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 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:51 pm

He put his lips on hers, and touched her cheek again, her closeness, her warmth and softness easing his fears and worries. His breakfast was forgotten for a moment as he put his feelings into the kiss they shared.

Lightly pulling away with a wide smile, she gently scolded him for distracting her. "Eat your breakfast." She picked up the orange juice glass again and held it.

"Yes, ma'am." He drank his coffee and with a small smile. Izira being there at his challenge made him feel better about it. He wanted everyone to see her, and know that she was his love. He ate another piece of his toast, and thought of something. "Hey, you never told me how Pascal was doing. You said he had eaten some bad things and needed a doctor. Did you get to talk to Jeremiah about it?"

"Jeremiah said he could not say what could be ailing the rabbit." She gave a soft sigh to that, knowing how the guardian could be. "But Pascal has not done anything like that again... perhaps I was mistaken to think too much of it."

Gren frowned softly. He really didn't know how to help the situation, but hopefully, like Izira said, Pascal snapped out of whatever was bothering him. "Well, that's good to hear, I guess. I was just concerned for his safety."

"Your concern is noted, appreciated, and likely to be rewarded."

He smiled lightly when she said the word "rewarded". Impulsively he took her hand in his. Last night, having been bothered by Tara again, it made him feel guilty and afraid. He looked deep into Izira's eyes. "You know I love you, right? You don't have to say it back. Just know that I love you. No matter what happens, please believe that."

"I believe it." Even with Gren telling her she didn't need to say it back, her voice gave away the pain she felt for being unable to tell him she loved him in return.

"Good." He turned back to his meal, finishing off the eggs and toast. He wondered if he should tell Izira about the guided tour of Hell that Tara had threatened him with. He figured she'd heard enough about her. But there was one more piece of bad news he had to deliver. "I had something else, too. Last week, when I was on patrol in the Northwest Hills, I saw a band of orcs. That's not good. I had to report it to Westerguard. It seems the Gra'both tribe has been sending scouting and raiding parties out to find out where our troop positions are. That's a good sign that a fight is coming."

"I think you mistake the meaning of a 'good' omen my dear ranger..." Troubled, she sipped her water. "Have you heard any news on the position? Have they decided to give it to Rhett?"

He smiles ruefully. "Maybe "good" sign was a bad choice of words. Rhett hasn't gotten it yet, because of our little fight last week. I haven't either. Right now they've concentrated on stepping up patrols, and mobilizing the local militia. Violet Crossing looks like one big armed camp now. I'm hoping they give it to Burke, that would solve all their problems with Rhett and me. I'm sure the appointment will happen once the fighting starts."

"Will you have to be a part of the fighting?" She asked as she looked down into her juice.

"Yes. I will." He paused a few moments. "They're going to need me." He tacked the last part on, not being able to think of a better reason to give her.

A soft nod of understanding met his words, she took a sip of her juice to try and drown her concerns. Liquor might have been more effective.

Gren laid his hand on her shoulder, both to reassure her, and to steady himself. "Regardless of my nervous behavior, I've been in battle several times before. I know my way around, and I should be fine. I don't know what to tell you otherwise. Except this time, I have you to come home too. That will help give me the strength to stay alive."

Lifting her hand to set it over his, her eyes turned up as she offered him a comforted smile. "That is all I ask, that you return."

He nodded, his face conflicted by his longing to stay at the Inn with her, and his duties as a Ranger to protect the citizens of the forest. "I will return."

Lightly, she squeezed his hand... wanting to believe his words more than the conflict she can see on his features.

He managed a smile, for her. "When I return, I hope that this is the last of the fighting for a good long while. I've grown quite fond of this place. I don't want to leave here . . . any more than I have to." He added to the sentence, thinking maybe he got ahead of himself, but he wanted her to know how much it meant to him to be there with her.

"I enjoy having you here as well Gren... I hope... when the fighting does begin, you will not be away for too long."

"I hope I won't, either. I was just getting over having to stay away from here for a week." He sighed. "It could still all blow over. I try to tell myself that. But . . . " He shook his head, because he knew at this point, something was going to happen, it had to.

"I understand." She reached over to brush her hand through his hair.

He closed his eyes slightly, enjoying the feel of her fingers. "Is there anything you wanted to do today? Tuesday was my day to be off this week. We can go somewhere, if you want."

"I must admit I am fairly content where I am...”, she said, grinning. "Is there some place you wish to go?"

"If you're content, I'm content." He chuckled, and set the tray off to the side. "I just want to spend the day with you."

"We can accomplish a lot in a day...” The grin remained as she leaned toward him and started a kiss that would lead to many others.

(Nov 26 tbc . . . )
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:21 pm

(later . . . )

Gren slowly opened his eyes, catching the rays of the sun coming through the window. It must be almost noon, he thought. He nuzzled his nose in Izira's hair for a moment. He didn't really want to get out of bed. But maybe it was time. He lifted his head slightly to look at Izira's face and see if she was awake or not.

Izira slept peacefully for the time, a blissful smile worn as she rested curled up with him.

He watched her for a few long minutes, studying her face as she slept. He wanted to remember this moment, in case something happened, whether on the battlefield, or during his impending challenge. He resisted the urge to tuck her hair behind her ear, just to see that little move she did again. He took a deep breath, smelling the faint odor of lavender oil that she used. Then quietly he slipped from between the sheets, and went into the bathroom to take a shower. He closed his eyes as the water ran over him, and tried his best to put his troubles from the past few days out of his mind.

Izira slept on for a while, waking when she moved and Gren's absence became apparent. Still, she lingered comfortably for a while as she heard him the shower. A glance to the window, considering the time, she stood and slipped on her night dress. Her hair pulled into a loose bun as she moved from the bedroom and to the kitchen to make lunch.

The shower made him feel better, and awake, and he dried himself off afterwards, and made his way back into the bedroom when he was finished, to find his clothes. He noticed Izira was absent, and figured she must have gone to the kitchen or the bar. He put his brown shirt, pants, and boots back on, and ran his fingers through his hair a few times to push it back out of his face. Then he made his way out, and down the hallway into the main room. He glanced around to see if any one was there.

Izira had been in the kitchen, but she stepped out to the main room to snag a Broot from the cooler. Smiling as she caught Gren in the main room, "I did not know how long you would be... I made lunch." Standing behind the bar, even in her night dress and hair loosely done up, she looked right at home. She picked up a Broot, opening it and setting it on the bar for him.

He walked over to the bar and took a seat, staring at her hair and night dress with obvious enjoyment. "That sounds great." He wrapped his fingers around the Broot and took a little drink. "Let's just hope no customers come in. I wouldn't want them to get the wrong idea with you in your night dress." His eyes sparkled when he said that. "Never mind me. Let's just hope no customers come in . . . for our sakes."

