hearing him name off only her brothers as cousins to Conor, she cleared her throat softly and smiled to her cousin. "Mr. Harrington often forgets himself. It would seem you are my cousin as well. I am Liam's, Ciaran's and Evan's sister, Fawn." She would have likely stomped Brad's foot for such as he said, but instead she turned her attention to her cousin. Likely he was far less stuffy.


His backend was starting toward the seat, but with Oisin's information, he stood back up. "Fawn, well now, why didn't you say sooner? Quite a pleasure to meet you, lass. Quiet the pleasure."


"It's nice to meet you, cousin Quinn. " The bright smile returned, she dipped her head then turned to pick up her glass and thank Alex.


What followed was a smile, an offer of another nod, then he went ahead and sat, pulling another chair over by hooking a booted toe to wooden leg. Though in Mary Quinn's kitchen this wouldn't be allowed, he propped his feet on the seat of that chair next, crossing them at the ankles. He wasn't in her kitchen now, was he? Just another reason to enjoy the morning here.


Glass in hand, she picked up her basket and moved to the table with Conor. Hope he didn't mind. "So where are you in the series of Quinn cousins? And what do you do?" Most curious! There sure were a lot of Quinn's around.


"Well, yes, Fawn is the long lost sister." Whom he knew before he knew the brothers but took well in their company. "I don't hang around with the lady, only her brothers." That was where his mind was at. He took a drink leaving the two to get acquainted. Although he was still at the bar but standing after having shook Conor's hand. One of those moments, should he join them at the table or stay at the bar which could be considered rude. Compromise was always best as he went around the other side of the table and took up a seat, good distance of wood between him and Fawn.


He chuckled with her question, setting his cup of coffee aside. "Son of Jaxon and Celyn. Youngest brother of the lot. I'm a worker of leather, Fawn. Saddles, tack, whatnot over at the McDonough ranch. So in the series of things, as you say ... I'm just Conor Quinn." He twitched off a wink to her that held more of a grin than even his lips did. "And long lost no longer...so welcome back to the family." He looked to Brad as he said that, even though the words were for Fawn. He watched as the man took a seat at the other side of the table. "You're more than welcome to join us, Mr. Harrington. Aye, Fawn?" He looked to the lady, nodding as he seemed to consult her with that offer, though in truth, not really. The invitation was already out there.

Poor Conor. He had to be wishing he was somewhere else at the moment. She hadn't seated herself just yet at the table. Conor gained a smile and a nod. "Indeed." But now she was bothered by something else. Undoubtedly something Brad had spoken, (or hadn't spoken). "Actually, I think I will leave the two of you to get to know each other. I'm sure you'll have plenty to speak of in comparing stories. It was a pleasure to meet you, Conor. I hope to see you again soon." Brad would get the same recognition he'd given her. A slanted glance and nothing more. Glass was set down, she took her leave.


"Wait..." Conor was coming to his feet as she seemed to scurry away. He looked to Brad and then to her again. "You'll be coming to Sunday dinner tonight, Fawn? At the manor?" Didn't all Quinns do that once Mary knew of their arrival? And...Conor would definitely be mentioning Fawn to Herself.


He pinched the bridge of his nose as words came lowered under his breath. "She does that a lot. Runs." The press of fingers released as Conor spoke up.


Well, consider the name. They were bred by their parents to do that, were they not? Conor shot a look to Brad as he muttered, then quick like, settled his attention back on his cousin.


"That I will." She smiled to him before giving Brad the evil eye. She'd not miss dinner with her family!


"Most excellent then, we shall catch up tonight." He provided yet one last nod to the fleeing lass, then lowered back to his seat.


"Don't worry, Fawn, I wont be there to ruin your dinner." Called out after her. He was not a Quinn although he was welcome there, he would not be there a night she was and have a repeat of today or any of the days past when they encountered each other. He tried. Really tried this time.


He tried so hard, he forgot to include her when listing off her siblings. A nod was given to Conor, then she was out the door.


Worry? Ruin? Now this had Conor looking between the two of them even until the lass was tucking tail and running free out the door. "Dang, Man. You have that effect on all the ladies you come in contact with? I'll not be wanting to be in your company for long." A grin started, and with a cant of head, he looked to Brad. "A Quinn lass is a tough nut to crack, but damn if I don't think you've got that one rolling clear from the tree as fast as she can when you're about."


"Actually no. I get along fine with the other ladies I have met here. Just her. Not sure why but she despises me on sight. It builds from there." Then he grin at Conor, "Ciaran likes my company just fine but maybe to ward off women?"


Conor's laugh was more of an amused snort. "Who knows, best not to try to figure them out." He pressed his thumb to his temple and gave it a rub. "Only give you a worse headache than any potcheen can...and you have to spend an entire night with potcheen, only...what was it...ten minutes at best, and look what it got you?"


"Maybe it has something to do with her young age?" There was that as the other ladies he met were older, more mature. "Do you have a lass yourself?" Relaxing back as he studied Conor. He liked all the Quinns he met so far, all but one he got along with.


Speaking of, he brought out that stick she had offered and pinched off a piece as best he could, popping it in his mouth to chew. While he did, he shook his head. "No, not that I can claim to having. But then, to my way of learning the way of it, it isn't the man's to be having a lass, but a lass to be having the bloke, eh? It's always her final say, yea or nay." He grimaced slightly, there was a slight grit to that bit of medicine in his mouth. "I suppose I'm better off with the horses, it's what I know for sure."


Here he thought it might be first hand experience as he really didn't have any himself. Certainly there had been women in his life. Many of which hung around him annoyingly so, although not like this thing between him and Fawn. "Aye, horses make good companions. Well trained they obey your every word without sassing back." Which had him grin as they compared women to horses. All in good fun though.


Conor didn't even think twice about the comparison. It was what it was. He reached for his coffee, laughing softly against the rim before he drank, then spoke. "And they trust you, even when they jerk against the rein, to have the control." He took another sip, then looked to Brad when the cup was lowered to the table. "The horse that is."


"Well, I'm thinking of buying myself one of the race horses up for sale once I get enough coins." Which he'd been betting on the horses when he had the time so was getting there. "I'm looking at Skade, the fierce little warrioress. I'll be seeing O'Keeffe for a surrey for my aunt and uncle to get around in. John doesn't ride as much anymore." Which had him pause, "your sister, Melantha is it, raises and trains horses? Seems to be something that runs in a family although you could get one that was adverse to them."

 
"Aye, she does, and good at it. It was the way of my family since the beginning. My grandfather managed the stables prior to the turmoil here..." Conor shrugged, it was all history and in the past. This was the present and it was from here they would all move forward. "If you want an honest and knowledgeable opinion about a horse, Man, Mel is the one to seek out." He finished his coffee, even though it was a bit chilled for that last sip, and stood. "Better I be getting back to the ranch. Funny thing about work, even on a Sunday. There are no wee-men about to get the work done for you while you're not there. I guess only shoemakers have that advantage." He offered his hand in farewell. "Good to meet you, Harrington. Good luck with the Quinn lass." A nod toward the empty door. "But then, any man coming up against a Quinn lass, needs extra luck."


"I will have to seek her out before I make a purchase of one of the three horses up for sale." He might wait until the half was done too and the price dropped from the winnings. Something to consider. "It was good meeting you Conor and you're welcome to hang out with me and Cirian as well Liam when we do. Get into some card games down at the docks." And fights but he didn't need to add that. Giving a shake of the offered hand before he was up from his seat, empty tankard to be set at the bar, "I'll walk a ways with you." So they could continue talking, "and I'd like to see some of the saddles you have to sell." The statement on Oisin, just had a wary grin to. He hadn't totally given up yet.

 

-e-

Date: 09-28-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 87

First Step
 
Peace and quiet. Quiet...and peace. That's what Conor found when he entered the Thistle tonight. He almost breathed a sigh of relief finding that. Alex handed over a tankard of ale which added to the perfect setting and Conor continued over to the hearth where he practically flopped down into an obliging chair.


This was a first step for Solarina. A big first step. Last time she was here to the Thistle, it was with Tykir and when they were much younger, before she became self conscious of her wings. She was getting over that and this a good test of it. She was probably a sight coming in through the back having entered there near the offices in back. Hair shone like sunlight, eyes of leaf green were bright. Feathers at her temples laid flat and seem to hold a shimmer over them that traced over her skin and top of her eyelids. Dark blond lashes had a curl to them. She wore a deep forest green dress that was plain except for the gold thread embroidery along the hem, sleeve cuffs and neckline. Golden cords in Celtic knots tide around her slim waist. Her steps were light in a flowing grace but what was the most unique was the pure white wings that were tightly folded behind her back (as if that would help to hide them). Flight feathers reached near to the floor, crossed over so that they didn't drag. Alex seemed pleased to see her as her smile greeted his then a slowing of her steps as she noticed the other, unknown to her, present. "Good evening," her voice sweet and pure of Fae quality as eyes held on him a moment in courtesy then upon Alex as she requested a melon punch. Alex only hesitated a fraction before he decided she was old enough for the punch and so set her out a glass of it as requested.


What was it about the lass that had Conor coming to his feet? "And to you, good evening." He offered to her once she had glass in hand. If he noticed any wings or feathers, he didn't show it at all. All that showed was his smile and a nod of head to further his greeting. "Even with the slight chill, it's a fine one at that." He didn't take his gaze from her as he lowered back to his chair. He wasn't sure if she would be coming over, so best just to make himself comfortable again.


His smile eased her nerves, thus far. Each step was not as bad as she had feared. Infectious smile followed brightening her whole being, or so it seemed. "It is indeed a fine night. The chill not so bad as it gives a crisp touch to the air as if you could drink in the essence of life." She had turned to face him that short distance he was from her in front of the hearth. She didn't know enough to just invite herself to a stranger's area. So she remained where she was presently. "I am Solarina, or Rina, whichever one likes. I answer to either." And a twinkle surfaced in unique green eyes as it was said with a touch of humor.


"Solarina. A lovely name, it suits you. I'm Conor, Conor Quinn." He motioned with his hand to the chairs there by the hearth just waiting for someone to claim them. "I could use the conversation if you could use the company."


"A pleasure to meet you Conor, Conor Quinn," her voice holding a lilt to it that was more than Irish borne. Being invited was easier for Rina to handle as she made her way over, her steps and posture like a symphony in motion even if her heart was doing leaps for so many steps being taken than those across the floor to the hearth. She seated in a chair near his but not right next to it. "I would enjoy both." It was getting a little easier and so she would have a lot to tell her brother being he was off somewhere trailing the squires and horsemen. "I have heard many of the family names but I am only starting to meet those of such families." Which she reminded herself not to babble on so stopped there and took a drink of her punch. Eyes had a way of staying upon Conor with only brief glances down or away so she was not considered staring. It was proper to keep eye contact while talking.


Conor sat back, relaxed in the young woman's company. "I've heard a good number of family names myself, and know only a few by face. But now, Solarina, you have the advantage. Because you know my family name but I have not even the least idea of yours." He brought up his tankard, drank down a swallow, then as it lowered, he continued to smile her way.


That was right, she had forgotten to give her surname. She wasn't sure if he'd connect it to the crown or not or even if she wanted him to in a way either. Yet she wasn't ashamed of who she was, she just wanted to be like anyone else. Yet that was quite impossible from the day she was born having wings. Her mind tripped over a number of thoughts, "Solarina Riktafir." Now she would probably discover if he recognized the name or not. Von Rundstedt would be, McLarkin as well, the others probably not so much. "Have you been in the lands long and found yourself a vocation?" Hands folded neatly in her lap curled around the stem of her glass.

 

Riktafir. Now that was a new one to him. "Not long enough to know of your family but I have a shop at the McDonough ranch. Have you family here then, Solarina?" Whether she realized it or not, she had the aire of nobility and, if he didn't know better (which he didn't!), she could even pass herself off as royalty, what with her hands folded in her lap, the tilt of her head. Her posture, her demeanor spoke far more than she was admitting to. All of which Conor found rather amusing and intriguing. "Which lovely lady shared the twinkle of those green eyes with you?" He reached over and set his tankard aside, crossing his arms over his chest as he made himself comfortable for this 'conversation' they were having.


"Yes, but I will hope that you will not hold it against me, my mother is the Queen of these lands." So he was right on the mark of something natural to her in her upbringing she was not even aware of. "I know the McDonough family fairly well although I have not seen them in a while. They are very good people. What kind of shop?" But the last had her confused. "I do not think any of my sisters have green eyes."


Conor chuckled low, too low for her to hear. "The twinkle, I was speaking of the twinkle." But the whole Queen as Mother confession rightly had him regretting the remark which bordered on flirtatious. Luckily, she wasn't experienced enough to catch on to that. So, he changed the subject as quickly as he could. "I have a leather shop, Solarina. It is what I did prior to coming to your fair lands, and seems to be what I do best."


Ciaran's time was divided between the manor, the docks and when he could, the Thistle. Of course, not all the time at the dock was spent working. Cards took up a good portion of his time there as well as the pursuit of other pleasures. He didn't have as much coin tonight as he did other times, but he didn't mind. It was best to not win all the time. He put out the cigarillo he had been smoking before he headed up the steps and inside the Thistle.


"Oh," softly but she could feel the color rise to her cheeks for it went right over her head. Still over her head but at least she now knew he didn't mean the color of her eyes. She was inexperienced in the way of flirting. "What kind of leather goods do you make or do you only sell them?" Some had a shop but didn't make the product they sold. Another coming in distracted her a moment as the one was offered the curl of a smile. "Good evening sir, welcome to the inn this night." Which was something they were to do, welcome strangers in and presently, just about everyone was a stranger to her.


Liam had gone down to the docks in search of his brother but only got into a fight when asking of his name and the one felt he'd been cheated at cards. No one made such a remark on his brother. He would be outnumbered but that never stopped the Scrapper and soon when one recognized him after putting a few out cold, the rest scattered. The men would wake perhaps by tomorrow and it would be the last the one spoke ill of his brother. It came to reason that Ciar had headed up to the tavern so while brushing off the debris from the ruckus he headed in that direction.


He had started to answer, but when her attention diverted to the door, so did his. From there, his smile grew. "Evening, Ciar. Grab a glass and come join us. Solarina, my cousin, Ciar Quinn. Ciar, Solarina Riktafir. " He left off her title in respect of her wishes not to be treated any differently than anyone else, and to not have it held against her. She could share her family heritage when she so felt like it. He was waving his cousin over as he looked back to Rina. "Saddles and such, and all hand made by me." He added with a wink in her direction before looking back to Ciar. "Don't be tempting me with cards tonight, Cousin. I've yet to make up for what I lost the last time the devil tugged at my shirt tales and convinced me to play with the likes of you."


"Evening, Conor. Pleasure to meet you, Solarina." He inclined his head slightly to her then grinned at Conor. "Not my fault I've got good luck at cards, though I didn't do so well tonight. That's why I decided to quit before I lost it all." He obtained a glass of ale before making his way to join the two. "Looks as if you have pleasant company tonight."


"That's the difference between us then, you know when to quit...I just keep on until I can no longer." His gaze rested on Solarina when the pleasant company was mentioned. "Indeed, and in this, my luck holds true." To match his previous invitation, he waved once to invite Liam over too. "Scoundrels, these Quinns. " A wink for her. "And speaking of, my other cousin Liam." A motion of head indicated that cousin now. "Liam, Solarina Riktafir."


She rose gracefully, easily, the smile to blossom. "A pleasure to meet a cousin, Ciar." Then reseated herself as a female would rise in the least though she didn't curtsey. First she addressed Conor. "You make and sell saddles and the shop is on the McDonough ranch," which she figured Maurice. "I would like to buy one made or have it made for my brother. He needs a good one as the other is worn out and he's outgrown it." There had been big changes in the both of them over the past five years. Then to Ciar, "could you teach me how to play cards?" It was something she decided was interesting to find out more about being she had never played anything more than children's games of it. Then another cousin was being introduced as she rose then sat again. "Good evening Liam a pleasure to meet you too."


Luckily he was inside the tavern by the time introductions were being made. Smile growing by the minute even if he had a new bruise along his cheek. "You need to be careful winning too much from the likes of Stan Mead." Rubbing his chin with that glint in his eyes that told Ciar all that transpired. "Amazing what happens at times when your name is mentioned.." But then there was the young lady being introduced as she stood. Luckily he didn't show any surprise as he almost blurted out something about her having wings. Something about her had him not. "A pleasure to meet you Solarina."


"We'll speak more of saddles later, Solarina...it seems the lady requests lessons, Ciar." He pointed between Ciar and Solarina, as if that cousin hadn't heard the question. The thought of Ciar teaching the young princess to play cards amused Conor to no end. Queen Mother: 'Solarina, where did you learn to play that particular card game?' Solarina: 'From a Quinn man, Ciar Quinn, and he taught me to win. Oh yes, Conor was grinning.

 

"Cards?" He looked at the lass then at Conor who had a rather odd expression on his face. "I suppose I could, but I'm not sure your parents would like you to gamble." Great, now he'd have her asking permission. He glanced at Liam and shrugged slightly. The wings had surprised him as well, but he didn't want to have her upset if he asked. And the matter of Stan could wait until the young lady was gone!

 
Okay, so the whole parents thing, yes, it had a laugh rumbling free.
 

"I am old enough, eighteen in years." As she became embarrassed that she was taken for one younger or so would seem that she needed her parents approval. "Money does not have to pass between us or this game cannot be played without them in learning?" Ciar had her full attention in spite of the fact she knew her cheeks had become a rosier color. Maybe she needed to do something with her hair to look her age?

 

-c-

Date: 09-28-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 88

Conor cleared his throat, stroking his jaw as he listened to Solarina. "There is that, Ciar. Whether they approve or not, she is of an age old enough to make her own decisions. And because she learns the game doesn't mean she'll be selling her soul to the devil with the gambling part of it." The devil, to be sure, was more than likely in the twinkle of his eyes.
 
Liam said nothing as the lass seemed to wish Ciar to teach her cards. He caught Conor's look like one that knew a secret and certainly the lass held an air about her. He collected his drink of the pure along with the bottle as he headed over to join his brother and cousin, as well the lass. Wings or not she was uniquely pretty if not beautiful and certainly old enough to be out with the likes of them, here in the Thistle, anyway where they behaved. He would wait to see if Conor started his usual flirting, it amused him. So he relaxed into his seat, legs stretched out as he kicked back the first drink then filled his glass with more.


"I didn't mean you looked too young." He chuckled as he glanced at his brother and cousin then back to the lass. "But I don't want to cross any lines. Some folks are protective of their children until they're well into their twenties." And longer!


