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Messages - Inga Av Meols

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Sør Province / Re: Runaway Sjefs
« on: April 19, 2020, 08:18:38 AM »

Inga accepted the glass, taking a small sip before setting in the chair beside her. "Thank you." Her tears were mostly wiped dry on her sleeves. A few left dark marks in Eeva's hair. "Babies are clever things, I'm sure it would find a way to cope." Inga joked, twirling a blonde curl around her finger and Eeva snuggled close.

Both of them equally mortified. Eeva at having been caught out, and Inga at being made to sound as if she gossiped about their sjef. She wanted to explain that she'd not been worrying the girl about Arkyn specifically. Just the tendencies of castes. But he made no comment on it, moving the conversation along to teasing the child.

"You can tell me then, I suppose. I doubt Eeva will remember anything with all this going on." Whimpering, the girl dug in closer, hiding from her shame. Smiling into her hair, Inga squeezed her tight. "Be well, little mouse." She reassured her, not wanting a bit of teasing to make the girl feel too put upon. She'd have trouble enough facing the consequences of running away.

Cheek to Eeva's hair, she smiled up at Arkyn's smirking. She knew that looked well enough. There was more weathering around the smile, and knowledge in the eyes, but she'd seen the expression before. And heard the laughter it stifled on occasion as well. The topic grew sobering, chasing laughter and wan smiles away. Inga looked at the men moving around the room and nodded.

"The springs themselves are usually well stocked. Even if there is a cave in to seal an entrance they should last until its opened." She thought of the people she knew who lived on the frosty edges of the city. Farther from the queen's warmth. "That is good to hear. With the ships in, there will be more men and transportation on hand." Leaning into Eeva's ear, she gave the girl a bit of teasing. "Maybe Uncle Levi will get his old sled out, huh?"

Giggling, the girl came out of hiding and usurped her mother's glass of water.

"Speaking of healers," Inga began, the glance she cast over Arkyn all too knowing and amused. "How are yours? Tine, and what's the other ones name? I've forgotten. The grumpy one, who 'just wanted to be left alone'?" She asked.

Sør Province / Re: Shared territory
« on: April 19, 2020, 07:41:42 AM »

"Thank you, though I had no part in the making of it." Inga smiled. It was a nice display for a good bit of cooking. "I'm just the delivery lad." She could remember when her brother had been just that thing. Running errands all over their neighbor and then out as he grew bigger and stouter.

"Kind of you lady, but I won't." Inga smiled, words cheery, trying to take the sting out of a second refusal. She knew it wasn't strictly polite, but she needed the queen to know she didn't need coddling because of her condition. She was more than capable of doing her work. She just couldn't clear the air of a room like she used to.

Bobbing a curtsy, Inga nodded at the lady's surprise. "I did. But that was nearly ten years back now." It made her feel old in the face of this young queen, who probably hadn't even been apprenticing then. Well maybe. She certainly couldn't be well into her twenties, Inga assumed.

Smile stretching, Inga did not answer the queen's bidding. She would never agree to such a thing. Calling a queen by her proper name? The queen of all Meols? It would be too shocking. So she smiled mutely, waiting politely while the lady ate before continuing with her chat. Breathing worries she didn't want to have out of her nose. Queen's could want to speak of many things, Inga was sure.

Painful things, it seemed. An eyebrow lifting at the beginning of the queen's inquiry and then dropping as they knotted together over the lance of pain that shot right through her heart. Eero! it seemed to cry. "I did." Inga confirmed, nose stinging as she breathed through it. She could feel the heat in her sinuses and prayed she wouldn't weep right there in the queen's study.

Jaw tight, she listened. Focusing hard on every word so that she wouldn't have to face the pain that shuddered in her chest with every heartbeat. Eero. Eero. Eero. A dozen memories flashing before her eyes. Unconsciously, she ran a hand beneath the swell of her stomach. Cupping his second child. Her miracle child.

"It's tempting," she admitted. The shame rising up behind her pain. The anger too, at all she'd had to face without her husband. And the queen was asking her about it! It seemed a terrible thing. Too little, too late. Inga wanted to scream, to rail. Instead she took a shaking breath and crept around the chair, easing herself into it was her body began to tremble.

"They brought me a letter, like they do all the widows. And then they forgot about me." She began, hands a knot in her lap. Everyone had forgotten about her and her small girl. Forgotten that her husband had defended his territory and died for it. That she had worked hard for them for years. They left her. It made bile rise in her throat and tears gather in her eyes.

