Tales The Space Between

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Shuck, Dec 30, 2018.

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  1. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    With the sudden and jarring attack from what he initially thought was another horse, turned into a quick realization that not all was as it seemed. Being pushed further in a direction that he had no interest in, he could do little more than stay seated while the hellish ride continued. Before long, a herd of horses appeared ahead of him, and he guessed at the meaning behind it. Close enough for the unicorn to slow as the mare eased into the herd, he slid off quickly and put distance between himself and the body of what he figured were mares.

    If the unicorn paid him any mind, his hands were up in surrender as he backed away from the gathering, and waited for nature to take its course. He plopped down under a tree and watched. A unicorn was also a rare sight, and he wasn't about to look away out of a long diminished sense of shame. Once enough time had passed, again holding his hands up and assuring he was only after his gear, he would remove his backpack and sword, only to quickly leave the horse behind and follow the tracks back to where the mess had started.

    Shaking his head with a defeated sigh, he wondered how far he would have to walk now that he was without a mount. He sincerely hoped that the unicorn was some sort of demented greeter for this camp they were supposed to be headed to. If not, it was likely just a continuation of their terrible luck.
     
  2. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Trahaearn wasn't wandering long. A group of men on horseback approached him, chuckling, in good spirits. They tossed him a heavy wool coat. "Just tell us which one's yours and we'll get her back for you. The Lord only listens to Heinrich, but he also knows not to stomp us to a pulp." One of the scouts told Trahaearn. They were clearly up for mocking him for losing his horse so easily. They led him back to the herd, and the unicorn pinned his ears and made half-hearted charges at them. He wouldn't hurt the mares they were mounted on, but was clearly up for a show of bravado.

    After Trahaearn indicated which mare was theirs, the men roped her around the neck and led her away from the unicorn. They carried long sticks across the horns of their saddles, the use of which became apparent when the unicorn began to pitch a fit. The stallion charged them, and one of the scouts punted the horse in the chest with his staff. The stallion wasn't hurt, but merely stunned, and he eventually backed off to let Trahaearn take his mount.

    Trahaearn was led into the mess hall for some food, the men making jokes at his expense and clapping him on the back. It was clear they'd all gone through the same situation at one point or another, and the joking was a bit of a hazing tradition. Heinrich nodded at Shuck and Joseph, taking the bottle and offering his hand to Trahaearn. "Your companions tell me you got mixed up with a friend of mine. Welcome. Long as you forget where this place is, and don't tell anyone, we won't have any issues. My name's Heinrich. This is my operation." he greeted the other man. "You're welcome to bathe, stalls are in the back of the building. I'll get rooms for you made up."

    "I'm rooming with her." Joseph took Shuck's hand and kissed it. "Where's Marahute? I haven't seen him."

    "Trolls are fussy with bad weather like this. He's indoors somewhere." Heinrich shrugged. "Stay as long as you like. My only rule here is everyone works. Whether it's washing dishes, or cleaning horse stalls, or running patrols."
     
  3. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    The subject seemed abandoned, mostly because Trahaearn was brought in. She smiled up at the warlock, giving him a small wave. They'd had some time to get to know one another better while Joseph recuperated, who didn't seem too thrilled at how well they got on. She'd misjudged Trahaearn, assuming he was a merciless asshole and playboy. Well, not misjudged, because he was still those things. But he was thoughtful in his attentions to her, and he appeared to genuinely care. On more than one occasion she'd blushed at his comments, glancing towards Joseph and glad he was out of earshot. She'd not indulged Trahaearn's pursuits, making it clear where her line was drawn, and he'd not crossed it once it had been established. He respected her, was patient in teaching her during their travels, and was... pleasant.

    So she was genuinely happy to see him returned to the group, and watched him greet Heinrich with a watchful eye before picking up her tea once more. Heinrich began to talk arrangements and Shuck's face turned a bit pink as she glanced between Joseph and Heinrich, but a small smile formed. She gently twined her darkened fingers with his, enjoying the simple contact.

    Discussing Marahute made her brow crease for a moment before she perked up, remembering. She wouldn't mind seeing the healer, to show off her new form to him as well, and made a note to do so. Heinrich mentioned chores, and she nodded. The last time she'd gone out on patrol, but she wasn't sure if a long run was within her capabilities this time. Shuck looked at Joseph, wondering how much the two men had spoken about what had transpired while they were apart.

    "Dishes for us, then?" she asked Joseph. He hadn't been too excited to do the chore the last time, but it was one she knew how to do if she couldn't jog patrols, and perhaps her companionship would make the task more pleasant.

    // Joseph Meier // Trahaearn //
     
  4. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    After receiving a thorough razzing from the group that greeted him, and fetching the horse, Trahaearn was glad to be headed to possible warmth and food. Jokes and thorough clapping on his back, he was greeted by whom he could only guess was the camp leader seated with Joseph and Mal.

    Mal gave him a smile and a small wave, and had he been in higher spirits would have likely returned her small greeting in kind. A quick wave was all the more she received as he sighed heavily. Their talk while traveling had done them good, and given Trahaearn a clear line that this form of Mal had decided was the line of friendliness. Which was well and fine. He got to enjoy her smiling, and laughing.

    In the end, that is all he truly cared about as he came closer to the table.

    The bottle Mal had was in a mans hand, but save for the swinging glance he gave the whole group while turning to look for food, he dared not look at it again. Not with Joseph awake, nor so many unknowns. Once he had spotted something to eat, he moved to sit down with them and was spoken to by the unknown man at the table.

    "Trahaearn, as you likely know since your men greeted me so readily. I don't rightly know where we are since your Lord gave us a proper scare, thus cannot tell anyone if I so desired." Was all the more that Trahaearn said as he sat down. It wasn't a curt tone that he used, but the man was obviously done for the day.

    The mention of making themselves useful was not lost on the man, and he only offered a small protest.

    "So long as I can eat before hand, I'll shovel stalls." He offered, a thought striking him as he remembered the Unicorn. "Does your friend come in for the night, or do they keep to the woods with the mares?"
     
