Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Tinder, Apr 15, 2016.

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  1. It was late in the afternoon when the plane began to descend toward the Shannon Airport. Clouds fluttered past the windows, wind rocking the hull as they circled down slowly. People had tucked away their belongings and begun to stare out of the windows at the approaching land. The pilot’s voice crackled on the plane’s speakers. “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.”

    A little boy pointed at the window excitedly, “Mommy, look how high up we are.”

    Rowan cringed as her stomach turned over. She had her eyes firmly fixed on the seat in front of her. She stretched her legs as best she could under the seat, her muscles protesting the eight hour long flight. It would be over in a matter of minutes, but that meant… Don’t think about how high up we are. Don’t think about how high up we are.

    “You can see forever. Even all the way across the ocean.” The boy leaned over his mother, nose pressed up to the glass.

    Her hands tightened around the arms of her seat. The stale air began to stink with the fumes from her fellow passengers. A cold sweat broke out on her arms. It was getting harder to breath. Don’t think about how high up we are.

    “What if the plane falls, Mommy?” his sister whimpered, hugging a tiny stuffed cat to her chest.

    Rowan leaned back and took a deep breath. Don’t think-

    The brother turned with an evil grin, wiggling his fingers in the air. “Then we go splat!”

    Rowan tore open the plastic bag provided by the airline, heaving as the plane dipped again. Thankfully the seat next to her was empty. She snapped the bag closed, pulling a napkin from her bag. With a miserable groan, she leaned back in the seat. Damn you Wright brothers.
    After a smooth landing and shaky departure, Rowan made her way through customs to the luggage carousal. By the time she’d retrieved her black duffle bag her legs had stopped quaking. She headed for the airport lobby, stopping to buy a water bottle that she gulped down greedily. Her heartrate began to return to normal, the fog clearing from her mind. She stopped near the main entry, checking her watch to note the time. 4:34 pm. They had arrived early, though not early enough in her opinion. Boats may be slower, she grumbled, selecting an open bench nearby the door, but at least you’re not 50,000 feet above the ground in a metal deathtrap.

    She pulled out her iPod and selected a song, standing again to stretch her aching limbs. She wanted to go jogging and sleep for a day. Even safely on the ground, her nerves refused to settle. This day had come so suddenly; the beginning of the rest of her life. Only yesterday she’d begun her goodbyes, enjoying a farewell luncheon with friends and family. Most of them believed she was going to Ireland to live with her uncle and study at the local university. She smiled dimly, dropping back into her chair. A half truth was better than none. She settled back into her chair and watched the people passing.

    A solid half hour passed before a familiar face appeared in the crowd. Her uncle Conner came jogging into the terminal, surveying the area with his bright green eyes. When they came to her, a relieved smile broke out onto his face. “Rowan!”

    She got to her feet as he came to meet her, his lean frame still muscular, an impressive feat for a man nearing his fifties. Though Rowan knew her uncle had more than his strict health regiment to thank for that. He shared the same chestnut brown hair that Rowan had received from her mother. It was trimmed close to his scape with a nine o’clock shadow present on his face. He picked up her bag, “Sorry, I’m late. I left the house later than I’d intended. How was the flight?”

    “Pretty calm,” Rowan replied, grateful that she’d had time to bring the color back to her cheeks. Nothing instilled more confidence than seeing someone exit a plane looking like death warmed over. And she needed to look confident. She straightened the white tank top she wore beneath her light green button-up. The look had been completed with a pair of dark jeans and off-brand converse. A workable travel outfit.

    Her uncle started back for the doors, “Cars parked a ways out, but the walk will do you good.”

    They worked their way through the parking lot, finding to her uncle’s little olive car parked near the back in the sun. Rowan climbed into the passenger’s seat, dropping her backpack onto the floor while her uncle dropped her duffle bag into the truck. Her other belongings were being shipped to his home. My home.

    The first ten minutes were spent catching up, relating family information and tidbits about the past summer. She talked mostly about her mother’s new baking obsession and Meav’s accomplishments on her school’s soccer team. Football, she corrected her mentally. The conversation petered out, leaving Rowan time to nap while Conner drove them to his home out in the countryside. It had belonged to the Callaghan family for generations, passed down from usually to a single member of the family. No one in the family would dare to sell it or contest their claim to it. The land was mostly surrounded by woods and fields, half an hour from the nearest major town. The pastures were rented to neighbors for livestock grazing. The woods remained untouched.

