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Author Topic: Ride the Rushing Billows  (Read 8368 times)

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #100 on: May 19, 2017, 09:02:40 AM »
It was dusk by the time they found the harpy colony, the perfect cover to survey the area. Selina scaled a cliff, followed closely by Caden, and peered through her trusty telescope. It was easy to guess the reason the Vanguard scouts had turned around. There were just too many harpies to tackle, enough to take on a small army. She leaned further out and tried to spy from her perch, any means of escape Andrea and Goodman could've taken. She couldn't imagine anyone, even someone as capable as Andrea, getting through the colony of harpies unscathed. She began to suspect that Andrea might've employed trickery to get the scouts off her trail, and then taken a different path to escape. One that led to the west.

Selina shared this theory with Caden and they prepared to leave. However, the rustle of leaves and movement on the cliff caught the eye of a patrolling harpy, bringing the attention of the entire legion all at once. Battling the harpies on the slippery ledge proved to be a challenge, especially when the larger harpies arrived. They were each an entire head larger than Sel or Caden, and hit with the impact of a brick wall. Caden dazed one of the closest large harpies that had threatened an attack, and Selina took the chance to steal its shield. They hid under the shield as more and more attacks pummeled from above, threatening to break right through the wood. Selina knew their time was running short, and began to survey a means of escape. But while her attention was divided, a smaller harpy managed to weasel its way through, jamming its teeth through her sword-wielding hand. She shook it free, but lost her weapon down a muddy slope in the process. Within a moment's thought, she instructed Caden to daze the attacking harpies again. Once this was done, she grabbed him by the waist, and followed the sword down the slope, into a pool of mud hidden under thick foliage. With the now muddied shield obscuring the pair, the harpies lost sight of them and after sometime, decided to abandon the search.

Once silence was restored, Caden suggested to leave. Selina retrieved her weapon and handed Caden the grapple and rope from her pack. He managed to get a good grip after a few tries, and they pulled themselves out of the muck, fleeing the harpy infested area as quickly as they could.

It was at the break of dawn when they made their way through a forest and ended up at a small Vanguard camp. Selina's movements had slowed, having discovered that the bite on her hand had gotten infected. They decided to rest and recuperate at the camp, giving Caden the time to address the wound and bandage it up. Selina whispered into Caden's ear that she didn't deserve a friend like him before she fell asleep. He didn't know what to make of what she had said.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #101 on: May 26, 2017, 10:19:28 AM »
The next day, Selina found Caden sitting beside her, realising that he had not slept a wink. Captain Carbins of the Vanguard, given authority over that post, asked Selina for a saliva sample to check for rabies, having heard that they had undergone a harpy attack. He complained of ramped up attacks in recent times. And just as he was speaking of it, several harpies entered the camp and attacked the villagers and soldiers. Caden and Selina got involved, just as the larger harpies began carrying off three villagers. Selina chased them out of the camp, but they were too far gone for her. Soon, the other harpies were chased off, but Carbins was kept busy trying to placate two very upset villagers. One with a father, and the other with a sister, both lost to the harpies. Carbins intended to wait for backup to arrive, and that would only happen the soonest over the next day. But the two villagers demanded to go right away. They told him that one, the farmer, had already made his way to the harpy nest, with the intention of saving his son all by himself. Carbins was left with little choice but to gather up the three uninjured men under his care, and head out into the field to save the farmer. Selina stopped him on his way out, having heard about the entire conundrum. She offered to help, and suggested to set up a distraction in order to save the captives without having to actually go head to head with the harpies. Initially Caden protested, wanting to have nothing to do with Selina getting herself hurt again, but he soon relented, and threw in his help as well.

The strategy began with one of the soldiers luring away the bulk of harpies at the entrance. Selina and Carbins then entered with bags of gunpowder and dynamite, creating a trail through the camp with the intention of causing maximum confusion. On their way out, Selina almost tripped over an arm. On closer inspection, they found it to be the mangled body of the farmer, who'd unfortunately met with a fatal end at the hands of the harpies. Having little time to deal with the issue, they signaled Caden to set the fire, and as the fire raged through the harpy nest, exploding each time it hit a stick of dynamite, one of the villagers threw in a bag of chemically-induced powder that billowed smoke the moment it hit the flames. Confused by the flames and smoke, the harpies left their nest and soared into the sky. At such time, Carbins and the two soldiers with him, Selina and Caden rushed into the camp and began to search for survivors. They found the villager's elderly father first, then as they trudged deeper into the smoke filled camp, Selina and Caden gradually lost sight of each other. Selina gravitated towards the sound of a child's crying, while Caden towards the sound of a woman's voice. A harpy swooped into Selina's path as she searched the camp, and she traded blows with it. Caden heard the clashing of swords and began to worry, losing his focus. As soon as the harpy was put down, Carbins approached Selina with the farmer's boy in his arms. Together, they headed to where they had come. At the same time, Caden was found by one of Carbin's men, who had found the villager's sister. They too attempted to escape, though they nearly thwarted by an attacking griffon.

As soon as Caden returned to the others, they hurried back to the Vanguard camp to recuperate. Carbins praised both Caden and Selina's efforts in the rescue, and asked if they were interested to join a newly set up group named the Adventurer's Society. He touted good coin to be had, for skilled fighters who might be able to do the job of keeping the peace where the Seraphs, Vanguard and Lionguard found their forces stretched thin. Both refused, though Selina said that she was surprised Caden had not taken up the offer. She'd always pictured Caden to be one for adventure, but he told her that he had had enough adventure and only wanted to go home and live a simple life. This saddened her, and she replied that she would also probably be going back to Lion's Arch after Andrea had been apprehended. Caden's jaw clenched up at the thought and he became rather quiet. Selina asked him what was occupying his thoughts, and when he would not tell her, she guessed that he was still upset about her being inconsistent with her opinion of Rob. She apologised, and Caden told her that he never stopped her from leaving so he had little to complain about. She asked him if he wanted to stop her then. He became agitated and told her that he wasn't interested to discuss it. She apologised again, and they fell silent with their thoughts, till Caden finally admitted that he didn't know how to behave around her because she had become a distraction to him, whether or not she was physically present. She opened her mouth to respond, thinking he was sending her a subtle message, then shut it, realising that if she made a wrong guess again, she would be made to regret. She left the camp in that moment to get some air, and ended up heading south through the woods to clear her head. Meanwhile, Caden remained in the camp, wondering if he had said too much or too little.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2017, 10:21:12 AM by Talia »

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #102 on: June 05, 2017, 10:53:08 AM »
Diana, Sax, Aidan and Sarah Goodman had found each other through the previous days, and had plans to head north in search for the charr named Tokky, whom they had discovered was actually named Tokkra, of the Iron Legion. On their way there, they bumped into Selina and Sax was also discovered by an associate of the Priory named Tracey. Sax was berated for not having given proper notice to the Priory concerning her abrupt departure, and she promised to write a letter to them for that purpose. Selina and Aidan also traded words as to his intentions for taking to the road, because Selina had believed she'd left Lion's Arch in order that Aidan would be able to stay behind to rest. On their way, they chanced upon a rift, and Sax and Tracey were immediately taken up by it to study its workings. This delayed the team for a bit, causing a worried Caden some consternation.

When they finally got to the camp where he was at, Caden joined the others in awkward silence, trading discreet glances with Selina while Sax spoke to Sarah of her father and his friends, in an attempt to turn her away from any influence from the man. Apparently Sarah only had a low opinion of her father's friends, although she knew little of them.

Arriving finally at Splinter Hills, they managed to reunite Tokkra and Sarah. Tokkra revealed that he had searched for Sarah, and found that the only way to free her was to rid her of her father. In an attempt to do that, he had tracked Alistar Goodman all the way to Drake Hollow, where he was currently hidden at. The others were ecstatic at the news, assuming that they were finally close to the capture of Goodman and Andrea. Tokkra pointed out though that he would go nowhere if Sarah was not safely guarded in the camp. Tracey and Sax volunteered to do this job, leaving others to participate in the operation to capture the two fugitives.

After carving their way into the camp through several mobs of separatists, carefully evading enemy traps that Tokkra had previously studied, they found a rifle wielding Goodman on top of a slope. He took aim specifically at Diana and Caden, oblivious to Selina who had crept up behind him for a surprise attack. Unfortunately, Andrea sprung her own surprise on Aidan, taking him at sword point, threatening to kill her nephew if anyone dared make an approach. However, with a few skillful dodges from Aidan, he managed to draw her attention away from Diana and Caden, both of whom managed to injure and daze her, leaving Selina to render her unconscious.

Tokkra joined the others after he had freed the captives at Drake Hollow and had laid explosives around the camp. Both he and Diana carried Goodman and Andrea out while the entire camp went up in smoke.

Returning to Splinter Hills, Diana and Tokkra decided to take Goodman to the Summit to decide which race would lay claim to the criminal. The others, aside from Sarah, headed back to Ebonhawke with Andrea, who would then be claimed by the Shining Blade to stand trial before the Queen. Sax and Diana made plans for a victory party at Vanguard headquarters to mark the achievement. Selina attempted to spread good cheer to her brother in the light that with Andrea gone, he might finally get his life and status back, but Aidan was much too engrossed in the negative state of mind that he had slid into over the past few tragic events he had to endure. Selina mistook his negativity for ingratitude, and came to her own conclusion that her brother was like the many others who would use her for favors, and discard her friendship if it would not benefit them. This cut her deeply, and she left alone for the inn to drown her sorrows in ale.

Caden followed soon after, discovering her in the bar after a search. She told him that she would be leaving for Rob's the next morning, and though Caden would not stop her from her plans, invited her to his home for a short getaway. After some thought, she agreed to this plan - Rob would not miss her for an additional day or two, she said.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #103 on: June 07, 2017, 04:58:27 PM »
Selina had risen early as promised, had her breakfast, and waited next to the door to the inn for Caden to arrive. The prospect of visiting Caden's birth home felt invigorating, in spite of all that had gone on, or was going to occur. She'd decided to focus on the now, and just enjoy the time she had left with Caden.

Caden found the prospect only half as invigorating and found himself rather nervous as he made his way down the next morning. He pulled himself together though and cheerfully greeted Selina as he found her by the door. "Ready to go?"

"I am," she said with a sparkle in her eye. "I'm really grateful that you're bringing me to your home Caden. I know you said I was welcome, but it's quite another thing to actually do it. I wasn't sure half the time if you were serious or just being polite."

He smiled at her. "I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it." He grinned cheekily "Now lets hope my family shares the sentiment."

As they walked along the streets, headed out of Divinity's Reach, Selina opened and shut her mouth a few times, a thought on her mind that she wanted to share, till she finally blurted out. "Caden, you never asked me how I spent my two weeks."

"It's none of my business" He said, feeling slightly irked now the thought of Rob was brought back to his mind.

Oblivious to Caden's discomfort, Selina carried on proudly. "I joined the arena fights in Lion's Arch! And I won, twice. The people went head over heels for me. It was glorious."

He raised a brow at her. "Pitfighting is definitely not what I expected" he mumbled surprised.

"Mhmm! Rob runs the entire thing, so I just needed to ask him to let me join. I've caught a couple of shows before, but never actually participated in one. On hindsight, it could be something that I'm good at."

"I'm glad you found something you like" He said, not sure what else to say.

"You should come to one someday. Cheer me on! That would be so much fun."

"Maybe" He said with a slightly sad smile.

She noticed that his expression had fallen and wondered why. "What's the matter?"

He paused as he mulled over his words. "I doubt your ........friend would like me visiting" He finally said, hoping it wouldn't upset her.

"Oh pfft.." she waved the thought away. "What can he say? You're my guest. I'll bugger him till he lets me." She grinned confidently.

"If you really want me to, I'll come" he said.

"Of course I do! Look at you, you're inviting me to your home. This is where people tend to be most vulnerable and private, but you've chosen to share that with me. How can I not offer you the same? Given that I don't actually have a home to call my own, but the Pits hey... I can share that with you."

He smiled at her but made no further reply.

She smiled back, and as they neared Claypool, stole more glances at Caden. She hadn't been in such good spirits in a while. It was just a matter of time till Aidan's problems would finally be over. The thought of going back to Rob still bothered her a little, but she figured it wouldn't make a huge amount of difference if Caden came to visit her every so often. Perhaps she'd even manage to convince Caden to scout the people on her list that she intended to investigate. She began to imagine the two of them, running around Lion's Arch in the night, staking out some of these homes, side by side... chatting till the sun rose... staring into each other's eyes... She snapped out of her dreams as her face became a little flushed. Sheepishly she looked up at the bright and sunny sky, enjoying the breeze on her skin.

"Sel?" He asked after some time. The gate to Claypool came into view and he slowed down his pace slightly. "Do you have to go back to Lion's Arch?"

She blinked twice, wondering if it finally mattered to him. "Should I not go back?"

"Do you want to?"

She selected her words carefully. "Well... Rob will be awful mad if I don't go back. But if you want me to stay... if you really... I mean... if you need me to be here, with you..."

He looked at her intently. "Perhaps you should do what you want most" He said before moving towards the gate again. "It's not far now." He smiled.

She bit on her lip. It wasn't the response she had hoped for, the one she had waited for since Kessex. "What I want is irrelevant," she said stoically. "Can't... always get what you want."

"Then why should I or Rob get what we want?" He said, before waving at the guard by the gate. "Hi there Jer, everything alright?" He greeted the man. "Caden, it's been a while" Was the reply he got as they walked through the gate. "This way" Caden said, leading Selina towards an orchard within the walls.

She choked on her response. She lowered her head in thought as she followed after him.

At the edge of the small town near the orchard stood a small house, surrounded by a neatly kept herb garden. Besides the house was an empty paddock. "Dad must've gone into town" Caden said, noting the empty paddock. That's where we keep Daisy, our packbull." He walked up the path to the house and opened the door. "Ma, gran, I'm home" He called. "I brought company". "Come in" He said opening the door further, allowing Selina to enter. Inside she found a room mostely covered in wood panelling. Across from the door was a large desk. Behind it were shelves as high as the ceiling. They were filled with small drawers and glass jars. On one end of the room a neat row of herbs hung from the ceiling.  Behind the desk the room seemed to continue to the left. From there two women came into view.

"Caden!" The younger of the two exclaimed happily as she rushed around the counter and took him in her arms. "I'm so pleased you're home".

Caden smiled hugging the woman. "Hello ma" As he stepped back he looked at Selina. "Ma, gran, this is Selina. Selina, this is Molly, my mother and Meri, my grandmother." He smiled as he introduced them, finding himself feeling really rather happy he took her home.

"Hello," she smiled at the two cheerful women in the warm household as she removed her helmet and gave them a little polite bow. But something about the place... or the people, it was giving her a migraine. She pushed on into the home, frustrated because she wanted so much to enjoy it as much as she'd been excited about it, but there was something wrong with her.

"Welcome to our home Selina" Molly said, giving her a warm smile. "I hope you had a pleasant journey"

Meanwhile Caden embraced his grandmother. "Has dad gone into town?" He asked after.

"Yes" Molly replied, her face slightly clouding with worry. "We actually expected him back yesterday, but you know how busy things are lately, I"m sure he's just held up somewhere." She forced a smile on her face and looked at Caden. "Come lets have tea"

Meri went ahead of them as Molly ushered Caden and Selina further into the room. It turned out there was a kitchen around the corner that Selina had been unable to see from the door earlier. "Come sit" Molly said while Meri put a kettle on. In front of the kitchen window stood several brightly coloured blooms and on the kitchen table was a small vase with flowers as well. Molly sat down at the table with them and smiled again.  "Caden doesn't bring friends home very often" She said. "He told us he met you through his work"

Selina followed as she was told, sat in the kitchen and looked around as the headache slowly eased up. She wondered what had brought it on - she'd slept well, eaten well, drank well... Meanwhile Caden's mother seemed to already know some things about her, although it would seem that he had been very general to gloss over everything that had actually transpired. "Uh huh..." she replied. "Yeah, I know him through work. He's eh... a very dedicated and hard worker."

Across from her Caden blushed slightly, he began fidgeting with the backpack he'd just placed on the table before sitting down. "Ma I brought you some Makrut, I know it's hard to come by this season and I happened up on it." He opened the pack and pulled out a small bag witch was clearly filled with something lumpy. "How have things been here? I'm sorry I was away longer than planned."

Meri meanwhile took the kettle of boiling water and poured it over a mixture of several herbs and what looked to be orange peel. She kept a close eye on her grandson however and there seemed to be a twinkle in her eyes as she looked at him and Selina. She picked up the tray with the teapot and cups and placed it on the table where she poured everyone a cup before sitting down.

Selina took the teacup, and another spike drove through her head. A little more intensely this time. An old memory rudely jammed its way into her head... she saw a house, much like this one, though just slightly darker. A man at the table.

"Are you alright my dear?" Meri said, looking at Selina carefully. This caused Caden to look at Selina.

She looked up as the memory faded and the spike eased off, a little embarrassed to have drawn attention. "Yes I am... just a little nervous, I guess," she lied.

Frowning Caden continued to look at her. "Would you rather go outside for a walk maybe" He asked, feeling rather sure she was making light of the matter.

She waited till all traces of the migraine had subsided to reply, "No, I want to stay here." She looked at the cup in her hands. "This tea looks delicious! What is in it?"

"Honeybush, lemongrass, bramble leaf, mango, orange peel and calendula" Meri answered stirring some honey into her own tea. "I'm glad you like it" She followed up with a smile.

Selina took a sip, and the explosion of flavors in her mouth surprised her. "Wow, you all really know your herbs. I see where Caden gets his skills from."

"Pah skills, the boy ought to study more" Meri made an effort to give Caden a pointed look, but clearly did not mean to reprimand him.

Even as a tease, Selina felt obligated to defend Caden. She placed a hand on his and said sternly to Meri, "Caden does magic with those herbs, he's saved me on more than one occasion and that's more than anyone can ask for. You should be very proud of him."

As Selina spoke the front door opened and closed and Molly was instantly on her feet walking to the front of the room. There was a mumble and she soon returned. "Trust me lass I couldn't be more proud" Meri said with a warm smile before looking at Molly who was taking a large back from a shelf in the corner. "Mrs Green's time seems to have come. I'll send word if I need your help" She said before rushing back to the front where the door opened and closed once again.

Selina was taken aback by the interruption. Typically running off in the middle of the conversation meant something dire had occurred, and she was suddenly concerned. "Mrs Green?"

"Caden may have told you that as herbalists we take care of most of the people here when something ails them. Mrs Green is an elderly widow. I suspect that was Els at the door, her granddaughter. Mrs Green hasn't been well for some time now." She stared at her teacup for a while and let the tea swirl around. "You mentioned Caden saved your life before, sadly we can't save everyone. Sometimes all we can do is make them comfortable."

Selina looked from Meri to Caden, trying to imagine how it would be like to be in their shoes. She had been trained from a young age for only one thing; how to point a blade and stab it into another. She had also become rather proud of her abilities in said craft, but all that suddenly felt frivolous and destructive. She wondered how would Meri see her if she really knew who she was.

Meri mistook her thoughtfulness for sadness. "No need to worry dear girl" She said with a smile. "Now lets hear about your plans. Do you intend to stay long? I'm sure you would brighten our days with your presence."

Selina stared at her hands as she gave the invitation some thought. "I'm not sure. I'd like to, certainly, but..." Another spike drove needles through her skull. She paused to wince as another image was slapped into her mind. A hunter's lodge, somewhere in Queensdale. It was at least three storeys high. Her mind was telling her something but she didn't know what. She thought the memory spikes had been dealt with, but apparently they were still infecting her. And why now of all times?

"Sel?" Caden placed a hand on her arm. "Tell me what's going on please?" He looked at her with concern as Meri quietly got up and left the kitchen allowing the two some privacy. Through the backdoor she made her way into the herb garden behind the house and quietly returned to the work she'd been doing there before Caden and Selina arrived.

She took a while to collect herself. The spikes were draining and all she wanted to do was to go lie down. "I'm remembering something, something that wasn't there before. I'm sorry... I'm ruining this reunion, I'd so wanted it to be perfect."

"Don't worry about it" He said softly pulling her into his arms hoping to comfort her. "It's much more important to me that you're well. Is there anything I can do for you?"

She appreciated the hug, but she was much too exhausted to enjoy it. "Can I just go lie down for a bit? Maybe I'll feel better then. Again... I'm so sorry, please don't let me take up more of your precious time with your family."

"I'm afraid you'll have to make do with my room, I hope you don't mind" He said as he let go of her and got to his feet. Without question he picked her up in his arms and walked towards the stairs. As he arrived at the top he walked towards the room at the far end of the landing and carefully pushed the door open. It was a simple room with a single bed on one side of the room and a small desk on the other side. Above the desk was a shelf with several books on it. Carefully Caden placed her on the bed. "Will you be alright here?" He asked as he opened the window to let some fresh air in.

The headache was already receding, as it did previously. But she laid down all the same, making sure to soak in every sight and sound in that room. Every corner of it rang his name, from the items on the desk, to the texture of the sheets beneath her. It felt wonderful... it felt like a little piece of home. "I love your room, it's beautiful..." she marveled.

He smiled at her. "It's only a simple room, but it's a good place to call home" He said. "Is there anything you need? I'll get it for you, otherwise I'll check in on you later."

"No, go back to your gran. I know you must have so much to catch up on. Don't let me keep you. I'll go down right away in a moment. Right after I collect myself. Thank you for everything."

He nodded. "Rest well" He said before leaving the room, softly closing the door behind him.

She set her head down, listening to his footsteps disappearing down the stairwell, a breeze blowing through the window, and for a while she just remained there, watching the shadows on the ceiling.

After sometime, Selina clutched a fist and felt her strength returning. The bed felt incredibly inviting, but she felt hugely compelled to get herself back up, so she would be ready to go back down those stairs and rejoin the conversation. Urging herself, she managed to get up to a seated position, and then to completely rise to her feet.

Glancing around the room, Selina had a moment of surreality to recognize that she was indeed in Caden's private sanctuary. She'd often regarded Caden as aloof and shy - someone who'd never reveal what he truly thought, and would probably keep her skirting outside his gates trying to guess what really was going on. She walked around the room with barefeet, picking up a random book at his desk. She didn't know if he'd like her touching his things, but she figured he'd never knew if she did. Bringing the book to her nose, she sniffed it. She put down the book, and picked up another, and did the same to sniff it. Each book had the scent of old pages, but also the distinct scent of Caden's touch. She wondered how many times he'd flipped each book. How much he'd studied each page.

Selina put the book down. It was high time to get herself back to Caden and Meri and stop being distracted by the items in Caden's room. As fascinating as book sniffing was, she couldn't wait to be a part of that family conversation again. It was a strange sensation, being between Caden and his gran. It almost felt like she had been temporarily adopted into the family, and could regard Meri as her own gran. It was a warm feeling that felt very welcoming to her.

Downstairs Caden went into the garden as well, following his grandmother. "Gran, do we still have that spare mattress? I'll be bunking in the kitchen while Selina is here." he said as he walked up to her.

Meri turned around to look at Caden. "Not sharing a room?" She asked teasingly. Caden turned bright red at her remark. "Gran.." He objected.

"Oh shush you" Meri said. "I can see the way you look at her, there's no hiding from me lad. How long have you two been an item?" Her smile shone brightly as she asked him.

Opening the door as quietly as she could, she snuck out of the room, shut the door behind her, and tread lightly down the stairs. She could already hear mumbles coming from the garden outside, and she beamed as she peered outside to see Caden with his gran. A picture perfect moment, with the light hitting them just right, and the herb garden of myriad colors enveloping their feet. Selina wished then to capture that sliver in time to replay it forever. She moved slowly to the edge of the window to admire the scene while waiting for a suitable moment to re-enter.

"Gran, we're not, I mean, she's not..." Caden blurted out. Feeling utterly embarrassed he stared daggers at her. "There is no understanding between us grandmother." He said, a little more calmly after he collected himself.

Meri's smile dropped. "I'm sure I saw something between you two" She said, with an air of disappointment. Her eyes carefully took in her grandson's face as she awaited his reaction.

"You probably did" Caden said, realizing there was no fooling his grandmother.

Meri took his arm and pushed him gently towards a bench that sat in the center of the garden. "Sit with me" She told him before sitting down on the bench herself and patting the seat next to her. Caden sat down beside her, their backs towards the house. "Tell me then my boy, what's the matter" Meri said, placing a wrinkled hand on his.

Selina stayed low in order not to be noticed, even while her fingers lightly touched the glass. She realised how rude it was for her to eavesdrop on Caden's private conversation, but this was exactly what she'd wanted to know for sometime - and that for some unknown reason, Caden had refused to share with her.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #104 on: June 07, 2017, 05:31:11 PM »
He gave his grandmother a small smile. "Oh gran it's complicated, I don't possibly know where to start." He stared off in the direction of the orchard. Nothing had changed here in this garden for as long as he remembered and it put him at ease a little. He sat there staring in silence for a long time, until his grandmother broke it. "I suggest the start my boy, come tell your old nan, you know well that there's not a lot that can still surprise me."

After a while Caden spoke up. "When I met Selina, she was seeing someone" He said. "A hunter from the Queen's forest. They clearly loved each other. She was taken by bandits however, a vicious gang, they took her all the way to Brisban and further, through a portal. I helped her boyfriend to get her back. We managed to return her to Divinity's Reach but he never did get her back. Whatever they did with her there, it wiped her memory." Caden fell silent. He told as much of the truth as he could, but it still felt wrong to lie so much to his grandmother.

Meri silently sat next to him, content to hear him out rather than question. After several minutes Caden continued. "We did our best to help her, and most of her memories returned, but her memories of him didn't. After all this time, she still doesn't know. So how can I tell her how I feel gran, when her heart belongs to another. " He wrung his hands nervously. "She may not know it now, but I'm sure she'll remember at some point. She would resent me for trying to take his place. "

Selina felt her hand slipping from the glass as she listened to Caden reveal what truly happened that she'd lost all memory of. The hunter's lodge that had flashed in her head was brought back to mind - was that where the man lived? Was that why her mind was trying so desperately to show her what was missing?

A spike speared through her head as she attempted to recall anything involving the man or his whereabouts. It resonated wildly, causing her to slide to the floor in agony. She held her temples desperately to hold back the spasms.

There was sadness in his eyes when he looked at his grandmother again and she couldn't help but feel for him. "You ought to tell her lad, leave her the choice." She said.
Caden shook his head. "I just need her to be happy and healthy, that'll be enough" He said.

