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Cordeliane

It's not all Roses

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Without speaking a word, Shawn did as Marcos said, keeping the glare off his face and trying to replace it with a more pleasant expression. The result, of course, was neutral indifference. And yet, as Marcos traced the charcoal around the shape of his worn boots, he kept thinking about the cobbler kissing his wife’s hands like that. It was obvious they knew each other, perhaps for a long time, and Nvengaria was an entirely different land with different customs… Still, it bothered him, and he didn’t know why.

When Marcos finished with Shawn’s measurements he would find that Shawn’s current wear was not the most comfortable – they were slightly too tight. He had traded some old armor for them among the Arcantians a year ago and simply made do. He was used to being uncomfortable anyway and shoes were expensive, especially custom-made ones. When he pulled them back on, it was with some good amount of force that he stamped into them.

He remembered his manners. “Thank you,” he said to the cobbler who nodded and smiled.

Shawn turned to Cordeliane as they headed out the door. The sun was beaming overhead, barely reaching noon and many people were about, shopping and talking and doing their daily chores.

 “You mentioned you wanted to see the bakery. Is there any other place you want to go? He glanced up at the sun, shielding his eyes against the glare. “It’s still early. For me, anyway.” He paused, then added, “You and Marcos seemed pretty close.”

He better not be into you.

 

It was clear that what was given was a shortened name. Kay wondered how elaborate his real name was, unable to think of a regular name that could be shortened to “Fin”. It didn’t help that common Genesaris names didn’t resembled common Nvengarian names at all, at least so far as he could tell. He glanced at Orion, who looked frustrated. Kay looked away, head down. Chosen by the gods? Altus!

He stared at Fin as the striking man nudged his horse closer and put a hand on his knee. Kay flushed deeply at the man’s touch, and tried desperately to think of something else other than how striking Fin was. It wasn’t easy.

“Uh… um… no… I mean,” Kay fumbled for words. “Sure, I guess. Uhhh, I dunno. Got a lot of questions. Um, you know anything ‘bout Wvyren, maybe? He… uh, gave me these,” he said, motioning to the bow and arrows. “Told me to find ‘is daughter, y’know…”

He fell silent abruptly, swallowing. The trees rustles now felt like laughter to him. Of course, who wouldn’t laugh at him? He was alone here, away from land and proper place. He had caused tragedy to Cordeliane, inconvenience for everyone, and now he was botching an errand for a god.

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She was pleased Marcos's family was doing well and that his family was gaining a new member. She liked Marcos he was good at what he did. All of her footwear was made by Marcos. She sometimes even had him travel with her to the castle in Crystal water if she was going to a big even an might be in need of new shoes or boots for the ocassion. It also gave him a vhance to pick up materials as well. Cordeliane looked after her people well. 

 

Cordeliane used to his scribles and markings frowned as she too noted his boots were to tight for him. No wonder his was always grouchy and cross. She would be too if her feet were constantly pinched and cramped. She gave Marcos a look and smiled as he nodded while Shawn forced his feet back into his boots.

 

Marcos frowned at the parchment and looked up to catch Cordeliane's gaze. Yes he knew what she wanted him to do. It would be tight but he could get new boots for the new Lord done before they left town specially if she were heading to the burned out bakery. 

 

Gathering what he needed he looked at Shawn and Cordeliane. "Return here before you leave the town. I will have a pair of boot ready for you my lord. You will not have to go another day squeezing your feet into too small boot." He sounded afronted by the fact Shawn was torturing his own feet by putting them into boots that were to small. 

Cordeliane just chuckled as he told them to stop by before leaving town as they left the building. Leave it to him to say it at the last second to broke no arguements. "Other than the bakery there is nothing else in town that needs my presence. My people know I like to keep upto date on things happening in the village. How else can I make sure they are taken care of?"  

It was early for her still too. She was not the laze in bed type of noble. "Once we are done here I need to return to the castle and exercise Star. I do so every morning before lunch hour when we are in Kedves." At his comment about Marcos she smiled. If she did not know better she would think him jealous of the cobbler. "Marcos has been making my shoes since I was small. His wife used to be my lady maid/nanny. I was pleased and saddened when they wed."

As they walked she told him of the bakery." We were lucky with the bakery when it caught fire. Yes the building burned down and they will have to start a new but it was lucky they did not yet receive their shipment of flour." She patted his arm "Did you know flour confined and then lit a fire explodes? Had they received their flour the building would have exploded and it would have been the entire row being rebuilt"

She stopped as she reached the construction site. Giving his hand a squeeze she called out. "It looks good. I see you are making good progress." The bakery as it was was nothing more than the frame work at the moment but it was good progress considering they had to tear down the building and remove all the debris from the old one. "My husband and I would like to look around if it is not to much trouble" she knew better than to just walk onto a construction site without permission even if she was the Countess and ruler here.