    A rumble signaled Rowan to straighten up as they began to make their way down the dirt road leading to the house; a tiny pastel blue two bedroom house with most of the modern conveniences. A small shed stood off to the side with a one car-garage attached. Rowan stepped out of the car, shutting the door as she took in the image of her second home. Permanent home now. She’d spent every summer here from the time she turned eight. With all the times they’d moved for her father’s career, this place almost felt more like her childhood home than any of their houses in the States had.

    “Go ahead and head into the house if you want to rest,” Conner called to her, slamming her door shut, “You should have some time before the meeting tonight. Sure you’re feeling some jet lag right about now.”

    Rowan retrieved her bag from the trunk, shouldering her backpack, “I’ll do that, thanks.” She headed into the house, going straight to the spare room near the back of the house that had slowly become her own. She dropped her bags onto the floor by the small dresser pressed into the corner, glancing out the window. She could see the path into the woods from here. Her eyes grew distant as she followed the trail in her mind. Just at the end stood a hawthorn tree, older than nearly everything in the woods. In Ireland, people commonly referred to them as fairy trees. No one would dare to cut one down, though few believed in fairies any longer. Superstitions managed to survive even this age of science. She smiled again, jumping onto the bed with a grateful sigh.

    No one would ever know the truth behind the legend.
  2. In the heat of the noontide sun lay a certain young man, under a certain, ancient tree on the grounds of a certain shrine. This young man was a man like any other, really, though maybe a bit too tall for how slender he was, and with ears maybe a bit pointier than usual. Perhaps the most unusual thing about him, however, was his hair; not the color nor the cut of it, but the fact that it was constantly tousled and tossed about, forever dancing in a non-existent breeze. For even among his own race, that of the fae, he was a rarity, one blessed by the wind and wrapped always in its embrace. Not that it meant much more than the constantly messy hair. Still, count your blessings, as they say.

    He yawned, stretching and settling into a more comfortable position under the shade of his favorite tree. The other Great Houses seemed to think his 'gift' was what gave him his aptitude for magic, but he liked to think it was thanks to his own talents and dedication (what little he had, at least), and they were just envious. That he had a knack for wind magics was just a coincidence, really. He would've been better off going into enchanting, or pyromancy...

    "Taloth! Taloth'andriel!"

    His ears perked up at the sound of his name being called. His full name, more specifically - that was never a good sign. Taloth brought up his head, looking to the shrine where his father, Canith, was now waiting. The older man's foot tapped impatiently on the shrine's raised stone platform, the waves of his irritation now washing over Taloth like a rough current out at sea. He must've been pretty frustrated about something. Thinking back, Tal couldn't remember anything he'd done that would get his father so riled up, but it could have been that whole fiasco at the Feast of the Great Houses, last week...

    "Taloth'andriel! Get over here, now!"

    Right. Grumpy father. He'd better get moving. Springing up to his feet, he began to shuffle back towards the shrine, savoring the last few moments of quiet he'd be getting, for today. By the time he'd made it over to his father, the rough current had escalated into crashing waves, threatening to pull Tal under if he wasn't careful. He'd better choose his words, wisely.

    "Yes, father?" he asked, an innocent smile on his face. His father just frowned in response, gesturing at Tal with a point of his chin.

    "Why aren't you ready, son? The meeting with the Callaghans is in a few hours."

    Tal shrugged, raising an eyebrow. "A few hours is plenty of time. Besides, how much readier could I be?"

    "You could start by putting on your traditional zoraus. Those clothes you're wearing aren't fit to be worn, especially not to the ceremony!" his father said. Tal brushed a bit of dirt off the back of his well-worn grey t-shirt and jeans with a huff, crossing his arms indignantly. The outfit was one he had bought with Rowan, the last time he'd visited the human world with his father.

    "Hey, I happen to like these clothes. And the ceremony isn't until tomorrow night, isn't it? We're just going to pick them up, there's no need for such formalities."

    Canith sighed, leaning a hand against the shrine's stone hand-railing as he massaged his temples with the other.

    "I swear, you picked up that lax attitude from Conner. Fine, but I expect to see you in perfect Guardian attire, tomorrow. Come, the cooks at the temple are probably done with lunch, by now."

    The older man stepped down the shrine's raised platform, with Tal following closely behind. The two walked in silence on their way to the shrine's temple, Taloth shooting his father furtive glances every few steps.