Together they sat there, staring out over the garden and orchard. "Don't forget to look after your own happiness Caden" Meri said after some time. Standing up and giving him a kiss on the forehead. "I best get on with these herbs now" She said with a gentle smile.

Caden nodded. "Let me help you" He said.

Drained once more of energy, she quickly decided that she had had it with the spikes. She would not think of this man any longer, no matter what he'd meant to her before. He now meant nothing to her. In fact, she instead found a seething resentment towards him - that whoever this man was had inevitably doomed her to a life of solitude, denying her of what could've been with Caden.

The mixture of anger and frustration gave her strength that her limbs did not, and it drove her to claw her way back to Caden's room, and plopped her back onto his bed, her hair in disarray, her eyes red from emotion and her nails cracked from friction against the stone flooring. She went back to staring at the shadows cast against the ceiling, but now they looked like the thorns of a beast, consuming its prey. What hope had she? She had come to the end of the line.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #105 on: June 08, 2017, 10:59:53 AM »
After Caden and Meri finished weeding the herbbed the sun had started to sink and Meri announced she would start dinner. Caden spread the weeds out on the path to let them dry out over night and went back inside as well. "I'll check on Selina gran, She's been asleep so long I'm sure she'll be hungry." He said, already half way up the stairs when he spoke.

When he reached the door to his room he softly knocked on the wood. "Selina?"

She heard the knock, it woke her up from her state of sleep. Instantly, Selina remembered all that had transpired before she'd drifted off. She looked up at the door and thought about staying silent... leaving him wondering. But she rose instead. She knew she wouldn't be able to avoid him forever. She just didn't know what she would say. "I'm here..." was what she started with.

"How're you feeling Selina?" He asked through the closed door. His hand was on the handle but he didn't open it.

"I'm fine," she said.

"Sel, can I come in?" He asked, feeling slightly nervous for some reason.

"It's your room," she replied simply.

His hand slid off the handle. "It's yours while you're here" He said, sighing slightly. "Gran is cooking dinner, will you join us?"

Selina sighed. She felt too dismayed to work up an appetite, but on the other hand, she didn't want to be rude to Meri. She seemed like such a wonderful person, Selina knew she would feel awful if she ended up offending Meri. She rose from the bed and opened the door, staring Caden directly in the face. She didn't care to tidy her hair, or even manage a smile for him.

Slightly taken aback by her appearance Caden took a step back. "Sel you look awful, are you sure you're alright?" He looked at her with concern. "Would you prefer it if I brought some food up so you can rest more?"

"Caden..." she was tired of all the secrecy and unsaid words that had only served to hurt her, just when she thought things couldn't get any worse after what had happened with Aidan. "I'm going to just come out and say this... I went down the time you were out in the garden with Meri. I saw the both of you talking and... well... I overheard everything. I'm sorry... I just couldn't stand to make my presence known then."

He paled as he stared at her. His brain was working overtime but no eloquent response seemed to form in his mind. "....You .....heard" he finally stammered.

"Look... I respect the sentiment, but understand that that person... the Selina that left DR to head into Brisban... she died. We've tried everything to revive her - I've tried everything to restore her but it seems that this is all that remains... a broken... wreck of a person who can't even sit through a nice little lunch like she wanted to. I get it... I'm not the person you wanted... I'm not even the person I want to be. But this man you speak of... I don't know who he is, nor why he's still relevant to my life. Should I be chained forever to the ghosts of my past?"

"Sel" It felt like each word she said broke away the floor beneath his feet a little further and desperation took hold of him. He never meant for her to hurt, never thought that she would find out, not like this. Every fiber in his body wanted to run, but he remained standing in front of her his feet nailed in place. "I was scared" He said, looking at the floor between their feet, too afraid to look her in the eyes now, afraid of what he might find there.

She dipped her glance, disappointed with the way things had turned out. "I'm sorry Caden, this isn't working out, as much as I wanted it to. You deserve a sweet young thing who adores you and agrees with all your political views, not a broken rag ten years your senior who continues to fight for everything you're opposed to. We are so different..." she smiled sadly at him. "I'm not sure what made me think that this could work out, you'd be the only one on the losing end. I've been so very selfish, and I think it's time I did something for you instead, Caden." She gripped him firmly by the shoulders and spoke sternly to him. "Whatever we've meant to each other, whatever we've done together... you've got to forget it all. Go on, live your life. Don't come looking for me. If it helps, I'll make sure you can't follow. If my brother comes looking for me, don't tell him where I am. I'm going to shed this childish infatuation, and do what I need to do. You must too."

Her cruel dismissal of what seemed to be ... both?? their feelings made him angry. Angry with his grandmother for prying, angry with Selina for eavesdropping, angry with himself for even telling to begin with, or perhaps he should've told more. He doubted Selina understood even half of his feelings. He had tried to deny them for so long he was sure now that he could not forget. How could she even begin to suggest it after all this time. "No" He said firmly. "I cannot. You already own my heart Selina Knox, if you run away now you'll just take it with you." He finally made himself look up at her and there was sadness in his eyes.

"Then make me stay Caden..." a thin whisper came out of her lips. She widened her eyes, as though as surprised to hear herself say it. She let him go and turned away. "Don't make it harder... I'm not good for you. I know you want to fix me, but I can't be fixed." She slammed a fist into the wall. "It's better if we go our separate ways."

Her whispered question gave him the tiniest inkling of hope and he decided to grab it with both hands, he had nothing more to lose after all. His hand took hold of her underarm gently pulling her to face him. His other hand cupped her face as he looked in her eyes. "I don't care if you think you're good for me or not. You own my heart and I need you to survive" His face was inches from hers and he longed to kiss her, to feel her lips against his and forget about their troubles. His heart beat wildly in his chest and he felt it might burst as he opened his mouth to speak again. "I love you Selina" The hope inside him flickered, desperate to be fed, desperate to grow and anxiously he looked in her eyes, awaiting her response.

A wealth of bottled up emotions was uncorked the moment Caden finally admitted how he felt about her. Like a tsunami, they rushed through her completely, taking control of every limb and every thought. Winding her arms behind his back to pull him close, she fell onto his lips; a great hunger enveloping her, more powerful than she'd ever felt before. In the back of her mind, she remembered how she'd fought so hard to set him free from any association with the complicated mess that was her life. She knew full well that she really shouldn't be kissing Caden Mullins, but she had become locked into his embrace, and couldn't find the strength to leave, not even if the world came crumbling down around them.

His breath caught in his throat as she kissed him. He could scarcely believe it but he banished all doubt from his head as he slid his arm around her shoulders and held on to her for dear life. His fingers laced through her hair as he answered her hungry kisses with sweet ones of his own. Unwilling to break the moment he prayed for it to last.

As their breaths got more intense, she wedged him against a wall and kneaded the sides of his waist with her hands, pouring into him every ounce of emotion that she'd kept hidden for too long. It felt like a wealth of eternity, her mind racing through every captured moment when she wanted to touch him and to hold him, and somehow had hesitated. She felt validated to indulge, to pay back the debt that was owed.

He had ached for this for so long that he savoured every kiss they shared. As she wedged him against the wall he held her close to him, his hand holding the back of her neck, his fingers laced into her hair. There were still so many things that needed to be said, but for now, this was enough. He suddenly jolted when a loud sound came from downstairs, unwilling he tore himself away from Selina briefly looking in her eyes before running over to the balustrade that overlooked the kitchen. "Gran?" he called, his face still flushed.

His eyes found Meri standing in the middle of the kitchen, leaning over a stack of fallen pots grinning sheepishly. "Ah sorry my boy, I'm afraid I was rather clumsy"

She stumbled backwards and caught a corner of the door to Caden's room as she worked hard to catch her breath. She didn't think she had it in her to channel such passion into one kiss, and she became a little frightened of the sheer strength it had over her. Wiping a corner of her lip with the back of her hand, she tried to assess what had just occurred. It'd happened so quickly that she hadn't the time to think it through; what it meant, and if it truly was the wisest thing for her to do.

Sighing Caden looked down. "Do you need some help gran?" He asked. "No but you two can come and eat your dinner" Meri told him.

He nodded and turned, feeling suddenly very aware of how warm his face felt and how red it would most likely be. He walked back to Selina trying to gauge her as he approached. "Sorry, my gran she..." He mumbled as he took her hand and held it against his cheek.

Selina looked at him, but still found herself in a daze. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. Seeing as she was at a loss for words, she simply nodded.

He placed a kiss on her hand before letting go of it. "Gran wants us downstairs for dinner" He said with an apologetic smile.

She smiled bashfully in return. "Did that just happen? Or was I dreaming?" she asked, walking behind him.

"If you did then so did I," He mumbled before walking down the stairs, still feeling slightly embarrassed by his grandmothers interruption.

Selina looked at the elderly woman, and awkwardly raised a hand to wave at her.

"Ah Selina, so good to see you on your feet, are you feeling better?" Meri chattered cheerfully. "If you have any more headaches I can give you something for that"

"I'm feeling much better, thank you Meri. And to tell truth, I don't know if herbal remedies work against spells?" Caden and her had broken down all barriers of secrecy, she figured that she'd do the same with Meri and let her assume that she'd overheard the entire conversation.

Meri's gaze shot from Caden to Selina and back. Caden nodded at her. "She heard" He said softly. Meri gave Selina a kind smile. "Sit down child, and eat. Then we will talk." She said gesturing to the table which was now filled with several bowls. There was rice, what looked to be a stew and a salad that looked like it came straight from a meadow.

Selina sat in front of the bowl gratefully and picked up her utencils. "A home cooked meal," she said contemplatively. "Made with love, served with grace, makes for an unforgettable taste." She grinned and looked up at Meri. "It's a rhyme I learnt when I was a child."

Meri smiled at her. "It's rather on the mark I'd say" She took the bowl of rice and passed it on to Selina.

Selina took the bowl and started digging her spoon into the rice till she noticed that no one else had started yet. She pulled the spoon out and looked at Meri and Caden in embarrassment.

"Sel, you're our guest, you get to take food first" Caden said, nudging her softly.

She looked at Meri for approval, then gingerly scooped the stew into her bowl. "I'm sorry... I don't get invited often for social meals like these. I always forget my manners."

Meri smiled at her encouragingly "Don't worry about that dear, just enjoy the meal and the company"

Selina had taken several mouthfuls of Meri's delicious cooking when she found her eyes wandering the table to settle on Caden. She still couldn't believe what had happened with him, and was half expecting to wake up from a dream. There was something new and striking about Caden she hadn't noticed before, something that set her heart racing at the very sight. She wondered why it wasn't as prevalent before.

Caden caught her gaze as he looked up from his food and smiled warmly at her. After several seconds of gazing at her he tore away and looked at his grandmother instead. "Has father been gone for long?"

"He left for the city four days ago, but it's no rare occurrence. Your mum worries easily, you know that. On this side of the city we've been relatively safe, as you will have witnessed yourself on your way here I presume." Meri said before finishing up her meal.

Selina listened as she finished her meal. "If you need him tracked down, I'd be more than glad," she offered.

"That's very kind of you dear but I'm sure he'll turn up soon enough." Meri smiled. "Caden got his wanderlust from no stranger"

Sel chuckled and cast Caden a pointed glance. "Didn't he tell me recently that he's enough of adventuring and wants to settle down here with his herbs?"

Meri raised her eyebrows at Caden. "Did he now? Well then, we'll see for how long" She chuckled as Caden's face turned a shade of crimson again.

"If you ask me, I think the trip into Brisban scarred him for life. I wouldn't be surprised. It's scarred me too," added Selina.

"Tell me child, what causes your headaches" Meri asked her, giving her a concerned look.

"Old hidden memories crawling back. I'm no expert, but it sounds like a mesmer created gaps in my head, mostly for the purpose of brainwashing me into working for them like a mindless zombie. I think we've mostly got it fixed.... but it seems, not entirely."

Caden nodded. "I've seen her regain memories several times, she gets sharp pains in her head, sometimes even spasms as if she's having some sort of fit, like her body is fighting what goes on in her head." He fell silent. "I"m confused as to why you would remember anything here though, you've never been here after all."

"The only reason I can see for that happening, it's in relation to that final piece of the puzzle that's still missing. The guy you were talking about. Speaking of... if there really was something going on between myself and that guy, why did he never turn up at all? It just seems odd that he wouldn't care at all."

"He did come for you, at Aidan's house, but when you saw him you went into a fit and passed out. He didn't want you to hurt on his behalf and he left." Caden said quietly.

None of what Caden said seemed to resonate with a memory. "He assumes if he comes by I'll get into a fit again, I suppose?"

Caden nodded.

She leaned towards Caden and plopped her chin on the palm of her hand. "Well... since he's gone, let's just leave him out of the picture. I'm much too occupied to really bother now." She grinned.

Caden blushed, not quite knowing what to say he stared at his empty bowl.

Meri seemed thoughtful for a while. She got to her feet and started to flip through a book that she took from one of the shelves. Meri finished flipping through the book and closed it. "I can't help you with your memory Selina, but I can make you something to help with the side effects."

"Don't worry about the headaches Meri, I've learnt to live with them. Besides, they don't typically occur these days."

"If you're sure, otherwise I'm sure Caden generally has something handy, although that's more tailored to helping with a hangover most likely" she said with a wink.

Selina nodded, and then she became a little quiet as she looked about the house. "Meri, and Caden... this is a little awkward to bring up. But Caden first intended to bring me here for a visit, I assumed I'd be spending one... or two nights, tops. After which I'd fully intended to leave. I have some business that needs to be done in Lion's Arch. But Caden... well he convinced me not to go. And now my plans are up in the air, and I'm kinda at a crossroads. Can you give me some directions, like what kind of work is in demand around these parts... or perhaps the location of the nearest inn? I really don't want to impose."

"My dear child, you'll be more than welcome here" Meri said. She looked thoughtful for a while and then looked at Caden. "She can have Maggie's room" Surprised Caden looked at her. "But.. are you sure? What will Ma say?"

Selina looked from one to the other. "The inn is fine, I don't want to cause problems."

"Wherever you feel most comfortable child, but friends of Caden will always be welcome here, you remember that." Meri gave her a warm smile and started to clear the dishes from the table.

She turned to Caden just as Meri got up to clear the table. "This... is what you want, isn't it?"

"Nothing could make me happier" he said with a warm smile.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 09:44:04 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #106 on: June 15, 2017, 01:22:59 PM »
Early that morning, a crackling campfire sent lazy wisps of smoke through the air, into Caden's room.

Caden stretched as he awoke, as he sat up part of him wondered if yesterday had actually been a dream. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and looked at the window. Who was building a fire at this hour, he wondered as he got up and moved towards the window.

Found sitting beside the fire right beneath his room, Selina sheepishly waved at Caden. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

"No. Are you trying to set my house on fire already?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

She laughed a jovial laugh. "I'm trying to scare away the harpies, assassins, pirates, and brigands with this fire here."

"I feel safer already" He laughed. "Will you come inside and have breakfast with me?"

"What?" She pulled out a measly looking sausage from the fire that gotten black on one side and uncooked on the other. "This not good enough for you?"

"That definitely beats oatmeal" he said laughing. "I'll be right down." Caden quickly grabbed a fresh shirt and pants from his chest of drawers and got himself dressed. He then made his way downstairs and towards Selina's fire.

As he approached her, she smiled coyly, "I was actually kidding. This morning I've learnt that if there's one thing I can't do, it's cook." She looked in dismay at her failed attempt simmering in a pan on the flames. "I had the intent of surprising you with breakfast, but I fear we may contract a disease trying to mouth this down."

"Ah" He smiled. "I suppose oatmeal it is then. Come on in."

"Alright," she picked up her pan, dumped the contents into the flames and kicked soil over the camp fire to put it out. "That's the last time I'll try that."

He laughed as he turned and walked back inside. In the kitchen he found the pot of oatmeal his grandmother always prepared in the morning. After adding some wood to the fire he placed the pot on the stove to reheat it.

She followed behind him, and didn't stop till she was just inches from him, hovering over his shoulder. "So..." she said softly into his ear. "I wasn't entirely honest about why I was making you breakfast."

"Hm?" He asked as he turned his head to look over his shoulder while he took a ladle and stirred the oatmeal a few times.

"Well... I..." she hesitated, finding it hard to speak the words she intended to say to him. "The truth is I... I missed you... and cooking you breakfast underneath your window seemed like a good excuse to get close to you without seeming too... well..." Backing off a little from him, her face flushed beetroot red. "I hope it doesn't sound creepy."

He let go of the ladle and turned wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him. "When I woke up this morning I thought I dreamt you. I'm glad you were right outside my window to ensure me yesterday was real." He said softly.

She smiled broadly, and stroked the side of his face. "I never replied when you said that you loved me. The truth is... I don't think I've ever felt the same way about another. I've fought some massive beasts, and have beat death too many times to count... but you... you are something else. I don't think I could ever bear the thought of losing you. That terrifies me more than anything."

"I'm not going anywhere" He said giving her a kiss on the top of her head. Just as he did that the oatmeal mixture behind him started to make bubbling noises. "Ah." He said sadly letting go of her.  "Lets not burn our second breakfast as well." He turned back to the pot and stirred it a few times.

She stepped beside him, watching him stir the contents of the pot. "I will go where you want me to go, Caden. If it's here in Claypool, then I'll try to make myself useful around here."

Caden gave her a loving smile before taking the pot off the stove. He put it on a counter and took two bowls from a shelf nearby. Just as he was about to ladle them full the backdoor opened. In the opening stood a large man, clearly a relative of Caden's. Caden looked over his shoulder to the door before putting the bowls down again and turning around completely. "Not the people I expected to find in my kitchen" he said, still holding the door open with one hand."

Selina regarded the man with a smile, and waited to be introduced.

"Dad" Caden said with a smile. "Welcome home I suppose. This is Selina" He said, gesturing at her. "Selina this is Ethan, my father."

"Hello Ethan," said Selina, reaching out her hand.

"Well met" He said, shaking her hand. "Finally brought a girl home then son" He said ruffling a hand through Caden's hair while Caden's face turned rather red.

"M-mum is still with Mrs Green and gran's gone out to the woods." He said changing the topic immediately.

"And they left you in charge of the pot of porridge hmm. Good thing I arrived when I did or I would have no breakfast." He said, sitting down at the table.  Caden took another bowl from the shelf and filled all three of them. He gestured for Selina to sit down as well before placing the three bowls on the table. From a drawer he took some spoons and handed them out before sitting down himself.

Selina sat down in front of a bowl, and took a curious look at the large man, trying to spot any features that resembled Caden's; His hair was a shade similar to Caden's and a clear resemblance could also been seen in their facial features.

"How was your trip?" Caden asked. "Mum said you're late a few days."

"Yeah I got a little sidetracked" He said with an apologetic grin. "When I went to hand off supplies to Joanna they needed someone to forward some things to the Seraph hospital in the reach. I figured it'd better be me than someone who could be of use in the field."

Selina dug into her bowl as she listened, trying to get a handle on who Caden's father was, and what their relationship was like.

"What about you, what're you up to, taking girls home?" Ethan gave Selina a glance before focusing on Caden.

Caden nearly choked on his oatmeal upon hearing the sudden question. He had hoped to avoid the topic for a while. The redness returned to his cheeks and he glanced at Selina while his mind raced to find an answer to that question.

Noticing the hesitation, Selina chimed in quickly. "I'm an ex-colleague of Caden's. Wanted to be shown around Claypool, which is why I'm here."

Ethan laughed loudly.  "I'm sure you are girl, but Caden's face is telling enough." He ate the reminder of his oatmeal in two large spoonfuls and got up from the table. "I'll leave you two to your ...exploration of Claypool, Daisy needs a wash." He said while rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. "Oh, if you do go out, pass by the Greens and tell your mum I"m home, don't want her worrying." He said before going back outside.

Taking the moment in privacy, Selina checked on Caden, "Are you alright?"

"Yeah" He said, poking around in his oatmeal with his spoon. "I.... I just ..I don't... This, us, it's all so new that I didn't know what to say to him. I didn't want to lie to him but I" He fell silent again. "I didn't want to tell him we ...are together without your consent."

She laughed lightly. "Caden, they are your family, not mine. I would think opening up to them about this would matter more to you than to I. I'm fine either way, if you want to tell them or if you want to keep it a secret. Just... if you're ashamed of me, I'd hope you'd let me know."

He smiled thankfully at her. "If we choose to be together I want my family to know, but this was so soon after yesterday that I wasn't sure how you felt. " He took her hand then. "I could never be ashamed of you Sel, I love you even if you do manage some pretty weird things every now and then" he grinned, "Like wacking me over the head to keep me safe or build a campfire in my backgarden. Oh, I'm sure dad will have something to say about that later if he finds out."

She grinned, leaned over suddenly and laid a passionate kiss on his lips. After a little while, she drew back and looked directly into his eyes. "How do you think I feel about it?"

He gave her no answer, instead he smiled and pulled her back for another kiss.

Her heart pounded in her chest as she pushed the oatmeal aside and leaned far over the table to get as close to him as she could. There was nothing more she wanted to do in that moment but to fall more and more in love with Caden Mullins.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 01:43:27 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #107 on: June 21, 2017, 05:31:21 PM »
After a passionate kiss he broke away and smiled at Selina. "We should probably clean this up and head out" He said, half regretting the comment as soon as he made it.

She smiled, even though she didn't want to let him go. But if she had to be perfectly honest, she was keen to visit the rest of Caden's environment. There was still so much about him that she didn't know.

Caden got up and cleared the table. "So, where would you like to go first?"

"Anywhere... everywhere," she said. "I want to see what you do when you're not in Divinity's Reach, hidden in this little corner of the world. I want to see the people you meet."

He finished cleaning up and offered her a hand. "Let's go then."

She took his hand and walked at his side. As they left his home she chuckled out loud as she reflected on them walking about hand in hand. "We're just like an old couple."

"Not quite, if I were I'd have a cane in the other hand" He said with a grin. "Hey Dad, we're going out now, see you later" he called as they walked past the stable.

Selina followed along, admiring the scattered homes in the quaint little village. She wondered what it would feel like growing up in such a place.

"Let's stop by the Greens first" He said, making his way towards the center of the village. He walked directly towards a small house located near the village square now. He let go of Selina's hand and knocked on the door. After some time a girl in her early teens opened the door. Her eyes were red and she looked tired. "How're you holding up Els" Caden asked concerned. The girl almost burst into tears and only nodded to him.

At that moment an young man appeared behind her. "Hey Eric" Caden said. "Can you please pass on to mum that father had returned home? I know she was a bit worried because he was late again" Caden asked him. Eric nodded and pulled Els away from the door gently.

"Your mom should be returning home soon. Grandma passed away during the night." He said quietly.

"My condolences" Caden said, placing a hand on the young mans shoulder shortly. After an awkward silence Caden stepped back form the door. "I will leave you to your family, may the six give you strength. " He said softly.

Eric nodded "thank you" he said before closing the door again.

Caden sighed and looked at Selina. "Sorry about that"

She shrugged, and tried to sympathize. But she knew nothing about the Greens, only that they mattered to Caden.

He took Selina's hand again and started walking, leading her past the mill back to the southside of the village. "That was Eric he explained while they walked, I used to hang out with him a lot, together with Jer, you saw him when we entered the town. Tom too but he moved away. I'm actually not sure what became of him. And Jake," He shrugged at the mention of the last name. "As far as we know he hooked up with the bandits in the caves up north, the idiot." the realization of what he just said hit him suddenly and he gave Selina a shocked look. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."

The fact that he worried about offending her made her laugh. "Idiot huh... Well, you can't please them all."

He gave her an apologetic smile. They passed the last few houses of the edge of the village and turned to their right onto a smaller path. They were now approaching the south wall that protected the village. He pointed at the road they had just left. "That goes to fort Salma" he said, before leading her further down the path. At the wall he greeted the seraph guard and they left the village behind them. "This is one of my favourite places" he said as they walked down a slope, towards a lake. On their left several streams of a waterfall plunged down into the lake with a roaring sound. A few fishman's huts surrounded the lake, and on their right side the lake turned into a stream. He lead Selina onto a walkway that lead to the middle of the lake where he sat down on the edge. He patted the space next to him, inviting her to sit down, before taking his shoes off to let his feet dangle in the cold water.

Delightedly, she took her shoes off as well and planted herself down beside him. Looking over the lake, she asked, "You come here a lot?"

"Yeah" He paused and then grinned at her. "Don't let the barracudas bite you"

Instinctively she jolted her feet out of the water. But when she realised that he still had his feet in the water, her eyes slid to gaps, guessing that he was merely playing her. "Is that your attempt at trying to be smart?"

He started to laugh. "I'll have you know that a fisherman once caught a specimen here that was over 5 foot long" he said, still laughing.

She loved to see him laugh, it was the kind of laugh that made her want to laugh along. "I'm calling your bluff," she declared, reaching over to tickle him in the side. "You're some kind of cheeky today, Caden."

He laughed louder now, trying to pull away from her tickling, almost losing his balance and going over the edge of the walkway. "It's true though" He exclaimed, just ask old Welkin over there" He said, pointing at a fisherman in a boat on the other side of the lake.

She cast a quick glance at the boat on the other side of the lake, just to make sure that it was really there, grinned, and reeled Caden back in. "Who else have you spent time at this lake with?" she asked.

"The lads and I hung out here a lot" He said quickly in reply. "We used to go around the hill there so we could jump down from the waterfall. Jake once nearly broke his leg on the rocks, dad got so angry with us then." He laughed.

Selina remained thoughtful at the mention of Jake. "Do you know if Jake is still up north with those guys?"

"No clue, why?"

"Need I remind you that you have the perfect infiltrator, sitting right here. I can drag that idiot back here if you'd like."

"Don't you think we tried to talk him out of it?" Caden sighed. "He made his choice. Besides, if we dragged him out he'd only be going straight to prison. Might as well leave him to his own devices."

"Maybe prison is what he needs, to sober him up," she suggested.

"Maybe, but I will not be the one that puts him there"

She leaned over and gently stroked his ear. "Well, you are a good friend. He's lucky to have you."

He smiled at her. "Not half as lucky as I am to have you" He said smoothly, his smile turning back to a grin.

She took his hand and looked him in the eyes. "Caden, what you said to Meri... that you'd hesitated because I had another man in my life. How long ago was that?"

"When we first met you two were still together." He said quietly.

"And... When did you..." she searched for the right words to use. "Well... when did you begin to feel something for me?"

His cheeks started to run red again. "You have to ask me that" he said.

She looked down awkwardly, "Just... there were a couple of things that you did, or said... they never added up, and I've... I've always wondered. But..." she waved the thoughts away. "It's something I don't exactly have to know. If you feel uncomfortable then just forget it."

