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Jul 24 13 11:36 PM
Jul 25 13 12:34 AM
Jul 25 13 4:16 AM
At the third marker, the carriage she was riding in was secured and horses were tended to, so Ryanne Arandil made her way through the camp looking for Ash mostly, but anyone she knew other than her Uncle, who remained with the carriage, luggage, and Adram would have been a welcome sight. She heard rumbling from the camp and saw people she did not recognize in the least much less know. She was fairly sure that they were not part of the caravan when they began the journey, and was excited to meet the newcomers when she saw the spider banners and heard the name of Eresku.
Nearby, Ryanne might have heard a familiar voice along with the clatter of metal striking metal from a nearby cart. Ser Remiel’s voice, though older, still carried the proud and distinct tone to it as he spoke to another taller and much heftier man. “Do thy wears truly requiring checking so often, Vamos? Unless thou hath crafted legs upon thy greatsword I doubt any would be so brave as to touch thy craftsmanship.” Vamos didn’t even bother to dignify the young lord with an answer as he went about his work. The last time House Eresku had met with House Arandil they had offered the family of North Port a visit to their secluded and fortified monastery in the mountains. Remiel, not yet a knight, had followed Ryanne about with compliments and was a guide for her and her family around the large estate and town set in the valley.
Ryanne stopped in her tracks when she heard the voice. If she had not seen the banners the manner of speech used by the Eresku would certainly have told her who the strangers were, and that they were not all in fact strangers. It had been some time, a lifetime for House Arandil, since Ryanne was in their presence, but as always she studied the family she visited intently so she would be able to remember them without having to be reintroduced. “Remiel?” she said a bit bashfully remembering the attention he had paid her when they visited the Eresku home.
Ser Remiel Eresku turned away from Vamos, his folded arms slowly falling to his sides when he saw Ryanne. The amused grin was gone as he regarded the Arandil woman like a ghost. “Lady Ryanne,” the pride in his tone turned humble as his hazel eyes looked her over quickly. “I thought... Thou had perished years ago,” he admitted quietly, a look of guilt appearing on his features.
Ryanne blushed a deeper red as she realized that not all had heard of her survival. She nervously ran her hand through wavy dirty blonde hair while her other clutched at the skirt of her comfortably fitted red dress. Pale blue eyes widened with the realization. “I managed to escape my family’s demise at the hands of the Rodsvards. Hallas did as well, though he didn’t come out of it nearly as well as me. How have things been going for House Eresku? Has Lord Ammon found out about you yet?”
“Nay, I expect he hath not,” Remiel answered, a hand almost reached out to her but fell short for fear of breaking the illusion in front of him. He smirked sadly, “Thou knows how my own family is, reclusive and secret, we hath no wish to make friends with others unless we hath something to gain. That much hath not changed.” The smile faded and his shoulders sunk, “My heart soars to see thee safe, but I am ashamed that I could not come to thy family’s aid in your hour of need. I had only myself that wished to go, but my House kept me from going to thy side.”
Ryanne shook her head and smiled, “There was nothing you could have done Remiel. The Rodsvards came quickly and had thrice the number of swords we did. They didn’t care about the welfare of the city, by the time you reached us it would have been over. Besides speed and numbers it appears the Northmen had right on their side as well. The Lord, Ammon, is not a well mannered man, most dislike him just because of his gruff nature, his son is a good man, from what I can tell his daughter is a decent person as well. She is here, Krita, I’m sure you’ll see her.” Ryanne’s eyes went to the ground, “She’s beautiful too.”
From the carts a young Knight in spiked red armor watched Ryanne speak with the spider. His expression was unreadable as he worked with a halter that had become loose with travel. Ash La Seine wasn’t a Jealous man. To him if a Lady meant to love him she would return to him, whining and throwing a tantrum over wandering eyes wasn’t the mark of a good Lord. It hurt to see the subtle hints passed between the two, but he never showed it. His rabbit would return to him...or rush off to another, such was the way of things.
Ser Remiel opened his mouth to speak but stopped and found his eyes to the ground to. Like his brother he did seek to have fun, such was the game they played with flirting with every woman they met. Now though he found such actions to be... regrettable, and all it took was for a pair of blue eyes to look away from him and to the dirt. “I hath met her, I did not know her to be of the Rodsvard until we spoke.” He bit at the inside of his lip, realizing simply telling her she is as beautiful as he remembered would not do, even if it was true. “Perhaps along this journey we might reconnect?” he tried to smile, “I wish to hear how you have faired these few years.”
Ryanne blinked in confusion at the change of Remiel’s demeanor. She did not know the young man well, and they had not spoken in many years, but everything she recalled was a confident happy-go-lucky Remiel. The soft voice and drifting eyes came as a shock. Ryanne wondered what she had said. Her own eyes remained locked on Remiel so she missed Ash lurking nearby. “I would very much like to catch up while we have time...” she gave a nervous giggle. “I know how you like your games Remiel, even since our last visits I’ve heard rumors. It is not very big of a secret that I am involved with Ash La Seine,” she leaned in closer and whispered, “I also know your family likes to hear secrets...Ash and I are only waiting for the fate of South Port to be decided before we are married. He doesn’t want his marrying an Arandil to affect his standing in South Port.”
“Verily? Engaged?” Remiel once again was caught by surprise, though he suppressed the urge to look up and search for the young man in question. The fate of fallen houses were always murky for those that survived the destruction, history never favored the loser of such conflicts. He smiled more genuinely at the news, though a redder blush did strike his cheeks at the mention of his ‘games’. Despite being reclusive it certainly didn’t help that any women was subject to flattery. The last he recalled was the milkmaid’s daughter from a nearby village seeking to sell. It never went farther than calls, unlike other lords the Eresku did not break hearts. Especially not with the threat of his father’s switch nearby.
“He is an honorable young lord from what rumors and second hand I hath hears,” Remiel answered honestly with a nod. “It gladdens my heart to see thee well, thou shall have to invite me to thy ceremony to bring gifts and entertainment!” He was returning to his confident attitude, “Once I return to Weaver Bastion I shalt commissions several dresses in the finest of Micrathena silk in both thy favorite colors and in the colors of La Seine.Treasures taken from the north. And I would offer a pet spider but I doubt thou wish to keep one, they art notoriously annoying with thine upkeep.”
Ryanne giggled and blushed at the offered gifts, “Yes, engaged, though not officially so you have to keep your mouth shut for now.” She gave him a wink, that said most knew of the secret already. “Your presence at the ceremony, and a closer relationship in the future would be gift enough, but a girl on her wedding day has a hard time turning down clothes and treasures...I’m not sure the spider is a fit for South Port though.”
“Likely not, but I hath not found a dragon in my lifetime, and I do not know if a rabbit would be sufficient, mi’lady,” Remiel grinned to her. Placing a hand to his heart he gave a deep and gentlemanly bow to her, “But of course, thy secret shalt not slip from my lips. Not until it is official, even if I must drag Ash La Seine to put aside his caution for standings and shout it out for him of this grand news.”
Ryanne blushed again eyes falling to the ground, “Thank you Remiel, your support is so wonderful. I have been afraid what the people will think of me. Hiding for years, the daughter of a horrible man, who sunk ships with women and children on board. My family got what they deserved having the Rodsvards take their land. I just hope that people realize I’m not my father.”
“If the sins of thy father came upon thee, than I would be a cold and heartless man like my own father, and not the Remiel you see before thee today,” Remiel laughed. The smile turned modest as he bowed his head again, “You will always have my support, mi’lady. Tis the least I might do for such lost time between us. I must warn thee though, I may slip into my old habits of showering thee in compliments. If nothing more than to recall the time I was but an awkward speaking boy following thee around Weaver Bastion trying to impress thee.”
Ryanne giggled gleefully, “Flirts and compliments are not forbidden,” she said with a smile, “Just so that you know that my heart already belongs to another, and I will remain faithful to him.”
