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 The fox's paws and the crow's talons, with Sophia
Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Aug 16 2013, 08:42 AM
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The wanderer stepped out, the cold winter breeze greeting him but he didn’t mind. If anything it welcomed it, maybe it’s because of his northerner blood that he is able to find the wintery snow more enjoyable than any other weather but he didn’t dwell on such things, the point is he didn’t mind it. He could feel his feet crushing the snow beneath, feel the ice cold water seep into his boots slightly, seems like he will have to make himself new leather boots.

He can remember the last time he seen Winter town, it must’ve been when he was four years old or so. He recalls accompanying his father and uncle to this small town, although he barely remembers it, he was far too young to remember the details but one thing he did remember, the rows of shops, of course the ones he remembered are long gone now, boarded and packed up or an entirely different shop replaces it. Of course most of the shops he remembers are occupied by the small folk now in preparation for the winter.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” remarked Esmund with a smile on his face, the age old structures towering over them, covered in snow and ice spikes, sign posts that hung from doors old and rusty, the town was alive and buzzing despite the hard times that awaits them, the small folk was just going about their daily chores, pushing carts filled with food, the smell of bakery hung in the air around them, wives in groups gossiping, children playing hopscotch or simply hide and seek in the many nooks and crannies of this harden town. While Esmund had seen far more impressive things, winter town just has something special about it. “The market square is up ahead.”

With the boys gone, it was just him and Sophia now, he had left the boys in Castle Cerwyn, thankfully they had the fortune of running into the son of a acquaintance of Esmund’s, as it happens the blacksmith remembers what “Erickson” did for his father and offer them free weapons, instead of the weapons Esmund had asked if he is in need of apprentice, the traveller was relieved to know that there is a spot open and the young blacksmith is looking for a suitable boy. Esmund caught the wide-eyed eager look from Russell and had acquired if Russell would be suitable, the blacksmith took one look at Russell, even though he was reassured that Russell already has the marks of a worthy apprentice blacksmith but the idea of taking in Tristan as well caused the blacksmith to pause and request to leave him be for the afternoon to think about it. Out of courtesy Esmund granted that. Later that day he was glad to learn that the young blacksmith knew a baker who was also looking for a boy to teach, and so Tristan also got a apprenticeship as a baker who, if he works hard, may gain creditably and may become a chef inside the safety of a castle, who knows. He was reluctant to see them go, but he knew deep down this is probably the best thing for them. Who knows what would’ve become of them if they haven’t come across these deals, and at least this way they will still be together, Esmund knows how important a sibling bond is, and how difficult it is to sever it.


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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Aug 21 2013, 03:27 PM
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The cold was a sudden change to the warmth of indoor fires. Like her companion, the young healer - thinly dressed as she was - did not object to it, and adored the snows rather than cursed them. It was still Summer, yet the people of the town and Winterfell's great walls all wore furs alike to protect them from the chill. Snow covered the ground in a thin layer, frozen stuck to the earth and slowly forming into ice. It was but a taste of what Winter had to offer. The town was a lovely place; beautiful, with a strange warmth that almost felt out of place in the environment. It was different than the city she was used to. People knew each other and seemed to care, whereas in the city of White Harbour, everyone lived only for themselves. As they walked through the snow, with ice cold feet, Sophia caught a local baker giving a young girl a treat whilst her mother paid for weekly bread. It was a gesture so rare to Sophia, she found herself lingering just briefly.

Esmund's voice drew her attention and forced her short strides to quicken until she was once again at his side. It was beautiful indeed, there was no need to agree or tell him otherwise. Sophia merely looked at him and offered her little smile, sweet and caring as ever. Her gaze lingered on the traveller, the same way it had so many times before, ever since they had first laid together. It was not unexpected that their relationship - if it could be called that - had flowered into something neither of them could describe. Nor did they try to. Perhaps they had pondered on it, but never dared ask or talk about it. They simply let it be, and enjoyed every moment of it. There was the occasional lingering touch or look - she would take his hand or caress his shoulder, or he would wrap an arm around her - and not much more in public, yet their connection was obvious to the outside world. It was the way they spoke, the looks they shared, and Sophia did not bother to hide her affections. However, neither of them dared to believe or think that their interactions might one day become serious. It was a secret fear, yet unspoken. It was a difficult thing for the healer to even think of her friend as a 'lover', and the idea was often kept far away from her mind.

"I have never been this far north..." Sophia uttered softly, more to herself than to Esmund. Until two years ago, she had never even left the city of White Harbour, and had only know the horrors behind white walls. This was a completely new environment for her, but it did not feel wrong, "Yet I've always felt like I belonged here," Perhaps it was an odd thing to say. After all, she did not know the world, how could she possibly think she belonged in a place she did not know? But it was the truth nonetheless. She gave an awkward smile, and focused on the icy road before them, crowded with villagers. But even so, she could not help but risk a curious glance back at him, "Where was it you lived with your family?" Sophia dared ask with a cautious tone. Esmund did not often speak of his family or his previous life, and neither did she. Perhaps it was a topic to avoid, but her curiosity got the better of her, "I am sorry. You do not have to answer my questions if you do not want to," It always felt like an invasion; that she had no right to know such things. Would he already trust her with such things?

