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Old 01-12-2016, 10:38 PM   #1
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Claymore and Dagger (closed)

"Hold the line!" A deep bass roar rang out over the line of shieldmen just before another line of giant brutes smashed headlong into their huge round shields set together in a phalanx formation. The defenders strained their hardest to hold the attackers back, but experience outmatched youth, and one young shieldman's father among the attackers smashed the practice shield on a corner and shattered the defensive line, and fathers and veterans overtook the new recruits with ease until their new commander ordered a halt.

"Tha's enough! Form up again. An' Hollander, if y' let tha' wall break one more time, you're cleanin' the barracks!" Samuel Durban Ghis watched over his men as they took up their practice weapons again and returned to their places. It was an exercise he'd always learned to value from his uncles who'd trained the Invernessian Axemen before him: make the new recruits fight the veterans until they can hold their own, or they'll never survive a real battle. Of course Inverness had been at peace for nearly a decade by then, the last war having been against Erygonians only to end with some tragedy which brokered peace and eventual brotherhood between the werefolk and humans, especially after a small werefolk plague had brought the humans to their aid and snuffed out most of the bad blood. Now, Sam looked proudly down from his great mahogany charger Dunedin- or as he often called the horse, Dun- at a fair mix of human and werefolk training side-by-side, the reflexes and natural instinct of the werefolk complementing the stubborn and solid humans.

But soon another voice called out. "Captain! Sir, we caught the market thief!" Sam turned in his saddle to fix the owner of the voice with a steely gaze, his emerald eyes unreadable. He was quiet a long moment, before turning back to his men.

"O'Shea, you're in charge. Finish th' exercise an' take 'em on a run."

"Yes sir!" With that, Sam spurred his charger away, calling orders to other men on his way. He was also training the newly formed cavalry, which had, before his rise to the position of Captain of the Axemen, been only a ragtag group of riders with a couple of knights among them. Now supplied with famous Ghis horses and a tough trainer like Sam, they were the heroes of Scottish cavalry all over the country and often called to train men across the isles, especially in Edinburgh. Beyond the cavalry, Sam was expanding the force of archers with English longbowmen as teachers. Though Inverness was at peace with no threat of war whatsoever, Sam was making perhaps the most stubborn, well-disciplined standing army in the north. Though he'd long since risen above the rank of Captain, one of his titles was still 'Captain of the Axemen' so that was what he was often called in more casual situations.

Sam arrived at the jails not too far from the outer walls around Inverness Keep's courtyard, and left his horse to a guard to come inside straight to the cell that held a young woman he'd been hunting since he began his training, and that had been hunted by the local authorities from a very young age. He stood before the cell, looking with a hard glare at the girl before him. He himself was quite the imposing figure in his lightly armored uniform. As a young General, he wore the mantle proudly with no nonsense and he made sure people knew he was a law-enforcer just at a glance. His uniform was like any guard in the city, but solid black with a belt running over his shoulder and across his back where his claymore was sheathed. The uniform was made up of a single leather-embossed metal shoulder pauldron on his left side (used by archers to shield themselves when drawing their bows), a smaller guard on the right side, a chain-lined leather jacket under which Sam wore a dark tunic, black trousers with hip guards, and tall boots with shin guards. Over it all was a dark cape that hung off one shoulder, the symbol of a military officer. There were bits of chainmail here and there, but most of it was covered by protective leather or cloth. Still, it was only a guard's uniform not meant for war, so Sam's size was not exaggerated. He was already a giant like his eldest uncle, but lean with broad shoulders like his youngest uncle. Unlike most of his family, he kept his dark hair cut very short. He sported a short and well-kept beard and he never wore any jewelry except for a pair of simple, small silver earrings that no one but his siblings and his parents knew the story behind.

