Tread Softly

Home of Izira Nyte and The Forgotten Layers Inn. Resting in an unnamed magical realm, the place is easier to find when lost if one is without the aid of a map drawn by the lady herself.

Moderators: Gren Blockman, Izira Nyte

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Gren Blockman
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Location: The forest, the woods, the trees

Post by Gren Blockman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:50 pm

"Come." She lowered her free hand to his and stepped toward the inn after he picked up his backpack. "I will show you your suite and we can have the pie there." They walked down the path to the inn and up the steps, no door needing to be unlocked. The lights were on as they entered and Silas sat on the bar top. It reminded Izira of her concerns with Pascal, but she did not want to follow that thought at the moment. The basket was set on the bar and Izira scratched the cat's head before moving around and taking out a key from the box. The key was placed on the bar for Gren. "If you want to go on up I will follow with the pie in a moment."

He followed her into the Inn. He was glad to see the cat, having wondered where it had disappeared to all those days. He took the key, hesitant about wanting to leave her, but knowing she'd be up soon. He smiled and moved to the stairs, pushing back his grey hood, walking towards the door of the suite. He placed the key in the lock and opened the door.

The door opened into a sitting room, a dark wood coffee table sat before a plush couch, an armchair, and a loveseat. A writing desk took up a corner, adorned with ink and paper. The fresh scent of flowers filled the room and a fire glowed in the hearth. A door by the hearth led to the bedroom, a large bed with a canopy waiting with rich fabrics. The other side of the hearth lit the bedroom. Two other doors were in the bedroom, one leading to a closet, the other led to the bathroom. A large claw foot tub that included a shower could be found there.

Gren's eyes opened a bit. He knew she said it would be a suite, but he hadn't expected anything that fancy. He tried not to feel overwhelmed, and walked past the hearth into the bedroom, depositing his backpack and his cloak in the closet. He then went back out into the sitting room. He sat down in the loveseat, and stared into the fire. A hearth always calmed him for some reason. He pictured Izira running through the forest to the portal, her hair flowing in the breeze, and he smiled gently.

True to her word, Izira followed shortly after. A tray in her hands carried a couple of forks, napkins, and two plates, each with a slice of the apple crumb pie. One slice, Gren's, larger. She added a scoop of honey ice cream beside each slice. A bottle of Broot had been included for Gren and Izira's Dragon's Breath wine turned in its hypnotic way in a wine glass. "What do you think?" She bent at the knees to set the tray on the coffee table before Gren and settled into a spot besides him on the loveseat.

Gren hadn't taken his eyes off her ever since she walked into the room. "I think you're beautiful." He paused. "Oh, the *pie*? I'm sorry!" He gave her a teasing smile, before taking his plate of pie and ice cream. "This room is beautiful too. Didn't realize these suites were even here."

"I was asking of your impression of the room." She picked up her own plate, crossing her legs with a lean toward Gren. The smile was in appreciation of his compliment.

"I have so much to appreciate, it was hard for me to know exactly what you meant." He took a bit of the pie and ice cream, smiling while chewing. "I always liked crumb pies." He gazed at the hearth again, trying not to be too mesmerized. The warmth of the fire, the delicious pie, the closeness of Izira, it filled him with warmth and contentment that he had missed in the long week she'd been gone.

A soft smile, she ate her pie and ice cream, taking sips from her wine.

"So did you get any visitors this week? Did the couple that eloped come back?"

She shook her head. "You are my only constant visitor."

"I can't tell whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. Honestly, if I could be selfish for a moment, I think it's a good thing."

"I would not hold that sort of selfishness against you."

"You shouldn't. I'm just trying to be romantic. Trying the key word, there." He was still smiling slightly.

"I think you are more than trying." She looked to Gren from over her wine glass as she took a sip.

"So you think I'm succeeding?"

"Would you be here if you were not?"

"I imagine not." He was aiming to take his time with the pie and ice cream, but he found it disappearing off his plate quickly. He washed it down with some of the Broot. He stared off into the fire. He wanted to say something important to her, something to let her know how much he enjoyed the moments they'd shared that day. Since the day he saw her again all those weeks ago, really.

"Then you must be succeeding." She grinned, her small bit of pie and ice cream gone. She leaned her side against the back of the loveseat. Her wine glass in one hand, the other reached out to brush against Gren's shoulder.

"My secret tactic of Baby Steps worked after all." He put his plate down on the tray as well, holding his Broot in his right hand. He reached his left hand up to hers, resting on his shoulder, and gently massaged it with his fingers.

A soft chuckle, she sipped her wine again.

"Did Jeremiah say anything to you while you were getting the pie ready?"

"Only hello." She drained the glass of wine and set it on the table, her eyes brightening for a moment as she swallowed. "I did not ask him of Pascal."

"Well, I'm just glad to see he's back around. I was getting worried there for a while."

"If there was true trouble, the realm would reflect it."

"Like blue sparkly lights?" He chuckled softly. "I was thinking . . . if we see Noira on Thursday, maybe I could ask the staff about that."

"Like the forest dying... I do not think the blue light is anything to worry about, but you may ask if you wish." The wine left the scent of cinnamon on her breath and an unnameable heat.

He blinked a bit. "Oh. I didn't realize that. I thought he was just a Guardian. There's still a lot I need to learn about this place."

"What would you like to know?"

"How did the Inn get to be here in the first place?"

Izira looked down, "I... do not know."

"Doesn't Jeremiah know? Or maybe the sisters?"

"Jeremiah, no. The sisters? They cannot talk as Jeremiah can. Their stories are lost to us."

"What happened to the sisters? You haven't talked too much about them."

"I only know what Jeremiah has told me of them. That they came here before him, they kept the inn, and when they died... they became the ravens. Only parts of words left to them, enough to tell that to Jeremiah."

He glanced at her while she told the story, still holding her hand on his shoulder. "How did you end up here?"

"Stumbled in, in a state of madness. When I woke... came to myself... I was here."

"How were you bonded to this realm? You said you were tied here to life and death now."

"When I arrived, everything was in a state of... death? chaos? It was not the place you see today. The realm... it bonded with me, my life helps it continue, helps it thrive." She looked to their touching hands, "I am doubly bonded now that Jeremiah has taken on the bond of my people to keep my power in check."

"Why did it need *your* energy? Wasn't Jeremiah's or the sisters enough?"

"It needs a living bond... they... are not truly alive."

Gren looked into the fire for a long moment. "How does Jeremiah know what he does about this realm then? If there was no one to tell him?"

"Experience over the years? Perhaps he is just guessing. He was once as human as you."

"Well. I can understand why you're upset." He didn't want to say more. He pictured Izira trapped as an animal for eternity. He hoped that wouldn't be the fate that befell her. "But maybe things will be different with you."

"If not... I will accept what I have in the present."

"You should. You have a lot of life in you . . . What you do here for people . . . You have such a big heart. I don't want to see you lose that."

"I do not know that my heart is as big as you think it to be." Her fingers brushed down his arm.

"I think you're being too hard on yourself. The more I'm with you, the more I see just how amazing you are." He set his Broot down, slowly tried to turn to his side, like she is on the couch. His hand found her cheek, his caress moved past it and into her hair.

She had little to say to his kind words, feeling the caress of his fingers flow back into her hair. "... I should let you rest...”

"Alright. Thank you for the dinner, and for the room . . . and for the company." With his hand in her hair, he leaned forward and places a kiss on her lips, slowly nudging his way closer to her on the couch.

The heat and cinnamon from her drink is still strong on her lips, no trace of alcohol. She leaned into the kiss, her hand holding him close.

The taste of her lips fills him with a longing for more, as he took her lower lip between his, and brushed his tongue against it. He let go of the hand she had rested on his shoulder, and laid it on her knee.

Izira moved closer at the touch, not breaking the kiss as she had before. Instead she gave in, parting her lips to his, tasting him in return.

He kept his lips parted as well. Gently placing his tongue between her lips, he sought out hers, and lightly touched it. His grip on her knee got tighter. He stroked the back of her head, letting her hair slide through his fingers.

The kiss continued and Izira ended up in Gren's lap, short breaths taken between the exploring press of lips.

His whole body was flushed, as he felt her soft warmth in his lap. His tongue started moving faster, grazing up and down hers. His hand moved from her knee to her thigh, and he used his other arm to wrap around her shoulders, keeping her tight and close.

Heart racing, Izira pulled back, her eyes a soft glow of amber. She moved her head to rest against his shoulder, "I should go."

His voice is an almost strangled whisper, and he kissed her between words. "You should" Kiss. "It's . . ." Kiss. "It's driving me crazy." Kiss. "Please" Kiss. "You should go." He held the last one for a moment.

With effort Izira got up, a short glance to the dishes. "I will... collect those tomorrow." She stepped back, giving them space. "See you in the morning."

He swallowed hard, and tried not to look at her, running his fingers through his hair. He took audible deep breaths. "Good night. See you in the morning." He rose from the couch and walked quickly into the bedroom, closing the door behind him, not waiting to see if she left or not.

