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The Unexpected

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101 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 pm

"Ah, yes, of course," I nod at the small girl as I stop for Ellie to spoon some of the jam onto the plate. "Because she's young and lovely like you two ladies, she'll definitely want some jam for her cornbread."

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102 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:35 pm

Rae beams up at Solas as she nods, bringing a smile to my face as Solas turns to come back into the den.

“So what are they getting into in there?” I ask as he makes his way back into the room.

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103 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:38 pm

"Strawberries," I say as I hand her the plate with the small lake of piping hot jam threatening to flood her cornbread. "And you have to eat it because if you don't, it means you're an old man."

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104 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:41 pm

“Oh, I love jam!” I grin as I take the plate, careful to hold it so Evander won’t grab at it. I set it to the side so I can adjust Evander on the couch beside me, tucking him against the back cushion before I pull the plate back into my lap and start pinching off pieces of corn bread.

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105 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:45 pm

"I'm glad because I think she just boiled down the entire harvest I spent half an hour collecting from the garden this morning," I laugh as I start picking my own cornbread apart, a column of steam still rising off of it as I break it open. "And I'm not quite sure she added any sugar to it."

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106 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:59 pm

I laugh as I drop a bit of bread into the jam, taking a tentative bite before giving him a wide eyed stare.

“No,” I say softly, shaking my head as I laugh and swallow thickly, “No, she did not.”

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107 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:09 pm

"Bless her little heart, cooking has never been her forte," I laugh as I glance toward the kitchen to see Ellie making a face as she tries her jam. Shaking my head as she looks back at me with a helpless pout, I put my plate aside and get up again with a sigh.

"I'll be right back. I have to fix the jam now," I laugh.

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108 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:11 pm

“Would you like some help?” I ask, moving Evander to the floor on the plush rug before grabbing my plate and following behind him.

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109 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:14 pm

"Sure," I smile back at her before I come in to separate the girls' cornbread from their plates so I can return the jam to the pot. "Go and fetch the sugar and some gelatin, El," I say as I wave her over to the pantry. "Then come over here and I'll show you how to finish this and can the leftovers since you made so much."

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110 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:24 pm

I come to stand behind Raefiya, helping her pull her cornbread out of the way so she can hand the plate off to Solas.

“Did you try it, Rae?” I ask, leaning over to see her as she looks up at me with a wide eyed nod.

“I did, Mama, it was-“ She stops to stretch her face into a grimace, earning a laugh from me as she takes a bit of the cornbread to try and cover the tartness from the botched jam.

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111 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:35 pm

"But why does it need sugar?" Elwinel frowns as she disappears into the pantry. "Strawberries are always sweet when we eat them from the garden."

"Because, love," I respond patiently as I pour the jam back into the pan and return it to the stove where I can break it down a little further. "Cooking changes the way certain things taste. Sugar is needed for a lot of things you wouldn't need it for when it's raw. Jam especially needs it to help make it thicker and to break the fruit down to the right consistency. Otherwise you just get hot, tart goop."

"Do you put sugar in your applesauce?" she asks as she returns with what I'd asked for and climbs back up onto the step stool beside me.

"Yes," I nod as I grab a measuring cup and hand it to her to measure the sugar out. "And spices, too. We'll make some of that tomorrow, and I'll show you."

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112 Re: The Unexpected on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:43 pm

“Why don’t you go watch?” I coax Rae towards the other two at the stove, the girl tentatively going to stand beside Ellie as she watches curiously. Solas continues to explain his steps to them, giving me a moment to gather the stray dirtied dishes and head to the sink to begin washing them.

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113 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:24 pm

****

I find Wolter at the same bar as previously, he and his mates the farthest thing from sober, and not at all concerned with the presence of one more face in the crowd. I watch him for the next hour, the people slowly thinning out until the bartender finally shouts out the last call of the night. Wolter and his friends file out, parting ways not far from the front door where Wolter receives a parting gift from one of them - something a little more potent than the liquor on their breath, I think.