His dark cloak settling around him, Sam's emerald eyes burned into the girl with a sheer lack of emotion. Crossing his arms, he took a long moment to say anything. "Full name and age," he growled, starting into his job with no nonsense. He had an uncanny ability to break prisoners and make them reveal their origins and any cohorts still at large. Such a skill had already saved his parents from two assassination attempts by enemy clan kings who wanted their land.
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Old 01-12-2016, 10:54 PM   #2
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Fiona had always stayed one step ahead of those that had hunted her. Even as a little girl, few noticed her as she took an apple or two from the stalls at the market. That had turned to bigger things that she needed to survive. Pieces of canvas, more food to keep her alive, never anything that was frivolous. She admired jewelry as she had never had a piece to call her own in her young life, but she had never once taken anything like that from anyone.

She had messed up by breaking into the bakery. The boy that lived there with his father and his mother had discovered her as he came down to start the ovens. He had called for his father, unsure of what to do and she had run...straight into the patrol that was in the market that day. She was sure that they had already gone to the other side of town where the axemen were practicing their morning routine, but she had been terribly wrong.

The cell that she was in was tiny, isolated from the others and she knew that she could slip out of it very easily if she wanted. The problem was that they kept her under constant watch. There was very little time where she was on her own. Soon enough, she was facing down the captain of Inverness. Samuel Ghis had a reputation of being hard and unyielding. She knew him, even if he didn't recognize her.

She glanced towards the barred door, her legs stretched out in front of her as she relaxed back against the cot that was the only piece of furniture in the room. Her eyes were the lightest color of blue, showing at a glance that she had some kind of were blood in her family. Her features were delicate, but she was as strong as they came. Her grandfather had been a werefox of some note, having written some poems about Loch Fae in his old age. She was wearing the dress that she had made last spring, the skirt of which was showing its age. It was tattered at the edges, but clean and patched to make it last longer. Her hair, long and blonde, was tightly bound in a braid that was coiled around the crown of her head, giving her a regal look.

"You mean that you don't recognize me, Ghis?" She asked in her husky toned voice, a small smirk appearing on her full lips. "Fiona Blackstone? We've met before."
 

Old 01-12-2016, 11:06 PM   #3
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"I make it a point no' to familiarize myself with criminals," Sam grunted. "Age. And maybe you'd like to tell me exactly what you were doing inside the MacNamara bakery." Another guard brought him a prison logbook and Sam opened it up and flipped through it to find the last time Fiona had been in the prison. It'd been a long time, but her last time had actually saved her from starving when she was brought to the prison and given the meager prisoner rations after almost a week of nothing to eat in a terribly cold winter. Before that, she'd been an inexperienced child ratted out by another street rat.

"Ye've been in once on a charge o' theft and were bailed out by a Mr. Calvin Rosewood, an' once on a charge o' property destruction, for which th' owner took pity on you as a child an' dropped all charges. Is tha' correct?" He asked her, confirming the records.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:14 PM   #4
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"21." Fiona murmured as one of the jailers brought him the log book which would tell him what her other crimes had been.

They had always been thefts, never violent. She prided herself on taking what someone else could stand to spare. She always hit places of wealth and abundance or she could take produce that was due to be thrown away.

"Well, there's no better place to get a few loaves of day old bread than a bakery." She murmured in a dead pan tone. "Mr. Rosewood is dead. He was one of the few people out there that actually cared about me. He made a promise to my grandfather that he would care for me as best as he could. He died three winters ago."
 

Old 01-12-2016, 11:25 PM   #5
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"An' instead of even tryin' to make an honest living after he gave ya another chance, here you are," Sam said with a perfect lack of emotion. It wasn't intended as a snide comment or cruel teasing, it was more shaming than anything as Sam had no place in his sympathies for repeat offenders. First timers were offered some mercy, but Fiona was well beyond any of the hard taskmaster's pity.

"Hm... Ye'll go before Prince Rhodan's court next week Tuesday. After tha', he'll assign you bail an' you may send a letter out t'someone t'come pay it. But ye'll still be facin' at least a few months in jail." Sam wrote down a new entry and closed the book to look at her one more time. "I don' take kindly t'criminals. But those who try t'commit those crimes against my family are a hair's breadth from th'gallows, Miss Blackstone." After all, Aleister MacNamara's wife was none other than Sam's cousin Kayla. He stepped away then, letting a guard take up his post there.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:32 PM   #6
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"Who would hire me in this town, Ghis?" Fiona asked him as she sat up on her cot. "No one. I have tried many times to get an honest job, but I'm always turned away. If I could have a job, I wouldn't need to steal. And I seriously think that you have your priorities out of order if you think my stealing food that would be thrown away is the worst thing that a person could do."