"I'm not sure I can pinpoint when that happened exactly." He finally said. "I think it just slowly grew while were traveling to Brisban together. Of course, he was there, so I couldn't allow myself to consider anything at all."

Selina listened intently, and considered the implications. "So each time we argued, and you came back. And seemingly without reason, you chose to follow me while I worked out my brother's problems... and all that talk about me being a distraction... you've been trying to hide this?"

He nodded, staring at the water.

She gathered him in her arms and hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry Caden. I fought you over and over because I couldn't understand. I remained suspicious of your intentions. And yet I failed to see how you were suffering."

He smiled as she hugged him. "I never held that against you." He said softly. "I knew you didn't know, I just had to be around you. I felt that if I could just be near you I'd somehow be alright."

"Now you have me Caden," she began trailing the side of his face with light kisses, from the top of his head down to the end of his left shoulder. "All to yourself... We can stay like this forever."

"Mhm" he replied, taking her face in one hand and placing a kiss on her lips.

She returned his kiss with a deep embracing kiss of her own, leaning him down on the walkway, as she parted from his lips to admire the moment they shared together. "I'd like to be a part of your world Caden, but there's just one problem."

"Hm? What's that?" He asked, pulling her back, closer to him.

She looked down at the mix of armor and leather outfit that she'd assembled and worn since Kessex. "I doubt this is really suited for country life," she told him with a smile in her eyes.

"Well, I wouldn't protest if you took it off" He said with a grin, but the townsfolk might have something to say about that.

Selina grinned in response. "I wasn't hinting at that, but..." She dropped a kiss on the center of his chest. "If you want..." She dropped another kiss just above his navel. "I'm not opposed to the idea."

His face was bright crimson by now. "W-we should probably spare old Welkin the show" He said, half stumbling over his words. "I'm sure we c-can find you some clothes though"

She chuckled, stood up and offered him a hand. "Hey relax, I'm just teasing. I wouldn't embarrass you like that in front of your townsfolk."

Still red he got to his feet. "I'd never hear the end of it" he warned her with a smile.

She leaned over and whispered, "Maybe that's all the more reason to do exactly that. Life isn't worth living if you only dare tread the straight and narrow." She winked at him impishly and started heading back down the boardwalk.

He rolled his eyes at her back before going after her.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 10:34:41 AM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #108 on: June 29, 2017, 11:49:14 AM »
Selina strolled into town and gazed at the crowds at the market, busy with their daily chores. The day was fading into the evening, and she assumed they would be headed back soon for dinner. It was a quaint little place, compared to the busy streets of Divinity's Reach, and she loved it right away.

Caden glanced at Selina and smiled. He suddenly remembered her earlier comment about clothes and looked at the tailor on the other side of the square. "Did you want to stop by the tailors maybe?" He asked, looking back to Sel.

She nodded, and followed after him. She didn't tell him that she'd just made this decision over the course of the night. And while it might not mean anything much to someone else, it meant taking a huge step of faith on her part. First, if she rid herself of her armor, it would also mean ridding herself of all the "tools of the trade"... effectively, she would have to give up the way of life she'd adopted over the years. Second, her transformation had already begun when she'd taken off her helmet and put it down for good. There was something about Claypool that bade her to step out into the open, end her life of living in the shadows... or maybe it wasn't Claypool, it was the new life she intended to have with Caden. She knew bringing all her baggage into his life would be unfair to him, and what better way to more fully enjoy being in each other's company but by having no secrets. She would be an open book to him. Anything he asked, she would answer most truthfully. But it wasn't just about him, she needed this too after hiding for so long. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

"So, what kind of outfit are you considering?" Caden asked as he lead her towards Jamie's shop. He was glad she was considering taking her armor off during her stay but at the same time he had trouble imagining Sel wearing anything else.

"Hmm?" She broke out of her thoughts to analyze what he'd asked. "Well, the plan is to blend in. What do women around these parts wear?" Reaching into her pouch, she produced several gold coins. "I assume this should cover the cost?"

He laughed, "Yes it should. As to what women wear, look around you. We're not very fashionable around these parts I'm afraid, practicality is of more concern."

"Well I'm no beauty queen, practicality will suit me just fine," she grinned. Glancing about her, she spotted a wheelbarrow missing two spokes and a cracked frame, leaning against a wall. It would seem that the wheelbarrow had been there a while, for the foliage had already begun to grow around it. "I wonder who that belongs to."

"No clue, maybe Jamie knows, it's near his shop. Looks like it's been there a while though" Caden said. They were almost at the tailors now and Caden took two steps ahead to open the door for Selina.

Gratefully, she stepped into the store and surveyed the reels of fabric stacked up against the walls.

As the door closed behind them a small bell rung and a man appeared from the back of the shop. "Good afternoon" He greeted them both jovially. "Ah Caden, welcome" He continued upon spotting who his customer was.

"Good afternoon to you Jamie" Caden replied with a smile. "This is Selina, she's looking for some new clothes" He said, gesturing to Sel.

"Good afternoon Jamie," she picked up after Caden. "I'd appreciate it if you had some simple clothes, nothing elaborate. Shirts, slacks, overalls... the sort of thing that someone would wear in a place like this."

"Not from around here are you?" Jamie said. "I thought I didn't recognize you." Smiling he pointed at a rack on the other side of the small shop. "I have some girls clothing over there, have a look through, most will need some adjusting for size but that shan't be a problem."

She crossed the room and browsed the clothing recommended by Jamie. "Ha..." she said after a while, and turned to Caden. "Most of these are dresses."

"Is that a problem?" Caden asked with a grin.

"Ah the lady would prefer a pair of pants perhaps?" Jamie asked, pointing at a shelf near the rack.

Selina smiled bashfully and helped herself to the pants on the shelf. She found cotton shirts next to the pants and tunics too. She took two pairs of each, and then she turned over to Caden. "Would you... would you prefer me to be a little more feminine?" she asked, pointing to the stack of dresses.

"I'd prefer you to be comfortable with what you wear" Caden replied.

She grinned for a little while, then wrapped the clothes she was carrying over an arm and walked over to him. "I'm comfortable when I'm with you," she gushed, and leaned in close enough for the tip of her nose to lightly brush his chin.

He smiled and placed a kiss on her forehead, for a moment completely forgetting Jamie was right there.

Selina gently squeezed Caden's hand and spoke to Jamie. "Fine, you've persuaded me to get one of those," she said in reference to the stack of dresses. "Wrap all these up for me." And she pulled out the coin to pay for whatever was needed. "Oh, and one more thing... that wheelbarrow I saw outside. Does it belong to you?"

"Wheelbarrow?" Jamie shook his face, a little confused by the question. He took the clothes from Selina and began folding them.

"The one missing two spokes... with the cracked frame..." she suggested.

"Oh!" said Jamie the moment it hit him. "Yeah it broke sometime after I rolled it over a rock while I was carrying a full load of supplies. A real pity. It was handy while it lasted."

"If I knew someone who could get it fixed, would you be willing to pay?"

Jamie pulled the packing paper over the stack of clothes and looked at her. "I might, actually. But only if the price is right. Who's this person you know?"

"Myself," she said. "And the price is negotiable."

He smiled in surprise, looked over at Caden to determine if she was being serious, then back at her. "S...sure. I'd certainly appreciate it. Not been easy to run back and forth on foot from the front gate with my supplies. My supplier won't bring the yaks all this way into town, and all the carrying is going to hurt my back in the long run."

"Dandy," replied Selina. "I'll be back early tomorrow morning to work on your wheelbarrow then."

Jamie nodded, fixed the final knot on the wrapped package and Caden took it from him to carry it home for Selina. "You two have a lovely evening," Jamie told them.

"Nice meeting you," Selina said in return before they left the shop.

By the time they departed the tailor, the sun had already set. Candles and streetlamps illuminated the town in dreamy hues, dancing their shades of gold and scarlet onto the weathered path ahead of them. Selina looked into the night sky and watched the stars dot a vast expanse, same as they always did each time she took the time to look. It felt different then. She felt different. Just a little more hopeful, a little more optimistic about life.

Caden glanced at Selina while they walked home. "I hope you enjoyed yourself today?" He asked.

"I did," she replied. "It's been really nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Never thought I'd acclimatize to the culture - for some reason, I've always had the impression that small towns are full of stares, and people nosing in your business - that sorta thing."

"Oh trust me, you're probably already the talk of the town" He said with a grin. "Jamie likes to talk you know. It's mostly harmless though, they're just curious about a newcomer."

Her expression suddenly hardened. "What?"

"Don't worry about it, people talk, you can't blame them for being curious about you."

"It's not them I'm worr... " she sighed. "Never mind."

"What's wrong?" Caden stopped walking and grabbed Selina's hand.

She clutched his hand and turned to look at him. "Caden, is there somewhere we can go that is near your home and private? Really... private. Somewhere with a patch of dirt we can use."

"Well... there's garden" He gave her a puzzled look.

"Is there a portion of it that Meri and Ethan won't be using?"

"What do you mean Sel, what are you planning?"

"You'll see. Let's get back to your home first."

He nodded and started walking again, still holding on to Selina's hand.

They were back at Caden's home before long. Selina unwrapped the clothes she'd bought, and put on something comfortable before she reunited with Caden. Upon her back was the pack she had brought with her from Ebonhawke. The same pack she'd carried with her wherever she went. "Let's go," she said to him.

He nodded and followed her.

"Which area should I use?" she asked when they were at the garden.

He pointed to the back of the garden towards where the orchard was. "We don't use that much, rabbits get to it easily"

She nodded, stepped to where he'd pointed at and knelt down, putting her pack beside her. "Do you have a shovel?"

"What are you doing, Sel?"

"Digging... and burying something..."

"I can see that, but why? what's going on"

She sat down in the dirt and opened her pack. "Everything that's in here, it's my entire life." She pulled out her lockpick, showed it to him and laughed softly. "For each time I needed to get to somewhere I wasn't allowed." She put it back and pulled out a pair of wire cutters. "For each fence that stood in my way." She placed it back and took out a small pistol. "Bet you never knew I had this in here. But with what I do, I never know if I have to silence someone before he talks."

"You might miss that later" He said, still confused at her actions.

"I might miss shooting someone in the head?"

"I did not mean the gun, or the killing it can perform specifically, you know that" he said.

She studied the pistol for a while before she put it back in the pack. "I have to make a decision. Am I still this person? Or do I put that life behind me and start anew?"

"If that's what you wanna do." he smiled at her.

She looked down at her pack and gave it a hug. "I don't want to, but I think I have to."

He nodded. "I'll get you a shovel." he walked over to the shed and took a spade from it. After getting back to where Selina was he started to dig a hole, deeper then one would normally dig down in the garden, to prevent discovery.

She helped with the hole till it was deep enough, then put the shovel down. Giving her pack a final squeeze, she lifted it in front of her and after taking a large breath, dropped it in there. "Don't cover up yet," she said, reaching down into her boots to pull out two small throwing darts. They went into the hole as well. Tapped the back of her boots, and two thin metal bars came out. They went into the hole too. Finally, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a bracelet that had an open clasp. She held it in her hands, and the tears began to flow.

He placed a hand on Selina's shoulder and pulled her against his chest, holding her.

She leaned against him, clutched the bracelet tightly and wiped the tears from her eyes. "This... my prison... my redemption in the eyes of the Queen... and my brother." She threw the bracelet into the hole and stood up. She wasn't crying anymore. "Goodbye Aidan."

"You're acting like you will not see him again" He stated softly.

She had already begun to shovel dirt back into the hole. "I won't," she replied.

"Sel..." Unsure what to do about this apparent breach between the two siblings he sighed. Instead of pursuing the matter further he decided to help her shovel in dirt.

After the hole had been filled. Selina handed the shovel back to Caden, and dusted off her hands. "And just like that. The old Selina is dead and buried."

He took the shovel from her and placed it back in the shed. "Lets go inside and get ourselves cleaned up" he said.

She nodded and slipped her hand into his. "I'll miss you tonight," she whispered, and followed him back into the house.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #109 on: July 01, 2017, 11:21:21 PM »
Selina had risen just a little before dawn. Sat up in her bed, and stared into the darkness of the inn for a bit. It felt strange to think about her pack resting deep in the ground - she'd never gone anywhere without it. Ironically, it'd even followed her back from Brisban, lost memory and all. As confused as she was, she still knew that it was something she'd need. So why did she bury it? She bit her lip... she hated having second thoughts about this. She'd been so certain just a night ago.

"I'm leaving that life behind." It was something she already knew, but saying the words out loud made it feel a little more self-assuring. Caden's response was what really surprised her. She'd expected him to be absolutely elated over her decision, but he seemed to lean more towards confusion and sadness over her little ceremony. Wasn't he always lecturing her about abiding by the laws imposed by Jennah, always shaking his head at Bran's choice of career... maybe he thought she hadn't noticed, but oh she had. Bran was a reflection of herself... at least what she was most skilled at. He clearly disapproved, that's never been in doubt. Then again... just thinking about it made her sigh, why would she care about the opinion of just one man? He wasn't the first to disapprove of her way of life. It's never bothered her before.

"But it's different now," she continued the debate with herself. "I like the simple way of life in Claypool. I want to be a part of the community here." She raised a brow at her own comment, what the bullocks was she spouting? She'd been to Claypool a couple of times before, mostly just in passing. Once in particular, tussled with a guard who recognized her from the wanted posters plastered up in Divinity's Reach. He slapped her around a little more than she deigned necessary - the little sadistic squirt. She'd added Claypool to her list of towns to avoid following that fiasco. Not that there was a particular short of it. But that was... seven years ago? On re-entering Claypool, she'd discreetly searched around for that particular guard, but he'd been nowhere to be found. There was the hope that he was indeed gone for good. But becoming a part of the community? That was quite another thing. Was she really serious?

"Why do you think I worked out the work deal with Jamie?" Playing house? What's this going to lead to? She asked herself. A rogue of her stature reduced to fixing wheelbarrows? It's a good thing Doc Howler wasn't here to spectate the embarrassing turn of events. The travesty of talent gone wasted - as Two-Blade Pete would say.

She gathered a fist, frustrated at the tug of war raging in her head. "But I love Caden. I want to enjoy this life with him." Finally that's what it's all about, isn't it? "Yes, and I want to be loved in return. Don't I deserve happiness?" True happiness is humiliating the fools in Divinity's Reach. True happiness is sitting on a heap of gold attained from a successful heist. True happiness is the power of having one's name whispered among crowds in fear. Happiness is what you make for yourself, it doesn't come from a single man. Caden will let you down. He will betray you. He's done it before.

"No!" she said loud enough to surprise herself. "I have enough of this conversation! I'm going to work." And just like that the debate was over. She strode through the room and opened the door. Down the hall way to the street outside, she could hear the faraway moaning of bullfrogs that had gone on for the most part of the night. But the frogs would be gone soon, fading away with the dying night - just like the negative thoughts that threatened to jeopardize everything wonderful she'd waited so long for. She decided then to fill her head instead with thoughts of being in Caden's arms, that security and blanket assurance that made it all worthwhile. Their love seemed completely illogical from a sane man's point of view, but it didn't stop from feeling right, it didn't stop her heart from skipping a beat at the very thought of him.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Strolling through town, she was surprised to find that a great many of the townsfolk were up as early as she was. In the city, the streets tended to be dead till the sun bore down its rays onto its cobbled paths. A couple of townsfolk she hadn't had the chance of being introduced to by Caden, smiled and waved to her.  She smiled back awkwardly, feeling a little nervous about the undue show of warmth that she felt she didn't deserve. She realised it might be the first time she'd been in a small town in the morning, completely sober and alone with strangers. Maybe being drunk out of her mind half the time had made her miss the warmth of small town living, just like this.

Footsteps trailed behind her, she could hear the scatter of shoe soles on pebble. Pure instinct made her whip around, hand reaching down her side for her sword - but she found nothing there. Her trusty sword, much like the rest of her items, were six-feet under. And right before her, her stalker... a young boy of barely five, tumbled to the ground in fright. His eyes were open wide, terrified by the monstrous glare she'd given him. She softened her expression immediately. "I'm sorry," she reached over to help him up, but he scrambled away instead, disappearing behind some crates. A pang of regret stabbed her for scaring the poor boy. She had to get a grip, learn to relax and just enjoy the journey.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Much like the other townsfolk, she found Jamie opening his shop just as the sun began to rise. She'd expected to get there before him and surprise him for being ultra punctual, but no such luck. "Get many customers this early in the morning?" she quipped.

Not expecting to find her there, Jamie was slightly taken aback. "You're impressively early yourself. Good morning."

"Morning."

"Would you like some breakfast to start your day?" he offered.

She smiled. "Something simple might be nice. I hope to start work on that wheelbarrow as soon as I can though."

"About the price..." he started, a little embarrassed to bring up the issue of finances so soon. "Is two pieces of gold too little for such a task? I'd offer more, but money has been a bit tight for me lately."

"Whatever you can pay is fine with me," replied Selina. She knew what Jamie said was probably true. Two pieces of gold was almost nothing compared to the massive bars she was used to lugging around, but Jamie had likely never seen as much wealth in his life. She barely knew the simple tailor, but she already liked him. A decent man in an honest work. There was a lot to admire about it.

"Really? I hope you don't think I'm ripping you off," he said apologetically, to which she shook her head. "Tell you what, if you do a good job on that wheelbarrow, I'll spread the word of your fine craftsmanship to everyone I know. You'll have a blooming business in no time. How does that sound?"

"Jamie..." she said with a chuckle. "Really, don't worry about it. I don't want you paying out of your means. I have idle hands. Fixing things is something I know I can do. I should be thanking you for keeping me occupied this morning."

"Well, I appreciate it very much Selina. And a very warm welcome to our humble town of Claypool, hope you'll come to love it as much as we do."

"If everyone's as polite as you, I don't see why that'd be a problem at all," she teased, before she got down to the business of listing all the supplies she would require to get that wheel up and running again. By a rough estimate, she knew she would be barely making any profit at all from this job, but she would have the appropriate equipment for her next job, so it would eventually all add up.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #110 on: July 06, 2017, 01:44:31 AM »
Caden had gotten up early that morning under the pretense of heading to the forest to gather herbs. He did end up getting herbs but his main intention was to get away from his family for a while. He normally settled back into his life at home rather easily, but everything about life here felt differently somehow now that he had brought Selina home with him. Too many things had happened over the past few days for him to calmly sit with his family pretending nothing was different. He would have to tell them that he and Selina were in love, but he didn't quite know how. Part of him still didn't believe it was actually real, part of him still expected to wake up from a dream every moment now.

To avoid company he had dressed before dawn and left a note on the kitchen table saying he would be back later. He grabbed a piece of bread from one of the cabinets and a basket to put his herbs in before heading out. He had left Claypool behind him quickly and headed east to the heartwoods. His feet followed along the route he had walked so many times before effortlessly and he soon found himself climbing a familiar slope. At the top he sat himself down, eating a small breakfast while he watched the sun rise over the river. It didn't take long for his thoughts to stray back to Selina and he wondered how she was fairing over at Jamie's place, if she was even there yet, and how they were getting on. Knowing both of them they were probably getting along just fine he thought while aimlessly playing around with a blade of grass. He sat in his spot for several hours, lazing around before realizing he probably had to get to work before his family wondered why he hadn't brought any herbs back.

He got to his feet, grabbed his basket and made his way back down the slope to start his tour through the forest. After some time his basket was filled up with useful herbs and by the time he reentered the village it was past noon already.

"...and so the chef decided he had enough, threw his apron on the floor..." Jamie was out in the open, his eyes wide and animated, arms swinging to the thread of his tale.

Selina wedged the final spoke into the formerly broken wheel, now completely fixed. She wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her hand, and attempted to continue Jamie's story, "And threatened to tell the butcher?"

Jamie broke out in laughter, "Yes! Yes, he did say that."

Picking up the wheel with two hands, Selina fit it back into place, a sawdust cloud scattered as she breathed onto the side of the wheel.

Jamie carried on with his story, seated a safe distance from Selina's array of tools and wood chippings. "Frightened of what the butcher might do, the lady decided to let the matter slide. I mean... anyone who's witnessed the butcher at work would surely think twice."

Selina laughed as well as she packed up her tools and did her best to sweep the wood chips away from the main pavement. "So, you were there when all this happened?" she asked.

"Friend of a friend. Word travels quickly around here," he answered.

She nodded, remembering what Caden had told her. It was likely that Jamie was a large part of the cycle of gossip around town. From the stories that he'd shared with her that morning, it was clear that no story would escape his ear. "You hear a lot, don't you?"

"Indeed I do," Jamie boasted. "Most people don't just come here for alterations, they come here for news or to give me news. Sometimes they don't even have the intent to do business, they're just here to chat."

Caden decided to pass by Jamie before heading home to see if Selina was still there and headed towards the center of town. From a distance he could already see the pair outside and he approached.

Selina was thinking of the next question she intended to ask Jamie, but when she noticed Caden approaching, she decided that all other concerns could wait. Rising from a crouched position, she dusted off the wood chips that dotted her attire, and offered Caden a smile. "Hello there," was all she said, though she had in her heart so much more to share.

"Hey" He said with a warm smile once he reached them. He gave Jamie a short wave before turning his attention back to Selina. He lightly kissed her cheek before smiling at her again. "How're you today?" He asked.

"I'm good," she said without hesitation, and picked up her bundle of tools in one hand. "How was your morning?"

He held up his basket. "I made a long walk and did some gathering"

"Mhmm..." She pushed the basket aside. She had no interest in the basket, only in the one holding it. Slipping her arms around his neck, she stepped closer. "A long walk huh.."

Jamie, still seated behind them, had a smile so wide it threatened to split his face into two. He wasn't about to leave and miss all the action.

"Mhm, to the heartwoods" He said, incredibly distracted by the feeling of her arm wrapped around his neck. "Say, if you're done here, can I maybe invite you over for lunch?" He smiled at her as he looked into her eyes.

"I'm done here," she replied, and turned to Jamie for confirmation. He nodded enthusiastically.

"An excellent job! Thank you Selina." Jamie said as he cast an eye on the wheelbarrow sitting proudly on its two working wheels. "The rest of Claypool is going to hear about this."

Selina didn't respond. She debated if Jamie was going to tell the rest of Claypool about her workmanship or about her relationship with Caden. She supposed it wouldn't matter either way. "I'd love to join you for lunch," she whispered. Not that she intended to hide the fact from Jamie, but she was feeling a little unnerved to have his eyes follow them like a hawk.

He nodded and smiled. "Well I'll let you wrap things up here then"

"Jamie paid up front, we can leave whenever," she whispered, not turning around, then a louder, "Bye Jamie, it was good doing business with you!"

"See you soon Selina. Remember I'm here not just for alterations. If you ever need someone to talk to..."

But Selina was already walking. "Alright..." she said back to him, gaining a grip on Caden's hand and pulling him away from the nosy tailor. Jamie was... interesting, but it almost felt like her ears were going to suffer from verbal diarrhea from all the gossip she'd unfortunately been exposed to.

"Cya Jamie" Caden said with a wave as he followed after Selina before she pulled him off balance.

After a while, Selina turned around to check that Jamie was no longer in earshot. When she was certain, she put her arms around Caden, and drew him into a kiss.

He wrapped his basket free arm around her lower back and kept her close as he returned the kiss. They would have to tell his family today he realized, probably over lunch, or the rest of the village would probably beat them to it.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 10:12:04 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #111 on: July 06, 2017, 02:02:28 AM »
Upon entering the house they found that Caden's family had already eaten lunch. His father was still sitting at the kitchen table, doing some accounting while his mother was doing the dishes. His grandmother was nowhere in sight. As they entered the kitchen both of his parents looked up. "Good to see you again Selina" Molly said with a smile while she was drying off a plate. "How was your outing this morning Caden?" she asked as she looked at her son.

Caden looked at Selina and then at his parents. Growing nervous he swallowed. How to go about this? he asked himself. He had no idea what his parents would think. After several seconds he took Selina's hand in his own. Ignoring his mother's question he said: "Mum, dad," He swallowed again and nervously glanced at Selina. "I should've told you this sooner" He continued, "But Selina and I are more than just ex-colleagues." He looked at her again, smiling this time.

Since Caden seemed to be coming out in the open, Selina offered her own input. "Technically we weren't even colleagues," she chuckled.

He nodded, smiling apologetically at his parents. Molly stared at the pair of them. It took her several seconds before the wheels clicked into place and she caught on. "Oh my darlings, that's wonderful!" She exclaimed, dropping the tea towel she rushed over to embrace Caden and then Selina. Ethan sat in his seat, smirking as he observed his wife fawning over the pair.

A little confused yet flattered at the attention, Selina accepted Molly's hug. "Thank you?" she posed as a question. She'd never encountered anyone as celebratory over her relationship status as the Mullinses, and she wasn't quite sure how to react to it.

Caden managed a smile at his mother, still too nervous to say much.

Selina watched Caden go silent, and his parents, while obviously elated at the idea, seemed to be strapped for something to say as well. She cleared her throat to draw the attention away from their silent deadlock. "And... probably this won't matter as much, but I'm kinda settled on staying in Claypool for as long as Caden wants me here."

"Of course my dear" Molly exclaimed. "Oh what happy news, wait till I tell Meri".

Eventually Caden found his tongue back. "Mum, we haven't eaten yet, do you perhaps have some lunch left over?"

From his seat at the table Ethan chuckled, clearly amused by his wife's enthusiasm. "There's some cold ham and fruit in the basement son. You now where to find the bread," he said.

Molly's reaction remained amusing to Selina, she wondered if the poor lady was jumping the gun here. None of the Mullinses, aside from Caden, knew who she really was. And none of them tried to ask either. At this point, she figured she'd be open to being honest. But it was one thing to be ready to speak the truth, and another to speak it without being asked. She sat down at the breakfast table feeling a little conflicted.

Caden disappeared into the basement and came back out several minutes later carrying a plate of sliced ham and a bowl filled with grapes and several kinds of berries. He placed them on the table after which he fetched two plates for him and Selina and some bread. He sat himself down next to Selina. Molly meanwhile announced that she was going out to find Meri and disappeared from the kitchen.

Selina thanked Caden for fetching the food, and began consuming it quietly. After some time, she whispered a question to him, "Why are they acting so happy about us being together?"

"Maybe they're happy I finally brought a girl home." He smirked, feeling less nervous now that his mother had left.

"So, Selina, have you considered where you will be staying?" Ethan asked from the other side of the table.

She looked over in Ethan's direction. "I've been living in the inn that's closest to here," she replied.

