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Christine

What a Strange Place This Is... (ATTN: Arath)

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Michelle awoke, laying on a simple cot in a strange new home.  She had fallen asleep as soon as she had laid down, and was feeling somewhat rested.  Going over to the bucket that Arath had brought for her, she dipped a hand in, feeling it was still slightly warm.  How had he warmed it? She was going to have to get used to his powers.  It all still seemed a little strange, and if she wasn’t in this new home, she would have thought it all to be a dream.

 

Looking around the room, she got a feeling for it.  It was very empty and plain, but that was alright with her.  He had said she could redecorate, and she was thinking it would be nice.  Perhaps a nice tapestry on one wall, and then a few candelabra around the room for lighting.  Curtains on the window for a bit of privacy would be nice, and then new bedding – this bed only had a simple blanket on it.    Then perhaps a small wardrobe and a mirror, and it would feel like a completely new room.

 

Going to her bag, she pulled out the few items.  The clothes she set in the chest, as well as her boots.  She pulled off her apron and set that in there.  Her cook books and sewing items went on the desk.  The quilt she set upon the lid of the closed chest.  She looked at the bag, and saw a few coins in the bottom of it, along with a few coins from her apron.  Sighing, she felt like dirt.  Here she was, in a new home, broke.  She had never thought that life would get as hard as it had.

 

She set the coins inside the desk drawer, knowing that it was so little, no one would steal it.  The bag she set on the desk.  All she had left was her cloak.  She pulled it over her back and fastened it in the front.  Dipping her hands in the bucket that Arath had left, she quickly washed her face and hands.  Drying them on her skirts, she went to the door and opened it slowly.

 

Looking outside into the hallway, she saw that it was as empty as her room.  There were a few more doors down, and glancing inside of them, they were all as empty as her room.  She went down the stairwell that was to the left of her room, and found herself in what seemed to be the front room.  Beside it was the kitchen.  She could see a closed door and a slightly opened door.  Guessing the closed door to be the basement, she glanced inside the slightly opened door.  Inside, she could see Arath sitting at a desk, and a door to his room behind him.

 

Leaning against the door post, she watched him flip through a few papers. “Hello there,” she said, smiling as he looked up. “I looked around the house, but any chance I can get a grand tour of this Tower of yours?”

 

Michelle Linwood

 

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Arath was glad for the distraction from his paper work.  After Michelle had fallen asleep he had returned from Caemlyn with his group and the handful of new recruits they had found.  He had been been fairly busy ever since.  He had also changed some of the wards on his home to allow for the presence of his guest.  It wouldn't do to have an accident.

 

Rising from his desk he nodded.  "Absolutely.  Any excuse to be away from ... this."  He waved disgustedly at the paper pile.  "There isn't a whole lot to see, but it's better than staring at the walls all day."

 

Offering Michelle his arm, they set off out the front door.  Arath pointed out the various parts of the farm, a small city now.  "This area is all houses for Asha'man and their families.  Not a lot of families ... but enough.  Barrack for the lower ranks are over their," he said, pointing north.  "You'll probably want to avoid that area for now."

 

As they walked, Arath placed a simple weave over the top of them to shield them from the drizzling rain.  Ignoring the cold was simple enough.  Ignoring the wet wasn't.  "Over here we have the inn.  The best food in the Black Tower and pretty much the center of social life here.  Everyone comes here to unwind after a long day.  My friend Covai runs the place."  Arath looked around for a moment.  The grand tour was actually turning out to be pretty boring.  "I don't think you really want to be visiting the inn right now, all things considered.  Where can I take you?  What do you want to see?"

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Arath returned her smile, slowly rising from the desk.  "Absolutely.  Any excuse to be away from ... this."  She giggled softly as he waved his hand over the papers that were piling on his desk.  Light, he must be an awfully important man.  "There isn't a whole lot to see, but it's better than staring at the walls all day."

 

He walked up beside her and offered his arm to her.  She took it as she pulled up her hood, and they set out the front door.  As they walked, he pointed out different areas, with buildings and stables and houses.  It looked like a city, not a farm that he had called it.  "This area is all houses for Asha'man and their families.  Not a lot of families ... but enough.”  Families… that meant other women.  She would certainly have to go find other women to talk to about getting more fabric. 

 

“Barrack for the lower ranks are over their.  You'll probably want to avoid that area for now."  She looked at him in surprise.  “They aren’t safe?  Are they… crazy?”  The last word was practically a whisper.  Arath just looked away, like he didn’t want to talk about it.  He won’t become one of those men, I know it!