"But you have the law to uphold. Your brother's name to keep clean. I understand that, but don't act as if what you are doing is anything special or honorable." She said as he closed the book and moved from his position after telling her that crimes against his family very well could be punishable by death.

"We have met before, you know." She called after him as he walked down the hall. "The market, just after your 18th birthday. You saw me take an apple from a stall, but you never said a word. What's change in that time? Where did your heart go?"
 

Old 01-12-2016, 11:39 PM   #7
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Sam paused and turned to face her. "A heart makes a soldier inefficient. Pity is not in my job description." He continued on his way.

Once he'd organized all his men for the evening, he returned to the keep and changed out of his uniform into a white tunic, dark trousers, and a vest. He came out in time to join his family for dinner for the first time that week. It was normal for him to miss meals, always keeping himself busy and improving defenses in preparation for his brother's rise to the throne. Brogan hadn't been doing well lately, so the ceremony would wait until he was well and the whole family was gathered. The only ones missing were Kayla coming from Norway and Ashien coming from England.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:48 PM   #8
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Julia had always felt the best when her children were under one roof. She saw Sam walk into the great hall and she smiled. Everyone was there and she was practically beaming. Times had been tough with Brogan falling ill in the winter, but she nursed him through the worst and he was well on his way to being healed.

Kate had come in from Edinburgh the night before, staying a few weeks to talk to her father about matters of state. She didn't trust anyone more with her secrets than the man that she loved most of all behind her mate, Kell. Annie and David had their hands full with three young children, Danny the eldest and most precotous, thanks to his grandmother Ria's free spirit. Ciaran was the family's constant protector, staying at his mother's side through thick and thin, especially when tragedy had struck Heather shortly after her second birthday.

A summer illness had stolen her sight, leaving her only able to see light and shadow. She was a happy girl otherwise but prone to outbursts of anger and frustration, typically aimed at her mother. Julia did her best for her daughter, but at 10 years old, she was trying to find her own way in life. Ashelin had her own ideas on how to live life and her twin was often left alone.

Julia was fussing over Heather when Sam entered the great hall, getting her settled at the table. "Mama, stop." Heather insisted, looking at her with green eyes that were hauntingly empty yet familiar. "I can do it on my own."
 

Old 01-13-2016, 12:00 AM   #9
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For Heather's sake, Sam went to distract Julia first and kissed her cheek. "Evenin', Ma." He'd never become her carefree little troublemaker ever again- quite the opposite now that he was a leading military officer whose primary concern was criminal justice. But he'd grown warmer toward his family again, and had long since left Rho to his own devices after both found their calling. Sam was a law man, and Rho was a charismatic man of the people, and could often be found among normal people talking or helping them despite his oncoming coronation.

He then leaned down to kiss Heather's forehead, whispering in her ear, "Give her a break, love. She's jus' bein' a mother." Sam had never gone easy on Heather for her blindness. If anything, he'd challenged her to be independent. But he'd always defended his mother more than anyone else, and was often mediator between his mother and sister when Heather got fed up with being watched like a bumbling toddler.
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:09 AM   #10
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"I know." Heather muttered as her brother kissed her forehead and told her to go easy on their mother. "But I can do things on my own."

Julia just gave a small sigh and looked towards her son with a slight shrug of her shoulders as Rho and Ashelin entered the room to complete the table for dinner. Sometimes Vincenzo would join them, but he was spending more time with Valentina and her family, especially after they had lost Kitty just a few short years ago. Vincenzo and Heather seemed to share a bond that kept the Italian going, well into his twilight years. They could often be found together, talking about all manner of things from flowers to books, and often in Italian.

