08.24.3013: Pen is Mightier
Summary: Michael returns to patrol duty to find Thunder's new buddy. Balius comes by to check on Thunder, then Avalyn shows up and the conflict turns to blades between Michael and Avalyn
Date: 24 August 2013
Related: Fashion Gala (When it's put up)
Michael Balius Avalyn 

The Veldt, Obsidia
A rolling, semi-arid landscape of thorny brush and stunted trees, the veldt stretches for hundreds of miles east of Obsidia. Away from the mountains and the industry surrounding them, it is home to a wide variety of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, antelope, big cats, snakes, warthogs, and much more. Hunting camps with their own little Waygates are scattered across the veldt, often host to safaris and hunts across the veldt. Little gullies and canyons within the scrublands host streams and ponds, and provide shelter from the frequent wildfires that sweep across the veldt.
24 August 3013

The Veldt can be a sweltering place in the summer, thankfully there are dark clouds rolling over the vast arid plains drenching sections at a time in gods given watery reprieve. Near to the border of the hundreds mile landscape is a camp for patrollers to take refuge after they return, to meet up and prepare to leave, or to stop for supplies before continuing on. This camp boasts a large administrations tent, several dozen interconnected barracks tents, a decently sized medical tent with an isolation room attached for really bad cases, a mess tent, and a smithy. Off to one side is a horse corral with posts in the ground for knights and soldiers to tie up their mounts. These posts come stocked with plenty of food and water for the animals, to stave off the heat they're usually gently misted with water every so often.
Michael stands in front of Thunder, his Quellton War Stallion, scratching his head as he regards a chipmunk that's taken perch on the horse's head. Thunder seems little phased by the small rodentia atop his skull, and they seem to have even developed a sort of non verbal communication via Thunder's flicking ears. It's hard to tell, of course, but it would seem that the chipmunk is able to determine when to crouch on all fours as the stallion sneezes or swishes or dips, or really makes any sudden movements of his head.

Still getting a thrill of the warcamp, the young Stablehand wanders the camp, in search of steed and rider. Balius asks around, also curiously looking around the camp, the many conflicting dreams of his mind brewing. Lost in thought as he walks around, he eventually makes his way to the corral. Seeing Michael and Thunder, he jogs forward. "Michael!" The barefooted Quellton waves, smiling to both squire and horse as he approaches.

Avalyn drops the heavy pack of gear that she's lugged in. The medical tent has been erected and she directs a few of her fellow soldiers, giving them tasks even though technically she isn't of a rank to give orders as she seems to like to. The men don't balk though and set about the tasks given. In the interim, she looks around, taking a long drink from her canteen.

"Hey Bey, good to see you again. How's the companionship going?" Michael smiles at Balius as he approaches, then motions at the chipmunk. "So, Thunder seems to have a buddy. Any thoughts? I tried to scare the little guy off, but Thunder actually snapped at me. According to everyone around here, the chipmunk took to Thunder yesterday while I was in the Fashion show. The two started out as enemies, then became inseparable. Only time the little thing leaves if for food and water but he's back instantly." Michael just looks concerned for his horse.

Rolling his eyes, Bey chuckles at the comment. "I'm still part of the Arbor for now, Michael." He's smiling and then looks interestingly at Thunder. He'll stroke the horse's mane. "Hmmm…" He whispers into Thunder's ear, occasionally going "mhmm" as if the steed was responding somehow. He backs a step away, eying horse, chipmunk, and rider each in rotation.

Avalyn seems satisfied with how the medical tent is looking and 'dismisses' the others before raising a hand to her eyes, shielding them from any glare, surveying the camp. She sees Michael and Balius next to a large steed and a…chipmunk? Her reacyion is a raising of a brow as sne wanders closer, coming to a stop just a few feet away. "New friend, Michael?" She asks, but does she mean Balius or the rodent?