Once he's on his own, I'm left to follow him a little less subtly. We make it several blocks with the drunken man oblivious to my presence as he sings his way down dark alleys, his shoulder bumping into fences and walls the entire way. It isn't until his hand slips into his pocket that he throws a glance over his shoulder to see me, his posture stiffening up instantly.

Much of Wolter's drunkeness seems to leave him then as he walks in a somewhat straighter line, his steps quickening as he continues to glance over his shoulder at me. The instinct and adrenaline of the hunt kicks in then as I drop my hand to the hilt of my sword, my jaw clenching in anticipation. Wolter, meanwhile, breaks into a run and veers off into another darkened alley.

I hear the echo of his footsteps stop the moment he rounds the corner, and my eyes narrow suspiciously as I slow my gait and draw my sword. As soon as I round the corner, he's there, the flash of movement jolting me backward as my blade flies up to catch the edge of the piece of wood he'd meant to hit me with.

"Clever," I hiss at him before striking him hard across the temple with my free hand. As he stumbles, I kick the scrap of wood out of his reach, the plank skittering across the ground before it comes to rest in a rancid smelling puddle. The point of my sword stops him from scurrying back to his feet.

"What do you want?" he demands, the rage that should be in his voice stunted but still bleeding through.

"I want to know why a husk, a man who's given himself to the Temple, would want to put a bounty on the head of his children's mother," I reply coldly, my blade lingering near his neck for a moment before I return it to its sheath. "Can you explain that to me, Wolter?"

"Because!" he snaps, the emotion no longer stunted as he sways back up to his feet, his speech slurring on his anger and the liquor pickling his tongue. "She's vile! A wretched sorceress who stole them from me!"

"She's their mother," I frown as I watch him support his weight against the wall. "It's rather hard for a mother to steal her own children, isn't it?"

"She's unfit!" Wolter argues shrilly as he stumbles forward and jabs his finger into his chest. "They should be with me, not her! You don't know what she'll do to them, what her magic will do to them!"

"I'm a hunter, Wolter," I say dryly. "I understand better than anyone."

"So- so you know, then," he says slowly, his eyes widening as he looks at me in a way that makes my skin crawl. "If you're a hunter, you know how dangerous she is! You can take the job, you can-."

"Wolter, listen to yourself!" I hiss at him as I step forward, startling him backward as I catch his shirt to stop him from stumbling. "She's their mother, someone you once loved! I know you're afraid. I understand it. It frightens me, too. But everything you ever feared coming from your own magic, all the things that drove you to strip that poison from your veins - and here you are, about to murder the mother of your children!

"You've no magic left in you, but as sure as if you did, you are poisonous!" My voice is fierce yet pleading as I shove him back into the wall away from me. "You have to see that. You have to stop."

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114 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:00 pm

I can hear the rough exchange of voices as I trot through the roads in the city, my hands on the reigns coaxing Solas’s horse along quietly. The snow melts before it ever touches us, the spell I’d murmured as soon as I left Solas’s barn still wrapping myself and the horse in an aura of warmth. 

I slow the horse’s pace as I try to listen through the wind, the familiar voice of my brother causing me to jerk the horse’s reign to a complete halt so I can slide down just outside the mouth of the alley. The warmth lingers with the horse as I make my way around the corner, my jaw set angrily at the sight of my brother cowering against the stone wall at his backside. 

Your wife!?” I bark angrily, seemingly startling them both as they look my way. Wolter takes his chance and bolts deeper into the alley, earning an angry growl as I march after him. A spell passes my lips in a huff of rage, languid wisps of smoke dancing from the shadows as they chase behind the man before tangling around his limbs. Emhyr isn’t even on my radar as the smoke snakes back to my outstretched hand, my grip on the magic jerking Wolter back from the other end of the alley and into the wall to my side. 

