Old November 30, 2011, 11:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Beginning of the End (Dante)


12th of Tempris, Autumn, Era XVIII Post Fractum


As the family entered in through the front doors at the chateau in Jaedaxia, Niven dropped her bags no more then a few feet inside and sighed. Her jade eyes scanned the grand house remembering everything. It had been just as dusty and dirty the first time she'd been here too. The time she'd spent with Dante here was special, though she'd had no idea at the time just how much to him. The elf let out a soft snort. Hindsight was 20/20. If she'd had any idea then what had been going through his mind at that time…. She shook her head slightly and sighed. Things might have turned out very differently if she'd known then what she knew now. For one, she and Dante probably wouldn't be together now. A smiled played on her pale pink lips. It was good that things were the way they were.

The chatter of everyone else coming through behind her filled the house. Niven scooped up her things off the floor so as not to set a bad example and turned. "Everyone take your things up to your rooms. Things may not be exactly as you left them, but that just is the way it is. Drop your things off and meet me back here. We have work to do. This place is a mess and you are all going to help get it into shape. I don't know how long we're going to be here, but we're not going to live like pigs. Let's go," she said, clapping her hands to encourage them to do their task quickly. Niven dropped her things onto a chair coated in a thick layer of dust close to her and went back outside.

Patting down Trigg, Niven let the horse nuzzle her before she untied him from the carriage. "You did well," she said to her friend and gave him another good pat. The horse nickered happily. Then she untied him and proceeded to lead him off to the stables. Juno followed and proceeded to run the length of the grounds, happy to be free of the confines of the carriage. Once the horse was situated with food and fresh water, hay and blankets, Niven returned to the house to look for cleaning supplies. Once she found what she wanted, Niven returned to the foyer, hoping to find most, if not all of the children waiting for her.
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Old December 1, 2011, 12:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The place was like a museum exhibition dedicated to the wonderful world of dust. Fortunately other than that the place was relatively tidy. No one had been in the place for about 6 months, except perhaps for some vermin which had found their way up through the cellar and into the kitchen. The children's rooms would be how they were left, except for the rooms used by Niven and Jirael when they stayed with Dante here eras past. The only room that was 'untidy' was Dante's study where piles of books stood stacked as he had read them to fill the empty hours he'd spent here without his family. He'd normally straighten such things up, but for some reason hadn't felt up to it when he'd left Jaedaxia the last time and then had been called upon by the church to save the world, which in thanks for he and the rest of his race were banished from Diana by a man he'd once called friend.

Dante walked into the house, curling his nose at the dust as he fought off the need to sneeze. "Well at least it is still standing right?" Dante commented. He quickly moved to the study and started putting his things away, growling in irritation at the paper eating vermin that had got to some of them. He'd been in his Eshlahier seeming since the 'announcement' was made and he continued to get used to how much different it felt to go around without priestly garb, in normal clothes again. At first he felt naked, but now it felt rather liberating. The church of Faith certainly hadn't done anything to win his loyalty.

With a shake of his head to clear such thoughts away he thought instead of happy things, like that fact that his beautiful fiance was in the next room. Suddenly the tension and anger slid out of him and he was in a good place again.

The children dutifully headed up to their rooms, mostly so they could see what they had left here. Chariras dutifully clung to Niven's skirt and looked at the place with trepidation. He hadn't been in the place for the same amount as the rest, but it was a much larger percentage of his life. The sights and sounds were different, the smell was different and he had no intention of letting his Mummy out of his sight. Nikki and Nelly were much more adventurous. They headed up through the familiar passages of the house, looking in the rooms as they went. They were having a continued debate about what the first thing they were going to do was after they finished their room. Nelly insisted on cleaning the library so she could read her books, while Nikki made a disgusted face and and insisted that they go clean the yard so they could explore while they did so.

