Alasair 36, 228: Not to be Distracted

Not to be Distracted
Summary: It's the first day of the wild Days of Alasair, and a picnic in the woods does not end as planned when Ruthgar and Caillin realize they are not alone.
OOC Date: 23/09/2013 and 24/09/2013 (OOC)
Related: None directly.
Players:
Ruthgar Caillin 
Somewhere in the woods, near Darfield Castle
A clearing close to where a brook flows into a small lake. Trees, a meadow. Birds. Nature. Tranquility.
36th day of Alasair, in the year 228

The golden tinge of the leaves on the trees shows it is already early autumn, at least, but the weather is surprisingly pleasant for the season, a warm sun is shining with only few clouds on a clear blue sky on this late morning. Arriving on a clearing close to where a brook flows into a small lake are two riders, a young nobleman and his lady, and it is he who dismounts first, grabbing the reins of the white mare as well, as he gives her a hand.

There are heavy saddle bags on the black destrier, carrying a picnic perhaps and other things as well, yet the smile on Ruthgar’s features does give nothing away when he catches Caillin and sets her safely down onto the ground. He wears his tunic and breeches of red and black, and a dagger in a sheath of fine leather hanging from his leather belt, the buckle of which is made of silver and shows the coat of arms of House Ruxton. The fact that he chose to ride without any armor might seem remarkable indeed, as he usually avoids going outside of the castle unprotected – but maybe he is not usual self today, as it is the Days of Alasair, where people are known to do crazy things.

With an enigmatic smile the Ruxton turns away from his wife to unpack some of those saddle bags. A woollen blanket in dark green is unrolled first, followed by a moderately sized bag of leather, a wineskin and a pair of clay cups. But then his hands move towards another pack, and the knight hesitates, casting Caillin a glance over his shoulder, the mischievous grin a clear sign that he is up to something. And there it is, a leather armor, light and of a size that would fit a squire, it lands beside the blanket on the grass and moss covered ground. And a dagger, of simple and plain making, with slightly blunted edges; it flies through the air and lands beside the armor, its blade catching the afternoon sun in a bright reflection.

Ruthgar turns, his arms crossing before him, his pale grey eyes glancing towards all that gear on the ground before they come to rest on the baroness, his face twisted into a smirk and his brows twitching up inquiringly as he awaits her reaction.

Caillin’s rosebud lips form a wide smile, when her hand touches her husbands. The moment, when she appears in his arms, before reaching the ground, she chuckles so loudly and lively. Her sparkling gaze betrays, that the young baroness feels as she would have wings and would be flying. Though, likely, being in the armful of her beloved husband, wings, actually, grows up. Strong and devoted love, which makes Caillin lean a bit and place a kiss on her husband’s forehead, before he puts her on the grass, can be magical.

Girl watches the King of her heart preparing this beautiful picnic of theirs, for a few moments, but she quickly is distracted by the beauty of the still very young autumn.

Caillin leans to take the leaf of the maple. Her soft voice whispers “Look, Ruthgar, this is the art of our nature! Look at these colours!” her fingers run through the edges of the leaf “A few spots of emerald green, reminding us of the summer. Oh, and look, gold lines, try to remind us of the warm rays of sun, while amazingly beautiful red tones pulse with love…” Girl spins around, sweeping some more leaves with her long amber gown, which has mysterious weaves of the raven-black thread.

When she finally stops from spinning, laughing and admiring the autumn, grey eyes glance at the weapons. The young baroness starts slowly approaching her husband, as she would be a curious kitten and he – her prey. “My love… Is this…What is… Why you need these on a picnic?…” she takes his hand, but the grey orbs are fixed on the blades.

A warm smile plays around the corners of Ruthgar's mouth as he watches his wife spinning around in her glee, his gaze flitting downward momentarily. Her question is met with an amused smirk. "Have you already forgotten what you asked of me on our picnic, my love? Wasn't it you who wanted to be introduced to the art of wielding a blade?" He takes a few steps over to the blanket and the armor beside it, and bending over he picks up the dagger, weighing it in his hand for a moment before he hands it over to his wife.

"A practice blade with dull edges, not intended to harm. I can show you some tricks if you like. And for the more advanced moves, to defend yourself against attacks you will need to put on this." Ruthgar points to the training leathers, his gaze shifting from the armor to Caillin in an assessing manner. "It should fit you, more or less. I have borrowed it from a squire who is 15 years old."

