Red Dragon Inn
Dreamweaver's Lair => From the Dragon's Mouth => Tales of the Cat => Topic started by: Panther on January 15, 2013, 11:57:43 PM
Storm or no storm, it was going to be nice to get away for a few days, just the two of them. Not that he doubted what S'jira said, about what the fishermen and others had told her. Just that he wouldn't have needed an excuse for the pair to just go stay at the cottage she had bought for awhile, but on the other hand it was nice to have one. Otherwise he likely would not have thought to do so.
Most everything had been arranged for in case a storm did hit and snow them in for a bit. Firewood, water, food and the like were all in plentiful supply. They were just stopping by the Dragon to grab a few more personal items before heading there.
After stopping in the common room for something to drink and to grab a few more items from the kitchen stores, they headed out back to the stable to fetch Trygg, the horse he had given to her nearly four years prior.
He had never gotten along well with horses, but Trygg had been different. They seemed to have a mutual respect. He had selected Trygg because his training as a war horse, a role he never got to fully realize before he had been purchased. Trygg had the size, speed, strength and skill to defend S'jira if the need were there.
And while Trygg did seem to remember him after his absence, and the respect was even still there, the horse also seemed to make no bones about his ... displeasure ... over that absence. Often moving as if to try and step on his toes, or turning to bite at one of his ears or shoulder as he was putting the saddle on him for her. And at more than once just outright turning his back on him as he approached the stable to bring him his feed.
Tonight however, the horse was well behaved, and even seemed happy to see them. Well, happy to see her at least. He lowered his head and gave her a gentle nudge as she went up and greeted the large horse with a rub across his muzzle.
He was already saddled so he set to tying the sacks of things they were bringing to the back of the saddle, leaving one slung across his own back. And after S'jira had finished slipping Trygg a treat of some sort he climbed up to the saddle and offered her a hand up, pulling to sit before him and offering her the reigns. It was her horse after all.
He slipped an arm about her waist as she settled back against him and started Trygg out of the barn and towards one of the roads heading East. Shadows from streetlamps danced across darkened storefronts as they made their way through town.
She reveled in the closeness, cherishing it. There was no true need to guide Trygg along a path he could have travelled well enough on his own. But fingerstips were well threaded into the reins in case there was something to spook him. Twice fallen had been enough for that much attention to it.
Hooves clomped loudly against the cobbled stones and larger paving ones until they fell away and more soil and snow were beneath them. Her silence held for a long, long while until they were nearly at the great wall and moving through a break in it. Cold, she shivered and handed reins to one hand and pulled her cloak better and in closer to self.
It was hardly anything she minded and endured it without complaint. Her hair worn long and not pulled back, the only ornamentation to it was the lengthy, slender white braid that threaded down from a minutely scarred, right temple.
Already tinted features pinkened at her nose and cheeks.
Skirts of unbleached white overlaid with heavy green winter cloth hiked from their lengths that reached her boots to nearly her knees as she sat so on the large horse.
" 'dar.. what is remembered? Of your time away from this place...away from me?" The question finally found a voice after musing over it for a while's time. Slight turn of her head, she spent attention over it and sought his face. Forms shifting with Trygg's movement beneath in following the well-travelled but uneven path.
The scent of Panther was in her senses and breathed it in deeper, exhaling it in a soft, warm breath against the frigid air. Her smile was there to be seen and she eased back just a bit more while she waited for an answer from him with gentled patience.
They rode without speaking. The steady sound of hooves on stone, and then the crunch of snow beneath them same hooves kept them company. He felt her shiver slightly and as she adjusted her cloak he tried to bring his own about her as well.
He brought his chin down to rest upon her shoulder, as much to warm her cheek and block some of the chill breeze as to just be close to her. That arm about her waist giving a gentle squeeze.
She turned slightly to look at him for a moment. She asked of his time away and what did he remember before settling back in against him.
"For all intents, nothing." It was not for lack of trying.
"But I have been seeing things in my dreams, glimpses. Glimpses of places I do not recognize. And almost always looking up, as if from low to the ground."
A minute or more passed as he tried to remember more of the dreams.
"Some of them are familiar. The foothills to the West. Or maybe I just wish them to be. In either case, I do not know if these are memories, or truly just dreams."