One of the workers obviously in charge raised a hand in greeting to Cordeliane."Of course My lady My lord. Just let us raise the last wall frame and nail it into place. Shouldn' take more than a few moments" He pointed to where men and oxen were pulling on ropes and the frame work for the wall was slowly rising into place. 

 

Orion was glaring at Fin watching him touch Kay so intimately. It didn't matter to him that the man touching Kay was immortal and a friend of a goddess. He was touching the man Orion was interested in and making him uncomfortable. Orion had enough to over come without the added competition for his attention and affection. 

The name Fin was not common even in Nvengaria. Orion's eyes went wide as he looked at the man. No he couldn't be.. there was no way all the beings of myth and legend were walking again among them. What was happening on the Island if they were all out and about again. 

 

Orion looked at them and choke out "F..Fin..Finvarra" He paled there were only two with that name that he knew of and both associated with Mina and given they way they interacted it was not her son."No.... No this cnnot be. You are not supposed to be around. You do not interact with mortals. You are Finvarra the king of the Faerie."

 

Fin amused by both men gave Orion cocky grin as he worked out who and what he was. He should not have given even that part of his name to them. Orion was much more knowledgeable of the myths surrounding Mina than he had realized. "Yes I am Finvarra. You figured that out much more quickly then I expected." 

 

Rubbing Kay's thigh softly he geinned all the more. "As to the gods Wvyern is one of the oldest. Though he is not one of the Great gods. He is closely tied with nature. He only walks one night a year among mortals. When the fertility fires are lit he wlks the forest. Sometimes he takes a lover others he just wanders and walks. He is the god of all things wild. The only place he does not rule is my domain . Forest where the Fae live are mine to rule." 

 

Looking at the bow and arrows he whistled impressed. "He only gives such gifts to those whose nature lies closely with his own. You must be an extrodinary hunter and track her for him to gift you with such when you are not of his people." 

"I do not have much to do with the Gods. I am not much younger than most of them, but other than Mina I am not close to them. Wvyren and I have come to an understanding. I do not interfer in his business and he leaves me and my people to our forest. I am here at Mina's request. He will not gainsay her in this."

If there was another wild mage it meant that there was about to be great change on the island. Demi gods usually brought about change. "You would be the best to find her. You do not have a tie to the island or to its people as of yet. She will bring about change. Big changes to the way of life here."

Fin did not seemed bothered by the fact there would be change on the island. He continued to rub Kay's thigh and smile at the two men as if it was nothing.

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Shawn frowned, never having guessed that combining flour and fire could be so dangerous. The bakery – and those around them – truly were lucky. He glanced around the general vicinity as they approached the construction site, imagining the havoc that could have ensued and the headache that Cordeliane would have had to put up with. It was fortunate no one had died from the fire alone, but rarely did anyone survive a literal explosion.

These were not his people, and this was not his land, but he was glad nonetheless to see none here mourning the passing of a loved one. He had seen too much of that, of planted flowers and cherished heirlooms placed on makeshift graves. But many of those, at least, had died quickly. Fire was not a swift death, far from painless until the flames ate away the nerves of the body.

He said nothing of his thoughts or feelings as he stared at the skeleton of the new bakery. He simply waited patiently, listening to the grunts of the oxen and instructions the men called to each other as the last wall frame was hauled into place. Everything looked well in hand, sturdy when the lead worker waved a hand for Cordeliane and her bored husband to pass through.

Shawn followed Cordeliane through the frames and half-raised walls of wood, letting her take her time. He did make one comment. “If flour explodes that easily and this is a bakery, there should be some sort of magical shield or something in case it happens again.”

 

Kay was still blushing furiously as Fin continued to rub his leg like an affectionate lover. He was so distracted that the words passing between Orion and Finvarra did not strike him immediately. They came slowly and quietly, as if from a great distance.

“You are Finvarra, the king of the faerie.”

“Forest where the Fae live are mine to rule.”

Kay didn’t know anything about Faeries or domains of gods. Theology wasn’t his area of expertise; he was just a hunter, living off the land and its resources and leading a simple life. He didn’t know why Wvyren chose him, and suddenly now wished he’d never met the god. If it wasn’t some fool’s dream to begin with. Maybe it was a dream. But then, there were the bow and arrows. No dream.

Perhaps it was the way Finvarra was rubbing his thigh or the bizarre events surrounding him. Perhaps it was both, but something in Kay snapped. He suddenly kicked his horse hard in the ribs, causing the animal to lurch forward, leaving Fin’s hand rubbing at air.

He was breathing hard, his face was red, and his hands were gripping the reins so hard his knuckles were white. ”This… this is crazy…. crazy!” he suddenly shouted. “The… the hell, man! King o’ fairies? Seriously? First the spidrens, then Wvyren, now this… Mina person and now you? What th’ fuck’s going on?” He rubbed his head, his eyes wide. He couldn’t make sense of it, of any of it.

