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.

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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:10 pm

He takes a spoonful of the chowder and places it in his mouth. He swallows it and smiles briefly, before looking down at his bread. "I didn't get much sleep last night. Did you?"

A gentle shake of her head, but since Gren is looking down she has to add. "I did not." Following the question, she sipped her water.

He goes through the motions of buttering his bread. They seem awkward, there in that moment. Gently he places the bread between his teeth and chews. "I guess we both had a lot to think about."

"Where did you end in your thoughts?"

"End in my thoughts? I'm not quite sure what you mean."

"Thoughts are like paths. Sometimes you get lost. Sometimes you reach your destination, come to a conclusion."

"Oh, I see. Yes, I understand." He stopped eating, placed the half-eaten slice of bread back on the plate, and then looked back at her. "I know you're afraid of what I might think of your past. I know you're afraid I might hurt you and use you. I understand all those fears you have. I wish that there was something I could say, or something I could do to make those fears go away. The best I can do, Izira, is be here for you. I would hope that in time, you will see how I feel about you." He looks around the Inn, briefly, and back at her. "This place, and you, it's exactly what I've been dreaming for. A sanctuary. A place to come back to. Someone sweet, soft, and warm who always has a kind word and a gentle touch. I've waited for this my whole life. And I can wait a little more, if you need me to."

She looked down at her water as he spoke, and turned the glass slowly in her hands. "My words have not always been kind and my touch has not always been gentle." Amber-brown eyes returned to the features of Gren's face. "You see me as I am, now. But... I fear I cannot promise to never slip back into.... what once I was."

His eyes never left her, he watched her turn the glass, and meet her gaze. "That is a chance I'm willing to take. Nobody's perfect. I don't expect you to be." He smiled gently. "Remember what you told me? I need to accept myself. Pretty good advice, don't you think?"

A weak smile, she looked away and took a drink of the water again.

"What about you? Did you come to any conclusions last night?" He picked up his spoon again and took another bite of the chowder.

"Only that I need time." Perhaps a lot, but that did not get said. She knew that despite those she'd laid with and those that had been lovers to her, she had little experience with relationships, at least healthy ones. She feared repeating old patterns.

"Luckily, time is the one thing I have plenty of. Money? Charisma? Self-confidence? Not so much. Maybe this will work out after all." He gave her a little grin between bites of bread, although his eyes betrayed the seriousness of the conversation.

"Dueling talent." Offered softly with a smile, but she lost eye contact again as her thoughts weighed heavily.

"I wasn't aware you were into the dueling type. I thought a piano-playing chef such as yourself would be more into an artsy, romantic kind of guy."

"History would say I do not have a type."

"Well, that's history. What kind of qualities are you looking for in a guy *now*?"

Her deep thoughts gave way to a smile, "What makes you think it is necessarily a guy?"

"Oh ho, pardon my presumptions. Well, I see I've caught you at a transitional time in your life."

She gave a soft chuckle. "Attraction is attraction. You cannot fight the form you find it in."

"No, I suppose not." He chuckles lightly himself. "Would you like to hear what *my* type is? Maybe it will help stir some thoughts in your decision making process."

She inclined her head to him, granting him to go on.

"Alright then, I've always had a thing for brunettes. Which is a point in your favor. Although with your recent lifestyle change, that's bad luck in my case."

"It is not a -recent- change."

"Oh, pardon me. My, what things you learn over a bowl of chowder."
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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:11 pm

"Does that... bother you?" A tilt of her head as amber-brown eyes regarded him.

"No, it doesn't bother me. I guess I didn't expect it because the past relationships you've told me about have all been men."

She nodded, his words true enough. "Dytannia." She offered the woman's name to him.

"What was it about Dytannia that attracted you to her?"

"Aside from her looks? Her strength. Though it also made her a rather... hard woman."

"That sounds like my last girlfriend."

Izira blinked a bit and then looked a bit ashamed as she looked down. "Oh.."

"What's the matter?" He looked at her, not sure why she was feeling ashamed.

"The way you talk about women... I thought...."

"You thought what?" He replied, egging her on.

"I thought you had yet to have a girlfriend."

Gren's face fell. "What the . . . “he set his spoon down and threw his hands up in the air a bit. "Why does everyone think I'm a virgin?"

She winced slightly at his reaction. "I am not the first?" She gave an apologetic look to him.

"No, you're not the first. So you don't have to beat yourself up about it. But do me a favor and tell me just what you meant by "the way I talk about women". Maybe it will enlighten me a bit."

"You yourself said that you are nervous around women. Nervousness tends to speak of... inexperience?"

"I am nervous around women, but not because of inexperience. I had told you my nervousness had to do with my lack of . . . self-confidence." He grimaces a bit, and clears his throat, pushing himself to continue. "Once I'm . . . intimate with a woman, all that nervousness goes away, because I know she accepts me. Then everything is alright. Does that make sense?"

Another soft nod. "How did it end with your... last girlfriend?"

God, that's a whole 'nother story. "Uhhhh . . . she left me. She told me that I was kind and deserved someone who loved me." Basically. His voice doesn't sound convincing.

"You are. And you do."

"I don't know what to say to that." He sheepishly looked at his bowl again.

"You do not have to say anything, Gren. But it is true."

"I guess we all deserve to have someone who loves them."

There is a pause one word changed out for another. "Gronnard?"

"Well, almost everybody."

Her smile fell slightly and she nodded.

"I'm just kidding, Izira. Maybe if things had been different for Gronnard, he wouldn't have become who he was."
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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:12 pm

She did not easily recover from the joke. She took a drink of her water before seeking to change the subject. "What else do you like in your brunettes?"

He leaned back a bit in his stool, thinking. "That's a tough question to answer. Although it reminds me of the most beautiful woman I ever saw."

She looked back to Gren, curious.

He looked at the far wall for a long moment, and then glanced back at her. "Uhh . . . her name was Jenny O'Dwyer. She was a nurse. When I saw her, she was wearing a white uniform that was covered in blood, and her arms were as well, up to her elbows. She lived in a village called Granite Falls. A gnoll tribe had killed a bunch of the local men who were lumberjacks in the forest surrounding the village. They called us Rangers in to try to root them out. We got ambushed and were roughed up pretty bad. Thirty of us were wounded, some near death. Jenny was the only person in the village with medical training. She could have just given up, gotten overwhelmed. But she took care of us. She saved twenty-three of us, including me. I've never seen a woman with such selflessness, compassion, and inner strength. She must have gotten a dozen marriage proposals." He smiled sadly, looking off at the far wall again.

"Any from you?" Her smile is soft, touched at the story of Jenny's strength.

He looked back at Izira, and laughs a bit. "No . . . I . . . I couldn't manage to say anything more than "Thank you". It didn't seem right, in a way."

"Why not?"

"I . . . didn't want to spoil it. It was beautiful, what she did. I wanted to remember it just as it was."

"Romantic." She called Gren that in a kind way. Her drink is empty and she stood, setting the glass in the sink.

"Maybe I am. I don't think there's anything wrong with that." He didn't say that defensively, more emphatically, like that's the way things should be.

A warm smile, she looked to his bowl and plate, staying by the bar rather than returning to her seat.

"I'm finished. It was very good. Glad you're adding fish to the menu."

"I serve what the customer wants." She picked up the dishes and added them to the sink.

He was about to ask if she had gotten any other customers, when Jeremiah came to mind. "Have you seen Jeremiah lately? When we talked the other day, he kind of . . . uh . . . vanished on me."

"He hasn't returned." Dishes in the sink, she returned to the bar by Gren, leaning against it lightly.