"I was planning to shower and dress while you ate." A soft chuckle, she smiled and dipped back into the kitchen.

"Darn. Now I wished I would have woken her. We could have tried out that shower together, like she said before." He said that to himself, after he watched her go back into the kitchen. He chuckled and looked at his Broot bottle. Then he shifted his gaze outside, to the gardens. As Gren was staring out the window, he caught a glimpse of two grey cloaked figures stomping up the path. "Oh no. Uh . . . Izira?" Too late. The door flew open with a slam, and Haddon came stomping inside.

" . . . so Ferguson says to Westerguard, "I can't come in to work today, on account of 'anal glaucoma'. And Westerguard says 'Anal glaucoma'? Ferguson says "Yeah, 'cause I can't see my @$$ comin' to work today! HAW! Gren, my buddy! Here you are!" Moriana was behind him, pulling back her grey hood, and looking like she wanted to punch Haddon.

"Uh, hey guys . . . . what's going on?" Gren began to rapidly shift his gaze between the door to the kitchen and Haddon.

"Oooh, boy, you wouldn't believe the trouble brewin' up at Violet Crossing. We had to get out of there before Westerguard sent us on another mission and ruined our day off! Where's the Little Missy at? I could use some lunch!"

"Uhhhh . . . . " Gren gulped mightily. "She's in the kitchen, why don't I go get her for you?"

Too late, Izira is pushing out into the main room with another tray in hand. On a plate she'd paired stalks of asparagus with a spinach stuffed filet of fish. Fresh rolls and butter were also supplied. Her steps paused as she took note of Haddon and Moriana, but she smiled through and set the plate down before Gren. "Haddon, Moriana... it is good to see you." Since they had seen her, there was little point in hiding, and she was... covered. She moved, getting down mugs... coffee for Moriana and ale for Haddon.

"WHOA-HO-HOOOO!" Haddon's eyes got wide as he saw Izira in her night dress. "Looks like you went ahead and turned this place into a massage parlor after all! You're lookin' a little too hot for your own good, Little Missy!"

Gren gave Haddon a sideways look. "Hey, come on, Haddon."

"I didn't walk in on anything did I Gren? Or did *you* get *your* clothes on in time? Heh heh heh." Moriana gave Haddon a little shove before going over to the bar. She gave Izira a polite nod, before taking a seat. Haddon grinned and followed.

Gren continued glaring at Haddon. "It's not like that."
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:21 pm

"Sure, Gren, my buddy, sure. You're secret's safe with me, tiger." He gave Gren a cocky wink, before ogling the plate of fish. "Hey, you must've read my mind! Is that for me?" Haddon stared greedily at the food.

A smile was given to Moriana, before she looked back to Haddon. "Nothing you see here, other than the ale, is for you Haddon", she said with a smile. "But I will be kind enough to fix you a plate. Moriana? Would you care for lunch?"

"Then fix away! I'm sure Gren can give me a roll or two while I wait." Gren's face said differently. Moriana nodded softly no to Izira, then took the coffee she offered and slowly began to sip. Moriana looked more contemplative then angry today.

Gren began to taste some of the spinach stuffed fish, while keeping a wary eye on Haddon. "This tastes wonderful. I like the spinach and the garlic."

"Sounds swell." Haddon said, reaching around Gren's shoulders to snag a roll.

"Hey! You could have asked politely you know?"

"Aw, Gren, what's a small piece of bread between friends, eh? HAW!"

A nod, she slipped back into the kitchen and returned with a second plate and additional rolls for Gren. Setting the plate down before Haddon and the rolls by Gren, she dipped her head to the three, "If you will excuse me." She leaned over and kissed Gren's cheek before moving back into the kitchen to make her way to her quarters to shower and dress.

"Of course. Thanks." Gren smiled and watched Izira go into the kitchen. Then he turned his gaze to Haddon.

"Well alrighty, it’s chow time! Man, I gotta start telling more people about this place! Food's hot and there's plenty of it!"

"Haddon . . .” Gren began, rubbing his forehead, "What are you doing here?"

"What, I can't pop by just to say Hi to my favorite Innkeeper?"

"I know better than that."

"Look, we were just in the neighborhood. Thought we might want to warn you. We heard that an outpost up in the mountains got hit this morning. Sounds like the orcs did it. We haven't got any word yet, but Westerguard sent some men up there to find out what happened."

"Aw, great. That's not good. Damn." Gren bit his lip and stared at his plate. "Izira's not going to like this."

Haddon's jovial face went a bit sad when he heard Gren. "So, she's taking it hard then?"

Gren turned and nodded to Haddon. "Yeah. She doesn't want me to get involved in the fighting. I understand. Now that I have her in my life . . . things are different."

"I understand, buddy. But you're not the only guy with loved ones. We still have a job to do. To protect others and *their* loved ones."

Gren nodded weakly. "Did they figure out who's leading "F" Troop?"

"Funny you should mention that. They sent Burke up to that outpost with "F" Troop. Figured they'd give him a trial by fire. Looks like you're off the hook!"

Gren smiled a bit relieved at that. "Well, that's a small bit of good news. I don't know if I could have handled the responsibility."

"Aw, you'd be fine, Gren. I think the head honchos just figured with the trouble they'd had with you and Rhett, it would be better to stick someone less noticeable in there, for now. Just until all this heat blows over. Rhett was steamed about it. Said Burke didn't know what he was doing. Westerguard told him it was his own fault for not keeping his anger in check. Man's got a point." Haddon was a loose eater, and was getting crumbs all over the bar. Moriana hadn't turned her head during the whole speech.

"I hope that outpost didn't get hit too bad", Gren replied, "Maybe it was just a false alarm."

"We all hope so, Gren. The signs are pretty bad right now, though."

Gren went back to silently eating his lunch. Even Haddon didn't have much to say as he devoured what had been put in front of him.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:23 pm

Izira moved through the kitchen way door to the space behind the bar. Freshly showered, lavender hung in the air about her. Her hair, already dry, had been pulled up again. The blue night dress exchanged for a blue top, grey skirt, and heels. Gren's locket in place as it always was. Izira moved, setting out another Broot for Gren, refilling Moriana's coffee and then Haddon's Ale.

"Thanks, Little Missy! So have you been keeping yourself busy?" Haddon took the ale Izira poured and downed almost half the mug.

"Busy enough. Are you managing to stay out of trouble?" The question was for Haddon, though her eyes moved toward Moriana for the answer.

