New Old Regrets

Description:

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
New Old Regrets
« on: July 06, 2019, 09:10:28 PM »
Head bowed under the housekeepers wrath Arkyn nodded his head continuously. The movement didn’t interrupt his chewing. Sandwich stuffed into his mouth one large bite at a time. Each swallow punctuated by a muffled ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘sorry, miss’. She scolded relentlessly while she swept the kitchen floor. A finger leaving the broom handle every few minutes to wag at him like an errant boy. How dare he skip lunch? Didn’t he think of his health? What would become of Meols if he fell ill? His sister would be tossed out into the cold world! All the criminals would run loose!

Half of his late meal was finished when she finally went around the corner, leaving him to rush through the other half in peace. Voice carrying from the back of the kitchen as she turned her worry on someone else. He caught bits and pieces of conversation but was more focused on the missive in his free hand. Summoned in the second the old woman was no longer there to chastise him it was a long scroll subjected as important. By accident or carelessness he had found it in the trash pile beside the queen’s desk. Unopened.

It was from Odense and contained a detailed warning about interactions with Tigrelan. They seemed a very unconventional culture. But the worrisome part was mention of a contagious disease that Lady Eydis compared to Lung Knot. A plague that had torn through Sør province- and half the realm- with a vengeance a few centuries before, costing hundreds of thousands of lives. They had managed to eradicate the disease, but an occasional outbreak would cripple sections of cities or upstart villages. That had been the start of the healing springs popularity.

His thoughts and worries were written heavily across his dark eyebrows when the housekeeper came around the corner again. No broom in hand, to knock him over the stubborn head with. Just a woman, bundled in a warm fur that seemed sized for a man rather than a her slight frame. It took only a second to recognize her face. A dozen awkward moments filling the back of Arkyn’s mind and turning the space behind his ears hot. ”Miss Inga,” He greeted stiffly tension building in his lungs before the housekeeper told him what the missed conversation by the back door had been about. Not her husband, thank Mother Night. No, it seemed work had urged this reunion between old… acquaintances? He didn’t know what to call her. Too nearly intimate once to be just that. Not familiar enough in years since to be friends anymore. ”come in, please, sit. Tell me what’s going on. How I can help.”

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2019, 09:56:58 PM »

She'd never had a bad mark against her. That she'd lost her job at all chafed. Inga understood. The craft that cleansed the salt and pain from the air beyond her reach for the next five or six months. But it was still a stripe to her pride to be let go. The marks she'd been counting on to feed Eeva gone. Her savings quickly dwindling.

It had been Nan's suggestion. The old woman was retired now, and Igna had finally talked her into moving in. To help with Eeva, Inga told her to protect someone's pride. The sjefhjem  was a good, stable place. Good work for good wages. And didn't they owe her, Nan had asked? Parents first and now husband, the city's squadron had taken from Inga. A job was the least they could offer her.

So there she was. The old kitchen mistress like a storm cloud in the doorway before she was recognized. The hood of Eero's jacket pulled back from her face so she could be seen and fussed over. Inga couldn't bear to part with it. Warmer than her own though it didn't fit. She figured the coming months would fill the space left empty by his broad shoulders. Dragged into the kitchen proper once she'd laid her case out.

It wasn't empty either, and before Inga could hush her, the tale was repeated. To the sjef. A man Inga knew on sight, no matter how many times she'd pretended to forget his face. "Sjef." She bobbed a curtsy, trying to fight the housekeeper off her coat to no avail. It was stripped from her arms and hung up by the fireplace. "Oh, its nothing really." Inga tried to put him off. The housekeeper huffed and prodded her toward a chair.

"Not important enough for a sjef to be worrying over - would you quit your shoving?" Inga groused while climbing onto the stool she was being shepherded to. There was a smile on her lips to take the sting from her words, eyes sliding away from Arkyn while she got comfortable. It should have been easy to meet his eye. It had been years since she'd made a fool of herself in front of him. He didn't seem to mind it anymore. Impassive and impersonal as he offered to help.

There was scolding to be had. Rained down on Inga until she was looking at Arkyn for help from that. The corners of her eyes creasing as she realized he must have been receiving much the same when she arrived. "I'm just out of work, auntie. It's not a crisis or a famine. Or a crime." Though some thought it ought to be. Covering her face with her hands, Inga groaned and laughed at the same time.

"Well its not. And they have the right to get what they pay for." Any girl could scrub a floor, and for a lot less than what they'd been paying Inga to keep the air fresh. "See. No criminals. Or naughty brothers. I'm sorry for interrupting your lunch." Inga lifted one half of her mouth in a rueful smile. Napkin slid across the counter to Arkyn, Inga tapped her chin. "Just there," she whispered.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 01:45:49 AM »
Letter vanished in an instant he straightened his spine. Eyes careful not to meet the lady’s for more than a breath. Wandering over her shoulders, which the housekeeper bared to the room after an onslaught of fussing. Arkyn had no idea what to expect from Inga, or how to gauge where their past friendship lay now. Dead, he thought, since she spoke to him with the utmost formality. Dismissing his offer to help. Was it pride or their history or his new role in the city that made her write off whatever troubles she had come to the housekeeper with?

He didn’t know. And recent events had made him ten times more self conscious about his choices in behavior. Licking his lips watched the housekeeper take charge. Rolling right over their awkwardness while he struggled to show not an ounce of it. Heart in his throat he wanted to ask if it was the sort of thing an old friend would worry over. But it felt too personal, and he was afraid to break down walls she needed up for healing. Arkyn had only suffered one lost love- that of his mother. Not the same pain as the one Inga surely suffered. He had no context for the loss of a lover, let alone a spouse. He had never found that joy, but he had mourned other types of sacrificed passions. And that was enough for him to tread carefully with his words.

