Private Tales Scorched Earth

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
"Ah this must be Fife!" exclaimed the man on the griffin's back. "How was the lunch?"

He frowned when she didn't immediately reply, looking on the verge of taking offense.

Raigryn sighed softly in mild frustration. He canted his head to one side and raised an eyebrow at the young man. He turned and looked down at Fife's hands.

"Fife, let me introduce Lord Larian Brint, eldest son of the Baron of Brint."

"Oh!" went Larian, remembering the conversation from just two hours ago.

They had held an entire conversation about the sign language they used, though Raigryn had been cagey about its origins. Clearly it had gone in one ear and out of the other.

Larian grinned and leaned forwards to pat his mount. Embarrassment wasn't something he experienced.
 
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Fife missed the faux pas. She smiled cheerily and nodded vigorously to confirm she was Fife, then signed yes. He frowned and she assumed it was her mistake, that it wasn't as easily recognized as she thought. Turning to Raigryn, she signed more clearly to elaborate.

It was very good. I met the baby boy, too. She wasn't going to subject Raigryn to mispronouncing their son's name from her bad spelling. Larian would surely know who she meant. As Winnie had said repeatedly, they were both very pleased that their firstborn was a son. Her sisters and mother had also rejoiced, like this was something spectacular. Fife assumed it was important for land or titles or something of that nature, as it usually was.

Fife did steal a very gleeful smile along with the mention of the baby. It competed with the griffin enough to draw her attention from it altogether.

Boy was very cute. She didn't know what else one could say to compliment an infant. It hadn't cried much? It only made three messes? It looked pleasantly chubby?
 
"She met your baby boy and says he was very cute," Raigryn relayed.

Larian's face lit up. "Yes, good strong lad already. Got such a grip on him already."

Raigryn imagined that Larian enjoyed his son in small bouts, ensuring that his lifestyle was relatively unchanged by such a significant event.

He is an idiot, Raigryn signed.

"Pzerkich is quite majestic," he said.

"Isn't she just!" Larian laughed out, sliding from the saddle. He undid a buckle on one of the saddle bags and pulled out a bundle of fur. From the rough shape and dried blood - as well as the griffin's reaction - he assumed it was a dead rabbit.

"Would you like to feed her?" Larian offered to Fife.

Raigryn drew his lips into a thin smile to suppress the laugh. He imagined the young Lord had thought holding out dead rabbits to women was quite charming. Fife might actually be one of the first with some enthusiasm for the offer.
 
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That response seemed to satisfy Larian, so she couldn't have been too far off the mark. Raigryn, however, had remarks on the gentleman. She cast him a curious look as Larian dismounted. She might have questioned him, but she didn't want to divide his attention more than necessary.

Also because she wanted them to keep talking about Pzerkich. She'd have her time to gush at Raigryn about the children later.

For now, she was overjoyed at the offer to feed her. Fife audibly gasped and looked up at Raigryn, as if needing permission before nodding eagerly. She approached cautiously, a shake already developing in her hands. Fife felt a streak of terror bolting though her that only heightened her excitement. Without any squeamishness, she held out her hand for the rabbit.
 
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The griffin's eyes followed the rabbit quite precisely. When it was passed across she started to advance.

"Ah! " warned Lorian.

Raigryn had not planned this, but he certainly held plans. Fife might not have returned in time, but in exchange for some flattery he had hoped to end on a: 'but my dear Fife would so love to see a griffin up close...'

This had simply worked out quite perfectly.

"Now she has to spread out her wings..." Lorian said. He stood behind Fife and stretched out her arms. The Griffin delivered a withering stare before backing up a step and stretching out her wings. They were held up above them all, feathers fanning out and catching the light.

"Now hold it forwards and be prepared to let go. Quickly."
 
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The griffin's quick movement both terrified and excited her. She was all smiles and wide eyes as she glanced between Pzerkich and Larian. As always, Fife was a quick and obedient study. She beamed as the griffin raised its wings. Her heart had not thumped this hard for a while.