Her smile was a reassuring one as she stood, "shall we make use of a table?" As there was one near where they were seated. "I assure you I will not head down to the docks to get into a game with drunken sailors that there then would be complaints." Giving him a wink as she was over to the table to set her drink.


Holy...hell! He hadn't expected that! All of their necks would find the block now that she was seeking out a table in the Thistle! He looked from Ciar to Liam back to Ciar and then back to Liam. Brows lifted slowly but then he stood. Who could turn down a princess?


He was up too in case someone should get offended as it seemed they were all moving to the nearest table. He would bet that Ciar would not cheat here! The thought had him literally chuckling as he pulled out a chair across from where the lass would be sitting. He had not caught on of her heritage but there was that feel she was a 'somebody' to be treated respectfully. He would wait until she sat before he would.


Conor came up beside Rina's chair and placed his hand to the back of it for her to sit. "Crazy eights? Or Go fish?" He slanted a look to Ciar, perhaps some sort of Rook might work best with the princess. He didn't know the royals well enough to determine if their hides were in danger of flogging at this moment in time. Alex wasn't even in the room at present to give some sort of clue to the precarious nature of their undertaking.


Ciar hadn't expected that either. He looked at his brother then at Conor who nearly had him laughing. Solarina might be more offended at the suggestions of the games, then at Ciar thinking her too young.


Indeed, the age requirements for the games mentioned might offend the princess. But! Sure as bloodyblueblazes would keep them from the blade tip of one of the Queen's knights!


It would at that and Ciar didn't cheat! Well, at least he'd deny he did.


"Something called poker or black jack," so she had heard someone overtalk on such games as she took a seat. Sweet smile with a turn of a look up at Conor, having the temple feathers flex before focus turned on Ciaran. She let his suggestions fall through the cracks in the flooring.


When the princess sat, Conor helped her scoot in closer to the table before he went and claimed a chair for himself. He rubbed his hands together as if in preparation. "A must, Solarina. Warm up the hands and your luck." He shot her a wink.


She imitated Conor as she rubbed her hands but she lacked the devious look upon his face in the act. "I am ready," turning to Ciar with a smile to reappear.


That's what she thought, this was Ciar. Conor's brow twitched upward as he looked to his cousin. "She's ready." Were they?
  "He'll be dealing out two cards, Solarina. One facing down, the other up. The number cards are worth the number on them. Ace, the card with an A, can be used as a one or an eleven. Face cards are worth ten. You want to add up to twenty-one." He watched her face to see if she was understanding. "You will get a chance to get another card if you think adding another card will get you closer to twenty-one without going over."

Ciar started to shuffle the cards while Conor explained.  He couldn't help showing off a little for the lass but not for long.  Dealing the cards between the two of them, he grinned at her then he turned over his card.  He had an ace and a Queen.. so he had blackjack already!   It wasn't much of a demonstration so with a soft chuckled, he dealt again.


He watched as the cards started being dealt. "You don't want to go over twenty-one.  But get as close to or exactly twenty-one." They weren't gambling, so the whole betting part of it was left unexplained for now.  "Don't show anyone the card that is face down, that's yours to know. Keep us guessing."


She soaked it all in as Conor explained and Ciar shuffled. Ciar was a little shy around her wasn't he? Maybe it was the wings that were tucked back behind her? "I think I got it.  Giving a nod as she looked at her down card, just a peek before setting it flat again.  "I will take another," glancing from Ciaran to Conor and waited.


Conor reached over and touched a finger to the card facing down with a light tap.


It wasn't so much he was shy as he wasn't much of a teacher but having Conor and Liam there made a big difference.


She was adventurous, "I will take another."  It was a tough call but she'd give it a try. "One more."


"Solarina, you don't need to say anything, just..." And again, he reached over, touching his fore and middle fingers in a light tap to the card back. He then shot a look to Ciar with a grin. "Unless, you wish to boss the man about." With all those cards, Conor sat back with a soft laugh. "To twenty-one, lass, not over." He had no way of knowing what was not showing, but she had to be pushing close to too far.


"Oh," that had gone over her head as a shy smile lifted. "When you are done, what do you do to signal that?" Then a glance slipped back to Ciar, "do you think he'd listen?"


"Green eyes and hair the shade of spun gold? You had him at Good evening, Solarina." He then showed her the sign for when she was satisfied and needed no further cards.


"Wouldn't be the first time." He grinned then laughed. If he could, he'd kick Conor under the table.  He would have to beat what was on the table so a card was automatically drawn for the dealer.  He was up to 18.  He'd pay 19 as Rina's would have to be one better."I've drawn a card for myself. Up to 18, so you need to beat me now." He smiled at Rina.


Which would be all the more to Conor's delight. If a man couldn't rib his kin, who could he rib? "Whatcha' doin' with those cards, Ciar?" He nodded toward Ciar's cards. Conor sat quiet for this once, waiting to see which card Rina had hidden from view.


She turned over the five that was hidden, "I have nineteen so you owe me.." like they had been using coins and she smiled brightly, quite pleased she had not only learned this game but won the hand.


"Unless we consider this a practice hand." Conor chuckled, patting a hand to the side of his leg as he pushed his chair back to stand. "I'll leave you to your gaming and head back to the do...McDonough ranch." This small bit of play had him aching to set his luck to some real gaming. Even though he swore he'd not partake of the devil's temptation tonight.  So much for swearing. "A pleasure to meet you, Princess. I hope our paths cross again soon."


"I think Ciar should see you around town or something of the like, don't you Conor?" Ciar owed him for taking the punch meant for him, but Liam was grinning.


"Did you say your shop is on the McDonough ranch or do you have one in the commons, Conor?" She would find out that tidbit before he left if she was to get a new saddle for her brother. Rising as he was to leave. "I'm pleased to have met you Conor."


Ciar smiled warmly at the young woman, then glared at Liam. Don't do that to the lass! And he'd gladly take more of Conor's money, having caught that near slip.


"At the ranch, Solarina. And send your request, or come by ... I'm usually there all day."


"I will head out with you, Conor," update him on a few things since they moved out of the main Quinn manor into one of their own nearby. "You'll have to stop over." Rising as he sent a look Ciar's way that he'd catch up with him later. That was if he didn't high tail it out with them too.


He would have but ... "Do you have an escort home, Solarina?" Still not knowing who she was! But he didn't want to see her walk back alone!


It was late and she had learned something new. Which she would hold over her brother's head. Every little bit counted on Tykir. "If you are heading by the castle, I would enjoy the walk up with you." Although she would not inconvenience them either. Rising, she quickly drank down the last of her punch and was over to leave the glass with Alex before facing the Quinn men.


Conor nodded to Liam and started for the door, lifting a hand in farewell to the two still at the table.


He stood as she did then looked at Conor. Did he know she lived at the castle? "No trouble at all." He didn't mind the extra walk.


"You're welcome to join us," as he headed for the door and held it for Ciar and Rina. They would see her back to the castle then to other things from there.


Ah, his brother was a savior. He wasn't much for small talk and especially now that he found out where she lived.


It probably dawned on both Liam and Ciaran that she was of royal blood, just her looks and the way she moved, conducted herself all spoke on such an upbringing.


Oh yeah, noble blood, looking over Rina as she passed through the door next then Ciar who would catch his wicked little grin and slight waggle of his brows. Once he was through, if he didn't jab him on the way, he too was through and if he tried to jab him, he was ready to move a step out of the way.


She was still too young and royal besides! And Ciar wasn't about to fall into that trap. He'd get Liam later when he wasn't expecting it. At least it wasn't raining as they stepped outside.

 

-e-

Date: 09-29-10
Poster: Joshua McDonough
Post # 89

Tamara's Debut
 

Tamara didn't get out a lot and so Josh invited her to come with him to the Thistle. Their father, Joe, was at first reluctant but then gave because Tams was growing up and changing, so Joshua promised to keep her safe.  Such would not be too hard in these lands but more, not let any young males get too friendly for Tams was growing up and turning into a beauty. "You should taste Hazel's cooking, it's real good and you'll love her desserts." Gaining the steps as he was ahead to open and hold the door for her.


She could barely contain her excitement at being out like this with her brother. And while she knew it was only a small step, it made her feel very grown up. "I heard about her pies. And Da likes her stews and I remember her cookies." She grinned at him as she stepped through the door. "Thank you for bringing me, Josh." She wanted to hug him but didn't want to embarrass him so she squeezed his arm instead.


He'd hug her back if she had being she was his sister and all. "I don't mind, in a couple years you'll be able to come here on your own." Teasing her as he would as she passed into the tavern, "you might even have a beau then. Of course any beau will have to pass my test before he can be your beau and he'd have to pass Da's test too." Sounded daunting! Infectious smile the while as he closed over the door once he was in behind her. Weather was getting chilly at night and the tavern was a cozy warmth to welcome them.


"Oh, I don't think I'll worry about a beau for a long time." Just for that reason! She would hug him later, once the evening was done. She had worn a riding skirt of dark blue suede with a matching jacket and a blouse of pale blue cotton beneath. Finely tooled boots too, so she was neither too warm nor too cold. "Good evening, Alex!" She smiled at the tender as she crossed to the bar.


"Aye, best you do not for a long time." Giving her a sidelong look for she may at any moment start noticing boys in a different way than to best them. Josh had been out in the fields earlier that day and had cleaned up as one would have to after working with cattle. Hair was a mass of curls as he'd washed it too. A year ago or so, he would not have bothered but now, who knew who he might run into that he didn't want to smell like a barn. Plaid shirt of varying greens, black pants and boots. Wide belt held a hunting knife and a carving knife too. "Any apple pie left, Alex?" Reaching the bar by that time as that scent was one of the many to be picked up on.


She made a face at him then headed to the kitchen to see Hazel when the cook called out to her. Of course she wouldn't just go in without an invitation!


He chuckled watching Tams go to see Hazel who caught onto the fact she was here. She would be fussing over her and while she did, he would be having some potcheen. Alex served him now but he also watched how much he drank, he'd not give him the bottle yet. Considering who his father was it would not go over well if they had to peel him up off the floor, especially when he had Tams with him.


And when she came back out, she not only had the apple pie for Josh and herself but cookies. She gave Alex a big grin and her brother an impish one. If her brother got that drunk, Tams would have teasing material for at least a month or more. She made sure Josh got the biggest piece of pie.


A month? More like a good year and she'd be in her rights. "Thanks," which she got one of his bigger smiles. One that had a dimple that went with it as he took the piece of pie and brought it over to a table. He was back to bring over her cider and his drink. "Too bad nobody is about tonight for you to meet," he was sure there were others her age. Probably more her age than his. Drawing out a seat for her before he took up the one next to it. "Maybe you should get some ice cream to go with your pie?" Warm apple pie and ice cream.. yum!


Oh wait! "You want some for yours too?" Hazel must have thought the same because just then, out came one of the kitchen maids with the ice cream. And of course, Tams accepted.


Nobody out tonight? Not entirely true.... Evan came whistling up the lane, hands in pockets and booted feet strolling along in no hurry. He was in a fine mood, having just come from one of the furniture shops where he'd been asking around for odd woodworking jobs. He'd shown one of the puzzle boxes he liked to make, and another bloke in the shop said that the toy store had been closed for some time without an owner. Now, Evan had never pictured himself a  toy maker... but he liked to carve little things like that already, so why not? The thought of owning his own business was an exciting one too, that was how his father had earned their living after all. So his head was full of possibilities as he strolled through the door. "Evenin' Joshua! It's been awhile," he was over to shake the other man's hand. Hazel eyes shifted to the young woman sitting beside him, long brown hair flopping in his eyes as he grinned. "And who's this pretty little lady?"


Of course he did too! And look at the size Hazel cut for him, it was huge. Like twice that of a normal size, he was a growing boy without an ounce of fat on him so could get away with eating all he wanted. Whipping a glance from the pie as ice cream was scooped all over it and melting in already. "Heya Evan, this is my sister Tamara," she might notice he left off 'little' sister as she was growing up. He was up, near jabbed him with the fork, forgetting it was in his hand before set down and a good shake of hands to follow. "How've you been?" He knew he was with the Quinns, with the pretty lass that had been in here before.


She hadn't started to eat yet so she gave Evan a big grin, cheeks turning a little pink though she was always getting compliments from her uncles and da's friends. "Thank you. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Hunt." She wasn't sure if she should start addressing people by their first names yet.


"Boy does that look good," he was eyeing the pie as he shook Joshua's hand firmly. Then he was swinging a smile back onto Tamara. "Pleasure to meet you too, Tamara. Don't bother with the Mister, it's just Evan." He gave a wink.


"Hazel's got plenty in the kitchen if you want some." Seating himself again before he dug right in after the suggestion. He almost asked a question but best he had not as he slid a glance to Tams before concentration was on how good the apple pie and ice cream were. Too good not to notice.


"Evan." She repeated so she'd remember then she turned her attention back to the pie. Evan would have to excuse her because she was enjoying it as much as Josh was his.


One second longer of eyeing their pie covetously, and he was decided. Off he went to the bar, greeting Alex warmly and asking after a big slice of pie. He ordered a dram of the pure to quench his thirst in the meanwhile, downing the burning drink neatly. It wasn't long before his pie arrived and he carried it over back to their table with his long-legged lanky stride. "Mind if I join you two? Pie loves company."


"You're welcome at our table." Having swallowed a delicious mouthful. He didn't think his sister would object either. "How've you been? All settled in? I've been doing some carving," which he indicated that which Alex, or more likely Maggie, had put on the shelves and window sills if anyone wanted to purchase any of them. There was a wide assortment of wood carvings, mostly woodland creatures and some gnomes, gargoyles and the like that he found interesting to carve. Then he went back to enjoying his pie before the ice cream was more like milk on his plate.


She didn't mind at all. She took a sip of the cider she had before she looked at Evan, curiosity obvious. She had heard of the different newcomers, so it was meet them and learn all about them.


He saw his sister's look and smirked to himself, Evan might well be in for the twenty questions. Rapid fire.


He glanced over to take a long look at his carvings, whistling under his breath. "Those are good." He'd have to take a closer look when he wasn't stuffing his mouth with pie. Though he was polite enough to not speak with his mouth full... for the most part. "Actually, I'm thinking of taking on the toy shop for myself."


"The Toy Shop? Do you make all kinds of toys, or wooden ones? Will you have those pretty dolls for displays? I'll bet you can find people to make them for you if you can't." Or send away to other countries. She caught herself and turned red, glancing at Josh before she hurried and took another bite of pie so she didn't go on and on.


Tamara had been so quiet up till now, her sudden barrage of questions took him by surprise. But it made him grin too. "I don't make many toys yet, to be honest. I've always liked carving but it's usually just boring things like furniture or odd jobs. I think it'll be interesting though, learning how to make some of that stuff. I used to carve toys for Fawn," he recalled now. Adding for explanation, "Liam and Ciaran's little sister. Well, mine too." It was still new, that blood connection and he had to remind himself sometimes.


"Really? That would be great. Hasn't been the same since old man Higgens died. Most have to get their own toys made." But then Tamara got her wind and he sat back to watch and listen instead. Hearing Fawn's name had the heat felt around his collar but he kept quiet, eyes a touch brighter.


"I haven't met a lot of people yet, except the ones on the ranch and my uncle's ranch. And some of the ones at school." She had been taught at home but when the school was started, she asked to go. It kept her busy during the day. "How old is Fawn?" Maybe she could make a new friend.


"Aye, that's what I heard too," he answered Joshua with a nod. Completely oblivious to the shift in the younger man's expression when Fawn was mentioned. Looking back to Tamara he answered, "A bit older than you, she's nineteen now. But I bet she'd like to meet you."


"I'd like to meet her sometime too." She finished up her pie and sat back, taking another sip of the cider. She studied Evan a moment before the next question came. "What kind of toys can you make? I'll bet there are some plans for some in the shop. They make sure everything is taken care of when someone leaves or dies." Of course, she didn't like to think much about the dying part.


He didn't realize that Fawn was a year older than him as he slightly frowned, she'd be looking at older men if not at least her age. Oh well.


Evan made a mental note to talk to Fawn about perhaps befriending young Tamara, a girl's day out shopping maybe? He'd even give Fawn some extra spending money for it. "Well, do you like puzzles?" He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small puzzle box he'd made some time ago, and pushed it across the table towards her. "The trick is to hide something special inside, because it's real difficult to figure out how to open." He smiled to assuage any shyness she might have. "Go on, try it."


"Yes, I like puzzles a lot." Her smile was bright as she took the puzzle box and started to try to figure it out. He may have found a way to keep Tamara quiet.


He chuckled and gave Joshua a slight wink, as if to say... next time you want to keep your sister occupied, pull this out! He had a bit of pie left and savored the last couple bites. Maybe he'd have another go of the pure too.


He well noted the small miracle and he also noticed she was getting tired. He was getting tired. "I'll let me Da know, he or one of the other heads in the lands will see about setting you up." All depended on who was available at the time and they kind of took turns. His Da and Uncle had seen to a lot of them. "You ready to head back, pumpkin?" Then on a thought, "I'd like to buy that puzzle for her if its for sale." He would not assume either way on it and so offered.


She'd probably have to have Evan show her how to open it though she was trying her best. She looked up at Joshua about to deny she was ready but then he offered to buy the box for her. The smile returned and she looked at Evan hopefully.


"It's not for sale, not for you." But he meant something else by that, and grinned. "It's yours to keep, Tamara. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Keep trying, you'll get it."


"Thank you! I'll keep trying really." She paused though and gave him an impish look. "But if I don't, I'm gonna get Josh to help me find you so you can show me." She was sure Da wouldn't mind her accepting the box. Or at least, she hoped he wouldn't mind.


"Well, you're welcome to one of my carvings, if not for yourself then someone you'd want to give it to." He was generous too and it would give Evan a chance to really study his work and the fine detail he put into it. He might not help her if it kept her quiet!


"That so?" Now he was seriously considering it. Mariah would probably love one of those little figurines. "I may get one then for my girl." His grin softened at that. He'd have to pick the perfect one for her! "We'll call that a fair trade then." He'd stand to shake Joshua's hand as the younger man and his sister moved to take their leave.


She giggled as she watched Evan a minute. Awwww. Then, she went back to studying that box. Josh might have to lead her home.


"Aye," giving a nod to Alex who made note, Evan could pick any that he had out. He took the few steps between them now that he was up from his seat to shake Evan's hand, like a deal done. "Great seeing you again, give me regards to Ciaran, Liam and Fawn." Hard to read expression with the last but he managed to sneak it in there.


Josh was lucky Tamara was occupied.


With the last he was quickly out the door with Tams so nothing could be wondered upon!

