I have occasionally mentioned that life in general, over these last few years, has raised the bar on my threshold of surprise. Somehow, though, Aoibheann always manages to manage it. This time, it was purely by her appearance.
Maric sent a thought to me, advising me he was in negotiation with Vedis, so could I look in on Aoibheann for him, as he had heard lots of cursing from her room, and clearly, something was bothering her. I was in the castle already, so I went up the stairs to see if I could find out what was going on. I did not get as far as Aoibheann’s room, though. She appeared, coming down the stairs, dressed in leather armour! I have to admit that I let my jaw drop and did nothing but stare for a few moments. I have seen her in various types of clothing, and thanks to Gwyn’s sketches, without clothing, but nothing prepared me for this sight. Once I had gotten over the initial shock, I had to admit, it actually looked quite good on her. She wasn’t entirely impressed and even I could see that it needed some adjustment to fit her, quite apart from some bits being missing. She was complaining about not being able to get the pauldrons on properly. I was impressed she knew the term, for even I had to search my memory for that one. I wondered where she had gotten it from, but then remembered that she had mentioned that Galyanna and Lucis were going to help her get ready for her adventure. I suggested some changes that could be done and said that maybe the blacksmith could help with some of the fastenings.
I told her that Maric was in conference with Vedis about mutual defence strategies and that seemed to worry her. I was not altogether surprised, since she has never really been that well-inclined towards Vedis. Mostly, she was worried that we might be going up against the fae, and was convinced that the demons would lose – they always lose, she said, and that we could lose too. I tried to reassure her that the demons, particularly Vedis, were not so easily defeated, and that we were also not as weak as she might fear. We would survive somehow, even if that meant being a lot more cunning that the other bastards.
While I was trying to reassure her, Royce appeared with a note for her, and one for me. It was from Valene. In it, she told me that one of the hell-hounds – the cŵn, was loose in her roads and that it was too fierce and dangerous to capture as it was. She and Helene were going to be working on a potion to put it to sleep so that she could restrain it and try to re-tame it. She wanted the potion to be tested on a fae being first, and was volunteering herself, so could I come and guard her sleeping self if the drug worked. Now while I had great faith in Helene’s abilities, I was not entirely sure this was a good idea. As it turned out, neither was Helene, who came into the castle almost on Royce’ heels, and started rummaging through books on potions. I reassured her that I had faith in her, but also said I would try to think of an alternative method of testing. With that, I left her to her studying and Aoibheann to her worry about the armour and headed down to the tavern to talk to Valene.
She was there, as Helene had mentioned, and very soon, she was curled up happily on my lap by the fire. She was clearly tired and still cold, but perhaps not as much as she had been last time I saw her. She told me how the cŵn was loose in the Roads and was almost rabid and dangerous. She needed to be able to restrain him so that she could loosen the Huntsman’s control over him. I volunteered my services, to come with her into the roads to help, but she declined, at least, until she could get the potion, or some other means of restraining him. I did not press her further, as I could see how weary she was, and just sat there, holding her on my lap, until we both fell asleep.