"Perhaps Sam can sit by you tonight, Heather." Julia murmured as she glanced towards Sam with the gaze that told him to take care of her as she moved to her spot beside Brogan.

"Alright. But I don't need any help." It seemed to be her motto lately and she was a stubborn little creature when she set her mind towards something.
 

Old 01-13-2016, 12:17 AM   #11
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"Then I won't help you," Sam assured her, sitting beside her. But it often came back to bite her when she needed something she couldn't find and Sam would remind her she didn't need help. It was his way of teaching her to balance her independence and accept that, even if she weren't blind, she needed help sometimes like anyone else. Rho took his usual seat beside his mother and Ashelin's was beside Brogan. It was the first time he'd been able to walk around freely since he'd fallen ill. After Kitty had passed peacefully of age with no sign of sickness, Brogan had worked even harder to stay healthy but winters were always a struggle just like they'd been for Kitty.

Food was brought out and Sam quietly watched over his sister like the focused and serious protector he'd always been. His attention turned to his older sister across the table, beside her mate whom Sam looked up to as Lord Protector of Scotland. "So, Kate. What's new in Edinburgh?"
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:26 AM   #12
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"The same old rot and blight." Kate murmured as Annie laughed softly and told Danny not to repeat what his aunt was saying. "Old men who think they know more than me. However, we have done a lot as far as trade between Scotland and England is concerned. We have also struck a deal with the Dutch and we are in talks with France. It is always a constant fight with the French, however."

"Why?" Danny asked, looking at Kate with the wide eyes of a boy who dreamed of adventure. "When I go with grandma and Da, they are always nice."

"That's not the way the world works sometimes, Daniel." Annie murmured as she shifted her infant daughter, Bridget, to her other shoulder to slumber. "It's like how you love Silas, but sometimes you fight with him just because he's your brother. Scotland has enemies just because they have always been our enemies."

Heather found herself in a bind as soon as the meal was served. She had no idea what was in each vessel nor where each piece was kept on the table. The family tried to keep everything in order for her, but sometimes she was at a disadvantage.

"What's for dinner?" She murmured in a whispered voice towards Sam.
 

Old 01-13-2016, 12:35 AM   #13
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"Well, tha' would be helping, wouldn't it?" Sam asked his sister, a tiny smile pulling at his hard features. "Wild boar to your left, potatoes, onions, and carrots next to it, and barley soup on your right. Careful of the glass by your elbow."

Looking to Kate, he spoke in return, "Well, we finally got tha' market thief. She was tryin' t'steal from Aleister when Lynn caught he and she ran right into a patrol."
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:40 AM   #14
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Heather carefully reached out to touch the glass at her elbow, situating it where she could find it easily later. She then reached out to touch each of the serving dishes until she was safe in the thought that she could serve herself. When the meal began in earnest, she had managed to get her plate filled and she sat with a happy smile on her face and a boost in confidence.

"Fiona?" Ashelin asked, looking towards her brother as he talked about catching the market thief. "She's really nice."

"And how do you know her, love?" Julia asked, glancing towards her other twin.

"She gave some food to Carol's gran when she was sick." Ashelin said with a shrug of her thin shoulders.

Carol was her best friend who lived in the were village. Carol's gran was a tribal elder, a beautiful wolf who often helped care for some of the children who had nowhere else to go.
 

Old 01-13-2016, 12:43 AM   #15
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"I'm sorry, love, but nice doesn' excuse theft." Sam had rarely excused anyone for good deeds unless they were especially selfless. Most only got lightened sentences. But he wasn't about to pardon Fiona even a little being a third time offender.
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:47 AM   #16
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"But sometimes nice people have to do some bad things." Ashelin said in a soft voice as the rest of the family chuckled at her wisdom.

"Sam is too serious to realize that, Ash." Kate said as she glanced towards Kell and her father. "He only sees things in black and white."

"There is nothing wrong with that. We all need someone in our lives to keep us honest and that has always been Sam." Julia said in defense of her son.
 

