A Stable Relationship

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Warrl
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:47 pm

Christmas day, late morning

"Thanks for the help, Sis," Durango said. "With these crutches, cooking is hard."

"And slow. But even so, you are still better at it than I am."

"There's plenty for Mom and Dad. Where are they, anyway?"

"Mom had a special project to share with Dad, up in the old mill. They left right after I got up. They are taking a long time at it - and that is a good sign. Although I won't know for sure how it went until they return. Or, I suppose, if we hear an ambulance heading that way, but that is not likely. Rowdy! Lunch is ready!"

In the next room, Rowdy grabbed his borrowed cane and leveraged himself off the couch just as the doorbell rang. Still walking with a slight limp, he opened the door. "Maple! Merry Christmas! Come on in. You're just in time for lunch, if you're interested. "

"Hey, Rowdy. Glad to see you're getting around better - just a cane, and it looks like you'll be through with that soon. Sure, I'll stay for lunch. Are Buzz and Sycamore up and about?"

"Up, but not about. They left early this morning and aren't back yet."

"Oh, excellent!" Maple grinned as the two entered the kitchen. Dawn slid another plate of spaghetti across the table and the four of them sat down to eat.

Just as they were finishing, the back door opened and Dawn's parents came in, Sycamore in human form riding on feral Buzz's back. Durango looked up and held his hands up to comically protect his eyes. "OW! The glow, it's blinding!"

"I take it everything went well?" Maple smiled at them as Dawn bopped her brother's shoulder.

"Oh, yes," Sycamore smugged.

"Dawn, Maple," Buzz said, "I understand you both had a hand in this. Thank you."

"It was Mom's idea," Dawn answered. "Thank her."

"He did - several times," she sighed happily.

"Obviously - but did he say it?"

"But" Durango interrupted, "how did this work? I mean, Mom's hip and lower shoulder - feral, she can barely stand up for five minutes!"

"A very-custom bench," Maple explained, "carefully designed to keep the weight off the weak spots. I did the structural engineering and built it, and Dawn shaped the top to fit just right. We should go up in a day or two and check it over for damage, but I expect it's in good shape. We just need to make sure we don't interrupt anything."

Buzz carefully knelt and helped his wife stand, then clopped toward the master bedroom to dress. Sycamore hobbled over to a vacant chair and sat down. "That probably won't be an issue. I think we overdid things a bit, and I'll be too sore to even consider it for several days. But it was so worth it!"

"So," Dawn asked, "are you two hungry for some food now?"

"Why do you think we came back?"

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:38 pm

The remainder of the Hyde Park visit was uneventful. Rowdy was able to return his borrowed cane to Sycamore's collection the day after Christmas, and Dr. Smithers approved Dawn setting the neck braces aside the next day. Their return flight was delayed a day due to weather, but they had made allowances for such a circumstance in their planning.

So they arrived at the South Saint Paul Municipal Airport a bit before sunset on December 30, to an unexpected greeting as their bags were unloaded from the plane.

"Mom, what are you doing here?"

"You were injured. You think I won't insist on laying eyes on you as soon as possible? Cinnamon drove, and Buck is here in case none of you are up to driving your car."

As Buck loaded the luggage onto a trolley, Rowdy hugged his mother. "Really, Mom, I'm fine. And Dawn was fit to drive the day after the accident."

"Yes, I see you really are all in one piece and your brains aren't scrambled. And Dawn - how are you doing, darlin'?" The matriarch released her son and embraced his lady.

"Just fine, Daisy. Had a stiff neck for a week. Got over it."

"And Durango." He didn't escape unhugged either. "Now let's get going and get you off that leg." As the group headed toward the vehicles, she continued. "How long will you be on crutches?"

"Probably at least another month. We all have copies of our medical files from Waterbury in our luggage."

"Well, you can spend the next few days with us if you'd like. Next week you'll be back in classes?"

"That's right. I really appreciate the offer. The dorm dining hall is shut down until Monday, expecting everyone to be visiting family, and I'm not in good shape to walk to a restaurant in the snow."

"Well, you won't starve and waste away staying with us. Dawn, are you coming to the mansion too? - oh, of course, your car is there. Good. Now I'd like to put Buck with you boys and steal Dawn for the ride home and some girl talk."

"There are a couple things I want to pick up from my apartment, if I could."

"Not a problem, darlin'. Supper should be almost ready when we get home."

