Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taveryn, Orb's Year 929-932


Orb's Year 929
 "What'll it be?" Connor asked the man sitting at the bar.

The man glanced around.  "I've a proposition for you..." he began mysteriously.
"So this is it then?" Connor asked when they'd arrived outside the building.  He had to admit, it looked promising.
Very promising!
"You've a fine head on your shoulders, Keith Cook," Connor said after looking around the place.  "But why come to me?"

Keith nodded, as though he'd been expecting the question, "Truth is, sir, I don't know anybody else that had the gold to put into it.  Dirk said that it might be something you'd consider!"
"Well, it's a fine plan!" Connor firmly shook Keith's hand.  "Let's see if you can cook as well as you can plan!"

***

Connor sampled a few of Keith's dishes and hurried home to tell Christa his exciting news. "What do you think of the idea? Taveryn's Kitchen! We'd serve food and ale to eat and drink; and, there's even a room up top for weary travelers to rent for the night!"

"It sounds wonderful!" Christa exclaimed. 
Connor couldn't wait to share the good news with his family.  Everyone but Deb had been excited about it, but that was par for course.  Her usual predictions of doom and disaster went unheeded.

***

This was it! Opening day! Connor could barely contain his excitement.  The place had been scrubbed down and was awaiting their first customers. 
Connor had hired Keith Cook to manage the food and his wife Fanny to act as server.
Christa acted as hostess and greeted everyone cheerfully when they came in and just as cheerfully accepted their money when they left.
And Connor filled in the rest of the gaps.  He especially loved tending the bar!
Word of mouth spread, and soon Reeves came by and told Connor that his place was a smashing success!

Orb's Year 930
With all the adults in the household as busy as they were, Edrick was left to his own devices quite often.  The quiet boy was often overlooked by the humans, but Balin was his best friend!  "Come on dog, you can do it! Speak!" Edrick giggled when Balin howled.  "Good boy!"  Ruffling his dog's head, he headed to bed.
"Move you wretched thing," Deb said to Balin later, roughly pushing him with her foot when he blocked her path into the kitchen.

Balin jumped up and growled low and menacing at Deb's affront.  Frightened, she scurried a few steps back and held her hands up to ward an attack.

Every time she tried to step forward, Balin growled low in his throat and followed her.  She was well and truly cornered.

"EDRICK!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.  "Call off your dog!"
"I won't have it!" Deb said, stalking into the pub.  "I don't care how much Edrick loves that thing, get rid of it!"

Brand sighed deeply.  "You're going to have to be more specific."

Deb violently pointed at where Edrick had left the demon-dog.  "That DOG! It attacked me!"

Brand's eyebrows went up with surprise and he took a step forward, concern in his voice.  "It bit you? Are you okay?"

Deb crossed her arms over her chest, "It didn't bit me! But it would've! It cornered me in the kitchen! I feared for my life! Get rid of it!"

Brand stepped back.  Of course Balin hadn't bitten Deb! He was mighty friendly to most everyone... unless...  "What'd you do to him?" Brand asked blandly.

"ME?! You're blaming me! I didn't do anything!"

"What'd you do?" Brand persisted with his own arms crossed.

"NOTHING! I just nudged him out of the way and he attacked!"

Brand sighed heavily.  He could well imagine Deb's 'nudge'.  He'd been on the receiving end of those a number of times!  "He's not going anywhere," Brand said firmly.  "Balin is family."  Brand lifted his hands in the air and called out, "To family! Drinks on the house!"

Deb huffed off.
Late that night after closing time Brand went in to check on Edrick.  "Don't worry son, we're not getting rid of Balin," he promised.
"Dad! Dad! Look what Lady Knightley wrote about my work!" Edrick handed Brand the note from his instructor, Breena Knightley.  "Isn't that great?"

Brand read over the letter and grinned.  "That's my boy! You're doing so well!" I'm do proud of you, son!"

"I might be the littlest, but I think I'm the smartest, too!" Edrick said boastfully.

Brand's laughter rumbled.  "You just might be, son!"
Edrick hurried in and shared his news with Grandma Carrie and his mother.