"There was no assistance. Just an apology and condolences before they left my doorstep. And there wasn't even that when I was let go from my job because my craft was less useful in pregnancy." She tried so hard to be bitter. Almost too proud to ask for handouts. But the queen wanted to know. Wasn't she honor bound to say?

Sør Province / Re: Runaway Sjefs
« on: February 16, 2020, 07:49:07 AM »

Her heart felt too full. Drowning in happiness that washed away all the agony and terror that had filled it upon finding her daughter's bedroom empty. Made her too quick to forgive in the moment, the severity of her daughter's transgression. The scolding would come later, when she knew the world wasn't going to come apart at the seams.

Arkyn's hand was awkward along her back. As if he could wipe her thanks away. Inga held tight to him anyway. There was no helping it. Not the tears, her gratitude, or her clutching fingers, that rumpled the back of his coat. Eeva even joined in, sliding between Arkyn's knee and her mother's skirt.

"Oh, it was a walk," she hiccuped, allowing herself to be lead to a place out of the way. Sitting, she gathered Eeva up into her lap, child molding herself to the swell of her mother's belly. *She is rallying the neighborhood. Or haranguing them, both are the same to Nan.* Inga told him, a sniffle over their psychic link as. She stroked Eeva's hair, and smiled grimly as the little girl pat her stomach.

"He shouted at everyone momma. Just like you said." Eeva explained helpfully. Inga choked and shushed her swiftly, distracting her with a string of beads from her pocket. Eeva was glad to be distracted, since Uncle Arky was telling on her now. "Oh? And who is a tyrant in this free land of Glacia I wonder?" Smile wry, Inga held her child tighter. Pressing the half grown into the still growing, as if she could cradle them both forever.

"It is bedlam out there, but I saw plenty of groups rallying people to sense. Most of the market square is still standing." inga told Arkyn over Eeva's head. One hand slipping away from her daughter to squeeze his in thanks again. "I see you've set them all to being useful in here."

Sør Province / Re: Runaway Sjefs
« on: August 31, 2019, 08:31:45 AM »

Eeva wrapped her spindly arms around uncle Akry. Face turned into his coat as he shouted the people down. She'd heard its what they did, warlord princes, shouted and stormed. Uncle Arky was always nice to her though, and the the shouting seemed warranted with all the people running about and stumbling into each other. Eeva didn't like it, but it mostly stopped, just like uncle Arky demanded it do.

Her legs followed her arms as he stood. Her momma couldn't carry her anymore with the new baby in her belly. It was nice to have someone to hold her again, like she was the baby. She played with the buttons on his coat while he gave orders. Smart, calm orders that didn't even need shouting. Listening hard to his voice, Eeva nodded her agreement. Trying very hard not to be scared. But she really wanted her momma.

"Okay." The idea of trying to leave through all the people nearly as bad as missing momma. Eeva was afraid the world would shake again if she left. "Do you think it shook her too?" Holding tighter, Eeva tried not to think of her momma being all shook up like that. She didn't have an uncle Arky to keep her from falling down. Just Nan, who couldn't lift Eeva either. How would they be able to keep each other?

Worries Eeva had to put aside as uncle Arky put her down. He needed her help this time. Sliding her hand into his, Eeva looked up at him and nodded solemnly, eyes limned with tears. "I can help." She told him staunchly, birdlike shoulders tipped back military style. Unconsciously mimicking the pose she'd seen her father make.

*Oh thank the Mother!* Inga sobbed into her knuckles, warm breath like fire across her cold knuckles. Leaning against the pole, she took a deep breath, face tipped to the oddly calm sky. It felt like there should have been storm clouds rolling in. One hand cupping the swell of her belly, she pushed herself upright and made her way to the sjefhelm, stumbling through the hallways in search of Arkyn and Eeva. Asking after him as she went. Eeva was easy to miss, a child in the rushing work happening; but everyone always knew where the Sjef was.

"Eeva!" Inga nearly screamed. She did cry. Her daughter was studiously handing out reports like a little assistant, seemingly completely unruffled by the events. Blushing happily whenever anyone complimented her work or ruffled her hair. "Momma!" Papers rumbled against skirts as the girl ran over to cling tightly to her mother. Inga knelt without shame to bury her face in Eeva's hair and breathe in the smell of it. Tears dampening the fly aways and making them stick to her cheeks.

