[Aside] Stages of Development

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[Aside] Stages of Development

Post by Straken » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:36 pm

The Implied Invitation

3 Years AR (after Raiko)

It was a fairly standard day. Ruarc had just finished running a workshop on runecrafting for a handful of second year students who had shown interest. After he had finished packing up his tools he made his way back to the other side of the mansion, and was greeted by the sight of a number of students crouching near some shrubs, whispering as they looked over towards Ruarc's cottage. Thinking little of it, the Druid continued walking the cobblestone path across the grounds. After walking a little more, he saw why the students were spying; a rather extravegant looking woman was sitting on a bench next to a young rowan tree he had planted outside his cottage a year prior.

Slowing down, a look of confusion crossed his face, and he cast another look over to the students who seemed to now be watching him. Upon making eye contact with the druid they hurriedly ran off, but merely to a new hiding spot. Squaring his shoulders he walked the rest of the way home, and recognizing his guest before too long; if she noticed him approaching, she gave no indication. Opening the door to the attached toolshed, not ten feet from where the woman sat, Ruarc put his toolkit away; and neither entity seemed to want to give ground first by making the first greeting. Leaving the shed and locking it up again, Ruarc sighed.

"What are you doing here, Caoranach?" the Druid said in his native tongue.
"We have a date today, remember?" she responded in her own perfect Irish tongue, a smirk growing as she won the unofficial battle.

Ruarc was left without words for a few moments, caught between surprise and having no clue what she was talking about. It had been almost three years since he had last confronted Caoranach, and they had certainly not met as friends. It was the same day he had lost Raiko to Alexei. In that battle, Ruarc had done his duty as a Keeper, and ensured that this woman, the Mother of Demons straight from Irish folklore, would never threaten the world ever again. As it happened, through some clever rune application and a large amount of luck and support from his allies, Ruarc was able to seal away her abilities and powers without killing her or locking her away; something he had been wrestling with since the day he had been forced to petrifiy a spirit while saving his friend Percival.

"I don't recall asking you out for some random day three years in the future," he said back in a flat tone.
"I'll forgive you, this time," Caoranach started as she lounged on the bench. "That day was quite harrowing for you. I, however, remember it with clarity. You said, and I'll quote, "I had better not see you again until such a day as you wish to make amends for all the troubles you have caused this world.""

After that, the woman swung her legs off of the bench and stood up. At her full height she was not an inch shy from Ruarc's own impressive height, and she made use of it as she walked up to him and stood just a few inches away. The Irishman held his ground, but withdrew ever so slight as his body language became tense.

"So, what, you're here to make amends?" Ruarc asked.
"Of course. I am allowing you to join me for tea. Now come along, you kept me waiting long enough," she said, giving an exaggerated smile and patting him on the shoulder.

Brushing past the druid, Caoranach simply walked a few paces, gave a wave and a wink to the students who had been watching the exchange, and invited herself into the cottage. Ruarc remained rooted in place for a few moments more as he processed the situation. Looking over his shoulder he made eye contact with the students, glared at them, and snapped his fingers causing a loud pop to sound just to their right. As they scattered back to the house, likely to gossip about what they had seen, Ruarc followed Caoranach into the cottage.

Once inside, the female demon had already made herself at home as she sat at the table with her chin resting on interlaced fingers. Watching him as he entered, she then reclined back and gestured towards and empty tea cup in front of her. Somewhat shocked, Ruarc stopped in the doorway.

"So, you are actually here for tea?" the Irishman said.
"You were expecting something else?" Caoranach responded.
"Honestly not sure what I was expecting," he added as he scratched his head.
"I mean, we could make it about something else," she followed up suggestively, adjusting her silk robe for effect.
"What is with the women that come to my cottage?" Ruarc asked no one while rubbing the bridge of his nose and turning towards the kitchen; partially out of exasperation, and partially to hide himself blushing slightly.

Grumbling he went about preparing a kettle and various other supplies for the unexpected tea party. As the water boiled he set out some plates along with some biscuts and cheese. As he handed her a hand cloth she gave him a very unenthused stare.