 

Suddenly, the rain that was dripping down on them was gone.  She let her hood fall back onto her shoulders, letting her hair be loose.  Light, I need to brush this mess so bad.  I am totally asking Arath for a hot bath after this!  "Over here we have the inn.  The best food in the Black Tower and pretty much the center of social life here.  Everyone comes here to unwind after a long day.  My friend Covai runs the place."

 

An inn with food… that’s money.  Michelle had been doing it for so long, working on food had become second nature.  She could cook, clean, serve, and pour ale all day and night.  "I don't think you really want to be visiting the inn right now, all things considered.  Where can I take you?  What do you want to see?"

 

Michelle almost spoke to go to the inn anyways, to ask about the job.  But, if this owner, Covai, was friends with Arath, then she saw no point in worrying about it now.  Then out of the corner of her eye, she noticed two men, dueling.  She walked towards it slowly, and Arath led her that way.

 

The rain had increased, but the men had not stopped, going back and forth.  It was amazing to watch.  She had seen men fight before, but that was a bar brawl, using fists and knives to prove a point.  There was something graceful about it, this wild dance that the two men were doing with their swords.  Turning excitedly to Arath, she giggled, smiling. “I want to do that!  Can you teach me how to do that?  Please Arath?”

 

He laughed, and before he could speak, she added something on. “And fabric!  That’s where I want to go.  Is there anywhere around here that has fabric or furniture or anything?  No offense, but I could use a chair and mirror in my room, as well as some curtains for privacy and a thicker blanket.”   Getting excited, she couldn’t stop.

 

“And dresses!  Arath, I haven’t had a pretty dress since before I came here.  I only have the dress on my back and another that is slightly nicer.  Can I have a dress? And shoes?  And something actually pretty?  Please, please, I will do anything!  Anything you could want, I will do it!”   Oh Light, she was free again.  It had been years since she had felt so free and alive.  And Arath had given her back her freedom.

 

Michelle Linwood

 

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Arath couldn't help but laugh as Michelle seemed to explode with excitement.  Dresses, shoes, mirrors, chairs . . . quite the list of things she was excited over.  Arath was glad to see it.  It had been horrible to see her crying in that inn in Caemlyn.  Happy was much better.  He wasn't so sure about the sword training though.  She was a bit smaller than the majority of the soldiers, so was at quite a disadvantage.  But he supposed he could teach her something.

 

"Yes, yes.  I'll can help you get anything you want.  And we can get it from wherever you want to.  And yes, I can teach you how to use a sword.  You'll get bruised from it, but if it's what you want ... I'll do it."

 

They continued to watch the two dedicateds spar until they mock battle was over.  One of them slipped on the slightly muddy ground and fell flat on his back.  Laughing, the victor helped his grumbling companion to his feet.  Arath and Michelle both laughed as they walked away from the training grounds.  Most everyone else was leaving anyway.  It was getting late, and the rain made things uncomfortable.

 

"I'm not sure whats available right now," Arath said as they wandered around the tower grounds, "but if you want we can go see if there is any furniture available.  All of the Asha'man had lives and jobs before they came here, and many of them continue what they did before, as much as they can anyway.  A few of them I know were talented carpenters ..."  He trailed off, not sure exactly what to do.  It occured to him suddenly just how very much he had altered his friend's life, and he felt responsible to take care of her.  No matter how badly it hurt him in the purse.

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"Yes, yes.  I'll help you get anything you want.  And we can get it from wherever you want to.  And yes, I can teach you how to use a sword.  You'll get bruised from it, but if it's what you want ... I'll do it."   Michelle giggled, excited.  Arath laughed with her, and she smiled, watching the two men continue fighting.  After a while, one slipped and fell, and both of them continued laughing as they walked away.

 

The light was starting to disappear and she felt it get colder.  Shivering, she made a mental note to wear her breeches and real boots from now on – she was absolutely freezing!  She clung a little tighter to his arm as they walked towards a large building ahead.

 

"I'm not sure what’s available right now, but if you want we can go see if there is any furniture available.  All of the Asha'man had lives and jobs before they came here, and many of them continue what they did before, as much as they can anyway.  A few of them I know were talented carpenters ..."  

 

Thinking about it for a moment, she looked around.  It was growing darker, and as much as she would love to go find a chair and mirror for her room, she knew she would be fine.  After all, a mirror was pointless as long as she looked a wreck, and she could easily move the chest around to be used as a seat at the desk.