She left, the door of the suite closing behind her. She made her way downstairs and to her room.

Hurriedly he ripped off his shirt, and didn't stop until he was in the bathroom. He turned the water in the sink on and splashed his face with the cold water. It is then that he noticed the bathtub and shower. He frantically pulled his boots off, then his pants, and stepped inside, pulling the curtain shut. He turned the shower on and rubbed at his face, not bothering with soap. He stood there for a long time, trying not to think of how soft her lips were, how warm she felt in his lap. After a time, he shut the water off, having calmed down. He climbed out of the tub, found a towel, and slowly dried himself off, absently staring at the bathroom floor. He found his lucky boxers and put them on, then made his way over to the bed. Climbing between the sheets, he laid on his back, looking up at the ceiling, clasping his hands behind his head on the pillow. I never thought I'd say it, but I don't know how much longer I can wait. Not anger or frustration, but longing. So close to what he'd waited for. He gently shut his eyes and imagined Izira's smooth lips, before he drifted off into sleep.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:28 pm

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sleep did not come easily for Izira, nor did it stay long. She woke earlier than the sun and got up. Going through the motions, she showered and dressed, putting on a green dress with a tan belt and matching tan heels. A moment of hesitation and she pulled her hair up into a twist. Dressed, she peeked into the sitting room of Gren's suite, collecting the dishes from the night before without disturbing him. The next time she came upstairs she carried a fresh tray with a hot breakfast on it. Pumpkin pancakes on one plate, fresh cut fruit in a small bowl, on another plate she had prepared breakfast potatoes, bacon, and eggs over easy. She included a cup of milk, a glass of orange juice, and a mug of coffee. Creamer, sugar, salt, pepper, butter and hot sauce crowded the tray as well.

Gren slept deeper than he thought he would have. The stresses of the day, the various embarrassments, and his arousal by Izira had emotionally drained him. Thankfully, his nightmares did not return. In fact, he dreamt pleasantly. He pictured himself in a meadow full of white wildflowers. Izira was running ahead of him, wearing the tan dress from the day before. Her hair was blowing in the wind, her hips swayed back and forth, and she looked back at him with merriment in her amber brown eyes. Just then he caught up with her, and swept her up in his arms, producing peals of delighted laughter from her. They kissed just as passionately as they had on the couch. Gren’s hand traveled under her skirt. Just then his eyes snapped open, as he awoke to find the light shining through the window.

Izira sat at the edge of the end of the bed, she smiled when he woke. The tray set in her lap. "I did not want to wake you, you looked to be sleeping very peacefully. Did you have good dreams?"

His eyes shifted to the end of the bed. He didn't know whether to be pleasantly surprised or apprehensive, but he broke out in a delighted smile, regardless. "I thought I was still dreaming." Then he looked down and realized he was only in his boxers, and the sheet only covered up to his midsection. He turned a shade of pink. "I . . . uh . . . maybe I should get dressed."

"I managed to restrain myself while you slept." Looking over him, she smiled and moved forward. The tray of food set before him. “Eat. I will leave you to your breakfast and getting dressed." Izira slid off the bed.

"Alright. Thank you." He took the other pillow from the bed and put it behind him so he could get into a semi-sitting position, then placed the tray in front of him. "Did you . . . sleep alright?" He said, as she made her way out.

"I am glad to know at least one of us did." A soft smile and she left the bedroom and the suite, moving down the stairs to find something else to busy herself with for a time.

Gren watched her leave. He wondered if he should be glad that she hadn't slept. It showed how much concern she had for the night before. Then how did I sleep so well? It was odd. But he felt incredibly refreshed. He took a quick bite of the pancakes. Holy cow, Pumpkin Pancakes. Everything looked and tasted so good. The bacon, eggs, pancakes, potatoes and fruit were gone before he knew it. He sipped at his coffee for a while, looking out the window. I'd better get going and see what she's up to. He sighed, and collected his dishes on the tray. He grabbed his backpack from the closet and put his spare clothes on, peeking in the bathroom mirror and combed his hair as best as he could. Shoving all his belongings into the pack, he slung it and his cloak over his shoulder, and took his tray with him, as he exited the room, and went down the stairs into the main bar.

Izira sat on the patron side of the bar with a cup of tea, a smile to Gren as he approached. Amber-browns lingered over his now covered torso. A new basket is packed and waiting on the bar top. "I made us something to take for lunch."

He chuckled and set his pack and cloak on a nearby stool for the moment, before holding up the tray. "Where should I put this?"

"Here." Setting her tea cup down and standing up to take the tray. "Did you get enough?"

He reached the tray across the bar to her. "I got plenty. Delicious as always." He then took his cloak and moved to put in on over his head.

A simple nod, she took the tray back into the kitchen. Only back there for a few minutes before she returned. "I am ready to depart when you are."

"I'm ready too." He passed a hand through his hair, replaying the events of the night in his mind, as well as the dream he had. He slung his pack over his shoulder, then looked at the basket. "I can carry this too, if you want."

"I would appreciate it." Letting him take the basket, she waited to walk with him to the door and out of the inn. "I packed enough to share should Arillon and Shann want to join us."
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:30 pm

He took the basket in one hand, and took her hand in his other. "I'm sure they would. They could always use a good meal." He walked with her down the path towards the portal. "I hope they're okay. It must be two, maybe three years since I saw them last."

"Surely you would have heard if something had happened to them?"

"Yeah, I guess I would." He brightened a bit. "I was just worried. Like I said, it's been a while. I hope we don't interrupt their classes."

"You worry too much." A gentle brush from her hand and they moved through the portal and Gren's presence brings that shine of blue.

He chuckled lightly. "Sometimes I do. It'll be nice to see them again."

"That is more like it." She smiled to him, then fell quiet again.

He glanced at her curiously. "Why did you want to see them? I'm just wondering."

"Them? Oh... no. I wanted to see the woods."

He squinted his eyes, not understanding. "If you wanted to see the woods, why didn't you just say you wanted to walk in the woods?"

"I said I wanted to see the place they found you. I am curious to see it for myself."

"Oh, I see. Well, you'll get your chance." He glanced around the forest they were walking through, that was mostly pine trees. The ground was becoming littered with needles as the colder weather approached. "I'm glad you're getting to meet my friends and acquaintances. It makes things feel more . . . official."

"Without... other things happening?" She lightly glanced to him, curiosity in her tone.

"Well . . . 'other things' don't need to happen for us to be . . . boyfriend and girlfriend . . . do they?" He returned her curious look.

"I have had them happen without those.... titles... in place." Vice versa, it could be the other way around.

"That's not what I meant." He gave a semi-look heavenward. "What I meant is, we're both committed to each other, right? I mean, I know I am to you."

"I am."

"Right. So if we're committed to each other, than would imply a . . . deeper sort of friendship. I mean. I'm not just "seeing" you, I'm . . . committed to you. You know."

She smiled to him, "A deeper sort of friendship, then." There was no comment on the wording of having relations.

"Well . . . ", he continued, "A deeper sort of friendship would have romantic implications. I mean, if you're committed to me, that means you don't want to have any romantic involvement with anyone else." Pause. "Do you?"

"Not... recently."

"What do you mean, "recently"?" His face fell.

"When... I was alone with Errand in my quarters. He... was very close to me. I do not know if he had a true interest in... having relations... or if it was his way of entertaining himself. I did not... exactly... want him... but... I wanted... sex." Izira was a sexual being, her eyes moved to Gren. "This was before the play."

Gren got a bewildered, bug-eyed look on his face. "Yeah, I remember Errand. The vampire. Owl enthusiast. That guy." His eyes slowly narrowed. "Wait a minute . . . really? Okay, look. Be honest. When he leaned in on you, what was your first reaction?"

Her heart raced, she looked away. "I wished he was you."

Gren's heart melted when she says that. He was going to make a different point, but didn't expect to hear that answer. He impulsively squeezed her hand. "I . . . I'm glad you said that. The part about wishing it was me. You did the right thing, Izira. He didn't mean anything to you. But even then, you knew I meant something. When we are . . . together, you'll be glad you made the choice you did."

"He would not have been the first that did not mean something to me..." Her eyes remained looking away. "It... is not always bad that way... sometimes."

"Sometimes. But when you have feelings for someone else, and you're not being true to yourself, it can be. That's why you didn't. You were locked away for five years, remember? What stopped you? If it wasn't . . . you wishing it was me." She didn't know how happy that made him to say that to her.

"He... did not push it any further than leaning closely." In truth, she didn't stop herself... she just hadn't made any moves.

"You could have pushed it. What, where you waiting on *him* to make all the moves? You don't seem like the shy type."

"I told myself... I told him... I did not wish to be intimate with anyone."

"You wanted sex, but you didn't wish to be intimate with anyone. Alright, I must admit to being confused."

"You have never said one thing while feeling another?"

