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Old February 11, 2015, 04:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Wherein Igrainne has Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, and also Beguiled a Gadgeteer

Spring XXII
From here.


If she'd loitered around long enough outside the gadgeteer's workshop, Igrainne would have attracted a curious crowd. An enormous, shaggy white dog the size of a small pony, friendly enough but with a lolling tongue that would have given her a good soaking had she loitered in once place too long. A litter of six cycle old kittens, courtesy a local stray might have wandered out from under the stoop and latched on to her skirts. Or for that matter, any one or any larger combination of nine young children and any one or more of their keepers might have wandered out to have a look see.

But in she went, and while the door had been closed, all the windows along one wall were pushed open to let in a cool breeze that swept in from the Great Sea. If the shop appeared to be deserted at a glance, a good listen would tell a different story altogether. Even had the voice not called out in greeting, she could hear other voices, muffled behind shelves and crates somewhere off near the back wall. There was a fainter, rhythmic sound of metal grinding against metal, and closer still, maybe up in the rafters she could hear something unseen quietly clicking, whirring, clacking and pinging before starting all over again.

Never mind all that. It didn't take long for two figures to emerge from behind the rows of cabinets and crates. One of them, a human who appeared to be somewhere in his middle twenties. Just over six feet tall, lean, dark blond hair and blue eyes, he wore dark blue trousers, a red linen shirt tails out, a pair of dark gadgeteer's lenses pushed up on his forehead, and a curious smile. His companion was a chubby little fellow nearly three feet shorter with bright blue eyes, curly brown hair, a childlike, freckled face and a round pair of wire rimmed spectacles that he was busy pushing up the bridge of his nose. And by the time the pair reached the front of the shop, the cether must have curiously blinked his wide eyes at least half a dozen times.

It was Klue who spoke first, since the shorter fellow already seemed to be having a hard time finding his voice, and his wits. One just didn't see many young ladies coming into a gadgeteer's workshop...unless they were related to the gadgeteer in question of course. "Serale. Welcome," the taller of the pair said. "Klue Malinconico," he added by way of introducing himself. He paused a second or three, waiting, but eventually grinned and nudged his small companion, prompting him to stop gawping at the pretty girl and...."Oh!" the cether piped up, blinked and pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his nose again. "excuse me miss. My name is Percival Platt. But you can call me Blinky. Everyone does."

All in all, the young woman didn't appear necessarily at ease in the middle of all this working gadgetry. Which made him wonder all the more about what had brought her here to Dragonworks. And to the island as well. He couldn't recall having seen her before, leading him to believe that she wasn't a local, or at least not a long time resident. "Is there something in particular I can help you with?"
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Old February 12, 2015, 07:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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To her credit, she barely glanced behind the pair to see if anyone else was coming out.

“Mr. Malinconico, it’s an honor,” she told him, her brows lifting in recognition of Klue’s name and, admittedly, in surprise that he was not as gray and old as she’d expected. There was no reason he should be, but she’d assumed so from the extent of his business’s good reputation. The intricacies of his inventions seemed the result of many decades of research, and she’d imagined their source as a wise, grandfatherly sort.

The girl tilted her head, a slow smile lighting her features at the cether’s nickname. She spoke warmly towards him. “-and a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well, sir. I’m Lady Igrainne Birch.” -not that anyone should recognize her name! Somewhere back in Caronis, her elderly tutor was weeping for joy that she’d properly introduced herself. She was, after all, on official business here.

“Please excuse me for not sending a letter first,” she added, belatedly wondering if she ought to have done so, “but I was already planning to visit the island, and would’ve raced the courier here.”

At this, she grinned. The unspoken truth was that she yet struggled to read and write well; her spelling was inventive, if one was being kind about it, her handwriting itself might as well be a secret code for all the accidental blotches, and as a whole, her letters were a tragedy of the common language when she did not have trustworthy persons to assist her in rewriting them correctly. Igrainne never sent a letter when she could go knocking on a door instead; she preferred to meet people for herself, especially if they might have anything to do with her village. She normally did not cross the world to do so, however.

An explanation was in order.

“I’ve come from Caronis, a holding in Prime’s countryside belonging to the Titan, Veleraen.” Her friend and liege lord, who always gave her that look when she called him so, was not one for being Your-Gloried. All the same, she’d never had to explain who he was.

“We’re very much hoping that you can be of assistance to our small village.” The girl spoke earnestly and politely, and spoke a bit too much as her natural enthusiasm smoothed over her initial nerves. The shop was unsettling to her, although not in bad sense. It had the same inspiring effect as walking into a shop of arcane mysteries, or the absorbing effect of a toy shop on a child. After seeing the hot air balloon in operation, and watching the irrigation system being built for Golash, she often found her thoughts returning to these miracles of invention. These were things that had not been possible, and now simply were. It wasn’t magic, but it was a wonder all the same.
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Old February 13, 2015, 09:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Lady Igrainne Birch? It was time for Klue's own brow to lift. Curious, contemplative. And just like Igrainne's before him, also in recognition. But not for the reasons one might ordinarily think. There was the slightest, smiling hesitation but when he spoke, he said, "Lady Igrainne, the name is a familiar one. Welcome." He said nothing about how or in what context her name was familiar.

