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Author Topic: Halcyon Days [The Winters and the Carellos]  (Read 194 times)

Halcyon Days [The Winters and the Carellos]
« on: January 28, 2020, 11:29:24 PM »
(OOC Note: This thread may occasionally feature POVs/replies from NPCs while under the account heading of non-NPCs -- they will be clearly marked.)

Summer 825
Dainis, a small village in the western territories between Wall Rose and Wall Maria

They'd reached Dainis pasture at last, and its nearest buildings were but a sprint away. Behind it swaying in the wind were the tops of the trees in the copse she remembered so well, and the beginnings of a rocky hill like a grown-over grave. Julia relaxed in her saddle and let her hands grow lax around Havi's reins. She let out a slow breath. They were safe now.

A hand falling on her arm and squeezing gently startled her; she looked across at Esteban, immediately forgetting all fear under his gaze, his smile. She watched with pride and love as his gaze lingered on her, then he sat up straight in his saddle and drew his shoulders back, walking his mare a little ahead of hers. She let him. It did indeed feel like a village head returning from war; she followed him closely. A glance behind her over the back of her spare mount, Bashka, showed her the sunkissed forms of her children -- grown men now, but no less like her footprints trailing behind her in a steady, staggered line. All of them sat up straighter, as Esteban had done. Drawing up the rear was her youngest, Léon, riding side by side with his wife of barely a year, Amaranta, mirroring Julia and Esteban.

As the Carellos strode into Dainis they did not yet draw back the hoods that covered their faces, but nodded to the watchmen on duty. It wasn't long before a single bell tolled and fell silent, despite the fact that it was nearer to the Eighth hour. Easily-read as a mistake by the apprentice monk of the town to those that didn't know, but enough to signal those that did who had arrived. 

Julia's gaze swept with familiarity over the village basking in the summer evening's light: little more than a dozen families -- mostly livestock breeders and tanners -- and their lands gathered around a crossroads, their town-hall-come-church standing sentinel opposite the blacksmith. A tightknit community, whose open doors replaced a typical tavern. Though this was a safehaven for the Carellos, having once been their home, it would have been ignorant of her to believe there weren't eyes that could be bought that would be very interested in this rare return from so...visible a family. Nonetheless, they had allies here, and their last visit for supplies had been so recent that no one would suspect them back so soon.

The family stopped as one at the crossroads, gazing down one dirt path east that would have once led them to their house and acreage, the former just about visible through the trees of the  tail of the copse behind the village. Its windows were shuttered and boarded, the life snuffed out of it. Julia wondered how long it would be until the home in which she'd given birth to her children would be occupied by another family, or torn down. She hoped they would have some say in the matter but doubted it. The government would be keeping a close eye on its deed, for any more 'meddling'.

But they weren't headed there tonight. Gentle tucks of heels and knees had the horses moving forward again, north, to their true destination. Julia was eager to get out of the saddle and finally be able to talk to her four eldest sons, whom she hadn't seen in months. They had joined the herd in pieces on their way here after riding from their various posts in plainclothes. They were off-duty by design, which she hoped wouldn't raise suspicion in of itself but even Carellos had to indulge every once and a while. Tomorrow was a special occasion, after all, and they were never ones to refuse an invitation -- especially since they were so rare in recent years.

"You remember where you're going? Didn't they move?" Julia said to Esteban.

"Yes yes, I know. There soon," he grumbled good-naturedly at her. He looked behind him, "Hopefully they have room for your sons. Look how big! Why did you let them get this big, love?"

"Your sons get that entirely from you, you hellion," she quipped back. "Besides, it's only your eldest that's above average, like you." Her eyes settled on Valentin, nearest to them and pretending not to hear her, the spitting image of his father.

"It was only yesterday we could have fit three of them on one horse. Where does time go?"

A couple of wrong turns later, impossibly, and their second-eldest rode to the front. "You should have asked me in the first place," Joaquin said, not unkindly, and took the lead.

"Padré was merely surveying his territory!" Léon called and Julia heard the grin in his voice.

"At this rate it'll be dark before we reach the Winters'," Alejandro, their middle child, said less kindly and Julia didn't need to be looking to know he was casting a harsh glance at his father, even after all these years.

"Don't exaggerate," Valentin finally spoke, his voice calm and firm to his brother.

Joaquin led them back to the right track and it didn't take long before they stopped. "Here."
« Last Edit: January 28, 2020, 11:30:35 PM by Julia Carello »

"To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing."
~ Anne Carson

Re: Halcyon Days [The Winters and the Carellos]
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2020, 04:31:14 AM »
“Hon, pass me the paprika won’t you?”

