An Fairtheoir

Title: An Fairtheor - The Watcher
Emitter: -
Characters: Sandra, Rioghan
Place:Cove City, MD
Time: Sept 20, 2010 - Evening
Summary: Sensing Rioghan needs a distraction from the school, his Royal duties, and the fact that someone is out to assassinate him, Sandra suggests the bestest remedy of all - Ice Cream. Oh, and stargazing!

_( Drake's Creamery )_
An off-white color scheme and gleaming silver-and-white countertops give this ice cream shop a bright, airy appearance. Overhead, soft white bulbs illuminate the building, with various small round tables in the center of the store. A refrigerated counter with a clear glass display is in the rear, with two registers, one on either side of the counter. In the display are a variety of specialty ice creams from the Drake Creamery, from Berry Sherbert to Triple Chocolate. The air in the ice cream store is cool regardless of season, always at a comfortable temperature.

Having come across Rioghan upon campus, after a rather long and busy week, the Atlantean Princess simply does not take 'No' for an answer. It is Ice Cream, and Sandra carries a blanket that she says shall be for sitting upon later. But now: Ice Cream Sundays! Er… Sundaes!
"I have been most worried about yourself and Mr. Murphey. I see you are well, and how is Mr. Murphey, I have heard that incident ended more … upsetting for him. I wish I could have gone camping with you, but having to submerge myself in water would have made it a most difficult task. Though, now I wish I had gone. I feel I have failed somehow. Forgive me."

Rioghan could use the distraction, so it doesn't take much arm-twisting to get the Chiarrai Prince to join Sandra. "He's well enough," Rioghan says, "Though he's been having quite a few meetings with my other advisors behind closed doors recently. I've not yet cornered him to find out what exactly they've been saying. He just keeps tellin' me to keep my mind on classes and training." As they arrive at the ice cream shop, Rioghan opens the door for Sandra. "You didn't fail, Sandra. If anything, I did. Larkin might be here 'to keep me safe' and advise me like he did for my mother, but he's also partly my responsibility as well as I am his. He went into the woods to check out a possible threat alone. He should have had back-up. I should have been there."
The young man shakes his head. "Things have gotten quite complicated over the last few weeks. I need to follow up with Sapphire to see where the man's trail led after he escaped us that night. He gave us a name, by the way… Orion."

Sandra watches Rioghan as he speaks, and female instinct takes over and the young woman reaches out to attempt to wrap her arm around his. "Let us just agree that we both need to learn to think through things in complicated ways more," she notes, squeezing at the man's arm.
An eyebrow arches upwards and Sandra actually frowns. "The Hunter, mmmm?" she asks, shaking her head. "Pffft. Oh the words I could have with him. Really, taking on the name of something from Greek Mythology. Mmm, there is a constellation named after him, I will have to show it to you. It's a tragic story, actually. Apollo was jealous of his sister's attention to her friend Orion - for they were kindred spirits. So Apollo taunted his twin, the Huntress, to a test of archery. He pointed to what looked as a log out in the ocean. Artemis accepted the challenge, hit the target, only to find out later she had killed her friend Orion. Zeus, at Artemis's begging, placed him in the sky in a place of honor."

Rioghan smiles as Sandra takes his arm and they enter the shop together. It feels natural, comfortable, and for once he's not fidgeting for his amulet while out in public. "That's quite a story and a bittersweet ending… many Irish stories have tragic endings," he says, "Most of the constellations that I'm most familiar with aren't visible here, though I've learned some of the ones here. Orion is one such, but I did not know the story behind it. I wonder what he would think of this assassin taking on his moniker."

"He would be offended. Orion was a hunter of animals, and if Artemis was a kindred spirit, he did not hunt men for sport or money," notes Sandra, before suddenly adding, "Even if the Greek Gods are fickle." Sandra smiles up at Rioghan and nods towards the board listing the flavors. "Perhaps I should sit down with him and explain his situation to him. Then pray to the Horselord that his niece finds out about this … imposter," she says with a wicked smile.
"I have wanted to try one of those banana splits, but they are rather large. Would you like to share, or have something of your own?" she says, tapping Rioghan's shoulder with her head in a comforting manner before looking back to the board. "I would very much like to hear your stories and legends."