His arms crossed before him, the Ruxton looks at his wife with a challenging smirk. "So… What do you think? Do you want to try? After the practice we can enjoy the picnic, as we will certainly be in need of some refreshment."

“Oh oh oh!” starts clapping Caillin and even bounces marginally.
“Of course, I remember. Though, I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly! Oh oh oh!” she narrowly studies the moves of her husband. “You are the best husband ever!” childish excitement of the girl bursts.

When Ruthgar extends the blade, the girl’s pale fingers touch it so gently as it would be just a fragile flower. Her throat lets out a silent “Ooooh…” Some kind of admiration grows in her eyes. Admiration or, it would be better to say, passion mixed with the fear, when her little heart imagines, how the blade would look like, if it would have real sharp edges.

However, quickly her gaze slips to the things, which she should dress, and Caillin pouts, nipping the beautiful fabric of her gown.

“These things?.. What? Like now?..” the young baroness blushes.
“To change my clothes now?” she chuckles a bit nervously and blushes even more.
“I will look silly in these… What if someone will see me? They will laugh whole year… I will not look pretty…” she shrugs, quite awkwardly and carelessly gesturing with her hands, while one of them clenches the blade.
“Can’t I be in this?” she raises the amber fabric of her gown with the free hand and spins around, while the hand with the blade is lowered.
“If I will ever be attacked,” what is impossible, according to her tone “I will be dressed in the gown.”

Pale grey eyes rest fondly on Caillin as she admires the simple practice weapon, some amusement mingling in the gaze as Ruthgar gives a light chuckle. “It’s naught but a dull thing to prevent you from getting injured. Still…”, he steps closer to her, taking her hand that holds the blade in his, “it can leave scratches and bruises, if you fail to evade it. The armor is light, it’s what we usually wear when sparring – well apart from your oh so brave brother, that is.” A hint of sarcasm playing with his soft voice at that latter part, especially. “I am already crazy in agreeing to this, my love. It’s the Days of Alasair, when people are known to do crazy things they normally wouldn’t do. But still I will not take the risk of you getting hurt.”

When his wife suggests to train in her dress, the young baron shakes his head although his gaze cannot seem to let go of her as she spins around. He catches one of her hands – the one without the dagger - and draws her closer to him, to have his fingers run over the light fabric of her skirts. “We would ruin the dress, and it hampers your movement. What would your family think, I wonder, if you return to the Castle, your dress hanging down in shreds?”

Caillin just giggles, not giving any attention to the sarcasm. “Ooooh… That would be funny. I had never come back home muddy or something like you just said. It would be quite an adventure!” and she starts laughing even more.

Rosebud lips kiss her husband’s tip of the nose, while her hands are clasped around the man (even the one with the blade). “Alright, my today’s crazy Ruthgar, alright. We will save the dress… But…”

She withdraws from the man and sticks her grey eyes at the armor, slipping with the gaze to her own body and back to the armor.
“How I should put all this on? I have never seen that, as I have never done that!” and she cants her head, starting to whirl flaxen curl with the free hand.

“Oh yes, you have,” is Ruthgar’s reply to his wife. “At least drenched, and your horse was all muddy. And you were sick with a fever, if I remember correctly.” He frowns. “The King and Queen weren’t very pleased.” A warm smile brushing his features makes that frown go away at once, when he feels her kiss to his nose tip. “I could help you out of that dress, of course, as I am sure you’re wearing an undergarment underneath? And assist you in putting these on.” His hand gestures towards the leather armor lying beside that blanket, a smirk playing across his face. “I will behave, I assure you.” Despite that assurance he leans forward to snatch a kiss from her lips. “Practice is hard work, and we should not let ourselves be distracted, should we?”

“It was just one time,” Caillin rolls her eyes “So, that does not count…”

Girl pauses for a few seconds and a mischievous grin flashes in her features. She whispers: “Plus, I don’t care about pleasing the King or the Queen anymore. I care about pleasing you, my handsome beloved muffin…” and she starts laughing at her imaginative comparison adding “Would be great to eat one…”

However, she quickly shakes her head “But hunger may give some anger and anger will give some strength! I will be able to win against you!” the young baroness smirks playfully.

