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I average 1-3 posts per week, usually per RP, but sometimes total.

Most Recent Posts

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr; Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Gwillim looked up as the door opened, expecting a messenger or even another drakken here to discuss the growing tensions between the royal brothers… Still, he was pleasantly surprised to find it was Hestia instead. He watched her as she took refuge in the library, and simply rested a moment in the quiet room before turning to survey her surroundings. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as she turned and finally noticed him. He was amused by the interruption, particularly since she seemed to have accidentally found him. He sat back, even as she reacted in fear, and raised his left hand palm out, chuckling, trying to calm her. He didn’t mind the intrusion in the least, especially since it seemed his intended visitor had been waylaid by more pressing matters, with the death of the king.

He spoke in a mellow tone, his voice easily conveying his bemusement. It held no malice, or threat, but was warm and… almost soft in it’s rumbling. Less like a full blown avalanche, more like gravel sliding down a hillside.

Hestia, what good is it to have a bride, if she isn’t allowed to distract her husband from his tedious papers every now again? Come have a seat, please. I wasn’t working on anything that can’t wait a bit more. Tell me, what do you think of the Gunnvaldr household?

The young woman stared at him in complete and utter terror. She expected him to evict her from the room post haste, hence her hand searching for the doorknob. Instead he reacted with a kindness and gentleness she was not used to from men. She stopped her search and just watched before nodding. She knew not what else to do.

He waved his raised hand towards a couch near the desk he’d been sitting at, as he invited her to sit. Obediently she sat upon the offered couch and curled into herself. She was ready to beg pardon at the drop of a hat should she have misunderstood.

Gwillim rose, ringing a small handbell that seemed to materialize in his right hand once, before setting it back on the desk. While he was moving to join Hestia on the couch, a small cart was wheeled in front of the couch. Upon it was an assortment of drinks, and few dried meats of various seasonings, on a platter in the center. Gwillim helped himself to a bottle of peat whiskey brewed in his own holdings on his birth year, pouring the amber liquid into a glass that seemed to be dwarfed in his large hands, despite having seemed of a normal size on the table. His movements were steady and sure, neither urgent nor particularly meticulous, as he made his selections apparently on a whim. He was not in anyway tense, or worried at this time. His mental boxes were wonderful things for keeping everything organized in his mind. And he closed the ‘work’ box as he moved over to the bride box labeled ‘Hestia.’

The drinks were of a mixed lot, wines, whiskeys, bourbons, beers, ales, and juices. The glasses were also varied, but didn’t seem to be matched with any particular drink, as they might have been in a formal situation. Gwillim was content, things hadn’t gone as planned, but they hadn’t soured either. That was a win in his books. And if he didn’t have to talk power plays and politics this night he wasn’t going to complain. He was curious what Hestia thought of his family. He was aware she might not find them … pleasant, in any sense of the word, but that didn’t worry or bother him. He doubted he’d find her own family to be pleasant had he traveled to Geminia. He was mostly just looking to see what she thought of her current predicament; not that expressed dissatisfaction would change it much if at all. He just wanted to know how she was holding up to the sudden and rather brutal change of pace.

He gestured for Hestia to take her pick, of glasses, drinks, and snacks as he asked her opinion of his household. Well, not his household, but the household that he was a rather influential member of. He sat back on the opposite end of the couch from Hestia; relaxing, sipping the liquid and letting it burn slowly through his mouth and throat while listening to her response, or waiting for it if she was having trouble deciding how to respond. He closed his eyes and appreciated the flavor, letting her respond in her own time.He was in no hurry to return to either his work, or the family gathered in the main hall. He’d dealt with everyone he needed to within the Gunnvaldr house already, so tonight he could relax. And now that he had a reason to, sitting beside him, intended to make the most of it.

“It is…. Large,” she replied to his question hesitantly. “There are quite a lot of people to remember. And I hope you don’t mind my saying, but names have always been a bit tough for me.” She did not know how else to tell the man she did not even remember his name. She tensed ready for a beating that did not come. Instead she was offered her choice from the cart. Overwhelmed the young woman shook her head, “I don’t know… Could you….” Would he hate her for it? “Would you please choose something…. Something sweet for me?” She managed to get out before hiding her face in her hands. She was ready for him to break a glass over her head. Poor something over her. She hated asking but everything was so foreign.

Gwillim opened one eye, the eye closest to her, his left, it was a vivid blue, under his heavy brow. Swallowing, he spoke and considered the platter before them… “Names are reference points, symbols that stand in for the entirety of an individual. You will have to learn them, though I’m well aware that name, particularly foreign ones, can be hard to learn on first try. You may want to try this little trick: as you are told a name, repeat it back aloud, and then in your head add a detail about that person in your head. For instance, I am Gwillim, your husband. You can the relationship as mental tag to the name, giving you an extra reference for it, allowing for easier recall. Alfhildr, is your … hmm, I suppose step-daughter is most accurate, and she is often called Alfhi by friends and family. Scyrvrensel is your wife, and mine, while Tempe is a sister bride. You may find an adjective, something that strikes you about a person when you look at them, makes the best tag instead of your relationship to them. Scyrvren is sly, Alfhi is a bubbling deep spring, You, are timid, … No. You are something else, perplexed and panicked seem equally applicable...

