Four And Twenty Blackberries

Title: Four And Twenty Blackberries
Time Period: March, 132 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Jørn has the terrible habit of wandering places he should not, in forms he also should not, to do things he should not; Mairi is not amused.

Winter had been longer and harder than Mairi could have expected. With the lost of her husband, new plans had to be made for the running of the farm. Somehow, she'd have to find an extra farm hand, then there would be planting to be figured out. She somehow stubbornly pushed through and figured things out, and now spring was beginning to blossom.

Cooking for herself was depressing, Mairi had discovered, so now that new farmhands would be around, she'd decided to go above and beyond. Mid-afternoon found her at home, finishing up the last of her preparations. Food to be set on the table and a fresh blackberry pie resting on the windowsill where the breeze would cool it down. Wiping her hands on her apron, she heads outside to go fetch the workers.

Normally when the chickens make a fuss, there is a fox to be found, or a weasel in the nests. Though they make a small racket for a minute or so, it dies down, and that feathery din fades out into the air. Unfortunately, some of the other livestock has other plans. Particularly the ones with bigger, more sensitive noses more apt to scent danger. Mairi is outside when the cows begin to bay out of nervousness; the signs that a predator is about, but there is nothing visible for anyone to see.

That is perhaps because Jorn, bless his blubbery hide, is behind the other side of the farmhouse, moseying on up past the egg-laying coop towards the open window of the kitchen. It is quite possible that the bear was waiting for the widow to leave her kitchen alone, as his movements are less tentative and slightly more hurried.

Mairi's sharp ears hear the cows, but it's more than the sound that gives the widow a hint something is coming. Darting to the barn, she steps inside and pulls her pitchfork away from the rest of her tools as she turns back to the farm, eyes peeled for whatever might be upsetting the animals. The farmhands are forgotten for now—she'd hear from them if something were in the fields.

It's not Mairi who spots the bear, however. A kestrel, perched on the roof of the farmhouse, peers over the edge at Jorn before it gives a shrill cry. His brown eyes stare sharply at the bear, though it remains perched on high.

While his big black nose has been searching the base of the windowsill, the kestrel has since spotted him and given an alert to his mage. The rounded ears on the bear's long skull give a twitch, and turn up to listen to the piercing sound from the top of the house. His eyes follow a moment later, brown reflecting the overcast blue of the sky. A huff of air comes out of the bear, snorting out a lungful before he goes back to pinpointing the pie.

Once he knows that there are no human smells beyond the blackberries, Jorn lifts himself onto his hind legs, forepaws wresting a purchase on the windowsill itself. Rather than immediately take the pie, however, he gives it a good long sniffling. Bears don't normally do that, that is for sure. So if he has an audience by now- well- it's a show.

Stalwart remains steadfast in his watching of Jorn, the kestrel's sharp eyes never once turning away. His cry, it seems, was more than enough to direct Mairi to the precise location. Pitchfork in hand, she was more prepared to chase a creature away from her chickens. As she rounds the corner and takes in the form of the bear, she's a little more than startled.

As an occupant of Dornie for seven years, Mairi has learned the "typical" range of wild animals that roamed nearby. She was familiar with most, enough to know what she was dealing with if one decided to come and disturb the peace of her farm. Jorn, however, is an entirely different sort of animal.

"What in the—" Mairi cuts herself off, holding the pitchfork aloft. "Shoo! What do you think you're doing, stealing my pie! I didn't invite any bears to lunch!"

When Mairi rounds the corner, the polar bear has his mouth open to grab the pie by the edge. He stops when she appears, the whites of his eyes showing when they look off to that side, and onto the wiry woman with a pointy tool. His jaw claps shut, and opens again, unsure. Even the brown bears aren't this big- nowhere near. He could fit almost twenty Mairis in his weight alone. Jorn lets out a faint growl, followed up by a pitiful groan from his chest. Being caught in the act is one thing- he would have been fine with taking it-

-if she hadn't been apparently warned. Jorn's head cranes back to peer up at the kestrel. You!

Well, this is an interesting situation. Mairi doesn't think she can fight off a bear, not one this big, and she certainly doesn't want to get eaten. Or crushed. Dying would be kind of depressing. She won't back off, however, when her farm is concerned and the pitchfork stays in her hands, aimed towards the bear.

"Go on, I said! Get off my farm!" Mairi says sternly to Jorn. Stalwart hops his way to the edge of the roof, where he cocks his head slightly to the side and continues to stare at Jorn. Innocently. Uh-huh.

Jorn lets out another sound, trying his damndest to seem starving. It does not seem to be working at all, however, and he deigns to back up a half-step. But that pie seems so delicious! He can't just leave. And now that he got caught, he feels just a little sorry for trying to stuff his face with the warm, sugary blackberry- is that slobber? He's not rabid, honest.

And to disarm that particular idea, the bear teeters back on his legs again, peering the long way down towards her; a moment later, his profile squashes, and the towering height seems to melt back in on itself. There is a grunting of a very human pain when bones shorten and the muscle pulling on tendons eases out of him. One gloved hand pressing at the small of his own back, Jorn, in his cloak and armor, looks sheepishly out from behind the teeth of his hood.