"There's my girl. Foolish child running off. You're unhurt?" She held the girl out at arms length to look her over before pulling her in tight again. Reports crinkling in Eeva's fist until Arkyn came. Eeva scooped them close to her chest. "Can I still help?" She asked, lip slipping forward and making her mother laugh. Inga let Arkyn help her up, and then hugged him too, body shuddering against his as the last of her terror worked itself out. "Thank you, thank you, thank you." She chanted into his lapels.

Sør Province / Re: Runaway Sjefs
« on: August 28, 2019, 03:51:59 AM »

"I know." Eeva claimed solemnly even though she didn't. A sudden new nervousness making her peek around Arkyn as he checked over his shoulder. She didn't want her mother to be in a forever sort of trouble. Eeva liked it best when she was home to tuck her in at night. She straightened quickly when uncle Arky turned back around, hands balling into fists to help keep her steady.

"My mother, of course." Everyone else was much more fair. No one but momma sent her to bed without dinner. Eeva frowned at the rest though. How did she get evidence of something like that? Toe digging into the floorboards, she tipped her chin toward the sjef coyly. Would her... testa... testa... story be enough? Paired with her rumbling stomach?

Except it wasn't just her stomach rumbling. Squealing, she latched on to the closest safe spot, which was her new uncle. Hands balled into his coat, Eeva hid under the stoop of his shoulders. A shield and arm both rising to protect her, though she could only feel one. People screamed, and the whole house seemed to thunder from their footsteps. Or maybe that was just from the way the ground was shaking.

This was the sort of emergency momma had meant the woodshed to be used for. "She is going to be so maaad." Eeva cried against uncle Arky's shoulder as the world tried to tip her away from him and into the wall. Sniffing back the tears that had sprung up hot in her eyes, she nodded at his question, thumb curling over a coat button. "I want my momma." She whimpered.

Her momma who wasn't mad but terrified. Hands and knees bruised from falling in the street. Inga had filled it with her own frantic screams. High pitched calls of "Eeva! Eeva!" over and over again as she'd rushed out of the house and into the city. Frantically searching for the daughter she'd gone to comfort and scold and found missing instead. Window still half ajar.

Worse still the world had seemed to reflect her terror. Tossing and turning until it had dumped her unceremoniously to the ground. Caught by knees and hands so she didn't bruise her belly on the cobbles. It had taken her a few moments struggle to get back up thanks to the bucking ground. And still no Eeva insight. Stumbling into the open market, Inga held tight to a stall pole, flinching as the stand next it crumpled in on itself, picturing her daughter caught under something equally weak and collapsed and praying she was wrong.

Sør Province / Runaway Sjefs
« on: August 27, 2019, 06:59:43 PM »

It only made sense! Sent to her room without the rest of her supper because she refused to eat her greens. Eeva hated greens! Green was not a color for eating. So instead of pouting in her bed or over her colors like she usually did, Eeva climbed through the window same as she'd seen uncle Levi did. Hers was the best for it because the little wood shed was outside to catch you.

Momma said it was only for fires or other emergencies. But Eeva thought this was that. The Sjef should know. Especially since she was going to be the next Sjef, when she was big. It was important they stick together. Plus with uncle Levi always gone, Eeva was in need of an uncle to, not take his place, but take his place.

The sjefholme itself was easy enough to get into, but finding uncle Arky was harder. The hallways all turned right and were soon filled with too many people. All of them talking too fast, or too loud, or whispering in that furious way people had that meant trouble. Stout as she was, it made Eeva nervous to see so many adults so worked up. And none of them could tell her where uncle Arky was. Pointing her down more right turning hallways until she thought she was fit to cry just like her momma always was.

Thankfully her sjef uncle showed up before she was overrun by tears. Dignity salvaged, Eeva pouted furiously up at him, arms crossed over her chest. "You'll have to arrest her, unc- sjef. She has gone all over tyrant." Eeva was very proud of her words. They'd just learned about tyrants in school. She'd even managed to spell it right on the test. It had taken a little thinking, but Eeva realized now her momma was a tyrant. And tyrant weren't allowed in Glacia.

Uncle Arky would make her see the wrongs of her ways. And maybe put her to bed without dinner or dessert!

Sør Province / Re: Shared territory
« on: July 16, 2019, 05:18:17 AM »

Inga set a roll of silverware on the desk and considered the complaint with a thoughtful purse of the lips. "I do believe you pay both just for that very thing." She pointed out not unkindly, before remembering herself. "Lady." Inga tacked on with what she thought was great difference and not a single moment of forgotten manners.