"Is that a . . . uh . . . bad thing?"

"It takes energy for him to stay in form and I fear he used most of it helping when you first arrived here and reopening the paths."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Will he be alright?" He looked concerned.

Reaching out her hand to rest over the back of his, "He will."

His ice blue eyes looked down at the hand laid on his. "Izira . . . " He moved his mouth as if to try to say something else, but nothing came out.

She drew her hand away, placing both of her hands together on the bar.

"I should go. We've said a lot today." He places his right hand on his cloak, where he has his book tucked away.

"Thank you for your visit."

His hand falls back to his side. "Yeah. Thank you for the meal." Now it's his turn to place his hand on top of hers. "Thank you." He looked into her eyes.

"You are welcome, Gren."

He removed his hand, and stood from the stool. He awkwardly looked up and down as if maybe he should have said something more, then turned and made his way to the door.

Izira watched Gren leave, quietly. If there were words she thought of saying, she kept them to herself.

He pulled his grey hood over his head, when he reached the door. He glanced back at her over his shoulder. "I'll be back soon. Take care of yourself."

"I will look forward to your return. Safe travels."

Hurriedly he pushed his way out the door, down the path, and through the portal. He doesn't stop walking until he gets home.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:57 pm

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gren had been busy for the next few days and had failed to see how Izira had been doing since their last conversation. It hadn't been anything life threatening, like the charge up the hill from the day before the Play, but it had demanded all of his attention. The Rangers had been hired to guard several important shipments of gold ore through the forest, deliveries that would make or break the fledgling mining company should the cargo fall into the wrong hands. Luckily the destination was RhyDin City, and Gren was able to duel and spend the night there, before trekking back to the mines in the morning. It was Monday afternoon before Gren got back to his house, tired from the three days of steady work.

He was about to take his clothes off and grab an early nap, when he noticed the map to Forgotten Layers on his nightstand. Izira. Damn. He wondered if he would be able to get to the Inn before nightfall, and maybe grab a late meal. I better go now if I want to see her. Maybe she'll let me stay in the guest room again. He knew she still wanted time, and he was willing to be patient. He didn't want to screw things up at this point. Grabbing his grey cloak and putting it on, he hurried out the door and through the woods. He came upon a pond with some beautiful white lillies growing near the edge. Izira might like these. She's always got flowers around. He picked enough for a bouquet and continued on his way, past the lakes and into the evergreen glen. Stepping through the blue lights of the portal, he made his way up the gravel path to the door, took a steady breath, and pushed his way inside, drawing his grey hood back.

Izira stood at the top of a short step ladder behind the bar. Stretching up on her heels, she placed a silver-black bottle on a high shelf, sliding it further back behind several other bottles. She wore a pale rose colored cami beneath a white lace button-up top, paired with a brown belt, grey skirt with a short slit at the front right, and soft brown sling back heels. With her focus on the bottle, Izira slightly turned her head, looking carefully over her shoulder. A smile already worn ready to greet her guest, it seemed a hint wider. "I'll be done in a moment."

"Take your time." He replied, admiring the view. He casually made his way over to the bar and had a seat. Trying not to eyeball Izira too much, he glanced up at the silver-black bottle, wondering why she had it down in the first place.

The bottle put where she wanted it, she carefully made her way off the step ladder. A singular finger tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she turned her smile again to Gren. "I was beginning to think you lost the way." She jested and the playful nature of her words come out in her smile and eyes.

"I . . . uh . . . " He smiled a bit abashed, even though it was a joke. "I was on a mission. Guarding shipments of gold ore from a new mine. Just got back a few hours ago. I came over as soon as I could." He gulped a bit, the last sentence came shooting out of his mouth before he could stop it. "I brought you these." He hurriedly lifts up the bouquet of lillies and presents them to her. "Thought they might look nice . . . on the bar."

"Lilies." Izira looked to the flowers before accepting the bouquet with both her hands. She gently inhaled the flowers' scent and smiled. "They're a favorite of mine."

"I'm glad you like them." Yesss. "How have things been here?"

"I fear you would find life here dull compared to your life as a ranger." Speaking as she moved and found a vase for the flowers. She settled them into water and a simple crystal glass before arranging them. "I have slept, cooked, did a bit of this and that, and spent more time than I should need to chasing Pascal in the gardens. He's become quite playful as of late." The vase lifted up, she moved out from behind the bar and headed for the hallway that lead to the back hallway from the main room. A tilt of her head invited Gren to follow. "No sign of Jeremiah, as cat or man, but it isn't a concern. The realm continues, so I know he remains in some way."

She seemed talkative and cheerful, so he is at ease enough to rise from the stool and follow after her down the hallway. He pictured Pascal running around the garden looking for carrots and he smiled to himself. "I like the peace around here. Sometimes I need that after being in danger for days at a time."

The mention of danger has her glancing back at him, she worries for his safety somewhat and it shows before she puts her mind to other thoughts. "I know you said you thought the lilies would look nice on the bar, but I think I would rather enjoy them in my quarters." Smiling down to the flowers, she adjusted one of the blooms. She moved from one hallway to the other and then her personal quarters.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:00 pm

"Wherever you'd like them. I brought them for you." He swallowed as he moved down the hallways and into her personal quarters. He remembered the conversation they had here that night. He wanted to say something else, but he waited until she put the flowers where she wanted them.

She didn't move for the desk nor the low coffee table on the other side of the two-sided fireplace. Her steps take her to the left and to the open door of her bedroom. An oversized bed centers the wall on the other side of the room and she moved around its foot to the nightstand that sat to the right. Gren's bouquet found its place at her bedside.

He looked around the main sitting room with a smile, not realizing she's going into her own bedroom before he stands there in the doorway. "Uhhh . . . " He was just about to take a step inside, then he pulled his foot back and tries to take a casual lean against the door frame.

"Now I may enjoy them before I sleep and again first thing in the morning." A few more adjustments were made to the stems until it suited her. She stepped back several steps, giving the flowers space, before looking back to Gren in the doorway. "What do you think?"

"I think they look lovely." Not half as lovely as you. Why couldn't I say that out loud? "I'm glad you'll see them in the morning when you wake up. Maybe they'll remind you of . . . " Me. "You certainly have a well kept home. Everything looks so nice here."

Izira smiled at the change of his words. "You haven't even seen the bathroom." A soft chuckle, it didn't appear like she planned to invite him to see it just yet. She stepped away from the bed and made her way back to the door. "What is your home like?"

"I live in a tree house. It's a large oak, with a doorway at the bottom. It has a staircase that leads upwards into the limbs, where my bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom are. I had to build the upper part. It's kind of like a fort you would build for your children. Heh heh. But for an adult, that is."

"A tree house?" Her smile widens, "How curious."

"Yeah, I patrol that sector of the forest, and it's easier to just live there than have to keep trekking back to the barracks where our Guild Headquarters lies. Maybe I can show you . . . uh . . . If you wanted, I could take you there sometime."

"That might be nice. Do you cook?" Her amber-brown eyes watched his face. If Gren forgot to move from his attempt at a casual lean against the door frame, she'd be standing within the room before him as they conversed.

Gren tried to control his anxiety. Yes, he'd like Izira to come to his house, but he feels a bit overwhelmed in situations like these. He takes an unsteady step backwards in order to clear the doorway so she can exit the bedroom, trying to find somewhere to stand in the main sitting room so he's out of the way. "I . . . can cook, yes." Journey Cakes and Chicory, maybe. "Yeah, I'd love to have you over. For dinner. I'll make . . . something." Something.