The nearness was simply wonderful. Everything from her smile, to that gaze that found him told of how light it made a heart. Still, a sober nod was given to him when there was mention of having nothing remembered of those years away, save memories. The small one simply could not imagine it, but mourned it all the same.
She warmed when the weighted warmth of his cloak was drawn about her. "Your cloak was used, often, before Katt gifted this one and these boots last winter." Words were hesitant. Perhaps he would find that her pining for him was claustrophobic or tainted on some level. S'jira simply could not help it. Perhaps she truly was one of those those when they truly loved from a heart as well as the soul-- it was for a lifetime. "Your scent was on it...and it held memories. It held...warmth."
Wind started blowing and with it, a renewed smell of snow was there to sting at their faces. One hand took the reins and her other tucked back under the layers of his and her cloaks to where his arm was that embraced her at the waist. Slight lean of her head lilted in against the side of his face.
Even as Trygg started to protest at the feline sort riding atop him.
"There...take ease, Trygg..." Lowly, most quietly speaking with the large horse that bore them both to his back. His equine head jerked back, more than annoyed at having no seeming choice in the matter and tossed his thick, dark mane about. Then abruptly, drew up short and started to paw his right, front hoof in against the frozen, hard ground beneath. Over and over again while shifting his weight beneath them. "Calm...it is not too much further..."
Trouble frown alighted along the line of her brow and turned her face away form Panther to lean just a bit forward and try to calm the horse with her hand against his neck.
His eyes closed for a moment as her cheek pressed against his. Her words sinking in. She was concerned over his lack of memories when in truth it was likely a blessing. To not know he was away from her during all that time. She was the one who suffered during that time, not him.
He did not have a chance to come up with words that may comfort her further, let alone speak them, before Trygg decided he was once again unhappy to have him about, let alone to be bearing him upon his back.
As S'jira leaned close to the neck of the horse, he slipped his cloak from his shoulders, placing it about hers before sliding from the horse's back.
"Come Trygg, if I am too much of a burden to carry..." He was speaking to the horse, but he looked to S'jira with a wink of an eye as he did.. "perhaps you would prefer to truly stretch your legs?"
And with that he started down the path at a light jog. This was not a race, he held no illusion of being able to beat the war-horse in speed over the distance. But he could pace the animal for as long as needed, as long as S'jira kept him to a trot.
As soon as Panther had slipped down from the back of Trygg, the small one immediately mourned his absence with a brief look of protest. Already reaching over and opposite, she pulled his cloak all the more about self as all the while she watched him.
The wink surprised her into a laugh as it seemed playful, even moreso on such a cold night as it was. But it instantly cheered and warmed her. As soon as he set off at jog, she pushed her feet back and urged the horse into quick stepping that lacked anything a finer, gentler sort of horse might. It wouldn't have suited the large horse to prance about. As it was, s'jira held tight on the reins as he chewed at the bit and wanted to set off running.
Here and there, she drew Trygg to the side to avoid snow laden branches of trees and kept up with Panther. Darkly colored eyes glinted with amusement, suspecting that he must be feeling a little better.
It occurred to her then and said it aloud. "One day, it is thought to show you how fast he runs. Without reins!" Called out with laughter in her words. Had he seen them run before and without saddle or halter at all? She could not remember a time he had, but tucked it away for later to show him in the warmer months perhaps. "He is most happy when not so....bound."
She teased Panther with letting Trygg head out a bit ahead of him, then eased back to a trot again. Wind marked her cheek pinkish-red and her hair hung long and dark to blend in against his cloak.
When it seemed she might be lost in the watching of him again, she saw the cottage coming into view with its small storage outbuilding and two-stall, enclosed barn.
He could tell Trygg wanted all out bolt, that S'jira was holding him back. Mostly. He could hear her calling out over the wind as they continued on, her talking about running Trygg without saddle and reigns. It didn't surprise him he was able to do so. As a war-horse he would be trained to respond as much to subtle nudges from the rider's knees or feet as much as the reigns as the rider's hands were over otherwise occupied.
They rounded a bend in the trail and he could start to make out the outline of the cottage and barn, a sort of dark patch against the greyish-white of the snowed over ground that surrounded them.
Trygg and S'jira lunged out ahead, likely as Trygg saw how close to home he was. She was waiting for him, still atop the horse as he made it to the front of the cabin himself.