The market square was small but crowded, and stocked with any goods one might think of; from freshly baked bread to jewellery, from weaponry to infant's clothes. The stands were not colourful, looking dim in Northern colours, but despite that the market had a welcoming feel to it. The pair wandered around several stands. Occasionally, a merchant would try to get their attention, but Sophia would decline then all, and instead continued to speak to her crow. The young woman almost looked out of place there, with her fiery curls hanging free, and the maid's dress she had taken from the inn at Barrowton. The cloth was hardly thick enough to protect her from the cold, and she shivered even beneath the cloak she wore atop of it. With her arms wrapped around her thin frame, one could hardly see the ugly stump that now marked the little finger of her right hand. Sophia had removed the bandage a day ago, wanting to let the wound breathe. It was nearly healed, but still saw red and painful; not a thing that should be part of a young lady. By now she had learned to ignore it, as well as the people that took notice of it. Sophia paused by one stand, her eyes caught on strongly forged weaponry rather than lady's jewellery. Mindlessly, she reached out and traced her fingers over the length of a bow of dark wood, short but powerful, and glanced back at Esmund, "I suppose we should find a place to spend the night, if you are still in favour of sharing..." She whispered the last word teasingly, emphasizing the suggestive meaning behind it, "As poetic as it is, it is getting a little chilly to sleep beneath the stars, my Lord," Again, she teased him, knowing that she was not fond of his title. With the boys they had cared for now safe and secured, it was easier for the woman to enjoy a day, especially if it was spend with her friend.

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Aug 23 2013, 10:55 AM
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The wanderer got the sense that his fellow traveller is unaccustomed to kindness or the general pleasantness of people, small folk or nobles. In this instance he noticed that she seemed to linger, her eyes wandering over the countless faces of people like her, good and honest people who treat each other with fairness and just carry on with their lives, then his thoughts travelled back to their first night together where they had confessed their lives in third person, Sophia had mentioned white harbour and Esmund remembered the city quite well, and honestly it is the most southern city in the north, while white harbour is truly beautiful, the people are not, at least most of the time anyway.

Since the night they laid together and made their relationship more than just friends, Esmund had found himself blurring the lines between friendship and lovers, truthfully he haven’t thought about the matter of their relationship and he is quite happy to ride life’s current without a care, and just go with the flow. He wouldn’t dare to put a label on it though, why make a good thing complicated? He is content and happy and just simply enjoying Sophia’s company. “Never?” he replied, he wasn’t that surprised, given Sophia’s previous life he doubted she would’ve been able to afford a trek to winter town, even though if she had came here she may have led a different, and possibly a happier life. He grinned, his hand finding hers as he all but led her through the sea of hard-working peasants “Tis not uncommon to feel a kinship with a place you never been to before.” Said the male, his thumb stroking her hand softly, his eyes going back to the many occurrences where he had found himself wondering where he belongs, while he may have grown in Duskdendale for a great deal of his childhood, his heart had remained in the north and when he returned, saw the dense forests, the icy mountains and the ferocious rivers and most importantly, the hardened people here and for the first time, he truly felt like he belonged here.

“As corny as it may sound, home is where the heart is.” Said Esmund, a sheepish smile on his lips as he chuckled awkwardly at the words, God that did sound corny, no matter how true it is. The topic turned to him, his hold on her hand didn’t even loosen or tighten, instead he just looks at her for a moment, he did trust her and his childhood past is hardly incriminating. “I lived in Crowford, a keep west south from Dragon’s point and west from the wolf’s wood.” Esmund surprisingly smiled as his mind went back to the warm memories of before “When I was a boy, I used to go rock fishing with my uncle on the stony shore. Brought home a starfish.” His father didn’t get a lot of time to teach young Esmund, too busy doing accounting and dealing with matters that a lord must, so Haytham mostly been the father figure of his life.

When they reached the market square, Esmund’s eyes wandered over the various weapons rather than the food and jewellery, at that moment he didn’t care much for trinkets or food, he needed some new weapons. His bow had been damaged by the fire and the mishandlement by the bandits, and his swords...well they’re valeyrian steel, so the bandits were much more careful with those, they just need sharpening. ‘I should’ve done that when we left the boys.’ Mused Esmund, but in winter town it might be cheaper. His eyes glance over to Sophia, wondering why she wasn’t going over to the food and jewellery, even when the merchants tried to lure her over to their stalls. Nothing was really catching his interest so he only stopped when Sophia fell behind; he looked in her direction and noticed with a smile the item of her interest, a bow, a fine one. His mind travelled back to when they first met, when he had seen her caressing his weapons in the farmer’s cottages before he went to hunt dinner. He smirked as Sophia suggested they spent the night together, he came closer to her, his hand slipping from her hand to rest on her hips, his lips close to her ear “I’m sure we can keep each other warm using our...ways.” he teased, his dark eyes shifted to the bow “But...a bed does sound nice, there should be a inn room somewhere around here.” said the male ‘Come dawn, the pillow will have more teeth marks than my shoulder.’ Thought Esmund as he privately smiled to himself, Sophia had marked him on his shoulder to muffle her cries, on his back he still have a couple of fingernail marks, nothing serious, just a pleasant sore reminder of their lovemaking. “How much does the bow cost?” he asked suddenly, the merchant took one look at them and his face twisted in a mocking face “Thirty moons.” The merchant grunted and Esmund could only raise his brows at the steep price “Thirty moons for a used bow? You might as well as take my liver.” The merchant took a step back as if he was just insulted, Esmund frowned and gestured to the bow’s subtle nail marks and scrapes of the arrow steel, probably damaged due to wear and tear, and probably a bit of mishandling. “I would say it’s worth ten stars at least.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Aug 28 2013, 12:53 PM
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Compared to Esmund, Sophia almost felt like it was an odd thing to have never travelled beyond city walls and the surrounding woods. She could only awkwardly smile, and shrug to avoid a deeper confession. As a child, Sophia had always dreamt of travelling; to go even further north than she was now and stand atop the Wall, to sail to Valyria and encounter a dragon and become it's rider, and fly east to encounter pirate ships. Such a lively fantasy for a little girl, and she was often teased for it. Rather than loving the tales of Ladies and princesses, she was fond of the adventures meant for boys. And her mother told them to her, knowing that she could not change her daughter. There was a brief hint of pain in Sophia's blue eyes, but she hid it all too well. This new view of human interactions that unfolded before her in this alien town and the memories of White Harbour were as astonishing as they were painful, "I wish I could have travelled more. I never had the chance," Sophia confessed, and smiled up at Esmund. His hand found hers, and immediately, there was the strange feeling of a knot in her stomach. She wrapped her fingers in between his, and return his gentle touch.