"A blue plate special?" She walked out of her room as he stepped back. The main area offered mostly space. Izira moved back for the door, taking the hallway for the kitchen. She glanced to be sure Gren was still with her.

"Uh heh heh, yeah. A meat and three vegetables. That's the working man's meal, you know. Or the common wayfarer, you could say." He trailed after her to the kitchen, actually set at ease a bit by the remembrance of his little suggestion.

"And the meal for an inn keeper on her night off?" A smile and into the kitchen she led them. Looking around and then back to him, "What would you like tonight, Gren? You are staying to eat?"

"Well, I would . . . uh . . . make you something a little more . . . fancier. I mean, I'm sure you'd like . . ." He breathed an inner sigh of relief when she mentioned if he wanted to stay to eat. "Yes! Yes, I'd like something to eat. Chicken if you have it. Then we can . . . talk about what *you'd* like. To eat. When you come over. *If* you come over." Aw, geez. "I'll go wait at the bar." He finished by jabbing a thumb over his shoulder.

As Gren is looking to go to the bar, she moved to fill a glass with water, ice forming and chilling the liquid as it's added to the glass. "When." She assured him, handing him the water, and gave him a nod to take his leave to the bar.

He took the glass of water from her, looking into her eyes after she says "When", and tried not to break out into a goofy grin, tried being the operative word. He jabbed his thumb over his shoulder again, as if to say "There's where I'll be", and he turned and exited the kitchen, taking a seat on a barstool. He took a drink of the cold water before setting the glass on the bar. When. Oh, geez, what the hell am I going to cook? He gave a mighty gulp and tried not to let paranoia set in.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:01 pm

Gren had plenty of time to battle his paranoia as Izira remained in the kitchen to cook. When she finished, she returned to the space behind the bar carrying a tray that she set before Gren. A small cup of butternut squash soup and a small fresh loaf of bread with butter sat beside the plate for the main dish. A baked chicken breast, sliced and still juicy, paired with asparagus spears and a small salad. A light lemon pepper white sauce over the chicken. The tray came complete with napkin and silverware.

"Man, I don't know how I'm going to compete with all the great meals you've made for me." Grinning, he unfolded his napkin and took out the silverware. He cut into the chicken breast while it was still hot and juicy, and took a bite. "Mmm. Lemon pepper. So what did you have in mind for me to cook for *you*?"

She fixed herself a glass of water while he ate. "What is your favorite dish to make for yourself?"

He leaned back a bit, blinking. "Well, usually I just hunt a deer for my supper. The meat last for a while, me being by myself. I guess I can make Venison. If you're not a vegetarian."

"I am not." Amused smile into her water, she sipped. "Venison it is."

"Great. I'm sure you'll like it. Other than that, I'm afraid all I could offer you is Journey Cakes. And I don't think you'd find those very appetizing."

"I could bring some vegetables from the garden, guide you through a couple easy sides?"

He probably could have made some simple vegetables himself, but he wanted Izira to help him with the cooking, so they could do something together. "That would be great! I mean, I'm sure I could warm up a can of corn, but you have a certain touch with these things." He held up his fork with a few asparagus spears stuck to it approvingly.

Canned corn. She is glad she offered to help. "You'll see its little trouble once I show you."

"Hey, I forgot. How about dessert? I'll try to whip up a cobbler or something. Cobblers are easy, right?" He's starting to get way too into this.

"I will leave dessert to your care then."

"Yeah. Cobbler. I'll figure it out." He smiled and went back to his meal. "Oh, man, I guess I should have started with the soup. Or salad." He took his spoon and started rapidly gulping down the squash soup, trying not to make noises as he did.

"That you enjoy it is all that matters to me." A light smile as she sipped her water, remaining quiet for the time as Gren is eating.

"Oh, I do. I spent the last three days eating green apples and beef jerky. I wouldn't recommend it." He smirked a bit as he chewed his salad.

"Were... the apples supposed to be green?"

"I think they were Granny Smiths. I hope. They did taste a bit . . . sour. But at the time, I just grabbed anything I could find. We were on a forced march, so to speak. 'Don't stop until you get to RhyDin City', they told us. Luckily for us, I don't think any of the local orc or goblin tribes thought there was anything worthwhile in the new mines, so we didn't get attacked. It was a good couple of days, in that regard."

A soft chuckle was given at Gren hoping the apple was supposed to be sour and not just gone bad. "Do you have any more marches planned this week?"

He looked at the far wall thoughtfully. "Nothing major that I know of. The Diamond Quest is on Sunday. Other than that, my week is pretty open. How about Wednesday or Thursday? That'll give me some time to prepare." At this point he's tearing through the food. Not messily, but he's starving after his three day march.

"Thursday, then. I would hate for you to feel rushed." Said with a smile, she set her glass down and moved off to the kitchen, slipping out of view.

"Thursday sounds just . . . uh, fine." He said with a mouthful of chicken. He craned his neck a bit to see why she ran off to the kitchen, then shrugged and went back to finishing off his meal. It disappeared pretty quickly.
Last edited by Gren Blockman on Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:03 pm

When she returned she had two things for him: a slice of cherry pie on a plate with some vanilla ice cream in one hand and the handle of a large brown sack in the other. Both are put on the bar, though the dessert is put in front of Gren while the bag is set to his side.

"Cherry Pie! Oh, man, you must've read my mind." He rubbed his hands together, grabbed his fork, and took a helping of both pie and ice cream on it before sticking it in his mouth. He then glanced down at the large brown sack, then back at Izira. "What's that?"

"A care package. For you." She picked up her water again, taking a sip and not telling him about what she put in the bag: a breakfast casserole with eggs, hash browns, cheese, and mushrooms, several more breast of chicken with asparagus and lemon pepper white sauce, a container of the soup, fresh apples, of a sweeter flavor, and the rest of the cherry pie.

"Oh, thanks. Maybe I should open it when I get home so it'll be a surprise." He smiled gratefully, and my did that pie and ice cream vanish. "Man, I'm stuffed. That sure hit the spot after this weekend."

She nodded to him opening it later, setting down her water again and picking up the dishes from Gren's meal. She put them into the sink at the bar with a quick rinse. "I am happy you enjoyed your meal."

"I always enjoy my meals here." He leaned back a bit, as if letting his meal digest. "Gosh, I can't believe it’s been . . . what, three weeks since I've been coming here? Feels like longer than that, for some reason."

"Perhaps the moments between seem to stretch", she said, looking up to Gren and then back down to her water.

He glanced at Izira, recognizing what she must mean. "I just meant it feels like you're an old friend. Like I've known you for a lot longer than three weeks. And to contradict myself a bit, I do feel the time I spend within these walls seems too short. I wish I could be here more." He prayed he didn't turn a shade of red at that last statement.

"This is an Inn. There are rooms upstairs. But you would be away from your woods." She took a sip of the water, looking to the bar's counter top. "You still have much to know about me..." That isn't a fault of his, more so a fault of her own to have such things in her past that she feels would keep him from being able to look at her the same.

"When you're ready to tell me, I'll be ready to listen. I could tell you things I've done that I'm not proud of. Maybe if you see I'm willing to trust you . . . then you'll trust me a bit more."

A soft nod, she reached out, lightly touching Gren's hand. "Another night?" She was enjoying the time as it was and didn't yet want to approach those things.

"Certainly. I don't want to darken the mood. I'm actually pretty happy right now. Everything went well, no one got hurt or . . . I'm just glad to be here. Here to enjoy some friendly company for a while."

Her smile says she feels the same as she draws her hand back.

"Have you made any more trips into the City while I was gone?"