"At Mylia's, hmm. I'll have a word with her later, maybe she can knock some off her room price if you're happy to help her out with the odd job. It shouldn't be a problem if you're intending to stick around."

Selina shrugged a little languidly. She appreciated Ethan's help and didn't want to say anything untoward but she found the entire sleeping arrangement awkward. It would be her guess that Caden hadn't been with a woman, and she didn't want to pressure him into anything he wasn't comfortable with. As for herself, she'd been with a couple of men over the duration of her life, even some of whom she didn't really care for. But it always worked to the advantage of both parties; they would get their fix and she would have company in the night. She knew such situations were never ideal, but she always enjoyed having a warm body to cuddle with while her guard was down. It tended to give her better dreams, and some sense of security.

Since that first kiss with Caden, she wanted nothing more than to spend the night next to him. To some measure of regret, she wondered why she never fully treasured those nights they spent in the hut together. Ironically since they'd discovered their feelings towards each other, she felt even lonelier each night. She'd been getting nightmares, and then there was that huge tussle for control over her thoughts just that morning. For these reasons she'd begun to detest the inn. But she knew she would have to bear with it in order to be close to him.

Caden smiled at his father. "Thanks Dad" He said before helping himself to some food.

His father nodded. "Well time to get back to work. Make sure you dry that properly," he said to Caden while pointing at the basket. He got up and left the kitchen through the backdoor. After the door closed behind him, he opened it back up immediately. "Call me if someone comes into the shop" He said before closing the door again.

Selina looked at the shut door. "So I assume we'll be watching the shop for the afternoon?"

"Mum should be back soon enough." He said before eating a piece of ham.

She nodded, then, "Caden, what you said before... about bringing a girl home. It almost sounds like they're expecting us to marry. Tell me if I'm wrong."

"I think they gave up expectations for me a while ago Sel" he smiled. "Though I doubt they would have objections to a marriage, I think by now they know I'll do as I please."

Selina raised a brow. "Caden, you're only twenty five. That's mighty fast to give up expectations for you."

"I think I stopped meeting their expectations about ten years ago Sel" He gave her a smile.

Just as Selina was mulling over the situation, the tinkle of a bell came from the shop.

Caden got to his feet immediately and walked towards the front, ending up behind the shop counter.

Melinda stood obstinately in the shop, Jack Horton, her husband, just a foot behind her. She had her hands on her hips, like she meant business. She barely ever visited the Mullins' herb shop, if she did, it meant she wasn't there for the herbs.

"Melinda, Jack, how good to see you both" Caden greeted them happily, although it sounded a bit forced. "What can I do for you?"

Leaning over the counter in a sultry manner, the way she would when both Caden and her were dating, Melinda got straight to the point, "Caye, what's this I hear about you bringing a girl to town? Where are you hiding her?"

Selina had intended to follow Caden out into the shop, but upon hearing Melinda's voice, she decided to stop and listen before rushing out.

"I'm not sure how it's any concern of yours Melinda," he said calmly. "Do you have any medical issues that need to be addressed? I'll fetch Ethan for you."

"Oh come now Caye. I'm not here to see Ethan, I'm here to see you. You're the talk of the town, did you know that?" Melinda turned to Jack to back her up, "Isn't that right, Jack? Tell Caye what you heard."

Jack grumbled something half incomprehensible, clearly not at ease with the situation.

"If that is all Melinda," Caden said, still remaining calm. "I'd like to get back to work."

Melinda pointed to Jack as though he was completely audible. "Didn't you just hear what he said? Everyone wants to know who this girl is and where you got her from. So spill the beans. It's gotta come out sooner or later," she demanded, her bright blue eyes sparkling with anticipation.

"I'm sorry Melinda, but I really have no time for this and I doubt you have any real desire to meet her. Good day to you both." He said and turned around to leave.

Frustrated that she couldn't get a word out of 'Caye', Melinda rattled on, "I'll just have you know that Jamie..."

Selina met Caden there at the door. She looked at Melinda, and Melinda returned a look of surprise. For a while, both women locked dagger stares - until Selina asked, "What should we know about Jamie?"

"J... J... Jamie's seen you," Melinda stuttered.

"Of course he's seen her, he sold her clothes, the man doesn't work with his eyes shut. Now may we please do our work?"

"What's your name?" Melinda shouted at Selina, just in case Caden would shut the door on her. But while Selina remained at the doorway, that would seem impossible.

"My name's Selina. You're Melinda and..." she looked over at the husband. "Jack. The butcher's boy." There was a wide smile on Selina's face. The entire encounter was amusing to her. She snuck a glance at Caden.

Caden shrugged, he was used to Melinda's antics by now and cared little for them. If anything he found them tiresome and perhaps slightly embarrassing.

Melinda glanced over at Caden as well. Privately, it pleased her to know that that he'd been talking about both her and Jack. She wanted to know that Caden hadn't gotten over her, and it seems that he might not have. "Well well," she said to Selina. "You know something about us, but we know nothing about you."

Selina felt she knew Melinda just from her mannerisms and dominant personality. She'd had met such types in her life. She knew what a conversation with one of such would entail; an interrogation, perhaps followed by the trading of a few insults. She leaned on the door frame and wrapped her arms around her chest as she considered whether Melinda was worth it. She knew that Caden would do anything at that point to shut the door on her, but curiosity bade Sel to entertain the insufferable broad for a bit - if nothing more, than for her own amusement. "What would you like to know?"

Melinda asked the first thing that came into her head. "Where do you come from?"

"Divinity's Reach," came her quick reply.

Melinda exchanged a surprised glance with her despondent husband. "You're from the city," she mused. "So how did you meet Caden?"

"Work."

"What work were the two of you engaged in?"

Selina paused to dress up her reply. She didn't mind being expository about all that happened, but the truth was a long and complicated, and she felt Melinda didn't exactly deserve the time she'd have to spend explaining it. "We worked alongside law enforcement for a bit."

"Seraphs?"

Selina shrugged. "Not exactly, but close enough." She took a step closer to Melinda, "Now Melinda, you've asked me a whole string of questions, it's my turn to ask you one."

A little taken aback by Selina's own forwardness, Melinda replied, "Alright?"

Selina proudly wound an arm around Caden's waist and gave him a peck on the cheek, "How in the world did you let this one slip you by?"

Caden kept silent, feeling rather awkward about the whole situation.

Jack shifted around on his feet uneasily. "I ought to be getting back Melinda, we'll lose customers if we close the shop any longer." He mumbled.

Ignoring Jack completely, Melinda narrowed her eyes, she didn't like Selina's question. It was rhetorical - more like staking a claim than anything. But she pretended to laugh anyway. "Oh Selina, you're such a laugh. The only reason I left Caye was because I found someone more suited to me. Someone who understands my needs and is able and ready to meet them. Girls do need pampering, every now and then. Isn't that right, Jack?" Her own statement was rhetorical. She barely gave enough time for Jack to respond before continuing, "I assume that's what brought you love birds together as well? Filling each other's needs and all that. Perhaps all this while, Caye's been looking for someone older than him." She looked slyly at Selina. "Someone much older."

"What brought us together was love Melinda, and nothing less, but I gather the concept is hard to grasp for you. I suggest you leave now, before you embarrass yourself any further." Caden said, wrapping his arm around Selina so they were now holding each other.

Jack felt he had remained in the sidelines for long enough. He didn't like how uncomfortable the situation had become, and he really didn't know anything about Caden's new girl, he wouldn't presume to know anything. He put a hand on his wife's shoulder to ask her away, "Melinda..."

Selina smiled at Caden. She'd brought up the age gap issue to Caden once, and it didn't seem to stop him. Him holding her the second time this issue's brought up told her everything she needed to know. It didn't matter what the world thought of them, as long as they had each other, that was enough. "You know one thing about age, Melinda," she began, looking directly at her. "It teaches you what should matter most. The things, and people, you need to cling onto and never let go of, because often enough, you might never get a second chance at happiness. You have that in your hands, as do I." With her eyes, Selina pointed Jack out to Melinda. "Don't let it go."

Melinda finally took notice of Jack, and a shade of red flushed over her cheeks. "Can we leave now?" Jack asked, his hand still on his wife's shoulder. She nodded.

"Nice meeting you Melinda and Jack," said Selina. She didn't really mean it, but she felt it didn't matter.

"It was nice meeting you too," answered Melinda dully as she turned to go. Jack put an arm around his wife's back, and he thanked Selina and Caden for the chat right before they left. For a brief moment, Selina considered what Caden's life would've been like had Jack never come into the picture. As meek as Jack Horton was, she realised he'd done both of them a huge favor to take that woman upon himself.

Turning to look into Caden's eyes, she recalled the first time they'd met. The mercenary sent by Doc Howler had all the intention to end her life. But it was also because of him that Caden had inevitably entered into her life. Bent over her like a radiant guardian angel, she'd first looked into his eyes; much the same way she now looked at him. "I love you Caden," she said. And all the rest of the world fell away as they embraced each other fully and completely.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #112 on: July 07, 2017, 07:59:55 AM »
"Mr Brown, Bill Dean is here. He's been sitting in the living room for about an hour," reported Mrs Priscot, a short time after Leif Arrowbrand had ended his private session with Robert Brown; the main bulk of it being the main attraction for the upcoming annual event entitled 'Fight Week'. Arrowbrand had been pushing hard for a rematch between his star; the Iron Gladiator, and the reigning King of the Arena; King Shark. The previous year, King Shark had crushed Iron Gladiator into a humiliating defeat, one that Iron Gladiator said he would never forget. Just a month ago, Iron Gladiator had declared at the end of yet another string of victories in the primaries, that he would emerge as ultimate victor this year at 'Fight Week', even before anyone even had the chance to settle the details of his match-up. The crowd had gone wild at Iron Gladiator jumping the gun, assuming the match-up had been confirmed, which annoyed Rob to no end. He wouldn't have minded setting up the match as such if Arrowbrand had restrained his client from making false announcements in the ring, and had it all settled in his office instead. But the truth was that Iron Gladiator was getting out of hand; with each win, his ego growing vastly larger than his head. Rob could tell that he was frustrating even the typically professional Arrowbrand. With the cat out of the bag... or rather, the cat predating the bag, he felt arm-twisted into the match-up and intentionally delayed Arrowbrand's meeting with him as a form of punishment... of sorts. Even though he figured, delaying an eventual meeting with an inevitable conclusion wasn't going to put a chink in Iron Gladiator's pride in the least.

"Send him in," Rob mumbled as he gazed down at what he'd written down in regards to the deal that had been struck. So far, there hadn't been any written rules addressing such issues - but he felt there really should be. At least to preempt the next occurrence.

Bill Dean stepped into the room. A young man in his twenties; fair skinned, slender legs, pretty eyes - son of the infamous Rusco Dean, right hand man to the former chief of the Widowmakers, now incarcerated together with his boss. Billy had no affiliations with his father, however. Said his father was often abusive, drunk or absent. The few moments Rusco did spend with Billy, he'd often criticize Billy's slender frame and gentle demeanor, said he didn't have the makings of a true man. Billy held a party when his father was arrested, and made a point to befriend his father's enemies out of spite. He bore no grudge towards Robert Brown, and in fact shared a lot of the same business ambitions as him. It didn't take long for Rob to begin trusting him to handle cases, much like he intended to on this one.

It'd been more than two weeks since Sellie had got up and left in the middle of their private party. Rob didn't want to look scattered, but the truth was that he was going out of his mind with concern, thinking something had happened to her. She'd departed so quickly, she hadn't even given him any details other than the fact that her brother needed help. It haunted him that he had allowed her to run off without making her stay long enough to tell him where she was headed, or what she'd intended to do. He knew if anyone could resolve this mystery, it would be Billy Dean.

"Billy, I've been sending you on many errands lately," he said, looking up at the boy.

"Yes boss, because I do my work well," Billy boasted.

"That you have," agreed Rob. "I have something I need you to do now that might need some discretion."

Billy came nearer and pulled up the seat just opposite Rob. He leaned forward with his hands clasped cross his chest. "What is it?"

"Sellie Knox, do you know who she is?"

Billy looked up at Rob. "The woman in the hood, I assume. Your secret squeeze?"

Rob smiled. No one, besides Mrs Priscot, had seen Selina's face. Nor had he revealed her real name any place. But Billy was observant, and he was a smart lad. He probably put two and two together. "Be careful who you repeat that name to. She's hiding from some very powerful people."

"Understood."

"The thing is that, she left my house in over two weeks, promising to return. She didn't tell me what or why, only that her brother was in trouble. Her brother being Aidan Brennan."

Billy gave pause and straightened up in his seat. "Any relation to Andrea Brennan?"

It was Rob's turn to give pause. "I think that's his aunt."

Leaning forward again, Billy whispered, "Word on the street is that the Brennan's business empire is in danger due to the treachery of Andrea Brennan. During the failed assassination of the Queen, it was found out that Andrea was working for the other side."

"So that's what it might have been about," concluded Rob.

Billy nodded. "You think Sellie was kidnapped?"

"She hasn't come back, that's for sure. Whatever she had to do, I don't think it would be taking this long."

"Walk me through what exactly happened - from the moment she first considered leaving to the moment she left, and everything she said."

It felt good to finally talk about this to someone else. The final scene before Sel's departure had been haunting him for a while now. "Sellie and I were having a little celebratory party when a messenger appeared at the door and handed her a letter. She kept me out of the conversation, but it sounded serious. She came in shortly and told me she had to leave to help her brother. Acted like her brother meant the world to her, even though I still don't really buy it. I don't know... Anyway, I offered to fetch her to wherever she needed to go, and she said the messenger would be doing just that. Then she promised to come back, and left."

Billy stared at him. "That's it? Any locations, names..."

"She was in a hurry, I didn't think to ask."

"That's fine.." Billy assured. "At least we have the lead on Andrea Brennan. If I can track that woman down, perhaps I'll find Sellie there as well." He stood up to leave.

"Don't go yet," said Rob, handing him a copy of a creased flyer with a sketch of a woman's face right in the center. It was a bounty sketched up by the Seraphs. "That's Sellie Knox, right there. Remember, I want you to keep this investigation really low key. We don't want her name getting out."

"Copy that," said Billy, reading the flyer. "Wow, she was worth quite a bit."

"Yeah, that was quite a while ago though. She's done her time. I was just keeping this for novelty's sake, but it's good that it's coming in handy now."

"Sir, if she's done her time, I hope you don't mind me asking why she's still hiding from the authorities?"

"I've never said she's hiding from the authorities. I've said that she's hiding from powerful people. The other side wants her now."

Billy shook his face. "My my... but at least I know who to avoid now."

"You do that," came the reply.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #113 on: July 07, 2017, 01:16:12 PM »
Just two days after she'd fixed that wheelbarrow for Jamie, a note was dropped at the inn for Selina in regards to fixing a hole in the roof, over at Medicha's place. Medicha was the resident jeweler who promised a much higher fee on completion of the job than Jamie had. It wasn't a complicated job, per se. The only real problem was getting the lumber up to the roof. She hadn't afforded a pulley, didn't think she needed one. And she decided to stick to that decision, even as she carried each piece of lumber up a flimsy ladder. Medicha had marveled at her strength, admitted that she'd never be able to do what Selina could, at least not in her lifetime; then headed back into her home and offered no other help whatsoever. Selina shrugged and realised she'd have to do everything on her own.

Puffing up that ladder for the fifth time with the final piece of lumber, she dropped her burden onto the partially rotted wood, and rolled onto her back to catch her breath.

There on the roof, she watched the clouds roll lazily by, drifting on the mighty gusts of wind, up in the bright blue sky. As she laid there, she thought about all that would be required to get that hole fixed. Sawing out the rest of the rotted wood, attaching the new planks, sealing the gaps...

She looked down. She had felt eyes on her, and it made her nervous. Just a distance from that house was the little boy that she had frightened just a couple of days ago. He was standing in the middle of the road in a dirty over-sized shirt, watching her curiously with a large child-like gaze. "Hello?" she said after a while. He continued to stare. After an extended time of waiting for him to come closer, or go back to doing whatever little children do, she remembered that Caden had kindly packed food for her to take to work today. Reaching into her pouch, she took out a ham sandwich, neatly wrapped in cloth. Unwrapping it slowly for him to see, she asked, "Would you like a bite?" He didn't budge, though his attention was now drawn to the sandwich. "I'll bring it down for you," she said, tucked the sandwich in her pocket and began descending the ladder.

Just as she turned around to feed the child, she noticed that he was gone. She looked about, and couldn't see him anywhere. "Hello! Are you there? I'm not going to hurt you," she promised as she crouched under bushes and looked behind trees. "Don't you want some food?" she asked, and after a while, knew she was talking to herself. Decidedly unwrapping that sandwich for herself, she bit through the slices of bread, ham, cheese and thin layer of cucumber. She gave her meal a second glance, surprised at how good it tasted. Caden had certainly some skills in the area, one that he never boasted about. Although one might say a sandwich is not more of an effort than piling food in a stack, her sandwiches were rarely this tasty. Might've been some sauce that he'd added, or just the thought that a loved one had made this for her that warmed her heart.

After finishing off the final morsel, then regretting there wasn't any more, she went back up the ladder to proceed on with the task at hand.

A few hours later, Medicha came out of the kitchen with a cup of tea for her, wrapped snugly in a colorful hand-knitted cup warmer like a coat of sorts. "Tea time!" Medicha sang, holding up the tray for her to see. Selina took out the nail that she was biting between her teeth and laughed at the snug cup, raised high above its station. "Pretty isn't it?" continued Medicha, not offended by the response. "Jamie's grandmother knitted it, together with a few other things."

"It is adorable," gushed Selina, descending the ladder to take a better look at the handiwork on that cup-warmer. "And it seems you took a lot of care in making me this drink."

"Of course!" Medicha exclaimed. "You're my guest, and you're fixing my roof. Making you tea is the least I can do. Take a sip!"

Following Medicha's request, Selina put the cup onto her lips and sipped the aromatic beverage. It wasn't the kind of beverage she was used to - the hard liquor, stout beer and such. It didn't even resemble the teas that she occasionally had while in Aidan's home. Medicha's tea tasted a lot more herbal... or was it fruity? "What's in here?"

"Citrus and cinnamon. Do you like it?" she asked eagerly.

Surprised at the blend, Selina nodded. "I would never think of boiling citrus and cinnamon with tea."

"It's an old recipe passed down to me by my own mother. I find that it perks me up in the mornings, especially when it's cold. And it's nourishing too."

"I'll bet," Selina replied, taking another sip.

Medicha waited patiently with the tray propped up in her hands till Selina was half done, and she asked, "So how is the roof? How long more do you think you'll take?"

"Hmm," said Selina, looking up at the half patched up roof. "After I'm done with the wood work, I have to seal it up, and apply waterproofing... that should take... maybe to the end of the day. With some intervals in between of course. The stuff needs to dry before I apply the next coat. If it rains, I'll need to finish it up tomorrow."

Medicha frowned and looked up at the bright sky, "I sure hope it doesn't rain. Although, on the other hand, I wouldn't feel right taking up too much of your time."

"It's fine, I've prepared..."

"Time you could be spending... you know..." she winked an eye and elbowed Selina playfully.

"What?" Selina was confused.

"You and Caden!" she spat out, exasperated that Selina hadn't gotten the hint. "You know how long we've been waiting for him to get hitched? I think his parents were close to giving up completely."

"It seems like the entire town knows..." Selina grumbled quietly.

"Hey, that's small town hospitality for you," chirped Medicha, wiggling her body to music in her head. "Trust me, you've got a good boy. He's quiet but dependable, and hardworking."

Selina couldn't help but smile at Medicha's straight forward exposition on him. "I almost am persuaded to hire him now," she joked.

Medicha paused for a moment to consider Selina's words; caught the joke and began laughing heartily. "I suppose you city folk are much more advanced in your descriptions of other people. You'll have to bear with ahem... backward hillbillies like me with my awkward descriptions."

"No no, you're alright," Selina grinned. She was beginning to like Medicha more than anyone else in Claypool that she'd met. She had a lightness of heart, a sincerity that Selina found refreshing. "Actually we're all really skeptical in the city. We live incredibly closely packed and you'd think we'd be friendly, but we really hate each other."

"Oh no!" cried Medicha in dismay. Obviously she had much better preconceptions of the city.

After some further thought on the matter, Selina began to laugh at herself, "Just look at how skeptical I am. I'm sorry. Force of habit."

"No, you're not skeptical," consoled Medicha. "You're..." She struggled to come up with an appropriate term that didn't sound too negative.

"I am skeptical," insisted Selina. "And often times sarcastic, rude and boorish. It's common for where I'm from. Call it a trait for survival. Unfortunately, you don't get very far in the city by being nice and polite. People see it as a sign of weakness, and they will exploit it."

"That's awful!" Medicha cried again.

Selina nodded. "Maybe that's why sometimes I think it's better to live in places like Claypool. See, you have none of that nonsense here."

"After what you've told me, I don't think I'd survive at all in the big city."

Selina didn't want to agree with what Medicha had said, but she couldn't deny it either. "It's a good thing that we've become friends then. If you ever go out of your mind and want to make it in the big city, all you need to do is to call on me."

"It all sounds very frightening Selina, but I am glad that we are friends, regardless," she grinned. "Thank you for the offer."

Draining off her drink, Selina returned Medicha's cup, and smiled at the jeweler. It was that point that she remembered the little boy who'd popped by just a while ago. "Hey Medicha, do you know who's that little boy?"

"Who?" she looked behind her, thinking that Selina had presently spotted a child.

"Not now. There was a little boy here earlier on. Dirty clothes, big eyes, doesn't say a lot."

"Oh. that's Keagon's young son... Lucas... I think that's his name."

"It's the second time I've seen him. Why is he all alone?"

"Mhmm" Medicha's eyes widened knowingly as she nodded. She began walking away, leaving Selina with final words. "A tragedy. We in Claypool don't like to talk about it. Not nice to talk about other people's misfortunes."

Bewildered at the abrupt end to their conversation, and not wanting to prod further, Selina decided to drop the subject. She turned around to gaze at the lane that led out of Medicha's home, further into the communal town area. Quietly, she wondered if she'd see the boy again, and if he'd stay long enough this time to have a chat with her. Perhaps it was plain curiosity, but something about the child reached out to her.

She decided that she would be better prepared the next time.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #114 on: July 10, 2017, 09:26:27 PM »
A gust of wind blew across the partially waterproofed roof as Selina worked her way up with the hot tar, slopping the goop across the newly installed planks. Sweat coursed down her face and soaked her already damp tunic. Her arms and back ached as she forced the mop across the length of the roof once more.

It was just when she noticed Caden running in her direction that she finally put the mop down.

"Sel?" he called up when he finally reached Medicha's house and stood by the ladder.

"Caden, hey! I'm not done yet," she said, wiping her hands on her apron.

"I know, sorry to keep you from your work, but I have to get a delivery to Triskell Quay," he called. "I'm afraid I have to leave straight away."

"You're leaving now?" she asked with a dash of disappointment. "When will you be back?"

"Two... three days tops. I'll try to get everything settled as quickly as possible so I can be back here as soon as I'm able to. I'm sorry, I hate leaving you alone here..."

She sighed, and after a pause replied, "I'll be fine Caden. If it's something you need to do, then do what you have to, don't worry about me."

Caden gave her an apologetic look and nodded. "Don't get into any trouble," he said with a smile as he left.

Selina laughed lightly at his statement, shook her face as she watched him disappear around the bend, and went back to work.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the end of the waterproofing effort, Medicha came back out to offer another drink. Selina updated her on Caden's absence, and in turn, Medicha informed her that she was going to have a guest over that evening. Before heading back inside, Medicha offered Selina a flyer in regards to Claypool's annual Harvest Festival, to be held at the end of the week. Medicha spoke extensively about the food, games, music and dances that were lined up for the event. She said that everyone would be there, and insisted that it would be the perfect time for Selina and Caden to show themselves off; even though Selina maintained that she wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea of being at a crowded festival. Insisting upon their attendance, Medicha declared that she would be very disappointed if she didn't find Sel and Caden there. Selina merely shrugged said she would give it some thought.

A few hours after this conversation, Medicha's dinner guest arrived; a female rancher named Trish. Both invited Selina down to have dinner with them, but at the time Sel was almost at the end of the final touch-ups and didn't want to break from the task till she was done. They left her to it, and it wasn't till an hour later that the work was finally complete. By then, she was aching all over, dreading the thought of heading back to the Apple and the Arrow inn. She removed the cream colored woolen gloves that were stained almost completely black and threw them aside. Tore off the apron on her chest and did the same. Caden's news had reached her while she was too busy to properly process, but the moment that she did get idle, she wondered how she would pass those few days without him around. Aside from the job from Medicha, no other work had come in for her yet. She began to wonder how feasible it'd be to continue in this line of work, judging from the overall size of Claypool. Her targeted customers would never be quite that expansive.

Intending to inform Medicha of the finished work then depart shortly after, she trudged to the main entrance to the cottage, and was surprised to find the door slightly ajar. Hearing muffled laughter coming from inside, she knocked gently to announce her presence. "Ah Selina, come in!" Medicha shouted, and rose from her seat to welcome her.

"The roof's done," Selina announced, staying on the doorknob as she quickly did a visual sweep of Medicha's cosy home; dressed up in lace floral curtains, flickering rose candles, floral fabrics that matched her table cloth, and simple wooden furniture. Upon the mantle that stood above her fireplace was a sleeping black cat, all stretched out. Beside the cat, a decorated box the size of a brick with a golden lock, left completely unguarded and exposed.

"You must be famished! Come join us for dinner," invited Medicha. Selina hadn't planned to have dinner at Medicha's place, but it sure beat the thought of heading back to Mylia's. "I've cooked too much food, you'll be doing us a favor to help us finish it all up."

"Yes, you've got to taste Medicha's roast," Trish chimed in with a chuckle. "I can't get my hands off it." On the table sat a generous spread of meat, bread and potatoes.

"I appreciate the thought Medicha, Trish, but I'm tired and I know that I reek badly. I'd hate to ruin your meals with.."

"Oh yes! This way first," exclaimed Medicha, leading Selina in a different direction. "I've drawn you a bath. I've nearly forgot about it, bless my absent mind! There's a towel and a set of clean clothes beside. Come and join us once you're done." She opened a door to a little wooden room, an already filled bath tub steaming smoke sitting in a corner, a stool next to it with everything she'd mentioned.

"What should I do with the clothes?"

"Return them whenever you're able to. No rush." With that, the jeweler quickly excused herself and shut the door behind her.