Perhaps he was right; maybe it was not so strange. His reassurance caused her smile to widen, and she even laughed at as 'corny' reply, "My mother used to tell me that you should feel like you belong with someone, rather than at a place," She said suddenly. The words felt strange, but were said before she even realised it; just wording a sudden memory that came to mind. She meant nothing by it, she was not the woman to give secret hints to men she liked. And so she quickly gave a weak, apologetic smile, "But she was a hopeless romantic," She remembered the stories that Lorraine had told her. One of them was the tale of a rough-handed sailor, with a deep voice and dark hair. She had described him as a handsome man, even though Sophia could not picture any man with a beard handsome at the time. Vaguely, she remembered the details of when they met; in the small inn Lorraine worked at, when she had just conceived her only child and her belly was just showing. He was a sweet one, she told her, patient and kind. One day he left, and her mother never seemed to understand why, for they were happy together. Or at least so she thought. When Sophia asked her if that man was her father, Lorraine had only laughed and changed the subject. An answer was never given. But thinking back to it now, it did not matter. It was only a sad story, since she knew Lorraine gave her heart away, and saw it returned in pieces, and yet still hoped.

The way Esmund described his home made it seem so different from what Sophia had learnt to believe a 'home' to be. It was clear that it was a fond memory for him, and secretly, she was jealous. Sophia smiled fondly at the mention of him bonding with his family, and briefly wondered, "And does your heart still belong there?" She asked softly. The way he spoke of Crowford sparked a curiosity in the healer, "It is not too far from here..." She muttered, more as a mindless thought than as a reply to the wanderer. She tried to picture it; a great stone keep by the shore, ancient but still as magnificent as the days of its founding. The woman's eyes rested on Esmund, and she gave his hand a gentle squeeze, "Would you like to see it again?"

The pair wandered through many rows of stalls, laying eyes on the many goods, but not intrigued by anything but an old, battered bow. It was not such a special thing, although worth noticing among its kind. But what did Sophia know of bows and the art of archery? Nothing yet, although she did want to learn one day. Sophia returned Esmund's smirk at their teasing. She moved back slightly, her back to his chest, and took hold of the hand that rested on her hip. Her cheeks darkened in a subtle blush, always there whenever he teased her so or inappropriate thoughts crossed her mind, "And melt the snow along with it," She joked, her blush getting brighter at the memory of previous nights they spent together. With each time, Sophia learnt to get bolder and he got to know her better, and what usually started with gentle passion ended in a fire. Come morning, she would kiss the marks she left on him; his neck, his shoulders, his back and chest and other more intimate areas. With a smirk on her red lips, she moved his hand - hidden by the market stand before them - to her thigh, "I am yours to keep warm regardless of the cold, Esmund..." Sophia teased, and then with a shake of her head and a soft giggle, turned back to the stand. A merchant had joined them, but paid little attention to them. Sophia could've just as easily grabbed the bow and walked away, and he would have never noticed. But Esmund spoke up, and she was surprised to hear that the bow supposedly cost the most unreasonable fortune. With a raised brow, she stared at the thing in disbelief. She knew full well that the man was probably having a go at them; his tone betrayed him, as did his grin. She had to hold back a chuckle at Esmund's comment, and simply scoffed, "What is it that makes this bow so legendary, that you expect humble folk to cough up a whole golden dragon for its price?" Sophia questioned boldly, "You cannot expect me to believe that it is an honest bargain," If the man was not annoyed enough before, he certainly was now, looking as if Sophia had just insulted his beloved mother. It was not a normal thing for a woman to talk during a bargain, and men did not always accept it.

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Sep 9 2013, 03:52 PM
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He caught onto Sophia’s self-conscious smile, while he isn’t a genius at all but he is perceptive, perhaps without his connections he would be the same as Sophia- unworldly yet passionate. It isn’t a bad thing to be naive and inexperienced with the world, sometimes Esmund even envies it. For there are some things about the world one is better off not knowing.

He smiled in response, and squeezed Sophia’s hand as she spoke of her mother. “A wise hopeless romantic.” He answered, while he haven’t been in love he can understand those words, he sees it all the time with his uncle and his crew, but romantic-wise? He is at loss for words on that one.

The traveller didn’t reply at first as Sophia spoke of Crowford “I’m not sure.” He answered; he didn’t know where his heart belongs. It wasn’t like Crowford had been calling to him, but the north has. Come to think of it, he doesn’t know where his heart resides, except in writing and travelling, but it doesn’t reside in a place, or a person. He does know that a person does exist in this world and that person will love him. Does that make him a hopeless romantic? Not really, just a bright one he supposes. “I’m not sure about going...” said the male, already guessing what his lover has in mind. “Not even sure if it’s still running, I bet it’s deserted and lies in ruins...the steward might still be there though.” Rambled the male, his brother had appointed a steward after their father’s death and fleeing the north, but with William taking up the black, lordship falls to Esmund but is the steward still there? He’s sceptical about that.

He looked at Sophia again, felt the reassuring squeeze and let out a sigh, his eyes holding traces of worry. “It wouldn’t hurt to look...” he admitted, but would he like what he sees? Should he keep the memories of the Crowford in his heart and just leave it as it is? Untarnished? But if he doesn’t go he’ll probably regret it...