He paused a moment, as he made selection of sweet and mildly spicy dried meats, and a sweet and dark colored drink with bits of diced fruit floating in it, a Sangria. He waited for her to pick a glass, any glass would do, and there was no wrong choice.

Here, try these… Right, that’s the word. You’re adrift. Nothing around you is familiar, and it’s far more dissorienting than simply not knowing where you are; though I’d be surprised if you knew that much. That will fade in time. It’s important that you come to recognize that this is now your home. Strange as it seems; this is how you will spend the rest of your life. That is the way of the Reaping.

Gwillim - Terrifying. Not that he had actually done anything remotely scary to her. Simply that he was so tall and muscular that she didn’t know how to handle that. She brought her hands from her face and worried with her skirt as she approached him. Hesitantly she chose a small, squat glass and held it out. “Thank you,” she murmured softly. “I know this is my new home. It’s just hard to forget where you come from. Ya’know?” Her hands were shaking and she dared not look up at him.

Gwilliam sat back, after pouring her glass half full. No need to waste good drink on jittery nerves after all. He considered her response… on one hand he did understand, because house Gunnvaldr had given him much, and taught him even more. However, he didn’t let the house, or it’s politics limit or define him, something that occasionally caused friction with the cousins. Still, he wasn’t certain how to explain that, so he decided to let her comment stand for now. Perhaps one of the outcast colonies would enlighten her… yes, he’d be sure to stop by several on his next expedition out into the wild lands. They had lost their beginnings, or cast them aside, to start anew.

She accepted the drink into both hands and sipped from it. Her eyes widened with its sweetness and took a couple of gulps from it. She had never tasted anything so delicious in her entire life. She licked the liquid from her top lip and looked at Gwillim, wondering why he would give a girl like her something like this.

Gwilliam sipped his own drink, and let his gaze roam the room. Wondering if there was anything that would aid his new bride, nay brides, in their new life. The histories would give them a background to work with, but only in little bits… And they would have to be scholars in their own rights to understand the broader picture. He didn’t think either of his brides were particularly scholarly. He shrugged, it wasn’t a handicap here in Drakka to be sure. A sudden thought, piqued his curiosity, and he turned his gaze back to Hestia, his eyes darting to her face, his head following more slowly. A rather predatory gesture, but not a conscious one, so while he intended no harm it might be enough to inspire shivers or a flinch. “Tell me about it, this place you cannot forget. Your home.” His voice remained as soft as it could be, and his posture was relaxed but it was also clearly not a request. He waited patiently for her to gather her thoughts and then describe her place of origin.

Hestia hesitantly rolled the glass between her hands as she took a seat near him. Her eyes watched the floating berries. “Well,” she started with a light sigh. “It was sort of woody where I lived. We ground grains for the nearby farmers. With my ability the man who raised me had me work the grindstone daily instead of the ass. I was also in charge of meals, laundry, cleaning and sewing.” Her brows furrowed as she gripped the glass tightly and took a large swallow again. “He got mad a lot, you know. I was bad at things and made trouble. Clumsy and stupid he said. I guess he probably wasn’t wrong. I mean… While my mother was his wife I was not his daughter. So that made me… unworthy. Made me tainted.” She shrugged and downed the last of the drink. “Uhmm… I’m sorry, but please sir could I have some more?” she asked shyly, with flushed freckled cheeks, held out her glass to him. The shaking had stopped.

Gwillim looked perplexed… that was an odd way to do things. No wonder the gems were being plundered. He nodded as he filled her glass again. As he poured he stated simply how things would have been, had she been born in drakka. “In Drakka, a man who cannot keep his own wife is unworthy. And using your magic for grinding grain… how terribly and utterly lacking in imagination he must have been.” Gwillim placed the bottle back on the low table before them, and sat back, tossing his free arm, over the couch’s arm to dangle over the side. “I have no skill in earth magics, so I cannot teach you your craft, but I can sense your strength. Even assuming he meant only to exploit you, he was a fool.” Gwillim was silent a moment, as he pondered what she’d said. Perhaps she’d like the wooded slopes of the spine, or perhaps they’d only remind her of home… She’d said her mother was his wife, but she described growing up without mentioning her mother… Why? “What of your mother? What happened to her?

She listened attentively, scooting a bit closer to him so that she could hear him better. His low growl of a voice could be a bit hard to decipher sometimes. She sipped her drink more slowly and considered what he had said about Drakken males. Her brows knit as she thought. It was much too confusing. A foolish girl such as herself could never understand, she was sure. When it came to her mother she shrugged. “She died shortly after I was born. I never met her but Ollin always spoke poorly of her. He said I looked nothing like her. I looked like my father.” She looked across the room, nibbling her lower lip as she consider the books she could not read and the desk with paperwork. “I’m sorry… I can leave if you were busy. I didn’t mean to intrude.” She brushed some of her curls down in an attempt to hide her face.