She was, as she set up the luncheon, having a good look at their new queen. They weren't the sort you passed on the street. At least Inga had never once come across one at market. She'd had some dealing with the old one, a bit of shared hall bustling with the apprentices. This was different. Astrid ruled Meols now. It sort of made her a real queen, rather than a girl learning to be one. Though, truth told, she was still seemed much a girl to Inga.

"Its what makes breakfast so important!" With a flourish, and a smile, Inga pulled the top from the tray to reveal the queen's meal. She set it on the tray with all the other discarded pieces. Inga was not going to put a little vase full of water and some sprigs on the lady's desk. That was just asking for soggy paperwork. Hands wiped clean on her apron, she surveyed her work and decided it was well done. Lashes low as she glanced at Lady Heartsbanne.

"I'm quite untired, I thank you. No need for sitting." Hardly a strain carrying a tray a few yards. You would think everyone plum forgot between one baby and the next that it was all quite natural. A body made to carry more bodies. "I will gladly stay and have a chat, if you desire. I'm old-new, truth be told. I worked here as a girl." Fingers curling over the back of one of the chairs meant for visitors to sit in, Inga wondered what the queen could want with her and tried not to turn it into a worry.

No sense in borrowing trouble. "Was there something specific needed of me, Lady Heartsbane?"

Sør Province / Shared territory
« on: July 14, 2019, 02:28:50 PM »

They had been giving her light duty. It frustrated Inga, who knew she was capable of more work than they were assigning her to. Anyone could dust. Though she had found someone had not been dusting under the small figurines in the west sitting room. Or the figurines themselves.

Nor had the cupboards beneath the sideboard been cleaned out recently. It was another thing on her growing list of things that needed done. But that was not for today. This day she had a queen to feed.

Tray balanced above the hump of her stomach, Inga navigated the halls to the queen's quarters. A tidy set up of offices for her and her court on the opposite side of the building as the sjef's. Inga found the arrangement rather ridiculous. How would they do business when so thoroughly separated? But it wasn't her place to speak on such matters, so she silently judged them and did the work that was hers.

"Lady Heartsbane?" She called, tray rested on her stomach so she could knock on the door frame. She peeked inside, but waited for an invitation before entering. Dipping a curtsy in the doorway, Inga bustled in and set the tray down on a table, disassembling the service and setting it up again on the lady's desk.

"Cook was worried when you didn't come for lunch so she sent it up with me." Cheerful in her domination of the space, Inga made it so that the queen out have no choice but to eat. "Busy morning, Lady? I'm Inga, by the by." In case someone had forgotten to inform her of Inga's new contract with the sjefhjem.


Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 13, 2019, 07:30:56 AM »

"Oh poo." Inga scoffed, unwilling to believe the woman had been so set against him. His bitterness over it made her pull back some, cautious of digging at a sore spot. "Seems foolish of her." The healer chided despite her not being present to defend herself. Community meant care, even she didn't return Arkyn's more personal interest, kindness would have been better than stubborn refusal.

"You've not seen him either?" Chair rocking, Inga looked skyward. She'd heard plenty of stories about pirates, a few specifically about The Runner. Most from Eero's. He'd had a few run ins with them in his career, but Igna couldn't remember if anyone of them had been Reric's wayward son. "You think that stiff old queen of theirs would have better control over him." Inga fully believed in the abilities and powers of all queens. They kept everyone alive and safe. Not on their own, but without them they would all have to chase caribou across the countryside and inga didn't want to live that life.

"I didn't mean it like that!" Inga laughed. Poor Arkyn. "Probably how he did it though. Its a caste thing." Nan put in, sucking at her empty pipe. She'd wrapped half her sandwich in her napkin to be kept for later. "Nan please. You're a priestess, you know better than anyone we're more than castes and jewels." The old woman snorted and Inga sighed. "And you are more than a job." Finger tapping the table in front of Arkyn. Eeva nodded in his lap. He was also a caribou chaser.

Inga laughed at her daughter. And then she had her grandmother both laughed harder at Arkyn. "I like you too." Eeva added in, making her mother cover her face and cry again at the absurdity of it all. Nan clucked away his excuses. "It never is with young girls." A glint in her eye as she glanced at her granddaughter. Inga was quick to avoid and keep the conversation moving. "Maybe, but you shouldn't have to hear them when invited in for coffee."

Shrugging, Inga raised her hands in resignation. "Who knows! He has a room here, and plenty of stuff in it, but he hardly comes home when his ship is in port." A month. He'd stuck close to home and his sister for a month, helping with Eeva when Inga couldn't get out of bed. Helping to cajole Nan into moving in. And then slowly he'd stayed away longer and longer. "I think he's a young man stifled by too many womenfolk." Too much grown up responsibility suddenly at his feet. Inga didn't love him any less for it.