Medicha had certainly anticipated every eventuality and prepared for it, quite unlike Selina's own 'live moment to moment' mentality, and Sel had to appreciate the fact. She left her filthy clothes on the floor and gently eased herself into the all-too-heavenly-embrace of warm bathwater. Wringing her tired hands in a bar of soap, she noticed the development of three new blisters that had formed over the course of the afternoon. On top of the blisters... having missed the trip to Triskell Quay with Caden. She didn't know which was worse. And she'd done it all for the sake of a few coin. Slipping deeper into the bathwater, Selina shut her eyes and let her restless mind wander. She began to wonder if it was worth it. All it would take was a simple mental calculation to realise that the gangs at Divinity's Reach would've easily paid five times as much, and probably required just half the effort. How she'd taken the convenience of easy gold for granted. She figured if she had gold coming in like it used to, she'd probably save up to purchase her very own house. She was certain a fancy pad here in Claypool would be just a quarter of what it costs in the city. Picturing a pathway to a cottage that very much resembled Medicha's, she recollected the main door being left carelessly left ajar. A beautiful flowery home with a warm fireplace. A decorated box on the mantle with its too easily crackable lock. She wondered what gems would she find inside the resident jeweler's... Her eyes flew open in horror. How had she allowed her mind to drift to such a territory? Rebuking herself sternly, she began to furiously scrub her body with soap. There was no way she would ever take advantage of Medicha's hospitality. "Only an amateur would settle for an easy target," she quoted the words of Two-Blade Pete out loud to herself. She imagined Caden rolling his eyes to even that principle, but at least it did its work to temporarily quell her fixation on Medicha's box.

It didn't take long for Selina to emerge at least acceptably clean. She wiped herself dry, and slipped into Medicha's plaster white trouser and blouse suit. Selina had to chuckle at the roses she embroided into the side of the puffy sleeved blouse. The woman certainly had an unhealthy obsession with flowers. Not that there was anything wrong with it.

Picking up her dirty clothes, she exited the bathroom. Her presence was immediately noticed by both women who stopped their chatter to wave at her. "Leave your used clothes on the floor, Selina," Medicha instructed, pointing to the spot at her feet. "I'll have them washed and pressed by tomorrow." When she got a confused look, Medicha went on, "You're staying here tonight, I assume? By the time you finish your dinner, it'll be much too late to head home."

Trish rose from her seat at this note, "Speaking of heading home, I need to be back. Need to wake up early to milk the cows, check on Dad and the newborn."

"Newborn?" Selina asked, surprised that the young lady had had a child.

Trish quickly realised that Selina had mistaken her words, and she laughed at her question. "No, not mine. One of our heifers just had a calf." After a minute's pause, the rancher continued, "Oh yes, one more thing. Medicha and I were just talking about you coming into town and making repairs. We were wondering if you do windows."

Selina placed her dirty clothes on the floor as she reflected on the tiny windows she had installed into the hut in the swamp. "I have done that before."

"Wonderful! Because I have a couple of smashed windows that need replacing."

On mention of the word 'smashed', several thoughts immediately ran through Selina's head. "Vandal trouble?" she made a guess.

Trish frowned, "You can say that. Since my father's injury, we've become an easy target."

"That's why I invited Trish here today," Medicha interjected. "The poor girl hasn't had a break from guarding the ranch for a few days. Trinity's there with Mr Barnett now."

"That's the other reason I have to hurry home. It was nice meeting you ladies. Especially you, Selina. Come visit the Barnett farm at Altar Brook Vale whenever you can. We'll reimburse you for your time," Trish said with a wave before she excused herself and hurried off into the night.

"So yes?" asked Medicha after the silence had settled, offering Selina a place at the table.

"Yes what?"

Medicha clarified, "You'll be staying here with me till tomorrow? I have a guest room at the back. It's small, but comfortable."

Selina slid onto a seat in front of the scrumptious home made food. Just the smell of it all made her salivate. She decided quickly that Medicha's offer wasn't one she was about to skip out on. "As long as you'll have me," she responded gratefully.

"I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it," said Medicha with a warm smile. She rose to spoon potatoes into Selina's empty dish. "So Selina... any last name?" Selina dramatically choked at the question, and let out a few loud coughs into a rolled palm. "Are you alright?" Medicha froze, with her spoon still hovering in front of her.

Selina nodded, pointing to the jug beside Medicha. "Can I have a glass of water?"

"Of course! Oh excuse my manners," exclaimed Medicha moving quickly to pour her a cup, at the same time completely forgetting her unanswered question.

Selina took a long sip, then proceeded to inquire after Medicha's previous guest, "So Trish lives with a sister and an elderly father?"

Medicha nodded. "A lovely family. A real pity what happened to Mr Barnett."

"What happened?"

"Well..." Medicha instinctively looked at the door, wondering if Trish would be alright with her discussing her private matters. "I suppose it'd be alright to tell you that a year ago, Mr Barnett accidentally stepped into a trap meant for wild boars. It absolutely mangled his right leg, and he was hit by a high fever shortly after. The two girls were quite beside themselves, thinking they'd lose their beloved father. Thankfully Mr Mullins.. erm, Ethan Mullins that is, managed to get his condition stabilized. But that leg, it's gone forever. He walks around on crutches these days, and the two girls help him around the ranch."

"And the vandals?"

"Oh..." Medicha shifted uncomfortably. She liked Selina, but she had to admit that she wasn't used to having guests as direct as this one. Nonetheless, as awkward as it felt to discuss the Barnett's troubles with Trish absent, she realised that it might be Selina's right to know. If she really was to take up the repair work on the windows at the Barnett ranch, it would be logical to assume that Selina was afraid for her own safety. "It so happens that sometime ago, a group of troublemakers decided to nestle up in the cave up north of Altar Brook. Because of pure proximity, they've been hassling the Barnett farm since Mr Barnett's been healthy, and he's always stuck it to them with his rifle. Since the injury however, the hooligans have become much bolder. Invaded the household on several occasions, threatened the Barnetts with violence, swiped valuables, smashed windows and helped themselves to food and ale."

"What about law enforcement?" Selina asked as she bit into Medicha's succulent roast.

"With the White Mantle going head to head with the Seraphs on at Lake Doric, they haven't had the time to handle this case."

"Not even the ones stationed at the gates of Claypool? Aren't they there all day?" asked Selina in disbelief.

"They're guards, they have to stay at their post," Medicha explained.

"So in other words, they'd rather be completely useless," remarked Sel levelly.

"It can be frustrating for us. For them as well, would be my guess," replied Medicha, not wanting to feed any more animosity between Selina and the Seraphs. "But even more so for Mr Barnett. The poor man doesn't worry about his belongings or his ranch, rather all he talks about these days is the safety of his daughters. It would horrible if any of those men ever decided to abduct one of them. We've told them to move to a safer place, but the ranch is all they've got. Where would they go to?"

Selina remembered what Caden had said about his friend Jake, and wondered if Jake was there among those hooligans that'd been assaulting the Barnetts. She realised that she'd finally began to understand what made Caden so upset about the thought of his friend being counted among them. There was really no reason besides pure sadism to be repeatedly assaulting a crippled man and his daughters. She figured it was guys like these that gave the bandits a bad name. Liz, Bran, Jess, Ron, Pete... and so many others, they were bandits too, but they had moral codes. Sure, they weaved in and out of the law, but always with good reason, and in her eyes, remained respectable individuals. They'd never stoop to such levels.

Medicha watched Selina embroiled in her thoughts, and mistook her silence for fear. She placed a hand reassuringly on Selina's. "Don't worry Selina, I'm sure Trish won't mind if you refuse the job. I spoke to Trinity recently about registering for a bounty with the Adventurer's Society; I hear they might have people who're able to handle problems such as these. She says she's giving it some thought. The cost is a little high, but I figured we can all chip in. Anything for the Barnetts. Once that's settled, maybe you can help them with the windows."

Selina nodded. She pictured herself heading over to slap some sense into the Barnett's vandals, but at the same time, she knew that would be extremely unwise. If she still intended to be dead to the rest of the world, her best option would be to remain incredibly low-key. Stay out of people's business, and keep her nose down. As much as the lives of these townsfolk were beginning to matter to her, she knew she had to remain coldly detached. Blend with the crowd, earn just enough to survive, and stay far away from anyone who might recognize her. That would be her life going forward. As she gave this plan some thought, she found her mind drifting once again to the decorated box on the mantle. Creasing her brow, she figured she really should say something to Medicha about the safety of her own items. "Medicha, I couldn't help but notice that pretty box on the mantle."

"Beautiful isn't it? I bought it from a little wood craft shop in Kessex. That's where I keep my jewelry," Medicha declared proudly.

Selina rubbed her temples in consternation. The gullible jeweler was making it way too easy for herself to be robbed. "Don't you think you should hide it somewhere... that only you know about?"

"Why?" she was suddenly a little nervous. "Do you think someone might try to steal it?"

"I think it'd be safer, that's all. Not good to be leaving precious items laying around. Thieves pick on easy targets like that."

Medicha rose from her seat and quickly picked up the box. But instead of hiding it, she carried it to the table and laid it out right in front of Selina. With a key that she pulled from her apron, she began to unlock the box. Selina's eyes widened to saucers, wondering what exactly the woman was trying to achieve. At the same time, she also understood that Medicha still remained in the dark in regards to her past. Medicha certainly wouldn't begin to reckon that her house guest used to be a high stakes thief, knowing that would certainly change things.

Opening the box, Medicha took her time to sort through what sounded like a variety of trinkets. Selina bit her upper lip, trying her best to keep her eyes off Medicha's box.

"Let me see..." Medicha mumbled to herself. "This is..." she hesitated, and put it back. "This?" She picked up a necklace and held it up for a moment. "No..." She put it back and sorted again till she finally settled on one in particular. "Ah! This is perfect!" Picking up a silver plated chain with a little yellow star dangling at the end, she held it out in front of Selina's face. "Do you like it?"

The yellow was a striking color that caught her attention right away, in spite of her hesitance to be a part of whatever was going on there. Light rays filtered through the cut stone, and cast pale spots of gold on her chest. Selina nodded wordlessly and looked away again, hoping that Medicha would quickly take away the trinket.

"Then this is for you," Medicha declared, working her way around the table to put it around Selina's neck.

"No!" Selina exclaimed, finally understanding what Medicha was up to. She was still working through her feelings of guilt, and was even entertaining thoughts of leaving the house completely. "I can't take it."

"Sure you can. And I picked out the star precisely, because in the short time that I've known you, you've been a real star to this little town of ours, and especially to my home." She hovered over Selina, placing the chain around the base of her neck.

Slipping a hand beneath the chain to stop Medicha from fixing it around her neck, Selina continued to protest, "Medicha, I'm sure you can find someone more worthy of such a gift. I really have no need of an accessory."

Fighting Selina's hesitation, the jeweler bent down and whispered into her ear, "Take it. I'll be very disappointed if you refuse. Hold on to it as a token of our friendship, if you do accept me as a friend."

"Of course I do, Medicha," Selina's face was glowing red by then. Gradually conceding to her defeat, she removed her hand and allowed Medicha to hook it up. The woman patted her shoulder and took a few steps back to admire her handiwork encircling Selina's neck.

Ironically, being offered an item out of that box completely removed any temptation to snap it up at a later time. She didn't care what else Medicha had in there, all that mattered was Medicha's kind soul and that that she mattered enough to such a person.

  • Talia
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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #115 on: July 10, 2017, 11:33:30 PM »
Following up on the Andrea Brennan lead, Bill Dean had coaxed two Pact soldiers into revealing that the fugitive had been tracked to Caudecus' manor. Unfortunately, after the complex had been infiltrated by the Commander's men and Caudecus' own daughter, Andrea Brennan was nowhere to be found. Word on the street was that she'd fled to Ebonhawke, but the case was then taken off the Pact's hands and handed to the Shining Blade. Billy knew no official investigation would pass through Ebonhawke's gates without the notification of the Vanguard, so that would be the best place to start.

Unlike the Shining Blade, the Vanguard tended to be less tight lipped about the people surrounding former cases. If Billy could pick out the Vanguard handling the Andrea case, he figured he'd probably be able to get a leg up on the state of the investigation.

Given the coin that'd been provided by Robert Brown, it took just a couple of hours for him to acquire his very own Vanguard uniform, and learn the names of the captains as well as lieutenants given charge of the units. He waited till evening to follow a handful of fresh-off-the-clock Vanguards into a bar. As soon as they began to order drinks, he politely introduced himself under a pseudo-name, and asked if he could join them in their revelry if he bought them a round of drinks. Without a moment's hesitation, they graciously welcomed both him and the free drinks. At this time, Billy noted the most outspoken of the lot, a loud-mouthed man named Harvey. Billy waited till he had a couple of drinks in him before he slipped in the inquiry directed at no one in particular, "Hey guys, I heard that a Pact criminal fled into Ebonhawke about two weeks ago. A woman... some noble from Divinity's Reach."

"Oh yeah, we've's all heard of her. Ran away north to join the Separatists. We were's commanded to assemble a squad on short notice to rescue two individuals who were's caught up in the mess," Harvey replied in a slurry accent.

"Really?" exclaimed Billy. "Two individuals? What were they doing with the Separatists?"

Another whispered. "It's said they're Shining Blade agents, sent to retrieve her."

"If that's so, that's pretty disappointing," said a third. "I've heard some amazing stories about the Shining Blade. They always make it sound like they're so invincible."

"Nonsense!" Harvey mocked with a degrading laugh. "I tell ya's, they're less skilled than us folk. It's a title, that's all's."

"Does anyone get to see the two individuals?" Billy asked.

"Harvey did," second offered.

"Uh huh, what's I saw was a male human and a female sylvari. Two swiggly little individuals with no muscles and apparently no skills to defend theyselves! And the male was bleedin' to death when we's arrived. Pathetic! That's my point. It's just a title."

Billy frowned. He'd hoped that the two individuals that'd been spotted consisted of Aidan Brennan and Selina Knox, but the fact that a sylvari was present in her place made no sense.

"Aye aye Harvey," the others agreed. "Anyway, they said's they wanted to capture the woman noble, and another man named Goodman, but apparently they's ran into the harpy colony."

"The harpy..." third burst into laughter. "Wells, that's the end of them!"

"Idiots right? But not so's. Remember the prisoner in the dungeons, they's not allow us down there's because it's all hush-hush?" Harvey reminded. The others nodded. "I think they managed to catch the woman noble, and they's not telling the rest of us," declared Harvey, taking a swig at his ale. "Very soon, all these prissy people comes' to pick up what looks like a woman."

"How long ago was this?"

"Few nights ago."

"Where did the man and the sylvari go?"

"The man followed the woman noble, and the sylvari ran off with another man and our dear own Capt Diana."

"Capt Diana? The one in charge of this whole operation?"

"Yeah, that Capt Diana. She's been tottering after the man, and that sylvari tottering behind her and her hounds tottering behind the sylvari. Just like an obedient little train." The men snickered at the mental picture.

"Did you see anyone else with them?" he asked. "A woman perhaps?"

He'd accidentally cut into their laughter, and the off-duty Vanguards glared at Billy with a growing disdain. It occurred to Billy that he might be wearing out his welcome a little sooner than expected. "You's got lots of questions about this investigation, dont's you?"

"Just curious is all. The woman made big news in Divinity's Reach... which is where I'm from," Billy lied.

"Well, we don't give a piss about Divinity's Reach, because we are Vanguards!" they began to proudly chant. "And Vanguards don't give up!"

"You're saying that Seraphs give up?" Billy let slip. He couldn't help it. Not that he had a personal preference towards the Seraphs, but these guys were just absolute idiots. It was a wonder he managed to get any information out of them at all.

"Wanker," grumbled Harvey. "You don't get anything do you? Get lost."

The men pushed Billy away from their table and went back to their drinks. Billy wasn't hurt by the sentiment, he'd already considered leaving.

Plus he had the next piece of the puzzle.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #116 on: July 12, 2017, 10:07:35 AM »
Keen to keep an eye on his aunt personally Aidan followed the two Vanguard soldiers that carried her to a cell. They brought her to the back of the complex where the more troublesome prisoners were kept and placed her inside an empty cell. Most of the prisoners they passed before seemed to be beggars and petty thieves however the charr and human that were in the cells flanking Andrea’s seemed like they could stir up quite the bit of trouble. After placing a still unconscious Andrea down on the floor they walked out, closed the door and handed the key over to Aidan. “Thank you” Aidan told them. “Can you find me a messenger that can be dispatched to Divinity’s Reach immediately?” He asked. One of the soldiers nodded. “Yes sir” He said, and both of them hurried back to the Vanguard Headquarters.
Aidan found himself a stool and sat himself near Andrea’s cell but not in her immediate line of sight. From his pack he took his writing utensils and penned a quick note to give to the messenger.

“Apprehended Andrea Brennan. She’s currently in holding at the Vanguard Prison. Requesting back-up to transport her to Divinity’s Reach as soon as possible.”

He folded the letter and sealed it. Not long after he did such a slender looking vanguard soldier arrived, saluting as he did. “You requested a messenger sir” He stated. “So I did” Aidan replied as he stood up. He held up the letter to the messenger. “Take this to the Shining Blade headquarters in Divinity’s Reach straight away please. It’s to be delivered to Countess Anise.” The soldier took the letter and tucked it away safely in a holding pack attached to his hip. “Yes sir” He said, saluting again and with that he was off.

Aidan sighed and sat back down, staring at Andrea’s cell. The guard walking his round nodded at Aidan as she passed and Aidan returned the greeting. He found he could still not be easy, even with Andrea behind bars. And this bloody arm, frustrated he looked down at the bandages that covered most of his left arm. Blood had come through them in some places, the fight with Andrea must’ve reopened the wound, he thought, but it could wait until later. His attention still on Andrea’s cell he took his pack to replace his writing utensils, noticing now the adrenaline was leaving his body that his arm did in fact hurt more than before. He shrugged. His mind turned to his father and his old life back in the Reach. He wondered if any of that was salvageable. No doubt Anise had taken over Andrea’s house for a thorough search by now and knew everything about the woman there was to be known. He was certain his aunt would be trialled and convicted for treason, he was not sure however how much that would mean to the man who used to be his father. His mind continued in this fashion for quite some time until a stirring in Andrea’s cell pulled him back to the present situation immediately

Andrea opened her eyes as she woke to the world. She looked about her cell and finally settled on Aidan. She tried to move her hands, and immediately felt the magical restraint behind her. It all began to dawn on her, what exactly had happened.

Aidan silently observed his aunt, not looking forward to whatever she would have to say to him.
Staring down Aidan in spite, she found herself locked in a silent war with her former nephew. "Of all the children in the world... Henry had to have you," she muttered.
"I only became what they raised me up to be" He said quietly.
"If you were, then you would know your place. Never turn on your family," she snapped. "We could raised the Brennan name to new heights, both you and I. But you had to ruin all chances for that to happen, didn't you?"
"I prefer to stay on the right side of the law, It's you who is the disgrace in this situation aunt."
She laughed bitterly. "You are so naive boy, just like your mother. The law is whatever rulers make it out to be. If we had been successful in overthrowing the current ruling body, we would be perfectly on the right side of the law... more than on the right side of the law. We would be ascended to a higher level of nobility."
"You are delusional"
"Delusional to people with no ambition, much like yourself. You'll always be someone's lapdog, and ultimately you will amount to nothing."
He crossed his arms, wincing slightly as he moved his left arm and made no reply. Arguing was pointless after all. After what Andrea did she was not going to suddenly see the error of her ways.
She noticed him wincing at the movement of his arm. Leaning back on the wall just on the opposite of where Aidan was, she said, "I have just one regret in all of this."
"I'm sure you would've preferred me dead" He said gloomily
She laughed again, the bitterness had gone this time, although the implication of her laughter echoed an even worse message. The laughter continued for a while.

Aidan was quiet , hoping his aunt would be too. He did not feel like having any further conversations with her.
When she was done, she looked at him. He had his eyes placed on anything except on her. She smirked at the sight. "So what's taking the Shining Blade so long? I assume that's where I'll be going."
"They'll be here soon enough"
"Even in my capture, it's ludicrous how ineffective they are. That they sent you, and a band of rag tag individuals that clearly have no affiliation with the Shining Blade, to do their dirty work for them. Surely even someone as loyal as you can see how you're nothing more than an expendable pawn to them."
Before Aidan could even consider replying a guard came up to him and whispered something in his ear. Aidan got to his feet and looked at Andrea. "Well then, looks like your wishes are answered, they're here" He said.
"Good," she said. "Sitting in a room with Countess Anise will be an improvement over sitting in a room with you."
"Trust me, the feeling is mutual" Aidan said as a small group of Shining Blade Examplars came around the corner. Aidan saluted them as they approached and after his gesture was returned he greeted them. "Thank you for coming so quickly." He said.

Aidan took the cell key from his pocket and unlocked the door after which he stepped aside, letting the exemplars handle the rest. “stand up please ma’am” the first said with a gruff voice. As soon as Andrea got to her feet and stepped out of the cell he took her arm while another exemplar took her other arm. Two fell in line in front of them and as soon as they started waking two more stepped behind them. Glad to no longer be alone with Andrea Aidan made up the rear.
In this manner they marched towards the Asuran gate that would take them to Divinity's Reach. The group of Shining Blade attracted quite a bit of attention from locals and some went as far as shouting insults at Andrea, assuming whatever she did to deserve the march must be bad. After they passed through the gate this only worsened, some people now recognising the noble lady that was being escorted towards the Shining Blade headquarters. Throughout all of this Andrea haughtily kept her head up and seemingly ignored them.
Once arrived at the Shining Blade headquarters, Andrea was lead before Countess Anise by the two examplars that were holding her.

“you gave us quite the run around Miss Brennan” she said coolly. “have you anything to say for yourself before your escort delivers you to a prison cell?”
"Freedom to the Separatists! death to Jennah!" Andrea chanted defiantly.
Anise waved her hand as a signal for the two examplars that were still flanking Andrea to take her away and so they both took hold of one of Andrea's arms again to escort her out of the room.
"Fight us all you will!" Andrea continued as they took her away. "The glory of human empire will rise again, above all else!"

After Andrea was taken away Anise called in Aidan, who had been waiting outside, thankful for the distance between him and his aunt now.
“Your wound reopened” She stated, her eyes fixing on the bloodied bandages around Aidan’s arm. “Yes ma’am” Aidan said. “Book yourself into the hospital and get it looked after” She told him. “After you’ve rested I would like a report on the entire matter. Andrea will be tried as soon as possible, but with the evidence piled up against her I have no doubt she will be held responsible for her crimes against the crown…. And against your family.” She sighed. “As you know we thoroughly searched Andrea’s house since we’ve found out about her involvement and subsequent flight from the capital to avoid capture.” Aidan nodded and after a short pause Anise continued. “We’ve found a small vial containing a toxic substance that is nearly impossible to trace once administered. I fear it may relate to your mother’s mysterious illness, though any evidence we have been able to gather is circumstantial at best. We’re currently attempting to track down the alchemist that supplied her, perhaps that will give us something more to go on.”
She gave Aidan a worried look. “We can’t be sure what happened, but I thought you should know” She told him.
Aidan thought he felt his blood go cold in his veins. Unable to produce a reply he simply nodded.

“I’ll put someone else on your previous assignment.” Anise said. “I want you to stay in the city for now. After you’ve healed you should take some time to talk to your father and salvage your family business if you can. We may also need you to attend your aunts trial.” Still half in a daze by the news he had just received Aidan nodded again. “Yes ma’am” he answered. “Then you’re dismissed. Make sure you look after yourself Aidan” Anise said, after which Aidan numbly left her office.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #117 on: July 12, 2017, 01:46:59 PM »
Medicha's guestroom really proved to be a great consolation to several nights of restless sleep. Selina woke with the sun, and found a note on the dresser. Addressed to her from Medicha, the jeweler informed her that she'd left the house and gone to her shop in town. She hadn't the heart to wake Selina, so she'd decided to leave her a note to tell her about breakfast on the table, and to shut the door behind her. Medicha would be back before lunch to lock up.

As much as Selina appreciated the level of trust given to her, she couldn't understand how any of it was deserved.

She sat up in bed, took a deep breath and stretched. The sound of purring at the base of her bed reminded her that she wasn't entirely alone. She peered over the side to see Medicha's cat, stretched out on her back. When the cat spotted Selina's gaze, it extended its paws over to the side and blinked blissfully at the house guest. "We haven't exactly gotten acquainted, have we?" Selina asked the cat. It continued to blink at her, and kneaded its paws onto the frame of the bed to display its content.

After giving the cat a rub, she proceeded to the living room, and found her clothes from the day before, washed, pressed and folded, just as Medicha had promised. Impressed at how quickly the woman was able to get it all done, she slipped back into her own clothes, and did her best to fold Medicha's trouser suit into a neat pile, in the place she'd found her own.

Over on the table, a plate of pancakes sat with a glass jug of syrup right beside. Getting breakfast left on the table for her was a luxury that pleasantly reminded her of her stay at Aidan's home. She clenched her teeth at her mistake, she didn't want to think about Aidan. That was a chapter in her life she had intended to put an end to, no point to go on reminiscing. Instead, she sat down at the table and began cutting into the moist pancakes as she thought about the previous day's conversations. Both the ladies she'd met weren't the kind of folk she'd typically mingle with, but she already knew she liked them very much. They accepted her immediately with no judgment or condemnation, and graciously extended a hand of faith to her with no precedent. Even though she likened the gesture to a case of general nativity, she couldn't help feel a sense of warmth in the receiving of it.

Her mind then wandered on to the conversation concerning the Barnetts' ranch. She pictured a crippled old man getting assaulted by the hooligans up north and the very thought irked her. There certainly was no justice in that. Medicha had talked about sending word to the Adventurer's Society. It was the second time this name had come up. What had Captain Carbins pitched to Caden and her? Gold offered in exchange for doing the work that the cities could not handle? Sounded about right. She wondered how long it would take to engage such a team, and how effective they would be. After all, it didn't sound like the Adventurer's Society was going to concern themselves over member qualifications and background. Such a strategy could prove to be a double edged sword; as much as it'd channel help to needy individuals much more quickly than conventional means, it's just as likely that nefarious individuals would also be interested to exploit those notices to their own benefit. If the latter, it might prove to create more problems than would be resolved.

Selina put down her fork... No, just no, she said to herself. Don't get involved. Stay out of people's business. She leaned back in her seat, drummed her fingers on the table and thought about it somemore. Maybe it'd be alright to just go over there and take some measurements... assess the degree of damage. She'd have to procure the right amount of glass anyhow. Seemed reasonable enough to her.