He could feel his throat close up as Sophia took his hand and smoothly press his hand against her thigh, wordlessly he gulped. He could smell her womanly scent from her, and feel something stirring inside him. “Bold as brass.” He teased, his hot breath against her ear, brushing his nose against the top of her ear lobe, the rest of his body tense as if trying to hold himself back from ravaging her right here at the stroll. But Esmund has self-control, of course he would never take Sophia right here in front of all these eyes to see, the mare thought of others seeing Sophia in her most intimate moments ignited a possessive fire within him, he doesn’t want others to see. Just his eyes are enough. “So wickedly bold.” He teased again as he gentling stroked his fingers down and up her thigh, doing his best to be discreet.

The merchant crinkled up his nose at the two wanderers before him “You dare!” he sputtered “This bow!” he spat “Was present at the fields of fire!” and that caught Esmund’s interest as he returned his focus on the bow “It is one of the only weapons to survive and escape being made into the iron throne!” oh how wrong. Esmund politely smiled and then carefully pointed out that the iron throne is made of the swords, not the bows and arrows. The merchant was taken off guard before scoffing at Esmund and Sophia “And what would dolt and shrew know of our lands history?” he growled as he placed the bow back on the table, Esmund grit his teeth at the insult before calmly answering “A great deal more than you.” He answered, his tone continuing to be even and calm, again the merchant got on his nerves as he continued to spout out rubbish. “Pfff, what would a woman want with a bow? Get back to the kitchen!” and just like that, Esmund’s eyes darken with a dangerous fury. So unsettling his unwavering gaze was that even the merchant had to step back, at loss for words as the sudden presence of impending danger invades him. But like water, Esmund still maintained his cool composure, and bit by bit a smile soon appeared like the sun peeks out of dark clouds “Your face isn’t even worth punching.” He bluntly said before he moved on with Sophia, quite clearly annoyed. But he wasn’t done, as soon as he turned the corner into a dark alley way he turned his attention onto Sophia “I want to steal that bow right under his fat ugly nose.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Sep 11 2013, 06:47 AM
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The memories of her early years spent in White Harbour were both painful and beautiful, and the fact that the wanderer respected the memory of Lorraine meant more to Sophia than he could know. The woman had been everything to her, and losing her brought the most destructive she had ever experienced. Sophia smiled sweetly at her companion, affection clear in her eyes that served as an unspoken gesture of gratefulness. Briefly, she wondered why Esmund never spoke of his father. The both of them had suffered a similar loss, having a parent abruptly taken away from them, yet the result seemed to be different. Perhaps Esmund had already accepted it and managed to find a place for the pain, but speaking of his father still hurt. Whereas to Sophia, speaking about her mother appeared to help her accept what had happened. It was a way to keep her close, and honour her memory. She squeezed Esmund’s hand gently, but did not reply.

The young healer did not fail to notice Esmund’s lack of response when she mentioned his home. Apparently it was complicated situation than she had anticipated, but she understood. While Sophia’s experiences with her own home were completely different, she also did not want to return because of similar reasons. After Lorraine passed away, Sophia never returned to the house they once lived in, and avoided every spot that held a memory. At this moment, she did not know where her heart belonged at all. She only knew who she wanted to be with, “If you are not ready for it, then you mustn’t feel forced to make such a decision at a time like this,” Sophia answered, her voice melting into a soothing tone, “We all have memories we want to preserve, rather than tarnish with the truth of their present state,” At first, she thought that Esmund might be glad to see the place, and secretly, she was very curious about it herself. But now she could see the worry in his eyes, and doubted the decision of even mentioning it. He may be right; it may not hurt to look, but then again, it might do exactly that. With a light shake of her head, she smiled up to him, “Perhaps you ought to give it some time, Esmund...”

At the market, the concerns had faded and the two of them were occupied with something entirely else; each other. Sophia’s smiles grew into sly, little smirks, holding every bit of the naughty intentions. She could feel his warmth, feel his hot breath against her neck and ear, and felt safe there. She laughed softly at his words, but the sound slowly faded in a subtle, delightful sigh at the feeling of his fingers on her thigh. She would have turned her head back to kiss him if it was not for the mess they ended up in shortly after.

The merchant’s claims were absolutely ridiculous. Sophia only smiled up at him; a smug smile that only angered the man more. But she remained in Esmund’s arms, with his hand on her thigh, not at all caring who saw or what the bystanders thought of them, “Do you expect me to believe that this bow is three hundred years old? Do you call yourself an honest salesman?” Sophia fired back at the merchant, knowing full well that the possibility of this bow being a legendary weapon in the battle of the Field of Fire was about as unlikely as the dead rising from their graves, or their boy-king growing a decent brain. The man continued to insult them and defend his own non-existent pride, but with each word he said, Sophia’s smirk grew, “It does not come from our lands,” She stated boldly, “A wood this dark can only be found across the Narrow Sea, in the eastern continent,” The power of knowledge was something the woman dearly loved, even if it could be used to further piss off an overgrown rat. He dared to question their knowledge on history, then she would repay him in the same way. She could feel Esmund stiffen behind her when the merchant turned to her with sexist comments, but could not see the anger in his eyes. Only when she watched the man step back did she catch a glimpse of it, “Put it up on the wall for decoration, or make a pair of knitting pins out of it. What in Seven Hells do you think?” Sophia spat at him, matching the fury of Esmund’s stare in her own tone of voice.

The three of them stood there for a long while, simply staring at each other as if these looks could kill. Esmund’s words surprised her slightly; where did the aggression come from? Was it because of what the man had said to him, or because if the protectiveness he felt towards her? There was not much time to ponder on it; he was already dragging her along. She followed him without a struggle, but not before shooting one last dirty look back at the merchant. It was not long before he pulled her into an alley, and they were once again alone, “Easy now,” Sophia quickly said, and pulled herself from his hold, “Do you want to lose a hand, Esmund?” While she understood, it seemed like he was not thinking clearly about this, “If you go back there now, you could not pull it off,” Her voice softened then, and she stepped closer. She reached out to touch her fingers to his cheek, and took hold of his hand again, “My goodness, you’re seeing red...” She managed a smile, despite her own anger, “We will get it for you. But when the time is right, and we have figured out the perfect plan to do so,” Her red lips formed into a mischievous smile, “If you want to do it so badly, then why stop with the bow?”