Moriana silently shook her head no. Haddon blustered on. "Of course! Haw! This outfit couldn't run without me! Why just yesterday, who do you think it was that found that band of orcs trying to outflank our position at Violet Crossing?" Moriana pointed at herself. "*Me* of course!", Haddon said, taking the credit. "One of these days, Perrigan is going to retire and turn all this over to me. I'm the only guy he can trust, you see." Moriana rolled her eyes heavenward and went back to sipping her coffee.

She nodded kindly to Haddon's word, but gave a knowing smile to Moriana. Izira failed to note the importance of Haddon's mention of the orcs, not being very war minded.

"Say, one of these days, you're going to have to teach Moriana to cook! It would be nice to have something like this when we're out on the job!" Haddon pointed at his plate. Moriana gave Haddon a slow turn of her head, and leveled an evil gaze at him. "I'm just trying to help you out, Mori! I'm getting tired of those corn fritters you bake all the time!" Moriana set her mug down and pointed imperiously at his plate, then him, as if to say "Why don't *you* learn?". "What, *me* cook? HAW! I already know how! It's not my fault you don't want to eat my cooking!" Moriana held her fingers to her nose. "It doesn't stink! You just can't appreciate fine cuisine." Moriana waved him off with a hand.

She smiled, watching the exchange between the pair. A glass of water filled for herself, she moved down to stand across the bar from Gren. "Gren is learning to become a fine cook." A hand went out to touch his arm as she smiled to him.

"Is he now?" Haddon grinned devilishly and stared at Gren. "Well, well, the Little Missy's put you to work, I see. Pretty soon you're gonna be standing at the door, wearing a little tuxedo, and showing people to their seat! HAW! You looking to change professions on us, Gren my boy?"

Gren's mouth opened as if he was going to object furiously, then he dropped his head a bit and smiled. "That wouldn't be such a bad thing, Haddon."

"Ooooh, we've got a mutiny on our hands! Gren's defecting from the Rangers!" Moriana punched Haddon's shoulder. "What? I'm just joking! Nobody understands my sense of humor!"

"You are wrong, Haddon. I would not put him at the door. I would keep him in the kitchen and cooking." A knowing look was given to Gren, "... some of the time."

Gren looked affectionately at Izira.

"*Most* of the time. I sense janitorial duties in your future, Gren. Sweeping the floors. Cleaning toilets. You better watch yourself, buddy”, Haddon joked.

"There's nothing wrong with good, honest work, Haddon."

"There is if it involves other people's crap. HAW!"

"I deal with other people's crap all the time."

"Oh! Well la-de-da! Was that a joke from ol' Gren? Somebody write that down for posterity!"

Gren just shook his head.

A soft chuckle, Izira shook her head at Haddon in a more affectionate way than Gren's, though her eyes did not stray far from Gren's features. His words and Haddon's jokes had her thinking about Gren working at the inn with her, ignoring the sacrifice of becoming one with the realm in order to do so. Without that weight in the way of her thoughts, it was an easier thought to entertain. "Gren…"

Gren turned his ice blue gaze back to Izira. He put his hand on hers, and was about to speak, when the sound of horses came rumbling up to the Inn. There was several barked orders that could be heard outside, followed by the cadence of heavy footfalls up the wooden porch. The door slammed open, and there stood Westerguard, flanked by two other Rangers in grey cloaks and hoods. Westerguard's firm gaze found Gren first, and he made his way over without any preamble. His cloak was covered in mud and blood, and there were tears in his cloak and shirt. "Haddon. Moriana. Report back to Violet Crossing, and Rhett at once. There are horses waiting for you outside. Don't make me repeat myself."

Moriana and Haddon stared at each other. "Thanks for the meal, Little Missy. Looks like we've got to be going." Haddon and Moriana then made their way to the door, glancing back at Gren and Westerguard, before exiting the Inn.

Izira's heart stilled, her hand holding tightly to Gren's as though to keep the news she knew was coming at bay. Westerguard now claimed the full attention of her eyes.

Westerguard still did not acknowledge Izira's presence. His eyes were firmly on Gren. "The outpost at Little Black Hill was overrun. You are now in charge of "F" Troop. I need you back at Violet Crossing at once for briefing."

Gren's eyes went wide, and he tried to stammer out a response. "B-b-but Sir, Perrigan said . . .”

"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT! Burke and Ferguson are dead! I've got fifteen other dead Rangers! I've taken enough guff from Rhett, and I'm not taking it from you! Don't buck me on this, Gren!"

"Why are you picking *me*?"

"*I* didn't pick you! *Perrigan* picked you! Now get on your horse!"

"Please, please, Sir! Can you . . . just give me a minute?" Gren nodded to Izira, giving Westerguard a desperate look.

Westerguard turned his head slightly to Izira, then glanced back at Gren. "You've got thirty seconds. Make them count." He then stomped to the door, and banged it shut behind him.

Gren looked down at the floor, then with a shaky breath, he looked into Izira's eyes.

(Nov 26 tbc . . . )
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Post by Gren Blockman » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:31 pm

Izira's amber-brown eyes watched the door where Westerguard could no longer be seen. Her hand tightened on Gren's and she turned to him. Too many thoughts and feelings were going through her, she leaned over the bar, kissing Gren deeply to make the most of their thirty seconds. She parted barely as she gazed into his Ice blue eyes, "You *will* return to me."

Gren held her cheek in his hand, and put as much love and tenderness he could into the kiss. He pulled back, and held her there in a long, silent stare. "I will return. I promise you. Please wait for me."

"I will."

Gren kissed her again, massaging her cheek with his hand. Then he released her, and his hold on her hand, and hurried to the door. He grasped the doorknob, and gave her a look back. "I love you. I'll be back soon."

The words 'don't go' traveled over and over in her mind, but she kept her tongue from repeating them. She gave a small nod to Gren as he stood by the door.

Gren watched Izira for a second, his face a confliction of love and fear, then he disappeared out the door. He could be seen through the window, mounting the final horse, turning it, and galloping with all haste. He rode down the path and through the portal, vanishing from sight. His grey cloak still hung on the peg next to the door. He had forgotten it in his rush to follow Westerguard's orders.

Amber-brown eyes stayed focused on the now closed door where Gren stood only moments before. The echo of departing hooves continued in Izira's ears, though the rangers and their mounts were long gone. 'Don't go,' repeated in Izira's mind and heart, too late to be voiced and be of any use. The realization of what had happened hit her—Gren had gone off to war. Quickly, across the room she moved, opening the door to look out on the empty path, not even settling dirt remained.


Izira leaned against the door frame, shaken. Jared was recalled, his long absence without knowing where he had gone. Would knowing where Gren went make the waiting any better? A fear took her that Gren would not return to her, that he could die.

Jeremiah's large hand settled on her shoulder, offering comfort, and drew her eyes away from the path.

"Do not lose faith."