Nodding, Inga stood and came around the table to help Arkyn win free of Eeva. "Draw me a big herd if caribou while I see the sjef out." The task a good distraction for a little girl who didn't want to let go. Inga stroke a curl straight and kissed her forehead, worried the parting might trigger something a more dramatic reaction. They did sometimes. But Eeva was brave and good, bobbing her head and fetching her paper and pencil.

"I'm sorry if we teased you too hard. Maybe we've both become bad company." Inga helped him with his coat, sorrowful to think they had run him off with their gossip and teasing. "Try not to be such a stranger." She asked, giving his arm a shake. He needed something other than work to enjoy, and Inga was worried he'd gotten worse at that balance rather than better over the years. "Maybe I'll see you at work, hmm?" Hand on his shoulder, Inga reached up to kiss his cheek gently. "Thank you, Arkyn." For work. For coming in.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 12, 2019, 05:15:10 AM »

"Oooh, I don't know about that." Inga teased, her smile turning into a knowing smirk. She thought her source was very good. And her topic immaculate after the fun they'd had at Tine's expense, and Arkyn's generous questioning answering. Really, he'd gotten off fairly easy as things went. The longer he talked the worse it got though.

Hands cupped over her mouth, Inga laughed silently. Tears welling up to gloss her eyes and spill over her bottom lids. Oh sweet Mother Night. Shaking, Inga brush the tears away with her fingers and swatted a hand at Nan who was outright hooting at Arkyn's expense. Eeva looking between the adults in confusion as she sucked sweet cream from her fingers.

"Oh Arkyn." Inga laughed, face turned into her shoulder so she wasn't laughing in his face. Offended on his behalf, Eeva complained that it had been an accident, and they were supposed to show people grace, momma had said so herself. "Yes, I'm sorry." Apology breathless and not at all contrite, but it appeased the young miss enough for her to go back to eating. Sticking fingers giving Arkyn a reassuring pat.

"I'm sure she won't implode. Especially if you go by to make sure things are well." He'd mentioned no woman himself, and Inga had heard little in the way of gossip about one. Aside from the apprentice-queen everyone had been talking about. Nothing else fit for a topic for a month at least. This one he'd brought up semi independently, and Inga thought Arkyn deserved some companionship. He was a good man. Coffee cup filled as her snickering faded into a soft smile.

"I've heard of him, but never laid eyes on him as far as I know." Inga set the pot aside and slid a napkin to Eeva before settling back into her own chair. Body relaxing as she pulled her sandwich apart, the occasional piece tucked between her lips. "Maybe if you stop going at her as sjef and just go as yourself. You're not just the job, Arkyn Wildling. And a baby never made couple." Nibbling at a bread crust, Inga's eyebrows tipped down in confusion. She'd never heard or seen any boy, and people did plenty talking about the reclusive new addition to their city.

Both women tittered at his teasing. "But then you'd be a matched pair." Inga harassed back kindly. He was not half so sullen as people assumed. Just thoughtful, and always worrying. "No, I hear you like apprentices." Nan sniped, shaking her pipe at him. "Nan!" Inga gasped. "Never you mind." She reassured the daughter who didn't understand what was wrong with apprentices, a bit of chocolate pulled from her pocket as a distraction.

"That wasn't there before!" Eeva accused with awe, giggling at her mother's wink. Inga stroked the hand Arkyn held his cup with, cutting glance making her grandmother shrug and look away. "I told you she wasn't fit company." She'd always been out spoken, but Inga found her grandmother growing more bitter in these last months. A long, hard life chipping away at her compassion. And reason. "Ornery old goat." She muttered under her breath.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 09, 2019, 09:11:30 PM »

"And why is that? Don't like weepy women?" Inga teased. It was easier than dealing with her emotions. Another sort of busy to help build back up flood the walls that kept her sorrow out. Something lighter to make up for the break in her control. It came one like that sometimes. It was worse now than ever before. Pregnancy and grief heightened everything.

Inga lead the way. House warm and clean. Hallway littered with a stack of boots and a line of wooden pegs for coats. Beneath one was a tumble of books and toys that she pressed closer to the wall with her foot. "Eeva." She explained, half chiding the girl that was not there. The kitchen was warmer, and welcoming. There were always smoldering coals in Inga's oven. Ready to wake and heat the stove or bake some bread.