Rioghan really should discourage such close quarters, and the stirring of emotions that Sandra leaning her head against him brings on. Inwardly he's at war with himself over it, but the side that craves normalcy, relaxation, and having someone who really understands him wins out. It's not a good idea! You have responsibilities to think about… his logical side warns. But especially after last night and being thrown through the glass doors of Chord by the newest student under his roof, he wants very much to unwind… and Sandra is one of the first people that he's been able to do that with in three years.
"Aye, we can share one," he says, feeling his cheeks grow warm. It's… not a familiar feeling, but nice. Part of him rebels against this. The other part… the part that's much louder tonight? Well, that part is telling the other to shut the hell up and enjoy it. "I think I could manage a bit of story-telling tonight," he says with a smile. He looks to the server behind the counter, liltingly asking for, "One banana split, if you please. Two spoons." And the young man reaches into his pocket with his free arm to pull out some money to pay for it.

Sandra releases Rioghan's arm and smiles brightly at the thought of story-telling. Then she laughs, and reaches for some of her own 'paper money' - such a waste in Atlantis. "At least let me pay for half," she begs, wrinkling her nose as she flashes a smile at Rioghan. "There are enough rumors about us at the school. Let us think that we are both Dutch nationals as my paying and your paying is referred to as 'Going Dutch'," explains Sandra.
The young woman then reaches up to brush some of her unruly hair away, pausing a moment, before clearing her throat. So many conflicting emotions, emotions she's never really had the opportunity to feel, let alone understand, rush through the Atlantean Princess. Therefore she suddenly brings up another topic of conversation. "You will be going to Ireland, after you graduate, yes?" she asks. "Reg will be graduating as well. He, Liv and I have been talking about starting an … organization, a team as Liv calls it, so that we can keep in touch. That and work against evil Mystical Influences wherever we are." There is a pregnant pause here as Sandra looks down, then looks sidelong upwards at Rioghan. "Would this … interest you?"

Rioghan is surprised to find himself disappointed when Sandra removes her hand from his arm, but his lips curve upwards as Sandra offers to pay for half. "The chivalrous thing would be to pay for it, but I will submit to your 'going Dutch' if that is what you prefer."
The woman behind the counter, bites her lip and smiles. She might not know that she's looking at a pair of Otherworldly Royals, but she can see a pair of teenagers toying at the edges of flirtation and dancing around a relationship well enough. She takes the divided money and then slips over to make their sundae. "I'll bring it to your table in a moment," she tells them.
He nods towards a table in the corner, nodding in response to her question. "Aye," he says, "That's where most of my… 'extended family' is and where I'll need to be. Unless there's something to keep me here longer, I intend to spend the three years following graduation planning, learning the lay of the land, and preparing." He's quiet as Sandra speaks again, pulling a chair out for her, "Being a part of a team? With you? I'd be honored. What do your friends think of this? Do they know you're asking me?" Once Sandra sits down, he helps slide her chair towards the table before moving around to take his own seat.

A smile and a blush covers Sandra's face as Rioghan pulls the chair out for her, even though she easily glides into it. "Thank you," she offers with a bow of her head. THen she busies herself by smoothing the fabric on her legs. "Yes. Reg and Liv know. And we are organizing it. They are fine with it. We have talked about it. We would like yourself, Jonathan, Steven and Stephanie Moore, as well as Alia."
Glancing at Rioghan, Sandra blinks and suddenly blurts out a question she had intended to remain just a thought, "What would be enough to keep you here?" A blink is given, and Sandra practically has to sit on her hands to keep them from flying to her lips.
Rioghan lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck as he settles. "I'm not sure, exactly," he says, "But I can plan here as well. I've heard some discussion that the school may begin a post-graduation program… but friendships would be another reason." He moistens his lips and offers Sandra a smile that is somewhat less sure and confident than it usually is. Rioghan is distinctly aware of the fact that his palms are sweating and wipes them on his jeans underneath the table. He decides it's an opportune time to change the subject, "So, you were wanting to hear one of my stories?"
Rose colors Sandra's cheeks as well as she looks down to 'not notice' Rioghan's uncomfortableness, and to try and refrain from taking his arm again - it was rather nice, after all. She blinks as the question brings her back to the here and now, "What? Oh yes, please?" she asks, shifting her chair so she can rest on the table and lean towards Rioghan in interest slightly. "I did not realize they were starting a post-graduate program. That might be … nice. I shall look into it. I have the distinct … well, " she says, glancing around, before looking back to Rioghan, "I do not have the confidence in my abilities I really should …"

