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Thread: Dragging Demons into the Light [10/29, early evening, Seamus & Aloise]

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Dragging Demons into the Light [10/29, early evening, Seamus & Aloise]

    Aloise sat cross-legged on her bed, concentration on her face as she worked to stitch up a tear in her spare shift. It was the finer of the two, but the one she wore the least, and the brown stain that crept up the bottom hem was an indication why. It had been what she'd been wearing when she'd been taken, and she'd been allowed to keep it after their finery had been stripped from them only because she seemed to hate it so much. "Let it be a token to remember your little brother by," they'd said, having already heard how she had been dragged from under a table, where she and Timothy had been clinging together. They hadn't spared him, but they'd let him watch her be dragged away before they'd put him to the sword.

    The simple act of mending her clothing would, two weeks ago, have been impossible. And if it had been she who had asked for the thread and needle, it still would have been denied her. But it hadn't been her; it'd been Ser Seamus, and although they'd suspected he wasn't the one turning his fingers to needlework, they hadn't been able to deny him. Just as they hadn't been able to tell him no when he'd procured a bed to set in the corner of his room and moved Aloise to stay with him. After that first night, he hadn't really been able to leave her alone, there being no doubt that some sort of retribution would find her, but even though she felt like she must be a burden, the knight didn't seem to mind. Thankfully, neither did her sister; Delphia had found her way easier, and seemed better adjusted to things than Aloise. She spent most of her time in the kitchens, having worked hard to earn herself a place there, and since the safest thing to do for any of them was to keep their heads down, that's what she did. Although before she would have pitched a fit that her sister was getting more attention than her, things had changed enough that Delphia was just glad someone was willing to help them.

    The one thing that had worsened in the time that she'd been with Ser Seamus was Veronica. For weeks she would lay quiet, staying to her room or doing as she was told, only to erupt in a fury suddenly and violently. They'd had to lock her in her room this time, after she'd nearly bitten the ear off one of the guards, and Aloise was secretly very pleased she didn't have to listen to her cousin screaming furies and curses at all hours.

    Aloise still didn't sleep much, nor was she any less wary of anyone, Seamus notwithstanding, but small changes had taken place. She spoke more, although still not much, and just in the past few days she'd started regaining the first tiny scraps of the curiosity that had been so strong when she was well. "Ser Seamus?" Her sewing was in her lap now, and she looked hesitantly over to where the large knight was sitting, reading. "What's it like where you come from?"

    ----

    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus had done more reading in the time since he had first encountered Aloise than he had for possibly his entire life before that. He might have preferred to be out and walking the grounds or even riding or hunting small game on the open plain. But the girl wasn't an overly outgoing creature, and even though she had come to trust that he meant her no ill will, she still seemed to have no desire to partake in any real adventure that Seamus might have dreamed up. But the man wasn't complaining. He enjoyed the girl's company more than he would admit, and he was simply glad to see her in spirits well enough to at least take care of herself.

    When she spoke his name, Seamus almost jumped. Aloise was such a thoughtfully quiet creature that she never really seemed to be a chatter, and the knight was not the kind of man who pressed. When she asked about his home, he flicked his eyes in her direction over the top of the book. "Are you sure you want to know, Little Sprite?" He wasn't even sure he wanted to tell her. Maple Glade was the epitome of all the things that Welch Run was not. At least for Aloise. Secily seemed to have enough fun amusing herself, and terrorizing him and everyone else. But for the most part, the castle was nothing but business most of the time.

    He turned back to the book as he noted that she was no longer stitching her shift, hoping she would simply pick it back up. But as she continued to stare at him, he sighed lightly and closed the tome. "It's fair. Too many trees to see anything," he told her. "Not like living on the plain," he added. "The seasons are full of bright shifts in the trees and bushes. My sister and I used to await the fall each morning when the dew began to sit and the summer had yielded. We marked the colors of the leaves, and compared them to previous days, just to see the change for our own eyes."

    There was more, but he had to wait to make sure she was okay. For the most part the two of them got along like old friends, but he never knew when something he said might trigger her. "Was there something in particular you were curious about?"


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Aloise listened to the description of where Seamus grew up with a look on her face like she was trying - and failing - to picture it. Her brows knit together, and she looked more than a little confounded. There were a few trees on the grounds, but they weren't really very large, and they mostly turned brown when the weather turned cold. Some of the fields turned golden in the summer, but for most of the year all she saw were vast swathes of various greens, or the dull dead greys and browns of winter. What would it be like, to stand in a place where she couldn't see the land unfold in front of her, with bright colors all around?

    At his question, she shook her head. "Not really. When..." she paused, visibly backtracking from the words she'd been about to use and starting over, "I never really went far beyond the near fields. My teacher used to tell me that Tuneric has a big smoking mountain, and a forest so deep it was always dark inside it, and a whole section that was warm and sandy with water to the north and the south." She paused, and looked down at the mending in her lap, not well enough to think about the past and look someone in the eye. "It's just so hard to picture. And it wasn't likely I'd get to see it, since I'd probably get married to..."

