[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

The expansive wasteland of the Northern Region is both beautiful and inhospitable. Viden, though isolated; it is not a solitary city. Satellite towns, which are little more than fortresses, surround Viden and are both ancillary to, and autonomous from, the citadel of Viden.

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Vega
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:05 pm

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42nd Ashan, 718
"Mornin'," she grinned at him as he came into their room with a tray. When he'd left she'd still been fast asleep, but the sound of him coming in woke her. They had left Viden two trials ago and just the evening before, after the four of them had eaten together, Vega had opted to retreat to their cabin rather than going up on deck, which was odd. She'd promised him, at the end of Cylus, that she would walk off the Wanderlust into Viden and she had. Now, having spent over twenty trials there and made sure that she exercised every trial, three or four times in earnest and a number of times in between, she had walked back on to the Wanderlust with just a single walking stick helping her.

Every estimation of what she'd be doing, and when, she'd beaten. It helped her to know that but there'd been one timeframe he'd given her which had not amused her one bit. When he joined her there in their cabin the night before, he'd discovered that the bed he'd been sleeping in since the end of Cylus was gone, disappeared away while he cooked and she really wasn't tired at all. Which led to the situation of her pulling herself up to sit up in bed and looking at the tray with delight. "Hmm. Breakfast? I'm starvin'," she had a permanent smile on her face at that point and as he put the tray down she leaned over, grabbed him and kissed him. "Well," she said with a wicked glint in her eyes, "who knew that you could bend that way after all?" Vega teased and then just leaned against him while they ate. "Forty four trials," she said after a few moments, quiet and thoughtful. "That's how long since the festival on the docks. I've learnt such a lot, Arlo." Resting her head against his shoulder, she was silent again for a moment, before turning to look at him. "About strength an' weakness. About me, an' you too. You couldn't 'ave done it better you know." Her hand reached to just tug, gently, at a stray lock of his hair. "Not even a bit." Leaning up she kissed him softly and then her momentary lapse into soft, gentle and emotional was over. "But flibbery my gibbet an' bake my biscuit, Arlo, I'm right glad you were wrong about 'ow long before we could do that again! I'd 'ave forgotten how in another eighty trials, you know." It didn't bear thinking about.

They should be arriving, around noon, at the small island they'd dubbed Nella's Pearl and where they were going to stop off. "We should be arrivin' soon, I reckon. We should get dressed an' get up. Half the mornin's gone." Not that anyone was going to catch her complaining about why that might be, it had to be said. But, Vega knew that this might be something that he found difficult, emotional and in which he needed her to support him. Which meant just being them and doing what they did. So, she pointed to something which he might or might not have noticed the night before. In the room, where his bed had been was a low ottoman-like chest. He'd seen it before, aboard her father's ship, in her room there. As she pointed to it, she spoke quietly. "Everythin' that I thought was important enough to keep from my childhood's in there. You said once you'd like to look in there, an' you never got the chance to. So, now it's ours an' you or we can look through it any time you like." It was a strange way to show commitment, but that was exactly what it was and, to her, it was as meaningful as any demonstration could be. It meant that here, with him, was home. "Come on, then, Creede," she said, with a companionable thump on his arm. "Stop hangin' round 'ere like a stinky cheese smell, an' lets get up on decks. Pass me my stick, would you?" That said, and breakfast eaten, she'd get herself dressed, still delighted at being able to do that again and, making sure to say "thank you, for my breakfast. An' the appetite to eat it." she gave him a grin and bumped shoulders as they made their way out and above decks.

"I was starting to think the two of you had died," Huw said drily, when they emerged. "We're coming up to land, look."

There, just coming up was the island in question and Vega slipped her hand into his. From here they could see that it wasn't a small dot of land, but would take maybe a half break to walk from one end to the other of, although they couldn't see all of it because it had a small raised hill on one side, on which grew a single tree. More detail than that was hard to see. "It looks nice. We could let the horses out, maybe, if you want? There's plenty of room an' they might like a bit of freedom." Come to that, Vega said, she was fairly sure that some horse riding would be good therapy and exercise for her. What she didn't say, of course, was that it would be good for him, too. "We could make a firepit, get it ready for the next travellers that come by, an' stuff." She didn't squeeze his hand, but she held on tightly enough that he couldn't doubt she was there.

