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Fantasy The Raven and the Mountain {Closed}

maddymew

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Dufur took a breath before he pushed open the doors to his forge. His apprentices had carried out their tasks as he expected, his materials were polished and laid out in the usual order. The prince stripped off his shirt, tied up his hair and donned his heavy forging gloves. Dufur shoveled coal into furnace's belly and lit the fire, then stood by the bellows. As he worked the instrument, stirring up the flames, he was consumed in his thoughts.

She would be here in less than a fortnight now. Dufur was nervous, sure. How would she adjust? How could he make her comfortable? Would she resent him? His home? Dufur knew himself well enough to know that if he had to move away from Homborimm and the mountains, he would be a very unhappy Dwarf. He had studied the information they had on the Elves of Autumn Grove and Nissa royal line in hopes to understand her better. He had prepared a room with Elvish style, with many enchanted stones to simulate daylight when she wished. Fine clothing in Dwarven fashion, and the staff had been instructed to learn her wants as fast as possible. Still, they had never met. There was only so much he could do to prepare.

Once the fire was hot enough, Dufur began his work. He would craft her a crown of stars, made of shining gold and bedecked with jewels. It would come over her face as was tradition, and would be as ornate as he dared to make it. All kings crafted a crown for their queens, as a token of love and worship. Even if he never came to love her, Dufur would cherish her as much as he could. She had no clue of the importance of their marriage. She was helping save his people.
~~

Logoric poked his head round the back side of the cart, and upon spotting the princess made his way over.

"I apologize, your highness, but we must be off again. I delayed them as long as I was able." It had been a long two months on the road. Logoric was himself exhausted and homesick, he could not imagine how the princess fared. Despite the large caravan of Elvin guards and iteams, she was still going to a new place where she knew no one. "Is there anything I can get you? More water, a pillow, food? We'll be driving through the night again." She was beautiful, tall and lithe, with long black hair that had shiny feathers growing throughout it. She was also kind and chatty, and loved to talk with anyone who would listen. The guards had taken turns conversing with her along the journey to keep her comfortable.

"We'll be to Homborimm soon, how are you feeling?"
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The Autumn Grove was so far away now, with each passing spin of their caravans wheels, Elwyn's sharp eyes were filled with new sights and sounds. Gone were the lush forest and gentle trickle of streams that flowed from the mountain the Nissa Royal court called home. Nasille's mountain base sheltered the gleaming stone walls and towers that Elwyn had spent the majority of her time. There was something so strange and yet intoxicatingly terrifying about leaving all that was familiar, already she had come to learn so much from those two long months on the road.

Logoric, the kindest of those sent to accompany her on her new journey approached and Elwyn gave him one of her trademark smiles, her eyes squinted and the crows feet that framed her eyes grew more prominent. Of her escorts Logoric had been the one to champion her desires and to see to her every need. She stood from her crouched position, holding the little jar of newly collected goodies in her hands.

"Then let us depart." She told him. Elwyn walked alongside Logoric as he sought out anything else that might give her comfort. "Perhaps later. I wish to show you these fascinating new stones. It seems the closer we draw to the foothills near these Dwarven mountains the more I find this stone." Eagerly El dug a graceful hand into her jar and pulled out a dark stone with small flecks of a shiny coppery stone embedded within. They paused at the step to her sheltered cart and Logoric dutifully leaned in to inspect the small treasure she held out to him.

"Truly, it is most interesting." Logoric told her, his eyes shining with the earnestness that Elwyn had come to find comfort in.

"Thank you, Logoric. We can be off once more." Elwyn reached out to touch her escorts shoulder and give it a squeeze. "Everything will be alright. There is much to gain for everyone involved." She told him, recalling the words her own father had said to her before her departure. Logoric offered his hand to help Elwyn inside and he shut the door as she settled on the cushioned seat. Elwyn heard the familiar call to rouse the rest of the caravan and soon she heard the creak of the wheels bringing her ever closer to her new home. Unable to help herself Elwyn peeked her head out the open window of the cart and watched as the mountains drew ever closer on the horizon. She supposed she should get some sleep, and greet her future husband with bright and aware eyes, however there was all too much to see and take in. Were she an artist she would have filled book after book with drawings of all the interesting sights she had seen.

Just like all the other sights, Elwyn committed this one to memory, staring at the cragged peaks for long hours, even as the sun dipped low in the sky. They would arrive by late morning, and then everything Elwyn knew would be in the past. Finally giving in to the sleep that darkened her gaze, Elwyn pulled her head back into the cart and settled along the bench she had been perched on. With practiced motions she drew her blanket up to her chin and let her dark eyes flutter shut and the sounds of the caravan lulled her into a light sleep.

Elwyn woke to the sounds of shouts as her cart came to a halt, curious she had just been about to open the door of the cart when another escort opened the door and peeked his head inside.
"We are greeted by a Dwarven party. They will lead us the rest of the way M'lady. I've brought the dress your king wished you to wear upon arrival." The man handed over a small trunk and Elwyn thanked him. The door shut and Elwyn drew the curtains and began to prepare herself for her presentation. She tried to ignore the shaking hands that opened the trunk and pulled out the dark gold detailed dress. It took a bit of doing, especially in the cramped space, made even more cramped with her collection of items, but eventually Elwyn fit herself into the form fitting number. She arranged the long sweeps of fabric that hung off her shoulders and used a piece of looking glass to settle any feathers or locks of hair that may have gotten askew.

Just as she had arranged herself into a most regal sitting position she felt the cart stop once more. There were shouts of greeting and Elwyn knew that they had arrived. Clasping her hands tightly together to stop the nerves from showing, Elwyn took a deep breath and moved forward as the door opened to Homborimm.
 

maddymew

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The entire population of Homborimm had turned out for the arrival of princess Elwyn. As the magnificent doors opened, drums began to play, and the guards lining the walkway burst into song. It was in dwarvish, about new hope and new friends. The deep rasping voices thundered off of the stone walls and ceiling, the echo creating a symphony. Logoric escorted the princess as her own guard came behind them as she was lead to the castle doors. The city itself sprawled beneath them, webbed stone walkways going down as far as the eye could see, all lit by torchlight.

As the crowd under them clapped and called in approval, and the castle doors swung open the crowd became silent. All bowed as the prince and King entered. Both were dressed in black and gold to match her, and shone under the firelight. The king smiled brightly and came forward, he clasped Elwyn's hands tightly.