"Only one. I purchased more Broot and some other drinks."

"Hey, I see my spokesperson skills are working! I'll have to let Jake know that I successfully convinced the Keeper of the Forgotten Layers Inn to buy more Broot. Maybe I'll get a raise out of this." He gave her a little grin.

"If you did, what would you do with the extra coin?"

"I would . . . uh . . .” His grin fades and he tries to adopt a more serious, dramatic tone. "I would donate it to the widows and the orphans. Because that's just the kind of guy I am."

"Selfless." It's almost a sad agreement. She added, in a more positive tone, "Were it me, I might have purchased season passes for the theater."

"Season passes . . . I didn't realize there was such a thing." In other words: dates, and lots of them. "Change of plans. I'll be buying season passes with my imaginary raise. The widows and orphans will have to wait."

She laughed softly and warmth kindled in her eyes. "Or… perhaps... you can allow a couple of them to attend to the shows you are less inclined to see? Even widows and orphans can use a bit of culture."

"That's true. I'm sure a production by Shanachie Theater would brighten any widow or orphan's day. The problem is you said "passes". Meaning more than one. So if I've got another pass for a certain individual, I think I'd be inclined to see every show I possibly could."

"And if that person is more inclined to spend an evening at home having dinner?"

"That depends on if that person is inclined to have company that evening. Suddenly those passes look better in the hands of a widow. Or orphan."
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:04 pm

A soft smile, though she gave no verbal indication if that person would be dining alone or not. Izira turned the topic, "Tell me, Gren, when would be a good night to watch you duel? I am... curious to see you at it."

"Hmm. I probably won't make it to the Outback until Wednesday. That's where most of the people I know are. So either then, or maybe Saturday, at the Arena. Sunday is the Diamond Quest. I'd love to see you there for that, but it could get . . . " Bloody. "Intense."

Intense sounded like more than she wanted to deal with, just yet. "What is the difference between the Outback and the Arena?"

"The Outback is where the fist fighting takes place. I'm more successful there, but the people can be a little . . . brash. The Arena is where the sword fighting is. I've never held a title there, but the people can be nicer. Plus there are magical wards that make your injuries disappear, should you suffer any in a fight. In the Outback, you're supposed to wear your cuts and bruises with pride." He chuckled.

She doesn't chuckle with him but smiled her understanding to the thought behind it. "You fight with a sword?"

"No, I use a staff. I don't have any desire to cut or harm someone, other than what naturally happens when I'm involved in physical combat. Dueling at the Arena keeps my skills sharp. It's not often that I have to use a sword."

"I never have to use one." Now she chuckled. "Perhaps I will come watch you at the Arena on Saturday."

"That would be great! I'd love to see you there. Hey, Rena will probably be there and you can say Hi to her too."

"That would be nice. I will have to remember to bring her a pie if I do come out."

He's smiling broadly now. "Dinner at my place on Thursday, Dueling on Saturday. You better watch out, Izira, people might think we're more than friends."

She smiled, watching him with those amber-brown eyes of hers. A slight tilt of her head. "Would you allow people to think that?"

"Me? In a heartbeat. I recognize you're not that comfortable with it, so I'll try not to use the "girlfriend" word. The "date" word might slip out once or twice though. I hope you don't mind."

Her lips press together, but it's to mute a smile. "I might forgive it."

"Well, that's good, you see . . . “, he can't help but smirk playfully, "it's a purely defensive measure. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm playing the field. A guy can get a reputation as a ladies' man otherwise. You don't think I'm a ladies' man, do you?"

"I... hadn't gotten that impression." She thought he'd been quite the opposite, but that didn't seem to be something that needed bringing up right then.

"No, you think I'm a . . ." Then he coughs, remembering she basically called him the "V" word. "Anyway, I'm glad we'll be seeing more of each other. I . . . uh . . . I missed you these last three days."

"Work's kept you busy." Her amber-browns looked down to the bar.

"Yeah. Those kinds of missions don't happen very often though. Normally I'm not gone for more than a day or two at a time. So I hope . . . I won't be away that long again."

Her cheeks colored slightly at his words. Izira isn't sure what to say. Instead, after a lengthy pause, she tipped her head toward his drink. "Do you need something more to drink?"

He watched her, her pause and colored cheeks giving him hope. He blinked a bit at the question, then looked down at his empty bottle. "Oh! Uh . . . yeah! That'd be great. Heh, I inhale these things sometimes." He held up his empty bottle a bit and grinned sheepishly.

"It is no wonder they opted to use you to market it." She took the empty bottle from him, her fingers brushing his hand as she did so. She took the empty away and exchanged it for a new bottle that she opened and set before him.

"Uh . . . thanks" The softness of her hand, even for a moment, gave him a warm feeling. It took a second for him to collect his thoughts. "I know I got here late . . . How long do you stay open? I don't want to interrupt if you had something planned for this evening."

"The inn is open for as long as it is needed to be. I will eventually require sleep, however."

"Of course! Sleep. I didn't mean *that* . . ." So what did you mean? "I just meant, if you've had a long day and need to turn in, just say so. If not . . . I could stick around for a while. Maybe you could . . . give me the room upstairs I stayed in last time. I wouldn't mind staying the night again."

"Rest isn't calling to me yet." Moving from the bar, she opened the cabinet for the keys and took down one, bringing it back to him. "Shall I keep the care package until morning?" Speaking of the bag she'd packed up for him.

He takes the key from her. "Thanks. Rest isn't calling me just yet either. You can keep the package until morning." He nodded to it. "I thought maybe . . . we could sit by the fireplace for a while."

"If you would like." She nodded her head for him to go ahead, "I will join you after I put this away." Taking the brown bag of food, she went back into the kitchen.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:07 pm

He nodded, then got up from the stool and moved towards the sitting room, finding a comfy chair to sit in. He took another large drink from his bottle of Broot and stared at the hearth. Now that his meal was finished, and he knew Izira was alright, he was beginning to feel fatigued from the last three days, but he didn't want the night to end just yet. It would be nice to sit by the fire with Izira, like they did that morning. He waited for Izira to return, trying to keep his eyes open and not show any signs of weariness.

Returning from the kitchen, Izira lingered behind the bar long enough to pour herself a glass of wine. The red bottle is sealed with wax that melts away and the swirling red and orange liquid is poured into a simple wine glass. The wax is reformed over the bottle. Bottle put away, she made her way with the wine from the bar and to an armchair by Gren. Settling with her legs crossed, she looked to her companion.

He glanced over at her and smiled. "What kind of wine is that?" He wasn't really educated in all the different kinds, seeing as he tended to avoid alcohol anyway.

"It's called Dragon's Breath." Swirling the wine in her glass, the colors moved like liquid fire. She took a sip and her eyes shone brighter for a moment as she relaxed further into her chair.

"Sounds . . . uh . . . powerful." He gulped a bit. "What kind of wine was that in the silver and black bottle you were putting on the shelf when I walked in?"

"It is. Typical drinks have little effect on me." She's watching the fire and the flames reflected in her eyes, or lived in them. "A blood wine, for Errand."

If he was half asleep, he wasn't now. His eyes sort of open a bit wider. "Errand came back? When did that happen?"

Amber-browns leave the fire and looked at Gren, "He has yet to return, but he will."

"Oh." Gren kind of swallowed, and passed it off. "Well, uh, I was just wondering. You know. He seemed like an interesting fellow. Being an owl enthusiast and all." Blood wine? Oh, geez.

Gren gets a small quirk of Izira's brow. "He is not truly an owl enthusiast." She looked back to the fire. "He's a vampire." Taking a sip of her Dragon's Breath wine, feeling it warm her body.

