Submitted Date 08/05/2019

Chapter One:
Agrivane was tall, for a knight-magi and noticeably grim, solemn featured for the most part. His hair was a thick rich black, he was slender to medium build and like many elves born from the south-eastern quarter of the realm of Snowfell, near to the rural area of Fennire, he had very dark eyes, angular features and seemed to maintain an all year round slightly golden tan to his skin.
His dark almost onyx black orbs sparkled with an eerie pensiveness, and for the most part, he seemed like he was always brooding over something or another. He would have passed as a human in any realm where the latter race is oblivious to other ones, for he appeared as a man in his late forties.
Agrivane had a reputation of being fair, honest but hard working and most of his colleagues feared him as much as respected him. But sometimes those two areas are often melted together as the same thing. He was, the Head High Captain, of the High Prince Regent's own personal guard, and therefore had a lot of military experience, as much as he had control. Agrivane liked control.
There were very few things that irked Coleus Agrivane's substantial lengthy service during the career he had held for the last two ages, (an age lasting as a thousand years, here in Snowfell,) and even less that had caused him to personally receive of any severe disciplinary action directly.
However, in the last five to ten years or so, this had all changed markedly. Especially within the last year in particular and it was all because of his liege-lord, one Neithan Elonathesei deciding to pursue a certain individual, who, as Coleus saw it, was not even one, of their own kind. The woman in question for some reason drove Agrivane to the point of snapping and uncontrollable rages, speaking out when he no place to and saying the most disastrous, horrible and indeed significantly ugly things.
Personally he could not understand why nor comprehend what was really going on with himself. Indeed he was even unable to explain why he felt so enraged when he was around this one woman, or his liege-lord was, but the fact remained, he had already told several people, including his close friend, Sir Leihn Dandein, that he did not like her one iota.
Now it was at the point he had by this explosive misconduct, almost cost himself his position that he had worked so hard to gain and was stuck by serving her instead, on behalf of Neithan Elonathesei. A most unprecedented and unfair punishment and certainly undeserving he believed.

Concurrently it was winter, and Agrivane could not believe what he was seeing. It had been less than three months since they had returned from the rangers festival in the Phallachian area, and now here he was, back to guarding the wayward bard.
Although he had to admit they were not in Neithan's compound, which made his servitude feel a little better. He was still having nightmares over the incident of the High Prince Regent who had practically fried him on the mountain slope that night over his stupid mouth running. He had still not come to terms with all that had transpired. It was still clearly burning in his memory of her, ruddy woman, saving his life from being snuffed out, as Elonathesei had tortured and pulverized him so publicly.
Yes, he recognized it was his own fault, but still – she had been the instigating factor, the trigger, the thorn that had pricked him so bad he had lost all self control. He had been laid up in the healers wing for three weeks when he had returned before he was even allowed to go back into the practice yard. Now, he was facing a year sentence, of serving the bard as her protectorate along side Leihn Dandein, who had a permanent position. He was not very happy about this development at all.
Silently he growled to himself, he could not understand what Neithan Elonathesei saw in her, nor why it was Leihn seemed to love serving her and being her protectorate. A couple of weeks before he had been assigned to the bard and her house-clan, she had apparently been back to the Earth realm, fetching a few items which she felt were imperative to gardening and various other areas of her lifestyle. Huh.
Now in the bitterly cold season, a fortnight before the welcomed solstice, here he was, in Lord Robert Trellawny's own personal cottage, up on the hillside on the outskirts of Nairn. Close by the apothecary terraces, and stuck in doors still listening to something he found vile and contemptuous in the extreme.
The song played loudly on the monitor to her laptop. Over and over, since she had downloaded it.
But what was even more annoying was not the repetition, but the fact that Agrivane's fellow compatriot, Leihn Dandein had memorized the words. His pitch and tone were off, but still he sang it with all his heart and Coleus Agrivane could not help but feel jealous. Jealous that the paladin-cleric who was currently sitting at the bard's desk, was able to express his emotions so easily with that song.
And where in all of this, was Kate Haggis of Trellawny-Snowfell household? Indeed what was this wretched woman up to now?
Where indeed was she, and what on earth might she be doing, you ask?
Of course she wasn't here, that much was obvious. The truth of the matter was, she was currently outside with her father, doing some kind of gardening work. Sewing some plants into her vegetable plot.
The laptop was only working here in the strange realm known as Snowfell, because she had begged for to be able to bring it home, so she could work on her own things easier to send to Ellenyannesei and make her revenue in the Earth realm without arousing suspicions of her absence.
Agrivane groaned and rolled his dark orbs to the ceiling in exasperation. Why was it, he had been sent to watch over her?
Why was this errand of duty more tedious and deliberately lethargic to his entire being. Oh how he longed to be doing something more exciting!