The young prince begins speaking quietly, his lilting voice soft and bearing the inflections of reciting something by memory.
"I hear the dogs howl in the moonlight night;
I went to the window to see the sight;
All the Dead that ever I knew
Going one by one and two by two.

On they pass'd, and on they pass'd;
Towns fellows all from first to last;
Born in the moonlight of the lane,
Quench'd in the heavy shadow again.

Schoolmates, marching as when we play'd
At soldiers once—but now more staid;
Those were the strangest sight to me
Who were drown'd, I knew, in the awful sea.

Straight and handsome folk; bent and weak, too;
Some that I loved, and gasp'd to speak to;
Some but a day in their graveyard bed;
Some that I had not known were dead.

A long, long crowd - where eat seem'd lonely,
Yet of them all there was one, one only,
Raised a head or look'd my way.
She linger'd a moment,—she might not stay.

How long since I saw that fair pale face!
Ah! Mother dear! might I only place
My head on they breast, a moment to rest,
While they hand on my tearful cheek were prest!

On, on, a moving bridge they made
Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade,
Young and old, women and men;
Many long-forgot, but remember'd then.

And first there came a bitter laughter;
A sound of tears the moment after,
And then a music so lofty and gay,
That every morning, day by day,
I strive to recall it if I may."

Even the young woman who was bringing out the sundae for the young couple pauses as she puts down the creamy delight on the table. When Rioghan finishes she clears her throat, offers a smile, and quietly scurries back to work.
Sandra herself blinks several times and just stares at Rioghan with wide eyes. "You must be blessed by Apollo or whoever the King of Muses is in your realm. I … I have no words!"

Sandra's spoon reaches for the chocolate ice cream first, "You must try this. Chocolate is the greatest thing the Surface World has discovered, I swear this on my life," she notes with a wide grin. The spoon is pulled to her lips, but she doesn't shovel it in just yet as she blinks at Rioghan. "My dear friend, My Rioghan," notes Sandra as she smiles with real warmth and affection, "You have a voice worthy of eloquent poetry. I would be honored to hear something more," she explains before slipping the ice cream between her lips.

Rioghan laughs lightly, "We've chocolate in… Ireland." He does, however, reach his spoon to take a bite, getting a bit of the banana on the spoon as well as the ice cream and chocolate syrup. His blue eyes sparkle a bit more and he inclines his head, "Then I shall not deny you of hearing more. That's the only poem I know by rote, however so this will just have to be a story."
"There was a fisherman's daughter in a small coastal town. A beautiful maiden, sweet and pure, kind to all. All in the town swore she was blessed by the Fair Folk and she cared after her widowed father each day. She saw to the needs of his house whenever he was out at sea. One day, she had gone to collect fresh water from the river and came across a young man who had been badly injured by bandits," Rioghan says, speaking the tale between bites of ice cream.
"She gathered him up and tended his wounds, bringing him back to her home. She did not know it was the King's own son, the Prince, she was caring for and nursing back to health. Her father, when he returned from his fishing trip, recognized the young man that his daughter had brought into their home, but said not a word. The Prince regained his strength and as one could expect fell deeply in love with the fisherman's daughter."

Sandra blindly slips her spoon into more ice cream and eats at it with delight, savoring the creamy delight as much as she is savoring the story being told - her own blue eyes sparkling with delight and interest.
"The Prince? Oh no! What happened?" she asks, taking another bite, this time getting mostly whipped cream and sauce with a little bit of ice cream. "Did she fall in love with him?"