With all that decided, she loitered about Medicha's home for just a bit longer before she left for town, and remembered to shut the door behind her.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Inquiring on the exact location of the Barnett ranch, she eventually found it down in the base of the valley next to a slow flowing river. The ranch itself was distinguishable from a distance due to the stench of animal waste, and the sound of moaning cattle. A huge bell was suspended between two wooden poles, erected right beside the main gate. Selina quickly deduced it was meant to act as a doorbell of sorts. She rang it twice before noticing Trish running down the lane to fetch her. Or so she thought. Trish turned out to be Trinity, the sister she had not yet met. Twins, she should've guessed. Trinity explained that Trish was having a nap with 'dad'. Fortunately Trinity had been fully apprised of the job offered to Selina, and was instructed to bring Sel around to give her a feel of the place.

The lane through the ranch was a longer walk than Selina had anticipated. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been on a farm. Oddly enough, the entire idea of living on a farm seemed somewhat familiar. A house far away, attached to a small farm. Wasn't there a plan.... a spike unexpectedly drove through her head. She lowered her face and grit her teeth as she continued to follow behind Trinity. Because the sister was going on about the cattle they keep on the ranch and the day to day activities involved in the running of a ranch, Selina's affliction remained oblivious to her. Selina rubbed her temples, just that bit annoyed that something about Claypool had been randomly triggering spikes. She never knew what would trigger them, or when. It seemed as though it'd be something that would plague her the rest of her life.

"...and this is our humble home," said Trinity as they approached a moderately large log house.

Selina's attention was immediately drawn to the shards of glass still jutting out from empty frames. There were at least three shattered windows, two of which had broken spokes. "For how long have these been in this condition?"

Trinity realised that Selina was speaking in reference to the windows. Pointing to the shattered window in the upper floor, she said, "The one up there was about a week and a half ago. And the two on the ground floor was just last week."

"How often does something like this happen?"

Taking a significant pause, Trinity continued with a straight face that looked vaguely put on, "We have guests over... these days, almost every night. Sometimes they get wild and rowdy... Can't... really blame them if they're hungry. Trish and I try very hard to keep them well fed. They don't do such things if they're full."

Selina was appalled by the sentiment. It would seem that the Barnetts had begun to accept the visitations by the bandits as part of their way of life. She knew that pandering to such types would only encourage more visitations and perhaps worse actions... much worse actions. But she decided to hold her tongue on the subject. Going closer to inspect the condition of the shattered glass, she could already tell from the angle of the broken spokes that the lower two windows had been caved in from the outside with a blunt object. A club... or perhaps a mace. The sisters had swept up the shards of glass that would've spread across the floor, but it didn't make the shattered windows look any less offensive.

"There's another window that needs replacing at the back. It's smashed up the same way as these two though," said Trinity.

"Can I take a look at the window on the second floor though? It doesn't look as damaged as the others from down here. I need to know the extent of what I need to replace."

The twin obliged immediately, opening the door to allow her into the house. The Barnett home was a lot more functional than Medicha's frilly flower themed home. It had a strong wood aesthetic, and one of the walls was marked with two large bullhorns extruding outwards in a somewhat menacing way. Trinity noticed Selina paying attention to the bullhorns and she explained quietly, "That belonged to BigHorn, our first bull. He holds sentimental meaning to us, so when he died, we had his horns put up for display." Surprised at the strange way the Barnetts chose to remember their pet bull, she merely nodded and didn't say another word.

As Trinity led Selina up a narrow staircase, Sel noticed a bandage wrapped around her shin. She intended ask about it when Trinity turned around and put a finger on her lips as she stopped in front of one of the bedrooms and opened the door. Trish was fast asleep in there. Light rays filtered in through the cracks in the glass in jagged lines, all leading up to what seemed to be a single hole on the top right side of the window. Definitely a bullet hole if she'd ever seen one. The fact that Trinity's sister was sleeping just a couple of feet from a week-old bullethole didn't seem to concern Trinity as much as Selina thought it would. She wondered if the family become apathetic to the danger surrounding their home.

Taking quiet steps out of the room and back down to the ground floor, Selina tried to appear as unaffected by the sight as possible. "So, four windows," she said, pretending to be oblivious to the issues surrounding the house - but the truth was that the problem was far worse than she'd anticipated. She could tell from the smashed in windows that for a time the family had tried to keep the bandits out. Upon failing, they'd now conceded to the hooligans, choosing instead to willingly serve them out of fear. A big mistake. "Trinity, thank you for your time," she said, putting on a smile. "I'm going to head over to the shop and get all the raw items purchased and ready. If everything is in order, I'll be back tomorrow morning to get your windows fixed. How's that?"

"Yes, please do," Trinity replied gratefully.

Selina said her goodbyes, and departed the ranch. But she only got as far as the gates of Claypool before she felt drawn back to the ranch. Like it or not, she had a stake in this. She knew she couldn't just walk away and pretend not to care.

With a moment more of deliberation, she decided to search for a suitable perch overlooking the Barnett farm. Once well positioned, built a small campfire and remained there till nightfall.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 01:53:58 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #118 on: July 12, 2017, 02:43:14 PM »
The ranch remained relatively silent apart from the occasional bellowing of cows. With so much time alone with her thoughts, twice over the battle raging in her head had gotten the better of her and had her walking away from the ranch. One time taking her as far as town where she bought herself a loaf of bread and some ham. But even the food tasted bland at the thought that she'd walked away from the Barnetts. Begrudgingly, she returned to her perch and continued to watch the log house from afar.

The moment the day's rays had been extinguished, it didn't take long for three individuals to come sauntering down the ranch towards the house. Barely past the turn of manhood, all of them. One of them was holding a stick of some kind... perhaps a bat. With the dimmed lights, it was hard to tell what weapons the other two had on them. She knew she would have to go closer to inspect.

Sliding down the edge of the cliff, she managed to scale the fence with little effort. By then the trio were already in the house. Murmurs turned to words when she managed to position herself right under one of the smashed windows.

"...know what we can do. Don't you go hiding the ale," came a prominent male voice.

"I can get more," replied a female voice. "We're... we're just out of it tonight. I'm sorry."

"How do you expect to entertain guests without ale, huh?" the male voice got more pronounced, more strained. There followed the sound of a plate getting smashed.

"I'm sorry," begged the female voice. "What if I ran out now to get you some?"

"Ran out? Do you think I'm letting you go anywhere?" There came the sound of shuffling and a short shriek, followed by some sobbing. "You're staying right here. Isn't that what we've told you two? Aside from yesterday, we want the two of you present during our entire meal. Got that?" There was a vague mumble in response. The voice got more agitated. "Louder!"

"Y.. y.. yes."

"Yes what?"

"Yes, sir."

"Much better. Next time, always have ale ready to be served. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir."

Selina had heard enough. Those guys needed to leave, and perhaps with a little scare, they would. They wouldn't even need to know who she was. Moving slowly, she slid around back to the only window she hadn't inspected. It was dark within, and she assumed the room was empty. It was also fortunate that that was the only window the Barnetts had had the shards removed, leaving only an empty frame with sawed out spokes. Made it easier to slide in. Or so she thought - because she soon found herself staring down the barrel of a rifle. "Who are you?" came a harsh whisper in the darkness.

Her breath caught in her throat, she raised her hands in surrender. "I was walking along the lane outside when I heard a commotion," she explained. "I wanted to..." As she acclimatized to the darkness, she noticed that it was an elderly man who was holding that rifle. "Mr Barnett?" she said instead.

"This is my ranch," he said without moving an inch of the barrel away from her face.

"I'm Selina. Perhaps Trish has told you about me? I was supposed to fix those windows of yours."

"Try another story. Nobody fixes windows at this hour."

"It's true, Mr Barnett. I know it sounds like a fib, but the truth is I've heard all about you and your daughters' troubles. It's just something I cannot let pass. If you would lower the rifle, perhaps I can be of some assistance."

"What kind of assistance?" The barrel went from her face to her chest.

"Getting those three men out front, away from your daughters, for a start. They are hurting them, I suppose you already know that."

The barrel went all the way to the ground. "Yes I do. They've locked me up in here, as they always do when they arrive. I haven't had the courage to shoot any one of them, because I will probably not be able to finish the job. And what would they do to my daughters then?"

"Don't do anything, Mr Barnett. Let me help you," she said quietly to him.

After a moment's hesitation, he nodded. "Don't let them hurt my daughters," he said.

"I'll keep them safe," she assured. "I just need one thing from you."

"What's that?"

Selina pointed to a pile of dirty laundry sitting in a basket.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Trish served up yet another plate of stew to the largest of the three. A stout fella with a tattoo running down his left arm. He always ate the most, and would nearly halve their food supplies each day. But he wasn't the one that she feared the most. The leader; a man with a truly merciless stare, a short beard and strong arms, had Trinity on his lap, just where he wanted one of them. Sometimes it was her, sometimes it was her sister. She felt he couldn't truly tell them apart from each other, but it didn't matter. The sensation of being on the lap of someone they truly detested was punishment all in itself, but they knew if one of them ever crossed the leader, the one beside him; a freckled young man with an inclination to whip out his pistol at any sign of disobedience towards his boss, would aim that gun at the other sister and threaten to shoot if the leader's demands were not met. He played their love for each other against them. And on several occasions even threatened their father. They just couldn't see a way out of this entrapment.

The stout one spooned some of the stew in his mouth, and suddenly stood up at the table. The sound of his chair scraping on the ground even made the leader jump a little. "I need to pee," he announced, and without another word, held onto his zipper as he made his way outside.

Trinity gasped as the leader groped her thigh, she did her best to look away. The leader grinned widely, "Like that, don't you?"

"Please sir," begged Trish, feeling the pain of her sister's discomfort. "We serve your meals, and that's all. That's the deal you made with us."

"Listen," he retorted. "I make the rules around here. Not you, not your sister."

"And besides, we gave you one day's rest yesterday," his right hand man added.

"Yes sir, I don't want to be ungrateful, but Trinity... she is unwell," Trish lied in the hope that he would leave her sister alone.

The leader looked at her. "She doesn't seem unwell."

"Trust me sir, she doesn't say it, but she's under the weather. Perhaps you might take me instead."

The front door opened, and a gust of wind entered the room.

"Will you shut that door, bozo," complained the leader, assuming that his comrade had returned. But he was wrong.

"Get up Trinity," came a woman's voice, and everyone in the room turned to look. Fully clad in apparel that Trish recognized to belong to both her and her sister, including Trinity's blue scarf, wrapped tightly around the stranger's face, and a hood over her head.

"What is this? A joke?" asked the leader, not letting Trinity go.

Freckles whipped out his pistol, but before he could even take aim, he felt his pistol slide out of his fingers and into the stranger's own hands. In a mere second, he was staring down the barrel of his own weapon.

"Let her go," the stranger said, pointing the pistol at the leader. Defiantly, the leader clung even harder, causing Trinity to wince. The stranger realized this and took two quick steps in the leader's direction, pistol-whipping him in the face so hard that he lost his grip on the girl. Trinity took the chance to leap off the seat and run to her sister. Freckles moved, and the barrel came back to the middle of his face. He stopped.

The leader rubbed the side of his face, still dazed by the impact. "Who are you?" he asked.

"On your knees, the both of you," she said, ignoring his question.

Freckles turned to his boss, and the boss nodded after a while. Both men slid to the ground, landing on their knees. "So what do you want with us?" the leader asked.

"I want you to leave," said the stranger.

"Leave for today, or leave for forever?" he asked in a rebarbative manner.

Trish was the first to notice the bandit who had left to relieve himself, standing in the doorway. For a moment he stood motionless like a post, trying to figure out what was going on. And in the next moment, reached out his arms to grab the stranger. "Behind you!" she cried a warning. The stranger dodged to the side, narrowly missing the iron grip of the third man. He stumbled forward a few steps, then went after her again, just as she began to take aim with the stolen pistol. With a large swing of his arm, caught the stranger at the side of her left shoulder. The impact threw her to the ground, the pistol sliding out of her hands and onto the floor.

Trinity sprung into action almost immediately, leaping onto the pistol before freckles could get there. She turned the barrel towards freckles, who immediately raised his hands and backed away.

The large man hammered a fist in the stranger's direction, but she evaded with a roll, causing him to thunder his fist onto the floorboards. Leaping to her feet, she darted towards the stairs. He went lumbering after her, grabbing his wooden bat along the way. She had fled up half the flight of stairs before she stopped and turned to look at him. Undaunted, he continued his rampage in her footsteps. Once he was midway up the stairs, she swung lithely over the railings, and landed lightly on the ground. Backtracking his way off the stairs, the bandit attempted to follow, but the stranger wasn't running any longer. Instead, she had unhooked from the wall a large frame with two bullhorns firmly attached, and held it in front of her like a shield. He took a step to the left, and she swung the horns to the left. He took a step to the right, and the horns went in the same direction. Finally, he decided that the horns might not be a deterrent, and decided to charge directly towards her.

It took just one large heave to impale the bandit with what was left of BigHorn. The impact made the stranger lose her grip on the frame. She rolled out of the way as the frame came crashing to the floor, splintering as it did, driving the calcium stake deeper through the man's heart. For a while, the large man lay morbidly silent, suspended over the horn, going into rapid spasms - till the spasms died down and he was finally gone. The others shuddered at the gruesome sight, shocked at how swiftly death had come for the dinner guest. Without even showing a sign of a shudder, the stranger calmly stepped through the blood that was pooling on the floor, and over the fresh corpse. Making bloody imprints into the kitchen, she walked over to the leader and stood over him. With a finger pointed at both he and his trouble-making friend, said, "Don't you or any of your friends ever dare come back here again, or I will rain Grenth on each one of you."

Nervously, the two men had no reason to doubt the threat. They nodded. And as soon as the stranger stepped aside, sent them both running frantically into the night.

In solemn silence, both the sisters watched on wordlessly as the stranger returned the chairs to the table. Trinity, with the adrenaline rushing through her, still had her gun pointed into the emptiness of the room. The stranger noticed this, and with a finger, pressed on the tip of the gun till it was pointed to the floor. "Careful with that," she said, and turned to leave.

"Thank you," said Trish, before the stranger was out the door.

And the stranger stopped just long enough to acknowledge what she'd said. "Burn the corpse," she instructed. "Burn it as soon as you can."

With those final words, the stranger left the Barnett ranch.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 11:14:29 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #119 on: July 13, 2017, 01:32:18 PM »
Dusty and tired from being on the road all day Caden finally found himself returning to Claypool. Centaur struggles north of Triskell Quay had meant he had to take a detour and take even longer than intended. He had missed Selina over the past few days and regretted the fact that she had to stay behind in Claypool to fix Medicha's roof. Before he realized it his feet had already taken him to the Apple and the Arrow and he made his way up to Selina's room, knocking on the door a few times before quickly dusting off his clothes a little.

She heard the knocking, woke from the sleep that had lasted for most part of the day, and knew immediately that it was Caden. She'd been so excited to have him back, but following the previous night's events, wondered if he knew what had happened, if he'd be as excited to see her. Slowly, she got up and stretched out the ache in her left arm, then proceeded to open the door. "Caden?" she asked.

Caden smiled brilliantly upon seeing Selina and cupped her face with his right hand. "I missed you"

"I've missed you too," she cooed, placing her arms around his waist. "How was your trip?"

"Too long, and too lonely" He said before pulling her against him closely and placing a kiss on her lips.

She melded with his kiss, moving her hands up his back. She had missed this... way too much. Everything about Caden; his warmth, his scent and his entire presence. She wondered how people could stand to be apart from their lovers. She surely couldn't.

For a moment he forgot about the world. Selina was all that mattered to him, her warmth and soft touch, until he heard someone unceremoniously clear his throat while walking past. He blushed slightly before moving himself and Selina further into the room and gave the door a nudge with his foot to close it while giving Selina a grin.

Selina looked at the closed door, and back at Caden. She wondered... just wondered for the moment... "Caden, are you..."

Unsure of exactly what she was asking or how he would answer he simply kissed her again.

Taking the kiss as a sign of consent, Selina placed her hands on his chest, and slowly began to unbutton his shirt, working all the way down.

Caden's face turned slightly red but he did not interrupt her. With one hand he slipped his trusty pack that was still on his back off his shoulders and carefully lowered it to the floor. He leaned in to kiss Selina once more, stroking a hand through her hair and down the back of her neck gently.

Pulling herself away from him for just a moment, she smiled and began undressing. Kicking the unnecessary to the wayside, and with just two fingers pressed against his bare chest, she backed him onto the only bed in the room and fell into his arms. In that moment, no words were needed, just the touching of two souls deeply intertwined, the becoming of one. A perfect moment that Selina allowed herself to completely get lost in.

The ebbs and flows of passion carried on till time was lost and Selina found herself completely exhausted, yet lifted to heights she'd never been. As she rested her cheek on Caden's chest, she gazed into his eyes; grateful that he had finally opened up the final door to her. There were no words left to be said that hadn't already been expressed in their love for each other and she wouldn't have it any other way.

He gently stroked her hair with one hand as she let her head rest on his chest. He smiled as he looked at her until he noticed the bruise that discoloured her shoulder. Very lightly he stroked over it with his thumb. "How did this come about?" he asked.

She shrugged. "It's nothing to worry about." Instead she dropped kisses onto his chest, "I hope you've enjoyed the entire experience. I assume it's new to you."

"A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell" he said with a naughty grin. "But yes, I enjoyed it very much" He went back to stroking her hair, though not quite allowing her to change the subject. "Tell me about your bruise, what happened?"

She sighed, and looked at him thoughtfully. "Someone hit me. He was kinda a bullish fella... caught me by surprise."

"What? Here in Claypool? Who? What happened?" Concerned he looked at the bruise again.

"Yeah," she leaned over to kiss his cheek as she wove her fingers through his hair. "Let's not talk about this alright?"

"But you're hurt" He said, still not comfortable to let the matter go.

She wedged herself up on an elbow, felt around for that yellow star necklace that Medicha had given to her, and showed it to Caden in the hope that he would be distracted and let the matter go. Dangling it in front of him, she asked, "What do you think of this?"

"Very pretty" he gave her a slight smile as he reached up and carefully took the star between two fingers to look at it better.

"Can you believe that Medicha handed this to me, just out of the blue? I mean... I don't even know what I did or said..." she suddenly recalled what Medicha had said about the festival. "Oh, there was something she told me to inform you about. Something about a Harvest Festival?"

"Medicha is very kind" He said as he let go of the pendant and wrapped his arm around Selina again. "The Harvest Festival hmm, it should be soon I already saw some preparations being made when I entered the village earlier. Would you like to go?"

"Is it an annual tradition of yours?"

"It's held every year, it's a nice way to celebrate all the hard work people do on the farms around here."

She gave it a bit of thought, and finally came to a decision. "Alright, I'll go if you'd like to. Medicha did rave about the food." A thought struck her then and she quickly looked up at the window. It was already dark. "Oh piss!" she cussed.

"Hmm?" Caden questioningly hummed, confused by her sudden reaction.

"I fell asleep..." she said regretfully. "I was supposed to fix the windows at the Barnett's." Rolling onto her back, she considered what she should do to rectify the situation. "I'll have to pay a visit tomorrow morning then."

"The Barnett's?" He got up a little, leaning on one elbow. "I'm coming with you" he simply stated.

"You are? And the shop?"

"I haven't been around for three days, I'm sure they can miss me for one more"

Selina grinned widely and rolled over onto Caden. "Do you think they'd miss you tonight?"

"Probably" He shrugged. "I'll let them know I'm safe and sound in the morning."

"Wonderful! Then I have you all to myself tonight." Falling onto his lips, she began to drink deeply, slipping under the sheets with him as her feet coiled lazily around his leg.

He wrapped an arm around her as she kissed him and stroked her back. Her skin was warm and smooth under his fingers and he thought he would never get enough of this. "Hmm I'm so glad I'm back" He mumbled in between kisses. "I absolutely hate not being around you"

"Maybe..." she said, returning his kisses. "We could get a place together. Would you be open to the idea?"

"Would you?" He asked in return as he bushed back a few strands of hair out of her face and looked into her eyes as he held her head.

She smiled as she gazed lovingly at him. "I've been thinking about it since I've been to Medicha's place. A cosy little nook, a hideaway for just the two of us. You'd be in charge of the cooking, of course. I'd fix holes in the roof, should any appear." She moved over to the area just beneath his jaw and began to nibble. "There might be, if we keep this up," she giggled softly.

"Hmm... I'd like that" He mumbled as he tangled his fingers through her hair.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Selina and Caden woke early to make a few stops over the course of the morning. First it was to the Mullins' where they were informed of Caden's return. Then to the only merchant dealing with glass, cut the panes all down to size, packed them up neatly in paper and carried them to the final stop, the Barnett ranch. As soon as the bell had been tolled, one of the sisters ran out towards the gate. But the moment she laid eyes on Selina, she slowed and seemed a little apprehensive. Selina offered a smile and a wave, "Is that Trish or Trinity?"

"It's Trinity," said the sister, breaking out of her thoughts.

"Hello Trinity" Caden said with a wave.

"Caden, I haven't seen you in a while." Trinity opened the gate.

Selina apologised as she entered the ranch. "Trinity, I'm sorry I didn't come by yesterday. I know I said that I would."

Trinity gave her a strange look. "Anything you say..."

"Yeah, been travelling a lot" He told Trinity after Selina was done talking.

Trinity nodded, and noticed the scar running across his face. "That's new, isn't it?"

"Uhh.. yeah" He grinned and scratched the back of his neck. "Little accident, I'm fine now."

Selina gave him an apologetic, wistful look. Trinity started down the path towards the log house.

Caden grabbed Sel's hand and squeezed it softly as they followed after Trinity.

Trinity didn't speak a word till she got to the house. Trish and Mr Barnett were standing just outside. They didn't return Selina's smile, and remained somewhat solemn. Selina sensed a problem, and she put the packets of glass down.

"Selina," began Mr Barnett. "We appreciate what you've done for us, but we want to know if you expect payment, and how much?"

"Done for you?" Selina began to get an idea of what was going on, she felt a tad betrayed by Mr Barnett, especially after what she'd done for him and his daughters. "But I haven't done anything... aside from come here to fix your windows."

Mr Barnett shifted his attention over to Caden, and so did both the sisters.

Caden frowned, the tension made him a bit uneasy and he was quite clueless as to what was going on.

The smile had washed off her face, and she was beginning to regret having brought Caden here. She didn't want to discuss the activities from two nights ago. "Can I start on the glass now?" she asked, almost pleaded.

Mr Barnett nodded, and they moved aside for Selina to enter the house.

Caden followed after Sel and smiled at Mr Barnett. "How's your leg sir?" He asked.

"It's workable, dear boy. Actually I've been thinking about getting a peg for my leg."

"It would help you to balance, dad," said Trish.

"That it will. But everything costs money, my dear."

Selina listened to the conversation while she removed the old shards of glass with a hand protected by a woollen glove. She hated feeling so burdened by the Barnetts. There always seemed to be something more she felt she needed to give. It was so much easier when she only needed to live for herself.

"If you want I can do some asking around." Caden said. "Dad might know someone who can help at a reasonable price."

Mr Barnett smiled. "Please give my best to your father, I still do owe him my life. Can I expect to see him at the festival tonight?"

"You know Ethan never misses a party" Caden said with a grin.

"You're going dad?" asked Trinity.

"Sure, why not? Since our problems have gone away, I can't see why we should continue to be held hostage on this farm. It's time to get out, meet people."

Caden frowned. "Gone away? What happened, did they finally leave you in peace?"

All eyes turned to Selina again. Feeling the attention, she shrunk into her skin. "I think the rascals might not be coming back for a while," said Mr Barnett with a smile.

"That's great news" Caden exclaimed. "You must be so relieved." He did notice their glances at Selina, but decided not to go into it now. He could always ask her later, but he started to have a suspicion as to what caused that bruise exactly.

"The festival will be a great way to celebrate," said Trinity joyfully. "I hope to see you both there."

"Of course we'll come" Caden said with a smile.

Mr Barnett moved over to where Selina was and observed the work she was doing. But she felt he wasn't observing as much as he had questions for her. "You told everyone..." she couldn't hide the hurt in her voice.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know it was a secret, even from my daughters. I share everything with them," he whispered back.

"This can't get out," she said regretfully.

"It will stay within the family," he promised.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Selina fit in the final piece of glass, and afternoon was already heading into evening. She had listened with much amusement to Trish and Trinity, excitedly discussing what they would wear to the festival. They deserved every bit of the relief they now felt.

She stood up, dusted herself off and found Caden with Mr Barnett, seated in the kitchen with drinks in their hands. "All the windows have been patched up. You'll be having a nice warm and cosy sleep tonight," she said.

"That in so many ways," said Mr Barnett thankfully, raising his mug to her.

"I have to say Sel, I never realized you were this skilled at repairing things until now" Caden remarked as he smiled warmly at her.

She smiled and stretched herself out as she began walking back to the main gate. "Something you might not have known, Pete was a good fix-it-man. I used to watch him take stuff apart just to put it back in his spare time. Taught me a lot."

He smiled and took her hand again. "I suppose this is where you got your bruise then, will you tell me now please?" He asked, a bit more serious.

She knit her brows, and turned her eyes to the ground. "Don't judge... alright? I heard all about the Barnett's problem, and decided to survey the situation. It was... well I think perhaps you've heard about how bad it's become. I know I really shouldn't have gotten involved, but sitting in the inn twiddling my thumbs didn't seem like the right option either. Anyway... the night before you came back, I decided to try to scare those guys away and unfortunately..." she looked up at Caden a little fearfully. "It resulted in a death... for them."

After she finished talking he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug. "I'm glad it's only a bruise," he said softly, "What were you thinking, going up against three guys on your own?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "So old man Barnett told you too huh?"

"I may have sort of prodded him for info a bit" Caden answered with a grin, "Don't blame the poor man"

"That's the thing that annoys me most about this situation," said Selina, raising her voice in frustration. "Since this incident occurred, he's told a total of three people about who was really behind the assault on those bandits. What if it doubles to six people tomorrow? And if it gets to someone like Jamie, the next day the whole damn town knows about it?"

"He won't tell, and his daughters are more the practical and trustworthy kind than talkative" He took Sel's hand "Don't be angry with them, they are free again thanks to you, they would not repay your kindness with gossip." He sighed. "I worry this might not have been the end of it though"

"That's the whole point to leaving two men alive. I sent them back precisely so that their boss would know that it wasn't the Barnetts who killed their man, it was me. And as long as word of who that woman in a scarf really is never gets out, they can continue to search the town for this mysterious person that nobody knows. Hopefully after time, will tire of the search and give up completely."

