Title: Ennobled
Time Period: December 12th, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Jørn gives Mairi a prize, his ability to give gifts remaining ever-suspect; over tea, she also has some rather sage advice.

It is the time of day when those putting wagons to market have just gotten back; evening activity is just beginning, and many find themselves with equal chores to morning. With some there are less, of course, and perhaps the Fairbairn place is one of them; Jorn does not know if that is true or not, but so far his guessing game has been quite good. He can usually time when someone may sit for tea or simply a break. If he is wrong- well- he is patient. Jorn's ride to the farmhouse is smooth sailing, though finding a place to leave Kuu to graze less so. She wants to keep following him, knickering from nearby when he ascends to knock upon the door. At his side, he cradles something wrapped in burlap, oblong and awkwardly angled in the sack swaddling.

"No, Kuu." He has to turn back after rapping on the door, to pick up the mare's reins and lead her away again and nudge her face to the grass sprouts.

Mairi is done with her chores. Mostly because she makes sure to have the important ones done well before she heads into town. Sometimes she works late, should she have projects she wants to work on, but mostly she allows herself to relax. It's the sound of Jorn and his horse that first gets her attention. Or perhaps it's actually Stalwart hearing them that alerts her, and she's on her feet when he knocks on the door.

The door opens, and Mairi stands in the doorway, a smile on her face when she notes him with the horse. "She seems like a sweet one. She's beautiful."

Kuu lifts her nose to put it to the side of his face. He snorts and pushes her soft muzzle away, trying to look dignified in front of Mairi, despite the horse's apparent affections. She noses at his back when he turns to face the woman of the house, dipping his chin in hello.

"Of course." Jorn squints back to gently push her away again. The mixed-mare puts her head down to investigate what he is holding. It probably smells like whatever it was that he had in the bag first. Vegetables, no doubt. "And bothersome. No." Another reprimand, and she swivels both ears and turns her side to him instead.

"I brought you something. I do not know if you will like it…" Voice at a low volume, Jorn wavers between clarity and uncertainty. "Nor if I am sure if it is… proper."

Mairi steps out of the doorway, genuinely smiling as she sees Kuu's affection. She heads over to offer her hand to the horse to sniff, but her main attention is on Jorn. She offers him a reassuring smile. "You'll find I'm hard to offend and I will be brutally honest with you if you would like me to when it comes to whatever it is you've brought." She pauses, looking at him seriously.


While the horse goes about turning her head to look at Mairi, nose toward the open palm, Jorn forms a sigh through his nose; the noise is frustrated, though not at her, nor the horse. He takes up the wrapped package from under his elbow, gloves scratching against the rough material.

"Ja, here you are." Jorn offers it out on both palms, and she can now see that it is indeed an awkward shape- almost conical, of a sleek, acute angle. "If you would prefer not to have it, I surely can find another use." From the sound of it, Jorn is willing to be at either end; if she does not like it, he will not take it too personally. He is a man of- differing- tastes.

When she takes it from its wrappings, Mairi will find that it is a smoothly boned skull, with familiar, conical spines from above the earholes, and a set of sharp and mostly present teeth inside of the jaw. The texture- or lack thereof- is the biggest marker of the beast's youth. The same one that burnt her wagon and almost- well- killed her, and her horse.

The horse is offered a smile, but it's the present that Mairi is curious about. When the wrappings are taken off, she gasps sharply. Mostly because she's holding a dragon's skull. It's a lot more frightening when it's in your hands. "That scared me for a moment," she murmurs, letting out a relieved breath.

With initial surprise over, she takes a moment to carefully feel along the skull, studying it with a surprisingly curious look. "This is… kind of amazing. I've never seen something like this up close." She blinks at it slowly. "And… you don't want to keep it for yourself? This is quite a trophy, I'm sure."

Jorn looks startled when Mairi gasps, blue eyes blinking alert before he calms his gaze. He looks mildly off after that, pursing his lips to watch her examine it further.

"A trophy by any other name is still a trophy." He tries to not chuckle at how that comes out, though it fails somewhat, and his flat expression splinters for a few seconds. "He was not very old. Just-weaned, likely. And foolish." Regarding that stinking injury, anyway.

"If it is not becoming of you, do not feel that you need to keep it." His hands meet, one kneading the other.

"Oh, no, Jorn…" Mairi pauses, one finger gently touching the tip of a tooth with a slight wince before she moves her finger to somewhere safer. "I am just surprised. And I thought it might be something you wanted to keep. And I think it is a perfectly fine gift… you saved me from it. It will remind me to be careful and to learn how to fight just a bit better. Perhaps if I put it up somewhere it will scare off intruders."

A genuine smile is offered towards Jorn. "Thank you. It is a very generous gift and one I won't soon forget. Maybe some ladies would have been offended, but… I suppose I'm a very simple woman. And not at all very elegant, I'm afraid. It's proper enough for me."