"What now?" Ruarc asked in a half growl.
"Some sandwiches would go better with the tea than biscuts and cheese," Caoranach responded matter-of-factly.
"I agree, which is why I am serving you the crackers," he said, turning back to prepare the teapot.
"Hmph," she scoffed, "I'll be expecting sandwiches next time then."

The young Irishman was about to object, but knew enough to tell she was baiting him for a reaction, and thus held his tongue. Thankfully the kettle whistled, and he focused on setting the tea. Loading up a platter with the pot and cups he went back to the table and set everything down before pouring a cup for himself and leaving Caoranach to handle her own. She was giving him another unenthused stare.

"I often take my tea with sugar," she stated.

Sighing, Ruarc got up and got the dish of sugar and brought it back to the table. Upon returning he saw that his cup was now in Caoranach's hand as she raised it to her lips. Setting the sugar down in front of her with a bit of force he went back to his seat and pour a new glass.

"Well, gonna use the sugar?" Ruarc asked after she had yet to add any.
"No, I never asked for any. I simply stated that I often use sugar," Caoranach replied, smiling as the Irishman pursed his lips and quietly drank his own tea.

Time went by as the two opposing Irish entities drank their tea in silence. The woman seemed quite content to sip her tea and happily nibble on some biscuts, while the man seemed to be fraying from the bizarre circumstance he found himself in.

"So, care to explain why you are here, exactly?" Ruarc started, sounded very calm as he tried to be cordial. "You quoted me specifically saying to see me if you wanted to make amends. So is that it? You want to make amends?"
"Mostly I'm bored, to be honest," Caoranach said back, turning her head to look absently mindedly out a window. "Not much to do after you effectively neutered my powers. After being a demi-goddess of darkness and creation, most everything else isn't that interesting. So I figured harrassing you was as good of a use for my time as any."
"That's... something, I guess. You know I could finish you off if I really needed to, right?" he asked, trying to sound intimidating to maybe discourage her.
"Please, if you didn't finish me off that night, then you wont destroy me simply for drinking your tea. You aren't that kind of man," she explained, shifting her eyes to directly meet his. "You sentenced me to a standard life of wandering around bored out of my mind. You'll need to take responsibility."

With a wink and a smile, she sat her empty cup down, stood up, and left the small cottage as abruptly as she had entered.

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[Aside] Stages of Development Pt. 2

Post by Straken » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:40 pm

Strange Bedfellow

4 Years AR

It had been a long, and rather tiring day for the Druid groundskeeper. He had just returned from the mountains where he had been asked to come along and help with a troublesome spirit. While the encounter wasn't difficult per se, it made him run up and down the slopes several times on top of his expended magic. So by the time he and the others that had gone along got back to Safehome Manor it was already late, and Ruarc was yawning and ready for some sleep.

Making his way through his sleepy cottage, Ruarc made sure all of his wards were in place before hanging up his cloak and his staff. Stretching with a groan, he subconsciously said good night to Laoise who had gone to the main house to visit a bit before bed, and then went to his room and closed the door. Not bothering with the lights, he stripped down to his skivvies in the near darkness and tossed the clothes aside, before plodding to his bed and getting under the covers. Amid shifting a few times to get comfortable he rolled over, but as he moved his arm it came to lay across another figure near the wall accompanied by a soft moan. The clock on the wall ticked a few times, and then everything processed properly.

"Gyah! What the Hell?!" Ruarc shouted as he reeled away, resulting in him unceremoniously falling out of bed and knocking over his nightstand in the process. Still on his back, Ruarc fumbled around for the errant lamp, and upon finding it turned it on so he could identify the intruder. In the warm glow of the bulb, Ruarc saw the slender figure of Caoranach sit up in bed and rub her eyes. The Irishman blushed as the image before him registered. The Mother of Demons was in his bed, nude as the day she was born, and covered only by a few convenient locks of her long black hair.

"Well, there you are," Caoranach said as she wiped the sleep from her eyes and yawned. Reading the question on the man's face she continued, "I have been waiting for you all day so that we could have tea again, but it seemed you were running an errand. So I helped my self to the tea, and made myself at home since you so rudely stood me up."