  5. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    "Dishes for you. I'd like Joseph to get those cuts seen to, then he can repair armor. My men mean well but they're a pack of idiots who wouldn't know how to oil leather if you chained them in a tannery. It's something easy on his arms and doesn't require him standing." Heinrich told her. He nodded at Trahaearn. "Please. Eat, bathe, treat your wounds. Get yourselves settled. I'll tell you this though, there isn't a man or fae born that can make a unicorn spend a night in the stalls. The mares that are mine return at night; they know where the warm oats are. He trusts me to let them go every morning, and I've done so faithfully. Takes hard work to get even that close to a unicorn, much less a stallion. You see slightly horses around this place with long lion tails, those are half-breed females. Fastest horses there ever were, and smarter than any dumb farm pony besides. If your mare takes, that's what she'll birth."

    Joseph made a noise. "I can't be babysitting a pregnant mare on top of all this." he mumbled. He ate heartily; his appetite had returned after a few days of picking at hardtack.
    "Just don't stress her and give her a bit more food than normal, and she'll be right." Heinrich shrugged. "Half the mares out there will have foals by spring. You lot have a good night. Rooms are in the barracks on the second floor. Joseph, ma'am, you're in my room. I've got business to take care of tonight. Trahaearn, just pick an empty bunk. I'm taking men with me. There are more rolls in the kitchen, some soup, and vegetables."

    Joseph nodded. He was exhausted. He got up and kissed Shuck. "I'm headed to bed. Are you coming?" he asked. He did not like the way she'd been talking with Trahaearn. Oh, she rebuffed his advances, for which he was grateful. But the fact that Trahaearn had pushed that in the first place made him angry. "You'd best get some rest too, shit-shoveler." He told Trahaearn coldly, and limped toward the stairs. He moved slowly, using the tables and chairs for support
     
  6. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    Shuck nodded, unwilling to argue. A fulfilling job that wasn't too difficult was preferable, even if it meant having to spend time away from him. Her thumb brushed idly over the back of his hand and she looked down at his dark fingers. He was healing and, hopefully, a visit to Marahute would help his improvement over the next few days.

    Her eyes brightened at the prospect of a half-unicorn foal. She bit her lip, looking at Joseph with excitement, but she couldn't help the snort of laughter that escaped before she choked back any more. On top of all this. How long would it be before the mare foaled? By spring, they'd have a halfbreed of their own. Perhaps, if they were anywhere near his family, they could leave the mare and foal with them? Joseph had mentioned that they were horse people, after all. She saved yet another topic for a moment alone with him.

    Heinrich offered them a bed and food, and Shuck nodded. She'd begun to ask Trahaearn about his adventure with the unicorn when Joseph stood. Her words trailed off and she looked up at him, her silver soft as butter after the kiss. She captured his hand on her shoulder.

    "Of course," she replied warmly. "Let me get a second cup of water from the kitchen for my tea, and we'll go."

    She hastily got the water (and a bundle of rolls in her kerchief) and returned to his side with a skip in her step. Slipping her arm around him, she looked between him and Trahaearn.

    "Do you want Trahaearn to help you? The stairs might--"

    No. The answer was no, then. Shuck bit off the rest of her words, her jaw setting. It was fine. The two didn't get along, but he'd be in pain later for his stubbornness and she wouldn't be coddling him.

    She did what she could to support his left side to spare him as much pain as possible, but carrying him outright wasn't allowed and that made the going slow. The stairs were the worst of it and she was never so glad to see him sit down as when he sat on Heinrich's bed. Shuck shut the door and came to kneel in front of him. She undid the laces on his boots, careful to avoid the iron struts of his brace. Sitting back on her heels, she met his dark eyes.

    "Do you want me to see if I can find Marahute?" She placed a hand on his thigh as she spoke. "He might have something to take the edge off of your pain while you're here." It was still early in the day, and she wanted him to be comfortable while he was resting.

    // Joseph Meier // Trahaearn //
     
  7. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    Trahaearn nodded to the man. He seemed well enough informed about the unicorn. Trahaearn mused on their trip so far since he had joined. The likelihood of having come across two beings that were incredibly rare on this trip had all but inspired him to praise his extended life for the blessing of bedding a wisp, and watching a unicorn at work. What else was to come? Watching a dragon hatch from an egg? At this point, he may have very well believed it.

    "Will do." Trahaearn acknowledged the man as Joseph left with a catty remark. The large smile appeared, his eyes coming to a sharp point at Joseph. "Try harder, I use to be a shit shoveling whore son. Least my shit doesn't run out of my mouth." Trahaearn lilted as he wandered away to get some food, patting Mal gently on the shoulder with a soft smile when she crossed his path from the kitchen.

    "See you later Mal." He said sweetly, his tone and soft touch lacking the tension that had been there previously. It was received well as she smiled back in kind, and with that last bit, Trahaearn entered the kitchen to fetch himself some food.
     
  8. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Joseph sneered at Trahaearn. "You've upgraded, but at least the stalls will be familiar to you. Like a family home." he growled, heading upstairs. "Say 'neigh' to your mother for me." He called back over his shoulder. It hurt, but damn if he didn't straighten his back and try and walk up the stairs like a man with only minimal handling on the railing. When he finally sat down on the bed, it hurt. Gods, it hurt. He sighed and kissed Shuck when she came to him and removed his shoes. "Listen. You're the light of my life. You need to see Marahute. I'm fine. I'm just healing. I want to know how your pregnancy is doing with all the stress....take some time. Relax. I'll be sleeping up here." he kissed her, smiling softly.

    The day went by peacefully for Joseph. He slept, ate some of the rolls Shuck brought up, drank his weight in water, and curled back up in bed. The snow made everything quiet and peaceful, just the occasional groan of a tree branch cracking under the weight of too much snow or the tweeting of a bird.

    The men were in good spirits when they returned. Heinrich had bagged some late-season turkeys, and the men had gotten kegs of beer from a bar in town. They rolled them into the snow and packed the ice around the beer to keep it cold while Heinrich gutted and plucked turkeys. Preserved cranberries were brought up from the root cellar, along with autumn cider and canned apples. Heinrich may have been in charge of the meat but others were making small apple handpies, cracking open cider, and getting men with musical skill together. Heinrich eventually went to find Shuck, washing his hands with leftover snow and smiling at her.

