As always, she wanted to make her mommy proud. So she was off trying to find herbs again. The second reason she was often alone wandering around herbs (and bugs) is that pesky girl from that sapsucking royal family was always picking on her.And she never left before the rest of the fawns were picking on her, so Yn often prefered to look around and gather herbs.
Her mommy forbid her to try them on her own; she didn’t want her daughter to get poisoned by accident. If she found a plant she didn’t recognize, she had to bring it back! And she can’t go too far. It’s dangerous at the Glenmore border, so stay close! Not that Yn listened to that last rule; she more often got lost at the border, trying to escape her bullies.
She discovered a strange bug. She just knew she’d seen this one before. She gazed at it … following it. Did some bugs always hang around the same plants, or did she imagine that? She was trailing the bug, not really paying attention to where she was going.
Beast’s training regimen was a rigorous one. Every morning he woke before the sun, reported to his commanding officer, and set to work about the tasks given to him. Rarely did he steal a moment to himself. In fact, the last time he’d had time for himself was back in spring, when he and Tagg and the two princes Ronan and Conan had made rather unlikely friends. But just as war unites soldiers and warriors as Brothers in Arms, the appearance of a common enemy had rallied the four young colts together and forged new friendships. The boys had taken a liking to the nickname given to the reversed dapple roan lad, and so now Lucian was the Beast.
Lucian didn’t particularly mind… after all it reminded him of his father’s pride in him. And it also gave Lucian a sense of anonymity if he found himself being introduced to someone he really rather not know.
This morning his commanding officer had set out on a patrol to the ridgeback, Beast had been more than eager to go along, but even after his insistence, the Captain forbade it. Apparently what urgent business they had there (surely Blackwoods?) was too much to risk bringing along green youths. So Beast had been ordered to stick to the perimeters of the Glenwood and do some training drills and practice his magic.
Beast started with his morning workout. A five mile jog that took him along the eastern-most edge of the Glenwood. Then he did log-lifts in repetitions of ten, a short break in between, and then another ten. He worked his shoulders and neck muscles, feeling his three-year old’s body being pushed to it’s limits. Here in a couple more years he really would be a Beast of a Buck. A Warrior worthy of his Father’s line. A Knight that would have done his mother proud. He tried to keep the memories at bay, what little remained of them. Memories are funny things. Tiny wisps that came as unexpectedly as they fled. Fragile. And it was hard for Beast to understand why he could remember certain tiny moments with such clarity, and yet at the same time he could scarcely recall what his mother’s and father’s faces looked like. He had been too young when they died. He was growing up fast, forced to mature and slide away from the care-free innocence of childhood out of survival. He worried that one day he might not recall even the sound of their voices.
Beast did not like to be left alone with his thoughts… they always seemed to trail back towards the past. “There is nothing for you in the past, My Son.” His mother had told him upon her death-bed. “Only the Future… and it will be a bright one, my little Hart.”
the colt tried to shake the words from his mind, looking to focus his attention now on his magic. Being only three, his magic was pretty much non-existent, and it was very frustrating trying to achieve what seemed to be impossible. He found a thatch of thick low-cut bushes. They were raspberry bushes. Lucian focused on a stem bearing a couple of the small berries, still green and unripened. He struggled to channel his thoughts, imagining being inside the berry itself… and tried to help it ripen. Nothing happened. He scrunched his nose, his brow furrowing, his eyes boring into the tiny fruit like two dark chocolate lazers.
The berry seemed to shudder. Beast’s eyes widened. Was…. was it working? Grow he thought at the plant. Please, Grow! again, the plant shuddered, and Lucian felt triumph beginning to sneak up his spine… and then…
From out of seemingly nowhere, a figure appeared, practically fumbling right into the much larger colt! It’s head bumping into his, Lucian let out a surprised grunt and threw his hindquarters into reverse, back peddling a couple steps as he lowered his head in preparation to fight whomever this stranger was.
”och! watch where yer’ goin’ you-” Deep timbered brogue trailed off. His dark eyes drank in the petite figure, as pale as the moon, as pale as fresh fallen snow. For every bit as dark as he was, the little filly before him was a bright shining light. ”- I mean… M’lady…” She had to be a royal, judging by how well groomed she was, and with a pelt so like Aillte’s. Lucian felt his heart thump just a little harder. He wasn’t used to being around does. Let alone such a… pretty one. He attempted to remember some semblance of the manners his mother had taught him. “What… what are ye doin’ out here with no guard?”