The housekeeper with her short fuse and infinite opinions saved him from figuring out what to say. Eyes on the grain of the wooden table he rested his nose against his hand. Furtively glances at Inga to make sure none of the old woman’s stern affection landed badly. When their gazes met briefly he was the first to look away. It was remarkable how little she had changed. There was a daughter, he knew, though his friendship with Eero had lessened over the last several years. Arkyn busy with work, then very busy with sjefdome. Then there had been the awkward dinner invitation…

Coughing lightly to quiet the old woman he tried to separate past from present. To make sure a job offer was a good idea, not because he wanted to involve himself in this widow’s life- but because it was the right and honorable thing. Inga was a very good worker. Arkyn was the reason she had left a reliable, well paying job. One where she wouldn’t be tossed out for a decrease in ability. So what if she couldn’t work to her full ability now? Pregnancy ended eventually, then she would be a strong worker once more. It was smart to offer her a job while she was available and less marketable to others. She was a reliable, skilled, hard working hearthwitch. She could have been mediocre at best, though, Arkyn knew, and he would still have reasoned himself into acceptance. There was no quieting the warlord prince in his soul. How could he say no to a pregnant widow with a toddler to feed? ”They’re not very wise if they drop good employees for temporary conditions. We’ll be very happy to benefit from their shortsightedness.”

Frowning he took his own turn at being dismissive. ”Not at all. I was finished.” He lied, a hand waving the very thought away. For a moment he expected her to run away. It would not have been the first time. And there was something familiar in the unhappy set of her mouth that made him want to squirm in his chair. Especially as she pointed out a drop of mustard on the edge of his bottom lip. ”Ah, thanks.” Mumbling into the napkin he wondered if he could get away with running out. A glance from the housekeeper as she disappeared into the main hall warned him off the idea.

”I can’t speak to your old job, I’m afraid, the new queen and I are not exactly close.” He admitted, eyes wandering the ceiling rafters while he reached for more conversation points. ”We can certainly use experienced hearth witches, though. I’m not sure what sort of concessions you need, with the baby and all- You don't have to tell me, of course,” He said hurriedly. Tongue tripping over itself as he fought back a flush of color that threatened to rise up his neck. ”the old house cat is obviously keen to get you back to work in whatever ways suit. I’m sorry to hear they laid you off though. An ugly thing to do to a woman in your situation.”

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 07:24:42 AM »

Arkyn was able to shush the housekeeper when Inga was not. Just a cough needed to still the auntie's wagging tongue. Inga hid a smile behind a glass of milk she hadn't asked for, or refused. It was already poured, and she had twice the people to feed in a day now. It helped soothe the sourness in her stomach at having her business all laid out like it was. It made her sound like a beggar.

Oh well. Inga supposed she was a beggar today. "I can't comment about their wisdom. Just respect their reasoning." Wiping a bit of milk from her lips Inga shrugged. It was done. No amount of argue was likely to change the outcome, and it would just make her look bitter and petty. Not a good face to wear when you'd be needing new work. Like now, here begging for it in front of Arkyn Wildling. The same man she'd runaway from in shame a million years ago.

He talked different now that he was Sjef and not just an escort. Even if he'd been The Escort. Back then there hadn't been any we's. Just the queen. But now Arkyn helped rule Meols, and Inga hadn't heard anything bad about his work either. He'd certainly been fair to her brother when he'd gone and acted the idiot after his Offering. "You're welcome." Inga went back to hiding in her milk. It was harder to say without her Jewels, but she thought he might be just as uncomfortable as she was.

Things certainly hadn't been easy between them since that night. Not that they had seen each other often since then either. Looking up, Inga watched the housekeeper vanish through the door with a mumbled excuse, leaving them suddenly alone together, and both looking after her retreating back. Inga snorted a laugh into the back of her hand, sobering as Arkyn looked anywhere but at her and started with excuses.

"I wasn't trying to use you as a vouchsafe." Inga assured him, stomach sinking. Why would he speak for her? They were strangers to each other now, and their parting had been rather ignominious. Mostly on her part. Poor Arkyn had done nothing wrong in the least. Even now, years and years later she felt the embarrassment of her reaction heating her cheeks.

He wasn't putting her completely off though. Of course he wasn't. Arkyn had always been about looking out for people. Inga shook her head and tried to wave him off with her hand. "I'm fine, physically. Still able to do everything I did before. It's just craft that's harder now, with no Jewels to call on. And my best set of darning needles are stuck in my cabinet." It drove her mad. She had so much in there she couldn't get out. Things she could have used. Inga snorted.

"Oh, Arkyn! I hope you don't call her that to her face. She'll claw your eyes out." And love every minute of it. House cat. Mother Night. But he'd always appreciated the hard work that went into keeping a house as big as the sjefhjem tidy and running smoothly. Hell. He was just nice even if he never smiled and was always brooding about. "It's alright. They're a business and have to do what is best for them. No one goes to the springs to look at pregnant women and be bombarded with the left over emotions of other people."

Inga twisted her glass around in her hands. Half empty now, her fingers left little prints in the condensation. "They weren't sure, either, if all the craft going on about the place would be safe for the baby." And Inga wasn't sure she had wanted to face a never ending parade of strangers while so vulnerable. Her Tiger Eye was small potatoes in Glacia, but it was better than no defenses at all.

"I'm sorry to hear you're not close with our new queen. Meols is quite taken with her." He'd been very devoted to the old one, Inga knew. They'd talked about her quite a lot on her walks home. Inga hadn't known her as well as Arkyn, but you got a sense of a person when you took care of their home.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2019, 02:04:08 PM »
Arkyn could respect the unbiased fairness in Inga’s words. He did not respect their reasoning. But he did not tell her so. Too busy with the stop and go flow of their conversation to be sidetracked by minor details. It didn’t matter why she was back. She just was. Back and in need of some fair treatment he could provide. Less confidently done without the sternness of the housekeeper to make sure he minded his manners.