Gren rubbed his forehead with his hand. "Great. The blood wine and night reference were kind of hints. Well, at least he didn't try to bite me." Then he gives her a concerned look. "He didn't . . .” She wouldn't be here talking to you. "Uhhh . . . never mind."

"At least there was that." Amusement was held at the edge of her smile as she regarded Gren and another quirk of her brow when his question dies out.

He noticed her eyebrow rise, and he gets curious, in spite of himself. "He didn't . . . try anything funny with you, did he?"

"It depends on what you think is funny, Gren. I wasn't particularly amused, but we came to an understanding."

"What kind of an understanding?" He doesn't like the direction this is going.

"We understand what sort of creature the other is." She watched Gren, recalling the walk to see the distant mountains and her telling him she was the most dangerous thing in the woods with him.

"Uh huh." He watched Izira for a few moments, whether that was concern, curiosity, or a twinge of jealousy, he wasn't sure, but her cryptic answer left him feeling maybe he should just drop it. "What about the other lady who came by, Noira. Do you think she'll show up again?"

There is a pause, as Gren is watching her. Like him, she moves on. "She should. I would not care to go tracking her down the volume I lent her."

"What kind of volume was it again? If you don't mind my asking."

"The journal of a lesser sorcerer."

Magic didn't really interest him, so he didn't have any other questions. He watched the fire crackling, then remembered her lighting it for him. Then a question does spring to mind. "Journal of a lesser sorcerer. If you have something like that, you probably had some kind of training on how to use magic, I guess."

Her lips turned, as though she tastes something bitter. Her eyes closed and she pushed the intruding thought away. Izira's answer spoken on an exhale, "I trained myself."

Gren sees the look on her face, and regretted asking her, although he had no way of knowing his question would upset her. "I see." Another topic to move on from. This isn't going well so far. He took another long drink of his Broot and tried to think of a better line of conversation. "Hey, do you remember that coffee you gave me a couple weeks ago? I gave it to some of my friends and they really liked it. Could you tell me what kind it was?"

Izira settled, though she feels badly for the way she handled her response to his question on her training. "Wutroth." Speaking the name given to the coffee she'd given him, "Would you like more? If so, I will add it to your gift before the morning."

"Wutroth. That's kind of an odd name. But yes, if you could. Haddon has been bugging me constantly about it. I keep forgetting to ask you. Everytime I'm here I'm . . . thinking of something else."

"I will send enough back with you to share." Watching him quietly, she took a drink of her wine as she looked back to the fire. "Tell me about your friends?"
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:08 pm

He nods and smiles. "Great. My friends? Sure. There's about two hundred people in my Ranger Guild, so it could take a while though, heh. Anyway, my two best friends in the Guild are on the Recon Team I lead, Team "B". Bernard is younger than me, maybe 22 or 23, he has red hair. He's one of the most cheerful guys I know. The other is Crawford. He's the same age as Bernard, but he's kind of . . . " Cowardly. "Well, he's not the courageous type. But we get the job done."

"You are friends with all the members of your Ranger Guild? Or it is that you apply the term very loosely?" A tease lived in her smile, implying that if it is the latter she might have to reconsider her assumption that him calling her his friend meant much to him.

"Well . . .” He looks down, a bit embarrassed at her teasing smile. "No, they aren't all my friends. But I do get along with most everyone. Except Recon Team "A"." Here he frowned a bit.

"What happened with them?" Shifting in her chair and leaning toward him, curious.

"Boy, where do I start with that one. Well, I'll start at the bottom and work my way to the top. Team "A" has three people, just like my team. Haddon is a bald man, really big. Bigger than Jeremiah. He has a crass kind of laugh that always makes you feel like the butt of a joke. Then there's Moriana. She's a Drow. Got lost in the woods as a little girl and the Rangers found her and took her in. She very rarely ever talks to anyone. Mostly just scowls. It's a shame, she's a pretty woman, but she just drives everyone away. Then there's Rhett, the leader." Here he pauses, and takes a lengthy drink of Broot. And where do I start with him?

She drank and waited quietly for Gren to continue, curious and interested to hear him talk more about himself and those he knows.

"Rhett is a good looking guy. Blonde hair, dimpled chin. Great Ranger. But he knows it, and he's arrogant about it. We came through training together. Me, him, and . . . Janna. We had a falling out. A mission went bad, and he blamed . . . he got angry with me about it. He didn't think I was fit to be a Ranger. And to prove it . . . he seduced my girlfriend. Janna. We've been at odds ever since."

"I'm sorry Gren." A frown was given at the actions of Rhett and Janna. Gren said 'seduced' not 'tried to'.

"Well . . .” His voice does have a touch of sadness in it, but he moves on. "Maybe it was better that way. I wouldn't want to be with someone that doesn't want to be with me. If she really loved me, she would have stayed true to me." Gren thought that probably sounds lame, but it's what he had to tell himself to give himself closure.

A soft smile, she looked back to the fire.

"I tried to let go of what happened, move on with Rhett, but he can't let things go. I try not to get in his way, and he stays away from me. So that's just the way it will be for now, I suppose."

"I have heard that living a good life is the perfect revenge." Not that she's handled it that way much in her own history.

"Heh. Funny thing is . . . I don't really want revenge. I'm not trying to sound holier-than-thou. I just . . . want it to be over. We were friends. We're both good Rangers. I respected him . . . God, that mission, if things had been different, we'd be best friends."

A sad smile for Gren, one hand left her glass to touch his arm gently.

Her gentle touch seemed to open that part of his mind, and the memories of that mission came flooding back. He felt he had to talk about it, to let it out somehow. "There was this village up near the mountains called Quiet Springs. They sent word to us that a band of orcs was assembling and getting ready to raid them. Our Headmaster sent ten of us there to see what the fuss was about. But we were too late. The orcs had overrun the village and . . . they killed everybody. They . . . " He stops, his mouth starts wavering. "We walked right into them, didn't even realize they'd taken the village. They cut eight of us down . . . we were surrounded, just me and Rhett. We fought like demons, trying to get out of there. Then Rhett pulled me into a burned out school . . . " He stops, his face contorts as if he is going to cry.

It is a hard story to listen to, but she does not turn away nor take her hand away. When Gren's face contorts, she set her wine down and moved to sit on the arm of his chair, her hand moving to stroke through his hair once. "You do not have to tell me if you are not ready to share, Gren."

He looked up at her, his eyes turning red, he swallowed hard, then he glanced back at the fire. "They had burned the school down. With the children inside. Aw Jesus, they were just little kids . . . " A tear rolls down both his cheeks. He tries not to look at Izira, but he continued. "I . . . froze up. Rhett nearly got killed with me not watching his back. He practically had to slug me to get me to snap out of it. I did just long enough for us to get out of there. But we made it back. He never forgave me though. Said I almost got him killed, said I didn't deserve to be a Ranger. I shut myself in my room for three days. That's when Rhett seduced Janna." He covered his eyes with a hand, leaning his elbow on the armrest. "I'm sorry. I . . . felt the need to let that out for some reason."

There is an odd tension in her when he spoke of burning, but she did her best not to let it show. Another soothing stroke of her hand was given to his hair. "You've no reason to apologize Gren."

He sniffed loudly, wiped a hand across his face, and tried to chuckle, although it came out humorless. "So much for keeping things light this evening, huh?" He still tried not to look at her, afraid if he did he'd break down. He leaned his chin on his elbow and tried to steady himself with long, deep breaths.