“Y’know what? Just go! Both… no, all of you! Leave me alone. Soon as I can, I’m goin’ home.” He slammed his heals into Sun Diver, and the horse broke into a hard gallop, dashing at breakneck speed along the rough path through the woods.   

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The sawing and hammering continued as they were waved in. The people were working hard to build the frame work for the interior walls. So the sound of a tree being sawed was not noticed. Nobody noticed the extra man working where he should not be doing something he should not.

 

Cordeliane smiled at Shawn and shook her head. "We tried that. It is ok against a weak fire but not a strong one. Fire destroys all traces of magic power. It burns it as if it never existed only fire mages seem to handle fire well."

 

Giving his hand a squeeze she looked around. " we keep the store room as far from the fire and heat as we can without making it difficult to do the baking. See there " she pointed to what looked like a door way leading to the outside "That is where the flour will be stored it has its own entrence so it does not come to close to the ovens which will be at the other side of the kitchen area" She pointed to the opposite wall.

"They are expanding a little as well. They will have a larger dining area so people can sit in and enjoy the baked goods with a warm beverage."  She turned facing the way they had come in. She could picture the place filled with people and the smell of fresh baked goods. 

Fin looked at both the younger men as Kay lost it. It was clearly too much for the young Arcantian man to take. Looking at Orion he shrugged not sure what to do or say. He did not feel human emotions he did not feel guilt or any of those other annoying emotions. Faeries were pretty much immortal teenagers. Life was all fun and games to them. They loved yes but guilt remorse regret were forgien to them. This out burst was not something he was equipped to handle. So Fin did nothing just let him get it all out.

As Kay rode off Fin stopped Orion "No let him go. Mina will come to him. Neither of us can help or understand like she can. Mina is the best to help him deal with what his going on with him and in his head." Fin shook his head "No harm will come to him here"

Orion glared at Finvarra and ached for Kay. He did not know what was  going on anymore than Kay did. He paled at yhe word Spidrens. When had Kay seen Spidrens? What wasn't he being told."Spidrens? When.. where?" He blurted out gettjng over his shock just as Kay took off. 

 

Getting Ready to ride after him he grimaced as Gin stopped him from giving chase " He does not know the forest. This forest is not safe." He was not reassured by Fin telling him no harm would come to him here. Somethjng had happened and he was jn the dark about it. Something important. 

 

Mina could feel his emotions and sighed softly to herself begore appearing a head of Kay. She would have to talk with the mortal. She was not how he had seen her before. She was no longer armed to the teeth infact not one blade could be seen on her person. She stood bare footed on the path before him. Her odd hair down falling to below her knees. She was dressed in a strapless dress that fell just above her knees. Her multicoloured eyes were soft and filled with understanding. 

"Sojourning Shroud, Kay Elias Halt." Her voice was soft but commanding as she stood there. There was power in her. She would not use magic if she did not need to "You and I will talk. I have been where you are"

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Frowning, Shawn tilted his head, thinking. Though in the same geological region, Nvengaria was even more different from the mainland than he thought. Fire, natural or magical, did not destroy other magic on the mainland. It might react in other ways, even destructive ways, but it was not known to burn away traces of power regardless of how great the fire was. As for handling fire competently as a spellcaster, mages needed only practice and time to learn how to properly control it.

Shawn was not a natural-born weaver of fire, but he could cast it. Though his Arcantian runes responded best to the esoteric magic of Shadow and Darkness, his Fire Rune was reliable enough. He wondered if his magic, and therefore the source of his being, was affected by Nvengaria mystic laws over the supernatural.

The idea that it might, that it did, did not please him.

Lost in those disturbing thoughts, he did not notice the additional man, or the warning way the wood creaked and cracked. He was not a construction worker, unable to differentiate the activities of such, and failed to take notice of what should not be. He was sharply aware only of the discomfort of being in an area he had no interest in, with someone he was chained to, in a land he hated.

“If you’re done,” he said irritably, turning away from Cordeliane’s ideal vision of the bakery’s future, “let’s go already.”

 

How far he planned to ride, Kay did not know. His mind was in a broil, and he felt hot, almost feverish with the inner turmoil in body and brain. The shock of almost dying at the hands of the monstrous Spidrens, the overwhelming frustration with Orion, and the insanity of meeting the gods themselves… it was too much. He hadn’t before, but now he wanted out. Out of this land. His initial awe and wonder of its mystery and beauty had vanished, and he felt nothing more than what Shawn felt – trapped.

Riding as hard as he could, he was long gone from Fin and Orion’s sight when a familiar, yet utterly strange figure appeared before him.

Mina. He recognized her only by her eyes, hair, and the way she held herself so assuredly. Despite that she was so different from the fierce warrior from before he was confused even as Sun Diver approached her dangerously close at breakneck speed, and it was only the beast itself that thought to stop. The horse slammed its heels into the ground, sliding to a halt, snorting.