More vigorous and enjoyable than watching over a woman who in his opinion was nothing short of a chaotic, unpredictable, unprincipled moody and unstable person – that seriously needed some sense beat into her!
Well, perhaps that is not entirely true? He reasoned softly to himself as he got up with another humph of deliberation and moved towards the restroom.
"You alright?" inquired Dandein, as the music list, the bard had put up for him to listen to, changed the song finally to the Coleus's relief and gratitude.
"Yes." his short simple answer was surly and hardly sincere or convincing. The truth was he was not happy. "Just going to relieve myself, nothing to worry about." came his cold cutting remark sarcastically, "I can manage that am sure, without need for aid..."
"Now I know you didn't mean to take that ruddy gnarly attitude with me." rebuffed Dandein with a subtle narrowing of his blue eyes. As he stood up from where had been sitting at the desk, reading the book Kate had left out for him and listening to that music from her laptop.
He turned to face Agrivane more completely moving closer towards him as he did so. Stating stoically, "Listen, I know there has been something eating you up for the last few days. In fact ever since we got back from all that kerfuffle in the other realm, you've been acting kind of off. So, what by the stars and trees, is your problem lately? You've been more moody and dark of state, than a vargulf birthing pups!"
Agrivane scoffed at him, "Ass."
A subtle derisive snort from his nose. Once more turning on his stockinged feet and heading for the bathroom chamber. Slamming the door firmly behind him and locking it securely. Ah yes, what was wrong with him? Was it the boring, laboriousness of his task allotted? He had to wonder, as he walked quietly towards the toileting facility provided in Trellawny's cottage, within the city of Nairn's outskirts.
Was it the fact he was jealous of how close the paladin-cleric had become to Kate? Was it the fact he had lost the bet between Leihn and himself on the point scoring system? Was it the matter that he had feelings he would rather not feel again? How could he be so down in the mouth, and yet so angry?
He began to untie his trousers at the waist, having unbuckled his belt already. Standing legs slightly apart he paused. His mind twirled and relented to the fact he was not feeling his usual self. Perhaps it was a restlessness of the blood? That impermeable hunger for movement, sport or battle that filled his veins and was lacking satiation?
Could it be, that he longed for that closeness, that he had not held in so many unaccountable years, which in turn had suddenly reared it's ugly head reminding him that he too, was only physical with natural instincts and wants like everybody else in the worlds?
How could all his harsh training to distance himself, no longer be viable? What had changed? Had anything changed? Again he growled and mumbled several curses under his breath, particularly directed towards Kate, as he began to fiddle with his greis, and slipped his piece of anatomy out ready.
He glanced out of the high placed circular window, to see that down below in the back walled garden, Kate and Robert (her father,) were currently placing a neat row of dark green plants in along one border. It appeared they would be coming back in soon.
Just as well, because the cold winter was lingering and it was freezing out there. Agrivane pissed in the hole provided for bodily functions and sighed heavily. His mind still racing, and him still pondering to the illusive enigma that presented itself. Giving it a quick couple of shakes as he finished.
Shaking his head too, but with disbelief to his lack of understanding over the entire matter. He poured the water jug down it, then some fresh into a bowl, from the nearby pump. Washing his hands. Glumly staring at the back of his scarred and worn hands as he rinsed the soap off. Dumping that down the toilet too.
Again he went back to his misery of contemplation's that were driving him quite insanely jealous, angry and disturbing his sleep too. Back to the mindless, aimless wondering in his brain. A tireless tirade of no answers or solutions he needed and longed for.
Just what, was it about her – in particular – that made all his carefully held secrets feel so readily exposed to the world? Made him feel so vulnerable and frankly naked, and raw with emotions he had hidden and staved off, for the longest time.
He dried his hands with a heavy sigh. His surly dour expression as dark as ever, as finally he decided that if he got the chance, he was going to find out – one way or another, what kind of witchery had been cast upon him. For he could see it as no other way.
His own lack of understanding had clouded his thoughts and blinded him completely. Ah yes, it was going to take a miracle to clear up the chaos that now ran so rampantly in his head with his unorthodox conclusion. Either that, or maybe he was the one who needed the hard hit to the head to see sense? Only time would tell.

"Ah another very good day!" declared the old healer known as Robert Trellawny, gleefully. As he rubbed his hands together and stood before the blazing log fire. His gray orbs dancing with sparkles and happiness. Robert Trellawny was quite happy with the way things had gone in the garden.
He had managed to cheer his daughter up and they had both laughed and talked. Communication was important between them, especially private discussions. One of the few things that Robert understood was his daughter suffered bouts of depression on and off. And whenever she slipped into one of these, things became intolerable with her behavior of silence, not eating and sullenness.
