An Apple For A Teacher

Title: An Apple For A Teacher
Time Period: July 15, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A stable hand makes a startling first impression. But Caera gets an apple for her troubles and potentially a future (part time) student.

Finding a fruit tree that hasn't been pecked clean by the birds and the squirrels can often be a trial. Or sometimes it isn't. A rustle of leaves is the main indicator that there's something larger than the usual animal up in one of the many trees that fill this forest. The good fruits are few and far between, but Cas Blackburn plucks an apple off of the thiner branch and checks it over visually, before putting it into the pouch attached to his belt.

Often these would be used for trade, but there's always more possibilities.

Stretching, he braces himself against the trunk to reach up for another…

And as the apple comes loose, he loses his balance. There's a sound of protest, and then a flailing, the leaves and branches shake.

And then there's a solid thud of a medium sized man-boy hitting the ground. Followed by an "Ow."

Caera is at home in the wilds. It is comfortable to her, despite its dangers, the final home of her childhood. She is a schoolteacher, but this is where her element is. She is moving through the forest, in a battered green dress, with a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder, and a bow and arrow in her hands. She thought she was hunting a particularly small, buck along a deer trail - she saw some fairly recent deer tracks - when she realizes that she's taken a wrong turn, and the tracks are definately not from a deer.

Peering between two pines, she cautiously approaches the fruit tree, trying to discern what it is she has accidently been tracking, and what, precisely, is in the tree… when an apple falls on the ground beside her.

And a moment later, she jumps backwards with a shriek as the medium-sized man-boy hits the ground.

The shriek is enough to jar him out of his 'ow'. Brown eyes look up from under tree-raggled dark hair. "I'm okay," Cas says immediately, in an accent that isn't actually from Dornie, though there's a few southerns who make this town their home. A hand reaches up to run through his hair, partially gloved, but the fingers have been cut out so his fingers are actually free from the fabric.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you… You're not going to shoot me with that, are you?" he looks at the bow, almost as if he might actually be worried she would, even with a sheepish smile that dimples his cheeks showing he hopes his joke is just that, a joke.

Caera looks at Cas warily before lowering her bow and putting her arrow back in the quiver. She moves a step backwards. She peers from the apple to the tree, an uncertain, wary look on her face. "You dropped your apple." she says, nodding towards it. "Hungry?"

"Oh, it's not for me," Cas says in his soft tones, looking more relieved than he probably should. It makes his smile more lopsided and boyish, though.

As he gets to his feet, he steps over to grab the apple, checking it for terrible dents and rotting, before he puts it in his pouch. A moment later he's checking the pouch to make sure he didn't go and land on it and ruin his apples. There's a slight limp to his movements, but otherwise he looks like the fall left no permenant damage. "I pick them for trade, or the horses, horses tend to like treats and some of them deserve it."

Caera nods her head. "Ah, I see. Yes, the horses deserve fruit. There's a grove not that far away, near the Moor. Did you try over there? The best ones are going to be away from the deer trails." She glances towards Cas again, looking him up and down. "Are you sure you are alright?"

"What really?" the young man says with an excited tinge to his voice. Despite the fact he looks as if he is likely older than her, something about him seems like one of the boys she would be teaching how to read still. Cas is all smiles as he looks in the direction that she points. "Oh— yeah, I'm good. Everything still seems to be attached." He pats himself down again on the legs to be sure. "Probably going to bruise, though…" he admits.

But it doesn't seem to be getting him down, other than the sheepish quality he's taken the more he talks about it. "I'm not really good at finding deer trails— is that what you were out here for? Hunting deer?"

"I've lived off of the land for most of my life." Caera explains. "I prefer to gather my own food rather then pay someone to do it for me. If I don't have the time to gather or hunt what I need, I'm probably eating too much. A little bit of hunger is good for you." She nods, in agreement. "I was." She seems to be increasing in confidence as she speaks. "You really should be more careful."