"It looks like a good place," Joq'an said, smiling at the two of them as he joined them. "We will put you ashore and then anchor the ship. Then, Huw and I will spend some time on the Dreamer." He smiled and nodded at Huw. "He seems to enjoy spending time there more and more. I do not know why." Vega glanced at Huw and frowned. "Fi?" Joq'an nodded his head at Vega's question, though his expression darkened a little as he saw hers. "She's not interest in him, Papa. She's got her eye on someone else." Joq'an seemed about to ask and Vega suddenly pointed at nothing at all and said, "Look! Over there!" As Joq'an turned to look she elbowed Arlo in the ribs and gave him some sort of meaningful glance.

"There's nothing there Eva, what did you see?" Joq'an asked and Vega looked at him dumbfounded for a few trill and then replied. "Movement. I thought so, any'ow. But, hey up an' get yer nonny nonny on, let's get to it an' wriggle shall we?" Nope. No words of a making sense kind, yet plenty in terms of nonsense. "Shall we go sort out the horses, Arlo?" Vega asked and her expression was almost desperate. "Please?"

If they went to sort out the horses it was to very similar expressions from both Huw and Joq'an. Perplexed best summed them up. "You're supposed to stop me doin' that, you know." Vega said and she shook her head. Once they were alone together, she explained. Fi, in the world according to Vega, was desperately, "an' I mean desperate. Really.", and completely in love with her father. So. As Vega put it, if Huw was holding out hope? Well that was what she termed, "jus' a bit exceedingly bloody awkward, innit?"
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:46 pm

There wasn't much that was going to easily lure Arlo out of their cabin that morning, or afternoon or evening either if he was being honest. Vega had been elusive and cagey the evening before, but once he'd joined her in their cabin he'd gotten the answer to all the reasons why. And suffice to say that nobody would hear him complaining anytime soon. Of course, he'd also been concerned that maybe it was too soon. They were bot frustrated admittedly. Both feeling a little impatient. But the last thing he'd wanted was to set her back on her path to healing completely.

But when she'd insisted, he couldn't have brought himself to complain. In fact he'd spent the better part of the night, not complaining. "Good," Arlo had said when he'd come back from the kitchen with a tray, and lowered himself onto to the bed to share it with Vega. The kiss of course was a distraction, and threatened, had it gone any farther, to topple the tray over with all the food and tea. And yet she wouldn't have caught him resisting. He grinned a little as he poured from a pot into the mugs. "It's good you're hungry. I've cooked enough for a legion." Which was an exaggeration, but it was still a lot of food.

He snorted, it was nearly tea out his nose when Vega mentioned some of maneuvers they''d engaged in the night before. Ultimately though he'd bypass the inevitable debate about whether it was her or him that was most responsible for her healing, and settle on agreeing that it was them, together in somewhat equal parts. It was her of course. But he'd rather agree, than press the point. She was better and it was all that mattered now. It seemed though that she'd done more the night before than get rid of the extra bed. He'd noticed, but hadn't said anything. Not then, and not this morning either as they both dressed and prepared to leave the ship.

"I remember," he said when she recalled what he'd said previously about the chest and its contents. "I figured it was something like a woman's journal like my mother used to have. Don't look in except under pain of death," Arlo said, grinning as he remembered how his mother used to covet the tattered old book she kept on the shelf. "Thank you," he said, reaching out to take Vega's hand and then kissing her. It was a gesture with real meaning, and he knew that. And it was the gesture that mattered most to him, not what was in that chest. But "Who's stinky cheese now?" he asked after handing her the stick. "I've been ready to go for the last ten bits."

All Joq'an got once they were up on deck was a grin from Arlo and no more. The man wasn't stupid, and the last thing Arlo was willing to do was even hint at the events of the night before with Vega's father. The island though, when he looked out over the water, was a little larger than was implied by the map. No name on the map? Arlo intended to change that and he thought he had a plan that would make it happen. "Let's do that," he agreed when Vega suggested they take the horses. "Peg would enjoy a good run after all these trials being stalled."

