When Love Conquers, It Takes No Prisoners.

The fortress-capital of the Ivorian Empire and the seat of the Immortal Ethelynda, which she protects alongside her Mortalborn children. Known as the safest place in Idalos thanks to its iron-clad military presence, it offers a welcoming hand to all honourable visitors.

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Tessa
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Thu May 17, 2018 7:55 pm

61st Ashan 718
Immediately following this
Tessa Anders could not remember when the last time was that she'd cried. Benji, her husband, had bemoaned that fact and it had angered him that she had stopped sobbing as he abused her, but she could not bring herself to pretend. She could make the noises, of course, but the tears simply would not come. Sometimes, she thought that he had beaten them from her, that she had been so hardened against the world and everything in it that she could not shed any tears. Mostly, she did not know or care.

But standing in the kitchen, she felt violent trembling all over her and then the Knight whose name she did not know spoke to her and moved her to a chair. Tessa sat, obediently, and she looked up at him. He said that they could not stay here, that she was with them and that the babies were safe and she was safe but he then spoke to the Lotharro. "Torqin?" She looked at him and blinked in surprise. He was a Lotharro with the same name as her friend and he'd won her in a fight a few ten-trials ago. How did he know the Knight?

Tessa looked around in some surprise, then she tried to force herself to think. The Knight had walked out and into the living room. When he came back in, she looked at him. "Is Benji.. is he dead?" She didn't know why she didn't feel anything, she was sure she should feel something, but she didn't. Numb and cold and shaking from her head to her toes. Her lower lip trembled in sudden realisation and she looked at the body of the boy.

He was just a boy

Tessa's eyes fixated on him, staring down at the body which was in her kitchen. Her eyes couldn't move, she could no more tear her gaze away than she could develop wings and fly away. She had killed him? Tessa Anders, who had taken every abuse imaginable and never raised her voice, never fought back or even considered leaving, she had killed him? As she looked at him she felt acid rise in her stomach and then into her windpipe and with a sudden rush of heat, she turned and fell off the chair, crawling over to a bucket on the floor where she vomited. She had killed him. He'd come in with the belt and she'd killed him and Benji was dead.

There was a moment where that tiny shred of sanity she had hung in balance and when she looked back at that moment, Tessa would give thanks to the Immortals that the babies had woken in that moment and there was a gurgle. Her children. The twins. She had to be strong. She had to be.

So, wiping her mouth, she stood.

"We can't go out looking like this," in that sentence, she sounded like Celeste, though it was gone in a moment. "There're clothes in the wardrobe. I've got bandages an' that, but we're covered in blood. The guards don't much care, but they'll care 'bout that." She looked at the two of them and she was white as a sheet. "We need'ta get cleaned up, an' bandaged up. Best we can?" Looking to Xander, though she had no idea that was his name still. "Shall I get the bath, sir?"
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Torqin
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Thu May 17, 2018 10:06 pm

Torqin could just barely see Celeste in the kitchen, mostly obscured by the angle and Xander's body. When she'd said his name, he smiled broadly, "Aye, it's me, Torqin." He wasn't sure just how scrambled her mind was, for she seemed to remember him, but it was the wrong memory. She remembered him saving her as a child, only to be slain. He chewed on that for a while as he slowly pulled himself upright, having heard Xander's desire to get going. The bloody wound on his back stuck to the fabric of the arm chair he'd been sitting in, stinging a bit as he pulled away. He'd have to get that patched up.

And the throbbing headache and pressure forming behind his eyes. He reached up and touched gingerly at his throbbing nose, feeling the lower half of it sitting askew. And it sure lit up like a torch at his touch. His fingers traveling higher, he could see that part of it was still straight. It was broken, probably by when Benji got a good shot in on his face. His body seemed to be telling him to get the blood and whatever else was in there out, he could just feel it. He crouched down, and ripped off part of one of the dead men's shirts. He took a deep breath through his mouth, and then exhaled heavily out his nose. It took a moment, and it sent white flashing pain through him, but eventually the clotting blood was shot out both nostrils, clearing the airway. Pressure was instantly relieved, though pain still radiated.