The small cether standing next to him, could never have been mistaken for the soul of discretion. Blinky...blinked, wide eyed up at the lady, turned his curious gaze on Klue and nudged him. "Hey Chief, isn't that the name of the girl that Dunnie's been..." The little fellow was doing his level best to whisper, but try as he might, he'd never quite gotten the knack of it. Klue gave a quick, subtle nudge back with his foot and gave the cether a warning glance before interjecting. "One of my crew, who I understand made your acquaintance not long ago in Sancta Nova, has spoken very highly of you," he explained. And when he glanced down again, Blinky had already excused himself and scurried off to take matters into his own hands...Presumably to find Dunnie, who'd far more distracted than his usual, ever since his return from Sancta Nova.

Klue might not have heard of Caronis Keep. But he had heard of the giant Velerean and his reputation which stretched back for some time. And who hadn't? It was impressive to say the least. "Well, then welcome to Demios as well, lady Birch. We're a long way from Prime,"and Sancta Nova too, he thought, "Please, come in then. Can I get you some tea, or something cold to drink?" he wondered as he showed her to a workbench near the wall and beneath a long row of windows. The bench was cleaner than most of the others in the room, and even had a few proper chairs stationed at it, rather than the tall stools more common to the workshop. "So? How is it that I help?" he wondered, even while offering the lady a seat.
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Old February 17, 2015, 06:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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She heard every word of what the cether was not quite whispering, as she was standing right there in front of him. Her cheeks suffused with color as she tried not to look so pleased by what Klue had said, and didn’t notice right away that Blinky had left.

“Something cold would be nice, with thanks,” Igrainne answered, her gaze wandering across all the little mysteries of the shop as she followed him to the bench under the windows.

“I did meet Mr. Greene while he was installing your irrigation system on Mr. Golash’s farm,” she agreed as she chose a chair. She hadn’t meant to begin by mentioning him, but there it was.

“After I understood what it would do, I saw what it might mean for other farms, for my village. It’s far, yes, but it wouldn’t have been right to go to another gadgeteer- and we take matters of honor quite seriously in Caronis, with the local lord bein’ Aslan’s Own.” She spoke with good humor but meant every word. There were gadgeteers to be found in her province, of varying reputations, but she’d gleaned the little knowledge she had of this from Dunnie and felt she had no right to be taking it elsewhere. That he was employed here and not in a shop in Prime figured somewhat into her reasons for attending to this personally.

“I’d like to talk with you about whether your invention might work for us, as well. Many of the families in our small village rely on farming for their livelihood. I’m castellan of the keep and charged with care of the village, too, and may do such business on my lord’s behalf,” she finished, feeling that slight nervousness she always got from expecting disbelief. Hers was not a position held by many young women her age, or even young men her age, and certainly not semi-literate ones with country farmer accents. Igrainne herself had objected to Veleraen employing her thusly.

“I didn’t tell this to Dun- to Mr. Greene,” she added suddenly. “There are parts of Arium not so friendly to Veleraen and I was traveling alone, you see.” It was important to her that Mr. Malinconico didn’t think she was pretending to be something else, that they didn’t think she’d been masquerading to benefit from Golash’s deal- not that she could mimic his invention any more than she might mimic a great mage’s spell, no matter how well its explanation.
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Old February 19, 2015, 11:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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"Something cold it is then," the gadgeteer said with an obliging smile, once Igrainne had accepted and was settled into her chair. Leaving here there alone only briefly, Klue walked to the rear of the shop where she could see him speaking quietly with an older man, a gray haired human aged sixty something, before opening up the top of what appeared to be a large, earthenware chest or trunk. Hanging on a wall just adjacent to it, about shoulder high to the tall gadgeteer, was a glass jug hung upside down and corked with a long copper tube that dripped water slowly into the edge of the chest. All in all a strange looking apparatus. But from out of it, Klue retrieved a clear glass jug containing some sort of amber liquid, and after dropping the lid closed, he grabbed two heavy crystal tumblers from a cabinet nearby.

The old man had wandered off after subtly looking the young woman's way and smiling curiously, and Klue returned, setting a glass in front of Igrainne and pouring from the jug. "Cider," he said as he poured himself a glass as well. "Our groundskeeper makes it himself," he explained as he took a seat, and Igrainned would find that the sweet and tart liquid was quite cool. So cool in fact, that condensation had begun to form on the outside surface of her tumbler.

His smile, in regards to her reference to honor, indicated his appreciation for the fact that she'd come to him, rather than approaching another gadgeteer in hopes that they could duplicate the design. "What Dunnie installed on Golash's farm," Klue remarked when he finally settled in across from Igrainne, "could be duplicated by another with the knowledge and technical know how to do it, possibly," he admitted. "However, because it's tailored to the size of the farm, the lay of it, the proximity and nature of the water source, it's just one, quite straightforward version of a system that will need be uniquely tailored, even transformed in order to work as well at other locations."

"But yes...it's sight unseen of course. But assuming that there exists a steady source of water somewhere nearby, it...or some version of it would work," he told her, before she started to get any impression to the contrary. "For instance," he added as he plucked a pencil out from behind his ear, and a small book full of blank pages from his pocket. "The pumps used on Golash's farm might be all that's needed. But if you are currently using ground water, collected from wells to irrigate your fields, then those pumps may need combining with wind driven pump jacks, capacitors. And if Caronis plants crops in rows, but also orchards, we might combine something like the system on Golash's farm, with what I've come to think of as drip irrigation."