He shrugs slightly. "Okay, I'll give you that." He walked on in silence for a few moments. He should be upset about Errand, but he can't help but have a goofy grin on his face over Izira's admission about him. "When did you know? I mean, when you said you wished it was me, that meant you had feelings for me, even then. When did you know you felt that way about me?"

"You do not think it was simply because I prefer your looks to his?" She glanced over to Gren. "I cannot say when I knew I felt something for you. I tried to deny it. You did not make that easy."

Gren held her gaze when she spoke. There was a twinkle in his eye that said he didn't believe her reason that she preferred his looks to Errand's. He didn't believe she didn't know when it happened. "Of course I didn't make it easy. Because I had feelings for you. Although it was hard as heck to show them, or get you to acknowledge them." He still had that little, goofy grin on his face. "Do you want to know when *I* knew? I had feelings for you, that is."

Looking back to him, quiet for a moment, before she curiously ventured, "When?"
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:31 pm

"I had found you physically attractive when I visited the Great Helm. I had told you before that I never pushed you for anything, because you seemed very sad and guarded. Then a couple months ago, I stepped back in time, and saw you again. I remembered you, your beauty, your quiet dignity, the kind way in which you served me, and I wished things had gone different. But I never thought I'd see you again. It was like a dream of what could have been. When I was laying on the steps of the Inn, beat up and in pain, and you bent over and looked down on me, *that's* when I knew. It was like destiny, fate, whatever you want to call it. Out of the blue . . . I found you. I should have been embarrassed, being bruised up, bloody, and dirty, laying there practically helpless. But there you were. Looking at me with concern in your amber brown eyes. I knew I couldn't let you go again. I knew . . . It was meant to be."

She tried to smile for his words, but it was hard to find. "Fate does not always work out as you think it will." Her look turned apologetic.

"Why would you say that?"

"The experiences in my life... "

"Maybe Fate will work in our favor this time. What did you describe me as . . . at the waterfall? Handsome, kindhearted, sweet, I put others comfort over my own, brave, patient, understanding. Oh, and I'm caring and thoughtful as well. Do you think a guy like that, with all those qualities, would just show up on your doorstep out of the blue?"

"Not one that would be interested in me..."

"But I was interested in you. I said your name. I asked if you were unharmed. I came back. Again and again. I'm your only regular customer, like you said."

"It is... still hard for me... to think in that way."

"You just have to accept the reality of the situation. I love you. I want to be with you. That's just the way things are, and how they were meant to be." He smiled gently at her.

A soft nod, she did not offer any disagreement. Her smile, for him, was hopeful.

"Good. And one day, you can tell me when it was you felt like that for me. Let me think . . . " He placed his finger to his cheek as if putting some thought into it. "I know. It's when you bought those first Broots for me. You instinctively knew that was my favorite drink. It's like we had a cosmic connection, don't you agree?"

"You said you liked root beer. I found the name amusing."

"That may be true. But I seem to remember us sharing a bottle. You put your lips against the same place I had mine. It may as well have been a kiss."

She chuckled softly, "Is that how you viewed it?"

"Heck yeah. I must admit getting a cheap thrill over that."

Another chuckle, she looked at him in amused wonder.

"I'm just trying to jog your memory. It'll come to you. Sooner or later." He gave her a knowing smirk.

"I cared enough of you to consider your feelings when I gave you the map to return. I did not think then that... there would be anything more. I did not think to want anything more."

"Ah yes, you gave me a map . . . *to your heart*!" He made a sweeping gesture with his free hand.

She chuckled again while correcting him, "To the inn."

"I was speaking metaphorically." He nodded sagely.

Izira smiled to Gren, making no further comment on it as they walked. Her attention turned to the trail that Gren led them down.

Gren glanced at Izira a few times, before remembering what started the whole conversation in the first place. "So . . . uh . . . can I call you my girlfriend? You are my girlfriend, right?"

"Can you call me your girl friend?" She wondered if he would get the words out in that way, her smile held a tease.

"Well, you are a girl, and you're my friend, but I was hoping to . . . uh . . . put those two words together . . . sort of, make things easier on us. Instead of saying, "This is Izira Nyte, Keeper of the Forgotten Layers Inn", I could just say "This is my girlfriend, Izira." Much simpler. Easier on everyone, really."

"They could not simply know me as Izira?" She chuckled softly. "I do not recall ever making much use of titles... other than calling someone a lover."

Gren swallowed hard at the last word. "It's not so much a title, as much as a . . . indication of a relationship. If we were married, you'd call me your 'husband', wouldn't you? Same principle."

"If we were married." They are not. Her amber-brown eyes look over to Gren, quietly considering.

"Yes. "If". Of course. I'm speaking in hypotheticals, here. I just want people to know that we're seeing each other, and we have something deeper than a friendship. A commitment."

"People like... Rhett?"

"Especially people like Rhett." He sighed, hung his head, and his shoulders slumped for a moment. These tactics were failing miserably. He looked up and back into Izira's eyes. "Will you be my girlfriend, Izira?"

She smiled as Gren turned his tactics into a more direct approach. "Yes."

"Oh." He brightened, not realizing it would be that simple. "Good. Great. I'm glad we had this conversation, then." He went back to scanning the forest for a moment, before glancing at Izira sideways.

Her smile turned knowing back to him. "I am too."
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:32 pm

Towering cedars had replaced the pine trees, and the whole area seemed strangely quiet. No birds could be heard chirping, or leaves rustling in the wind. The path they walked on turned onto a well maintained road, made of flat, white stones. "The Academy should be just up ahead." Gren's voice got a bit quiet as he stared at the road, as if he was remembering something, or trying to at least.

A light squeeze to Gren's hand. Izira seemed to sense the draw of silence and did not venture to break it with her own words.

The white, stone road soon opened into a flat, grassy meadow. Dogwood trees lined both sides, although their leaves were beginning to fill the ground. Up ahead on the right, there was a long, brick wall painted white, than represented the boundary of the Academy. There was a black, iron gate in which a fat, bald man wearing a red robe with gold trim stood. He was speaking to what looked like a family, a father, mother, and a young boy, who was wearing an identical looking red robe. “. . . enjoy your vacation, young one. Abide in Light." The fat man clasped his hands to his chest, as if he was praying, and bowed slightly. The young boy mimicked the movements, before the family turned and walked up the road in the opposite direction that Gren and Izira were. The man in the robe watched them move off into the distance for a while, before he slowly turned, as if sensing Gren and Izira's presence. His eyes were milky white, and had no pupils. He broke into a pleased, serene smile as they approached him. "Gren. It is so good to see you again, after all these years."

Gren smiled sheepishly. "It's good to see you too, Arillon." Gren went to shake the man's hand, and Arillon grasped it with both of his. "This is Izira Nyte, my . . . girlfriend." Gren seemed pleased to say it. The hesitation was not embarrassment, more like he was trying it out for the first time. "She runs the Forgotten Layers Inn."

Arillon turned to Izira. "It is wonderful to make your acquaintance, young lady." He lifted out his hand to welcome her.

She smiled at Gren introducing her as his girlfriend. The smile growing more as he also introduced her as the keeper of an inn. Like Gren, Izira took the offered hand in both of hers. "I am pleased to meet you, Arillon."

Arillon shook her hands firmly. "I am glad to see you with someone, Gren. I still worry about you. Were you just passing through? Or did you want to show Miss Izira our Academy?"

"We could stop in for a while, if you don't mind”, Gren replied.

"Oh, not at all! Come right this way, and welcome to White Cedar Academy." He led them through the black gate, and down a path of white bricks that passed through more flowering dogwoods. There was a large stone building at the end of the path, with blue banners that had a white cedar tree in the center, flying from the roof.

Returning her hand to Gren's hold, she followed Arillon as he led them. Amber-brown eyes took in the path, trees, and the blue banners. Her eyes fell to Gren's face and she smiled.

Gren held Izira's hand and smiled back, as Arillon continued down the path and up to the building. "I, and my assistant Shann, came here two decades ago, looking for a place to build an academy to train neophytes in the ways of the magical arts. We got the name from the white cedar trees that grow in this part of the forest. So far it's been peaceful, and profitable. We conduct several kinds of research from botany to alchemy here." He led them up the steps of the building, holding the door for them as they walked inside. There was a long hallway with a black and white checkerboard floor, and many doors that opened to classrooms. Small children to teenagers, dressed in the red and gold robes, could be seen walking up and down, holding books, or magical potions. "We are not as grand an operation as Arcanum Academy, in the City, but we like the privacy and solitude here." Just then, a little girl with red pigtails and two devil horns ran around a corner, crying loudly.
Arillon asked, "Vanessa, whatever is the matter?"

"Master Arillon! Billy gave me huh-huh-huh-hooooooorns!!!"

"Oh, he did, did he? Well I shall have to have a talk with Billy then. Hold still, child." Arillon held his hand over Vanessa's head, who was still sobbing, her shoulders shaking up and down. A golden glow passed from Arillon's hand, and surrounded her head. When the light dissipated, the horns were gone. "Now you run along to class! I will tend to Billy later."