"Next time, I get a head start." He gave her a quick smile as he reached to untie the packs from Trygg's saddle. "Do you want to get him settled in the barn while I start a fire?"
He did the latch on the door and paused for a moment to watch as she led the horse the short distance over to the barn, and then went inside. The packs were left on the floor just inside the door as he moved to the table where flint and striker were, and in short order a candle was casting it's dancing light about the small room.
Moving over to the main hearth, he cleared away the ashes and set to stacking kindling and twigs. The flame from the candle was used to ignite some tinder and from there he soon had that kindling burning as well. More twigs were added, one at a time... then some sticks... and as those caught a few small pieces of split log were carefully arranged around the burning sticks by the time S'jira had returned from the barn they were starting to cast their glow and warmth in to the main room of the cottage.
His smile was met with hers that hadn't left her in some while. A nod to him, a watchful and wayward path of that attention upon him before she finally nudged her shoulder in against Trygg who was being stubborn at first about heading into the barn.
Then hooves clomped against the winter-hardened soil as they walked towards and into the simplest of barns. As soon as she had him inside, she tied the horse's reins to a post of the stall while he wasn't in it just yet. Then hurried to uncinche the saddle. Leaving the weight of it on him just a moment's time or more, she stepped up onto a stout stone and then a sturdy crate she used for just this purpose, and pulled the saddle off of Trygg's back. With care, she put the saddle over the unused stall's side and draped the blanket next to it.
Murmuring in her words to the animal, she encouraged him into his area that she had left clean; already mucked and fresh hay. She would not be in so very quickly, but did hurry a bit to brush him down and filled the wooden, hanging bucket well with feed before patting, rubbing that equine forhead of his.
The door of the plain, little barn was then pulled closed and latched well so that any blowing wind would not shove it back open. Then sprinted the minor distance from the barn to the houes.
The thatch roof already had a thin layer of ice and snow, with a few ice cycles hanging here and there from it. But it was nothing more than it had been for the Dying Season so far that year.
What was different was that Panther was there...and much time would be spent within those inornate, but warm walls. She pulled the door open, just long enough to steal inside and push it to closing. Soonafter, the rope-latch was shoved into its metal fast to secure it.
Shivering, teeth chattering, she spent a quick look about. How she smiled to find him already looking as if he had matters well in hand with the main, gathering room's hearth and fire.
"So very cold!" Laughing aloud and teeth still chattering, she wasn't about to take the two layers of cloaks from about her. Not just yet. Instead, she say to shuttering the single window that faced the dooryard of the place and turned back to wander over to where he was.
"Is there need for anything before things are put away...?" A glance moved to the packs that were doorside, of food and spices, clothing, and else.
The fire flashed a bit as a wave of air hit it when she opened the door, then flickered and settled back down as the door was closed. he turns slightly and looked up from where he sat on the floor next to the hearth and could see her shiver, could hear her teeth chattering a bit as she gave a small laugh, then asked if he needed anything.
"Yes..." he replied, and reached for her hand. She she took it, he tugged slightly, drawing her closer and down towards him. When she was close enough, he brushed a kiss across her cheek, and lingered there, speaking softly in to her ear. "... but we should get you warmed up, the rest can wait."
He motioned for her to take a seat at the hearth even as he moved to his feet, grabbing one of the larger pieces of wood to lay across the growing flames.
The wind was going to howl tonight, but the small cottage was well built and kept the chill breeze well at bay. He moved to a nearby chair to fetch a couple pillows and a quilt. A playful toss of one of the pillows at her was followed by tossing the other to the floor beside her.
She caught the pillow and looked like she was going to smack him with it as he stepped back over towards her and then bowed slightly.
"Your cloaks m'lady?" He half chuckled as he spoke. The cloaks were soon traded for the quilt and he turned to go hang them on the pegs by the door.
The room they were in was all one very large room with two separate purposes: the kitchen area to the left of the door's way and the gathering room to the door's right.
In the kitchen's area was a table made of thick and roughly hewed wood, that by all appearances seemed well enough made to stand strong and stout for decades to come and would fit comfortably four people at it. To either side of the table were split-log benches with the flat part up smoothed down and splinter-free for sitting on the the bottoms of it still wearing its bark. At the center of the table was a round, bronze oil lamp set into a wood bowlful of white stones. There were shelved that lined the short wall to that far left and immediately there beside the door was the single window of the dwelling.