Maya smiled at Niven and stopped at her side. "Well... it's filthy. Homey, but filthy." Then to Chariras "Hey buddy, you wanna come help me with my room then I'll help you with yours?" Aside from Dante, Maya was probably the only Asunder that could coax Chariras away from Niven for any length of time. The little boy reluctantly released Niven's skirt and took Maya's hand, gripping his black dracon stuffed toy in the other. The pair headed up the steps to their rooms, Maya gently forcing conversation with the timid 5 era old.

Jar came in next, carrying his, Chariras' and stooping to pick up Maya's extra bag she'd left in the hall when Chariras took her hand. Jar looked about and just grinned. More than anything he was happy to be out of the carriage, "Ah... sweet freedom." He gave his mom a wink and headed upstairs as well. There was no sign of Kel however until Niven went outside.

He was kneeling down petting Juno with a sombre look on his face. The Vysstichi youth wasn't looking at the dog however, but was watching the fences, in particular the ones over which you could see the Temple of Diana in the distance. He looked intensely in that direction, perhaps scared, perhaps angry, who could say?
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Old December 4, 2011, 05:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The elf couldn't help but smile at her fiancÚ as he commented on the fact the if nothing else, the house was still there. She watched him move off to his study to tidy up in there. Niven was fine with that. Those were his business papers and such and she wouldn't want to risk touching them lest something accidentally go missing. Niven couldn't help but grin at his very cute rump as he walked away from her. She really enjoyed Dante's look without his robes.

Chariras came in and clung to her skirts. Niven laid a hand on her youngest's blond head in comfort. The baby of the family had spent very very little time in this house as Dante hadn't let the children be here for eras now as the Thorns were causing a great deal of problems for him and it wasn't safe for them to be here. Now they were back for a short time, but this was not a home for Chariras. Nelly and Nikki took off like rockets. They remembered the house well.

Maya came in and dropped her bag beside Niven and Chariras. The elf smiled at their oldest and nodded. "Yes, it's very dirty," she agreed. It was charming and very endearing the way Maya could coax Chariras out and bring him with her towards their rooms. Niven hugged herself as she watched their retreating forms.

Jar came in with some of the bags and scooped up Maya's as well. Niven giggled at his comment. "Don't worry, I'll keep you plenty busy and on your feet so you can really stretch those legs," she said, only half joking.

The elf found their middle oldest outside with their dog. Niven noticed the look of intensity on his face and the direction in which it was pointed. "Kel?" she asked, softly. "You ok?" Niven paused, giving the youth time to respond if he wished. She wouldn't press him if he didn't feel like sharing. After a bit, Niven said, "Your brothers and sisters are putting their things in their rooms and then we're going to clean up the house so it's habitable." She said nothing more. Kel was old enough to do what he was supposed to, but Niven respected that in these times, it was expected for some of them to take their time coming to terms with everything that had happened.

~~~~

Niven smiled at whomever she found waiting for her in the foyer. "Alright. I need two people to be in charge of dusting and a couple of older people to take out the rugs and shake them out. Someone else can sweep after the duster's. Who wants to do what?" She asked. Niven knew that cleaning wasn't the most fun task for children, but she had a few ideas on how to make it more fun.
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Old December 6, 2011, 12:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Maya smiled at her mother as she led the child upstairs. It was ironic considering the closeness in their ages, but technically Maya was 'older' than her father. The world was certainly a strange place. Jar grinned at his mother and sighed, "Oh wonderful. I'm so looking forward to it." With a shake of his head he clomped upstairs still grinning.

Kel looked up at Niven's approach, before turning his gaze back to the temple in the distance. "Is Father going to be... Okay?" He sounded distant, almost ethereal, "He never tells us anything so we won't worry, but sometimes that makes me worry more. You know?" He continued to pet the dog with one hand and holding Juno to him with the other.

He then looked up at his mother, "What's going to happen to us?" Kel stood and started walking toward the house with a last pat for Juno. He grabbed his stuff on the way and disappeared into the front door.

By the time Niven got back into the house the children were all standing in a line from tallest to shortest, except Chariras who insisted on being next to Maya. They looked at each other with the instructions. Everyone immediately raised their hands, "I'll do the rugs!" The sound of Dante cleaning was heard in the study through the barely cracked open door.
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Old December 6, 2011, 01:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Kel's question caught Niven off guard. Clearly this young man saw more then he let on. The elf clasped her hands in front of her, not sure what to say at first. Kel continued and Niven nodded. Yes, Dante kept much from his children, for their protection. But he also hadn't sat down with any of them and talked about what was going on and what it meant for all of them. They hadn't had the opportunity before they left because time was of the essence. They'd wanted to explain it to the older children, but it just couldn't happen.

The youth looked at her and Niven sighed, but smiled warmly. "We're going to be fine. All of us. Your father and I want to speak with you all about what's going on. I know it's hard to wrap your head around and everything is happening so fast. It is for us too. But we're going to be ok." she said, reassuringly. She'd let Dante tell the children how he was. It would be better coming from him. And Niven had no doubts that he was still reeling a bit too.