Weakly, Izira nodded. She gave a final glance to the path before she stepped back inside the inn. Gren's cloak on the hook by the door caught her eye. Delicately, as though afraid she would upset a mirage, she reached out to run her fingers over the fabric. When the fabric did not fade under her touch, she lifted it from the hook and held it to her. Gren's scent found her from the folds of his grey ranger's cloak.

"I will not lose faith."

Gren rode through the woods as fast as his mount would carry him. His mind raced with thoughts of Izira, standing behind the bar, and the look on her face. Why did this have to happen? Just when he had finally found someone that was warm, caring, and compassionate. Everything he could have ever wanted was back there at the Inn, and here he was riding in the opposite direction towards battle and his potential death. The miles melted away as he continued northward. Gren tried to block her face out, and focus on the task at hand. He tried and failed.

Several hours later, he rode into the makeshift camp at Violet Crossing. Already, infantry formations were lining up and preparing to move out. Gren made it to the command tent, and pushed his way inside. Perrigan, Westerguard, and the other Captains were standing around a large map of the northern woods. Rhett was there as well, to Gren’s surprise. They were joined by the various commanders of the militia and mercenary units that had made it to Violet Crossing in time for operations to begin. Perrigan lifted his head and nodded to Gren.

“Gentleman, this is Gren Blockman, the new Captain of “F” Troop. He will be teamed with Rhett and “E” Troop during our campaign.”

The others gathered gave Gren a respectful nod. Gren stared in astonishment at Rhett, while Rhett merely gave him back an icy glare. Gren swallowed and turned his attention back to the map.

“The situation in the north is dire, to say the least. Our outposts, here at Little Black Hill, and Mandrietta, have been overrun. Orc formations are pushing quickly to the south. These three villages have already evacuated and are headed for Blackthorn Tavern. Our problem is our militia has not fully reported here to the camp. Therefore, we need to fight a delaying action. Our hope is to march all night and hopefully make it to this ridge here, called Honey Ridge. Failing that, we need to at least put up a fight at Blackthorn Tavern, so the refugees can escape south. We will take what militia and mercenaries we have, and they will make up the center of our line. We will bolster our flanks with Rangers. “A” and “B” Troop will be on the left. “E” and “F” will be the right. I will hold “C” and “D” behind as our reserve. This is a forced march, gentlemen. It is a good thirty miles to Honey Ridge. Do not stop until you reach your objective. We are leaving *now*. You are dismissed.”

Perrigan nodded, and Westerguard and the Captains made their way from the command tent. Gren looked for his tent, and found that it and his belongings had already been packed and were being placed on a supply cart. He dug through the bag and got his spare cloak and leather armor, before making his way to the staging area. “F” Troop had already been given the order, and was waiting to begin the march. Gren hurried up, still adjusting his leather helmet, and glanced at the other companies preparing to disembark.

Here we go, he thought.

“Soldiers of “F” Troop, we march for Honey Ridge. Forward, March!” Stepping in line in front of the grey cloaked Rangers, Gren led them through the parade ground, and into the forest beyond the village, heading towards their objective.

Perrigan would see the men off, then return to Headquarters, leaving the operation in the hands of his General, Westerguard.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:54 pm

The Battle of Honey Ridge
Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, November 28, 2013

Marching through the northern woods all night, Gren and Rhett's men made it to the rendezvous point just below Honey Ridge. Calling the height a ridge was giving it too much credit. It was more like a long, low-sloping hill. Its northern face marked the edge of that particular stretch of woods, and grassy fields could be seen spreading off into the distance. The ridge had gotten its name from a family of beekeepers who had several farms in the area, and the faint buzzing sound of the hives could be heard drifting along the wind. Gren and Rhett were told to march due east and take up positions at a farm owned by the Ortenberg family. There was a weathered farmhouse that stood on a little rise overlooking some wheat fields to the north. A barn sat nearby, its red paint cracked and peeling. The family had long since fled to the south, seeking safety in the refugee camps at Violet Crossing. As the soldiers filed into the courtyard, Westerguard rode up with his two guards. He dismounted and tramped up to where Gren and Rhett were standing, taking his helmet off.

"Gentlemen, we have been ordered to hold this Ridge for as long as possible. To the left of you will be the rest of the Rangers, as well as whatever militia and mercs had the backbone to join us. You are standing on our extreme right flank. These buildings must be held at all cost, or our position on this Ridge is compromised. YOU DO NOT MOVE FROM THIS SPOT, until I TELL you to move! Do you GET ME?" Westerguard thundered, pointing his finger emphatically at the ground at Gren's feet.

Gren nodded and swallowed. "Yes, Sir."

Westerguard turned and strode back to his horse, without giving a backwards glance to Gren or Rhett. He mounted and rode off, with his two retainers in close pursuit, headed for the high ground at the center of the line. Gren apprehensively watched him go, before turning his gaze towards Rhett. Rhett gave Gren a look of annoyance before they made their way back to the soldiers.

"We could use some sharpshooters in the buildings", Gren said, waving two of his soldiers into the Barn, and three more into the farmhouse.

"Don't tell me how to do my job." Rhett answered him in surly fashion. "You just make sure your "F" boys and girls don't run on me."

Gren narrowed his eyes at Rhett. "We need to work together. Of all the times to start, this isn't it. We'll back you up. You back us up."

"Yeah. We'll see about that." Rhett gave Gren another look, before he began to line his troops up outside the farmhouse. Gren tried not to get upset, but positioned the twenty Rangers into a line to the right of "E" Troop, and in front of the Barn. Gren walked down the line briefly, mentally checking that everyone from "F" Troop was accounted for. When he was finished, he turned to give them their orders.

"Rangers of "F" Troop, we represent the right flank of our army. We must hold these buildings. I know each of you will do their best. Remember those villagers and civilians that are counting on us to defend them. Ready your bows and I will give the order when to draw your swords."

Snowflakes had begun to lazily make their way down through the air as the soldiers had formed their battle lines. Now they thickened into a full blown snowstorm, making visibility increasingly difficult. The winds chilled the Rangers, as they tried to pull their grey cloaks tighter around their bodies.

"GOD, could you make this anymore *MISERABLE*?" Rhett yelled at the sky, as if he was conversing with a higher power.

After fifteen minutes of standing in the blizzard, they saw black shapes in the distance across the fields. Blood red banners waved in the frigid air, and the indistinct shapes soon became military formations. The Rangers could make out the dark skin and pointed fangs of orcs.

"Gra'Both Orcs! Hold your positions! Sharpshooters, fire at will! Rangers, ready your bows, and wait for my command!"

Gren watched as feathered arrows went sailing over his head, into the fields laid out before them. Already they could see the faces of the fierce, painted orc warriors. Their battle cries echoed in the Rangers’ ears. It looked like hundreds coming towards them through the icy storm.

