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Turn 95 Introductions

You arrive in your wing, discovering that you have been given an entire section of the keep to yourselves. The main room is richly decorated, with plush velvet drapes, and soft down filled chairs. 3 tables are covered in every sort of food imaginable. Upon one table, a suit of armor lies and you recognize the symbol of Pikahl that Gareth wears upon his chest (gareth your armor has been mended). 6 doors lead into bedroom suites, each containing 2 beds. The guards leave you in your chambers, asking you to make yourselves comfortable for the night. Several servants follow behind looking terrified, bringing hot water for baths set up in the bedrooms before retreating out the door staying as far from all of you as possible.

Reggie runs towards the table bearing food, has a quick look, grabs a piece of chicken and then runs around the room peering through the doors into the six bedrooms, checking out the rooms.

Trying her best Catherine ignores the food for the moment, the prospect of a hot bath seems more alluring. Once into a bathing chamber she drops her sword belt, back pack, boots, tabbard, tunic, armor, shield, and lining. Then with a look of a predatory animal she eases naked into a tub after pulling her hair free of its braid.

"Call me in a year!" sighs Catherine as she settles into her bath, breathing in the steam and scented flower petals that float on the surface. Then begins the meticulous job of cleaning herself and allowing the hot water to relax tired, overworked muscles. Once complete she washes her hair with the care of a mother bathing a child.
Once complete she steps into a woolan blanket to crouch next to the fire until mostly dry. Slipping into a night gown of white Catherine brushes out her waist length fire-red hair until straight and almost dry. Once done she leaves the room, night gown clinging to those areas still a little damp she gets a plate and fills it before taking a place near Gareth and the others. She is very casual.

"Ehm...gentlemen... if you will aid me in searching the rooms, we can leave the ladies proper space to bathe themselves in seemly manner. Ladies, please keep the door closed, but not locked, should trouble occur. The men will bathe afterwards in two shifts; I will volunteer for the latter." When all of the rooms have been thoroughly searched, the knight reclaims the suit of armour upon the table, carrying it cautiously to a random room, where he proceeds to inspect each piece and strap, readjusting it to fit his stalwart frame, then removes the set and places it in a chair beside his bedside. Gareth takes a spare set of plain clothing from his backpack, setting it squarely in the centre of his bed for post-bathing. An old cloth, some polishing oil, and a whetstone appear in the knight's hand, and he returns to the common room and fire. Both blades and all daggers are oiled and sharpened, then each piece of armour is re-oiled.

"That." she says after munching down a piece of chicken. "Was glorious. I haven't had a bath like that in weeks. I'd still be in there, except my tummy demanded to be sated. Actually, I'm glad to be inside, I can't really blame everyone from being a little scared by what happened. _I'M_ a little scared and it happened to me. Still, I'm happy to be here and to have met everyone. left home wanting to prove myself, but never thought it would go this far."

Catherine will relate a little poem her mother taught her.
Ballad of the Buckbacks

And so a ho did Buckback go,
upon the gypsy camp
through a puddle oh so deep,
that left his trousers damp.
His love to be was fine to see
and just as fine to watch.
But giggled when she saw the bard
moistened to the crotch.

Oh mourn for thee oh Buckback she
has laughed into thy face,
Tell of legends far and wide,
to get back in her grace.
He stepped back with a reedy grace,
into the fire pit,
upsetting a savory roasting boar,
which fell right off it's spit.

The gypsies roared and laughed at him,
their mirth did fill the land,
even more when he seized the boar
and severely burnt his hands.
Undaunted Buckback staggered forth
to seek solace for his ill,
and upon the Gypsy king he did
a keg of wine to spill.

Buckback stood - mortified,
It was the father of his gem,
and took to mopping up the wine,
with his beloved's hem.
The shriek did carry far and wide,
and Buckback turned and fled,
for if that bard had hung around,
the morn would find him dead.

But the gypsies were not satisfied,
and cursed him in this way,
generations of Buckbacks hence,
would all rue the day.
‘Make them all smell of cheese,
tie up all their tongues,
Have them tell of booger jokes,
when the main course comes

Grant them pain and misery
for all their rotten lives,
grant them only nagging hags,
for ugly, screaming wives.
And so did Ludwig Buckback go forth,
without a single pause,
For scoring with these ladies fair,
was a totally lost cause.