 

As for fabric, since Arath hadn’t mentioned it, she realized that things like silk and lace were most likely not widely available.  Well, he had said Caemlyn was a day from there, so perhaps one day he would let her borrow a horse or something and ride to Caemlyn for a few days for fabric.  She didn’t need new clothes for the time being, and it was frivolous of her to ask.

 

“Let’s go back to your house.  I totally want a hot bath.  However you warmed up that water earlier, you should totally do it again.  I could use a good cleaning.”   Stopping for a moment, she stared at him.  He was a man – he probably didn’t even have soap!  “Arath, do you have soap?  Or like… shampoo?  Or anything like that?  I don’t have anything at all like that, as it all disappeared in my apartment.”

 

Michelle Linwood

 

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Arath laughed.  "Of course I have soap.  Maybe not a wide selection of fragrances to choose from, but I have some.  Shampoo as well."  Honestly.  Male channelers might be doomed to go crazy, but they weren't savages.  Mostly.

 

As they started back, Arath noticed Michelle shivering and holding his arm tightly.  Deciding to speed things up, he channeled.  A gateway popped open in front of them leading directly into his home.  He quickly pulled Michelle through the portal and closed it behind them, sealing the cold and the wet out. 

 

"This is my travelling room," he said, waving around the extraordinarily empty and boring room.  "The edges of these gateways are very sharp, so it's better to not have anything around them.  He opened the door into his office and led her across the house to the bath room.

 

"You should have everything you need in here.  Soap, shampoo, washcloths ... all on that shelf.  Towels in the cupboard.  Oh yes.  The tub."  Arath quickly showed her how to fill the tub from the pipes leading to a cistern above them.  She seemed delighted by that.  Arath had been rather fond of the inovation as well at first.  It had lost its magic after a while.

 

"Anything else I can do for you?" asked Arath as he channeled fire into the water a few minutes later.

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"Of course I have soap.  Maybe not a wide selection of fragrances to choose from, but I have some.  Shampoo as well."   Michelle blushed slightly as he laughed at her.  She hadn’t thought it was that embarrassing of a question – not all men bathed!  All of a sudden, there was a gateway before them, and Arath stepped through, pulling her in after him.  She shivered, letting her cloak slide off as they stood in an empty room.

 

"This is my travelling room.  The edges of these gateways are very sharp, so it's better to not have anything around them.”   She nodded, following him as he led her through his office and into the kitchen, then over to the bathing room.  "You should have everything you need in here.  Soap, shampoo, washcloths ... all on that shelf.  Towels in the cupboard.  Oh yes.  The tub."

 

Next thing she knew, the huge tub was being filled.  The days of lugging buckets around for a bath were gone, and now she could twist a little knob to get water poured into the bath.  She watched him amazement, giggling over it.  This was going to be so much fun and absolutely amazing! "Anything else I can do for you?" The tub had steam rising from it as he worked his wonders again, and she touched it lightly, smiling as the heat enveloped her finger.

 

“Thank you,” she said, smiling.  “You have been wonderful for everything today.  I think the only thing I need now is just maybe… some food?  For after the bath, I mean.”   He nodded, then left the room, leaving her to the steaming water.  Slipping out of her dress, she folded that and the cloak on the bench.  Next went her slippers, then her shift.  Searching around the shelf, she found a comb.  Sitting down on the bench, she began brushing out her hair.

 

As soon as all the knots were out, she braided it back, loosely, and began looking through the soaps.  Finding a shampoo that smelled amazing, and a soap that matched, she grabbed a washcloth and sunk into the tub, leaving her braid laying over the edge.  Soaking for a while, she began at her toes, cleaning every part of her body.  As the dirt washed away, so did the pain of all the years.  Reaching her hair, she let out the braid and poured shampoo into it, rinsing it over and over.

 

Eventually satisfied that she was completely clean, Michelle stepped out of the tub, getting water everywhere, and grabbed a huge fluffy towel.  Wrapping herself up in it tight, she tossed her hair in another towel.  Grabbing the clothes she had set aside, she peaked out of the door.  She had completely forgotten about clothes, and didn’t know where Arath was.  Tiptoeing around, she didn’t see him anywhere, and ran up the stairs.  Going to her door, she opened it and dashed inside, slamming the door behind her.

 

Tossing her clothes in the huge closet, she sighed, knowing that she needed to clean all of her clothes.  Looking inside of the chest, she pulled out her other dress, sighing as she could see the dirt and stains on it.  The apron got tossed along with it into the closet.  Pulling out her breeches and shirt, she slipped on one pants leg, then the other, letting it sit on her waist.  Light, they had fit when she had bought them a few months before, but now, she was so skinny, they wanted to fall down.