“You are not bound by oath, Princess.” Ash’s voice spoke up from the corner of a cart he was leaning on “If your heart sways, I won’t stand in your way.” The Prince of Dragons however nodded towards Remiel “I will of course have to challenge your spider friend to a duel out of honor for you, though.”
Ryanne patted Remiel on the shoulder and shot him a friendly smile before rushing to Ash’s side. She cuddled up against his armor and looked up at him, “Remiel is an old friend. We’ve not seen each other in years. My heart lies with you my Prince. Don’t you go forgetting it. I don’t want to have to tear the hair off the head of some trollop you pick up for revenge.”
Ash grinned down at her, the back of his finger raising to brush hair from her cheek “I am a Lord like any other, with desires to protect the property I claim, even if she feels the need to wander. But as I say, you are not bound by oath...I will not be to hurt if you wish to sample the flowers of your meadow.”
“You need not worry, I will be sampling no further flowers.” She looked up with a serious face, “I expect the same of you.” She gave a giggle and pulled on the arm which she was cuddling against, “So I expect that you two can be friends as well.”
Ash looked over to Remiel “Of course we can be friends should he wish it. Does not mean I won't consider that duel anyways. That is a mans way of saying ‘Hello, how are you? Would you like to share a meal by our fire tonight, My Lord Remiel?’ “ he grinned.
“I could not agree with thee more, Lord Ash,” Remiel smiled back at him while taking more passive stance with arms tucked against his chest, “Duels are a part of being friends. I would gladly hath Lady Ryanne’s future husband be my friend.”
Ryanne gave a chuckle and wave of her hand, “You boys do what you need to do, just make sure that any blood that is spilled is in good honor, and can be sewn up. I won’t have you killing each other to prove what good friends you are. In the meantime. The womanly way of saying ‘Would you like to share a meal by our fire tonight, My Lord Remiel?’, goes something like this.” She turned her eyes to Remiel, “Would you like to share a meal by our fire tonight my friend?” She gave a smile, “I know it’s boring, but sometimes it actually works.”
Jul 25 13 12:26 PM
Jul 27 13 1:51 AM
Jul 27 13 1:53 AM
Once House La Seine started to move inside and House Eresku passed their greetings onto the Sennicks, with no less respectful fawning over the daughters present, Dagon moved away from his own people. One lowly member of the family would not be missed in his own mind, and curiosity, as it always did, got the better of him.
“My Lord Ash,” he called out to the young man. Like Caspar he was dressed in the black spider silk of his family, though it was far more rugged with signs of burns, cuts, and weathering. The cowl that hid his features and face was stained a darker yellow and green from its time in the wilds. On his back still was his spear that shifted soundlessly with his jog.
Ash paused and looked back at the call that summoned him “Yes?” He asked quizzically.
“Forgive me for interrupting thy family’s proceedings,” the Eresku said as he caught up to Ash, “If it would suit thee I wish to walk by thy said and ask thee questions.” He quickly explained, keeping an even and noble tone as all his family, though it was difficult to hide the fervor in his voice, “Being of Eresku, news is rare and knowing my aunt she shall take little care in the affairs of other houses. Yet, I would hope to inquire upon thee events in the past few years.”
“If it pleases you.” Ash nodded “What questions do you wish to ask?”
The young man moved to walk alongside Ash, his voice falling several octaves, “I could not help notice thy family hath... tension with the Sennicks. When did this start, if I might so bold to ask?”
Ash rose a brow, he had assumed everyone knew the story. “Three years ago at the Capitals Red Zenith to celebrate the winning of the war against Abnaki and division of the new lands.” he started, lowering his own voice as well and looking around for the trademarks that were ravens. “Its a pathetic tension that we are forced to endure unfortunately. My cousin, heir of South Port, Lady Ri’ana La Seine was forced into marriage. For the duration of the Red Zenith suitors came to her from all the houses and spent a day each with her. Liel Sennick was one such lord.”
“I see,” the Eresku nodded, he had heard of the Red Zenith three years ago. As usual his family did not attend the celebration but heard the La Seine played a large part, he only received this vague news months after it was done after returning from the far and wild north. “Yet such contest of suitor, it is not unheard of. Though sore feelings are felt I do not expect such venom to last for three years. I suppose something happened?”
“Well. It is curious. According to Lady Ri’ana she and Lord Liel spoke at lengths of their courtship and came to an agreement that it was not the right match. They parted on good terms.” Ash looked to the Eresku boy “As an apology Ri’ana set her oldest cousin up with the Raven of Kaith and it appeared they were making out well as a couple and a union was being planned. Unfortunately things turned out for the worse and caught under pressure Ri’ana ran away with the Lord Robert Rosalind, later caught by Nils Rodsvard.” Ash frowned “Lord Ashtar set forth a reward that the first Lord to find his daughter would be allowed to marry her. So Nils and Ri’ana were wed. And the Sennicks became angered by it, vanishing and leaving Kalalithil bare without news or word of Lord Liels departure. After time, she chose to move on and marry Lord Eamon assuming the Ravens would not be returning or allowing such relationship between our two houses. It only made the situation worse. And now we bite teeth and wear masks in these political games.”
The Eresku was silent for a moment, absorbing his words carefully in his mind before nodding gently, “Tis most unfortunate... It is why my family often do not follow marriage alliances or wed our daughters to other lords... Such politics in our mind hath become... petty.” He looked up to Ash, “Though I speak of no disrespect to thy own family or thyself my lord.”
Ash chuckled “No offence taken. I agree actually, your family is wise. It is a hard thing to depart from once trapped within it’s coils, however.”
“Indeed, tis unfortunate matrimony might be used not as it was intended,” The Eresku nodded. He paused, and cautiously asked, “My lord, if I might ask. Thou art the cousin of Rikka La Seine, yes? I would seek to ask how is she, I could not help hear her name moments ago.”
Ash rose a brow and glanced to the boy again quite before understanding crossed his face “Ah! So you are the boy that lost us our yearly test!” he barked with a narrowed eyed glare. The glare lasted for but a moment before he laughed “Its in the past. She is....well from what I can tell.”
The young man’s hazel eyes blinked before glancing to the ground, but he had let out a smirk once the glare was gone. “Forgive me, I did not even introduce myself,” pulling down the cowl and scarf from his face he revealed a light tanned freckled face with messy hair a mix of dark brown and chestnut. Handsome enough to steal a maiden’s heart, though now exposed he refused to look Ash in the eye. “I am Dagon Eresku, thirdborn of Lord Azurian Eresku,” he bowed his head lowly, “Forgive the lack of introduction I... got ahead of myself... But yes, under pain of embarrassment I admit that was I those years back.” When he finally did look up to him it was with a frown, “Thy pause in speaking of Rikka... concerns me though, mi’lord...”
Ash frowned slightly “Idril told us what happened after her father pulled her out of the test. I apologize for my own families harshness. Lord Vivaco felt horrible after seeing how heartsick his princess became of the loss. She seemed to lose a spark we all knew her as. It came back after an accident. Her horse spooked and threw her from saddle, temporary concussion, loss of memory and not to mention a hair full of burs. The healers said it wasn’t uncommon with such trauma, once they cut all the burrs out her hair was as short as mine and she returned to being the old Rikka we knew. Causing mischief everywhere we turned and skipping classes. Later at the Red Zenith she met a young Lord and after a bear attack in the woods...they got married and share a son.” Ash looked ahead with a sad and apologetic frown.
By the time Ash spoke of the concussion, Dagon was already pulling up his scarf and hood to hide beneath its protective barrier from the world. With it he was able to better hide his thoughts as he silently listened to what happened to Rikka La Siene after their separation. In the end he let out a laugh, it was practiced and even but to the trained ear... it was forced. “There is no need to apologise for telling me the truth of events, mi’lord,” the young man needed to pause, as if to collect himself. His eyes though were unchanged beyond dulling slightly as he bowed his head to Ash, “Thank you for telling me this... I am happy that she hath moved on to be herself, and am glad that she found someone...” He glanced down, his steps turning away from Ash.