Though, when her husband offers to help with the dress, girl still timidly lowers her gaze, stabbing grey eyes to the black laces. Pale fingers start playing with these things, but still in a slight hesitation.

The snatched kiss gives some shudders for the girl, but at the same time she just turns her back for Ruthgar, where the laces are combined.
“Please, help me, then” she mumbles under her nose, letting the cheeks turn red. “Though, not to be distracted, will be the hardest task…”

Ruthgar’s brows jump upwards when he hears the new name his wife has for him. “A muffin? You can have one afterwards.” Chuckling lightly he shoots the leather bag a glance before his grey eyes linger on Caillin again. “One of those I brought with me, or this one. Your choice.” His amusement seems to increase when he hears her bold words. “Oh, are you sure…?” But then he is faced with the task of unfastening those laces at her back, and he falls silent, hesitating after the knots have been untied before he lets his hands rest at the sides of her waist for a moment. “It is hard indeed,” he mutters, fighting the distraction with a mind that is already in Alasair’s firm grasp. Then with some exertion of his will power, he manages to withdraw from her, turning slightly to the side and forcing his pale grey eyes to scan the trees that surround the small clearing with a sudden caution. “Thought I’d heard something…” But after a moment the Ruxton shrugs, relaxing slightly, as he has not been able to spot any threat in the woods.

Caillin just chuckles, chuckles a lot, while her husband unties the laces. Feeling his hands on her waist, she gently touches them… But, of course, the man withdraws quickly and she has to lose her dress.

The idea, that someone might be around, makes the young baroness flinch and she looks cautiously to the depth of the forest.

“What if someone will see…” she whispers, turning to her husband now and sighs.

It looks like that not just her cheeks, but her whole body blushes, when after some hesitation she dares to shout: “Hey! It’s days of Alasair!” and the young baroness releases her hands, letting the dress fall down. Girl steps aside, leaning to take the dress and carries it on the blanket.

When her hands becomes free again, she croses them on her chest, as she would feel nude already, in spite of undergarment, which appears to be so light, that even the whiteness of the fabric can barely hide girl’s shapes. She stands as knocked in, likely, from fear and shame, and is able just to turn her head to the right, to the left as quickly as the wind changes its course.

She whispers: “Good, we should hurry. It looks like that thousands of eyes are staring at me behind the trees. What should I wear and where?..” she comes closer near the armor and raises one of the parts, staring at it slightly confused. She forgets, how gauze her clothes are. Caillin just nervously twiddles a strange part of armor, trying to decide where and how to put it.

With some of that unease still lingering for a moment, Ruthgar slowly turns to look over to Caillin again when he hears her whispered question. “Don’t worry, I…” His reply is cut short by her shout and dramatic dropping of her dress with brings a smile to his face. When she has deposited the dress onto the blanket, he can’t help but stare at her for a moment in admiration of her curves in that undergarment. Her question seems to rouse him from his stunned state however, and so the Ruxton hands her a pair of leather breeches. “There, let’s start with this, and I promise I will help you with the rest.”

Caillin grabs breeches from Ruthgar’s hands without any proper manners of the young lady, and starts struggling into getting there.

It is easy to hide one leg in the breeches, but then, standing on one foot and trying to get into that tight thing is quite a challenge.

The young girl swings quite dangerously as a bulrush in the wind. At few moments it looks like, that she will fall on the ground, but she professionally straightens her back and manages to keep herself on feet.

And here we go… These breeches are on. She buckles it up and raises her arms for a brief second, as some kind of winner.

“What’s next?” quite excitedly asks Caillin, even freeing the cheeks from the blush, despite the fact, that the silver pendant glints through her undergarment together with her forms.

Girl just starts playing with the bracelet, which belonged to her husband’s grandmother some time ago, while grey gaze curiously watches the rest parts of the armor.