He was busy looking at the island and the discussion about Huw and Fi caught him by surprise. Still, Arlo frowned thoughtfully and shrugged. "Huw's sweet on her," he said, as if he had all the reason in the world to know for sure. "I've told him he should tell her so." Unfortunately for Vega though, he missed completely the meaning in the otherwise meaningful glance. "What'd'you do that for?" he asked, annoyed that she'd poked him, and then looked where she was pointing. "I don't see anything." Lyova meanwhile, sighed dramatically and rolled over out-sized eyes.

And why was she in such a damned hurry all of a sudden? Looking at Joq'an with a confused expression, but a shrug, Arlo nodded his head then. "Alright, I'll get the horses and a couple other things I wanted to take with us." A small chest of wood and tools, that was, along with the riding gear and food so they could have a picnic while they were ashore. And once they'd gotten there? Arlo was still confused. "What was I supposed to stop you doing?" Still, leaving the crate where he'd pulled it ashore, he nonetheless explained. "I was trying to figure out what we could do, if we were to name the island, to make it official on the maps. And I had an idea," he explained.

His idea was that before they left, they could plant a sturdy sign in the ground, carved with the name that they chose for the place. It could take time, maybe arcs would pass by. But over time, any number of ships would drop anchor, their crews coming ashore for rest and they'd see that sign, and take the name away with them. Enough visitors? Enough sailors mentioning the island by name? Eventually, surely, it would begin showing up on all the official maps of the area.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:51 pm

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There were things that were private and personal to the two of them; times and experiences they shared which were just theirs. Some of their most intimate moments, of course, but also things like the way he looked at her when he told her he loved her, or the way he always muttered apparently random nonsense underbreath just as he started to wake. And, added to that now was the expression on his face when he came within an inch of snorting tea out of his nose. Delighted to have caused such a reaction, she looked at him primly, just for a trill and then she grinned wickedly. He'd worried that it was too soon last night, but Vega had been resolute and firm.

Because, if she hadn't been, she was going to lose her mind.

But, she didn't tell him that. She also wasn't going to take risks (imagine, she'd considered, if she made it worse and then turned it into a longer wait or, Xiur forbid, meant that there was some long term problem. No, no, no.) She was adamant and, if she was honest, he was easily convinced. And that led to them sleeping very little and complaining about that not at all. "Yer gross you are. That nearly came out of your nose, didn't it?" Grinning at him, she ate more than he'd seen her eat in a while. Not that her appetite was ever poor, but she was ravenous. As for the ottoman, Vega glanced at it and shrugged. "No secrets between us. It's jus' silly stuff, any'ow. Like the dungarees I was wearin' when the mermaid put the shell in the leg, the shawl I 'ad as a baby that my mother made for me before I was born. Obviously." Things that were important to her, or to her father and he'd put in there. "We should think about jus' throwin' that stuff out, you know. Givin' it away to people who need it. It's jus' somethin' to upset you if I keel over, an' it's not servin' any purpose in there. Better that it's used." She hadn't considered that until this moment, but it made sense to her. It was meaningful to her, but she didn't need to look at it or hold it for it to be meaningful, and it was something to sort out if anything happened to her. With a nudge, she added, "jus' think 'ow old an' musty it'll be in ninety arcs which is the earliest I'm plannin' on seein' those twins again."

So, up on deck for them after she'd taken a swipe at him for his stinky cheese comment and Vega grinned an unapologetic grin to her father. She said nothing, though, just watched the island coming up into view. Then, Arlo was no help when they were talking about Huw and Fi. "She's sweet on my father," she whispered to him as they got down there. "I don't want either Huw or Papa to know. It's icky." It was disgusting is what it was and Vega was full of judgement. What she wasn't, was good at spotting the difference in the way Fi looked at Huw, but she had the idea in her head and that was that.

His idea for a sign, though, that caused worries about Huw, Fi and pretty much everything else to escape her and she looked at him with a thoughtful expression. Vega's eyes spoke more than she did, often, and as he spoke about that, the way the colours swirled in them changed, slowed down. "What do you want to call it? I was thinkin' of Nella's Pride, but it's jus' a suggestion an' it's up to you." When she spoke, Vega watched him carefully but made no other comment than that. It was a fine idea and his mother would be proud of him, hence her suggestion for the name.