A basin was opposite the window, to the other side of the table where slots and shelves mounted on the wall about the counter allowed for plates and mugs to drip-dry after watching. Just enough space of a counter was there for preparing something to eat, for a few people, but no more than that. And storage areas were immediately to the left and beneath of the counter.
To the right of the door's way was the place the small woman often was. Though there was a bedchamber and more area for storage at the back of the small cottage, she often slept on the pelts hearthside. In front of the fireplace was a single chair that seemed to have been made by the same craftsman as the table and benches as it shared the same thick, rough way, big enough for her curl up into when there was want for it. She had it covered in small pelts to the seat of it and draped with a roughly woven blanket to its back and arms for warmth and added comfort. To the immediate left of the chair was a little table that didn't match the chair, seeming more delicate, though as simple as the rest of the furnishings within. More shelves were here and there to the walls and a mantle of stone was on the fireplace.
On the mantle was an array of items: a flute, a small painted house that was so tiny that it must have been for one of the winged creatures from the Glen, a panther figurine in a low-bourne crouch, a vase with a rose wilted and dying that naevein had gifted her with, and an oil lamp with a squared foot supporting upon its metallic, fluted stem a rounded base and lid.
Hanging on hooks and nails to decorate were things by her hand: a beadwork picture of one of the fae-like creatures she had seen in the Glen and a half-worked, dark green dress that was meant for Kitty, and beside the cloaks on its own hooks was the elfin bow and quiver full of arrows.
At the moment he turned, with intent upon hanging the cloaks up, she snatched up one of the pillows -- heavy with goose feathers -- and assaulted him with it playfully. Impish smile and laughter to follow, her heart was very light that night.
Then shook her head at him. Another glance was for the bags and packs doorside, beckoning in their mute way to be put away. Instead, she strove to ignore them and watch 'dar in the way he moved. Not so very long ago, madness had nearly taken a firm grip on her with all of the worry and waiting of all the mourning and missing of him. But he had fought off her demons without even possibly either of them knowing the how or why of it all.
"You ...growled the first night of your return. It was thought you did not remember me." Even as she smiled, the words of hers were musing things. The quilt was pulled about slender shoulders, tightly as the chill was still with her. Up, she came, upon her knees and inched over to the hearth there before resettling to the skirtclad swell of her right hip. She had even been uncertain if it had been him at all that first night, until later.
Nearly giddy, she was still smiling and lowered her head and gaze to watch her own hand tucking up the ends of the blanket about her knees, shins and feet.
As her head lowered and hair fell about her face, it was like a lengthy veil in part, then a shake of her head in a habitual way, tossed it over her right shoulder and sought him out again with a watchful gaze.
He flinced instinct rather than any sort of harm when the goose down pillow hit him in the small of his back and fell to the floor with a soft thump.
"You should respect your elders young lady." he jokingly chastised her as he hung the cloaks up.
The smile turned to a slight scowl as she mentioned his having growled at her. She had said before that another patron had tried to... well, had treated him as just an overgrown kitten when he had entered the Inn that night. He was still not sure what would bring him to the Dragon when he was in that form. For all intents and purposes, he was a wild panther when as such. But even in that form the Dragon held some sort of connection to him. Maybe it was as simple as a habit, like wild animals that will return to pillage a garden or such time after time. Not because of the desire for contact, but simply the ease of it, the familiarity.
He liked to hope it was his connection to her, because more times than not when he found himself in that condition.. a visit with her is what would bring him back around.
These thoughts flew through his head all in the blink of an eye.. a blink of two eyes that were on her as he made his way back towards the heath.
"I am sorry."
He did not add anything to that, because there was so much about what led to that moment that he was sorry for. The gaze from her, the gaze veiled by those heavy bangs, brought him back to the present, a present that was so simple in it's warmth, in it's ... love... that he could not help but smile back at her again.
"I do not know if I remembered you or not. I think it is the unknown that is the most distressing."
He grabbed up the pillow she had used against him and tossed it to the floor near her knee. She was tucking about her lap as she kneel before the hearth as he turned and lay upon the pelt covering the floor, laying his head down upon the pillow. Before she could fully tuck herself in under that blanket he slipped his near arm about the front of her knees and his hand found it's way under the blanket before she could tuck her legs in entirely. His hand found her calf and ankle, fingertips lightly brushing over them as he lay there and look up to her.