“Dagon.” Ash prompted before the lad could leave. The young man kept from going any further, his head turned back to Ash to regard him with shadowed eyes.
“Rikka was sixteen when she married and soon heavy with child. Quite young, many would say. Afterwards she endured a war, Farinthel suffering that she was suddenly plunged into and a new mother before the age of twenty. She is nineteen now.” Ash kept the frown as he patted his sides and found a letter “For those three years she sent us letters and updates...They were not always happy ones.” he handed the letter to Dagon “The healers say...the memories are always there, they are never lost. Merely need to be rekindled.” Stretching and yawning he started down the hallway “I’ll see you at dinner Dagon Eresku.”
Dagon was prepared to protest, he could not simply read a letter that were meant for Rikka’s family. Yet... Once again his own curiosity kept his tongue still as he looked down again at the letter in his hand. Before he knew it, it had slipped into his coat, hidden from view and keeping it from being bent or wrinkled by his motions. Turning once more he went to rejoin his family, glad for the cowl to hide his face.
Jul 27 13 2:05 AM
Jul 27 13 2:06 AM
Jul 27 13 2:07 AM
Jul 29 13 8:06 AM
House Eresku was gathering more than few stares with their appearance. Other competitors and merchants would turn their heads and gossip came in murmurs as they passed. It was to be expected, very little was known of their House beyond their appearance to help fight the war. Beyond that most assumed the clan had died out and no longer existed. Others simply had no idea who they were, and being the reclusive type they did not dain to inform anyone. The guards made their lodgings in the large carriages and carts they brough along to house their wares. Most though were away to allow Jolela, Anat, and Ashtoreth to explore the city with a phalanx of guards to see to their safety. It was by no disrespect to the Ravens, merely the paranoid way of recluses who were not prone to trusting anyone and anywhere that wasn’t their home. Remiel acted as liaison to the House, greeting others and helping to set up their stands in the designated place with other merchants. Dagon meanwhile prepared to explore on his own as he often did. Unlike his father, his aunt Aranhe encouraged his wandering nature. Most of his family did not mind his disappearance, all except his oldest brother.
Caught by the collar, the young man was pulled back from the road much to his annoyance, “Hold thy quick feet, brother. Thou art not free from my sight,” Remiel scowled with mock anger. It was quickly replaced with a laugh as he draped his thick arm over his little brother.
“Thou hath need of me brother?” Dagon asked with a sigh. His eyes started to roll but stopped when Remiel shoved a bundle of thick furs into his arms.
“Yes, thou art coming to the village with me to ply wares and help the entertainers start their performance. Not enough acrobats out there, thou there can never be too many acrobats.” Remiel answered before nodding off to Vamos’ cart, “Come! Ride with us brother, it’ll improve thy spirits. Tis no good for thee to be sick with love, lest you spread the chill to the rest of us. Blacksmith Vamos’ sunny personality shall raise thee like a rainbow in the sky!” The burly white haired man at the reins of the cart scowled down Dagon, his way of saying ‘hello’ to anyone that looked at him.
Dagon smirked and nodded, “Very well... I’ll thee move but no more. I wish to be on my own once we are done.” Reluctantly he followed after Remiel’s urging, walking alongside his burly brother.
“As you wish, brother, as you wish.” Remiel pulled Dagon’s cowl down to teasingly block his view. “Be careful though brother, if thou become anymore a recluse thou shalt sprout four more limbs and turn brown. Tis no way to greet a fair lady as a spider, dear brother.” Remiel laughed, letting his brother up to the cart first before himself. Dramatically he pulled himself to hang on the edge, the scarf of his white cowl coming undone to flutter in the wind. With a finger pointed forward he called out, “Onward, Vamos! We shall shepherd our poor brother away from the name Rikka to break thy suffer!”
“You’ll kill the boy of embarrassment before we got anywhere,” Vamos grumbled as he whipped the reins to get them moving. True enough Dagon tried his best to blend into the wooden planks of his seat while Remiel laughed whole heartedly.
Boreas was asleep. Perhaps one of Rikka’s favorite times of the day. It meant she was finally free from all the screaming, crying, tugging, chasing, and the worst part...saying ‘No’ every other word she spoke. With the handmaiden watching the Farinthel boy and two guards Rikka was free to walk the streets of the little Raven Village. Music filled the air along with dancing which Rikka got pulled into on a number of occasions. Skipping, Twirling, Bowing, Curtsying it was like being free at last. And long since over do. The only difference from all of her other carefree times within festival was the ever silent White Dragon following her every step. He was a good man, Brethol Mor...so she didn’t complain too much.
“Thank you!” Rikka giggled as she picked out a caramel sweet and paid the vendor, her eyes lighting up in delight at the sweet taste “Oh! This is wonderful! What next?!” She spun around on her heels and looked around. Either direction looked as promising as the next so she simply shrugged, popped the candy in her mouth and pulled out a flute from her flowered belt to try and play with the common tune the other minstrels played.
Off to the side, a crowd gathered around a display of two dwarves smelling of mead, groggily mounting a pair of swine with ragtag armor atop their form. They placed worn buckets atop their heads with slits carved out for their eyes, and were each handed long loaves of crisp bread, stale from a few days of sitting out in the air. A grungy, slender man slinked to the middle of the circle made and looked the two swarley dwarves over before saying in his high pitched squeal: “In this corner, the prodigious Raven of Kaith!”
One of the dwarves raised his bread lance with mild effort, grunting as the pig began getting restless. A few stray giggles erupted from the group, with the squirrelly man smirking widely as he stretched a hand to the other dwarf: “In this corner, Ser Lathoros!”
Several cheers erupted from the group, apparently the name being of note amongst the locals. The dwarf dubbed Lathoros roared a guttural battle cry as he too raised his bread lance, his swine lazily sniffing the ground and picking morsels of bread from the stone pavement. The man in the middle then raised both hands, and lowered them with force as he shouted loudly: “Charge!”
With gusto, the dwarves spurred their mounts onward, charging toward each other as fast as distracted pigs could carry them, which was laughably slow. A familiar voice could be heard over the din, that of the knight that had escorted Rikka and her company through the woods. His form was stout, but his face was recognizable. Ser Kandon Braice, dressed in a soft brown tunic with grey trousers, a cream colored silk shirt loosely fitted to his form.
Upon Ser Kandons shoulder a tapping could be felt, followed by another on his other shoulder and a playful giggle. “Free of duties, good Ser?” Rikka asked when he managed to find her.
As he felt the tap on his shoulder, Kandon turned to face whom he assumed as a different person entirely: “Well it’s about time for you to show, I was getting kind of lonely.” The manner in which he said that last word held more than a suggestion, and his eyes widened in a lightly buzzed stupor upon noting who it was actually standing behind him. He nearly spilled his ale as he said with a slight stutter: “L..Lady Rikka, my uh... my apologies, i uh...”
Rikka giggled and scrunched her nose “My apologies” she winked “I won’t bother you long, just saw you in the crowd and thought to say hello and thanks for your escort this morning!”
“The... pleasure was all mine... mi’lady.” His northern accent came out a bit with the presence of alcohol, something he hadn’t quite demonstrated earlier when he had escorted them into town. It seemed his story was true, him being a common man in a past life. His stance stiffened a bit when the crowd stirred with excitement as the dwarves met each other in the center of the ring, their bread lances crumbling as they struck each other in the chest. One was so inebriated, he stumbled completely off his pig head over heels, stumbling to rise on his arms and knees. The other, dubbed Lathoros, laboriously jumped from his now eager pig who was more interested in collecting the bigger crumbs of bread, and rushed over to the fallen dwarf, striking him with the remains of his loaf across the back, much to the pleasure of the merry onlookers.