"My people welcome you, dearest princess! From now and forever you are home, and one with the mountain." The crowd began to cheer again, singing praises and throwing small, glittering gemstones in the air. They fell around the princess like jewel colored stars. Dufur came up beside his father, and took her delicate hand in his. He gave a deep bow, his forehead touching her knuckles and his beard brushing the floor. Women from the crowd swooned and called out to him in adoration.

"I, Dufur Iornguard, offer myself to you, Elwyn Nissa. You are to have me, body and soul, until I return to the mountain with my ancestors." He raised his head and offered her his best smile, his dark eyes shining. He made a motion, and several servants carried out his golden crown on a velvet pillow. Taking it, Dufur held the crown in his hands before her. "I pledge to honor you, my jewel of the mountain, and care for you as the most precious treasure in all of Feldon. Please accept this humble offering, though it holds not a spark to your own beauty." Elwyn smiled back, and knelt so he could crown her. The people erupted into cheers as the couple presented themselves. After a while of waiving and smiling, they retreated into the castle. Though carved out of stone, the floors and walls were covered in fine carpets and tapestries, and the large fireplaces that littered the halls made it warm and homey. The king left them, and Dufur lead Elwyn to her new quarters.

"I know it is custom for a married pair to share quarters, but I thought you'd be more comfortable in your own, at least for some time. My rooms are just down the hall, and you can come see me at any time. I know you've had a long journey, and your servants are still unpacking your things, so I ordered dinner brought up to you here. Was your journey alright? I sent the best of everything so you would be most comfortable. Is there anything you require? I will fetch it for you personally, my jewel."
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The king was a kindly looking Dwarf and Elwyn focused on the comforting grip of his hands on hers before she let herself take in the sight of the man next to him. Dufur... her husband. Her hands were shifted to her future partners and finally Elwyn let her curious gaze study him. His dark hair was tied up into a sleek bun near the back of his head, and she wondered how long it might be if he let it loose from its knot. All around them voices grew more uproarious as Dufur bent his head low to press against the knuckles of her hand.

His oath of fealty made Elwyn's breath hitch, her eyes almost as black as the night sky regarded the earnest expression he wore. Unable to help herself Elwyn returned the smile he sent her way and her fingers curled a little under his grasp to give a finger a friendly squeeze. A glint of something shiny caught Elwyns attention and her mouth formed a slight O at the magnificent crown that was offered to her. Oh gods how she loved anything that glinted and gleamed. Elwyn knelt and bent her head forward as the crown was placed on her head. Despite its size, she found the crown masterfully crafted, with very little weight.

Rising to her full height, Elwyn took her place next to her husband and smiled gracefully out towards crowds. It was not long before they turned and made their way into the castle. Elwyn took in the numerous turns and the markers of exquisite art pieces that lined the way to their private quarters.
"Oh how kind." Elwyn murmured as he offered a safe space for her to retreat while she grew accustomed to her new surroundings. "Everything is so thoughtfully placed and curated, this crown as well." Elwyn reached up to touch the gold detailing that adorned her head. "It was a long journey, but I find I am most relieved to nest in a room that does not move." She did a spin, taking in the large seating area and noticed a rather beautiful stone that had been carved into the crest that belonged to Dufur's lineage.

"Oh my." She said softy, approaching the delightful piece of carving. "This is simply beautiful. I must confess I was not sure if a home under a mountain could compare to the sunlight and open air, but I am happy to have been corrected so soundly." Elwyn let her fingers linger over the carving a little more before she mustered up the courage to turn to her new husband. "I had hoped to be shown the sights. Perhaps tomorrow we could arrange for such an outing?" Elwyn asked. "May I call you Dufur? Is there something I may call you in more formal settings?"
 

maddymew

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Dufur watched her enter the rooms and move about, before coming to inspect the hearthstone that bore his family crest. He was relieved to hear her sound pleased at the arrangements he had made. She was so very much like a bird in her movements, graceful one moment and tense the next. Elwyn turned to him and asked her questions. He was delighted that she would take such an interest in Homborimm so soon. Clasping his hands over his belt he gave her a smile.

"Of course, my jewel. I have cleared my schedule for the next two weeks to assist you in settling in here as you need. We can tour the castle, the upper and lower cities, the forges and the mines tomorrow, if that suits you. The outer city can be seen later, as it's not yet market season." A slight blush dusted his cheeks as she called his name--her delicate, lilting elvish accent made it sound...beautiful. "You may call me however you choose, my jewel." He responded "Queens and princesses are the mothers of all our people. You would not be remiss to call any dwarf by their name, save perhaps my father." A quiet knock came from the doorway behind them, and he turned. "Ah, yes, come in." An older female dwarf entered and gave a deep bow, her beard touching her boots as she did so. She had a mane of fire red curls shot through with silver white, and beads clinking about in her braids.

"I am Nalu Copperheart, Princess." She said, straightening. She had dark golden eyes, like the dying embers of a flame. "I am to be your personal maid here, please do not hesitate to tell me of your needs." Dufur gave a bright smile and a short, rumbling laugh. He took the woman's hand and pressed her knuckles to his forehead before turning back to his wife.

"Grandmother Nalu raised me, and my father too. She is the best in the kingdom, and will care for you as one of her own. I trust her with my life, and now with something even more precious." The old woman laughed, and the rich tones made the eves of timber above them vibrate. She pushed the prince away with a small huff before striding over to Elwyn.

"Don't listen to him too much, dear jewel. The prince has quite a way with words. I am narry more important than any other maid. I've simply been here the longest. Now, of course I will deffer to your maids, but I am honored to serve the spark of Homborimm." She did a small circle around Elwyn, inspecting her thoroughly. "It's been a few years since I've seen an elf, but are you all so...tiny? Forgive me, princess, but I'll be feeding you much more than what you've had, you're going to blow away with a gust!" She began to fuss over the princess, and Dufur laughed again.

"My jewel, when would you like the Elvin joining to take place? We wish to honor your culture as you honor ours. We will have as grand a ceremony as you wish. Nothing is beyond reach."
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
Dufur was as kind and handsome as his legend told. Upon the news of her impending nuptials, Elwyn had done a great deal searching for anything that might give her a clue as to the person she was to be joined with. Still it had come as a shock even after hearing tales of his magnificent visage to see the kind earnestness there. Truly even after this short meeting she could not have faulted the dwarven women who yelled for his attentions from the crowd.

"That sounds splendid." Elwyn took a step forward to listen closely as he patiently answered her question, her head turned at the sound of the knock. When a kindly looking dwarf with auburn hair joined them, Elwyn dipped her neck low in return.

