[Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

The story of magic in North America.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Eryl fidgeted a bit further behind as introductions began, she kept a hand over her forehead, and scooped up her staff. Her heart was still beating from the confrontation, and while Ruarc started his own pleasantries, she worked on calming herself down. The emotions in her mind had pendulated from a sharp fierceness to their defense, to intoxicating relief at the 'diplomacy', then finally to heated embarrassment at what remained. Shyly, she took a demure position at the other side of Ruarc, still clasping a hand over her eye.

"Ah... Yes..." the triclops stumbled with her words in sharp contrast to Ruarc's cool confidence, "... Ms. Smith, I am Eryl Hydref Maelgwyn, a friend of Jane's. I don't quite understand what's going on, but it is a pleasure none the less. I hope you don't mind the intrusion, we're quite... out of the way and put out."

Her two, brilliant blue eyes wandered down to the discarded shotgun, "Is there trouble? Or... is this an American custom I'm not familiar with."
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Eleanor didn’t hesitate to shake Ruarc’s hand, then looked between Laoise and Eryl with some confusion. Eryl’s words were the handholds she needed to attain understanding of the women’s nervousness.

Eleanor collected her shotgun from the ground and cracked it. Jane’s eyes gleamed with bittersweet memories as they tracked the weapon. “Yeah, ye could say trouble,” the elder Smith answered. “But first, les step inside. Come.” She waved them all toward the farmhouse. As she climbed the steps, she called over her shoulder, “Coffee er tea?”
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Kokuten
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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"Actually, I think I'm quite particular to coffee, at the moment. Something bitter would help revive my senses," answered Eryl dutifully, keeping her staff in the crook of her arm and her hand over her eye. When she was sure the matriarch was clearing the threshold, Eryl caught up to Jane.

The abjurer gripped her bicep, and swept her thumb in a conciliatory way that interpreted the worry on her face. Jane had learned in their time together that when people began to look or feel worried, she got in a very touchy-feely mood.

Knowing Jane's pride, Eryl only mouthed, Are you okay?
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Straken
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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“Coffee sounds perfect right now,” Ruarc replied as he withdrew his hand, suddenly aware of a tension in his shoulders that made him eager to set down the packs and his staff. Laoise followed close behind as the group entered the farmhouse, and looked around curiously as she took in the rustic sense of Americana.

“Spot of tea, if it’s not too much trouble,” the young white haired woman gave her own response.

“Is there anything we can help with?” Ruarc added, both as the kind of guest that preferred to not simply sit around while someone else was working, and in hopes of getting some insight into why they may have been brought here. Finding an unassuming corner, Ruarc sat down his and Laoise’s gear before joining his familiar in looking around the home without venturing too far in.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Eryl caught up to the American as she propped the door open for her friends. Jane offered the triclops a reassuring smile and lied to her for the first time. “Right as rain, Eryl.”

Jane and her companions entered a sitting room. The younger Smith bid them all to take a seat before following her mother into the kitchen to help her prepare refreshments. They worked in silence; everything was still as it has been all those years ago, and Jane needed no guidance to find the coffee and sugar, or set the drinkware.

“Go on,” Eleanor commanded with a wave. “I’ll be just a bit.” Not wanting to agitate her mama, Jane complied.

She found her friends still standing and frowned. “I told y’all t sit.” To emphasize her point, she sank into one of the two love seats, then gesture for Eryl to sit with her.

“Jus not there,” she explained, pointing to one of two rocking chairs. All the furniture in the room was oriented around a battered coffee table that looked like it had survived the revolutionary war and was ready for another 250 years. Much of it was reminiscent of Jane’s own cabin, or at least the materials and themes were consistent.

“I dunno what’s goin on here, but mama said trouble at Gravesbottom… An that place is nothin but trouble, so if it’s got her stirrin it must be right awful.”

