sinking feeling
#1
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<p>”See? Doesn’t being outside feel good?” He glanced at the woman who walked alongside him, her straight backed walk regal and unrelenting despite the good weather. Vodeva had spent weeks holed up in their room, combing through the long tresses of her hair and recovering from her ordeal – though what it had been Iomair was not entirely certain. She remained thin despite the food he brought her, but he was happy that some of the glacial spark had returned to her expression.

<P>When she heard laughter in the Square she lifted her lips into something that mimicked a smile, and Iomair couldn’t help but chuckle.

<P>”We seem to be doing well.” She offered as they passed someone’s home, a row of shrubs coiffed and rearranged to flood their entry way with buttery sunlight. ”The Commoners have settled.” One of her hands disappeared and he knew that she was flipping over her prayer beads, summoning some strength that would see her through to the otherside. Bellad had looked at her and been able to prove nothing of the womans illness, but Iomair refused to give up.

<P>”The children?” He paused their movement with confusion, ”What do you mean?” He made a sound in his throat, ”Solas and Indis… aren’t here.”

<P>She laughed, a frigid tinkly sound that was dry and dead like winter. ”Oh yes, how could I forget.”

<P>Vodeva continued on, and left Iomair to stand behind – his expression caught up in a soundless frown.



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#2
woo! [+563]


Though spring loomed ever closer, the mornings had still brought with them a chilly frost. The wind had yet to turn to balmy summer stirrings, and the creatures of the Realm had hurried to and fro from shelter to building, wearing extra layers to keep out the worst of the cold. Even if it were only a matter of days until the season shifted, no one had dared to recognize it - as if doing so would bring forth another week of cold and grey and slush.

That is, until this particular morning. With the sun shining down directly onto the Square and the winds practically non-existent, the crowds had come out to enjoy the pleasant weather. Over the course of the day the centre of town had filled with Caledonians who lounged around, chatting idly amongst family, colleagues and friends. The air seemed to buzz with optimism in a way that put even the worst misers in good moods. Spring had finally arrived.

And in the middle of the action was Calan. His cream-and-gold cheeks were ever-so-flushed, and his eyes blazed with a frenetic intensity - but whether it was from so many hours spent outdoors or the moonshine already singing in his veins, it was hard to tell. Even though he’d had his permanent store for quite some time now, the weather seemed like the perfect opportunity to set up a small outdoor market - a collection of a few rugs, really, where Caledonians could come up and get their wares. He’d already had great luck thus far, having traded away much of his tobacco, arrows, and, of course, liquor. The blond had even managed to sell a couple necklaces to some hapless suitors, hoping a pretty trinket would be their ticket for a successful courtship.

Love was so simple to sell.

The merchant’s eyes lit up as he saw a familiar ochre pelt from across the Square. There he is. Iomair was a hard man to miss: none had a countenance quite as regal, or a disposition more leaderly. It had been a while since he’d seen the man, and Calan was dying to rub elbows and discuss (or brag about, just an eensy bit) his successes in trade. The blond had surmised earlier that it would only be a matter time before their King joined the people, especially on a day as pleasant as this. He'd been proven right.

Beside him walked the ever-mysterious Vodeva, a woman that he knew only by name alone. His smile grew to almost giddy proportions as he rushed through the last of his customers, keeping the royal couple in sight out of the corner of his eye. The image of higher titles danced in his head, egging him on. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make his move.

But fate didn’t seem to be smiling down on him - for by the time that the High King had circled closer to his pop-up store, Vodeva was nowhere to be found. Trying not to let his disappointment show, Calan stepped out in front of the tawny luperci. “Ah, my King!” he chirped, greeting Iomair with an enthusiastic bow. He’d been so caught up in his own motivations that he’d failed to notice the withdrawn expression on the wolfdog’s grizzled face. “I haven’t seen you much of late. How are things?”
#3
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<p>There were some who would say that the King of New Caledonia was a selfish man. He put many things before his children, before his wife – laid down hard truths and hefted responsibility upon his shoulders like a weight that he alone could bear. The strength of his realm meant something to the nobleman, and he ached for it to beat as strongly as the rhythm of his heart; as mighty as Dúr and his spiralling horns of stone.

<P>Iomair was selfish, but it came from a place of good.

<P>He put his people before his family. He put the realm ahead of everything.