Ruthgar watches her donning of the breeches with amusement, with his arms crossed before him. Only when Caillin for a short moment seems to be out of balance, he reaches out to steady her, smiling as he notices she can manage on her own and chuckling at her enthusiasm. “Well, this one would be next.” He reaches for a part of armor that looks like a cross between a leather vest and a breast plate and slips it over her head, before fastening those leather straps at her sides, the light twitch downwards of one corner of his mouth suggesting he regrets being deprived of that tempting view of her womanly shape. Then he reaches for the bracers, to apply them to her lower arms. His gaze brushes her hands and he sighs: “Maybe some gloves would have been a good idea as well, alas, I didn’t bring any.“

The Ruxton takes a step backwards to study her with an assessing gaze, followed by a brief nod. “I think we’re set then. You already have your dagger.” His eyes flit to the dagger at his belt, before he shrugs and moves towards the saddlebags to take another practice weapon out of the saddle bag. Both Snowflake and Nightshade are grazing on a green meadow nearby, looking quite content despite being all saddled and bridled still.

When Ruthgar starts dressing Caillin up, she relaxes and gives up to his hands, moving, turning and raising her hands, that it would be easy to hide under that armor.

She chuckles and stares at these clothes curiously, while her tongue decides to break the silence with some stories:

“You know, the other day, I was at the city. Just walking around and speaking with people. Can you imagine, Gordon’s son decided to become a ranger of some sort or something, who would travel around the world,” she shrugs and raises her arm a bit, that Ruthgar could fasten the straps. “So, he left home. I remember, he was used to sit in the Inn and drink all day without work. Such a quick change, you know. But I think it’s for the best.”

Caillin extends her hands for Ruthgar to apply bracers, but excited voice continues her story: “Also, I met Helen. The young woman, who makes the best dresses in the city. She told that twins born for her sister. Though, can you imagine, twins, but they are so not similar to each other. She told, that one of them is incredibly white. Can it be like that?” girl shrugs once more, when finally they are both ready.

Caillin raises her blade. “I will be good without gloves. I am not so fragile…” She watches that weapon in her hand for a few moments, before pointing with it at Ruthgar. She frowns, trying to look serious and gestures with the free hand “Come on…Come come… Meet your destiny!”

The young baroness giggles childishly and adds, slightly bouncing or shifting from one foot to another. “Who will be the bad guy and who will be good? Let me be the bad one! Oh oh oh! I will be a bandit, without teeth and all muddy. Harrrr!…” she lets the hiss out mixed with the chuckle.

Ruthgar seems to be focused on fastening those leather straps, still he can’t help but chuckle at Caillin’s stories a little. “Hmm, those commoners again. You seem to care a lot about them. That man you speak of made a wise decision though.” He remarks rather casually with his soft voice. The other tale leaves him even more indifferent, at least in the beginning. “Well, Aemy gave birth to a boy and a girl. Differences between twins seem to be possible, after all.” The mention of his sister in law makes him pause for a moment, his gaze growing pensive.

His demeanour lightens up at once when Caillin is all ready and set, his grey eyes flitting from the dull practice blade she aims at him to her face that tries to imitate the mien of a villainous bandit, yet not that convincingly. The young baron eyes her as he holds the other practice dagger in his right, weighing it in his hand before it darts forward, aiming for Caillin’s left shoulder. “Then die, you bandit!”, he grins, only using a fraction of the effort in his attack than he would apply under other circumstances.

At first, Caillin just concentrates on the blades and attack, on these new and amusing things for her.

She tries to counter the attack with her own blade, but she is too late and her shoulder is touched by “enemy’s” weapon.

Girl grabs her shoulders shouting in an excited tone “Harrr!!! You will not get rid of me so easily!”
She gestures (Yes! It’s more gesture than offensive move) with her own blade, trying to hit the chest of Ruthgar, but at the same time, worry flashes in her grey gaze.

“My dear… Is something wrong with your brother’s children?.. You looked… strange, when you spoke…”

“Oh, forgive me,” the young baron cries out, concern showing in those pale grey eyes of his, when his half-heartedly aimed blade manages to connect with Caillin’s shoulder. But his worries dissipate as soon as he hears her imitation of a roar which makes him chuckle in reply. Her ‘gesture’ has him evade easily, of course, as he in all his amusement forgot to let go of his trained reflexes.

It is her question, though, that manages a better hit, as Ruthgar looks as if he has been caught at doing something inappropriate. “My niece and nephew? No, they are fine. At least that is what Robben told me when I last saw him.”, he replies, doing his best to look as innocent and unaffected as possible.