You all hear Reggie's voice from the largest bed chamber. "Bagsy, this bed"

Arilyn follows a step behind Kay into the wing. She smiles, "Hi, guys." Stepping up to the table she looks at the variety of food. She spots a shiny red apple and wipes it on her pants. Arilyn bites into the fruit, the sweet juices running from her lips and down her chin. Her face beams when she looks over to Kay, "Can I get something for you Kay?" She reaches over and picks up a slice of cheese and delicately sinks her teeth into a tasty piece. Blushing, she looks at Kay, "Would you like to share a room with me for tonight?" She hastily adds, "I mean..uhmm..there are only 6 bedrooms...i..i..just thought that maybe..." Arilyn feels her cheeks flush and breathes in deeply. The apple drops out of Arilyn's hand as she sees Catherine enter the wing. Arilyn is struck by Catherine's beauty, grace and the air of dignity that surrounds her. She raises her hand to her lips and muffles a giggle as she listens to Catherine's poem...stealing several glances over at Kay.

Jahl watches as servants scurry about and then rush through the door as they leave. "Was it something we said?" Jahl jokes as they hurry away. "Well now, a chance to relax. A bath does sound very nice, I think that I will start with that. Perhaps the rest of you will consider a bath too, I've stood downwind of several of you." Smirking, Jahl quickly slips into one of the rooms closing the door behind him. I short while later Jahl returns, his hair dripping and plastered to his head. He is again wearing his leathers and cloak. He quickly grabs himself a large helping of food and a large mug of ale before resting before the fire. Well into his meal he stops to listen to Catherine's poem. "That was wonderful! I beg of you for another!"

Assuming all are completed by the time his bathing slot nears, the knight opens the door to outside, requesting of the guards to order extra water for the final group of bathers and inquire on the status of the party's mounts. Closing the door, Gareth adjusts the sheathes upon his back, returns to the group dining, and notes, "Regular watches. I suggest rooms are left with doors ajar and unlocked. Periodic check-ins at each room. Take the time now to relax and get to know each other. The gods know we have seen a few strange sights these past few days, and learning of each other may help to make us feel a tad more relaxed with the world." Gareth sits and speaks with the newcomers, asking for more details of their homes and journeys to join the party, particularly Kay and Catherine (though he seems hardpressed to view the latter in the eye without blushing painfully and clearing his throat), the newest additions to his command. The knight takes his turn bathing with some relief, slowly exhaling his breath as he sinks beneath the waters, sits for some time, and lethargicly resurfaces to begin washing. The stubble of a few days is removed, hair is trimmed, and bruises are reapplied with a paste to speed healing. Dirty - minutely thought they may be - clothing is washed and laid to dry. A quick dry-off, and he suddenly pictures the dry clothes still sitting upon his bed. Barely catching an expletive before it leaps his lips, Gareth closes his eyes and shakes his head in disbelief at his tiredness. "The fasting may continue, but these people have trusted that I will be clear-headed. Their needs go before my need for atonement." Looking around quickly at the other men bathing, he shakes his head in disbelief again. Lo... and so it came to be that one paladin unskilled in soft stepping did emerge with flaming visage from the bathing room, clad only in his still clean tabard, and hugged the wall while side stepping towards, and into, the doorway of his room. Drops of water tricked spitefully down the warrior's massively muscled arms and across a myriad of faint healed scars decorating torso, leg, and arm. After a few moments, Gareth emerges in common clothes, but with sheathes attached and daggers in their proper location. "As much as I worry that something is amiss within the keep, there is nothing I can reliably do here without crossing lord Reynold's orders. If the traitor had not been found, or if Reynold had hurt the lad, I would have reason to delve further, but simply not reacting in a manner I would expect is not justification to violate law. Therefore, my friends, I would submit that we depart in the morning and continue on with our mission."