    "Come on. Joseph's probably not in the mood to celebrate, but we are. Nothing better to chase away the cold than feasting and a dance. What do you say?" the highwayman smiled, offering her his hand. "You can play scullery maid later, right now I think you and Trahaearn could use some fun in your lives....and a little beer."

    When he brought her out into the courtyard it had exploded into mirth. Five men were playing music on a badly-cobbled-together set of drums, a fiddle that looked like it had been half-crushed by a wagon at some point, an accordion that was surprisingly well kept, and anything else they could find. While they weren't the best band in the world, they did know some tunes which they played off-kilter through sips of beer and joking. Heinrich offered her a cup of cider, and headed toward the stables with a mug of beer.

    "Set down the rake and wash your hands." he told Trahaearn, offering him the mug. "It's time you had a little fun."
     
  9. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    Trahaearn ate, and set off for his duty. Joseph had set off another good bite back at his words, and he had to give the man credit. He would fit in well with the Unseelie court, if they didn't kill him for the magic.

    When Heinrich came and got him, offering a mug, Trahaearn was quick to set it on a haybale and wash his hands. Picking it back up, he came into the courtyard and was quite surprised to find merriment abound. Giving a smile to Mal, he took a large drink of the beer. Reminded him of the time the Sidhe had thrown a party by surprise, which had ended after dragging on for two years. Fun times, Trahaearn thought quietly to himself.

    The men in the band tried their best, and it was not the worst effort he had heard given to a performance. The fiddle caught his attention as he thought about something fun to try.
     
  10. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    Shuck nodded, leaning up to meet his kiss before helping unbuckle his brace, once more touching only the leather and steel buckles. Setting it aside within reach should he want it, she continued to fuss: folding down the blanket for him, tucking it around him when he'd laid down, starting a little fire in the hearth, and putting out the rolls and water close by.

    She drank her second cup of tea, sitting at the end of the bed and watching him sleep for a long time while her mind wandered. The angry lines dissolved and his sharp features softened when he slept. He seemed so peaceful, and her chest tightened randomly as she watched him. Her hand slipped to where her heart should have been, silently lamenting its stillness, and decided she needed to get up and be about something lest she should slip down an emotional slope. Shuck kissed his temple and quietly slipped out.

    Shuck found Marahute first and was met with a surprisingly great deal of excitement upon learning she was pregnant. She urged the troll to secrecy on the matter but didn't go so far as to make him promise not to tell. If he deemed it appropriate, she couldn't stop him; should Heinrich need to know, it was important for the healer to know first. His excitement was undiluted, and she felt a growing sense of pride when he laid his great hand over her stomach. He surprised her, reminiscing on his own family and tribe, and Shuck listened in quiet awe, realizing that such words between fae were rare and special. She left his company in utter happiness and went out the rest of her day with a smile that couldn't be deterred by even the most persistent advances of Heinrich's men.

    Kitchen work wasn't difficult, and she picked up the various tasks easily enough. She was rather good with her hands, she was finding. Trahaearn had shown her how to skin rabbits and squirrels, and the men working in the kitchen taught her how to wash and cut various vegetables, how to hold a paring knife to peel potatoes and apples, and to sharpen a knife on a whetstone. One watched over her shoulder, braiding back her hair into a series of braids that he coiled at the nape of her neck to keep them out of the way, something she could do on her own in the future. She listened to their banter and stories with that perpetual smile, enjoying the sense of normalcy that hung around this place.

    When Heinrich found her, she was near bursting with the peace of his camp. She'd noticed an influx of kitchen activity as evening fell, but didn't understand until he led her by the hand out into the courtyard. In a similar fashion to the small celebration they'd been having when last they'd been here, tables and benches were being set out and a few men were tuning up ragged instruments. Something was cooking over the fire and smelled divine, and Heinrich put a cup of cider in her hand.

    "I should have my tea," she told him, but he'd turned and was going toward the stables. Shuck nibbled her lip nervously before pushing her cider into the hands of the closest man she remotely recognized with a hurried, "Hold this for me," and snuck up to the room and quietly filched a sachet of tea and her cup. She hesitated at the door, looking down at her clothes and having a moment of vanity before changing into her long-sleeved black dress, struggling with the tight fit out of stubbornness not to wake Joseph and finally managing to get herself into it and slinking off to the kitchen. She didn't dare ignore Yaste's instructions, and stood in the kitchen and chugged the piping hot tea as quickly as she could bear to before washing the cup and returning to festivities.

    Returning to the courtyard at the same time that Trahaearn was appearing, she took her cup once more and patted the fellow on the shoulder by way of thanks, and crossed the group to where the warlock joined them.

    "I saw so many festivals from my hill," she observed with a beaming grin. "Did you have many celebrations at Court? Did we, I mean -- you and Malice?"

    Shuck sipped her cider, doing her best to hide her red cheeks from mangling that question so badly. They'd spoken often of their relationship prior, but it was never easy figuring out how to talk about it properly.

    // Joseph Meier // Trahaearn //
     
  11. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    Mal had slipped out of her room and retrieved her cup of cider, to which he took a peek inside to see how much was present. His eyes fell on her knowingly as they went between her and the cup. She could have a little, and by little was likely what was in this mug and that was it.

    She asked him though if they had participated in any celebrations, which made him chuckle a little. Odd timing for her to ask when he had only just been thinking on such a thing.

    "Actually yes, quite a few of them really. I was actually just thinking on a similar surprise party the Sidhe had thrown, granted that one would put this one to shame considering it went on for two years." Trahaearn informed her quietly, his eyes darting back to the fiddle as it made a sour note. His gaze fell back to Mal as another memory of a party made him smile a mere moment.

    "Another such party had been thrown which we partook of fermented fruit. I lost a good fifty years worth of memories on that one, apparently having had a short affair in that time. You informed me of it, but I still doubt that it actually happened." He added, and while it seemed like a joke, his face was completely casual about the matter.

    "Excuse me just a moment Mal, I really dislike seeing a fiddle in such disrepair. It's sad music must be remedied." Trahaearn interjected as he stepped away and gave her his mug.

    With the poor condition of the fiddle ruining the second part of his idea, he set about asking the men for supplies. Likely confusing them as he asked around for mink oil. Finally procuring a bit, he scooped a bit of sawdust that was halfway dry from a doorway, and hollered to a handful of other men to find him a wire.