The hub of her household. It was always the first place people came and the last they left. Nan only able to make it marginally less so with her abrupt demands. Inga's reminders about manners landing wholly in her deaf ear. But they both listened to Arkyn's answer. Nan with cold eyes, and Inga with hers pointed to the counter. Back to the room so that she wouldn't have to worry about what her face looked like.

"Sounds bad." Was all Nan said before Eeva arrived to change the focus of the conversation and the mood of the room. Inga gently directing the movement of the room. A chair for Arkyn. The tobacco pouch for Nan. For Eeva, a cup of milk to wet the throat she was talking dry to Arkyn. "You can eat again." Inga decided for him. She smiled at the look her daughter turned on him. A horrified sort of surprise to think of anyone living outside the city walls. Much less the sjef. Nan cackled.

"Don't lady me." The old woman scolded while Eeva made retching noises over vegetables. "It sounds everyone at this table has forgotten their manners, guest aside." Inga announced, handing over a cup of coffee to Arkyn with a smile. "You will when there is jam sticking your hair to your pillow." A plate of cold lunch served to everyone, Arkyn included, before she sat.

Inga picked at her lunch and listened along with everyone else. For only being gone half the day, Eeva had plenty to share, which she did between bites of her sandwich. Talking at them, Arkyn especially, until her attention was finally caught in whole by her plate. Her favorite berries laid out in a bed of whipped cream. Sipping her water, Inga grinned at Arkyn over its rim before making an announcement to the room.

"Did you know, Nan, Arkyn has made something of a friend with that new healer across the city. The black widow one?" Nan choked on her coffee and wheezed in disbelief. "Sour as a green apple but I think they'll suit, don't you?" She winked at Arkyn as Nan cackled. "Was her fence Levi busted up, and wouldn't you know our sjef went to fix it hisself." The old woman hooted and even Eeva giggled, amused because the adults were amused.

Chewing a dried fig, Inga tipped more coffee into Arkyn's cup.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 08, 2019, 08:03:20 PM »

"Ppfffft." Inga argued, shoulders heaving. "S'not your fault." It was Eero's, for going off and dying on her. For telling things she had shared privately between them about things she had shared privately with another man. It was the sheer madness of it all. And the wish she had, that he would be there so she could box his ears instead of cry over it.

Tears not quite as quick to go as they were to come. But she settled. The rhythm of his hand soothing. The knowledge that the whole damn street was probably staring at them a goad to get her emotions under control. Arkyn helped. An unperturbed wall that stood by while she soaked him in tears. "What a mess." All of it. From beginning to end and all the knots in between. Steadier, Inga was able to stand on her own feet again. Offer a measure of decorum she'd been lacking.

Thought her nose was redder than the door to her house. Inga couldn't see it to notice, or bother to care if she had. The last tear wiped clean away as she invited him in. He'd spoken of seeing Nan and Eeva, and Inga didn't want her bout of hysterics to run him off. Her weeping and turned away many men, and a few friends. Eero had always laughed at her tears and called her soggy.

Arkyn hesitated. Eyes looking for a way out, an excuse. Inga offered him a few to be helpful. No sense in having uncomfortable guests. They made for uncomfortable visits. Cleaning her boots off, Inga gave him time to decide, smile cast over her shoulder as he came in behind her. Coat shaken out and boots stomped relatively clean.

"I bet you say that to all the widows." She teased, tryin to lighten the mood, leading the way into the kitchen where Nan could glower at them. "Nan," Inga chided. "Say hello to Arkyn." The old woman groaned and turned her nose up. "Has he brought news, or groceries?" Eyes just beginning to cloud over, Nan glared at them both and fetched Inga the coffee pot. "Nan!"

Fussing the old woman began setting the table. A giggle heralding Eeva's arrival. Clinging to her mother's skirts while Inga hung her coat up, fingers searching pockets for sweet. "You say hello too, to the sjef." She told the girl, pulling greedy fingers from her pockets. "Sit, Arkyn. Stay. Would you like some coffee, or lunch?" A place already set for him, Inga pulled a chair out and ignored Eeva's boldness as the girl climbed into Arkyn's lap to investigate.

Cold chicken from the night before cut up and redressed as the coffee pot was heated. Nan sat across from him chewing the end of an unlit pipe. "You look the same you righteous little shit." She complained, ignoring Inga's fussing about language. "Hush girl." Inga rolled her eyes, grabbing Eeva's hands before the could get tangled in Arkyn's hair.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 08, 2019, 04:08:41 AM »

Inga shook her head, denial of his words, but not his comfort. That she stepped into. Face to the fists she'd shaken at the air in threat. The balls of her hands muffling the sobs choked her chest, knuckles pressed to the button of Arkyn's coat. "It was a secret!" She complained bitterly. Words worked out around hiccups and sighs.