 

-e-

Date: 09-30-10
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 90

Business Matters
 

It was a quiet afternoon that had Leo sitting at a table off to the side out of the main area of tables to be had. He was going over notes written out he had collected from his office in the back. Except, his thoughts were not really on them but on the forest of Kildare, in the upper northwest section to be exact. There was something there that held at least an underlying truth to the rumors, to the deaths of some proclaimed to have been torn apart and dragged away leaving not a drop of blood, not a drop of evidence. Then there was the situation with the King here and his men, a talk waiting to still happen when the King of Heathfield was ready. It is what brought him here and to linger, leaving Kildare in the capable hands of his identical twin brother. Attire was more common as he didn't wish to draw unnecessary attention to himself. Although many in the lands knew exactly who the Heathfield prince turned King of Kildare, was. Those very ones knew he was down to earth too. Tunic spun of a fine brown wool over black pants and brown leather boots were worn.


Regan had just finished a short trip along the coast to Kildare and back. She carried a few papers for Leoric, ones that Gaidan thought he should see, as well as a letter from the Regent. At the moment, there seemed to be nothing urgent beyond the concerns of the forest, and a few small disputes between landowners concerning boundaries. That would probably be a relief to the King. She had gone to the castle and been told he was out and about. First stop had been the spar hall and fields and then here. She smiled as she entered and saw him there. First a salute was given to Alex, and a signal that she would be there in a moment to request a drink, and then she headed for Leoric. She was dressed in a pale blue shirt that had ruffles at the neck and sleeves, laces done to show a touch of cleavage, well fitted doeskin pants dyed black and riding boots, polished to a deep shine. "Afternoon, Sire. Things are well?" She saluted him with a fisted hand touching over her heart then laid the small pouch on the table.


He rose from his seat as she approached while reining in his thoughts. "Good day Regan," noticing the papers she carried with a knowing eye as he stepped aside to turn out a chair for her adjacent to his. "Aye, things are well under the circumstances," and at the same time getting the feel not much has changed in Kildare. "I still await to speak with the King as he has not quite ventured out socially yet." Nor even on the kings field from his understanding although his horsemen had been. Some more than others but that was neither here nor there. "Are you and your siblings well?" He had not sat down with James of late but he too was a busy man.


Rosie was over to give Regan her drink order as she sat and she wondered briefly where Maggie was. Once she had ordered a glass of potcheen punch, she nodded. "Aye, all are well, and keeping busy. James was at Montrose not too long ago. Our father is recovering nicely though he still has a bit of trouble getting around. And likely, you've heard the harvest in Kildare was exceptional. The lands are quite fertile." She chuckled softly. "I have to say, I never expected to be sitting talking harvest with a King." Giving a wink as she laughed.


"Why not?" Giving her a wink right back. He reached over for the pouch that contained the letter and papers but didn't open it just yet. "It is the harvest that helps to give a King a good year with his people and those within the castle. It keeps the flow of money going and in turn businesses prosper. The harvest is very important." Although he seemed to have something on his mind he was not voicing yet as he took the moment to open up the pouch and scan the papers before reading the letter. A wry smile came as he finished, looking up and over the sheet to Regan before it was lowered, "he does not speak on the pregnancy of his wife yet." Which meant that he didn't know yet but of course Leo did soon as he touched the piece of paper.


"True, but you know how we sea-faring folk are." She laughed again, shrugging. "Talking of the land?" She tisked, then grinned. "She's pregnant? That's grand news."


"Yes, it is. It assures Kildare of an heir if I should never marry nor father a child." Not something he was overly concerned with, certainly not at the moment but it was the truth of his words. "I need a shipwright and I'm wondering if you and - or - any of your brothers know anything of ship making that you can oversee the building of ships over the winter. That would be the best time to build them as I can see to constructing a roof overhead to protect against the snow that will come. Spring, summer and fall left mostly to traveling as I know you all have your runs for both Kildare and Heathfield, as well Ballicastle." Which they all overlapped, Tyremoor too.


From one subject to another. She shook her head to his question though. "I don't know much about the building though my brothers might. I can ask them when next I see them. Otherwise, we might have to do some looking about." She leaned back in her chair as she took a sip of the punch. "Or advertise maybe. I don't know if the shipwrights here had any apprentices or not but you could ask them."


"I will talk to them on it, you need not worry." He just figured he'd pass the idea by her to see if she had such experience. "Aye, if they do not then I shall have to seek one for I've ships to be built. One started and sits to be finished." Not saying anything on the woman that just up and left it like that. He should have known better than to trust her but it was more giving the chance. Unfortunately she proved him right. "I would first wish to find one of family by word of mouth that can be trusted. I already wasted time putting trust in one that could not be trusted. There is that idea too," to the last. "I have a crew of builders that know what to do that did not leave with the one before, they just need one that knows what they are doing to direct and coordinate them."


It was on that last that Segan had come in from the side door. He had caught enough of the talk on needing a shipwright. "I will keep me ears open too." Smile followed bringing a dimple or two as he continued on in. "Hello your lordship, Regan. Good to see you both and I trust all is well."


"Hello Segan. It's good to see you and yes, all is well." She smiled up at the man. "How are you and yours? All of them?"  Knowing he had cousins living in Heathfield now too.


"I'd appreciate that Captain." He held respect for the Quinn family as he met them when they first came and built upon that. "All is well all considering overall." Which nothing was perfect and so didn't elude to it being so.


"Everyone is doing well on this end too, as in nothing outstanding and not getting into the particulars of everyday happenings," grinning as he got a tankard of ale then joined them at their table. "Are you in for a few days, Captain Callihan?" As that was the first question that would determine any more along those lines.


"Aye, I am, Captain Quinn." She laughed at the formalities but went along, at least for the moment. "I made a run to Kildare and back. Some of the crew has family there, so they stayed. The rest are here. Taking a bit of leave before we make one more run to the Caribbean before the onslaught of winter. What about yourself?"


"Well then, I've a proposition for you. I got a job from Bovee Shipping that needs two ships because the cargo is sheep and cattle which don't really ride well together and I've only one holding room for either or that would accommodate. It will be a little longer run for they are to go to Innis. Cattle from the McDonough ranch and sheep from the McCormick ranch, all good quality." Whether they were to be starting some small ranches on the island or for food purposes, that he didn't know.


She looked thoughtful then nodded. "Aye, we can join you in that. Haven't been to Innis in a while." And it would keep her crew happy to be earning coin. "When do we need to set sail?" She would hire some crew as temporary replacements for those in Kildare.


While they talked, discussed business by the sound of it, Leo took the time to go over the papers more thoroughly.


"Two days hence now that I've found another not busy that can go and willing." Not everyone wanted to cart livestock either. "It pays well," which she probably figured. "Andre will be happy too." Chuckling before he took a long drink of his ale. The back of his hand up in a swipe over his lips as the tankard was lowered to set on the table. "There will be a two day stay over so that a large shipment of seafood can be transported back. They will be in large water containers," shipped live so they didn't spoil. "Along with some other goods, enough to fill two ships." Hence the reason why this run would pay a very pretty penny, going and coming.


Regan had carted animals before with collecting for the zoo, so she didn't mind. Besides, the cedar kept the smell down and was easy to clean up. "I've not really visited Innis so this will be a good opportunity. Seafood? Hmmm, that reminds me. I've not eaten since this morning." Time to get a menu and look things over.


"Seafood," now that was something he might arrange with Peter. "You may be bringing back some for Kildare if there is enough room." He loved seafood and certainly they got enough from their port but not like an island would have access to.


She paused though and smiled at the two men. "Now, it just occurred to me that many a lass would envy me right now. Sitting here with two handsome, noble men."


He gestured to Leo, "not I but certainly the king of Kildare." Relaxing back with his tankard to finish off as he looked between the two. "More than willing your majesty. I'd like to get in as many runs as I can before winter sets in. You'll need tanks for they will be shipped live." Best way for such distances. "All this talk of food has me hungry and time I should get back to the manor where I'm expected."

 

"You're both handsome." She laughed as she looked at Segan again. "And I'm sure your lass would agree with me."  She gave him an impish smile. "And few would argue with me about his Majesty."  She glanced at the quiet king then began to study the menu.  Once she had a good meal, and maybe spent a bit more time in talk, she'd head to her ship to rest.  In the morning, she'd need to head to the manor to let her family know where she'd be heading next.  Of course, she was expecting Leoric to join them!
 

He flashed Regan a smile for her teasing comments on how handsome and so forth. "In fact, I will catch you both later as I will catch up with Peter and arrange the shipping of seafood for you Sire." Giving a wave he was on his way back out the side door. First to find Peter than a few other things he needed to see done before he headed home. He always tried to make it back in time for dinner with the family.

 

King was quiet while reading but he soon folded the papers away. "Thank you," giving a wave to Segan as he was right on ball and taking his leave. Then back to Regan, "I do think your prejudice being of the lands of Kildare and its King," giving her a wink as he teased back. "Now, let's see what Hazel has tonight for dinner," taking up one of the menus, he would eat here tonight. They would talk more during their meal and he'd see her escorted to her ship before heading up to the castle to catch up with his knights.

 

-e-

Date: 10-04-10
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 91

Hauntings in the Air
 

Cessa had the itch to be out. A warmer night after a few cold ones. Soon, it would be a lot colder. She ate her meal here this night too, enjoying Hazel's cooking although her Grandmother's was excellent too. A change of pace was ideal. Presently she was curled up on the couch with a glass of warmed punch in hand. Peat burned low in the hearth keeping the room at a comfortable temperature as it gradually got cooler outside. Attire consisted of riding pants, soft leather boots and an oversize sweater that use to be Segan's.


Fawn had been out and about looking for things to decorate with, for the holidays approaching. All Hallow's Eve being the closest, that was what most of what she bought consisted of. Bats and ghosts and ghouls and goblins all  stuffed in sacks to be taken home. But with the chill of the night, she opted stop at the Thistle for a warm drink before continuing the walk home. In through the door, she smiled as she set her bags aside. "Good evening, Alex. Warm cider, please." And seeing the woman on the couch, she nodded. "Evening, Concessa."


Cessa did a double take as her smile was swift to lift. "Hello Fawn, it is good to see you again. You can call me Cessa if you wish. I go by either. What'cha got there in the sacks?" She was up, curious as a cat as she drew closer. "Need any help with those?"


Gloves taken off, she picked up the bags to set on a near by table for Cessa to look in. "No, just stopping by for some cider on my way home. It's Halloween decorations." All bright smiles, she bounced just a little when Cessa peeked in.


"At the midnight hour the souls that have left this earth can visit it again for an hour," something like that was mumbled as she went through the sacks. Pulling out this and that. "Are you going to decorate your manor or here? I hear there are ghosts in your belfry."


Smirking to the bit about the hour, she leaned in to see what Cessa was peeking at, then went all childishly wide-eyed and looked at Alex. "Oooh! Can I decorate here too? I hadn't thought of that. I was thinking the house."


"We'll have to decorate our manor too, maybe we can all help each other. I know there is a hay ride at Ravanna farmlands that takes you out to the field of pumpkins where you can pick your own."


Kieran was extra tired today but he'd not admit it to anyone. The older squires had been set to working on cleaning up the castle grounds in preparation for winter. He had a feeling it had to do with the prank played on Sir Lancely. So the work was worth it. It was a little chilly tonight but he was wearing a heavy cloak and the thought of a glass of the pure warmed him up as well. Making his way up the steps and inside, he closed the door and turned to see two lovely visions looking through some sacks. "Evening, Alex." He made his way to the bar, managing to just avoid tripping over a chair for looking at the two lasses. "Evening, ladies."


"That sounds like a fantastic idea. Maybe we can have a cookout with a bonfire or something after an entire day of decorating." Sounded like a good time. Being so close to the door, the chilly breeze that came through was hard to miss. A nod given to the man when addressed. "Evening, sir."


"If we want to go really spooky, the spookiest house in the lands that I know of is on Ashford Island. We'd have to take canoes over or rowboats. Or maybe build a flatboat," she was mussing again to herself before she realized there was a man in the room. A handsome man at that! She'd seen him before, on the king's field when she snuck in there for a sneak preview. "Hello, I'm Concessa and this is my cousin, Fawn," far as it was explained to her as she got lost in the once, twice and so forth removed. She set the scary mask she was holding aside as she turned to greet the one.


"Aye, your brother is Eion... " Now didn't he feel foolish after blurting that out. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I'm Kieran." He put a hand to his chest and bowed as he had been taught.


Looking to Cessa, she smiled. "I want to go!" Sounded like so much fun. Turning as introductions were given, another smile given. "Nice to meet you, Kieran."


She was nodding with a sneaky little smile in the glance to Fawn on the island tour then back. "Are you interested in finding ghosts with us come Hallow's Eve, Kieran. Nice to meet you and aye, Eion is my brother as well Segan and Conor. Have you met them too or only Eion?" Easy way of finding out more.


"I've seen Segan on the field but usually we're too busy to be introduced unless there's time after." He accepted a glass from Alex only to look at Concessa again. "Ghosts on Hallow's Eve?" There was a hint of a smile. "I've heard tell there are ghosts all over the realms. Where are you going to look?"


"Well, the most wicked I hear tell is on Ashford Island where the McDonough twins are going to settle with their people. Except it is on the other side of the island, closer to Heathfield shores where the haunted manor stands. Maybe we can round up a group to go over and stay the night." Most likely comprised of those their age.


He gave them both a lazy kind of look, thinking who else might go. Maybe he'd drag Mouse along. "Sounds like fun to me. You sure you'll be able to stay over night though?" He figured Mary Quinn might not like that idea.


"I'm sure my brothers would have no problem with it." They would probably shoo her right out of the house if it provided entertainment for her.


"What kind of stories have you heard about the island?" He smiled again, thinking of some the tales they told after hours in the barracks. Purposely tried to make one another to scared to sleep.


"Me? I haven't heard any. My brothers and I just recently moved to the area." Leaving the Halloween decorations in their bags on the table, she went to the counter to get her long since cooled cup of cider.


"There are supposed to be ghosts in the theater. Folks and actors used to play out death scenes that were real. Heard the cemetery manor house is too and of course the cemetery. Ones that are looking for revenge in some cases. Others just lost and looking for their families."


"We may have to bring an older kid," grinning as she thought on her brothers." She had been distracted a few moments thinking on the stories. "Of course I can't tell Gram the stories, it is said there use to be experiments there and that wolves howl in the night moving through the rooms. A large black bird of an unknown species watches over the place. There had been half beasts, half human and tortured minds as the result. It's long abandoned but the ghosts live there now. It is said some disappeared without a trace being near that place on Hallow's Eve," so maybe she was embellishing some.


The tales made her smile all the brighter. "Oooh! I can't wait to go. I know Liam will let me. Madam's the one I will have to get around. But I'm sure Liam will help me." HE always seemed pleased when she got Fiona into a huff. Her attention drifted between Cessa and Kieran.


"I think if there is enough of us too, it will be easier and at least one adult chaperone." Which she wasn't wild like that, she just wanted to have fun and probably try spooking someone in the process. "We would have to do it on Hallow's eve. Maybe do the trick or treat first of those younger then head out to Ashford Island. Bring some tents with us to pitch or pitch them the day before." Which was an even better idea. See, she was turning an idea into a solid plan. "Do you know the Shawnesey brothers? There is our cousin Davin Byrne." Who was probably not related to Fawn. "Joshua McDonough, I don't think his sister is old enough. The McAndrews twins, Mary and Marisa might be interested."


"I might be able to ask Evan to go." He was only a few years older than Fawn, she doubted he would turn down such an adventure.


"Aye, I know the two older. Haven't met the younger yet." He looked at Fawn and grinned. "Does he like trouble?"


"Do you?" Grinning back Kieran's way.


"Oh, aye, I do." He chuckled then lifted his glass. "Here's to trouble, wherever it may." So long as it didn't hurt anyone.


She smiled. "Of course he does. He's definitely one of our family."


"Good because it wouldn't be much fun to have someone there that isn't." There were a few like that he could think of.


"I agree," lifting her glass of punch as she toasted to trouble with a capital T. She downed her drink. She might feel it later if she kept it up. "Have you met anyone you'd like to invite to go, Fawn?"


"Evan would probably be one popping out of the bushes to frighten us." Thinking on Cessa's question, she shook her head. "Fiona might be fun, but she'd never go. I haven't really gotten out much."


"I might ask another squire. He does pretty good in training but doesn't get out much." And he was sure Sir Vincent would allow him to join Kieran and the others.


"This would be a good way for him to get out, don't you think, Fawn?" Glancing from Kieran to her while she also debated getting another drink.


A nod given, she smiled. "It would be. An excellent reason to get out."


Well, it was getting late. "Are you staying here the night? I will if you are and we can go the market tomorrow and get more things, make a list." Planning helped. This could be a LOT of fun. She was addressing Fawn with that question as it was upon she.. she was looking.


He had finished his drink but waited. Good chance to practice his training if either of the lasses were going home. He'd offer to escort and if not, he'd head on out.


"Oh...well I had intended to go home, lest Madam throw a fit not knowing where I am."  Finishing off her drink, she set the mug down and thanked Alex, then went to collect her bags. "Cessa, it was nice to see you. Kieran, nice to meet you. I hope to see you both again soon."


"I can escort you both, if you wish." He stood as Oisin stood. He didn't mind walking at all. It gave him time to sort through his thoughts.


"I will walk back with you as we are not far from you." So she would have company most of the way. "I can help you carry the sacks too." Big smile as she bounced on over to take one of them. Giving a dark eyed glanced Kieran's way as he spoke up. "We'd love the escort." And they could make more plans along the way.


"I can carry whatever you need help with too." He grinned. "Swing by the candy shop. We can see if my sister is working and get something if you'd like." He knew Cairenn wouldn't mind.


She looked between the two of them, then down at her bags. There were three of them, so she offered one to Cessa, and one to Kieran with a smile. "Very well."


"You can tell us any stories you got being a squire. Or are you knighted now?" Cessa picked up a lot of information as she headed out the door and still talking. So much info she sometimes needed it sorted out better.


"I'll be knighted soon." There'd be several of them. "But, aye, I have some stories." He lifted a hand to Alex as they headed out. Lucky Kieran, escorting two lovely lasses.

 

-e-

Date: 10-06-10
Poster: King Peter O'Neill
Post # 92

Catching Up
 

Peter was relaxed in a wingback chair in front of the hearth. There were the old Gazettes there on the table of which he was reading one from years past. It had him laughing at parts where the Crones had their way about gabbing and anyone who knew those they picked on, could pick them out easily enough while a stranger would not. He was attired in an Irish cable knit sweater of cream, brown pants and finely tooled boots. Wide belt held the empowered sword that was angled at his side comfortably out of the way. The peat added the scent of Ireland, the room temperature cozy without  being too warm. Outside the wind blew in small gusts that took down leaves with them in an array of colors. They were almost fully changed.