    An involuntary shudder took her, and she seemed to get smaller even as she sat there. She hadn't been thinking about where sentence had been going until it went somewhere she couldn't follow, and anyone could see how it had blindsided her. She pressed her eyes closed, having lost the thread of the conversation completely, and tried to banish the thoughts that assaulted her.

    She was probably going to get married to one of the sons of the Peregrine's banners. There was a particular one she'd had her eye on, even - a little older than her, sturdy and handsome. She'd seen him that night, from where she hid under the table, fighting alongside De Angelis men. Alongside that memory came the mocking words of Ethan, so close to her ear, while she struggled against his arms. "We'll make it so no man will ever want you, Peregrine. Any hopes you had of marriage, of happily ever after? You're too disgusting to even think you deserve them now."

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    It wasn't often that the urge for conversation grabbed a hold of Aloise, but Seamus was always thankful for when it did. Closing the book with no regrets, he set it on the small table next to his own bed, and reached for the small box containing his whetstone. Removing it, and the dagger from his belt, Seamus began the mindless task of sharpening the blade as he listened to and contemplated what Aloise was saying. When her words trailed away to nothing, as they often did in his experience, the knight picked up the conversation, happy to take the burden of her thoughts off of her.

    "Marriage, pfft." Seamus had no real designs on the institution at all. But that was probably due to the fact that he never seemed to meet anyone. Unless they were touched. The last two women who had any sort of encounter with the knight ranked among them one who thought she could see the future, and one who had lost her memories. But he also understood that it was a dream for many young noble women, and even though he could reconcile the notion for their sake, it still sounded like a terrible predicament overall. Sticking his tongue out over it might have been immature, but Seamus rationalized that to all the time he had been spending with Aloise.

    As to the lessons she had gotten from her tutors, Seamus merely shrugged and nodded. "Tuneric is full of all sorts of interesting places to visit. The volcano only smokes sometime, when it is about to erupt. Not one of my favorite places though. It's very grey in the mountains. Though not far from there is the coast where my brother and I fought some Balfourian pirates and saved Queen Nataliah from drowning." In hindsight, that story became more and more unbelievable as the time passed from it, but it didn't change the fact that it had once happened. It was likely that foolishness that had landed him here in the first place. "Did you know that your old friend Seamus was a big hero? Bet you didn't," he told her, puffing his chest out a little bit as he wiped the steel shavings on the rag that had enveloped his whetstone.

    Testing the blade against his thumb, the knight was satisfied that it was keen, and slid it back into the sheath at his belt. "As for the shore...I can only say that you have to see it to believe it. You stand on the white sand, and look out onto the horizon, and you can see nothing but water until you can't see any further. It just goes on forever. But if you walk down to it, the waves wash up on your feet, and it's foamy and warm, and the sand seems to dissolve under your feet as the tide comes in and goes back out." Seamus liked the resort towns and the ocean. He had spent a few days down on the sands when he had visited Aston, and wouldn't have left, if given the choice. "Should we go? Seems like a perfect place to vacation after the party."


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Seamus's voice took some amount of time to penetrate into Aloise's awareness. The memories were too vivid, their hold too strong to be banished so easily. She managed to rejoin the conversation about when he mentioned pirates, and saving the queen, and although it took a moment to process what he'd just said, the sheer improbability of that story was enough to return her firmly to reality.

    "Pirates?" She knew that the queen was from Balfour, but that was pretty much the extent of what she'd learned about both the place and the person. "You fought pirates? And saved the Queen?" There was a healthy bit of awe in her voice; of course Seamus was already pretty much the best person she'd ever met, so she didn't think he'd lie to her, but this sounded like something out of an adventure book.

    Aloise still had a hard time believing that leaving was a thing she could do, and was going to do. Going to the party at the capital was at the same time exciting and overwhelming. Seamus would keep her safe, she knew, but with so many people in one place who knew what could happen? What if people hated her the moment they found out who she was? If the party that had been held here was any measure of things then Dastan was a popular man with lots of friends, and they would all know that her family had been the enemy. Victors wrote the histories, and what was written about the Peregrines would not be kind or fair.

    Picking up her mending again, Aloise started stitching again. She didn't have much left to do, and she'd always been told she needed to be better at being able to hold a conversation while working. "I think I'd like to see the shore someday," she said, still not quite able to talk like these events could happen any time soon. "Would the water still be warm now, even though it's cold outside?" There was a little lull while she finished her line of stitches and tied off her thread, bending down to cut the thread with her eyeteeth in a move that would have gotten her smacked by her tutor. Sitting up, she smoothed and surveyed her work, apparently finding it satisfactory, and she tucked the needle into the spool of thread so she didn't lose it. "How far away is the capital? Is it far from the coast?"

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    It was entirely possible that Seamus was using the word "pirates" a little too liberally. Though, if one considered the matter of boarding and stealing another person's ship an act of piracy, then the knight supposed that he had a certain level of poetic license to fall back on. The way she questioned it though made him take pause so that he could think back to when it had all happened, and how ridiculously far away it all looked at that moment. "Well sure," the man said with some hurt in his tone at the disbelieving nature of her questions. "You think they give those to just anyone," he said, motioning to the folded red and white cloak at the foot of her bed.