"I've lived off the land a few times— I think I prefer working in the stables for my meals," Cas says with a sheepish sound to his voice, looking at the bow and arrows again. "Plus I don't think I could shoot a deer. They remind me too much of horse foals." He laughs after a moment, as if trying to cover what he just said. "And I'd probably shoot myself in the foot." No matter how hard such a feat might be.

Caera smiles. "Yes, some like to tell themselves the animals do not suffer, or…don't mind." She frowns, slightly. "That isn't true. But I'd like to think that I kill what I need to eat, and…that there is a dignity to such a death."

"I got no problem spearing a fish, but the deer and their little black eyes…" Cas makes gestures at the air as if he's not sure what he would do if he got caught in a deer's eyeline. "But that's just me. If you can do it, good for you. It's a better death than most to be killed to keep others alive." He grins, before looking back in the direction she indicated the grove. Or— was it that way. He seems confused a moment. "So are you from around here?" he asks in a bad attempt to cover his confusion.

"Caera." the woman replies. "I'm one of the schoolteachers." She points her finger. "The grove is that way." She points her finger in a different direction. "Town is that way." She lets another smile creep onto her face, very slowly. "You spend a lot of time lost, don't you?"

"What— no, I— I don't— " Cas says, looking rather embarassed. "I know the way I came and I know how to get back." But there's a hint in the way he trails off that he might want to follow that up with a 'most the time'. Or an even more honest 'some of the time'. "I'm Cas. I work at the Rowntree stables." Which isn't at all close to where he is, at all. "It's my day off, though."

Caera nods her head. "Well, we've met then." she states, matter of factly. "If you want, I can show you the way. I enjoy walking, and I don't have that much else to do. I tend to have a bit more free time then some, since school is only two days a week."

"Sure, thanks!" It'll save him hours of looking for the grove and likely never finding it again. But hopefully Cas can find it again if shown. He looks around as if trying to remember the landmarks before he steps up to follow her. "We didn't have schools where I grew up. Me mum taught us some, but she died when I was a kid and my new mum wasn't very good at that sort of thing. Or my aunt. What all do you teach?" It seems he's not a very good hunting companion.

Fortunately, Caera gave up on hunting when he first fell out of the tree. She moves through the woods, staying on trails when necessary, and straying off when she has to. She's only been in this town for a few years, but she is very good with the forest. "A bit of everything." Caera replies. "Reading, if you want it. Math, history, astronomy, philosophy. Things that the ancients knew, that we don't, but should." She ducks under a particularly lowhanging branch. "Was there anything you really wanted to know, but never asked?"

Such a question seems to be the first thing to really make him quiet for a time. Cas opens his mouth a few times as he walks, before closing it to reconsider, fingers toying with the strings on the bag hanging from his belt. After a a few long moments of that, he settles on, "I don't really know! I— do you teach— anyone things? Like if I wanted to learn about… history or astroa— whatever the rest of that was— you could teach me some?"

"I could." Caera replies. "But it depends on what you would be interested in. The world's a big place, and there's a lot to learn. Its important that we learn, too…or we'll just make guesses, and then, eventually, people will insist the guesses are the truth…and we won't really know."

There's a thoughtful expression on Cas' face for a time as he stares off ahead of them. "So what would someone like me have to do to get those lessons? I mean if you hunt for your own food you probably won't take a couple fresh clean fish or washed apples… The only thing I could really teach in return is how to ride." There's a pause, before he adds, "Or spear a fish if you really wanted."

Caera considers that as she walks. "I wouldn't mind learning how to ride." she responds. "Learning for learning seems fair enough to me. Spearing a fish is an important skill, too." She points. "The clearing is just up ahead."