"It's about time you showed your potential!" his mother snidely replied.  Edrick's face fell.  He'd thought he had done well!

He glanced over at Carrie, "Grandma Carrie?" he asked questioningly, seeking approval.
Carrie shook her light-headedness away and weakly looked over at Edrick as Deb scoffed.  Deb hated it when Edrick referred to Carrie as her grandmother, which meant Carrie love it!  "You did a fine job, Edrick.  How about I make you your favorite pie for dinner?"

"Mmmmm..." Edrick said smiling.  "I love pie"!

Shakily, cursing her weak legs, Carrie got up and went over to the kitchen to start on Edrick's pie.  She just wished that her light-headedness would go away...
When Carrie crumpled to the floor, Edrick ran crying from the room to get Dirk.  But, by the time Dirk knelt by his mother, there was nothing that could be done.  She'd passed away to the light...

Rest in Peace Carrie Baker, Orb's Years 884-930
***

Deb cornered Dirk on his way out of the house.  "You're the only Baker left.  Don't you think it's time you found a place of your own... with your own class.  Stop living off of your brother's hospitality!  It makes you look weak!"

Dirk didn't say a word.  He narrowed his eyes and roughly pushed past the old biddy and continued on his way.

But her words haunted him.
When Dirk tearfully confessed what Deb had said to him, Connor went rigid.  "How dare she! Blood lines might call you my half-uncle, but you're as close as a brother to me!  No matter what she says, you'll always have a home here!"

"Maybe she's right though," Dirk confessed with a hoarse voice.  "Maybe it's time I started my life somewhere else.  There's nothing left for me here... Mom is gone... my sister is married with children... my love, Caira, is married with children..."

Connor reached out and put his hand on Dirk's shoulder.  "You're right about one thing.  It's time to start your life.  Stop pining for Caira and begin again.  What about that laundress, Susan... was that her name?  The one you told me about?  She'd flirted with you over at your sister's house..."

"Suzie," Dirk replied, thinking of the striking woman he'd met.

***

As Connor headed to bed, Christa hurried after him.  "Connor.  May I have a word with you?"

Connor kissed his wife's cheek.  "I'm sorry, love.  I'm exhausted.  Can we talk in the morning?" he asked without slowly down.
Christa sighed as Connor headed into the room.  "What's one more day..." she whispered as she rubbed her swelling belly.

***

 "I heard about your Mom," Suzie said, glancing down at Dirk.  He looked so forlorn and lost.

"Thanks," he replied, not really saying anything, just staring off into space.
Sighing, Suzie sat down next to him on the pile of hay. 
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked him.

"No," he replied shortly.

Suzie stared hard at Dirk for a moment and then smiled.
Scooting over, she started to wrap her arms around him.

Startled, Dirk finally glanced at her.  "What?..." he started to ask.

"I think I know something that will make you fell better..." Suzie said, smiling wide.
Dirk wrestled with his conscience a moment before allowing Suzie to lead him.  He had to admit, he was feeling better already!

Orb's Year 931
"What was it you had to tell me?" Connor asked at breakfast.

Christa grinned widely.  "I'm not sure if you've noticed the weight I've been gaining..."

Connor interrupted her, "Aye, but you're lovely as ever!"

"Well, I'll be losing them soon..."

Connor raised his eyebrows, "Oh?" he asked.

Christa grinned broadly at her husband's perplexed look.  "I'll be losing them when I deliver our child."

"A child?!" Connor repeated, then whooped with joy.
Hurrying over, he wrapped his arms around his wife.  "We're having a baby?" he asked.

Christa nodded happily, trying not to cry.

"We're having a baby!" he shouted loudly.  He wanted all of Celestia to hear his good news!

***

Later that night when the family was gathered in the room, Connor announced that Christa was pregnant.
"Pregnant?" Deb gasped, clutching her chest.  She made a shocked face and then collapsed.
Edrick wiped a tear from his eye after watching his Mother's pass away.  He felt older and wiser in so many ways...

