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 [HC Event] Star Catchers

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   23rd October 2018, 11:26 pm



She was expecting reactions from virtually everyone else but William, and yet now he was the one who stood up abruptly and decided to go to bed. She blinked in surprise, caught off guard. The offer from Lina made her twitch, but the fierce click of the closing door both relieved and worried her. Somehow she wasn't having fun anymore - not when she was sure William was upset about something. Was it her fault?

All of a sudden the game didn't seem fun anymore, and Kedron's hand on her shoulder felt uncomfortable. She gave him her most charming smile, then feigned a yawn, before she stood up.

"It turns out I'm more tired than I expected," she announced to no one in particular. "I'll probably grab that bath later, but for now I'd better unpack and rest."

Not waiting for anyone's answer, she went up the stairs, but instead of heading towards her own room, she hesitated in front of William's.

Then she knocked softly.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 5:54 am



The eyes that looked back at Kedron shone with the dark, frightened gleam so commonly seen in startled, hurt animals.

Her mind tumbled with thoughts of home: Niel teaching her to ride a horse when she was a little girl, and the help was she was able to lend when it was time to teach his little girl the same. She could still hear the gleeful laughter of the child as she bounced on the back of the old, slow pony borrowed from one of their neighbors. Her little brother clung to his mother's ankles, crying fiercely at not being allowed to give it a try himself, only distracted when her eldest sister's husband intervened with a raucous piggy-back ride. She remembered card games with her own siblings, never with betting—Dorothea had a mean streak when the stakes were too high—sitting clustered atop the hand-braided rugs in the living room, the glow of firelight illuminating their faces. Kitty couldn't remember if she was a winner or a loser. There were weddings, too, to think of, and the birth of children, new squishy little Davises (and Walkers) to join the world.

The "yes" she replied to the boy's question felt almost airless, like the ghost of a word.

Those were good, fine memories. She might have felt a bit homesick, sure, but that wasn't what clenched her heart and seemed to knock the air from her lungs. There were other thoughts scattered in, thoughts of a girl with golden-brown hair and a smiling face, a flower blooming among the sleepy fields of an unimportant town. Kitty could hear that voice echoed in so many tones—laughter, boasting, adoration, proclamations, whining, and gay chatter—tinkling like wind chimes rustled by a soft breeze. She remembered the way that hand felt on hers, warm and soft, and the way she used to give a small shake of her head when she let the younger girl pull her. How many times had she bailed her sister out of trouble? She seemed to attract it like a magnet. But those thoughts replayed over a quieter, darker backdrop of a room with the curtains pulled tightly shut, where the herbs burning in the fireplace couldn't quite cover up the smell of sickness.

She thought she caught that same fragrance here, suddenly, and the girl's eyes widened a bit more, showing too much white. She couldn't even feel her white-knuckled hands death-gripping the blanket.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 9:28 am



Cassandra had never met anyone quite like these two before—a fact that both excited her and left her feeling overwhelmed. Lina's smile was dazzling, making it difficult to pay attention to the flurry of words that floated around the room like butterflies, a colorful mix that she couldn't quite grasp.

The mention of brothers brought with it a rush of memories. She smiled as she thought of intelligent and quiet Simon who wouldn't hurt a fly, and then of Walter who could tease with the best of them, rough-housing and wrestling but with no true intent to be mean. No, her brothers were never mean to her, never mean to anyone if they could help it. Pain fluttered in her chest, an aching hole that couldn't be filled by sitting here amongst friendly faces. She missed her brothers, she missed her mother and father too. She wondered how they were doing, without her there. They'd probably thought she was dead at this point. But, they'd be okay, wouldn't they? Everyone in her family was full of an inner strength, and they had each other to rely on as well. Cassandra believed they would be okay, no matter what happened.

Still, those determined thoughts didn't help the particular kind of loneliness spreading through her, but she accepted that feeling, instead of fighting against it. Sure, it hurt, but it wasn't all bad. She had a lifetime of memories and love to call back upon to bolster her against anything that would try to drag her down.

She loved them, they loved her, no matter what distance separated them, and that was enough for now.

Leon's departure was sudden, and Cassandra looked to him in question but he was already gone before she could figure out anything at all. Saphira left only moments after, and sudden she was left alone with the twins and Kitty, their group much smaller and somehow even more intimidating.

"I have two brothers, actually, but they look out for me, just as I look out for them," Cassandra said then, the answer to Lina's inquiry far later than she intended, and heat rushed to her cheeks—both from the awkwardness of her response, and the proximity of being so close to someone so pretty. As soon as she said the words, she'd wished she hadn't said them at all. Somehow, speaking of home to anyone but Kitty felt wrong. Like sharing secrets with someone she didn't know, someone who wouldn't really understand.

At this thought, she glanced to Kitty, wondering how the quiet girl was faring against the chatterboxes that were these twins. The look upon Kitty's face, the impossibly tight grip upon the blanket, was like being splashed with icy-cold water that soaked straight to her bones. Cassandra was up on her feet in an instant. But she hesitated for a moment, as she didn't want to drag too much attention to Kitty, no matter how worried her speeding heart wanted to rush to the other girl's side.

Instead, Cassandra mocked a stretch. "It's really warm in here, isn't it? I could do with some fresh air." She paused, realizing that such a statement would easily invite the twins to join her, which was not what she aimed to do. "Kitty, would you care to join me? There's something I'd like to discuss with you."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 10:35 am

SIGHIN' Twins wrote:

Kedron looked perplexed when Saphira suddenly announced she was tired after playing so well at the game, but, brows knitted in confusion, he let her go. "Night then," he called after her, "If you change your mind, you know where to find me."