Today he personally felt and believed had been rather productive. Not only had Kate made a greenhouse with him, finished up the cold frames to four of the rather small herb plots from several that he had, but they had also planted eight new trees in, ready to rise for the spring. A good day. Kate had been down for quite sometime and it had worried the elder elf to no end.
The trip to and back from her birth realm had indeed perked her up somewhat, but still she had been possessed of solemnity and solitude. Pushing people away more and more. The fact that Neithan had even allowed certain personal items of hers to come back with them, had surprised Robert to no end, but he put that down to the fact that Neithan Elonathesei, had a severe crush and soft spot for the bard.
Plus, as Trellawny had noted more than once since returning, Kate had an uncanny knack, (just like himself he thought rather proudly and beaming outwardly,) of knowing just the right buttons to press with the High Prince Regent, to get her way.
Though it had cost her dearly this time around to get her laptop enchanted so that it would work, and the clothing had not been approved of for her to wear at the main court, still she had come out pretty much on top of things this time around.
For some reason that swelled his chest full of pride. Ah yes, his youngest born child, was certainly the apple and sparkle to his eyes. A lovely warming sensation filled him briefly at how good things were turning out. He felt closest to her above his children, and she was his only daughter, a very important person in his life. He treasured her greatly. They had done so much together and were extremely close he believed.
But still the elder elf, who was a healer by occupation and his own profession, was worried as he gave her a notary glance to where she was presently. Her whole face was currently pale and she had fallen asleep on the couch. Passed out more with the exhaustion of working so hard all day, than anything else he reasoned to himself. He did not want her over doing it though. She had been sick on and off for quite a while this last half of the year, and he had feared for her life more than once already.
But it was another good sign. Robert knew that the worst part about Kate's depression was it could swing one of two ways, (and often had,) both leading ultimately in disastrous proportions to all those involved.
One, she would sleep and sleep and then try something really stupid. The other was – this latter being the most common – she would not sleep, drift further into disobedience, outright disrespectfulness, angry, vicious, unpredictable, rebellious Kate and do something stupid, like running away and taking on some monster as if she had a proverbial death wish.
Although if he was to be honest with himself, Kate had done those things in her past, which questioned whether it was just part to her nature, of being unhappy with herself, or the depression. Usually when the bard would take off, it was mostly because she had decided stupidly to take some task or quest on, that was bigger than she could actually handle.
Even if she did beat the odds, again it had cost her dearly as a result, several times over. But still, today was a great day he reminded himself avidly. She had been laughing with him, joking and despite the cold temperatures had maintained a modicum of smiles all the way through the productivity. The sunshine had really helped, he mused happily to himself.
He was also hoping that by getting her so engaged in the gardening aspects, she might just be physically worn too, which in turn would help her sleep better, less night terrors and maybe brighten her mood further. She really did seem to genuinely enjoy planting stuff, as he did to, whenever the time was available to do so. With better sleep health was improved, it was basic healing knowledge, and it stood for everything from physical to mental to spiritual health. Rest was important. Though stress could override it and verily did on many an occasion with Kate.
Agrivane drifted over to Robert's side and said, "Dandein said dinner is ready, but your daichroi is sleeping. So, what do you want me to do?" his tone was neither curt nor particularly polite. Just bland and matter-of-fact and to the elder it was kind of condescendingly infuriating too.
"Would you be so kind, as to lift her to her bed, for me?" grinned Robert as he asked nicely, ah yes it was all part of his plan. The man in greens hoped to build up a large repertoire of competitive suitors or potential ones, and admirers who would be fiercely loyal to his daughter. Simply for to make Neithan Elonathesei realize that he was not the only one who found her in desirability.
Or as Trellawny had once stated to his wife one night during confessionally telling her his mischievous plans, to give the old bastard a good run for his money. Because it was something that he could do. Though his wife, Lady Hope Snowfell had not initially approved of this callousness in the form of goading the High Prince Regent on about their daughter, she had agreed, that it might be somewhat amusing perhaps even entertaining, to see who all could fall under that blanket term of potential candidates vying for the bard's hand in pairing.
In fact to some lesser or greater degree she partially was encouraging the old healer in his manipulations. With the proviso that Kate was not to come to any harm or get hurt over any of these shenanigans.
Because as the formidable female paladin had stated, she felt reasonably safe in the compunction that her elder cousin, (as she called Neithan,) needed to be well taught a lesson. That if he was wanting to play games, then so be it! So she had granted her beloved husband full permission but warning him, to use caution in his pickings for these so called admirers. Also not to let their eldest son know what his little scheme was. Kennet Snowfell, was extremely protective over his younger sibling and seemed to be making a list of his own, of males to take out who even so much as looked at Kate with a fondness.