Gwillim grunted, the first time in disgust at Ollin, he even had a soft name; then again dismissively at Hestia’s worry. He watched with some curiosity as she pulled her hair down over part of her face, like a veil. “Hestia, if I wanted you to leave, I would have said as much when you first entered. I am not always kind, but I have little enough time without wasting any on false pretences. If am I angry or displeased with you, you will have no doubt of it.” He sipped his drink again, glanced at the remains, then downed that too. Leaning forward again he poured himself another glass. “As a bride of Gwillim Gunnvaldr, that’d be me love,” he glanced her way with a wink, as he sat back, tossing his right arm back over the side of the couch. “You won’t be doing any house work, unless you desire too. I have slaves for that. Though, I suppose in a way you’re merely a different sort of slave aren’t you?” He watched Hestia’s face carefully, curious what an abused child would think of being a slave… many gems hated it, but this one… might find it very preferable to her past life. How lucky of him to be given this gem in particular… perhaps they had not meant to slight him, but had found a gem worth two or three of the her kind. The question being mostly rhetorical anyway, Gwillim continued before she could say much of anything in response. “Your were taught your purpose, but beyond that purpose, you are free to do as you please with your time. It would be wise to stay inside the compound, unless traveling with Scyrvensrel, our wife, or I, but you are permitted to venture forth if you dare… More importantly, and perhaps of greater interest to you, you can study the uses of earth magic at your leisure and will be directed to the practice field when you’re ready to try something more… imaginative than turning a mill stone.” He gestured at the library’s many books with the arm dangling over the side of the couch before letting it fall again, as he spoke of studying magic. He sipped his drink again when he’d finished speaking.

As he winked at her, Hestia’s whole face heated up all the way to the tips of her ears. It made her freckles stand out all the more. She tried to hide this by taking a drink but unfortunately the huge blush stuck around. He was being so nice, she hadn’t expected it. He just seemed like this big and scary guy. He was just honest and large. And the largeness wasn’t his fault.

She wasn’t sure what to think about not having to do any chores. What would she do with her days? Hestia twirled some of her hair around her fingers and considered his statement on slaves. “I guess I don’t really feel like a slave. I’ve been treated more kindly here than at any other time in my life. So it’s not something I’ve thought too much about. A lot has changed recently so I’ve just been trying to get used to it all.” She laughed quietly and offered him a sweet smile.

Then he mentioned working on her earth abilities. She was sure they were nothing spectacular so why even bother? She watched him gesture toward the books and she paled. Hestia lowered her head and stared into her glass as she whispered, “I can’t read.”

Well of course you can’t read Drakkan, it’s nothing like your home scripts… Wait, you can’t read even gem script? … well, you’ve plenty of time to learn, if you want too. If you’d rather study other traditions I believe several of the slave races have oral traditions in teaching and learning magic. I’m sure they’d teach with you with a little incentive.” Gwillim hadn’t thought his opinion of Ollin could drop any lower; he was surprised to find out that he’d been wrong. If he ever did make it across the spine of his own accord, he’d be sure to find this Ollin and flay him alive… then roll his body through town in a barrel of salt… yes.. And… well, he’d savour that kill when he got to Geminia. Coming back to the present, he realized he’d been smiling savagely at nothing again. He let it fade to a grin, before turning his focus back to Hestia. “Do you know what you’d like to do? I for one am very curious about the differences and similarities in our magics. But I’ll find that out in my own studies well enough, if you’d rather spend your time on other things.” Gwillim was genuinely curious, but he also had a wide variety of means to find the answers he sought. Hestia was just a particularly convenient means in this case. There was also Tempe… He’d not bothered to learn her magical affinity yet… an oversight he intended to correct prior to heading home, but probably not tonight.

The way he was just looking off into space as if he might murder someone caused a chill to run through her. She scooted back from him a bit and sipped at her drink quietly. He had been quite shocked about her lack of ability to read, huh? She picked at her skirt as she thought about the other slaves teaching her other things to do with her own magic. She hoped she wouldn’t disappoint anyone. When Gwillim spoke to her again she jumped, a terrified look across her face. It seemed his own features had gentled though and she calmed down. “Ah… I… I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. There was always so much else to do in my life.” She twirled her hair around her fingers again. “I’m sorry.”

A bemused look spread across Gwillim’s face, and he lifted one eyebrow as he queried a single word. “For?” He wondered how long it would take her to get used to having a place she belonged… He guessed a few months at most, for it to really start sinking in. He leaned towards her, bringing his free arm to rest across his lap, palm down, as he awaited her response, fully expecting it to entail a great deal of hair twirling and stammering, but curious to see what she’d say, or try to say in spite of himself.

His closeness made her mind all the more troubled. Her blush returned and she replied, “For being so useless. The only skills I have are not worth much at all to you. I am sorry to be a burden.” She lifted the drink to her lips and gulped down a fair amount of it. The alcohol was beginning to hit her and made her feel a little lightheaded but warm.