“Aim!” The sound of twenty arrows being notched could be heard, and the soldiers lifted their bows towards the oncoming horde, mentally picking targets.

“Fire!” The volley flew forward, and produced a cloud of squeals and grunts of pain from the front rank of the orc mass, who had already reached the bottom of the ridge.

“Fire again! Fire!” Gren called out, trying to slow them down with as many missiles as they could throw at them. Although the arrows did their deadly work, the formation of orcs moved forward, grunting at the exertions of running uphill, and carrying the heavy equipment of war. The slope had given them time to thin the ranks, but Gren marveled at how quickly it seemed the orcs had moved. They would be upon them at any moment now.

“RANGERS! BOWS DOWN! BLADES OUT!” Gren remembered Perrigan’s war cry, as the grey clad troops shouldered their bows and the sound of twenty sword s being pulled from their scabbards at once could be heard. “HOLD THE LINE!”
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Post by Gren Blockman » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:56 pm

The orcs crashed into the line of Rangers, howls of rage echoing amongst the outbuildings of the farm. The Rangers bent at first, but then dug in, hacking away at row after row of orc soldiers. It seemed they would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Gren risked a glance over to Rhett and “E” Troop. They had held as well, but Rhett had already been slashed across the face. An orc with a pointed helmet screamed at Gren and charged at him, wielding a spiked mace and a painted shield. Gren ducks and avoided the opening swing of its mace, then stabbed his sword into its belly. As he pushed the orc off of his blade, he grabbed its shield, and held it aloft in time to fend off the attack of another orc who had come up behind him. Gren charged forward, using the shield as a ram, and knocked the orc backwards into his compatriots.

“Keep on them! Hold your ground!” He cried. The battle continued for an hour. The Rangers became tired, but the orcs were in worse shape, having to endure a forced march and the upward climb of the ridge. Soon one, then a cluster, then dozens of the orc warriors began to flee back down the ridge in panic.

“That got ‘em! Hold your ranks! They might be planning a counterattack!” Gren called out over the din of battle. The Rangers had begun to cheer and hold their swords aloft as the orcs fled back the way they had come. Gren looked over at Rhett, who was wiping his forehead and glaring down the ridge. Rhett looked back at him, and merely gave him a solemn nod. Gren made his way over to him to see if he was alright.

“We did it. That was a sharp fight, but it looks like we didn’t have much to worry about.”

“Yeah. It’s too good to be true”, Rhett answered ruefully. “Well, we survived. Maybe I should shut up and be grateful.”

Gren gave him a playful grin, as if he was going to make a sarcastic comment. “Don’t even think about it.” Rhett caught the look and pointed threateningly at him. Gren merely shrugged and tried not to laugh.

Just then, Westerguard rode up on his horse, which was frothing from hard riding. He dismounted in a leap, and stood before Gren and Rhett. “Get these men back to the rallying point at Blackthorn Tavern! Don’t stop until you do!”

“What the hell . . . We’re retreating? We just kicked their @$$!” Rhett argued.

“SHUT THE HELL UP, Rhett! The whole center of the line just caved in! The militia and mercs are retreating in disorder! If you don’t get the hell off this ridge, you’re going to be surrounded! Now DO WHAT I SAY, THAT’S AN ORDER!” Westerguard turned and got back on his horse, spurring it southwards towards the rallying point.

“DAMMIT!” Rhett slammed his sword on the ground. “After all that we have to run away? @#%@! Happy @#$@ing Thanksgiving!”

Gren looked disappointedly out at Westerguard riding away, then back towards his troops. Now was not the time to argue. He and Rhett gave their commands to the remaining Rangers, and they started off towards Blackthorn Tavern. Gren hoped that things were not as bad as the General had made them sound.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:54 pm

The Battle of Blackthorn Tavern

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Rangers moved as quickly as they could through the dense woods, pushing south. The battle had sapped their strength, but the knowledge that they were surrounded and outnumbered drove them on through the night. Sounds of battle could be heard all around them, the war cries of the orcs, the shouts of the lost and afraid, the screaming of the mortally wounded. They had no way of knowing how badly the battle had gone for the others, until they made it to the rendezvous area. They marched twenty miles through the dense forest that day and during the night, due to their knowledge of the forest and training regimen. Early Friday morning, they reappeared from the forest outside Blackthorn Tavern. The Tavern was set as a waypoint on the narrow forest track that led into the far mountains. It was built from logs that had long since turned grey from the harsh weather common to the area that far north. Torches had been set up along the roadside to help the people fleeing to safety. Through their light, Gren could see wagon loads of civilians making the trek southwards. Militiamen and mercenaries were also gathering at the Tavern, their backs hunched and faces drawn and haggard after their long ordeal. Their Captains were frantically trying to rally them into some sort of battle formation, but many were slipping past and into the line of wagons, making a run for their lives.

“Aw man, we’re screwed. How the hell are we going to stop them if the militia runs?” Rhett complained, glancing out at the scene below.

“It doesn’t look good”, Gren agreed, “but maybe they’ll rally further south.”

“Yeah”, Rhett replied, although he didn’t sound enthusiastic.

Throughout the night, the Rangers began to gather there in the clearing just outside the Tavern. “C” and “D” Troops, which had made up the reserve in the center, had borne the brunt of the fighting when the militia and mercs broke, came filing up an hour after Gren did. They looked wild-eyed and exhausted. Westerguard was with them, screaming orders and flailing his arms in frustration.

“WHERE THE HELL ARE “A” AND “B” AT? Get some scouts out there now! I have no idea where our left flank is! Gren! Rhett! Get your @$$es over here!”

Gren and Rhett obeyed, and gave Westerguard their report on what had happened to their soldiers during the day and night.

“Christ. What a hell of a waste. Damned mercs screwed us again. If it wasn’t for the civilians, I’d pull the plug on this whole disaster of an operation right now.”

A scout with a bloody bandage around his head rode up, and shakily handed Westerguard a letter. Westerguard read it and cursed under his breath.

“”A” and “B” Troops were overrun by goblins. That means this was a joint attack. The goblins are coming in from the northwest, while the orcs are headed straight for us from the north. We won’t get any help from “A” and “B” for a while. Damn.” Westerguard shook his fist down and glanced off towards the Tavern.

The snow had changed into a freezing sleet, and the heat from the torches, coupled with the traffic, was turning the road into a muddy quagmire. Furious arguments were breaking out among teamsters and fleeing mercenaries, battling for space on the clogged track. Suddenly, shouts of alarm sprang up as orcs were spotted entering the Tavern’s clearing. A frenzy of activity ensued, as those militia and mercenary Captains still willing to fight tried to prod their remaining troops into a line of battle. Those who did not have the heart fled down the track southwards, some knocking down civilians trying to escape as they did so. The enemy’s archers began firing flaming missiles down into the assembling soldiers, and soon the Tavern lit up in a ball of fire.