"Thanks, Master Arillon!" Vanessa smiled with glee, then disappeared into a door.

"Children." Arillon turned and gave Gren a small, knowing smile.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:33 pm

Izira moved closer to Gren as they entered, finding security in his presence as she watched the children move in the halls. Quietly she watched the exchange between Arillon and Vanessa, with a curious look to the horns before they vanished. When Arillon turned to give Gren a knowing smile, Izira wore her own that was slightly painted on.

"Let's see if Shann is in his laboratory today. I believe his lecture on Evocation ended ten minutes ago." Moving down the hallway, they entered a door that opened to a workshop filled with tables that each held a complex maze of tubes and bottles. There was a man in his forties, with his black hair slicked back into a ponytail, reading from a book, and looking rapidly between it and a glass bottle containing a green liquid that was bubbling dangerously.

Arillon said, "Shann! Look who has come to visit!"

Shann looked sharply towards Arillon, then smiled broadly as he saw Gren. "Gren! It's been so long! Hello, my friend!" Shann made his way towards Gren, setting the bottle down into a wire holder. The two shook hands.

"Good to see you again, Shann”, Gren replied, “This is my girlfriend, Izira, Keeper of Forgotten Layers Inn."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am." He offered his hand.

Like Arillon before him, Izira shook Shann's hand in both of hers. "It it a pleasure to meet you Shann." She then drew her hands away and stepped back to stand by Gren.

"So what brings you by today, Gren?" Shann asked.

"I was showing Izira some of the people I know. I was telling her about my past, and she was interested in seeing the men who saved me."

"Well . . . " Arillon looked a bit abashed, "We did what we could, Gren. I am sorry we could not have done more."

"Have you . . . found out anything more?"

Arillon shook his head sadly. "No, I'm afraid. None of the other Ranger guilds we contacted ever got back to us. And no one we know ever heard of a Gren Blockman. I'm sorry to give you more bad news."

"He was lucky enough that you found him, that is enough even if nothing else is ever found." Her other hand moved to touch Gren's arm in comfort with the bad news.

Arillon smiled kindly at Izira. "Did you have any questions for us, young lady? I will answer as best as I can."

"I... would not know where to begin. I fear I have never been much the... detective." No, that was her ex. "I thought... perhaps Gren and I could walk the forest where you found him?" Looking back to Gren, her eyes asked if he was still agreeable to the suggestion.

"Certainly! There should be no problem there. You go right ahead. Shann and I will be here if you need us. It was a pleasure to meet you, Izira. Abide in Light, Gren." Arillon gave Gren the little prayer and bow. "Abide in Light, Gren." Shann mimicked Arillon's movements.

"Thank you." Izira tipped her head to the pair of men, then looked to Gren to lead the way. She would not know where his memory began.

"Take care, Arillon. Shann." Gren smiled at the two, then led Izira back through the door, and down the hallway with the checkerboard floor. "Ah well, it would have been nice if they heard something. But it’s understandable." He took Izira's hand again as they passed by the children moving to their classes.

Izira kept close to Gren as they moved by the children. "It is curious no one ever responded to their inquiries."

"Yeah, it's strange. But this is RhyDin. Stranger things have happened, I guess." They walked back out of the building, and up the path with the flowering dogwoods. "I'm afraid there might not be much to see. But I'll see what I can remember about that day." When they exited the black gate, Gren stopped and pointed at a flower bed near the white wall. "Arillon and Shann were here, they were mulching their flowers. I came from that direction." He pointed down the road with the white stones, where the family from previous had walked down. The road ascended into a thick forest of the white cedars.

"Then that is where we shall go. If we cannot help you to recall your memory, hopefully we will at least succeed in finding a spot for a picnic."

(Nov 6 tbc . . . )
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:11 pm

"Alright." He led Izira up the stone road and into the white cedars. "This is the first thing I can remember. Walking down this road, headed towards the academy. I don't know how I got here, or where I came from." He stood still, and glanced into the forest, with a blank look.

"You *are* a ranger, pick a path."

"I tried that. I went all over these woods. So did Arillon and Shann, casting spells. They used Psychomancy on the trees, but they couldn't find anything. There isn't a village for three miles up that road. They said I would have never made it three miles with the injuries I sustained." He glanced up a tiny trail, that meandered north through the trees. "That's the only path I know of. We can go up there, if you'd like."

"Do you think you could have come through a portal? Like the one that leads to my realm?" Her eyes looked to the woods.

"That would actually make the most sense. It would explain why I just appeared out of nowhere, and why no one ever heard of me before."

"Curious." Looking over Gren, she pondered the thought. She gave in to the idea of taking the path, though she thought there would be little hope in finding the way Gren had found himself there years before. The picnic would be enough. Leading Gren toward the trail he pointed out, her fingers entwined with his.

Gren stayed quiet as he weaved up the path through the cedars. He glanced around as if trying to remember something, but nothing struck him. The path was grassy, and didn't look well travelled. It curled to the top of a hill, and opened onto a tiny clearing, containing a large rock. "This is as far as it goes." He gave Izira a small, apologetic shrug.

"Unless you feel a draw to go any further, this will be as far as we go as well." She smiled, kissing his cheek and taking the picnic basket from him. The cloth that covered the top was a blanket she could fold out. The basket was set by the large rock and Izira spread out the blanket for them to sit on.

"Naw, this is fine. Sorry I couldn't show you anything more." He sat down on the blanket, glancing around. "Hey, were you alright back there when we were in the Academy? You looked a little nervous."

"It... reminded me of a place... from my childhood. I... have not been around that many children since I was one." Unpacking sandwiches and grapes, she left the dessert in the basket. Inspecting the sandwiches, she held one out to Gren. "There is no mayonnaise on this one."

"Thanks." He took the sandwich, watching her curiously. "Sounds like you have bad memories of that place."

"I do not have the best memories of my time at Mistress Chloe's Home for Wayward Children." Izira sat on the blanket with her legs curled under her. A sandwich selected for herself, she looked down at it as she unwrapped it. "Mistress Chloe is who sold me... to... Him."

Gren remembered her telling him about how she was orphaned. He had just never heard where she went after the death of her parents. "I remember you called him your Master." He paused, looking at his sandwich, then back at her. "You don't have to tell me, if you don't want to. I know it upsets you."

"I never knew any other name for him." She took a bite of her sandwich. She wasn't sure if she wanted to share and Gren did not push her to it. The sandwich set down, she pulled out a Broot for Gren. The bottle grew icy cold at her touch as she opened it and handed it off to him.

He watched her sympathetically, then took the bottle from her, still marveling at how she did that. "The bottle, do you . . . suck the heat out of it?"

Her lashes fluttered and she looked to the bottle a Gren. "Fire is not the only element I can control, it is... just the one I have more experience with. It was the element of my birth."

"Oh, I see. I was kind of wondering how you could get it so cold. All the other magical things I've seen you do related to fire." He took a long drink of the Broot. "What other elements can you control?"

"Water... ice." A soft smile that wavers, "I do not know if it is due to my time with Him or perhaps the few moments of helping Locke with his own gift.... when I broke my bond with Alain I released both elements."

"That sounds strange . . . pardon for me saying so. I would think that it would be hard to control two elements that are supposed to be the polar opposite of each other."

"Locke and I... we worked together to make ice sculptures infused with fire." She smiled at the better memory, recalling the day that they played in the fountain.

"Locke . . . I don't think you ever told me about him. Who was Locke?"

"He was a friend I met in RhyDin... he tended the inn some nights. Locke was an ice elf, blue skinned and cold to the touch. But his heart was not cold."

"He sounds vaguely familiar. I might have dueled him once. Or seen him around the Arena. It's been years though. I was on a team once, about two years ago, with an Ice Mage named Wyheree. Haven't seen her in a long time, either."

"I do not know that name”, she said as she tried to recall anything about Locke dueling. He did seem to have been a scrapper, she would not have thought it beyond him. "Locke D'Vestavio."

"Yeah, I think he was a dueler. I saw his name before. Can't remember ever having a conversation with him, though."

"I fear our jovial conversations always delved toward deeper topics." She lightly chuckled.

"It does seem that way, doesn't it?" He chuckled, then gives her a soft look. He misunderstood and thought she was talking about him. "It's because I feel I can trust you. That you will understand, somehow. Also, I want you to know about me. As much as I can tell you, I mean. I'm trying to be more open . . . not hold things back like I usually do."

Izira's cheeks color slightly as Gren misunderstood her, “I... meant my conversations with Locke. Though, truth is he did, with kindness, blame me for it." She smiled to Gren, "It must be a habit of mine."

"Oh." He turns a bit red himself. He tries not to look embarrassed, and looked down at his bottle of Broot. "What kind of . . . deeper topics did you talk about?"

"Relationships, we were... both not exactly fully... happy with our situations at the time."

"Ah, I see. He was someone you could confide in."

