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Thread: (M) The Winter Thaw (Stormy & Siks)

  1. #191
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    Volare had almost convinced himself that selling his sword and armor were their best chance of survival. Whatever honor and reputation he had upon retiring from the guard would be gone should he ever return to a Snow Elf settlement. Not that he was planning on ever returning to Snow Elf lands, but you never know what the Two Brothers have in mind for their younglings.

    He heard Arayna enter the house and couldn't bring himself to look at her as he heard her look upon his gear tossed onto the table ready to be sold. The shame was too much to bear especially to the woman he had bedded and was beginning to feel something for. Even old fools like him can have their pride wounded still. He shook his head slowly sending up prayers for help and guidance.

    He had just finished the prayer when he felt Arayna wrap him in a hug and place something cool and heavy into his tightly clenched hand. Opening it his jaw nearly dropped, a perfect sapphire bright as the northern lights and a sign that the Gods hadn't forsaken him and his charge. Tears began falling from his cheeks as he turned kissing the woman deeply on her lips lifting her up from the ground a little and holding her there for a solid minute before he put her down. "The Two Brothers smile upon us lassie, as bright and gay as the summer sun." He quickly gasped and looked out the window. The stores in Sāmhach would be closing soon and he needed to sell this godsend before the brothers decided to take it all back and have a good laugh at them. Grabbing his greatsword he threw it over his shoulder and gave the She-Elf another kiss on the lips. "I'll be back soon, I need to sell this before the shops close and some other misfortune befalls us." With that he shot through the door and ran to the stable grabbing the nearest horse and roared from the barn not even bothering with a saddle.


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  2. #192
    The Dragon Lady
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    Arayna returned the kiss deeply until she was returned to her feet. She watched as he grabbed his greatsword and headed out the door, calling out after him as he ran to the stable. “Ride swift, Volare” then more to herself softly, “stay safe and come back to me…” The she-elf watched from the door until he thundered out of sight. With a soft sigh, she turned back to the kitchen table and smiled. At least his honor as a warrior was still intact.

    Still, she had to get to the bottom of their woes before he returned. Using the knowledge of traps and snares she had gathered from one of his books and had been permitted to practice under Volare’s supervision, she set a few snares along the edge of the treeline and returned to the house to wait. She couldn’t reverse the effects of the hex with the blood of a rabbit, but it would be enough to help her discern who was responsible for their misfortune.

    Looking back to his armor, she tapped her bottom lip and smiled. She had learned many new things from the books he had at his disposal during the long evenings, one of which was how to properly care for weapons and armor. Needing something to fill her time while she waited, she decided to put it to use by polishing his armor before returning it to the rack. She kept at her task until she could see her own reflection in the metal.

    Once the task was finished, she stepped out to check the snares and found that one had been successful in trapping a small rabbit. Putting it out of its suffering with a quick strike to the head, she freed it from the snare and brought it to the center of the field. With great meticulousness, she drug her hands through the dirt to form the circling symbols necessary for the scrying spell she intended to use. She then stabbed the rabbit and let the blood flow as she traced over the patterns in the dirt. Once every drop was drained, she tossed the carcass aside and knelt in the very center.

    Digging her hands into the dirt directly in front of her, Arayna closed her eyes and murmured her incantation. She could feel the physical drain on her body as she wove her spell, but felt the fortification of the blood she spilled. Slowly, the veiling layers lifted between her mind's eye and the originator of the hex. The visage finally became clear and Arayna immediately recognized who their tormentor truly was.

    It was not an enemy of Volare's at all… it was the one who was meant to be her own sister-wife. The spell was broken in an instant and her slender hand covered her mouth as the realization hit her full force. All of their suffering, all of their strife… it was her own fault.

    How could she tell Volare that she was once again at the heart of his troubles? He would be furious. He would shut her out, leave her to whatever fate the wilds had instore for her. With eyes brimming with tears, she dashed away all traces of her blood magic scrying before moving to toss the carcass away into the trees.

    She had to tell him, lest their misfortune continue… but how? The dread of it clutched at her heart like a steely fist as a hand held her small swell protectively.
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  3. #193
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    The sound of Grim's heavy tired hoofbeats were heard coming down the dirt road shortly after nightfall. The moon was just peeking over the mountains above Volare's Farm, the night was cool the faint promise of an early winter creeping down the fertile valley. Animals scattered as the groan of a cart mingled with the heavy somewhat ragged breaths of the old war horse. Obviously he had been ridden hard and the road was rough, especially hauling a large supply cart.