    When the materials were gathered in his hands, a smirk appeared as his hands clapped together, and the materials seemed to...change? He approached the fiddle player, interrupting the song as he used to fingers in his clasped hands to summon the man over to him.

    "Give me that fiddle a moment, if you would please." Trahaearn asked kindly. The man scoffed and extended the old thing to him, his hands opened and took hold of the beaten instrument. His hands caressed the instrument, the strange substance in his hands slowly transferring to the object.

    A soft pang sounded as a piece seemed to straighten itself out on the lower bout, straighten being a relative term since the belly had filled out once again from being a bit caved in. Next was the neck, which was a bit warped halfway through. His hands seemed to gently straighten the angle, as if easing it back into place as though it were an injured animal.

    A hand traced where the last string should have been, and another slowly unfurled from the peg box and moved along the board until it came to rest at the tail piece. Holding the fiddle in one hand, he motioned for the bow, and received it after some prompting. Holding two fingers away from the neck and the rest of his hand, which cradled the now restored instrument, the bow sang softly as he pinched the bow hairs. The whole section seemed to become full as it trailed to the tip of the bow.

    Examining the instrument in a flourish, he examined the bow and fiddle, then carefully drew the bow across the strings. His eye twitched as it made an ill note, adjusting a peg just a little bit for a minute as he began to hum softly and tune each string slowly. When he finished, with a relaxed and contented sigh, he handed the instrument back to the player.

    "There you are sir. Please, continue." Trahaearn patted the man on the shoulder after handing off the once more pristine and beautiful fiddle. He ambled back to Mal as the band began playing once more, and the fiddle made him draw a sweet breath when he neared her.

    "Much more pleasing to the ears now. I do offer my sincerest regrets for my actions earlier, but an instrument was in distress." Trahaearn smiled as he took his mug back for a healthy drink.
     
  12. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    "Would you fuckin' look at that!" The fiddle player laughed as his instrument began to take shape once more under Trahaearn's guidance. He seemed to put twice the effort into the music now, happy to be playing a repaired instrument. Indeed it looked as if it had never undergone the trauma that had given it such sour notes. The other men in the band chuckled, thanking Trahaearn and offering him more drink. Lifted by the music, they coalesced into an actual tune, and began a more cohesive piece.

    Marahute came out of the building to watch them. The gigantic troll was a strange fixture among so many small humans, and when someone teased him by handing him a small teacup of cider, he responded by digging his mammoth tusks into the snow and flinging a great roostertail of ice over the man who'd pulled the prank, causing a peal of guffaws from the men. It turned into a small snowball fight, with humans versus the behemoth. Marahute playfully grabbed up big handfuls of snow the size of pigs, and tossed them at the men. The highwaymen giggled like schoolboys, pelting the troll with snowballs and fleeing big tusk sweeps of snow.

    The others seemed absorbed in trying to dance with one another. Half-jokingly, half serious, with many arguments about who was 'the girl'. Heinrich came toward Shuck, smiling at her. "You look ravishing, even to a blind old creature like myself." he complimented her, offering his hand. "If Trahaearn will permit, may I have this dance?"

    He led her out gently away from the rigorous snowball fight near the band, and took her hand. He guided her other hand around his waist, and began to dance with her. It was a lively, quick dance much like a reel, the sort of thing to delight and exhaust the people trying to perform it. Heinrich laughed, smiling with her. It wasn't supposed to be some feat of agility. More like drunking wheeling with men who had probably never danced seriously in their lives. They happily exchanged partners, Heinrich swapping Trahaearn for one of his scouts.

    Joseph woke to the racket, groaning and pushing himself up on his arms. What the devil was that fucker doing? He rubbed his eyes and took a sip of water, pulling himself out of bed and going to the windows. Of course they were having a snowball fight and getting drunk. Did they know the definition of peace? He was about to pull the curtains when he saw her. His Shuck, dancing. Pain lanced through him for a moment. He'd never be able to do that with her. Even on his best days with his leg, he'd never been able to dance. The agility required swift movements of the knees and ankles he just couldn't do. It hurt to see her so happy, knowing he'd never be able to do the same action with her.

    The sadness was doused with rage when he saw Trahaearn take her hand. Did the bastard never know when to back off?
     
  13. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    She listened to Trahaearn's story with an increasingly dubious expression. "Two years?" she repeated, obvious disbelief in her tone. She shook her head and rolled her eyes at the notion of a fruit so intoxicating it caused him to lose his memory for the resulting fifty years, but upon further inspection of his features, she realized that this man was entirely serious.

    "Don't tease me, Trahaearn," she insisted, swatting his chest with the back of her hand. "You're not serious." But he was entirely serious, and she was still trying to wrap her mind around the stories to mind much when he abandoned her suddenly, holding his mug automatically. Shuck watched with a measure of awe as he mended the instrument, returning with a sigh of satisfaction.

    "You're a font of surprises," she remarked, still smiling as the band picked up their playing with new vigor. "About the time I think I've figured you out, you reveal some new facet." Four thousand years of mutual history was a long time to forget something, and she sighed sharply into her cider. Hopefully, it would take less than that to learn about him all over again.

    They watched the festivities, their attention divided between the snow fight and the dancing men. Their conversation drifted around the subject of merriment and past escapades. Shuck, in particular, was interested in watching the dancers. She remarked further on the merriment she'd watched from a distance in her village, perking up when she recognized a tune and generally glowing with unadulterated excitement. Though, she was sorry Joseph was missing it and glanced up toward the window wistfully.

    It was at that moment that Heinrich swept her away from her conversation partner, and Shuck's a wildfire of color flashed over her cheeks.

    "I couldn't-- I mean, I don't--" Her protests were for naught, and she hastily set her drink down as they passed a surface. Heinrich showed her how to hold her hands, introduced her to the basic steps, and led her into the dancing. It didn't seem to matter when she missed the steps, or when she didn't know what she was doing, but she picked up the lesson quickly enough. She was a giggling mess as the men sloppily danced her between them, reeling between partners and back to Heinrich. They paused between dance changes, a few of them showing her the steps and she threw herself into it with a carefree excitement.

    It felt natural, right. Trahaearn hadn't been wrong, and she couldn't stop smiling. She saw the warlock from across the crowd, and he seemed to be having a merry time, even if he was having some difficulty with his present partner deciding who was the lead. He spotted her as well, and cut his way through the dancers to find her.