"Great, wonderful," Cas says, not sounding as if he's exaggerating in finding such a deal to be great. "Next time I have a day off, I'll have to come find you, and you can tell me all about something while I teach you how to ride or spear a fish. And while I'm working I can think of something to ask you about, too." There's a pause, before he adds, "I guess I'll need to know somewhere I can find you, too. I think I know where the school house is…"

"Usually a good place to start." Caera replies. "I'm either there or out here. If I'm home, I'm sleeping, or want to be alone." she says. Walking into the small clearing, surrounded by a small number of apple trees, she gestures around. "And here we are."

For a moment, Cas seems awestruck. He was paying attention to her words, really, but there's all these trees. "I could be here for days and still not pick all of these," he admits with a grin, before he unties the bag to see how much room he can carry— and perhaps considering his options. Then he suddenly thinks of something. "No one owns this, right? I'd rather like to keep my neck … un… strangled."

Caera shrugs. "Uh, to be honest I never asked that question. We are far enough away from town that I'd consider it suspect, but you never know who owns what when you point things out to people with weapons." she replies.

There's a pause, before Cas looks back up at the trees, "I'll just have to make sure I only take as much as I can carry at a run, then." The getting caught part will be his only worry. "And hey, I'm doing them a favor. The squirrels are gonna get these eventually— at least if I pick them they'll end up buying me an extra loaf of bread or something."

Caera frowns, slightly. This wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but she's not going to object. "Whatever you feel best." she replies, a bit warily. "Just remember the way back. Follow the deer trails, mostly, and you should be fine."

There's a pause, as if Cas is noticing her frown. He hesitates for a moment, before plucking one of the apples from his pouch and holding it out to her. "Pretty sure I know the way," he even makes a vague gesture, though he probably doesn't know the deer trails too well.

After a second he adds on, "I really won't end up taking that many. The bag can only hold so much," he admits. But he's still holding one out for her, either way. "So you have something to snack on on the way back to town?" he says in a tone that seems half-questioning and half-offering.

Caera takes the apple. "Thank you." she replies. "This should tide me over. So, your a stablehand. Do you like it?"

The sudden question takes him by surprise, but Cas nods, rather emphatically. "I always loved working with horses. I'd rather train them— but it's fine just to take care of them, too. They can take care of themselves just fine in the wild, but if you want them to work for you, you have to work for them, first."

"How do you work for them?" Caera asks, walking back towards the deer trail. "I don't understand people much, I certianly don't understand horses."

There's a long moment where Cas glances back at the grove, then decides to follow her for a few moments longer, even if it takes him away. Surely he can find it again when he finishes explaining. "Well, for one you need to give them food and water. If you took them out of their fields they need you to bring it to them. And then you have to clean up after them, cause— well— no one wants to be in a smelly stall for very long, and they can get sick."

He seems to get animated as he talks about this, waving his hands around. "And you need to check their hooves daily, to make sure they didn't step on anything— wild horses have stronger hooves, for some reason, but the tame ones weaken. So you have to keep them clean and trimmed if you don't want them to get sick. A horse's health starts in the feet." For a moment he sounds as if he's quoting.

Caera nods her head. After a moment, she realizes that she's been taking him away from the grove, and stops walking. "Do you have any ideas as to why the wild ones have stronger hooves?" she asks.

"I think it's cause they walk more, and have rougher terrain than the stables," Cas says, looking grateful that they've stopped moving away from the grove, for the time being. But he still looks as if this is a subject he's very passionate about. "I mean most the ones who get weak hooves spend a majority of their day standing around in stalls eating hay. The ones that are pastured tend to do better, but then you have to catch them when you want to ride anywhere, or work the fields, and most people find that more bothersome than keeping their hooves trimmed."

"I see." Caera says, thinking it over. "Well, I do have a tutorial session later today, and you do have a grove to pick, so this will have to be goodbye for now."

"Right," Cas says, still looking as if there's more he could tell about horses, but… "Next time I get a day off I'll try and stop by," he says with a gesture. "Enjoy the apple, Miss Caera," he adds on, showing he remembers her name.