Gwillim leaned back and laughed, his bride was worried about being useless. It was priceless. Most were far more worried with surviving being used, and this precious little gem was sorry she could only bear him children. He tried to stop laughing, but … the idea was just so ludicrous to his mind, that such a gem could exist, and then that by some stroke of fortune she’d be his? He held his drink high in his left hand, only just managing not to spill it as he shook with laughter. It wasn’t mean spirited, or mocking laughter, though it might be hard to tell for Hestia. He eventually brought himself under control, and downed his drink before he spilled it or burst into another fit of laughter. “Hestia, you will never be a burden to me, unless your womb is barren. Your purpose is to bear children now, not grind grain, nor cook, nor launder. Bearing children takes no great skill, only strength of soul and body. I’m certain that you will find yourself to be stronger than you think. You believe you are weak, foolish, and clumsy because of a weak, and jealous fool has told so all your life. Ollin lied to you Hestia, but you’ll know the truth of it soon enough.” Gwillim set his empty glass on the table, and rolled his head from side to side, popping his neck and releasing much of the days stress and tension as the alcohol began to warm him… some night he wished he could get drunk as easily as others but he seemed naturally resistant to alcohol, and a number of other venoms and poisons. He rolled his shoulders next, then twisted side to side, his back and joints popping as he went. Even his toes and fingers popped as he curled and stretched them in turn. Feeling much more relaxed, he considered the room around him. He did need to finish the paper eventually… but he had his precious gem to keep him company tonight, and it’d be rude to keep her waiting… oh, decisions, decisions…

He was laughing at her. Hestia hung her head as she sipped quietly from her drink. Did she say something stupid? Wasn’t that just like her though? Somehow her drink became empty rather quickly. When he spoke again she lifted her face, eyes wide. She could never burden him? How could he be so sure? It had only been two days. Surely she had yet to prove just how little she could do. But he didn’t seem to be thinking cruel things about her so she smiled.

That was… until children were mentioned. She? Have a baby? Her face went pale once again and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes. How was she supposed to have children? She had never thought…. Was this her true purpose here? Not just some ornament? What did it all entail? How did one create children? Her face hinted at her confusion but he was busy loosening himself to relax.

Hestia set aside the glass and reached out her hands. “Ollin used to have me massage him. Would you like me to do so as well? He always said I was bad at it, but I could try…” Her words became a mumble as she began to feel very self conscious about the whole thing. Stupid stupid.

Gwillim considered her offer… What was a massage? He assumed it was a gem thing, and then wondered if it’s be worth trying… well, it couldn’t hurt to try it at least the once right? “I’m not familiar with a ‘massage,’ but I’m willing to learn if you’ll teach me.” Spending any amount of time with Scyrvenrsrel had… a tendency to push the boundaries of comfort. Gwillim had long since learned to just let his curiosity run wild, and see where it’d take him. It’d never proven to be boring yet, and sometimes it was even pleasant. He turned towards Hestia and waited for her to start the “massage” whatever that entailed…

“Ah.... Well…” She wasn’t sure how to explain it exactly. She moved close to Gwillim and took his hand in her own. His hand was so big! She felt absolutely dwarfed, even being a bit tall for a Gem. Using her thumbs she began to push into his palm, moving downward as she pressed. Hestia then used the heel of her own palm to put more force behind her action, loosening muscle. Her fingers worked diligently, over his own fingers all the way down through the wrist. A wrist could hold a lot of tension so she was especially careful there, starting softly, moving to more pressure and then gentle again. Once she had completed her task she looked up at him, surprised by how close he was. She had to remind herself that she was the one who had moved. She’s just been to intent on what she was doing. “It’s like that. It can be done on all parts of the body. Neck, shoulders, and back are especially grateful for this attention.

Gwillim sat still and watched quietly, as Hestia took his hand in hers. The difference in size was almost comical, but then wasn’t it always this way with a bride? Her fingers moved across his hand in an… odd motion. He wasn’t sure what she was trying to do, but then he began to feel the muscles beneath his skin responding to her ministrations… Surprise crept across his face as he watched her continue to work and felt the difference in his hand. Gods she was better than a hot bath! Oooh, but what if you mixed the two? Hmmm… “Is that so? Marvelous! Let’s go find a space where you can reach all those places… hmm, our room will suffice for now. Can this be done while bathing? Does warm water help?” Gwillim sat delighted for a brief moment; then he suddenly stood and scooped Hestia up in his arms, cradling her gently before him. He glanced at the papers one last time, then decided to leave them. It was just clerical details… nothing terribly important. He began walking through the library, making his way towards the door they’d both entered through…

“Well, yes. The heat will soothe and loosen the muscle so as to better be worked on.” She was surprised by this sudden and what appeared to her as uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Before she could say anything else she was scooped up like a sack of flour. In her surprise she threw her arms around his neck and buried her face against his neck. Once her heart calmed a bit she peeked out only to discover that she was horribly high up off the ground. The young woman made a small squeaking sound she she hid her face again. She hated heights.

Excellent, bath time then.” Gwillim strode from the library, and through the halls to his own room. The room was dark, but a whispered word brought several candles to life around the room, providing a warm and flickering light to see by. A side room, adjoined to the main room contained the bathing room. Really little more than a spring fed basin built into a large closet or shed. The space was roughly five meters by three meters with a meter of walking space lining the recessed basin. Here Gwillim gently deposited Hestia on the bench that ran along one wall, while a another whispered word brought water bubbling up a pipe from the spring below. That was the real reason the Gunnvaldr estate was built a little apart from the wealthy district, though it was probably also accurate that they hadn’t always been chiefs.

With Hestia out of his arms, Gwillim stripped and grabbed a block of soap, coarse and hard to help scrape the dirt from his thick skin. He set to cleaning himself as the basin filled quickly with steaming water. It was hot, but not uncomfortably so, just enough to make it feel like it was scalding without causing any real damage. He makes short work cleaning himself, and the lays face down to float in the water, his cheek apparently just resting on the surface of the pool. With a hand he beckons for Hestia to join him in the pool and continue her “massage.” This was turning out to be a very pleasant evening indeed.