    Seamus swung his legs over the side of his own and hunched over a little bit, looking as though he were going to suddenly share classified information with her. "There I was, in Pyre Cliff, a few days before King Cailen's flagship was to be launched. I was just minding my own business, when all of a sudden there was a loud splintering of lumber and the Sword of Aramis lurched from its moorings and right out into the harbor. Well, needless to say, yours truly leapt right into action and commandeered a boat to go after it. Jumped right from our deck to theirs, and fought hand to hand with a Balfourian prince, I did." Seamus didn't bother with the fact that said prince would later attempt to kill Cailen again, and that the ship he was trying to save subsequently sank. Those were less than shining details in the story.

    Rolling his feet back into the bed, he propped himself up with the pillow and shrugged. "You know. Typical hero stuff." Seamus didn't expect her to believe him, but someday she would hear a similar tale, likely from Bosleigh, where he was the hero and not Seamus, but even that would be okay with him. Anything that made life a little less glum for Aloise was alright by Seamus.

    The knight contemplated the rest of her questions silently for a moment, and smiled. Seamus never minded the questions. They were simple enough for the most part, and it made him feel smart. He hadn't ever anticipated that someone would come to him with questions about life, and so, when he could answer them, he took a small amount of joy from being the voice of authority. "It's warm most of the year in White Coast," he told her. "And it doesn't rain much since the great storm ended." Not that Seamus had ever witnessed it. That time was so long ago that it was practically a fairy tale in his time. But Tuneric had an odd climate when it came to the shores in the north. For whatever reason, it never grew too cold north of the river, and Seamus couldn't quite grip at why.

    Doing some quick math in his head, Seamus managed a couple of calculations. "Hebron is about two and a half days away at a hard ride," he told her. "Four, if you stop and see the sights," he added. "And it's actually in the opposite direction of the coast. If you left here, going north and east, you'd be at the ocean in about two days. You should ask Delphia," he said, wondering how much Aloise spoke to her. "Perhaps you were there when you were very young and just don't remember."


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    As Seamus told his story, Aloise couldn't help but lean forward too, taken in by the conspiratorial nature of the telling. She was a rewarding audience, reacting - albeit in her own muted way - at all the right places. In her estimation it was beginning to look like there wasn't much Seamus couldn't do; he could fight, he could sail, he could swim, he was brave enough to jump between two moving boats, and he was willing to stand up to the bad guys. Someday she would ask for more of the story, because there had to be more to it - he hadn't even mentioned how the Queen was involved, or how she ended up in the ocean for him to save. Surely the Queen couldn't have been a pirate. That would be just be absurd.

    The idea of a place that didn't really get cold, where you could look over the sea and never see land, sounded like a magical place to Aloise. She'd only ever liked the colder months when she was younger and allowed to go outside and play in the snow. Once she'd become old enough to have to start behaving like a lady, she'd found the castle to be drafty and dreary, and the faint light through the windows made everything look grey. "Maybe..." she said of the idea that she might've seen the coast and been too young to remember, "but if I was too young to remember, then I'm not sure it counts."

    If she was honest, though, Aloise didn't think they'd ever really left the lands around Welch Run. Her uncle went on a trip now and again, but they never went to visit anyone, and only the vassal families would come visit them. She vaguely remembered her father talking about taking them somewhere, but what she remembered him saying was that her uncle said they didn't have the funds to have him "frolicking all over Tuneric for no good reason".

    The question that sprang to mind next was one she'd thus far avoided asking. Leaving Welch Run still seemed too good to be true, and she was terrified that she would ask about it and find out that something had changed and she would be stuck here forever. The more she thought about it, the more things there were to worry about: if Dastan would let her go, what she would do without Delphia, how she would handle being surrounded by strangers who believed her family deserved what happened to them. "Ser Seamus...when is the party? Do you really think I'll be able to go?"

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus chuckled softly, and nodded his head at the young woman. There was something that really endeared the girl to him. Perhaps it was the fact that she looked at him with such admiration and trust. He often wondered if Grant or Maera felt about him the way he felt about Aloise. If this was what being a big brother was like, then he was sorry that he had been born the baby. Then again, maybe it was the fact that the girl seemed and acted like she needed a defender. Perhaps it appealed to the knight in him. Until recently, it had just been a title.

    "I should hope that you remember when I take you there then," he said with a smile. "Can't be using that too young to remember excuse forever you know. Grant never lets me use the excuse of being the baby." He was teasing her a little, but his good natured tone made it clear that he was only having fun. "Do you know how to swim," he asked. Seamus hadn't noticed much in the way of standing water in the area, but they weren't more than a day's carriage ride from the river.

    Seamus was still adjusting to the constant trepidation that seemed to grip the girl, and when she asked again about the trip to Hebron, the knight wasn't sure if there was some other way that he should be addressing her to put her mind at ease. "It's a coronation," he corrected her. It'll probably start in a few days. And last for the better part of the week." Seamus didn't know how much it would be like Cailen's coronation, but hopeully nowhere near as dramatic.