Three hours later, fed, Dawn went to her room in the centaur quarters, shifted to human form, and donned an outfit she hadn't worn in four years. Over that she put on a heavy coat and boots suitable for a Minnesota winter. She emerged from her room to discover Rowdy looking for her.

"Going outside? Want some company?"

"No, love. This is something I need to do myself." She reached up and hugged his stomach. "And I must ask you to not ask others about it."

"How far will you be going? And how long? It's pretty cold out."

"I expect to stay on the estate and be back within two hours. Maybe much sooner. I have my phone with me."

"Okay. I'll worry about you."

He watched her head toward the old mansion, until she was out of sight. Then he returned to the newer house, which was dubbed the castle.

Aware that he was watching, she walked around the old mansion. Then she headed toward the grove at the back of the property.

"Emerauld," she called out, "Ka dos ph'yor'in, Usstan orn'la telanth xuil dos, ulu ann nelgetha lu'dortho." If you are willing, I would speak with you, to beg forgiveness and aid.

She stood shivering for several minutes, but heard no response. "Ji tlu ol, t'yin. Usstan orn naut degahr dos felah." She turned around. So be it, then. I will not trouble you further.

Emerauld was right behind her, swords in hand. "Me, but not my sister?"

Dawn jumped backward and into a combat stance, but quickly forced herself to a more relaxed posture. "Your sister, too, in time. But I'm not yet ready to face her."

"Before her, you could not so swiftly bring yourself to stand down from combat."

"So swiftly, or perhaps at all."

"And why should I help you?"

"I can name no reason why you should. I offer two reasons why you might choose to. The first is that one who wishes to become a friend, while less precious than one who is already a friend, still has some value. The second, is for Rowdy's sake."

Emerauld sheathed her swords. "My forgiveness, you have. Safyr's, you must ask her. Tell me what aid you wish, and I will consider it."

"I wish you to be sensei, and train me in unarmed combat."

"How would this help?"

"A wise friend suggested that I can discipline myself to overcome that part of my past which troubles me so. The strictest discipline I know is the discipline of the dojo. And the title 'sensei' commands a place in my mind that may be strong enough to overpower the word 'drow'."

"Interesting. So where would Safyr come into this?"

"When we think I may be ready - has she not been one of your teachers?"

"She has, and I one of hers."

"Then she could come in as your sensei."

"I see. If I agree to this, when would you wish to begin?"

"At your convenience - when I am on the estate, of course."

"One student cannot spar." The elf stood a moment in contemplation. "I do not teach show-fighting; if I agree to this, I will teach you to subdue, maim, or kill, as seems fitting. Your sparring partner must be one who can recover from lethal blows. Take off your coat."

Dawn took off her coat, revealing that she was wearing her gi under it, and Emerauld took the heavy garment from her. "Now turn around."

She turned, and found a rather strange skeleton charging at her. Swiftly she struck with one foot, knocking a femur from its place; as the skeleton fell toward her she shifted one hand to a hoof and knocked the skull twenty yards away. The skeleton collapsed into a heap.

"What was that?" she demanded.

"Not bad, girl. That is my familiar spirit, J'bobur. If I agree to teach you, he will be your sparring partner. Go fetch the skull and put it on the pile of bones. Here, take your coat."

Dawn put her coat back on and retrieved the skull. Examining it as she returned, she realized it was a fox-skull. The bones, she noticed, were from several species of creature, and many of them were actually carved wood. When she added the skull to the pile, the bones shuffled themselves around and re-formed the skeleton. Which then bowed to her.

Nervously she returned the bow, and the skeleton turned and went into the grove.

"Do you still want to do this?"

"Yes." Emerauld felt a quaver of fear from the young centaur, but there was no hesitation in her answer.

"Safyr and I will consider your request. Go now; we are done for tonight. You will receive your answer tomorrow."

Dawn bowed, backed up a few steps, then turned and walked back the way she had come. Soon she was back in feral and inside the castle. Rowdy met her at the door.

"Did you get things done?"

"No. I did not expect to - but I do not even know yet if I got them started."

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jwhouk
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by jwhouk » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:07 pm

Minor little nitpick - if they were flying via AHI planes, would they not fly into Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie? A bit closer than South St. Paul (which is further out than even MSP, which does have an "executive terminal").
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by DinkyInky » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:15 am

PM sent for query.
Yanno how some people have Angels/Devils for a conscience? I have a Dark Elf ShadowKnight and a Half Elf Ranger for mine. The really bad part is when they agree on something.

Aphyon chu kissa whol l'jaed.
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Warrl
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:21 pm

I just recently discovered that I had forgotten to post the last couple segments of this story. So, after giving the other EW authors a few days for critique...