Catching himself a bit late, even as he was still jotting down notes and points to remember in his book, Klue sat back and grinned. "I apologize. I don't mean to bore you with all the mechanics. Perils of the trade." Actually, he was quite impressed with the young woman's position. It was one that he could only imagine came with a great deal of responsibility. And well, he could see any number of reasons why Dunnie was so taken with her.

Even as Klue sat back, a flurry of activity, faint as it was, could be heard coming from the back of the shop. A door had opened, one or two shadows, one tall, one short had come through it, and there were debating whispers and scuffles, like some of them attempting to urge a another in a particular direction, and that one, somewhat hesitant. One might even say wracked with nerves. "You needn't concern yourself," Klue said as if he was completely oblivious to the shuffling around behind him. He wasn't. "I seem to recall reading something about Sir Veleraen, and his...relationship with Aslangrad in particular, back when the Herald was still running. I can assure you that here on Demios, you and the Titan of Aslan will always be welcome." Demios might be a colorful, eccentric and eclectic place, and it was. One brightening they worshiped Carmelya, then Diana, then the Dragons and round and round again, making them something of a fickle folk as well. It meant that neither the Titan or Igrainne would find many Aslan worshipers here, but they would find some of the most welcoming, tolerant peoples in all of the Empire.

"If you'd like to secure a commission on behalf of Sir Veleraen," he began, just as the whispers at the back of the shop ceased abruptly, "I'd be happy to accept. But sight unseen, before I can draw up any sort of plan, I'll need to know what sort of conditions...."

And then, from behind one of the tall cabinets a few yards away, Dunnie appeared. He'd apparently tried to bring his bright red hair to some kind of order. He was dressed in cream colored trousers, a sapphire silk tunic, tails out with a subtle dragon motif stitched in fine gold thread and the familiar, volcanic glass beads were dangling from one earlobe. And he was blushing already. "Milady," he said too quietly at first when he laid eyes on Igrainne, then cursed himself inwardly and tried again. "Milady, I wasn't expecting to find you here. But I can't tell you how pleased I am to see you again." He'd probably practiced the greeting on his way to the shop, just after Blinky had told him she'd come. He'd probably tried it out on the cether, just to get past his tendency to stutter a little when nervous.

He looked like he might want to say more, but a glance at Klue, an almost desperate one, made clear he wasn't about to. Not so long as the chief was present. Klue grinned, looking back and forth at the pair before abandoning his chair. "You know, it's just occurred to me. There's something next door in need of my attention and it completely slipped my mind." It was the best he could manage, off the cuff. "I apologize miss Birch. I'll just be a moment. But meanwhile, if you don't mind, I'll leave my book with Dunnie and he can speak with you about the project, ask what needs asking?" he said, pointedly looking Dunnie's way, and handed him the book full of notes.

And then excusing himself again, Klue was gone, disappeared through a door that appeared to connect his own shop, with the art studio next door. Which left Dunnie standing there, still a little red about the face, but obviously as pleased to see Igrainne as any man could be. "I hope you don't mind me saying, milady, but I'd hoped to see you again," the half elf said, but only after he was sure Klue had gone. He even managed to look her in the eye as he sat down across from her, the book clutched in his hand but almost forgotten. "You've come looking to hire the chief?" he wondered. "It's a long way from Prime, I hope the trip wasn't a difficult one."
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Old February 25, 2015, 10:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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She accepted the tumbler with thanks, surprised to feel that it was cold but not surprised to find the drink delicious. Her questions about the mysterious chest were filed away behind her hundred others as she listened to Klue speak. If the corners of her lips turned up at a name, well then, it was a coincidence and safely hidden by another sip of the sweet cider. He caught himself as his explanation began to race ahead of her comprehension. She laughed, both appreciating that he didn’t assume her incapable of understanding- even if she did not quite yet- and thinking of how much the eager explanation of the details sounded like Dunnie.

“It’s good land, bordering Lake Rynum. We’ve field crops, an apple orchard...” she began, but was visibly distracted by the sounds from the corner.

She did her best to keep paying attention to Klue, nodding at his kind words about Veleraen even as her eyes kept drifting away to the corner and back again. The deep divide between her friend and the church had been played out in public, although never within the scope of her hearing or seeing; most of what Igrainne knew, she’d gleaned from the knights, and then mostly through cajoling and pretending she already knew what they were speaking about. It was a matter the titan preferred to keep her well away from, though he didn’t discourage her continuation of their charitable work in Sancta Nova so long as she exercised caution.

“I’ve brought a map…” And then she stopped because her thoughts, and her heart, and her breath had all stopped, too. It was one thing to think about someone’s bright hair and the quality of his voice, and another altogether see him again, to be reminded of his height, of the charm of his nearness. She felt both very pleased and very stupid all at once, and was simultaneously glad and embarrassed that she’d come all this way.

“Mr. Greene.” Igrainne had stood up as Dunnie walked towards them, and if anyone else had come with him, she had not noticed them yet. She was thinking that she ought to have written, but what would she have written to someone she’d met just once? Nevermind that she’d chosen to travel here instead, as if that were the more sensible option, just because she didn’t want him to see how poorly she wrote. She was unaware of the awkward seconds of her mutedness while her thoughts turned.

“Of course,” she answered Klue, though he might rightly suspect she’d only partially heard him, or else he might have due cause to take offense at how happy she appeared to hear that he was stepping out.