"He was a friend.... one... I was not kind to before my leaving."

"I find it hard to believe you'd be unkind to someone. What happened?"

"I broke the bond with Alain... I let the power consume me and leave me numb. I did not care for anyone or anything... I did not want to care ever again."

" . . . and you took it out on Locke. Or some of it, anyway?"

"He and Eva wanted me to return to the inn... wanted me to talk about what had happened to Alain... I wanted to be left alone." And, she did get her wish, didn't she? "I was... cold and hard towards them."

He gave her a sympathetic look. "Maybe they understood. Or maybe they got over it after a time. People go through bad times, and sometimes they need their privacy."

"Until I speak to them again... I cannot know."

"Now I see why you wanted to talk to Eva so badly. I'm sure you wanted her to know . . . why you wanted to be left alone."

"I... was not myself then."

"You are now, though. Maybe you can explain things when you see her next." He sounded hopeful.

"Perhaps." She took a bite of her neglected sandwich.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:12 pm

He quietly began to eat his own sandwich, leaning against the large rock and looking up at the sky. "Did you have any other friends? Back then, I mean. You mentioned Eva, Locke, and Rena."

"I had... few friends. A number of acquaintances."

"I find that hard to believe." He chuckled. "You seem like you could make friends with anyone."

"Being friendly and being friends are two different things, my ranger."

"You'd know better than I would, My Innkeeper." He held up his Broot teasingly.

"It seems you call many friends, whether they deserve to be thought of one or not."

"You may have a point." He sighed. "Maybe you're right about friendly and friends being two different things. I try to see the good in people. I treat others how I want to be treated. I try to be a friend, even if the other person isn't one back. That does cause problems sometimes. But I'm doing what I feel is right."

"I know." She leaned toward him, kissing his cheek lightly as she held his other cheek with her hand.

He's not going to let that slide without an answer, he shifts his face and gives her one back full on the lips.

She returned the kiss, parting only slightly. "You taste of Broot."

"You taste like . . . sandwich." He had a little smile, as he rubbed his hand on her cheek.

"You are risking a repeat of last night..." Her voice soft, eyes lowered.

"I'd kind of like a repeat of last night. This time, maybe we'll get to finish what we started."

Izira face flushed at Gren's words. "In the woods? What if one of Arillon or Shann little darlings should happen upon on?"

"Hey, you wanted me to be more open about . . . relations. I'm just trying to make you happy." He shrugged as if he's confused, although he'd already started to break into a wide grin.

"Relations." She chuckled and pulled away, taking a bite from her sandwich.

"You know, we're boyfriend and girlfriend now. We have to start thinking more about these things. I mean, I have to fulfill my duties as your boyfriend. Attend to your needs. I wouldn't want you to feel neglected."

"Do you... feel neglected?"

His grin turned down a bit. "No, Izira, I don't feel neglected. I'm just concerned, more than anything. Although you saying you wished Errand had been me eased those concerns a bit."

"You fear I would give my body to another."

"No, that's not it. Not *now*, anyway. I'm concerned that you still don't think this is going to work between us. That you don't think you deserve it. Or that you're still afraid your heart will get broken again. I would hope you see that we are moving forward. Even if it is . . . Baby Steps." He couldn't help but grin at using another reference to their previous conversation.

A soft nod and smile, "I am glad you know that I would not do what Janna did to you."

He nodded softly as well. "What do you think about the rest of what I said?"

"It... is easier to think about the present than what will come. I... try not to let fear overwhelm me. It is not exactly easy to let go."

"It's hard for me too, Izira. I never thought I'd feel this way. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm around you, sometimes. Because I'm not used to feeling . . . impulsive. Outgoing. I don't know if I'm using the right words. Usually I'm waiting for the other person to make the moves. Here, it's like I'm trying to reach out, I'm trying to show you how I feel. I was glad to know you weren't so oblivious to me, when you told me about Errand. It made me feel like maybe . . . things were working out."

She rewrapped the sandwich and set it aside, returning Gren's words with the soft press of her lips to his.

He answered her kiss with one of his own, sighed, and looked around the forest. "I'm sure one day I'll figure it all out. My memories, I mean. One way or another." He glanced down at the rewrapped sandwich. "Do you want to go back?"

She brushed a finger against the line of his hair. "One day." To his question of going back she kissed him again.

He held her kiss this time, he lightly set his hand against the one she had tracing his hairline. His other hand rose and stroked her under her chin.

Izira did not break the kiss, but moved her hands to bring them closer. Her lips parted to him as they had the night before.

As her lips parted, he deftly slipped his tongue between them, and he tilted his head to the side more. His hands found her shoulders, then her sides.

Izira continued the kiss and the next and the next, becoming comfortable with the new level of closeness between them. With Gren's touch, Izira eased back to lie down on the blanket. After a long makeout session, she smiled up to Gren.

Gren was laying next to her, leaning over her slightly, his fingers lightly glided over her cheek, as he looked into her amber brown eyes. He felt the sun on his back and the gentle breeze of the forest. He wished this day would never end. "I'm so glad I found you, Izira."

"I am... glad you found me, Gren."

"There are so many things I want to do with you. So many different places I want to show you." He smiled sheepishly and dropped his head a little. "I don't mean to get ahead of myself. I'm just excited. Happy. Content. For the first time in a while."

"So many things you want to do with me?" She smiled up at him with a brow lifting.

"Yeah. I said "with" you. Not "to" you. I could do some things "to" you, if you're ready for that." He gave her a playful, seductive wink.

"And if I am ready?" Tilting her head, the twist of her hair having come undone, strands of hair splayed out beneath her.

"Then you'd better mean it. Because I don't know if I could hold myself back again like I did last night." He played with the strands, watching the sunlight shine of her brown hair.

"I mean it." Her hand drawing him back down into a kiss that led into so much more.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:13 pm

(later . . . )

Gren lay on his back on the blanket, staring up at the afternoon sky. The clouds drifted by and the lazy wind were lulling him to sleep. He looked down at Izira, naked, with her nose nuzzled under his chin. His hand slowly caressed her shoulder. "It was worth the wait." He said quietly. "For me. I hope it was for you too." Although he meant the years she spent in isolation, in her case.

"Yes." She smiled, turning her amber-brown eyes up to him and kissing him again. Her hand stroked over his torso.

He chuckled lightly, after their lips parted. "This is . . . like a dream. A pleasant, wonderful dream."

"Do you have many dreams like this?"

"Well, I . . . !" His eyes went a bit wide, and he tried not to blush, but did so anyway. "Dreams can be a . . . . private matter. Plus, your brain can just . . . conjure up anything sometimes. I don't have control over such things." He finished with a nervous gulp.

She smiled knowingly, "Of... me?"

"Well, yeah . . . I had dreams . . . of you. In a similar situation." He gulped again. "But in my defense, we were kind of . . . seeing each other. You know."

"I hope the reality is better than the dream."

"Oh, absolutely. I don't care for my dreams much anyway. Other than the ones with you, that is."

She frowned slightly, "What are your other dreams?"

He got a distant, slightly upset look on his face. "I have . . . nightmares. A lot. It's . . . almost like it's from another life . . . " His eyes squinted, as if he's trying to recall a painful memory.

The look of concern remained in her features, "They are always the same?"

Gren shut his eyes and tried to picture them in his mind. "Yeah, pretty much the same. I'm in a forest . . . but I've never seen these kinds of trees before. It's not pines or oaks like here. There are dead people laying everywhere, and the forest is on fire. There is a droning, buzzing sound. I try to run from the flames and the smoke. Then the ground around me starts to explode. I fall down and everything explodes around me, then I wake up." He gulped and steadied himself with a breath.

Izira swallowed, not sure what to say. She did not think her words would be comforting. And how could he have not had the same thought that has come into her mind? There is no need to voice it. She stroked a hand through his hair and kissed him.

He lightly rubbed his fingers up and down her forearm. "Maybe . . . it's what happened to me . . . before Arillon and Shann found me."

"Maybe... what were the trees like?" She hoped the presence of her body against him is enough of a shelter to the thoughts she's probing into.

"They were very tall, with long leaves, it didn't look like it had branches. It was stifling hot, too. There was underbrush everywhere."

Izira thought. "It... seems familiar... but I cannot place it", she said with an apologetic look to Gren.

"That's alright. I've been trying to figure it out myself. I tried to look in some books, but like I said, none of those trees are found around here. Maybe the Library in the City would have it, but I kind of gave up looking a few years back."

"Why did you give up?"

"It started to get painful. The failures. The frustration. I just . . . tried not to think about it. I mean, I always hoped my memory would come back, but it seemed like every time I hit a dead end, it would get me more and more depressed. So I tried to avoid the situation, just for my own state of mind."

"There is no need to let downfalls stop you now. I will be by you."

"I know you will. I know." He grasped her fingers in his. "Being with you has given me a hope I haven't felt in some time. Maybe I could check out the Library. See what they have."

"You may also look through mine."

"That might help. Do you have any books on trees?"