"A pleasure to meet you Nalu." Elwyn said as her husband bowed low over Nalu's hands. From this angle she could see the strong set of his shoulders through the black clothing he wore. Elwyn watched with interest as the two dwarves treated one another with the familiarity that came from long years of company. There was something comforting in the fact that dwarves and elves could have such similar companionship from their kin. When Nalu began to laugh, that deep dooming laugh of hers Elwyn found herself joining in. A laugh such as Nalu's needed to be joined. When the Dwarven woman came forward, Elwyn stood still, letting the woman circle her as she stroked her beard thoughtfully.

"My sister, Amara, who was born from a bear always kept me sheltered from those gusts of wind." Nalu began to fuss, her strong steady hands reaching out to smooth away at the gold detailing at her shoulders. Elwyn noticed the rings that adorned the old dwarves fingers and she could not help but reach out and grasp the woman's hands. Elwyn's keen eyes took in the masterful craftsmanship as she continued to speak to Grandmother Nalu. "I do miss flying." There thoughts tended to get more unfiltered and honest as her attention was diverted elsewhere. "There is nothing quite like it. These are truly splendid. I must hear the tale of this one another time." Elwyn gestured to what was clearly the oldest ring, that rested on the woman's thumb.

Dufur's laughter brought Elwyn back to the present and she blinked in surprise at his kind gesture. "The next possibility for an elven joining is at the end of the week, under the darkness of the new moon. It is a beautiful tradition." Elwyn told him, there was an eager light in her eyes as she grew ready to impart the knowledge of Elven Joining's, however they were interrupted by another knock at the door. Taking the lead from Dufur's previous actions, Elwyn called for their newest guest to come in. The door opened and a rather stern looking dwarf held up one of the many boxes of goodies Elwyn had brought with her, despite holding the box, the dwarf bowed low into a bow.

"Oh have you begun unloading my things?" Elwyn asked as the dwarf stepped inside the room.
"Indeed M'lady, where would you wish this box be placed?" The dwarf asked.
"Oh just over there, all of the boxes can go there and I will unpack later." Elwyn had seen no problem with bringing her treasures with her, but now she winced a little as she remembered how much she had indeed made the caravan travel with. She looked at Dufur a bit sheepishly. 'I'm a bit of a collector, you see."
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled as Nalu interacted with Elwyn. It warmed his heart to see them getting along so well right away. Dwarves began to file in and out, piling more and more boxes into the room. Dufur raised his eyebrows as the small mountain of boxes grew. At her comment, he gave a short laugh.

"Indeed, my jewel. I look forward to seeing your collection in full." He laughed again as the boxes kept coming. "I'll have a room prepared for your things, so you may organize and visit them as you see fit." Elwyn seemed to light up at this prospect, and he gave a deep smile. "I'll leave you to unpack, but should you need me for anything, here." He came forward and pressed a smooth globe into her hand, a deep emerald in color. "This is a communication stone. Speak my name into it and it will connect to mine." As if on cue, the stone in a sling on his hip lit up--it was a rich red color.

{Dufur, there's been a minor accident in mine 35. We need you down here to inspect the veins.} The voice was slightly muffled and gruff, Dufur took the stone from it's pouch and held it up to his mouth.

"I understand Olin, I'll be there shortly." Putting the stone back, he took her free hand and bowed, pressing his forehead to her knuckles again. "I bid the jewel of the mountain a good evening, and a restful sleep." He gave her a warm smile before departing. The servants continued to bring in the things from the caravan. Nalu gave a smile, and guided Elwyn to sit on the plush bed.

"Dinner will be up shortly, my princess. Please don't hesitate to speak up if anything is not to your liking. We live to make you comfortable." She gave a kind smile, and then slid the old ring off her last finger and placed it in Elwyn's delicate palm. "It would please me for you to have this. I'm happy to tell you it's story soon. For now, you should rest." She patted her shoulders gently before moving away to supervise the servants. Some time later, a young female dwarf came bustling in with a large tray. Upon it was an arrangements of fruits, salad and a hefty portion of roasted meat.

"Good evening, jewel of the mountain. Is there anything else I can fetch you?"
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The communication stone was quite the item, Elwyn had nary seen such a device in her life and for the briefest moment she wondered what other wonders she had missed out on in her sheltered royal life. She thanked Dufur profusely for his kindness and wished him well as he departed to check on the mines. She watched after her husband for a long moment, lost in thought about the other things he might show her, when Nalu came forward and guided her to the plush bed that was housed in a small room just outside the main sitting room.

A small noise of surprise left her as the old ring was gently placed in her hands and Elwyn quickly looked up into the kind ember eyes that promised to see to her every comfort.

"I would not dream of taking such a thing." Elwyn started to push the small ring back towards Nalu but was stopped when the dwarven woman curled Elwyn's own hand around the gift.
"It would please me greatly to bestow such a gift, dear Jewel." Nalu told her sternly yet kindly and Elwyn was helpless but to obey. She held tightly to both of her newest treasures and vowed to catalogue them right away... as soon as she found her log in the mess that was the multitudes of boxes in her new sitting rooms.

When she was alone in her quarters, Elwyn stood and approached the boxes, her goal in mind. Perhaps she should have listened to Nalu about resting, but truthfully she did not think sleep would join her on this day. Already so much had happened, and there was still more to see and do. Carefully she lifted the lid of the first box, hoping her writing supplies and book would be there. Instead she was greeted by a collection of small creature skulls and bones all neatly packed away in spare linens. The next box hosted a great deal of dried flowers separated into jars. Finally the third box revealed what she desired most and Elwyn eagerly brought the book and the leather roll of her quills and inks to a nearby table. Opening to next available entry, Elwyn took the time to write down each object and its description.

Communication stone- Emerald in colour, round and polished to perfection. Use, to speak to another stone. Range of stones unknown. Gifted by Dufur.

Elwyn had to take a moment to smile down at the name of her husband. A little spark of hope bloomed in her, perhaps if their first greeting had any bearing on their future, she would have many books to fill detailing his gifts alone. With a shy smile and a rosy flush on her cheeks she continued to document the ring as well as the crown that she kept proudly on her head. She was just finishing when supper arrived. Elwyn looked eagerly past the servant to see if perhaps Dufur would join her, but when the hallway was empty she deflated a little.

"Is there a common place where we might gather for eating?" She questioned the servant. "If so I would like to eat there... please." She added in an afterthought.
 

maddymew

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The girl gave a nod, and picked her tray back up.

"O-oh, of course! Please, follow me." She came out into the main rooms, and Nalu turned from her conversation with one of the Evlen guards.

"Your highness?" The servant replied.

"She wishes to sup in the dining hall, Grandmother." Nalu gave a nod before coming over.