"I vote for staying right here tonight."
He stretched out his other hand to tug over another of the quilts she kept near by, dragging it loosely over his mid-section. His other hand was still lightly caressing her calf, enjoying the smooth feel of her bare skin against his fingertips."
"Thank you." he said softly, pausing. The look she gave him prompted him to continue. "For this..." motioning about the room. "The loft was not yet a home for either of us. This is your home, I can see it. I can feel it. And you welcome me in to it.
He paused to think for a moment, and though she looked about to speak he interuppted her: "... and for waiting. It is more than I could have expected, more than I could have hoped for. Much more than I likely deserve."
A deep breath was taken and slowly let out.
"It was hard road for me to realize this, and it is something I do not say nearly enough, but I love you 'jira. Completely."
"There is no reason to be sorry.... no harm was done." A lingering over the memory of it, she watched him well from where she was. "There was wondering if it was you...at first, then in if you held any memory of me as you were...."
Elder. She thought on it again for a fleeting moment's time, feeling nothing more than a child around him. Still, she took his jesting lightly and smiled. As he settled in near and made himself comfortable, she eased to meet her back against him.
Acutely, she was aware of his touch at her calf. It proved a small thing but purely distracting. Yet ears had heard him well. A slight turn of form, not to lose contact with him but to better a look to where he rested so near. About to speak and stilled self until his words of what he was deserving of had been spoken.
One hand, turning at the wrist, rested the back of it and fingerstips against the line of his jaw before trailing it down from there to his neck to finally stop for a time at his arm. Guilt strummed painfully against her heart and frowned just a little. "But...a waiting did not happen all that time..."
Then eased in to nuzzle against him before sitting back up, barely to move out of that posture that kept her so very near him. "And you are always welcome here. Or anywhere you would like to be." As that occurred to her, she smiled all the more. "If you find it too small a...cage, of such sorts, a larger home can be found for more room and rest." Just to tease him, as her heart was light enough these days to do so. "Katt says that ...I would be a very good mother... " A nod. Firm and mirthful all at once, half-expecting him to twitch or blanch at just the notion.
It was obvious that she was teasing with him, but eyes bore the truth of the words she next spoke as hands met with either side of his face. "And you are loved." Most watchful of him, to be certain he saw that she was not flinching at any of it, at all. "Now...it is wondered, do you tire? Are there questions for these lips to answer...? Is there need for food or drink..?" She would not hurt his ears with offering to play the flute pipes. One question after another was surely a bit much, laughing again in the wake of her own queries.
Were it daytime, and the snows not falling as heavy as they were and the wind howling as it was, she would have shown him that she can at least pull a an arrow by way of a bow.
A hand sought hers as she sat back up. Listening intently as she spoke, waiting for her to pause enough to let him respond.
"The loft, it was a place to stay, but it was never a home. This feels like a home. And you do not take up much room, so I think we can fit in here just fine."
He was keeping a mirthful tone to his voice, teasing her back in his own ways. With a slight tug of her arm he drew her back down against him, her head resting on his chest.
"And yes, you will make a wonderful mother. Someday. And no, I do not tire, nor do I need food or drink. But..."
And as he spoke those words he shifted his weight about, rolling them both over leaving her laying amongst the pelts and such in front of the hearth, with him over her, his weight supported on his knees and elbows as he lowered his head, gazing in to her eyes.
"But those lips, I do believe there is a need for them..."
Settled back against him, she could have found no better place to rest in all of RhyDin. She drank in the sight of him, so watchful as if she needed to memorize every detail lest he disappear before her very eyes like a dream that would leave her with the coming light of morning. But she was not trouble, at all.
Prattling, chattering on grew quiet. How she smiled when he took her hand and answered her as best that he could...when she afforded the pause for breath to do so.
She could have laughed aloud, giddy and purely happy to have him there. A nod, that he was content enough with the cottage. Even an endearing, eased look that he thought she would one day be a good mother.
But she favored him warmly and well as he spoke then of her lips. Need was answered to with a kiss and wrapped her arms about his neck with care not to bump against his jaw that might still be hurting from that happening between him and Kruger.
The scent of him was in her senses, known and remembered well. With the fire near and the storm beyond those walls, she could have been convinced to stay there as long as he desired them to.