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:24 pm

It was mid-fall, and there had been snow on the ground that morning, but it was a warm Sunday afternoon nonetheless. Emerauld lifted her head at the sound of footsteps approaching the grove. "She comes, sister."

Safyr roused herself from a half-doze and checked the kettle on the brazier. "With good timing. The water is about to boil." Wrapping a shadow around herself, she disappeared from sight.

Dawn entered the clearing, wearing her gi, and bowed to Emerauld. "Greetings, Sensei."

"Greetings, Minarai. What tea have you brought today?"

"An herbal from the south of Brazil, known in English as wolf apple, which I find pleasant on an afternoon like this. The werewolves who are my neighbors also like it. Among wood elves I have known, a few are quite fond of it. The rest, sadly, dislike it, some quite intensely. Therefore I also have jasmine oolong and another teapot."

Safyr reappeared directly behind Dawn. "Considerate. Shall we try the wolf apple first?"

Dawn tensed a moment. Then, recognizing the voice, she relaxed and knelt to begin the tea ceremony. Safyr looked a question at Emerauld, who nodded in reply and sent a thought to Ialin.

Some minutes later, the ceremony complete, Safyr said "That is an odd taste. I can see how some would like it."

"I am one of those who would," Emerald responded. "Perhaps with a drop of honey or a marshmallow leaf. It has a slight rough edge to it, and could use the smoothing. But an excellent foundation."

"To speak truthfully," Safyr continued, "I will never wish another cup. But if politeness were to require it of me, it would not be a difficulty. Thank you, Sensei, for this teaching."

Dawn blushed at the title. "Shall we begin, Senseis?"

"For today's work, I think you should be in centaur form," Emerauld said.

The suggestion was not their usual routine, but it also was not the first such occasion. Dawn stripped, neatly folding her clothes and stacking them on a convenient branch, and shifted.

"Dawn," Emerauld said, "you did not come to us to learn martial arts - that was merely a tool. After most of a year, where do you think you stand on your true purpose?"

"Not... where I want to be. But much improved from where I was when we began."

"To test you further, I think," Safyr mused, "would require another Drow - one who looks Drow, as my sisters Emerauld and Sterling do not. I know no other I would trust so much as to permit them to test you, or even to know where I live. In truth, your hostile reaction when you first saw me is what most of my kind deserve."

"Most, perhaps, but I now know not all. I would try to withhold threats and accusations until I see some actual evidence. I do not know if I would succeed."

"An honest self-assessment. Hear this, Dawn: what you promised Rowdy was about us, not about Drow. I say you have achieved it."

"I say the same," Emerauld added. "And now we need to confer in private. Wait here. Come, sister, walk with me."

What do we need to confer on?" Safyr thought to Emerauld as they walked toward the lake.

Nothing, in truth. Unless you wish to make a bet.

A bet? On what?

On how long it takes them to realize that I did not tell Dawn what to wait for. And that Ialin is conveying a similarly vague message.

How long it takes them to realize you "set them up." It may be some time, as they would not expect it of you.

Ialin will be dropping hints as she thinks needful.

Let us hope she is in a quiet mood. Sergeant Howard says she sometimes puts the 'tact' in 'tactical nuclear weapon'.

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:24 pm

Dawn had been waiting at least five minutes when she saw another centaur approaching Emerauld's grove. Recognizing the intruder instantly, she walked to meet him.

"Rowdy." They embraced. "What brings you down here right now? You have not been interested in my training sessions."

"Ialin says that Emerauld wants to see me at the grove."

A pixie appeared over Rowdy's head, and struck him between the ears with the stem of a rose. "That is not what I said." Ialin disappeared again, dropping the flower.

Rowdy picked the rose off the top of his head. "Okay, Ialin says that Emerauld 'desires my presence' at the grove."

"Well," Dawn replied, "she and Safyr went off to 'confer' about five minutes ago."

"Which is about when Ialin showed up in the kitchen. How often do they need to confer before your workouts?"

"This is the first time. Also, they are routinely telepathic together, and they are aware that I know it. So 'need to confer in private' is a rather thin excuse."

"I think we've been set up."

"It certainly seems so. I will make some tea." Dawn set another pot of water over the fire and knelt to set about preparing the jasmine oolong and contemplating the situation.

As they sipped the tea, Rowdy asked, "Do you have any idea why they set us up?"

"Yes. Right before they left, we talked about a promise I made to you just after I first met them. Remember that?"