Ruarc, like everytime he had been through this with the woman, was sure he had never made any actual plans with her. That, however, was beside the point. "But why are you sleeping in my bed like that?"

Caoranach chuckled as she watch Ruarc face blush beet red. "Well, unlike you, I follow through on my plans, so I was going to stick around you returned so we could have our tea." She shifted in bed as she spoke, bringing her legs forward and crossing them, before poking Ruarc's nose with one of her toes. "As for looking like this, I have never been a fan of clothes to begin with; too unnatural. So obviously I sleep as nature intended."

Due to how sudden all this had happened, and Ruarc's kneejerk reaction, Laoise had sensed Ruarc's strong feelings of surprise and shock. Immediately dropping what she had been doing she raced out of the manor and across to damp spring night lawn towards the cottage. "Ruarc!" she called as she burst through the main door, rushed across the common area, and threw open his bedroom door.

Only the clock on the wall could be heard as the room stood still. Laoise still had her hand on the door as she was preppared to fight something. All she saw was Ruarc halfnaked on the ground, and Caoranach of all people sitting naked on the edge of his bed with a foot on his chest. She stood frozen in place for a time, and Ruarc could sense a wide range of tumultuous emotions under the surface.

"Laoise," Ruarc started, trying to talk her down, "You read those manga books, you should know that anytime someone walks in on a situation like this, it is simply a big misunderstanding."

The silver haired girl seemed to puff up, before exhaling sharply. She still looked angry, but her ire seemed to be directed towards Caoranach. "If you are in need of pajamas, I can lend you some of mine," she said through grated teeth.

"Oh, no thank you dear, your clothes would likely be far too tight around my chest for me to ever be comfortable," Caoranach chided, moving and arm over her bust for effect. Ruarc glanced down along the woman's leg at that comment, entirely to give her a warning look, of course. Laoise snapped at the remark and Ruarc's reaction.

"Do whatever you want then, I'm staying in the manor tonight so I can be as far away from you two as possible!" the familiar shouted as she slammed the door shut on her way out of the cottage.

"My, she is a sensitive song bird, now isn't she?" Caoranach said after the front door had also been slammed. Giving a smile, she began to trace a circle on Ruarc's chest with her toes. "But this is a convenient turn of events for us, wouldn't you agree?"

"Actually, I do agree," Ruarc said as he rolled over and pushed himself up, seeming to catch the woman off guard for once. He stood the nightstand and lamp back up before turning towards Caoranach. "With her staying up at the manor, I'm gonna sleep in the guest bed that she usually takes. Feel free to use this bed, and we can have tea in the morning. Goodnight."

Taking advantage of having the momentum for once, he left the room without another word.

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[Aside] Stages of Development

Post by Straken » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:41 pm

Revisionist History

9 Years AR

It was a drizzly, overcast day in fall as Caoranach strolled across the manor grounds. She worn a long, elegant robe as usual, and carried a wide, floral paper umbrella; furthermore, the steady cadence of her wooden sandals showed how much she had grown fond of Japanese fashion. Upon reaching the cottage, she took a moment to admire how much the home had grown and changed over the years. The rustic home likely could easily be marketed as its own piece of property, rather than as an addition so the groundskeeper had somewhere to stay. While still modest in the way of an Irish homestead, it had grown from its footprint of a common space, bedroom, and bath to now double the floor space. She had admired it in the past as there was a proper dining space, guest room, and even attic space that Ruarc had planned on turning into a loft.

Smiling to herself, Caoranach approached the heavy oak door and knocked. After a few moments and the sound of a chair sliding, the latch released and the door swung inward. Standing in the doorway was the familiar Laoise, The long white hair of her assumed human form was braided and resting over left shoulder. Her momentary curiosity dropped away as she recognized who was knocking.

"For as often as you just drop in, one would think I'd be expecting it by now," the girl said as she crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame.
"Good afternoon, Laoise, is Ruarc in?" Caoranach asked cordially with a polite bow.
"He is, but he's not to be disturbed today. So just this once, would you mind coming back some other time?" Laoise's tone had become somber.
"That's a shame," Caoranach replied back, a slight frown growing. "Well, how about you join me for tea instead, this time? Have some girl talk."