“Yer damn right it’s downright awful,” Eleanor declared as she entered the room. A serving tray was set on the coffee table, complete with sugar, cream, honey. “Help yerselves.”
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Kokuten
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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When directed, Eryl found her spot gingerly, plopping next to Jane. At first, she intended to sit hip-to-hip as friends and as unintentionally as possible. She had almost voiced the word plush before she mewled at the pinch of Jane's gun-belt. It was discomforting enough to force some distance, and awkward enough to look like another of Eryl's clumsy missteps.

She rubbed her side and made more space between them as friends. The discomfort forced out a grumble, before the rubbing hand clapped back over her top-eye at the reappearance of the titanous Eleanor and her refreshments.

Eryl, quietly wishing she had kept her headscarf from Cairo, casually pulled off one of the cups of coffee and poured a little cream and honey into it. Then, after a little stir, settled back into the love-seat. She leaned more shoulder-to-shoulder with Jane as friends tucking into the cushions to sip her coffee. The triclops wanted to keep a low profile until she could find something to cover her head, but she was curious.

"Calling a place Gravebottom sounds like it would condemn any place to a series of terrible fates."
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Eleanor settled into her own seat with a cup of coffee. It was hardly a surprise she took it black. She glanced up, then did a double-take at Eryl. "Sumin wrong wit yer head, girl? Need an aspirin?"

Jane fought the urge to roll her eyes-- mama hated it, even when it wasn't directed at her-- and firmly gripped Eryl's wrist. With her eyes she reassured abjurer and gently pulled her hand away.

"Oh, well I'll be damned," Eleanor said in soft surprise, then sipped her coffee. "What in Sam Hell ye been gettin up to since ye left, Janie? Cuz you just walked a soldier, a witch, an a siren into m house." She nodded to Ruarc, Eryl, and Laoise in order. "I ain't one t judge a book by the top, but this ain't 'zackly Kafka either."

"Like I said, helpin those what need helpin. Doin like papa taught me. An then I got enlisted-- as a teacher for gifted kids."

Eleanor scrutinized her daughter, as if failing to catch her meaning.

"Kids with magic, mama. I teach em Wild West wiles."

This was the first thing that gave Eleanor Smith pause and everyone else a chance to jump in. For her part, Jane seemed to sit a little straighter in the wake of her small victory. The hot tea in her hands was just icing in the absence of any proper coffee cake.
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Kokuten
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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"I--... Also. I take-- exception to such diminutives," Eryl sat up ramrod straight. She had been nervously glancing between Eleanor and Jane from the moment the gunslinger had gripped her wrist, but now exposed, she looked primly aghast at Jane's mother. Eryl didn't really know what the woman was capable of, but the unknown wasn't enough to intimidate her from a bubbling rebuttal, "Mr. Flynn and Ms. Laoise are druid and familiar, as natural as the vegetables that grow in a field, if not more so. Laoise takes a human form for her own reasons, but she is a dove by birth. Further, Mr. Flynn is the headmaster of the school that Jane teaches at, a school, for that matter, that takes in the children of magical society that would fall to the fringes otherwise. Children of circumstance and schools of magic that greater society has chosen to discard as chaff. Calling him a mere soldier is... is... s-siren... that-- that's a term only reserved for mon-... monsters..."

Up to that point, she had been a resolute figure of propriety, until her nerves caught up with her. Then, Eryl hunched over her coffee, feeling as though she had vastly overstepped herself, "B-but it is your home, you are a-allowed to say whatever you like. I merely... wanted t-to… I-inform that-... I didn't feel it was right to... I'm..."