"Oh, aye. The fisherman's daughter fell dearly in love with him as well. Her father knew this would not end well. And right, he was. Soon the King's men came looking for the Prince, discovering him at the fisherman's home. They took him back to the castle, where he told his father of his love for the peasant girl and how he wanted to take her as his bride. His father was furious, telling him that there was no way he would allow such a marriage to take place between royalty and peasant. Distraught, the Prince retreated to his rooms and wrote a letter to the maiden that he knew to be his soulmate and true love."
Rioghan pauses to take another bite of ice cream and to guage Sandra's reaction to the story. He looks down at his hand, twisting a gold ring that he's wearing on his right hand briefly, then looks back up at Sandra to continue. "He then called in a trusted friend, handing him the letter to deliver and explaining to him what he desired."

Sandra actually sighs, looking down at the sundae. "It is horrible, really," she notes with another sigh. "That such a love was so frowned upon. But I have noticed that the older some get, the more resistant to change of any sort, for they are comfortable in the order of things."
Sandra then rests a hand on her cheek, then rests her elbow on the table. "It must have been heart-wrenching, knowing you could not be with your soulmate. That's why I tried to isolate myself from others … worried about making friends while here. I … I was very lonely, and finally just … gave in. I'm glad I did, I should have done it sooner. But if that is wise or not … and here I am rambling and your story is not finished. Please, Rioghan, continue?"

Rioghan smiles, though somewhat sadly because he knows the ending of the story he's telling. He did tell Sandra that many of the tales he knew had tragic endings. "The friend was taken aback by the Prince's request, but would not deny him. And so, after he had tucked the letter safely away to deliver to the fisherman's daughter, drew his sword and took the Prince's life. When the Prince fell, lifeless, to the ground, his friend then took his sword to cut off the Prince's hands and place them around his heart," Rioghan continues.
"You see the Prince could not bear to live without the fisherman's daughter whom he loved," Rioghan says, "He could not live with the turmoil in his soul, knowing that his father would marry him off to someone he did not love in an arranged marriage. And so, his request to his friend was to do this as a symbol of his undying love. To this day the crowned heart held aloft by two hands remains a symbol of true love's eternal reign. And the villagers of the town called Claddaugh hold it as their legacy."

A gasp comes from Sandra's lips, fingers brushing over them as sorrow dances across her eyes. "That is, indeed, a tragic tale," she whispers, just staring at Rioghan. "Though … I think I could see the turmoil in the Prince's heart," she whispers softly.
One finger reaches up, absently twisting it around her finger as she looks down, the spoon is idly poked at the ice cream. "Such is our lot, isn't it? I mean … who would not wish for a marriage filled with love despite knowing that one will be arranged for political reasons and influences."

Rioghan reaches across the table to take Sandra's hand and give it a comforting squeeze. "T'was just a story," he says quietly, "But aye… I know the sentiment of it all too well." He draws his hand back and returns to taking another spoonful of ice cream. "I'm sorry I don't have any happier stories for you, tonight, Sandra."

There is a pause, then Sandra reaches back for Rioghan's hand, brushing her fingers across it, before she blushes a bright red. "That is fine. Many Greek and Atlantean stories are tragedies. I think we are known more for those than the Comedies," she offers with a warm, shy smile. "Tragedies have a depth to them that comedies do not. It is perfectly fine," she notes.
Clearing her throat, Sandra hesitates then starts to draw her own hand back again, as she scoops up some more ice cream. "Would you like to go look at the stars later? I shall tell you the Greek constellations, for that is, I have found, what most of the nations know them by."

Rioghan stops as Sandra takes his hand back. He doesn't move a muscle for a moment, he's actually not sure he even breathes for a heartbeat or two. But then the moment passes and he looks back at the ice cream to avoid meeting her gaze. "Aye, I'd like that. Is that what the blanket was for?"