The chipmunk eyes Balius for a while, Thunder doesn't seem to do really anything or mind anything at the moment. He leans down and take a mouthful of oats to munch on noisily. Michael looks up at Avalyn, and for a moment it seems like his expression darkens just slightly, but eventually his smile is friendly enough. "Hello Avalyn, haven't you met Balius? He's Thunder's trainer, youngest Quellton and brother to Lorelei and Chiron. As for the chipmunk? He seems to be Thunder's new buddy."

"Well, Michael, I think it's safe to say Thunder has found a new friend." He'll give the chipmunk a quick pet. "It may affect his performance on the battlefield though. Luckily winter's just 'round the corner, right? Thing'll probably need to hibernate then." He gives Avalyn a wide grin. "Great to meet ya! I'm just making sure Thunder here is acclimating well. He was never good at being alone back at the stables. You doing well, miss?"

Avalyn notes the initial look on Michael's face as he sees her. Oddly enough, his expression makes her lips quirk upwards ever so slightly as a brow arches questioningly at him, challenging him with a look. She turns then and smiles at Balius, nodding her head in greeting. "Well met, master Balius. Thunder is an amazing animal, a credit to your training and care." she pauses to glance at Michael before adding "and I am doing quite well, thank you. Especially after last evenings gala. Spent a lot of my father's money and drank too much, but I slept like a babe without a care." Her laugh is soft as she turns to Michael. "How did you sleep, Michael?"

"Well, I suppose I can figure out something for the little guy to munch on along with Thunder. He can come with me… if he takes to me, he can even ride on my shoulder at times." Michael smiles at Balius, then looks at Avalyn, "I slept lousy, to be honest. The tabloids did a number on my relationship… thankfully Nimara isn't vindictive and knows how much I love her." adding weight to the L word.

Nodding and smiling along, Bey will laugh as Avalyn describes the Gala. "Free drinks and comfy bed? Sounds like a good night!" He'll be smiling broadly, still absentmindedly petting Thunder. "I've heard of some folks that keep squirrels in a pouch around their neck. Something about heartbeats and such." He shrugs, wondering how long the chipmunk might last if rations were short in a military camp.

Avalyn laughs softly, undaunted by Michael's reaction, her eyes glittering with amusement. "You should grow a thicker skin. You let things get to you too much." she murmurs drily, apparently un-phased by the 'bad' press, or perhaps just used to it? She clucks her tongue "The saintly Nimara. Such a forgiving woman. It must be hard standing next to such divinity." Ava smiles crookedly before looking at Bey "You see? Bey understands! " She laughs "Who the hell would keep a squirrel in a bag around their necks? Not a fashion statement I'd like to make."

Avalyn's comment about Nimara gets a dark look, "That's not fair, Avalyn, you've never met her. She's not like that at all, but we are together… even if we don't see each other much, we are together." He turns now to Balius, "Yeah, that whole squirrel thing is too weird. However, I'm fine with… Buddy. I'm naming the chipmunk Buddy, and don't quip about a lack of originality. If it isn't blatantly obvious, when it comes to naming things I'm not very creative… I did keep Thunder as Thunder's name after all."

Avalyn was talking about that Gala, the Quellton finally realized. Wearing a green tunic identical to the three others he owns, Bey smirks at the concerns over fashion. "Michael does have nothing but praise for his love." His tone is sincere, but he follows it with a tease.

"Even though I would like to meet the goddess." He chuckles again lightly, meaning to tease only. "I was only trying to ensure Buddy was comfy, either way, it's unique." He shrugs.

Avalyn chuckles and crosses her arms over her chest, her smile taking on a darker bent. "Fair? No one ever promised me life would be 'fair'. I missed that little missive." She smirks slightly before nodding to Bey. "Yes, yes, this I know. Funny we've never had the…pleasure of meeting her, eh master Balius?" Ava's face remains a carefully studies mask of nonchalance.