“Hey!” Kay yelled. Sun Diver didn’t respond to the sharp kick at its ribs, or the lashing reins. It stood as if frozen before Mina, nostrils blowing hard and hooves pawing trenches in the ground. Kay growled in frustration; it was clear he was unused to a horse’s disobedience. He’d always had a good handle with animals, so what was happening now?

He glared down at Mina as she claimed to being where he was, whatever that meant. He lurched off the horse and stalked up to  her as if he’d forgotten she was a goddess and he just a simple mortal. She was taller than him, far more powerful, yet he dared to face her close enough that their faces nearly touched.

“No! No you haven’t. What d’you know ‘bout all…. all o’ this? You’re a fuckin’ god!” he yelled, his own voice cringing at his crass words. “You wanna talk? I don’t wanna hear it! What are you gonna do ‘bout it, huh, Goddess? Kill me? Good luck, I ain’t afraid of death anymore! Fuck you! Fuck you!” He suddenly slumped to the ground, all the fire gone. He was shaking then, his fear of her rushing back along with all the memories of being devoured alive by the spidery monsters. “I just… I just wanna go home…”

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Corde sighed and turned with him. She did not know what she had said that had upset him so, only that she had said something.  Turning as she did she too missed the danger to them. With her back to the tree she did not see it as it began to fall. Only the yell of the workers as yhey rushed to try and stop it and the growing shadow allerted her to something being wrong. 

"SHAWNLOOK OUT" She screamed as she dove at him in a tackle to take him down as she called on her magic for the shielding spell to protect them both.

 

The tree came crashing down onto them. Branches and leaves everywhere. Covering the couple as workers scrambled to pull it off praying that both the Countess and Earl were alive. They were unsure as they watched in horror as the had disappeared under the tree if Corde had been able to use her magic to protect them. 

 

Fin sighed "It is not my place to say Orion. Speak to Kay let him tell you." He gave the younger man a reassuring pat on the shoulder and sighed softly. "Nothing will harm either of you while Mina walks the forest. All beast fear the Young goddess even other gods fear her"

Fin wondered what Mina was saying to Kay. He knew her past well and all she had been through to be who she was this day. Hopefully it would be enough to help the young men. 

Orion glared at the immortal man. He was hurt and angry and nobody was telling him anything. Spirden were the most vile creature to walk any realm and at some point in the few days Kay had been on the island had come into contact with them and nobody hd seen fit to tell him. " I do not care. He is under my protection and I failed him. I need to help him" 

 

There was nothing in Mina's odd eyes but love and understanding as he yelled at her. He was scared and much had happened to him in his short time on her island home. 

"Oh Kay." She murmured softly watching him drop to his knees the fear radiating off him in waves that almsot made her sick to her stomach. "I have been where you are in many ways. " she dropped to her knees and folded him in her arms like a mother holding her frightened child. Slowly she rocked him.

"I know this is all overwhelming. I have been here. I was not always as I am now. The other gods of my pantheon feared me even before I was born. My mother was banished when I was a child and I became the strongest warrior our pantheon had. Even stronger than Mithros our head male of the council god of Warriors. But I lacked much. I did not and still do not love my own pantheon. Only my father and Wyvern have my love and respect. We were at war because of me, and I fought even as a child of 4 I could duel wield swords and use magic. Nobody would train with me even Mithros because I cared not for any of them. All weakness was not tolerated and to me compassion was weakness. So on my 18th millenia as the war ended the gods got together and sealed my memories giving me false ones and banished me to the mortal world to learn humanity and compassion".

She sighed softly rubbing his back" It was not an easy path for me. I have truely love but twice in my long life time and still love one of them with my very being to this day. It was not easy being banished and learning the mortal way. Even part of my powers were sealed locked away from me. I felt helpless confused and lost. Much like you are now. Unlike you I did not have somebody I could speak to and confide in. Trust Orion tell him what happened with the Spidrens. "

She kissed his forehead softly and patted his back" You need never fear them again. You are one of mine now, even they dare not anger me. You have my protection Kay. If you have need of me you only need call no matter where you are." 

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Screams of horror split the air as the tree toppled. Branches split and foliage scattered as the force of hitting the ground broke the limbs apart. For moment there was nothing but confusion, aid in the midst of it all, someone disappeared, and no one would ever know who exactly had so carelessly felled the tree. Men and women scrambled over to wreckage, cutting and pushing and pulling away the heavy debris, breathing frantic prayers that the two were unharmed.

Light from Cordeliane’s shield glowed amidst the scattered branches, covering both her and Shawn. She had tackled him just in time, ling on top of him as the tree had fallen. There were leaves and twigs in her hair, and there was a long cut tracing down Shawn’s cheek, but otherwise they were unharmed. He stared at Cordeliane as the workers pulled them out of the rubble, standing them up, checking for injuries, asking them if they were all right, asking for forgiveness.

“You…” Shawn looked inexplicably angry. “You!” he suddenly yelled, almost screaming at Cordeliane. He grabbed her by the shoulders, looking like he was about to murder her or at least the next closest person to them. “Are you all right?! What the fuck happened? Almost killing us both is what you call progress?” he barked at the cringing workers.