It was with this in mind, Hope had also poignantly stated how hopefully it would push Neithan into acting on his love for the bard, rather than to keep sitting back and complaining about wanting her for himself. For he was somewhat contradictory in his dichotomy of wanting and needing her, yet stating she still had so much else to do first. So that he would have to chose, and soon. Hope was tired of his tirade, understandably on many aspects. She just wanted Kate to be happy ultimately as much as she wanted her paired with as high a house-clan as she could manage.
So a couple of days before she had left for her duties elsewhere, Hope had written and compiled a list for her husband of those she deemed suitable, who were single and concurrently available, and whom she deemed would be worthy to come up against Neithan in one aspect or another. Robert of course, had found this highly amusing, especially when Coleus Agrivane's name was on the list. So he had promised her he would work on it, but continue to insure their daughter's growth and progress without hindrance, or harm or being sullied in the process.
Of course, Hope being the main matriarch to their small provisional clan, had also given her husband an even larger list with explicit instructions that those names were not to even be remotely allowed near her daughter. He had found that funny too, when Leafeldur DorDinen's name was at the top of the listing. He had even begun chuckling till he was swiftly chastised over the matter. His wife, rather like their daughter had a very sharp tongue when she wished to employ it.

Coleus grumbled lowly under his breath, about something which Robert did not quite pick up. "Problem with that is there now? Look Coleus you just need to lift her up, and plonk her on her bedding. Possibly make sure her wee room has a good fire going. I trust you kept all the hearths well stocked, whilst we were out there the day, right?" was the dry response of the healer to his mumbling. As he pointed aimlessly to the wall, but meaning the garden, of which the knight knew full well.
"Of course my Lord. Yes. Sorry I was just thinking, she will miss the meal. She has barely ate at all in the last few days your Grace." he lied easily as he did not look Robert in the face, but turned on his heel with a heavy sigh of burden. Mumbling he glanced over to her, trying to work out how he was going to lift her up from the couch from her position. As it was not really conducive to just a mere quick scoop up into his arms.
Now most elven women-folk of the realm are not slender by any means, in fact usually they way anywhere between three hundred to three hundred and fifty pounds, some favoring to the four hundred mark. Kate Haggis was different. She barely weighed two hundred and twenty five pounds and was losing weight every time she had gone through another bout of the depression. Trellawny knew this, because he was making her weigh for him to record at least once a week.
In the world where she had been born, Kate was viewed as ugly, fat and obese, here she was seen as the opposite, and Robert her father knew, this contributed to the problem of such a low self esteem and worth his daughter held. Coleus had already been informed about this too.
Male elves, regardless of which race or branch, were deceptionally strong, and could easily lift five hundred pounds if the needs so called for it, so that being the case, there was no reason for him to complain about carrying her to her bed. She was a lightweight here. Her mother, Lady Hope, was willowy more so than her daughter and apparently weighed more than Kate did too.
Agrivane did not realize he was pissing Trellawny off, the latter of which was scowling, knowingly into his retreating back. Which reminded the healer, they were due a visit from the High Prince Regent, Neithan Elonathesei who was currently very persistent on wanting the pair to return to the safety of the compound. Robert quietly chuckled, ah yes, he had other things to settle first. Then he came back to the here and now and realized he had to deal with this wayward knight first!
"Listen here you!" snipped the healer tersely, "Don't be lying to me, I can tell the difference you know. Between fact and fancy! So, with that said, I will ask you nicely just the once more, could you please, pick up my daughter and put her to her bed. I will sort her out! It's no like am asking you to cut your baubles off and serve them up to her on a plate or something!"
Agrivane felt his face flush with embarrassment. It seemed that Kate was not the only one who could see through him – she obviously had that insightful, annoying knack from her father's side of the tree. Again the knight grumbled to himself moodily in his head. Wearing a scowl as he went back into the parlor where the bard was stretched out, on her side, zed-ding, happily away in slumber land. Passed out and oblivious to the world. Bending over low he turned her heavy flopping form, and placed her in a position easier for him to lift.
Gently picking her up and barely struggling at all as his corded muscles roped tightly. Having hefted her into his arms, he began to walk towards the stairs. Dandein was coming through the short foyer reading the recipe book Kate had got him, when he paused and looked up. Agrivane was taking the stairs now almost side-wards, carefully as he climbed each steep step. Turning the short landing towards the room which had been decorated out as Kate's own.
It was not a big room, for the bard had opted for the smallest one. (Much to Trellawny's surprise and disgruntlement and showing that humbleness of heart she seemed to possess at the least expected times.) It had shocked them all, but she had insisted on setting it up and cleaning it for herself. Would not even allow those who often worked in the cottage to help her out.
It had taken her three days, cleaning, scrubbing, airing it out till finally, she had broadly smiled at her father one morning, and informed him her room was done. So there would be no more need for her to pitch a small cot by the fireside in the communal living room space.