At that point, the woman began mumbling, before stopping altogether.
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Straken
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Ruarc had taken the rocking chair that had not been designated as off limits while Laoise sat in the remaining love seat. When Eleanor arrived with the refreshments Ruarc took a mug of coffee and kept it black, and Laoise took some tea with a splash of cream and some sugar. The two Irish folk settled back and sipped at their still too hot liquids, all while trying to be as unassuming as possible. To be frank, they were both still in shock. The whiplash of the day had not yet passed them by. To go from laughing and being so content with life, to seeing what Ruarc could only describe as the beginning of the end. Every. Single. Defense. Every one had activated, and as soon as he entered the valley they had gone silent in his mind. Ten years. Ten years filled with pain, new beginnings, laughter, joy, fights, and forgiveness. Ten years he had worked on those grounds that had been entrusted to him. Ten years that he couldn’t help but feel had gone up in flames during the time he had spent walking to this ranch.

So both Ruarc and Laoise sat in silence, even between each other, as they had little to add that hadn’t already been. Ruarc had even been content to let the Soldier comment pass him by; after all, that’s essentially what he was. The Council has and could order him off to any part of the world they felt they had a steak in, order him to deal with issues they felt pertinent, and if he died in that service then his mother would receive a knock on the door and a commemorative tribute to her fallen son. Even Safeholme had been someone else’s decision for him. A letter from his dead girlfriend, bidding him to convert the manor into a school. Perhaps, at the end of the day, he really was a mere soldier; a man built to take orders and… then Eryl expressed her disagreement.
Calling him a mere soldier is...
It had been simply put. Who Ruarc was; who Laoise was; and what he had accomplished. The good that had come from those ten years of hard work he had put in. Then Ruarc looked at Eryl, but in a properly new light. She had earned his trust as a comrade in Cairo, but this? He had been mean to Eryl in the past, and he recognized that; and perhaps it was about time he had addressed that matter, or at least once this current situation was resolved. Laoise reached towards Eryl with a light touch, and once eye contact was made mouthed the words Thank you. Ruarc cleared his throat.

“I genuinely don’t think the school or its students would be the same were it not for Jane,” Ruarc spoke simply, he had nothing to add to Eryl’s case so he deferred to reinforcing that he was in fact associated with a school. “I owe her a great deal, but even more I consider her a great friend. So no matter what the issue is, I am happy to extend my druid services to you as well.”

“Blessing crops, chopping trees, raising barns, purifying springs; we run the full gambit,” Laoise held her mug comfortably in both hands just below her chin as she added in a follow up quip; just in case Ruarc seemed too stuffy. Of course, she also added just enough Irish lilt to double down on the stereotype without coming across as condescending.
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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Texas] Chapter 2.1: You Shouldn't Have Come Back

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Eleanor scoffed at Eryl's struggle to defend her friends. "What yer sayin is--"

Jane patted Eryl's shoulder reassuringly then leaned forward to discard her tea cup. "What she's sayin is--"

"Don you inerrup me, Janie--"

"--What she's sayin, is we could do with a lil more Southern Hospitality." The Smiths traded dagger stares; it was Eleanor who conceded this round.

"Look. Ye storm in here... Goin on thirteen years since ye up n disappeared, Janie."

"Jane," she corrected softly.

"Now this is what I'm talkin bout! Janie, ye disappeared thirteen years ago!" Emotion cracked her voice, a chink in the warrior woman's bullish demeanor. "We thought ye was dead n buried down the ravine! Ye been gone longer..." She finally choked up. "Ye been gone longer n ye was here. My girl-- my lil Janie only gamme twelve years and seven months of her sweet, precious lil life. But she gave thirteen of er best years to the rest o the world." Tears trickled down, but Eleanor ignored them and powered through. "How's a mama spose t react when her lil girl leaps outta the grave all grown up?"

Her piece said, Eleanor rubbed at her face and rose to clear some dishes. "Pardon me, lemme get this outta the way."

Jane reached out to catch her mother's hand. "Mama, I'm sorry. I cain't change the last thirteen years, but I'm here now. An I'm gon take care o ye. An I'm gon take care o the valley." Eleanor merely nodded, pulled free, and cleared the empty dishes, too lost in her sorrows to offer anyone more. She needed to escape the moment. It was just too much.

Jane sighed as her mama left the room. "I'm... sorry, erryone." She didn't know what else to say.
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