    The last question was something he had been considering for a while, but he had already made up his mind. "I have no intention of going without you," he said flatly. "And I don't have a very long history of people telling me that I can't have what I want, Little Sprite. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a pretty big guy, who carried a pretty big sword," he said, giving her a reassuring wink. And honestly, there wasn't any reason that Dastan could possibly give him as to why it would be a problem. Or was there?

    Frowning, he looked back at the young woman, and scratched the side of his face lazily. "Is there a reason why you think you wouldn't be allowed to go?"


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Did she know how to swim? Aloise wasn't entirely sure, but that probably meant she didn't. There had been a pretty large pond she and some of the other kids would go splash around in during the hottest months of summer when she was younger, but the bottom had been too soft and squelchy for her to want to go in too far. And, even if she'd known then how to swim, it had been at least five years since she'd been allowed to get in any water deeper than a wash tub, so it was likely she'd lost the knack for it. "I don't think so," she replied a little hesitantly, still not entirely sure if she was right.

    Aloise wasn't terribly sure what the difference would be between a regular party and a coronation, aside from the reason for gathering. Some kind of ceremony, surely? If it was going to last for almost a week then there was going to be some way to fill the time. Btu the more pressing question was why there was a coronation at all. She'd seen the King with her own eyes during the party Dastan had thrown, and he'd looked quite young. What had happened? News of any kind of change would hardly have reached her, but if she managed to get out of Welch Run she'd have to find out.

    A small smile pulled at her lips as Seamus spoke of not leaving with her. As little as she wanted to cause him trouble, she could think of nothing better than fleeing the situation she'd been living in for months, even if she didn't feel like she deserved to escape. Not to mention, if he had to put up a fight to leave with her, what would happen to Delphia?

    Looking down at her lap, Aloise nodded in answer to his question. "Dastan owns us, and he said we were never allowed to leave." One of the voices that so haunted her sleep came to the front of her mind, and Aloise heard Dastan speaking as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. "He said he'd made sure we were no value to anybody, that even though we're poor not even the peasants would tolerate us because of how wicked we'd been." The message had clearly set into Aloise's mind, as she didn't even offer the slightest resistance to the idea. There was more to it, if the haunted look Aloise wore was any indication, but for now she fell silent, and waited for the judgement she feared would come.

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus couldn't imagine not being able to swim. Though, he came from a family of pretty athletic boys, so much of their summer required the skill. "Well, you can always learn. Never know when you might fall off of a boat, like some other princesses," he told her with a smile. He might have been simplifying matters a bit, now that he thought about it. Seamus couldn't even remember learning to swim, he had been so young at the time. He wondered how hard it would be to teach someone else. But, to her benefit, Aloise was small enough and he was tall enough to make sure she didn't drown.

    The rest of Aloise's revelations caused Seamus' brow to furrow in consternation. What she had said was very hard for him to believe. Well, it wasn't hard to believe that Dastan had said it, but more that he or anyone else might believe that it was true. The very mentioning of it caused Seamus to drop his legs over the side of the bed and stand, as he moved about the room, albeit with much less pacing space since he had moved Aloise in. He was cracking his knuckles again, which he did whenever he got to the point where he thought that some kind of battle was imminent, but he didn't bother to go to the door.

    Moving to where Aloise was sitting, Seamus settled himself beside her and turned the girl to look at him. "Hear me now, Little Sprite. The only opinion that matters when it comes to your value, is your own. Neither Dastan, nor King Cailen...not even myself can say what your value is." Seamus had half a mind to put his hands around Dastan's throat when he saw him next, and was thankful at that moment that the man was not in the castle. "Nobody is wicked based on a name alone, and you haven't been around long enough to do anything that would earn you this kind of punishment."

    For a moment, the knight couldn't meet the child's eyes to see if they were misting up the same way that his were. He reached for her and put his arms around Aloise's small frame as he pulled her close. "Nobody owns you, Little Sprite. You remember that. They might try to clip your wings, but when you heal enough, you'll fly again. You have my word on it."

    He let her pull away so that he cut put one of his hands on her head and muss her hair, trying to blink away the emotion before she noticed it. "We'll be sure to get to Hebron early," he told her. "You're gonna need a new dress for when you meet the queen."


    @Aloise Peregrine
    Last edited by Seamus Hepburn; 01-16-2017 at 03:05 PM.

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Seamus's pacing raised Aloise's anxiety, sensitive as she was to the unpleasant moods of people around her, and it did nothing to help the voices that were becoming louder in her mind. Even though she trusted him more than perhaps any other human, she still flinched when he moved to turn her, and she had a hard time looking directly at him. Anxious as she was, though, his words were a balm to her frazzled mind. She'd desperately wanted to believe that she hadn't been a bad person, that she didn't deserve this, but all the voices around her had said the same thing: you earned this.

    Aloise froze when he pulled her into his arms. It was a strange mix of feelings; the immediate reaction was terror, as the last time she'd been this close to someone it had been the night when they'd been ruined, but mixed in with that was the familiar scent she associated with the comfort of the cloak that had been something of a safety blanket for her. Unfortunately the first reaction was the strongest, and she began shaking, silent sobs racking her small frame. She was overwhelmed, the flood of panic swirling with the hope that his words were true.