Her hand moved through his hair a third time as she spoke. "One thing I can tell you from your story is that Rhett's heart is not half as good as yours. I will not pretend to know the worth of a ranger, but you are worth more than him as a man." Her hand stilled, paused, and drew away to settle into her own lap.

Gren finally looked at Izira, he's composed himself by now, and he gave her a warm smile. "Thank you. I don't think I've talked about that in five years. I beat myself up over it for the longest time." He placed his hand on the hand she set in her lap. "I'm alright now."

Her flesh is warmer than usual. Amber-brown eyes gazing to Gren's ice blues. She nodded, swallowing. "I am glad."

Gren feels the warmth of her skin, the closeness of her body to his. He gazed into her eyes as well, and unconsciously, his head moved closer to hers, until their faces were just inches apart.

In the moment, her head tilted slightly forward, her eyelids lowering. It is only a second that she's on the brink of giving into the thought that has been in her mind. Her eyes close in pain just as she drew back and stood, turning away to compose herself. "... I'm sorry."

Gren doesn't move, other than to watch her rise and step away. Then he blinked several times, more to snap himself out of the moment, before swallowing. "No . . . I, uh . . . it was my fault. I shouldn't push you." He stood slowly from the chair, and walked over to her, placing a comforting arm across her shoulder. "Maybe we should call it a night. I can go back home, if you're uncomfortable with me staying upstairs tonight."

She didn't move away from his arm. "It's... not you”, she said with a soft sad chuckle, because even she knows how awful of a line that is. Amber-brown eyes look to him again and they show her fear and sorrow. "When you learn what I am, the things I have done... I cannot imagine you will look at me the same."

"We all have a past, Izira. We all have regrets. I wouldn't judge you on who you were. All I see is who you are now. You're a lovely, sweet, compassionate woman. I can't imagine seeing you as anything other than that." He wrapped his other arm around her, and pulled her to him in a warm embrace. "Just like you told me, you don't have to tell me until you're ready."

A sad smile before she rested her head against his shoulder. Her thoughts raced through her histories, of her own fires. "When I'm ready...” she replied in quiet agreement. Still, even with his comfort, she feared the way he would look at her when he knows. She is afraid to hope for anything different.

He leaned his cheek against her head, swirled his hand comfortingly across her back, and holds her for as long as she needed to be held. "We'll get there, Izira. I have faith we will. Then all these memories . . . they'll be like a bad dream."

She is silent, holding back a reply that offered nothing positive. After a moment she gently pulled away. "Thank you, Gren, for the visit. I will have breakfast ready for you in the morning."

"Alright then." He smiled gently to her, resisting the urge to touch her face, merely keeping his hands on her shoulders for the moment. "Good night. Thanks for listening." He then let her go and headed for the stairs.

Izira remained in the mainroom, watching Gren leave. Once he's upstairs she picked up her wine, looking to the glass before deciding she'd had enough. The glass is poured out and set in the sink, the lights of the inn dimming as she headed for her own quarters.

Gren moved up the staircase, turned the key in the door and shut it behind him. He then leaned backwards against the door, covering his face with both hands. God. Shakily, he wiped his face off, and walked to the bed. Taking off his boots, pants and shirt, until he was in his undershirt and boxers, he climbed into the bed and pulled the sheets up to his chin. He had been physically exhausted as it was, but now he was mentally drained as well. He barely had time to think of the events of the last hour when his eyes closed and he drifted off into slumber.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:05 pm

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gren is standing in a forest, but not of evergreens and oaks. The trees seem more tropical. There is a constant buzzing, droning sound coming from the sky. At first, he is confused and frantically searches for something that he finds familiar. In the split second he turns away, he looks back and the forest is on fire, great pillars of flame and smoke. He begins to hack and cough, and try to find shelter, but there is none. The ground is littered with dead bodies. But they aren't anyone he recognizes. He breaks into a run, trying to get away from the smoke and the heat. The droning sound gets louder and louder, and explosions begin to rock the ground behind and around him. The tremors cause him to lose his footing and fall to the earth. He flips around, and sees a swift, grey blur fly overhead, before everything around him erupts into a giant ball of flame.

Gren bolted upright in bed, breathing heavily. Sweat covered his face and body, and he blinked rapidly as if to brush away the dream from his mind. He rubbed his forehead for a moment, and looked around the room, recognizing it to be the Forgotten Layers Inn.

He sat in bed for a minute or so, then finally he glanced out the window to see if the sun was up yet or not. Seeing the sun peeking through his window, he realized it must be morning already. Grunting in protest, he had felt like he could have slept all day. He swung his legs around and climbed out of bed, putting his clothes back on. I hope everything is alright with Izira. God, what a night. Everything in order, he took his cloak and the key with him, before he marched downstairs to the sitting room.

It was morning and Izira was awake and downstairs. The coffee had already been added to Gren's care package. Breakfast was ready and waiting in the kitchen, but she had no need to wake Gren before he is ready. She wore a pink wrap top with a very light grey pencil skirt and rose colored peek-toe heels. For a change, Izira is sitting on the patron side of the bar as she drank from a cup of tea. Amber-brown eyes looked to Gren coming down the stairs. She's quiet, but smiled gently.

Gren returned her gentle smile, and couldn't help but chuckle softly. "You always look so nice. Sometimes I feel it's a shame that I'm pretty much the only one that gets to see it." He slowly moved towards the bar, and sat down on a stool next to Izira, laying his cloak on the other adjacent stool. He placed the key on the bar. "Thanks for the room. I'm glad I didn't have to walk back in the dark last night."

"It's only morning." There is the whole day for someone to see her. She smiles and sets her tea down, sliding the key back to him. "Keep it. You are welcome to stay whenever you have need." A light touch to the back of his shoulder, she stood up and moved around the bar. "I fixed you up an omelette for breakfast. What would you like to drink?"

He closed his hand around the key, before gently placing it within his pants pocket. "Some of that coffee would be nice."

The pot ready for him, she stopped on her way to the kitchen to fill up a mug and set the needed sugar and cream before him. "I remembered to add a couple bags of the coffee for you to take with you." She gave a nod toward the bag waiting behind the bar. Then she stepped into the kitchen, hardly gone very long before she came out with a massive omelette. She set the plate before him and a napkin with silverware beside it. Fresh fruit took up what little space to one side the omelette allowed. "It is chicken, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese."

"Thank you for the coffee. I'm sure it will help my budding friendship with Haddon and Moriana." He smiled as he looked at the omelette, putting cream and sugar in his coffee, then taking the silverware to dig in. Apparently, he still had his appetite from last night, because he took several bites before he replied. "Great. I like the flavor the spinach and mushrooms give it." He took a big drink of coffee. "How are you feeling this morning?"

"More myself." Less with the wine in her, she thought, though her inner turmoil hadn't truly receded. She smiled, "How are you feeling?"

The nightmare gave him the shakes, but he didn't want to worry Izira, not after last night. "Doing well. I needed a good night's rest. I'll feel even better with the rest of this omelette in my stomach", he said, giving her a playful wink.

"That is good to hear." She went around the bar again, and took up the spot beside him where her tea waited.

He tried not to shovel the omelette in too quickly and look like a hog, but he liked the chicken added in. He was going to have to remember these omelettes in the future. "How'd you learn to cook like this? Man, I would have come here all the time if I would have known about this place."

She looked down, not sure how to answer that. But after last night, she didn't want to give him another vague answer. It is a weak smile when she responds, "My master taught me."

He lowered his fork slowly when he heard that. He looked at his plate, guiltily. "Look, uh . . . you don't have to tell me today. I was just . . . complimenting you on your skill. I know we had a rough night."