“Sir, we’ve got to go out there and help them!” Gren said.

Westerguard looked at the chaos below and narrowed his eyes. “No. Not yet.”

“But, Sir . . !” Gren began.

“Shut up, Gren! I know what I’m doing. The orcs don’t know we’re here yet. When they hit the militia, we will charge from our position and hit them from the flank. That’s our only chance right now. Else they’ll just cut us to pieces. Go and get your men ready, and tell them to stay out of sight and silent!”

Gren nodded nervously and went back to “F” Troop. The soldiers hid behind trees, or laid flat on the ground to conceal their position, while the orcs charged across the clearing at the frightened militia and burning Tavern. The fighting was desperate, and the militia and mercs were driven back into the Tavern’s outbuildings. Gren glanced impatiently at Westerguard, but the General glared unmoving at the frenzied battle. Just when it seemed the militia would break under the pressure, Westerguard raised his hand, and motioned the men forward.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:55 pm

“CHARGE! HIT THEM! HIT THEM!” The Rangers melted from the trees and assumed attack positions, appearing right on the orcs left flank. The orcs all nearly halted and stared in shock at this new threat, and erroneously believed there was a veritable army of the grey cloaks coming for them, rather than the seventy or so that were left of the four Ranger companies. Plowing into the stunned creatures, the Rangers swung their swords with deadly efficiency. Halted more by the treacherous ground, they began to back the orcs onto the muddy road. The militia and mercs, heartened by their attack, countered themselves and rejoined the fray. As the Rangers made their way onto the track, resistance stiffened. Gren had struck down a half dozen of them since the attack started, but a Captain now stood in his way. The orc growled, showing his massive rows of fangs, and leapt upon Gren before he could raise his sword in defense. They rolled around in the mud , the din of battle filling their ears. A deep groove had been made in the mud by the wagons, and it had filled with almost a foot of water from the melted snow and sleet. The orc captain grabbed Gren’s head and forced it into the water, trying to drown him, using its weight to pin him in place. Gren struggled, digging his hands into the mud, trying to push himself back upright. The orc’s weight was too oppressive, and he felt his strength slipping from him as he began to lose consciousness. Unexpectedly, the weight lifted from his back, and Gren exploded upwards, gasping desperately for oxygen. He blinked his eyes open and saw Westerguard standing over him with a dissapproving frown.

“Get up, Gren. You’re not getting out of this fight that easily.”

Westerguard then turned and slammed his sword into the next orc that faced him. Gren struggled to his feet, wet and covered in mud. The chill air was making him shiver, but he obeyed his General as best as he could.

Their attack produced the desired results, and the orcs broke once the Rangers had pushed them beyond the road. For a moment, it seemed their victory had eluded them, as from the western end of the clearing, their goblin allies appeared. Screeching in rage, the goblins charged towards the Rangers, but the fleeing orcs became a welcome obstacle. Fights broke out as the orcs tried to run to safety, and the once allies turned on each other in the melee.

“PRESS THEM, DAMMIT!” Westerguard called, and the Rangers and militia added to the milling confusion. The darkness, the sleet, the deadly turbulence of the battle, all contributed to the orcs and goblins finally scattering in disarray northwards. The Rangers and militiamen gave a cry of triumph, and the civilians that had been in the area began to slowly gather around them and clap their backs in jubilation.

“Let’s not get too comfortable, Rangers. I need some of you to follow them and make sure they don’t get the idea to give a second effort. Rhett. Gren. Take your commands and follow them. As far as possible. The rest of you, collect our dead and wounded. Good job today. Good job.” Westerguard’s normally surly attitude faded for a moment with those last words, before he moved off to see if he could get word of where “A” and “B” Troop had gone.

Rhett walked up to Gren, who was wiping the muddy water and blood from his face. He crossed his arms and gave him a look. “Well, you’re still alive.”

“You too.” Gren thought about smiling, but he just stood there dumbly, remembering the wagon track he almost drowned in.

“Well. Let’s get going.” Rhett uncrossed his arms and trudged off to gather his men. Gren nodded weakly, and did the same.

They followed the orcs and goblins off into the north woods, spending several days in pursuit, but the fight had been beaten out of them. The alliance was broken once the two tribes had turned on each other, and all they could think about was reaching the safety of the mountains. Westerguard kept the men in the field for several more days to make sure there would be no more aggression, then finally commanded them to return home.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:08 pm

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Izira stood at the door of Gren's treehouse. Her amber-brown eyes looked up at the windows that told her no one was home long before she knocked. Another day, another visit to the Rangers Headquarters and still there was no news of Gren. Perrigan had been kind, today as he had every other day, but kindness was little comfort to the well or worry that started to fill the moment Gren left for war. The knock sounded and Izira waited with no answer. The chill breeze in the air moving her hair, the hood of Gren's cloak pulled back as she stood there. She did not care if there had been regulations against her wearing the cloak, she kept it about her. Every day without knowing what happened, if Gren was safe or not, felt like a year. Worse than the long time of solitude she had endured. The pain of her heart was physical and at the silence beyond the door she hung her head, closing her eyes and trying to fight off the wave of doubt that haunted her.

Gren had wearily trudged the many miles from the far northern mountains back home. They had chased the orcs and goblins, and watched them for days to make sure they had stayed away. Spending time in the wilderness meant they were unable to communicate effectively with Headquarters, but Westerguard knew Perrigan had faith in him to get the job done. Westerguard went ahead and sent the infantry home, and left the Recon in charge of keeping watch. Runners had been sent to Headquarters to let them know of their victory and return, too late for Izira to find out. Gren was still tired and shaken by the events of the Blackhorn Tavern battle. His body cried out for sleep, but if he could manage it, he was going to go home and change, and then go to the Inn to see Izira. He could picture her amber brown eyes, her fingering the locket he gave her, standing behind the bar in the same position as when he left her. He marched into the clearing, and was surprised to find her standing at his door, his grey cloak wrapped about her. It was like she had been there waiting for him all that time.

The air clouded at her exhale. Her bent head lifting and her back straitening, she did not give in to doubt for long. If he was not here today, she would return another day. With that resolve, she turned to return to her home and saw Gren standing there. Her steps stilled and her face took on a look of wonder. Did she imagine him there? Was he real? Was he a ghost? Amber-brown eyes went back and forth, searching his face. ".. Gren?"