Kandon swallowed deeply, and said to Rikka: “I’m sure my lady has enjoyed her stay thus far? Perhaps i could show you to more... suitable entertainment.” His accent was still there, although one could tell he was trying to sound as official as possible.
Rikka laughed “No it’s ok. This here is quite suitable. Like I said...I’m just passing by. I’m actually looking for the garden. I was told there was one here.”
“Ah... yes mi’lady. There’s a nice quiet one about three blocks down until you get to Falcon Street, then take a left. It’ll eventually lead into an unpaved, grassy knoll some birds have naturally taken up as their roost. It’s fairly nice at around this time.” He kept his ale at his side, saying in a noble manner: “Would you like an escort mi’lady?”
“No, thank you Ser but...” She giggled as she watched the Dwarves “I can find my way, besides if I heard you correctly, you’re waiting for someone.” she winked and curtsied “Thank you for the Directions!”
For the first time in Rikka and Kandon’s brief time knowing each other, the seemingly unflinching knight blushed a rosy red, highlighted even more so by his pale skin. “Ah... yes... mi’lady.” His accent was thick as ever by the time she left, his nerves shot to hell with the levels of ale in his system.
He gave a semi-acceptable bow of his head, and this time failed to maintain his grip on his ale as the crowd bursted in cheers, knocking him to and fro as they encouraged the stumbling dwarf playing the role of the Raven of Kaith, who had succeeded in kicking himself up, throwing a stream of fallen hay into his opponent’s face, picking up his half eaten loaf of stale bread and hurling himself upon Lathoros, the two dwarves rolling around in hay and filth.
Playing a few tweets on her flute Rikka started down the road, stopping to admire gems and trinkets from the various vendors until she stopped with a foot up in the air, looked up at the sign and briskly turned down the Falcon road towards the gardens. As was said, birds sang above head as she ducked under a low hanging branch of flowers and changed her merry tune to a series of slow and gentle notes, perhaps familiar to some as she spied a small pond and moved to jump upon the stones that lined it’s edges before sitting down in the grass.
In the peaceful garden, the sounds of the village seemed dulled from brush and the song of birds. Not a sound disturbed the tranquil scene, nor any body to be seen besides herself. Others instead seemed to want to join the festivities over being alone in a garden. With Brethol Mor giving his polite distance she was alone on the pondside. It was nothing more than a simple breeze that landed something softer over her short hair, green and in the shape of a hoop.
Rikka gasped slightly at the brush and reached a hand up to feel the hoop before leaning forward to gaze into the pool. Atop her red and gold tinted hair was an expertly woven tiara of leaves and assorted wildflowers. She gazed for a long time at her own reflection blinking in aw and wonder, it was like a gentle tug of a string, pulling and playing at a distant memory. She had another tiara like this...carefully encased in amber and sitting in her room back at La Seine atop sketches of fairy rings and hidden groves. Rolled up between a look of two daisies there was a little piece of parchment. When she noticed the parchment she carefully reached up and brought it into hands, gently unrolling it to read the message within.
‘I like your hair better this way -An Old Friend’. The little letter was followed by a simple heart, and drawn carefully with a sharp piece of charcoal. From across the pond something stirred with the breeze.
She knew the heart, the heart alone was what played with memories the most. A chicken coop and a secret. Green eyes darted up and looked around, even standing so that she could turn, twist, twirl and search
Across the pond she managed to catch sight of someone leaving. A loose white scarf following after the black dressed figure, leaving out the other end of the knoll.
“H-hey!” Rikka called out before quickly making pursuit. Moving around the pond to try and follow. Brethol Mor could be heard calling to her from behind but she didn’t stop determined to find out who had left her the note and gift even though she thought she knew.
The figure did not turn, yet he did not quicken his pace away from her. He turned away down a little overgrown cobblestone path behind a bush of bright white and purple flowers alongside Morning Glories climbing up the side of a wall. Rikka continued to follow “Hello?” she called out again, hoping to catch his attention.
The path led up to a fountain up on the knoll surrounded again by bushes and walls of morning glories, yet the figure was nowhere to be seen. The fountain was a weathered statue of a woman holding a vase down to the still water of the base. Yet something had been left on the edge, a torn and weathered white scarf left crumpled up on the fountain’s edge.
Rikka quickly moved up to the scarf and picked it up in hands. Her thumb and forefinger rubbing the soft fabric and raising it to lips as if she were scenting a trail, her eyes continuing to look around it was all so familiar. A young boy dropping down from a tree limb, catching a chicken and holding it out to her, his face covered in a white scarf...He had a name...she was sure it was a familiar name...she had said it sounded like ‘Dragon’ just missing the ‘r’ ”Dagon?” she asked the statue questioningly.
“I... Wasn’t sure thou would remember,” From around the fountain statue the boy appeared, older yet the same one to meet her in the grove nearly three years ago. He smiled to her but wasn’t sure what to do next. His first instinct was to rush around the fountain and embrace her in a hug and refuse to let go... But so much time had passed. He hoped and prayed to the Fate Weaver, and so far she remembered his name. Yet what to do next... He could only stand and look back at her with bright hazel eyes.
“I...” she looked on with wide eyes. The truth was she had forgotten. She had forgotten alot of things after her accident but it was there now...as sure as daylight it all came back, hands clasped in a twirling dance in an attempt to summon the fairies. “I do, remember.” she answered with a smile. All this time, she too was left unsure at first before spirit won over restraint and she rushed to him, her arms wrapping around him in a tight hug “I thought I’d never see you again!”
The soft smile turned to a grin as Dagon met stepped forward with arms wide to accept the hug. He practically picked her up in joy as he laughed. “I dreamed of this day so often, yet tis all the better that this is real,” he answered, still unwilling to let her go lest she suddenly turn to smoke and rise off, “I thought thou had forgotten me and moved on.” Ash had been right, all it took was just a reminder.
“Oh Dagon!” Rikka pulled back just slightly to frown at him “I wish I could say no, never, not ever....” she frowned and lowered her gaze “I regretfully admit...I did forget...B-but not by choice of my own! I..I..”
“I know.” Dagon smiled back to her, “Ash hath told me of thy accident. Perhaps it was by Fate Weaver’s wish that thou not be plagued by the heart ache I had and allowed thee to be the same sunshine I met thee as.” He fell silent to look at her before grinning again, “I like thy hair now... Tis... cute.”
Rikka blushed and grinned “You can thank the bur brush for such...cute-ness. I have missed you...deeply, Dagon. I wish that I had not forgotten...Things perhaps would be different if...” She sighed and fell silent.
The Eresku boy frowned gently, his head tilting to the side curiously. “I heard that thou art married now...” he was careful to state it just as it was, the truth. A painful one for him but he had grown thick skin over the short years of travel. “And with a son,” he added as he pulled back to gesture to sit by the fountainside.
“Yes.” Rikka nodded in admittance “I am a Farinthel now. And with son, three years old....sleeping currently.”
“That is good... I understand thou hath not the easiest life. Ash told of thy new House’s war, among others.” He shifted, his hand moving to show the edge of the white letter still resting his pocket. Already read, yet carefully replaced for safe keeping.
"Is that...?" She narrowed her eyes at the letter before blushing deeply "Ash gave it to you..."
“He did,” Dagon smiled softly, he’d forgotten how she blushed, another memory lost to the haze of dreams. He had to blink before he could start staring. “I beseeched him for news of his family, and thyself, mi’lady. I... Well I shall not lie, I approached him as a desperate dog seeking any scrap of knowledge for mi’lady. He offered me the letter to read, and no other eyes hath seen it.”
"It is treasonous to speak ill of one’s husband." Rikka sighed "It is not that he is a bad husband or that my love has dwindled...I just..." She frowned, she didn't know anyway poetic or otherwise on how to speak her heart.
