The children were playing hide and seek in the woods outside of the Steel Nidaros Estates. Several new friends from the Savage Village were playing with them. Tempest was “it” and searching the woods for the others. She whooped with glee as she spots Spotted Owl and takes off chasing him through the woods. Spotted Owl runs further and further into the woods, laughing as Tempest follows. Spotted Owl stops suddenly, Tempest running into him and toppling them both. When they manage to untangle, Tempest sees what had made Spotted Owl stop short.
A Lady, wearing leather pants and bustier lays unconscious under a tree. Her leg is obviously broken and caught in a troll trap. Tempest looks to Spotted Owl, “You go get help! I’ll stay with her” she says.
Spotted Owl runs like the wind back to the hollering Tempest’s location in the woods as he runs. By the time Spotted Owl returns with Uncle Earl and Gnieus, the rest of the kids had gathered with Tempest. The woman was awake and speaking with them but seemed very weak. The men gently lay the Lady on a stretcher they had brought along and between them, return to the Estates with her.
Jillian Rose was her name and she was an artist. She had a sweet, outgoing yet quiet disposition, atleast until Gnieus was in her line of sight. Whenever she and Gnieus saw one another, both scowled and instantly a bad moon worthy of a dragon tamer out of meat came upon them. It all started the moment Jillian had regained consciousness. Gnieus had yelled at her calling her a silly female because she had not watched where she was stepping. Jillian however, ranted at him for having a troll trap where just anyone could step into it. Gnieus retorted that it wasn’t his troll trap and the conversation went downhill from there.
Jillian had no family and it was decided instantly that she would remain at the Steel Estates while she was recovering. Chad had gone to Skara Brae to the Inn and retrieved her belongings from the Inn while Pudge planned menus to put some meat on those skinny bones and Milla set up her a guest room on the ground floor of the estates. With Tara and Tempest’s insistence, Chase took the girls to Luna to buy their guest some beautiful dresses and art supplies. Tempest, a fledgling artist herself said Jillian would expire if she couldn’t channel her artistic urges and Tara insisted that any Lady needs pretty dresses to feel better. Of course the girls came home from that shopping trip loaded down with their own art supplies and dresses.
Evening on the second evening at the Estates found Jillian sitting in a special chair Uncle Earl had made for their guest. The children had fought over who got to push Jillian around in the chair until Kelin and Broadrick decided to chase the family cat through the garden. Jillian’s screams brought Gnieus running. After berating the boys, he began pushing the chair himself, grumbling the entire time. Gnieus had pushed the chair to a spot with a gorgeous view of the fountain and left her there with the gruff promise of sending someone after her in an hour. She had watched his retreating back with tears rolling unchecked down her cheeks.
It was thus as Caius had found her a short time later. He smiled to her kindly and sat on a nearby bench, “I’m Caius Broadrick. It’s very nice to meet you. My brother Gnieus has lost all social graces and for that, I apologize for him. It’s no excuse, but he is fighting many daemons”, Caius told her quietly.
“I haven’t done anything to him to make him hate me so”, Jillian replied quietly.
“I sincerely believe that you have not done anything intentionally”, Caius replied.
“What does that mean?” Jillian’s voice began rising as she got agitated at this other Broadrick male.
“What that means” said Stormy as she stepped into the light from the garden path “is that my husband is too….” Stormy looks to Jillian thoughtfully and taps her chin with her finger “too noble… no, that’s not the right word. Shy… that’s it… Caius is too shy to tell you that the unintentional thing you have done to Gnieus is that you are very pretty”, Stormy finished.
Jillian looks to Stormy with astonishment, “That makes no sense at all.” She looks between Caius and Stormy and back again.
Caius grins that charming Broadrick smile and takes his wife’s hand in his own before speaking again, “It makes perfect sense if you’re Gnieus. I’d like to introduce you to my wife. This is Stormy. Stormy, this is Jillian.”
Stormy smiles to Jillian, “We’ve come to rescue you and take you to dinner. You’re in for a treat. Pudge is the best chef ever!”
Caius and Stormy push Jillian’s chair into the huge dining room where everyone is gathered for the evening meal. Almost everyone, there was one who was absent from the gathering. “Suits me just fine and dandy”, Jillian muttered under her breath causing Stormy to smile.