<P>Often he wondered if it was something that Vodeva had realized early on – if it was for that reason she had borne him children and attempted to keep their marriage afloat. She had always mused that they were of the same current, cut from the same swath of mountainside.

<P>”Vo’?” She was like a whisp of smoke, the pale blue of her eyes sharpening immediately as Calan joined them.

<P>He was burnished gold, a man in his youth – with eyes that were gemstones and teeth like pearls.

<P>His greeting rang out between them like the tolling of a bell, and all at once they were a couple again, the silvery Queen regarding the merchant piously.

<P>”Well met Calan,” Iomair bowed his head, smiling wide enough that it twitched his long whiskers, ”It’s been a busy time for everyone in the realm. Spring came upon us quickly – and the sun has a way of reminding us of all that is good in the world.” Vodeva crept quietly before volunteering, ”Have you been enjoying yourself?"


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#4
[+406]


Calan positively bloomed under the King’s attention, cheeks tingling. His own smile grew, bit by bit, until it had crowded his entire face. “It does indeed, doesn’t it? I can say that it’s done wonders for business, too,” he regaled, nodding sagely. That was fancy talk for ‘people seem to like get crazy drunk when outdoor parties become a thing again’. However, the blond had a feeling that Iomair wouldn’t appreciate that kind of an answer.

As he spoke, a pale and regal she-wolf seemed to appear at the King’s side. Calan was quick to acknowledge her presence. “You look positively radiant today, lovely Vodeva.” He bowed as he did for Iomair a moment earlier, flashing her another million-watt smile. This was the first time that he’d ever encountered the Queen before, from what the blond could remember. She’d still been missing when he’d arrived, and Calan had been so new to everything that he hadn’t realized the hubbub until it had become old news. It wasn’t like he found the whole situation normal - who just off and disappears? - but he honestly had only been thinking of himself and his own needs, and the empress had slipped his mind.

Until now. He had a business to brag about, after all. “Trading has flourished these past few months. We’ve been getting more local traders connected to our network, and as such have had an increase of wares. Fabric, dried herbs, tobacco, jewelry - you name it, I’ve got it.” He positively puffed his chest in pride. It had taken a hell of a lot of work to get all of this set up; more work, perhaps, than the lazy trader had probably done in his entire life. Traders had had to have been tracked down, connections formed, palms greased, and deals struck. He wasn’t about to let an opportunity pass where his blood, sweat and tears could be acknowledged. The man was too attention-starved as it was.

Nor would he pass up an opportunity for a good sale. So with an extravagant gesture, Calan motioned back towards his humble outdoor market. “Would you like to see what I have out for sale today? Maybe there’ll be something that’ll catch your eye.” He smiled at Vodeva when he said that, cocking his eyebrows mock-conspiratorially, but his eyes fixed on Iomair’s. Even Calan knew who would be the one he’d have to convince.
#5
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<p>She liked to use them as carefully placed weapons. Often Iomair was not prepared for the way she snuck their children into conversation and made long blades of their names. Sometimes they left marks, scars of memory that reduced the King into a ball of angry destitution – and others he lashed back with words that dripped in acidic vitriol and left Vodeva colder than before.

<P>He saw the way her eyes lingered upon the man’s broad chest, her kerchief covering her mouth just so when she smiled so that it could not be seen.

<P>Iomair felt his breath tighten, but he ignored the flush that crept beneath the shaggy lines of his fur. ”It sounds like you’ve made quite alot of progress.” Iomair grinned, ”It brings me great pride to know that our realm grows in wealth due to your contributions. Have you travelled further south? Or met with our Salsolan neighbors?”

<P>Vodeva made a soft sound and allowed her gaze to settle vacantly on the horizon – her drop ears worried with the ends of her long fingers.

<p>”Let’s see what you’ve got then.” Vodeva was cynically watching down her long nose, assuring herself that the wares the wolf-dog presented would suit her taste. The frock she wore came up into a high collar, a tied ribbon holding the front close as if to protect her from the elements despite the good weather. Her sleeves went straight to her wrists and as they moved close she clutched the Kings arm tightly as if for balance.

<P>All small observations. All minute details.

<P>Iomair felt them all like a punch to his face.

<P>"Is this the work you did where you come from?"