“I saw no treason in thy words, nor illness in thy thoughts,” Dagon answered with a frown. Looking down he carefully he lifted the letter from his pocket and offered it to her. “Thy...” he paused and put on a smile, “Thy affection for him is true and hath not changed... Yet thou hath been through so much in these few years. With the weight of motherhood as well, thou did not expect this to be the life thou sought.”
Rikka nodded glumly "He speaks of war often. Reclaiming his ancestors lands, and returning to old ways. He wants to be seen as a great warrior and recognized for such deed. Most young lords seek the same I suppose..." She looked away " I didn't want to be a mother so soon, to see so much bloodshed...I just...wanted to dance and hunt in the woods....to explore new lands and let my spirit free of....tradition. When I fell in love with him I thought that...I could share that dream. We fought a bear together and survived. Tis not so though. Instead I chase a boy saying 'No no no....'"
Reaching over Dagon placed his hand with hers, moving closer. He looked down and sigh, “My own dreams to be free of tradition hath not been elusive too.” He wasn’t sure relating to her might make her feel better, or worse. “After we were seperated I became... sullen and missed all classes and refused my martial training. To remedy this my father had my aunt train me, she took me with my eldest brother far into the Wild North to explore the land there. It was cold, lifeless, and a cruel place. The sun did not shine for most days, and eventually in our travels it ceased to exist... Tis not the same hardships as thee yet... Fate Weaver has brought here once hath she not?”
“Yes.” Rikka smiled and gave a firm nod “We are together again. Despite our grumpy fathers wishes.” she giggled conspiratorially
“Verily!” Dagon smiled to her, “Tis only ourselves... Though sadly no fairy circles are here to dance about to summon our old friends.” With a laugh he winked, “I kept my promise. Each fairy circle I came across I stopped to dance around, no amount of mockery could dissuade me from breaking my word to thee.”
Rikka laughed “I remember I kept finding your hearts and going to the Grove...but you were not there. After my accident I had been relieved from chicken duties to instead dance and map working.”
Dagon smiled awkwardly and looked down, “Sometimes I would manage to escape before I left for the Wild North. Always I would go to the chicken coop to leave thee hearts... Though each time I would be caught before we could see each other. Perhaps it became cruel for trying and leaving thee alone in our grove.”
“No...” Rikka smiled and rose a hand to his cheek “No. I was never alone in that grove. You were always there, even if I could not see you.”
Dagon closed his eyes, placing his hand over hers, perhaps forgetting himself or that the woman he was with was married to a powerful lord, “Thou hath no idea how long I’ve waited to feel thee close again, mi’lady.”
Rikka blushed and bit her lower lip, she leaned forward as if to take a kiss as they once had before pausing and looking down “It is my fault that it cannot be more than a hand to cheek..” she answered sadly. “I was too rushed...and now we pay the consequences of it. I am so sorry Dagon...”
“There is nothing to be sorry for,” Dagon smiled back to her fondly, “Being by thy side, by one thread of fate or another, is all I want.”
Jul 29 13 8:33 AM
Jul 29 13 10:17 AM
Rael & Ezven
Within Raven’s Keep, Lord Rael sat in his library reading over the rosters of the competitors participating in the different events of the tournament. Thus far it appeared this year would be quite the competition, with many promising matches should things pan out. His fireplace cast heat through his library, combining with the candles lining his desk so as to provide enough light so as to read easier. Night was falling upon the city, yet the sounds of merriment and revelry could be heard as his subjects did what they did best.
A light rap on his door caught his attention, the Raven Lord inviting whomever was knocking through with a simple: “Enter.”
A servant popped his head from behind the door, saying in his respectful manner: “Sire, you have an unexpected visitor. Lord Ezven Farinthel requests an audience.”
“Bring him in. Ready some tea, and mulled wine.” Rael said as he laid the parchment upon his desk, leaning back in his chair as he awaited the guest to enter his room.
“Lord Rael,” Ezven said as he walked into the warm room against the night’s chill. He bowed in front of the Lord of Raven’s Watch and there he stood. “I bring a message on behalf of my brother, Mace Farinthel, Lord of Rosythe.” Plucking a rolled parchment sealed in the white wax of a stag on it with two fingers and handing it to the powerful man. “Your eyes only.”
With an upraised brow, Rael accepted the roll with one hand, indicating the seat on the other side of the desk for the young lord. He reached for a letter opener resting in a small cubby built into his desk, placing its point under the wax seal. His hands gingerly worked the seal, peeling it back without ripping the parchment as intended, years of experience at handling important correspondence from numerous sources. He unfurled the letter, his wearied eyes skimming over its contents as carefully as he could. As he read, he casually said to the young one sitting across from him: “I don’t believe i ever expressed my sympathies over your father’s passing... Lord Peter was a good man.”
“Thank you, my Lord. We haven’t heard as much from other houses. My father... he,” Ezven’s blue eyes looking up to ceiling like when he heard of his father being insulted in death with being hanged on a tree branch, a deer’s head sewn onto his headless neck. “received a proper burial. But please, I don’t wish to reminisce on ill thoughts.” He said quietly.
“Of course.” Rael said simply, his words sincere as his expression bore an unusual paternal warmth whilst regarding Ezven. Considering the manner of his father’s death, the boy deserved at least that much. The servant who had previously lead Ezven into the room returned with a tray, two glasses and a decanter of mulled wine carried atop, another servant following behind with a set of tea. Rael nodded at the servants, who placed the trays within arms reach on a neighboring table and left, closing the door behind them. The Old Raven’s eyes then rested on the letter again, focusing more intently on the words it carried.
Lord Rael, Second of His Name, Lord of Raven’s Watch, Protector of the Raven’s Wood, Warden of the Northern Marches and General of the Late King. I, Mace Farinthel, Lord of Rosythe, Ruler of the Highlands, and Warden of the East, present my brother, Ezven, to deliver this message.
The country of Solemna lies next to your lands and the Northern Wilds, I wish to take my ancestor’s homelands as is our claim since the loss of these when the First King of X’avain had the Farinthels bend the knee. The Rhyne separates us and the Blue Mountains run as a natural border through your lands. My offer is simply, I will pay gold for a small sect of land connecting Farinthel territory to Solemna, as a downpayment of good faith. Upon taking Solemna, I will clear out more of the Northern Wilds for you to claim as your own in equal exchange.
I wish no conflict between our houses, only mutual benefit as my father had left it. I invite you to Rosythe’s Hallow Harvest to speak more on this matter. I understand the whispered slights upon the Sennicks for your adept skill of information and the power letters such as this holds. If you acknowledge this, send your reply with my brother, a dutiful soldier and soon-to-be knight.
- Mace Farinthel
As his deep blue eyes scanned the letter, taking in every word with heavy thought, Rael found his fingers placed atop his chin just over his bottom lip, reflecting his pensive demeanor. After finishing the letter, Rael let out a deep sigh, leaning back once again in his chair as he placed the letter tip first into the fireplace nearby, allowing the flames to lick hungrily at the dried parchment until it lit ablaze. He tossed it in as it caught fire and hastily devoured the letter, forever to be lost save for in his mind. He chose his words carefully before speaking: “Do you know the contents of the letter your brother sent?”
“He has shared the knowledge of his plans to me, my Lord. If he offended you...” Ezven couldn’t keep eye contact with those hard blue eyes, they weren’t like his own, too...piercing. Instead he looked at the letter that was now flakes in the ash. “Much of the responsibility has fallen on his shoulders since Bast still sleeps.”
“I am not offended.” Rael said evenly, although his expression was still ‘hard’ as Ezven characterized. “But i also have a response already to send to him. First, i would ask some questions. I understand if some you would feel best not answering, but they must be asked nonetheless.” The old Raven poured a glass of mulled wine and slid it over to Ezven, awaiting his response to what had been said thus far.
The Lord of Raven’s Watch throws the first gamble. Ezven thought. The Lord had learned his tricks well and now played them. If Ezven were to refuse, he would seem as though he is not being entirely truthful of his position. If he did answer, he could be given the man information that might hurt him, his house. Possibly destroy them if the extremes were met. “I will answer them as best I can.”