Brand was surprised by the grief he felt looking upon Deb's fallen form.  She was so young, he thought sadly.  Only 39 and gone so quickly...  

Rest in Peace Deb Taveryn, Orb's Years 892-931
Connor stroked Christa's belly and hugged her tight.  Christa squeezed him tight.  "Don't feel guilty," she told him.

Connor sighed against his wife's belly.  "How can I not?  She died because of me!"

Christa ran her hands through his hair.  "She had a weak, sick heart," she told him.  "Perhaps that's what made her so unloving much of the time."

Connor squeezed his eyes shut to the pain, "Aye, perhaps.  Let us never be like that."  Glancing up, he met her eyes desperately, "I couldn't bear to live like my parents did!"

Christa stroked his cheek. "We won't. I vow it!"

***

Christa went into labor that night. 
At the end of her labor, she held a beautiful little boy in her arms.
"You name him," Christa said as she held their son out for Connor to see.

"Ferguson Taveryn!"

Orb's Year 932
Suzie was attracted to Dirk.  He was so soft-spoken with a poet's soul.  He played his music and rustled feelings of happiness and love within her jaded heart. 
Of course, her half-brother Brand Taveryn stirred feelings in her, as well.  It was sinful for a man to be that virile and handsome.

When Suzie had stepped from the room, leaving a well-satisfied Dirk asleep in bed, she'd run into Brand. Literally.  She'd found his arms wrapped around her as he'd attempted to steady her. "Whoa there, where are you hurrying off to?" he'd laughed warmly.

His touch had sent flames shooting through her body, even though Dirk lay just feet away.  "My apologies!" she said with a slightly shaky voice.

Brand just laughed and winked at her.  "Feel free to bump into me anytime."

Suzie narrowed her eyes.  Did he know of her past?  Being a laundress didn't make much money.  When Prince Geoffrey had offered her a coin, she'd jumped at the chance.  And after that, it had seemed an easy way to supplement her purse.  Rudely, she pushed past him without saying a word, burning with shame now.
She shouldn't have been surprised when she found herself alone with Brand once more.  Men like Brand were used to getting their way.

"So do you like living here? Always something to do at the Taveryns!"

Suzie smiled, "I am.  Dirk said that you needed help with the cleaning and chores, what with Connor and Christa running Taveryn's Kitchen and you running the pub."

Brand grabbed Suzie's hand in his and stroked her fingers.  When she tried to tug them back, he raised it up and kissed her hand.  "I'd hate to see your hands calloused with hard work."
Suzie sputtered

Brand wasn't sure what drew him to Suzie.  He knew was overstepping bounds and that she was Dirk's woman. 

Reluctantly he stepped away. 

***

Brand might not be able to start anything with Suzie, but that didn't stop his eyes from tracking her where ever she went.

And he could see that she was not unaffected by the desire either.

Perhaps...
Ruefully shaking his head to get the traitorous thought away, he turned to the man at the bar.  "What's the long face for?" he asked as the man nursed his drink.
"Have you ever betrayed someone so bad that there's surely no way of atoning for it?" he'd asked without looking up.

"What'd you do?" he asked as he cleaned the bar.

"I stole my brother's woman."

Brand felt an arrow pierce his heart and stopped mid-motion.  Guiltily, he glanced over at Suzie and frowned.  "Was it worth it?" he asked quietly.

"No, she never loved me," the man shook his head sadly.
Camelot Bradshaw sigh with self-recrimination.  "And the kicker is that despite all that, I find I am now in need of a gently-raised wife."

***

Dirk stared in silence after Suzie told him the news.  "Are you sure?" he said, daring not to hope.

"Aye," I confirmed it with the midwife.  "I'm pregnant..."
Dirk leaped out of bed and got down on one knee before Suzie.  "Marry me!" he'd blurted.  "We'll get married and start a family!" 

Suzie hesitated only a moment before slipping his ring on her finger.
That night he watched her as she slept and gazed lovingly at the small swelling that would soon be his child.  It was almost too good to be true.  Connor had told him to start his life... and here he was... engaged to be married and a child on the way!  A ready-made family!

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