Gren dropped his pack and staff, pulled the hood of his spare cloak back and literally ran up to her, sweeping her up in a warm embrace, and pressed his cheek against hers. "It's me, Izira. I made back. Just like I said", he whispered in her ear. His hands moved across her back as if he was reminding himself what her curves felt like. He breathed in the scent of her hair. For the first time in days, he felt relieved.

As he embraced her, she held him tightly, only leaning back enough to look into his icy blue eyes. Her hands came up, holding the sides of his face. Her fingertips gently caressed his cheeks and beard, assuring her of his presence. "Gren! They had no word... no one knew..." Her eyes welled up, fully giving into the emotion of her fear and worry now that he was safe and there with her now. "I thought you dead... I thought I had lost you and you would never know how I felt..." Izira leaned forward, kissing Gren deeply, making up for the days missed and every moment she had longed to see him or at least have some word of his safe return. Only when her lungs demanded air did she pull her lips back. Looking into his eyes, "I could not bear the thought of losing you... I love you." And since he'd said it so many times before, she repeated her words for him, "I love you Gren Blockman." She returned her lips to his and kissed him again.

He felt his knees go weak and his body nearly collapse as a wave of emotion flowed over him. He had waited to hear those words for so long from her that he didn't know what to do with himself, other than hold her kiss, pushing her against the trunk of his treehouse. He forgot everything else but her, and moved his hands up and down her body as if he couldn't get enough of her. When they needed another pause for breath, he spoke quickly and quietly. "I love you, Izira. I love you so much."

She nodded, eyes still wet from her tears. "I know... I never doubted your heart..." She kissed him quickly. Her hand brushed through his hair. Amber-brown eyes looking over his face, his clothing, his condition, "Are you alright?" Even breathless and with him there, she worried for his health and wellness.

He lightly ran his fingers down her cheek, watching her in fascination, as if he thought he'd never see her again. The question almost goes unanswered, before he finally nodded. "Yes. I wasn't wounded. Had a . . . well, that's not important. I'm here and I'm well. I hope you've been alright too."

"I have been worried sick... " An apologetic smile to him, softened under her happiness to see him again. As his finger stilled at the end of her cheek she kissed him. Speaking softly, "But you are here now... that is all that matters to me."

His face twisted as she told him how worried she was. He couldn't stand the thought of causing her any pain. But her kiss, and telling him being here now is all that matters caused him to smile softly again. "I am here now. I intend to stay here . . . with you, always." He touched his lips to hers again, then leaned his forehead against hers. "Always."

She smiled, trying for a light joke, though she held him in a manner that said she wasn’t ready to let go just yet. "If we stay here always we might get cold... my love."

"I'd be happy to keep you warm . . . but maybe we should find someplace just to be on the safe side. Would you like to come inside, or do you want to go back to the Inn?"

"I can come inside...” She smiled and kissed him again, pulling him close to her. Izira looked almost shy when she drew her lips away, looking down as she softly added, "There is... a lot of time to make up for...” Looking up again at him, "I... want to make love to you." Using the phrasing Gren seemed more at ease in using than Izira ever did. It drew a definite distinction between their relations of before and what would come. Another kiss, "Take me inside?"

"Yes there is. I want to make love to *you*. I want to show you how happy you make me. I want you to know that you're the most important person in the world to me." Impulsively, he reached down and hooked his arm below her knees, and lifted her into his arms, leaning her head against his. He fumbled slightly with his keys, but got the door open, and slipped inside, using his foot to catch and close the door behind him.
Last edited by Gren Blockman on Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:56 pm

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The next morning, Gren awoke, his eyes reluctantly parting. He glanced towards Izira, who was naked and sleeping beside him, her forehead tucked under his chin. We did make up for lost time, didn't we? He would have chuckled but he didn't want to wake her. He kept his arm wrapped around her soft shoulders and watched her sleep. He didn't ever want to get out of bed. He pictured in his mind his memories with Izira. Little things like how she would flutter her eyelashes at him when he said something that touched her heart. Gren concentrated on those things, and tried to block out the memory of almost being suffocated in the wagon track. The battle was over now. Although whether he meant the Blackthorn Tavern, or Izira's heart, he wasn't sure. But he did know that he loved her, more than anything. He waited and watched her face, content.

Eventually, Izira stirred. Her lashes fluttered as she woke and her sleeping smile became a wider one. "I have missed this... waking beside you."

"So have I." He ran his hand down her cheek, and returned her smile. "It's a shame I had to wake up. This was the best night I've had in a long, long time."

"Do you have to get up?" She looked toward the window and the woods, thinking of his patrols. Amber-brown eyes returned to him.

He shook his head softly. "Not today. They figured I'd need a rest after this past week and a half. I don't have anything planned . . . anything but spending it with you, that is." He smiled a bit, then winced. "Aw, I forgot I have an IFL duel tonight. Oh well, that shouldn't take much time."

Softly she nodded, stroking a hand down his arm. "That is still going on?"

The hand holding her shoulder shifted to her hair, he absently ran his fingers through it. "Yeah. It'll be over in a few weeks though. I'm kind of glad, the pressure was killing me."

"It seems we are apart too much lately...."

"It does. After IFL is over, I plan on remedying that." He glanced down at her with a little playful grin. "Can you still make it to the Arena on Thursday? To be my Lady of Honor?"

"Nothing will keep me from being there with you." She smiled and drew him into a kiss.

He kept his lips on hers for a while, enjoying the feel of her beside him, and the sun warming him through the window. "I could stay like this with you for days . . . weeks . . .”

"You might get hungry..." She smiled with the tease, not looking ready to move on herself.

"That's funny, I feel completely satisfied. I mean, if *you're* getting hungry . . . " He shrugged slightly, then looked at her as if he's teasing her.

A soft laugh, she started to pull away. "Do you have anything in the kitchen?"

"I do." He let out a little groan of disappointment as she started to rise, but his smile didn't leave his face. "Last time I think you were a bit upset at me only having cereal, so I got some eggs and bacon just in case. There should be some milk and orange juice in the icebox as well." He put his hands behind his head as he watched her rise from beneath the covers. He reminded himself what a lucky guy he is as he stared at the woman he loved.

Leaning over, she kissed him, "Stay comfortable. I will fix us something." A hand combing through her hair and she left the bedroom without dressing.

He grinned lightly as he watched her move from the room, his gaze lingering at the spot where she disappeared from sight. Then he took a deep breath and tried not to fall back asleep, as the warmth of the sun, the weariness of the past few weeks, and the night with Izira threatened to pull him into blissful slumber once again.

Slowly the scent of food filled the kitchen and floated up to the bedroom. Soon, Izira returned with a plate of eggs and bacon for Gren. In her other hand she carried a glass of milk. The breakfast is handed over to him to allow her to curl up next to him again. "I hope you do not mind, I ate while I cooked..."

