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Pears and Paladins

Magdalena Chef

Stratics Veteran
Stratics Legend
"Come in, come in," he held the door open and stepped aside as she entered the hall. "Sit, make yourself at home, and I will be right back with dessert." The door closed with a heavy sigh as she made her way to the parlour and sat. Lord Arahim returned a few moments later with a sizzling pan. "Carmelized pears," he announced pouring them onto the platter, "help yourself, though I'm sure it's nothing compared to what you can do." Magdalena felt her cheeks color. "You pay me too high a compliment m'lord," she said and quickly changed the subject. "You were going to tell me about your armour and the reason it is all white."

"Right to it, eh? I was hoping you'd forget about that. It's silly, really."

"Tell me," she said, tasting a pear. It was soft on her tongue, with a texture like sugary sand that melted away. She closed her eyes savoring every bite.

"Well, what did you dream about as a young girl, what did you dream you'd become?"

She thought a moment, "A princess. Or a warrior. Perhaps a princess warrior, and you?"

"Ah, see! I was no different."

"Really?" She tilted her head, "You wanted to be a princess too?"

He nearly choked on the fruit. "No, no." He chuckled. "I wanted to be the knight in the stories. Shining armor, fighting for Virtue, a paladin. Hence, the white armor – it is silly."

"Nay, not at all."

There was a small silence and he turned to her, "How does a chef joust?" He chewed and waited for the answer. With a horse and lance like you? she thought. "I'm a bit of an...unconventional chef. I am a swordmistress too. My queen had unusual tastes and so I adapted." Arahim watched her. "And do you like defying convention?" he finally asked.

Magdalena though about that and replied, "I am what I am m'lord, no more and no less."


"I am what I am m'lord, no more and no less."

If her words held an edge of guile or pretense, Magdalena did nothing to betray it. Simply put, without the shades of irony, the statement was more a proclamation of who she was not, then who she was.

A definition of self by noting the empty places, and then slowly, as she saw fit to parcel out, extrapolate the rest.

There was noticeable bruising on her left shoulder. She had chosen to wear a sleeveless dress the color of Summer sky just before a storm. The darkening purple sharply etched contrast to her smooth, pale skin. And yet she neither touched it, or deigned even a single self conscious, sidelong glance to the imperfection. Maintaining at all times, the grace to not notice her host's frequent inquiring looks.

Magdalena smiled politely as she speared another cinnamon speckled slice of warm pear. Deferring quietly to him for response, or a shift in conversation, and chewing with barely concealed amusement at the look on his face.

Not knowing how he looked, Arahim could not fight the sense that in her own way, she had shared a small, private joke, and that for now, even in good company, she would keep her secrets.

Magdalena Chef

Stratics Veteran
Stratics Legend
"What do you do to relax, or when you are alone?" It was an innocent enough of a question, and yet it threw her off balance. It also wasn't the the first question he had asked that left her at a loss for words... and having no answer for it, she simply asked the question back.

"Oh, I sit under my tree and listen to it, " came the reply. She was curious. Arahim had displayed good-natured humor and she was sure he must be jesting with her now, yet something in his face said otherwise.

"It talks," he continued.

Magdalena smiled, leaning towards him and lowered her voice, "Do the tables talk as well?" He laughed, "No, just the tree. You should go and listen to it."

"What will it say?"

"That is not for me to know, you have to find out for yourself," he said too quietly.

"And what do you hear when it speaks?" she queried. She looked at his face, where it had been so animated moments before it was now sullen and grave. The air seemed heavier somehow.

Arahim looked away, "All that could have been."

She turned her attention to the table following the pattern of the wood grain with her eyes. "You know, m'lord, living your life on could-have-beens is not really living at all...." her voice trailed off. Arahim seemed to sink deeper into himself, until at last he sighed and spoke.

"This conversation has gotten a bit weighty, and is not what I invited you here for. I have a proposition for you!" His voice boomed once again, the melancholy gone. "How about in the Springtime, when the weather is warmer and the garden grows, you come here and cook. I shall brew something to accompany it and we shall invite friends over to dine under the sky with us."