Unless she counted that.

She nodded and focused on the griffin. If she was going to lose fingers, this was the only way she might have accepted it without regret or remorse. Her hand extended but her eyes never left the face of the griffin, awaiting the moment when haste would be crucial.

She would not lose any fingers today. Fife laughed, a breathy, smiling display. When she was certain it was safe (or as safe as it could be) she glanced over her shoulder at Larian and signed where Raigryn could see to translate.

She is great. Frightening, in a fun way. She didn't know the word for it.
 
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Raigryn laughed before translating. For once, he was hardly blaise about the sight. He'd not seen one quite so close before. Perhaps it was the flurry of nerves at watching Fife hold out the rabbit that jumpstarted his feeling.

Raigryn was grinning from ear to ear as he translated. Larian looked thoroughly pleased with himself. Romelia held the pair in high esteem and so he enjoyed showing off for them.

"You can pet her, but by the hind legs. She is fussy about her feathers. After she's eaten. And no sudden movements.

"Ready? Pzerkich you can eat," he said, lowering his arms. The griffin's focus on the rabbit was singular as she opened her beak and tentatively dipped her head towards the morsel.
 
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Raigryn always made her sound charming. Or, perhaps, it was her personal bias shining through. Either way, she was still saying the right things. The promise of petting her afterwards earned a less careful but very surprised glance. It wiped all traces of a smile from her features momentarily before a much wider grin took its place.

With her emotions leading a little too much, however, she took a moment to calm herself. Fife took a quiet breath and wobbled back to a more central balance. More central, and not completely off the side of Joy in her scales. She didn't dare draw on any of her reserves to ensure she was quicker than Pzerkich; if Larian was capable, then surely so was she.

Fife followed the instructions. Given permission from its rider, Fife held the rabbit out for her. Like a flash, the watchful tilt of her head became the snap of her beak. It was still not as fast as Fife had anticipated, if only because of a certain Idemni tutor.

All five fingers still belonging to her left hand, Fife's prize was threefold. First, having the experience of hand feeding a griffin. Second, watching the aforementioned griffin eat. Third, petting a griffin.

All of these added to her growing list of Rare and Unusual Experiences. Raigryn might not have been amused with additions like Defeating a Rogue Empath and Hunted by World Class Assassins, but at least she'd have good stories to tell Ylerial when they returned.

When. Fife's chest tightened. She didn't know if she'd see Ylerial again any time soon. When could become never, in their position. It might not ever be safe enough to risk journeying back to Indretar.

After Pzerkich had eaten, Fife looked to Larian before approaching her flank. Her hand hadn't shook while feeding her and didn't shake now. Her hind leg was sleek, both smooth and coarse – exactly what she would have imagined from a cat-like creature larger than a horse. She kept her movements slow and was mindful of the griffin's movements. Fife only dared a single glance toward Raigryn. Her girlish glee was unfettered.

Stopping before she got too comfortable felt wise. Fife mustered a lot of self control, gave Pzerkich one final stroke, and withdrew, returning slowly to where Raigryn stood. She signed her thanks to Larian. An idiot he might be, but an idiot who had a very cool mount and had given her a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
 
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As Fife stepped back, Pzerkich opened her beak and emitted a shrill cry. Raigryn felt a flutter of panic and took half a step towards Fife.

"No you're not having another one!"

Larian's attitude made him realise that Fife was in no danger. He laughed a nervous laugh. He didn't think he could live with an animal that made quite such a noise just to ask for another portion of food.

Raigryn took a moment to consider the strange swirl of emotions he was subjected to. His world had been shaken up, his connection to his feelings broken. Being an empath it was necessary to self analyse, moreso when he was out of practise. How else would he differentiate between what was his and what had been borrowed.

He was fearful for her safety. Raigryn knew he had to accept that he couldn't shield her from everything, couldn't make every decision for her. That revelation had started over an argument over her idemni training and been completed by his period of captivity.