Crossing his own arms Michael regards them both with a growingly hostile expression, "She's a senator for house Cindravale, I barely get her time, and I'm her boyfriend." He looks to Thunder with a 'can you believe these people?' look, the horse looks at Michael with a 'why are you asking me?' look, the chipmunk looks at Michael with an 'I'm hungry' look, and Michael looks at the chipmunk with a, 'can you believe this horse?' look. All of them take a long moment to exchange their silent quetioning looks, one to the other… clearly the squire, horse, and rodent are fast becoming a comedy trio.

Laughing at Michael's expression, Balius chuckles. "I don't think Thunder is gonna provide you with much in the way of advice there man." He continues to stroke the steed. As an afterthought, he nods to Avalyn. "And please, just Balius. I've earned no titles…save for a few from the Taphouse back home." He'll grin at the comment, proud of some drinking contest or another.

Avalyn seems intent on pushing Michael's buttons and takes a step closer. her crossed arms matching his. She looks at Balius with an arched brow. "Oh you and I must share a pint sometime and see who drinks who under the table. I warn you, I've won that bet more than I've lost…" she smiles crookedly and looks back at Michael challengingly. "So defensive, don't you agree Balius? Makes you wonder just what gets him so worked up.: Her chin raises as she smiles. "Next thing you know, he'll resort to violence." she snorts softly. "Don't hold back on my account. I could take you. You see, I don't fight fair and I know your overdeveloped sense of honor…" she baits him.

Without warning, Avalyn is suddenly finding herself lifted easily off the ground and held over Michael's head before he drops her slightly into his arms to just hold her like a newly wed bride carried over the threshold for the first time. He looks at her sternly, "I'm not violent, but you couldn't take me. I've been training in combat for eighteen years, and I'm just around the corner from getting knighted. I have all the skills, just need to do something noteworthy." He doesn't put her down just yet, his body doesn't even seem to strain or really work at keeping her lifted like this.

Completely taken aback by the physical nature of the moment, Bey's face hardens. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Jeez man…got any sense of self control?" There's a slight hint of teasing, as if Bey is hoping for some practical joke that yields laughter.

A squeak of protest, so un-soldierly, emits from Avalyn's lips as she is bench-pressed over Michael's head, then unceremoniously dropped into his arms. The look of shock is comical and there are sounds of laughter from more than one soldier milling about. Ava's ego is stung by the way she is so easily 'handled' and balls a fist to strike Michael in his unprotected chest, squirming in anger like some trapped feral cat.

A scowl goes to the other soldiers, and the look alone causes them to choke down their laughter and scurry off to make it seem like they have somewhere they were supposed to be. Michael's chest is rock hard as Avalyn slams her fist into him, and he shakes his head at her. "I told you I'm not violent." His eyes roam the area, and all three of them are alone for all the horses milling about… plus Buddy who's content with just watching everything happen… Michael takes a second look at Avalyn and then plant one on her, his payback for the Gala in a sense. After he pulls away, the liplock lasting seconds only, Michael sets Avalyn on her feet and turns to face Thunder.

There are no words available to the youngest Quellton as he watches the confusing scene unfold in front of him. A series of contradictions…a violent act followed by a kiss…not to mention what of Nimara? Balius feels pulsing adrenaline and shock. There was an increasing narrative developing in his mind that decency was lost to knights and nobles, with the good ones disproving the rule. "I…" He releases a defeated sigh, having no clue what to make of the situation.

Avalyn's sounds of protest die in her throat as Michael kisses her, going shock still as his lips cover hers. And then to be so summarily tossed aside like a sack of potatoes is almost too much for her overdeveloped ego. Balius can see the look that enters her eyes as she stares at Michael's turned back and it bodes ill for him. She looks at Bey then before turning and striding away…one might think she is retreating, but her nerves are frayed raw for some reason. A soldier nearby says "Hey!" as Ava pulls his sword from his scabbard and turns back to stride angrily in Michael's direction. Will Bey alert him or will Michael's natural danger sense alert him to her apparently imminent attack.