Once she was set down her heart calmed from her fear. She hoped he wouldn’t pick her up again. Unfortunately, the calm that came over her was cut short. Gwillim stripped himself down and she stiffened, blushed, and brought her hands to cover her face quickly. Oh, she wasn’t meant to see things like this! Never in her life had she seen a man naked! She felt as if her heart was about to beat out of her chest and her mind was blank.

After what felt like eons she peeked out from between her fingers to see him lying comfortable in the water and beckoning her in. She stood, looking toward the floor. Hestia couldn’t possibly wear the magnificent dress into the water. But she didn’t want to be naked. Shakily, she removed the dress leaving her in just her white shift.

Hestia hesitated for a few moments before making her way into the spring. She did her best to keep her eyes straying too far south and instead picked up where she had left off. Her hands grasped his wrist and began to lightly make their way up his forearm before pushing into the muscles. She felt the hardness of them loosen. They were much easier to find and work on Gwillim than it had been with Ollin. Once she became lost in her work, her embarrassment seemed to leave her. Bright jade eyes were half lidded as her hands made their way over his upper arm. She then worked on the other arm, taking her time to ensure each muscle properly relaxed. Hestia hardly noticed that her shift had become see through, her eyes only on him.

Next was his neck. Here she was much more gentle than she had been previously, moving her fingers even up into his hair and scalp. She then worked her way over his shoulders. Here required quite a bit of attention as the muscle seemed to be overworked and locked up.

Gwillim had closed his eyes as he heard Hestia entering the pool. The basin was made of smooth marble, and the water was remarkably clear as it came up from the spring… however the dirt from the arena and the soup suds had turned the water into an ugly broth, but the warmth remained quite comforting and relaxing. The massage was helping even more… normally it would take hours in a bath or sauna to bleed away the stress, but here she was kneading it right out in mere minutes. Gwillim hoped she liked doing this, it was far more enjoyable and expedient than his baths usually were. He would certainly wake well rested in the morning… Turning his head to thank her for her work, Gwillim opens his eyes and admires what little he can without stretching to gawk. “MMmm, this is wonderful. Now I know Ollin was just a jealous and ignorant fool. You must be the most useful bride in all of Drakka. And for all that functionality, you don’t sacrifice anything in beauty. True you’re a tad timid for my liking, but you’ll grow out of that soon enough.” He closed his eyes again and wiggled slightly, as if getting comfortable on a mattress. Hestia was quite a delightful gem indeed, a lucky catch to be sure. Gwillim would treasure her for decades…

She was brought from her own head as he spoke. And spoke only compliments. She was glad he couldn’t see her face because she was grinning like a fool and blushing for the millionth time that day. “Thank you,” she whispered and continued her work, the shoulders took some time. Once they were properly loosened the rest of his back followed suit, each muscle becoming easier and easier to work on as well as less pressure needed. She came to the end of his back and just about fainted. Immediately she removed her hands and backed up, looking off toward the door. She couldn’t do it. She simply couldn’t go any lower. It was around this time she noticed the way her clothing had become and she crossed her arms protectively over her chest.

Gwillim, noticing the sound of Hestia moving back through the pool suddenly as much as the lack of her hands on his back… He’d hoped she would get his legs too, they’d been a bit stiff since the long ride to the capital… He cracked an eye open, and asked what had caused her to stop. “Is something wrong Hestia? I was quite enjoying that…” He knew no one else had entered the suite, much less the room, so it wasn’t that… what ever could be bothering her now? Was there a significant difference in Gem and Drakkan anatomy at the hips? His sleepy mind mulled over the problem at a leisurely pace, just as content to hear her answer as it was to figure it out on it’s own…

“I-i-it’s just… I’ve n-n-n-never… That part is….” She was so flustered. Words didn’t want to come out of her mouth and she couldn’t look at him. Hestia kept moving backward until she hit the wall of the basin. She closed her eyes and looked down. “I’ve never seen… n-n-never touched a…. N-n-n-n-n-naked person…..” She was feeling a bit dizzy now with the alcohol raging in her system, the heat of the bath, and the exertion she had put into soothing his tensions.

Gwillim chuckled, and reluctantly rose, walking towards her. He wrapped her in his arms holding her close. “Well now you have, and you did a wonderful job, thank you.” He gently kissed the top of her head, and just held her close soothing her as best he could. “It’s always a bit awkward the first time, I’m sure it’s even more so given the differences in stature and proportion between our species. Shhhh, it’s okay. You did good Hestia.” Deciding to go ahead and give up on finishing the massage tonight, he mutters a word and the basin began to drain.

She was being…. Held. He had her in his arms and her mind was all sorts of messed up. And the kiss really did her in. She wrapped her arms around him, even though they couldn’t nearly make contact behind his back and let her face rest against the heat of his chest. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, mad at herself that her fear and lack of experience caused her to behave this way. “I’m so sorry.” She wanted to cry and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes but she did her best to hold them back.