"Not at all." He kissed her forehead. "Thanks for cooking this." He sat up slightly, so he didn't make a mess in his bed, and started to eat the eggs. "You know, there was one moment where I really felt scared. During the battle, I mean. I was afraid I might not be able to keep my promise to you."

"I am glad you were able to keep it." As he sat up she stroked his back.
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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:57 pm

He looked at her, his ice blue eyes taking in her face again. He didn't really want to tell her what happened and spoil the moment. "I am too." He quickly ate the eggs and bacon, and washed it down with the milk, setting the dishes on the nightstand. Then he glanced at the drawer, remembering the book that she lent him. "Do you remember that poem I told you about? By W.B. Yeats?"

Her cheeks colored slightly and she smiled with her nod, "I do.... you wanted to recite it to the woman you loved..."

His tender smile stayed as she blushed and remembered. "Well I think it's time." He slid the drawer out and pulled out the book with one hand. A page was marked with a dried oak leaf. He snapped the book open to the poem. He looked into Izira's eyes mostly while he read, knowing the words by heart at this point.

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams."

(W.B. Yeats / “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” / The Wind Among the Reeds )

She smiled, listening, watching him with love in her eyes. "That is beautiful Gren...." Leaning toward him to set the book aside and kiss him. "Your dreams and heart are safe with me."

He shared her kiss for a moment. "I know. That poem . . . for the longest time I didn't really understand what it meant. I thought it meant the man's dreams were the most important thing to him. But I realized that it was the person he was speaking to that was most important. He placed his dreams at their feet, to show that they meant more to him than his own dreams." He sighs slightly. "I spent all those years, chasing a dream. But I realized something, being with you. You mean more to me than my dreams, Izira."

"I love you." It almost felt like too simple a response to the sentiments Gren shared with her. "You... are my dream."

"I love you. I hope this dream never ends."

She smiled to his words, but there was a ghost of sorrow in her eyes. To cover it, she kissed him again. She continued to hold him close, "Do you want to tell me of what happened?"

He traced his fingers along her shoulders and sighed. "If you want to hear it. We marched north. Rhett was given command of "E" Troop. We fought the orcs at a place called Honey Ridge. Rhett and I had the right flank, and we held them back, but the center broke. We had to fall back or risk getting surrounded. We retreated to a little Tavern, called Blackthorn. While the militia held the orcs in place, we Rangers counterattacked and flanked them. When we were fighting on the road . . . " He paused and swallowed, looking at the far wall for a moment.

Izira watched Gren, lightly laying a reassuring hand on him. Whatever happened, he was here with her now. They were safe and together.

Her touch reassured him, he snapped out of his reverie and continued. "An orc jumped on me, pushed me down into the mud. There were deep wagon tracks, and they had filled with water from the melting sleet and snow. He tried to drown me. Luckily, Westerguard saw me and saved me."

"Remind me to send him my thanks.... a lifetime supply of ale might suffice, would it not?" There was worry that she almost lost him, her gratitude for the other man is no joke.

"That sounds about right. Maybe I'll just have to save his life one of these days." He chuckled, although there isn't much humor in it. The predicament still sobered him just thinking about it. "We were lucky, we broke them right when their goblin allies were coming up to support them. They retreated into them and caused such a ruckus that they turned on each other. They fled back to the mountains. We were watching them to make sure they wouldn't come back. Looks like they won't. Hopefully for a long time.”

"But... if they do..?"

He sighed and looked at the far wall again. "Then we'll be there to stop them."

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Post by Gren Blockman » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:58 pm

He didn't answer for a long moment. "I . . . I feel torn right now. Torn between my duties as a Ranger, to protect those innocent people, and my love for you. I know it hurts you to know I'm in danger. I . . ." He trailed off, as if he was trying to find something else to say.

"Forgive me... I should... give you more understanding." Reaching up to touch his cheek gently, "Please, forget I mentioned it.... "

"It's alright." His hand touched the one she laid on his cheek. "It's something I need to think about. Now that we're together."

She nodded her agreement, "I should be less selfish... you are helping others, who are in need. Like I do... just in a different way."

"Yes." He nodded slightly. "One day . . . one day I'd like to leave it behind, though. The fighting, the blood, the death . . . I don't want to have to see that for the rest of my life."

"What would you do then?" Not implying but asking him curiously.

"I'm not quite sure. I would still want to help people . . . just in a different way." He said it with a faraway look, until a smile crossed his face as he realized he repeated what Izira just said. "Just like you."

His response made her heart skip. Izira tempered her hope with caution. "The job.... is not as easy as it appears..."

He looked into her eyes quietly for a few moments. He knew she was talking about the Inn. "I know. You told me you are bound to serve the Inn in life or death."

"As would you be... if you helped people... just like I do."

"Providing a sanctuary for people in need, with you by my side . . . That sounds like a beautiful life to me."

"Even if it means your time away from the inn would have to be limited?"

"Izira, I've been looking for peace ever since I can remember. The Inn and the realm it lies in? It's the most peaceful place I've ever been. And if you're there, why would I want to be gone for long, anyway?"

She swallowed, his words touching her heart. Only a kiss could properly convey the way he made her feel with that statement. "When you wish to make the inn your home... in that way... let me know...."

The softness of her lips never got old. "I will. It's a big decision, I know that. It will take time. But I am not afraid of it. In fact, it seems like its going to happen. Everything that’s happened between us . . . how we met at the Great Helm, how I found my way into your realm, and saw you on the steps of the Inn, how we went to see the play, and made love near the rock where my first memory was . . . how you told me you loved me. It feels like it was meant to happen."

"I think... your will is strong enough to overcome any obstacle before you." Izira did not know about fate, but she had faith in Gren and his determination. "What would you care to do before your fight tonight, my love?" Saying the words to remind him again how she felt.

"I want to make love to you."

Izira grinned, pulling Gren closer as she started to lean back, "Only once?"

"That will depend on how strong my will really is." He hurriedly throws the book back on the nightstand as he wrapped her up in his embrace.

A pleased chuckle leaves Izira, ending in their kiss.

(later . . .)

Gren stared at the showerhead as he rinsed himself off, making ready to go to the Garden and his fight with Hoi Mei. A dreamy smile had been painted across his face all day, and he hummed the tune of the unnamed symphony that Izira had played all those weeks ago. He couldn't believe it had been over two months when he first saw her again. He took a deep breath as he finished, and he felt different. He didn't feel as tense, or as nervous as he usually did. His insecurities were starting to vanish, little by little. He hadn't noticed it until now. It would take some time, but he felt like things were getting better. He said it aloud, to reassure himself.

"It's gonna be alright."

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