Laoise locked eyes with Caoranach for a few moments as she seemed to consider the suggestion. Sighing, she brushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear and agreed, and moved to the side to usher her guest inside. Caoranach made her way inside, and after setting her umbrella to the side sat down at the table. Quietly she sat while watching her host prepare everything for tea, but after a minute Laoise cursed under her breath.

"I need to run up to the manor and grab a couple of things," Laoise said with a notable amount of annoyance, before turning and giving the guest a very distinct look. "I trust you to mind your manners."

Slipping on her shoes and a light jacket she went outside and walked across the grounds. With the front door now shut, the demon dropped her smile and began to make a quick survey of the common area. Laoise had obviously been working at table, as it had an old tome opened up and several scribled notes of Gaelic translations. Her own eyes easily skimmed the worn pages and saw nothing of interest, after all, she knew where to find her querry. First things first, she had to make sure Laoise wouldn't interrupt. Grabbing her umbrella, she pressed it between her hands made it vanish. Now, she walked across the common area and silently opened the door leading to Ruarc's bedroom.

True to her expectations, Ruarc was in his bed, resting with his back to the door. Rather than moving over to him, Caoranach brushed the door knob with a finger tip, placing a simple charm on it. After that she walked over to the South East corner of the room and stood patiently, breathing deep, steady breaths. After a few minutes, she could hear the sound of the front door opening, and Laoise cursing again when the familiar saw that her guest was no longer at the table. Predictably, the sound of footsteps came directly towards the bedroom door. The door opened, and Laoise began to cast about for the intruder, but all she could see within the shaded room was Ruarc's resting form.

Shutting the door once more, Laoise could be heard searching the rest of the cottage, then noting the missing umbrella and concluding the the impetuous Caoranach had simply disappeared somehwere. Once she had slid her chair back up to the table to work, Caoranach stepped out of her shadowed corner, and smiled openly at her subtefuge. With the main obstacle waylaid, she made her way to Ruarc's bedside and gently sat down on the edge. Looking at the sleeping Druid, she reached over and brushed some hair that had fallen over his face to the side. He looked like he was thinking rather truly sleeping.

"Magical sleep? Trying to escape from your pain by shutting yourself off."Caoranach thought as she brushed his cheek. Slipping her shoes and robe off, she slide under the covers and simply hugged his back before closing her eyes.

The scenery Caoranach found herself in was about what she expected. It was a vast expanse of gray, featureless, dreamless sleep. In the middle of this slumbering purgatory was Ruarc, stoically sitting and staring off into nothing. Approaching from behind, she used a hand to smooth his hair. With the sudden bit of sensory information, the druid's eyes seemed to focus and look around. When they came to settle on Caoranach, the young man looked confused.

"Caoranach? What are you doing here?" Ruarc asked. "Though for that matter, where are we?"
"This is the dreamless realm of Druid Sleep," Caoranach replied. "Typically only used by sages and elders to try and stave off the approach of their own demise, you've seen fit to use it to sleep through an unfortunate anniversary. What a curious creature you are."

Looking confused, Ruarc searched for words, but seemed to realized what what she meant. The dulcet gray shifted to an inky black as the dreamscape changed to reflect the host's emotions. Unphased, Caoranach sat down next to the man and hugged his right arm. Closing her eyes for a moment, the dreamscape brightened to a soft cream color.

"I'm not going to tell you to get over it, but your friends are worried about you. It has been years, and still you're trying to escape from reality," Caoranach said, her tone oddly soft and comforting.
"So, what? You came here to bring me back?" Ruarc asked as he brought his knees up to his chest.
"Quite the opposite," she responded as she stood up, pulling the druid with him as she went. Yielding easily, Ruarc moved with her as the two began to walk arm in arm through the void.
"So, where are we going? There is nothing here," he asked after a short time.
"Lucky for you, you have me as a friend," she smiled over to him. "Celtic deities are quite handy when it comes to navigating dreams."