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Sep 27 2013, 09:10 PM
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Unlike Sophia’s reasons, Esmund’s reasons for not ever returning to his birthplace weren’t out of grief, but fear. And perhaps a little cowardice as well, he is afraid of finding out things that he would’ve been better off not knowing about. Plus, would it be right for him to return? He hasn’t set foot in Crowford for almost two decades, would it be right of him to do that? So deep in his thoughts he was caught off guard by Sophia’s soothing words, and to his surprise she spoke the doubts in his mind, it was if she heard the voices in his head...female intuition never fails to astound him. “Yes.” He replied, his gaze elsewhere “I’ll think about it.” He answered, indicating he isn’t brushing the whole thing under the carpet yet and that the idea is still up for discussion.

Esmund himself was resisting the urge to laugh immensely at the merchant’s pathetic and foolish excuses, Sophia didn’t fall for his lies either. “Honest salesman is a bit of a stretch...” muttered Esmund, the wanderer wasn’t surprised at all when Sophia questioned the validity of the saleman’s claims, catching his attention again as she pointed out that the wood didn’t come from their soil, but from eastern lands. Now he wonders where she learnt that? Probably something medical related, so the wood’s sap might have medical properties?

If he wasn’t so infuriated, he would’ve laughed until his sides become sore; however the merchant has annoyed him so much that not even a humorous smile cracked his lips at his lover’s sarcasm. Mindlessly he wonders if stabbing the man with the sharp end of the bow would count as a ladylike task...he didn’t think so.

Alone in the alley, Esmund managed to find the time to calm himself down and collect his thoughts, he wasn’t so angry that he had lost his sense of reason. “Of course not.” He answered quite reluctantly, embarrassed to get himself easily irritated by a mere merchant, what has happened to him back there? He is normally so calm and collected. He listened to the woman, the fury that was bubbling to the surface becoming more submerged as Sophia talked, his breath slowed slightly as Sophia’s warm fingers made contact with his cold cheek, his attention gripped again as his foxling hinted at her intention, and her mischievous grin just cemented his thoughts. A smile akin to her own soon formed on is lips, his fingers intertwined with her own and then he lifted her hand to press a soft kiss to her smooth white skin before gentling taking hold of her to turn her around so her back is against the alley’s wall, he closed the gap between them and teasingly brushed his lips against her own, a grin on his face as two patrolling guards walked past them “There was a couple swords...daggers, things that will benefit the needy.” He whispered, his eyes just as mischievous as her grin. Honestly he wasn’t even that bothered about the bow, he is more annoyed with how the merchant treated them but it would be good to grab some weapons while they are here and if the merchant is charging that ridiculous price...well he isn’t above just taking it. He does know how to apply stealing tactics. “One of us will have to be the decoy, while the other steal. Or we could bribe a group of thieves or lure the merchant away from his stall long enough.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Sep 28 2013, 04:51 PM
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Despite the pair’s annoyance and anger with what had happened, Sophia was glad to see that neither of them had lost their wit. Slowly, Esmund seemed to calm down. It was still a mystery what exactly had gotten him so aggravated, but deep down she did know. Briefly, she wondered if he had meant to defend her honour as well as his own. The merchant had insulted them, yet she was not as mad as her partner. Sophia could only grin at him, mildly amused by his outburst. And if anything, she had to admit to herself that seeing him this fired up made something inside her stir; a primal attraction.

The blush upon her cheeks darkened severely when he returned her affection, kissing her hand and spinning her around against the wall. Like a lovesick, inexperienced child, she nearly lost her footing in the swift motion. Her hand remained in his’ while he kissed her. It wasn’t even a kiss, just the lightest brush of his lips against hers, but it was enough to distract her from their current situation. She hardly noticed the guards that walked past and grinned at the sight of the two lovers, obviously thinking inappropriate thoughts that out not to be given voice to. At last, Sophia found her voice, “I would not call us needy...” She whispered back, “I much prefer ambitious...” She drew back her head slightly so their lips no longer touched, but her nose brushed against his’, teasingly denying him the satisfaction of a kiss regardless of her own desires. Her free hand, the other trapped in his’ and having no intention of moving, rested on his chest, “Riches do not only consist of silver and gold. We may not have coin, but we are rich in other ways,” Sophia scoffed lightly at her cliché words, her eyes alight with humour, “But I really could use a dagger...”

Silently, she listened to his proposition. Her smile only grew, and she reached up to trace her fingers lightly over the side of his neck, “You have experience?” She asked teasingly, “I used to sneak bread from the baker’s stall and fish from the market, slip rings off of ladies’ fingers and pickpocket highborn lads like yourself since I was fifteen...” Surely this would not be a surprise. By now Esmund knew that Sophia had not had an easy life; that she had always been poor with no possession not family, and therefore ended up in prostitution. But it was a confession nonetheless. Yet Sophia no longer feared his opinion, knowing that he did accept her. There was not a greater feeling. With how close he stood and his hands upon her, her desires began to rise along with the building tension. Slowly, she leaned in to close the gap between them, but she did not meet his lips. She pressed a gentle kiss to the corner of his mouth, and then another near his jaw, lingering there, “A merchant will be child’s play,” She whispered back.