Caillin sighs, when Ruthgar evades her move so easily, but smirk dances on her lips.
“Oooh…” drawls Caillin “Sorry, my bad. You looked worried, sad or wistful…I don’t know,” she just shrugs about babies. “I am happy to hear they are alright.”

She once more points with the blade at Ruthgar, playfully frowning and studying the man. She slightly moves to the left, then to the right, then tries to make a sudden jump, hitting Ruthgar’s left arm: “Give me your money, you…”

But girl does not finish her mind. Maybe she is dressed properly, though she remained in her uncomfortable shoes. So, the young baroness just stumbles, maybe even twisting her ankle.

Likely, being afraid to hit Ruthgar, or /just/ being afraid, she tosses the blade from her hands and the blade flies straight to her husband, checking his reflexes once more.

Everything happens just in a few seconds, and girl falls on her knees in front of Ruthgar. However, she manages to keep all that theatrical mood.

“Oooh, no! You managed to disarm me,” chuckles the girl, trying to look as painfully defeated bandit (but it might be arealpain because of her ankle, because she is not so good artist) and blushes, lowering her gaze.

“Oh, please, kind ser, do not kill me. I have many children at home and one in my belly. I just needed some bread for them…”

And girl raises her sparkling eyes, examining the young baron carefully. Mischievous, but slightly worried, also curious gaze follows him, while all these sparkles dance in the orbs.

“My lord, you will be a father too, you must understand me, poor beggar, who just stole some bread…” dramatic tone remains in girl’s voice, but she starts chewing her lip, trying to hide all that wide grin, which would betray, what is hidden between the lines.

“It’s nothing. I am fine, as are they.” The young baron looks relieved when he sees she seems to accept his answer this easily. When Caillin attacks him again, Ruthgar ponders letting her hit home but decides against it at the last moment, parrying her blade this time with his own instead. He is after all just wearing his tunic and breeches, not the leather armor he had just recommended to his wife; all careless as he obviously considers her not to be a real threat anyway.

A gasp of concern leaves his lips when Ruthgar sees her stumble and fall, his arms grabbing naught but air as he tries to catch her just a touch too late. The dagger being thrown at him takes him completely unawares, as it comes flying without warning, and especially probably not due to a deliberate action of his wife. He flinches as the dull weapon hits him in the stomach, it’s blade managing to penetrate a little through the fabric of his tunic to leave a scratch somewhere beneath it – but nothing more.

For a moment anger flashes in his eyes, but then he notices his wife is hurt as well and he moves to approach her. “Caillin! Are you alright?”, he inquires, before he hears her confession – a jest? Some part of her theatrical performance? Or the truth that had already loomed over them this past week?. “Is it true then?”, comes the next question as he kneels down beside of her, one hand still covering the spot where that damned dagger had managed to breach his defense. “You have seen the baroness and she has confirmed you are with child?”

His gaze becomes restless as Ruthgar finally considers the consequences of their undertaking. “By the Light! This is a folly. We shouldn’t have started this training, in the first place. I must be out of my senses! And why, by all of Sheat’s wisdom, have you chosen to remain silent about this? ”

“I am good, my love, really,” whispers Caillin and slides closer near her husband, though, she lowers her head in shame, hiding the blush with golden curls.

“I am so-so-sorry…” stammers the young girl “I visited baroness Wenna two days ago… I waited for the most perfect occasion to tell you this. Which moment could be better than days of Alasair?”

After the question, Caillin shyly casts the most admiring look to her husband. She moves even more closer to Ruthgar. However, her smile is already faded. “I am really sorry…” She takes his hand and cuddles it near her belly, which is still saved by the armor.

“But, anyway, my dearest King of my heart, we will have a baby – the most perfect symbol of our love.” Girl leans to kiss Ruthgar straight to his lips. Though, she raises his hand near her heart now.

“Don’t be angry, sad or worried. Our life is the most perfect now. The most beautiful and I am the happiest person in the whole world, having not just you, your heart, but your baby too.”

Then she once more lowers her gaze, sticking it to the young baron’s chest and her eyes widen. Girl gasps: “This is all my fault! You are hurt, my love… I am so sorry!”

Her fingers gently touch the wound, cleaning the blood, before girl jumps up on her foot and starts nervously trying to get rid of the armor.