"As you wish, princess, but let me help you change first. One shouldn't wear your wedding clothes out, it makes one seem as if they flaunt the union." She smiled "Though you have married the most wanted bachelor in the kingdom, I don't think anyone would blame you." The woman lead Elwyn back to the bedroom, and helped dress her in an extravagant gown of deep ruby color, with gold accents along the bust and arms. Nalu removed the crown from her head, and replaced it with a brass circlet, which was made of a union of Elven and Dwarven styles.

"The prince hoped to give you something that reminded you of home, and brought in many Elven smiths to consult before he made this peice. Now come, we need to accessorize you." She lad the princess to a large wardrobe on the opposite wall of the bed, and inside was packed full of jewelry in every color, shape and style. Seeing Elywn's wonder, she smiled. "Lads begin to make jewelry for their betrothed when they turn twenty, and once the union is announced, they take into account the style and colors the lady prefers. I'm afraid we knew little about your preferences, so the prince wished to make as wide a variety as possible in hopes of something suiting your tastes." They adored her with many pieces, gold bracelets that tinkled, long necklaces that layered and many rings. Once Nalu was satisfied, and could pry Elwyn form her newfound treasure trove, they headed to the dining hall.

The stone hallways twisted and turned through the mountain, all who they came across bowing deeply before her. Finally, they reached the ornate doors, and as Nalu pushed them open she called out.

"The Jewel of Homborimm enters!" There were six elder dwarves sitting on either side of the massive table at the center of the room. They all stood and bowed deeply, replying to the hail in unison.

"May she bless us with her wisdom!" They remained standing until Nalu lead Elwyn to one of the seats at the head of the table. The servant girl placed down the tray and rushed off to fetch a drink. The others sat and chattered excitedly in Dwarfish, until the man at her right hand, a stout, bald fellow with a white beard gave her a smile.

"It is wonderful to meet the wife of Homborimm's Hammer." He said, his accent thick as syrup. "Forgive me, my common is quite rusty." He gave her a once over and laughed before bringing a large tankard to his lips. After his drink, he sighed. "I see how he cherishes you so, my wife will have my beard after seeing your dress, dear jewel. She forgets that I do not possess a prince's forge." The others at the table laughed loudly at his comment. He shook his head as they did so. "I am Gleendr Broadshield, your highness, the leader of Homborimm's army. I will serve you until I return to the mountain."
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
Bedecked in all her little trinkets and treasures, Elwyn felt like quite the sight to behold. There was something about a great dress and the accessories that gave her the air and confidence to follow behind the kindly grandmother. Elwyn's steps lead her through the plush carpeting and into the dining hall, for a brief moment she took in the grandiose room, lined with ornately carved pillars and at its center a large rectangular slab of wood that served as the table. Like the dwarves it housed, everything Homborimm was sturdy and strong.

The Dwarves stood and greeted her and Elwyn dipped down slightly in a graceful curtsy, the red of her gown pooling around her feet as she did so. Elwyn was eager to get to know each of the men, and she seated herself at the head of the table and thanked the servant girl who had set up her tray in front of her. Elwyn was pleasantly surprised by the arrangement of food and she reached out to pluck a purple berry of the copper plate.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Gleendr." Elwyn took care to not speak too quickly as she wanted Gleendr to understand her. The hall filled with her bright laughter when Gleendr joked about his wife and her desire to feel like a queen. "Thank you for allowing me to join your meal." She told the group. "I have been so warmly welcomed, I am elated to have found such joyous company." It was the sort of talk Elwyn had been trained for, she knew the ins and outs of finding compliments and small talk to keep conversation going smoothly. However in her short time in Homborimm she found she had not needed to dig deep for those compliments or words. Each new encounter had brought nothing but kindness and understanding towards her new situation, it had been hardly an effort to say all those nice pretty things; all of them true.

"Is Homborimm much different to the mountain you hail from?" Another Dwarf asked, his common a little more practiced than Gleendr. Elwyn smiled warmly at the man, enjoying the deep rosy red that tinged the apples of his cheeks.
"It is. The Autumn Grove seems so delicate in comparison. I always feared that if I touched the ornate carvings along the railings of the castle they might fall off. I don't get that same sense here." Elwyn explained, finding, as was typical, that the finer details of things were always must easier to explain than the bigger picture. Oh if her father could see her now, what would he say?
"Bah! Perhaps your Elven architecture could do with some strengthening from a good Dwarven forge." Gleendr added to the conversation, making Elwyn laugh loudly once more.
"It would certainly seem so!" She agreed heartily. "Have any of you travelled far outside of Homborimm's walls?"
"Not I, Jewel." The rosy cheeked Dwarf said. "Ah forgive me. I am Lognuk Graymail, chief engineer. I find I much prefer to tinker next to the fires of my forge. My sons and daughters bring back many stories of their adventures for my ears." Lognuk said proudly. "Gleendr is the one with the most travel under his belt." The tinkerer gestured back to the army leader and Elwyn looked eager for a tale.
 

maddymew

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Gleendr blushed as the princess turned her eyes unto him with so much curiosity. He stroked his beard in thought, trying to think of a story that was more tasteful for the delicate creature before him. Blood and violence was seldom a good tale for womenfolk. After a moment of pondering, he took a swig of his beer, the marriage clasps on the braids of his mustache clinking against the goblet.

"Ah, I know one. Have you ever been to the coast, dear jewel?" Elwyn thought a moment.

"Yes, a few times to visit a cousin."

"Have you ever stayed in an Orc or Goblin village?" She shook her head. Gleendr rubbed his rough hands together in delight. "Once, while on a journey to speak to an Orc chieftain, I actually aided in delivering a babe." Elwyn sat up, clearly interested. "There I was, waiting outside the house we were to meet, when I hear frantic voices. I go to investigate, and see a burly woman struggling to pull at a sapling of some sort. The foliage was strange, I'd never seen it before. Narry had I seen such a woman! All muscled like a warrior, and her tusks were shined up, too. I went over and offered my help. We'd been there near a month, so she trusted me, if cautiously. So, I planted my feet and pulled with her. Almost a half hour later, POP! A wee orc babe comes out of the ground like a root! Can you imagine how surprised I was? I fell right on my rear!" He laughed uproariously. After calming some, he smiled. "The boy's father named him after me, you know. He's almost a real lad now, and is a trader. We write often, he's become like another nephew to me."