Shoulders rounding he reached halfway across the table before catching himself. Hand retracted to keep from offending the widow, and eyebrows sweeping together until they nearly formed a dark unbroken line. ”No, you misunderstand. I can’t vouch for you with her- I don’t even know if she keeps a private maid to be honest. I would gladly if I thought it would help your cause but she’s more interested in ignoring my advise.” A common scenario of late. Every woman he met ready to push his opinions out the door. From queen to baby sister and all the cantankerous healers in between. ”This is still the Sjef’s house, though, and I can assure you of work and good wages.”

Which brought them around to exactly what sort of work she was able to do until the baby was born. Arkyn had very little experience with pregnant women. Actually none. He had none. His own mother’s pregnancy over and done with while he was training for the sky squadron. With a flap of her hand Inga forgave his prying. A short explanation assuring him that she could pull her weight in the chore work. ”That must be frustrating.” He said with a grin, wondering where a person bought darning needles at.

”Ha ha, no, never to her face. I put away my days of bravery some years ago.” He chuckled, leaning back on his stool as he scratched his jawline. Brows bent in a pensive line as he tried to keep from overthinking. It helped some of the anxiety in his chest to hear her say his name, at least. Picking a speck of flan seed from the crust of his bread he chewed at it while she softly defended the spring she had been working at. He let her have her say. Then did the defending she had ignored, ”There are other ways they could have handled it. Now all of their employees are going to worry they’ll be cut off when they’re most vulnerable. And you’ve always been such a hard worker. Motivated and dedicated to your Craft. They wanted to save a few marks, but they won't in the long run. I guarantee they won’t get their money’s worth out of any replacement. Their loss.”

Eyes tracking her glass’s slow rotation he scratched at his chin again, ”Suppose that’s true. Less chance of you dragging something contagious home to the mite once it’s born too.” She’d be in an all round better way, working at the sjefhjem. Before he could stop himself he muttered, ”I won’t run off you this time, either. You’ll hardly have to see me at all.” Office tucked far out of the way. Where the house was most quiet. A hard line drawn between the court’s space and his corner of the world. Not a physical or even psychic one. An emotional line that Arkyn wasn’t willing or invited to cross. Resting his elbow on the table he caught his chin in his palm with a sigh.

”It’s alright. My heart was only in the court because she was in the court. Without her here it isn’t the same. Let Meols be taken with Astrid. She doesn’t need me.” Hand lowered he knocked on the boards of the table. Shrugging away the melancholy thoughts of his lady and those days as a young dreamer. When his past sacrifices had all seemed like they were leading to a point. ”It’s been a long time, Inga. How is Nan, and the little missy? I know this has been a hard time for you all. I hope you think to ask if you need anything. I was a poor friend to Eero these last few years, I can’t make it up now but I can help him rest in peace knowing his family is in the community fold.”

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 03:57:58 PM »

He was giving her that look. Inga recognized it. It wasn't the sort you forgot no matter how many years stretched between the receiving of it. Her blonde brows rose in response to his frowning ones. Inga was not afraid of Arkyn's scowling, fierce as he looked. Hand missed as he withdrew it, Inga's fingers curling back around her cup.

"I'm sure she listens, Arkyn. The people voted for you." Whatever the new queen thought about him, Meols trusted Arkyn. She tapped the table with a finger and quirked an eyebrow at his bitterness. "Just because she doesn't take it doesn't mean she didn't hear it." Inga wasn't sure why she felt the need to defend the queen. Arkyn was usually fair, but he wasn't always reasonable when his emotions clouded his judgment.

And he was a warlord prince. They were notoriously stupid about queens.  "And I'll thank you for it, but I want work, not charity." She didn't want him cutting her a paycheck out of pity. Everyone had to earn their place in the ration book. Pregnant widows included. Luckily Inga was a pregnant widow who could work. She had skills outside her craft. And Arkyn knew her well enough to believe her word on the matter.

"You've no idea. I've never had such a good pair." Eyes glinting warning at his grin, even as her lips mimicked it. It was funny, but he couldn't understand the loss of a good pair of darning needles. "I think that's called stupidity, not bravery." Inga laughed, shaking her head. It took a certain kind of women to run a house that changed hands the way some sjefhjems did. And not the sort one trifled with. She turned her face to the table at his compliments, and his defense.

"It's done and over with. Their right, and any consequences on them as well." It wouldn't be on Inga's head or out of her purse whatever happened to them now. "Mhm. Eeva and Nan too. They're both at that easy catching age. Though one of them won't admit it." Blinking at his follow up, Inga sat back on her stool and flattened her hands on the table. Cursed man. They always did that.

"Arkyn Wildling! Don't be a fool. You didn't run me off in the least bit." Inga scolded him, the same finger she'd used to assault the table flicked in his direction. A bead of moisture from her glass slinging toward him. Inga scoffed, a little buzz of craft wicking it away from him. "I'm sorry." She laughed, turning the conversation away and back to the queen. It must have been hard for him to live in a house with a queen he couldn't connect to.

Inga reached over and covered his hands. As if she could gather up his agitation the same way and cast it out. Instead, she gave him a shake. "Of course its not the same. They aren't the same queen. But she does need you, Arkyn. And so does Meols. You just can expect her to be the queen you loved." Patting his hands with a couple brisk slaps, Inga finished her milk and gave her stomach a rub.

"Nan is threatening to go back to work, as if anyone would have her." Inga smiled. Which was hard to do thinking about how things were. It was like the first days all over again whenever someone asked. Inga had to stop and think. How was she? "Eeva is... she's alright. School helps, I think. And Nan has been teaching her things at home to keep her busy." Busy helped. Inga knew. How was she? The answer was never good. But no one wanted to hear the answer she had, which was surviving.

"Don't be taking that on yourself either. You were both busy men. It makes it hard to keep in touch with people." Inga had taken much of Eero's free time. She and Eeva both, and there was not a lick of guilt in her for it. Not even a twinge for his wailing mother. "I'm sure he'll rest better when there is justice for his ship. He knows I can take care of ours." Just hers now. Inga grimaced in apology for her bitterness. "I'm sorry."