Balius doesn't need to warn Michael, he heard the soldier's shout and turns to watch Avalyn come at him with a blade. He pulls his hunting dagger, the large serrated fourteen inch monoblade with a sword breaker along the spine. He gets into a ready position, "So, you'll attack someone who kisses you then just leaves? Then I get the first strike, I owe you for last night. That wasn't cool of you to do that to me, Avalyn. It's been hard enough keeping what distance I can from you, that hit a line." Michael doesn't sound angry, he sounds more upset than anything else.

"Can you two just fuck or stop throwing tantrums like three year olds?!?" She pulled a sword. Balius was in absolute disbelief. What was their problem. His scream is loud and there's just a hint of a whine to it, as if from a child who's used to watching his siblings fight. He's moved closer to the armed people, not entirely certain how to break up the pending fight. He's hoping that the attention from it all might be enough, though his med kit is handy. His breathing is heavy.

"Not cool? Not cool of me?" Avalyn hisses through clenched teeth. He may be upset, but she has passed pissed and is heading for full on rage. Over a kiss? or is it more than that? "Don't pretend you didn't enjoy it, Michael!" She blinks over at Bey as he yells at them. She waves the sword about, still in a fine fit of rage. "Don't look at me!" She points the sword in Michael's direction as she answers Balius. "He's the one who refuses to see the truth! Its his fault it has come to this. He drives me insane. I just want to hit him…once…hard!"

"THEN FUCKING HIT ME!" Michael's voice carries with a strength born into him by his mother, not as powerful as an awakened's magic enhanced shout but loud enough to hurt the ears a bit. "Refuses to see WHAT truth? Avalyn!" Michael shakes his hunting his hunting from the irritation building an anger in him, then his rage directs at Balius. "The fuck was that?" Almost a mimic of the time Anabethe sad the same at him, before turning back to Avalyn.

Having had enough, Bey just laughs at the two of them. "Once you two pick up your dignity off the dirt and have a real talk, we should all go out for a drink." With a shrug, he pats Thunder and jogs off.

Avalyn continues to wave the blade around as she yells back at Michael, though his voice far exceeds her in sheer manly volume. She paces back and forth "Gods Michael, for a fairly intelligent man, you can be fucking dense! Fine! You ask for it, and I give it to you!" she smirks "It;ll be a pleasure!" she snarls as she lunges at Michael. She isn't a pretty fighter, her technique is to unpracticed, but she makes up for it in 'enthusiasm'.

No, her technique isn't practiced… sloppy really when compared to Michael. Even with only a dagger the squire is a well trained fighter. Eighteen years he's been at this, and when it come to swords it shows. He sidesteps easily and thwacks the back of her leg, "Spell it out for me as you also learn to lead with your good leg. Looks and enthusiasm don't cut it against hostiles hunny." the last word comes as he turns to face her. He hasn't made to attack back, not yet at least.

Avalyn stumbles past Michael as her clumsy lunge gets swept aside. She cries out as the sting of the flat of his blade hits the backside of her leg. She manages to stay standing though and wheels about, his calm only multiplying her anger, making her foolishly bold. "Figure it out for yourself! Just quit dancing around and fight me!" she grits out through clenched teeth. This time she does lead with the right foot though. At least she is listening and may even learn a thing or two.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Michael shakes his head, and starts to try and explain what he thinks is the issue, missing her attack and taking the hit hard, getting a slash that starts to bleed a little. Thank the Six he's wearing a padded skinsuit and her strike doesn't go deep. "Are you even trying?" he eggs her on, "The fuck was that? Thunder, you sneeze on me?" flicking a gaze a the horse who returns the look with a 'You're on your own dipstick' one of his own. Buddy offers an excited chitter at least, before just watching again. Michael looks back at Avalyn, "So what? You're jealous because of all the men you've fucked and forgotten, I'm the one guy you haven't fucked and can't forget?" Oh, he'd have said it nicer, but she just hit him with a sword! Nice went out the window a while ago.