    He reached out to ruffle her hair, but his words broke whatever dam had been holding the depth of her emotion back. Tears came in earnest, and she shook her head. "I can't meet her," she cried quietly, her voice shaken by sobs. Her face was red with shame and with crying, and she hid behind her hands. "The things he did...I can't...I'm not..." She was only fifteen, but she knew the touch of a man. Her virtue may still technically have been intact, but it hardly mattered. Whether she deserved it or not, she believed she had been ruined, utterly and completely.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Among the list of things that were completely foreign to Seamus Hepburn, a crying girl was pretty high on the tally. Maera had simply not. She had of course, pleaded, and stomped her feet, and outright yelled her demands, but she had never really cried. At least not that Seamus could remember, and a boy several years her junior. He wasn't exactly sure how to handle the situation, when Aloise began to shake and sob. His instinct was to squeeze her tighter, but that might lead to her suffocation if he wasn't careful. Likewise, he considered patting her on the back, as that always seemed to calm his nephews. But, it also usually caused them to burp, which wasn't really the resolution he thought that the Peregrine girl was hoping for either.

    When the aqueduct let loose the reservoir, the knight could barely make out the words the girl was saying, and the matter became even more compounded when she shook her head and covered her face with her hands. "Of course you can, Little Sprite," he said, countering the idea that she could not meet the queen. It would take very little effort on his part to introduce them after all. But the next part of her statement, muffled that it was, confused him more than anything had so far. "The things who did, Aloise," he asked, noticing how odd her actual name sounded on his tongue.

    Whatever she wasn't telling him would likely answer a lot of questions that he had been formulating in his head. If the he was one of her relatives, and he was the reason she couldn't meet the queen, Seamus would finally know what caused the DeAngelis uprising. It wasn't something he had ever gotten Dastan to tell him about, other than to imply that his predecessors were bilking tax money from their people without investing it or yielding it to the crown. If whatever her father or uncle did was so terrible that she felt it had tainted her to the level that her captors had told her it did, then he would at least have an inkling into how to reverse her fortunes.

    But before any of that could be resolved, he had to get her to calm down. He pulled the fine silk handkerchief of orange and black from his pocket and handed it to her. "Here," he said, noticing that she was trying to regain control with the short sniffling sobs that used to wrack him after Patrick had taken the switch to him as a child. "Who is he, Little Sprite?"


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Aloise had to get hold of herself. It wasn't that she didn't have any reason to lose herself, but she was in definite risk of hyperventilating as she fought with her own mind. Nevermind the fact that she'd already said more than she'd wanted to, and now Seamus was asking questions she didn't want to answer. Despite her strong reluctance, though, there was also a tugging feeling that she should tell him. Somebody needed to know what happened to them. And Seamus most of all deserved to know why she was the way she was; he'd been so kind, had tolerated so much without judgement or question. She couldn't deny him the answers he sought.

    Moving her hands from her face, Aloise wrapped her arms around herself, squeezing in an attempt to fight the ragged, uncontrolled gasps that shook her. A few times she held her breath for a moment, and after some time she had calmed enough that she could sit up and take the handkerchief Seamus offered. She felt sick and hollow as she often did after such an attack, her breath still hitching fairly often and her face red from the violent crying. Pushing herself back, she slid across the bed until her back was against the wall, and she pressed herself against it to feel its cool strength behind her. Sitting on the middle of the bed as she had been had felt too exposed for what she was working up to saying. She wiped her eyes once or twice with the handkerchief, but mostly just held it; it was finer than anything she'd touched in months, and she didn't want to dirty it, no matter what its intended use was.

    When she spoke her voice was dull, as though she sought to divorce her vital self from the events she was to relate. "When the attack was finally over, they took us from the cell they'd put us in. They hadn't even cleaned up all the bodies yet, and there was still blood everywhere, but they brought us to the rooms they'd claimed as theirs." She paused, taking a deep breath and pulling her legs in close to her. "Delphia was put in Solomon's room, and Veronica and I were taken to Uncle Alexander's. Dastan and his son were in there, and there were a couple servants in there too and they threw us on the bed and pointed swords at us so we wouldn't try to move. He told us about how it was over, and everyone but us was dead, and we weren't anything anymore but whatever they decided we could be. Veronica fought with him, but he hit her hard enough she bled, and he said that even though we were nothing, he had to make sure we couldn't ever be anything. He had to make sure even if we left nobody could want us, and that we'd have no claim to anything he'd just won from us. He..." Her voice faltered, but she crossed her arms over her stomach tightly and fought on.

    "Dastan made Veronica..." she hesitated at the words she didn't want to say, "he made her have sex with him, and she screamed and cried and laughed and it was so loud, and Ethan held me and made me watch and he touched me and..." She pressed her eyes closed, and took a deep shuddering breath as she tried to fight the memory. "I tried to fight him but he wouldn't let me get away, and when I almost did once he pressed me against the wall and told me if I kept fighting he'd do to me what his dad was doing to Veronica because he wanted to but wasn't allowed to yet but if I misbehaved they'd change their mind and he'd take what was his."