Now Rioghan isn't looking at her, Sandra's smile fades just a bit, before she forces it back up. She, too, decides to focus on the ice cream - trying to figure out what mistake she has just made. "Yes. If we had time. 'Tis always best to be prepared, my father has always said."
Sandra's own spoon place with the last of the sundae, finally scooping up a bit of pink ice cream and banana. This she begins to nibble on as a way of keeping her from saying anything else. It's not that Sandra made a mistake. It's that Rioghan has pulled the brakes in order to regain some control of himself. This just initiates an awkward and uncomfortable moment in which he feels like he's done something wrong… namely beginning to let himself feel something for Sandra that he probably shouldn't.

Perhaps a bit emboldened by his own story, though, the young man looks up. When he does his blue eyes are bright and so is his smile. He's come to some sort of internal decision here. "Then, when we finish our ice cream we should do just that."

Soon frozen cream is finished, a delightful, if awkward last few bites of dessert, before the pair finally stand up and walk out of the Creamery. Pausing outside, Sandra considers, then smiles to herself, throwing away a few reservations as she tucks the blanket into one arm, and steps forward to Rioghan's side, sliding her arm through his. An eyebrow is arched upwards, waiting for an objection, before leading the pair towards the nearby park.
"Can you imagine my surprise, when I found out that the Western Surface Civilization knew the same stares I did, and knew the same constellations? Now, this is not the best place to observe the starts, but it is better than any else in the city," notes the Atlantean Princess as she walks along with the Uncrowned King of the Otherworlds. "One day, when there is time, we should go out, away from the city - either deeper inland, or on a boat and out to see - and observe all the stars in their glory. But this will have to do for now. I would never dream of taking you so far away from your Guardian without his knowledge." A slight pause is given before Sandra looks up with a wink. "He might never let me abscond with you again if I did!"

There aren't any objections when Sandra takes Rioghan's arm. In fact, the young man tucks it in comfortably and lifts his other hand to rest on hers. He seems quite well at ease about doing so too, with whatever decision he came to while they were still at the ice cream parlor. "I can imagine. Most of the stars I know, you can't see from here and those that you can are called by other names," the young man lilts out, the music of Ireland weaving its way through his voice. "There were plenty of stars to be seen on the camping trip. A shame you couldn't go, but even more a shame that it turned out the way it did. The next one will be better though."
The power of positive thinking. As they enter the park, Rioghan can't help survey the land for vantage points, entry and exit points, places where people might be able to hide… it's all done by instinct. Habit. Satisfied, he remains at ease with Sandra. Even then, though, the young man is still ready for a moment's action. He smiles at Sandra, a bit of moonlight dancing in his eyes. "I think he might, Sandra. With you he might."

Sandra arches an eyebrow, an unspoken question, before she smiles even more at Rioghan. "Ahhh, then I have made a good impression," she says unconsciously squeezing Rioghan's arm. "And indeed, the next trip will be much better. And I do request you camp somewhere near a lake or a river, mmm? Please? Or at least plan a swimming trip of some sort," she laughs. "I don't actually need to sleep in water, it is just more convenient."
Walking along, Sandra considers herself, but something all together different. She is considering the best viewing spot within the park. Spying a small rise devoid of trees, to this Sandra motions. "I think that might well be ideal," is offered as the young woman tries to shift the blanket so she can brush at her hair without releasing Rioghan's arm. "Would you do me the honor of showing me the stars you know, and what their names are to you? Then, if you would like, I can tell you their names here, and the stories behind them."