Avalyn's jaw drops as she whirls around to face Michael. Did he just say that to he? Oh yes he did. "You pigheaded oaf! How do you get that ego through a door?" She indicates her cut with a nod of her head "Keep talking, you pompous prick, but I seem to be the one that drew first blood! What do you say to that?!" Her blue eyes darken to a stormy hue "Jealous?!" her voice raises a shrill octave "Me?! You're delusional. Don't pretend you don't want me…I've seen you staring at my ass!" she hisses as she makes yet another lunge at him.

Michael doesn't try very hard to hit her, allowing her blade to flat slap him again, and hard. "Yeah, draw blood bitch. I've had far fucking worse than you could ever do! As for wanting you? I fucking told you already that I do!" this time, he attacks her with his own motion to take the blade into the breaker and drag if from her hands if he can. "And yeah you're jealous, you're jealous of my girlfriend because she's barely around, doesn't have to work for it, and still gets the guy. She won my heart, and will have my body, and that just pisses you off cause none of the other men have ever shown you the kind of commitment I show Nimara. You said you didn't need nor want emotional ties, big fucking lie that was! It's the one thing you can't seem to get, and it drive you up a fucking wall doesn't it?" the last more of a rhetorical statement than a question.

"I know you've had worse! I've stitched you up myself, you stupid fuck!" The more he talks the angrier Ava gets, his barbs hitting home more than his blade at this point. She manages to make a fairly graceful move to avoid being disarmed, circling him as am overconfident smile come to her lips. Her pride is stung and she lashes out with words before physically challenging him again. She resorts to childish name calling, unable to deflect his accurate analysis of her love life or lack thereof. "Jackass! Bastard! Stop talking! Just shut your mouth! I'm fucking tired of hearing what you think you have. A love so great that she never sees you, never spends time with you. She's off fucking her aides every chance she gets. I bet she spreads her legs wide for every hard prick that asks her to." She screams now as she swings again.

Her blade rings into place inside the blade breaker and he twists it free of her hands, "E- fucking- nough. I don't ever want to her you say that about Nimara again. Call me all the name in the gods damn system, but you say one thing like that about her again and not only will I not talk you ever again, I'll hit you hard enough this war will be over before the stars you'll see fade." he turns away from her, "You know what your problem is Avalyn? You see something you want, and when you think you can't have it, you try to burn all the bridges down so it doesn't hurt so bad when he walks away. You want a guy to fall for you? Be the woman who comforted me by the lake shore, by the woman who's walked with me patrol, or ridden with me on patrol. The friend first, love later. Don't be so fucking quick to jump into the sack with the first guy who gets a hard on when he sees you, take your time build a relationship day by day. Nimara and I fell for each other in a week, but after all this time we've still not slept together. Not because we don't want to, but because we're still working things out. Its different when it means something." With that, he walks to the soldier who's been watching this whole time… mostly Avalyn's boobs and ass, hands him his sword then heads for the bunk tents.

Avalyn can only stand there in impotent rage, the sword she so unceremoniously borrowed being wrenched from her grip. She winces as her hand gets twisted the wrong way. She rubs her wrist as he speaks, unable to meet his gaze fully, unable to block what she hears. She tries desperately to hold on to that anger, the only thing she has, but its a war she loses. "Its so easy for you, the perfect man with the perfect life. Some people aren't so lucky to be born with what it takes for someone to fall in love with them. Why even try. You only end up hurt and alone. I'm smarter than that. I'm not afraid of the truth. Love and leave, its the only way to not be a victim. You want me to try it your way? Fine. I'll show you what reality looks like. The next man I date, I wont sleep with. I guarantee with my charms, he wont even ask for a second date." She lets loose a breath and lowers her gaze, obscuring what her eyeas reflect. "call it a social experiment."