However, they had got into a small argument, (which Coleus had found somewhat amusing,) when she had wanted the small writing desk bureau put in the attic room too. He had strictly put his foot down, telling her she was in no way to be squirreled up there and left to her own devices with such things. Of course she had protested, even had glanced imploringly at Dandein, who had smartly raised his hands, shook his head as he dipped it stating, that he would not disobey the head of the house, or it's owner.
Kate had deliberated briefly over this then apologized, conceding to Robert's demand of it staying elsewhere, but not upstairs.

Coleus had only been in her room today, tending the fire place that sat up there. It had been the first time he had seen her room on the inside since she had finished working on it. He had to admit the taste was modest, light as it was comfortable. Clean and presentable and not overtly frilly or similar as most single ladies were wanton to do. It was exceptionally clean too, not an ounce of dust to be found or cobweb on the beams high up.
It had on the thick cross beams, various little nick knacks and brick-a-brack, all rather eclectic in their assembly and yet strangely making sense at the same time. There was two lots of angled shelves that went up where the roof sloped, and these of course held books, and various other bits and bobs.
A small carved wooden box, that had a rose pattern on the center of it's lid inlaid with silver and tiny glass beads that made it appear like dew on a rose, a simply adorned green soap stone dish with some kind of fanciful creature sitting in the middle of it holding sticks of incense. There were lots of various items, including writing implements, a neat set of blank vellum books, stones of assorted colors and degrees.
Then a large window slanted up from near the floor to almost the top of the point in the ceiling. This too, had some shelves built across it, but housed small plants of herbaceous qualities. Along with more of those strange little creatures that resembled tiny dwarfs in earthen tone ware and pointed caps. These were in actuality Kate's rather small but beautiful gnome collection. Apparently every time she had found a small one in the Earth realm at the stores, she had bought it, if it took her fancy.
He laid Kate down, lifting the small fleece blanket that was laid over a tall backed softly cushioned wide chair, that sat by the window and a small side table. Covering her lightly with that. Then turned his focus back to the fire place which was set on the end of the stone wall side nearest to her bed. Poking at it, and insuring the guard was in place to prevent burning pieces coming out, he stoked it well. Before his attentions went back to the small things in her room. There was one box, laid next to two others. The first, was approximately no more than a foot long, blank, no inscription of markings of any kind that he could see. Resembling a box used for necklaces and the likes, two tiny minute hinges held it.
Giving the bard a quick notary glance, to make sure she was still asleep, he lifted it carefully off the top from the other two. Opening it, he saw long sticks of incense and the smell of sandalwood and dragons-blood, wafted up strongly as he lifted it to his nose and inhaled it's odor. The box was simply lined with a white cloth which had become stained, and divided into two. Probably to keep the two separate.
As he went to close the lid back, he noted how the inside of it, had two strange things scratched into the top. This caused Agrivane to frown, pursing his lips before he lifted up the box it had been sat on, and placed the thinner one down. This box, was rectangular too. But it was bigger.
It was less than a foot in length and approximately eight inches in width. The depth at least the same again as the length. It was remarkably a lot more heavier than he would have given something of this size credit for. Again with extreme caution he opened it up. Having decided to leave it on the shelving made for it.
It had a deep midnight purple color lining of silk. And it was filled with various wrapped items. In a multitude of colorful cloth. There was a black cloth, he lifted it tenderly out of the box, the item was very large and extremely heavy, as he unwrapped it a small startled gasp escaped him. For this was none other than a large crystal ball as clear as water, perfectly spherical and beautiful with a tiny little glass stand piece wrapped with it. Fearfully quickly he covered it once more. Taking a deep breath to steady himself. Shakily placing it back.
There was a tin, of silver hue with black picture on the top of it, as he opened that up he became even more perplexed. A very fine form of thick paper, had been colorfully painted with pictures of strange foreign images as he pulled the deck of cards out. A strange energy tingled at his fingertips. Causing a shudder to run down his spine, but this ripple of power he could not identify.
Only to swiftly stuff them neatly back in, as apprehension to what it could be mulled and whispered through his mind. Having put the tin back in, he found as he went to pick up and examine some different little mouse sized stones of varying qualities and hues, all brightly polished, something that flashed silver as a fish in the river.
Instinctively he reached in and pulled out, a dagger. Simple and not a very well designed one. Blade was of steel, and the handle of black wrought iron. It was double edged and if it were sharpened he thought it would be a very handy little weapon to conceal indeed.
But obviously there was something different about this one, because right beside it, lay one almost exactly the same, but with a white handle. Then his eyes opened in surprise as he recognized the items for what they were. They were not blades for harming or defending oneself with, they were ceremonial knives. Athame. He was a knight-magi, these were something not normally used by a bard, what by the stars and trees could she possibly use tools for the mystical arts for?