 

Kay stared at Mina as she told him of her experiences, all of them truly awful. He did nto know the gods or powerful leings she spoke of, not this Mithros or the Warriors. But the softness of her voice as she spoke, the implication of all other words, was enough to relay to him the terrible path she had walked and still overcome its tragedy. It seemed wrong, but it somehow felt like hearing her story mitigated his experience with the Spidrens, and made him feel slightly better.

“You’re not s’posed t’touch me,” he mumbled, halfheartedly trying to pull away from her. He crumpled against her instead. He scrubbed tears from his face with one arm, trying to calm his breathing with exercises he learned in the army. It was quite a while before he regained some composure, but it still helped, and when he was finally able to look her in the eye it was without fear.

“You’re a weird Goddess, y’know? Didja know… some speculate that… Altus was human, once.” He didn’t know what that had to do with anything. He sat back, knees drawn up. “How can I tell Orion what ‘appened? All I’ve been doin’ is hurting ‘im.” He shivered. Sun Diver lowered its head and nudged one shoulder. “Yeah… I guess I better… go bac, huh?” He stood up hurriedly “TH-thanks, Mina.  But… pleased don’t’ stand in front o’ horses again? That… I almost ran you over, y’know.”

 

Sun Diver trotted back to Orion and Finvarra, snorting. Kay was on its back, shoulders hunched, face red. “S-sorry ‘bout that, just kinda lost my ‘ead for a moment, there. Look, uh… ” He swallowed, looking away. “Finn, can you just… I dunno, get lost for a second? I gotta talk to ‘Rion.”

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Cordeliane stood as the tree was pulled off her. She gave the workers a smile and wave as Shawn grabbed her and yelled at her. With a soft shrug she began to pull leaves and twigs out of her hair " It was an accident Shawn, I am fine not even a scratch. They were making progress until this happened." She looked around and noticed the foreman frowning as he checked the bottom of the tree.

Ignoring thw workers and their apologies she walked over to him. "What is it? Why are you frowning so?" She did not understand as she stood there looking at the tree trunk. Why was he looking so pale and glaring as if something was wrong?

 

The foreman drowned deeply as his men pulled the Lord and Lady from the wreckage. There was something not right about this. He could not figure it out as he looked at the felled tree. It was not until he got to the base of the tree that he realized something was truly a miss. Dear Gods the tree had been deliberately cut. Pale he looked at Cordeliane and Shawn "It was no accident My lord the tree was cut. None of my men would do such a thing"

 

 

Mina smiled softly as he told her she shouldn't be touching him. She did as she wanted to even the head Gods did not tell her what to do. She let him get himself together holding him softly. Once he was ready she released him with a soft pat. "I will admit I do not know much about my main land cousins. Should I ever meet him I will let you know if he was a human once."

 

As he sat back down knees drawn up. She touched his shoulder softly. "Secrets and lies have a way of outting themselves. You hurt him more by not telling him. He knows you are suffering but not why. He wants to help but is feeling helpless and confused. Trust me hiding your feelings will only hurt both of you my child."

 

A chuckle escaped her as he told her not to stand in front of horses again" Sun Diver would not have run me down. Horses such as he can sense me. I also posses magic. Go talk you will see everything will be better once you are not hiding things from him." 

Fin glared at Orion "You need, you want. What about what he needs and wants. Stop being a selfish child. If you truly love him then right now Mina is best for him. The young Goddess has been through much in her short life. None of it was easy for her. She will help him get his head straight so if he chooses he can share what is on his mind. Do not pressure him. You are young still Orion and this is your first love you are trying to hard. Back off." 

Fin hate being serious, Mina always stuck him in these situations. Why he cared for her and let her do this to him he still did not under stand after all this time. He hated acting the grown up when he was nothing but an eternal teenager. "Have faith in him Orion show him he can trust you buy not pushing him. I swear by the young goddess I will make you suffer if you push him before he is ready"

Orion listened to Fin and paled a bit. He was not one of his brothers or an adult Orion was used to. He was the immortal King of the Faerie and mentor best friend to the Goddess Mina. So he was taking everything he said to heart and would listen to him as he did not others. As Fin barrated him for being selfish he hung his head in shame. Fin was right he was being selfish and thinking of only his wants and needs. 

Orion did not have anything to say to Fin, there was no deffending his actions to the older man. Here he had promised Kay space to think and just be himself to have space and now he was pressuring him. Orion shook his head embarassed. 

As Kay rode up he would find them both sitting a horse silent, Orion looking down a shamed and Fin looking like a scolding father. "As you desire Kay" Fin murmured and checked his steed who wandered off down the road the way Kay had just returned from until they seemed but mear shadows on the road way.