He was also feeling a touch of jealousy that it was someone else showing her remarkable wonders of the world. That was fine, just as long as he recognised and understood it.

"Did Whinnie return with you all to the house or has she set off home already?" Larian asked. "Another day I could show you both how I fly, but you would be best served watching from above from the walls into the valley."
 
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Pzerkich's squawk for another startled Raigryn more than anyone else. Both Fife and Larian cooly turned toward her, her rider with a word of chastisement and Fife with expectation. She touched Raigryn's arm when she reached his side again and quirked an eyebrow at him.

They both needed some downtime after Larian was gone. Perhaps she'd save her rambling about her day until after he'd recovered a little from his excursion.

She went home. Baby was tired, she conveyed to Raigryn. I would love to see them fly. Another day. She smiled politely and did her little curtsy to Larian. Thank you. She gestured her thanks again to Pzerkich.
 
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Raigryn conveyed the message as well as his own thanks.

Larian looked up towards the household. Raigryn knew that he was considering facing Romelia and others without his wife. Raigryn watched the internal strife. It was too late, they would have seen and heard Pzerkich and if he didn't stop off then questions would be asked.

"I guess I should stop by," he said sorrowfully. He offered more pleasantries and took the griffin's reins before leading her for the stables.

Raigryn took a few moments to let it sink in that they actually had a few moments of time alone.

"Well I couldn't have planned that timing any better now could I?"
 
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She saw Larian's struggle, but she wasn't about to save him – not when it afforded them a moment alone. They would have to go in and let Romelia regale them with her son-in-law's merits. There would be more niceties and talk of dinner and farewells.

As soon as Larian was out of sight around the corner of the stables, Fife performed an obligatory survey of the field and its borders to ensure that they truly had a moment of privacy. She turned to him as he spoke.

Her answer was to raise a brow. Fife couldn't know for certain if he had planned it so. If it had been, it was a wonderful surprise and she wasn't going to heckle him into an unnecessary confession.

Fun. Good surprise, she told him. Thank you.

Tugging at his hand, Fife drew him further out into the field. A short walk away was a tree casting shade from the afternoon sun. Its branches were dotted with crimson buds, the promise of leaves and finer weather. The tree's roots were thick and wandered above the rocky soil at the trunk's base. One had been worn smooth, its shape perfect for sitting two close together.

She swept her hand across the root to clear any loose debris, arranged her skirts to sit, then looked up at Raigryn.

Sit here with me? They could still have a walk later, as he requested. For now, Fife wanted to sit and listen. Maybe talk some, too, but mostly listen.

How was your day?
 
"Relative to recent times it was lovely," Raigryn said. "We drank, we played cards. I need to be very careful with how much whisky I drink right now."

He took the time to explain where they had been in the city and how much of the day had been spent trying to politely show amusement at Larian's dull sense of humour.

Raigryn gave an amused shake of his head. One small serving and he had been feeling the effects. Hopefully that was just from a lack of exposure and not a permanent side effect of his treatment.

"That wasn't supposed to be a fun surprise today," he added. "I thought it I humoured him now then I could twist his arm to get to an up close experience with a griffin. I will admit, that was quite impressive."

"But I've missed you today. I feel like I have this big hole of time that's been lost, but at least it passed quickly for me. We deserve some more time together."
 
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She smirked at his warning that he, too, had become a lightweight. She fondly recalled a few nights stumbling up stairs in far-flung inns after indulging in a bit too much. Specifically she recalled the way his hand had often fallen to her shoulder to steady her. Chaste, honest care without conditions. The part of him she most admired. That was what she wanted to be in return.

Romelia cannot have many more "women days", can she? she replied. She knew the answer to that.

The day had been fun, but they both agreed that she and Raigryn had spent enough time apart.

She knew better than to feel guilty. He wouldn't want her to feel selfish for going with Romelia to be paraded in front of Masselin's sisters. This was important to her. She had had no family and now had a very odd semblance of that growing out of thin air. Still, when he put it like that, she wished she had stayed with him instead.