    "...Something the matter, father?" he asked. Canith's gaze was unfocused; his aura, restless. It was a sure sign that he was still agitated. The man paused a few moments to consider, opening his mouth as if about to say something, but then shook his head in resignation.

    "No. Nothing for you to worry about right now, at least," he said, continuing on under the lacquered wood gate to the temple courtyard. Tal simply stood at the courtyard's entrance, scratching his head in thought. He had a bad feeling... though that might have just been because of the upcoming meeting with the Callaghans. Was he really gonna tell her how he felt, this year...?

    "Well, just, play it by ear, see how it goes..." he thought, grinning absentmindedly. Any worries he might have had were promptly swept away into the forgotten corners of his mind, and he happily sauntered towards the temple's dining hall, whistling a tune.

    The feeling was still there, thought. Nagging away...
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  3. A generic piano riff woke Rowan from her dreams, notifying her that she’d been asleep for twenty minutes. She reached for the phone farther down the bed, tapping the screen. She breathed in deeply, clearing her thoughts away. Her mind focused on the remaining activities in her day, slowly coming back online. She rolled onto her back, sitting up with a quick stretch. It felt good to spread out after that plane ride. She took another breath, running her fingers through the loose curls of her hair. She needed to pull herself together for dinner.

    She stood up and pulled the binder off her wrist, combing through the tangled curls with her fingers before securing them in a ponytail. She checked her reflection in the small mirror on her wall, taking a moment to smooth out her shirt. Passable. Good enough for tonight at least. Her eyes strayed to the woven bracelet on her wrist made of purple and white thread. A parting gift from her sister made during her down time between sports practice and summer work. Rowan tightened the knot again, giving herself one last check in the mirror.

    She strolled out of the room, heading down the narrow hallway to the small kitchenette sitting just off the living room. A small counter stood between the two rooms with a door to the hallway and the living room on the inner walls. The fridge and stove stood opposite the living room with more counter space and several cupboards located around the room. A small stereo sat on the edge of the counter playing old rock hits. Rowan perched on one of the barstools sitting on the edge of the living room, leaning onto the counter which currently held a basic salad and basket of bread. Judging by the smell of tomato, her uncle had gone the traditional route and planned spaghetti for their meal. She picked out a slice of cucumber, taking a bite as she watched him stirring a premade sauce on the stove top. “Playing it safe today?” she joked, plopping the rest of the cucumber into her mouth.

    He glanced over his shoulder, seemingly startled. “What?” He followed her gaze to the stove, flashing a strained smile, “Ah, right. While last time I tried something more complicated than heating up canned soup I nearly burnt the house down. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest that I don’t deviate.”

    She frowned, watching him move to drain the noodles. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d managed to startle Connor. He usually knew where she was before she did. She picked up the tongs and played with the lettuce leaves, “Is everything alright?”

    “Ah, yes…fine. Everything’s fine,” He replied, having successfully drained his noodles. He dumped them into a tacky blue plastic bowl, moving to finish the sauce next.

    She shot an unconvinced glare at his back, “You’re lying.”

    He sighed, “It’s nothing for you to worry about.” He had found a bright orange ceramic bowl to serve to the sauce in, picking both up to carry into the next room. He smiled as he passed her, coming to the small dinner table squeezed in next to the couch and arm chair across from the ancient box Conner considered a TV. “Just enjoy yourself tonight.” The table was just large enough for four people. He’d put out a plain set of white dishes next silverware that had seen better days. Four dull amber drinking glasses accompanied them. Rowan decided that one of these days she would find time to replace some of the sorrier dishes. He set the hot food in the center, taking the salad and bread from Rowan as she lifted them from the counter.

    She watched him straighten up, looking pleased with his preparation. “I’ve never asked this,” she said, her voice distant, “But do you usually eat here? When I’m not here I mean?”

    Her uncle shrugged, heading back into the kitchen to pull a Guinness from the fridge, “Depends on the day.” He offered it to her, but she shook her head. “If I’m on this side, it’s usually just me. Canith and Tal know enough to avoid my cooking when they can help it.” He sipped from the bottle, smirking as he leaned back on the counter. “I suppose you won’t be so lucky. Unless you want to take over the cooking.”

    Rowan swiveled back around to face him, laughing, “I’m afraid it wouldn’t be much better.”

    Conner chuckled lowly, “Pity. Could use a good cook around here.” His expression softened, taking a moment to sip his drink. “Nervous about tomorrow?”