    The Snow Elf led his horse and newly acquired cart back to the barn unhooking his horse. Grim let out a thankful sigh and shook his fine coat flinging droplets of sweat around the barn and Matron. Volare let out a sigh as well before he took Grim's place and grasped the crossbars putting his mighty muscled arms to work pushing the cart before him towards his larger back door. It took him a few minutes, but soon he brought the cart as close to his house as he could.

    He let out a tired sigh and grasped two of the hefty supply sacks flinging them over his shoulders pushing his shoulder into the door entering his house. "Arayna, the Brothers smiled upon you the day they sent you here. That Sapphire netted enough supplies to last us into the spring!" He dropped the heavy bags onto the floor in the kitchen before heading back to the cart to fetch the rest.


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  4. #194
    The Dragon Lady
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    Arayna had spent the rest of her wait fretting and pacing through the house. She had to tell him, there was no way around it. He would be livid once he knew the truth of it though, of why they were suffering and exactly what she had done to be sent off as she had been.

    She was almost ready to start packing her things, certain he would cast her out when she heard the sound of a cart drawing near to the house. She had just stepped back out through the bedroom door as Volare stepped in through the back door and called out to her before dropping two of the supply sacks and moving to collect more. Hastily wiping away her tears and putting on her best smile, she hurried through the house to see what help she could offer with unloading.

    "Then we should thank the Brothers for their unexpected blessings. There will be time enough for that later though, let's get this cart unloaded."

    Volare noticed the puffiness in her eyes, but thought it was just the worry from almost being sentenced to a rough few months afield hunting and foraging for supplies to survive the harsh winters of the North. There was ten similarly large bags in the cart and a large cart that might require both of them to lift. "Aye, some of the fresher supplies are perishable, but most I grabbed were dried or salted just in case our misfortunes continue." Hefting two more bags he repeated his strange waddling walk.

    Arayna hadn't fully realized exactly how much it would take to see them through the winter months until she saw the numerous sacks of provisions. Her brow raised in surprise, but his mention of their misfortunes continuing made her smile falter as she moved past her. Biting her lip nervously, she moved to pull one of the sacks from the cart.

    It was still heavy and cumbersome for her, but the past month's hauling hay bales and water buckets had built a bit more strength for her. They continued like this until the cart was nearly unloaded, leaving only the large cart to retrieve. Nodding toward it, she asked "what's in that one?"

    Volare wiped his brow and gave a tired smile thumping it heartily. "A surprise, but will need your help with it. Here grab an end use both hands." He grabbed one side waiting for the woman to grab her end.

    "A surprise?" Arayna repeated, quirking a brow and giving Volare an amused but skeptical look. He had never struck her as the type to bother with surprises. It seemed old dogs can learn new tricks, the thought made her chuckle as she moved to the other side and found a good hold. On his mark, they hefted it between them and carried it inside.

    As they carried the box between them the warrior nodded lightly and gave a low grunt as he guided them to the pantry door and put it down. "Aye, I know it hasn't been easy for you being out here with me. Even in the military we got rewards for good work, so I just thought it would be nice to do something like that." Picking up a knife from the counter her pried it gently underneath the lid and popped the seams before slowly lifting the lid up revealing horse supplies mostly. But sitting neatly atop a box of fine nail was a medium sized bundle wrapped in white cloth. Lifting it up he opened the thick paper and revealed a fur cloak, but not just any fur cloak it was made of pure white fur likely from either a deer or wolf. It was extremely soft and the inside was lined with a black satin like fabric. He draped it over the woman's shoulders smiling some. "I know it's not as fine as what you likely had back in Stormgard, but...I thought you'd like it." He looked down smiling sheepishly.

    She watched with curious eyes as Volare pried open the lid and withdrew the medium bundle. As the thick paper was pulled back to reveal the beautiful furred cloak, white as new fallen snow and as soft as a swaddling blanket. Her breath caught at the sight of it, a trembling hand lifting to her lips as he affectionately draped it over her shoulders. Her throat felt suddenly tight as a thick sheen of tears filled her eyes almost instantly.

    They had already begun a steady roll freely down her cheeks by the time she was able to squeak out her words between a series of quiet hitching sobs. "You… bought this… for me?" Arayna couldn't even meet his gaze in that moment for the shame she felt and her svelte frame soon shook as the intensity of her sobbing nearly doubled.