Henna had spent the day at the orphanage, seeing that all was ready for the colder days. Wood had been gathered and stacked and she had looked over the roof and examined windows with the caretaker, giving him permission to do necessary repairs. She wanted to see to a specially made wagon for trips, for the children and had planned some trips for them with the women who watched over them. Finally, after spending the evening with her family, she decided to go for a walk. The wind made her cloak and gown dance as the leaves swirled around her and she laughed with delight. They seemed to follow her right to the steps of the Thistle before the wind carried them away again. Stepping through the door and closing it quickly behind her, she heard masculine laughter and looked toward the hearth. "Good evening, Peter. Dare I ask what has you laughing tonight?"


At the sound of another, he was up from his seat and around to face them in a cordial way. "Good evening Lady Henna. It has been a while since I've seen you. How are you?" Pausing a breath with laughter still lacing the tone of his voice, "you may dare and I'm sure when you read these Gazettes, they had you laughing as well. At the expense of others and sometimes yourself," as a hand shifted in gesture to the stacks upon the table. There had been quite a few over the years and still enjoyable to read.


"Oh aye, they always had something to say, didn't they?" She smiled, warmly, a dimple showing. "It has been a long while and I'm doing quite well now. How have you been?" She greeted Alex and accepted a glass of potcheen punch from the tender before joining Peter at the hearth. "Your family is well?"


"Please do join me," not that he really needed to say the words as he indicated the seat next to his. "My family is doing well, Elaina and Connor are in wedded bliss and still on their honeymoon. They are traveling to various places and I would not be surprised if they broke some record as having the longest honeymoon that may well take a year to complete." He wasn't sure but it certainly seemed like it. The two were going to see all the places around the world they ever wanted to, nothing rushed, before they were settled down with a family. They were smart in his opinion and he'd do the same in their shoes. He, unfortunately could not leave the kingdom for a year. A month, maybe. "How is all in your family?" Well, he knew on her mother and Karl.


"A year! They'll certainly see a great deal then." She laughed as she sat in the chair, smoothing the skirt of the brown satin gown she wore. "Everyone is doing very well now. From Lydia on up to Andrew. It's amazing the change since the return of Karl and the others. Like a great dark cloud has lifted from over the palace." She wasn't exaggerating either. "It's good to see Mother happy again."


"Yes, it has lifted." There was a slight frown as thoughts played upon if Karl and three of his men had not returned. It would have been grim to say the least and he had feared for the Queen knowing how much the two loved each other. He took a seat once she did, sleight of hand easing the sheathed empowered sword out of the way. "So, tell me of you, Henna, how have you been? The Orphanage?" Leaning a touch her way as an forearm rested along the arm of the chair. Sienna eyes steadfast upon her as he remained just outside her personal space.


She had been afraid for her mother as well, especially after her uncle had appeared. Noting the frown, she smiled slightly, hiding it by taking a sip of her drink. It was good to know others had been concerned. "I've been well, and busy. Today I walked through the building with the caretaker to make sure all was ready for winter. I want to keep it as cozy as possible of course, and homelike. There have been a few adoptions so there aren't as many orphans as there were." Still, there were always children who lost parents and with winter coming, that possibility was worse. "And I'm planning to get a wagon with seats similar to the one purchased for the hospital, but maybe with canvas sides and roof so they can be removed once summer comes again." She laughed, her eyes not leaving his. "Get me started and I'll talk about my plans and the children all night."


"That is always good to hear, that there are fewer orphans. We don't really have many on the island for people just take in ones that become orphaned. Here, in lands much more vast it would be a problem if there are a number of orphans." He was more mussing. "Do you get time to do things for yourself? Get out, no responsibility, or at least pretend like you have none, for a few hours, a day?"


"Believe it or not, I do." She smiled again as she spoke, a dimple showing. "I spend time with my siblings and with their children. And I've gone riding this past week, out to see the changing leaves. I've visited friends and I even sneaked off into the solarium and curled up with a book while the rain fell. It was a very peaceful feeling."


Something had him teasing just for the way she said it, "I'm sorry, I don't believe you, you'll just have to prove it to me .. to believe you, that is." Smile was infectious as he added in a wink to clearly show he was teasing her. "Although it sounds like you don't go far from the Orphanage, or the castle for that matter?"


He had her laughing then, resting her elbow on the arm of her chair, and her chin in her hand, she looked thoughtful. "I went as far as where the wild horses are when I went riding. But usually, not far. I think I'm still concerned about all that happened." If she was honest with herself, that was part of it.


"Well, how about this offer. Would you like to see Innis Daingneach? Then you can say you traveled far from the lands. That is, if another you trust can watch over the Orphanage while you go on Holiday." It seemed to him that the Princess could use a Holiday and certainly see more of the world than her backyard. "I will be sailing back in another day or so if that is not too impromptu for you?" Peter was use to living impromptu.


Henna was surprised and delighted by the invitation. She knew what her mother would say too, which helped her decision. "I have a young woman named Esther who has been helping me. I suppose I could say I've been training her. She knows all the ins and outs and I trust her completely. So, I accept. It's been a long time since I've gone sailing and I've always wanted to see your home. I mean, I've heard so much about it." Cheeks colored just a touch but she
continued. "I'm sure I can be ready when you are."


"If you love a white tropical beach where the weather will be warm all year round, then you shall love Innis. Then it is set, bring light clothing for the most part but a good warm cloak for the ride there as the beginning part of the trip, and the end part of the trip back, will be cold upon the deck of the ship." Sitting back as he took up his glass of potcheen to have some, eyes still trained her way as the glass was lifted and subsequently lowered to set on the table between them. "So tell me of your orphaned children, what are they like?"


"It sounds wonderful." She dimpled again as he asked about the children. "Well, the youngest are twins whose parents disappeared on a voyage. The ship was believed to have been attacked by either Doom or Blackbeard but they're not certain. A friend had been taking care of them while the parents were away but she couldn't keep them. The others are older. Next is about eight but they're all doing very well. Some of them will likely never be adopted. There are people who come visit all the time, and we try to make them feel loved. But sometimes, I feel so sorry for them. I have fourteen of them now. And some of those will be moving out into the world. We try to see they have skills so they can earn their way. I have one lad who is going to be an excellent navigator."


The mention of Doom and Blackbeard had him concerned for he had not heard of this attack. "How long ago was this attack?" It was something that should be looked into, to either confirm or discredit. There were a lot of pirates upon the sea and many would like to emulate Blackbeard or Doom to have people shaking in their boots and more willing to give up coin and treasure to be rid of them with their skin intact.  "It is good to help them move out into the world, to make a family of their own and fit into society once again. Not marked as an orphan any longer."


"About six months ago was when we received the twins. The woman didn't know much about it, only what she was told by a survivor, and she couldn't remember his name." That had been about the time the King and the King's men had vanished and she hadn't thought to look into it. "It was on a journey to the colonies."


"I would like to talk to this woman, even more the survivor. If they have surfaced, then we need to know. There are a few families here they will be after and best all be alerted." He was dead serious but he'd not put off the Holiday he suggested to her. If he could talk to the woman and survivor before they left for Innis, then he could set a special fleet out to find the culprits undercover.


"Her name is Mary Wilson and she works down at one of the taverns at the docks. Or had last I talked to her. She comes in occasionally to see the twins. I think she feels bad." She pursed her lips slightly, thinking. "I'm not positive but I believe that the lad she spoke of works there as well, but she could tell you for certain." She frowned as she added, "I wish I would have mentioned it to someone back then."


"With all going on it may not have seem significant." Which he was not blaming her as she would not have realized the importance of the situation. With her stepfather missing, her mother upset, then the three horsemen to go missing, he understood well how such might not seem all that important. "Better late than never as the saying goes. Any ship taken over by pirates needs to be looked into when such touches these waters. Although the attack could have been on other shores and waters." Still, they should look into it and find out if it smelled of Doom and Blackbeard. "Well, I will see to finding this tavern that Mary works in, if you'd like to come with me, you'd be welcome to." The woman might feel more at ease with Henna there.


"I'll go. She was nervous enough knowing who I am." She gave him an impish look. "She'll be used to the rougher type." She stood reluctantly as her drink was finished. "I should get back to the castle and see if mother is still awake so I can tell her about the trip. I'll likely be at the orphanage tomorrow to tell Esther and the children so if you want to go talk to Mary and I'm not at the castle, come there."


He stood as well. The hour was getting late. "I will see you back to the castle, with your permission, I am staying there as well." Which she probably realized that he stayed there when in the lands. "I will see about dressing down so I don't have Mary in fits, especially if she realizes I am a king. It makes many act strangely around me, especially women." Which he didn't understand that but it was as it was. Giving a nod to the last, she could be certain that Peter would effectively track her down. Perhaps that slight twitch at the corner of his lips would hint to it. He offered her the bend of his arm with expected acceptance.


She had no doubt he would! "Your company will be gladly accepted." She tried not to laugh as she added, "Well, it should help that you're handsome. I would think women would like that." Of course, handsome and a king would fluster many a lass. She carried her glass to the bar then took his arm, and waved to Alex.


His glass was set to the bar just a moment before hers as she then took his arm as offered. Smile was genuine upon her then heading out, seeing to the door after his farewell to Alex and a conversation to continue with Henna. He would move to other topics like Halloween coming up and what she had planned for the children, as he planned to have her back from the Holiday before then.

 

-tbc-

Date: 10-08-10
Poster: Concessa Quinn
Post # 93

Making Friends
 

The night was quiet, the tavern just as quiet. So quiet, one could hear the crackling of the low burning fire along with Alex moving bottles around before he'd go into the kitchen awhile. When Cessa noticed him disappear it would bring a little quirky smile knowing how sweet he was on Hazel and even at their age, how wonderful love still was. Different perhaps in how they were about it compared to her sister Mel with Gabriel. Segan with Vanessa was different too. Conor, she could wonder on as he was the one least to show any emotion such as that. Not really sneaky but really, really private that he'd probably be married with two kids before he told anyone. The thought had her giggle for how Grams would react to that! She'd be marching in on him for certain. A glass of punch sat on the table next to her as she was comfortably curled up in a wingback in front of the hearth. Her thoughts left to wander in such quiet as she never knew what would pop into her head to amuse herself with. Riding pants of a dark brown soft suede were worn along with an oversize warm cream sweater.


Kieran had sneaked out of the barracks tonight. Not because he was being punished but because he really didn't want to have to explain where he was going. While he had good friends among the squires, there were times when they proved to be too much. He needed a little time to himself in the company of others. He had stopped at the candy shop and after a visit with his sister, left with a bag of penny candy. From there, he headed to the Thistle, whistling as he walked. He was wearing a blue tunic over a long sleeved poet's shirt of black. Black pants were tucked into knee high riding boots and a cloak was worn for warmth. His hair was its usual curly mess, made more so from the light breeze that was blowing the leaves around his feet. Making his way up the steps, he pushed open the door, trying to close it before any leaves joined him inside. He headed to the bar just as Alex came out. "Evening, Alex. A tankard of ale if you would." He'd have potcheen after the ale was gone.


Hearing one at the door, she turned in the wingback to see. Dark eyes dipped in a sliding glance down over the handsome squire. She was not immune to his good looks as a smile lifted as did her eyes; there upon his face to linger as the last of the breeze played with his hair, leaving that sexy mussed up look. Dark eyes brightened a touch with the thought, "good evening Kieran, it is good to see you again," voice coming from the hearth area he'd not noticed or otherwise she might take offense he outright ignored her.


He turned when he heard her voice, a warm smile appearing. "Good evening, Concessa. I didn't see you sitting so comfortably there. I'll have to start looking toward the hearth as soon as I enter." He thanked Alex for the ale, picked up the tankard and headed for the hearth. "Mind if I join you?" He motioned to the chair beside hers as he spoke.


"Well, instead of looking towards it, come join me. I've not a sibling in sight to say a word." Giving him a wink along with the smile. Now she would get to watch him move towards her, measuring the breadth of his shoulders and the thought of coming by the king's field to watch him practice shirtless. She reeled in her thoughts or she'd be blushing next. "How have you been? Practicing a lot still? Who has been your toughest opponent?" Questions came to harness wayward thoughts.


He settled in the chair, then looked thoughtful. "Well, among the knights, I've think all of them." He laughed as he admitted that but it was true. "Among the squires, I think Scott McCormick. Have you met any of the others?" He took a drink of the ale, watching her over the rim of his tankard as he drank.


"I'm afraid that you are the only one I know so far. Perhaps I will get to meet the others in time. You have been here in the lands a long time?" She was trying to calculate how long she'd been here. Two years came to mind.


"Aye, I'd say four years at least. Maybe closer to five." He smiled at her again. "If you come to the field to watch Eion, maybe I'll introduce you." He knew a few of the lads would be tongued tied but it would be good for them to practice their manners. "That is, if we're not all falling over from training." It didn't stop with the colder weather.


"I would like that," with having her brother there, less of a problem for her to get in to the visitor's area to watch. "Have you tested your sword against that of one of the fabled horsemen?" So she had heard about them and knew they showed up there religiously.


He nodded, lowering his tankard. "I'm squire to Sir Trevor so he is constantly testing me. If I become near as good as he is, I'll be better than most." Well, that's what he hoped. He smiled slightly. "I think we go up against all of them eventually."


"I hear they are really superb, it is true, some of the matches where the earth shakes, the sky tumbles in storm, lightning streaks and water pours down then all gone?" Not the normal storm. She was trying to imagine some of the stories she overheard amongst a bunch of lads she overheard one time.


"Aye, it does happen. And it's amazing to watch." He was wide-eyed as he talked. "You don't know if you're going to see it happen or not, but when it does, everyone stops to watch. " Didn't have much choice some times. It was hard to concentrate when the earth was shaking beneath your feet though they were told to keep going.


As he became wide eyed, so did she as if picking up his very thoughts. "Does it happen often or rarely at all?" She was leaning a little towards him at this point for the topic was that kind of interesting.


"It happened more before they disappeared. We'd be sparring and all of a sudden, we'd be drenched with water, or the ground would shake. The first time it happened, I stopped and got knocked on my rear. I wasn't the only one. Sir Dana laughed but the others just watched. And nodded when most of us stood and started up again. " He grinned and lowered his voice. "And when Sir Trevor is training me, and no one else is around, the earth moves at strange times. I don't startle so much now, and I'm learning to stay on my feet." He didn't mention that he was on his rear as much as he kept his balance.


"I will have to come watch you practice." Now she was determined to come watch them all. "I first made friends with the MacKay brothers, Trevet and Kynan when we came to live here. I accompanied them to the Moors where they held jousts. Eventually I even tried my hand and was able to unseat their king, although to be fair, he unseated me as well. Have you been to their jousts? Have you practiced with Kynan?" She was pretty certain the younger of the two brothers was a squire, albeit not certain.


"I did hear that you were a jouster." He grinned at her then gave a nod. "Kynan is at the fields a great deal, mostly because of his brother Mikhail." He smiled at her over his glass. "He said you were really good. I've sparred with him quite a bit. The knights make sure everyone spars with everyone."


Which had the lilt of her laughter to rise up, "he is being kind. It was more luck and being a small target that I could get a lucky shift of my lance. It is Kynan and Trevet that are truly talented." Also why she had not entered them the last couple times she accompanied others there. "Perhaps you could give me sword lesson, or knives, weapons I could defend myself with if necessary. I could ask my brothers but they are busy and not often even in the lands," thinking more on Segan for the latter and certainly Eion had his hands full; situation to deal with. "Have you ever had Mikhail read your card?" Lifting her drink to have a sip in coating her throat.


"I wonder if any of us will be going to Kildare," he mused mostly to himself before smiling at her. "I've taught my sisters to use knives and there are classes taught by the Lady Knights during the cooler weather. It would give you the chance to have different teachers. Do you want to learn to throw too? We can visit Rhett Shawnesey to see what knives he has to offer." He shook his head, "I haven't yet, no. To be honest, I didn't know he read them." He knew Mikhail as a warrior but didn't doubt he had other talents.


"I will look into any courses offered this winter for I'd not want to hog up too much of your time. That will work out wonderfully." She was nodding with that thought, her mind going there a few moments before back again. "Maybe if he is in the lands and comes here, we can get our cards read. I've not either but others I know have. He's a bit of a Gypsy, warrior too, but definitely gifted in doing the cards. Maybe we should have it done, if possible. before we go to Ashford Island for the Halloween party being arranged." Which had her pause, "you will be going to that and some of your friends?" He had mentioned about asking one or more of the other squires. Then onward on the blacksmith.  "I would enjoy that, I've a few coins saved and it would be a worthy object to buy, a weapon for protection. Maybe we can head over there tomorrow," being it was late already.


"Aye, tomorrow would be good. I can come here after training if I don't have any extra duties." He nodded, then grinned. "Going to ask Bannon Zimmer if he wants to come. He's a bit shy around lasses so it might be good for him." There were a few others, but he wasn't sure they'd be able to come. "How many do you want to be there?" They could have a large group or a small one."


"You're not so shy then?" Oh the smile that followed and a mischievous gleam in dark eyes. "As many as wish to have some real fun on Hallow's eve." She had already talked on the spooky manor last time in here. "Want to go now and see if Rhett is still up and see what daggers he has that would be easy for me to throw?" She had finished her drink and was rising from her seat, even if they didn't go to the smithy, she needed to stretch her legs, move about, expend some of the extra energy she always seemed to have. On a though, the next question followed, "you don't have a lass that being seen about with me would need some explaining?" She hadn't thought about that to ask when seeing if he might show her how to use a dagger or daggers.


"No, I'm not shy.  He finished his drink, nearly choking with her questions. Laughing, he continued. "No lass, and aye, let's go have a look if he is still up and his shop open. I'm sure he'll have what you need." He picked up his glass to carry to the bar, and waited for her to start for the door. Outside, he'd offer his arm though she might feel silly about it.


"Well, that's good." Giving him a wink with a curling impish smile. "I wont end up learning how to throw a punch in warding off your ladies." Notice, she implied he'd have more than one for certainly he was a handsome one and around her age if not a year or two older. Hard to tell, being a squire he was kept in excellent shape. Leaving her glass at the bar, she took up his arm once outside as it was offered. She thought it gentlemanly over being silly and appreciated the gesture.