He made a triangle with both hands, joined at the pads of his finger tips. He took a deep breath in through his mouth, readying himself. On the exhale, he began bringing his palms toward each other, while dragging his fingertips down his nose. He felt his nose shifting, and the pain that spiked through his mind was so much worse than when it had broken. He gasped, grunted, until his fingers slid off the tip of his nose, and it was over. He wobbled a bit, nearly losing his balance, catching himself against the wall connecting to the kitchen. He hoped it was straight enough, and he took a few testing breaths through his nose, making that awful slurping sound. Seemed to be working and the throbbing was abating quickly.

He reached back and felt at the hole in his back with a finger, hissing at the touch. It wasn't large, nor did it seem to go deep, but if such a wound were on one of the horses at Astedia Stables, it would require stitches. So he would as well. He'd have to keep it covered and cleaned until he could find a healer then. Once recovered a bit, Torqin could hear Celeste going on about getting them cleaned up. Smart. Don't need any guards stopping them if they could help it.

At her questioning of the bath, Torqin set to work. Searching about the house, ignoring the fading gasps of Benji, he found the large tub, and bent at the knees, picking it up and carrying it to the living room, setting it in the middle of the floor. Looking around at the bodies, he figured it might be best if they were put elsewhere. He decided that upstairs might be best. Further delay anyone that might come looking after they were gone. Groaning in pain as he bent down, grabbing the ankles of the man Xander cut the throat of, he began dragging him up the stairs, the man's head thumping upon each step. Upstairs, he dragged the man around one of the beds, depositing him there, out of sight, out of mind. Thankfully, he'd mostly bled out in the living room, so a trail of blood didn't really exist.

In the wardrobe, he grabbed an armload of men's clothes, Benji's clearly, and carried them back down, depositing them upon the sitting couch, pretty much the only spot in the living room untouched by the battle. Then back up the stairs with another body, the man he'd brained. Tucking him away, he went to the other wardrobe, grabbing a load of dresses and things, as well as some baby clothes, and made another pile on the couch. He figured that if Celeste had the tub, a water source had to be nearby in order to fill it.

"Excuse me, sir."

Rafael's body was dragged upstairs, deposited unceremoniously with the other two vagrants. Torqin searched all three bodies for anything of use, coin purses, weapons, and carried those down with him, depositing them on the couch as well, their pile of supplies. He was growing faint from all this effort after his fight, weak from exhaustion, sleepless nights, and now light blood loss. As he approached Benji, he slumped into the wall. Torqin rested there, trying to will his strength forward. He had to keep going. Too much work to be done. Push through it. He grit his teeth and dropped to one knee, finding a coin purse on Benji's person, no longer hear the man's breathing. Finally dead. Or as near to it to matter. Standing now, the blood that was oozing from his wound was clear in a slow growing blossom on his shirt, and the man looked like the lightest breeze might knock him over. He moved to grab Benji's ankles, and toppled again, only now catching himself on the side of the tub.

His strength was running lower and lower, and yet the man continued to try and push himself upright. He had tasks to complete, and a duty to see to the end. For her.
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Xander Andaris
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Fri May 18, 2018 9:28 am

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Xander felt as if his mind had been read when Celeste made the suggestions for what to do next clean up and take the clothes of Benji. Xander wasn't in truth that bloody he had avoided most of the mess he did need to clean his hand and face his shirt had been splattered with blood drops too and so he would have to change that.

Torqin got to work and Xander looked down at Rafael's body for a moment his lifeless eyes staring back up at him. Xander pulled his attention away and looked at Celeste. "We will take care of things, you check on the babies." Xander left the kitchen and went into the living room the bodies were already moved except Benji's and the tub in the middle of the room.

Xander squatted by the wall opposite from the door, blood was poolling against the edge. He dipped his fingers in the blood of Benji and his friend, all mingled together, and began to write. 'We found her.' The words were clear and gruesome. It was a clear message to the webspinners if they showed up any time soon. Then he noticed as Torqin stumbled and fell, hand grasping at the tub.