There’s a hum of pleading whimpers from Wolter as he struggles against the magic pinning him to the wall, the blackened smoke licking across his body as I make my way to him. I can see him looking back to the hunter with a glimmer of hope, my chest shaking with a laugh as I look back to Emhyr.

“You think he’ll help you?” I scoff as I approach Wolter, looking him over in disgust. “Idiot.”

Ellie,” Wolter pleads, my face stiffening angrily as I reach up and push his head roughly back against the wall. 

Your fucking wife!?” I repeat my initial question, “The fuck you thinking?”

“She’s evil, Ellie,” Wolter blurts out, earning another rough smack as I shake my head.

“Try again.”

She’s taking them from me!” 

Wrong!” I bark in his face, the thick smoke creeping up his throat as it dances across his mouth and nose, Wolter choking frantically before it recedes. 

No!” He yells back, “She said it! She said I’d never see them again!”

“Yvla has loved you since she was eight years old,” I hiss in his face, “You could walk her to the gallows yourself, and she’d love you with her last breath.”

She swore it, Ellie!

“Then what did you do!?” I snap back, gripping his chin sharply as I look at him. I can feel his jaw tense under my fingers, my nails digging angrily into his skin as his gaze shoots back towards the hunter. “What did you do!?

What husbands do!” He screams back, “What husbands do to their wives!

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115 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:33 pm

"Nell!" I bark at her as I reach out to snatch her back, my hand already pulling the bolt gun from my belt. I know she means to kill him, what lingers of the magic in my own bloodline can feel that much flaring in the pit of her stomach just as surely as I can feel my own certainty about what fate the man will meet.

"This isn't a sentence for you to carry out!" I try to force her to hear me as my grip on her arm tightens, my lips naught but a few inches from her deaf ear. "This isn't a sentence that should be carried out by family!"

But she hears nothing, likely not even Wolter's whimpered pleading, as her magic flares further. "Don't!" I shout at her one last time, shoving her away futilely as I level my gun at the man and pull the trigger just as Nell's magic engulfs him. Between Wolter's choking, one last gasp of a scream leaving him, and the dull thud of the bolt hitting the wall behind him as he collapses to his knees, I can feel my insides sink with failure.

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116 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:45 pm

My eyes never leave Wolter as he collapses from the wall, my jaw set tightly as I step back tensely.

“Take his horse back,” I say evenly, turning to walk down the alley.”

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117 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:02 pm

"Nell!" I call after her, the woman ignoring me as she continues on back toward the main road. "Nell! Damn it!" I clench my teeth together angrily as I look back at the body as the sound of approaching laughter grows closer. I can't just leave him here.

Cursing under my breath, I step forward and cautiously poke at the lifeless man with the end of my bolt gun. His weight shifting causes me to jump before I blurt out another angry curse at him. Tucking my gun back into my belt, I grab his arm and hoist him up over my shoulders so that I can carry him over to Solas's horse.

With Nell's unfamiliar magic at the back of my mind, my skin crawls the entire time I'm touching Wolter's lifeless form. I can't get him secured to the horse fast enough, and I'm more than a little leery even taking the reigns to guide them behind me to go fetch my own ride - my back turned on the corpse behind me.

It's going to be a long ways back to Solas's, that much is certain.

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118 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:18 pm

***

The night has wound down at Solas’s, and the girls have both retreated to Elwinel’s bedroom. Their excited giggling could be heard for nearly an hour before it seemed to quiet, and the house fell into a comfortable silence, the only disturbance being Evander’s occasional babbling.

Even Solas has fallen asleep in the chair across from me, the man too stubborn to leave me to wait for Emhyr and Nell’s return alone. I have trouble myself staying awake as Evander’s muffled breaths threaten to lull me as he presses and kneads against my breast while drinking. A book lays open on the chair arm beside me, my eyes scanning the same line for the fifth time as my eyes droop.