"Poor Ked," Lina teased. 

Kedron mocked her and then turned his attentions back to Kitty, the jovial demeanor diminishing once again at the sight of her grip on the blanket. "You feelin' okay, Kitty?" he asked softly, the flirtation out of his voice entirely. 

"Two brothers," Lina replied knowingly, "Want another four? You can have mine. Pity you don't have sisters, though; I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't borrow clothes off 'a Jessie and Sue - it's like figurin' out my style without all the expense of tryin' it out first," she said, glowing - but then her expression broke, too, when Cassandra suddenly stood and stretched. Her shock started to turn to mischief at Cassandra's suggestion, but the uninvitation was clear enough. She made a face at her brother. "Sure, just don't go too far," she managed, leaning back in the chair in defeat.

'Need help findin' your way?

As if. He closed the door firmly behind him and turned to check for a lock, but there was none. Which made sense, he guessed, considering this was a family's residence and with kids like that locks on the bedroom doors might've been a nightmare for their mother. However, while it made sense, it did little to ensure him that he wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night with an unexpected guest, so he decisively moved a plush blue chair in front of the door. Satisfied, he backed up and sat on the edge of the bed, staring at a painting on the wall beside the door without really seeing it.

They were all adults. They can make their own decisions. Whatever they decided to do didn't affect him. It wouldn't change his actions and it wouldn't change the end goal of the trial. ... then why was he upset?


It wasn't like he hadn't seen flirting before, or been flirted with, though most attempts had stopped years ago; mostly he found the over-the-top kind of thing the twins were into annoying, maybe he just stayed too long. Or maybe it was because Saphira was flirting back. Frowning, his hands gripped the quilt on either side of him as he worked through that thought. She was his friend. Kedron was the son of a Mayor, like she was, but she was just - she seemed so much more - - he wasn't anywhere near Saphira's level. She was brave and quick-thinking and intelligent and rational and Kedron was  - Kedron was a pretty-boy Cowboy who flirted with apparently everybody and purposefully lost his clothes in games of chance. He wasn't worthy of her. What could she possibly see in him? 

She had touched his thigh. What she saw in him was obvious

And none of his business

She could flirt with and sleep with whomever she wanted; they were partners on the trial and nothing more. 

Someone knocked softly at his door, and while he was fairly certain either twin was incapable of doing anything understated, he'd rather not risk it. "Who's there?" he called, his annoyance creeping into his tone.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 11:49 am



She couldn't reply at first, her ears ringing with the lack of ambient noise. She couldn't hear the sounds of the room around her, almost couldn't hear Kedron's question, so tightly had the grip of that memory ensnared her... but then it suddenly released her, so much that she felt like she had audibly gasped for air as if she was a drowning person suddenly breaching the surface of a lake too-late discovered to be deep. In a way, she looked the part, her eyes still wild and her short hair, which hadn't dried quite right after the mud wrestling contest anyway, a strange combination of "plastered to her head" and "making its own decisions". Her hands ached when she released the blanket.

"Oh," she said to the boy, a poor response to his inquiry, shying away from the concerned expression. She didn't want to have to talk about it. Not here, not with these strangers; not ever, if she could help it. Cassandra's question rippled like through water, but she slowly realized it was an offer and did her best to stumble up from the couch.

"I'm... tired," she lied, the lie obvious and thick, but she didn't care. She didn't think they would be unkind enough to press further. They didn't seem like the types, even with their overwhelming flirtatious manners towards their guests. If she was wrong, well, they'd find themselves unsatisfied. "Just a minute," she apologized to the pair, heading towards the other girl from Lorham almost automatically. "Sorry; just a minute."

She didn't realize she had repeated herself.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 12:26 pm

Twins wrote:
Kedron watched as Kitty stood and left, looking honestly concerned, catching his sister's eye. She raised her brows to show that she didn't know what to do, either. "Okay, then," he replied, letting them go.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 1:20 pm



"It's me. Saphira," she said through the door, loud enough to be heard by him but certainly not loud enough to be heard by people downstairs. She didn't want to think about what those twins would think was happening if they found her sneaking into William's room. The gossip would probably spread in no time and neither of them would ever live it down for generations.

"I just want... to see if you're okay. And maybe talk a little."

Please don't send me away, she prayed. She knew if he did, her sleep would be restless from the inexplicable guilt she felt over this. She didn't really understand why he was upset, but all she knew was that it might have been her fault, and she hadn't meant to make him upset. It had been such a comfortable relationship between the two of them these past few days; she didn't want to lose it.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   24th October 2018, 2:37 pm


He had prepared a "Go away," but swallowed it when the voice didn't belong to Lina but Saphira. His heart beat a little faster - nerves? anxiety? embarrassment? For thinking what he had been thinking, no doubt. But why was she outside his door when things seemed to be going so well for her downstairs? He stood, glancing at his bags to make sure he hadn't taken hers by mistake, but they were definitely his. Why, then --

To see if he was okay. 