"I should like that very much," she smiled and stood.

"Tis a date then!" he announced standing too.

"Aye. Food and friends and wine, I cannot think of anything more perfect," she set the plate down, "except that recipe that you will give me? " She gestured to the table, he made a face. "I will even joust you for it," she offered. He paused, weighing whether it was a joke or not, her expression unreadable.

"What if we play a game of checkers, and I think about it?"

"M'lord, I would have had better luck at the jousting." His face broke into a smile, one mirroring hers. She bid him farewell with promises to return and stepped out into the cool night.

Magdalena Chef

Stratics Veteran
Stratics Legend
She stood, studying the tree and deftly walked a circle around it. Being careful so as not to crush any sproutlings that might be pushing out of the soil, she saw that it was well-kept. The sturdy trunk shot into the sky and the strong branches and lush foilage provided a beautiful rust colored canopy against the sun. A warm breeze blew off the water, bringing with it that salty-sea smell she so loved, but underneath the warmth there still remained the chill of Winter. Magdalena pulled the cloak over her arms, and pushed a wayward strand of hair back over her shoulder. It was then that she heard it. Barely a whisper, it could've been mistaken for the rustling of leaves. She might have even missed it completely had the world not been so still. "Time to let go......"

Paytience Fawn

The sliding doors were open. Her hand still poised with the key in prime unlock position she immediately averted her eyes. Cloud covered, the sky behind gave a grey backdrop to the thriving bark and autumn colored Maple leaves. Turning away didn't change anything. She knew enough of what each vein and line looked like. Chin tilted down she side stepped. One foot beside the next as she made her way to the edge of the bed turning 'round to face it.

Normally she would have seen the pair of soft black leather boots, heard the scuffle of them on the floor even before that. But her attention wasn't on the room. It was on the tree. Her dark brown eyes followed the length of the boot up the form, coming gaze to gaze with Magdalena.

"I didn't see you." Well, that much was obvious, she thought.

"That's what I thought." Her tone was calm and kind as if the underlying shiver that ran along Paytience spine was visible to the naked eye."Your brother," Magdalena paused raising her brows in question to verify the connection, "invited me."

All Paytience could do was nod like an idiot. Arahim's home typically didn't see a lot of traffic. You really had to know it was there and who it belonged to in order to venture inside. Cove, while trade had opened up recently, was not exactly the hub of idle activity. Reaching for the cloak that lay folded haphazardly on the edge of the bed she whispered half under her breath. "I just need to grab this."

"Don't rush away because of me."

The bite was instantaneous. "It has nothing to do with you." Closing her eyes she winced at the sharpened edge of her words. "Stay as long as you like. I just need to get going."

Magdalena tilted her head then a look of confusion crossing her soft features. With an exasperated sigh and a cornered feeling, Paytience explained by waving her hand in a herky jerky motion. "I'm not .... comfortable here." It wasn't an admission she made lightly but insulting one of the Old Man's friends for no reason in his own home wasn't exactly stellar sibling behavior either.

"You aren't comfortable?" Magdalena's head turned towards the tree. The Confusion spread. This was her brother's house. Not being comfortable here, of all places, made no sense.

Dammit. She must have pointed without realizing it. "Not really."

"There isn't anything there." Half reassurance and half placating, the Chef's words were the same tone one would tell a kid who was afraid of the dark.

"No. Yes. No."

There was no hiding the pain there. No sugar coating it now. "Christopher isn't there. Not for me." Why in the hell am I discussing it with this woman? "He isn't under the tombstone. He's not in the damn tree. And he sure as hell isn't in this house."

"Who is Christopher?"

"My nephew."

Magdalena turned back and forth from the tree to Paytience. Pieces knitting together like a wound in an emergency stitch job.

"The tree. Your Brother hears Christopher in the tree?"

"We both do." And just like that.. the landmine exploded. Sharp and jagged in the same breath Paytience exhaled, grabbed her cloak and made a line for the same door she'd entered as if the fires of hell were threatening to lick the flesh from her bone. To Paytience, The topic of Christopher and those proverbial fires.. were one and the same.