“This is all my fault! My stupid wishes… I will never take a dagger in my hand again… Harr! How to get rid of this!? We should do something else… I hurt you! I have never hurt anyone, and now I hurt the love of my life!”

She still tries to get rid of the armor unsuccessfully, almost crying.

How can Ruthgar be angry at Caillin? Judging from his concerned gaze he is not anyway, a wave of relief washing over him as he hears her assurance of her being well enough. His hand comes to rest on her belly and he leans over to give her a kiss. “So it is certain then. A child will be born to us.”

Although he flinches slightly at her touch to that scratch, the Ruxton shakes his head as he notices Caillin's increasing devastation. “No, it's nothing. And it wasn't your fault, my love. I have had other injuries, and this one is merely a scratch. Well, maybe a bruise for a few days. How vailiantly fought indeed on your first day of training.” A jest, certainly, to cheer his wife up a little.

It is when she jumps to her feet and starts trying to get out of that armor in an almost hysterical fit that Ruthgar rises as well, closing the distance to her with a few swift steps and grabbing her to calm her down. “Hush, easy now. Everything will be alright. Wait, I'll help you out of it.” His hands move to her sides, unfastening those leather straps while he offers her an assuring smile.

Caillin just lets a loooooong sigh, when she appears in the hands of her husband. She tries to breathe slowly and calmly, just watching man’s eyes, while he undresses her.

Soft voice whispers “That’s not right. The dagger was from my hand. What if it would have hurt you more? I would never forgive myself. I just want to cuddle near you, kiss you… but… you must be /not/ hurt by anybody. You must be safe, healthy and besides me…”

She lowers her gaze, glancing at the blanket, food, river, trees, Ruthgar. “I am mad. I am madly in love with you! I am mad!” chuckles the girl and grins widely, showing first signs of becoming a bit more calm.

“What should we do next? We need to celebrate! Though…” she chews on her lip for a moment “Should we tell others about our luck? Or we can enjoy it just together?”

Ruthgar seems to be relieved when he notices his is wife is calming down – At least somewhat. There, the leather straps are finally loosened, and he pulls the armor over Caillin's head, before he continues with the bracers. “You didn't. It was an accident. Not worth the bother, if you ask me.”, he mutters with a smile. It is when she mentions being mad, that some of that Alasair magic manages to reclaim him, his gaze lingering on her in her undergarment, with the breeches still on. So instead of an answer he pulls her close suddenly for a long embrace, his face lowered to hers until he stops her babbling with a kiss. “These are the Days of Alasair. We could tell them later, can't we?”

She would say. She would say many things. Hundreds of thoughts are running in the girl’s poor head, but that kiss… It takes everything away. The young baroness fully relaxes in the arms of her world. Yes, Ruthgar is her whole world now. He is everything.

It looks like that the girl just melts in the armful. Shudders runs through her gleaming body, which can be slightly seen through that undergarment. Caillin whispers in a low trembling voice. “Or we don’t have to…”

She does not finish her thought. She just cuddles tightly to her man and starts running with her lips through his neck, cheekbone, cheek and his own lips. Her breath becomes deeper, slower. Girl’s fingers playfully ruffle the dark curls of her husband.

The roses, which burn the young baroness’ cheeks betray, that she wouldn’t do that in other occasion. But today is the first day of Alasair. Oh, Alasair, where you hidden the modesty of the young girl?
Caillin’s mischievous fingers totally by accident slip to the waist of Ruthgar, finding the perfect way under his cloth. Girl chuckles at that moment, feeling that her fingers are way more cool (or refreshing) than her man’s back.
“I love you…” she whispers giggling.

Ruthgar’s breath has slowed down as well, his arms hold her gently while one of his hands is immersed in her flaxen curls, his face showing some colour as he feels Alasair working her magic on them again. He flinches slightly though as he feels Caillin’s cold fingers at his back, and manages to shake off a sudden dizziness and get some of his reason back. No, hot here. “I love you too,” he replies, his voice much clearer than before. “But maybe… maybe we should return after all.”

A sudden breeze rustles the leaves in the trees that glow in the warm colours of early autumn, the sun sheds a golden light, and a murder of crows rises from the twigs they had been resting upon, the sound of their black wings whipping the air bringing a sudden stir to the tranquility of the forest. Which would have roused Ruthgar’s instincts to an alarmed state usually. But as things are, the gifts of nature weave him back into that web of indecisive living in the moment. His pale grey gaze flits to the lake next and he chuckles, in response to his wife’s giggle. “But then… the day is almost perfect. Care for a bath?”