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#6
[+531]


Like a sunflower in summer, Calan practically blossomed at the sunny praise bestowed upon him. His tail wagged enthusiastically at Iomair’s hearty compliment. “Thank you. And not yet,” Calan admitted, not wanting to mention the slightly unfair bias he’d formed against the Thistle Kingdom. He’d had little chance to interact with them, other than the occasional trader, but it was true that he didn’t go out of his way to actively search out those connections. It wasn’t anything personal - however, if Fennore had suspicions about the group, it was a warning that was worth its weight in gold. “But I came through the south on my first journey here, and had plenty of time to meet with the others during the recent tournament. Speaking of - did you enjoy it? Weren’t the events just so quaint?

He pointedly chose not to add that he’d met these choice ‘others’ over the mother of all drinking competitions. Some things were best not shared in front of delicate ears.

It was with this in mind, plus his desire to avoid any talk of long-distance travel, that Calan embraced the natural shift in conversation. Discussing wares was a far safer category than explaining to his King how he’d been so frightened en route to and from the Casa that he’d barely slept more than an hour each night.

“Of course! Step right up,” he cajoled, gesturing exuberantly towards his humble outdoor ‘stall’. The small assortment of remaining wares made for a tantalizing sight against the backdrop of the old rugs.

As he made his way around to the ‘display’ side, he caught the golden dog’s question. Calan smiled good-naturedly, his hands coming to rest at his hips. “Oh, yes! My father ran a very successful trading company for years. He taught me everything I know - shipping, selling, stocking… you name it. Just seemed like a natural fit to start up here, you know?” Yet another complicated story that he wasn’t planning on diving into at this time. Iomair sure had a knack for finding those tricky topics. And it wasn't like he'd ever learned any other useful skills, anyways.

Breezing forward, Calan turned their attention to his inventory. “I’ll admit, I’ve sold out of most things this afternoon, but don’t let that stop you. If you see something you like, I definitely have more of it back in my store.” The blond gave the couple a moment to glance over all of the wares before he carried on.

“My recommendation today would be the honey mead - crisp, light, and perfect for this gorgeous weather.” He pointed out the copper-brown bottles displayed atop a small plastic crate, ready for the taking. Even the squat little brown bottles looked cheerful.

Not sure if that would be up to their exacting standards, he continued. “Of course, for something more lasting, I do have some other wares…” And he pointed in the direction of the open jewelry box, its contents neatly displayed for maximum visibility. He had a piece in particular he’d love to bring to the Queen’s attention, but only if she were to seem interested in the idea of jewelry in the first place.
#7
Vodeva perused quietly like a bird, canting her head and hefting items in her hands before setting them back down. Iomair watched her curiously, his eyes falling to the goods that caught her interest the most. It was interesting to watch her unawares, the way her eyes lit up when she found something that sparked a reaction. It chased away the lines that so often twisted her visage, and Iomair found himself smiling gently at her – happy in this moment that their trader had offered her a vestige of happiness.

A blade momentarily darkened her features, and Iomair rested a hand against her shoulder before she carried on.

”Do you see anything that you like?” His words were gentle and curious, and she smiled at him a moment before allowing her hands to settle on a gold chain. ”This is nice.”

Iomair glanced at the jars of mead, ”You have quite the collection Calan.” He grinned, finally leaning upright as he clasped his hands before him. ”I can’t remember the last time I had a glass of mead.” The Aegas had enjoyed a stiff drink after a long day of working in the mountain, but after the war… there had been too much to focus on at one. Iomair chuffed gently and ran his fingers over his whiskers, allowing the smile to settle in his eyes.

”What do you accept in trade?”
#8
[+323]


His eyes followed Vodeva’s hands as she made her way through his goods, picking things up here and there as she saw fit. Calan remained mute, his hands confidently resting on his hips, sensing that she wasn’t the type who wanted for him to plug anything while she browsed. When she stilled, his face lit up. “Ah, the necklace. Great choice, my Queen,” Calan nodded, approving. She’d spotted the very piece that he’d had in mind for her, and all without him prompting. “It will positively shine with your complexion. May I?”

The trader made his way around the blanket to stand behind the svelte monarch, pausing only to take the delicate chain from her outstretched hands. He smiled as her unique scent grew stronger to his sensitive nose. “Please, could you hold your hair up?” he queried, before bringing his hands over her head to place the necklace around her neck. Nimble fingers made quick work of the dainty clasp, and, like the professional he was, avoided brushing even the slightest bit of skin.