"Well, I'm second youngest of four...why are you blushing?" She says with a coy, knowing smile. "Anyway, second youngest of four. My father is Baron Rickard Belle Winter and the lord of the dale Heatherington Downs, a rather large portion of land that has been in my family for generations. My mother, Annalise is a half-elven minstrel from the far south - and no small distance from here. I have two older siblings, Camille Brianna and Rikard Simcoe, the latter of whom is expected to take over from my father when he gets too old. I also have a younger brother Cedric Chaucer. I have heard it said that the Belle Winter is more than a little a bonefide member of the family, I can assure you this is the case!" She pauses, sipping her mulled spice wine and letting her eyes settle on Gareth while holding the silver goblet. "I was never very much good at courtly things, oh I know all the right things to say and do at official functions, but I would have much rather spent my time with my brother, Rikard. He and my father raised me on sword play and epic stories of battle long past. While other girls were swooning over Prince so-and-so, I was whacking my brother with rebated swords and learning to ride horses." "If you are going to call me 'Lady Catherine', please only do so at official functions. I don't mind the title, I suppose, but I do not wish to be treated any differently, I don't deserve it." Her face darkens, berry red lips turning down in a sad frown as her eyes mist over. "When my husband Edwin passed away last year I was more than a little lost..." She sniffs as tears trickle down from her jade eyes. "A widow at eighteen summers, who would want her? I-I just sort of wandered about Duke Graves castle at Fifeshire Dale before returning home... I thought a part of me died with Edwin, that he had taken my soul...b-but I-I realized I still had a chance to make something of myself and n-not just another spoiled, rich noble."
"I-I'm sorry Gareth, I should not burden you with my troubles..." She looks into her cup again then gives Gareth a quirky grin. "This." holding the cup aloft. "Became an all-too close friend of mine a while back. When Callus appeared before me and made the offer, I jumped at it. I guess I want to earn the title of 'noble' rather than just have it through birth. I never had to work at anything in my life, well I want to work at this. You can understand, can't you?"

Sniff. Sniff.

"Woah, now this is more like it." Kay takes a few moments to check out the place and wanders over to the buffet table, "I think I can help myself with the food, Arilyn, as for the room, that's no problem with me.". She grins at the blushing elf and snatches a muffin from the table, "I'm just going to have a little something to eat here and hop in one of those tubs..A nice way to end a very strange day, don't you think?" Once she's finished with her meal, she'll head to her room, slip off all off her boots, tabard and chainmail. Kay spends a few moments checking out her armor and weapons, making sure everything is in working ordering. Once it's her turn, she'll close the door behind her, slip off the rest of her clothes and sink into the tub like a stone. She'll been in there for a good ten minutes and once she's done, she'll climb out of the tub, dry off and toss on an old pair of light breaches and a gray half-shirt. Once Kay has everything in order, she'll head out and sit by the others and listen to their stories. As soon as there's a break, she'll add her own. "You'll have to forgive me, I'm not used to retelling my exploits, as I'm mostly a wandering warrior and not very good at telling stories. Well, not at making them interesting. Anyways, I was born in the village of Dawn, a pretty boring little place where nothing ever happened. My parents were Fletchers, and taught me what they knew. Everything was pretty hunky-dory until I was about sixteen. It was fun making the bows and arrows, but nothing really excited ever happened at Dawn. And when I'd pop over at the Broken Drum, there'd usually be the same old adventurers going on about all the things they saw, been, and fought, and that pretty much made up my mind on what I was going to do with myself. The next day, I grabbed my belongings, snuck out the house and bought a one-way ticket off the island. I didn't even know where it was going, just as long as it was away from Dawn. As soon as I reached port, I found an inn, booked a room and made my w ay to the tavern section where I found a group of armor-cladded folks like yourselves. I got into a conversation with one of them, spoke of my talents, displayed my skills outside.". She pantomimes shooting a bow, "After they saw all that, they let me into their little band. I stayed with them for several years, doing mostly guard work, around caravans, people, that sort. After that, I joined another group, who called themselves the "Menagerie", they did the sword-for-hire type jobs, but it was more of the exotic type..No caravan-cruising this time. We were hired for all kinds of things..Finding people, mystical items and ofcourse, the bounty work. We actually had to crash this wizard's lair before he was able to turn himself in a litch..The only thing he managed to turn himself into, was inside out. And the Menagerie lasted a good five years before breaking up, and then it was the solo work, and that's where I met that Jer..warrior,Jarryd.". She looks around to see if anyone is still awake. ""

Turn 96