Standing in the middle of his borrowed room, he collected himself. Eyes closed lightly, breathing steadily, he pushed down feelings of embarrassment - had he actually left in a manner that had made obvious his discomfort? - and irritation - she didn't need to stop what she was doing to check up on him - and, standing tall, walked to the door with a well-practiced neutral expression. Bending, he lifted the chair out of place and put it right beside the threshold, leaving just enough space between it and the door for him to stand comfortably. He'd just be replacing it when he assured her that there was nothing to worry about and she could go back downstairs anyway. With another calming breath, he opened the door to her. Not all the way, just body-width. "I'm fine," he reported lightly; it wasn't a lie as he was physically in perfect condition, and once his rational side finished shaking the irrational emotions out of him he'd be good there, too. "I apologize if I concerned you in any way; the day just caught up with me and the idea of a real bed waiting was too tempting to put off any further."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   25th October 2018, 12:14 am



Stepping outside into the night air felt refreshing, cool to her skin that had been blushing far too much the past minutes. Energizing as it was to feel out these new personalities she'd never experienced before, something about it all left her feeling at one moment at ease and the other uncertain, like walking across the slick surface of an ice-covered pond. Altogether familiar an act, but with the constant threat that at any moment, she could slip.

But it was comfortable here, alone with only Kitty and the stars.

She was reminded then, of the night before their journey began, when they'd whispered together under a canopy of stars. A lot had changed since then. In other ways, a lot still remained the same. What else would change before this journey came to a close?  

She looked to the girl with the corn-silk hair, noting the way it seemed to shimmer amongst the cool colors of nightfall.

Something affected Kitty back in that room, a fact even the twins seemed to take notice of if their reactions were anything to judge by. Cassandra had a few guesses as to the cause, a question just on the tip of her tongue, but she didn't want to crowd Kitty. Didn't want to bring up a topic so secret and delicate. Perhaps one more invading presence wasn't what Kitty needed right now. How to strike a balance between sharing that she knew something was wrong without imposing if Kitty would prefer to keep it all private?

Cassandra stood still for a moment, watching Kitty with a calm expression, before turning her eyes skyward once more. "I must admit, I don't actually have anything pressing to talk about." A lie, in a way. Her earlier revelation still fluttered hot in her chest, but that topic was her own delicate secret for the time being.

"Sometimes we all need a breather, don't you think?" As if in example, she breathed in deep, smiling softly at the twinkling expanse above her, the sight always striking her as being so magical. "If you want to take a few minutes, then take those few minutes, okay? And if you wish to be alone in those minutes, just say the word and I'll head back in."

Ask of me anything, and I will do my best to see it happen. She did not give voice to those words, too close were they to revealing her delicate secret, but they rang true in her heart all the same.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   25th October 2018, 12:57 am



She was relieved when he opened the door, though she noted it wasn't all the way. The notion that he was keeping her out in a way stung more than she cared to admit. His excuse rang false in her ears, having used to hearing the same ones echoed by many people who were only trying to be polite. The fact that he used that against her hurt. She thought they were past false pleasantries and wearing masks. She thought after everything he'd told her, they would always be honest with each other.

"William. I read people for a living. I know you're lying. No prince would ever leave a room as abruptly as you did without a single polite word to his hosts, not even if he were dead tired."

She crossed her arms and gave him a pointed look. "If I did something to upset you, I'm sorry. But you're going to have to tell me what it was so I can know not to do it again."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   25th October 2018, 5:45 am



She took a deep breath as she stepped outside, filling her lungs. They still vaguely ached, that drowning sensation from before slightly disorienting. The shorter girl stood motionless for a moment, inhaling and exhaling, remembering all the things her father used to say about "deep breathing, down to the gut". She needed it now. So funny how it was easy to completely ignore anything about breathing, anything at all, until it suddenly made itself known by its absence. After that, it was hard to think of anything else.

Standing here, Kitty felt glad it was hard to think of anything else.

The scent of the outdoors now registered as something familiar and normal to her mind, the result of having spent so many days sleeping under the stars on this journey. She looked aside, glancing at the similarly-familiar form that stood nearby. Cassandra's presence felt comforting, and right now, she craved comfort. The brunette reminded her of home, but not in a heartsick, homesick kind of way—instead, it offered reassurance. Stability. Kitty had started wandering, connecting too many volatile memories, moving deeper and deeper into those feelings and away from the other people in the room. Cassandra helped reel her back.

The moment of walking, just to get away from the other room, was enough to help her shake free and re-center herself. She appreciated it—even more so when the other girl spoke, revealing that there was nothing to discuss. Kitty might not have been as smart as Cassandra, Saphira, or William, but she knew enough to recognize that Cassandra must have seen her distress and done this to give her an out. She couldn't help feeling grateful for it.

She closed her eyes, taking another deep breath, feeling a momentary breeze rustle through her hair.

"Thank you," she replied, exhaling the air that had almost felt trapped. She felt tension melt from clenched muscles in her back and shoulders. "I'll be okay."

Leaving their hosts felt rude, and she couldn't help remembering that there were other men out in the darkness acting as security for the home. Kitty didn't want to say anything that might be overheard.

"I'm ready," she said, although only a few minutes had passed. She looked back at Cassandra with a smile, shining with gratitude and relief. "Thank you."
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   25th October 2018, 4:03 pm


'I know you're lying.'

His eyes shifted away from hers, the pleasant, if neutral, expression dropping to a slight scowl of annoyance. As she continued he took in another breath and let it out through his nose, resisting the urge to lean against the door frame or roll his eyes. She had been all over a guy they had met less than three hours ago and stopped so she could track him down upstairs and call him out on his manners? The way she crossed her arms and tried to pin him with a disapproving look only irked him further - who did she think she was, trying to shame him for his behavior? She was neither his etiquette instructor nor his keeper. Was she expecting him to go downstairs and apologize

"I was disinclined to further accept their particular brand of hospitality," he stated coldly, "and I am a guest of their mother's, not theirs, and so have continued to be polite and cordial to my host even if I chose to disengage abruptly from a conversation and atmosphere I had no wish to continue being part of with her offspring." He met her gaze again, "You need not change yourself for me, Saphira. You are entitled to your own decisions just as I am mine. There is no obligation amend your behavior or check your impulses for my sake." His stomach flipped and twisted sourly, immediately regretting the negative implications even as his pride held his tongue from an apology. Still, his tone softened greatly as he continued, not wanting to hurt her, "And you have nothing to be sorry about; I allowed myself to get upset and, apparently, will continue to do so." He sighed regretfully and shook his head, gaze finding a small doily-covered table in the hall. "I'm not myself tonight. I apologize for what I said and causing you any embarrassment at my abrupt departure earlier. I'm fine, or will be by morning. Thank you for your concern, but you don't have to keep them waiting any longer.