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2019, 08:07:34 PM »
”I never said she didn’t hear, I said she ignores.” He said briskly, eyes trained on what remained of his sandwich. Appetite swept away by the hard reality of Inga’s words.  It would have been easy to rail. To beat the table until their glasses rattled. Complain that their supposed queen was busy playing games with complete strangers rather than minding her work. Lament that he had been brushed out of the court without a second thought, never given a chance. A well of bitter feelings that he spit into regularly but never bothered to pour out on others. What good would it do? As Inga had already pointed out, Meols was quite taken with the childish Astrid. If he complained too much he might not be around to step in when things inevitably took a turn for the worse.

Sometimes he considered giving in, letting himself slide back down into the pit of obscurity he had come from. Why he had ever dared to climb out he didn’t know. He had to keep going, though, tiring as he often found it to be. For Meols, that didn’t know how precarious their situation actually was, and for Tine who was counting on his good reputation to see her reach her dreams. Otherwise what had all the sacrifice been for? Looking across at Inga only made the cut deeper. Beautiful, bright woman growing round with child. She was not one of the things he had given up, just one that hadn’t worked out the way he had dreamed they might. She had gone on to become the things he had put aside, however. Love and family. So absorbed in raising Tine he hadn’t thought about his own future. And a few blows to his ego all it took to learn that it was better to pay for what you needed and forget the wants.

Mouth turning up in one corner he sighed. This woman didn’t listen either. ”Who said anything about charity?” He checked the front of his shirt for spilled food and left the table a moment to add his leftovers to the pile of scraps for the swine. Mood less oppressive once he had composed himself half a second and returned to his seat. ”You’re right. I wouldn’t have a clue. I’ve never sewn anything in my life.” He admitted. Lips tight in an almost grin as she debated the astuteness of taking on the house marm. That wasn’t a matter much up for debate. Even if it was brave, it was still stupid. It made her laugh at least.

”We’ll all be happy to have you here.” He assured again, letting the conversation over the fairness of how she had been treated end. Clearly the subject was still a touchy one for Inga. She had been working there a decade at least, of course she would still have feelings about them all. Talking about her family seemed safer ground to tread. But he was a fool, try as he might not to be. So he didn’t latch to the safe subject. He backpedaled to old worries. One eyebrow lifting at Inga’s fussing finger. ”Alright, you didn’t run. You surely left fast though. A good job and all. I was glad to find out years later it wasn’t my personality that scared you off.” Face tipped away to avoid her water droplet he snorted at her giggled apology. Glad for the change in subject to help extract his foot from his mouth.

”I never expected anything of the sort.” Arkyn’s voice hinted at the honesty of the claim. Not once had he thought Astrid could live up to Queen Marjorie. Palms turned up for a moment as if he would grip her wrists. Instead she gave him a shake, scolding, and a few pats. ”I just hoped- nevermind.” This time his sigh was almost petulant. The heels of his hands pressing to the table until the front legs of his stool rose an inch from the floor. Rocking lightly he licked his lips. No reason to dump that load on anyone else. If Inga could defend the choices of a job that had turned her away after years of service, then what wouldn’t she do to defend a queen?

He didn’t bother trying to find out. Asking about the rest of Inga’s family to break the tension. Or stir up more. Kicking himself mentally he listened to her speak on everyone but herself. ”I don’t know. The schools would gladly take her, and there are always little ones that need minding.” Plenty of work for the willing. It was old women like Nan, and actual Nan on occasion, that had cared for Tine while he worked. His face softened in sympathy as she spoke of her daughter. There was common ground he was sorry to share with anyone. Sad little girls were hard to heal, but it sounded like the women were on the right path. ”Busy is good. I tried to do the same with Tine when she came to me. In the end it was a few good cries in my lap that helped the most, though.”

Chin making its way back to his hand he asked, ”You didn’t say how you were holding up.” Her mind had turned to the subject he was least eager to breech with the widow, however. This time he really did reach across the table. Fingers barely brushing over hers before he laid it beside hers in a semblance of comfort. ”Inga, I know it’s a lot to ask. We haven’t known one another in a long time. Giving you closure and punishing the people responsible for what happened are at the top of my thoughts every single minute of each day. It’s coming together, I swear it. When I can tell you, I will, but for now I need you to trust me as the sjef.”

Fingers tapping the table lightly he sat up again. ”No. Don’t be sorry. You’re supposed to keep fighting for answers.” The power of the sjef came from the people he was elected to serve. He wrote to Fyrkat twice a month even after twenty years, asking when they would reopen the case of his mother’s mysterious death. Everyone knew, Arkyn included, that she had fallen into a bad way with bad men. Too abused to know how to live any other way after surviving his father. But someone ought to pay, so he kept asking.

”Are you hungry? There’s more roasted beef in the pot and I know where she hides the good bread loaves.” He tempted. ”Else I can walk you home until tomorrow morning. I’m sure they’ll have a chore list drawn up by then.”

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2019, 08:51:43 PM »

"It wasn't you at all." Inga was adamant. Oh it had been a part of him she'd run from that night. But quitting her job and running off to work on the other side of the city had been all about Inga herself. Too shake faced to face him after her reaction. And then the mistakes and embarrassment had just grown and kept on growing until it was like a field of briars between them. Neither one of them making it back across.

"Oh I bet you did. She was the lady's apprentice, wasn't she? You'd assume they would be alike and you'd find one just as easy to serve as the other." He'd had such passion for his position. And a real belief in his queen. Inga had always found it a charming part of his personality. Much more charming than the pouting he was displaying now. "I'm sorry it didn't turn out the way you hoped. But don't give up yet, Arkyn. She's young and you aren't dead." There was time still for them to come to an understanding and maybe even form a bond.