    Her words had come fairly quickly, and now she fell silent. She couldn't bring herself to look at Seamus, to see the judgement on his face now that he knew she'd been sullied. The fact that she still retained her maidenhood hardly mattered now that she had felt a man's hands all over her, felt his hot breath on the back of her neck, felt his arousal press against her. The stress of the telling of her most painful secret left Aloise quietly shaking, her breathing shallow and quick and her eyes focused on the brightly-colored silk square she still held in her hands.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  14. #14
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The Hepburn knight let the girl compose herself and then listened intently to what she had to say. He could feel his right hand begin to tremble, as the anger rose to the back of his throat, but he knew that lashing out in that moment wouldn't do anything for Aloise. He understood now why one of the guards had told him that Ethan demanded to know why the girl had been taken from her rooms, and he silently wished that the child would come for his own answer. Seamus was like as not to snap him in half, just based on his ire. The fact that Dastan's son was little more than a child held no sway on the knight just then. If he wanted to act like a big man, then Hepburn would show him how big men suffered.

    He didn't try to embrace her again. She was too fragile in that moment, and nothing he was going to say or do would reassure her at all. But she had managed to open up to him with the truth, and Seamus had a better understanding now of why Guy Durand had sent him here. He could not believe that the Commander of Dawn and the King had known these things to happen and done nothing about it. He had met Cailen Shellten personally, and didn't get the impression that such wickedness was a part of his character. But Seamus also knew that he could be naive to the world of politics. Instead of sending word to Guy, he would write a message to Grant, and ask him what he advised. If he found the patience. Otherwise, he would be explaining to his brother and the crown why he had murdered an entire family.

    "Listen well, Little Sprite," he said to her after she had stopped crying. "No matter what evils befall you or your cousins, you must always remember that this is the shame of the De Angelis. Not yours. And no matter what crimes may have been committed by your family in the past, this is not how the crown punishes anyone. Especially the innocent." Seamus crooked his finger and placed it under her chin, lifting it so that she had to look him in the eye. "You are a lady of House Peregrine born, Little Sprite. And nothing that Dastan says or does has the authority to change that. It is meant to convince you that you aren't worthy of the title and rank that are yours by blood. But no man has the authority to take our dignity."

    Removing his hand from her face, Seamus moved to the little writing desk that had been pushed against the wall when Aloise had moved in. He was hurriedly scribbling something onto a piece of parchment when he looked back at Aloise, an uncharacteristic cunning behind his eyes. "You will meet the Queen, Lady Peregrine. You must." The knight was glad that he had brought the hobby with him to Welch Run, in addition to his courser. It would serve Aloise well on the trip to the capital, and it was more than capable of outrunning any steed Dastan had in his stables. Even if Seamus had to turn and fight, the girl would be away far too swiftly for it to matter.

    Folding up the note, he placed it in his breast pocket, determined to see it away that very day to Maple Glade. With any luck, Grant would meet him in Hebron before the coronation. Seamus was still angry enough to kill the first De Angelis man he saw, and he would be served to not leave the room until the girl and he were both calmer. Perhaps not even until she was asleep. "You don't belong to anyone, Lady Peregrine," he told her with a hint of a snarl in his voice. "And if they want to keep you here, they will well have to be rid of me in the process. I almost wish they'd try."


    @Aloise Peregrine

  15. #15
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    There was an intensity in his voice as Seamus spoke to Aloise, and she couldn't help but listen. Difficult as it was, she looked into his eyes as he spoke, and as hard as his words were to believe, she couldn't bring herself to disagree. What he said went counter to everything she'd been told in the days since the fall of her family, but it was what she wanted to believe. She needed to be able to believe that she still had worth and dignity, that she wasn't ruined. She needed to believe that she was innocent of whatever crimes her family had done to warrant such a violent and thorough destruction.

    Still shaking, she watched as he moved to his desk and began to write. With deliberate effort she began to unfold herself, stretching her legs out straight in front of her and fighting the urge to curl up as small as she could get. The cunning in his voice when he turned back to her was a little unsettling, but Aloise didn't have much energy to worry about what it could mean. She felt wrung out and hollow, but she was fighting to get her wits back about her. Pressing her back fully against the wall, she leaned her head back and looked at where the opposite wall met the ceiling.

    Seamus was angry, and thankfully it seemed like it was on her behalf and not at her. Up until now she hadn't felt entitled to the feeling herself; they'd done such a good job at convincing her that she and her family deserved this, there hadn't been any room for it. Now, though, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach; it was tentative now, hesitant, but it burned nonetheless. She couldn't feed it, though. Not yet. Not when she was so raw.

    "Why is there a coronation at all? What happened to the King?" She needed to focus on something that was outside of herself, and if Seamus was determined to have her meet the Queen, it would help to know what had happened to Cailen. It hadn't been long, after all, since he'd been in Welch Run himself, socializing with Dastan in these blood-stained halls.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  16. #16
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus was busy taking an inventory of things he would need to pack for the trip to Hebron. For Aloise it would be much easier. She had so few possessions left to her that she would be able to gather everything she needed in moments. Even then, it would consist of a handful of clothing items, his cloak, and the silly little wooden dog that he had made her. But Hepburn had enough credit and coin to see them well off once they reached the capital. New dresses for Aloise, along with proper shoes and the accessories required to attend a coronation ball. The knight had never had anyone to dote on, and could think of nobody more deserving of his generosity than the youngest of the three Peregrine Ladies.