He should just shut the door. The more he spoke the worse things seemed to get - he should've kept better control - but shutting the door before giving her a chance to call him a jerk for his comment would only make things worse. The only behavior he had any control over was his own, and he had let himself down.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 1:13 am



Something was upsetting him about them, then? The twins? She frowned, not buying his they're-not-actually-my-host excuse, since that made little sense. But to his next words, she simply shook her head.

"I am not trying to change for you. That's just what I would do because I care about you. I don't want to upset you if I can help it. Is that so strange?"

He clearly wasn't going to tell her what was wrong, and she understood a line that was not meant to be crossed when it was presented to her. The fact that he would 'continue to allow himself to get upset' was worrying her, but she trusted in time he would open up to her the way he had about his secret. Maybe now, when things were still too raw, was simply not the time.

"You did not embarrass me. You should know that I... care about your well-being. That's all."

She bowed her head and stepped back. "Good night, then, William. May you find your peace by morning."

She turned and headed for her own room, which was decidedly not back downstairs, with the plan to check on the bathroom in a while and, should it be unoccupied, to take her long awaited bath and finally sleep. She tried not to let the new tension between her and her traveling companion bother her, but it was going to take a long soak in warm water to get rid of all these worrying thoughts.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 6:22 am


'Is it so strange?' People changed their behavior for him all the time. He was the prince, it was always political and only natural - he'd enter a space and the conversations would change abruptly. They put their best foot forward, tried to impress him. They constantly cared what he thought about them and behaved in a manner that they believed he would find appealing or appreciate in order to curry favor or make a favorable impression. While she specified that she cared about him and not about what he thought of her, it was hard to disconnect the two connotations and trust the validity after a lifetime spent assuming the latter. He wanted to, though. After everything he had told her and the possible results of this quest, she would have little reason to change for him to curry favor - which was part of why he had found her want of knowing what irked him so bothersome. She had nothing to gain from it. Doing it for another reason made sense, just a sense he wasn't exactly used to. 

So, was it so strange? "Strange enough," he replied quietly.

She cared about his well-being, and he interpreted it as her getting after him about proper behavior and manners. He felt small. She bowed her head and stepped back and he wished he knew what to say. She wished him goodnight, but rather than head back down the hallway towards the stairs, she headed for her own room, which caught him off guard again. "Are you not going back downstairs?" he asked, the question out before he could truly consider the implications and potential answers for fear that she would enter her room before providing an answer. Why wouldn't she go back down? Had... She had said she hadn't been embarrassed by his departure, so that wouldn't've been the reason, but why, then? Had Kedron gone too far?

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 6:36 am



She realized that he, like her, must not have received much sincere kindness from people. Maybe that was why he'd found it strange. Should she find it strange, then, that she didn't? That she'd simply done it because... it felt right?

In any case, she didn't know what else to say, at least until he voiced his next question. She looked back over her shoulder at him and gave him a mischievous smile.

"They are children, and while their game was fun, I already tire of it. I much prefer a more... mature companion."

With that, she continued to sashay down the hall and into her room, the sway of her hips a practiced move meant to appeal to the eyes of any man who laid eyes on them. Was she deliberately walking in such a way for his benefit?

It was something William would probably never know.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 10:14 am


She tired of their game? 

Flirting as a game was a foreign concept - political motivations for flirting, sure; using someone's emotions to further personal gain, sure. Flirting to show interest in pursuit of a relationship, sure, but? What would be the point of the game - to fluster the other person? To wind them up and let them go? Was this a popular thing? He had never - was that fun? Did Saphira find that fun? She had just - she wasn't actually interested in Kedron in that way, just interested in playing that game? His chest felt fuzzy and tight as he reasoned himself from question to question without answer, even as she stated she preferred a more mature companion, which set off an entirely new round of questions. A mature companion for what? Company-company, or company-company? ! And why would that matter to --

She had sought him out, did that mean? - 

His pulse was already elevated when she walked away, but she was moving in a different fashion than she normally did and he couldn't help but take notice. Was it on purpose? Was she playing the game again now, or?? She continued into her room but hadn't shut the door yet. Knowing it'd only keep him up further, he stepped slightly out of his room to see her better and raised his voice only loud enough to be heard from her doorway, "So you weren't honestly interested in him?" It was possibly the least mature question he had ever asked a woman and he could only start to piece together why it mattered to him, but it mattered.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 1:28 pm



She was just about to close her door when she heard his voice again. To be honest, she hadn't expected him to keep trying to continue the conversation. She thought he wanted her to leave him alone, based on his body language and everything he did say, but now it seemed she had inadvertently caught a little prince's interest. Smirking, she popped her head back out to look at him.

"No," she said with a face that suggested that it should have been the most obvious thing in the world. "It was just for fun. To see if I could do it better. To get a reaction. And-slash-or maybe discover some useful information that could potentially be useful in future, considering he's also a mayor's son and all."