~~~~

The Children all looked so excited to help. She figured they'd all want the ''easy' job. "Ok then," she said smiling. "This is what we're going to do. We are going to clean this place room by room. Your father's study will be last as he's got many important documents in there and he needs to sort through those first. You will all rotate so that everyone is going to get a chance to do every job. And we're going to time ourselves. See how fast we can do this. The key is, that while we work quickly, we can't be sloppy. Rooms must be cleaned properly. There will be a good reward when we are finished. I promise you won't be disappointed," Niven's eyes sparkled. She had great plans that she needed to speak to Dante about. She'd need his co-operation on the reward.

Handing dust rags to Jar, Kel and Meeko, a broom to each Nikki and Nelly. "You five will start with these. MJ and Chariras will start with the rugs and throw pillows," she said, winking at the little boy. She had a feeling that Maya would end up doing most of the work, but he needed to feel like he was contributing as well. Niven gestured to the common room. "This is where we'll start I will be back in a moment, I just need to talk to your father about something quickly. Are you ready?" she asked, pausing for effect. "GO!"

Once the children had started cleaning to her satisfaction, Niven sipped away and knocked on the study door. "Hey, can I have a minute? I need your help with something…"
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Old December 6, 2011, 02:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Kel looked at Niven with a look that suggested he didn't believe her, but that he appreciated the effort of trying to cheer him up. "I hope you're right," he said with a smile. It was a dazzling one to be sure, but that was the nature of the boy's smiles.

The children all turned to look at each other when Niven mentioned a 'surprise'. They weren't sure what it was, but Niven didn't lie. Some of the children actually believed she was incapable of lying, like she didn't know how. The dusting trio nodded and got to work. Maya smiled down at Chariras and headed for the throw pillows, letting him carry one or two of those while she grabbed the rugs. "I get to help Maya!" Chariras cheered really happy about being able to help. Maya chuckled at him, "Oh yeah. You watch we'll be done faster than anybody."

Nelly and Nikki started sweeping, although it seemed more like ballet dancing at first. They quickly settled down when Jar commented, "It doesn't count if it isn't clean. Come on let's get it done so we can get our surprise." He didn't sound too excited about the surprise, but he knew what to say to get the girls to focus.

When Niven got to the study, Dante was finishing up setting some books into the shelves. The place seemed to be getting ordered again, but there was still a lot to do. He looked back apologetically at her entrance, "Sorry beautiful. I didn't really expect you all to be back here for awhile and I left rather suddenly last time." He turned back to finish the last of the books then returned to her, "What's up?"
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Old December 6, 2011, 02:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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She smiled as he apologized for the mess. "Ah, well, then I supposed the state of your office is to be forgiven," she teased. She let him finish putting the books away and her eyes sparkled with mischief as he came towards her.