    "My good warlock," she grinned, sketching a lady's curtsy and likely doing a poor job of it. "I'm afraid I lack the court polishing to match your skill," she teased, taking his hand and promptly mucking up the steps of the new reel.

    // Joseph Meier // Trahaearn //
     
  14. Trahaearn

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    Trahaearn A Truly Heartless Man

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    It had tickled him to watch her go, and be drawn in by Heinrich no less. He was drawn into the fray shortly after though, and for a time he struggled with the men to settle who would take what role. Each had varying opinions when he arrived, which greatly amused him. After a little while of dancing she came into sight, and he cut through to her. She curtsied, and it earned her a smile.

    "My lady benefactor, in my experience, there is little you lack that cannot be made up for by myself. Or vice versa." Trahaearn explained quickly before they began to dance, a jolly sight for everyone to see. When the dance had drawn to something of a close, he made a gesture close to wait a moment to Mal before rushing to the band.

    "Do you gentlemen know how to play a Sarabande?" Traheaern began, earning a brief shaking of their heads. He chewed his lip a moment, his eyes narrowing as he thought of another.

    "How about a ritournelle? Know one?" He asked of them, still earning a shake of unknowing. "Well shit. Um-" His fingers snapped.

    "Then surely you know something in three times?" Their shaky hand gesture suggested they likely could. The pained smile was his response in kind. "Let me hear it."

    They gave it their best, and after a brief warm-up, he nodded and gave them the thumbs before asking them to wait a moment. "Play something easy until I call please."

    He made his way back to Mal, and began instructing her on the movements he was about to make her do. He gave her a bow, and asked her to repeat the curtsy.

    "I will show you one of your favorite dances from our parties. First though, I need to teach you the moves." He informed her as he stood close and arranged her as she should be. Her left hand was set upon his right shoulder, his left gently taking her right before he set his right hand on her shoulder blade from under the arm. His mind drifted for a moment, remembering the first time that Malice had taught him to dance at thirteen for court.

    It was funny that here, as they were, that he would be teaching her how to dance. Strange thing fate.

    "You were the epitome of grace in this dance when you were practiced." He spoke quietly as he began them in a twirl, gently dipping before beginning another twirl. His mind raced at the feeling of dancing with her once more, his only sorrow that she did not readily know the dance they were to perform.

    He made a whistle that had the band beginning the music as they dipped once more, and began to twirl. It all started off slowly, and eventually led into him sending her out into an underarm turn, guiding her back into his hands as they slowly picked up in speed. The twirled about for a moment as his eyes narrowed.

    Was she-? No surely not. Trahaearn though to himself as they continued, spinning her out and back again as they wove into a twirl before softly reversing their dance into the mid portion of their dance. His head canted a bit as that odd notion struck again that her step had gone there before he had thought to guide her.

    Ah well, likely just memories finding their way in.
     
  15. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Joseph wanted to pretend it wasn't happening, but cold anger was burning low in his heart. He wanted to think it was just innocent fun but...there she was, dancing and laughing with him. Hatred and jealousy swirled in his heart. Four thousand years weren't enough, he had to dog her to the ends of the earth? He gritted his teeth, and sat down on the bed. He dared not brave the stairs again; his leg hurt enough already. His leg. That damn leg. The thing holding him back from being down there. He hated it. He hated being what he was, he hated Trahaearn, he hated her laughing. He stubbornly and hatefully stripped his brace off and threw it across the room. He had some horrible mad thought. He sat on the bed, stared at his leg...and willed it to be normal. His magic always bucked against this trend. Boggart magic could change a form but it was only wearing clothing. It couldn't change the man underneath.

    This time, with hatred fueling him and the desire to be normal stronger than ever, he stared at his leg. Modifying one body part hurt, but with his leg the pain was unholy. He saw the ankle crackle and shift loudly, his very bones moving to the spots they were supposed to be but had never been in. Tendons tore, rearranged themselves, and held fast. Muscles he'd never used burned and stretched, suddenly called into action. He straightened out his foot, trying to make it match the normal one. He was sweating bullets and his teeth were clenched so hard he was afraid he'd chip one. He didn't dare do so much as blink as his tibia and fibula untwisted into a normal position.

    He tried to hold the magic. For a brief, shining moment, his leg was normal. Completely and utterly normal. The feeling was titanic. It was as if he was trying to hold boulders from careening off a cliff by the force of his will alone. He stood, fighting, and put weight on his leg. He would hold this. He took a step, eyes narrowed. He was going to walk down there on two completely normal legs, and thrash Trahaearn....then dance with his Shuck.

    The magic broke. His ankle snapped sharply inward and his foot curled up like parchment over a candle flame. He fell, out before he he hit the floor.

    Downstairs the merryment wore on late into the night. The men pulled out crates of whiskey when the cider and beer ran dry, and Heinrich threw an arm around Trahaearn's neck. "The men are proposing strip poker. Why don't we show them exactly how it's done?" he proposed with a chuckle, pushing a bottle of whiskey into his hand. The men were uproarously drunk. Marahute was carrying a man in his tusks, the poor sap passed out to the world with a smile on his face. The troll approached Shuck, smiling at her.
    "I think it's time we got some rest and let them build up headaches for tomorrow." the troll proposed.

    "Oh come on, play strip poker with us!" one of the men grabbed Marahute's hand.
    "He's got a dick the size of the Lord's leg he has." Another snickered loudly in Trahaearn's ear. The troll sighed and shook his head a bit, just enough to rock the man in his tusks, and followed them.
     
  16. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    She was, admittedly, relieved when their reel ended and he stood her aside, gesturing for her to wait a moment while he went to speak to the fiddler. Shuck retrieved her drink and watched as he discussed something with the musicians for a few minutes, seeming to have some difficulty before at last settling on something.

    "What are you doing?" she asked when he returned, and he deftly plucked the drink from her hand and set it aside. She curtsied again as he instructed, put her hands where he showed her, and followed steps. He described the dance to her, and she glanced around, nodding as she mentally mapped them. A favorite of hers, of Malice's. Shuck followed his practice steps, counting them in her mind to the beat of the music. She practiced the turn, the dip, and the twirl, and wasn't sure what she'd agreed to do, but laughed off her nerves. Nobody here would know any different if she messed up, at least.