Truth be told, the idea of barging into a thieves’ hideout was not a pleasant one. While they may be in a similar situation, there was no telling if their presence would be welcomed. After what happened in the Riverlands, Sophia feared situations that were even moderately close to that. Perhaps it was a little paranoid, but who could blame her? “There is more we could use if we want to create a distraction but not get directly involved,” She answered quietly, “Orphan boys... Prostitutes...” Much to her surprise, this was very different from White Harbour. The ivory city was full of parentless children without homes, whereas the alleys of Wintertown were almost too quiet. It still managed to amaze her how different this place was from what she knew. A short silence fell between them, but it was quickly broken by Sophia’s gentle whispers, “We cannot steal it today. We cannot spend our night here if we have arms full of stolen goods to hide whilst guards search the town for thieves,” She stated, and brought her hand up to run her fingers over the back of his neck, mindlessly playing with his curls. She found her way back to his lips and smiled, but still did not kiss him, “Make love to me tonight....”

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Oct 9 2013, 04:43 PM
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The wanderer smirked in amusement at his lover’s words “Ambitious a nicer word I guess.” He teased back, his lips inches away from hers as she teased him back with those succubus lips of hers. “Rich in other ways?” he repeated, a smile on his face, his eyes alight with enjoyment “And I could do with a sword or two.” Added the male as the other said she could use a dagger.

He almost shivered at the feel of Sophia’s finger caressing his face “Aye, more experience than other high born lads.” He answered as he took her hand and press a kiss to her finger. He had left home at a young age, with nothing but the clothes on his back, his bow and a handful of coin. His grin widened as the woman continued to tease him, he didn’t think about Sophia’s past or who she was before, what matters to him is the current Sophia, so any of her past wrongdoings is insignificant to him unless extremely important.

The traveller chuckled softly at his foxling’s words, this one is sly he thought. “Good to know…now then.” He said as he smiled “And bribe them with what? Food?” it was easy enough thing to do, bribe orphans with breads and they will do what they are told, the same goes for the whores with promise of gold. A teasing smirk appeared on his lips as the woman more or less made her desire for him clear as crystal, now he could be cruel and play hard to get, fortunately for Sophia he wasn’t in a trickster mood, he too also felt the urge to physically connect with Sophia. His fingers reaching out to curl a lock of loose red hair around his digit “As much as I would love to, I shan’t do it here in his grubby alley.” And then he leaned in, his arm around the small of her back as he pulled her closer to him “Lead the way.” He whispered

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Oct 12 2013, 03:54 PM
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With a loving smile, the healer shook her head ever so slightly at Esmund´s questioning of riches. Surely he should know, had his mother and father never taught him? “Gold does not make people happy or truly rich, Esmund,” Sophia explained in her soft tone, ignorant on whether or not it was needed for her to say, “It is kindness, love, friendship and compassion that do,” It was said that family was among these qualities, but Sophia wondered if it could be. After all, family could do more harm than good. But who was she to judge this – the only family she had caused the greatest pain she ever knew – when she had no family of her own? No man and no children, but one friend whom shared her bed? Her only friend. Sadness tucked at the corners of her smile, but it was discarded by the joy caused by being in the wanderer’s arms.

It was a new thing to be accepted, and even more so to fully accept someone else. For the first time in years, there was a break in the constant hatred she held for the world, and warmth replacing it. Sophia chuckled at Esmund’s confession. It did not surprise her that he had a similar experience in the arts of survival and thievery. After all, the world was harsh and she knew full well Esmund had not spent all his years within castle walls. “You never cease to amaze, do you?” She questioned teasingly. Her four fingers traced the stubbles of his dark beard, causing her skin to tingle. Sophia nodded to confirm his guess for bribery, “Among other things,” She answered, “But we are amongst those in need of food, we do not have much to give,” For a moment, she paused and casted her eyes to the filthy stone that formed the alley’s ground, “Are we...” She halted, as if second guessing what she was about to say, “Acting irrationally?” Now that her anger had subsided and she could think clearly, she wondered if what they were planning was right or just plain insanity. Perhaps they had no right to rob the merchant. Then again, she really did want that dagger...

There was no time to ponder upon it further, for Esmund distracted her mind as quick as she had spoken her words of doubt. He pulled her closer to his body so there was no more space between them. She stood tightly against him, and it was almost impossible not to lose herself to primal desires. For a second she wondered why he would not have her here. Cold and dirty or not, she would be lying to herself if the thought of making love in the open did not excite her. Perhaps Esmund had other desires. With their lips just mere inches away from each other, Sophia was helpless. How could she speak, let alone lead the way, when he had her so strongly in his arms? “Let’s not make hasty decisions,” She breathed, her words barely audible, “And focus our thoughts on something more urgent,” The young woman gave a light and feminine laugh, and finally met his lips with her own in a passionate kiss.

A half day was spent and the sun stood high in the sky by the time the pair finally found rest. With no coin in their pockets, the plan of finding a warm inn with soft beds was wiped out, yet Sophia did not complain. She was neither cold nor uncomfortable, instead was exactly where she wished to be; next to her crow. The pair had found themselves a place of privacy at the edge of the village, hidden by a hill and trees. It was just at the edge of the woods, and they were not too far from the road. There was not a sound but the wind brushing past leaves and the chirping of birds readying themselves for migration, and Sophia’s light breathing. The travellers rested beneath a large oak tree, lying atop of a worn cloak to avoid the dirt with another to cover them and keep them warm. It was still chilly, regardless of their isolation and the heat of Esmund’s naked body to warm her. The remnants of their lovemaking would be obvious to anyone that passed if they were not shielded from view, and she could still feel her lover’s warm seed between her legs. She clutched him lightly, and pressed an even softer kiss to his chest. A long silence fell between them while they once again got a hold of their senses. Sophia shifted suddenly to lay on her stomach with her upper body propped up on her elbows. The autumn breeze formed goose bumps on her exposed skin. Her lips formed into a smile and suddenly she spoke, “There is no future for us, is there?” She questioned cautiously, but did not require an answer, “Our lives are too different, and neither of us is ready for a new one,” Slowly, she turned back to Esmund to find his gaze and grinned, “If I... were to do something completely and utterly foolish for no reason at all, would you stay with me?” Sophia asked, “With a war coming and winter on our doorstep, do you not think it would be nice to escape from the world for just a little while?”