Xander moved over ignoring the dead or dying Benji and grabbed the Lothar's arm. He stabilised him but it wasn't easy he was a hefty man. "Come in sit down." Xander made space in the sofa and placed the man down on it. Leaning him forward he lifted up the shirt, blood oozed our as he did running down the man's flesh and onto his trousers. "That's a nasty wound, you'll need to see a doctor." Xander stepped back and grabbed one of Benji's shirts from the pile.

The tearing sound was loud as Xander ripped it into a couple of long strips. He wrapped it around Torqin's waist and then handed him some folded up material left over. "Bite this." Xander remembered them doing this for him after fighting Rafael in the past. Once the material was in the bodyguards mouth Xander tied the knot pulling it hard and tight against the wound. Xander grimaced at the memory of the pain and made sure it was secure. "That will do for now."

Xander then went to the kitchen leaving Torqin to catch his breathe. "Where can we get water? I am the least bloody." The wolf looked at the woman who was meant to be his wife, he missed her, the real her. Perhaps this was going to be harder than he thought but if not for he had to figure it out for their children. He collected his sword from where it lay on the floor and cleaned it off on the curtain before sheathing it.
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Tessa
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Fri May 18, 2018 10:12 am

61st Ashan 718
Immediately following this
He told her that they would take care of things and that she should see to the children and she nodded, immediately compliant with what he told her. "Yes, sir. There's bandages an' medical things in't that drawer there, sir. If you need it." Tessa looked at him, watched him as he moved and she couldn’t help but feel that she had let him down. It confused her because she thought he’d wanted her to fight back, he was fighting and had drawn his sword. Men were confusing things and this Knight was very much in that category. She felt safe with him, calm around him and she had a deep sense of wanting him to be happy with her.

Yet she didn’t know his name.

They moved around and things happened. Tessa made sure that the babies were alright – they were fussing and unhappy, which was not surprising since they had heard the commotion, but equally, they were more used to the sounds of conflict than she would ever want them to be.

By the time that the Knight came back in, Tessa had washed her hands and face from the small jug and bowl at the side of the area where she had been chopping vegetables. How could it be, she wondered, that she had been chopping vegetables and preparing food just moments ago? She was in deep shock but she did not really realise it as her hands moved automatically, scrubbing away at the blood. She put the bucket she had vomited into out , just outside the kitchen door and she peeled off her bloody clothes and went to stand in the small scrub-covered area just outside her back door and poured the remaining water over herself. That would have to do and the neighbours were used to seeing her bloody. So, she went back into the kitchen and got a house dress from the back of the door. It was there in case she needed to change clothes after Benji had beaten her, as she often did, so she kept a spare in case. He would be furious if she had to waste time going upstairs before cleaning up the mess she had forced him to make.

As Xander was working on Torqin’s wounds, Tessa had taken four buckets, two on either side of a leather strap which went around the back of her neck. It was how she always got the water from the well just a few houses away and so she went there and drew four buckets. Fresh bruises and blood on Tessa Anders were not in any way new things and no one batted an eyelid at them. Her movements were slow and careful, but when carrying four heavy buckets of water they always were.

Which meant that, as the Knight walked into the kitchen, Tessa was just inside, both hands on the handle of one bucket as she lifted it on to the table. She wasn’t strong and it was a struggle for her, but she did it with the kind of practiced movements which meant she was used to it. Looking at the Knight, she spoke quietly. ”I got four buckets, sir. There’s a well jus’ down a way. I’ll jus’ git the bath, an’ you an’ the other gentleman, Torqin, you c’n bathe.” Her hair was wet and her face clean, he might notice. She was wearing a different dress, too. ”I’ll put it in the bath, sir, an’ then fetch more?” Either way, it was buckets of cold water with a pot of boiling hot water added to it, to take off the chill. She seemed used to not bathing or, going after the menfolk at the very least.