If anything, she figured he was a good person to have on her side. Future alliances was something that was never far from her mind. Except when she was with her Star Catcher companions, it seemed.

"If you're curious to know more, you're welcome to come here and we can have a talk." She raised her eyebrows at the word 'talk'. "If not, then I shall say good night."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 4:49 pm


He was an idiot. 

He had just been thinking about flirtation for political gain, and yet now and earlier downstairs had somehow completely forgotten that both Saphira and Kedron were both Mayor's children. It was all political. It suddenly all made sense, everything clicking into place, and his curiosity about the game and its rules and player etiquette dropped to nothing; it wasn't a popular game he had missed out on because he avoided people to avoid political situations, it was a politics game. While the display certainly wasn't his idea of diplomacy or espionage she made obvious its purpose and he felt ridiculous for having ever considered the alternative. Well, mostly ridiculous for that, now he just felt ridiculous for letting it get to him that much that he gave her a reason to smirk at him so. And tease

"No, thank you," he replied with a sigh in his tone, "I've made a fool of myself enough for one evening." He pulled himself back into his room, calling out, "Have a good night, Saphira," before closing the door. With a sigh he heaved the chair back in place, returned to his bed, and fell on top of it, staring at the wood beams across the ceiling. He reflected upon how easy it was to look a fool when he let his emotions guide him. Why hadn't he considered political gain earlier? He still would have left but he could've been more cordial about it. It wasn't like he had a real reason to get upset anyway. As memory of Saphira's smirk replayed itself, he pressed his palms to his eyes and sighed distastefully. What was he going to do about this?

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   26th October 2018, 9:05 pm



As Kitty explained that she was ready, Cassandra frowned a little in worry—they couldn't have been outside for more than a handful of minutes—but the beautiful smile Kitty gave her was enough to set those worries aside. She felt a blush heat her cheeks, a blush that seemed to warm up her entire body at the sight of such a pure smile on Kitty's face, and she felt her own lips quirk into a smile in return.

"There is nothing to thank me for. As long as you're happy, that is all that matters to me." That blush came back with a vengeance as those words slipped past her, but they were true and she did not regret them, no matter how bold they might have been. She tried to save face by glancing back at the door to the Bramblebush home. "If you're certain, I suppose we should head back inside. Who knows what kind of trouble those two will have caused in these few minutes alone."

She took a step towards the entrance, hand gripping the doorknob. "But, if you feel like you need another breather, don't hesitate to take it. Whether it's to excuse yourself for more fresh air, or to retire for the night. Your needs and wellbeing are both important. If you need help, just look to me. No matter what, I'll back you up." The worry she'd felt at seeing such distress upon Kitty's face still struck a cold chord deep in her chest, and she wanted to cover every possible avenue to ensure that she'd never see such an expression again. Uncertain what else to say, Cassandra nodded to herself and opened the door. With a smile, she held it ajar for Kitty to walk back inside, giving her another chance to decide if she truly wanted to return or not.

Plus, it gave Cassandra a bit of a thrill to be so chivalrous as to hold the door open for a lovely lady, just like all the storybook heroes.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   27th October 2018, 8:14 am

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When they came back inside and arrived in the Great Room, neither twin would be seen. 

Kedron entered from the kitchen, carrying in one hand a steaming mug of something that smelled wonderful - like warm spices and apples - and in the other a small, cork-stoppered bottle. He smiled at both of them when he saw them, "Thought a warm drink might help; we usually don't drink cider in summer, but it always cheers me up when I'm feelin' blue." Rather than handing it to Kitty, he put it on the small table beside where she had been sitting. He shook the small brown bottle, "This'll help ya sleep, if ya need it," he explained, placing that beside the first. "Would you like anything, Cassandra?"

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th October 2018, 4:07 pm



The smell of warm spices and the sweetness of the apples were nearly intoxicating on their own, and as Kedron prompted her, Cassandra nearly asked if there was more of the same available. But she stopped herself, with a fond glance in Kitty's direction.

That would only cheapen the special quality to Kitty's own drink. The girl deserved something warm and unique to herself, and so instead, Cassandra shook her head. "I'm quite good right now, but thank you. You're a rather careful host, aren't you?" She smiled, only a hint of teasing in her voice considering just how different he acted now compared to before. But she greatly appreciated the sincerity behind the gesture, the kindness in the gift of something warm and soothing to calm the troubles of Kitty's heart.

Although the twins were certainly colorful and energetic in their behavior, it was clear to see that, at the heart of it all, they were just as caring and mindful as the rest of their family. She hoped this change, as well as the cider, would continue to put Kitty at ease.

Cassandra found the seat she vacated only a few minutes ago, picked up the book she'd left behind, and sat back down. Trying to keep the conversation on neutral territory, she continued, "Have any of you interest in listening to a story?" She drifting her fingers over the edge of the worn cover, memories spilling from the pages almost as clearly as the words written upon them. She clearly remembered the first time her father read to her this story, full of adventure and intrigue, with a hint of romance. "This one is particularly exciting."

She didn't know if she would do justice to the story, not in the particular magical way her father could, but she'd certainly do her best. And, if the others were not in the mood for a story, then she'd just wait until she retired to her room to dive into her favorite tale.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   28th October 2018, 4:51 pm

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He tilted his head politely at her choice, taking a step back from Kitty's spot to sit in the seat Lina had previously occupied, and grinned up at her question. "Thank'ye kindly," he replied, "And apologies if the fun we was having earlier wasn't so much fun for ya. Didn't mean any harm by it." As Cassandra retook her seat and picked up her book, Kedron settled back in the couch, looking up at the ceiling as though just noticing it was there - but when a story was offered, he was all smiles back at her, nodding his head as he replied, "Sure."