 

-e-

Date: 10-10-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 94

Princess, Knight and Squire
 

It was a quiet early evening as Rina decided to have her meal here in the Thistle. Hazel's cooking was excellent. As the night wore on, others would probably come but in the meantime, after her meal, she was going to enjoy the peace and quiet. The castle was not quiet. One had to retreat to their rooms to find quiet there. Her first night out, previous one, had proven pleasant and her fears alleviated when no one over reacted to the fact she had wings. Those were neatly tucked behind her as she sat comfortably in a wingback in front of the hearth.


The King of Heathfield was still recovering and the Kingsmen of Kildare still left waiting. Thane wondered at times if his comrades were growing restless, but luckily he was the patient sort. This time away from home afforded him the opportunity to train with new knights and meet new people, though he was not exactly the most social sort. Something which had been pointed out to him multiple times by his cohorts. It was difficult to break from his solitary habits, but a parched throat urged him up to the Tavern. It shouldn't be too busy yet at this hour and Hazel's cooking was calling his name. Thane was fresh off the training fields, his boots and gray breeches dusty, the sleeves of his deep crimson shirt rolled up to the elbows and fallen open some at the throat. Dark hair was damp around his face, and he lifted the back of his hand to wipe some of that perspiration away. Looking around, a first glance did not see anybody, some relief. Thane crossed to the bar to greet Alex and request an ale.


She was huddled away in the wingback. One that had its back to the door but Rina knew when another came in, even before they did. She could hear their steps from far away for one. Something she thought was normal as she finally  rose when curiosity overtook her. She had to see who it was. "Sir Thane!" Said in surprise and delight at the same time. "I have read the whole of the book you gave me, trice." It had been some time since she had seen him last. "I enjoyed every single story. I hope the writer continues now that my brothers have regained their heritage." She had still to show it to her brother but that would be soon.


He had just gotten his ale in hand when his name was all but shouted from what he had thought was an unoccupied wingback. The knight forgot himself and jumped, causing ale to slosh over his hand and sending a few drops onto his shirt. These were brushed off with his free hand as he took a step forward towards that chair, a soft smile replacing the befuddled look on his face when he realized who it was. "Princess. My apologies, I did not see you there." While endeavoring to clean his shirt off a bit, and aware that he looked somewhat disheveled after long hours of training. "Trice, you say? Have you done anything but read since last we met?" A gentle tinge of amusement  about his tone as he took the young princess in. As lovely as ever. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I always did, as well."


A hand flew to cover her lips but it didn't stop the light chiming laughter that followed. Couldn't be helped but then as her hand lowered she look quite contrite. "I am sorry I startled you." Wings flicked behind her as the feathers were ruffled up then settled back. Those few at her temple had lifted and settled down as well. In this light, one could see the glossy sparkle in a light sheen over the feathers that traced across her eyelids. Obscured somewhat by the darker blond lashes. "I read quickly at times." Dependent on the subject matter. She took in the whole of his looks as her smile lingered in a curl to the corners of her lips. "You have been practicing?" She obviously knew that look. The simple gown she wore tonight was in a shade of aqua, dark enough so she didn't look like she'd fade away and trimmed in black lace along the bodice, sleeves and hem.


Bannon was nursing a sore arm as he made his way to the Thistle. He had been sparring and after an extra hard hit from his partner to his shield, lost his balance and fell against one of the practice dummies. Normally they were padded but this one had a sharp bit of metal sticking out. He had ignored the wound until they were done but then, at the insistence of Sir Vincent, gone to see the healer. He'd be off for a day or two much to his displeasure. As he made his way inside, he headed right for the bar. When he realized Sir Thane was there, he paused to salute the knight. And then he spotted the princess. Gulp!


"There's no need to apologize. A knight should always be on his guard." Even for exuberant young girls hiding in chairs! That same gentle amusement warmed his eyes as he approached the sitting area she'd chosen. "Aye, so I have. I know my appearance is a bit, ah... well." Sloppy? "But do you mind if I..." Which is when the door opened to admit a familiar face, one he knew from the training fields though hadn't really ever met officially. "Ah. Squire Bannon. How's the arm?" He'd seen the lad take that hit from a rather nasty dummy.


The feathers at her temples stuck straight out a moment before settling back in against her skin at the sight of Bannon. She could smell the tint of blood. "You are hurt?" There was a heartbeat of a pause. "Wait, I've seen you, well, didn't recognize you with your clothes on.." as soon as the words were out of her mouth her cheeks went red, not pink but red. "I mean, shirt, on the practice field, the ones don't wear shirts." Yes, she was faltering! Focus shifted to Thane instead. "I do not mind," although he had not completed his sentence it was as if she heard it no matter.


"It required stitches and I'm not to take part for a day or two." Probably should be longer, but the healer knew what it meant to the squires and had used the salve that would help it heal quickly. He managed to look sheepish as he turned to the Princess. He had her turning red though! "I uh ... it gets hot on the field sometimes. And it was an accident. I fell against metal on one of the dummies, your Highness." He would have liked to slug the one that had caused it.


Blink! He stared daggers at Bannon for a moment till Rina corrected herself. His gaze was briefly narrowed as it moved between the two of them. "I hope it heals well." He said to Bannon before turning another glance to the Princess. Now his brow was quirking some as the two of them both stumbled over their words.


"I do not know your name." She knew the faces and she wasn't about to explain how she watched at times from the tower that overlooked the king's field rather than down where visitors gathered to watch them practice. She happened upon the room one time, hiding from Tykir no less, when she happened to look out. At first she was entranced by the maneuvers but later, as she got older, the bare chested males held a new appeal. So, she was normal. And they were out where anyone could see them! "What healer saw to it?" She was over with the idea of taking a look. Fae like her siblings she had the ability to heal better than most healers who were more herbal remedies.  Bannon may notice the way in which she moved, not a sound and like a wisp of a cloud moving across a lazy summer sky.


"Bannon Zimmer, your Highness, Squire to Sir Vincent de Beauvais." He managed a bow then blinked when she was suddenly closer. He had refused to remove his shirt for the longest time and might again! "Uh... the big blonde one." He never remembered her name because she was intimidating. He was turning red too as he talked and looking toward Thane as if for help. As long as the knight didn't laugh, Bannon would be fine.


"Hilda who uses herbs mixed into poultices?" The woman that could body slam most of the knights and rub those knotted muscles out in a hurt so good or maybe not even so good! "May I see it, Bannon?" Using his name for the first time being it was given. It was said to learn something, you spoke the word or name being it an object or something living. She too looked towards Thane wondering if Bannon needed his approval. "Squire to Sir Vincent de Beauvais. I am impressed. I know many a story told on that Knight. Have you met him Thane?"


Thane was going to be of little help. At Rina's invitation, he had taken up a seat in one of the wingback chairs, the one facing the rest of the room so he could keep an eye on the two youngsters. His expression was mild and difficult to gauge as he sipped his ale. Though at Rina's words, he spoke up. "Not officially, I think." Rising to his feet again to offer the lad a hand to shake. Even if rank separated them, Thane wasn't the sort to base judgements upon that. Though he might make judgements if the boy looked at the princess the wrong way! "Thane Roberts."


She was a lass and a princess to boot! While Sir Vincent had taught him well concerning manners, actually being this close had the lad nearly tongue tied. "Aye, I know your name, Sir Thane." He shook the man's hand and added, "I've watched you and your comrades on the field." After the hand shake, he looked at the Princess. "Aye, Hilda. I ... of course, your Highness." At least he didn't stutter anymore. Well, so far. He rolled up the sleeve of his left arm, making a face. The gash was about four inches long. There'd be a good scar when it healed.


There was an idolizing wide leaf green eyed look upon Thane as they both ended up over where he was presently standing in front of the wingback he'd chosen. Nose scrunched up as she looked at the gash. "She didn't cover it.." although she could see that she put something into it. There was a tsk'ing sound under her breath as she was quickly over to Alex and back with a small box that contained what she needed. Andrew's salve but it would be put on with a real healer's touch almost sealing it closed as her finger passed over the gash. That's if they were looking for she was quick to bandage it up with the sterile gauze then tape it so it was secure but not too tight that it couldn't breathe. "That will protect and heal it faster." The other would have worked as Hilda was good at what she did but perhaps days longer.


Inclining his head to acknowledge the lad's words, Thane regained his chair, stretching out his legs some and sipping occasionally. His gaze moved intermittently between the two of them, but somehow his thoughts still seemed faraway. And so he didn't see the glance Solarina gave him in that brief moment. Perhaps he was seeing his own memories.


"Ah, no ma'am," correcting himself quickly, "your Highness." He smiled as she covered it then nodded. "Thank you. I really don't want to miss training." He was to be knighted soon and wanted to deserve the honor. "If you'll both excuse me, I'm going to get a drink." Maybe tonight he'd have ale instead of cider.


"Would you mind getting me a melon punch while you're over there?" Instead of them both heading over like attached at the arm or something. "I'm sure you will be using that arm by the eve of tomorrow and will rightfully earn your knighthood." She had seen him spar, with ones of his age. "Who is the one you spar with that has the curly brown hair and a little taller?" Or so the one had seemed from where she view them. She was over to take up a seat near Thane, one she had occupied before actually. She noticed his day dreaming look, "are you thinking of your lass?" What else could it be with that kind of look?


Thane was savoring his ale slowly though would need another one soon, for the one in hand was turning warm. Allowing the other two to converse, he was drawn from his quiet by Solarina's question. Which is took him a moment to process. "My lass?" He remembered he had mentioned his late wife to the Princess and almost wondered if that's who Rina was referring to, but he doubted it. "I've no lass, Highness."


"I wouldn't mind at all, your Highness." He smiled again, "Kieran Turlough. He's the squire of Sir Trevor, and my friend." He turned and headed for the bar, letting out a soft exhale and wiping his palms. Lords, she was pretty!


"I'm sorry," words so quiet they were but a light whisper. "Lucky will be the lass that is with you one day and happiness found again." So she hoped for him for he was her hero after all and now she thought about what benefited him. Her smile rose as did her head with a look back to Bannon, "he does well in spar with you. Will he be knighted too?" Her smile rising with her words that seemed to brighten her features even more.


He hadn't meant to make her uncomfortable, and shook his head to brush off her apologies. To her words, well... he had his doubts, but it was sweet of her to say, nevertheless. His smile was faint but warm as he nodded to her, then relapsed into quiet, listening to their conversation.


Oops. She was talking to him once more. He half turned and promptly stumbled over the leg of a chair. Catching it before it fell, he turned red again. "Aye, and several others." Bannon had started later than the others but because of his help during the finding of the King and his men, he'd be joining them. He gave them both another sheepish smile and made it to the bar to retrieve the drinks.  "Do you wish another drink, Sir Thane?"


Thane quirked a brow again at the lad's stumble but had the kindness not to laugh. "An ale, if you please Bannon."


Just as she had surprised Thane earlier and his reaction so here too, a light chime of laugher escaped before stifled with a serious look. "Are you all right Bannon?" Maybe the wound was worse than she thought and he got a dizzy spell.


"Aye, I'm fine, really." He was wishing the floor would open up and swallow him at the moment. Alex had the drinks ready and he managed to carry the drinks with no problem at all across the room. He was going to spend the entire evening red-faced at this rate.


"Thank you," he said to Bannon as he accepted his ale from the lad... his even tone belying the amusement he did not show.


Her smile was back at the reassurance and then waited, properly, seated in the wingback for Bannon's return with the drinks. He would be red face certainly especially with the next question as the silence made her antsy, accepting the drink with her question. "Do you have a lass then, Bannon?"


He had sat in one of the chairs but lucky for him, hadn't taken a drink or he'd be choking. "No, your Highness." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I spend most of my time training, and when Sir Vincent was away, I kept watch over his family." He had a touch of an accent, though not as heavy as some of those from Luneberg. Being around the other lads helped with that. "Besides, I don't ... I mean, there aren't many around the barracks." He didn't dare look at Sir Thane and maybe was praying that Sir Vincent wouldn't hear about this. He didn't think he was doing well at all.


"There aren't many .. what.. around the barracks?" That one went right over her head. Probably because she was trying to place his accent. "Have you and Sir Thane spar yet?" Finally taking a sip of her punch with a curled smile to follow. It was tasty and warmed her throat too.


This time, Thane stepped in to save the poor boy. "Lasses," he answered Solarina's query, with the hint of a smile about his own lips now. "And no, I have not had the pleasure to spar with Bannon yet." His dark green eyes, the color of a shadowed forest, moved then to the Squire. "We ought to remedy that."


 
It was always a bit prestigious when one of the squires got to spar with a knight they weren't squire to. He sat a little straighter and nodded, his expression serious. "I would be honored to, Sir Thane." And the accent was similar to the King's!

That's when she finally caught it and near pointing at poor Bannon, "that's where you are from, Luneberg. Where my step father is from and the Traugotts." She seemed quite pleased with herself as her hand lowered. "I would like to see you spar, when Bannon's arm is healed. Which should be very soon."


"I shall arrange it," he avowed in his quiet voice, then swung another gaze between Solarina and Bannon when the Princess exclaimed again. She was something alright, and probably a lot to get used to for the poor Squire. Thane hid his smile behind his ale.


"Ja, uh, aye." Oh good grief! And he was turning red again. "Luneburg was my home. I followed Niklas, Sir Vincent, Lady Julia and Sir Amory here. And the King put me under Sir Vincent as his squire." Much to the King's man's dismay at first. And hopefully Sir Thane would keep hiding that smile! Bannon was just glad Sir Vincent wasn't here too.  Of course ... the King's man would probably find out about it somehow.


"Sir Vincent scares many but he is a good man. Just as are the other three horsemen." Certainly she knew all about them, especially through her brother Tykir. Mostly bragging on his part that he got to hang around with them at times. Reflecting on her earlier questions and possibly they were out of line, she wasn't certain for socializing was new to her. "I don't have a beau either." Like that had some relevance with such a delay too.


Slooooow glance between the two of them, both brows arching eloquently. The knight cleared his throat somewhat and decided to step in. "So Bannon. Your training comes along well then?"


"Aye, they are." He agreed fully then looked at Thane though he paused to look at the Princess. "You'll have one some day." She was too pretty not too though he kept that to himself. Then he was answering Thane again. "Aye, it does. I've begun to learn to joust. I'm finding it not easy to hold the lance and guide the horse but Sir Vincent wants me to be well rounded." He looked at the princess and actually grinned. "You should watch on Thursdays. That's when we practice jousting."


That look from Thane shut her right up. Lips pursed into a bow as the heat rose to her cheeks. Somewhere in there she had stepped on protocol or something like that. She had 'oops' anyway. When in doubt, go silent she was told. There wasn't much left of her punch as fingers encircled the stem in a good grip while resting in her lap. Only the twitch of temple feathers showed her thoughts were bouncing around as she looked from one to the other and back again.  She still found it hard to believe that one day she might have a beau but at least she no longer felt as isolated for having wings.


He'd been trying to save them both from discomfort... in his own clumsy way. Thane was hardly full of social grace himself, after all. Glancing to Rina a moment, noting the way she had gone quiet, he then looked back to Bannon. "Jousting is a good way to develop strength and balance. You'll never use a lance in battle, but certainly you will use those skills."


Thane got a shy, yet lovely, smile as he looked her way. Who knew what her thoughts were at this point. "Can I joust too?" She had heard those at the Moors let women joust and even Concessa Quinn had joined in. She was her age or close.


"It's a dangerous sport, Highness..." Thane ventured. He didn't want to discourage her from doing whatever she wished, but at the same time... didn't want her breaking her neck either. Then he had a thought. "If you wish to try it, I'd be happy to show you how it's done." At least then he could control the situation and so make it safe. His gaze shifted over to Bannon who'd gone quiet.


"Why don't they use lances? Are they too heavy?" He looked at Solarina as Thane spoke then smiled slightly at her. He hadn't seen the jousts at the Moors but had heard of them.


She knew she'd have to suit up with lots of stuffing around her body but there was one little problem, her wings. Although being the princess, they would make a suit to accommodate her. Bannon's question had her looking between the two to hear the answer!


It was a question he should have asked Sir Vincent! "The Knights of the Order of Athena joust too, your Highness." He suddenly remembered. So between Sir Thane and the women, she could be taught well.


"Aye, too heavy and too large... too cumbersome really to bring into most battles." It simply wasn't convenient. "If you'll excuse me a moment." He made his excuses quietly, finishing off his ale and bringing it to the bar before stepping out the side door. He had something to attend to but would return.


"I need to be back up to the castle," rising with a sheepish smile, "I really enjoyed the visit and will take you up on learning how to joust." Which should prove interesting too! With Thane leaving, she was practically in his wake, especially if he was headed for the castle too.


In that case he would walk her back to the Castle! And be glad for the company.


He stood as she did then after a moment, finished his ale and headed for the door. He'd take his time getting back, not wanting them to think he was following.


They would let him catch up!


In that case, he'd catch up, knowing he'd be getting questions from any of the other squires who saw him.

 

-e-

Date: 10-15-10
Poster: Evan Hunt
Post # 95

Good News to Share
 

Fawn had mostly been keeping to herself lately with her nose stuck in a book or out wandering while fall set in and before the temperatures got too chilly to do such things for as long as she loved to be out. Tonight though she managed to find her way into the town, having earlier been venturing around to all the shops. She hadn't been shopping, but trying to get an idea of something she wanted to do with herself. As it started to get darker and cooler though, she made her way to the Thistle. She hadn't been there long, ten minutes maybe and gathered herself near the hearth while speaking with Alex who was always good enough to tolerate her babbling.


Pierre headed up from the docks with a lot of thoughts whirling through his head. Half distracted still by the time he was up the steps, across the porch and inside. The door to open as he realized he came in after another. Brows lifted slightly as he stepped through, easing the door closed behind him. From her to another, neither recognized either. "Evening ladies." Hint of a smile before heading over to the bar for a glass of wine, merlot to be exact.


Hearing the door open, attention of doe like eyes turned to see first a child enter, then a man whom she did not recognize. A dip of her head to the gent. "Evening, Sir." Then to the child with a small smile. "Greetings little one."


He cleared his throat as he had a few words with Alex. Seems the lady knew how to handle the child. They were as good as aliens from another planet for Pierre. Finally he collected his drink and headed over to the hearth where he took up one of the wingbacks to relax in. Which he had a way of comfortably stretching out the length of his legs. Black sweater with a turtle neck collar was worn as well back pants and boots.


Fawn just looked blankly at the child when he made his announcement, then looked away with a subtle blush, clearing her throat. She was still standing near the hearth, wrapped in a dark green cloak but moved out of the way when the gent came to enjoy the warmth with her. Thankfully, she already had some brandy in a mug. She had a feeling she'd need it.