    "Hopefully I don't disappoint my own memory," she said with a nervous smile. As the music started, she focused more on the steps and laughed it off when she messed up. But as the song carried on, slowly building, she felt a strange familiarity. Her foot preceded Trahaearn's, and she wasn't sure if it had been a lucky guess or if she'd... remembered. It happened again, and again, and the warlock's eyes burned with something she couldn't quite grasp. He smiled knowingly, and she had to look away.

    But the dilemma of where the steps were coming from couldn't dilute the pleasure of the dance. She laughed as he dipped her, her dress unfurled as he twirled her out, and she giggled in delight when he lifted her. Their steps hastened, and as the song came to a close, she stood back with a heaving chest and curtsied once more.

    Her eyes were wild and her face hurt from smiling. She sat down to catch her breath, cradling the same cup of cider. It had lasted her this long, and she knew it was all the more she should have, but she sat back and watched the men continue to dance with a sigh. Heinrich's men were slowly getting drunker and drunker, which somehow made it easier to thwart their advances -- on the dance floor she sidestepped their would-be groping and sitting near Marahute seemed to deter any attempts off the dance floor. Her eyes kept drifting up toward the window, but she let the festivities draw her away from any guilty thoughts.

    When the dancing wore down, she was pleasantly exhausted. Shuck couldn't remember having this much fun in one evening, and she was feeling right guilty as she said her good nights to the men. Marahute proposed turning in, and she agreed.

    "Good night, gentlemen," she said with a final curtsy to the group. She shook her head at Trahaearn and Heinrich, and waved to Marahute as he was persuaded into further shenanigans, even if Shuck didn't know what "strip poker" was. She stole a plate (promising herself she'd return it to the kitchen proper in the morning) and picked from leftovers a fine selection for Joseph. She was tired, but after spending an evening having fun with everyone else, nothing sounded better than lounging beside for a pre-bedtime chat and snack. It was that image in her mind that put a smile on her lips as her aching, burning legs carried her up the steps to their room.

    That smile, however, vanished the moment she opened the door. Shuck nearly dropped the plate in her haste to put it down as she rushed into the room, falling to her knees beside Joseph. Placing her hands on his face, she wiped away the hair that clung to his sweating face.

    "Joseph? Joseph, wake up," she urged, panic and guilt coloring her voice. Her hands frantically roamed over his body, checking his wounds and feeling for his heart and making sure he was breathing. His magic was misbehaving, and when he didn't respond, she felt fear gripping her like a cold hand.

    She should have been there. If she'd been there this wouldn't have happened -- whatever this was.

    But it wasn't something that she could fix. Shuck tried to straighten out her panicking mind. Though she was reluctant to leave him, she couldn't very well carry him. Swallowing her panic, she shot down the hall, taking the stairs as quickly as she dared while gripping the rail. She ran back into the courtyard, turning and trying to figure out which way she'd seen the troll going just a few minutes prior. It had only been a few minutes ago; why was that so hard to remember suddenly?

    "Marahute!" she yelled, finally taking off in a line toward where she'd thought she'd seen him go. "Marahute!" Panicked tears were already burning down her cheeks, had been since before she'd even left the room.

    // Joseph Meier // Trahaearn //
     
  17. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Thankfully, Marahute had only got as far as settling the unconscious man in his tusks in a cot before he heard Shuck calling for him. The troll hurried outside to her, putting his hand on her shoulder. “Show me.” He said simply, following her back upstairs. He had to be careful in the narrow hallways; such passages were built for humans and not trolls. He carefull herded himself inside the room and picked up Joseph, settling him back in bed and looking at his leg.

    “Nothing to worry about.” Marahute told her. “A misuse of magic; he’s attempted to straighten his leg. Boggart magic cannot change a person, it’s only a cloak someone can use temporarily. Permanent changes are something the magic just can’t hold.” He patted Joseph’s cheek and blew warm air onto his face.

    Joseph inhaled sharply and gagged, covering his mouth and nose. “Serves you right. You know better.” Marahute chided him, picking up the brace and handing it to him. The magic’s flickering calmed, and after a few minutes of Joseph being conscious stopped altogether. He put on his brace, thoroughly chagrined. He ran his fingers through his limp hair and looked at Shuck. “Don’t you make her feel guilty for this. It’s your own pigheadedness that’s done this.” Marahute said sternly. He turned to pat Shuck, and slowly navigated out of the room.

    Joseph cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. For worrying you. He’s right though.” He told her and stood up carefully. With the brace back on and his leg settled, he felt significantly better. He looked at the plate of food she’d brough him and kissed her. “Snack before bed?” He asked, taking her hand. “I heard the party out there. Heinrich must have gotten an army convoy or something else equally insane for him to be in such a good mood.”

    He felt guilty. The troll was right. It was a stupid idea, and he was paying for it. It didn’t mean he’d ever admit the reason he’d tried to do it, but he tried to do his best to calm Shuck. She looked so upset. He kissed her forehead and set aside a spot on the bed for her. “You’re not too frozen so you didn’t get dragged into the snowball fight, I see.” He told her with a soft smile.
     
  18. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    Shuck ran toward the barracks, her eyes ignoring everything but the figure of the Troll as he appeared, and she nearly sagged with relief at the sight of him.

    "Marahute, it's Joseph," she managed to say between breaths. "His magick is misbehaving. I don't know what's wrong."

    Hurriedly leading him back, she dashed up the stairs ahead of him and was kneeling beside Joseph when he came into the room. She was barely holding back sobs, and her tears were flowing freely. Even when Marahute informed her that it was nothing serious, she hovered beside Joseph with a wobbling lip, anxious.

    But Joseph woke up, and it was as if Marahute had lifted his foot from her chest, all of the tension going out of her. She didn't rise and didn't turn bid Marahute goodbye, only sat beside Joseph with her eyes closed and her head inclined forward. She was still attempting to gather her scattered wits and hadn't tried to move from the spot when he offered her a hand. Shuck didn't say anything -- wasn't sure she could say anything without her voice breaking and all that guilt coming out of her. She only looked up at him, her silver eyes watery and her mouth trembling. Joseph didn't have to make her feel anything; she was already guilty.