Don’t be sorry, be glad you’re finally home.” Gwillim wondered if he should try stoking her back, but was mildly concerned he’d just gouge her flesh with his claws… Best just to hold her, let her cry it out if she needed too. A younger him would have despised her for this, but then he’d lost a bet with a matron in of one of the slave settlements in the frontier… She’d shown him the difference between the strength to move a boulder, and the strength that moves mountains. That had humbled him… He’d thought he’d learned everything there was to know about strength and its many applications. He was glad now, that he had lost that bet to her. She’d died half a century ago but still he remembered the wily old bird fondly. Her clan was still one of his favorites to visit in the frontier.

“Thank you” she murmured and raised her face to meet his. A gentle and genuine smile that showed teeth appearing across her features. In looking up she began to remember, through the bareness of the man’s chest, that he was quite naked. In fact… he was all of the way naked. For perhaps the hundredth time that night a hot blush brightened her cheeks and she pushed against his well muscled stomach but found he was much like a large stone. Immovable. So, instead she began to pull at the wet strands of her hair to help hide her shy face. “Thank you for being so kind.”

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst; Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch

The day passed eventfully, several more wins for both husband and bride got the family even more prestige. It was becoming a name of renown, though the holdings of the family were still rather ... unimpressive as such things went. Gwillim finished his last combat of the day with weary muscles and mind. He washed himself with cool water after the bout to clear his head for the evenings festivities. The family had waited to cheer their champions and were quite pleased to lift both on makeshift divans and parade them to the family compound. The celebrations were less ... demanding this time. A more relaxed feasting where family members sat or stood around the hall, which had only a few tables left in it compared to the previous night. They mingled and wandered about, few staying in one group or another for more than a quarter hour. The chatter was light and generally jovial. An unusual thing, but with good reason.

Gwillim wandered the hall, snacking on the foods servants kept stocked or were carrying through the hall. He chatted with several of the higher ranking members of the family. Given his performance, most were wiling to allow him to be named heir to the house. He'd certainly done much to provide the house with much of the resources currently being invested in the houses' expansion. And his way with the levies were quite efficient, and had done much to secure the substantial, if difficult to defend, holdings the family had. Gwillim was happy to have been a boon to the family, and hoped that each would find a way to further build on what little had had done.

The necessary politicking more or less taken care of, Gwillim wondered what his brides had gotten up to. He hadn't seen Scyrvensrel since getting back and was pretty sure at least one of the brides would be keeping her occupied. Alfhi and Hestia he saw were entertaining themselves, so he made his way to one of the rarely used but immaculately kept studies. He was expecting someone, after the days's events. He'd had a chat with a few of the nobles in the arena between his matches.

Sorry she's late.

Edits made...
Alfhildr Gunnvaldr
Daughter of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Alfhi ate quietly, but waved at Hestia when she noticed the woman standing at the hall door. She made sure food was coming for the woman before greeting her. She spoke softly, but clearly, knowing that as long she didn't get too loud, her father wouldn't mind.

Morning, sleepy head.” Alfhi giggled, and scooped another bite of food up, though she paused to continue as the servers brought Hestia a hearty if very Drakkan breakfast. “What did you eat for breakfast at home? My favorite here is the roasted Carcasaurus tongues, tough and chewy but full of flavor.” She stuffed her mouth with the food she'd scooped already before skewering a bit of greasy, and rather well cooked meat and offering it to Hestia to try. She eagerly gestured that Hestia should try it, as she chewed her food.

Around the rest of the hall the Gunnvaldr house ate and prepared for the day's activities. Some would be returning to their own holdings and estates, others would be watching the tourney. A few had other business within town that day. Gwillim ate quickly and left the hall when he was finished. He returned to his room and donned his gear in preparation for the tourney. He'd break his opponents today. He was guaranteed at least two this day, if the brackets were any indication. Alfhi continued to chatter with Hestia, and after her father's abrupt departure, she began pestering Tempest too, wanting to know anything and everything about life back home for them.

As they too finish their meals she turns to her mother and begs to be allowed to attend the tourney today, just to watch. She's tired of hiding within the compound walls. “Ma-ma, may I watch you and Da fight today, please? It would be much more educational than watching the cousins sparring again. I promise I'll behave!

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst; Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst; Hestia Gristmill and Tempest @eclecticwitch

Gwillim heard Temespt's request, and growled faintly causing Alfhi to shrink against his side. He turned his head to scowl at the lady that disturbed his thoughts trying to decide on a suitable response to the polite, if ill timed address. Tempest was saved a scathing retort by Scyrven's arrival, and query. He bit out a clipped response in a gravelly monotone. He wasn't mad at his wife, nor Tempest really, he just didn't feel conversing right now.

This one is Tempest, and for her I killed ... a brawny runt with to little to awareness and to much to drink... I think. I don't recall who was attached to which corpse exactly, they all died so quickly and unremarkably I wonder at their right to claim drakkan blood. In all I slew eight minor lordlings through the course of the night. Most of their brides were left with other family members to garner favor and other benefits. I might even be named heir to the house if I do well in today's tournament...

He finally pried Alfhi off of him long enough to turn around on the bench and begin eating his food. Alfhi reluctantly did the same beside him. Other Gunnvaldrs began trickling into the room sitting at other tables, and being brought platers of their own. Scyrvensrel was brought her usual breakfast, though the cooks wondered how much she'd eat before the tourney. Gwillim always ate heavily, before and after a big fight, with nothing else to tide him through the day. He expected several of his victims would be missed in the day's tourney and wondered if it might be best to be on his way before a feud was started, but he didn't like the idea of running from a fight. Particularly not one he was confident he could win.