“I was hoping to find you here,” she told him as Klue departed, sitting back down as Dunnie did. Since meeting him on the farm, others’ green eyes had reminded her of his, but now she could see that they were nothing like his color. Everything about him was astonishingly bright, from the rioting colors of his clothing, which was a stark contrast from every other person she knew, to his vivid hair and those clear, brilliant eyes. Her pretense was nearly as forgotten as the book in his hand, until his question circled her thoughts back to it.

“Ships and giant’s shoulders,” the young woman laughed. “I was already heading home to Prime, and thought…” that she should divert her path all the way to the far island to see someone she’d met just once, for a few candlemarks, that’s what.

“-of how much it needs you- How the village needs this.” Of course, she meant Mr. Malinconico’s machine, but she had temporarily forgotten other names.

“So I came here,” she finally pronounced, and the last word contained all her incredulity and joy at actually having done it, having decided to just go to Demios, at being here in this particular shop and with this particular gadgeteer. Igrainne had been infinitely braver since the Xet attack and more impulsive, too. If all the worst things that had ever happened to her had happened in her own home and province, then what else was there to fear in the world?

She had turned these thoughts every which way during the long journey, and still she was nervous now. Igrainne lowered her attention to studiously smoothing out the map of Caronis she’d brought, which had been accidentally crumpled on the long trip here.

“I hope I’m not interrupting your work.” She ran her good hand over the crease marks. “This system- it could be very important to my village. And I just wanted to-” She made herself stop fussing with the map and actually look up at the person she’d come to see again. “Ask.”

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Old February 27, 2015, 11:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Dunlap Greene was much more familiar with Aelyrian laws of physics, such as they were, than he was with the befuddling but wonderful ways of women. Lily, Grams, Hay'aan, any number of Malinconico daughters, well, none of them counted. They were all family, as much as his own sister was. As he looked upon Igrainne, it confounded the redheaded gadgeteer that the lady who'd occupied any number of his waking candlemarks, and some of his sleeping ones too, since first they'd met...Well, what magic must be at work to have made her so much more fair and charming than even he had remembered; she'd grown even more fair, more charming, more everything, was the only explanation.

Breathe, Dunnie, he reminded himself as he sat down across from her, when she said that she'd hoped to find him here. He'd like to claim he hadn't dared to hope himself that he'd see her again. But it would have been a lie. He'd spent a great deal of time hoping, in fact. The book in his hand had become very little more than a prop. But he he kept a tight hold on it anyway, subconsciously it kept him grounded, attached to the real world and prevented him, he hoped, from making a fool of himself by stuttering, stammering and blushing anew. In honesty he was still riding high on the idea that she'd hoped, and then had to remind himself, yes, there's that, but she'd also come to inquire about the chief's work, after all.

"However you've come, milady, and by whatever means," he said, daring to lock an honest gaze with Igrainne's, "I'm very happy that you have. I wanted to write, but I...well, I wondered if you might welcome my letters," he admitted, and then smiled, catching himself from seeming to stare. He looked back down at the workbench surface, briefly, and placed Klue's book there in front of him. "You're not interrupting my work at all," he was quick to say. "I do quite a lot of the woodwork that's required for any given project. But it's a light brightening for me, and a busier one for Gregor, working metal at his forge." Still, he couldn't resist asking, "Will you be staying on the island long?" It had to be said, he sounded hopeful.

Then again, if she'd come to commission the chief and his work, Dunnie had already overseen the installation of one system before. He had the experience. Maybe then, well, these things were the chief's to decide. Dunnie didn't want to assume too much. Then again, he needed prove himself capable of getting the job done, when confronted with the most wonderful of distractions. He smiled, a little embarrassed and pushed open the book on the table, and picked up the pencil. "The chief will have my hide if I don't tick off the things on his list." Klue wouldn't, not for a minute, but better that Dunnie thought he might.

In fact, Klue had already made a few notes, acknowledging what Igrainne had told him before he'd handed the book over to Dunnie. "So you have a map?" he commented, and glanced at the folded thing in her hands. Her hands, so graceful and...Catching himself again, he glanced back at the notes. "It's a large body of water, a freshwater lake, this Rynum?" he wondered. "Does the lake remain at a fairly constant level era round, do the fields and groves receive sufficient moisture during the rainy season, to minimize needing to transport additional water for the crops?"

"How many total acres, combined, would you say?" he asked, but then turning to the matter of the orchards, he smiled and his eyes lit up. This was a chance to impress her, really. "You've mentioned before that you are a driud," Dunnie remembered, and risked locking gazes with her again, if only for a few seconds.

"You might find this particularly interesting. The chief has referenced apple orchards here," he added. "Since we last...I mean, since my return from Arium, he's come up with a few new components to add to the system. For orchards in particular. It would combine something he's referred to as drip irrigation, with a simple apparatus that could be installed in seconds around the trunk of each individual tree. The simple combination would accomplish a number of things. It would prevent the ruin of fruit crops due to an early frost...No more lost harvests due to an early freeze," he explained. "It would reduce the need for fertilizers and solutions to kill pests, and it should also conserve water by reducing the needs of each tree by up to ninety percent. The chief has been testing the system in the garden out back of the house here, and has been very pleased with the results."