The meal continued in peace, each dwarf trading stories, eager to impress the princess. As they began to finish up, a guard hurried in. He gave a quick bow and began to speak in Dwarfish. The men around her rose and started to shout orders, the servants rushing about. Nalu hurried Elwyn up form her chair, and several guards joined them as they walked back to her rooms.

"Don't worry too much, dear jewel." Nalu said. "A human managed to get into the outer city. We lock up the keep tight when we get a sighting, just to be safe." She patted Elwyn's arm "We have many precious things here, after all." They returned to her rroms safely, and Nalu began to putter around the room idly.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
Such a unique ending to the night, Elwyn mused as the castle came to life around her. She bid the Dwarven men farewell as they parted, ready to defend their home. Nalu ushered Elwyn from her seat, and they were escorted by several guards back to her rooms. Nalu explained the reason for their disturbance and Elwyn nodded quietly, taking in the information. Once back in the safety of her room, Elwyn rushed to one of the windows peeking outside to watch as Dwarves took their posts.

"Come away, dearest treasure." Nalu was quick to usher her from her perch. "It's been a long day, I think a long rest until morning is the cure for you." Elwyn wanted to disagree, truly she felt the furthest from tired that one could be.
"Must I?" She asked quietly, even as she took position for Nalu to help her undress. The sleek red fabric flowed off her body like a blood red waterfall and Elwyn felt the cool night air on her skin. A large looking glass stood in front of her and Elwyn compared the two forms she saw there. Her own body, while tall, seemed so delicate and breakable next to the sturdy form of Grandmother Nalu. Her own dark hair and feathers hung straight, framing her face narrowly, while Nalu's bright red hair was curly and voluminous. A nightgown was lifted over her head and Elwyn slid her arms through the sleeve openings.

later she was tucked away in the large plush bed, and the curtains were drawn around her posts. Elwyn's eyes adjusted to the dark and she waited quietly for Nalu to finish up her tidying before slipping out the door to hold sentry there until the threat of human had passed. When the door clicked shut Elwyn emerged from the bed curtains and held still for a moment, hoping she had not been heard. She tip-toed to her desk, grabbing the emerald stone Dufur had given her and retreated to the window. Elwyn settled herself on the sill there, drawing herself up into a tight little ball as peered down at the sight below.

"{Dufur, are you there? Is everything alright?}" She whispered to the stone, clutching it tight in her hands.
 

maddymew

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Dufur had barely gotten away from the mines when he heard the horn closing the gates. The call on his stone came soon after, and he was running back to the castle. He was to spend the next few hours helping hunt down the rouge, though he had hoped he would be able to join his new bride for an evening meal. Dufur was putting on his armor when the stone vibrated. He lifted the deep red jewel from it's holster at his hip and was surprised to hear Elwyn's lilting voice come out of it.

{Yes, my jewel, all will be well soon.} He assured. {Tis but one, and they are only in the outer city. You are perfectly safe.} Dufur gave a small sigh, rubbing his thumb over the smooth surface of the ruby. {I am so sorry this happened upon your arrival, precious one. I will do all I can to make it up to you.} He sat down upon his own bed, thinking. {How was your day? Are your rooms comfortable? We can import more plants for you, should you need it. Was the wardrobe and jewelry sufficient? How was your meal?} Dufur wished desperatly to attend to her himself, and keep her comfortable and come to know the woman he was joined to.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
His barrage of questions came one after the other and Elwyn's concerned features slipped into something more shy, A gentle smile curved on her lips and she cradled the stone closer to her. She could hear the shouts of Dwarves communicating down below. The glow of torchlight and magical lighting leaving Homborimm filled with long seeking shadows that any self respecting rouge could slip into.

{No need to make it up to me.} Elwyn scoffed, her dark eyes remaining trained on the scenery below her tower. It occurred to her that truly she had never felt in danger since her arrival, the notion had a warm bloom of fluttering occur in her stomach. {Everything is perfect. I can see all the care you've gone to. I am truly most comfortable.} She assured him, she bit her bottom lip for a moment, considering her next words carefully. {Perhaps you might also teach me how to defend our home? I wish to be more useful than to just watch for you from my window...} Her words drew off as her keen eyes caught sight of some movement near one of the walls that surrounded the large expanse of Homborimm. {It maybe be nothing Durfur, but I've just seen movement near the wall to the east of us.} Despite Dufur not being able to see, Elwyn pointed all the same.
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled when Elwyn confirmed that she was indeed comfortable. His eyes darkened when she mentioned the movement in the outer city from her window. Before replying, he hurriedly dressed himself in the rest of his armor.

{Thank you, Jewel. I'll see to it now. I promise we will talk more later. Sleep well tonight, my precious one.} Holstering his crystal, Dufur took his hammer from beside the door and hurried to join the rest of the search parties. It was a long night, but eventually they found the human attempting to pick a lock that would lead to the servant's quarters at an Inn. Pitiful, really. He was put in a cell in the outer city's jail. Though the sun was rising, Dufur dragged himself into a shower and dressed for the day. He caught the servant bringing Elwyn her breakfast and took the tray, then knocked on her door lightly. Grandmother Nalu opened the door, and grinned widely.

"Couldn't wait to see her, my prince?" Dufur glowed bright red as he set the tray down on the coffee table. "She's getting dressed now, and will be out shortly." Dufur sat on the plush couch and cleared his throat.

"Good morning, my jewel. I wanted to tell you first thing that the human was caught. Did you sleep well? Are you ready for your tour?" He pulled a small velvet box and sat it on the table. He'd found a small trinket for her at the market that morning, and picked it up almost without thinking. He had a full day planned for them, as well as a reading of poetry that night over dinner with his father's court.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
After Dufur's departure, Elwyn sat at her window sill for a long while. This was something she had done even back at the Autumn Court, and it seemed the habit was here to stay, even if she didn't feel like a bird watching from the tallest tree anymore. Remembering that she had promised to write to her sister, Elwyn finally left the sill and cozied up in the lavish bed with her inks and parchments.

When morning arrived with cheery Grandmother Nalu, Elwyn had written quite the little novel to send to Amara. She'd slept very little, but truly she never felt as if she needed much sleep anyways. Not when there was so much that her eyes might miss if they were closed.
"Good morning Jewel. I trust you slept well." Nalu began to rummage through the dresses and gowns that had been so kindly gifted to Elwyn and the Elf rose from her spot on the bed to assist in the choosing of her clothes. They both agreed upon a skirt and top combo, that bared her midriff an inch. Tiny delicate gold chains hung from the sash of the skirt and cascaded down her hips. They were in the process of pulling her hair and feathers up into a loose knot with a ornate hair comb when a knock came at the door. Elwyn took over fussing with the final strands of her hair as Nalu went to answer the door. At the sound of Dufur's low voice, Elwyn found something in her stomach do a little flip flop.