She clucked her tongue at him and shook her head. "She is old, Arkyn. She deserves her rest, she has earned it! Plus she'd probably scare all the children." Fierce old fyrkat of a woman. Angry at the world. More angry than even Inga, because the loss of her daughter was reflected in the loss of her granddaughter's husband. "She has done her fair share of that too." Inga joining her. Head bent over her weeping daughter. One set of fingers to soothe her baby and the other to wipe her own tears away.

Sobs saved for when they wouldn't frighten Eeva. Buried in her pillow, or the bony shoulder of her grandmother. Levi hadn't been spared either, poor little brother. Oh Mother Night she missed her man. It didn't matter that they'd spent more time apart than together. She'd always been so sure of his coming home. "I didn't." She agreed, biting her lips and willing her eyes to be dry. She wouldn't cry while begging work.

Another sort of bruise pushed. This one hurt while making her angry. A safer topic than herself after her husband's death. The reason why her husband wasn't coming home was never given. Just that he wasn't. Arkyn brushed calloused hands cover her knuckles before letting it lie beside hers. It wasn't good news then. Just more promises and platitudes.

"I suppose I can do that. I did vote for you." Face tight, Inga nodded. They were working on it. She had to trust in that fact. Eeno had been a good captain as well as a good man. It was a loss to the city to lose him and his ship. "I'll leave the fighting to you, sjef. I've misplaced my needles." Inga studied him. What she knew of Arkyn Wildling was old knowledge. But the man she'd known would have cared. Would have done anything to find answers. She just had to keep believing in that Arkyn.

"I'm not, no. Thank you for the offer." Summoning a smile from her reserves, Inga eased herself down from the stool. "You better what your fingers snitching her bread." She laughed, lifting Eeno's coat from the hook by the fire and shrouding her body in it. "I'll let you walk me home though. I'm sure Nan and Eeva would like to say hello." She adjusted her hood and buttons while Arkyn got his outer wear on. Gloves tugged over her fingers and up her wrists.

It was almost like old times. Except there was a distance between them. It had started that way a million years ago too, Inga remembered. Oh she had taken his arm then, but had been terrified of getting close to the queen's first escort. Of infringing on something not meant for her. But that space had dwindled until they had been two heads on one body. This time she didn't take his arm, just walked beside him, hands gesturing as she told him about exciting events he had missed.

The letter Eeva had written petitioning to have her Birthright early. The last Offering Nan had overseen at the temple. Nonsense things to fill the walk. What he'd said early slowly sinking in past her barriers until they made sense. Too much sense. At the swept walk of her house when she realized. Inga turned on him, coat twirling around her legs.

"He told you!" She shrieked in horror, making heads turn their way. "That damn man!" Her hands were shaking fists between them as she choked on horror and laughter. "If he were here I would box that scoundrel's ears!" She shouted before bursting into tears.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 02:02:41 AM »
One of the apprentices.” He agreed grudgingly. Wishing he would have said nothing at all. Why bother when everyone thought they had him pegged down? Lashes lowering slowly he waited quietly as she laid accusations based only on opinion at his head. Most people met his discontent for the new queen with the same ferocity, so he didn’t blame Inga for it either. Glacia had a reverence for their queens that the Nukti had not bred into the Wilding. Trust was earned, not given on caste alone. ”Well. Sounds like you have that all figured out.” He said softly. Unfairness didn’t even taste bad in the back of his mouth anymore. Such a frequent flavor. Didn’t leave a lump in his chest or throat either. Just rang hollowly down his spine to join the rest.

 His only assumption was that Astrid would be considerate. That she would be as dedicated to the city as Lady Marjorie had been. There was never even a chance to serve. New queen sweeping up to take over the main chambers in a flurry of laughter. Court chosen before her coronation- with no place in it Arkyn could take without it being an insult. Which was fine in the end, since he realized he didn’t want to be a part of that mess anyway.

To keep from falling into the trap of self pity he said nothing else about queens- new or old. Only templed his fingers over the table and let the conversation flow to easier subjects. Lives that his job made safer. Old women that had earned a rest his soul ached for.  ”You can go home and tell her there’s no need, then. You’ll always have a job here as long as I have mine.” Which was a promise that might last year or fleeting hours. A sjef never knew for certain. There were months when he was called to an impromptu assembly twice a week to have his position challenged. Then stretches as long as a year without remark. Usually there was only one or two descenters calling for a vote. He had been lucky, and careful, and painstakingly judicious.

”Some pain can’t be healed by, just eased by tears and years...” Arkyn told her after a moment. Watching her eyes mist up once his own came back from far away thoughts. Words nonspecific because they applied both to her daughter’s crying and her choice not to answer his prying question. Of course she didn’t want to say. Not to someone that was a veritable stranger these days. It made the fact that he had no answers to give her burning questions even worse. No comfort to offer at all. Just more secrecy. He racked his brain for words that might lessen the hurt but only had the promise that he wouldn’t rest until the crime was punished. Promises that she had already been assured of.

Sliding to the edge of his stool he bounced a knee as she left her own seat. Food refused, but not the escort. Nodding his approval he wagged his fingers at her, ”I’d tell her those Odense boys found it and spare myself.” He lied. Never one to pass blame anywhere it didn’t squarely belong. Willing to take it on his own shoulders if the burden didn't’ fit elsewhere. Calling in his heavy coat and a woolen scarf Arkyn bear her to the back door so he could hold it open. A bare hand at her back up the low gravel slope that lead to a path through the courtyard. Then out the front gates onto the city streets.

Arkyn burrowed his fists in his pockets. Buttons done up and coat collar pulled up around his neck. Scarf tucked down his front for extra warmth. It was a very cold winter. Their breath spiraled out in front of them as they caught up. Inga did most of the talking. Her life had done the most changing in their years apart. A gulf that made the walk both familiar and unfamiliar. She stole a few laughs with tales of her daughter and Eero. Nan’s retirement. The Moments that made up years. He had little to share in return. Tine’s Birthright and later apprenticeship. How eager she was to have her Offering- which was a poorly disguised way of discussing her Virgin Night- so that she could move to Fyrkat of all places. The coming and going of the Sjefhjem. How he was railed for fixing the fence Levi had broken.