"I believe I do. Likely from the same source as the pressed flowers..."

"I'll have to take a look at it then. Hopefully I'll find something useful."

"I am sure you will find something useful..." Playfulness entered into her smile.

He looked down at her, the little smile filling him with amusement. "What are you smiling at?"

"I was merely thinking that... there is little need for you to take up your own room at the inn... now that we have had.... relations."

"You have a good point. I mean . . . having relations . . . we're close now. In an intimate sort of way. I would like to . . . be closer to you. Now. You know."

"Now?" She smiled.

"I meant . . . now, in the relationship." He glanced down to them, lying naked in each other's arms.

"Oh.." A flutter of her lashes, "I thought you meant you wanted to be closer physically."

"It's kind of harder to be closer that way, then we are right now. Unless . . . " He gave her a look with one eyebrow raised. " . . . you've rested a bit. Because, you know, I . . . uh . . . wouldn't mind getting closer with you again."

"To have... relations?" She softly chuckled before her lips met his again.

"Relations? I was talking about sex!" He gave her a bewildered look, then grinned widely, before returning her kiss, and drawing her on top of him again.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:14 pm

(later . . . )

Once more Izira rested by Gren, a lazy finger brushing wet strands of hair from his brow. Her own body was flushed but without the sweat. She smiled with contentment. "Do you know if there is an inn nearby? My legs might not be able to carry me back home tonight."

His chest heaved slightly, from his pleased laughter and his exertions. "Yes, I do. I think we should probably go get a room before we have another round of . . . relations."

Softly, she chuckled. A light press of her hand used to guide herself up to sit. She looked around to find her clothing, and she started to dress again... tossing Gren his boxers. "When will you need to return for patrol tomorrow?"

"I can wait a while to do my patrols. We can take our time." He put his boxers on, then his pants, shirt, and boots. "I think it's a bed and breakfast. Hey!" He remembers something from the time travel back to Great Helm. "Didn't you say you used to stay at a bed and breakfast?"

"I did..." The smile was not exactly full at the memory, but grew with her addition, "I am sure it will be a more pleasant experience with your company."

"Anywhere with you is a pleasant experience." He chuckled as he put on his grey cloak, then peered into the woods, concerned. "I hope nobody saw us. Naw, I'm sure they didn't." He gulped, and adjusted his cloak nervously.

"And if they did?" Dressed, her nimble fingers tidied her hair. One would never guess what they had been up to from her appearance... unless they had been watching.

"I . . . uh . . . I'd rather not think about it." He laid his hand on her back for a minute, giving her a little smile. "I'd rather think about you and me." He glanced at the large rock, and the little clearing. "You and me, making this place into a much better memory for me."

That made her chuckle, "Am I to expect a list of other places that need happier memories for you to think on?"

"Since you're offering, I can think of a few. We might not have the privacy we had here, so I wouldn't suggest it, though."

A brow was lifted as she handed him the basket with everything back in it.

"It's nothing. I think we should just make new memories. That will help the old ones go away." He took the basket in one arm, and took her hand in his free one. "Follow me. I'm pretty sure I remember this place." He went back down the narrow path with her, and on to the white stone road, turning towards the village, and not the Academy.

"It is something, I suspect. You need not hide your thoughts from me, even if you do not intent to truly act upon... making better memories in their place." She followed as she spoke.

He was smiling dreamily now, having just spent those long hours with the woman he loved, walking down the shady road through the trees. "Oh, it just wasn't important. I was thinking of the Outback and Arena, where I get picked on. But I was only teasing. I'd prefer to avoid public places. I'd like to keep you to myself, you know." He gave her a little waggle of his eyebrows.

"Even public places close down from time to time." She squeezed his hand.

He squeezes back. "That's true. Maybe one day. I still haven't felt what it's like to be with you in a regular bed, yet." He gave her a chuckle of joy.

"You will before the sun rises."

"Who knows? I might like it so much I might never want to leave that bed."

"You will have to... or you will miss out what it feels like to be with me in other places." She smiled slyly over to him, "I promise to limit the number in the shower to two."

He snapped his fingers as if he totally forgot. "The shower. It completely slipped my mind. We'll be able to test out that shower of yours now! Boy this just keeps getting better and better!"

Another laugh, "I should like to see this side of you in public. You are... much more in your element."

He chuckled lightly again, looking through the trees. "I had told you, once I'm intimate with someone . . . It's like all my insecurities go away. I feel much more at ease. Like I don't have to worry anymore."

"You do not." She smiled up to Gren, keeping close to them as they walked and headed for a place to stay for the night.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:07 pm

Monday, November 11, 2013

The idea of spending the night at the bed and breakfast turned into staying an additional day. Then they went back to the Inn, where they spent most of the weekend together.

Early on Monday, Gren got dressed and washed quicker than usual. He completed his patrols, and ran his errands, so that he could go to the Inn and be with Izira. Thankfully, all was quiet in his sector of the forest that day, so after noon he was able to make the trek to the portal. He strode up the path and to the door, pushing his hood back and glancing around to see if Izira was in the main room of the Inn.

Izira moved behind the bar, picking up a kettle and filling a patron's cup with more hot water. She gave a smile to Gren when he walked through the door. Her dress was made of a soft white torso and deep blue skirt, divided by a thick silk pink line at the waist. She wore Gren's locket and soft rose peep-toe heels.

The young man looked over his shoulder toward the door, eyeing the man without a smile on his features. He wore a white, long-sleeved shirt of another time with dark brown pants of deer hide. Black boots went along with the loosened vest he wore. His skin a tanned reddish shade, curly black hair fell into orange colored eyes.

Izira moved, picking up a bottle of Broot and opening it for Gren after the tea had been poured.

Gren smiled gently as he saw Izira, he made his way over to the bar and sat down, but restrained himself from a more romantic greeting, since she had a guest. "Hello. Thank you." He sat down, and took a drink from the bottle, then glanced at the man, and gave him a nod and a smile. "Good day, sir."

In serving Gren's drink she touched his hand lightly and lovingly.

The man kept his attention on the cup before him, helping the tea seep into the fresh water. His only acknowledgement to Gren's greeting is a bob of his head.

"Have you come to borrow that book, Gren?" Izira prompted with a glance to the hallway that led back to the inn.

Gren gave Izira a long stare, as if glad to be able to see her again, and lightly stroked her fingers. "Yes, I wouldn't mind taking a look at it." He glanced at the man, only briefly, it seemed to him he wasn't in the mood for conversation, so he let him be.

Izira nodded and moved out from the bar, touching the table close to the man and drawing his orange eyes to her face. "I will return shortly." He smiled, almost sadly and nodded. The smile left when he looked to Gren as Izira turned her back and started down the hall.

Gren couldn't help but notice the man's orange eyes at that point. Curiosity overcame him as the man acknowledged his presence with the stare, so he tried to converse with him again. "So how did you find this place? The Inn can be hard to bump into, sometimes."

As Izira vanished from view into the hallway, the man turned his back on Gren. Picking up his tea and taking a drink.

"Gren?" Izira called down the hallway. "Could you help me find the book?"

Gren blinked rapidly as the man turned his back on him. Izira's voice broke him out of his bewilderment, and he rose from the stool and walked down the hall to find her.

Out of the view of her patron, Izira kissed Gren. She spoke in a hushed voice as she placed her hand in his and brought him toward her quarters. "I missed you."

He returned her kiss warmly while he clasped her hand in his. "I missed you too." He followed her into her quarters. "So what's the story with that guy? He doesn't seem to have much to say."

"I think he is deaf and mute... " She glanced back before she closed the door from one hallway to the other. "He ordered tea with gestures."

"That's odd. I wonder how he even found his way here, then. I don't think I've ever seen a man with orange eyes before, either."

"He likely found his way as many others have... by losing their way. Though, I cannot think of any other I have seen with eyes like him." Leading the way into her room, she let his hand go so that she could look at the books.

Gently, he placed his hands on her shoulders, as she searched for the book in question. "How've you been, other than your new customer?" He glanced up at the books as she did, still curious as to what subjects they all dealt with.

"I have been recovering." A sly smile over her shoulder as she looked back to him and then back to the books, picking down one and then another. "I have been... more active... than I have been in quite some time lately." A soft chuckle, she turned and handed him the two volumes that were about plants and trees.

He took the books from her, while placing a kiss in her hair. "Well, I'm glad I could give you some . . . . stimulation. Sitting around the Inn all day isn't healthy, you need a good workout sometimes." He was giving her a playful smile, to let her know he was joking about the "sitting around" part.

"Sometimes, yes." She looked to the books she'd handed him. "Those are some of the books I spoke with you of.... it... slipped my mind to give them to you before."

"We were busy with other topics, I know." He gave her a little waggle of his brows, then he glanced at the door. "Maybe I could look at them at the bar. So you can keep an eye on your guest, hmm?"