“Bath…” whispers Caillin and withdraws from her beloved muffin, though, not letting his arm run away. She still clenches his hand.
“Like now?” girl curiously glances at the young baron. She watches him, as she would be thinking if he is not crazy. From when her husband would go so freely swimming, not worrying about enemies and similar things?..
Likely, thinking that the man is just joking, the young baroness smirks “Sure, why not? But I must warn you, I am not so good swimmer. You will have to keep me save there!” chuckles the girl and glances from the river to her husband with a challenging look.

„Why not?“, comes Ruthgar’s swift reply, looking almost as surprised at his own words as his wife. “It has been ages since I’ve last been swimming in a lake.” He pauses to listen to her warning. “Well, I will save you, my flower, should you threaten to drown. But we can keep close to the shores, of course.” His pale grey eyes gleam with a strange audacity, when the Ruxton slips out of his tunic and breeches, after kicking his boots somewhere close to the blanket with a wild howl. And then he runs towards the waters of the lake, the small scratch that is indeed revealed to be little more than that, completely forgotten. There is a loud splash when he dives into the water, shaking his wet locks like a dog as he breaks through the surface again, a wide grin on his face.

Caillin watches Ruthgar in surprise, surprise and admiration. Her grey eyes slip through his handsome body, while he is running to the Lake.
However, young girl quickly lowers her gaze and just slowly paces closer near the bank. Caillin cautiously looks around and unbuttons the breeches, struggling a few moments taking them off.
She remains standing on the bank just with her lucid undergarment. Playful wind tries to get under it, while Caillin tosses her shoes away, stepping on the grass with her bared foot.
She takes a careful step farther, letting the water to catch her foot’s fingers and girl gasps: “The water is sooo cold! Ruthgar… I can’t go to swim with my dress and… I am a girl, I can’t just… You know…”
She shyly rubs her one feet with another, sticking the gaze at these small waves of the lake. She crosses her hands on chest.

„Sure you can!“, Ruthgar chuckles. „It’s not that cold once you’re in the lake. It’s quite refreshing actually!” Then after a pause he adds with a mischievious wink: “Or do you want me to get you – with or without that thing there on!” His mind is made up it seems. He breaks out of the water in a leap, droplets of water splashing here and there, before he grabs Caillin and seems intent to drag her with him into the lake, regardless of any resistance she might show.

Childish, girlish high squeal ripples through the bank. “Ruthgar!….” and indeed, Caillin tries firmly remain on the ground. She squeals and laughs, and blushes, and wants to be released, but at the same time she clenches Ruthgar’s hand. So, it is just impossible to understand if she likes it or not.
Some more squeals and chuckles echo. Though, likely the young girl herself doesn’t know what she wants, so finally her hands just twine around baron. “My love… The water is really cold! And… Oh, by the Light… What are we doing!” and she giggles.

Ruthgar’s smile broadens a touch when he hears Caillin’s squeal, still he looks slightly confused at her verbal refusal, while her hands keep holding onto him. The twisted logic of women can indeed be a mystery sometimes! And while her undergarment is not exactly dry anymore after that hug of his wife, finally sense seems to settle in once more. “The water… is cold. Oh yes indeed. How inconsiderate of me. We must look after your health now, more than ever before…” His pale grey eyes move upwards to the huge weeping willow above them, its numerous twigs hanging down on them but also into the waters of the lake. “Such a nice place this is. But… maybe… maybe…”

A disquieting sound cuts through the idyllic scenery like a knife.

Roaring laughter ripples over the lake, followed by the raw and raspy voice of a man that sounds like he is up to no good. “Now ain’t that sweet! Some nobles having fun, eh? They won’t mind if we join’em, would they? I told you they’d be crazy over here these days.” The accent is decidedly foreign.

Caillin quickly stops chuckling and screaming, when she hears voices of strangers. She glances at them and the blush comes to her cheeks, understanding, how she is dressed.
Just because of this reason, the young baroness moves behind her husband, placing her own hands on his shoulders and tiptoeing slightly, to see strangers better.
She does not say a word. Also, she is not scared at all. She is with her husband afterall!