"Or other dragons." It sounds like a joke, at first, though his expression retains its seriousness enough that- maybe he thinks it is true. Or maybe it actually is. No telling, at the moment. He smiles back, for a time, despite its smallness. "Flight is just as important. You need only fight enough to get away."

"That is good. That you like it." He amends quickly, frowning. Being a simple, inelegant woman isn't what he meant, honest. Or is it good? Jorn's brows knit without a further word on the matter.

There's a wide smile as Mairi looks between Jorn and the dragon's skull. "Come inside, I can put some tea on and I've got some biscuits I picked up when I was in town. I'm told they're some of the best. I'm going to see if I can figure out how they're made and make them on my own if they're that good." She moves for the door, not waiting for him to follow. She's sure he will.

"I'm glad I can't fly. I'd be far too tempted to just sail away in the air from here. It'd be far too tempting than to be tied to the land. The sky's so beautiful and yet sometimes so deadly," Mairi says, stepping inside the house as she moves to put the skull somewhere—right now, it's come to rest on a side table, staring in the direction of the door.

Of course he follows; Mairi is polite, and there is food(!), but Jorn has groomed himself to follow directions from his lady-friends more readily than from the men. Before he does follow her inside, Jorn clears his throat and looks back to Kuu, who is grazing now upon the grassy lawn. Very well.

"I have wondered what the clouds are like. But one may climb mountains, too." Jorn pauses a moment to close the door behind him out of courtesy, and then taking into account his surroundings proper. "Those can be just as deadly, I suppose. Trolls. Mountain dragons. Frost giants. Dwarves." How many of these actually exist is suspect, though yet again- Jorn is serious enough, and naming a few things makes his point known. Whatever point it was.

"I'd be more fearless if I could fly," Mairi says, clearly enamoured of the idea. She moves to the stove, putting the kettle on as she gets some cream and sugar to place on the table, as well as putting down a tin of biscuits, opening them up so Jorn can help himself, tea or not. "Perhaps I'll climb a mountain one day and look at the world from the top of it. There are a great many things I'd like to do, but I doubt I ever will. I shall simply have to simply think about what it would be like."

Mairi moves to take a seat at the table while she waits for the kettle to boil. "I would imagine a man like you wouldn't fear those creatures. I imagine you could make it to the top and nothing would harm you." She pauses. "Do you fear anything, Jorn? It seems to me that there would be very little to give you cause to worry."

Jorn waits until Mairi has seated herself before taking one of the chairs across the table, hands on his knees. He studies her before choosing any sort of reply; sitting down, he at least looms less over her, but the table is still a short distance.

"I have not dared to top the mountains here. The mainland mountains are different, somehow. Wider, more of the land. Here, they reach the sky from such short beginnings, and are shrouded so, and I find myself apprehensive of them." Jorn finally puts his hands on the table, a folded gesture slowly turning into a creeping motion for the tin of delicious-smelling biscuits. "You are mistaken, frue Fairbairn. I fear them all greatly."

"The difference between my fear, and that of a common man, is that I fear them out of understanding, not out of panic."

"So you understand that things are to be feared, but I don't think that's real fear. Real fear comes from having something to lose. You fear for your life, for your safety, for your possessions, your loved ones…" Mairi leans on the table a little as she looks at him. "But you don't seem to fear like that. Perhaps you are simply too strong to let any of that get to you."

She peeks back at the kettle, but leaves it be, waiting anxiously for it to boil. "You certainly are a very uncommon man, though, Jorn Wartooth."

"You mistake me again, I think." Jorn looks sheepish, and she can almost see him thinking, blue eyes watching his hands as he remembers to remove his gloves. His hands are rough, with scars over the knuckles. Not from farm-work or fishing, obviously. "I have many things to lose. My life and loved ones among them. Safety is …subjective. Possessions are just that. Possessions. I have my favorites, as any person." His broad shoulders give a single shrug, before he plucks up a biscuit.

"As uncommon as they can come." Thankfully, he does not stuff the food in his mouth before he answers. Afterwards, it is fair game. If he were at home, or somewhere that wasn't someone else's kitchen- he probably would have talked past his food.

"You really are uncommon," Mairi says, getting to her feet and turning to the stove as the kettle whistles. She moves, pouring the water into a teapot, adding the tea as she moves to set it down on the table, letting it steep. She sets two cups down in front of her, then settles in the chair again, waiting for the tea to finish.

"I've never really met anyone like you. Especially not one who'd sit and chat with me over tea. I don't know that I really got to properly thank you for everything. I'm very grateful."