“Oepm!” The filly let out a soft grunt as she bumped into someone. She had been so focused on her bug, that she failed to see where she was going, in more then one way. The taller colt let out a loud voice, clearly not happy with her bumping to him. She already started to shrink, realizing he might be like her ‘friend’, the royal filly, Astra, and start to pick on her …. But then..
He became polite. Really polite. And she suddenly became aware of the fact her mother had just cleaned all the dirt off her, and that her coat must be pretty shiny now. And that he was rather handsome. She wasn’t quite sure how to react - how do you explain you were following a bug because you think it likes certain plants, and that it might lead you to certain rare plants?
He asked her what she’s doing out here without a guard. Ow. OW! This handsome colt must be training for a guard perhaps? She looked at him, he looked a lot better trained than some of the others she’d seen. He had muscles filling out, despite this young age. Though she wasn’t so sure he was that young … He looks so big ...
She realized in a flash she wasn’t in an area she knew.
“Umm.. I-I don’t have .. a guard. She shyly said. ”I’m sorry … I was … For a moment, she wanted to say, following a bug, but decided not too. Not looking where I was going. I was trying to find .. herbs. I think there might be some rare ones around.”
She was unsure how to behave or how to position herself. She looked down at the ground, her tail low, her tail reaching forward, hiding her face from moment to moment. Crossing her legs, uncrossing, she clearly wasn’t that comfortable either. She wasn’t used to fawn her age not … bullying her.
“No guard…? But...aren’t ye’ a princess...or, er...a Royal Lady, mayhap?”
The deeper timber of the colt’s voice was lightened to a degree by his incredulous tone. Surely she was of royal blood, right? Most does with milky coats were considered highly prized, being that they resembled Aillte, and Lucian simply couldn’t believe that this one would have no manner of escort out here on her own.
As he watched her, the lad suddenly realized she was fidgeting, her alabaster tassel flicking delicately across her face… It was actually kind of cute, but perhaps was she nervous? Maybe he was scaring her… he was a pretty big colt, after all. He tried to smile, hoping maybe it would make him seem more approachable and less… intimidating.
”Well, if ye’ doona’ have a guard then ye’ shouldn’a be out ‘ere alone…” Lucian thought for a moment, considering what he should do. What would his captain want him to do? “I … I guess I can act as yer guard ‘til we can getch’ye’ back to yer glade. “ his rich brogue spoke with a decisive edge. Yes… he was a cadet after all, and even though he was young he was a big colt.
“I’m Lucian,” He said, holding his head high, and puffing his chest, the thick banner of his tail giving a flick against his flanks. “But me’ friends call me Beast…” Ears flick forward, wondering if maybe she would tell him hers.
Yn had to admit that she wasn’t used to somebody talking like that. He spoke … like a commoner. And while she sometimes met them through her mother, this one did talk very ‘rough’ as she’d heard the royals mention it. “O .. My father … “ She wanted to say King Drustan … but wasn’t sure she wanted to say that. “I am a royal … I just … train to be a healer. My mother is an amazing healer. I want to be like her.” She found him easier to talk to than many others. He didn’t seem to find her presence annoying.
“You’re really kind to offer but .. I don’t really want to go back to the glade yet.” She avoided looking at him. “I-I would like to gather some herbs, and look at what insects live on what plants.” She blinked. He was much taller than her, and she knew she had to listen to stags … but still, she wanted to train. And she really didn’t enjoy the other royal fawns all that much.
“I would really enjoy it if I could look for herbs some more, before going to the Glade .. I’m trying to discover more about them!” She said with a little more confidence. She still didn’t dare to look at him, she was really overstepping boundaries by demanding that she stays.
The bashful little filly glanced away from him slightly as he questioned her parentage. But she confirmed she was indeed of royal blood, though her mother was a healer… and she wished to follow in her hoofsteps rather than whatever Lord she had for a father. Lucian was surprised, for a Royal, she did not seem at all snarky, or prude or...well… dismissive of him, as many of the other royals were. He grinned. “Oh? a Healer? And ye’ would give up yer royal status for that? Well… I s’pose ‘tis a bit different for a Royal Lass. Ye’ can prob’ly still be a Royal Doe and a Healer at the same time, eh? I had royal parents as well, but me Da’ gave up his royal station to be a Guard, and I gave up mine to be a cadet also, so that I can follow in his hoofprints.”