They had just arrived at her front stoop when Inga whirled on him in a flurry. The look on her face making Ark bury his mouth against his fist. Ears hot under his layers of dark curls. Eyebrows high. ”You thought he’d miss a chance to give a guy a hard time?” He almost laughed, because she almost laughed. Sound strangled in her throat before she broke into tears that frosted on her eyelashes. ”Oh, oh, Inga.” He soothed, stepping forward to rub her back with both cold palms. She had always been quick to tears. That made Arkyn no less unprepared for them. Mumbling nonsense about letting it all out he rubbed her back and cluckled reassuringly until she composed herself again.

”If it makes you feel any better you weren’t the first or last to feel that way. The only one whose husband thought it was a good joke though.” He told her with a sad grin. Eero was a special sort of man. Though Arkyn supposed it was hard to be jealous of someone you knew your wife had run away from once already. ”You should get inside. Warm yourself up.”

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2019, 04:08:41 AM »

Inga shook her head, denial of his words, but not his comfort. That she stepped into. Face to the fists she'd shaken at the air in threat. The balls of her hands muffling the sobs choked her chest, knuckles pressed to the button of Arkyn's coat. "It was a secret!" She complained bitterly. Words worked out around hiccups and sighs.

Eero had asked and pestered until Inga had given in. He'd known her too well to let such awkwardness pass without comment. And then he'd just had to know the root of it. A private matter that had caused Inga much embarrassment to repeat. Even now she burned up just thinking about it. And he'd gone and turned it into a joke to tease Arkyn about. As if her sudden and rude departure hadn't been enough.

"I'm sorry." For blubbering on him. For her poor handling of an intimate moment. For her damned husband's foolish, loose tongue. Neighbors watched them furtively from their yards. Nan pulled the curtain on the door to look at them too. Wizened face frowning through the layer of frost that coated the glass. She shook her head and vanished back into the house as Inga sniffed and wiped her face on her gloves, apologizing once or twice more while she set herself to rights.

"Oh Arkyn." Inga sighed, shoulders rising up around her ears before they drooped. "He thought everything was a good joke, the damned trickster. And I was young and very foolish." She squeezed his arm. She had been an idiot of a girl, but Inga could only condemn herself so far. Inexperienced and foolish as she'd been, any other outcome would have been unlikely. And in the end, she'd found a good man and made a beautiful family.

"Did you want to come in?" Probably not anymore after she'd blubbered all over him like a fool. "Everyone is used to my sudden crying. No one will blame you for it." She reassured him. How uncomfortable it must be. Inga did not know how to comfort him, or herself. Or if it was even needed. It had been a long time ago, and Arkyn had plenty enough in his life. One night had probably meant very little in the grand scheme of things. "But I'll understand, if you don't. You're a busy man, and I did just make a scene on the street." Inga smiled, fingers sliding down his arm so she could squeeze his hand.

Gloves tucked into pockets and boots tapped against the side of the door before she opened it.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2019, 05:57:14 PM »
”I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.” Arkyn groaned lightly. One arm across Inga’s shoulders while the other hand drew firm circles up and down the shaking muscles of her back. If he had known it would upset her so much he surely would have stayed silent. To be honest he couldn’t actually be sorry that Eero had let him in on the secret, much as he regretted the tears she was shedding on his coat. It had been a nagging doubt for a long time- wondering how he had offended such a good natured girl. Knowing it was something completely out of his power to change was a modicum of closure.

Curious neighbors and stern faced grandmother all taking their turns to spy. There was a weight in their stares that made him ten times more careful with the placement of his hands and the words he soothed her with. Not quite judgement, but a blatant interest that he could feel crawling up his skin. They were forming opinions, and probably gossip. ”None of that, you’ve got no reason to be sorry.” He countered her slew of apologies with a comforting pat on the back. Eyes careful not to meet the gaze of her neighbors who leaned against the shared line of fence that divided their yards. Heads together as they chatted in whispers his ears couldn’t pick up.

One cheek rounding with a lopsided grin Arkyn patted the fingers she pressed around his arm. ”He knew how to enjoy life, nothing wrong with that.” Arkyn wished he could manage the same. Hard as he tried to let go of the past it just kept repeating itself in his face. ”I wasn’t much older or less foolish then.” There had been a dozen repeats of that awkward encounter in the years since. His tact at handling anxious women only mildly improved. It was a difficult fear to dissuade a woman from. Trust was required, because the only remedy was proving their fears unnecessary. And that sort of trust took time Arkyn never bothered to give. Because the only thing worse than rejection was rejection from someone you cared for.

”Hm?” Mind called back to the present he rubbed his bare hands together for warmth. Face turned to find the clock tower at the center of the city and check the time. There was work to do. There was also Tine’s voice in the back of his head. ’Live a little. The work will be there after.’ Advice he had given to a dozen apprentices but rarely took. Inga seemed to expect his refusal. Excusing him before he had even made up his mind. It shouldn’t have torn him so. The tickle of her hand on his did the trick in the end. ”If anyone has a right to do some crying its you. I’d like to visit a little while. We’ve only just caught up.”

He stomped the clinging snow and sludge from his boots before following her inside. Door caught over her head. Heavy coat shaken out on the stoop before he hung it on a hook by the door. It was not his first time inside the house, but it had been many years. While Eero had harbored not a single bad feeling for anyone ever, Arkyn had found facing their happiness difficult. Friendship slowly quieted as the Captain lived a dream Arkyn had held in his heart but never had the Jewels to even consider. His life had been good, he knew. Escorting was a worthwhile career. Raising Tine was a challenge he wouldn’t change a moment of. But he couldn’t help seeing all the things that might have been if fate had been gentler.