"'Like me' how, exactly?" Jorn isn't sure if he should be defensive or not, squinting from across the table. "I do not need thanking. I know you are grateful." He dips his head to her in acknowledgement, lifting a hand to brush crumbs from the end of his mouth, and using the other to drape his gloves over one knee. "Which makes me sound full of myself, doesn't it?" Whups.

"Better to be proud after the fact, then." Being proud before you win is a recipe for disaster.

Mairi laughs, then pours two cups of tea, setting them down on saucers before pushing one across the table to Jorn. "I only mean that you have qualities I usually don't see in men. You are strong, but also gentle. Kind, but fierce. Courageous, but fearful. You are a confusing lot of things but it's interesting." She scoops a spoonful of sugar into her tea and adds some cream before she stirs it.

With half his face being shadowed by the growth of short beard, the flush of his cheeks is almost entirely lost. Jorn clams up in the meanwhile, and does not put a single thing into the hot tea. Not because he feels put-upon, but because he doesn't want to seem overzealous. In fact he rather loves cream and sugar. Perhaps the intent is lost between the point of getting the tea, and watching Mairi make hers to her own taste.

"My mother was not raising me with the hope that I would be a mercenary. I was to be- ah- no, nevermind. It is not important." Jorn doesn't finish, awkwardly pushing a bite of biscuit into his mouth instead, effectively silenced.

"Mothers raise us to be things and we don't always live up to expectations," Mairi replies, another spoonful of sugar added. She sips the tea, foregoing the biscuits. "What did she hope you'd be instead? You can't bring it up and then expect me to forget. I'm far too curious."

There's a soft mewling under the table as a small grey and white kitten suddenly rubs up against Jorn's leg. Stalwart purrs loudly, innocent eyes looking up at Jorn. While Mairi can't see the cat under the table, she can hear him, and she quickly stares into her tea, sipping at it.

Jorn edges his boot away from the cat when he hears it, and then sees it when he glances down. He watches it a moment, staring back into the saucer-shaped eyes as if to ascertain something. One hand leans down to offer a pat on the head- and if the kitten takes such a thing, it will find itself being picked up and put down on the edge of the table.

"My father was not a good husband." Jorn begins when he first looks down at the cat, finishing when he offers the petting. "She wanted me to grow into a good one. Or something close to it."

Mairi's staring at him now. Probably not intentionally, at least not in the way she stares, but she's staring all the same. She even sips from her teacup, not looking away until Stalwart is set on the table. "Your mother was a good woman. That's something any woman would want her son to be. That's a noble aspiration."

The kitten mews again, watching Jorn from the table now, though he walks around on it as if exploring for a moment and peeking over the edge to see how far down it is. "You sound as if you think your mother's dreams will never be realized," Mairi says. "I think it's possible for a mercenary and a good husband to be one and the same. There's no reason for there not to be."

"They were her noble dreams, not mine. At least, I thought so for many years." Jorn finally lifts his cup to drink, watching the kitten 'explore' the tabletop. He drums his fingers on the surface, teasing at tiny paws. "I left home after she died, and my only dreams were ones of glory. I got what I wanted." What is supposed to happen after you actually realize those kinds of things? Everyone tells you to 'follow your dreams', but not what to do after you do it.

"No reason for there not to be, a few for why it should not be."

"It is good, at least, that you got what you wanted. That is more than most on this planet ever get," Mairi agrees, studying the creamy liquid in the cup. She sips it again. "But when you find dreams, they usually change after. I got what I wanted… I wanted to be where I am. Farming, working the land with these hands, earning a living… proving everyone that I can do it. I realized my dreams, and once I did that I realized there were more things I wanted. Dreams that were much more impossible than the first."

Stalwart darts towards the fingers, batting at them with his paws, crouching down as if to pounce on them. Mairi watches with a small smile before looking back to Jorn. "Maybe you just haven't realized you have a different dream now."

"I am not getting any younger, so it had best reveal itself." Jorn downs a good gulp of tea and sets it aside, calloused fingers meeting kitten paws fearlessly. Maybe that is where he got all his scars. Training kittens. "I have had inklings. Things I may like to try. But they are not dreams." Not like the kind that made him seek out glory among mortals. "I should also like to meet more elder beasts, though that itself is- luck."

"I suppose that for now, I am to seek enlightenment."

Mairi smiles across the table. "Dreams always start as inklings… things that you think, tiny things, and then the more you think on them, dwell on them, the more you realize what exactly you want. So you think on them and dwell on them… and maybe you'll find a dragon along the way."

Stalwart pounces on Jorn's fingers, biting one in a 'fierce' attack. The widow laughs at the attack, resting her chin on her hand. "Just keep looking hard and you'll find something. Think hard about what makes you happy, what you think would make you happy and you'll find it. Already know what I want… and I'm going to find some way to get it, even if it's impossible." She looks at Jorn, very seriously.

"So when you find that thing, don't let anything stop you, even if it's impossible."