The Wolf and the Goats

Title: The Wolf and the Goats
Time Period: July 8, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary:The goats or the men caring for them draw two very different women to them on this sunny day at the fair.

While one of the more exotic tents at the faire is that of the Menagerie, right beside it is a much more common sight of goats grazing on the grass and clover in what amounts to a tiny paddock; boards of various shapes and sizes create the enclosure, and the herd of goats is watched over by the same young boy who mans the menagerie next door, with a bit of help from his father.

Jibben looks much like his father, the storyteller, but for bright blue eyes that make him look less "Rom" than his father's dark eyes do for the elder's face. Both have a mop of dark curls and easy smiles, though Jibben's voice is all the louder and more frequent than his Da's — except of course when Merripen is telling a tale. It seems, perhaps, he saves his voice for then. As he moves around the pen to drop some sprouts for the goats, it is not his voice he uses but clicks of tongue against teeth to greet the animals, petting the kids when they butt up against his legs for pettings.

Jibben exits the tent with a small herd of a different kind of kids following him out — the children of Dornie come away chattering about the creatures inside the tent. "I want a monkey of my own," declares one tiny girl in red pigtails to her brother.

"You are a monkey," he declares, and then a game of tag ensues, leaving Jibben free to come lean against the fencing, surveying the crowds.

It's been hard to keep Idgie away from the fair. Less for the rides and tents and goods, more for the people. Being a traveler herself, if with a little 't', their lifestyle is intriguing to say the least.

Her guitar rests in a case that's strapped to her back like some old quiver, arrows in the form of music notes. But she leans against that same fence, letting out a whew. "Lots to see here, huh?" Her nod gestures toward the Dornie citizens rather than the fair itself. "A bit fascinating." Her accent doesn't fit in here, with its twang and her tendency to drop the g right off the end of her words. It's an implied sound, which is good enough for her.

Jibben's wide blue eyes grow wider at the sight of the woman who is as exotic to him as the animals in his tent are to the Dornie citizens. "Is that your real hair?" he says.

Out of the mouths of babes.

"Jibben." Merripen's voice is surprisingly sharp, given its usual melodious timbre and tone and he moves away from the goats — which then scamper after him, because, after all, he's still holding some alfalfa.

"Apologies, miss," the storyteller says, a bob of his head in a little bow. "I've done a terrible job of teaching this chav manners, you see. Thanks for the bit of song last night."

Laughter follows that question, an easy, amused sound that contrasts with that sharp reprimand. "It's alright," she says, first to Merripen and then to Jibben, "It's totally real." She even fluffs it a little, "Had it just like this my whole life. It's grown on me, you see."

These are the jokes.

She turns back to Merripen, though, with a grin. "Oh, that wasn't nothing. Thanks for letting me join in. I never seen storytelling like that before. Was a pleasure."

"I'm in training! Da is teaching me all the stories and I make some of mine up too," Jibben announces, proudly puffing out his chest and lifting his chin. "Where are you from? You don't mag like a Scot much."

From behind his son, Merripen lifts his eyes upward to the sky, a slow shake of his head that expresses as much as words could; though there's a smirk of amusement that also suggests it's all in love. One hand comes to tousle his son's hair. "Thank you," he says, softspoken and sincere.

The white mare sighted through the trees on the vale's northern slopes is no animal that any of the locals can remember being sired by Edmund Rowntree's stallions, but out here there's a lot land, and only so much of it belongs to Dornie. Visitors are not uncommon around the settlement, whether they arrive by sea of from the south — it's rarer that they come down from the mountains, and on the rare occasions they do, Dornie's inhabitants have good reason to be wary.

The last time the mountain folk visited their settlement, they took Cordelia Ross back into the clouds with them.

The woman on the mare's back is no one recognizable. Small and fair, with a headful of greasy braids pulled back at the nape of her neck, she has a wild look about her and bright, pale eyes that seek out the goat pen as she draws closer.