The child he had thought female turned out to be a male and one that quickly decided not to stay. Just as well for his odd remark as he focused on the young lady instead. "You are new here or is it that I've not been around these parts in a while? I am Pierre Lafayette of Bovee Shipping." Which his French accent was quite evident even if he spoke English very well.


She was silently grateful that the child left. How did one so young learn about such things?! Attention turned to Pierre with return of a light smile. "Perhaps a bit of both? My brothers and I have been here a couple of months. I am Fawn Quinn." She was sure he'd recognize the Quinn name. It seemed that everyone did.


"Quinn, oui, I know Segan Quinn very well as well Eion Quinn. I've met Liam Quinn as he is known for his boxing, setting up a ring in one of Laird McDonough's warehouses." Which was not far from where Bovee had a complex of warehouses. "Le c'est mon volonté ŕ rencontrer vous, dame Faon," having it run from his tongue smooth as silk. He rose to his feet a moment as he lifted his glass of merlot to toast her and their meeting.


"My cousins. Well, Liam is my brother. I'm surprised you haven't met Ciarán and Evan as well." They hung around with each other quite a bit. The greeting in french was interesting, and she took a moment to consider her response. "C'est un plaisir de vous rencontrer, monsieur Lafayette." Her french accent was horrible and she was fairly sure that she didn't say that right.


If she said it right or not, he got the gist of it and it had him smiling, "you speak some French then." Which was complimentary. Taking up his seat again as he sat back and had a taste of his wine. All the while watching her in a still somewhat distracted way, not staring but being polite since they were talking. "Have you seen much of the lands in the couple of months you've been here?"


Fiona would have been so proud to hear her speak french! Even if it was horrible and the accent was ten kinds of wrong. She couldn't help but give a dimpled smile. "I've spent my share of time exploring and trying to learn my way around. Lately I've been wandering the markets a lot lately."


"The markets have a lot to offer but if you visit the one near where I work, you make sure you have an escort. Even during the day the port area can be dangerous but it is also very lively. Have you been to the lake? The Celtic Gardens, the spar hall and field, the various ranches and the trail that winds through the mountainside where the wild horses run?" That was a few places off the top of his head. "Have you seen the Valdez family performing in the streets of the commons outside their theater?" There was also entertainment aside the jugglers and acrobats that wandered the streets along with the vendors.


Well, maybe she hadn't seen as much as she thought she had. Now she looked thoughtful. "I've seen the lake and the Gardens. The rest I have yet to see. I wouldn't dare go to Port without an escort. My brothers would never let me out of the house." She might have been rather unruly most of the time, but even she knew the serious things.


"You should get Liam or one of the others to bring you to the markets there, both lower and upper as they are very different. There are shops along the boardwalk too that are nice to see and you can get yourself a lobster sandwich for lunch." Assuming she went during the day which was the most logical and safest. "The castle has a few exquisite gardens too that ones are allowed to see. The hanging gardens is very unique and the court yard spectacular."


Ciaran was yawning as he made his way into the Thistle. It had been a long day. Morning was spent working around the manor grounds, afternoon back at the docks seeing to the escorts and collections. He was doing well enough at his job that he had gotten a raise but he wasn't sure it was a job he planned to keep. He was nearly dressed in black, from the poet shirt and vest down to his boots. A cape had kept the chill away. Noticing Fawn talking to someone, he paused in his trek to the bar then nodded when he recognized Pierre. He hadn't met the man, but knew of him. He also glanced around, cautiously but Fiona didn't seem to be about.


With a turn of his head he could see yet another coming in with the door to open and close. "Good evening Ciaran, it is a good one, oui? Your luck has been holding out and a few disgruntled but they are not good players of the cards like you." Which was alerting him of some that were not good sports of that sport. They may not have been formally introduced but they both knew each other's name.


"I'll have to speak with one of my brothers about going to port with them sometime." Undoubtedly Fiona would have a fit, but as long as she didn't go alone. Hearing the door open, she smiled to Ciaran and waved, then realized she held a mug of brandy in hand. Hopefully her brother either wouldn't know or wouldn't care. As long Fiona didn't find out! "Evening brother!"


"Aye, well, I've not been participating in as many games. Don't want people too angry." He gave Pierre a half smile. His luck in cards was mostly that... luck! "But thank you." He winked at Fawn and in a few moments, was joining them. When he leaned to kiss Fawn, he chuckled. "Make sure you use mint or something to hide the smell of brandy." As long as she didn't drink too much, Ciar wouldn't say anything. His other brothers might!


She leaned up to return the kiss to his cheek with a grin. "I will." Fiona was the only one she worried about. Woman had a wrath that would send the devil running and screaming! "How are you tonight? Where are Liam and Evan?" She'd not been home since early morning meal. Busy wandering about and getting notions in her head.


"Oui, you are smart man then. Easy to keep going when one is winning but many of these blokes don't like to lose and they are not gentlemen like those up here in these part of the lands. Only so many are that live in the port area." Which he was sure Ciaran found out which were which. If not then he'd have a rude awakening. Going quiet at that point as he settled in to enjoy the rest of his wine, leaving the siblings to talk with one another.


He nodded at Pierre, his expression serious to show he understood. Fawn got a grin though. "Well, I imagine Liam is working out while Evan is visiting Mariah. We all went in different directions after the work was done for the morning." He sat as he continued. "How did you escape?"


Finally deciding on a seat, she curled her legs into it and sat down, cradling her mug between both hands. She hadn't been very social lately, having had her nose stuck in various books and out and about before the weather got too cold for it. Ciar earned a coy grin. "Same way I always escape. Out the window."


"Going to be a little harder to do that when the snow finally starts to fall." Leaves too, could make the porch roof slippery. He smiled at her then looked at Pierre. "I hope I wasn't interrupting."


"I'll just have to get some boots with cleats or something on them." No doubt if Fiona caught her she'd bar her windows shut. "Not at all. Pierre was suggesting one of my big strong brothers show me the port markets sometime."


"Not at all, don't mind me. I came for a change of scenery and certainly Fawn is a pretty lass that made it worthwhile." Which he hoped his compliment wasn't out of line for it was the truth.


Evan was in a fine and dandy mood as he stepped energetically into the tavern. The boy was happy with the new developments that had both happened very quickly in his life, excited for the future. Hoping to share the news with his family, he stepped in and glanced around. A quick grin when he caught sight of at least a couple of them along with a man he didn't know. "Good evening all!" Over to Alex, a hand slapping on the bar as he ordered himself a potcheen.


"Evening, Evan. Have you met Pierre?" He didn't know if that cheerfulness was a good thing or not.


Now here was one he didn't know as he rose to his feet. "I am Pierre Lafayette of Bovee Shipping located in the port area. Do you know the lady and gent?" There was something in the way he had looked their way that had Pierre suspicious it was so and then Ciaran confirmed that suspicion. Chuckling then.


Looking to Evan, she waved. "Evening! Why are you so happy?" She could easy tell that was a good kind of cheerfulness and she was curious to the cause.


"Pleasure Pierre, I'm Evan Hunt." With potcheen in one hand he went over to shake Pierre's hand with the other. Glancing over at Oisin's question, he just grinned. He was sort of hoping Liam would show since he'd feel a little bad not telling his closest brother first. "That's just apple juice you're drinking, right Fawn?" Wink.

 

-c-

Date: 10-15-10
Poster: Evan Hunt 
Post # 96

She didn't get an answer, she got a question. Momentarily confused, she looked down at her mug then back to him. "Of course it is." Big dimpled smile returned to him before taking a drink from the mug of brandy.

He had a good grip without showing off in who was stronger idiocy thing. "Good to meet you Evan. Now I know one more of the Quinn clan, oui!" Releasing his hand appropriately too and leaving him to greet his siblings.


There was a piece of cotton cloth tied around Liam's head that sopped up any sweat from the workout earlier and the other kind of a workout he got along the way. Seems one wanted to test his fists against the Scrapper and soon was eating dirt down at the docks. So, it was already happening as would happen once a body settled in one place and their skill in a certain area got around like brush fire. His clothes looked the wear of it, a rip in his shirt and a few buttons missing from his vest. Pants had dirt marks and grass stains that weren't there before. There was a bruise along his jaw but that was all. The other was probably still unconscious with two swollen eyes and a crack jaw as he left him for his friends to clean up. "Looks like the gang is all here except Fifi and Bradley."


He blinked at Pierre a moment, then glanced to Ciar and Fawn with a brow perked. Had they mentioned his name as being related to them? A slight shrug was given since he didn't really mind. Then Liam came in as hoped for and he grinned again. "You look good and roughed up. C'mon and have a sit. Can I get anyone a drink?"


"I have one, Evan but thanks." He eyed Liam a minute then chuckled. "Not even going to ask the condition of the other guy because I know he looks worse. Come join us. You know Pierre?" Motioning to the gent sitting with them.


Bah...Bradley. Fawn just wrinkled her nose at the mention of the man, but quickly hid the expression with another drink from her mug. She might be a little giggly if she kept drinking at that rate. When the mug was lowered, she looked towards Evan. "Evan! Tell us!" The man was far too happy to ignore while he'd ignored her question completely.


"Evening Pierre," catching sight of him there as he was over to give Fawn a nice sweaty hug before a clasp to each of his brother's shoulders. "I could use a strong drink." Which meant potcheen. Before Evan got to his story, "oh, I'm to let you know that John and Martha Harrington have arrived and are settling in nicely at Bradley's manor, which I have totally forgotten the name of. You will be contacted in a day or two, depending how quickly Martha adjusts and how much that means of smelling salts or not I'm told with a bit of humor."


"Oui, good to see you Liam." He would ask another time on his appearance and what was quite obvious. Leaving them to hear this story Evan had instead.


"Ew!" She managed to squeak out to the sweaty hug before giggling. Further news interrupted the giggles. Not that she minded her parents being there, but of course they were boarding at Bradley's manor. "Thank you, Liam." For relaying the message.


He flashed Fawn a big grin when she insisted on hearing the reason for his obvious good humor. Letting Liam tell of her foster parents, he pulled out a seat at their table and threw his leg over one side, straddling it backwards. "Alright, I have some news. Any of you ever pass that old toy shop, the one that's been closed awhile?" Leaving a pause to let them answer that, but not a long one, before going on. "Well, I took it. I'm gonna be the new owner and operator there if it all works out."


"Aye, they are anxious to see you but know to wait the couple days. Bradley was on his way to see you when I ran into him so told him I'd relay the message. We can invite them to our manor." If that was better for her then was there to hear Evan's good news. "Aye, I've seen the toy shop, shame it is closed." And then the good news, "I think that is great. It's not far from the warehouse I've set up a boxing ring in." So they would not be far from each other, hang out during lunch if he was around, bring the lass with him too.


Smelling salts? He leaned back in the chair, wondering if Martha had disliked Heathfield or was it the whole idea of moving away. He grinned at Evan's news. "A toy maker? Aye, great news indeed. When do you take over?"


Guess that meant Bradley would be invited as well. Lucky her. But to Evan's news, she smiled. "Congratulations! Can I test them after you make them?" Teasing of course.
 
"I've already seen one Ian McCormick about it," he admitted, "and started cleaning it out, and organizing. It was left in good condition but there's plenty of dust and a few critters that moved in." So he'd have to get it all squared away. He wanted it perfect for the big re-opening. And Fawn got another grin, "'Course you can. I'm gonna make a bunch of puzzle boxes too, like those ones I used to make for you."


"Oh! Those will be loved here." Well, they might have already had them, but no doubt Evan's would be adored. But her interest fell to something. "Ian McCormick? Is he one to speak to about acquiring a store front?"


"Do you need any help? I've a good pair of hands and a strong back." So the offer was there and hoping his brother would accept so he could at least see the place, let him talk of his plans. "How's your lass doing?" So he got to meet the father. "I trust meeting Ian went well?"


"There's a couple different ones from what I understand, Fawn. Why? What are you thinking about?" He was listening to Liam and Evan too.


The quiet one was listening as he was over to get another glass of wine. "Oh, if you know of anyone that would make a good secretary, discreet as the business has securities and the like, let me or Andre Bovee know."


Looking to Ciar, she smiled a bit. "I thought about opening a shop. Madam and I had spoken of it before finding you all. Though I think she is hoping for a boutique, but I have something else in mind."


Evan nodded to Liam at his questions of Mariah and Ian, grinning again but hiding it a bit behind his glass of potcheen. He took a drink and kept quiet as the others spoke of other things. "I think that's a great idea, Fawn," he said to encourage their sister in her ideas of perhaps opening her own shop. She needed something to occupy her time!


"What do you have in mind?" Kicking back a shot of potcheen as he confiscated the bottle and so poured another. He'd not be feeling any sore muscles tonight.


Yes, because otherwise she'd continue her endless wandering. "Well...a pottery and things shop. Not just pottery and mugs made of clay, but other things as well." She had ideas rolling around in her head as to what sorts of items she wanted to make.


"If I hear of anyone, I'll let you know, Pierre." He wasn't sure he'd meet the right one for them though.


"There use to be a potter but she left some time ago and I think the shop she used still has the equipment in it. A potter's wheel for one, shelves, clay and so on." Trying to be helpful as he'd been in the lands a long time now.


"Maybe combine the two, boutique and pottery shop?" That way Fiona would be around Fawn all day, keep her in line. "I can always hire another head mistress of the manor."


"Really?" She looked over to Pierre then to Liam and shook her head. "I can't get in that much trouble if I'm working. I enjoy pottery. I'd like to have Madam help me though. Perhaps something with painting the things."


Evan took another drink of potcheen and cleared his throat once it seemed there was a pause in their conversation. "I have some other news too. Ian McCormick is Mariah's father, and I asked him for his permission to court her officially. And he agreed." He just couldn't help the grin that threatened to creep ever so foolishly!


He just chuckled as he listened, though the shop sounded like a good idea. He was taking a drink of his ale, and spewed it out, though not in the direction of anyone when he heard Evan.


Fawn was finishing off her brandy when Evan gave his other news. She was about to spit it out with surprise, but flapped her hand over her mouth and looked at him. Clearly there was a smile beneath that hand, though.


"Well, congratulations!" He was please for Evan especially since it seemed he was head over heels for the lass as proven the time they were away. "Best to have the approval of the father too.." grinning.


He blinked when Ciar spat out his drink and started laughing, reaching over to slap the younger lad on the back. Seems he'd shocked a couple of them as Fawn just stared at him and choked a bit too! He grinned back at Liam. "Aye, that does help. I like her whole family too. I ate dinner over there that night, and I hope to ask Mariah over for dinner at our place too some night, if that's alright by you all."


"It is your home too, I have no problem but I suggest you let Fiona know so she can plan her first big dinner." One not just for them, which would be when the Harrington couple came as well. That one she might do up even more special being the connection both Fiona and Fawn had.


Fawn was all smiles, and probably a bit tipsy. She set her empty mug aside and nodded to Evan. "Of course!" Then she was getting up. "I think I should head home though, before Madam gets too worried."


"I will see you back," which he set his glass to the bar but was taking the bottle with him. "We should talk with Fiona tonight so she doesn't feel left out if she hears any of the news through others first."


"Well, uh, congratulations, Evan." He offered a smile after he got his voice back. "I hope it all works out for you." He stood as he did then nodded. "Aye, that's true, Liam. I'll join you. Pierre, it was a pleasure to finally meet you face to face." Since they knew one another by sight! "Come on, Evan, you better be the one to tell Fiona your news."


A hand cupped her elbow to keep her steady as out into the brisk cool air they went. Probably with some of his brothers if not both.


"Looks like it is time to get, let Alex close up." As he set his wine glass away to the bar in the wake of he others and used the side door. "I hope to see you all again, good night." And he was gone.


"Probably better if I just go to bed." But she was digging for mints on her way out the door.


Evan had stood quickly too when Oisin had risen a bit unsteadily! He went to her other side to support her other elbow, flashing his brothers a grin at the antics of their tipsy little sister. "Goodnight Alex, and Pierre, nice to meet you."

 

-e-

Date: 10-16-10
Poster: Solarina Riktafir
Post # 97

Rivals
 

Rina had watched the men on the king's field this morning, as well her brother there as he was joining in now that he was old enough. She was gone before he got off the field and to the Thistle as this was the third time out being she was accepted, wings and all. Old enough to have a glass of the punch although Alex would not serve her two in a row. She'd have to wait a few hours before he'd serve her another so there were some restrictions. A long dress of dark green was worn, special made as all her clothes had to be. White wings were tightly tucked behind her back making them less noticeable, compared to if she spread them out full wingspan, that might have a few stepping back! Settling on a stool at the bar, a light conversation was kept with Alex as he went about his duties. Mostly on how her mother and stepfather were.


A whistled tune filtered through the air, some ditty with words unknown, just a melody heard at some point and then remembered.  There was a lightness to his step that had nothing to do with the wings tucked against his back and more to do with the fact that he was coming into his own.  Holding his own to some degree.  Being accepted for who he was, all on his own.  True, he wasn't oblivious to the fact that everyone knew he was one of the princes of Heathfield, but he was also aware of the fact that he had to work as hard on the field as any other young knight-want-to-be.  At times, the King would single him out, and it seemed to Tykir more was expected of him than the others. At least, it seemed, Karl demanded more of him --- in Tykir's opinion.  Now though, he was relieved of 'duty' and had some time to himself.  And that constituted searching for his sister, because even though he enjoyed his 'boy' time with the others on the field, there was something about hanging with one's ilk.  He'd never admit to her he liked being around her.  NEVER!  So to the Thistle he went to not admit anything to her.  As he entered, he put on his practiced 'man of the field' expression and crossed to the bar, lifting a hand to Alex in greeting and offering over one of those head nods he watched the other men greet each other with.


As she would NEVER admit how much she loved having her brother around, even if there was a subtle competition between them. Maybe it had to do with the human part of them or maybe it had to do with other bloodlines. Sneaky bit of a smile as who was to show up but that very brother! So the bantering would begin! "I saw you on the field today, how does dirt taste?" A glint in leaf green eyes that told how proud she was of him nonetheless. It was expected for him to eat quite a bit of dirt before he earned his wings, figuratively. She patted the stool next to hers. Luckily Sir Thane was not around nor Bannon.


Tykir pretended to spit to the side, as if to expel that very dirt from his mouth.  His look to Alex was one of apology, even though he really didn't spew anything with that action.  "It's darn gritty, but all in all, I rather like the taste of it."  It meant he was training hard, and he was more of a man when training hard.  "Probably warm fuzzies from all the mud pies you used to force me to eat!"  A crooked grin followed and he accepted with another nod to Alex, this time of thanks for the drink the man slid his way.  "How has  your day been?  Get a lot of doilies knitted?  Pillows stitched?"  Chuckle.  Grin.  Sip.  Glance. Sip.