"Beklager. Forgive me. I have not eaten enough."

Because his stealing widow's pies is a common thing, somehow. Or maybe this is a first. Hard to tell.

The pitchfork is slowly lowered, only because Jorn is no longer a bear but simply a bear-of-a-man. Mairi blinks in disbelief for a few moments, her gaze darting momentarily to the kestrel on the roof before back to Jorn himself. She clears her throat, pitchfork still gripped gently. He may not be a bear, now, but he's still a stranger with questionable intentions.

"If you wanted an invitation to lunch, it is usually proper to ask the mistress of the household."

One of his hands balls into a fist, and the knuckles crack softly through the leather glove. Jorn dips his chin to her. "I find myself often unable to button my collar and knock upon doors… miss." He tacks the title on as a near-afterthought. Polar bears do not wear shirtcollars, besides. He gives a glance to the bird perched still high on the house, mouth creasing downward.

"I have finished a journey, and such a lovely smell was too much." And boy, a bear's nose. It must have smelt like ambrosia. No wonder.

The white-knuckled grip on the pitchfork might go unnoticed. The kestrel's keen eyes likely have, but he's not saying anything, and Mairi won't do anything else to give away her slight discomfort. She clears her throat a little, looking to Jorn for a moment.

"If you mean no harm to my farm or my people here, you may take the pie and leave. I'll have no trouble here. However, if you pass by this way again and are hungry, you should knock. I don't bite, nor do I mind if a collar is buttoned. No need to be too formal."

Jorn tilts the hood on his head back, leaving tired eyes to study the bird and then, the woman again. There's something familiar about him, certainly- though how often Mairi has gotten to town in the last few years will have some bearing on that. In the years to come, she will see him again, in Dornie and otherwise- Jorn always returns to where he knows he will be fed. Always.

"I am not malignant, my lady." It at least sounds like it could be a promise. The tall man puts his palm to the top of his ribcage. "I cannot take it. I have had sense threatened into me. By something with teeth."

…The pitchfork, or Mairi?

"Good," Mairi says, the grip on the pitchfork loosening. "It is good to hear that. You were spooking my animals. They should be fine now, but it might be wise not to startle them like that again." She tilts her head to the side a little to study Jorn, much like Stalwart did not too long ago.

"I'm surprised you are able to go around like that and not cause more alarm. It's one thing on a farm, it's another in more populated areas…"

"I am a man of modest means." He begins, rather plainly. "Though one of more- intensive- status." The man obviously hesitates to trumpet his own horn, but there is a glint in his eye that springs up at its mention. His hand stays at his front, though his palm lowers from on his ribcage, to his waist. "My name is Jorn Wartooth, and I work personally for Ser Edgar Ross." Even if Mairi has not spent time away studying people, she will know the Rosses if just by name and notoriety.

"In the years after my arrival, I was most alarming." Jorn lets her, in his mind, make some connection that it has gotten less so in the time since. Even if just so, where the citizens of Dornie proper are concerned.

"Mairi Fairbairn is my name," the widow offers, a small nod given in his direction. "It is an honor to meet you." Considering he's mentioned the Rosses, she's standing up a little straighter. He might not be a member of the family proper, but someone with connections always has a little bit of sway. Impressions are important.

"I think that it would be moreso, if I were not attempting to be a sneak-thief." Jorn's lips crease in the smallest of polite smiles. He notes her straightening spine, and when he attempts to do the same, it seems a weary thing for a man of about fourty. "I will be certain to warn others away from yon mighty fork, Mairi Fairbairn." That was a jest- his accent, however accustomed it may be to Dornie, does not handle such mannerisms well.

"Perhaps it would be best if I left you to your …devices."

Mairi stares at Jorn. After a moment, she laughs. It's a deep, honest, rumbling laugh and she leans against the pitchfork lightly as she regards Jorn. "Even if you were trying to be a thief, I think you are a good man, Jorn. You have good eyes."

After a moment, she nods towards the pie. "I need to see to my hands, but the pie is yours. Think of it as a gift of friendship and a promise that you won't come sneaking after my chickens next time, aye?"

"Tell that to my enemies." And those blue eyes wrinkle slightly at the edges, a gesture for her and the kestrel alone. "A gift of mutual good will, I am not ashamed to receive." Unlike her telling him to take it and go, when it has a meaning behind it, Jorn seems to be putting far more stock to it. He puts his left hand under the pie to pick it up, looking over to make sure that she was not yanking his chain.

"It is a promise, ja." Jorn is sorely tempted to taste it right there, but goodness knows that as a man he possesses a great deal more manners. "Farvel, sjelevenn." He cants his head in goodbye to the kestrel, then again to the redheaded woman. "Farvel, Mairi. May Freyja lay favour on your land." She already put it on this pie, apparently.

The pie remains a gift, it seems, as Mairi nor the kestrel on the roof take any opportunity to stop Jorn from taking it. Stalwart hops across the roof to peer down from Jorn at another angle, then cants his head in response. It seems he's giving his farewells. The widow offers a smile.

"Blessings to you too. Stay safe."