"That is a good idea." She nodded, turned and led the way back out to the main room. But the man was no longer at the bar or in view. His tea cup was empty. Izira stood at the end of the hallway looking around with a creased brow of concern.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:09 pm

Gren trailed behind her, staring approvingly at her choice of wardrobe for the day, then glanced up as she did when he reaches the bar. He absently scratched his beard and wondered where the man had gotten to. "Uhhh . . . would you want me to look for him? Make sure he's alright?"

".. No. He found his way here once, if there is need... he will find his way again." Picking up the teacup, she placed it in the sink. Despite her words she still looked concerned.

"Alright . . .” Gren didn't look so sure himself, but he didn't want to argue with Izira. He trusted she knew what was best, so he sat down at the bar again, where his bottle of Broot was, and opened one of the books. The opening chapter was on deciduous trees, those that lost their leaves seasonally. Gren studied the same trees he saw in the forest on a daily basis, such as oaks, elms, and maples.

She poured herself a cup of tea and came around the bar to sit by Gren, looking over his shoulder as he skimmed through the book.

Gren quirked his mouth as he didn't find what he was looking for. Most of the books he had looked at had these kinds of trees, and nothing else, since the forest outside RhyDin was full of them. The next chapter was on conifers, or cone-bearing trees. Pines, cedars, and cypresses were the main focus. Once again, Gren had seen them all before, and he quickly pushed through as he sipped his drink.

Izira remained silent as Gren looked, sitting half-turned toward him and massaging his back with her nails. Offering through the touch some support in his search with her presence.

The later chapters dealt with more exotic plants, such as the rubber tree. One of them caused him to stop his rapid page-turning, and he stared at the picture, thoughtfully. It was the picture of a palm tree. The trunk was very tall, and had no branches, except at the top, where it looked as though each branch was a singular, long leaf. Gren bit his lip, and pointed at the image. "I . . . think this might be it. I've never seen these kinds of trees around here, though."

Izira's hand stilled and she looked toward the image. Skimming the words, "Do you know any place ... tropical?"

Gren shook his head slowly, staring at the image as if willing it to hold some kind of information he didn't have. "No, not that I know of." He sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Maybe it's like you said. Maybe I stepped through a portal from another world. I don't know what other answer it could be."

She frowned softly at the image, not sure how to help Gren.

"Ah well. At least I know what they're called now. Maybe in the future I'll find out more."

Just then the door flew open, and Haddon's voice could be heard. "So Ferguson's wife says . . . HAW HAW . . . get this . . . It's the guy's own birthday! She hands him this Ouija board, and she says, "Here, this is so you can talk to all your relatives in Hell! HAW HAW!" Haddon stomped his way inside, taking his grey cloak off and hanging it on a nearby peg. This time, it isn't Moriana he's speaking to, but Westerguard. The old General is wearing a scowl on his face, deeper than last time, probably from having to tolerate Haddon. "Hey, Little Missy! Hey there, Gren, my buddy! I brought you a visitor. Heh. You're in big trouble, sonny boy." Haddon playfully grinned at Gren, and Gren shifted his gaze to Westerguard and tried not to gulp too visibly.

Izira patted Gren's arm as she stood up, "Welcome to my Inn, General. Have you come for a meal or a drink? Perhaps both?" Moving around and behind the bar once more, she filled a tanked for Haddon while she waited for the other's answer.

Haddon smiled appreciatively at the tankard and has a seat, letting Westerguard discuss whatever he needed to with Gren.

Westerguard leveled his gaze at Izira for a moment, then at Gren, then back at Izira. "My time is short, my good lady, but perhaps I will take you up on that offer at a future date." Westerguard then marched purposefully to where Gren was seated at the bar. "Where were you this morning?"

Gren got a bit wide-eyed, but stammered out a response. "I-I-I did my rounds early. I was all through, so I decided to come to the Inn. Izira had . . . a book I was looking for."

Westerguard glanced down at the book, open to the image of the palm tree, then back at Gren. "Reading books? If you finished your patrols early, you could have checked in to see if there were any other assignments you could have taken on. We are in a dangerous situation, Gren."

"We are?" Gren answered, oblivious. Haddon just finished draining his mug, and let out a huge belch. "That was me." He said, putting his hand up like a grade-schooler.

Izira only nodded to Westerguard's reply. She listened quietly to his words with Gren. At the mention of danger, Izira became concerned. The belch distracted her for a moment and without thinking she refills the ale.

Gren and Westerguard give Haddon a momentary, disapproving glance, before their conversation starts again. "The Tribe of the Dark Moon, and the Gra'both Tribe have just formed a mutual alliance. The whole Northwest Hills area is on high alert. I need to know where you are going to be, and I need you to report in to me every day, if possible. I want to know if you find so much as an orc turd in those Hills. The militias have been put on alert, and we are going to start sending patrols into the far mountains. You didn't happen to see anything out of place today, did you?"

"No, I didn't see anything."

"Very well. Tomorrow, I want you to start reporting to me, and to me *directly*. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Good." Westerguard glanced at Haddon distastefully. He then replied, "I shall be going then." He adjusts his armor a bit, then made for the door.

"I'll be along directly, General! I have to finish this ale, or it'll go to waste", Haddon called to Westerguard. The General didn't bother to turn around, just grumbled as he reached the door to open it.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:10 pm

Izira had heard enough from Gren to be concerned with the developments that Westerguard shared, but she stayed quiet. As the man strode out, she moved closer and touched Gren's hand, with an unvoiced question, and a need for reassurance.

Gren managed a pained smile for Izira, but he was troubled, and it showed. "That's bad news. The goblins and orcs haven't formed an alliance in years. It took all the manpower we had to stop them the last time. God, I hope they're just messing around with us."

Haddon chuckled. "You're not worried, are you Gren? Westerguard's just jumpy. Those idiots up there can't get along for more than a few hours, let alone the weeks it would take them to mobilize and actually do something. This will all blow over soon, and we'll be back to eating, drinking, and makin' merry!" He lifted his tankard up and took another long swig, but his words didn't seem to ease Gren's fears.

Izira risked allowing Haddon's words to soothe her and she smiled to him in thanks. Coming around the bar once more to sit by Gren, she brushed the hair from his brow. "It will all work out as it should. You are always telling me this."

"I know. I hope you're right." He lightly touched Izira's cheek, and tried to put his mind at ease. "Where's Moriana?" he asks Haddon.

"Oh, she's out on patrol. Westerguard sent her way up there in the mountains to see if she can spy out any troop movements. She probably won't be back for a while. She'll be alright, though. Not like she hasn't done this kind of thing before."

Gren took a drink of his Broot while Haddon finished off his ale, and then grinned at him. "One other thing, just to let you know. "F" Troop? Abraham's old company? It's up for grabs. Word is Perrigan put your name out there to be the new Captain."

Gren got a bug-eyed, surprised look. "Me?"

"What would that mean?" She looked from one man to the other.

Gren looked down at the floor, then back into Izira's eyes. "I . . . would be the Captain of an infantry company. Which means I would have to lead some of the Rangers into battle."

Whatever comfort Haddon's words had offered, Gren's explanation took away. She tried to smile for him, but her concern shone through.

Gren put his hand on Izira's shoulder, then looked back at Haddon. "Why did Perrigan suggest *me*? Why isn't Rhett up for that?"

"How should I know, Gren? They don't tell me what they're thinking. Personally, I think Rhett's pissed off Perrigan for the last time. He doesn't trust him anymore. So that kind of narrows the list down. You really think they want *me* leading a company? Moriana? Grace? HAW! Not likely. You'd better hope Westerguard can convince Perrigan to go with Rhett on this."

Gren rubbed his forehead again. "God, this is all I need."

She placed her hand over Gren's and smiled softly for him. Listening to the exchange, she tried not to shudder at the mention of Rhett's name. Leaning toward Gren and lowering her voice, "Do you... want to go speak with Perrigan?"

"That might be a good idea." Gren still looked concerned, and glanced back at Haddon.

Haddon chuckled and nodded. "Wouldn't hurt, buddy. I’ll get going here so you can make up your mind. Thanks for the ale, Little Missy! Always a pleasure. Hah!" Haddon stood from his stool and made his way over to the peg near the door, where he grabbed his cloak and threw it back on. He gave Gren a arrogant little salute. "As you were, Captain Gren. HAW!"

Gren grimaced. "Yeah, thanks, Haddon."

"Safe journey to you Haddon”, Izira said.

Gren scratched his beard, then looked at Izira. "If you don't have anything going on, would you want to come to see Perrigan with me?"

"My only visitor seems to have vanished." Her way of saying she would come with him.

"Great. At least I'll be able to enjoy the walk, now." He gave Izira another forced smile.

She leaned forward, kissing him lightly for some encouragement. Standing, she moved behind the bar again to quickly tidy up after Haddon and then moved back around to join Gren.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:12 pm

Gren put his hand in the small of her back as they walked to the door, which he opened for her. "Geez, I know we've been hurting for leaders lately, but I don't know how *my* name came up in all this. Perrigan acted like he was going out of his way just to give me the Recon team, and that's only two other men."