”Lady,” He greeted as they shuffled towards the kitchen where Nan waited. Arkyn was not encouraged to say more. The disapproval on her face making him stare intently at his boot laces.

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2019, 08:03:20 PM »

"Ppfffft." Inga argued, shoulders heaving. "S'not your fault." It was Eero's, for going off and dying on her. For telling things she had shared privately between them about things she had shared privately with another man. It was the sheer madness of it all. And the wish she had, that he would be there so she could box his ears instead of cry over it.

Tears not quite as quick to go as they were to come. But she settled. The rhythm of his hand soothing. The knowledge that the whole damn street was probably staring at them a goad to get her emotions under control. Arkyn helped. An unperturbed wall that stood by while she soaked him in tears. "What a mess." All of it. From beginning to end and all the knots in between. Steadier, Inga was able to stand on her own feet again. Offer a measure of decorum she'd been lacking.

Thought her nose was redder than the door to her house. Inga couldn't see it to notice, or bother to care if she had. The last tear wiped clean away as she invited him in. He'd spoken of seeing Nan and Eeva, and Inga didn't want her bout of hysterics to run him off. Her weeping and turned away many men, and a few friends. Eero had always laughed at her tears and called her soggy.

Arkyn hesitated. Eyes looking for a way out, an excuse. Inga offered him a few to be helpful. No sense in having uncomfortable guests. They made for uncomfortable visits. Cleaning her boots off, Inga gave him time to decide, smile cast over her shoulder as he came in behind her. Coat shaken out and boots stomped relatively clean.

"I bet you say that to all the widows." She teased, tryin to lighten the mood, leading the way into the kitchen where Nan could glower at them. "Nan," Inga chided. "Say hello to Arkyn." The old woman groaned and turned her nose up. "Has he brought news, or groceries?" Eyes just beginning to cloud over, Nan glared at them both and fetched Inga the coffee pot. "Nan!"

Fussing the old woman began setting the table. A giggle heralding Eeva's arrival. Clinging to her mother's skirts while Inga hung her coat up, fingers searching pockets for sweet. "You say hello too, to the sjef." She told the girl, pulling greedy fingers from her pockets. "Sit, Arkyn. Stay. Would you like some coffee, or lunch?" A place already set for him, Inga pulled a chair out and ignored Eeva's boldness as the girl climbed into Arkyn's lap to investigate.

Cold chicken from the night before cut up and redressed as the coffee pot was heated. Nan sat across from him chewing the end of an unlit pipe. "You look the same you righteous little shit." She complained, ignoring Inga's fussing about language. "Hush girl." Inga rolled her eyes, grabbing Eeva's hands before the could get tangled in Arkyn's hair.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2019, 02:39:34 PM »
”You’ve caught me.” Arkyn joked with a hand gesturing loosely from his chest towards the ceiling. In all likelihood he would say something similar to every widow that burst into tears on his shoulder. Since this was his friends wido, a woman who he had once harbored a blossoming affection for, he did mean the words a bit more deeply than he might have for a stranger. Brushing a strand of hair from his face he grew somber again. ”If I did say it to them all it wouldn’t make it less true although I can’t deny being a little thankful that of the few widows Meols does have, none choose me for laying their sorrows on.” Anger. Bitterness. Blame. Their rage was often aimed at the man who doled out punishment for their loss. He understood, though, that there was never a punishment equal to what was lost. Execution didn’t bring back the dead.

In the kitchen he faced a very similar sort of resentment. While time had slowed Nan’s body it had not affected her tongue- or the shrewd mind behind it. To keep his amusement from spilling over Arkyn bit the inside of his cheek. Smooth skin speckled by small scars from years of indulging the habit. There was a lot Arkyn bit back in life. Once Inga had got her short scold in he folded his arms across his chest casually and offered up an answer. ”I’m afraid I only brought myself this time.” He did not expect her to ask for something as simple as food. The request made him worry. And feel guilty that he had not brought something he could share. ”Any news in particular you want to hear? I can’t yet speak on the subject you most want answers to-”

A sharp giggle and hard close of the front door drew all their attention away for a moment. And made Arkyn glad he was being discreet. ”it’s a bigger matter than anyone realizes. If I pull the noose too soon then those at the center of what happened won’t hang.” He tried to explain before a young girl with wind pinkened cheeks and nose bounded into the room. Bright blue eyes sweeping up his frame she tucked into her mother’s skirts. Not coyly, but greedily. Giggles still punctuating the air. Arms relaxing he was on the verge of stooping to tell Eeva hello when he was commanded to sit instead. ”Coffee would be wonderful. I’ve already eaten, though.” They had already put a plate down for him. Sharing a grin with the curly haired child he took the chair that the bustling Inga pulled out.

”Well met,” He said as Eeva proved herself Eero’s daughter. Brassy grin turning to an eager smile she leaned against his thigh. Tiny fingers working over themselves while she thought, and talked. Babbling to him about a school lesson concerning sjefs at school. It only took a second of his attentiveness to encourage her to make a seat of his lap. Toes pointed so her leg could lift her up. Much as he thought himself out of practice with children Arkyn proved himself wrong. Small hip fitted to his palm for steadiness. ”I do live in the same house as the queen, but no I haven’t always. There was a time when I didn’t live in the city at all.” He told her. Rewarded with the expected wide eyed wonder all Glacians shot at him to hear such madness.

Nan spoke before the slew of questions he could see rising to the girl’s lips started to pop free. Snorting he bounced Eeva lightly and shot a wink to the old woman. ”Because I always eat my vegetables. You’re still looking very spry yourself, Lady.” Inga came close, and his eyes followed her hands to the smaller set she was warding off from the rich hank of curls that rested on his shoulder. ”I don’t mind,” He assured the mother, the corner of his mouth deepening in an almost smile. There had been a time when her mother had been fascinated with his hair too. ”Thank you. And have a sit down.” He fussed as Inga handed over a cup of coffee.