Looking at the Knight, she asked him again. Because she had to, she had to know. ”I’m sorry, sir, but is Benji... is’e dead sir? I didn’t mean to cause all this trouble.” That was very much how she felt – that she was trouble here and causing more by the minute. Maybe the guard would come and take her away, she thought, for killing that friend of Benji’s, with the belt. ”Am I in trouble, sir? I need to make sure my babies… I’ve got a friend, Lexi, she’ll take care’f them. Please, can I take them to ‘er?”
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Torqin
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Sat May 19, 2018 6:10 pm

Torqin felt himself guided over to the couch by Xander, sitting down upon it heavily, a bit more so than intended, but every motion was a struggle now, his focus even more so. His shirt was lifted so the wound could be looked at, and he just removed it, revealing the multitude of scars across his back and chest, from his days in the rougher parts of the Eastern Settlements. Still, better than death at the hands of that bastard father of Celeste's. Torqin took the proffered cloth, slipping it in his teeth. He took in a deep breath through his nose, holding it so he could exhale as the pain started.

As the knot was tightened, air wooshed out of Torqin's nostrils, his eyes grimaced shut as the pain shot through him. Still not quite as blinding as the broken nose had been, but definitely stole the air from his chest. Once it was over though, it was a moderate throbbing. At least the bleeding would be kept in check, or so he hoped. While Celeste set to work getting the water ready, Torqin cleaned his hands off on some shirt he'd grabbed. He then dug through the piles of clothes, grabbing two shirts that looked like they might fit him, and a pair of breeches. Torqin picked up the sword and dagger he'd acquired from one of the bodies. He slipped the dagger in his boot, and leaned the sword against the sofa.

A bit gruffly, "I dun think we should linger longer than necessary. A full bath might not be needed. Just clean enough to pass by the eyes of guard and foe alike. But thank you, Cel-, miss. It is much appreciated." He knew his face and neck were coated in sticky blood, his hands and forearms as well. He took a deep breath and pulled himself upright, slowly. Grabbing a shirt, he dipped it in the water, and began scrubbing himself off. Listening to Celeste's suggestion, Torqin found himself in heavy disagreement. He was not about to let Celeste, or her children, out of his sight. Her questions had been directed at Xander though, and as Torqin's lord, or at least, acting lord, since really, he answered to Celeste, so the bodyguard stayed out of it. For now, his job was to make sure they were ready to get moving once able.

So he cleaned himself off, stripped out of his bloodstained breeches, pulling on the clean pair, and the two pairs of shirts. He hadn't bother with attempting to be modest or concerned with privacy. There simply wasn't the time. Once dressed again, he strapped on his shield, belted his club, and the longsword in its sheathe, and split up the coin purses evenly between three of them. It wasn't smart to have one person carrying all the money. He pocketed his own, and set the two for Celeste and Xander on the couch. He stepped over to the front door as his lord and lady continued getting ready, pulling it out of the way, stepping out and retrieving his cloak from the lawn, throwing it around his shoulders, leaving the hood down. He stayed there, blocking the door, his eyes ever searching the road and surrounding structures, as he waited for them to decide the plan, so they could get going.
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Xander Andaris
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Mon May 21, 2018 4:08 pm

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Xander forced a smile in the uncomfortable situation they were in. "That is plenty there is no need for a bath." Xander began to remove his bloodied shirt, deciding not to bother with the trousers. The wolf used it to wash him self the same as Torqin, soaking it in the bucket and washing all the red from his skin. He was by far the cleanest of them all, an unusual turn of events and not what he would have anticipated. Still that meant he was clean fast and onto placing a new shirt over his exposed skin. "Yes, he is dead." The words were cold and emotionless, something of the old Xander shining through in that moment.

As he began to replace his shirt he listened to what Celeste had to say and shook his head looking up at her from his buttons. "Absolutely not, the children need to come with us both of you do." He looked around him at the hovel she had called her home since she was taken and could only imagine what this other girls place was like. "It is not safe enough for them to go anywhere, they should be with their..." He stopped himself, now was not the time to confuse things further. Not that she didn't already know what he believed it was only a day earlier he had told it to her. Still he stopped himself. "The bad people could be anywhere we need to protect you."

Xander finished his shirt and looked to the sofa where the coin had been left and he collected it, tying it to his belt along with the sword of the fallen noble bastard. Whether it was a spoil of war or a treasure of his own to remember this day he was not sure. Still he collected the two items and then turned to Celeste, once she was ready she would exit first and he last. It was better to make sure no one came from behind and got them.