    Volare's jaw dropped, this wasn't the reaction he was expecting. Granted it's been many years since he's given a woman a gift at all...let alone such an expensive one. Did he do something wrong? Was it too much too soon? Did it remind her of her past and how far she's fallen from grace? He had not clue and after standing there a minute or so his mouth open in shock and his hands clenching and uncleanching in indecision. Eventually he did the only thing he could of he wrapped the woman in a tight hug and apologized profusely. "I'm sorry lass, I really am. I -I can take it back tomorrow if you want!"

    The instant his arms were around her, she clung to him and buried her face against his chest. She was about to bare her soul and confess her sins and here he stood thinking he had been the one in the wrong. "The cloak is beautiful, Volare" she managed between sobs, "but it's far more than I deserve." She was overtaken by another bout of sobbing before she was able to continue, "It's my fault," she finally managed to croak, "your illness, the harvest, all of it… Brothers burning, it's all my fault!" Another round of sobs shook her as her hold on him tightened as though afraid he would shove her aside. "I'm sorry, Volare! I'm so, so sorry!"

    The surprises continue. Volare was quite lost, but the woman's tears and rocking sobs affected him tears beginning to well up in his own eyes. "How is any of this your fault?" He asked resting his chin on top of her head his powerul arms pulling her closer trying to rubbing her back and arms comfortingly.

    Arayna took a few hitching breaths, trying to collect herself enough to tell him. He would hate her for it, she knew he would. Once he knew exactly why she was sent away, he'd cast her out just like everyone else had. Dread coiled tight in the pit of her stomach over the flawed certainty of it and she shook her head, suddenly pulling away as if preparing for the reaction she knew would come.

    "While you were gone… I-I-I cast a scrying spell to see who was behind it all…" She took another handful of shaky breaths and continued, "I was sent here because… because… I poisoned the Mer I was meant to marry. Our tormentor isn't an enemy of yours at all, it's the woman who was meant to be my sister wife…" She shook her head again, hugging herself as she took a step back from him. "This is all happening because of what I've done..."

    At first an ember of rage did begin to build up in his breast. The woman he had opened his home up under the pretense of "educating" her was a kin killer! And the shit that had been ruining his way of life and livelihood was little more than petty noble troubles. He had more than enough of those when he was Captain of the Guard. He lost track of how duels he had to mediate because one small time Chief stole another small time chief's sheep and the number of times he was solicited by ambitious She-Elves to try and use him to get close to the King so he can be tricked into bedding the woman and put and heir in their bellies to be used later.

    Holding his hands before his face his tears quickly dried up, but despite his initial rage. the more he looked at Arayna the more he saw a scared maid so used to being used and using others that genuine consequences for her actions were getting her in well over her head. And even after the short time they had shared together his heart ached at the idea of berating her or casting her out which by the looks of her hunched form she was expecting.

    It took a few more seconds, but soon he moved back to her and once more wrapped her in a strong hug. "Neither of us are Saints lass." Was all he said before lifting her head to fondly kiss her lips.

    Arayna could recognize the flash of anger as it crossed his face. She knew it was coming. The moment of silence that passed between them seemed like an eternity. She was almost ready to turn and go start packing her meager belongings when Volare moved for her. The motion made her flinch hard, not knowing exactly what to expect. When his arms wrapped her in a hug instead of striking her, she let out a shaky breath before he kissed her. Her tear-reddened eyes finally managed to meet his then. "...you don't hate me now?"

    He smiled gently brushing his thumb along her cheek moving some of the tears away. "No, I'm sure you had a good reason for what you did. I spent too many years in the politics of the courts to fault you over much. It could just as easily have been my fault as yours, I may not have killed my betrothed, but I killed a great many others each of who could easily have a vengeful loved one. While your father did his best to keep my location a secret, the walls in his great hall have ears and mouths." He leaned down kissing her deeply once more. "We just need a plan to fix this."

    His words were like an unseen weight being lifted from her shoulders and the wash of relief she felt was almost staggering. She returned his next kiss just as deeply, unspeakably thankful for his understanding. "I was not able to discern where she is exactly, but if she figures out we're on to her… things could get worse. Whatever we do must be done swiftly and precisely. " Arayna gave a small sheepish smile then, shifting in his arms a bit. "I really do love the cloak, Volare, thank you."
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  5. #195
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    The night melted away in content silence as neither Snow Elf were in the right mind to come up with a plan. But tomorrow was a new day, and would hopefully bring about new thoughts and renewed hopes. But as the pair snuggled under the covers of Volare's bed they didn't care. They were just happy to have each other and rely on one another to combat this development.


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