He smiled, talking about his father Gideon. The large stag that had sired him was assumed dead, his life taken while defending a couple of does against Blackwood Raiders; but the colt had been forever in Awe of him- his Hero. Luc was going to make a name for himself in Glenmore, he was going to be a warrior his parents would be proud of!
His ears drooped slightly when she did not offer her name. But why would she? She was a Royal doe after all, and he had no business knowing her name at any rate.The pretty snow-hued filly continued to avoid his gaze and Lucian was certain by now she must have been frightened of him. Her chiming voice stammered slightly when she asked not to be escorted back to her glade though, and the idea never crossed the colt’s mind that she was nervous about going against his word. Lucian’s mind did not work in the manner of the traditionalists, mainly because he had not role models save for his parents, who never held such stringent ethics based upon gender. And now, they were gone.
In Lucians’ eyes, a Royal doe was of more merit than a simpleton cadet, and as such, her request was paramount on priorities. “Och! But of course, m’lady. I did’na mean to interrupt yer studyin’s. I’m s’posed to be practicin’ me Earth Magic at any rate, so I s’pose I can hang around until you are ready…” He glanced around at the plants that Aulwyn had been trapsing through when she bumped into him. “So...er… m’lady” He continued, calling her by a proper title seeing as he still didn’t know her name. “What manner of plants ye’ searching for?”
“Ow thank you!” She still didn’t stay it very loud, but she clearly meant it! “I’m Yn .. or my friends call me Yn. I’m Aulwyn.” If she had friends, that would be true …
But yea, she was kinda glad he was offering up help to her rather than picking on her or taking her back to the herd. “It would be great if we could find some forget-me-nots … and some Magnolia’s! I think they have some of the best beetle populations! and ..” She stopped talking, realizing she shouldn’t be ranting again to this boy … “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bore you.” When the other fawns heard her talking about bugs, they usually picked on her, so she quickly started to walk, trying to find the bush and flower she wanted.
Lucian chuckled and shook his head, “No need to apologize Miss… I think it’s kind’a nice. A doe that likes bugs… better’n them fancy ladies that care fer naught but gossip an braidin’ flowers in their hair… if’n a lowly cadet may ‘ave an opinion of course.”
Glancing around the forest, he decided maybe it would be best to try and use some of his magic to find the plants she sought. He knew what magnolias were. They were pretty white flowers that grew on trees with waxy leaves… and they smelled divine. Forget-me-nots he wasn’t so sure about, but he thought maybe he recalled his mother picking some small bluish flowers that had carried that name. Stepping forward, the colt scrunched his eyes shut and struggled to wrangle up his magic. Magic was a fickle thing, and it liked to protest against his Will. But he wanted to impress this pretty filly, so he did his darndest to quiet his mind.
Slowly, bits of green and gold magic began to whisper behind the lids of his eyes. He concentrated on picturing a magnolia flower in his mind. It was very difficult, and the image kept flickering away every time he conjured it. Beads of sweat built up on his brow with the effort, and his tail flicked… but slowly the green bits of magic seemed to coalesce in one particular direction.
Opening his eyes and gazing into the forest in the direction his magic had indicated, he said “This way” with more confidence than he really felt. And began leading the filly into the forest. It took a short while to find the magnolia tree, long enough the Lucian had to stop and try his magic again, fearful that it was not working and he was only taking them on a wild goose chase. But at long last, in the shaded lee of a sloping hill skirting an open meadow, was the magnolia tree.
“Aha!” He crowed in triumph, smiling to the filly before trotting over to the tree. It was a small magnolia, and had only produce two or three blooms, but it was a magnolia none-the-less. Reaching for the prettiest of the flowers, he delicately plucked it from it’s stem and offer the bloom to Aulwyn, the petals hovering just under her nose that she could smell of it’s sweet fragrance and peer inside to see what bugs might be hiding there. “There we are, a perfect flow’r fer a perfect filly” He said in his rough, gravelly voice. Realizing he’d spoken alloud, he cleared his throat feeling a bit awkward again.