Despite logic telling her that she was well and truly joined, it was still a bit of a shock to the system that she had a husband. An incredibly attractive one at that. She preened for one a few moments more as he spoke. Getting to her feet, Elwyn glided out of the bedchamber into the sitting room, her eyes finding Dufur and locking onto him. His hair was once again neatly tucked away into a knot at the back of his head, his beard had also been carefully braided into thick weaves. She contemplated asking him if he ever decorated his hair and beard, but the question seemed a little too familiar, even if he was her husband.

"Good morning brave protector of Homborimm. I did sleep well, it helped to know you were keeping me safe." Elwyn spotted the breakfast plate laden with more delicious fruits and breads, and sat on the couch next to Dufur without hesitation. She plucked up a slice of an apple and crunched into it happily. "I can't wait for the tour, have you eaten?" Elwyn offered Dufur a slice of the apple as well. "Oh what's this?" Elwyn's clever eyes spotted the box and her head tilted as she contemplated. "Is that for me?" She questioned. At Dufur's nod she broke into a wide smile and happily reached for the box.

Upon opening it, she gasped in delight at the obsidian carved dragon. It was masterfully crafted, the sleek stone shining like the scales might. "Thank you, Dufur. This is wonderful."
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled as Elwyn ate and expressed excitement over the day's events. Her reaction to his little gift made his smile widen, his eyes crinkling with delight. He let her finish eating as they catted idly, and once she was done he rose, holding out his thick, weathered hand to her.

"I thought we would tour the inner city today, and the rest of the keep and castle. Please let me know if you see something we must stop for." She took his arm with a smile of her own, and he lead her out of her rooms. He showed her the wardroom, the armory, the kitchens, the great hall, the throne room, the servant's wing, the library, the dining room, the treasury, the temple, and saved the hall of heroes for last. Each room was carved into the mountain painstakingly, with intricately chiseled pillars and murals, precious stones as accents. The furniture was a mix of wood and stone, equally well cared for, with rugs, pillows and tapestries to further warm the space. Each room had a massive fireplace crackling with life.

They arrived at the hall of heroes, and the guards pushed the grand doors open, revealing a long, domed hall lit by torches. Pedestals held busts of dwarves, many incomplete, spanning the length of the room. The statues, though intricate, were devoid of ornamentation. One pedestal at the end of the hall held simply two stone gloves atop a massive hammer. Dufur put one of his hands over Ewlyn's on his arm.

"These are pieces of the great ones who came before." He said reverently. "The inscriptions are in Dwarvish, I will read them if you so choose." They were not the only ones in the hall, a few others littered the bases of statues. Some looked to be in prayer, others simply staring. A harp at the end of the hall played itself, soft music that wove through the space. The couple stopped at the first statue, and at her look, Dufur began to read. "Lel Sapphireheart, the first architech of Homborimm. She mapped out the inner and outer cities, the first mines and the layouts of the king's forge. She worked tirelessly for 105 years and was the first to earn the title of Master Builder." The bust was missing arms, but a ferice, elderly woman was portrayed with a small smile on her lips. Dufur smiled at Elwyn's wide eyed look. "My mother admired Master Lel greatly."
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The day was filled with so many sights and sounds. Elwyn felt her mind working in overtime to remember the rich smell that wafted from the kitchens, or the clinking sound as armor and weapons were tended to in the armory. She would retrace her steps, she promised herself. The next time she would come prepared with a tome and ink so she might collect each and every experience in her book. Dufur was patient with her as she lingered over the intricate carvings that housed the fireplaces in each room. Each time she drew near the warmth, her feathers would rustle and she would sigh happily in the cozy atmosphere.

They arrived in the hall of heroes and Elwyn recognized the importance of such a place from the way Dufur's eyes shifted to something deeper. His shoulders seemed straighter, and he held himself with the sort of reverence she recognized from her homeland. It was such an honour to bear witness to the birth of new elves, and those who partook in such events resembled the look of the man who stood before her now. Her fingers twisted into the fabric of his tunic and when he placed his hand over hers she reveled in the comfort and warmth of the simple action.

They entered the hall and Elwyn let her husband steer her, she could see the the place meant a great deal to the dwarves who called Homborimm home. When they paused at the first statue Elwyn listened as Dufur read off the plaque, his voice pairing well with the twinkle of the harp down the hall.
"Truly such an accomplishment, to create a home for so many." Elwyn murmured, she itched to climb upon pedestal and peer closely into the likeness that had been a part of the creation of her new home. Instead she settled for shifting closer to Dufur. "Dufur, earlier you said that these were pieces of those who came before. What does that mean?" Her curious dark eyes turned to him, a small crease formed between her brows as her attention zeroed in on him. "Are these not statues carved to their likeness?"
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled at her curious question, the corners of his eyes crinkling. Her desire for knowledge was certainly as had been described for the Elves. She would make a fine queen when the time came. He took her hand in his and lifted it to his lips to press a kiss to her knuckles. She gave a sharp intake of breath, and a heady blush dusted his own cheeks. Raising his eyes to meet hers, he gave a charming smile.

"You will have all the time you desire to learn our secrets when you've settled in proper, my jewel. Please have a little more patience with us." Ewlyn gave him a shy smile and a small nod. Dufur took her throughout the hall, reading the plaques that she wished to hear. They reached the end of the room, to the pillar of the very first king under the mountain. Only a pair of gloves and a gleaming hammer covered in ancient runes. A young dwarf, looking to be slightly younger than Dufur himself, approached the pair. She bowed deeply and looked to the prince for permission to speak. He gave a small nod and she turned to Elwyn.

"Princess Mother, you truly shine brighter than the veins of sliver below us. I know it is humble, but please accept this." She presented a small silver figurine of a baby dragon. It was the crudest she'd yet seen of Dwarven handiwork. Dufur smiled and leaned over to whisper to Elwyn.

"This is her first work, dear Jewel. It is tradition to give your first work to someone who inspires you." Elwyn reached out and accepted the gift, and the woman looked delighted that she did so.

"I swear on the Blue Sage that my next work will be fitting for you, Princess Mother!" She said excitedly "May you shine under the mountain for years and years!" She rushed away, seeming to have renewed energy. Dufur laughed loudly as the doors closed behind her. He held his arm out to her, and Elwyn took it, holding tightly to the figurine with her other hand. He lead her back to the dining hall, where his father's court was meeting for dinner. They rose to greet them as the couple was announced, and Dufur guided her to her seat. It was different from the one she'd sat in last night, a high backed throne made of twisting wood and just the right size to fit her. Elvish was inscribed on the back, it was obviously made for her. Dufur took the seat betwee ehr and his father.