This threw the poor captain through a loop. He was not quite sure at all what to think about that! He hurriedly put them back where he had found them, then lifted up another item that was covered. This was square. Covered in a dark royal purple red with gold edging around the draw string bag that it sat in. Intrigued as much as a little frightened as to what this next discovery might be, he tentatively, tremulously lifted it free a fraction from its covering, he could not read the scripting on it.
Agrivane pulled it out further, and flicked through a couple of it's pages, he could not understand the writing at all, nor the secondary language written in a similar black basic print style, down the column on the same page. But it was not like a magus's book he realized, for there were no diagrams of similar within it, that he could see.
Again he was fraught with the mystery of the book and although he wanted answers, he was also fearful that if he said anything a) she would know he had been going through her private things, and b) would never forgive him over that, as well as get him into trouble with Neithan Elonathesei. He needed neither of those problems right at the present. He put it back reverentially.
There was also candles in this box, a heap load of candles. Mostly white, but also a small collection of candles that were half the size and all the colors of the rainbow. What by the stars and trees could she possibly want with them? he wondered silently to himself.
Just then the fire crackled rather loudly, and a log dropped in the hearth. Startling him to the point he physically jumped. The last few items in the box were some pouches with herbs and powders that he could not quite identify for certain and a set of stones with runes on them in their own little pouch and finally a set of tiny glass bottles that held different tiny stones or beads in them, separated tastefully by colors and sealed with plain tiny cork stoppers.
A larger jar, of about a quarter of a pint, held some kind of salt and sage with red root mix in it. Tightly screwed shut. He shook his head in amazement and wondering what all this meant, what all or indeed any of this was about? Was the bard practicing some kind of magical craft, that no one was aware of? Something definitely was off with all these items tucked away in her possessions.
Finally having closed the box, he lifted the incense one and put it back on top at diagonals which is how he found it, and picked up the third box. This was plain too. Square and easily a cube with its eight by eight by eight sort of measurements. It was very light weight indeed. However, he got a shock when he opened this one. As he did so music like tiny tinkling bells began to play.
The bard turned in her sleep and suddenly the voice of Robert caught him unawares with, "When you've quite finished nosing through my daughters personal affects lad!"
Coleus bristled with a cold icy feeling and swiftly he had the box not only snatched from his grasp but shut with a snap of the lid. Halting the music as the healer stated, "Dear stars and trees preserve me! Boys are always so ruddy busy to poke into a lass's business, they seem to forget all else, and what privacy means! Have a little decorum and respect for another laddie!"
As he ushered out the knight with a flap of his arms, shooing him towards the door and landing that led to the flight of stairs down from the attic room. "So what was yer excuse to going through my daichroi's stuff?"
"I am sorry, truly..." muttered the knight in a stutter of response. Having being caught out he now afeared that Neithan would surely punish him and know about it.
"Don't be going through her personal stuff! She has enough issues trusting people as it is, and if she'd of caught yersel doing that, she would've been mightily peeved! Mark me well, she'd of beat the tar out of you, or worse – told Neithan post haste!" snipped the healer as he closed her door and his anger made his Khenvadoin brogue even stronger than normal. "You are in a position of trust, do not break that – or you'll be at the end of my bladed temper, and me wife's."
" sorry. I didn't mean to..." he began to start all eloquence of composure lost in the heat of the berating he was receiving.
"Just do not let me see you doing that again. How would you like it, if someone came and went through your personal effects?" muttered Trellawny easing off a fraction as they both turned the corner of the stairs and headed down to the ground level. "Seriously Agrivane, you are supposed to be an honorable knight amongst many other things besides – at least act the part!" he finished in a resigned fashion.
Having reached the bottom of the stairs and now back in the hallway, he instructed, "Go see if Dandein needs help with setting up the dinning room and everything. I will have to go back up there and insure Kate is all comfortably set." Swiftly he turned back around and began to climb the stairs once more, leaving the flustered chagrined male standing.

Coleus sighed heavily as he inwardly prayed he had heard the last of his small indiscretion. He had not meant to rummage through her things. He had been respectful of the items. Had not stolen anything, had only viewed it, his curiosity sparked by why someone of such status, would hold such items of simplicity. Obviously she was hiding the more important areas of herself, within those surprising artifacts he had discovered. Again his mind wandered through a myriad of confusion. With the same repeated questions ruminating in a rumble of the oddity to such items, that had been contained therein. What did it all mean? Why would the bard, a simple woman, have need for any such items and pieces to such as she held contained? What was that book he could not understand?
Without even realizing it, he found his feet with heavy steps had led him directly into the kitchen already. Dandein was sitting by the stove on a stool, reading his book which he held in one hand, whilst his other absentmindedly, diligently stirred the pot with a spoon that was still sat on the flat stone surface. Briefly Leihn glanced up to him. An arched brow of inquiry.