"I am not ready for the details, but I wanted to answer your question." Looking to Gren's plate, "Truly he only granted me with rudimentary knowledge, I expanded on the education."

He nods simply, and then goes back to eating. "Well, you do a fine job. It's always a pleasure." He drank his coffee and hoped he didn't ask her any more awkward questions for the rest of the morning.

"It is good to know you enjoy it." She sipped her tea.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:06 pm

"I'll have to check in with my Headmaster this morning, to see if he has any assignments for me. But hopefully I won't. We should be okay for Thursday, if you're still up for it."

"I am."

"Great. I'm looking forward to it. As many times as I've come here to your home, I want you to see where I live."

"Your adult sized tree house."

He smiled warmly at his plate. "Yeah. With the tire swing and the secret entrances. I'll have to show you the special knock so you can get in without being pelted with water balloons."

"I should wear a coat, in case I forget the knock."

"An umbrella wouldn't hurt, either." He looked back at her, popping a piece of the fruit in his mouth.

She smiled though that sorrow from yesterday remains. Izira did her best not to let it show. She will have to tell him her history at some point, but for the morning she wanted to keep this. "I have one or two of those."

"You're all set then. What time should I come by to get you? I was thinking maybe 3, that way we'll make it to my place around dinner time."

She took his suggestion as a good one. "I will be ready by three."

"Alright then." He tried to wolf down the last of his omelette. "So, do you have anything planned for today?"


He gave her a long look, and swallowed hard. He had been rushing his meal so he could check in with his job, but just then he remembered what she had said to him during last night's meal, how she implied the time flew when he was around. "I can . . . come back tonight. If I don't have an assignment. Maybe we could walk through your forest again."

"Seeing me again so soon will not spoil Thursday?" The tea cup held in her lap as she sat turned to him.

"No, it wouldn't. Not unless it would for you. There's nothing I'd rather do than spend time with you again."

She could kiss him for those words, but she didn't. She only smiled. "I will see you tonight."

"Alright." He stood up from his bar stool, grabbed his cloak and pulled it around him. "I should get going then. The sooner I check in, the sooner I can come back."

"A good plan." Ready to see him off, she nearly forgot the bag of food. "But you must not forget..." She stood and went around the bar to pick up the sack and set it on the bar for him. "This. I would hate if lack of coffee hindered those... budding friendships."

"How could I forget your amazing cooking?" He gave her a big smile and lifted the sack over his shoulder. "This ought to keep me busy for a while. And keep me on Haddon and Moriana's good side."

"Safe travels, Gren."

"Take care of yourself. I'll see you soon." He lingered for a moment, wishing the bar wasn't between them. But he knew it wouldn't be long before he saw her again. Keeping the smile on his face, he turned and marched to the door, slipping outside.

Gren had made it home, to put the care package that Izira had given him in his kitchen, and grab his bow and sword to make the trip to his Headmaster. Just as he walked out the door, he came face to face with Moriana, the drow from Recon Team "A". She was glaring at him, her arms crossed, one hip cocked to the side. "Uhhh. . . hey Moriana. What's going on?" Moriana made a series of finger gestures, ending with pointing at the sky, and making a house shape with her fingers. "Perrigan wants me at Blue Sky Village? Aw man, I was going to go back and see Izira." He fretted as he tried to find a solution, as Moriana continued to glare at him. Finally he looked up at her. "I know. Can you give Izira a message for me? Tell her I'm sorry, but . . . Aw, crap." Gren forgot Moriana doesn't talk, and Moriana had been narrowing her eyes at him dangerously. "Hold on", he said, and ran back inside to write a hasty message, then marched back out, handing it to Moriana, along with the Forgotten Layers Map. "Please. Can you take this message to Izira, who lives here? You have to go through the portal." Moriana shook her head no, and scowled. Gren pulled out the bag of coffee that Izira had given him. "I got that coffee you liked. Hmm?" Moriana batted her eyelashes at the bag, eyed Gren for a moment, then nodded yes, taking the bag, the message, and the map. Gren sighed and marched off to Blue Sky Village.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:07 pm

Moriana made the journey through the woods, eyeballing the map and the portal distrustfully, she moved through it regardless, her lithe body gently swaying back and forth as she moved up the gravel path towards the Inn. Thinking nothing of it, she marched right through the door and inside.

Still in the pink blouse and grey skirt from earlier, Izira looked up from her work behind the bar. She hadn't expected Gren to get back so quickly, though her thoughts moved to him first. The smile is and remains in place either way. "Welcome Traveler to the Forgotten Layers Inn."

Moriana gently pulled back her grey hood, exposing her dark skin and white hair. She narrowed her eyes at Izira for a minute, then strode over to the bar area, looking her up and down, with her hands on her hips as if to discern that this was the woman Gren was speaking about.

The woman gets a curious look, for Izira recalls Gren telling her about a woman that seemed to fit the description of the one sitting before her. If so, she has to wonder what that could mean. "Are you.... Moriana?" She ventured carefully, "Gren told me you enjoyed the coffee from here." Even as she spoke Izira is preparing a cup of that coffee. The finished cup is placed on the bar. "Is... everything okay... with Gren?"

Moriana eyed Izira, trying not to scowl, but she watched with a huffy look. Izira's words seem to confirm that this is who Gren was talking about. She nods sharply at the question about her name, then pulls a letter from inside her cloak, and hands it to Izira imperiously, holding it up so she can see that her name is written across it, and is meant for her.

She traded the cup of coffee for the letter. She put out cream and sugar before turning to read the missive.

Moriana likes it black, so she ignored the cream and sugar, but she took the coffee mug in both hands. Taking a long, drawn out sip, she stood, her face slowly becoming contemplative rather than haughty, and she batted her eyelashes as she enjoyed the brew. The letter is written in a hasty fashion:

Dear Izira, I am sorry, but I have been called away to Blue Sky Village on a protection mission. I will be busy until Wednesday night. I should still be able to come and get you on Thursday. I hope to see you then. See you soon, Gren.

She smiled softly at Gren's thoughtfulness. Folding the note back and holding it as she looked back to the drow woman. "Thank you for your service in delivering this. I fear without it, I might have had a few sad days on my hands... and needless worry."

Moriana had quickly slurped down the coffee. She looked back at Izira with that contemplative look and nodded once. She gently set the mug down on the bar, and looked Izira up and down again. Then she pointed her finger at her, then made a mouth out of her hand like a sock puppet which she moved as if to say, "Do you have something to say to him?"

"Tell him..." She stopped and smiled apologetically. "Let me refill your coffee then I will pen him a reply." She was stepping as she spoke to pick up the pot and pour the mentioned refill. Izira returned the pot and took out a piece of parchment and pen to write a quick response. The reply simply said:

Gren, Thank you for sending Moriana with the message. I will keep you in my thoughts and see you Thursday. - Izira.

She folded the note and sealed it with a drop of red wax, the imprint of a feather made into the wax with a stamp. The return message is set on the bar before Moriana.

Moriana quietly took the coffee and went back to sipping it, staring absently out the window while Izira pens the message. When she finished writing, Moriana took the message and tucked it in her cloak where she had kept Gren's message hidden. She set the mug on the bar, stared at her for a moment, before pointing to the mug and nodding once. Her way of saying "Thank you, it was good".

"Would you like some to return with?" Picking up the mug and setting it into the sink. "I can give you a bag to take with you." She was offering because she did not know Gren has already bribed the woman with the coffee. "It is free of charge."

She stared for a moment, before reaching inside her cloak, exposing the bag she had already been given by Gren. She shook her head no, once. Then she pointed at the door as if to say "I must go."