Lord Sennick merely nodded, pouring himself a glass of wine as he began: “In the letter, your brother requests i sell him land connecting your lands with Solema. Let me first say, that i have no interest in selling any land, especially to a house of which i am not already tied to in some form.” His meaning was clear. You aren’t married to my family, why should i sell you land? “However, I am not unreasonable. Would it be suitable to your brother’s needs if he paid for safe conduct through my lands?”
“It would depend, my Lord. If it is a toll that is paid every time a supply wagon, soldier, or goods passed through your lands and how high it would be for each passing.” He replied politely. He wished Mace was here, despite the lack of interacting with people, he had an animal instinct in dealing with his duties as a lord Ezven had noticed.
A nod was given in response to Ezven’s clarification, responded to by one of Rael’s: “How much was your brother planning on paying for that strip of land?”
“That is one of the matters he would like to speak to you about. He does not know much of the land’s worth and what is inside them. A bridge was said at one point and just enough to have a road go into the country for forts to be established as protection for travellers.” Ezven said, wetting the inside of his lips with his tongue and biting the inside of his cheek worrying about his answer.
“I see.” Rael said pensively, bringing his glass of wine up to his lips, taking a sip before continuing. “It would be a one time payment, eighty percent of what he originally would plan on paying me for the land. That would include assistance navigating the land of course. Does that seem to settle matters in that respect?”
“I believe it might suffice.” His armor was beginning to itch in the small of his back and to act normal was growing difficult but he would not give in to a simple scratch. “As long there is passage.”
“Very good then. And as for what you intend to accomplish once you pass through...” Rael set his glass down, settling himself in his seat before continuing: “You do realize I have no intention of fighting the Solemese, yes? I may not like some of the other houses in Ra’vain, but i am still loyal to the king. I’m not too keen on doing something he doesn’t directly condone. Are we clear?”
“There is no intention for any other to fight. Our own initiative is enough, this we have confidence in.” An answer that he felt comfortable in giving to the wizened Raven.
“Very well then. I don’t think there are any other questions i need ask.” He noticed Ezven hadn’t touched his wine. Smart. “Was there anything you wished to ask me?”
“Who is Lady Y’silla if I might ask?” He managed to not blurt out, in fact, Ezven was thankful for having a clear enough head after drinking a few cups of mead earlier this evening. He could still feel the spot where her lips touched his cheek but didn’t want to mention that out of fear of disrespecting the mighty lord.
A light tinge of ice shot through Rael’s eyes, intrigued by Ezven’s question to say the least. He would play along with the boy for now. “She is my youngest daughter.” His voice was flat, and to the point. He hoped the boy would be the same.
“I only ask because of meeting her while I stood watching the merry makers. Her guardian is quite memorable as well.” The Farinthel stated in response.
“Indeed. I chose him for that reason.” Rael said matter of factly, rather enjoying playing upon the boy’s nerves. “Apparently more so than my daughter.”
“You choose your men well, Lord Rael. I am glad that one such as she is protected by him.” He nodded in agreement, Ezven wasn’t sure how he would stack up against the man in terms of muscle. He did take after his father but the underlying rawness of Lord Peter was lost when Ezven took to being a knight.
“So am I, Lord Ezven.” Rael agreed, smirking slightly. He finished his mulled wine, and rose to bid farewell to the young Farinthel. “If there is nothing else then, I bid you a good night. I’m afraid i grow a bit tired at this hour.”
Jul 29 13 6:51 PM
Jul 29 13 10:19 PM
Jul 30 13 8:02 AM
“Oh come on Rex, it’s melon, thou should love melon!” Ashtoreth frowned as she dangled the moist chunk of fruit above the giant spider resting on her lap. It was the size of a small foxhound with eight large hairy legs and two twitching fangs. Brown with black skin it was a menacing sight, and right now it was refusing to eat like a disgruntled cat unhappy with its meal. The girl herself lay lounged on the grass near the firepit and just in front of the stairs that led up to the comfortable sleeper carriage that would be her home for the duration of the tournament. She was skinny with very little in the way of endowment. She was tanned like her cousins but with an almost blonde shade of chestnut locks that fell to below her shoulder blades. Though she sat reclined she was clearly quite tall, just a head shorter than her cousin Remiel who at least stood over six foot.
The man in question was currently lobbing pieces of stale bread at Caspar to practice the younger brother’s reflexes with a falchion. With a grunt and swipe of the air the ground was further littered with twin pieces of bread as the Eresku expertly swiped the air to slice the thin and small food.
Anat lay upside down nearby, watching both her cousin and brothers from the grass. In her hands she toyed with daisies that she threaded into a tiara. “He probably wants apple instead. Father always gave him apples when it’s nighttime.”
“Or he’s being stubborn,” Ashtoreth answered, petting the spider fondly, “Doth thou dislike our surroundings, little one?” She looked up again with wide worried eyes, “Perhaps the travel made him sick? Oh I should have left him at home!”
“I doubt he hath much concern for the bouncing, little cousin,” Remiel said as he aimed for Caspar’s head with the bits of cracker.
“Shouldn’t thou keep him in his pen? Others are not so fond of giant spiders as we are, Ashtoreth,” Caspar said after another swipe of his falchion.
“Perhaps we should go out to the taverns and find thee a man, little cousin?” Anat grinned up at her.
“I’m two years older than thee,” Ashtoreth looked crossly down to her cousin. Carefully she set down the fruit and scratched at Rex’s back. The spider let out clicks to show its pleasure from the action, “Besides, I am far too plain to be seeking attention in such a manner. I do not gained such enjoyment as thou does, Anat.”
“Thou realizeth that any that dare called thee plain would receive a swift beating from us, yes?” Remiel smirked before looking to his little sister, “And I am surprise thou art not already out there? Finally lost track of thy Ruce target?”
“A noble lady is not a hound, Remiel,” Anat answer curtly, “If thy lord wishes to be alone then tis fair that I give him such space. No one likes to be suffocated by their womenfolk.”
“Says the sheltered black widow,” Caspar laughed before quickly tilting his head to evade the fruit flicked at him and block the next flung cracker with the blunt of his sword. “And stop attempting to follow me, it won’t lead you to where he is. I hath mastered eluding thee at this point.”
“And what about thee, not interested in plying such skills to find thy idol, Idril La Seine?” Anat cooed the name, mockingly fawning with the back of her hand to her forehead. Ashtoreth had to suppress her laughter from the act.
“Thy lady hath her own enjoyment while I seekth my own,” he held up a hand to cease the bread bombardment to look at his sister, “Tis not like we are under formal courtship, neither of us seek to encumber our enjoyment with such traditions. In fact mayhaps I seek the attention of another fair and wondrous woman this night after I am done slaying bread?” He chuckled as he retook his stance.
“Thou art roguish brother,” Remiel chuckled, “Though thou must be back to Lord Ruce’s side within the hour to continue thy duties until otherwise. Unless thou art willing to share I doubt much you will have any attention this night.”
“Or the next, or the next, or the next,” Anat twiddled her finger with a laugh.
“Louts, both of thee.” Caspar grumbled at them, dropping his stance for a moment he allowed a single cracker to thump off his head.
Up the road from the camp a familiars voice cried out in surprise, Alerting the Eresku family to trouble. Tahl had decided to check up on his Sworn Sword, he may of not liked being tailed everywhere he went but he knew what it was like in the Shadows shoes and chose not to give the man to much trouble. But instead of Casper of whom he sought, he found something else.
The play ceased at the sudden cry, and upon instinct they looked to Ashtoreth to find the girl’s lap empty. “I, uh, thought he was getting water,” she smiled sheepishly before quickly getting up as Anat did the same. She knew the voice well enough and quickly went past Ashtoreth. Caspar as well sighed and with a grumble went after her.