When he stepped back around, his eyes were fixated on the golden pendant. “It’s as beautiful as I imagined, my Lady,” he gushed, and meant it. It very much suited the kind of neckline that Vodeva preferred. “In return -“ this, he directed at Iomair - “- I’m really quite open to anything you may have to offer. Furs, tools, herbs... We need them all, and more. I’m short on weapons, most of all.” While he’d established a connection to one of the forges in town, it still wasn’t enough product to keep up with the demand of the Realm, and he had other things to prioritize when making his trading expeditions.

“As for the mead… For my King, I’m happy to offer a bottle free of charge. In return for a future favour, perhaps.” He winked unabashedly, his courage heightened by his mildly inebriated state. “What say you?”
#9
Iomair watched Calan quietly as he arranged the necklace around Vodevas neck. It had been so long since he had seen her with any sort of finery – the war had claimed so much of the wealth that their family had once had. Even now, their clothes were still somewhat tattered, their colors muted despite their titles. The King had never been one for opulence, but Vodeva had always been immaculate; her hair perfectly set between her ears her fingers glittering with rings of silver starlight.

The war had changed them. The cant of her head as the chain was fastened drew more attention to the gathering of scars across her cheeks and Iomair felt his gaze linger there quietly.

She was smiling softly, ”Why yes, of course.” She gathered the silver waves of her hair and held it aloft as Calan completed his work. The pendant hung atop her high collar, and she held it aloft before settling it against the hollow of her throat.

”It’s beautiful.” Iomair smiled as she released her hair so that it tumbled about her shoulders. The King raised a brow at the golden trader, ”I think that perhaps we could strike a deal.” He chuckled, ”I will bring you some furs to add to your coffers.” His eyes brightened, ”And as for the mead, I will only accept if you promise to share a glass with me.”

Vodeva was preening over the shiny locket, and wagged her fingers at them. ”I’m sure you men have much to discuss.”

Iomair grinned, ”The drink is always better when there is good company and a story or two to wash it down.”
#10
[+517]


The necklace seemed to suit both the King and Queen just nicely, judging by their equally approving glances. Calan was relieved to see his taste recognized. It was a subtle piece, but would no doubt serve the she-wolf well in her day to day life.

"That's an arrangement that I can agree with," Calan chuckled in turn, good-naturedly, "though it's a very generous one." In fact, the trader only just barely hid his surprise as he reached for a bottle of mead and a corkscrew with which to open it. Even he wouldn't consider himself to be 'good company' - at least, not in the way that Iomair surely meant. There was little to him in the way of honour, restraint, or valor: traits that he knew the man admired. All he could tell were bawdy drinking tales. But who was he to deny the King what he wanted?

Don't mess this up, now, Calan thought to himself, while he worked on removing the cork. It came free with a satisfying pop. He reached for three glasses, ready to pour each of them some, but stopped at Vodeva's dismissive gesture. Just the two of them, then. "We won't keep you if you're busy," he responded, looking towards Iomair to see whether the man would insist on her staying. He had no idea what the protocol was in these types of situations. Was he supposed to beg her to stay? Or would it seem rude to take up more of her time? He still had so much to learn about royal customs.

In his pale hand he held out a glass of mead, bubbling merrily, which he presented to the King with his usual flourish. The merchant's own glass held notably less liquor. He was buzzed enough as it was, and had no intention of going overboard with his present company. Calan offered his glass up in a silent cheer, the two clinking, before he took a long, careful sip.

A sort of silence fell over the two men as they tasted their honeyed mead. It wasn't unwelcome, but the merchant felt compelled to fill it in some way. But with what? What did they have in common? What kinds of stories did he have that would interest the likes of him?

In fact, Calan realized, he didn't really think he'd had much interaction with Iomair since settling here. The golden leader had been the one to invite him to join the pack, for sure, but their lives left little room to interact with one another. A hello here and there, a progress report, a couple forgettable exchanges while travelling to the tournament. That was all. For once, the blond felt himself at odds on what he should say next, even as he felt the man's gaze upon him.

So he kept it in the range of the familiar: talks about the Realm. "Er... how are the newest members settling in? We've grown quite a bit in size over these past months. I'm surprised. At this rate, we'll have to start building more residences."
#11
“It’s beautiful."