"You go at the front Torqin, I will stay behind her, lets not risk anything so stick to the main roads where there are plenty around." Xander gently nudged Celeste forward, his palm flat against the small of her back. As they began the journey to the inn where they were staying, where Ala'ni waited and where he could try and see what had come of Celeste's old memories. "When we arrive I will need you to watch Ala'ni for a little while Torqin, if you would?" He hoped the answer to be yes and if not he would pay the childminder to look after her for a while longer and find somewhere else to talk to Celeste.

Xander was quiet for most of the walk from there, making sure to watch out for their rear and anyone who might be watching them. He also made sure that Celeste was close and not about to run off for some reason he would not understand. He would assume it had something to do with them having just killed her 'husband' but why you would grieve for a man like him Xander did not know. Occasionally his eyes would drift to Celeste and the babies. The ex-noble finally had them back, at least, sort of.
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Tessa
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Mon May 21, 2018 5:00 pm

They didn't want to bath, but they got themselves clean. Tessa wasn't entirely sure whether she was supposed to help or not, but when the one called Torqin spoke and thanked her she smiled in a routine, fake, rehearsed smile. "It's m'pleasure, sir." she said, with a nod. She got herself dressed, although she had some problems with finding anything decent. Her one non-working outfit was covered in blood. So, she pulled on a skirt which had two long slits, one up each leg all the way to the waistband of the skirt, and then pulled another the same over it, but turned the slits around so that they covered up. Then, a vest top which was so tight and low cut that it was obscene, so she pulled on one of Benji's shirts. Moving into the kitchen, she belted it with Benji's belt. Her hands were shaking, she noticed, but she just kept trying until she did it up.

"Oh," Tessa said when the Knight confirmed that Benji was dead. She was white, shaking and what little colour she had drained from her completely at that point. Benji was dead. "He... he hurt me." It was a stupid thing to say. Why did she had to say such stupid things? That was part of what frustrated Benji so much about her was how stupid she was. "I'm sorry, sirs." She looked at both Xander and Torqin as she said that. "I didn't mean't cause s'much trouble."

But no, the Knight said, absolutely not and he told her that they all needed to go with them. Him and Torqin. "Yes, sir," she said, softly. They needed to protect them? Tessa looked at him in utter confusion. "But Benji's dead. If we see th'people he gave me to, they might recognise me." Was that who he meant when he talked about "bad people"? Tessa was confused and uncomfortable. She had made the Knight angry at her, but she didn't understand why. Maybe it was because she was stupid, or maybe it was for some other reason, she didn't know. Either way, she held on to her babies and went where he told her to. The touch of his hand on her back caused her to flinch, an automatic fear response, but she went where she was sent and that was that.

In the same way that Xander was, Tessa was mostly quiet on the walk there. She had a lot of things to think about. She didn't run, he didn't need to check on that - she stayed close and they might both notice that she checked on them both, regularly. Just a glance, just to make sure that they were still there, still them. There was no doubting it, she was skittish, nervous and jumpy, but the two of them and their proximity made her calmer.

Even with that being the case, when a small girl more or less appeared from nowhere with a cry of "MAMA!" and Ala'ni flung herself into her, Tessa jumped and let out a yelp of surprise. But then she looked down and saw that it was a child, the child was crying and hugging her and Tessa acted on instinct. Lowering herself to kneel, she wrapped Ala'ni in a hug. "Oh, look't you!" Tessa looked up at Xander and Torqin, above Ala'ni's head and she looked entirely confused. "Oh, Mama, we've been worried. Big worried. Are you ok? You've got bruises! Papa's been worried, but I've been brave, Mama, I have." Tessa's brown eyes showed her lack of comprehension, but this girl was saying just what the Knight had said. Tessa opened her mouth to say something, but Ala'ni charged on. "My sisters! I misseded them. Papa'll look after you now, all of us. I've been good, I have, haven't I, Papa!?" Wide eyes turned to Xander and then Tessa kissed Ala'ni's head. "I'm 'ere now, all safe. You..you're Papa found me." Tessa was bordering on completely overwhelmed as Ala'ni clung on to her and began to cry in relief. "Torqin's been your knight, Mama, like you made him because he was kind to you when you were little like me. Papa left the Barony and we all just came here and who hurt you? Is Papa and Torqin going to fight them? Your face is all bruised and we've missed you. Don't be cross at me for coming, I had to come with them. I couldn't stay in Andaris."