"Are you? My daddy did something similar, but with songs and music. Old stuff passed down from before the end of the world. That's a special tradition you've got coming to you." Idgie glances from the son to the father, but when she looks back, her hands move to her hips to take on a proud stance of her own. "That's just because I ain't a Scot at all. I'm from far across the ocean, the other side of the world. Land of wheat and corn and dirt as far as the eye can see. You see this," she says, pulling a scarf from around her neck. It's pretty, a deep green, lightweight fabric. "I got this from the Queen of America," she says, as if imparting some great secret, "cleared a giant swarm of rats right out of her castle." She holds her finger up to her lips before she wraps the scarf around his arm a couple times and ties it off.

"You're very welcome," she says over the boy's head to Merripen, her smile exchanging playfulness for friendliness. "You guys put that show on often? I might have to make myself a regular." She misses the other woman's approach, facing the wrong way as she is, and misses her significance as well, being a stranger around here as well.

Merripen's eyes crinkle as his son's widen. For just a moment it looks like the teen might be tongue tied and out of his element, but then he pulls a sleeve up to show a jagged scar. "I got this fighting the queen of the merpeople," he declares and once more Merripen is shaking his head, suppressing a chuckle.

He's distracted though by the approach of the woman in braids, giving her a nod of acknowledgment. "Let us know if you see anything you like," he says mildly, though there's a curiosity in his eyes at the woman who is neither one of his clan nor seems to belong to Dornie.

Eilin adjusts her loose grip on the mare's reins, horse tack tinkling as she draws it to a halt in front of Merripen. Her saddle is as unusual as she is: a heavy thing constructed over a split wooden frame, its side skirts covered with leather and its seat with heavy wool.

"These are milk goats?" she asks.

When the scar is shown, Idgie lets out an impressed whistle as she looks down at the scar. "Now that is a prize. Little wonder your dad's teaching you, I see you've got the knack for tale spinning." she winks in the younger's direction before straightening up.

And when she does, there's a horse and rider suddenly in the conversation. She gives something of a sweeping bow to Eilin, a greeting. She steps out of the way, since there seems to be business on the table, even though the saddle catches her eye. She tilts her head a bit to give it some study. "That's an interesting piece you got there, if you don't mind me saying." And it's an honest compliment, too.

"I got out of it because the second weapon of choice was words, and I told her quite a tale, bigger'n her own!" Jibben says, but two girls his own age approach the tent and he ambles over there to begin to give them the spiel.

"That they are," Merripen says, reaching down to pick up one of the smaller kids, a little black and gray thing that bleats once in protest before quieting when he clicks his tongue at it. "If you wish a taste, we've some in the tent." He looks at the horse curiously; it's not the sort his own people usually ride or use to bear their carts and wagons.

"Yes," Eilin agrees with Idgie's assessment of her saddle. She's dismounted and tied the mare to a nearby post before she remembers that something is supposed to come after that; it's only when the knot is snug that she thinks to add, a little stiltedly: "Thank you."

Although she's too cautious to show anyone — not even Jibben — her back, she turns enough to put a composite bow and plainly crafted quiver on display. Hiding a pistol under her clothes in addition seems like it would be excessive, but a knife might not be outside the realm of possibility. She touches a hand to the kid's cheek, then pulls back one of its floppy ears, checking for parasites.

"The taste does not matter," she assures Merripen. Satisfied, she lets the ear drop. "I will have three."

Idgie is still laughing as Jibben runs off to impress the girls, and she watches for just a moment before she turns back to Merripen. "Oh, I like him."

Her watching turns to Eilin then, as strange as any of them here, if in a different way. "You're welcome." There's a glance to the saddle again, but she's not stupid enough to go poking around at it with an owner so… careful. "I do a bit of woodworking, myself. Got an eye for good work. If it every needs any fixing up, I'd love a go at her."

"Two lassies and a lad?" Merripen suggests to Eilin but grins at Idgie's declaration of fondness for his son. "Let me see here. If you're looking for milk, these two are good, newly weaned from their bairns…" he catches one and then another, pulling a bit of rope from his belt to loop through their belled collars. "And this one a fine sire, so you can start your own wee herd, aye?"

The trio are brought forward for her inspection. "And what'll you have for me then, aside from an arrow if I make ye cross?" He grins at the mountain woman to let her know he's not offended.