A couple of weeks later, Chase pushes Jillian’s chair to her room, “I was wondering Jillian if you’d consider staying with us even after you’re healed. The children have never been so enthusiastic about their studies. Even though I still think you shouldn’t be doing so much until your leg has healed completely”, Chase says.
“I’m not doing too much Chase. I’m sitting in my chair and just giving them guidance in their studies and I’ll consider your offer. I’ve grown to care a great deal about most of you”, she replies.
Kelin sits on the docks fishing with Gnieus. He looks to his Da a long time before speaking, “Da? Why do you hate Jillian?”
Gnieus takes a deep breath and looks to his son, “Kelin, I don’t hate Jillian… It’s just complicated.”
“But Da, if she leaves, we’ll lose the best teacher we’ve ever had. She’s always happy until she sees you and then you’re mean to her”, Kelin replies.
“I’m mean? Is that really how it seems?”, Gnieus asks.
“It’s not how it seems Da”, Kelin says, “its how it is.”
Gnieus tosses his line back into the water then looks to Kelin. “I’ll make it right son. I have not meant to be mean to her”, Gnieus says.
The following morning, Gnieus spots Uncle Earl pushing Jillian’s chair toward the garden and quietly steps up to take over the pushing. Earl scowls at him, looking at him long and hard before letting Gnieus take over the pushing. “Where do you want to be Jillian?” he asks her.
Startled at his voice, Jillian looks to Gnieus with an instantly guarded expression and much to his astonishment, a little bit of fear, “erm um here is fine. Th Thank you”, she manages to stammer out.
Gnieus looks to her then sits on a bench nearby. He looks to his hands as he speaks softly to her. “When Kelin was about a year old, Pirates killed my wife and captured me. They tortured me trying to get the whereabouts of Kelin from me for well over eight years. I’m not telling you this as an excuse, but perhaps more of an explanation.” Gnieus speaks so softly that it would have been hard to understand his words had Jillian not been so riveted to them. He looks up from his hands now and his bright blue eyes look intently into hers. “What I’m trying and failing miserably in saying is that I am very sorry for the way I have treated you. It is inexcusable and it will not happen again.” Gnieus finishes and abruptly stands. “I hear the children coming. Please believe that I am very sorry” He turns and walks away, his shoulders stooped as if the weight of the world was on them.
Jillian stared at his retreating back for what seems like a long time. She watches as he stops and the children swarm around him and all give him hugs. He is so gentle with them and she cannot see for even a moment a glimpse of the man she had just seen. For them, he is strong. She believes his apology is sincere if for no other reason that he allowed her to see how vulnerable he is. She swipes a single tear away as the children run to her to begin their lessons.
The following weeks were peaceful as Jillian’s broken leg heals. She becomes dear to the entire family and truly begins thinking of them as her own family. Chase continues pressing her for a commitment to remain with them indefinitely and she continues to tell him she is thinking about it. Finally, the Healer removes her Cast and gives her a clean bill of health. The entire family celebrates with a BBQ in her honor. In the middle of the festivities, Jillian finds Gnieus alone and staring out at the water. He sits on the edge of the dock with his feet barely above the water line. Jillian sits beside him and smiles tentatively, “I thank you for your frankness with me before and I forgive you. I’m sorry for my behavior before as well. I would however, like to start again with you.” She holds out her hand to him and he looks to her. “Could we possibly be friends Gnieus Broadrick?” she asks him.
Gnieus smiles to Jillian and takes her hand, shaking it. “I’d like to be your friend Jillian Rose.”
Kelin pipes up behind them, “It’s about time and speaking of time, the roasted pig is ready.” Kelin turns and runs back to the kids, ready to eat.
Gnieus and Jillian return to the others and pile their plates high with the feast food. During the meal, Jillian looks to Chase and speaks clearly. “I’ve decided to remain here and be the teacher of the kids.” she says to an uproar of applause.
The Saga of Kelin and his adventures will continue in “The Adventures of Kelin 17 coming soon to the bookstore at The PaxOku Silent Rose Library!
Peace and Knowledge be with you!
1 August 2011