It seemed that the little girl had no inclination to stop any time soon and Tessa grew more and more overwhelmed with every word. Andaris? This girl was calling her Mama and the Knight Papa and Torqin was the Torqin, not a different Lotharro with the same name? She sat on the ground and hugged the child and looked at the two men with an expression of total bewilderment.
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Torqin
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Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:01 pm

Torqin nodded at Xander's orders, "Aye, I'll watch her." He took point on the journey out of the ghetto they'd just plucked Celeste from. There were hardly any people in the streets in this part of town, which made Torqin more nervous. If anything, he'd rather be in a busier area, where an attack in open air was much less likely due to all the witnesses. It didn't help that he had no idea who the enemy was, what exactly they wanted, nor what they knew. There was nothing he knew about the enemies around them, so in his mind, every person beyond their little group was one.

But he did know one thing. They had found Celeste. She was alive. She was very much broken, no longer that same child who'd saved his life, nor that same woman that accepted him as her personal knight. She was damaged, extensively. He knew next to nothing of what happened to her, but what he did know was that none of it was good. And it was entirely his own fault. Less than a season after being reunited, he'd failed her entirely. Her entire world was ripped away, her body tortured and abused, her mind broken, her relationships shattered or strained. He couldn't help but wonder if the timing was at the center of it all.

Twice she'd been attacked since his arrival. Once in the streets of Drakengard, the night they'd been reunited, the other in her own home, behind his and Xander's backs. He knew nothing of these webspinners, but that didn't mean they didn't know of him. Had they somehow used his return to get to her? What was their goal with turning her into a woman of the night for some low level scum? How did that benefit them? No one did anything without something to gain from it.

He was racked with these thoughts and guilt as they eventually made their way to the inn, without incident. And of course Al'ani practically tackled her adoptive mother, and proceeded to bombard her with questions. After a bit of reuniting, Torqin could see the look in Celeste's eyes. It was all a bit much for the woman. Torqin stepped forward, crouching down and rubbing his hand on the top of Al'ani's hair, "How about we go to the market, Al'ani, find some things for dinner? We'll help make something extra nice for everyone."

The little girl looked up at the big man, confused about why she'd have to leave her mother after just getting her back. "We can make some cake? Let her rest a bit, she's a bit tired. It's been a long day. Think we can do something nice for her?" He refrained from saying the words mother or mom to Al'ani, not while in the presence of Celeste. The little girl pouted a bit, before spouting, "Chocolate..?"

Torqin smiled softly, "Sure. Want a ride?"

The little girl nodded vigorously and Torqin lifted her up onto his shoulders, nodded at Xander and Celeste, and left, crouching to get through the door way with Al'ani. Once they were outside, the walked down the street to the nearby market, just a simple food market tucked into a side street. He let Al'ani down, and let her pick out anything she wanted. She seemed excited now to make a meal for her mum. After a half break had passed, they had everything they needed, steaks, potatoes and onions and mushrooms, and everything needed for a chocolate cake. But before they headed back, Torqin knelt down next to the little girl.

"Lady Al'ani, I need to talk to you a little bit, is that okay with you?"

She nodded and he continued, "Your mom is very tired. It has been really tough on her, being away from you, from Lord Xander. She's going to need you to be a big girl okay? To help her take care of your sisters, to make things easy for her, so she can rest. Do you think you can do that for her? And you're not alone, me and Lord Xander will be helping you take care of her too. We're a family, right? And we always take care of our family."

The little girl looked confused at first, but then smiled wide. She shook her head vigorously, and Torqin smiled back at her. She took his head, and she led the way back toward the inn. When they arrived, Torqin asked the proprietors if they could use the kitchen, and the old man shrugged, directing them to his wife. She readily agreed, and even offered to help. Torqin wanted to give his Lord and Lady enough time to talk, for he was sure it would not be an easy one. And soon, the smell of dinner, of chocolate, wafted through the inn. Once it was ready, and the table set, the portly middle aged woman went upstairs, knocking on the door, asking the couple to dinner.
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