Iomair could hear the way her breath hitched as she hefted the pendant in her thing hands, one of her pristinely blue eyes landing upon the golden merchant with a smile. When she smiled, he thought that perhaps there was still some hope for them list in the memory of what could have been. She took her leave with a squeeze to the Brecours arm and a dip of her elegant head. “Do not let the bubbles in your ale go to my husbands head.” She glared, "Or loosen his tongue."

She shot a glance at Iomair and he couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him.

He tapped a nail against the edge of the mug and lapped at the honeyed mead eagerly. His eyes sparkled almost immediately, and the grin that spread across his maw was that of a man who understood the magic of a well brewed beverage. “This is good stuff,” He clinked the mug against the Oeglir, “One day we will have a tavern of our own to lounge in…” He sighed softly and looked out at the surrounding trees.

“For now this view will have to do.”

He drank again and held the cup with two hands, flattening his ears with glee as the conversation turned to their newest members. The Realm continued to grow in its quiet way, and each wandering soul that came to their border added to their collective spirit. Iomair refused to turn anyone away from their potential future in New Caledonia.

“I suppose I’ll need to learn how to build something other than spirits.” Iomair chuckled and glanced at Calan, “Now that you’re officially settled in, what do you think of the place?” Calan gave the impression of being well travelled, a man with an opulent opinion and a smile filled with pearly white teeth. "You know, I haven't travelled that far in my life. Old Caledonia seems a lifetime ago, but it was truly the only journey that I ever took."

He drank again, "Have you been south?"


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Thank you for being so patient!
#12
[+540]


That hitching breath and dreamy smile told Calan all that he needed to know. He’d done well. The gentle squeeze to his arm that followed only reinforced this fact. His chest blossomed with the warmth of a good sale and a happy customer, knowing that he’d done his part to make the world a slightly brighter place.

“I’ll do my level best, madam,” he replied, even as they both knew that he absolutely wouldn’t. Portion control was not exactly one of his prerogatives in life. He watched her take her leave, her lithe form almost spectral as it floated through the Town Square.

Now he could turn his full attention to the golden king.

It made him smile to see the joy on Iomair’s face at the taste of mead, knowing that he helped to put it there. The effervescence was contagious, and Calan found himself smiling, too. “A tavern? That’d bring in some good business… though it’ll really eat into my liquor sales.” He chucked, a warm, merry thing. “Where would we put it? Haven?” The sleepy little town had only recently been discovered, but it held much promise. It was only a matter of time until businesses moved to the empty buildings, squeezed out by the growing need for housing.

Hell, he’d have to move his shop over at some point, too. Even thinking about that gave him a headache.

Much easier to focus on something else. Shifting his weight to his back foot, Calan looked out at the horizon line, contemplative. “I think…” He paused, taking a second to formulate his thoughts. The buzzing of the mead was starting to get to his head. “I mean, we have so much potential. We’ve lots to do, for sure - but when I see the spirits of everyone here, I just think… Well, we could really have it all, couldn’t we?” His free hand came up to play with the end of his golden braid. “Is that too optimistic for me to say? I don’t know. It’s just the feeling I have. I’ve seen places a lot smaller than this that have luperci that care a lot less.”

What was the cause of such a thing? The open-arms policy? The era of peace? The climate? As much as he considered himself an expert on the way others thought, he’d never encountered anything quite like the Realm. The blond wondered if Iomair felt the same.

“South, no. Not really. I travelled up that way when I left home, through the borderlands, but didn’t see anything of note. But I’ve heard tales of Portland. Seems like a trade paradise.” That was perhaps the understatement of the century, from all that he’d heard tell of. If he was a real trader - and he fancied himself to be one - he’d no doubt have to go down there. Perhaps next spring, when the weather was fair.

He glanced then at the High King beside him, his face pensive. “…What was it like? Old Caledonia, that is. Did it look a lot like this? How many of you were there?” He wanted to ask about the war, too, but felt that doing so would only serve to dampen this delicate moment of bliss.
#13
For some reason, South meant something to the warm-hearted King. They had come from the East – a barren land that had been ravaged by war. The bountiful North had become their home, a territory that Iomair imagined would one day become an infamous jewel. Already there were merchants here, like Calan, who would further the call to their banner. Diplomats, who were to arrange relationships and introduce those of some importance to nearby Packs who would benefit from their expertise.