"I hope you're right"

She nodded, and her anger subsided. "So you aren't mad?"

"I'm not" He said, placing a kiss on her brow. "In fact, I find it rather touching that you felt you had to help people who're complete strangers to you until this week. Many people wouldn't have considered their troubles twice"

"I did need the work," she chuckled, a little more self assured, and she slipped an arm around his waist as they walked side by side. "Besides, I think guys like that make it harder for people to think that a bandit..." she gave Caden a knowing look, "Or an ex-bandit, can actually be a decent human being. Tell me you hadn't had some horrible preconception about me before we met."

"Don't look at me like that, I may not agree with your methods but I do know most of you are still human beings" He sighed. "You're all equally stubborn though"

She laughed, "Got to be stubborn to survive. I don't really mind people thinking worse of my kind if I know that they're wrong. But guys like those three actually make some of the points valid, and that really... well it doesn't sit right with me."

"Honour amongst bandits hmm" He smiled at her.

"Mhmm," she said, and after a pause, "I think Pete would've loved you, and maybe you would've liked him." She ended her statement with a touch of sadness. "A pity that not everyone gets a happy ending."

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "I like him even if it's just for saving you so I could get to know you so many years later" he said with a mischievous grin on his face.

She nodded with a sniffle. "Dwayna bless Pete, wherever he is right now. I will never forget him and everything that he's taught me."

He held Sel a bit tighter and kissed the top of her head as they walked home slowly.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 08:08:21 AM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #120 on: July 19, 2017, 03:58:31 PM »
Back at the Mullins' place, Selina got washed up and decked out in the only dress that she'd purchased from Jamie's place. Twisting her still wet hair behind her neck, she stepped into the kitchen to wait for Caden to be ready to leave.

Caden appeared not long after, not wearing his usual leather jerkin but a fancier looking shirt and jacket. The rest of the family had left for the festival ahead of them and the house was quiet. He smiled at Selina as he spotted her. "You look lovely" he said.

She turned around and smiled as she playfully gave him a curtsey. "Why thank you Mr Mullins. You do look lovely yourself too." Offering him a hand, she asked, "Shall we go?"

"Only if you promise me a dance" He said with a cheeky grin as he took her hand.

She clutched his hand tightly and feigned great surprise. "Oh you dance? This I gotta see."

He grimaced at her and pulled her towards the front door. "Come'on, lets go silly." He said laughingly. After leaving the house, Caden pulled the door closed and they made their way towards the center of town.

The villagers had been preparing for days and it showed. Strings of party lights and banners were hung up all around the square, and the large tree that stood there had been decorated as well. On one side several food carts were set up with all kinds of tasty looking and smelling delicacies. On the other end of the square a band composed of locals was playing cheerful tunes. In front of them    low wooden decking served as dancefloor. Though the evening was still young it seemed that most of the village had already gathered and the dancefloor was filled merry dancers.

"Oooh!" Selina marvelled as she gazed admiringly at the glittering lights under the night sky, and the party revelers, decked out in fine clothes. Something about it felt very much like walking through a dream, a good one at that. She sniffed the spices in the air, listened to the chirpy tunes of the band and watched the glad faces all around her, smiles lighting the way to the wooden deck right in the center.

She stopped and turned to Caden. "So... you probably should know that most of the dancing I've performed has been while inebriated. I'd like to see how you dance though."

"Now? or would you like to try some of the food first?" He asked with a glint in his eye. "We could wait a while until the rest of the dancers are more on your level"

Selina laughed. "Well, I could do with some food in my belly." She began eyeing the food stalls, and that's when she noticed Medicha behind one of the stalls selling meat on sticks.

"Selina, Caden!" Medicha waved them over. "So glad you came. Come try some of this."

"Hello Medicha" Caden said with a smile. "That looks delicious"

"Don't mind if I do," said Selina, picking up one of the sticks and taking a taste. "How's that roof holding up?"

"It is, beautifully!" replied Medicha, handing a stick to Caden. "You've done me a great service. No more leaking, no more nasty drafts... I've even been going to bed without lighting the fireplace first." she giggled. Then turned up her face, pointing excitedly to the space behind Selina and Caden. "Oh look who came as well! What a surprise. I wasn't expecting to see them here."

Selina turned around, and sure enough, Mr Barnett was there with his daughters. Trish and Trinity were in matching outfits, one in blue and the other in red. Beautiful dresses with pearl shoes.

Caden turned as well and gave the three a wave after taking one of Medicha's sticks in his other hand.

Trish and Trinity waved back happily as Mr Barnett grinned as he spoke, "Took you two a while to get here. We've been here since early eve. Had ourselves some snacks, played some games, chatted with old friends."

"How's that I haven't seen you till now?" asked Medicha.

"We haven't been to the dance floor, we were keeping it to the night's end. And you're tucked in this little corner," said Trish.

Medicha laughed. "That is true, I feel like I've been missing out on the main crowd all night." She pointed to Caden and Selina with her eyes. "I did spot these two first though, aren't they lovely?"

"We've had the pleasure of their company all morning!" reported Trinity, grabbing a stick of meat herself.

Selina nodded, "I got their windows fixed this morning. Caden decided to come along."

Caden smiled at them "I hope you've been enjoying yourself so far" He said after having a bite of the snack he was holding.

"I have," declared Mr Barnett. "And I've seen your father." He looked around. "Don't know where he is right now, but we've traded our well wishes. He looks healthy. That is good."

"Well you know him, he's probably wherever the most fun is to be had" Caden said with a grin.

Mr Barnett chortled. "Still has that old fun-loving streak in him, that Ethan. A true ladies man to the bone."

Caden grinned. "Maybe I could fetch everyone a drink?" He suggested.

"Get me one please," said Trish moving towards Selina. "Something strong."

Trinity and Mr Barnett politely declined, stating that they'd already had their drinks. Medicha requested some water for her throat.

Selina seemed undecided as she turned to Trish. "Have a drink with me Selina, I think we have a lot to have a toast to," Trish invited, and ultimately Selina nodded, looking at Caden as she did.

"So, two something strong and a water for the ladies, coming up" Caden said before turning on his heels and making his way over to where the bar was set up. "Hello Mylia" Caden said with a smile. "Can I have an ale, two glasses of rum and a glass of water please?" Mylia greeted him "Of course, coming right up Caden" She said as she started to place glasses on a tray and pouring the drinks. After Caden paid her he took the tray and made his way back to the group, while greeting several people along the way.

The moment Caden left the group, Trish immediately leaned over to Selina, "I've something to show you, Selina. Do you have a minute?"

Curious, Selina nodded, and allowed herself to be pulled away from the others.

Trish pulled her close when they'd made it around the corner of the next stall. As she peered around the corner, she pointed a young man out. Hidden under a mop of orange hair, the individual sat rather sullenly at one of the stalls selling pretty little gift items made up of wood, metal and cloth. "Do you see Allen? He's at the merchant's stall."

"Yes, what about?" asked Selina.

"Allen is the Murray boy. It so happens that Allen was attacked yesterday when he was bringing goods back from Kessex. The perpetrators made off with the majority of his stock. His dad is very very angry with him... not standing up to the bandits and all that. But you've seen how they are, they aren't the sort to be trifled with."

"Trish," Selina took a step back, she was suddenly a little uncomfortable with the topic being discussed. "Why are you telling me this?"

For the first time, Trish seemed a little less sure of herself. "Selina, you've gone up against those bullies. They're afraid of you. Don't you think..."

Selina found the same anger bubbling within her as it did on her departure of the Barnett farm, "What I did for you and your family, I did it because your lives and your dignities were in danger. The bandits are gone now, and that is the end of that."

As Caden arrived back at the group he found two recipients of the drinks he was carrying were missing. He gave Medicha a questioning look as he handed her the water. "Where's Sel?" He asked.

Medicha pointed out the two ladies who were talking a little distance from them. Too far to hear the content of, but not far enough to tell from Selina's agitated pacing that she was upset.

"Allen could've been badly hurt," insisted Trish. "As it is, they only hit him in the back, and the boy decided to let them have what they wanted - otherwise Allen might not be here today. His father doesn't understand that."

"Tell his father that," suggested Selina rather curtly.

"His father is a hard man. He used to be a Pact soldier. He won't take any weakness from his son. He won't listen to someone like me."

Caden frowned as he observed the pair. "Thank you" He told Medicha before walking over to Trish and Selina. "Your drinks ladies" He said cheerfully while paying attention to Selina's expression.

Trish was in the middle of explaining the situation, but she suddenly went mum when Caden made his presence known. Picking up one of the drinks, she thanked Caden and returned a nervous glance in Selina's direction.

Selina cast a quick glance at Caden, then back at Trish without taking the glass from him. "It's fine, I've explained the earlier situation to Caden," she said to Trish. "But it still stands that while I sympathize with Allen, and his family for having lost their goods, I cannot keep intervening in the town's affairs. You'll have to fight your battles without me."

"What's going on?" Caden asked, looking from Selina to Trish and back.

Trish opened her mouth, for a while, she looked as though she was about to summarize their conversation for Caden, but she eventually admitted, "I may have told Allen that we were visited by a fearless vigilante who selflessly drove away our problem. I told him that she would be there to protect him just like she was there for us." Selina's eyes were as wide as saucers, and Trish's words were more hurried then. "Allen's supposed to head back into Kessex tomorrow, he's terrified. I had to say something. I'm sorry, I assumed you'd be willing. You were so good with those bandits. Allen and I can put some money together if it'll help?"

"Trish" Caden frowned again, clearly caught offguard as well as irked by the confession. "You realize you should not have told him, I can tell as much by the way you're acting. But you certainly can't offer anyone such a solution, Sel's life would be in danger to, you have no right. Have the Seraph even been notified?"

Trish nodded. "Allen said he told the Seraphs, and they said they were going to look into it. Nobody's going back to Kessex with Allen tomorrow though. What if they come back to finish the job?" Her expression softened. "I'm really sorry Selina. I overstepped my bounds. I guess I... I just got too excited.. and..."

Selina wiped a hand over her mouth. "Alright..." she said after a while. "I'll make sure Allen doesn't get attacked."

"It's just outside of Claypool, right past Altar Ridge," said Trish excitedly. "You don't have to follow him all the way to Kessex. And maybe just one more time when he comes back."

Selina nodded, "And don't pay me. I'm not help for hire."

"But still, for the effort.."

"Don't pay me," Selina insisted, and finally took the drink from Caden. "Thanks for holding this for me," she said, consuming it all within a couple of gulps. "Seems like I really needed a strong drink."

"Sel..." Caden gave her a worried look, he was still angry with Trish but it seemed there was little point to it now.

She looked at him, "I'm going to get another drink. Want to follow?"

"I will, if you're going to be drinking them at that rate" He said, "if I don't pay attention I might miss the dancing."

She smiled blandly, took his hand and began walking away from Trish. "I'll need some of my things," she said quietly to him.

"I expected as much," he said. "But let's have that dance first, this is not going to ruin a perfectly fun evening Selina, we've enjoyed ourselves."

"Hear hear.." she repeated, sitting in front of Mylia. "Five glasses of rum please," she ordered right off the bat, and turned to Caden. "Anything you'd like?"

He rolled his eyes at her, "I guess I'm having rum too."

"One more for the gentleman," she said with a grin. Mylia grinned back with a worry line on her forehead, lining up the glasses and filling them, then placing them in front of Caden and Sel.

Selina took one of the glasses and put it in front of Caden, then rounded off the five in front of her. "Bet you I'll down these five faster than you can down your one."

"Sel" He placed a hand on her arm and looked into her eyes with concern. "Not like this please, what's going on."

She smiled at him. "I'm rearing myself up to have that dance with you. I only remember how to dance when I'm inebriated, remember?"

He only sighed.

"What?" She shrugged. "Can't a girl have some fun?"

"If you're sure that's all it is" Caden said taking up his own glass.

"Three," she began counting. "Two... one!" She downed one glass after another, slapping the cup on the bar each time she finished one.

After having a snicker about Sel's enthusiasm he downed his own glass, setting it down just as she picked up her fourth.

"What!" she said in aghast, realising she had lost her own bet. Speaking dramatically in an accent not her own, she said, "That cannot be! Doth this man a drinker be?" Downing her final two glasses, she turned to him. "Now I'm ready to dance." And offered a lady-like hand to him.

Grinning Caden accepted the hand and lead her towards the dancefloor once arrived there he lifted up her hand, re-positioning his hand against hers and placed his other hand on her waist.

She kept her hands where Caden had placed them, "Ah, we're doing it traditional."

He laughed "Have you looked around?" He said, pointing at the other couples dancing who were all in a similar position.

She looked around. The people around her were going fuzzy. "Nope," she admitted.

He smiled and put a foot forward leading Selina into the dance.

She followed his footsteps, trying her best to keep in rhythm, even with the room beginning to swim around her. Her hand on his shoulder squeezed a little harder than she'd planned, and she quickly loosened her grip.

After a few minutes of dancing Caden started to notice that she wasn't quite keeping up and as they neared the edge of the dancefloor he stopped dancing and lead her away from the other dancers. "Five at once might've been overdoing it a bit," he stated.

"Mhmm..." She leaned onto him and began kissing him on the lips.

After a short while he pulled away and smiled at her. "I love you Sel" He said softly. "Do be careful when you go out there tomorrow."

She didn't reply to his concern, only wrapped her arms around the back of his neck and came in close. "How do I get you to spend another night with me?" she asked.

"Let me take you back to the inn" He said, wrapping his arms around her waist.

"I won't go if you won't be with me," she insisted. "I don't want to sleep alone."

"I'll take you there and run home to grab your bag, after that, I'll stay."

She looked at him quite sternly. "Promise?"

"Promise." He lifted his right hand and took one of Selina's hands from his neck. "Now come, let me take you back"

"Mmmm," she slipped a hand around his waist and hugged him as she followed him in tandem.

Just as Caden and Sel were heading out of the party, the Mullins' apprentice, Joanna, met them as she was headed in. The festival was crowded, so she remained unnoticed by both Caden and Sel, but she did recognize Selina from the posters plastered around Divinity's Reach from a few years ago. She gaped as they passed, and watched them as they disappeared down the road.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 10:09:28 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #121 on: July 21, 2017, 01:35:43 AM »
She'd slept like a log, the moment she hit the bed. Her sleep was so deep, she didn't even rouse when Caden had snuck back into bed with her. She did, however, have the pleasure of opening her eyes to the sight of a restful Caden. There was a streak of dirt right underneath his eye that she could only assume had resulted from digging in the dark. She turned around momentarily and found her pack on the ground, still moist with the dirt that had sat on it for the past week. Once again, he'd done as he'd promised - he'd never once broken a promise to her. She knew without a doubt that he was the only constant thing left in her life, and how she'd come to treasure every moment spent with him.

She thought about kissing away the streak from his face, but she felt sure that that might wake him. Instead, she decided to spend the next few moments in silence beside him, listening to him breathe, observing the slight flutter of his eyelids as he explored the dreamscape in his mind. Deep within, she wished every morning would be the same - her waking up to him.

Unfortunately, even the most precious bliss must come to an end. The memory her conversation with Trish quickly brought her back to reality. The person she needed to speak to most though was Allen himself. She had thought about doing that that morning but... as she peered out of the only window attached to her room, she found the sun already in the process of rising. Leaping to her feet, she opened her dirt ridden pack and began dressing as quietly as possible. A scarf over her face, a leather vest with the attached hood bound to her chest over body armor. Leather gloves on her hands, sleek pants over the length of her legs, and her boots... she found the secret attachments on the floor next to her pack. Within a few swift movements, she tucked them all into place, pulled out the pistol, wedged it under her belt, then reached for her blade that sat against her desk. It slid like silk into the sheath at her side.

As she took light steps towards the door, she pondered what she was about to do. She stopped short of opening the door to the hallway. She'd become so accustomed to walking around openly with nothing to conceal her identity, that using the front door had almost become a force of habit. Picking up her pack, she pulled out her grapple and attached it to the window. Time to employ some of the skills she'd buried together in that shallow grave.

___________________________________________________________________________

Allen Murray begrudgingly strapped the yaks up to the empty cart. The truth was the last thing he wanted to do was to make a second trip to Kessex to transport steel to Claypool for the blacksmiths, but what else could he do? His father had already sent word to their supplier, putting in an order for a second shipment. He'd told Allen that if they didn't hurry with the replacements, the blacksmiths might decide to take their business elsewhere. Allen had pointed out that the Seraphs were on the job, and that it might be better to wait till the problem was rooted out before making yet another shipment. But his father stubbornly maintained his position about keeping the business moving and not allowing bandits to sabotage trade in Claypool. All that was provided to him this time was a loaded rifle. One that he kept slung over his shoulder. But even that wasn't giving him the confidence to fight off another attack.

"Allen Murray," came an unfamiliar voice from the end of the cart.

He spun around in surprise to see a petite figure in dark leathers, crouched on the tip of his family cart, looking down on him. He had... maybe... prepared to encounter bandits on the road, but whatever this was nearly made his heart leap out of his mouth. Stumbling backwards, he grasped desperately for his only weapon. But his hands were shaking so much that the rifle slipped from his shoulder and almost landed on the ground had he not caught it in time. It took him a while to get the rifle facing the right direction and aimed properly at the stranger on the cart, his finger armed threateningly on the trigger. "Who are you? Speak up or I will shoot!" he warned.

The stranger's mouth was covered with a maroon colored scarf, but even then Allen could tell that she(?) was smiling. Calmly, she dropped down to the ground and walked over to him. "You can't shoot me, your safety is still on," she explained.

"Back!" he yelled. The stranger was probably right about the safety, but he continued to aim it at her anyway.

The stranger stopped and lifted her hands to the height of her ears. "I'm not here to harm you, Allen Murray. We have a mutual friend... Trish?"

It was then that Allen remembered everything that both he and Trish had discussed. Her story had sounded so fantastical, he wasn't sure if she was serious half the time. A vigilante? Could this be the person she was speaking of? "You're the vigilante?" he asked.

She lowered her hands. "If that's what Trish calls me. Nice to meet you."

Breathing out a sigh of relief, he put down the rifle. "You gave me such a fright," he blurted out.

"I can see that. And don't mind me saying this, but your response time to fear is pretty atrocious."

He frowned, and wiped the mop of hair off his face. "W...well what do you expect? I'm not a soldier nor a bandit. In fact I used to get beat up in school. Right now, I transport goods from one place to another. That's my job. Fighting doesn't come naturally to me!"

She put a hand in front of her to calm him down. "All fair points," she agreed. "That's why I'm here, I was told that you'll be needing some help."

His face brightened up. "You'll be accompanying me to Kessex?"

"Eh... not exactly. But I can definitely teach you how to arm that rifle in a much shorter time."

As quickly as hope had entered into the picture, it'd faded away again for Allen. "This rifle isn't going to do me any good. It's not like I've ever shot with one."

The stranger laughed lightly. "You don't actually need to know how to shoot it. Half the battle is won when you're able to project the illusion that you know what you're doing - even if you don't. The truth is, no matter how menacing the bandits often seem, most of them are a cowardly lot. They seek easy prey. That's why you don't want to look like easy prey."

"You say that as though it's easy," complained Allen.

"Perhaps you can describe the recent attack to me? We'll see then how we might be able to overcome these guys."

Allen let out a sigh as he began, "I was returning to Claypool at about dusk. One of them dropped down from one of the branches up top, and he had a hard stick with him. Smacked me right off the cart and took over the reins. Another one caught me before I could even recover and get to safety. He grabbed me by the collar, lifted me up like I weighed nothing. Told me if I squealed he'd gut me. Then he put me down and told me to walk fifty steps towards the lake. I... I didn't have a choice, so I did it. And when I turned around, the cart, the yaks and all the steel was gone. Father says if I lose our final cart and pair of yaks, he's going to throw me out. But he doesn't realise that he's asking for the impossible. If the bandits come for me again, I don't think the rifle is going to be enough to stop them." Tears began welling in Allen's eyes. It was clear that the fear had become deeply rooted.

The stranger listened to Allen's story sympathetically. She was starting to see why Trish felt compelled to embolden him with the story of the vigilante. Allen faced true peril, and it was as real as was the danger at the Barnett ranch - maybe more. "Allen, what time do these yaks need to get moving?"

"Soon-ish. Latest is an hour past noon, or I'll never make it to the supplier before dark."

"Alright. Now I want you to watch this." The stranger picked up the rifle by its nozzle, and with one single swing, wedged the butt end against the pocket of her firing shoulder, slipped her right hand under its body, her left on the trigger, and with a single movement of her thumb, uncorked the safety. Then as quickly as the rifle had been armed and ready in her arms, she reengaged the safety, and let the rifle slip back to the position that she had begun with. "I want you to practice this endlessly till you have it all in the motor skills."

"What?" He gasped as she handed the rifle to him. "I can't do that."

"You can. Do it once for me."

Allen looked nervously at the rifle. And after some thought, began to mimick the stranger's own fluid movements. But just as he was sliding his right hand under the body of the rifle, it slipped from his arms and he had to catch it again.

"You need a firmer grip here," she coached, pressing his hand lightly on the body of the rifle. "And here." She wedged the butt end of the rifle onto the front of his shoulder, pressing his elbow all the way down. "Don't fear the rifle, Allen. Become one with it."

He nodded. Going through the movements for a second time, the rifle stayed in place, and Allen found himself gazing down the top area of the barrel. He gave himself a cry of victory at this personal achievement.

"Safety, safety..." the stranger reminded. And Allen quickly popped it. "Very well done. Now keep it up. I have to leave, but you get those yaks moving at noon. Not an hour before or an hour after. Exactly at the strike of noon. Am I clear?"

"Why?"

"Just do as I say and you'll be fine," the stranger insisted.

Allen nodded, and called to her just as she was about to leave. "I don't even know who you are. How do I thank you?"

The stranger turned around. "Knowing that you're safe is enough of a reward." She waited till a smile blossomed on Allen's face. "Just keep up the practice. I want you to be able to do this effortlessly before you leave on your trip."

"Will do," promised Allen.

____________________________________________________________________________

It was coming to midday. Vic and his younger brother Kit decided to take some throwing knives out into the field just south of the cave to do target practice on a scarecrow that used to belong to a farmer who had fled the property after being hassled by some of their own. They didn't know if the old geyser was going to return, but it was good while he didn't. They completely took over his hut. Helped themselves to his food supply, plundered his vegetable patch and scratched their own names onto his post.

The throwing knives were neatly wrapped in a leather pouch. Jet, the big fella who owned the knives, told them not to touch. But Jet was away with a few others. And he'd left his poor lonely little collection of knives all by themselves. It didn't take long for Vic to decide to take them out for a little 'worldly exposure' before returning them to their master.

The first knife flew directly past the scarecrow's 'head' and landed in the grass. "My turn!" cried Kit, drawing another knife out of the pouch and winging it into the scarecrow's 'shoulder'. "Yessss...." Kit began bouncing up and down, pointing at his brother.

Vic drew another knife, aimed and only managed to nick the side of the scarecrow's 'leg' before landing in the grass.

Elated, Kit pointed to himself arrogantly and yelled, "Winning!" With another throw, the knife sunk into the scarecrow's 'leg', inches from where his brother had missed.

Just two knives left before they'd to go retrieve the whole lot. Vic picked up his final knife, took a while to aim before letting it fly. The effort was rewarded when the knife sunk directly into the scarecrow's 'chest'. "Woo hoo!" he punched the air, spinning around as he did. But his jaw dropped the moment he turned right around. Nervously, he reached for his brother's shoulder and patted it incessantly.

"What?!" yelled Kit, turning around as well. His eyes flew open as soon as he did. "Oh.."

The stranger stood before them, armed with her pistol. "Put your hands up," she demanded.

Vic did so quickly, while Kit hesitated for a second, eyeing the final knife in the pouch. The stranger followed the invisible sight line down from his eyes, noticed the pouch, and she kicked it off the stool they'd planted in the middle of the field.

"Hands up," she said again, this time specifically to Kit. His hands went up in the air. "Good," she said, waving her pistol forward. "Turn around and march. I'll tell you when to stop."

Both men marched through the field with little knowledge of where they were headed, or why they were being held hostage. The stranger did seem determined to unload her pistol, and they didn't want to be the recipients.

They marched all the way just north of the lane headed east out of Claypool. Under a cluster of trees sat a large blueberry bush. "Stop here, turn around," commanded the stranger. The two men complied.

"What do you want?" asked Kit finally.

"Your men have been hassling the villagers of Claypool. I don't like that."

Vic's expression changed. "You're Dag's murderer!"

"I am," she replied without any remorse. "And I'll be yours if you don't follow my orders, is that clear?"

The two men nodded readily.

"Two nights ago, two of you assaulted a young man coming down this lane. Beat him up, stole his yaks, cart and his steel. Where is all of that now?"

"That wasn't us!" Kit volunteered. "I know who did it!"

"Where is it?!" she shouted again.

"They've kept it at the old farm. The one we just walked away from," said Vic. "I can go fetch it for you."

"In a little while," said the stranger. "I have a separate task for the two of you now. Do that, and once it's done, I want you to bring me to the yaks. Once I've ensured that everything is in order, I will let you go. If for any reason you feel foolish enough to deviate from the plan..." She took a hand off the pistol and lifted her sword a couple of inches out of its sheath, enough for the glint to temporarily blind them. "I'll slice you piece from piece."

"We'll do it, whatever you need," agreed Kit quite willingly.

Pleased at the response, the stranger took two steps back and told them to turn around to face the lane. "At any moment, that same young man is going to be coming down here in an empty cart. I want the two of you to leap onto the road and tell him that you want to rob him."

"Rob an empty cart?" asked Vic, clearly confused by the stranger's intent.

"Never mind the state of the cart. Tell him that you're robbing him anyway. The young man will then whip out his rifle. The moment he does, I want the both of you to cower in fear, and tell him that you and your friends will never rob another cart."

"What?" Vic blurted out. He didn't want to anger the stranger, but the entire plan seemed ridiculous at best.

Kit nudged Vic quickly, "Just do as she says."

"You've got a smart friend here," complimented the stranger.

"Okay?" said Vic with a cheesy smile. "What do we do after we promise not to rob another cart?"

"Come back here and wait till he leaves before returning the stolen cart."

Vic looked at the lane, and imagined themselves running there and back. The thought of escape occurred to him. Maybe the stranger wouldn't be able to see them while they're on the road.

"If you're thinking about escaping," said the stranger, reading his mind. "I'll be watching from above." She pointed upwards to the wide canopy of trees covering the street right down to where they presently stood. "I'd say I'm a pretty good shot. If you try to run, you'd better keep running. Because if I do manage to shoot you down, the sword will come next."