With that said, the realm around them began to shimmer and shift as the monotone backdrop gave way to colored scenery and motion. All around the couple a world grew and took shape, revealing a warm Fall evening shaded in colors of twilight. Sounds and smells followed after, and on the winds music could be heard accompanied by the smell of cooking food. Through the trees the flickering lights of numerous bon fires began to shine and send tendrils of warmth into the growing night.

"Where are we?" Ruarc asked as they drew closer to the fires.
"A festival," Caoranach answered. "One from my own memories, it should help take your mind off of things."

Pulling him along at slightly faster pace, Caoranach seemed eager to reacher the fires. Once the two passed through the tree line into the clearing, Ruarc could see a facinating scene that he could not place. They were in a field on the edge of a village, but the buildings were stone and thatch, and there wasn't a hint of a standard road anywhere. All of the evidence that he could see suggested they were not in modern times.

"Have you figured it out yet?" Caoranach asked him as she looked sidelong at his face. "This is a festival I attended many years ago. It's one of my fondest memories."

Without saying anything Ruarc follow along behind his guide as she lead him through the the lines of fires and dancing Irish folk. Given the apparent season, he figured it was an old harvest festival, and if Caoranach had memories of it then that would mean it was around or before the fourth century. Though, a number of questions were raised at this point.

"How do you fit into this? Where were you?" Ruarc asked.
"Do you think I am in the woods, waiting to ambush these innocent peasants?" Caoranach asked in return as she adjusted their path. "And to answer your question, this is where I fit into this scene."

Slowing down she gestured towards the largest bon fire in the field. Around the fire were dozens of couples dancing around the fire to the songs played by nearby musicians. The sounds of panflutes and hand drums filled the air along with laughter and old form Irish as the dancer sang along and made merry. Ruarc's eyes followed Caoranach's hand, and one of the couples stood out. The man was tall and broad shouldered, with a full beard making up for his lack of hair, and clad in a roughspun hazel robe belted with iron rings; and the woman was youthful and smiling as she danced hand in hand with the man, her long black hair swirling around her as she spun, and contrasted nicely with the white gown she wore. Sudden realization dawn on Ruarc's face as he recognized who he was looking at.

"That's you, isn't it?" Ruarc asked, looking over to Caoranach, but she was still looking at the dancers. "And that looks like a druid you are dancing with. I'll admit I'm confused."
"The joys of history," she started. "Details get lost, forgotten, or... left out. I used to be well acquainted with the Druid Order, some I would even say I was friends with. That man that I'm dancing with is Cabhan, and he was quite the social butterfly."

Leading him by the arm futher on past the fires, Caoranach made her way toward a small knoll to the side of the festivities. Fascinated, and happy to be led through a snapshot of history, Ruarc followed along. Once they reached the slope Caoranach sat down and invited Ruarc to join her, and once he had complied she hugged his arm once more. He was about to ask her more questions, but his words stalled as he looked over. The typically haughty Caoranach now seemed melancholic as she rested her head against his shoulder and stared off into the festivities.

"Druids were common in these days, and rather public, especially at harvest festivals like this one. See?" Caoranach explained before pointing off towards a large longhouse. Standing in a group with a number of other individuals sharing drinks and food were several other figures cloaked like the man dancing with Caoranach. Distance obscured some details, but could make the individuals out well enough.

"Deaglan, Iollan, Riordan, Branna, and the man wwith the showiest cloak is Padraig. Do you recognize him? A hint. The Irish get drunk in his name every year," Caoranach's tone had become distant as she spoke.
"Padraig? Wait, you wouldn't be refering to Saint Patrick would you?" Ruarc asked, but Caoranach relased his arm in response curled her legs beneath her and rested her arms in her lap. "Are you alright, Caoranach? I thought you said this was a fond memory?"
"It is a fond memory," Caoranach replied. "It was the last festival that we all visited together."

The two sat in silence for a minute. Ruarc was unsure how to approach the subject, and Caoranach seemed to be lost in thought.