The implication was there, all together. The ideas for orchard irrigation, either together with or separate from a more expansive irrigation system, could conserve water by reducing the requirements by up to ninety percent, and by protecting the trees and fruit from an early frost, combined with reducing the requirements for fertilizers, the by era yields should be increased by leaps and bounds.
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Old March 8, 2015, 03:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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“Only long enough to see to these matters,” she answered truthfully. She’d already been missing her home, especially after an unsettling incident in Arium that she did not look forward to recounting to her friends. They’d never want her to travel so far again, and she’d grown to love that particular freedom over the past era. She had wanted to come see-- the gadgeteer’s shop, and so she had, without having to ask anyone or explain herself, and now she was on a distant island and Dunlap was only across the table, not across the empire and the sea, and- she was losing herself in these thoughts and forgetting to carry on conversation like a normal person.

He went on so quickly that Igrainne, hesitating, lost a chance to answer about the letters, an art form about which she instantly reversed her opinion upon considering the possibility of letters from Dunlap. She straightened in her seat as he began to list off questions about the land and water, and he utterly ruined her intent to approach these matters in a purely professional manner by actually, perhaps accidentally, looking right at her with the kind of smile that reached his brilliant eyes. For her part, Igrainne looked happier than any woman who’d just been asked the acreage of her village fields had ever looked in the history of the Medonian continent.

As she listened, she opened the page she’d been fiddling with and turned the drawing towards him. The map was a decent likeness of the land, if not actually to scale. It showed an imposing keep overlooking a small village, with the fields and orchard marked out, and the forest beside it, and the edge of the great lake.

“Welcome to my home,” she smiled, tapping the paper. “Caronis.”

She answered with what she knew of the planned acreage, that the lake was quite large, that this was their first planting season there, and that yes, she was a druid of some small skill, with others who would also help to maintain the health and balance of the village needs and the natural world. Their conversation remained carried by Dunlap’s forging-ahead on the topic of improving the apple orchards- which Igrainne did find impressive and useful and wonderfully imaginative- likewise, she fairly instantly forgot the idea was Mr. Malinconico’s doing and attributed all sorts of wondrous intelligence and creativity and perfection to the nervous red-headed half-elf sitting so near her. But for all her relative quiet, it was Igrainne who kept her gaze perfectly upon him now as he looked away and back as he spoke. She wouldn’t have noticed if a dozen others had walked in to spectate and place their bets; Telath had comfortably reduced itself to a cozy space of a work bench and two chairs, which immensely appealed to her.

“That's wondrous. That would mean a great deal to their livelihood," she answered, admiring the man as much as the idea, and the poor originator getting very little credit in her mind for the moment.

"I’d love to see it, if you have time. The garden.” And if a trip to the ends of the island, or the Enamorian shore, or the moons could prolong her visit under a semblance of professional inquiry, that would also be fine.
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Old March 10, 2015, 09:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Only long enough to see to these matters.

Not long then. "I'm truly sorry to hear that," Dunnie said. Too quickly, maybe. Surely, he thought, it made him appear much too eager. Then again, why wouldn't he be? Someone like the lady Birch must have a dozen men hoping to catch her eye. "Demios is a beautiful island, different than anyplace else on the mainland. If you'd longer to stay or a chance to visit again, I'd like to show it to you. In late Spring, small purple flowers grow so thick on the southern slopes of the volcano that sailors can see them from miles out to sea."

So, right, the map. Tearing his eyes away from Igrainne, the half elf turned his gaze on the map. "Caronis. How did it get its name?" he wondered. "Have you always lived there?" It wasn't easy, studying the map or the task at hand, while sitting so close to the lady, just a breath a way. Never had a job seemed so dull in comparison. But judging by what he saw here, Dunnie told her, the chief ought be able to install something similar to what had been used on Golash's farm, if more of it, in addition to some additional components that could be tailored specifically to the lands and crops surrounding Caronis.

"The garden? Of course I will milady," he said, and with a smile that was uncommon even for an already agreeable half elf, Dunnie stood and offered up his arm for Igrainne to take. The more time he spent with her, the longer he avoided embarrassing himself by stammering over his words or saying something foolish, the more comfortable and the more confident he became. Not so much that he didn't worry over either of those things happening. But this was progress.

The brightening was a beautiful one. The view of the Great Sea outside the workshop was spectacular. The aquamarine waters were calm and their surface was dotted with white sails off in the distance. The glassy black sand beach just below Wits' End shimmered in the suns'light, and there was just a light breeze. But it was enough to bring the whirligig forest behind Wits' End to life. "When Master Malinconico moved to Wits' End eras ago," Dunnie said as he escorted Igrainne up the path towards the house, then veered off on another path that led round the side, "when it was just him and his oldest daughter, well, it was a poor excuse for a garden. The chief didn't know a carrot from a weed," he said, and laughed.

"But it's still not him that does the gardening," he added as they approached a fairly large section of the property that, judging by Dunnie's description of the former garden, had been handily transformed. "But he's installed the irrigation system to make things easier for missus Malinconico, Lily and Grams."

It wasn't an enormous plot. But even if it only supported one family, it was the size of that family, made it a pretty impressive one. The whole thing was divided into sections, rows for vegetables here, raised beds for blueberries or strawberries there, shaded boxes for herbs off in a corner closer to the house. Along one side was a row of trees, and each had an inverted, cone like object round the bottom of its trunk. Apple, Dunnie explained, Peach and Avacado. A network of clay pipe, connected here and there with the more familiar looking hoses made its way through the rows and boxes and down the line of trees. And not far off, a tall, brightly painted whirligig was on its own, spinning away in the breeze. Along the inside length of its frame, a slender rod was moving up and down, up and down, and there was a large, raised wooden water tank beside it.