 

Next went her bindings, and then her shirt.  The sleeves were short, and she glanced down at herself, sighing.  Pulling out the boots, she shuddered, not wanting to put the heavy things on.  Leaving them back in the closet, she went to the desk and grabbed her brush.  Combining that with the towel, she eventually got her hair almost completely dry and brushed out.  She tied it back with a ribbon and put her items back in the drawer.

 

Hearing a knock at the door, she went to it, opening the door to see Arath standing there.  He had a plate in his hands with food on it.  Smiling, she twirled for him, joking. “Do I look cleaner?” she said, giggling.

 

Melainia Mosagina

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"Cleaner?  I should hope so with the amount of water you slung around the bath room."  Arath grinned.  "Yes.  You much cleaner."  And much prettier too.  He was having a hard time not looking at her in her shirt and breeches. 

 

"Umm ... here.  I hope you like this.  My cooking has improved quite a bit in the last few years, but it's still not one of my best skills." 

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OOC: Boo to short posts!

 

IC:

 

"Cleaner?  I should hope so with the amount of water you slung around the bath room."  Michelle feigned a pout and Arath grinned back at her.  This was most definitly just like old times, where she would be sarcastic and he would rebut with just as much sarcasm.  It made her feel all warm and welcome inside.  "Yes.  You are much cleaner."  She smiled, brushing back their hair that had fallen to her face. 

 

"Umm ... here.  I hope you like this.  My cooking has improved quite a bit in the last few years, but it's still not one of my best skills."   Arath was holding a plate out for her and she noticed that his eyes were trailing down her body.  She felt her cheeks warm, although this wasnt the first, nor last time, a man would look at her curves.  The thing was, this was Arath, her friend, her comfort; he wasn't some man that fantasized about her!

 

She took the plate from him, thanking him quietly, feeling as though her clothes were practically not even there anymore.  Sitting on the bed, she left the door open, as if welcoming him inside.  "You know, I am going to need to wash some clothes tomorrow, as all of mine are dirty.  I can wash yours as well while I am at it.  Is there anyone around here that does things like that, and house cleaning as well, or is it a do-it-yourself kind of deal?"

 

Michelle

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Arath stepped inside the room and leaned against the door frame.  "I don't really know.  The Soldiers and Dedicateds, the lower ranks, have to do all of their own chores with the power, including washing their clothes.  I kind of just stayed in the habit."  With great effort he maintained his gaze on Michelle's eyes.  "I know some of the married women refuse to let their husbands use the power on their clothes, so there must be something."  Only a few weeks ago Arath had seen an Asha'man being beaten over the head by his wife for channeling a stain out of one of her dresses.

 

Arath shook his head.  "Sorry.  I can't really help with that.  While you were in your bath though, I did find out where you can get some new clothes.  Tomorrow morning you can go and get whatever you need." Eyes, eyes ... stay with her eyes you fool ...  "If you don't like whatever is available here we can always just go somewhere else.  It's not like it takes me long to get anywhere."  Reaching into an inner pocket in his coat, Arath pulled out purse full of silver and tossed it to his friend.  "I'll be busy in the morning, but you can poke around and if you find anything you need, go ahead and get it."

 

Giving up the eye contact, Arath let his gaze wander out the window where the rain splattered against the glass.  Not quite as pleasant a view, but a great deal less uncomfortable.

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"I don't really know.  The Soldiers and Dedicateds, the lower ranks, have to do all of their own chores with the power, including washing their clothes.  I kind of just stayed in the habit."  Their eyes met for a moment, and it seemed as though Arath wouldn't continue with his words.  Light, it hadn't been that long since she had last seen him.  Surely by now he had found himself  a woman or something.  "I know some of the married women refuse to let their husbands use the power on their clothes, so there must be something."  

 

She sighed.  More than anything, she hated washing laundry, but that would have to be something she got used to.  "Sorry.  I can't really help with that.  While you were in your bath though, I did find out where you can get some new clothes.  Tomorrow morning you can go and get whatever you need." She felt her skin inflame as his eyes trailed down her body.  She picked at the food a little, slightly surprised at his improved cooking, but noting that he could deal with some of her cooking.

 

"If you don't like whatever is available here we can always just go somewhere else.  It's not like it takes me long to get anywhere."   A purse that jingled landed beside her, and she looked at it in shock.  She couldn't take all this money from him, he had already done so much. "I'll be busy in the morning, but you can poke around and if you find anything you need, go ahead and get it."