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Oct 27 2013, 09:46 AM
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The wayward traveller rested his back against the tree, the smell of their sweat and lovemaking obvious to him, but he cared not for it because it is times like these he is glad that he have someone to share the good times with. As someone used to sleeping outdoors, the idea of not being able to spend a night in the inn didn’t bother him that much, as long as he have Sophia’s warm body he could have slept in anything, come wind or rain.

His eyes half closed, his breathing light and soft and his fingers tangled in Sophia’s hair, gentling playing with her loose red curls, intertwining the curl around his index finger as he hummed softly, his chest heaving up and down, still catching his breath.

The silence was welcomed, with only the wind to accompany it and honestly Esmund would be happy to just lie here for centuries, time unmoving. He shifted his gaze to his lover, taken back by her question but he did not answer her, only a silent nod of acknowledgement, no, there is no future for them. He is a drifter, one who finds enjoyment on the roads and their goals are different. But it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy her company a little while longer.

“Sounds splendid.” He replied, a gentle satisfied smile on his lips “What do you have in mind? Essos?” said the male, he would love to go to Essos, but he isn’t sure if his uncle is back from his voyages yet and it would be quite annoying for them two to show on his doorstep randomly without a warning. And then he remembered the heart trees “Somewhere south of here, there is a grove with heartrees.”

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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Nov 2 2013, 04:56 PM
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While the silence was indeed welcomed, the young woman could never conform to it. Her mind was never still – always taking a winded path that brought up the most unexpected thoughts. She had the mind of a child, in a way; innocent and naive, curious and playful, yet aware of the evils of this world. For a long while, she laid there silently with her head rested against her lover’s chest. The sound of his breathing and steady heartbeat relaxed her. Anyone else might have fallen asleep, and while Sophia was tired, of course she could not. She had to think, and share those thoughts.

Esmund’s reaction surprised her even if she knew what it would be beforehand. He seemed taken aback, but he answered her honestly. He is as direct as her, after all. Sophia’s smile faded slightly, but she returned his nod. She knew there was no future for them, yet there was a sharpness in her chest. Why, she did not know. She wondered what it was he would do. Would he ever go back to his family? Would he ever stop his endless travelling and settle down? She did not think so. He was a wild one at heart and did not seem to feel at home anywhere but on the road. Perhaps Sophia is similar, but instead she longed to have a home – a place to belong.

For now she would remain by his side, loyal and close. Sophia’s blue eyes widened at the reply he gave, looking ever so innocent, “We could... go to Essos?” She repeated, and then narrowed her eyes again in false suspicion, “Are you mocking me?” With a light chuckle and a shake of her head, she averted her gaze down to their covered bodies. A random curiosity struck and she pulled the cloak down to expose Esmund’s chest. Her fingers traced the thick scars that marked previous injuries – wounds she had healed, “I think I would burn to a crisp before we even arrived...” Sophia joked mindlessly. The thought of Essos was an amazing one, however. Naturally, she failed to hide the excitement from her face. There was so much of the world yet to see.

But that idea was replaced by another one, perhaps better than the last. Surprised, Sophia looked back up at Esmund, and gave a weak smile, “You remembered,” She stated simply, referring to how she had mentioned her desire to find a heart tree to him. With a short pause, she snuggled closer to him to shield her from the cold winds, “That sounds lovely, but I feel like I owe you so much already. Is there not a place you would rather go? Something you would rather do?”

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Nov 2 2013, 05:49 PM
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It was nice not to think for a change, not to wonder about his next course of action. No, the wanderer was perfectly content to lie here with Sophia and forget the ever increasing troubles of the world. Sounds like utter bliss to him, but there is no true bliss, only reality. And reality has a cruel way of making the world seems blue, but every once in a while, specks of light shine through and right now, for Esmund, now is one of those.

He sensed the disappointment in Sophia at his answer, but could he say? Lie to her? No, he won’t delude her with false promises. He is glad that she seems realistic enough to understand, but still, her faded smile made his chest ache with a pang of guilt. He stroked her locks of red hair, and continued to curl a stand around his finger as he contemplated on what to say before it came to him. “The future doesn’t need us right now foxling, the present does though.” It sounded dumb now that he spoke the words, but he merely trying to communicate to his lover not to worry nor question, that living in the moment is what crucial at the moment. After all, questioning the future only creates improbable desires in his experience. When he was a child he used to dream of being a knight by the age of eighteen, that didn’t happen for him. Instead of a knight he became a hermit and looking back now and the good times he had and the political drama…well he wouldn’t change his travelling life style now, though a knight would’ve been fun.

“Nay” he shook his head, his smile widening at Sophia’s surprise at his suggestion. And he laughed softly as the woman pulled down his cloak to expose their upper halves, while his eyes roamed over her naked, Sophia’s fingers traced his scars so lightly he might’ve well have been tickled by a feather. His grin widened further at her joke and her excited face and then he laughed again “I really think we could do it, perhaps not now but maybe in the coming days.” He wasn’t making any promises however.

He grinned again “Of course” he would’ve said something more, about how special that night was to him that it had been near impossible for him to forget everything Sophia had told him…but he didn’t, as he didn’t want to appear a hopeless romantic. He pulled a couple of loose hairs behind her ear and pecked her on the forehead, a rumbling laugh slipping through. He hummed softly in thought as Sophia asked him if there’s anything in particular he wished to do…and honestly he wasn’t fussed. He didn’t really need to be anywhere urgently…”Well…” he grinned as he looked down her body suggestively before leaning in “As for ‘doing’ I can think of a few things…” he chuckled again and pressed a kiss to her lower lips and then he merely exhaled a sigh, his thoughts going to crowford and what became of it, but he wasn’t exactly keen on seeing it…what’s dead should stay dead right? He sc0ffed and smiled softly “Nothing, although we might get side-tracked on the way…so who knows…” and then he felt around for his clothes and pulled them under the cloak before rising to his feet, fixing his belt he turned his gaze on Sophia “Anyways, let’s be off.” Said the male, confirming they’re going to see the heartrees.