Insisting that she did her share, walking stick or not, she slung a bag over her shoulder to hang at the opposite hip and when Huw offered, entirely genuinely, "Would you like me to carry you down, Eva?" her response was equally genuine. "Would you like me to beat you with my stick, Huw?" Then, she made her way, stubbornly, down on her own. What Vega didn't realise, because she was too busy being stubborn was that he'd said that, just as she'd been about to pick up a basket which would have been too heavy for her. In her flounce off, she left it behind and Huw handed it to Arlo with a smile. They got the horses down, leading them and then Huw and Joq'an left them. It was cold, of course, but it was a pretty little place and Vega slipped her hand into his.

"Where'd you wanna sit? Perch under that there tree?" This was his to do as he saw, or so she believed. Glancing at him, she smiled. "Wanna do the sign first? Or teach me some ridin'?" Or whatever he wanted, she said with a very particular glint in her eyes. It was nice, here, and she was quite, quite content.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:43 pm

The things in that chest of hers weren't silly, Arlo had told her, firmly. They might be little things. But they'd played a part in her life, a story of who she was in a sense. Not musty, and not terrible reminders once she was gone...at a very, very ripe old age and after him so that he wouldn't have to face being without her. But didn't think at all that she ought to get rid of those things. She shouldn't do it any more than he'd get rid of the wooden charm his mother had left for him. Just because he hadn't worn it didn't mean it lacked value.

But once they had their feet on solid ground and Vega revealed what all the strange and cagey business had been about, Arlo was more confused than ever. "What makes you think she's sweet on your father? Did she say so specifically?" he wondered, but otherwise found a good spot to stake Storm and Peg. A little grassy patch of grass up from the beach where the two horses could graze. "I know that Huw is interested in her. He told me so." She knew after all that there was a night he'd gone off with Huw, drinking and playing cards. "I told him he should say so."

Still, "Why's it icky anyway. 'cause of the age? There were arcs between my mother and Jonas. Didn't make any difference," he said, and then quickly let the whole thing drop. Somehow talking about others who were sweet on still others, and who they ought to be sweet on felt like woman's business and not for him to concern himself with.

As for what to call the island, well, he wasn't completely sure. "Pearl, maybe. Nella's pearl. I think the only fancy jewelry I remember her having was a strand of very small pearls that Jonas got for her. No money for more expensive things but she loved them anyway."

"You want to ride though?" he said when she asked what next. It was a nice trial for it and he'd brought along their riding gear. If that's what she wanted he'd saddle up the horses, get their bridles on and pull Storm alongside the chest so Vega could stand on it, make getting into the saddle a little easier.

The healers, he told her, had actually told her that riding might be good for her. It required a certain use of the legs, inner thighs especially, without putting too much stress on the knees and lower legs. Just enough, and only so long as she kept the horse to a walk or the slowest of canters.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:25 pm

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"Yeah, Fi told me," Vega said when asked, thinking about the conversation. "I mean, she never said the actual words, jus' that she'd come with us cos there was someone she had eyes for. That Papa 'ad been real kind and when I asked her if she was hankerin' after an' older man she said yeah." Vega shrugged slightly, who else could she mean. But when he asked why it was icky, she looked at him and her expression was utter disbelief. "He's my father. He'd be his own uncle. His nephews are married to her sisters. Ew." No, she wasn't admitting that yes, exactly that it was the age difference. She contented herself with a grumbled "What do you know, anyway?" and left it at that. Glancing at him, though, she had the good grace to look vaguely embarrassed and she smiled slightly.

"My boyfriend is simultaneously younger an' older than me," she said with a slight nudge against his side. "It leads to bein' conflicted an' judgemental." A much safer topic was what they'd do. Riding was good therapy? Vega had no idea of that and she was pleased to consider it. "Ok. Will you help me?" She wasn't really actually able to ride very well, she was still very much a novice at it. As he saddled the horses, though, Vega moved over to help. "I remember when you taught me 'ow to do this." She smiled, not looking at him but concentrating on what she was doing with a frown. "It wasn't long after those bandits had roughed you up, an' I went off after them like a fury. Bit off a sight more'n I could chew and you saved my hide." Those were the first people either of them had ever killed but they had both been very much in a kill-or-be-killed scenario. She shot him a glance as she considered it, shaking her head. "We've seen an' done some stuff, you an' I." Cannibals in loin cloths to soulful eyed shopkeepers, Immortals and fire-demons to waterfalls of youth. Plus, of course, all the dreams they'd shared together, literally.