"I need a special surprised for our children. They're helping me clean and I promised them something worthwhile. I was wondering if you might grace us with one of your stories again? I'm sure there's another that you have in your vast repertoire that would be suitable. One with maybe a bit of action, yet nothing too frightening?" Niven gave Dante her sweetest look. If she had been younger, the look might have been considered akin to 'the look' the children had perfected so well.
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Old December 6, 2011, 02:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Dante grinned at his fiance, by Aetheria but he loved that he could call her that, and read a little too much of the wrong kind of mischief in it causing him to grin suavely. Her request then took him by surprise, "Really? I suppose I could try to think of something. Hmm..."

He turned back to his work, still Hmming to himself trying to come up with one. "What about one that has a happy ending even though some parts are scary?" He looked up at Niven, hoping that perhaps he'd come up with something. Otherwise he might have to dumb down some of his tales to borderline fantasy.

He ran his eyes intentionally up and down Niven slowly drinking her in, but over exaggerating the 'checking out' he was doing. "Oh no not that one, they're too young." Then he gave her a double eyebrow raise, before going back to humming to himself, very pleasant thoughts now in his head. "Don't worry beautiful, I'll come up with something."
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Old December 6, 2011, 03:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dante grinned at her request and Niven matched it. She knew what she was asking. But she also knew how much it would mean to the children. Niven also thought that perhaps it was time Dante started sharing a little more with his kids. Locking them out so much was starting to concern the older ones.

The pretty elf cocked her head as she considered the first option. '"That might be ok, but we need to keep in mind your audience. I know the kids are going to love stories from you, but I don't want to be up all night with the little ones either," she said. It was a reward, but it wasn't going to be one that was going to end up being a situation where she shot herself in the foot.

She looked at Dante an eyebrow of her own raised as he looked her over and verbally decided against that story. "Oh, you!" Niven said, wrinkling her cute little nose as he teased her. He started humming again and then said that he'd figure something out. Niven nodded, still smiling. "Thank-you."

She moved towards him, standing on her tippy toes to reach his cheek, gave him a peck and whisked herself out of the room back to the kids before Dante would have a chance to steal some kisses of his own.
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Old December 6, 2011, 04:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The dracon took a swipe at trying to catch hold of Niven, missing narrowly and cursing his ill fortune as he grinned at her fleeing form and returned to work, idly thinking of which story to tell.

The children were doing well and the place was making progress. The room she'd left them in was still not done, but the dusters and rug beating crew were easily in the lead. Sweeping still left a bit to be desired, but they at least 'appeared' to be working.

"Mummy! Me and MJ are winning!" he squealed pleased with himself. MJ smiled at the boy as she gave Niven a conspiratorial wink. The rugs seemed to be 'clean' although they weren't put back yet, mostly that had to do with the sweeping duo.

"If you two don't hurry up me and Meeko are going to do the rugs in the next room," Kel retorted. That got the two of them moving with more determination as Maya took a dust rag for herself and Chariras and followed Jar into the next room to be cleaned.
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Old December 6, 2011, 05:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Giggling as she left the study, Niven was pleased to return to the common room and find all the kids hard at work. Chariras boated that he and Maya were winning and Niven grinned at him and said, "That's so great sweetheart!" Her look turned to Maya who gave her a wink. Niven couldn't' keep from laughing.

It seemed the duo in charge of sweeping were having some trouble and holding up the rest of the group, so Niven grabbed one herself and started helping. "Great job, girls," she said to Nelly and Nikki. She didn't want them to think that their efforts were not appreciated.

In not more then a few minutes, they were done and everything was put back where it belonged. Niven put her hands on her hips and gave the room a once over. "Wow, this is a completely different room! I am so impressed, You guys! Good work!" She praised the children. The room really did look magnificent.

"Alright, onto the dining room! Jar, Kel, and Meeko, you three are in charge of the rugs. That means moving the table. You guys can handle that right? Nikki and Nelly, you two are on dusting duty and MJ, Chariras and I are on sweeping. Ready?" Niven looked around at each of the children. "Go!"
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Old December 6, 2011, 06:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The girls looked appreciative, but bashful. Maya gave them a raised eyebrow and Kel just shook his head. They helped finish the rest of the room and soon it was livable again. The house was on its way to homey again and even the atmosphere of the place seemed more home like.