 

Orion opened his mouth then closed it as Fin rode off out of ear shot. There was so much he wanted to say but it was not the time. He looked up at Kay with a half smile and nodded at him "Whenever you are ready Kay"

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She was so calm. Nearly killed, and so calm. Though his fuming anger was not at her – far from it – he glared at her. He didn’t understand how she could remain so composed, especially with the workers whose folly might have ended both their lives were it not for her magic. But worse still, what he didn’t understand was why he felt so upset. Trying to slow his harsh breathing, he followed Cordeliane as she approached the foreman. From the man’s pallor and troubled frown, Shawn already knew what he would say.

“You’re sure of this?” he asked the foreman. The foreman nodded. “You didn’t notice anyone?” A shake of the head. “You idiot.” Shawn’s teeth gritted, and his eyes turned to Cordeliane. “Looks like someone wants to kill you, or me. Or both of us. Come on.” He grabbed Cordeliane’s arm and pulled her through the rubble until they were clear of the mess and the building, ignoring the workers who were milling about, asking if they were hale.

The cut along his cheek stung, but Shawn didn’t even notice as he paced back and forth, hands clenched into fists at his sides. Then he swung around to face Cordeliane, his eyes still flaming. “Why? Why, and who would want to risk killing either of us in broad daylight?”

 

“Trust me, hiding your feelings will only hurt both of you.” Well, she was right about that. Kay fidgeted on his horse, playing with Sun Diver’s mane as Finvarra rode past until he could barely see them. They were as good as alone now, he and Orion, but even then it took a long while for Kay to compose himself well enough to speak.

“I… I don’t wanna remember,”  he finally said in a choked whisper. His eyes flicked from left to right, as is seeking support before returning to Orion. Whenever he was ready? He would never be ready. Mina said he should tell Orion everything, but telling him everything meant recalling everything, recalling a horror that could never be outmatched by anything else. Not his mauling by a bear, not the war itself, not anything.

But somehow, he managed.

Starting from the beginning, he told Orion everything. In a dull, formal tone he told Orion of the Spidrens, how they had trapped him, killed his horse, paralyzed him and bound him up, carrying them to their lair and slowly eating him alive. How he had begged for Shawn to kill him, and how Cordeliane had sacrificed her unborn child to save him. How Wvyren the Hunt God had appeared to him, and that was why he was on this fool’s mission to find his daughter. He left out nothing, and the dead tone in his voice never changed, even when fresh tears were running down his face.

When the tale was told and over with, he couldn’t bear to look at Orion anymore. His head dropped, and he stared at Sun Diver’s back, shaking. “S-sorry for keepin’ it from you, ‘Rion. But… y’know. Who wants to hear ‘bout it?” He gave a harsh laugh. “Not me, that’s for sure.”

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Cordeliane didn't even flinch as he yelled at her. After all she had been through this was nothing to worry about. In truth she was surprisex he seemed so upset. He never let his emotions out, he did not react like this when she had been kidnapped not once but twice. She had only ever seen him angry once in public just before she had been taken the first time.

 

She went with him waving off workers and people who were coming to check up on them. Watching him she shrugged" I can think of only one person but we would have a hard time proving Knox tried to kill us. And he would have paid somebody to cut that tree. As to why. If I am widowed he can try to force my hand in marriage. If i die one of my brothers will be forced to wed and the oldest daughter from any of their unions would be come the next Countess of Kedves. "  

As she spoke their coach stopped next to them and her footmen looked at them concern in their eyes. "My lord my lady are you both hale?" 

Cordeliane nodded and smiles "yes thank you we are but scratched up and a little bruised. No serious damage done to us. We are back to the vobblers then home.Come Shawn we can get your new boots and go home and talk of this more. Here and now is not the place."

With that she got into the carriage and sat. She looked all calm and unphased on the outside but inside she was shaken and fearful. They would have to do something about Knox and his obsession with her and her lands. 

 

 

"They are talking?" She asked softly as Finvarra rode up to her. She hoped they would get the air cleared between them. There was so much raw powerful emotion that keeping up her barriers was exhausting. "Were mortals always this difficult? I don't remember them being so hard to deal with when I lived among them." 

Mina shook her head and sighed softly. Even after living among mortals for centuries she still did not understand them and the complexities of human emotions and their thought processes. They still baffled her and confused her. She did not understand why they kept their feelings bottled up when it was easier to let them out and let them go. 

"Will I ever understand them Fin?  Even my chosen ones baffle me. How am I to be a good protector if I do not understand them?"

 

"Yes they are talking Young one. There is much they need to talk about." He chuckled softly and shook his head" Yes they have always been this difficult. Its from all those excess emotions. Guilt remorse and the like. We fae are so much easier to understand. We do what pleases us without reguard to what others feel."

He patted Mina's shoulder softly and shook his head at her. "You do not need to understand them Young One. You just need to make sure they do not destroy themselves. When the time comes for they existance to end you and the others like you from other Pantheons will know and work together to bring about their end. Until then just watch and mingle if you must."