Nella's Pearl? "That's a lovely name, Arlo. I think she'd be well pleased. I mean, I dunno. I shouldn't say that, I didn't know her really, but it seems to me like she'd jus' be pleased an' proud as could be that you're doin' this for her, you know?" The story of the string of pearls struck her, it would be something that Nella Creede would cherish, not because of what they were or how much they cost but because of who they came from. The man who had stepped into her life and raised Arlo as his son. "Did you ever call him Papa?" Vega asked, then wished she hadn't. "Sorry. It's not my business, it's jus' you said you found out about Jonas when you sneaked downstairs. Before that, I meant. Shurrup, Eva." Of all the places, Vega thought and shook her head slightly. Now was not the time.

When he helped her get into the saddle, she kept ahold of his hand and her grip was tight. Vega didn't do nervous, she charged in to things that concerned her, or charged at them. Since that night in Cylus, though, she had been much more cautious. Whilst she knew it wasn't a bad thing and might just make her a bit more sensible in most people's eyes, she didn't like it and she fought it. She hadn't wanted to get out of bed, because bed was safe, or leave their cabin, so she'd done both as soon as she realised she didn't want to. Still, even now, she'd rather not be anywhere he wasn't and yet she recognised that for what it was and pushed herself. She needed Arlo Creede, there was no doubt about that, but there was no way that she was going to need him, or anyone, to be able to step out on her own somewhere. That would make her very much not-her, and that wasn't happening. "Ok. This is high up. I'd forgotten." She looked at him and smiled. "I put my feet in these yeah?" Holding on to the reins with a grip so tight that her knuckles turned white, she did her best not to show him just how nervous she was. "Slow. We can do slow. You gonna ride Peg, or jus' stand there an' laugh at yer missus?" She grinned at him and raised an eyebrow. "Whose stupid idea was this, then?"
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:03 pm

There was something about this admittedly uncomfortable conversation, or rather the circumstances that had prompted it, that didn't seem quite right to Arlo. Though at first he couldn't put his finger on it. Firstly, call him old fashioned she might, it seemed more like woman's business than something men would chat about over a round of drinks. Except that Huw had dipped into it some. Which was why in fact, it seemed odd. So Fi didn't say it specifically, and Vega had assumed more or less.

"Are you really sure it's what she meant?" he insisted. "Your father has been good to her. He's been good to me too. Doesn't mean I'm sweet on him," he teased as he'd gotten the riding gear together and checked all the leather straps and buckles to make sure they were all in good order. Like he'd said already, Huw had mentioned he was sweet on Fi. "He worried about saying it though, in part because he's older than her." Was Vega sure that it wasn't Huw that Fi was referring to? It would be a shame, for Huw at least, if it was the father and not the cousin.

"I know because my stepfather was a decade older than my mother. And it didn't make any difference." Point made at least, even if he still wasn't convinced it was the father than Fi had her eye on. Still, did she think her father was too old to have an opportunity for happiness if he wanted that sort of thing? Or what if by discouraging Fi, she'd actually warned her off the wrong one? Women, Arlo concluded but didn't say so. Sneaky creatures to say the least. But yes, he'd help Vega with her riding. "Remember to check the girth strap twice. Once when you cinch it up, again after you've made like you're going to get into the saddle." It would make sure that she'd catch Storm engaging in mischief and holding air till an opportune moment to turn her out of the saddle.

And he remembered well, their run in with the bandits off in the woods. Arlo also remembered that the whole thing had been caused by him fibbing about what had caused all the bumps and bruises he'd gotten while learning to ride Peg. It was a long time ago, and yet he wasn't prepared to admit it. No, those had been the men than had ambushed and beaten him. It was established lore in a sense, and he wouldn't be changing it now. "She'd be pleased," he assured her as he positioned her horse near the chest and helped her get into the saddle. "I called him pops. Before that night," he told her with a grin. "And after. I saw no reason for it to change. Nothing really had, after all. The only thing different was that I knew."

"Right, put your feet in the stirrups, the balls of your feet in essence," he said as he adjusted the stirrups at just the right height. No farther forward and no farther back. "Too far back and your feet can slip out of the stirrups and you won't have the right leverage anyway. Too far forward, if you were to fall for some reason, there'd be a risk of your foot getting caught in the stirrup and not letting go." The implications were plain enough. That way lay disaster for all concerned. "You don't need to use your legs too much," he added as he climbed aboard Peg. "Do most of the guiding with the reins and the shifting of your weight. Storm will get the message."