"The dragon winds on Demios blow all the time, to some extent," Dunnie said, while gesturing towards the whirligig. "It means that this irrigation system needn't rely on a motor, when a breeze will do the trick instead. The pond on the property isn't large enough to keep the garden going, so instead the chief has tapped into an extensive water table. The island has an enormous network of underground springs. It's a volcanic island so the soil is particularly good for growing, and the weather is such that the growing season lasts all but a month or so in Winter..."

Dunnie could easily have kept talking the brightening through, if only it would keep her nearby. But as luck would have it, just then, another pair came arm in arm round the side of the house and was headed their way. Klue had returned to his workshop and found Dunnie and his visitor gone, but Digger, the gnome, who'd been shamelessly eavesdropping from the rafters as was his usual, had pointed him in the right direction. He'd been reprimanded for it, but if the gnome was contrite at all and he hardly was, it wouldn't last long. Some things never changed. Klue was smiling as he approached, but he wasn't alone...Here's your cue Hay'aan!
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Old March 10, 2015, 11:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Arm in arm with her husband, it had to be said that Hay'aan Malinconico was somewhat curious to see the woman who was visiting their island home. Being who she was, of course, the young gypsy woman had not engaged in any ribbing or Dunnie and, in fact, had been more than happy to talk with him if he wished it about just how much he had enjoyed Lady Birch's company on his trip there. The others in the crew, of course, had tormented him mercilessly, but Hay'aan would not be part of such behaviour.

Around the corner they came and Hay'aan was intrigued to see the woman Dunnie was with. They were looking at the garden, she noticed and she smiled in pleasure, nudging Klue gently "I wonder if he's going to have her putting erstwhile escapee vegetables back?" she said, softly. Hay'aan was shorter than her husband by nearly a foot with dark skin and brown eyes. Her long black hair which fell down well below her waist was held back with a deep burnt orange scarf. She was wearing a full and flowing floor length skirt which ranged in colour from almost-yellow at the top down into a deep burnt orange at the bottom. It was belted tightly at her waist with a burnt orange sash and tucked into that was a yellow blouse. Of course, she had a string of bells on one ankle and one wrist, and the sash she used as a belt tinkled with tiny bells also. As they got closer, the gentle sound the bells made was evident in rhythmn with her movements.

Hay'aan smiled at them both, Igrainne and Dunnie but her attention was mostly on Igrainne, it must be said. "Lady Birch" she spoke quietly and she blushed just a little as she did. Hay'aan looked at the two of them and she smiled; and a very genuine smile of pleasure it was. "I am Hay'aan Malinconico, it is a pleasure to meet you. Welcome to our home." she said and glanced at the area they were in and raised an eyebrow "and our garden, it seems.". She was well aware of just how enamoured with this woman Dunnie was and Hay'aan wanted to be supportive to her friend. "My husband tells me you work with Veleraen? I have had the pleasure of meeting him." she didn't mention the how, that was quite a complex story. But there was one thing of which she had no doubt at all "The world is better for people like him being in it." Of that, there was no doubt in Hay'aan's mind and she said it, as ever, as she saw it.

"How long are you on Demios for Lady Birch?" she asked, quietly "I hope you will get the chance to see some of the island, it is a very wonderful, special place. And it would be a pleasure if you were to share a meal with us" There was no sense of pressure from her, she simply said it how it was. But when she said it, it was abundantly clear that the us included Dunnie.
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Old March 14, 2015, 08:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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She was surprised by the Caronis question. “I’m not sure. It’s what Veleraen named his keep. The village is an extension of that,” she told him, looking at Dunlap while he looked at the map. “I began working at the keep almost two eras ago. When I told you that I was a farmer- I am. I grew up on a wheat farm.” Igrainne liked sitting near him like this, as it was easier to see one another face to face, given that he was so much taller- nevermind that her attention dropped to the map the second his eyes raised to meet hers.

“Imagine this is Prime.” She drew her index finger along the imaginary border around the surface of the work bench. “If this is the gulf and Portshire, then Lake RynusI’m forever mixing up Rynus for the lake and Rynum for the other town is here, south, and Caronis at its southern shore.” She pulled the map back towards her side to put her little home where it belonged, then traced her scarred hand in a long line dividing them. “And this is the River Ioannes.”

“My family’s farm was, is, over here, below the Pegasi Wood,” she said, moving her whole left hand to rest near his right one, as that was an accurate representation of her invisible map and the young woman had no ulterior motives.

Outside, the color of the sea alone was stunning, but that with the garden and sky, and the present company, it was the loveliest brightening she’d seen in a long time, as the countryside she’d left behind was in the midst of wintry gray and flat skies. The breeze was just enough to keep her palms from sweating. It was proper and normal to take his arm, and it didn’t mean anything more than good manners that he walked with her this way, but the feeling of her hand tucked against the brilliant sapphire silk and his arm beneath kept her pulse quickened.