He never did directly address Tempest; not quite intentionally, but it was probably for the better. He sipped at his bitter brew and ate quickly, ignoring further conversation for the time being. He wasn't in the mood to be social, and both Alfhi and Scyrvsrel would recognize this and as Alfhi woke up she would try to keep the gems that were apparently to be her step-mothers? out of trouble. She wanted to at least get to know them, then if she didn't like them she would let them get into trouble and end up dead or worse. Though she knew better than to try and get them framed for anything, she wasn't clever enough for that, yet.

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Gwillim Gunnvaldr returned at last to his own estate. As the sun rose above the city walls he sat in the dining hall; sipping a strong stimulant brewed for him by the cooks. His extra brides had been shown to a guest room, where they could sort themselves out as they saw fit, though the two beds had room aplenty for the four of them. The hearth blazed as the cooks set about making breakfast for the Gunnvaldr estate, which was waking rather piecmiel. Gwillim sat, with his back to the table, glowering into the coals. Today it would be time for them to head home. It would be a long journey, though a relatively safe one, given the fun they'd had on the way up. Still, it would be less fun on such little rest after a bust of a day, and a busy night. Gwillim had little desire to stay an play part of the national politicing if he could help it. It was just painting a bigger target on one's back in his mind.

He'd made the necessary travel arrangements with his guards that morning. They'd arrived in the capitol with two dozen Drakkan escorts on Ganaut mounts and sixty Kalderans riding specially trained Ash Wolves. It made for a fast moving force, well relatively fast, that could traverse even rough terrains. Alfhildr had her own Ganaut, a careful creature, that was easy for the child to lear to ride on. the brides would each get their own Ganaut mounts, though they would be secured to their mounts so that even if they weren't skilled riders they wouldn't be at risk of falling off. They also wouldn't be able to run away, but Gwillim was less concerned about that. There wasn't anywhere for them to run too now. No way home, and only more drakkan or worse all around them, he anticpated a few might try to kill themselves but were not likely to run away. He considered the route they should take home carefully.

Alfhi entered the room and soon spotted her father sitting near the fire. She watched him for a moment before moving quietly to sit on the bench beside him and snuggel against his side. He set his arm around her, hugging her to him. His gaze didn't waver, though he did sip his bitter brew once more. His free hand idly toyed with the tips of Alfhi's hair. A plater of food was brought for them both and set on the table behind them, though the servants knew better than to inerrupt his brooding. He kept an ear half open to the room, listening for Scryvnsrel or Hestia in the growing chatter and banter in the hall.

Alfhildr Gunnvaldr
Daughter of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Alfhi squeaked as she spun around at the sound of her mother's voice. She could have sworn mother was asleep... She hadn't noticed Dad had left the compound. Uh-oh... Alfhi knew daddy only went hunting alone when he was in a "dark mood" and that it made him really scary. She took a step back and tried to hide behind Hestia, in case he came back unexpectedly. She looked more apprehensive than scared, but she was definitely worried. When told to return to her own bed, she nodded and scampered to the door, she paused to whisper a response to Hestia in response to her thanks. Then she closed the door and was gone.

No problem, sorry about the cold bath.

Alfhildr Gunnvaldr
Daughter of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Alfhi was confused by the gem’s claim, but perhaps she’d not noticed the pitcher of fresh water sitting by the wash basin… It was the woman’s first night here, and it could be hard to find things in the dark. That was probably it, she just didn’t know where to find the water here. Things were different in Gemminia right? Maybe she just forgot she wasn’t home, Daddy was certainly giving her plenty of nice things.

You needn’t go out for water, it’s in the room silly. Here, I’ll show you.

Alfhi turned, tugging Hestia along behind her. She pulled gently, mostly hoping not to wake Mum if she was still sleeping… poking her head in, Alfi heard the rhythmic breathing of her mother and knew she was asleep still. Pushing door open a little more, she pulled Hestia into the room behind her and over to a recessed corner of the room. A wide shallow basin stood there, with a large heavy pitcher siting in a divot on the rim shaped specifically for it. Smaller baked clay cups, glazed in the family colors which were impossible to see in the dim light, sat along the rim as well. Alfhi paused a moment and stared at the pitcher… A moment later a spurt of water shot out of the jug and arced over the girl to fall on Hestia’s head. Alfhi grunted and let Hestia go as she balled her hands into fists at her side… This time the water landed in a cup, which Alfhi handed to Hestia. A moment later she handed Hestia a towel for her now wet hair… since she didn’t trust herself to try using her fire magic to dry the woman’s hair without burning her. And daddy had worked to hard to earn this bride to take burning her lightly. She whispered to the woman.

Is that enough? Sorry about your hair, getting water to go where it’s supposed to is hard.

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Gwillim was momentarily surprised by the semi-conscious clinging of Hestia... Alfhi was the only other creature to cling to him, and she did it rarely. Maybe this gem wasn't a complete waste then... Leaving his bride in the tender-ish cares of his wife, Gwillim went hunting.