Eero had asked and pestered until Inga had given in. He'd known her too well to let such awkwardness pass without comment. And then he'd just had to know the root of it. A private matter that had caused Inga much embarrassment to repeat. Even now she burned up just thinking about it. And he'd gone and turned it into a joke to tease Arkyn about. As if her sudden and rude departure hadn't been enough.

"I'm sorry." For blubbering on him. For her poor handling of an intimate moment. For her damned husband's foolish, loose tongue. Neighbors watched them furtively from their yards. Nan pulled the curtain on the door to look at them too. Wizened face frowning through the layer of frost that coated the glass. She shook her head and vanished back into the house as Inga sniffed and wiped her face on her gloves, apologizing once or twice more while she set herself to rights.

"Oh Arkyn." Inga sighed, shoulders rising up around her ears before they drooped. "He thought everything was a good joke, the damned trickster. And I was young and very foolish." She squeezed his arm. She had been an idiot of a girl, but Inga could only condemn herself so far. Inexperienced and foolish as she'd been, any other outcome would have been unlikely. And in the end, she'd found a good man and made a beautiful family.

"Did you want to come in?" Probably not anymore after she'd blubbered all over him like a fool. "Everyone is used to my sudden crying. No one will blame you for it." She reassured him. How uncomfortable it must be. Inga did not know how to comfort him, or herself. Or if it was even needed. It had been a long time ago, and Arkyn had plenty enough in his life. One night had probably meant very little in the grand scheme of things. "But I'll understand, if you don't. You're a busy man, and I did just make a scene on the street." Inga smiled, fingers sliding down his arm so she could squeeze his hand.

Gloves tucked into pockets and boots tapped against the side of the door before she opened it.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 07, 2019, 08:51:43 PM »

"It wasn't you at all." Inga was adamant. Oh it had been a part of him she'd run from that night. But quitting her job and running off to work on the other side of the city had been all about Inga herself. Too shake faced to face him after her reaction. And then the mistakes and embarrassment had just grown and kept on growing until it was like a field of briars between them. Neither one of them making it back across.

"Oh I bet you did. She was the lady's apprentice, wasn't she? You'd assume they would be alike and you'd find one just as easy to serve as the other." He'd had such passion for his position. And a real belief in his queen. Inga had always found it a charming part of his personality. Much more charming than the pouting he was displaying now. "I'm sorry it didn't turn out the way you hoped. But don't give up yet, Arkyn. She's young and you aren't dead." There was time still for them to come to an understanding and maybe even form a bond.

She clucked her tongue at him and shook her head. "She is old, Arkyn. She deserves her rest, she has earned it! Plus she'd probably scare all the children." Fierce old fyrkat of a woman. Angry at the world. More angry than even Inga, because the loss of her daughter was reflected in the loss of her granddaughter's husband. "She has done her fair share of that too." Inga joining her. Head bent over her weeping daughter. One set of fingers to soothe her baby and the other to wipe her own tears away.

Sobs saved for when they wouldn't frighten Eeva. Buried in her pillow, or the bony shoulder of her grandmother. Levi hadn't been spared either, poor little brother. Oh Mother Night she missed her man. It didn't matter that they'd spent more time apart than together. She'd always been so sure of his coming home. "I didn't." She agreed, biting her lips and willing her eyes to be dry. She wouldn't cry while begging work.

Another sort of bruise pushed. This one hurt while making her angry. A safer topic than herself after her husband's death. The reason why her husband wasn't coming home was never given. Just that he wasn't. Arkyn brushed calloused hands cover her knuckles before letting it lie beside hers. It wasn't good news then. Just more promises and platitudes.

"I suppose I can do that. I did vote for you." Face tight, Inga nodded. They were working on it. She had to trust in that fact. Eeno had been a good captain as well as a good man. It was a loss to the city to lose him and his ship. "I'll leave the fighting to you, sjef. I've misplaced my needles." Inga studied him. What she knew of Arkyn Wildling was old knowledge. But the man she'd known would have cared. Would have done anything to find answers. She just had to keep believing in that Arkyn.