She tried hard not to giggle as he pretended to spat to the side. Glancing from him to Alex and back again as a little laugh slipped out. "The mud pies I made were of the finest quality, worms included." Lifting  her chin just a little as her brother probably ate a worm or two before. "None of those, I've been thinking of going on the ghost hunt to Ashford Island a few others are putting together, there is talk about such being it is very haunted. Beasts. Then again I plan to go to Kildare when Leoric goes back and spend some time with Gaidan's wife, Corina." That's when her voice lowered even too hard for Alex to hear, "it is said the one forest has beasts in it."


Her brother, blinked.  "You can't go to Kildare!" He practically hissed, leaning toward her and keeping an eye on Alex lest that man hear of their plans and pass it on to their mother.  "...without me!"  He finished, his gaze never moving from the bartender who went about his business as if nothing was amiss between the royals.  "I overhead Karl speaking to Mother, and that place is volatile."  Wasn't he proud of the fact he used the very word the King had!  He wasn't really, exactly, positively sure what that meant as far as Kildare went, but it sounded downright scary, and more than interesting, and needing investigation!   He hadn't heard more, unfortunately, but it was easy enough to find out more, just by finding out for oneself.  He was more than pleased his sister brought it up, because now it was HER idea if anything came of it and punishments were to be dished out. Then he waved her off.  "Bah, Rina, you want beasts, just come to the barracks one night."  Then he struggled on a laugh.  "But you can't!  You're a GIRL!" And the laughter followed, only subdued by drinking again.  Pride comes before the fall.


"Well, you can come too if you really want to." He could be sure Rina would find trouble and might need rescuing though she would never think so, that such would happen. "I so can go!" She had it all planned out in a very convincing argument. "We're going to have another niece or nephew." Did he know that, twice over actually. "I too can come to the Barracks if I wanted to." Which was true, a royal had access to go just about anyplace with discretion. "Dame Quinn went in there, so I can!" Good argument.


A shudder followed her last statement.  "Dame Quinn can go anywhere she wants is the way I've come to understand it.  If she wished a piece of cheese, she could go to the moon slice off a sliver and back and none would doubt her word on the journey of it!"  He shivered again, that woman could be just a tad foreboding to Tykir's peace of mind.  He'd never really met her, but he'd seen her about town, and everyone made sure to stop and talk to her.  He wasn't aware that most might want to because she was a kind and generous sort rather than a demanding kind, just that they did!   His mind had already started racing ahead though, thinking of an excursion to Kildare.  He didn't much think about nieces, nephews and the like until they were old enough to romp about with.  So her comment about that was lost in the Kildare conversation.  "When were you thinking about going?  Do you think you'll be allowed to go? "  Could he go to or would he have to sneak a trip?


"Exactly, I want to grow up and be just like her. So I will come to the Barracks and have all the squires and knights bow to me as I pass. I might acknowledge them too." Although she was never known to be snobbish, it was more the point. "Are you going to join the teens going to Ashford? I believe Bannon and Kieran are going," now how did she know? "Concessa, Fawn and a few others."


He shook his head.   As a result of her decision to be an old, bustling woman or to the fact that men would bow to her, really wouldn't be known to anyone but Tykir.  Although, he was no fool.  Rina was a princess of Heathfield! Men would  bow to her no matter how much he might wish it otherwise.  "As far as Ashford Island goes...aren't the Colonial Natives moving there?  What if they get angry at us for messing on their land? "  To Tykir, that could be far more dangerous than some fabled beasts. "I...I..." He rubbed the back of his knuckles to the side of his neck.  "I don't know, Rina...I, er... might be busy when they decide to go.  Guess it depends on when they travel over."  He shrugged, as if that very gesture got him off the hook.


"Aye, they are," and truth be told, it embarrassed Rina to have ones bow to her. Bad enough she felt they were looking at her as a freak, it only drew more attention to the fact she had wings and 99% of the others in the lands did not. "But they are on the other side of the island, not where the old Ashford manor is. It is said it is guarded by a large crow type bird that is not really a bird at all but the embodiment of one that was tortured there long ago. He had made claim upon the manor since the mad scientists left. He rules over the unsettled spirits that roam there, some half human and half beast. Some of those werewolves that howl through the long deserted corridors on nights of a full moon." So she was embellishing! That's when the haughty look came, "you're scared Tykir Riktafir!"


Tykir wasn't ashamed to say when he was ... cautious.  "Whatever you want to call it, Rina, but I'll bet my right wing that nothing is going to come of a trip to the island except trouble.  And that will be in the form of our ears on fire from Mom's tirade when we're found out."  A trip to Kildare was a different matter.  There...things needed to be worked out, problems to be solved.  The island was just for a bit of dangerous fun.  Big difference when it came to dealing with the punishment that came with it.  Some things were worth the ... hassle.  Again he shrugged.  She could call him what she wanted.  In the end, she knew she could coerce him into any of her adventures! Another slanted look was shot to Alex who continued to tinker about with things at the bar, appearing uninterested in the conversation of young prince and princess.


"You'd fly funny if you lost your right wing.. sort of flop around in a circle." Which the whole visual had her giggle. "Oh, I wouldn't go without permission and there is going to be an adult present, or two, as chaperones." Which had her glance to the bar a moment then back, "Evan Hunt, the new toymaker I'm told. He is the one." Knowing well they'd have to have an adult present being on the island to start. The scary stories were just made up. Right? "Scared is what I'd call it." Mmmmhmmm.. under her breath before taking a sip of the punch made with potcheen. "I would need you there to help protect me from any ghosts," ghosts being different from evil carnivorous creatures in a forest?


"Chaperones?" Raspberries to that! "What fun is it with Chaperones telling where you can go, what you can do! I thought you guys were heading out on your own." He waved a hand in dismissal to her, and to the whole idea of possible danger. Chaperones only meant one thing, the other adults didn't feel like there was any real threat. Any trip agreed upon by adults would be a dud! "I'll be sure to be busy now. Because I am scared, Sis. Scared of being ... b.o.r.e.d." He snorted out a laugh and followed suit, taking a drink from his glass.


"I think the chaperone is bringing his girlfriend." Which said a lot and she might leave out that part when presenting it to her mother. She was eighteen! More it would be to let Tykir go but if his sister was going... she then poked him in the rib, "b.o.r.e.d is not in your vocabulary nor is it in mine and a time is only as good as you make it and I plan to make it good. If there are no real ghosts then I shall do my best to scare the others there." She could fly and drop things on them.. stuff like that.
 

A brow twitched up, his interest peaked a moment. What bothered Tykir more was that Rina was eighteen and he was not yet of that age. Most of his friends were closer if not older, and that never really sat well with him. "Then, unless I hear of it from someone else, let me know when they plan to go and I'll see if I'm ... " A devilish grin spread, he might say he wasn't going and then...who knew? A spook was only as good as the surprise he was able to perform. "...available." Waggle, waggle of brow followed and he finished up his drink.


"Aye, I will check to see if you are available when the time comes." Which had her smile dazzle a moment, why? Triumph! Of course those were short lived as the two were equal in such matters, this ongoing challenge between them. Perhaps closer than most siblings sans twins, because of the common oddity of their wings and feathers at their temples that lifted and puffed with various emotions. "Have you met Sir Thane Roberts?"


Tykir grunted. "Have you?" Better to find that out first.

 
"Aye, I have," dipping her head his way with the feathers of her temples lifting when he avoided her question. "You know of him at least?"
 

"Aye, do." Knew of him, but Tykir wasn't about to let it be known that he had only seen the man and never met him, if Rina had! "Why?" There was a thing called sibling rivalry after all, and there were few as rival as Tykir Riktafir and Solarina Riktafir.


"Because he has a book that tells stories of Kildare long before our brothers were born." So she had one up on him, "and he gave it to me."


All Tykir could do with that information was blink...and blink again. SHE had it? How did SHE get to have it? What could SHE do with it? "You've read it then?"

 
"Aye, I have, trice and he is going to get some more of them too for me." There was a sort of smug smile even though Tykir probably knew all he had to do was ask her for the book and she would lend it to him. She also planned to let Leoric and Gaidan read them for they were more than stories but actual accounts of their brothers' linage. There was something else too that had her eyes going a little wider. "I went down to the dungeons on my own." Like he had dared she never would. "There are ghosts down there, tortured ones." Which she now had another one up on him because he dared her first and it meant he had to go down there by himself now too!
 

All this information in one afternoon was just about too much for one adventurous young lad to bear! It took a few moments for him to force himself to speak past the shock of his sister's words. His mouth actually opened and closed a few times as he started to talk, then rethought his response, and started again, only to shake his head and try once more. The fact that he'd have to now explore the dungeons because Rina had, caused him to fight back a shiver, but he'd sure would, there was no way around it. That was the deal. Still...his response was. "Don't believe you, Rina. Prove it." And there she had it. Disbelief coated apprehension with defiance on top.


There was a smug satisfaction in watching Tykir's response. She was having a heyday with this as such didn't come too often. "Going to catch a fly in there.." watching his mouth open, then close like some kind of Venus fly trap. "Sir Thane can vouch for the truth of it," and a knight didn't lie! Her chin lifted just a little. "He came down there being the door wasn't closed all the way and I got lost.." and she wasn't going to admit how frightened she was, that she screamed bloody murder that could have awaken more of the dungeon spirits that had been dormant. "He said he would teach me to joust too." Which was something Tykir hadn't learned yet from the kingsmen but probably was getting big enough to.
 

Lost! "He had to come and ... rescue you?" The smug grin of satisfaction that had graced Rina's lovely features met those of complete amusement on her brother's face. His smile spread and spread some more then he slapped a hand to his leg and hooted with laughter. "Damsel in distress! Rina...a damsel in distress!" Oh, he was having a field day until she interrupted with her continuation of ... jousting. "Nu-uh." He grunted out with frustration. Besides, why did she need to learn to joust? His laughter died down and he squinted an eye at her, trying to read the truth of her statement. Seeing it was probably true, he narrowed both eyes. "He probably doesn't want to have to come rescuing you all the time." The bottom line was Tykir was a bit disappointed he wasn't the one to be able to rescue her. What were brothers for if not to save their sisters from harm...and then never let them forget that honorable deed!? He slid off of his stool, spreading his wings with a finishing flutter to ease the tense muscles from being tucked so tightly while they talked. "Let me know when plans are set for the island trip, Rina. I'd like to go if I can."


Eyes narrowed a mite as a frown slightly dipped when he grabbed hold of the words lost and rescue to try and save face. She knew he would on something, had to. Swatting his arm as he started laughing and chiding damsel in distress. "Well, there are many corridors that intersect with each other down there like a labyrinth. You will see. I happened to come across a ghost in one and turned around and went back and ran into Sir Thane." Literally even if it sounded only a phrase. "So it wasn't really a rescue for he didn't know I was down there. I think I startled him. He had seen something too. A ghost." Which Tykir could always approach Sir Thane and ask him of these events. She slid off her stool as he did, time to get back up to the castle as with their talking, the hours had passed. "I will, I hope you can come." She liked having him there, near, to protect her even if she would not admit that to him either. Still, they both knew deep down inside. "I think I need to learn how to throw knives or use a sword to protect myself, not like I'm going to go around wearing amour and carrying a lance all the time. Poking anyone I think might be a threat." The whole visual had her giggling which also dissolved the rivalry between them at the moment too.
 

Which also had him chuckle to himself, the very image of the delicate Rina with swords, armor and all sorts of war paraphernalia plated all about her was indeed quite the sight for the imagination to wrap around. "You should ask Karl." Tykir stated, starting toward the door with a tilt of his head in that direction as an invitation for his sister to join him. "You know, he has the best men available to train ... even girls." The last was said with a brotherly wink to her, dark wings pulling in tight and flat against his back as he held the door for her.


"Once he is better," there was still that but certainly she might if he was not too busy, once better. She gave her brother a brilliant smile while she passed him by as he held the door for her, grateful for his suggestion. Once outside, it would be a flying race home!
 

The very reason he had stretched his wings in preparation. Heathfield was no stranger to these two young royals taking to the sky in sibling competitions.

 

-e-

Date: 10-17-10
Poster: Bradley Harrington
Post # 98

Escaping
 

Brad was quick to head to the tavern right after dinner with his aunt and uncle. After they settled in a day or so ago (he was losing track of time which was not like him), he found more and more reasons to be out and about or Martha was going to drive him crazy. He didn't know how John survived all these years with her other than he must have been really smitten with her! He would show for dinner in the least, check in other times but not linger, just to keep Martha from getting worse with her fussing. They were still to see Fawn and so arrangements needed to be made for her to come visit them (of which time he would become scarce too) or they to go to the Quinn manor. Which was easier for him not to go as this was between Fawn and her adoptive parents. This night he wore an ivy herringbone cap made of the finest wool. Black vest over a gray shirt and pants of ebony with a faint grey stripe. Hair curled out from under the cap as he sat having a drink at the bar and talking with Alex as he went about his duties.


Perhaps Liam had something in common with Brad this night and for many past. He was escaping their new manor and one Fifi Fluff in her decorating efforts. Those efforts turned to modifying rooms in their construction so there was a lot of banging going down, loud noises in general especially when one of the workers did the wrong thing! Yup, he was out of there and heading into the tavern for a drink. Spying Brad right off with a grin, "good to see another here and I don't mind at all in joining you in a drink." Like he had to be asked? Unlike the well dressed Englishman, Liam was comfortably attired in a cable knit sweater of tan, brown pants and boots. The derby he favored taken off once within and set to the bar out of the way as he took up a stool near his friend. Or so they had become much to the chagrin of Fawn most likely.


Ciar had been down at the docks once again, the day had been a long one but at least he didn't have work tomorrow and could ... well, he'd try to enjoy the day but there was sure to be work for him to do at the manor until he'd manage to escape. He was dressed in black again from his shirt and vest down to his boots. A heavy cloak helped to keep away from the chill though he walked with his head down against the wind. Once inside the Thistle, he attempted to warm up cold fingers as he made his way to the bar where Liam and Brad sat. "Seems this is the place to be."


"Certainly," turning on his stool as not only Liam came through that door but Ciaran on his heels. Grin was infectious that spread just because and then gone in a flash as he realized Oisin could be in their wake too. Luckily it was not so as the door closed off the leaf filled wind outside. "Right O, come join me in a drink. Better not to drink alone if I can but tonight I would. If Martha takes one more fainting spell, I might have John move to their own place." His frustration was speaking.


"How's the job coming along?" Eyeing his brother that happened to come in after him. Wry grin springing to life with a thought, "know that man that goes by Tower? Seems you beat him at cards a few times.." giving his brother a moment to confirm knowing the one before he continued.


"It's going well enough. I keep getting paid as good as I have been, I might not need to play cards." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, eyes narrowing slightly. "Tower? Aye, big, loud and he smokes the worse cigars I ever smelled. Why?" He grinned at Brad though. "Doesn't she like the house?"


"Oh, she likes the house but she does not deal well with waiting when there is something she is wanting to do and that is to see Fawn. If either of you can talk to her about setting up a time, the invitation is to have it at my manor so Martha can show off with a small feast, cooked by the Cook hired of course." They might worry on their health otherwise. "You can let her know I'll not be there for this is between her and her adoptive parents." Right. Sounded good and a good excuse while saving face or setting her off again as she was like trying to figure out a tornado in what it would do next.


So Ciar would be dealing with two conversations at once.. "that's the very one. He came into the warehouse after finding out your brother had set up a boxing ring and challenged me. He was going to extract every pence he lost to you from my hide. All I will say is that he falls like the leaning tower of Pisa, slow motion, tilted for a few suspended moments before the crash." Which he knew his brother would have loved to have been there to see it.


Oh, he would have loved it. "We'll see that she knows." Liam could inform her and make sure she set a day so the woman wasn't driving Bradley crazy. "He's a terrible card player and I been told he overpowers his opponents." He offered a lop-sided smile. "Pretty soon, no one will be challenging you, Liam. Except those who really want to box."


"Thanks," which was heartfelt as both knew how it went when he and Oisin (aka Fawn) came into contact with each other. He settled into his drink as he listened to the two talk from there.


"His cronies had to peel him up off the floor and drag him away. I don't think he'll be bothering you again. Probably avoid playing cards with you unless he likes punishment." Which had a swift grin to follow before kicking back his shot of the pure. Eyeing Brad a moment in empathy as he gave a nod. Seemed the two could not be even in sight of each other. Hell, Fawn moaned and groaned just hearing Brad's name spoken. She was young, however, and would get over it. Hopefully.


It was one of the great mysteries of the universe apparently. He couldn't recall ever hearing of a lass taking such a dislike to someone before. "Maybe this visit will get Fiona's mind off all the work at the manor." He looked morosely at Liam. "Or will that be a never finished project. And I have a feeling there will be a few who won't play against me." He made a face as he added, "though it seems my winning streak is at an end."


"Aye, Martha is just as anxious to see Fiona after all this time too. She was with them for many years before they adopted Oisin." Although he'd not been involved in the emotional complications of it all.


"I overheard her saying about how another wing could be added to the house if we ever needed it.." so Ciaran was not far off the mark there. "There was something said about a boutique so maybe if she got  involved there she would be done in her remodeling and decorating..?" He could hope. Brows lifted a moment as he kicked back another drink before asking, "why to you think it is at an end?"


"It be hard to lose your daughter in that way, though it's not really a loss. I suppose it's possible. She'd have ordering to do, and things to organize." He looked at Liam, stood, and showed he and Bradley empty pockets. "Didn't go in the hole but I quit when I lost my last coin."


"At least you know when to quit," yes, he was grinning as Ciaran showed his empty pockets. "At least you can get a square meal and drink here without the need of a coin. So, what are you going to do from here? Are you going to stay with the Collector," which brought him just as much bad luck in the long run, "or find a new vocation? I hear they need a proprietor of the Tobacco shop."


He found it far more interesting to listen at this point then talk, so another drink was poured as settled in to do just that.


"I make good money through him and I don't lose all of it at cards." He chuckled as he looked thoughtful. "Tobacco store, huh? Nope, can't see it." He was good at his job too, even if he did get in an occasional fight.


"I would say not so much the money but if you like doing what you're doing to make it. There are other stores needing proprietors and the fact I could use a manager to set up boxing matches for me."


"You mean, you're worried about me, right?" He had to tease though the last offer had a brow lifting. "You're serious about me being your manager," stated rather than asked. "I could handle that but would that be a full time job?" The hours were what was a nuisance. Late afternoon and nights didn't always suit.