    It took her a moment, but Shuck rose and her hand slipped free from his as she went to pick up the plate. She set it down in the spot beside him on the bed and turned away, tending to the fire which was now just a bed of glowing coals.

    For a while, she said nothing, unable to look at him as she built up a fire. Shuck didn't know what had put Heinrich into such a good mood, and thinking about how happy she'd been as well made her stomach twist. She shook her head when he remarked that she wasn't cold, hadn't been in the snowball fight, and she felt a renewed pang of guilt that he'd known there had been one. She intermittently sniffled as she wiped away her tears, sitting on her heels with her face to the fire.

    "I'm sorry," she said softly after what felt like an eternity in silence. Shuck looked over her shoulder at him, fresh tears already shining in her eyes. She couldn't make sense of what he'd been doing to make his magic retaliate but in the end, it didn't much matter what had happened because the guilt would have been the same. Shuck rose, only to kneel in front of him and take his hands in his lap. Laying her forehead against them, she shook her head.

    "I wasn't here, and I should have been," she lamented into his lap. "I should have at least checked on you, but I was having fun and I let them convince me to stay against my better senses."

    Her shoulders shook as she drew a ragged breath. "Yaste and Oor and Heinrich were right. I'm foolish and selfish, and I don't care for you like you care for me -- like I should care for you. I almost lost you twice, and still, all I can do is think of myself before you."

    She wasn't holding back anymore, letting her fear and guilt go in his lap. This wasn't just a result of this evening's panic, but something that had been pent up for a long time. It had begun in this very room, hidden away in the shadows, and had built at every turn of their journey since.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  19. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    It broke his heart to watch her cry like that. Joseph gently shooed her back a bit so he could join her on the floor, carefully straightening out his leg. He pulled her head to his chest and kissed her hair, letting her cry. He just held her, and rocked her as she bled emotion. When she had calmed down a bit he tilted her head to look at him. “Listen to me.” He said, lovingly but sternly. “This was not your fault. Even if we were sitting here listening to Trahaearn be a drunken fool, there’s a good chance I would have tried it. You didn’t do this. I did. I was happy seeing you be happy. I like seeing you laugh. If they weren’t getting naked and vomiting right now....which if I’m reading the sounds right it sounds like they’re at that stage...I’d send you back down there.”

    He kissed her, moving to a more comfortable position to hold her. “I never want to hold you back. Ever. I refuse to. Just because this shit of a leg is my burden doesn’t mean it has to be yours. I want you to dance, and be happy. I love you. Me doing stupid shit to myself has nothing to do with you.” He kissed her nose. “I wish I was down there dancing with you but it’s one of the few things I’ll never be able to do. All of this shit that happened to me I chose. I went hunting because I wanted to show up Trahaearn, and got myself stabbed by a maniac. I tried to straighten my leg because I wanted to be down there with you and those morons.”

    Joseph smiled softly and nuzzled her. “Come on. Let’s not spoil a beautiful night. Especially with you wearing my favorite dress.” He put his forehead to hers. He’d still have to throttle Trahaearn for dancing with her, and his hatred of the warlock was a long time coming, but tonight he needed to encourage Shuck.
     
  20. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    Shuck curled against his chest when he slid to the floor with her. Even now, when he'd been hurt, all she could do was cry. The realization only made her cry harder, exhausting herself and her awful feelings until she fell quiet in his arms. Her eyes were bloodshot when she looked up at him, obliging him when he tipped her chin.

    He was too patient, too kind with her. She hadn't done anything to deserve how gentle and understanding he was with her. All she'd done was drag him into this mess, involving him in her problems and putting his life in danger to be beside her. Yet he'd somehow come to love her -- petty, stupid, and selfish as she was. It was cruel and unfair of the world to give him to her; after all that he'd already suffered, he deserved someone better than an unseelie fae who couldn't love him back.

    She wanted to say that she wouldn't have gone, that she would have stayed with him, but she knew better. Without this lesson, she'd have gone and she may have never learned it.

    His counterargument was valid, but it didn't assuage her guilt. Not entirely, anyway. Shuck lowered her eyes, curling her hand against his chest as he spoke. She pressed her forehead into his and nodded, her eyes closed as she drew an uneven breath before she pulled away. Standing, she quickly wiped her face before helping him stand. Even if it was in front of the fire, sitting on the floor wouldn't be good for him. For his sake, she swallowed her guilt and sat beside him.

    But she didn't know what to say to him, where to go from there. Talking about the festivities didn't seem as appealing anymore. Sharing the stories she'd learned about herself from Trahaearn didn't seem right, either. Joseph loathed him and she was smart enough to know he was wildly jealous of her warlock; speaking his name into such a delicate moment wouldn't help that.

    Which left her with only a few things to say, if only to help alleviate some of the feelings between them.

    "I don't care if you can't dance with me. It doesn't matter," she said softly. Shuck reached for his hand with one of hers, the other resting on his thigh as she looked down into his dark eyes. "All that matters is that I--"

    Pain flashed through her mouth, as hot as if she'd bitten down on coals. She sucked in a breath, unable to say the words she wanted to most. Thinking and knowing were two different things, and her mouth refused to let her smudge the line between them. Shuck swallowed her own regret and frustration and let it go.

    "That you love me," she finished, her voice a tone of sorrow rather than conviction. She sat up and pushed his plate closer to him.

    "Heinrich got some turkeys and some of the men made the little pies. I peeled the potatoes; the men in the kitchen taught me how to hold a paring knife today. Are you thirsty? If you don't want water, I can get you some cider or tea from the kitchen."

    She finally managed to look back up at him, a small smile returning to her expression.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  21. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Joseph kissed her gently. “I know.” He told her and put his arm around her waist. He ate, cuddled up with her quietly. He felt guilty as well; she’d been so joyful. He’d had to bring her down again. She was sad because of him, and the burden he was. He finished his food and set the plate aside, pulling her close and smiling. He was hurting, inside and out. His leg hurt and his heart hurt that he’d made her feel so guilty.

    “I may not know how to dance..” he purred in her ear. “...but I know another set of moves we can do that doesn’t require any music.” They hadn’t made love in days, and he was finally feeling good enough. He needed to have that connection with her again. His hand slid down her stomach, and he stopped. He blinked.