Old 01-13-2016, 12:50 AM   #17
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"Which is why I don't put up with you stealing scones, young lady," Sam warned Ashelin, which told her he knew about the one hidden in her room.

"Oh, come on, Sam. We stole enough scones fer all Inverness when we were her age," Rho reminded him with a chuckle.
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:56 AM   #18
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Ashelin stuck her tongue out at her older brother which instantly earned a scolding from Julia.

"Can we please have a family dinner that doesn't dissolve into name calling and hurt feelings?" She asked of them all. "Especially from the two of you."

She looked between Ashelin and Heather, each of whom ducked their heads under their mother's gaze. "I'm sorry, Mama." Ashelin said as Heather remained silent.

Annie laughed softly at the scene, glancing towards her two boys who seemed more interested in eating dinner than fighting. She was grateful that Danny was more interesting in loving Silas than causing fights. Bridget was simply too young to be involved in any of that.

"See what you have to look forward to?" Annie asked, looking at all of her child free siblings. "Years and years of squabbles and heartache."
 

Old 01-13-2016, 01:02 AM   #19
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"I don't plan on joining in, thanks," Sam assured his sister. Meanwhile Rho, who had lately been courting a girl from the Erygonian village, rolled his eyes. "It's fun, Ann. Unlike all you grownups." He was still a child at heart with a deep love of his little sisters.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:05 AM   #20
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"Wait until you have the weight of Inverness on your shoulders. You'll be as serious as Sam." Annie said with a grin towards her younger brother as she teased them both.

When dinner had ended and Kate had retired with Brogan to talk further in private, Heather followed after Sam like a little shadow. Without Vincenzo around, she was left alone. She had a hard time making friends like Ashelin. Ashelin had a huge personality that attracted people much like Rho. Heather was more like Sam and Ciaran, serious and closed off.

"I don't think you're so serious, Sam." She murmured as they stopped outside of his room.
 

Old 01-13-2016, 01:08 AM   #21
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"Oh really? You'd be the first," Sam opened up his door and welcomed her in with a hand placed on her shoulder. He brought her to sit on his knee while he sat at his organized desk. "You're startin' t'get there though." He picked up his quill to write, always able to multitask like it was nothing.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:15 AM   #22
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Heather had always felt safe with Sam. He was someone who protected her and let her fall on her own. It was just as Brogan had raised her as well, especially after she had lost her eyesight. Her mother wanted to make the road easy for her, doing everything so that she wouldn't have to suffer. She understood it, but she didn't like it.

"Mama wants me to go to Uncle Ashien's for the summer. I don't want to go." Heather admitted as she heard the scratching of Sam's quill pen against paper. "I don't want to leave Papa."
 

Old 01-13-2016, 01:18 AM   #23
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"Don't you want to see Dylandra? He'll be alright, love. What's got you so worried about him?" Sam put the quill down as worry settled over him for Heather. He didn't want her to be a worrier like him and slowly get crushed under the weight.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:20 AM   #24
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"He's so lonely since Gran died. I don't want him to be alone and he's always so happy when I'm with him." Heather admitted to him what was on her heavy heart. "I do want to learn how to paint and sculpt some more, but I would rather stay here with him. Mama just never wants to listen to what I want."
 

Old 01-13-2016, 01:36 AM   #25
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Sam sighed, hugging her a little closer. "She jus' wants the best for you. She was always so hopeful you'd be her girl... An' she feels guilty, love. She thinks you bein' blind is her fault because she couldn' save ya from th' fever. An' sendin' you off t'Darkwood was originally Da's idea, so y'could learn from Van. But I know y'don' need t'learn from 'im anymore. Y'only need a little help here an' there an' yer fine. Y'need t'find a happy medium with 'er. Talking to 'er is th'only way she'll understand, no' whinin' 'er makin' off comments. But I 'ave an idea fer you... Why don' you ask Papa if he wants to go visit Edinburgh? He could use it, y'know. He hasn' left since Gran passed. An' y'can go with Kate. I know how much y'love Kell an' Khan. An' it won' be too far away so he doesn' have t'go on such a long hard journey."
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