"Aye, it would be and it is getting to the point, I cannot train the youths coming in, do actual boxing matches and manage everything else too. It's taking its toll and I know you're a dam good manager as you've done it for me back in the homelands." So Ciar knew the money that could be made and he'd have the opportunity to recruit talented young, or older, men to the boxing arena.


"I'll have to stop by and watch." Which reminded him that he would need a job if he was to stay and the idea of the tobacco shop appealed to him. He knew what was a fine cigar and what wasn't.


"Then I'll be turning in my resignation tomorrow." And the colder weather was coming. "Just don't let me sit around, smoke bad cigars and get fat." He chuckled. "You should, Brad. Liam is damn good at what he does." A touch proudly. "The lads he'll teach will be formidable."


Which had him laugh, "I don't think you have to worry on that. You'll be too busy helping and recruiting and managing and if it ever came to that, I'll volunteer you solely to Fiona." Which was an evil threat as he waggled his brows. Fiona was going to get Liam yet!


"Well, I need to head back, join John for a while with a brandy so the man can unwind after Martha has long gone to bed." He liked his uncle and john got to talk on things he couldn't with Martha. Gave him the chance to and Brad enjoyed the conversations. "Let me know what time so I can let Martha know, she will need a day's notice in advance or she will faint." That was what Martha usually did when facing something she didn't think she could manage.


"You will not or you'll have to go back to the colonies and find me." He turned and saluted Brad. "Will do. Enjoy the quiet and rest well."


"Aye, and a good night to you Brad. I'll see you soon." Giving him a salute as he took his leave then back to Ciaran, "aye, I'll track you down if needed but it wont come to that." If he remembered he was kept quite busy, too busy if anything.


Grinning for a change as he headed out into the brisk night. The walk back would do him good too.


"No? Good." He finished his drink and stood. "Ready to start back? I want to get an early start so I can go inform my boss first, then head back for Fifi to put me to work." There were some bushes that needed transplanted.


"Aye," being Fiona would be in bed by now, there was her beauty sleep and if she didn't get it she'd have bags under her eyes and that put her in a horrid mood. He would take the bottle of potcheen with him so they could share it on the way home. Not a whole lot left as they didn't need a whole lot either. With a wave to Alex they were on their way out the side door and a shortcut up to their manor.

 

-e-

Date: 10-20-10
Poster:  Broch Cunningham
Post # 99

Leisure Time
 

It had been a while since Broch came to the Thistle. Long overdue but then he'd been to the mountains for a while in a vacation away from population. It did a man good and he met up with a few others here and there with the same thing in mind. He had taken his meal of Hazel's fine cooking and was quite content stretched out in a wingback in front of the hearth. A fire burned not only giving off heat but the scent of peat. Clothing consisted of a dark brown tunic over a cotton poet's shirt which both were partially left open down the front, giving him breathing room as he called it. Also showed a bit of curling hair on his chest. A man wasn't a man without hair on his chest if sporting one like a baby's bottom. A tankard of ale in one hand which he drank from now and then.


Bannon had been with some of the other lads at the lake, though of course it was too cold for swimming. They had caught fish for their supper, baked some potatoes bought at the market, a pie they had coaxed from Hazel (though admittedly it hadn't taken much coaxing) and some bottles of potcheen, cider and ale. He had avoided the potcheen but drank enough ale to keep him from feeling cold for a time. He had left before most of the others, knowing he
would still be expected on the field come dawn but hunger turned him toward the Thistle. He figured he could catch up on his sleep tomorrow evening. Heading inside, he glanced around, taking note of the man at the fire before he headed to the bar and requested a bowl of Irish Stew.


Lancely was in Bannon's wake as he turned the corner of the tavern just as the squire stepped through the front door. A grin surfaced as he was up the steps quickly and within. "A growing lad could eat a few more meals a day than a fully grown man." Figuring that Bannon was not going to disappoint him. He also knew they all did extra work for the one that had played the prank on him that was ill planned and conceived as it could have gotten someone hurt really bad. It was not by his decree but from the King of Innis being it had been upon his knight. "Evening Broch," catching sight of the other as he reached bar and got himself a bottle of the pure.


He turned, pausing to salute Lancely before the grin appeared. "Aye, sir. This is my fifth of the day." Breakfast, lunch, supper, the fish and potatoes and now the stew. He asked for some brown bread too and waited patiently though he was sure his stomach was going to growl loudly. The extra work didn't bother him much though he tended to tease the other lads for being too slow.


"Good evening to you both. Good to see you Lancely." Sitting up some with a half turn their way. Free arm resting against the arm of the wingback. "I do believe it is breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, dinner, supper and a last snack before bedtime?" Chuckling before adding, "which means you are down two meals lad, you must be starving.."


"Oh, aye I am, sir." He smiled as he turned. "We were busy all day." He cut a glance toward Lancely before he continued. "And then a few of us went to the lake and fished." He smelled of smoke from the fire. "It was grand fun. I'm Bannon Zimmer, squire to Sir Vincent." Introducing himself finally.


"Good place to go fishing. There are a few coves you can access by rowboat or canoe, have you gone out in such yet? Well met, Bannon Zimmer," his accent was not as pronounced lately but he might revert back to it. "I'm Broch Cunningham. Me brothers are bounty hunters." Which was possible he might have met either or.


He was quenching his thirst as the two talked. Finally lowering the tankard which Alex topped off for him. "If Sir Vincent can spare you, I could use some help with the Gauntlet in fixing it up for winter's use." Not adding someone he could trust not to do any monkey business.

 

"I've heard of them and you, Broch, sir." He was good at listening from years in the sewers that no longer existed! Dark eyes shifted from Broch to Lancely and he nodded eagerly. "I'd be proud to help, Sir Lancely. I'll speak to Sir Vincent come morning." food came about then and excusing himself, he turned to more or less attack it, though he managed to remember his manners.


"I'll help you do the asking," so Sir Vincent knew the request was genuine. He finished off his drink setting the bottle and tumbler away to the bar. "Well, best I be on my way as dawn seems to come earlier each day." He didn't like eating dirt which usually seemed to happen if one stayed out late enjoying their cups. "I'll catch you soon Broch, take care. Bannon, I'll see you on the king's field." Heading out at that point with a last wave.


"Guid nig't tae yea Lancely, catc' yea o' t'e dark side o' t'e moon." Which had him grinning being there was a full one to greet those out tonight.


"Good night, Sir Lancely." He would have saluted but he was eating though he did manage a wave. He glanced at Broch and smiled. There sure was and it had been bright over the lake. They even saw some geese.


"Sae, yir t'e one squir'd tae Sir Vincent?" Sounding like he was giving his condolences in the way stated and accurately so. Sir Vincent de Beauvais had a well known reputation although, it had been tempered some as only a good woman could. Plus twin daughters! The man was getting his due but probably loving every minute of it too.


"Aye, sir I am." He answered after swallowing a mouthful of stew. "King Karl made me his squire not long after I arrived from Luneburg. I'm going to be knighted soon though." He still couldn't believe it. Sir Vincent had been tough but there Bannon knew he was also watching out for the lad. And he adored Lady Julia and the twins.


"Congratulations when it happens. It's a big step to become a knight and live up to their high standards." He had lost the accent again. It was getting late and he was getting lazy. The accent he had usually put on that had become easier over the years was set aside. "Who is the knight you look up to most? Would it be Sir Vincent then?" Which he'd have all due respect but may hold another as his idol.


That was a question he hadn't expected. He pushed aside his empty bowl and looked thoughtful. "Sir Vincent, aye. But there's the other Horsemen and Sir Lancely too." He gave Broch a sheepish smile. "To be honest, there's not one I don't admire. They all have different qualities." He hesitated a moment before adding, "but Sir Vincent is first."


"Good answer but I'd not be telling 'em about it." Giving a wink before he pushed up from the wingback. "I think I'll be heading back, sneak in the manor and let me sister fuss over me tomorrow."


He smiled though it was the truth. "It was nice to meet you, Broch, sir. I should probably head back to the barracks so I'm not tired on the field." Though anticipation would wake him up, and the cold morning.  He told Alex good night and after a wave to Broch, headed down the hall for the back door.. He'd use the shortcut to the castle.


They would both get some sleep in the least before they needed to be up. The night would be crisp in promoting it unlike the sweltering dog days and nights of summer.

 

-e-

Date: 10-21-10
Poster: Jon McAndrews
Post # 100

Never Too Old
 

Jon was in Heathfield for a little while having brought wagons upon wagons filled with lumber to store away into the warehouses he had here to sell such. Those that he rented were on the edge of town between the Commons and Port area. In a descent part for many came from respected families with a building need and he even hired a couple ground guards to ensure their safety. So far he never had an incident. So, while his men unloaded and stocked the warehouse, he headed up to the Thistle to have a drink, converse with Alex and anyone else that might come in. Potcheen was the favored fare and he was attired according to the weather, looking much the muscular lumberjack he'd become.


Joe had been at the mine for most of the last two months. In another few weeks, they'd be closing down. The snows had begun in the mountains though not deep yet. There would be lumber to be bought to shore up certain areas and a new door to be made. The last had been in pretty bad shape. He was dressed comfortably in a cable knit sweater of gray, worn over black pants that were tucked into his boots. It was time for a drink and so he headed for the Thistle. As he stepped in through the door, he grinned when he spotted Jon. "Well, well, well... look what the wind blew in."


"Aye, a good gusty autumn wind at that," turning on his stool as he instinctively knew one of his brothers was here and who the most likely candidate of them all would be. "Tell me you've come to see your lass," certainly pushing the matter but it showed he had heard something or another along those lines. Lifting his drink, "time to celebrate the end of summer into autumn for she will be gone too quickly when old man winter turns his icy touch over the lands."


"I'll be seeing her later though she's not my lass yet." They were just in the beginning of seeing one another. "And what about you, brother mine? No lass in your life yet?" He ordered potcheen then turned to join in the toast. "And then we'll be looking for cozy fires and someone to cuddle with."


"Aye, best you grab one up as pretty as I hear she is and with a personality to match, If you're that interested, too many get stolen away from the sleeping one on guard.." teasing him as he would. Now, the next question had him kicking back another shot. "I wish there were, can't seem to find me one," knowing well it mostly had to do with how busy he was and isolated up in the mountains of Ballicastle. "You have someone in mind to suggest?"


"That's the problem with being isolated." He frowned slightly as he looked at Jon. "Dividing my time between the mine and here isn't always easy. Rains washed out the road from the mine and that had to be repaired." He narrowed his eyes as he thought. "Well, there's the Valdez lasses, Egyptians from our lands." He chuckled and looked at Jon. "Maybe I should set Eddie to work on it." He had done well enough for Brian.


"Aye, best they be prepared. I had many logs wash down the river too fast after those rains but luckily we were able to salvage most. The camp got flooded even and it took over a week for things to dry out, spending the time repairing any damage done. I hope you had your men up out of the mines during that time?" The lower levels were probably flooded. "Well, we'll both have some time on our hands for other pursuits. Neither of us are getting any younger and I've been thinking of settling down. Maybe after you and Eddie though, cause it will take me time to find a lass." Ever the teaser.


"They weren't in the lower levels during the rains. Weren't working to be honest. I had a few watching to make sure the water didn't rise into other levels. We had to clear out one of the tunnels once the water receded." He chuckled and looked at Jon again. "Don't be waiting. If you find a lass, snatch her up like you said. Wait too long and they're gone." He took another drink. Once he lowered his glass, he grinned. "Or you can let Danielle find one for you."


He coughed with the last, beating a fisted hand against his chest before he was laughing and finally finding his voice. "That would admit defeat or that I'm desperate. I've not hit desperate when  I've not really tried for being gone to the mountains. I may put some of my men in charge next year and spend more time at the warehouses, either here or in Ballicastle. That would afford me more time for such a pursuit and possibly finding a lass. I think I would have Marcy pick out one and double date with you. I'm sure she knows many single ladies," knew many ladies for that matter, "and choose one she knows that might suit a bloke like me but in the least get me out and starting to date."


"That's not a bad idea, Jon, though we won't let Danielle know you're interested." He just grinned again. "Or she'll set herself to find you one." There would be so many children around the castle it would be like a school if their sister-in-law had her way. "What else have you been up to?" He sighed and shook his head. "We live far too settled lives of late, Jon, when the big excitement in our lives is rain."


"Nothing else, not even any pranks. I feel lacking," which had him laughing. "Eddie should start getting out more too as he has mentioned about settling down. I think Michael will be the one to settle once and for all. About time, not so little Lei had a mother figure."


"We really are lacking. Even Seamus hasn't been up to mischief." He laughed as well, though he grew thoughtful. "Aye, I can't remember the last time Eddie was out to be honest. We'll have to make plans. Maybe get Michael to join us too, just to catch up with everything." He rubbed his chin then lifted his glass. "Here's to a few more rounds before we're all settled."


"We're getting old?" Like Joe was saying that, "or is it we are all ready to finally settle down. It has been predicted that such a day would one day come and we have all of Chad's boys to follow in our wake. Riley had already done us proud with stealing Collin's ship to impress two lasses and learned his lesson how a lass will use a man."


He sighed then nodded. "There was a time when I was sure I'd always be a bachelor. I think Liam may have that title now." He smiled at the memory of Riley's adventure. "Hopefully he'll also find that not all lasses are like that. Though those two certainly were and he probably would have had more trouble had they not taken off like they did." He held up his glass. "Here's to the old days. May they inspire those to follow and here's to the new. May they be as grand, if not as wild."


"Liam, I wonder where that bloke of a brother is right now.. probably gallivanting. His soul like the winds over the sea. One day he too may fall.." giving a nod as he refilled both of their glasses. "So, how serious do you think it will become with your Lady? Passing fancy or something more do you think possible?"


He took a drink before answering. "Marcy is an outstanding woman. She's warm, gentle, kind, yet strong, able to stand on her own two feet. I think it could become more and I'm hoping she feels the same." He smiled slightly. "With me being gone so much, she may have decided it's not something she wants."


"Didn't you rescue her out of her shop during the Blizzard six years ago?" Eyeing his brother in that way as he took another drink of the pure.


"Me? No that was Xander McDonough." He laughed as he nudged Jon in the shoulder. "I'm older than you are, and you're the one getting forgetful."


"Lucky for you, Xander found a different one." Which he pointed out that the Lady could easily be swept away if Joe had an interest not to take too long in finding out. "I think that was the blizzard that ended up leaving a few confused." With the nudge, he nudged him back, probably a little bit more than he had nudged him. It had the touch of those good ole times. "Aye, you're a LOT older than me..." grinning.


"Bah, not that much older." He snorted then laughed. "Hmmm, if I nudge you back, will we end up in a wrestling match? Then we'll be limping for the next week because it's harder on old bones."


"Aye, do you ask now Joseph, to avoid breaking any of your old bones?" Yes, he was taunting him, taking a shot of the pure before he set the glass down. "There is lemon oil or Andrew's salve." With a tsk under his tongue that it had gotten to this point. "Here, I thought we'd wrestle in our arm chairs when 99.."


"Of course. Takes too long to heal now, you know." He was laughing as his glass was placed on the bar. "Likely we'll be smacking one another with our canes." He launched himself at Jon with the intention of taking him to the floor. Couldn't let that go unchallenged now, could he?


Of course he couldn't! Jon was braced for the impact as arms went around his brother in a bear hug, he had the strength as it had them topple off the stools and rolling on Alex's floor. Alex just shook his head but if one was near the elder man, they would have heard him chuckle and a remark, better them than he.


Joe was laughing as they went down, arms wrapping around his brother in the same way. He let out a grunt as they plowed into a table leg, and knocked over a chair. It had been a while since he had gotten into a wrestling match in the Thistle, and even longer since he had gotten into one with Jon.


It had them rolling and struggling to get a hold, one over the other as Jon managed to give Joe a noogie. "Better hairstyle to win Marcy over.." trying hard not to laugh or he would lose his hold.


All that did was cause his hair to fall in his face, nearly covering his eyes. He tried to puff it out of his eyes but that only made it worse. Part of the challenge when you were near equals was getting a better hold! "I don't know if she likes the windswept look or not." Hopefully they weren't moving too much of the furniture around!


They rolled into one chair that tipped back over their prone bodies to land slowly on the floor, but its new position had them stuck pretty much under the table and between the other chairs as Jon tried to get Joe into a scissor hold. "At least you have a lass you talk about as your lass." Which was a big step for Joe. Jon had been the kissing bandit and wore Joe's beer soaked shirts long ago, that left ones thinking it was him that went around masked and kissing the lasses. At least he had gotten over his drinking problem too.


"True. I've no doubt you'll find one two." In trying to avoid that hold, he felt another chair moved. Pretty well caught, he was laughing outright now. "I think the table and chairs have ganged up on us and are winning." He didn't dare try to look over at Alex or he'd truly be trapped.


"I think you're right," as he got sort of wedged in and a leg of a chair in that scissors hold along with Joe's leg. "I think our best move will be to ease out of this situation, fix anything that would give away our passing and pray that Alex hasn't alerted Hazel to take her broom to us." Like she had in the past, woman stood up to the McAndrews lads, lads then.


"All right then. If I move this chair and untangle my leg, then I should be able to move out this way." Blue eyes showed how amused he was with the situation. "And if you grab that one by your head and ease out that way, it looks like you'll be free." Of course, moving the one chair depended on if Jon could free his leg.


They had to do it just right or the whole table would come crashing down and that would certainly have Hazel with a broom to their hides. He loosened the hold and pulled himself up and through the space spoken on, doing it too quick for Joe to maneuver and get him into the scissors hold instead. "I think she's coming, Joe..." meaning Hazel.


Once Jon's leg was out if the way, he was able to untangle himself and eased on out of the confined area. Near jumping to his feet, he put the chairs on his side of the table in place then went to any other that had been moved. Hazel could still have them moving quickly in order to stay out of trouble.


Even though he was the one to set the ruse going, he was quickly helping Joe fix all up like Hazel was on her way. "Let's go pay a visit to Michael." Taking up the bottle of potcheen instead of staying at the Thistle or Castle of which they could either. Michael had the vineyards not too far away, least by horseback.


"There's an idea." Knowing Michael, he'd be expecting them and be awake still. He waved to Alex, grabbed his cloak and headed down the back hall so they could retrieve their horses. And in the morning, they could see Lei.


And a fine breakfast and reunion to look forward to. Giving a wave to Alex as well, grabbing his cloak, he was off with his brother. Maybe Michael could do some card reading or predictions for them!


There was an even better idea!
 
-e-

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