 

Arath looked away from her, and she took the moment to look him over.  He was alot bigger than when she had last seen him, but not in a bad way.  He was muscular, and she started thinking about being back in his arms.  She had to look away as her eyes glanced up and down and ate a few more bites of food before taking the coins and going to the chest at the foot of her bed.  Arath stood right beside it in the doorway, and she sighed, holding up the purse.

 

"Arath... You have done enough, but I can't say no to new dresses."   She bent down in front of him, her buttox in the air for him to view while she slid the coins in the chest.  She held the position for a moment before slowly rising. As she stood back up, she took a step back, resting herself against his body.  He held for half a second before he seemed to jump back in shock, and she had to stiffle a giggle.  Ok, maybe he hadn't found a woman if he was reacting so to her touches all of a sudden.  Sitting down on the bed, she had her back to him and pulled her long dark hair over her shoulder. 

 

"You have done so much for me already, but my back is aching and I don't know if I could sleep tonight, the way it hurts.  Is there any chance you will rub the knots out of it?"   She looked at him for a moment, using a sweet smile to try and encourage him.

 

Michelle

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Arath did an admirable job ignoring what was right in front of him as Michelle hid the money away.  Ignoring her when she leaned back against him was another thing altogether.  Leaping away from the unexpected touch, Arath felt his face redden.  What was she doing?

 

A second later, she was sitting down on the bed, with her back to him and her long dark hair over her shoulder.  "You have done so much for me already, but my back is aching and I don't know if I could sleep tonight, the way it hurts.  Is there any chance you will rub the knots out of it?"

 

Arath, Attack Leader of the Black Tower, a man who had fearlessly faced down hordes of shadowspawn, and had even killed one of the forsaken, had never been more terrified in his life.  "Uh ... I ..."  He tried to take a step back, but ran into the wall.  Light, why did she have to smile like that?  "I ... don't think so," he stammered, holding up his hands.  With a little more difficulty than usual, Arath assumed the void.  It helped.  A little.  "I'm more used to swinging a hammer or a sword, not ... I don't think I'd be much help." 

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Arath stumbled for words, and she batted her eyelashes, smiling more.  Light, when was the last time she could flirt with a man and not have him stripping his clothes off in a heartbeat?  It was lovely and amazing, but she still couldnt help the feeling she felt as she looked him up and down. "I ... don't think so," he said, stammering out his words while backing up from her.  "I'm more used to swinging a hammer or a sword, not ... I don't think I'd be much help." 

 

Michelle smiled, rising from where she sat, and walked to him, shifting her hips back and forth as she took his hand in hers.  He held it tight at first, then seemed to fight as she pulled him to the bed.  He came with her and sat down as she lightly nudged him to sit.  "Nonsense.  I am sure with your muscles, you could work out any kinks I have." 

 

She sat down beside him, and turned her back to him, then took one of his hands in hers and placed it on the small of her back.  "Come now, don't be shy," she whispered seductively, smiling and batting her eyes at him as he looked at her in shock.

 

Michelle

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Deciding what to do was a very difficult choice for Arath at that moment.  He was torn between the two different options.  The feel of Michelle's back beneath his hand was thrilling, and terrifying.  But when she looked back at him with a smile and a seductive whisper, "Come now, don't be shy," he made up his mind.

 

Slidding off the bed, Arath removed his hand from Michelle's grasp and maneuvered out of her immediate reach.  "I can't ... I don't ..."  He fumbled for his words, not knowing what he should say, or if he should say anything.  Scrubbing his fingers through his hair, he tried again.  "I ... don't want you to ..."  For some reason, he suddenly wondered if he had any wine in the house.  He didn't think so.  "Please.  This is awkward for me."

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Their eyes met for a moment, and it looked as though Arath was petrified.  He slid off the bed and stepped away from her, and Michelle’s heart fell.  Why had she even dared to think that for half a second, he would be anything like most guys?  He didn’t want her for her body, nor to use and leave.  He wanted friendship!  She had to chastise herself for being so stupid, and let him fumble for words.  She had to get her mind on straight as well.

 

"I can't ... I don't ... I ... don't want you to ... Please.  This is awkward for me."  She nodded, and slowly rose from the bed.  “Ok, I am sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you… nervous,” to say the least.  “I am going to take bed I think.  Good night,” she said, before turning away from him and pulling back her hair with a ribbon.  She had to blink away the tear as one slid down her face, and she heard him leave the room.  Why did men have to be so confusing?

 

Michelle

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