It was her idea, Arlo insisted when Vega asked. But they had the whole island to themselves apparently and could do as they pleased. "Top of the hill?" he suggested. It was a gentle rise after all, and there'd be a gently sloping, winding path to follow through the trees. And surely there'd be an impressive view, once they reached the top.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:46 pm

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"I don't know, why are you so bothered about it, any'ow?" Vega asked with a grin. "Yer turnin' into a right old woman, you are." She waved a dismissive hand. "They're grown ups, all of 'em. They'll work it out." Or, they wouldn't and that was up to them. "We managed it. Eventually. Or, you did. Shurrup." Her grin to him was entirely genuine and she was pleased to be teasing each other as they always had. Too many things had been different for them for too long. They were getting back to normal and, in many ways, Vega thought that was where the healing truly started. Or so she believed, most ardently. His stepfather was a decade older than his mother? They didn't look that different, in Vega's eyes but then she was rubbish at working out ages. Still, "we've worried about other people's relationships quite enough. Let's focus on the Creede part of the family, not the Lei'nox bit." She stopped and frowned at that, thinking of the use of the term 'family', but then decided that was entirely accurate so said nothing about it.

"Yep, I remember. In case Storm 'olds her breath, yeah? I told you about my uncle blowin' in the horse's nose." It had to be said, Storm was a placid and responsive mare, far less cantankerous than Peg. She glanced at him when he said that his mother would like it, that she'd be pleased and she smiled and nodded. "I reckon so, aye." But he called Jonas Pops? Vega looked at him and smiled, surprise on her face. "Really? That's well weird. It's like me referrin' to Papa as Joq'an. Yer a weird fella, so you are." A swift kiss was in order and then, she got on the horse, after everything was checked and checked again.

"Like this? A'right," She tried not to grip on to the reins too much, but her nerves were evident. She glanced at him and shrugged slightly. "I'm nervous of fallin'. But I'm not gonna, so that's a'right, innit?" With a self-deprecating grin, Vega asked "will you still love me if I get too scared to leave the 'ouse, an' stand on chairs screamin' an' swattin' things with my dishrag?" It made her want to spur the horse on faster, but she didn't do that, because that would be a stupid, reckless thing to do.

So, up the top of the hill it was. The views when they got up there were stunning and Vega grew more confident in the fine control of Storm as they made their way. Storm was a responsive mare and all Vega had to do was move slightly. That was a good thing and she started to relax and enjoy it. "I can feel it, in my legs. But it's not painful, it's good. Like swimmin', you know?" She had no doubt that he knew she felt better anyhow, so she told him as much. Once they got up there, though, she was quite content to stop the horse and just look out over the ocean. "It's beautiful," she whispered. "Shall we have somethin' to eat an' make the sign?" Up here, looking out over the vastness of the ocean, Vega thought was a good idea and the perfect place.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:37 pm

"I'm not bothered about it," Arlo countered when Vega wondered about his apparent interest in her father's love life, or lack thereof. "But you've said it yourself, they'll work it out themselves." Was he planning on sharing aloud his opinion that she was straying dangerously close to being a busybody, as in his opinion, women tended to do? Nope, Arlo just wasn't that foolish and any man that was, deserved whatever quick retribution he had coming his way if he did it. Not him though. He'd grown up seeing Jonas do it once or twice, and had observed him enduring the trial long, or several trials long, chilly results.

She was right though. Creede, Lei'nox, they were family all of them together. But yes, he agreed. Blowing gently into a horse's nostrils was one of the ways to get them to empty out the air in their belly so the cinch could be tightened just as much as it should be. "What's so weird?" he asked as he climbed into the saddle, once he'd gotten Vega settled into her own. "It started when I was little, just starting to talk. I couldn't say Papa right away, and said Pop instead. It stuck," he added with a shrug.

But she wasn't going to fall, he told her as they headed out across even ground that eventually turned into a gentle slope. "If you lean forward in the saddle going up hill, it'll both help with your balance, and urge Storm to keep going forward." And with him in the lead on Peg? "Horses are herd animals. In this case Peg is the leader and Storm will simply follow without you needing to do much at all." Storm wouldn't bolt either so long as Peg didn't. The horse behind would take its cues from the one in front.