He drank it without sugar or milk. Nodding his head and doing his best to listen as Eeva told them all about her morning at school. Readying himself for more questions, from both the child and her great-grandmother. A few furtive grins cast at Inga between subjects to keep her from worrying.

Inga Av Meols

    White to Tiger Eye
  • hearth witch
  • Played By: dergon

    Glacia Kaeleer
    11 Posts    480 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2019, 09:11:30 PM »

"And why is that? Don't like weepy women?" Inga teased. It was easier than dealing with her emotions. Another sort of busy to help build back up flood the walls that kept her sorrow out. Something lighter to make up for the break in her control. It came one like that sometimes. It was worse now than ever before. Pregnancy and grief heightened everything.

Inga lead the way. House warm and clean. Hallway littered with a stack of boots and a line of wooden pegs for coats. Beneath one was a tumble of books and toys that she pressed closer to the wall with her foot. "Eeva." She explained, half chiding the girl that was not there. The kitchen was warmer, and welcoming. There were always smoldering coals in Inga's oven. Ready to wake and heat the stove or bake some bread.

The hub of her household. It was always the first place people came and the last they left. Nan only able to make it marginally less so with her abrupt demands. Inga's reminders about manners landing wholly in her deaf ear. But they both listened to Arkyn's answer. Nan with cold eyes, and Inga with hers pointed to the counter. Back to the room so that she wouldn't have to worry about what her face looked like.

"Sounds bad." Was all Nan said before Eeva arrived to change the focus of the conversation and the mood of the room. Inga gently directing the movement of the room. A chair for Arkyn. The tobacco pouch for Nan. For Eeva, a cup of milk to wet the throat she was talking dry to Arkyn. "You can eat again." Inga decided for him. She smiled at the look her daughter turned on him. A horrified sort of surprise to think of anyone living outside the city walls. Much less the sjef. Nan cackled.

"Don't lady me." The old woman scolded while Eeva made retching noises over vegetables. "It sounds everyone at this table has forgotten their manners, guest aside." Inga announced, handing over a cup of coffee to Arkyn with a smile. "You will when there is jam sticking your hair to your pillow." A plate of cold lunch served to everyone, Arkyn included, before she sat.

Inga picked at her lunch and listened along with everyone else. For only being gone half the day, Eeva had plenty to share, which she did between bites of her sandwich. Talking at them, Arkyn especially, until her attention was finally caught in whole by her plate. Her favorite berries laid out in a bed of whipped cream. Sipping her water, Inga grinned at Arkyn over its rim before making an announcement to the room.

"Did you know, Nan, Arkyn has made something of a friend with that new healer across the city. The black widow one?" Nan choked on her coffee and wheezed in disbelief. "Sour as a green apple but I think they'll suit, don't you?" She winked at Arkyn as Nan cackled. "Was her fence Levi busted up, and wouldn't you know our sjef went to fix it hisself." The old woman hooted and even Eeva giggled, amused because the adults were amused.

Chewing a dried fig, Inga tipped more coffee into Arkyn's cup.

Arkyn Wildling

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Glacia Kaeleer
    57 Posts    1156 marks
Re: New Old Regrets
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2019, 05:13:59 PM »
”Only a little then.” He told Inga as he gave in to the invitation to eat. It was nice to sit with them all. Table chuckling over Eeva’s surprise on the sjef’s beginnings. Everyone’s eyes drifting to Inga as she prepared sandwiches on fragrant bread slices. Arkyn relaxed into his chair. The leg the little girl sat on brought close to the table that way she could sip at the drink she was offered without having to stretch. A few long sips quieting her for a few minutes.

Teeth flashing for a second he raised his shoulders at Nan, ”It’s Protocol.” He argued subtly. And Protocol was good for both children and warlord princes. He had a particular love for the unwritten laws of society. They had been his anchor while he mastered his temper and trained his instincts. Making him the reliable man he was today. Jam sticky hair and all.

”I have a shower.” Mouth turning up on one side he bobbed his eyebrows at Eeva as she sank down between her rising shoulders. Milk mustache sitting over lips she turned to him in a bashful grin. He couldn’t help laughing lightly as she clenched her fingers together, testing to see if they really were sticky. ”I’ve certainly had worse in there. I ended up glued to one of Tine’s dioramas once. Made the mistake of thinking she would be better off knowing how to work a binding spell for her next project. Now there’s some lovely crayon art permanently attached to her bedroom wall.”

An empty bedroom, he thought sadly. The small suite they had shared in the sjefhjem depressingly silent without her there. It was a fight he couldn’t win, though. She wanted some freedom. And the housing afforded to the hospital apprentices was a perfect excuse. One he would look foolish for refusing to let her participate in.

Eeva kept him from dwelling overlong. A dozen questions in need of answers as they all ate. He explained life in the tribe, and how they survived without the city walls or queens to keep them warm. Told her about the massive herds of caribou the nomads survived off of. Sandwich eaten between questions, until she ran out. Fruit on her plate too good a treat to be ignored. Too bad for Arkyn the mature women were less easily distracted.

Snorting into his coffee he shook his head. Eyes wide, brows a dark curve high above each. ”You need better sources for you gossip.” He chided playfully. The very curve of each ear pink as he shook his head in denial. ”I did go fix her fence, and a few windows that got the blast end of his good time. Unlike her neighbors Kirsi was wholly offended I dare to touch her property without her permission. Then I spilled tea down her front… Accidentally shouted at her in the street a few days later. It was a disaster. If she heard you all calling me her friend she’d likely implode. I am to leave her alone, unequivocally.”

While Inga poured more coffee into his mug Arkyn tapped his fingers on the side wistfully. A sigh letting some of his discontent with the situation sap out. ”She has a son with that wild Reric pirate. The Runner. So naturally a sjef isn’t exactly the sort of company she wants to keep.” Shoulder rolled at them he sipped at his coffee, eyeing Nan with eyes that crinkled in amusement at their edges. ”What do I need with sour apples anyway? I prefer pears.”
 

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