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th October 2018, 7:05 am



Kitty blinked in mild surprise at Cassandra's comment: As long as you're happy, that is all that matters to me. Surely that couldn't be true? Cassandra took up the mantle of Star Catcher because she had all kinds of dreams and hopes, all sorts of goals for the future. She was here to enjoy her own adventure. It seemed slightly odd to hear her so boldly claim that it was Kitty who mattered, especially considering how much more useful virtually everyone else had been on their trip so far. The blonde wasn't sure what had come over her friend, but she felt slightly guilty at whatever she might have to done to make the other girl think she needed to provide such intense reassurance. After all, she was just a farm girl from Lorham.

Still, she didn't feel any unease or negativity towards Cassandra—not at all. It wasn't that the other young woman had overstepped any bounds and caused any embarrassment; Kitty placed any blame, if blame there was, solely on her shoulders. Maybe later she could apologize, or something. She was actually somewhat glad to return to the house; she didn't want to dwell on anything, just get a moment to collect herself and keep moving forward.

She felt another ping of surprise to find the great room empty, but Kedron's entry made it clear there was nothing to worry about. The smell of the warm beverage he carried wafted over, bridging the gap between them, reminding Kitty of potpourri and baked apple desserts. She gave the young man a thankful smile and went to pick the mug up, savoring the aroma. The ceramic cup warmed her hands, and when she took the first sip it was wonderful. She'd had ciders like this before, hadn't she, but she couldn't quite put her finger on exactly what memory it tugged on.

"Thank you," she replied to Kedron. "Want to try?" she offered to Cassandra. She hadn't asked for any, and it felt strange not to be able to share. They had all shared so much on their journey.

"Oh, it's okay," Kitty responded to the Mayor's son. The twins flirtatious teasing had mostly gone over her head and partially in-one-ear-and-out-the-other. She had never been of particular interest to most young Lorham men (or women), possibly due to her ready-to-help reputation and quiet temperament tending to make her seem like everyone's sister or schoolmate, and having plenty of older siblings ready to rough up anyone who might be danger didn't exactly help either. She'd seen enough of it with her own siblings, especially during their courtships, but it never really caught her interest.

Cassandra's suggestion of a story sounded like a perfect way to wrap up a long day. The petite girl tucked her feet under her, pulling the blanket closer, and tucked a stray curl of wayward hair behind her ear. The homey atmosphere of the Bramblebush house seemed like the picture of domestic bliss. They'd be sleeping outside on the hard dirt soon enough; she'd appreciate this while it lasted.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th October 2018, 3:56 pm



Kedron's acceptance at hearing a story brought another smile to her face, returning the gesture. Sharing stories wasn't something she often had the chance to do. Her father started the tradition when she was younger, but over the years, it was she who kept the tradition strong for herself. She found solace and comfort in those words, no matter how many times she'd read them and re-read them. As she got older, there had been less time to indulge, but that made their magic even more potent.

As she opened the book, its worn spine crackling with wisdom and age, Kitty's offer cut through the thrill that she always felt deep in her chest whenever she opened a book. She glanced at the cup and then back to the delicate features of Kitty's face. Heat rushed to her cheeks but she tried to ignore it. She took the cup, feeling its warm and its comfort through the material. "Thank you." She took a sip, feeling the heat spread throughout her, though she wondered if the drink was the only culprit for such a feeling. She hummed appreciatively at the flavors of apple and spice. "It's really good," she approved, though her eyes stayed upon Kitty's face for a moment longer before turning the compliment towards Kedron. "Like autumn made liquid."

She gave the cup back to Kitty, and turned her attention back onto her book. Warm and cozy, amongst friends, it was the perfect atmosphere for a story, beloved and shared. She glanced to her audience for a second before diving into the book, reading the words she had practically memorized.

"Once upon a time..."

After the first sentences, her slight nervousness left in a rush of nostalgic enthusiasm, getting engrossed into the tale and letting the story become more of a performance, voice growing and softening at all the correct parts. The story was not a long one, speaking of a princess's travels through a mystical forest full of interesting and mysterious creatures, but it was her favorite and she hoped to convey the magic to both Kitty and Kedron in the way she remembered her father doing for her years ago.

Unfortunately, the story came to a close with the princess finding a dear friendship in the depths of the forest, leading her to change the constant battle of the forest creatures versus her kingdom into an era of peace. As she spoke the final words, Cassandra grinned, and with that, it was time for bed.

She thanked each of them with another smile, and then retired to her room, mind full of images that would find their way into her dreams.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th October 2018, 4:08 pm

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The next day dawned and the Starcatchers were awakened bright and early to the call of cocks and the smell of coffee and breakfast, the sound of voices bouncing up the stairs from a lively kitchen lending a sense of happiness to the start of another summer day. Investigating, they would find that the table was filled with those tired men in various states of wakefulness around the table, laughing and guzzling down coffee amenably, Kedron and Lina loudly teasing them about how they wouldn't be tired after a full night awake, maybe they should've left guard duty to the younger people, with loud rebukes from the brother and brother-in-law less than five years older than they. Pancakes were piled high, with Kedron delivering the fluffy treat fresh from Lina's skillet, refilling the bacon basket and taking orders for eggs even as he dutifully refilled coffee mugs and offered the newcomers their choice of morning beverage and pointing to the place settings set specifically for them. Leon and Kitty were already at the table, else had come and gone, having awakened early for a proper bath.