Of course he couldn't imagine that Vega would ever be truly fearful, or any kind of ordinary housewife. Which was fine with him, he hadn't been looking for one. But it went without saying though he said it anyway, he'd love her any way he could have her and that would never change a bit. Some places on the way were easy going, and others trickery where the ground was littered with rock or scrub that the horses needed to pick their way around. But horses weren't foolish creatures and they knew how to fend for themselves. So long as their riders urged them in the direction they wanted to go, the horse could pick their way through on their own. "Keep your reins just loose enough so Storm can lower it..just enough to act as a counterbalance. But not so loose that she can lower it completely tot he ground."

Just as he'd hoped though, the activity was a useful one, both to help with her healing and as a way to get out and move without having to walk or climb on foot. Mobility, that was. And when they reached the top the scenery was just as he'd thought it would be, and Arlo agreed as he climbed out of the saddle, tethered Peg and helped Vega down. They could do both, he suggested? In his sack he'd brought them something to eat. Hollowed out rolls filled with meat, cheese and greens, some dried fruit and cider. And he'd brought the materials to make the sign too so they might find a good spot on the top of the hill to plant it where it could be seen both from the beach, and from out at sea through a spying glass.
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Vega
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:20 pm

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When he said that he wasn't bothered about it, Vega raised an eyebrow. "A'right, a'right, don't fret on it. Yer allowed to act like an' old lady now an' then." She knew, in fairness, that she was a damn sight more interested in the whole Fi and Huw thing than she would be if it wasn't for a simple fact. And now, she was pulling him into it, too. She'd started walking not a trill too soon, that was the simple fact of it. "I've been that bored, Arlo, you know?" So bored in fact, she said with a grin and a bump against his shoulder, that other people's love life started to get interesting. "An' normally, I've barely got time to make sense of us." Which was fine because most of the time they just made sense of themselves and the less interference, the better. The same was probably true of Huw and Fi. As for her father, though, Vega shrugged slightly. "I talked to Papa once, about findin' someone else." He was having none of it, Vega said. She'd be happy if he found himself some companionship and happiness, but he was clear. "Said he wasn't prepared to accept second best, nor to ask anyone to accept bein' it." Looking at him, she said very pointedly. "Which is stupid. An' is somethin' only a stupid person would say or do."

As she climbed up on to Storm, with his help, he wondered what was weird and Vega chuckled. "It's not weird that you call him Pops, Arlo. It's weird that I didn't know that cos when yer talkin' about him, you call him Jonas." She glanced at him as he explained why that was his name and her eyes swirled lilac. "That's why you call me Vega, you know. When I was a kid, I couldn't say Eva. Said Veva, it got turned into Vega an' stuck." Shrugging slightly, she added, "I was slow to talk. They were gettin' worried I jus' wouldn't. Apparently, I was ill, weak fer a long time after I was born. I was well early, an' then the birth, too." She wondered, sometimes, how bad it had been but no one would tell her and it didn't really matter since she was evidently fine now. So, she added with a twinkle of mirth in her eyes, "Now, they can't shut me up."

The ride up was easy and she was pleased with Storm and how she behaved. Following Peg made it easier and also, Arlo's certainty in all things about the horse was good too. She wouldn't fall, he said and a brief smile crossed her face as she considered that it was just confidence. That was what she had lost, really, confidence in her body to do what she told it to, what it should. That would come back as her legs began to behave themselves more. More than anything, she knew, once these braces and splints came off, once she got rid of the crutches and sticks, what she needed to build up was her confidence. It was something she had never lacked and she was utterly sure that she'd get it back, right quick. The irony of that certainty was completely lost on her.