"I thought I would be picking someone up in pieces."

"That very nearly happened. But afterward I promised you that I would learn to, at least, tolerate their presence. That has happened, mostly through this training. I no longer worry that I might force you to choose between me and your worthy friends." She smiled. "I sometimes think of Emerauld as a friend myself."

"Not Safyr?"

"Not yet. But I see her as an individual, not just a Drow, and I do not fear or hate her." She set down her now-empty cup and levered her four legs under herself to stand.

"Does that mean - "

"Yes, I am ready." She took his hand and helped him to his feet as well. He maintained his hold on that hand and also took her other hand as they faced each other.

"Dawn Pauline Hazelton, will you be my mate and companion, mother to my children, support me with your strength and rely on me in your weakness?"

Her answer was not quite what he expected. "Rowdy Franklin Alexander, will you be my mate and companion, father to my children, run with me in the sun and stand firm beside me to face the storm?"

They gazed in each other's eyes and, in unison, said "I will."

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Sgt. Howard
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Sgt. Howard » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:35 am

Whelp... there's gonna be another big shindig at the Alexander-Richer digs... Sarge will play "the wedding march" on his jawharp with 'Bubba' Jenkins doing back-up playing the bass on his suspenders. Then they will do that all-time favorite, "Your wife's been cheatin' on us again," with 'Saw' Bones on jug and 'Tinny' Smith on washboard...



"... Sarah Lou Jane... such a fine name... you ain't nuthin' like them gals from New York City....

… front teeth missin'... juss fine fer kissin' … yer as loyal as my dog Sam and twice as pretty..."
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by GlytchMeister » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:14 am

Either that or they will look back on the past weddings our group has thrown and decide they’d rather have a small, quiet ceremony entirely bereft of chaos and destruction.

Flouting tradition, I know, but c’mon, they may just feel a big shindig is just asking for something to go boom somehow.
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Just Old Al » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:37 am

GlytchMeister wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:14 am
Flouting tradition, I know, but c’mon, they may just feel a big shindig is just asking for something to go boom somehow.
WHAT?!?! When have we ever lost control of a situation?

More seriously, FINE read end to end, Warrl - BRAVO!

Even more amusingly, the only single-species marriage on the Alexander spread, if you think about it.
"The Empire was founded on cups of tea, mate, and if you think I am going to war without one you are sadly mistaken."

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by jwhouk » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:10 am

Two words: Vegas, baby.
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Sgt. Howard » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:34 pm

Just Old Al wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:37 am
GlytchMeister wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:14 am
Flouting tradition, I know, but c’mon, they may just feel a big shindig is just asking for something to go boom somehow.
WHAT?!?! When have we ever lost control of a situation?

More seriously, FINE read end to end, Warrl - BRAVO!

Even more amusingly, the only single-species marriage on the Alexander spread, if you think about it.
"... when have we ever lost control...?"- um... Al... that is our TRADEMARK...
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Dave » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:27 pm

Just Old Al wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:37 am
WHAT?!?! When have we ever lost control of a situation?
Lost it? Never. You all are much too well informed to lose it.

Kicked it out the door, with a rocket and an anchor tied to its neck, and a bus ticket to Poughkeepsie tucked into its coat pocket? That's a different matter entirely.

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Just Old Al
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Just Old Al » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:05 pm

Dave wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:27 pm
bus ticket to Poughkeepsie tucked into its coat pocket?
Isn't that specifically forbidden under the Geneva Convention?
"The Empire was founded on cups of tea, mate, and if you think I am going to war without one you are sadly mistaken."

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:06 pm

You must first have something, before you can lose it.

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Just Old Al » Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:45 pm

Warrl wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:06 pm
You must first have something, before you can lose it.
[Al mode on]

Amateurs...such linear thinking...

[/Al mode]
"The Empire was founded on cups of tea, mate, and if you think I am going to war without one you are sadly mistaken."

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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Sgt. Howard » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:11 pm

Just Old Al wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:45 pm
Warrl wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:06 pm
You must first have something, before you can lose it.
[Al mode on]

Amateurs...such linear thinking...

[/Al mode]
… I know, right? ANYBODY can handle a situation 'under control'...
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Re: A Stable Relationship

Post by Warrl » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:39 am

Just Old Al wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:37 am
Even more amusingly, the only single-species marriage on the Alexander spread, if you think about it.
And there's only one upcoming prospect for one. Atsali or Castela can't even have a single-species sit-on-the-toilet.

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