 

Orion waited for Kay to start speaking. As he told the tale of what happened Orion steadily went paler. The horror of what happened to him upset Orion. He knew from personal experience the nightmares that followed after being in the clutches of a monster. He had seen the aftermath of a Spridren kill. 

When he was finished Orion moved closer to him."I'm sorry Kay." He murmured softly reaching out and grasping his chin. He forced Kay to look at him as he used his other hand to wipe the tears from his face. "I understand Kay. I get it. I am here for you."  He wanted nothing more than to pull Kay into his arms and just hold him. 

"You are not alone Kay. I know you do not want to talk about it again and I will not ask you too, but if you need me I am here for you." He could only immagine the guilt Kay was feeling over Cordeliane's loss but knew his sister would not hold it against him. Shawn he did not know how he felt but it did not matter because Kay had him.

"Are you ready to continue this adventure or do you need a few more minutes to compose yourself?"

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Shawn stared at Cordeliane, speaking of their possible assassination as if it was something she was used to. As if it was something that happened every day. Perhaps it did. His hands, clenched at his sides, tightened until every knuckle was white as she named the only possible suspect. Knox. Of course it would be that bastard of Scarglas.

His mind worked quickly as Cordeliane described what would happen should she die. He didn’t know much about succession or chains of command here in Nvengaria, but he did know one thing, for he had signed all the papers declaring so. If Cordeliane died, stewardship of her land would belong to him, and he would be as much in the way of Knox as she was.

In other words, both of them had to die. That would be most convenient for Knox.

“Fuck,” he whispered as Cordeliane waved away the footmen and reentered the carriage. He stood for a moment, unsure of what to do, what to say or even think. In the end he simple decided she was right; here and now was not the time nor place. He looked around, as if he could by some chance catch the perpetrator of the accident before entering the carriage himself.

He looked over to his wife. She looked as calm and composed as he had ever seen her. It frustrated him. She had just nearly lost her life, he had just nearly lost his, and she sat like stone. Seriously? He wanted to knock some well-deserved fear into her.

~

Forced to look at the young knight, Kay saw no anger, no condemnation in Orion’s eyes. Instead there was sympathy, sadness, concern, and most of all understanding. Things he didn’t much expect to see and felt he didn’t even deserve in the wake of Cordeliane’s miscarriage. But it was there, and while he cringed at the way it made Orion feel, it did make him feel slightly better too.

He took a few deep breaths; a calming exercise he’d learned long ago. Finally, he was able to look Orion in the eyes without being forced to. It was still hard, but it was easier.

“I’ll… I’ll be fine.” But he didn’t start riding just yet. There was a pause, then, “My, uh, purpose in life was t’discover why people live. Eclipse’s is to find out why people die. Never got it. Till now.” He took another deep breath and forced a smile. “Well, c’mon. We gotta catch up to Finn.”

 

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She did not stay composed long. As soon as the carriage doors closed and it started to move she launched herself at him and curled into him shaking. 

"He has got to be stopped. This obsession he has with my money and lands needs to be stopped. He needs to be stopped before you get hurt or killed."  She was not to concerned with herself. Knox was a pain the the ass but he would focus on Shawn more than her unless she turned up pregnant.

"I would like to handle this between us for now. If we have to go to the King we will but I will want as much evidance and proof as possible to take to him. Many think he favours me because his wife was my mothers best friend and she is my Gods Mother. We will have to be weary and out fox the sly bastard."

She was so sick of dealing with Knox and his beed for her lands and money. She had been fending him off for years and even now that she was wed he still would not give up on her. 

 

Mina smiled at her friend and hugged him. "Watch over my chosen boys. I am trusting you to protect them. I have others I need to tend to. It seems my chosen ones cannot remain out of trouble. I am tempted to put the fear of the Gods in to that young bastard Knox Felmont. But I must let Cordeliane and her husband deal with him first." She grinned at him.

" I think I might just show myself to him and her as well. He would be an interesting one to observe."

 

Finvarra chucked softly." You are showing yourself much. What happened to the Gods must not interfere? Ahh right you are the protector your job is to meddle and interfere when it pleases you. Go have your fun my friend. I will guide these two to the wild mage."

Watching with a shake of his head as she vanished he waited until Kay and Orion caught up to him. 

"Everything out in the clear? No more secrets? Good lets go"

It was easy to forgive him the loss of Cordelianes unborn child. He knew his sister well. Though she will mourn the loss of her unborn child she would have mourned the loss of Kay longer. It was easier to mourn and move pass the loss of the life you did not have the chance to know than to mourn and move pass the life of a person you care for. 

Orion glad he was somewhat back to his jovial self nodded his head"Maybe we should send Mina to Shawn. She is the daughter of our Death God/ Ruler of the realms of the dead. She is of both Death and Life."