Fife adjusted the front of his jacket so that it laid properly before her hand came to rest against his chest. How often had she laid awake these past months, feeling as though her ribs were collapsing inward – when even the thought of one more day without him felt like a death sentence? Her void had been different, but they had lost the same thing.

We are together now.

A look was rarely just a look between them. They had developed a language of their own over time, even before going to the Idemni. She had avoided eye contact with him so avidly at first, afraid that if he looked too closely he'd see her for what she really was.

Now, meeting his dark gaze, that was exactly what she wanted. Beside him wasn't just a plain girl dressed up in something pretty, but Fife. And she saw him, too.
 
"Women days," Raigryn reflected. "I imagine that gathering such company is how she would spend every single day if she could."

He grinned and watched a few birds fly overhead. They had all dropped to the trees for safety as Pzerkich had started to circle overhead.

His gaze fell to her hand on his chest. Raigryn let out a soft sigh. He was learning control all over again, but he was happy to let the feeling of contentment wash over him. Other moments were behind or ahead of them. This was the one they were living in and they finally had some peace and quiet all of their own.

Watching the birds made him think back to that moment on the cliff around Indretar. After he had his breath back, he had appreciated the private spot of isolation she had shared with him. It was a memory that he hadn't stopped to cherish in some time. They would make more like it.

Raigryn had one arm around her, the other resting on the small hand on his chest. He reached up to cup her cheek, a gentle caress of his thumb fixed her in place as he leaned in to kiss her. Just a gentle brushed of his lips to hers, the warmth of his breath and a brush of bristles.

He had missed her, above all other things.
 
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She watched and waited in anticipation. Raigryn's movements were slow yet sure, unrehearsed yet familiar. Tipping her chin up at the last moment, her lips parted as they met his.

Her mind shimmered. Her body relaxed and her thoughts were quiet. The moment's simplicity was part of its wonder. They were as quiet and natural as the leaves rustling in the sunshine overhead. She sighed and leaned in to make the kiss last just a little longer. Fife's hand briefly mimicked his, her fingers affectionately trailing over his beard, down his jaw, and along his neck to his shoulder.

However, she ultimately needed it to talk.

Tell me about your day. Where did you go?

They could talk about her day later. Romelia was going to talk about it at dinner to be sure; Raigryn could hear all about it then. For now, she settled in beside him to listen.
 
His mind had become lazy as he lost his thoughts to the brief kiss. Slow to track her hands, he took a moment to see if it would piece together what she had signed.

Raigryn gave a gentle nod.

"The wealthy are very good at finding ways to make time simply...go away," Raigryn replied.

Thinking of the idemni cliff made him realise that he wished to simply waste away time with Fife. No purpose, no danger, just time thrown into the wind for a few weeks.

" We spent most of the day at the Saphire club. It is a place where men go to escape their families, talk of their hunting trips and of important matters and play cards and drink."

"I think the most interesting think we learned is that Larian rides a griffin which..." he waved after the man to indicate that they had got past that piece of gossip.

"Got a short tour around the nice part of the city, introduced to new businesses and shops. Oh, there is a fruit from the south coast which everyone is apparently infatuated with, but almost no one can afford," he laughed.
 
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Fife had had a full day of wasting time as well. Hearing how the men passed their time differently was interesting. Oban was very deliberate in what womenfolk did and what menfolk did. She had been spoiled by her time in Indretar. Other than bathing, the Idemni separated little of their culture based on gender and had been a refreshing break from (quite frankly) everyone else.

She understood why he was so worn out. A lot of new faces and environments, drinks and talking, moving around – Fife was nothing short of proud of him for getting through it. Showing as much, she smiled and patted his shoulder. Raigryn couldn't have done that a week ago. This was progress worth celebrating. She would happily reward him with a few days of her easy company.

We can get one? she asked about the fruit. Good gift for Romelia. To thank her.

Romelia was exactly the kind of person who would think an exotic fruit was a brilliant gift.

...Maybe two.