Rex it seemed had found a new friend, and had greeted him from the shadows by falling down onto his back. Tahl was doing his best to get the many legged creature off of him but was hampered by the armor he wore “Bloody depths!” he cursed.
“Don’t tell me Ser Tahl’zale Ruce the Great Death is afraid of a little spider,” Anat playfully called out as she reached him with a grin. She was having a difficult time hiding the laugh in her voice and the one that threatened to spill over at seeing him panicked. She decided to end it before either of them ended up getting hurt, “Come then, turn around so I might pry Rex from thy back.”
Tahl passed her an annoyed glare before turning “It has a name?!” he asked, trying his best not to pull out his ivory dagger and do what most people do with spiders.
“Of course!” Anat laughed as she carefully placed her fingers between Rex’s legs and pulled him off of Tahl’s back. For fear of falling it latched on to her as she cradled it like a cat. “He is fifty years old, He has rightfully earned a name after all these years,” Anat laughed as she scratched at the spider’s back. Looking up slyly to Tahl she asked, “So what brings thee here, Ser Ruce? Come to collect thy Sworn Sword... Or perhaps a different company this lonely night?”
“Fifty!?” Tahl turned to look at her in exasperation “You keep these things as ‘Pets?’” he then held up a hand and paused, breathing in slowly and letting it out calmly “Never mind. Forgive my My Lady, you're....Rex...startled me. Yes, I came in search of Casper to let him know I was returning to my tent.” Unlike the La Seine, the Ruce had nothing to entertain with politics and Tahl had politely informed the Sennicks that he prefered to sleep in his own tent due to comforts and other needs he had already packed and supplied for his own journey. “I do not find the night Lonely My Lady. But if you desire company...” he shifted “...My tent is open to friends of Eresku.”
Anat grinned upon his answer as Ashtoreth finally reached them. "Careful of thy tone mi'lord, he spits venom on unruly friends," she winked back to Tahl.
"He does not, Anat, now give him back," Ashtoreth glared at her cousin as she daintily picked up Rex from her. "Did that bad knight hurt thee Rez?" She asked fondly before looking up to Tahl with a smile to show she jested.
"Ignore my cousin, Ashtoreth. She prefers spiders to men it seems," Anat teased. She soon followed with a curtsey, "By my honor then I shall be thy Sworn Sword tonight."
Tahl kept a passive expression silently unsure if he should be regretting his offer or not. Still it wouldn’t do for the Son of Arkhil Ruce to be rude to allies so he bowed and held out a hand “I need only one Sworn Sword my lady, I’m sure he can guard from a distance if that is what you desire. You are stunning enough being simply, Anat.”
Anat laughed, gently placing her hand in his, "Why Ser! I would daresay thou art trying to make this poor maiden blush with thy words." When Caspar appeared she turned sharply to give him a look. One that both meant 'go away' and 'stop ruining moments'.
Caspar got the message, holding a hand and his falchion up as he smartly backed away. "This is one danger I am powerless to protect thee from, Ser," he did call out, much to Anat's annoyance as she looped her arm with Tahl's.
Tahl offered an unsure smile “My father’s peace of mind was against old enemies seeking revenge, a Lady I believe I can handle on my own. Thank you Casper. I would say you are free of duties tonight...but I know you won’t accept so tomorrow we shall go seek out the roster and learn who my opponents are for tournament.” Turning he paused and looked to the spider “And I would suggest keeping...Rex...contained. Others might not be as restrained as I.”
“Told ye,” Caspar grumbled as Ashtoreth passed by with the spider. She merely stuck her chin up and continued on back to the fire.
Already though Anat was pulling Tahl along by the arm with a wide grin, “Well then, come on! I wish to see where thou hath made thy tent. I wish to hear another of thy tales.”
Tahl allowed Anat to drag him along but looked back at Casper with an almost pleeding cry for help before he turned his attention to the road “Not many tales to tell. My Lady.” he answered humbly.
“Then thou shall make one up or I will tell thee one,” Anat smiled back at him, not so easily dissuaded by his modesty.
Tahl chuckled nervously “Very well then, My Lady. Why don’t you tell me a little about you?”
Anat ceased her pulling to walk alongside him properly, Caspar trailing far behind to both give them space and to avoid having to listen to her sister flirt. “Well, tis not much to tell. Thou know that my family is reclusive, sometimes called scary because of our fondness for spiders and dark places. I hath never traveled far from my home besides to North Port and once to Runwald. Tis nothing compared to thy own stories though.”
“I hardly think so.” Tahl answered “Even a reclusive life as stories within her halls. I grew up with most of my life within the walls of Tsukimatsu. Training night and day to become a Knight. For four of those years we were not aloud to leave those walls and yet there are plenty of stories to tell, all be it mostly boring...rivalry stuff between myself and Arthion Tsukimatsu.”
“Is that the one who glares at Remiel whenever he flaunts with Lady Krita Rodsvard?” Anat asked with a grin.
“Aye, My Lady. It is. Though he has no place to glare.” Tahl shrugged “They have already agreed their hands cannot be joined in marriage. Krita is free to find her own companion as is he.”
“I doubt it to be so simple, especially when two proud men are at odds,” Anat smirked before nodding. “I suppose I hath a few stories to tell. The usual schemes and plots that scare someone or thieve from the kitchen.” She hummed lightly in thought until finally exclaimed, “Ah! I know, I can tell thee the first time my family met the Durhabura. I would akin them to vassals but I doubt a northern tribe of cannibals can be called as such.”
“Cannibals? I was not aware such practices still existed. The wilds is mystery however...Asides for Wolfheart and the Rodsvards not much is known.”
“My brother Remiel and Dagon know more, but Dagon told me of them,” Anat nodded, “It twas more towards the east, closer to Solemia and above the Sennick Lands here that my family’s expeditions fell under attack from men clad in furs wearing the skulls and antlers of large deers over their heads. Several times we clashed until we finally managed to speak with the tribes elders. This tribe was backwards, even to their neighbors, likely from a place starved of game or crops. Nomadic in nature, they steadily migrated until they attempted to claim land where my family was building Runwald. Another agreement was met, and with the sale of weapons and armor the Durhabura help us defend our lands from raiders and other northern dangers. Under the condition they ceased their barbaric practice of eating others.”
“Curious.” Tahl hummed “I suppose in the Wilds the barren, snow swept lands would cause for hunger. With game scarce they would require other...means of survival. A good deed it is that your family provided them with other methods. My Lady.”
“They are not as bad as they appear to be, though a bit... rugged I suppose,” Anat answered with a smirk, “But it is our wish to further connections with the north and explore its untamed wilderness. I hope one day to go along with my aunt and uncle to the North, though Remiel and Dagon are venomously against it.”
Tahl chuckled “I would be too, begging your pardon My Lady. The north is told to be...unkind, to their women. My aunt had gone to the north in her younger days. She was brutally beaten and raped by three northmen before our uncle came to her rescue. I would hate for such a story to cross your fair lips. Anat.”
His words caused her smile to turn to a frown. There was always heavy guard when the Eresku armies ventured out to the north. True, they many times came back with fewer numbers but always her own aunt and brothers returned. Perhaps not unchanged but they lacked any injury that Anat had seen... Though that did not mean no one was hurt. Dagon especially changed with his time in the winterlands, becoming a melancholy kind of young man instead of the free spirit that he was. “I have to seek some way to gain my father’s approval,” she blurted out the thought without thinking. She glanced to him and frowned, “Perhaps become like my aunt, a Black Widow. There are few better proving ground than the North.”
Tahl paused in his step and turned to look at her curiously, the frown hardening “Any father that demands approval of his daughters by risking their lives and gentleness is a harsh and cruel man. Is it not enough that you are a beautiful and bright young women with a commanding presence fit to lead the future of her house without arms of steel and stolen innocence?”