"So, Dear Jewel, how was your tour?" Dufun, the king, asked.

"Yes! What part of the castle was your favorite?" Gleendr asked, raising his ale flagon in greeting.

"I'm sorry we didn't get to see the inner city today, my Jewel." Dufur apologized, looking embarrassed.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The press of Dufur's lips to her knuckles filled her mind even after they had let go of one another and continued on their tour. Even now she could feel the smooth skin and the warmth of him linger there. Her hand flexed experimentally as they continued on, truthfully the action had frazzled her nerves enough that she did not press further for a secret that was rightfully hers. All would be answered in time, and her mind was eager for each discovery.

When they reached the end of the room Elwyn smiled warmly at the young dwarven woman. Elwyn's eyes took in the small gift she offered with Dufur's encouragement, the meaning and importance of the tiny dragon weighing heavily on her. Her nimble thumb traced over the jagged carving, learning the small dips and juts as she traced down its spine.
"This is splendid." She told the dwarven woman. "What is your name young one?"
"Fognagret Coaldelver, Princess Mother." The woman bowed deep again as she spoke and Elwyn held her newest treasure tightly to her bosom. With her free hand, Elwyn reached up to her hair, and let her dark hair loose with the removal of the golden comb. As she suspected, one of her feathers had slipped loose and now hung loosely between the teeth of the comb. She gripped the midsized feather that almost seemed iridescent in the glow of the room and offered it to the Dwarf. Fognagret took the offering with a shaky hand, her voice coming out much stronger with her renewed sense of energy.
"May you grow into the finest of craftswomen." Elwyn told her in return and watched happily as the young Dwarf rushed off with purpose.

She thought to ask what Blue Sage meant, but Elwyn was quickly coming to realize that answers would come when those who were sharing them were ready. She fell into step with Dufur and let him lead her back towards the dining hall. The hall was filled with a great rumble as Dwarves lifted themselves to their feet upon their arrival. Elwyn was pleasantly surprised at the chair they offered to her, and she settled into the seat and smiled warmly at those who asked after her day.

"There was so much to see and learn, I feel as if I've barely scratched the surface. I can't wait to start again in the morning." Elwyn wiggled gleefully in her seat. Her attention raised to Gleendr and she paused considering his question. "You treasury and libraries are expertly tended and cared for. Before my tour I would have thought those were the places that I would have favored. However after todays tour I feel as if the heart and soul of your people emanate from the hall of heroes. It was an honour to have seen the likenesses of those who helped to make Homborimm the paradise it is."
"Hear hear!" Gleendr lifted his tankard to her words and Elwyn playfully lifted her goblet of deep red wine to him as well. At Dufur's embarrassed words Elwyn immediately twisted in her seat, her hand coming to rest on the strong forearm of his that rested on the table. Even through the fabric of his shirt she reveled in the warmth of him.
"There is no need for apologies Dufur." She told him, her hand squeezing the strong muscle of his arm. "Everything today was perfect." She said earnestly, earning a chuckle from the king who had been listening.

"Tell me Dear Jewel, have we much to prepare for your Elven joining?" The King asked, leaning back in his chair and peering it Elwyn.
"I've naught seen an Elven joining. Is it a big affair?" Gleendr asked, also butting himself into the conversation. Elwyn flushed at the men's questions, wondering how best to answer them.
"Well it's usually a small ceremony, done under the new moon. I've been party to only two joining's myself but I've brought a great number of books on the subject." Elwyn said, she bit her bottom lip wondering how much she should share. It became quite clear she was flustered when her inability to continue describing the intimate scene coloured her cheeks bright pink.
 
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maddymew

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Dufur could see his wife begin to hesitate under the weighty stares of those at the table and cleared his throat loudly. He summoned a servant to begin bringing out the food and spoke.

"I think our Jewel would not like the share such important details with you lot. You're much too rough a crowd for that." The men around them all burst into laughter, and their wives all rolled their eyes. "We shall discuss it with Grandmother and His Highness later." The food came out, and some lievely conversation started as the group parted ways with the subject. They told Elwyn family stories, who they admired from the hall, and spoke of songs they wished her to hear. Gleendr's wife, Runa, moved her chair closer and spoke quietly to her. Elwyn asked about the multipule titles she held. Runa explained that all who held the rank of noble or court advisor would call her by the honorific of Jewel. Some exceptions were made, like Grandmother Nalu and her personal servants. Everyone else would call her Princess Mother and then Queen Mother, as they were lower than her in the social order and thus were considered her children.

When dinner finished, Dufur stood and moved to a small stool by the fireplace. The conversation died down and a servant came out with a small harp. She began to play, and Dufur unfolded several pages of parchment and started to read. His voice was melodic and deep, echoing off of the chamber walls like a song.

And at night
When I can’t sleep
I’m counting the minutes until we meet.

To be able to whisper words so sweet
When your heart is at war
With itself.

To finally hold you until we fall asleep
And untangle these emotions
That fill us with unease.

I’m counting again the minutes until we meet
Because without your arms around me
I can’t sleep.

His eyes met Elwyn's as he read, hoping to convey to her how eagerly he had awaited her arrival, and the sincerity of his words. When he stopped, all of the men hooted and hollered, banging their tankards on the table in unison. Many of the women swooned and sighed, looking lovestruck. The king let out a hearty laugh.

"My son, the poet. Reminds me of courting his mother." He gave a fond smile "Gets it all from me, you know." He sent Elwyn a wink.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
The dinner was illuminating and Elwyn nodded along with Runa who was more than happy to explain and linger over the finer details of things. Elwyn was just ramping up with her questions when the dinner wound down. Runa left her with an apologetic look and Elwyn felt a flutter of happiness in her heart over a potential new friend. Her keen eyes caught Dufur's movement as he rose from his seat and tool his place near the roaring fire. Elwyn appreciated the warm glow that cascaded over her husbands features.

His voice was accompanied by the soft lilting tune of a harp and Elwyn settled back in her seat taking in the words he'd penned. The thought that he had lain awake at night anticipating her arrival sent Elwyn's heart down a path she had barely considered possible. Flush tinged her cheeks as his voice caressed her and he spoke of holding her. Her body ached to go to him, some invisible longing pulling the stings between them tight. She wondered how his skin would feel under her curious touch, how might he look when he slept? Elwyn had spent many a long hours reading about marriage rituals and home life and despite her best to prepare she still felt woefully green to the subject. The kings voice drew her out of her mental spiral and she blinked in surprise as the hall was filled with uproarious approval and the clash of tankards against the wooden tables.