The two men exchanged worried glances, and willingly agreed to the plan.

____________________________________________________________________________

Allen's timing on arming himself with the rifle had gone down to mere seconds. He still felt little confidence that it'd actually save him from peril, but the vigilante seemed to know what she was doing, and he didn't. Made sense to try things her way at least once.

Taking the stick to the yak, he got them moving down the lane before long. Right at the break of noon as promised. Watching the shadows cast from tree tops onto the path in front of him, he took several glances upwards nervously. That first bandit had been waiting up top, and he hadn't even a clue. Just the sensation of being jumped like that gave him the goosebumps. He wondered if he'd ever feel safe on this path ever again.

And just as he pondered the notion of meeting more bandits on the road, he noticed two men coming out of the bushes to stand right in the middle of the lane. They had sticks in their hands... though it looked more like twigs. "We are robbing you!" one of them shouted.

"Yes, we are robbers!" the other announced.

This was the moment Allen had been preparing for all morning. The adrenaline kicked in as he grabbed the rifle, did everything he had learnt that morning and was armed with it before long. Not in the shortest time he'd done it, but in a respectable amount of time at least. "No! You will not rob me again," he replied as assertively as he was able to.

To his surprise, the two 'robbers' threw down their sticks and cowered in fear. "Oh woe," one shouted. "I am afraid to die. Let's not ever rob again."

"I renounce my life of robbery!" the other cried. And together, they ran into the bushes.

For a moment Allen had his rifle aimed at the bushes, thinking they might be trying to fool him and come out to assault him again. But after a long while, he deemed they were never coming back again. Perhaps it was true what they'd said about renouncing their criminal lives. Allen took another look at his rifle, realising its true power - the power to turn a wayward life back on track. Perhaps he'd given it too little credit. A great swell of self-confidence bubbled in his throat, and he couldn't help but grin as he slung that rifle back on his shoulder. He realised that he finally had the ability to protect himself, and that made him feel safer than he'd felt since being attacked - maybe since he'd been a little boy and bullied into a corner of the class.

With a twap of his stick, the yak headed off again. All the way to Kessex.

____________________________________________________________________________

"We've upheld our end of the deal," said Vic, standing beside Kit and the stolen dolyaks together with all their cargo. "But our boss isn't going to be pleased that the yaks are gone."

"Tell your boss that Dag's murderer held you at gunpoint. You didn't have a choice," she said, climbing onto the driver's seat.

"He'll come for you, with twenty men," warned Kit.

"Let him try," said the stranger, rearing up the yak to move. "This concludes our business. You can go back to whatever you were doing."

As the yak bumbled through the farmland with their heavy cargo, the two men watched on silently, still wondering why whatever Dag's killer had gotten them to do mattered enough to her to resort to kidnapping. Perhaps they would never know.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #122 on: July 21, 2017, 01:35:52 AM »
The yaks headed down the lane to the Murray property, seated right outside the gates of Claypool. A fine property overlooking the valley. The main door; red oak painted ocean blue with clouds and birds in oil splashes around the sides, gave a hint of an artist in the family. She wondered which one. A bronze knocker stood in the center of that beautifully designed door, one that was visibly well-maintained. Giving it two hard knocks, Selina slid around the stoned wall to hide.

After a while, an elderly lady came to the door and looked around. Surprised to find not a person, but the entire missing shipment of steel waiting at her doorstep, she cried out excitedly, running back into the house to fetch her husband.

With a smile on her face, Selina made her way back to the lane headed into Claypool. Strolling along light-heartedly down the shady path among falling leaves, she removed the hood, pulled off the scarf from her face, and tucked it neatly into a pocket. That's when she sensed she was being watched. Turning around she found Lucas watching her. She'd been waiting for him, hoping for another chance... she wasn't going to lose it now.

"Don't run away," she said, subtly reaching into a pocket. From within, she pulled out a small bag of colorful sweets. She'd picked it up in town during one of the visits, all with Lucas in mind. "Do you want to try one of these?" she asked, waving it around in front of her.

His eyes followed the bag, clearly mesmerized by the rainbow assortment of colors.

Opening up the packet, she picked out a yellow sweet, placed it in the middle of her palm, and offered it to him. "Come get it."

He stared wordlessly for a little while. Then put one foot in front of the other.

"Yes! This sweet is for you. Take it, it's delicious."

Another foot went in front of the other. Slowly and apprehensively, he approached till he was finally next to her hand. Then with one quick movement, snapped up the sweet and put it into his mouth, sucking on its syrupy goodness.

"Another?" she asked.

He nodded.

Her fingers went back into that packet, picking up a blue ball of sweetness this time. She dropped it onto his open hand, and the blue sweet went into his mouth as well. "You can have the entire packet. I bought it just for you," she informed him, offering him the entire bag.

For a moment, he eyed her suspiciously. And all of a sudden, snap! Just like the two sweets from before, took the bag off her hands.

She laughed, "Enjoy it, Lucas. Have a pleasant day." With that, she continued on her way into Claypool, making sure to offer Caden's gate guard friend, Jeremy, a nod as she passed.

Jeremy nodded back in response, and silently pointed out the little friend who was still following Selina. Selina spun around to see Lucas standing there, chewing on a sweet while holding tightly to the packet she'd given him. "Well!" she said with her hands on her hips. "It seems I have a little stalker today."

"First time I've seen him do that," admitted Jeremy, impressed himself. "He tends to shy away from people most of the time."

"Jeremy..." In spite of what Medicha had said in regards to Lucas' family, she could keep the suspense no longer. "Lucas' father, Keagon... what happened to him?"

Jeremy sighed. "Got into debt, lost his wife, lost his job. He'll lose his son if he keeps this up."

Lucas continued to watch the two adults with wide curious eyes. Selina wondered how much he understood about the situation. "And Lucas, I haven't seen him speak all this time I've been here."

Jeremy nodded. "He hasn't spoken a word since his mama left the home. It's an awful tragedy."

"Is Lucas being fed properly?" asked Selina, just a little quieter. It felt awkward to discuss the issue of Lucas with him standing there, staring at them.

"He is, as far as I know. At least when Keagon remembers to. They're getting by in any case."

"Where do they live? I might give his father a visit, maybe just to say hello. Don't think I've met Keagon before."

Jeremy smiled at her. "That's awful nice of you." He pointed to the path headed towards Kessex. "Keagon lives in a little hut just a turn away from Kessex. Maybe that's why you haven't met him. He's a bit of a loner, doesn't want to mingle with the rest of the community. Quite unlike Lucas who..." Jeremy looked down, noticing the space that Lucas previously occupied. "Oh, where did he go?"

Selina looked around as well. Lucas, and the bag of sweets, was nowhere to be seen. Just like a wisp of smoke, turn away for a moment and it's swept away.

"Well... that's just the way he is," said Jeremy. "Here one minute, gone the next. He's a mysterious little tyke."

Selina nodded in agreement. She was a little disappointed that she hadn't paid him more attention, maybe then she would've seen him leave.

"It was lovely seeing you again. Give my best to Caden," he added.

"I will," she replied.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 08:04:06 PM by Talia »

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #123 on: July 22, 2017, 03:47:05 PM »
Diana Princee found a unsigned note on her desk one morning. It said it had information about Andrea Brennan, had an address scribbled on it and as a '.ps' said to inform no one, or the information would vaporize.

The half-norn gazed at the note for half of an hour, before she finally decided that it might be worth an investigation. Equipping herself with her sword and shield, Diana went out on her own, not breathing a word to anyone for fear that her informant might not be as compliant to part with information.

The address took her to a little hut outside the city, seldom traversed by Vanguard patrols because it towed the line between human and charr territory. Too much Vanguard presence would tend to make the Charr nervous. One, however, they might overlook.

Knocking on the door of the weathered hut, she found it unlocked. She opened it slowly to screeching hinges, and a room with a single wooden chair. On the chair was yet another note. This bewildered the half-norn, and she began to wonder if she was being led on a wild goose chase. Crossing the room, she picked up the note and read it to herself.

It said, in nicely written words, "You are getting sleepy." And that was it. She turned the card around, expecting to see more, but there was nothing. Again she read the note, "You are getting sleepy." Confused by what it meant. She did notice though, when flipping the note around, that a powdery substance seemed to lift off the note, and drift lazily through the air. Wiping two fingers on the card, she took a closer look at the substance. It was white and...

All of a sudden, darkness swept over her, and she tumbled to the ground.

______________________________________________________________________________

Icy cold water broke her from her sleep. Her eyes flew open only to be encased in darkness still. From the tiny spots of light that streamed through, Diana deduced that a fabric covered over the entirety of her head, and it obscured her from any sight. She also discovered that her arms were fully secured behind her, wedged over the back of a seat, and her legs weren't free either, tied up with rope - would be her guess.

"Awake?" came a voice, male sounding.

"Do you know how much trouble you're in for abducting a Vanguard officer?" asked Diana, truly surprised at the audacity of this individual.

"We aren't here to talk about me. We're here to discuss a case you were involved in and the people surrounding it."

"I'm not at liberty to discuss the cases that I handle with non-officers, much less with a criminal."

A laugh followed. Soft and patient. "I was expecting you to say that. Fortunately, I can be rather persuasive."

Another bucket of icy cold water was dumped over her head down to her body. Diana gasped in discomfort. But the water was just the start of it. The drenched fabric tightened around her face, so much that it wrapped entirely over her nostrils and mouth, preventing air from getting through the drenched cloth. Struggling to breathe through the cloth only led to droplets entering her air passage - for a moment, there was a real sense that she was drowning. Thrashing about within her confines, Diana became truly afraid for the first time that day. This went on for what seemed to be forever, till the fabric was finally released. Diana shook the water away from her nostrils and desperately took the chance to pump oxygen into her lungs.

"Now we can start to do business," said that voice without the slightest remorse. "You had dealings with an Aidan Brennan. Is that true?"

Diana remained silent, knowing what would be the penalty to defy her abductor again.

"Answer me," the voice persuaded. But she continued to keep her mouth shut.

She heard some shuffling take place. The warmth of a touch upon her fingers. And all of a sudden, a metallic cold clamped down on her littlest finger, twisting it in an odd angle, enough to make her cry out in agony.

"If you're ready to speak to me, nod your head." The twisting continued till there was a mild pop. Diana was sure that that finger had been dislocated. "You have nine more before I start on the toes. Shall we continue?"

Diana's lips quivered, she desperately wanted the abductor to stop, but she'd sworn an oath to secrecy... how could she defy the Vanguard?

A tight grip came on her ring finger, and the twisting - even more merciless than the first. Diana screamed, rocking back and forth on her seat. "I'm still waiting," it said. She could hear the impatience starting to settle in.

"What do you want with Aidan Brennan?!" she cried. And the clamp released her finger.

"It is not Aidan Brennan that I want. It's his sister. Selina Knox."

"His sister?" Memories ran through Diana's mind. Aidan had said nothing about a sister. "I don't know anything about him having a sister." The clamp came down on her finger again, the twisting restarted. "I swear!" her pitch went up a few notches. "He never told me anything about a sister. You have the wrong person."

The clamp released again, and there was an audible sigh. "Let's go about this from a different angle. You travelled with Aidan Brennan and a sylvari, is that right?"

"How did you..." Diana began, then decided not to ask. "Yes that is right."

"Who else? I can only assume that your manhunt yielded favorable results since you're back and Aidan Brennan is nowhere in sight. But three people, that wouldn't nearly be enough to take down a whole camp of Separatists. Who else helped you bring down Andrea Brennan?"

Diana gave it a thought, and she replied as well as she could, "The Charr, the Priory researcher, and Aidan's contact with her..." It dawned on her then that Aidan's contact was also named Selina. Coincidence? Or was she the individual her abductor was searching for? "What do you want with this person?"

"Ahhh...." said the voice in a manner that gave Diana the chills. "I see you know who I'm talking about now. She identified herself as Aidan's contact?"

"She was with us just for a little while. It didn't matter what she identified herself as, I only concerned myself with bringing Andrea Brennan to justice."

"Where did she go to?"

"I don't know. She left hastily after having an altercation with Aidan. Never came back."

"Didn't tell you where she was headed?"

Diana shook her head. "Why would she? We weren't even close. I barely even knew her first name."

There came an audible groan, followed by silence. Diana waited patiently, just glad that she wasn't getting another finger dislocated. The first was painful as it was. The silence stretched on till the voice suddenly came back to life. "Wait a minute... you were naming the extra participants in your manhunt. The Charr, the Priory researcher, and Aidan's contact with her... that's where you stopped. Do continue that line."

"Aidan's contact with her friend?" asked Diana, failing to see how it was relevant.

There was a snapping of fingers. "Who's this friend of hers?"

"Caden. I never got a last name."

Her abductor was getting restless, he began to shake Diana roughly by the shoulders. "Details woman! Give me details. What did he look like? What did they speak about?"

"He was... he was..." she tried her best to remember. "A young man, had a scar that cut across his face. Seemed awful nervous... come to think of it, so was she. The whole time we were pursuing the Andrea lead, they'd be giving each other the eye - like they needed some alone-time. I didn't hear the most of what they spoke of, but I did hear her say to him after Andrea had been captured, that they make a good team. That's it."

"And when she left, did he leave with her?"

"Not at the exact time. But shortly after. He left in a hurry as well."

The hands came off her shoulders. "That's it then..."

Diana continued to listen as silence followed. There were a couple of footsteps, the cranking of a doorknob, and the sound of a shutting door. Nothing after.

It took five more hours, and a very hoarse throat from yelling - for Diana to be discovered in the very same hut that she had entered. The Vanguard later discovered that the second note that Capt Diana had picked up was doused in a very potent sleep-inducing powder. But the hut, the bucket, the notes, the chair and the rope... there was nothing extra-ordinary about any of these items, nor were any fingerprints left behind on the scene. No one had spotted anything out of the ordinary. They couldn't even explain how the abductor had gained access to Capt Diana's office.

The case brought up all kinds of questions about Vanguard security.

Capt Diana spent a couple of days in recovery before she requested a note to be penned in her name, addressed to Aidan Brennan in regards to his sister, informing him of all that had happened.

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Re: Ride the Rushing Billows
« Reply #124 on: July 26, 2017, 03:26:09 PM »
Joanna paced outside the Mullins household, debating whether it was her place to bring up what she knew. She finally decided to approach when she noticed Caden from the window, thinking she should speak to him about this first. Maybe he'd have a good explanation for what she'd seen.

Opening the backdoor, she peered in, hoping she would see Caden there, alone.

Meri and Caden were both sat in the kitchen, working together. Caden was pulling leaves off the branches of some herb while Meri crushing the leaves with a mortar and pestle. The pair was chatting until the door was opened and both looked at the door. "Oh! hello Joanna, come in" Meri said cheerfully while Caden smiled at her.

"Meri, Caden..." said Joanna a tad awkwardly. "How are you?"

"We're well" Meri said, placing the pestle in the mortar and whiping her hands on a piece of cloth that hung from her apron. "Sit down love, would you like a drink? It's so good to have you back with us."

"Never better" Caden chimed in.

"A drink sounds lovely," said Joanna, taking a seat. "And do take your time."

"Nonsense, how about some lemonade?" Meri asked her as she went to take a cup from one of the shelves. "How was your trip,  did you just get back?"

"Nothing interesting happened, just the same ol' same ol'. I got back last night. Dropped in to see the festival for a bit, helped them pack up. Stayed the night with Medicha." She looked directly at Caden. "I heard that all of you had gone as well. It's a pity I missed you."

"Had an early morning this morning" Caden said with an apologetic smile. "Otherwise I'd have surely treated you to a drink to celebrate your return"

Joanna shifted about and looked at Caden more pointedly, lowering her tone so that Meri would not hear. "Actually I did see you leaving, just as I was coming in. I noticed that you were with someone."

Caden grinned happily "That's Selina" he said, "I'll introduce you two when she gets back"

On the other side Meri poured Joanna's drink and returned to the table, placing it in front of her. "Hear you go dear" she said.

Joanna put on a smile and leaned back. "Thank you Meri." The picture of Caden with the woman in the poster still haunted her, but she decided to save the discussion till later.

"How're your parents?" Meri asked, "I do hope you've had a chance to visit them while you were in the Reach"

"They are good. I had a brief visit with them, just to catch up. Thank you for asking." She turned again to Caden. "It is certainly good to have you home. You've been away for so long, you must have all kinds of stories."

"I've visited before" Caden said, feigning offense. "We just always missed each other"

Joanna nodded, "You haven't been back long enough for us to bump into each other.  Does this mean that you're back for good?"

"That is the intention" Caden said, smiling even brighter now.

As the two young ones talked Meri returned to her crushing of leaves, glancing up every so often.

Joanna looked surprised. "My... I never thought I'd see the day... What happened to your wanderlust?"

"He met himself a pretty girl" Meri said gleefully. "Caden keep those hands moving instead of daydreaming" She said when the pile of leaves she was crushing had run out.

"Ah yes, sorry" Caden said, kicking back into action.

Joanna nodded somberly at Meri's words. "A pretty girl from Divinity's Reach."

Caden gave her a semi shocked look but said nothing, Meri seemed not to even notice.

"Caden... I'm glad that you're in a relationship, but singlehood is great as well. Just look at me, I'm free to come and go as I please. Don't have to answer to anyone. Relationships can be a drab. I still remember when we were agreed on this," commented Joanna.

"Lets take a walk" He told Joanna. "It's been so long, we should properly catch up. " He placed the remaining herbs that had been on his lap on the table. "Be back in a bit gran" He told Meri before grabbing Joanna's hand and taking her outside. "What are you up to?" He demanded to know as soon as the backdoor shut behind them.

Joanna bit her lip. Half of her didn't want to get involved, but she loved the Mullinses too much, she just couldn't understand how Caden could be this irresponsible and jeopardize his entire family's business, not to mention their safety. Running away was bad enough, but if they really knew who he'd come back with, it might break poor Meri's heart. "Of all the girls in Tyria... scrap that... of the entire world. I don't even think your folks would mind if you came back with a sylvari or a norn. But you had to pick not just a convict, but the infamous Divinity's Reach well poisoner. Do you know what knowing this could do to your parents' business?"

"You know absolutely nothing about her" Caden bit at her, irritated by her speech. "What happened in the Reach was a long time ago and you'd do well to leave it in the past."

She sighed. "Don't be blinded by love. Think about Molly, about Ethan... and Meri. It's not just the two of you that'll be involved in the scandal, everyone will get dragged into it, willingly or unwillingly."

Just about that time, the sounds of humming came in light and chirpy tones as Selina came walking down the lane towards Caden's home. Spotting Caden outside his home from a way off, she pranced merrily towards him, and with wide arms, she gave him a hug, not even noticing that he was with another person.

The longer Joanna spoke the angrier Caden grew. He was just about to snap at her when Selina's arms wrapped around him. "Hey" He said, feeling deflated. He untangled himself from Selina and looked at Joanna again with a sigh. "Joanna, meet Selina, Selina, this is Joanna," he said. "Try not to yell too loudly, gran will hear."

Surprised at Caden's lackluster response, she turned around to give Joanna a smile and a small wave. "Hi Joanna. I'd heard about you from Meri, so glad to finally meet you."

Joanna responded, less enthusiastically. "And I've heard of you, Selina. I see that you've really made an impression on Caden."

Selina grinned, not picking up on Joanna's coded words. "Well he's made an impression on me," she said, and moved to hold his hand.

"She means your history Sel" Caden said, still angry.

M... my history?" Selina stuttered and dropped her hand. It wasn't so much what Caden had said, but his tone that made her nervous.

"You see, Joanna is from Divinity's Reach" He gave Joanna a piercing look.

"How long do you think the two of you can hide this?" Joanna snapped back. She'd hoped he'd take what she'd said with calmer contemplation, but at the same time she remembered this was the boy who'd left his loving family in the lurch, in spite of all the hopes they'd placed in him. What else could she really expect? "Even if I don't breathe a word, someone's going to find out sooner or later. You're living a fantasy if you think Claypool is devoid of the rest of Tyria."

Selina's expression fell, and she suddenly seemed rather thoughtful. "I don't expect to hide this," she said. "I'm actually glad that you know. That gives me a chance to prove to you that I was a foolish young girl when I did what I did, and I've paid my dues since. I'm not the same person. I'm sorry if my past makes you uncomfortable."

Joanna looked at her, and the strength in her resolve weakened. "I'm sure there's something.. or many good things in you, that Caden sees. It's just your reputation... I'm afraid if any of this gets out, that it will hurt the Mullinses. I hope you understand."

"Things were fine until you got here" Caden bit at her, feeling more like walking away than staying and talking.

"I understand," Selina said, keen to negotiate a compromise. "Would it help if I kept a bit of distance? After all, I am living at the inn rather than here. I just need to make less visits to the Mullinses."

"It would help," Joanna responded gratefully. "And I'm sorry if I came on a little strong. I appreciate you being a sport about this. No one will hear it from my lips."

"Thank you Joanna. And also for pointing this out."

Joanna smiled at Selina, and nodded. "I see why you like her," she said to Caden, then walked back into the house.

Caden said nothing for a while. "I'm sorry" he finally mumbled after several minutes had passed.

Selina laughed at Caden and gave him a hug. "She has a valid concern. I was prepared to deal with all the backlash, it's just amazing that I can be in a place where no one immediately links me to my past. Sometimes it feels like I'm starting anew here, where nobody knows my name."

The hug calmed him down somewhat now and he sat down on a near bench, pulling Selina along by her hand. "I just did not know what to say to her. It felt like she was judging you, as well as me"

"When you get your face plastered on a thousand flyers scattered all over the city, you quickly realise that being judged is the least of what can happen to you. Thankfully Divinity's Reach has worse ills now like the White Mantle. I'm old news now. Ironically I was involved with them too... Oh well..." She shrugged with a laugh. "Sometimes you just can't beat the system." She quietened down and looked at him with a little concern, "But you, you came in from the outside. You aren't used to this life." She held his hand tighter. "I'll understand if at any point you think it's all too much, and you need to end it with me. Being with me will never be easy, that's why I wanted to spare you from... all of this, in the first place."

"Whatever would I do without you" He said giving her a small smile. "No matter what they throw at us Sel, I'm staying right by your side. Even if this is not the life I grew up to, I'll live it for you if I have to."

She smiled at him through wet eyes, and pat his hand. "I don't deserve you, Caden."

He smiled her "Don't be silly" He said. "Oh.. how did it go this morning?"

"All too perfectly," she said, raising her hands in a victory pose. "Allen Murray is safe, and not only is he safe, he's learnt how to arm himself with a rifle. I'll just have to check on him tomorrow when he gets back, but I think the lad has a lot to be proud of himself for. Hopefully the bandits will keep away then."

"I hope so" he said, cheering up a little.

"I also managed to recover the missing steel from the other day. Sent it back to his folks' house. I think I made his mom's day," she said proudly.

"That's great" Caden said, right as the backdoor opened again. Meri popped her head out "Someone here for you Caden" She said before a woman stepped out, clad in leather armor. "Caden Mullins?" She asked straight to the point.

"Uh, yes" Caden said while getting up from the bench.

"This is for you" She said before handing him a letter, sealed with the Brennan seal. "I will be off again." She said, turned around and thanked Meri for her help before walking back through the house.

"Thank you" Caden sat back down and opened the envelope. He pulled out the letter and unfolded it to read the contents.

Quote
Caden,

Have you had any word from Selina, or her whereabouts? I received an alarming letter from Capt. Diana stating that someone is out looking for Selina. Their methods lead me to believe that she may be in danger.

Sincerely,
Aidan

Selina leaned against Caden's shoulder to read the letter too. Her eyes grew wide as she read its contents. Putting her own hand on a corner of the letter, she read it again.

"Sel" Caden mumbled as he stared at the letter.

The blood drained from her face. She took her hand off the letter and ran it through her hair. "Maybe they won't find me here... they won't think to look here," she mumbled.

"Who'd be after you, think it's the White Mantle?" Caden asked.

"Not the White Mantle I'd think... maybe Doc Howler... or Rob..."

"Rob?" Caden looked at her. "Would he go as far as to hunt you down?"

Selina winced as she recalled what she'd done before leaving with Caden for Ebonhawke. It had been in the back of her mind to tell him everything, but the more she'd pushed the thought away, the more she'd forgotten to. "Caden, there's something you should know. Those two weeks I spent with Rob... well... I was emotional and afraid. Trying hard to make myself forget you. Was probably the worst time to spend with someone like Rob. He'd made his feelings abundantly clear, and I felt if I didn't reciprocate, that he'd dump me on the street. So I... I slept with him. And I let him think that I liked it." She watched him for his reaction, worried that Caden would be upset by this.

He was silent for a long time. "I see" He finally said, not sure what else to say.  It felt like the ground was swept from below his feet and the blood drained from his face.

His response stung her deeply. She would take back what she did if she could, but she made a string of bad decisions and there was no real way of getting out of it. Filled with remorse, she said as she choked on tears. "I'm so sorry Caden. I wanted to tell you earlier, but I didn't know how. I never expected to see you on his doorstep. I never thought that you'd be interested in me. That day I walked away from Bran's hideout, I expected to walk away from you forever."

"I know" He said softly, "And I can only blame myself for not saying anything before you left."

"If it's Doc Howler, then there's very little I can do. But if it really is Rob... then I will have to deal with him, before anyone gets hurt. I'll have to see who's looking for me first, and why."

"Should we go to the Reach, see Aidan and ask if he knows more?"

Her expression hardened. "I'm not seeing Aidan. I'll go directly to Ebonhawke and check in with Diana. You won't be coming with me."

"I'm not staying behind Sel"

"If Rob is behind this, do you know what he might do to you? I can't risk it."

"And I get to stay here and wonder what he's doing to you?"

Selina stood up from the bench. "This isn't up for discussion. I'm going alone." And began walking away.

"Sel" He jumped up and ran three steps after her, taking her hand.

She pulled her hand away and looked at him apologetically. "You'll have to sit this one out Caden. Do it for me, please."

He pulled her into a hug. "Please, just be safe and return then" He said softly

She leaned into his hug. "I will. I just need one favor from you."

"Hm? What's that?" He let his head lean against hers, glad to be together for a little while longer.

"Make sure Allen gets home safe and sound," she said. "Put on a disguise or something in case he sees you. I don't want you associated to the woman in the scarf."

"I will"

"Thank you, and take good care of yourself. Know that no matter what happens, that I love you and..." she sniffled. "I don't want to lose you." Then with a final kiss on the cheek, she left his arms and headed back to the inn to gather her things.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:49:49 AM by Talia »