"So, what happened?" Ruarc asked, breaking the silence. Caoranach took a deep breath, but didn't stop staring at her lap.
"This is the eve of the Fall of the Old Ways. Across the waters there is a growing force in the heart of Rome. And whatever your views on the subject it is a force of change. We came to soon find out that Padraig became the man who sold Ireland. He had been speaking with the Church, and for whatever his reasons began to sow the seeds of the New Ways, bringing about the end of the Golden Age of the Druids, and orchestrating my banishment.

I believe you are familiar with the name by which I am referred too? The Mother of Demons," she said the title with ice in her voice. "It was easy enough for Padraig to turn opinions, since he wasn't far off point. I am the Mother of Spirits and Maiden of Darkness. In the grand tradition of humanity, they fear what they do not understand. Man fears the darkness, but it is darkness that sooths wary eyes and helps them sleep. And spirits..."

Caoranach trailed off, but turned towards Ruarc and reached a hand up and brushed across his eyes. When the young man opened his eyes again he saw a number of odd creatures sitting around them. Under his breath he spoke, "Spirits." They were bizarre creatures with just as many varieties as there were of non-magical animals, but while Ruarc had seen a couple here and there while using his magic sight it wasn't in the same quantity that he saw them now. All around the dreaming couple was a flock of sheep like creatures no larger than a small dog with a pair of lacey wings, one of which was curled up in Caoranach's lap.

"Human's can't see them normally," she began again, hugging the fluffy ball in her lap. "But they can feel the affect that they have on their world. These little cottonflies help those that have trouble sleeping by feeding off of stress; they also caused the saying counting sheep. But, for all the good they do, human's latch on to the negative ones."

Reaching her hand into the air a small chitanous creature landed on her hand, which Caoranach brought down and embraced the same way she did the cottonfly. "This one is attracted to motion, but gives off an energy that many humans are capably of feeling, and due to being nocturnal, causes feelings of paranoia. I created the original spirits ages ago, and they have gone on to make their own families, and find their own purpose. I love each of them, because no matter how the world perceives them, they are my children."

"Padraig took advantage of this, and painted me as a creator of hellspawn, and the source of all the negativety the world felt. With all the strong feelings going around, some of my more mischievous creations fed off of the troubling times, and in part accelerated how quickly everyone turned on me. With my downfall, spirits diminished in numbers, and Padraig became Patrick, Saint of the Church who banished the Demon Broodmother to Loch Dearg, and in one fell swoop dragged the Druids through the mud with me. As a result, I lost the last sixteen hundred years, my children suffered, and your own culture was ostracized into a Dark Age that resulted in a loss of hundreds of years worth of knowledge and truth."

Ruarc sat in silence as he absorbed all the information. After it was finished one of the cottonflies landed on his shoulder, and Ruarc was astounded by how soft the creature was as well as how comfortable he felt in its presense. Watching Caoranach as she stared off into the distance. Unsure of what else to do, the young druid picked up the cottonfly and sat it on the woman's shoulder. Seeming to snap her out of her trance, she laughed lightly and hugged the bundle of fluff with one arm. Taking a deep breath, she sighed and picked up the cottonfly on her shoulder along with an armful of others and hugged them tight. With her face buried in the pillows of cotton, she leaned over against Ruarc again and spread the cottonflies onto him.

"So why did you tell me all of this?" Ruarc asked. "I'm grateful, but it clearly was hard on you to revisit."
"Because, Mr. I-Just-Sleep-My-Sorrows-Away," Caoranach started, "I wanted to prove to you that it helps talking about the things that are bothering you. So, part of it was to help you, and part of it was to help myself."
"Well, I appreciate it. I really do," he said back.
"Of course, now, we should get around to waking you up, so that you can at least see the sun, well, rain, today. Just, if you don't mind, I'm going to linger here in my own dreams for a bit."

Before Ruarc could respond, he felt oddly drowsy, and with heavy eyes he blinked. When he opened them again he was in his bed back home. Looking around he could feel an arm around him, and after shifting his position was face to face with a sleeping Caoranach. In the corner of her eye was the hint of a tear, and the Irishman reached out and hugged the woman close. With the sound of rain pattering outside, they stayed like that for a while longer.

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