"Lord Robert, has requested I aid you, where you have need with the dinning arrangements." was his cold and stoic explanation as he gave the paladin-cleric a steely glance back.
"Well, good. I have a lot to get on the table, but was waiting for the pair to be ready." Dandein put his book down carefully, marking the page with a small paper embroidered marker, that Kate had given him for Ashytarh previously.
Placing the small volume on the edge of the large farmhouse sized table which was crowded with lidded tureens and a variety of platters already set. As he stood up he paused and asked softly, "Am I to assume our lady will be gracing the table tonight or do I have to put some aside?"
Before Coleus Agrivane could even stop himself his mouth ran in a bitter icy remark of, "Probably not, and no point putting anything aside – she seems to never want to eat anyway."
Dandein ground his teeth inside his mouth. His jaw tensed and eyes narrowed angrily. Glowering furiously with contempt to this remark, directly at the knight he spat, "By that you mean what, exactly?"
Agrivane blinked and then testily added, "What? You disagree? She will not eat, she barely touches her food when she is sat at a good feasting as is. I spoke nothing other than the truth. It is probably why her parents despair so much and oft are there others who speak of how under nourished and skinny she is. How boyish in her appearance she seems. You know it's true Leihn. The lady, barely places a morsel to her lips some days during meals."
"You could have been nicer about it." growled back his counterpart coldly.

The sun descended behind the hills to blanket the city of Nairn in shadows long, cold and deep. The lanterns had been lit and the watch patrolled in the eerie chill silence that descended upon the city. Outside of the cottage of Robert Trellawny, a small contingency of elite guards were posted about the perimeter. Alertful, stoic and ever conscious of every sound, movement or flicker to be detected.
Agrivane was outside, bringing a mulled spiced tea that steamed in the clay mugs, out to two of his fellow compatriots. Adrian Oakley and Corbin Sorrel, both like himself, head captains of Neithan Elonathesei's own personal guard were outside, watching the round moon rise in the icy sky. He presented the tray, and both respectfully took a cup with thanks. Nursing their hands around the receptacles for warmth.
Sorrel in particularly seemed distant and thoughtful, as without even looking at Agrivane he inquired in hissing waspish tones, "Our Grace, still in negotiations with the gracious sire of his lady?"
Coleus bristled with that reference to the bard. He hated the way Sorrel was so creepy and so clingy to the titles he showered with such spooky reverence in the way of the woman. But he did not let it show, merely tucking the small tray under his arm, as two others had now taken their mugs of hot tea and said solemnly, "I believe so. From what I understand, Lord Trellawny is being stubbornly adamant in remaining here in the cottage. Ever since our Liege-lord rowed with him over Kate's terrible escapades during the ranger festival, and refusing to allow him the honor of spending time, with her during Tol'ynfai, the pair of elders have oft been caught arguing and going rounds with each other. Truly some days I do not understand how or why they are so close, nor to how the dynamics to their relationship works but it is mightily intriguing to say the least."
Sorrel smirked and turned to view Agrivane with some sparkle in his dark orbs as he asked a little cockily in that sly way of his, "Oh? I believe you may find their relation goes way back, even before any of the other elders were born here in the great heart realm of Snowfell. As for this small disagreement, they are more than likely past that already.
Neither never seems to hold a grudge against the other for e'er long. You perceive Lord Trellawny as being stubborn? Hmm, I think not. He always holds good purpose to his reasoning, for the most part very rational. Perhaps, it is for the greater good of his fine, daichroi's health, that he wishes to remain longer, and not truly his strength of resolve or determination?"
"You know not, of what you speak." came the dry snip back with disdain.
Adrian shifted his weight just a fraction, he was uncomfortable with this unseen rivalry between the two captains who he had served with for the last few decades. He sipped his tea instead and remained silent. His bright eyes watching them both over the rim of the cup.
It seemed to him, that whatever this unspoken grievance was between the pair, it had only intensified since the ranger festival, and that worried him. Yet as to what this thing was, that kept the pair spitting words of acid in all directions he held no clue, nor did he want to know. Wisely even old Adrian Oakley understood that sometimes ignorance really was bliss. He just prayed inwardly that he would never be caught in the middle to their unseen quarrel.
"I do not?" mused Corbin back mockingly, with a subtle wiggle of his thin white brows. A stark contrast to his deeply tanned skin. His smirk never leaving his features completely. "Care to place a small wager to that?"
"Oh so you think, it is alright for them to stay, and the probability that Kate will get into more trouble – rise with that?" came the bitter sarcasm back from Agrivane's mouth with coarse acidity.
"I said naught, of there being no possibility to her beloved Grace," he paused and with a broadening wicked smile and adoring fashion, "getting into another situation of potential hazard. She is remarkably hardy, smart and certainly very worthy to be sung as any hero we've known or history has recorded."