“The growing season must be quite long here,” she said, mentally smacking herself for her stellar conversational skills and intriguing topics. She admired the orderliness of the garden as much as the profusion of plants at this time of era; Igrainne liked neat beds in a vegetable garden as much as she liked wild abundance in the natural world. “...and you said this is all for one family?”

The fruit trees, ostensibly the reason for this walk, did merit attention and questions. Igrainne was sure the villagers would be willing to try this, as odd as it looked, and she had absolute confidence in her decision to hire Dragonworks that went beyond her personal interest. She’d glanced at the whirligig, but was mostly absorbed in looking up at Dunlap as he spoke, thinking on how close they were standing, and what may happen if he’d only turn his head to look at her.

She didn’t hear the tinkling bells or the approaching pair until Hay’aan spoke. Being called Lady Birch was a strong reminder of her supposed main reason for being here, which was not to lure Mr. Malinconico’s apprentices away from their work. The young woman’s cheeks reddened as she turned to the couple, her hand discreetly withdrawing from Dunlap’s arm.

“Mrs. Malinconico, it’s an honor. You’ve a beautiful home here.” Igrainne had the impression that she was truly welcome. The woman radiated warmth that went beyond her sunny clothes. Igrainne was quickly learning that the islanders’ fashion was far brighter than what she was used to seeing. “I hope you don’t mind that I asked Mr. Greene to show me your garden.”

“I do, and it certainly is better, and safer for us all,” she answered, pleased that Hay’aan knew her dearest friend. “He’ll be glad to hear of our acquaintance.”

“Not long,” she said with true regret. “I’d love to see more of the island before I go.” No one would come all this way and not want to explore a beautiful, volcanic island, she thought. It would seem crazy, after all, to be perfectly happy having just conversed with someone in a shop.

This simple exchange with the charming lady of the house had extinguished Igrainne’s lingering nervousness. Hay’aan’s sincerity and friendliness- and truly, the honest welcome of everyone she’d met here so far- made it impossible to turn down the kind invitation, not that she wanted to avoid it.

“I would like that very much,” she replied, looking up at the half-elf beside her who had not, despite the abandoned arm, been forgotten.
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Old March 15, 2015, 04:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Ordinarily, Dunnie would have been most at home, most confident, inside the four walls of the workshop and behind his own wood crafting bench. Even with the air full of sawdust, especially with the air full of sawdust, the noise and chatter, the sometimes sweltering heat when the furnace was running full blast, well, it was all second nature to the half elf. But now, in this moment and in this place and in her company, there was no place he'd rather be than standing in the garden atop the hill at Wits' End. Her arm looped in his, the warmth of her skin against his in spite of fabric sleeves in between; it was a little like the chief's specialty these brightenings. It was downright electric.

But, oh, right, she'd asked about the family and Dunnie nearly blushed again, considering he'd been caught, mind wandering or rather fixated only on her. "Quite a large family," he confirmed. "The Malinconicos and their children, nine of them. Then there's the chief's grandmother Pilar and Waldo who's a member of the crew but will soon be marrying in. Then there's Edgar and Lily, the chief's...adopted parents you might say." Dunnie grinned a little before adding, "When you throw in any number of crew members or friends who stay to eat, it takes a pretty large garden to do the job."

There was a pause then, it might have been an awkward one but Dunnie turned and smiled down at her, looking as if he might come closer still and was wondering how strongly she'd object if he was to steal a....And by gods, he'd have to say that the chief and his missus had terrible timing. As a result of hearing the two of them on their way, he dropped his gaze and blushed, as if the lady could read his mind.

It had to be said that Klue had never once seen Dunnie in such a state, but he needn't have, in order to guess the source of his crew member's current state. Why, Dunnie almost seemed flustered that the two of them had shown up just when they did. Digger might tease him relentlessly, if he was ever to catch on. But not Klue. It was nice, really, to see Dunnie finally coming out of himself and showing a genuine interest in someone. In fact he was glad that Hay'aan had thought to ask Igrainne to join them for pracenda. Though it ought be said that with or without Dunnie's interest, she'd still have extended the invitation.

"Good," Klue said when Igrainne accepted, and he didn't need to ask but only assume that Dunnie would be there as well. "I hope you don't mind a crowded table," he added with a grin, and it was putting it mildly. "If you'd like to see more of the island, we might arrange something for next brightening?" he wondered aloud.
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Old March 15, 2015, 06:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hay'aan saw what was happening and she smiled, her mind suddenly transported back to a time when Dunnie had cleared his throat beneath the ocean's depths and reminded her and her now-husband of his presence, just when it had seemed that they were completely alone and she had really thought he might kiss her. She decided in that moment that she was definitely going to Aeternia, for she considered that revenge was most certainly a dish best served cold. But when Lady Birch called her Mrs Malinconico, Hay'aan shook her head and smiled. "Hay'aan, please" she spoke softly and quietly "The only person to call me Mrs Malinconico was a teacher at the school where Klue and I used to volunteer" she added and it was pretty obvious that was because Mildred Austere had utterly disapproved of just about everything the free-spirited gypsy woman stood for.