Her words stop him and he turns around to look at her, Michael closes the distance between them in a few short strides and with a hand lifts her chin so her eyes meet his. The light that shines in them isn't pure, it glows between steel bars like sunrise through a wrought iron fence. "You think I don't know the pain of losing love? Roan was everything to me, everything. I nearly shamed her memory by considering joining her, ending this journey with my own hand so that I could hold hers during the next." His gaze is intense, never faltering, "It was foolish of me to act that way, and I dragged myself out of it by the skin of my teeth so that I could make her memory proud. You dishonor the name of the people you've loved by acting like this. You want to win me over? You were off to a good start when I was weak, now you meet the full Michael and he's not so easily swayed by lust-filled words so why try? Instead see if he'll fall prey to lust-filled actions, and behold he's a fuckin' saint isn't he? No, he isn't. He went home to his vidcomm and broke down crying to his girlfriend because he felt guilty for wanting to kiss you more. Because he wants more. Nimara was upset yes, but she understands too. We're not over, she and I, but things just can't be the same anymore. Social experiment my ass, you're saying that to guilt me. Its you who doesn't take up the second date, too afraid he might be the one and you've got nothing to bring to the table but a great body. You're more than boobs, ass, legs, and hair Avalyn. And when you finally realize that you're above just sleeping around for the sheer hell of it make yourself feel wanted and loved for a night, you might finally win a guy like me." There, he lets her go but he doesn't leave. He stands right there, his presence less commanding and more gentle now, almost comforting.

"Loved?" Avalyn snorts softly "I've never loved anybody Michael. I'm not capable of that particular emotion. Sorry to disappoint you. Stop analyzing me! You know everything about me already, everything you need to know is right here." When he urges her gaze to his, he can see the pain there that she tries to hide. "We keep talking circles and I get it. You love Nimara, I get it, I'm second string. I'm not waiting in the wings anymore. I cant even maintain a normal friendship. Just…drop it. Lets just go back to the way things are best. You fight, I stitch up. Seems that's the only way we can get along without me ruining things." She rubs her temples and heads towards the med tent. "I need a drink."

"Yes you have. Avalyn." Michael calls as she starts to walk away, "yes you have…" he repeats a second softer time. He starts to follow her, then reaches out and grabs hold of her pulling her to him and putting both strong arms around her. "You haven't even tried, Avalyn." and if she doesn't avoid him this time he rests his forehead against hers. "I've figured out the mask, the you that you show for others so that the you I want to know can stay safe. I told you to show me the truth, so where is that so called brutal honesty?" he voice soft against her lips as he stands there close now.

Avalyn is trembling as Michael's hand wraps around her arm. At first she cant bring herself to even look at him, stubbornly keeping her face turned away. She doesn't pull away as she is enfolded in his embrace, instead a small sound issues from her lips, stifling there as she swallows hard, eyes closing as she stubbornly refuses to let him see her cry. Never has he heard her voice so weak, so fragile "I…can't Michael, I can't let you see behind the mask, I can't let you have more power over me than you already do…" Her fingers are curled so tightly against her palms that her nails draw blood. When she finally has enough courage to look up, there is a raw vulnerability there, like she wants to say it, but can't allow the words to form. "It hurts so much…" she whispers.

His voice continues in his soft gentle way, "Yes it does. But I don't have power over you, Avalyn. I have greater physical strength, faster reflexes… but you hold your own power not born of this mask. You're an exceptional woman all your own, no need for this facade to buffer you from the pain of falling. It takes falling, and falling hard, to learn to pick yourself back up again and get tougher. It doesn't have to hurt so much, if you let someone you can trust in. You see how committed and trustworthy I am, I'm here for you Avalyn. I swear on Roan's name that I won't betray your trust, not even if it could bring her back to me."

(Scene paused check back for part two)

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