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119 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:38 pm

*S*

A sense of dread pulls me from my sleep, confusion and grogginess clouding my head for a moment as I work out where I am. Yvla has fallen asleep with Evander against her chest, the glowing embers of the fireplace casting a soft light on her dark hair. Frowning slightly, I listen to the darkness around the house for some indication of what had woken me.

But all is silent.

Pushing myself up from my chair, I stretch out my aging muscles before stepping over to the window to peer outside. Were it not for the lantern he carries, I wouldn't be able to see anything aside from the wind whipping the snow about, but instead I just manage to pick out Emhyr approaching. The empty horse beside him puzzles me for a moment before I recognize where the sense of dread has come from.

Staying quiet, I pull one of the blankets from the couch and carefully take Evander from Yvla's arms. Swaddling him gently in the blanket, I tuck him in safely on the couch where he can't roll off. With the baby sleeping soundly, I return to Yvla's side and cover her chest before waking her quietly.

"It's time," I whisper, putting a finger to my lips to shush her as she wakes. "Don't wake the children just yet."

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120 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:46 pm

Solas’s voice rouses me, my legs stretching from the chair as I look around him in mild confusion. It isn’t until I see Evander sleeping soundly on the couch that where I am seems to register, a sinking feeling building in my chest as I adjust the lace on my blouse as I sit up.

“Where is he..?” I ask softly, moving to the edge of the chair before rising to follow him.

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121 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:07 pm

I don't respond as I pull a thick cloak from the rack by the front door and offer it to her. I can't bring myself to look her in the eye as I pull a cloak on myself, and pull the door open to step outside. Emhyr is already off of his horse and holding the reins of Rosie, a visible sphere around them where the snow and the wind can't seem to penetrate. His discomfort with the magic keeping him warm is nothing to the look he gives me when he sees our approach. I linger on the steps, only stepping down as far as the walkway as Emhyr stares at Yvla.

"I'm sorry," Emhyr says quietly, his voice barely audible over the wind. Shaking his head, he speaks more clearly, his posture shifting subtly to try to block Yvla's view of the saddle. "I'm sorry, I tried talking to him... but he was too far gone. There was nothing else I could do. I had to kill him... I'm sorry."

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122 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:30 pm

My shoulders sink heavily at Emhyr’s words, my mouth hanging open in slack jawed disbelief as I rush past him. I can’t describe the sensation as my hands meet Wolter’s limp body, a sob shaking out of me as I smooth my hands over him as soothingly as I can manage. 

What did you do?” I cry softly, his name running over my lips a dozen or more times. Time passes like this, me softly crying over the corpse of my husband, as Solas and Emhyr seem frozen in quiet obervation, not daring to speak or otherwise disturb me. I can feel the lingering magic emanating from Wolter, the stench of smoke and soot sticking to his hair. Inhaling roughly, I look up to Emhyr, my touch pulling from Wolter as I retreat from him. 

“Is she okay..?” I ask him, my voice shaking slightly as I rub at the tears on my face. “Nell, she’s okay?”

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123 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:36 pm

"Nell?" Emhyr asks, his fingers going to scratch at the back of his head, a gesture which pulls a suspicious look from me as I step forward. "She took off," he says lamely. "Yelled at him a bit, and then stormed off. I don't know where. But she's fine, yeah. Just... angry."

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124 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:40 pm

“She did this... didn’t she?” I nod, not giving him a chance to object as I look back to Wolter and swallow thickly. 

What set her off?

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125 Re: The Unexpected on Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:48 pm

Emhyr's jaw clenches as he glances at me before averting his gaze again, staring pointedly at the ground. It bothers him that she knows Nell was responsible for Wolter's death. Though why he tried to take the blame for it is beyond me.

"I don't know," he says vaguely. "He was drunk, raving. Just leave it... that's not how you should remember him. None of this is how you ought to remember him."

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