He found many drukken drakkan but none had the prizes he wanted. He stalked along the dimly lit roads, using the shadows instinctively as he sought to find a trace of his prey. There were many new gems in the capitol, and many fights to claim them. Gwillim found one such fight already underway. Two lords aspiring to have another gem apiece fought for the other's gem, while the gems cowered together against stone wall under a torch... With a smile, he fashion a simple shank blade, by freezing the mingled blood of the combatants. A single quick, calculated gesture later left both the young fools in shock as they stared at each other wondering how the other had managed to strike their throat. It was only as they began to collapse that either of them realized they weren't alone anymore. The shank, still dripping fresh blood, hovered before the two terrified gems, drawing their attention from their husbands corpses. A tall and imposing figure stepped forth, into the dim light of the torch.

You both belong to me now, unless you're keen to join your late husbands...

They were not. They stood and followed the man, when he beckoned to them. He lead them to a small set of rooms occasionally used for ... unpleasant conversations, by his family. It was well guarded, especially tonight. He locked the two girls in a cell, and made it clear to the guards he would be bringing more. Perhaps enough for them all to have some fun, if they did their jobs properly. Thus motivating them to stay alert, for a time, Gwillim left to find other rich squabbles. He found six more gems, and a few new cuts and abrasions, but nothing serious. With eight, well nine counting Hestia, gems in his possession he made good on his promise to the night guards, leaving four gems for their pleasure. He and some guards from the main compound that he had collected for this purpose, escorted the remaining four gems to the main compound. It was done quietly, but it did not go unnoticed. He only hoped the princes would be to busy to care...

Falling to the floor, she slammed into it. It knocked the wind from her for a moment but the tears still spilt freely down her face as she curled up, struggling for breath. After a moment or two, she was able to push herself up and she moved toward the door. Desperate hands fumbled against the knob. She couldn't breathe. She was going to be beaten for sure. She had to hurry. Finally, the door opened and she fumbled her way down the hall, attempting to be as quiet as possible. She felt light-headed as she held her breath to avoid any more sounds of tears. 'Please... Please don't let him know. I promise. I'll be good. Please, I'll be better. I won't do it again. Just, please. Please!' her mind screamed as she used the wall to support herself while she approached a staircase.

A strong hand, suddenly clasped Hestia's free hand, and yanked backwards in an attempt to spin her around before she got to the stairs. A child's voice hissed at her from the shadows, as the nearest torch was mounted behind Alfhildr from Hestia's vantage point. "Where are you going at this time of night? You'll get torn apart if you go out there tonight!" The child was a little under six feet tall already, but was thin and not as domineering as the adults. She wore a thin woolen shirt that fell to her knees at the hem and elbows at the sleeve, though her feet were bare and her hair a tangly mess. She was genuinely confused as to why Hestia wanted to run out into the crowded drakkan capitol at this time of night.

Gwillim Gunnvaldr
Husband of Scyrvensrel Talyrrth-Gunnvaldr @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch
Interacting with: Scyrven @Amethyst and Hestia Gristmill @eclecticwitch

Things weren't going quite as planned true but they seemed to be going well enough. Gwillim began discarding his armor. A feat that should not have been possible alone, but he'd long since learned to use bits of ice to both tie and untie the armor, as needed. He was just finishing up when the gem whispered something to Scyrvensrel and then ... fell to the floor. So much for things going well tonight...

Gwillim considered lashing out at the gem, but it was a common enough occurrence for some gems to be overwhelmed by the reaping process and find themselves in need of some time to adjust to the new life. Historically, if given time to adjust they tended to last better than most of the other gems. He'd let the girl rest. He watched as Scyrvensrel tended to the gem, a slight scowl on his face. At least Scyrven seemed to like Hestia... so that was a plus. Still... He was kinda looking forward to getting his own cherry pie, and now that was, as Scyrven noted quite out of the question thanks to the gem's frailty. Of course, if they'd been granted two gems, he'd still have one to play with right? or would there be two bodies to glare at? And why should the blood wait till dawn to spill anyway?

I find myself ill suited to rest, I have an itch that needs tending. Rest if you can, someone will need to be level headed in the morning.

Gwillim dressed in light leather breeches and hardened leather vest over a padded jerkin. He added a thick leather belt to which he attached his karambit, a longer one handed saber, and a flask of water, so he'd always have his element near by. His feet donned supple leather boots, he was going stalking, he didn't need heavy shoes to announce his presence. He was just buzzed enough to for is anger to simmer, even though there was plenty of logical explanations for events tonight. He'd been expecting too much clearly, but there was still a chance to see those hopes come to fruition... And he was just drunk enough to be willing to risk the wrath of a prince by declaring their judgment wrong so openly.

He stood and walked over to the gem, to Hestia... He could probably wake her and still have a good night. But that required focus, and precision that his mind was struggling to maintain. The armor was a habit now, and he could do it in his sleep, almost. But this... if he messed something up she'd be dead. No, he'd let nature run it's course. He carefully lifted Hestia, and moved her to the silk sheeted bed, prepared for her. Tucking the gem in, he re-applied the cool cloth Scyrven had provided to the gem's forehead. He stood watching her rest a moment, his face blank, thoughtful. His rational portions wanted him to avoid trouble tonight, but the tourney had his blood lust running, and this was as good an excuse as any to feed it. He reviewed in his head the Drakkan he had seen that night, and began making a list of potential targets.

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