Ruthgar freezes, his arm tightening around Caillin as he draws her behind the tree, where the curtain of twigs from the weeping willow will hide them from the view of the villains, his gaze alarmed while all magic and affection has vanished from his suddenly so very pale face. “Keep still,” he mutters into her ear, alas, they have already been spotted anyway. The young baron frowns, casting a quick glance towards the part of the shore where they have left their belongings, one of them being the dagger with sharp edges he had chosen to take with him today. But what folly that was. A sword would serve him so much better now, and the armor he usually wears when being outside of the castle. His pale grey eyes flit back to from where the voice came, narrowing a touch as he tries to make out any details in the trees on the opposite side of the lake as he leans slightly to the side to peek from behind the tree.

A big man stands there between the trees that border onto the lake, Ruthgar would have almost failed to notice him, but some dull glinting of a plain chain armor has caught his attention. Beside him are three other figures, merely shadows as they seem to stand further away than the big one.

Another voice can be heard now, alas too low to hear it clearly, but it sounds almost like an annoyed sneer. The big man gives a grunt, his head turning away from them. And then they are gone.

Caillin very calmly follows Ruthgar to appear under that tree. She curiously runs with her grey look around, trying to catch the sight of the strangers, though, she catches herself staring much more at Ruthgar.

He is so caring, so handsome, so strong. I don’t need /that/ tree to hide. My Ruthgar is my oak - the strongest in the woods and with the most wonderful heart. Oh, and he… - these and many other thoughts are running in the girl’s head, so, there is no fear, just a few chuckles and admiring gaze.

When finally the strangers walk away, the young baroness glides near her husband, whispering: “Ruthgar?.. Ruthgar.. My dear…” she tries to turn man’s attention from surrounding to her.

“My love…” her hand runs through his curls and she gently touches his chin, to turn his eyes to hers and just to kiss him.

“My lovely handsome muffin, we are safe, when we are together, in each others armful. I knew, that even without sword you could win against each bandit or the bunch of them! But likely, it was just simple commoners. Maybe they were looking for the perfect place to spend the days of Alasair, but we already took that one!”

She kisses him again and cuddles tightly, trying to bring that special mood back.

Ruthgar remains where he is, his grey eyes still fixed on the spot where he had seen the four shadows. His arm is still wrapped around his wife as if he had forgotten about it. It takes a long moment until he dares to move again, the chill from his brief bath in the lake having crept up his limbs in the meantime – he is still naked, after all! A gasp of relief leaves his lungs as the Ruxton turns his gaze towards his wife. “Safe? We are not safe. And I don't think they were here for the fun.” He hesitates, frowning at his own rashness. “It was not I who saved us. Some blessing of the Eight, maybe. We should go. Quickly.”, he mutters in a low voice. “They could change their mind.” Or maybe they are still there, lurking about in the woods…

However, he starts to put on his breeches and tunic, looking slightly sobered. The magical mood from before – gone. “Come, my love. I'd prefer us to eat our picknick inside the walls of the castle, if you don't mind.”

Caillin just sighs “As you wish, my love… As you say, my dear…” and she lops near her dress with the gaze, stabbed to the ground.
Girl dresses up, struggling a bit with laces, but she manages to do everything herself. Smile fades from her features and she just follows her man with the worried glance, while her hand rests on her belly.

Ruthgar helps Caillin mount her white mare. The few belongings are hastily collected and stuffed back into those saddle bags, before the Ruxton swings himself onto Nightshade’s back and leads the way back to the castle; after shooting one last cautious glance behind them.

And soon the clearing by the lake lies there deserted again. The golden leaves of the trees glow in the orange light of a late afternoon sun - a poetic tranquility that might indeed be deceiving.

*

The hurried departure of the nobles is observed from afar. The big man lets out a low and displeased grunt, giving in to his bad mood as he kicks against a small rock with his foot. “We could’ve killed them, at least.”, he complains, shooting the smaller man a reproachful glare. “They’ve seen us.”

“No, they haven’t. They’ve heard you though. But look at’em, too busy to run away, and scared like shit!”, replies the other one. “An b’sides, that girl is not the one we’re looking for, right?” The other two, scarred and battle hardened sellswords, it seems, remain silent, although one of them cannot help but nod.

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