    Was that..?

    He couldn’t help but laugh. Pure and utter joy filled him. He could feel the lump! He could feel their child! He kissed her eagerly and grabbed her hand, pressing it to her belly. “That’s her. That’s our daughter.” He whispered in wonder.
     
  22. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    He ate his food, and Shuck stretched out on the bed, propping her head in her hand and idly touching him with the other. They'd been so restricted with their travel, either separated by layers of fur or confined to the narrow space of their little tent, and it was refreshing to have some room to sprawl out. She watched him, her fingers fiddling with the edge of his sleeve or resting on his thigh while her eyes traced the silhouette of his features.

    When he was finished, she curled into his side and draped her arm over his chest. Toying with the collar of his shirt, she angled her head up when he began to speak, and a small, warm giggle rumbled out of her.

    "You must be feeling much better," she remarked with a small chuckle. Shuck's hands slid up his neck, tipping his head forward so she could kiss just behind his ear, but he paused suddenly. She sat back with a look of concern and paused when she saw the wonder and awe on his face. Then, following his eyes, she looked down her body at the gentle rise of her stomach.

    Oh. In the last week, she'd finally moved beyond the point of looking like she'd just had a robust meal into the slightest suggestion of an expecting mother. She'd noticed, of course, because her pants were fitting a bit differently.

    "Technically," she said with a wry smile as she twisted to lie more on her back, "that is my intestines." Shuck giggled, laying her hand over his. Sliding their hands lower, she positioned his hand to cup the rise below her navel. The subtle bump was more obvious with their hands cradling it, a quaint knoll rising up from the black wool of her dress.

    "That, however, is our child." Shuck smiled up at him. She was strangely proud, seeing the way he looked at the first proof of their creation.

    // Joseph Meier
     
  23. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Joseph chuckled and let her guide his hand, lowering his head and kissing the gentle bump of their child. “Hello little one.” He said softly, with a heavy voice. Tears shone in his eyes when he looked up at her. “She’s going to be beautiful.” He said softly, kissing it again and smiling. “What will we name her? She’s going to be here before we know it, and she’s got to have a name.”

    He put his head in her lap, looking fondly at the bump. He roamed his fingers over it, shifting onto his side so he could cuddle her properly. He laid his cheek on her legs. “You’ve got a lot of uncles little one. We’re at your uncle Heinrichs.” Joseph told the bump. “Your mother is the most beautiful creature in the world even if she is hard on herself.”
     
  24. Shuck

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    Shuck Not a Church Grim

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    That pride swelled when he looked up at her with his eyes shimmering, and she reached up and brushed her fingers over his hair. Of course, they were going to be beautiful. Shuck didn't voice her opinion, but their babe would be fae -- and greater fae such as herself weren't born ugly. Though, she hoped they retained a bit of their father's looks. They both had strong jaws and sharp angles, but perhaps they'd get his doe eyes? Or perhaps the strong plane of his brow? How much had she taken from her parents, she wondered.

    "A name?" she said absently, returning from her wandering thoughts. Shuck frowned. She didn't know many names. The few faerie names she knew were either nonsense in her language or translated literally to things like blue leaf or laughter. Malice was probably Irenätig -- evil will, she mused. And the only human names she knew were from the cemetery. Helne, Sinri, Falk, Eldin, Gabin, Willa, Finrel... Shuck didn't know if they were good names. Nothing like Joseph and Paul, to be sure.

    "And your father is clever as a fox, even if it gets him into trouble," she added with a small giggle. Turning her head to look at him, her eyes were molten. Her fingers drifted down his shoulder and over his ribs, and her playful smile turned serious.

    // Joseph Meier //
     
  25. Joseph Meier

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    Joseph Meier Resilient as the Wolf

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    Joseph lifted his head and kissed her, his hands going to undo the fastens on her dress. “You’re radiant...you deserved to be worshipped like a goddess.” He purred to her, kissing her neck. He cupped her baby bump and ran his hand up her chest. He was feeling better, and determined to reestablish their connection. He was filled with joy, being reminded of what was coming.

    In the morning, he couldn’t stop smirking to himself. He made his way downstairs for coffee and found Heinrich alone in the kitchen, nursing a hangover. “Marahute said you were in a bad way...what happened?” Heinrich mumbled.
    “Nothing.” Joseph shrugged, filling a mug and taking a seat next to Heinrich. “Did she tell you she’s due in a few months?”

    Heinrich cocked an eyebrow. “You move fast. Congratulations. I know you’ve wanted a family again for a while. I’ll have to tell the men. We can throw her a proper shower...with less liquor.” He chuckled. “Your warlock flitted off with a few of my best archers. I hope they can still sit in the trees.”
    Joseph made a face, but said little. As was expected he was put to work repairing armor while everyone was expected to help clean up the party and do the daily camp chores. Heinrichs men were taking the news of a babe with aplomb, and the second night they even managed a cake with “Babee” written on it in hazardously piped font. They gifted her little things; a pot of cream for her skin, crystals for luck, a few donated coins or other small objects. Heinrich gifted Shuck with something even Joseph was surprised at.

    It was a rapier. Thin, long and flexible with the speed of an asp. It wasn’t the brute force of Trahaearn’s sword, but it was faster. Faster, Heinrich told her, always trumped strength. It came with a scabbard and a belt for her to attach it to. He gave her a few basic lessons; ways to stand properly, how to shift her weight and hold it between her legs. How to dart in and out, killing with grace and skill rather than force. They were basic lessons, but Heinrich gave her ways to practice. Trahaearn would be a good sparring partner, as he could demonstrate better than anyone the value of speed. It would be an easy weapon to wield even with a babe in her arms...if it came to that.

    The last day, Joseph felt well enough to ride, but Heinrich insisted he sit on the sled for one more day. They were kitted out in plenty of dried meat, vegetables and jars of dried fruit. Heinrich knowingly gave Shuck back her canister when Joseph wasn’t looking. Full of venison blood this time, he reassured her.

    Joseph bid his goodbyes and rolled his eyes at the scouts pawing Trahaearn for goodbye snogs. They flirtatiously invited him around again, giving him winks over their shoulders. Joseph rolled his eyes and settled in his sled. “We’re losing daylight.” He warned.
     

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