"I'm not, no. Thank you for the offer." Summoning a smile from her reserves, Inga eased herself down from the stool. "You better what your fingers snitching her bread." She laughed, lifting Eeno's coat from the hook by the fire and shrouding her body in it. "I'll let you walk me home though. I'm sure Nan and Eeva would like to say hello." She adjusted her hood and buttons while Arkyn got his outer wear on. Gloves tugged over her fingers and up her wrists.

It was almost like old times. Except there was a distance between them. It had started that way a million years ago too, Inga remembered. Oh she had taken his arm then, but had been terrified of getting close to the queen's first escort. Of infringing on something not meant for her. But that space had dwindled until they had been two heads on one body. This time she didn't take his arm, just walked beside him, hands gesturing as she told him about exciting events he had missed.

The letter Eeva had written petitioning to have her Birthright early. The last Offering Nan had overseen at the temple. Nonsense things to fill the walk. What he'd said early slowly sinking in past her barriers until they made sense. Too much sense. At the swept walk of her house when she realized. Inga turned on him, coat twirling around her legs.

"He told you!" She shrieked in horror, making heads turn their way. "That damn man!" Her hands were shaking fists between them as she choked on horror and laughter. "If he were here I would box that scoundrel's ears!" She shouted before bursting into tears.

Sør Province / Re: New Old Regrets
« on: July 07, 2019, 03:57:58 PM »

He was giving her that look. Inga recognized it. It wasn't the sort you forgot no matter how many years stretched between the receiving of it. Her blonde brows rose in response to his frowning ones. Inga was not afraid of Arkyn's scowling, fierce as he looked. Hand missed as he withdrew it, Inga's fingers curling back around her cup.

"I'm sure she listens, Arkyn. The people voted for you." Whatever the new queen thought about him, Meols trusted Arkyn. She tapped the table with a finger and quirked an eyebrow at his bitterness. "Just because she doesn't take it doesn't mean she didn't hear it." Inga wasn't sure why she felt the need to defend the queen. Arkyn was usually fair, but he wasn't always reasonable when his emotions clouded his judgment.

And he was a warlord prince. They were notoriously stupid about queens.  "And I'll thank you for it, but I want work, not charity." She didn't want him cutting her a paycheck out of pity. Everyone had to earn their place in the ration book. Pregnant widows included. Luckily Inga was a pregnant widow who could work. She had skills outside her craft. And Arkyn knew her well enough to believe her word on the matter.

"You've no idea. I've never had such a good pair." Eyes glinting warning at his grin, even as her lips mimicked it. It was funny, but he couldn't understand the loss of a good pair of darning needles. "I think that's called stupidity, not bravery." Inga laughed, shaking her head. It took a certain kind of women to run a house that changed hands the way some sjefhjems did. And not the sort one trifled with. She turned her face to the table at his compliments, and his defense.

"It's done and over with. Their right, and any consequences on them as well." It wouldn't be on Inga's head or out of her purse whatever happened to them now. "Mhm. Eeva and Nan too. They're both at that easy catching age. Though one of them won't admit it." Blinking at his follow up, Inga sat back on her stool and flattened her hands on the table. Cursed man. They always did that.

"Arkyn Wildling! Don't be a fool. You didn't run me off in the least bit." Inga scolded him, the same finger she'd used to assault the table flicked in his direction. A bead of moisture from her glass slinging toward him. Inga scoffed, a little buzz of craft wicking it away from him. "I'm sorry." She laughed, turning the conversation away and back to the queen. It must have been hard for him to live in a house with a queen he couldn't connect to.

Inga reached over and covered his hands. As if she could gather up his agitation the same way and cast it out. Instead, she gave him a shake. "Of course its not the same. They aren't the same queen. But she does need you, Arkyn. And so does Meols. You just can expect her to be the queen you loved." Patting his hands with a couple brisk slaps, Inga finished her milk and gave her stomach a rub.

"Nan is threatening to go back to work, as if anyone would have her." Inga smiled. Which was hard to do thinking about how things were. It was like the first days all over again whenever someone asked. Inga had to stop and think. How was she? "Eeva is... she's alright. School helps, I think. And Nan has been teaching her things at home to keep her busy." Busy helped. Inga knew. How was she? The answer was never good. But no one wanted to hear the answer she had, which was surviving.

"Don't be taking that on yourself either. You were both busy men. It makes it hard to keep in touch with people." Inga had taken much of Eero's free time. She and Eeva both, and there was not a lick of guilt in her for it. Not even a twinge for his wailing mother. "I'm sure he'll rest better when there is justice for his ship. He knows I can take care of ours." Just hers now. Inga grimaced in apology for her bitterness. "I'm sorry."

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