This time it was Anat who was caught off guard by his forwardness. She blinked, and with a blush that didn’t escape the glow of a nearby lantern post looked down. “Thy words are kind, Tahl’zale. Tis cruel to make me blush like this... But thank you.”
Tahl smirked and leaned forward “Tis revenge for my own blush. My Lady.”
The grin returned as she looked back at him, with her open hand she gently struck his chestplate with barely more than a tap. “And they call me deadly for my forwardness.” The hand was replaced near his collar to keep him leaned down to her, her smile turned hinting with a sly glint to her hazel eyes, “If thou keep surprising me like this you’ll never be free of me, you know.”
“It is by no fault of mine. My Lady.” Tahl chuckled “I cannot help who I am.”
Anat let out a smirk, “Then I’ll ask thee to make a promise to never, under any circumstance, to change.”
Tahl chuckled and placed a hand over hers so that she would loosen her grip and allow him to stand “A deal then. Come. My tent is this way.”
At his urging she let her grip slip and gladly held his hand instead. “Splendid!” She grinned and passed him to pull him along impatiently again.
The camp of Tahl’zale Ruce was simple. In fact it was a stark contrast from the gaudy bone armor he and his horse wore, his horse currently free of such bulk and grazing lazily with two others nearby. There were two tents. One for him and one for the panthers that followed him in shadows. Both were a mixture of green and browns in colors to blend in with the foliage. A simple campfire with a pot of stew and a chest with personal effects “Its not much, but here we are.”
“Not much?” Anat turned to him in disbelief before grinning, “Tis a perfect campsite. Hidden, comfortable, and most importantly the smell of food. It reminds me of when my uncle would take me and my siblings out camping. We would always go to this lake just east of our home and we would take only the essentials like these. It is one of my fondest memories.” She left his side for a moment to greet his horse, seeing if he was friendly or not. She didn’t allow it to be well known but she had a special fondness for horses over spiders.
Tahl chuckled “Im used to traveling around...unseen. It leaves more time for play as you say. Are you hungry?” he asked as he moved to check on the stew which had been sitting for a few hours to let the spices blend in. Nearby a hoot was called out, the usual call of the Panthers to one another. Nearby two of Tahl’s Panther guards were grinning at him, though for now kept to the edge of the camp talking and allowing the pair their space.
“Starved!” Anat answered. When the horse allowed her to approach she gently stroked its neck. She hopped away to join Tahl by the fire side, glancing off to the side to wave at the pair of Panthers. “If thou do not mind, of course. I hate to impose upon thee,” Anat smiled to him.
Tahl looked up at the signal to see the panthers watching before smirking “Ignore them...they are more swords by my aunts orders. They won’t bother us if we don’t want them to.”
“Better than my family then, minus Caspar perhaps,” Anat smirked.
Tahl chuckled “Casper is an odd sort. But a good man.” he nodded.
Anat was forced to place a hand over her mouth to hide her laughter. No doubt just like the Panthers her brother was nearby. Obviously the jest was in good spirit though unlike Tahl, Caspar had many more chances to get back at her. “I could not agree more, Ser.” she nodded once her laughter was under control. “Though, I will say both of thee are similar, thou different... if that makes sense,” Anat said with a smile.
“Aye. It does.” Tahl nodded as he handed her a bowl of the stew “My fathers favorite. Sharkfin stew. Do you like?”
The Eresku girl carefully took the bowl, tilting her head curiously. It smelled delicious, reminding her stomach that she hadn’t eaten in quite some time., “I cannot say I’ve ever tried it before. I did not think thou could eat the fins of a shark... Or eat a shark.” She blew upon the surface steam to help it cool down.
“You eat fish, don’t you?” Tahl smirked “Shark is only bigger. The fin is for flavor not necessarily for meat.”
“Well, I am always willing to give new foods a try,” With her spoon she carefully got a spoonful of the stew and a piece of the very soft fin. Remembering her classes on etiquette she carefully placed laid the spoon between her lips to give the stew a try, carefully tasting the spices in it. The dignified smile she wore fell. Pulling the spoon away she looked down on the bowl with a hard look. “This is one, if not one of, the best stews I ever had,” she said before forgetting her manners and quickly digging into the bowl with the spoon, doing her best to slow down at least enough to not burn herself on the soup.
Tahl laughed loudly before dishing out his own bowl “Plenty to go around. My Lady.”
“Please Tahl’zale,” Anat stopped her frantic eating to smile at him. “Please, tis Anat to thee.”
Jul 31 13 10:44 PM
Aug 2 13 5:46 AM
Aug 9 13 5:26 AM
Aug 9 13 8:03 PM
As people started to gather for the joust, a noble who had been quite well hidden within the city of Raven’s Watch finally stepped out of the shadows. Rune Varless heir of the wooden palisade and gathering of wagons that was known as Jord’s Pyre, had returned from several years abroad. He meant to spend as much time traveling his home kingdom, and had decided to start that pilgrimage here with the Sennicks.
It had taken a few weeks for Rune to get reaccustomed to the rules and etiquette of Ra’vain. As well as teaching such to his Sworn Swords. By the time they had been ready to announce themselves to the Sennicks the Tournament had been announced. Rune met quietly and quickly with Lord Sennick. Both of his swords thought that it would be poor form to be present at such an event in their new home and not participate.
Today, Theratra would take part in the joust. She was taking on Ezven Farinthel, a young man that Rune knew little of except his origin to the South of Raven’s Watch. Rune took his seat beside Petwick, or Pete as most familiar with the fellow called him. Few were familiar with Pete however. He was a large bruting man, with a stern look, gray eyes, white hair, and a heavy black cloak covering his light mail armor. Pete said next to nothing in public, and Rune was content to observe for the moment. Though he did pick a few noticeable faces in the crowd, which he guessed at their identities based on colors and sigils.
Rael Sennick observed the arrival of the Jord’s Pyre party as the tournament was announced to begin, standing at the podium as the company made its way forward. He took the initiative in speaking once they came forth: “Welcome to Raven’s Watch. I assume you are the Jord’s Pyre competitors?”
Rune gave a smile and nod, “It is a splendid turn out my Lord, it is good to finally meet you. I am Rune Varless, Lord Florian’s heir. I am a scholar not a combatant, but my Swords will be participating. With me is Ser Petward, readying for her bout is my other protector Theratra Taletreader. As well as the joust which both will compete, Petward will compete in the sword while Theratra shoots the bow.”
“Very good. I look forward to their appearances.” Rael said with a nod. “This is my wife Y’sienne, along with my daughters Y’silla, Elise, and Aila.” He fixed Rune with an inviting, although cool gaze. “Perhaps you could join us for dinner tomorrow eve?”
“My Ladies,” Rune greeted the Sennick women with a soft voice, a charming smile, and a deep bow. “We would be very happy to attend dinner on the morrow, I am at your service my Lord, or any of your House, they had need just call. I am very interested in learning as much as I can about how things are done here in the North.”
Rael nodded his assent, with his daughters having mixed reactions. Aila merely passed her gaze elsewhere, already a married woman. Y’silla gave him a flirtatious smile, with Elise smirking slightly. The Lord of Raven’s Watch bowed his head slightly, and said: “Enjoy the tournament, and I look forward to seeing more of you.”
Rune took note of the young Ladies’ reaction to him. He was not here to find a bride, nor even to seek entertainment with the women of Raven’s Watch. But it did help to know how he was regarded. The heir of Jord’s Pyre was met by a full range of expression from women, some discounted him right away, for his skinny build and fancy clothes. Others managed to get past the physique that told he would never be a knight or fighter in any wars and noticed his comely features. The married daughters dismissal did not surprise Rune, he’d been in Raven’s Watch long enough to know her status, though he had wondered how she could be happy with a man twice her age. The younger daughter’s smile was flattering and noted for further encounters, but the unmarried twin’s look is what caught Rune’s attention. Not because of what the look said, but because he didn’t understand it.
Aug 9 13 9:16 PM
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