    Her question had caught him somewhat off guard, and he had to remind himself that it was plain that she was not only literally kept in the dark for three months, that she was also figuratively kept that way. "King Cailen was injured, in an assassination attempt. Shortly after he had visited here, someone attempted to kill him, and he has been recovering very slowly. It was in the interest of Tuneric for him to step aside in favor of his sister, so that he could focus on recovering." Seamus had had Gavin's account of the events and had found them inconceivably difficult to believe.

    Not feeling overly comfortable about discussing the matter, given how little he knew first hand, Seamus attempted to change the subject. "Should I sign up for the tourney joust," he asked her casually, even as unrolled a map of the island and plotted the course they would take. Dastan returned from his business tomorrow, and he didn't think he could manage an escape that evening. He would have to look for an opening in the coming days. "Have you ever seen a tournament, Little Sprite? It's fairly exciting."

    It had been decided that he was too young to tilt at Cailen's coronation, but given his rank and size, unless Grant objected, there was no reason for him to not ride this time around. Perhaps it would depend on the outcome of his business. There was still an outside chance that Vivienne Shellten would disagree with his actions, and he would be on the outs with the crown. In that event, he would likely be sent back to Maple Glade, but he would make certain that it was only with the stipulation that Aloise went along with him.


    @Aloise Peregrine

  17. #17
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    "Oh." Her reaction to the king nearly getting assassinated was underwhelming, and it would be tempting to think she hadn't heard properly if not for the way you could almost watch her process the information. She wasn't entirely sure how to feel about it, and didn't really have any emotional energy to spare even if she was. While her tutors had tried to instill in her a sense of loyalty to the crown, it was also true that King Cailen had known her family had been murdered and been okay enough with it to let everything stand. It would be hard to muster any sympathy for him, but it was probably very good he didn't die. "I hope he gets better," she added, with the same amount of enthusiasm as she'd displayed when she'd first heard the information.

    Having purposefully unfolded herself and held it for a little while, Aloise felt a little more in control of herself. With a somewhat clumsy motion she pushed herself off the bed, coming to stand behind Seamus. Thus far she hadn't ever really initiated contact between them; any time he'd given her a hug or reached out to ruffle her hair she'd had to repress an urge to dodge away, so uncomfortable was she with anyone touching her. Now, though, he knew the root cause, and that alone was enough to make her more comfortable with him. Before the uprising she'd been more the type of child to get scolded for hugging her sister tight enough to wrinkle her dress, and she almost felt strong enough to try to regain a little bit of that person.

    Leaning against the back of his chair, Aloise draped her arms around his broad shoulders, joining her hands in front of him and looking over his shoulder at the map. She wasn't relaxed, exactly, but it was a good first step. "I've never seen a tournament, but I've read about them. I thought the rules were a little confusing, but Delphia told me nobody really paid attention to those and that it was more about the look of the thing." Her tone sounded a little dubious. "I think I would like to see you ride, though. If you wanted to, that is." The last part was important, especially as she knew what it was like to never be asked, only told. "And as long as you don't get hurt."

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  18. #18
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The knight had gotten oddly accustomed to the monotone nature of Aloise, and often wondered what she might sound like if she was every happy or joyful. He wasn't sure he would even recognize her at that point. Seamus wasn't exactly sure what kind of reaction he expected her to have toward the news about Cailen, but the one she provided was pretty much the same as he had gotten towards any real news he had ever given her. "Well, I know Queen Nataliah is worried about him," Seamus said nonchalantly. What he could say beyond that, he wasn't sure. Gavin would have had more details than Grant or Guy had provided him, but he had never really bothered to ask.

    Seamus had spotted her movement off the bed, but hadn't thought anything of it. Aloise had spent so much time coiled around herself and folded into a ball, that if she didn't get up to stretch herself out from time to time, the knight thought she might suffer serious joint damage or paralysis. He was drawing faint lines in charcoal on the map, debating the direction that he might take to the capital. The road would be the quickest path by far, but until he was well away from Welch Run, he would want to skirt encounters with anyone who might recognize the girl.

    When the slender arms draped themselves over his shoulders, Seamus almost jumped with a start. As it was, he dropped the charcoal and allowed his hand to come up to touch the girl lightly. "With you in the stands to watch me," he said, a tone of defiance in his voice. "No chance I could get hurt," he told her. "I'm a Hepburn of Maple Glade, Little Sprite. I was born with a lance in my hand," Seamus explained. He didn't feel the need to add that it was a half-lance on a much smaller steed than his charger. But then again, it wouldn't do either of them any good to discuss his lack of tourney experience. He would simply do the best he could.