Nudging Peach Orion grinned at Kay "Race you too him. "

Orion had much to think on and digest but now was not the time. Right now he needed to put Kay back into his jovial self and move the quest forward. There woukd be time for deep though and reflections when they settled for the night to make camp. For now though there was much distance to travel and not as much day light to do it under. 

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Shawn had just about decided Cordeliane was something other than human when she flung herself at him. It was warm, even here in the carriage, but she shivered, and her voice was full of fear and tiredness. It appeared she had been dealing with Knox for more than a while, and knew as well as Shawn did that the Lord Scarglas would now focus on the new Earl of Kedves’ untimely death.

Having faced the prospect of dying more than once, Shawn felt more annoyed than fearful. Knox had grated on his nerves since he had laid eyes on him – the man stank of greed and selfishness – but Shawn was no more frightened of him than he was of the common insect. Still, dealing with Knox would require time, energy, and patience, and that was simply irritating.

Not to mention Cordeliane’s own agitated feelings… Seeing her curled into him and shaking, Shawn felt a strong anger toward the disgusting man. How dare he interfere in Shawn’s personal life?

I’ll kill him, Shawn coldly decided as he wrapped an arm around Cordeliane, giving as much comfort as he knew how to give.

The carriage rolled on, stopping at last before the cobbler. Shawn squeezed his wife, just a little. “Forget about the bastard for now, Corde.”

~

Send Mina to Shawn? Kay had to smile at that. Shawn was rarely ever flustered or unsure, but he was confident Mina would see him both if she revealed herself to him. Eclipse was not too fond of gods and meeting such a powerful personage would certainly humble him in more than one way.

Kay was not altogether feeling like his old self quite yet, but simply looking at Orion’s unjudging face and smile made him feel better. “A race? Hah! Go, Sun Diver!” he yelled, kicking the horse in the ribs. Sun Diver immediately sprang into a heavy gallop. The larger, broader horse was not a progeny of Shooting Star, of course, and Kay lost horribly, but he was still grinning as he rode up behind Peachblossom.

“Sorry tha’ took so long, Finn. Let’s get goin’, eh?”

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She looked up at him shocked. He called her Corde. Since she had known him if he spoke her name it was never shortened but always Cordeliane. She was pleased he was getting comfortable enough with her and their relationship to start shortening her name. 

"I will Shawn. Just tired of protect myself, my people and lands from him. It is nice to have help dealing with him" 

She pulled from him as they pulled up and stopped infront of the cobblers. She was not used to looking weak to her people and it would not due for her to appear so now that she was married. She need people to see women as strong and good leader. Things were changing and women besides her need to be able to own land and run their lives and the only way to do that was to give them a strong example. 

Composing herself at the sound of the knock on "Enter" gone was the shaking woman and the composed sure mask back in place as the cobbler opened the carriage door. 

The cobbler seeing the carriage came out. The just finished boots in his hands. Having been hard at work on the boots for the new Lord he had not heard of the near miss with the tree. Knocking on the door of the carriage"My lord the boot are ready" Once given permission he opened the carriage door and deposited the boot inside. " The clothing  will be sent to the castle by the end of the week my lady"  he gave them a bow and closed the door. 

"What a remarkable front you put up my dear. You are very much like your mother." Without warning they were no longer alone in the carriage. A woman with long brown and blond hair and eyes sapphire and violet sat across from them. Smiling with deep red lips as she looked them over."You chose well my daughter. He is well suited. I just might have to leave the island to meet the people these men come from"

Mina nochalantly sat there as if she had always been there. It was time to meet this Countess of Kedves and her husband. The bloodline was chosen by her and she eventually showed herself too all daughters of Kedves. "I am sorry I did not come to you before you ventured to the main land.  Had I you would not have suffered. Should you ..either of you have need of me call and I shall come."

Mina was being her usual self. She did not introduce herself though she saw the the bewilderment and awe in Cordeliane's face. She knew the young woman knew who and what she was. She did not know if Cordeliane has told her husband about her and the Gods of the pantheon, if not he was going to be surprised.

 

Orion grinned as Kay caught up to them and spoke to Finvarra. It was good to see him back to normal. Patting Peach he looked around and noticed Mina was missing. He was curious about where she had gone. He had been hoping that she would join them for part of the adventure finding the Wild mage. "Where is lady Mina?"

Orion wanted to thank her for whatever she had said to Kay to get him to open up. The communication between them was so important to any kind of relationship whether ot was friendship or something more. He was going to be there for Kay no matter what. 

"Mina had another matter to attend to. She will join us when she is ready or if she is needed" Fin was amused by how readily Orion accepted Mina as one of the party. Many mortals were unnerved by her strange eyes and powerful presence. 

"Kay, I would have wait days. Your talk was important. The time it took was but mere seconds to one as long lived as myself." He remounted his own horse and nodded " Whenever you are ready let us be off. " 

He nodded to both Orion and Kay to lead the way even though they were in his forest. It was Kay's quest after all and Orion was the chosen guide. He would not take over leading the party. He was there to observe and assist.

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