"He is quite talented indeed." Elwyn fought the urge to lift her hand and fan herself. Instead she let out a low breath of air before speaking again. "I never knew Dwarven courting to be so... deep with feeling. How splendid that you showered such affection over your wife. I find myself most fortunate." The king's beard seemed to puff out a little as he bristled with pleasure at her words. "Are there any courting customs that I might partake-" She was cut off as Dufur once again joined them at the table.

Servants poured more ale and wine into tankards and goblets and settled back to listen to the harpist as she plucked out an intricate tune that reminded Elwyn of the seaside. "You have a way with words Mighty Protector." Elwyn thanked the servant who had finished filling her goblet and turned to her husband. "May we take these drinks and take a turn about the courtyard? I saw last night from my window how beautiful it was in the evening, what with all those carvings and magic light."
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled as Elwyn complimented his poetry, happy that she was pleased with his words. She requested a visit to the courtyard and he was happy to oblige, he stood and offered her his free arm.

"We'll be taking our leave, then. Thank you all for joining us this evening." He gave a dip of his head in thanks as everyone stood for their departure. Dufur led her down several flights of stairs and out into the courtyard. Enchanted crystals embedded in the walls lit the courtyard with a soft glow, which reflected off of the large waterfall that the space was centered around. They walked the perimeter of the room before coming to sit at one of the benches before the water. Dufur let Elwyn take her time, running her hands over the many carvings and inspecting the stones.

"I hope my poetry was not too forward, dear Jewel." He said sheepishly, scratching his chin before taking a sip from his tankard. "I wish not to offend you. Courting for us is often quite...salacious. I must prove my passion for you publicly, so you can hold me responsible should I not keep my promises." He gave a small, cheeky smile. "Though, you make it quite easy for me, you know. You are...peerlessly beautiful, and wonderfully kind. I am a lucky dwarf, I am." He took another drink, and relished the bright pink that flushed her delicate cheeks. Dufur chuckled, and reached out towards her, running a thin strand of her hair through his thick fingers. His brow creased slightly as he repeated the motion, seeming to be caught in a trance. After a few moments, he blinked rapidly, and lowered his hand away.

"Ah, forgive me. I've been thinking about our wedding clasps. Making them for such fine hair will be quite the challenge, even for me. I'll be running my apprentices ragged with tests for a while." He laughed. "But I'll make them perfect for you, Jewel, don't worry. I wouldn't want to hurt your pretty little feathers." Dufur smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling.
 

BoneBrain

Everything's Shiny Cap'n
Elwyn was gleeful at Dufur's acceptance, truthfully she had been a little selfish with her motives, as she wanted to spend some time alone with the fine Dwarf. She took his arm and the two of them made their way the Homborimms walls and out into the castles courtyard. Above them the cavern walls of the city twinkled like the stars in the sky. The courtyard was a peaceful space and Elwyn happily took in the sights the room had to offer.

She joined him after a moment, holding onto the goblet she had taken with her. She settled next to him, their thighs brushing slightly as she arranged her gown. She listened to his explanation of courting and nodded sagely. Dufur took the time to shower her with more compliments and Elwyn was sure she had never blushed this much in her life. A healthy tinge of red spotted the skin near her neck and collarbone. His strong hand reached out and she felt him lift a few strands of her hair. There was silence for a few breathless moments as Elwyn watched the Dwarves expression change to something ever so thoughtful and intense.

"I like this courting." She told him, her voice sounding foreign to her. Did she always sound this breathless? "I am more than happy to join you in your forge should you require practical testing for those wedding clasps." Elwyn took a sip of her wine and regarded Dufur thoughtfully. "You know it is quite easy for such beautiful words to be conjured of you as well. I could make a list... though I fear I have not brought enough parchment for such a task." Elwyn's teeth captured her bottom lip as she set down her goblet and reached for his hand. She took the one that had caressed her hair for a moment and turned it palm up. Her head bent and she peered down at the calloused and hardworking hand.

"You've such a strength in your hands." Her finger traced the lifeline of his palm. "I read a book once on fortune telling and palm reading." She told him. "This here, tells me of success and perseverance... and if I remember correctly here speaks to your bravery." She smiled at him then, as she found comfort in this quiet moment alone with him.
 

maddymew

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Dufur smiled as Elwyn spoke breathlessly, chuckling softly. She gave him a hearty compliment in return, and he smiled at her happily. It seems they would make a fine match after all, there was plenty of chemistry between them. Elwyn spoke of visiting his forge and Dufur found he quite liked the idea. She took his hand in hers and traced over his callouses with her soft fingers, speaking of palmistry. Her fingers felt like feathers caressing his skin. He listened to her quietly and gave her a smile.

"Does it, now? Well, I never knew hands could say so much." They spent much of that evening just talking together, about everything and nothing in particular. It seemed to Dufur that it had been an age since he spoke to someone like that. It felt as if they were old friends reconnecting. It was quite late when Dufur realized the time, and stood offering her his arm. "Grandmother will be furious with me for keeping you out so late." She took his arm and they continued to talk as he lead her back to her rooms. Once before the doors, he released her, but took her hand and kissed her knuckles once before bidding her a goodnight. "Sleep well, my Jewel. I will see you tomorrow."

Nalu rushed to the door when Elwyn entered, looking cross as a wet hen.

"That boy!" She said, ushering Elwyn to the bedroom to get changed "I don't care if you're married, this is simply too late for a lady to be out!" She continued to cluck and worry as she helped her undress into her bed clothes, and then sat Elwyn down on the bed and went to fetch a tea for sleep. Elwyn's handmaid, Kyrie, sat down to brush out her hair.

"Did you have a good day, my lady?" Elwyn eagerly chatted, telling her all about the things she'd witnessed that day. After the tea was served, Kyrie wrote down Elwyn's first report back to the king as her mistress dictated it. It was stamped with the royal seal and then Elwyn retired. Kyrie headed to the coops to send the message. So late at night, she saw almost no one. She stopped in her own rooms, then copied the report. Stamping it with her dummy seal, she rolled up the parchment and continued on her way. The guards at the coop let her in without a word--she was given the highest clearance as handmaid to the future queen. Kyrie sent out both letters, one to Autumngrove and one to her partners. The deer woman's velveteen ears twitched as she watched the crows vanish into the distance. Bidding the bird keeper and the guards goodnight, she left and began the journey back to her own room.
 

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