A nod in return. "Safe Travels to you, Moriana."

Moriana nodded again, before turning to the door, pulling her grey hood back over her head, and slipping out to return to her fellow Rangers at Blue Sky Village. When she arrived, she marched through the village to the camp where the Rangers had set up for the night. She made her way to Gren's tent and walked right in without announcing. Gren was sitting on his bedroll, rubbing his forehead, and hoping Izira would understand. Moriana stood next to him, with her hands on her hips, glaring at him in disapproval. "Did you give her the message?" Moriana nods once. "Uhhh . . . what did she say." Moriana narrowed her eyes at him, then reached in her cloak and pulled out Izira's message, along with the Map. Gren smiled "Alright! A letter!" Moriana gave him a sideways look and crossed her arms. Gren opened and read the letter. "Ah . . . she's going to think of me until Thursday." That wasn't really what she said, but Gren's the romantic type. Moriana scowled in disbelief, then jabbed her thumb at the opening to the tent, as if to say "Is that all you want from me?" Gren gave her a hesitant smile. "Yeah, thanks, Moriana. I appreciate it." Moriana nodded once, although she still glared at Gren disapprovingly, before moving out of his tent.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:07 pm

Blue Sky Fall Festival

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It was a long, boring two days of escorting the Mayor from one 'photo-op' to the next. Kissing babies? Shaking hands with the locals? Eating Grandma Jones' Famous Apple Pie? Check, check, and double check. Gren alternated between following the Mayor around, and patrolling the village's border, in case one of the local orc or goblin tribes decided to crash the proverbial party. Luckily for him, nothing of note happened. Easy, slow, and monotonous, but Gren was grateful for the inaction. The Mayor decided he had enough 'face time' with the populace, and turned in early that day, giving the Rangers a few hours to enjoy the end of the Festival.

Gren absently walked down the main bazaar, looking at all the interesting things that were for sale. Mostly there were baked goods, like pies, cakes, cookies, and pastries. There were also jams, jellies, butters, and marmalades. It was hard to know what to pick out from all the choices laid before him. Everything smelled so good, he was content to just meander along and appreciate the warm scents. He did find a farmer who was selling cobbler mixes. "Three easy steps", it promised. That's just what I'm looking for, he thought. He grabbed a Cherry-Pineapple mix, as well as a few chocolate chip cookies to snack on while he finished looking around. He knew Izira liked wine, so he purchased a small bottle of Red Merlot. Then he came upon a hunter's stall which had slabs of venison and various kits with which to prepare them. The hunter was a large woman, bigger than Gren, and she looked down at him like she was staring at a small child.

"Well, little man, how'd you like to try some of my venison steaks? Best cuts this side of the Great Forest." She laughed, a booming sound, and crossed her arms.

Gren was holding a cookie up to his mouth, and paused in mid-bite. He swallowed and lowered it slowly. "I . . . uh . . . hunt my own deer. What I was really looking for was a . . . recipe. Something different."

"Ah, you didn't strike me as the chef type. This must be for a woman, huh?"

"Maybe", Gren answered evasively.

"Don't be shy, honey. Love makes the world go 'round. HAH HAH! Alright, Little Ranger, I've got something right up your alley. Here's a kit for you, Venison Steaks with Balsamic-Boysenberry Sauce. You get the balsamic vinegar, boysenberry preserves, blue cheese, and pepper seasoning. All the instructions are included. Just fry it up and it's sure to please your little lady. But don't call it "fried", say "pan-seared". It makes it sound fancier, if you know what I mean." The woman gave Gren a subtle wink.

"Uhhhh . . . ", Gren looked at the woman sideways.

"Aw, don't be that way! It's only ten silver nobles. You won't be sorry."

"Well, alright", he replied and pulled out ten silver nobles. The hunter moved from around the stall to collect it and hand him the kit. "You didn't have to call me 'little', you know."

"HAH HAH! That's funny! I like you, little guy! Now run along, I'm sure your gal can't wait to sink her teeth into what you're about to cook for her! Or sink her teeth into YOU for that matter! HAH HAH HAH!" She gave him a hearty slap on the back, nearly shoving Gren forward three feet, and moved back behind her stall. Gren shifted his shoulders, grimacing a bit, and made a quick getaway from the exuberant hunter.
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Gren Blockman
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Post by Gren Blockman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:08 pm

Further down the main row, the food stalls began to taper off, and replaced by antique dealers. More like junk, Gren thought. He looked anyway, thinking he might be able to find something to spruce up his home with. There were all kinds of knick-knacks being sold there, like lamps, tables, vases, dishes, and silverware. There were also collectibles like coins, postcards, and books. Maybe Izira would like a book, Gren thought at first, but then he remembered all the shelves of them in her main sitting room, and figured she'd probably had more than enough. Glancing down a side street, he noticed an elderly woman sitting at a table full of jewelry. Curious, he made his way over and inspected what she had to offer. The old woman sat in a wooden chair wearing a blue, flowery dress, and a white shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She gave Gren a kind smile as he browsed her wares.

"Good evening, young man. Are you enjoying the festival?"

"Oh yes, it's been very nice so far." He didn't feel the need to bring up the hunter. Most of the jewelry the woman had appeared to be antiqued and tarnished. She had rings, bracelets, and necklaces, some brass, some silver. But one item caught his eye. It looked like a handmade silver locket, with a white lily on the front. The inside of the flower was made of pearl. He remembered the lilies he had brought Izira that day, and how she said they were one of her favorites. Wow, I would love to give that to Izira, he thought.

"How much for the locket?"

"One hundred silver nobles, young man. That's genuine sterling silver, you know."

Gren frowned, and looked in his coin purse. He knew he only had fifty silver nobles left. "Darn, I only have fifty. That would be a wonderful gift . . .”

"You have someone special to give it to?"

Gren paused, glancing at the old woman, then back down at the locket. "Yeah. I think she'd like it."

The old woman nodded. "I will sell it to you for fifty."

Gren looked up, a bit shocked. "Why?"

"I know what you Rangers do for us, here in the Forest. I had a daughter at Granite Falls. She said you boys saved her life. We don't thank you enough for what you do. Consider it a way to show my gratitude."

"Oh thank you! I appreciate it . . ." Gren emptied his coin purse into the old woman's hand.

"No, thank you, son. God go with you." She gave him a little wave, and Gren returned it as he made his way back down the street towards the Ranger camp. He smiled broadly as he held the shiny locket in his hand. I'll give it to her when the time is right, he thought.

Broke, but upbeat, he passed by Haddon and Moriana, who were getting ready to leave the festival themselves. Haddon was clowning around with some of the carnival games.

"Hey, Moriana, look at this! It's an old time dunking booth, heh heh heh." Haddon pushed his massive bulk through the wire gate of the cage, and sat down on the wooden platform.

"I don't think you're supposed to be in there", Gren warned him.

"Aw, mind your own business, Gren. I'm just having some fun. Too bad you don't play these games, Moriana, now's your chance! Although from what I've heard, you couldn't hit the grass if you fell out of a freakin' tree!" Haddon let loose his raucous laughter and started making goofy faces at her.

Moriana jutted her chin out and put her hand on her hip. Then she grabbed a nearby ball and lobbed it straight at the target, causing the platform to drop Haddon into the water with a yelp, and all the bells and alarms to go off, signifying she'd won. She turned and gave Gren a huffy look and an emphatic nod, while Haddon coughed and sputtered, trying to pull himself out of the tank. Gren shook his head and laughed quietly, then made his way back to his tent, so he could pack his gear and make the trip back home.
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