Fife tried not to look guilty. She, too, was easily impressed with food.
 
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Raigryn grimaced apologetically. He saw the fascination and knew that this was going to be dissapointing.

"I can't remember how much money we had left, but we're talking a box of these brought in one a week. The richest people bidding for them and just...putting them on display to show their wealth," he said.

He shook his head at the silliness of it all.

Reading he body language as easily as he signs he smiled at her.

"Are you being protective of me?" he asked, looping both hands easily around her waist.
 
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She was more than a little disappointed. Fife sighed and silently lamented stupid rich people ruining good food.

To his question, however, she gave an indignant sniff and frowned.

No. She leaned away from him, feigning indifference on principle.
 
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"Yes you are," Raigryn declared, but he refrained from pushing his luck. He pushed his luck a little further with a nose boop before he continued.

"If we get invited to some events you'll get to eat yourself silly," Raigryn laughed. "Showing off the skill of your cook is obviously very important."

"I bet Larian's family is very wealthy," he laughed. They would have to stay acquainted and work out an invite to any summer events they were putting on.

"Any exciting gossip from the ladies?" he asked. This time he practise signing alone as he spoke.
 
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She was. Fife laughed, swatting his hand away, but he wasn't going to have the satisfaction of a confession.

You could talk to Larian more, Fife smirked. If he was going to tease her, she had to tease him back about something.

Lots. Nothing. Lots of gossip, people I do not know. Woman having an affair, father of husband. Boat lost in sea. Merchant lost all his money with it, selling home. Very sad. Brother, Alan, is going to ride a catbird. Training. Talk about new dresses. New purple, made from "urchin"? She shrugged. She didn't even know what an urchin was.

Larian and Winnie are getting a new house. Can see the sea. More room. More babies.

And with that, Fife remembered what she had been so excited to tell him. She gasped and perked up with a giddy smile.

I held a baby! I never have before. C-U-T-E.
 
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"You've never...well no," Raigryn went. That struck him.

Living this borrowed high life in relatively safely, doing mundane day to day things, had almost made him stop thinking about where they had come from.

Admittedly, that was the point. He didn't want to think about where they had just come from. Though he did want to get his thoughts back in order or course.

When would she have had a time to see families living in happiness? Children playing in safety and growing chubby from the plenty provided by the families? It wasn't a life all that many got to live in the current times.

"I know we can complain about quite boring days, but I think we need a bit of this. I love seeing you excited by...things in the world. Babies are lovely, as long as you can give them back when they start to cry and poo," he laughed.

"Although I also need a bit of sword practise. I will just get fat if I try and get my appetite back and don't get some exercise. And you need to repeat your sword arts."

They couldn't travel forever, he thought to himself. There was plenty still to show Fife, but where did that stop?

"How old was the little one?"
 
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She laughed, nodding. The baby had definitely done a little of that. Nobody had judged her for not knowing what to do with him.

Raigryn wasn't wrong. Coattailing on Masselin's family was a good vacation from the brutal experience they'd just endured. It certainly wasn't like any sort of life she'd had. Raigryn might have, now that she thought on it.

And reestablishing a routine would benefit both of them. Fife because she ached for routine, and Raigryn to start building back muscle.

Not one year. Very small. Not walking. I was afraid to hold him. Winnie showed me how. There were 4 others. Older, all walking. 3 talked. 2 bigger? 6? 8?

She had no idea.

It was fun. More fun than gossip.
 
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"And I am quite certain they will happily let you distract the children whilst they attend to the gossip," Raigryn laughed.

Raigryn hadn't expected to walk into such hospitality through a friend from Fife's past. He tried to think of a way of expressing this without it sounding like an insult. He failed and gave up.

"I need to get some energy back ahead of Romelia hosting any events. Dancing here is a loud and energetic affair. Lots of clapping, lots of drinking."

Raigryn itched at his beard and arched his eyebrows once.

"I might be politely pouring drinks into plant pots when no one is looking, given how lightheaded I felt after just a few drinks today."
 
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