    Picking the charcoal back up, Seamus had intended to resume his work, so as not to spook Aloise with the attention he was paying to her presence. He desperately wanted her to have some normalcy in her life. But even then, he was still struck by something of a malaise at his own failings since he had come to Welch Run. The knight turned his head slightly in her direction and sighed. "I'm sorry, Lady Peregrine." He didn't know what else to say. Seamus wished there was some way to explain things to her, but he was pretty challenged when it came to talking to people. "I suppose I am not a very good knight, if it took me this long to notice there was something wrong," he admitted. "But I promise you, Little Sprite. From now on, you won't have to fear anyone or anything."


    @Aloise Peregrine

  19. #19
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    It was still odd to hear her title spoken, but more alien still to Aloise's ears was the apology Seamus offered. To her, he was a savior; the only one with the power to change her stars that had cared enough to do so. He'd stuck his neck out for her, given her more safety and comfort than she could have hoped her new life would hold, and he had promised to take her away from all this. He may be sorry that he hadn't done it sooner, but that it happened at all was truly enough for her.

    Her arms still around his shoulders, she hugged him tightly. "Don't say that, Ser Seamus. I think you must be the best knight of them all, because you were the one who cared enough to notice." If another knight had been stationed here, even if he had noticed, would he have cared? Would he have been so kind to her? Gained her trust? It seemed incredibly unlikely. "There were all those people who came to the party, and I'm sure at least some of them were knights, and they listened to Dastan brag about what happened and even saw us and none of them saw anything wrong enough to do anything about." There was that little flicker of anger in her belly again, and it flared brightly enough that it was hard to keep from indulging it. She focused on his promise to her, though, and moved on from there rather than feed the injustice she felt.

    "What do you think is going to happen after all this is over?" She wasn't entirely sure what 'all this' encompassed; the future wasn't something she was used to looking at anymore, and it all seemed very fuzzy when she tried. But she'd thought a lot about what she'd like to happen, and had found herself conflicted. She would, of course, stay with Delphia to go live wherever it was decided they could. They were family, and she had always been close to her sister, and, after all, there were only the three of them. Veronica was likely to make her own way, and to Aloise that was fine since her cousin frightened her, but she would hate to be apart from Del. However, she kept catching herself wishing she could stay with Seamus. She'd have daydreams where she got to go live in Maple Glade with him, and she'd picture as best she could the landscape full of trees, so far departed from the land she'd grown up with which was now tainted with terrible memories. Sometimes she'd imagine getting to go on adventures with him, to go see the place where he'd saved the Queen, or to the coast to splash in the ocean, or to visit some of the other cities of the land. Happy daydreams all, but quite unrealistic. "You'll probably get assigned somewhere else, huh?"

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  20. #20
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    It made Seamus smile to hear the girl speak so highly of him. There had been some minor accolades after the business with Princess Nataliah and the Sword of Aramis, but for the most part there was little knowledge of the youngest Hepburn or his deeds outside of the innermost royal circle. "Oh, I don't know about all that," he told her, his cheeks betraying a little bit of a blush. "There are very well known knights in Tuneric, with fancy, colorful titles like, The Knight of Autumn and The Sword of Summer," he told her casually, taking a break from his scribbling to just lean back in the chair and enjoy her company. This was probably the best of all scenarios for the two of them, really. Aloise got to work on her issues with being close to men, and Seamus got the companionship he had longed for ever since he had been sent to a strange place so far from home. And as long as she hung on his back, he didn't have to worry about the pained expression that was so often on her face.

    The man thought for a moment, trying to conjure some excuse for the matter of the party, and what he considered to be gross negligence on the part of the attendees where Aloise and her kin were concerned. In the end, there wasn't anything that he could come up with. "Sadly, Little Sprite, when there is wine flowing and tributes being paid, and favor to be curried with a visiting key, it is easy for men to think only of themselves," he told, knowing full well that it was hardly an excuse. If there were resistance to his plans in the capital, then it would no doubt come to blows between he and Durand. It would serve Grant's political ambitions poorly, Seamus knew. And even though he normally left the family embarrassments to Bosleigh, he would be hard pressed to back away from this one.

    Her question was one that the knight had already been considering. What would he do with the Peregrine ladies if he took them from Welch Run. Or worse, what would he do with Aloise if he lost his petition and the others were not allowed to leave. He didn't think he could return her here, even to be with her sister. Not after what he had seen. But could he really take her into hiding? "Assigned elsewhere," he seemed to muse over the words after she spoke them. Well, that was one way to look at it. That elsewhere could very well be the dungeons at Shellten Castle. "I suppose it is a possibility. Though I could ask for a leave from duty," he offered. Or he could be given one, very unceremoniously. "We could go to Stone Forge. My sister recently gave birth to twins, and I still haven't seen them. The last baby in our family was me," he teased the thought with a wide smile. "Although I am sure my mother and grandmother will love to regale you with tales of the Wee Baby Seamus when you meet them."

    Satrina would be no help, he knew. But Delaney was his last hope, if he had to stash Aloise somewhere. His mother, to hear Maera and Trina tell it, was quite the conniver in her day. She might be able to hide the last Peregrine Lady, at least until Seamus had resolved his own fate and could come for her.


    @Aloise Peregrine

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