    “Not really,” Rowan replied. He shot her an unimpressed look, forcing a sigh from her, “Maybe a little, but I’m ready, uncle. I promise.”

    “I’m not worried. You’ll do fine,” he said reaching over to turn his music down. “You’ve trained more than enough for this. Let’s just hope Tal can keep up with you.” He chuckled again, returning to the fridge to pull out a pitcher of water.

    Rowan stared at the blank wall in front of her, chin resting on her raised hand. Though she would be loathed to admit it, she always looked forward to seeing the lazy fae during her visits. Even with the months they spent apart, Tal felt more like a friend than the people she’d gone to school with; one of the few constants in her life. He’d probably been neglecting his studies again, driving his father insane. A small smile crept onto her face. Things were never dull with him around.

    Her uncle set the pitcher down on the counter, looking at the clock on his stove. “And now we wait. Shouldn’t be long.”
  4. "Hm, perhaps we should bring some hakish bread to eat, as well..."

    Taloth watched as his father darted around the kitchen, filling a large basket with assorted foods and desserts that the cooks had prepared before-hand.

    "Some sliced teylnith... No, no, it might seem like an insult to his cooking if we bring too much," Canith muttered to himself, putting the platter of sliced meats back on one of the many granite counter tops that filled the large kitchenspace.

    "Father, I don't think Conner's the type of man to be offended by such a thing," Tal offered. He was settled on a stool next to the kitchen's storehouse, munching on whatever was close at hand. The cooks really outdid themselves, this time, filling the usually empty counters with a huge variety of snacks in preparation for the festivities, tomorrow. Lucky for him and his father, too - it wasn't as if he didn't like Conner's spaghetti, but he had to admit, he much preferred the temple's abundance. Still, there was a certain charm to the sauce of tomatoes over wheat noodles...

    "Of course not, but he should be," Canith said in response, "The night before such a big happening calls for proper decorum, and a guardian showing such inattention to the condition of their partner's honor makes for a poor showing, indeed. Not that I could ever get any of that through his thick head."

    The corners of Canith's mouth slowly turned up in a rueful grin, and he once again reached for the small platter of meats, placing it back in the basket.

    "I suppose the teylnith wouldn't hurt. I'd very much like to share it over a drink, tonight..."

    Tal said nothing, finishing the snack in his hands as his father finished gathering snacks from the kitchen. Canith nodded in satisfaction at his work and, taking up the basket, turned to leave, motioning for his son to follow with an arcing gesture of his head. Tal hopped down from the stool, jogging to catch up to his father's long, graceful strides.

    The two of them strode across the temple's open hallways in the light of the stars, above. The building's traditional architecture really lent itself to this time of night, Tal thought, the sweeping curves and sharp angles catching the dim light just so. But, no, he was really just distracting himself, wasn't he? There was no need to be so nervous; it wasn't as if he had to tell Rowan his feelings, tonight. But, even then, the thought of just seeing her again after so long got his heart beating just a bit faster, and the familiar, childish excitement that he could never quite get over went running up his spine.

    He was always looking forward to the summers they spent together, since he didn't have many other friends. Sure, he got along well with the temple's acolytes and servants, but all of them were at least twice his age, and he never could get as close to them as he did with Rowan. His father, catching on to his distracted state, just shot him an appraising glance as they walked past the temple's gates, towards the ancient tree ahead.

    "Nervous?" he asked, to which Tal simply nodded.

    "Yeah, I guess so."

    "But not about the ceremony."

    "What do you mean?" Tal questioned, raising a suspicious eyebrow. His father grinned knowingly in response, looking up towards the starry sky.

    "Well, it's no coincidence that you've been staying up til the early hours, these past few nights. Working on something... a gift for Rowan, perhaps?"

    Tal's eyes opened wide, his mind suddenly lost for words, for once.

    "Wha... how did you... and why would it be for Rowan, specifically?" he asked, instinctively reaching a hand into his jean pocket, where said gift now lay. Canith gave a hearty laugh, clapping Tal on the shoulder.

    "Who else would it be for? And you're still much too young to be hiding such magics from me. Enchanting leaves a loud 'echo' in the hands of the inexperienced, you know."

    Canith rode out the last of his chuckles as Taloth grumbled, beside him. He knew he should've stuck with something more mundane, for a gift... or gone into enchanting.