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Sophia Graeme
 Posted: Nov 4 2013, 05:08 PM
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Could she really not hide it from him? Did he have no control over the way her expression changed when he denied her a future? Sophia’s usually bright smile faded more the longer he looked at her, until not a trace of it was left. Surely she should not feel this way. She knew all too well that the two of them were not meant to last, yet her heart ached. Perhaps it was the fear of spending the days alone with no one to talk to or laugh with, no one to hold or love. The healer scoffed quietly and managed a hint of a teasing grin, “And here I thought we would marry and have beautiful children,” She answered dryly, of course she was not serious. While a future with Esmund was improbably, a future with children was impossible. She would never have a son or daughter, never hold her newborn child. Perhaps it was better that Esmund would not stay with her, “I know,” Sophia said finally and leaned in to kiss his shoulder, “I would miss you, is all,” Again, she kissed him, moving to his neck, “And your tongue...” Her sweet chuckle rang through the air, oh so innocent.

The days to come would be lonely, but now she still had him. They were like teenagers, the way they acted together; foolish and reckless. It had been a long time since Sophia felt so young – so alive. No longer did the future seem so bleak; there were things to look forward to. Essos may be amongst those things. She had never left the Westerosi continent, but she was as curious as a woman could be and willing to learn and explore. Her red lips formed into an amused grin when she felt Esmund’s gaze on her naked form. She hid nothing from him, not even the brand mark beneath her left breast, “You can do anything if you work hard and live an honest life,” Sophia muttered, quoting her mother from years ago, “I would love to see another world like that,” She glanced up at him and her gaze was almost dreamy, her mind obviously lost in the thought of a new place, “Have you been there before? Could you tell me what it is like?”

If Sophia were to think that the night of their confessions was not special to her, she would be lying to herself. After all, it was the first time she had ever told anyone about her previous life and was accepted for it. There was no greater feeling. She smiled and leaned in to peck Esmund’s lips, no answer was required. Her blue eyes closed tight when he kissed her forehead, and then opened again in a child-like fashion, blinking innocently. But that innocence was gone just as quickly as a look of seduction took over. She returned his kiss, prolonging and deepening it until she could not hold her laughter, “Is there truly not enough blood in your body to fuel both your brain and your cock?” She teased gently, “I am sure there will be plenty of distractions...” It would not be the first time that they got ‘side tracked’ by the mere desire for each other’s warm touch, and Sophia did not mind it. She was only young, after all.

The healer dressed not long after her lover, but took her time to slip into that dress and tie her cloak around her small body. Without another word, she stepped back, turned and hurried to the stables. Off they went, into a new chapter, but not without a handful of new weapons and leaving behind a cursing merchant.

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Esmund Crowe
 Posted: Nov 9 2013, 07:08 PM
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He remained silent as Sophia privately laments on their future, while he isn’t going to admit that he will miss Sophia and her pleasant company, but his body language says otherwise, the way he would hold her to her, the way his hand would rest gently on her shoulder and tighten just slightly. He laughed softly at Sophia’s reply “Marriage? Not until the seven hells freezes over.” Answered the wanderer, the mere thought of marriage is amusing to him, but hearing it from Sophia made him defensive. He sighed and pressed his head against the tree, he didn’t wish to think of the future or what could’ve been, he is rather content with the present. “Is my tongue my only redeeming quality?” he teased, the smile on his face reaching his eyes.

He will miss Sophia, her sweet laugh, the way her nose would wrinkle when she laughs, her soft cheeks and her red hair, everything about her for some reason touches his foolish heart. He smiled in response to Sophia’s obvious delight at the thought of Essos “I have never been.” He answered with a sigh “I’m afraid the opportunity has never really presented itself, so I can’t help you there.” He replied, sad that he’ll have to disappoint Sophia just this once.

He grinned further in response to Sophia’s tease “I think it is you with the problem my sweet.” He teased; he actually meant real distractions, not the hot and messy kind. He could feel the heat rushing to his loins at the thought of sharing many ‘distractions’ with Sophia along the way, he wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea.

He followed Sophia to the stables and once they were fitted and dealt with the rude merchant, they rode off, reaching the neck within three or four days and soon, Esmund could see the fortress that his house had constantly defended over the ages…Moat Cailin, the place where it began and ended. For ten thousand years it had stood according to legend, for centuries his house had looked after it…it made him sad to gaze upon it and it reminds him of home but at the same time a sense of pride came forth as the fortress reminded him of the tale of Uriah Crowe, otherwise known as windcutter. But that’s a story for another time.

He urged his horse to go faster, he didn’t wish to lament on what his house used to be before it was disgraced, he is the son of eradicated house…that’s all. Perhaps one day, when he have the means, he might be able to restore his house as it once was…if not than he only hope his descendants will do it, if he have any that is. The only thing he can do is keep the memories of the house and retell them.
Another two days they reached the riverlands and they were so close to Saltpan that Esmund could smell the sea air, one more day they arrived at the isle of faces. Well not quite, they still had to swim over or row over but just from where Esmund was standing, he can see how breath-taking it was, he shifted his gaze to Sophia, a smile on his face despite the knowledge he knew the stories of ill-omen about the island and that’s why few travellers go here…he has also heard of the green men and he did mention this to Sophia earlier, but he didn’t say anymore in case it puts her off, she wants to go after all and Esmund will make it so.

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