Iomair swung his bottle from side to side as Calan asked his questions, musing over the bubbles that gathered against the sides of the glass. ”Old Caledonia is-“ He corrected himself with a gentle frown, ”-was, nothing like what New Caledonia has become.” He pursed his lips as he considered his statement. ”Growing up, my Father was considered to be something of a modernist – he and my Mother arranged for Vodeva and I to be married, even though she was not a member of our clan.”

”It was considered taboo then, to have a woman of Lorn marry a man of Aegas, but my Father always wanted to bring us together – he would have made for a great King.” Tairnean had been a bold man, even in the wake of his daughters death. He had been strong until a skirmish had claimed his life, but his ideals had left a strong impression on his last remaining son. ”The Clans mostly lived their separate lives – coming together only for trade or to renegotiate alliances.”

”There are four clans. Aegas, where I am from, Lorn, Menel, and Taur.” His face twitched with a tiny smile, ”Each follow a different god and set of doctrines – but in the end I believe we are not really so different from one another.” It was a belief that had gotten him into trouble before, but it was something that he believed with a stalwart determination. New Caledonia would not survive without the introduction of new blood to their ranks.

Iomair paused to drink from his bottle, ”When the war started, we were forced to come together. When I was elected to lead I swore an oathe to change things for the better. There are many here who did not come from the old lands, but their traditions and stories are just as important.” He grinned wider now, ”Like you.” The chuckle that left him was airy and filled with the bubbles of his drink, and he swirled it a moment before pressing it to his lips.

"I am optimistic for our future. We have many skilled individuals with ambition that is yet to be unleashed. I imagine that soon we will have connections to the other packs in the area that will prove fruitful, and as our merchants inventory grows so too will their clientele. Those relationships will bring opportunity for our Diplomats, and inspiration for our Commoners." He allowed a brow to raise, and he settled further into his chair. "The City Watch will continue to protect-" He whet his lips, "but there is something missing between all the spokes of our ever turning wheel."

Iomair clasped both of his hands around the bottle and leaned towards the Brecours conspiratorially, "Our Heartwards need somewhere to practice their work." The drink warmed against his palm, "And our people need somewhere to gather and celebrate; to be entertained."

He canted his head, "Have you ever heard of such a place?"


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Thank you for being so patient! ilu
#14
HI WOW this is SO long after, but I wanted to give this a proper closing!! I swear the next thread won't take so long [+420]


Coming from the mouth of the King, the history of Old Caledonia sounded a lot different from what he’d heard before. Whereas the tales he’d heard from the Lord Regent had been spiritual and full of mystery, there was a certain nostalgic warmth to the golden man’s words as he spoke, regaling wistfully on times and places past. Calan, for the most part, kept quiet as Iomair spoke, aside from a small hum or nod to show he was still listening. Instead, he let the King have his moment, enjoying the way that the fellow luperci seemed to open up with a nice drink and the permission to reminisce.

Learning that Iomair and Vodeva had been arranged in marriage was also surprising news; though in hindsight, the knowledge of this explained a lot. He’d never seen a pair so different in personality; a true sun and moon, serving both hot and cold. Having different cultural backgrounds would explain much of that stark contrast between them. The blond tried to imagine himself in a similar position - his father marrying him off to one of the local traders he knew - but came short. He’d probably would have just run away before he ever had to agree to anyone’s hand.

Iomair spoke of the continued progress to come to their fledgling little community: a place where new and old cultures came together under one banner, encouraged to pursue their individual desires. Perhaps it was the bubbling mead that now lay half-full in his hand, but Calan couldn’t help but feel inspired by the King’s words. It was so clear to him that this was no practiced, hollow speech from leader to subject; Iomair meant every word he was saying, and believed it wholeheartedly, too. For once, Calan allowed himself a moment of feeling genuine optimism.

The warm feeling still lingered in his chest as Iomair leaned in closer, the twinkle of ambition in his eye. For a moment, Calan wasn’t sure if he was just pulling his leg. Surely he knew that he was describing a bar, right? “I believe that tavern might need to come sooner rather than later, sir,” he responded instead, his tone equally conspiratorial. “Let me ask around. I’m sure I can get some gears spinning. Someone must be interested in getting that started up.” And he tilted his glass to his King to cheers, binding his word in oath.

Little did Calan know at that time just how involved in that project he’d come to be.



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