    There was no time to go back on the idea now, though, for they had already reached the hawthorn tree, and the magic had already been set into motion. The grass around them slowly gave way to fallen leaves and twigs, the open plains sprouting towering trees in an instant; soon enough the two of them found themselves in a forest, facing a familiar, winding trail.

    "Come," Canith said, "It wouldn't do to keep them waiting."

    The forest was eerily silent as they walked the path without a sound.


    The door to the Callaghan household opened before they even had a chance to knock. At the doorway stood Conner, a warm smile on his face as he invited the two of them in.

    "Come on in, you two. Dinner's already on the table, and is that sliced teylnith I spy in that basket?"

    "It is, but I was hoping to save it for afterwards..."

    "Ah, right, gotcha. Well, hurry up and get in here. Rowan's been dying to see you again, I'm sure."

    They shuffled into the cozy house, making their way to the living room where the food was still piping hot on the table. Tal saw Rowan hanging out in the kitchen, leaning a chin on her hand, and he flashed her a quick grin before hastily taking a seat at the dinner table.

    "Dammit, I should've said 'hi', at least," he thought to himself, grimacing, but soon he let out a deep breath, closing his eyes for the briefest of moments.

    "Relax. Stop thinking about it. Act natural."

    So, was he going to say anything tonight? No, not tonight. Maybe tomorrow night, after the ceremony. Yeah, that was good. He loosened his shoulders, going through his pre-magic-study meditative breathing exercises to try and calm down before dinner. At least they came in handy for times like this.

    "Well, enough time for talk later, let's eat!" Conner said. Now there was an idea he could get down with. Anything to distract him from making a fool himself...
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  5. Conner had perked up nearly a minute before the fae arrived at the door. In moments he’d ushered them in and sat them at the table. Rowan turned as they entered, smiling when she saw Tal. She almost laughed when she noticed he was wearing the clothing they’d bought together last year. Judging from their state of repair, he’d worn them often. She’d never understand his interest in the human world, but she supposed it was just as foreign to him as his world was to her. Perhaps she’d offer to take him out again before the ceremony. She straightened to greet him properly, but he didn’t give her a chance. He just moved to the table without a word. Odd… She gave him a curious look, standing to retrieve the pitcher and pour for everyone.

    Conner wasted no time suggesting they start the meal, picking up each plate to serve a heaping helping of the noodles. Sauce and other toppings were self-service. Rowan passed out the water, setting the pitcher down on the island again to make more room on the table. She took her plate from her uncle with a grateful smile and started to pour the sauce onto it, adding a hint of pepper on top. Canith greeted her briefly, making a quick comment about her family’s health. After that the room fell into a deep silence.

    Rowan took a few bits of salad, unsure how, or if she even should, break the silence. Tal seemed lost in his own world while Canith and Conner seemed to be having a private conversation all their own. At least their eyes suggested they were, the way they exchanged glances every other minute. She’d always hated that ability of theirs. It was like the days before she’d been able to spell when her parents would translate their speech into individual letters to keep her oblivious. Only this code was silent. She took a bite of spaghetti, wondering what it would be like to have that ability. What it was going to be like being able to talk to Tal without moving her lips. Conner had explained it once, or tried to. The other only heard what you wanted them to, like a phone call.

    She stared down at her food, twisting the paste around her fork. It seemed to her that mind magic ought to be more complicated than that. What if she accidently sent something to Tal without realizing it? She picked through her salad, stabbing a tomato. What if he sent her something without knowing? Conner had talked about the times when Canith had first met Tal’s mother, however often he’d hear about her. About the mixture of pain and happiness he’d felt. Though nothing in their agreement prevented a human guardian from finding a lover, it was more difficult. They spent most of their time at the barrier or within the fae world on duty among a completely different species. No previous connections or family connections to work with. In essence, isolation.

    If Tal found someone, or had someone, she would be facing the same thing. She took a few more bites of spaghetti. Perhaps now wasn’t the best time to think about that.

    Dinner ended not long after. Second helpings were offered and the post-dinner treats were laid out. “Rowan, Tal,” Conner called as retrieved more bottles from the fridge, eyeing the teylnith as he set them onto the counter. “Would you mind washing up?”

    Rowan shook her head, “Not at all. We can take care of it.”

    “Great, I think I’d like a walk. Canith, would you care to join to me?” Conner asked, starting out the door.

    After the two had gone, Rowan set about gathering the dishes, deciding to be the one to break the silence. “So…how have things been?”
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