"A dozen arrows," Eilin offers Merripen with a thin smile, and maybe that's a joke too, except she's reaching to draw one from her quiver. Rather than fire it, however, she rests it on the fingers of both her hands and holds it out for his inspection. Wooden shaft. Fletchings made from the sleek, banded tail feathers of a hawk. It appears lightweight, its projectile point carved from the antler of some large animal.

"You live in Dornie?" she wishes to know of Idgie, unable to keep suspicion from poisoning her voice, but at least she manages to make it sound like it isn't an outright accusation.

"Looks like I do now," Idgie says, hand moving to the back of her head for a moment. "It ain't home, though, no. Long way from home. Oceans and oceans away." A frown forms on her face there, the thought of the ocean bringing her countenance down.

A brief, mirthless laugh is breathed out before her smile returns, crooked. "And they've got a solid carpenter for me to work under. There's little else I need to be happy." The instrument on her back is probably part of that little.

Idgie is given a sympathetic smile. "One blessing of many in this traveling life. There's no true home to miss. The people, they are my home. May you find one here," Merripen says quietly, before turning back to the mountain woman.

The arrow is picked up, held and balanced on one hand to check its weight, then held up between two fingers to feel how it might when aiming it at something it's meant to hint. The stance suggests he knows something of shooting, which is likely, out on the road.

"Barrie," he says. Good. "A deal, aye?"

He swings out one of the boards making the paddock, and steps out, leading the trio of goats with him. He offers Eilin the rope with one hand, and holds out the other for the other arrows. "Do you need the chav to lead them to your camp?" he asks, with a nod to the tent to indicate Jibben.

"No," says Eilin, and she lifts her chin to indicate the vale's northern treeline while she unties her mare. "I have friends." She hauls herself back onto the saddle, both booted feet hooking into the stirrups. The rope she loops around the saddle's horn for the time being.

She surrenders her quiver to Merripen along with the eleven other arrows it holds. While she might not have explicitly included it in their arrangement, it seems a fair exchange for three healthy milk goats.

"Be careful the Rowntrees do not take your happiness from you," she cautions Idgie. "This is how Dornie came to be so big."

The warning has Idgie's eyebrows lifting, but she seems to take it seriously enough. "Can't say I know any Rowntrees myself, but I'll be on the lookout. Though, gotta be pretty stubborn to yank happiness out from under me."

She looks over at Merripen again, nodding his way, "Another blessing of the traveling life. Happiness is about the only thing you can lay claim to for long and there's always another horizon to find it behind, if you happen to misplace it."

Merripen's hand curls around the quiver, and he gives a small bow and murmur of thanks to indicate appreciation for the added gift. This is shouldered before he replaces the board and closes the paddock.

Eilin retreats from the pen and moves back toward the treeline, the goats following with some confusion but docile enough not to protest too loudly. Merripen's dark eyes watch her go, curious but not asking the questions that no doubt flood his mind.

Once the mare and its rider and the trio of goats are out of sight, he turns back to Idgie, and bestows another smile upon her. "Lovely sentiment, Dilly," he tells her. "You'll have to write a song with that in it, and sing it for me sometime, aye?"

"She's a… grim one, isn't she?" It isn't a helpful question, since Idgie waits until the woman is gone before voicing it. But, she shakes it off and turns to Merripen again, smile returning.

"I just might have to now. Something for you and yours to take along with you. When you go. Hopefully not too soon, though."

"I'll look forward to hearing it," Merripen says with a bow for her. "I'm sure our musicians would like it; we don't come across new music often enough, and we're always happy to add to the lore."

He glances, then, to the sky in the west, then brings two fingers to his temple as if doffing a cap. "If you'll excuse me, I need to find my tale telling partner to plan for this even's story. You enjoy yourself, Dilly." With that, he strides away, toward the carousel where Simza's usually to be found.

"And I'm happy to pass along," Idgie says with a grin. She pauses him just long enough to plant a peck on his cheek before she lets him head off again. "I'm sure to. This fair of yours is endless. And I'll see you at the story fire." There's a wave as he goes on to business, but she doesn't linger long before hopping off to explore the next tent over.