Upon asking, they would find that Mayor Bramblebush had left already, needing to be in town for the first competition of the day, and learn that they were invited to join whenever they wished; a schedule of events was rattled off by Lina, who held the spatula high and bobbed it with every event and time, reciting them carefully, if casually, and then asked a brother-in-law about whether or not they ended up entering the quilt pattern judging or if they'd wimped out again, cause it'd be a shame if they did. 

Without much warning at all, the wives of the older boys appeared not long after, and the kitchen was suddenly even more crowded and lively and filled with love and familial comfort and conversation. The women smiled and nodded and shook hands with the Star Catchers's introductions, giving sympathetic expressions and comments upon hearing Saphira was also the daughter of a Mayor, looking fondly and companionably upon Kitty and Cassandra upon hearing their farming backgrounds, nodding politely towards William and offering Shashka easy smiles. Two of the women were pregnant, and casually took strips of bacon or cut slices of pancakes from various plates - either their husband's or a brother's - as they asked after the night and plans for the day, one of them leaning heavily on the eldest brother's shoulders as she teased playfully about how he'd probably need a nap before doing anything because he was old now, raising laughter from the others in the room and questions asked after the leftover birthday cake. 

Breakfast passed like that - loud and companionable and filled with love and laughter, and while the Star Catchers did not know all of them, the Bramblebushes included them by proximity, pulling them into the warmth and comfort of their family, clear that this was just how it was with them. No one at their table was a stranger. 

As the meal wore down and dishes were cleaned and put away, Kedron and Lina taking the brunt of the work and doing so without negative comment, some of their sibling pairs excused themselves, promising to meet up for a picnic lunch later that day; a few remained, the women calling their guests into the Great Room and offering them paper and writing utensils to write home with, stating that, while it may take a week or two, their letter would make it home to their folks. They then went upstairs or outside, casually calling out chores they would handle, their husbands responding with various other chores from the kitchen, and they all split, leaving the group alone in the room to write or not to write, and plan out their day as they saw fit, though their voices and laughter rang out from various places in the house or outside the windows.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   29th October 2018, 7:42 pm


Morning had been decidedly better than the previous night. He had awoken early, had an actual, hot bath, and while he wasn't getting into freshly laundered clothes or anything, the warmth of his skin was enough to make him feel cleaner than he had in weeks. He had repacked his bag before breakfast had really gotten going, and caught the Mayor before she headed out, politely declining her offer to join in and judge something. The meal with her family was boisterous and lively and comforting, and while it contained multitudes more people, it almost reminded him of a dinner his family had had once, privately for a change, for Marie's 11th birthday. It had that same kind of feel - though quieter. Much quieter. He enjoyed it, though - enjoyed being looked over, for the most part; like it was normal that he was there and what he was wasn't a big deal. 

When the others came downstairs he nodded in greeting and quietly asked after their evenings as orders for seconds flew over their heads. As the meal wore on and they found themselves amidst family stories and teasing, his attention shifting to Saphira, subtly watching for her reactions, having learned what meals were typically like at her house and wondering what she thought about this drastic difference. Maybe he'd ask her later; have some sort of traveling conversation that everyone could take part in. 

Rather than help out with cleaning up after breakfast, they were escorted to the great room and offered stationery; he appreciated the gesture, but had no intention of writing home - they would know already where he was and he had nothing else to say at this point. Would Saphira write home? Or any of them, for that matter? As they decided, he walked over and knelt by his pack, which he had neatly left along with the rest of his things just inside the room by a wall, out of high-traffic areas, and pulled out the invoice started for Mayor Bramblebrush. She had his coin already, but he still had to add any last-minute charges (like the cost of sending out a letter); she had insisted on giving them some dried meat and a few other rations for the road, already added to the list in her neat, flowing scrawl, the food items piled beside his bag to be divvied out among them for ease of carry. ... he supposed he'd better say that, though. 

"The Mayor supplied us with some additional rations for the road," he stated, nodding to the items, "I thought we could split them up among our packs to keep them light. Is anyone against leaving around midmorning?"

He'd personally prefer to leave earlier - within the hour, if not sooner - but he understood that penning a letter could take some time, depending on what is said, and didn't want to rush that.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th October 2018, 12:55 am



She hadn't expected the house to be able to get even fuller and noisier than last night, but it did. Saphira was torn between wanting to cry from the realization of how cold her own house was and feeling overwhelmed with all these people. She focused instead on eating and filling up, knowing soon they would have to eat scarcely again, and never as much as they wanted, and managed to participate in the conversation only when someone directly asked her something, though her well-trained manners made her appear engaged and interested enough for the other party to not notice anything wrong.

She realized that she very much wanted to stay here, to live here in this pleasant little town, where no one held any sort of expectation from her and only warmth and love surrounded her. She was assaulted by an intense jealousy for the closeness of this family - feeling as if they were practically flaunting their happiness in front of her face like an insult. Uneasiness followed her as a result from the complicated feelings of resentment towards them and knowing they didn't deserve it, for all they were was a happy family, and it was through no fault of their own that she felt this way.

She kept them all at arm's length, making sure she wouldn't feel too attached, and was relieved when breakfast was over and people were leaving. They were advised to write a letter to home, but Saphira decided not to, already able to picture her parents' disapproval about what she'd decided to do, how they surely expected her to fail and shame them, and how no words she could write could alleviate that disappointment. There was no point, not before she got the star. Only when she'd proven she had succeeded would she have the right to come back to them. And now that hope rested with William.

...She realized she might never be able to come home should he failed in his mission.

...She then realized that might not be the worst thing in the world.

Now she sat in the great room, staring at nothing in particular while she waited for the others to finish their business, her own pack already by her foot.