"Mind? On the contrary, I'm very proud of our garden and love the chance to show it off a little" she said with a smile. "I hail from Arakmat originally and the soil here is a true delight to work with. Of course, Klue's irrigation system helps a little" that last was added mischievously, not wishing to provide too much in the way of praise lest the menfolk became bigheaded. Pleased that Igrainne had accepted her invitation (which of course Klue's assessment of was correct. She'd have made it anyway) she nodded at Klue's assessment of a crowded table. "That it is" she agreed with a smile "We've nine children" her explanation was delivered with a smile which told of her pride in her children, and their father "Add in four adults other than us who live here full time and good friends like Uncle Dunnie and the others in Klue's crew and our table is always busy. We are very blessed" she said, seriously.

But she would not be staying long? "That is a shame. I hope that you'll manage a few brightenings at least. The island is a wonderful place. When I first came here I was amazed at how exotic and beautiful it is. I still am, in truth" No point denying it, it was true as it could be. And as for something the next brightening, Hay'aan nodded her head at her husband's suggestion with a smile. "There are many things to see, Lady Birch. I'm sure that, if you can make the time, you will quite fall in love with the place"
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Last edited by Hay'aan Malinconico; March 15, 2015 at 06:39 PM. Reason: how many times can I say "she said" in one post!?
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Old March 29, 2015, 12:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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“There’s only one reason why I may not join you,” she answered in all seriousness, “and that’s if you address all your invitations to Lady Birch, I’ll forget you mean me.” Her eyes danced with merriment, already imagining the meals at this crowded table. It sounded like the pracenda tables she’d known as a child: her family, the neighbors, the hired hands, and whoever else happened to be on the property. She could still feel the stuffy heat of the kitchen as she helped her mother, could picture her father rolling in barrels for extra seats while the children, delighted, were sent to picnic on the rug before the fire. It sounded like a merry, chaotic aetheria to her, especially after this long month of traveling.

She was speaking to Hay’aan and Klue, although mostly looking at Hay’aan, and wanting to speak to only Dunlap but feeling too shy to lift her face to him again just now, as the others looked on. Igrainne was acutely aware of the fact that Dunnie never said her name, but only called her ‘milady’ while she addressed him as ‘Mr. Greene.’

“Tomorrow? That would be wonderful, yes. This was my only business here and it seems you’ll be able to bring your irrigation system to the village, as I’d so hoped you might.” She was babbling a bit at Klue. Igrainne had the feeling that she was rather transparent, that they both knew why this girl from Prime had decided to come all this way to discuss irrigation techniques in person.

OOCSorry! My post sat for weeks as RL work got busier and busier. I have a little break coming up and am looking forward to writing more! Feel free to skip us to the next day or whatever. :-)
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Old March 30, 2015, 12:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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"Igrainne it is, then," Klue agreed. Although he was all too aware that it was Dunnie that had most of the lady's attention. Even if she did her best to imply otherwise. He grinned a little as a result, and Dunnie found his voice, the half elf even brushed a hand against hers. "Igrainne," he said, "But only if you'll call me Dunnie." Suddenly Klue felt a little like a voyeur, an awkward one at that, and quickly pressed on.

"I can, yes," the gadgeteer added. The irrigation system he meant. "Judging by the information you've given me, the size of the project, I'll not be able to install it on my own. I'll need to bring an assistant with me, and considering he's gained some experience already, I hope it's alright if I bring Dunnie along?" he wondered. As for Dunlap, it was music to the half elf's ears and he couldn't begin to conceal it. It was written all over his face. "We need only arrange a time for our arrival." He and his crew would need time to fabricate the right components, and enough of them of course. But most of what they'd need was on hand already, it wouldn't take long.

So..."Tomorrow, mid brightening then?" he wondered, and glanced at both Hay'aan and Igrainne. Dunnie would be pleased, he knew, for the extra time he could spend with their visitor. "May I walk you back to the inn?" Dunnie asked, hopefully. He wasn't nearly ready to part ways yet, and it was a bit of a walk to the inn, especially taken at a leisurely pace. If she agreed, the redheaded half elf would offer his arm, and Klue for his part would politely make his excuses, give Hay'aan a kiss and head back to his shop.

It would in fact take some time to reach the inn, and never one to let an opportunity go to waste, Dunnie would make sure to point out the places of interest to Igrainne along the way. There, off in the distance behind them was Potter's Bluff. The local fisherman and passing sailors steered around the towering formation, claiming that it was haunted by spirits that wailed and conversed with each other the brightening and darkening through. "Between you and me," he confided in her with a grin, "It's goats making the noise. But it's good fun letting them believe otherwise."

And there, out to sea, those land masses were the rest of the Fire Islands...And inland, towering above the Weavers' Woods was the big Volcano where the black drakes nested and raised their young. It had erupted four, maybe five eras ago now, he told her, but it had been quiet ever since. And as they passed the docks, he'd show her the private slip that the Chief kept, and the three man submersible that was suspended above the surface of the water in its hoist and harness. There was no better way, he told her...In fact there was no other way at all to get an up close and personal view of the enormous coral reef off shore, teeming with life, in every color of the rainbow.

But the walk had seemed a short one after all, so far as Dunnie was concerned. And it was an awkward parting. As much as he'd found his voice and reveled in her attention during their stroll, now he was left feeling clumsy. But then, finding a level of courage that surprised even him, unless she landed him a good smack on the cheek for presuming, he'd lean forward and give her a kiss...just a brief and fleeting one, before promising to return for her the next brightening, a half candlemark before noon.

ooclots of liberties taken there in the process of getting us to next brightening. If too many, my apologies. Feel free to pull up the reins or give Dunnie a smack anywhere along the way. :p
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