At the next room Jar and Kel lifted the table while Meeko pulled the rug from under it. They rolled the large rug up together, then the trio carried it outside for a good beating. Maya was a whirlwind with the broom sweeping really quick while Chariras swept at Niven's side, jabbering away at her the whole time. The two girls were a dusting tizzy, although they couldn't reach very high. Regardless they did a good job where they could and would occasionally snag a chair so they could reach the high places.

It didn't take the boys and Meeko long before they returned with the rug. They smiled and nodded grinning impishly at Maya as they 'waited' for her to finish sweeping. Unfortunately for them it wasn't very long, because Niven and Maya were cleaning pros apparently.
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Old December 6, 2011, 07:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Niven grinned as the room got done speedily. The kids really wanted their surprise. And the rooms looked so much better when they were done. Niven helped Meeko place the rug back under the table as the boys lifted it up. Then the group put the chairs back and the room was done. "Another job well done, guys," Niven said, proud of all their efforts.

The next room was the kitchen. There was only a small rug in front of the fireplace so Niven gave that job to the girls. It was a manageable task for them. Maya and Chariras were on dusting duty with her and Jar and Kel and Meeko were in charge of sweeping.

Once the kitchen was done, Niven said, "Well that's most of the main floor, except for the study. Let's see how your father is doing and maybe we can get in there next. Then we're done for the day. Tomorrow you all can do your rooms, but I doubt that will take you long." She gave the kids all a wink and then moved to the study door.

"*Knock knock knock* Dante? *Knock knock knock* Dante? *Knock knock knock*, Dante?" Niven asked, poking her head into the study. "Hey you! You almost done in here? The cleaning crew is ready to make this place look less like a deserted museum and more like a functional office. You ready for us?"
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Old December 6, 2011, 08:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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"Thanks Niven", Meeko replied as her mom helped her put the rug back. The rest of the kids sighed at having another room done.

"Can't we do the rest tomorrow?" whined Nikki as the outside seemed to be drawing her attention more and more. Chariras simply tagged along with Maya as they discussed whichever topic he decided to bring up, be it Jathacsia (Jaedaxia), the difference between dracons and humans and then elves. Maya was patient with him and simply answered his questions as they continued their work.

The kitchen seemed a daunting task for the group in general, but they buckled down to do it. Maya held Chariras on her shoulders and he dusted up high, while she dusted the counters and chairs. It wasn't long before they were finishing up. The boys were sweeping rather well and Meeko was supervising them very effectively. She'd then clean up the piles they made as there really wasn't enough room for all of them sweeping at once. Nikki and Nelly came back in the house carrying the rug between them back toward the kitchen.

Once they were finished they sat to take a rest as Niven went to check on Dante's progress. He was finishing up dusting as he wiped down his room with a rag. The window was open and it looked like he had already cleaned his rugs and even swept the floor. He hadn't known the details of Niven's task assigning, but he felt responsible for the room he'd left such a mess. The look at her 'greeting' was nothing short of sheer confusion. He had no idea what she was up to, but one of his eyebrows was raised as he contemplated this new insanity of his beloved. "What do you mean 'Ready for you?'"
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Old December 7, 2011, 11:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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She had spoken before really taking a look around. Now that she had, Niven realized that Dante didn't require any assistance. He'd already done it! "I was going to say that we were going to help you clean up in here, but it seems you already have it all under control," she said, marvelling at the difference in the room. "Well done!" she exclaimed approvingly and smiling.

Her smile quickly turned mischievious. "The kids are done the main floor. You were our last room, but as you have completed that yourself it seems it is time to reveal their reward." Niven glanced back at the kids all resting behind her and then lowered her voice as she turned back to Dante. "Do you want to tell them, or should I?" she asked her jade eyes dancing like moonlight on the sea. "You can save telling it until later, but I think we should let them know what they've worked so incredibly hard for."
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