"You have proven your worth." She smiled to Gren as though it was obvious that he would be picked.

"If you're right, this is a case of doing your job *too* well." There isn't any mirth in his joke, as he accompanied her to the portal, then into the familiar forest that he patrolled.

A soft squeeze to his arm, she well understood his feelings in that and she agreed. In her mind she repeated that all would be well as Gren had told her time and time again. "It is never too late to make a second impression?" Her own joke equally delivered.

"I've come up with a problem there. You see, you've made me so happy this last week, that I don't think I can effectively stammer or fumble my way out of this. That's the power of love, I guess." He tightened his arm around her waist, though. Her closeness comforted him as he wrestled with what he was going to say to Perrigan.

"You could set his desk on fire, that may be effective... but I fear a bit too much."

"I think using fire would be you're department. You'll have to help me out with that. But yes, that may be a bit too much. I'll trying begging, pleading, and cajoling first, before I resort to anything physical."

She nodded, trying to find more cheer for the humor but cannot yet uncover it. "Perhaps... after your talk with Perrigan, we can stay the night at your home?"

"I'd love for you to stay with me. It'll be nice to have you there." He gave her another squeeze around the waist. "I just wish it was under happier circumstances."

"It could be... after you speak with Perrigan."

He chuckled. "Yes, it could be. Sorry for being so pessimistic. I'll keep my mind focused on happy thoughts." He took a deep breath, and rapidly blinked his eyes. "I'm finding my 'Happy Place' right now. It's beautiful in there . . . " He trailed off, trying not to smile.

"Beautiful is it?" A soft chuckle, Izira stayed close to Gren as they walk.

"Oh yes. There's lots of green, leafy trees, and a riverbank with a bed of wildflowers. You're there. You're wearing this frilly little apron, and nothing else, and holding a plate of pancakes with blueberry syrup."

She laughed a bit fuller and leaned further against him, kissing his ear. "Let it never be said that you do not have an *appetite*"

"Good thing I'm dating such a good cook. You can fulfill all those needs I have. You do very well, you know." He gave her a little, pointed look, as they continue through the forest.

"Careful my ranger, you might not make it through the woods..." The newness of their physical relationship enough to subdue some of the concern, she smiled to him as they walked.

"I know, what's wrong with me? Just a few days ago I got all flustered when you accidentally touched your foot against my leg under the table. Now I can't keep my hands off you. You don't think any less of me, do you?" He tried to look guilty and ashamed, although the corners of his mouth are twitching as if he's trying to keep from grinning.

"Think less of you? Not at all. I think more of you...and of more of you”, she said with another soft chuckle.

"I think about you all the time." He said in a more serious tone. "I still can't . . . sometimes I can't believe we're together like this. I've enjoyed every moment I've spent with you, especially these last couple of days."

Izira turned to Gren, stopping the walk long enough to kiss him deeply... her thanks for his words that took her words away.

He pulled her to him, returning her kiss as tenderly as he could. His hands moved up her back in a light massage, as her warmth and softness filled him with pleasure.

Easily she could remain this way, but she gently pulled back with a smile and returned to their walk. "Keep that in mind for when we return to your tree."

"Yeah, I don't think I'll forget that too quickly." He got that goofy grin on his face, and took her hand in his again, as they began to make their way to the Headquarters once more. They entered the forest of huge oak trees that they had last week, albeit from a slightly different path, and walked over a bed of fallen leaves of red, orange, and gold colors. "Hopefully Missus Brownhill won't interrupt us this time."

"I wonder how many more young ones she will expect you to have running around *now*"

"Probably a litter. She thinks humans have babies the way hedgehogs do, I suppose." Luckily for Gren, Missus Brownhill didn't show, and they made it to the river, and the wooden bridge, without incident. "You know, it just dawned on me. One of these days, I need to get a horse."

She was silent for longer than she needed to be. "A horse?"

"Yeah. It would be easier on you, so you wouldn't have to walk all this way with me. I'm used to these long hikes, so it doesn't bother me. That is, unless you *like* walking with me." He paused. "I like walking with you."

"I... I like walking with you." She squeezed his hand lightly.

"Good. I'm glad. I was just concerned, is all." The fruit trees appeared, as they neared the wooden wall that marked the beginning of the Ranger's Headquarters. Gren walked up to the gate, swallowing hard, hoping there wouldn't be another incident. He gently cleared his throat. "Uhhh . . . Grace? It's me, Gren. Open the gate . . . . please." He gave Izira a reassuring nod, then peered up at the guardhouse. "Grace? Are you there? It's Gren! Open the gate!"

(Nov 11 tbc . . . )
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:55 pm

The pale skinned, pale haired features of Grace can be seen as she poked her head out from the window. She narrowed her eyes, and got a sly grin on her face. "Well, well, look who it is, a man *pretending* to be Gren Blockman. I'm going to need a password, Mister."

Gren threw his hands up. "Aw, come on, Grace, do we have to do this every time?"

"Consider this time payback for the extra patrols I had to do on Wednesday."

Gren grunted and crossed his arms. "Fine. The password is 'Evergreen'. Please let me in?"

"That was *last* week's password! I need *this* week's password, or I shall have to fire my bow as a defensive measure!"

Izira’s amber-brown eyes flicked from Gren to the other ranger, landing finally on the pale woman. "Perhaps Grace is looking to show her dedication to get *more* patrols?"

"Oh no, Gren's not going to pull *that* on me again! I told Perrigan about your little trick, and it won't work this time!"

Gren sighed. "I didn't know you switched the passwords! This isn't fair!"

"Didn't you get the memo?"

"Memo?" Gren looks confused for a moment, then reached in his cloak and pulled out an envelope, which he opened and scanned. His face turned red, and he glared up at Grace. "This isn't real. You can't have gotten the okay for this!"

"How do you know, Man-pretending-to-be-Gren-Blockman?"

Gren looked rapidly between the paper from the envelope and Grace. "Fine. The password is . . . ", he gestured frantically with his hands, "When two people . . . are intimate with each other . . . there are deeper, complex feelings involved . . . you know."

"Know? What do I know? And no, that isn't the password. That's a sorry explanation of what the password is. I'll give you a hint. It's only three little letters. Come on, Gren, you can do it."

Gren gulped hard. "Suh . . . suh . . . suh . . . "

"Yesssss?" Grace prodded.

Gren sighed and slumped his shoulders. "sex", it came out a hushed whisper.

"What did you say?" Grace leaned forward, with her hand cupped around her ear.

"I said SEX!" Gren immediately covered his face with his hands.

"Gren, you animal!" Grace giggled and the doors swing open.

Izira could not help but chuckle and she hooked her arm around Gren's "That is one way to get you used to saying the word." Leaning toward his ear and lowering her voice, "I would have to agree with the animal part."

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." His face is still flushed from embarrassment, but he did give her a sideways look at the last part. "Treehouse. Later. Remember?" He gave her a little wink, then felt better.

She goosed him and stepped away with a wink.

He gave her a mock glare for a moment, before grabbing her as if he was going to wrestle her to the ground, although all he did was just put his arms around her shoulders. They made their way up the main road, through the barracks, towards the large wooden cabin where Perrigan's office is. The place was strangely quiet for that time of day. "I wonder what's going on?" Gren said, as they went up the steps and to the door. Gren opened it for Izira, and stepped into the foyer with the benches. Sitting on one, with his arms crossed, was Rhett, wearing his maroon shirt and brown pants. He was scowling as if he'd just been yelled at for something. His gaze lifted as Gren and Izira entered. His demeanor didn't change for Gren, but it did for Izira. The corner of his mouth lifted in a arrogant smirk, and he stared from her legs all the way up to her breasts.

"Hey, 'Dreamboat'. Gotta say I admire the classy way your lady dresses."

"Maybe you should worry about *your* lady, Rhett." Gren saw the look, and didn't like it.

"Rhett." Rhett is given a smile that didn't reach Izira's eyes as she nodded to him in greeting. Her hand touched gently to Gren's back to reassure him. She turned to look up to Gren and to turn her body somewhat away from Rhett's gaze. Izira had thought to offer to wait outside while Gren spoke to Perrigan, but Rhett's presence made her less than eager to make that suggestion. She looked to Gren to see what he wanted to do from there.

Rhett nodded to Izira when she spoke his name, his eyes not leaving hers, as he absently wiped at his chin while staring at her. Gren led Izira past him and towards Perrigan's door, which he hurriedly knocked on. "Sir? Headmaster? It's Gren. I'd like to talk to you."

"Gren? Certainly, come right in." Rhett was staring at Izira's bottom as she walked over to the door, and the arrogant smirk hadn't left his face. Gren set his jaw, and escorted Izira into Perrigan's office, glad to shut the door and put some kind of barrier between them and Rhett.

Happy as well with that barrier, Izira hoped her inclusion in the visit was not a bother to Perrigan. Once through the door her smile became more natural as she offered it to the older man.
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