"Sounds good to me on both counts," she replied to William's question, her thoughts still on what awaited her back home should she be forced to return without her wish being fulfilled.

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th October 2018, 5:52 am



When she awoke the next morning, as early as her farming family would have expected, the evening before seemed hazy and indistinct. She remembered Cassandra reading, but Kitty suspected that she had nodded off at some point during the story. Although their day had not been as tough as it could have been, it had been enough work to thoroughly tire her out. She pointedly avoided placing any of that blame on the "incident" from the previous night, glossing over that. Soon enough it would be completely forgotten; it was easier that way. She was thankful she had not completely missed an opportunity for an actual bath; it seemed like a luxury now that she lived as a Star Catcher, despite the fact that even sleepy Lorham could provide most families with the necessary elements of comfortable bathing.

Having her skin and hair clean and refreshed made breakfast taste even better. It was already a bountiful repast with good cheer as a welcome seasoning. She felt again that sensation of being home, of being back among the bustle of people who loved her. She warmed herself in the glow of that feeling, but didn't dare unlock any specific memories. Not today. There was work to do. They were traveling as a group again, and she needed to stay sharp. There had been little conflict with Shashka so far, but Kitty felt like that situation still resembled potential for some kind of disaster. She didn't want it all to be over so soon.

Instead, Kitty did her best to focus on the Bramblebush family while she enjoyed her meal. She listened carefully to the stories, added her voice to the chuckles of the teasing, and asked a few short but thoughtful questions. She liked these people—in fact, Kitty would have been hard-pressed to imagine that someone could not like them. They welcomed with ease and offered generosity with sincerity. She wished every town could be like this.

After breakfast, she did her best to help tidy up, but hers was one of the heads that turned when the offer to write home was dangled before them. The blonde felt the tug of the line, attempting to reel her back towards the place she had never truly intended to leave. Her taciturn tendencies remained even in written communication, but even if she didn't know what she wanted to say, she wanted to say it. She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and wandered closer to the supplies, her hand on a pencil even when she didn't yet have words in her mind.

William's question distracted her for just a moment, but she gave a small shake of her head. She'd leave whenever they wanted.

That moment, reminding her how soon they'd be departing, also provided just the bit of encouragement she needed to actually put pencil to paper. Kitty scrawled a short note in stiff, tidy letters and then set herself to addressing the outside in a way that would (hopefully) send it home. Lorham didn't have much by way of post and their "addresses" reflected that. Still, "Davis Ranch, Mr. Fowke Davis" was unlikely to find its way to another place. She'd at least have to hope.
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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th October 2018, 1:52 pm

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Shashka works quietly on her letter!

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PostSubject: Re: [HC Event] Star Catchers   30th October 2018, 10:48 pm



She'd meant to read some more, comfortable, refreshed from a hot bath, and alone with her own imagination, but sleep took her before she could get more than a few sentences in. For the best, she knew, considering what her foreseeable future sleeping arrangements would be like. She'd get to finish the story again soon enough, she promised herself.

The next morning was a rush of crowded activity, and Cassandra couldn't help but smile throughout it all. So many new faces, each with their own experiences and stories to tell, and each of them were linked together by familial ties and love for each other. It was beautiful, meaningful, to simply sit back and watch their interactions with each other. She didn't stay silent, getting into conversations when the opportunity arose, but Cassandra was content to listen, watching these kindly people go about their charming way of life.

It brought a kind of homesickness to her that took her by surprise. Her own family was not nearly so large, but the sheer amount of laughter and love shining through the Bramblebushes struck a chord so familiar that it brought a mist to her eyes that she had to blink away. It wasn't so hard to imagine her family going through much the same routine right now, chatting and getting ready for the work ahead of them throughout the day.

It almost seemed poetic that, after the meal was finished, paper and writing implements were provided, with a promise to send a letter to their homes. If asked only days before, Cassandra wasn't certain she would have wanted to send a letter, the guilt a stubborn barrier around her heart. But here, after having experienced the Bramblebushes with their open love for each other practically palpable in the air, she missed her own family, an ache deep in her chest. They deserved to hear from her, to at least have a proper explanation of her reason for leaving, to risk the dangers for the chance to have a real adventure all her own. To know that she still lived.

And, she wanted to remind them that she loved them all so very dearly.

She took the time to nod in response agreement with Saphira's comment to Leon's question of continuing--for once the great adventure spread out before them nothing more than a background thought, at least for the moment--but she said nothing as her mind already began to collect the thoughts she wanted to convey into words. With only a moment's hesitation, she began to write.

She was not the best at writing, despite her skill in reading, the letters always far to wobbly but she took her time to make each stroke carefully. It would be cruel to send a letter her family couldn't read. The letter was a full page before she finished, her words not as elegant as she would have liked, but she was certain they would understand her meaning and the love she wanted to send them.

Cassandra glanced to Kitty, and added something at the end. PS. Please keep an eye on the Davises and help them whenever you can.

With that, she addressed it with a fond smile and folded the paper, keeping the words a secret.

As if from a daze, she glanced up, seeing the true surroundings of the Bramblebush house rather than picturing her home in Lorham. Now that she'd vented her pent up homesickness, she felt better. It was good, to send a letter to her family. Writing apologies and explanations, a record of her final words for her family should the worst happen... it felt cathartic. No longer would she let guilt tighten itself around her, as she'd said what she needed to say.

Now, she could throw herself into having that true adventure she'd always dreamed of experiencing. And she could focus on ensuring that Kitty got that Star.

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[HC Event] Star Catchers

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