Agrivane ground his jaw tightly as he hissed back with contempt seeping in his words, "Aye but it those of us, who risk to rescue her from such said, that bades the questionable reasoning behind such motives or actions. Nay, she is no hero, nor should she be sung so readily in praise! She is a trouble maker, nothing more, nothing less."
Quick as a flash Sorrel's countenance darkened visibly and his breathing slowed to controlled shallows as he growled lowly back in threatening promise, "Careful what you say, Agrivane. Just remember the lesson you were taught this autumn, it can always be repeated as many times as needs be, if you wish aid to remember and the needs so be..."
Adrian could take the tension no further, he coughed a little to clear his throat took another quick swallow of tea and then said rather pleasantly, "This is a really good blend. Please tell the one who prepared it for all us cold rangers out here, that I said thank you."
Agrivane and Sorrel who had interlocked each other with their eyes fiercely, released and the knight stated, "Lady Kate's blend, and it was her tachre who requested Dandein and I make you all some. But I shall most certainly convey your thanks." There was another pause as an after thought he inquired, "Where is Bryn? I was sure Eldarweave and Lethil Broadleaved would be here with you both."
"Bryn had a child delivered the beginning of this winter, lest you forget? He has had his duties considerably lessened as his wife has taken quite ill...." muttered Adrian thoughtfully, sadly in a barely audible hush.
"Whereas Lethil is back at the compound overseeing some of the patrols with Lord Kennet, for the stores have had several attempts of raids by some unscrupulous groups of bandits roaming the area." explained Sorrel more back to his usual self as he now closed his eyes and inhaled the fragrant scent of the tea, before sipping some more of it's contents. Momentarily he smiled, more naturally and said, "Ah, this tea is good. I will write a letter to Lady Kate, to request it's ingredients, for indeed it seems quite unique in it's flavor. The scent is rather floral too. I would be interested to know what ingredients she used to make of such. Mine lady, I am sure, would appreciate of it also." He was perhaps deliberately goading Coleus to invoke another response but fortunately the other captain in the small trio standing there, had other ideas.
"How is Cat doing?" Adrian asked nicely, trying to keep the subject away from whatever business was going on inside, and the rivalry to a minimum between his two fellow captains.
"Rather well. Babe should be here by the middle of summer, so says gracious Elder Father Merrick Trellawny. Both of us are rather excited. Though she will not let me help her around our chambers." came his remark painfully in admission. Still his eager pride of the fact his wife was expecting was still clearly detectable as he glanced with pursed thin lips to the one inquiring.
Oakley chuckled and patted Sorrel on the shoulder stating sagely, "Listen mate, trust me when I says, sooner or later she will be going from all out independence to wanting you there for to do everything soon enough. If I were you, I'd relish the early stage where she wants you out from under her feet!" he gave a quiet laugh as Corbin peered at him through the darkness, continuing with, "You're lucky you are not the one carrying the child. Though I must admit I do not envy her, being in breeding through the hot summer months – hope you have some spell craft to make of ice!"
Even Agrivane snickered at that comment.
"I am sure, Cat will have something in her extensive knowledge to help keep a calm edge of cool, whilst the heat prevails. She will more than likely stay working in the healers-wing part to the citadel right up until a day or two before birthing, at least so she has informed of I." stated Corbin matter-of-factually. "I do believe her and our Grace's precious lady, have been in correspondence. Simple matters that only the women-folk would truly understand and appreciate."
"I did not know your wife wrote to Kate." was the soft contemplative tone from Coleus at this revelation. "I mean, I know both wrote letters, but never realized it was to each other."
"Lady Kate, has a lot, of people she writes to. Mine wife, receives of one such correspondence at least every other week or so from her Grace." came the scolding back in retort from Sorrel with indignance.
"Oh, then I wonder who those other letters are for, that she writes?" mumbled Coleus out loud without realizing it. He had raised his free hand to his chin and was running his hand through his goatee even more thoughtfully, scowling and frowning as he pondered this. There had been days, when Kate had gone out, or sent out Dandein, with six or seven letters at a go.
"Probably just friends..." offered up Adrian quietly with a smile. "She has a plenty to speak of. Such as the Eneri..." he was about to say, Enirethacs and half the rangers guild seemed to love her, when he was suddenly nudged hard by Sorrel who with a nodding motion of his head had looked up to the cottage.
Adrian and Coleus both pausing in this deliberation both trailed to follow Corbin's gaze. The upper window that was slanted into the roof, a skylight to be more precise, had a golden glow filtering through past the shelves and items sat on it. It looked like a lantern had just been lit.
"Well that's my cue to leave." sighed Agrivane resignedly. "I better go in there and make sure all is well with the household."
"Be mindful that when you do, you act respectfully, of her Grace and sires wishes." reminded Sorrel darkly as his orbs narrowed to watch the retreating back of the captain.

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