As he climbed down, she didn't wait for him to help her, just got down herself. It was painful, true enough, lifting her leg that way to swing it over, and then again to step down backwards, but equally it wasn't the kind of pain that meant she shouldn't do it, so she just did. "That was right nice, we should do it more." Wrapping her arms around the back of his neck she grinned at him, "Food an' a bit of woodwork with my fella? That sounds good. You know," she said, almost conversationally but not quite because she was still too delighted at the truth of it, "Don't get me wrong, Arlo, I'm well chuffed that we're all back to normal. But I sleep better when I sleep with you. I know we didn't sleep enough last night," that almost-shy crooked grin which he knew well crept on to her face, but she was making a serious point as she put down a blanket for the two of them and carefully lowered herself down to sit on the ground. "But what sleep I took, it was better than it's been fer..well, since before I got broke." It felt like that, that she'd been broken, but now? "Jus' another bit of me back to normal. But I've never appreciated bein' able to do things again so much, I tell you." Realising how what she said had sounded, she shook her head. "I meant sleep. But that too," she grinned, bumping against him as he sat down.

Resting there against him, just leaning against him, she looked out at the place. It was beautiful here, there was no doubt. Accepting the bread he'd stuffed she ate, slower and less than him, the blessed of Cassion. She'd brought her woodworking tools, and once they were ready to start working, Vega reached into her pocket and pulled out a small stone. "It's the stone I found at the bottom of the lake, remember? Outside the waterfall of youth?" It was a pretty thing and Vega kept it for all sorts of reasons. But now? "I thought, if it was alright, we could embed it in the sign? It's not a pearl, an' if you think she'd not like it we don't have to, I just thought it was a nice thing to do." Like they should leave a part of themselves here, too, she thought - to keep missus Creede company. As she thought that, her expression turned rueful. "I'm probably jus' bein' daft, an' I won't be offended at all if you'd rather not."

But either way, she'd work with him to make a sign. Large was good, so that it could be seen and they'd need to engrave the wood deeply, too, in order to ensure the lettering was visible. She worked with him, taking her cue from him in terms of what he wanted to do. And there they'd stay until he was happy. When it came time to go, though, she squeezed his hand and offered to go ahead, just give him a bit of time if he wanted it.
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[The Hollow Sea] Nella's Pearl

Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:39 pm

Would Jonas ever want to find anyone else now that his mother was gone, Arlo wondered when Vega told him about her father's insistence that he wouldn't. Probably, if someone was to ask Jonas, he'd say no he wouldn't. But time went on and life was for the living. His mother would want her husband to be happy and his feelings might eventually change. And Arlo, he realized, would be pleased for him. But not yet. He opted not to say either that he couldn't imagine moving on either. Ever. She'd just tell him that he was being foolish. And yet he wasn't.

"It can't be anything but tiresome to be kept off your feet so long," he said instead, even as they reached the top of the hill. It was one of the reasons he though it would be a good idea to ride. It got her farther from being unable to do and see while she was healing. And it was good for mending as well. As for him, he just couldn't see that what he called his stepfather was in any way unusual. It was all he knew after all. "He's pops to me, so when I speak to him, it's what I call him. But to others who aren't his children, he's Jonas or mister Creede," he argued. Arlo grinned though and snorted. He had a difficult time imagining Vega ever being quiet or anything less than opinionated.

The horses were tethered where they could graze freely, the blanket was laid out on the ground and Arlo had joined her, laying out the food so they could have something to eat before starting on the sign. He laughed and shook his head before saying, "It was a good night's sleep, what little there was of it." He wouldn't have changed any of it, he was quick to add. And not just for the obvious reasons. But because even he had known when she was quiet in his arms that she was having a sleep the likes of which she hadn't had in quite a while. It had done her good, and him too. "It's only for the better from here forward," he said, referring to her being well on the way back to her old self.

When they were ready to begin work on the sign, Arlo paused from the task of gathering up the wood and looked at the stone in her hand. He smiled. "I remember. And she'd like that. She'd like it a lot," he said with certainty. That's what they'd do then, and they'd make a sign that would withstand time and the elements so that generations would see it when they passed by. And if it didn't? Well surely they'd pass by again sometime, and stop and repair it. Simple lettering would do.All the better to read from a distance, he said while they worked. As for him, he light a torch so he could heat up a blade, and as Vega carved the words, he'd use the heated metal to char the carved bits, make them more visible. He'd plant the finished sign in the ground them, after they embedded the sign.

And when they were done? If she wanted to just gather up the horses, then he'd take a few bits to have a word with his mother alone. It was all that was needed. He figured that wherever she was, she knew what she needed to anyway. So then leaving the sign where it was planted, he helped Vega get into Storm's saddle, climbed into Peg's and led the way back down to the beach where the boats and Vega's family would be waiting for them.
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