Of course, Avent heard what his wife said. But, there was a difference between hearing her and knowing what she meant by it. The man stared ahead of him, looking to a rack of spices and herbs that held everything from cinnamon to bay leaves, not that he would have known what the difference was. It was easy to say that Avent wasn’t a great chef, he could whip up, say a basic stew, maybe even rice when it was available. Grill a fish freshly caught from the stream, even gut and skin a deer, he had basic survival skills that a soldier would have needed. But to say he actually knew the delicacies of the kitchen was far from accurate. It all, essentially, was lost to him.

“Uh, Lily-”

“The red one, second from the top.” She said, her eyes not even once looking at him.

“Right.” The phrase “I was about to say that” was at the tip of his tongue, however, that would have simply been a flat out lie. He handed her the spice, his fingers caught hers as the exchange occurred. Her hands were that of a working woman, a mother, and a soldier like him. She did it all, and Avent sometimes had to wonder how she did.

“Stop your staring Snowman, we’ve got company.” Her teasing chuckle caught his ears first, he had to smile in return.

“Oh, I suppose I can’t have you all to myself…” There was a hint of disappointment in his voice, even as he teased her back. He stepped forward, catching her by the shoulder. His hands wandered, settling on her hips as he leaned over her from behind. He took a deep breathe in, hearing the bubbling of the broiling stew. The spices, paprika, he had to guess was one of them, smelled delicious. He tilted his head, letting himself distract her through her curls of red hair. “That’s just… too bad.”

“Oh, you’ll have enough of me soon enough, hon.” She rolled her eyes, waving the man off of her as she continued prepping dinner.

And the pair’s conversation was suddenly interrupted by a rather loud clack of plates and silverware. From the dining table, another young woman with peach-red hair, slightly shorter than Lily’s pursed her lips. “Oh, um, wow, I really don’t mean to step on the toes of two lovebirds, but like my sister said, there is company coming over.” Dahlia, Lily’s sister raised an eyebrow, only to then take her turn to roll her eyes. The had left the front door and the window open, the sunlight shone into the house, rays of gold bathed everything in a light-yellow hue.

Avent looked out the window from the kitchen, soon spotting a group of figures coming close in the distance, several of them, after all, they had invited the whole family to come over. The riders did all come together.

“Horses!” From the living room, a smaller voice called out. Little Laurent Winter, age three with hair as red as his mother’s, stood by the doorway as he pointed towards the riders in the distance.

“There sure are. And up we go.” Avent said, walking to the front door and then scooping up the young boy with a broad arm. He set him on her shoulders, to which Laurent immediately took to holding his father with both arms immediately around his head and grabbing his hair. There were chuckles from the two-red haired women, but Avent took his decision as he made it. Avent walked out to the small front porch, raising a hand to wave at the other family in the distance. And on his shoulders, a small Laurent waved rather excitedly as well.

Re: Halcyon Days [The Winters and the Carellos]
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2020, 01:38:46 AM »
POV: Joaquin
(Using this as his color)

Joaquin spotted Avent come out onto the small porch and wave, and returned it.

"It looks like there's some kind of insect clinging to his head."

He looked over at his mother, who was squinting. "That's a child, madré. You remember those," he smirked at her, dismounting. "Lily and Avent's first, Laurent."

Julia hummed a noise of bemused acknowledgment to herself.

When all of them reached the house proper, everyone dismounted and Esteban and Valentin took care of the horses, leading them down the side of the house to the back -- to leave all ten out front would draw too much attention. Once the smell of horse was out of the way, Joaquin could smell Lily's cooking and his stomach rumbled in nostalgia as much as hunger.

He stepped onto the porch and gave a cursory glance over the taller man in front of him. There was an unfamiliar softness to Avent now that he was a father -- one Joaquin saw in his own father but could never imagine slipping into, himself. It suited Avent. A rare sentimentality draped its arm around Joaquin's shoulders as he stepped onto the porch and embraced his friend.

No, that softness has been there ever since Lily came along. It's just been harder to see until now, he thought. "I wasn't sure this break would suit you, but I'm happy to be wrong," he said, drawing away. He turned his attention to Laurent and forced gentleness into his usually sharp, stern features, "This can't be Laurent. Surely not. How old are you now? You're growing like a weed." His family also stepping onto the porch, crowding it with warm shadows, distracted him. "You remember this lot, I'm sure?"

"To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing."
~ Anne Carson


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