"Aye, you made a fine impression on him," Rioghan says, "Though I think knowing who you really are may have had some influence on him." He moves to gently take the blanket from Sandra. "Allow me?" Flicking his wrists to unfurl it he lowers it to the ground, blue eyes narrow just a fraction and it seems that the wind catches it in just the right way to get the blanket to settle perfectly. He blows out a breath for the effort, but smiles at Sandra. "I can't really 'Harness the Wind' like Mr. Murphey or many of the other Tuatha, not without a lot of effort," he says, "The goddess didn't give me that blessing."
He gestures to the blanket, only settling down next to Sandra once she's taken a seat. "That sounds like a good way to spend the evening," he says. He lifts a hand, pointing up to trace along some of the stars, looking for one. "An Fairtheoir," Rioghan says, pointing out a set of dim and distant stars, "The Watcher." He gestures to another set, "And there 'Nathair Uisce', the water serpent." The second constellation, at least, is recognizable to Sandra as 'Hydra'.
"Well, I cannot harness it at all," notes Sandra as she smiles warmly at Rioghan. "And your goddess gave you a great love for your people, and an honorable heart. Perhaps a greater gift than being able to call the wind to your every whim," she notes as Rioghan settles down next to her. Idly the young woman brushes a hand over her plaid skirt before pushing at her hair once more.
An Fairtheoir," Sandra attempts to repeat, trying to roll her words as Rioghan does. "Mmm, the Watcher? What does he watch?" she asks curiously. Then to the next she follows Rioghan's movements and nods. "Nathair Uisce," she attempts, smiling. "That is Hydra," notes Sandra. "There are two legends to this one. First is Heracles, son of Zeus, half-mortal, half-god… what is known as a Demigod. He was forced to perform twelve labors. Once was to defeat the Lernaean Hydra. When one head was removed, two more grew in it's place. Eventually Heracles collapsed a mountain upon it."
Then Sandra lifts a hand and motions to the end of the 'water snake'. "That, on the tail, is Corvus - The Crow. This part of the legend states that Apollo sent a crow to fetch water. Not finding anything, the crow coiled up a water-snake into the form of a cup. Apollo saw through the ruse and was angered, yet impressed enough to place a remembrance of the clever crow into the sky."

"But you have control over the water," Rioghan says, "My people have some of that magic as well. The four elements are central to Tuatha magic… it was the goddess Danu's gift to her loyal followers. My Mother was a direct descendant, literally one of the 'children of Danu'. She was very powerful with her magic and I think some expected me to be as well. I'm not sure everyone approved of her wedding my father, but it was a union between Chiarrai and Ireland… and…" He shakes his head. "That's a story for another time. You didn't ask about that. An Fairtheoir watches over Danu's people, where-ever they may roam. It is a constellation visible on nearly every plane of existence. He's a guardian spirit."
Rioghan is quiet when Sandra tells her story about Hydra and then when she speaks about the crow, Rioghan smiles. "Corvus," he repeats, inclining his head, "I know that one as Badb Catha, the 'battle crow', the goddess of battle. My Aunt, the widow of my mother's brother, was named after her."

Sandra reaches out to put a hand on Rioghan's arm, a gentle reassuring touch. "You will be as strong as your people need, in whatever ways they need. I am certain of that, Rioghan," she offers quietly after his tale. She ducks her head and smiles before looking back up at the young man. "My uncle married a surface woman. Her name was Sarah - that is said to be of meaning in the Christian Religion … princess or similar, I am afraid I do not remember all," she notes with a sigh. "My father was not … approving of the marriage of his younger brother outside of Atlantis, until he met the woman. All of Atlantis mourned when she was murdered by a surface villain. That devastated my Uncle, but he found new life helping the Guardian League more and more. And while he has no children of his own, he is very much like a father to me."
Sandra sighs, then looks up at the sky and tries to repeat after Rioghan. "Bav… Catha. Mmmm, so many are similar, if with different names."

"My Uncle knows he cannot take the place of my parents, but he has been there for me since their passing, as has Mr. Murphey," Rioghan says with a fond smile. "It is good to have family and people who care for you and you for them with such close bonds as that." He leans back on the blanket, smiling for a moment at Sandra's hand. "I know that I will be, because I must be," the young man says.

Rioghan smiles at Sandra's pronunciation, "Close, very close." He repeats, slowing down the word so that she can catch the inflection his accent makes on the first word. It is very close to 'Bav' as Sandra had said, "Badb." The prince nods, "Many similarities and many differences as well, but they work together, they do, to form stories an' legends. Who knows, one day they may name a group of stars after you."

Sandra listens to Rioghan speak with a soft, distant smile on her lips, forgetting her hand resting gently on his arm. "They are indeed a boon. And even though I have not seen my own father in some time, nor my mother, I have spoken with them, and I know they care for me, and are proud of how far I am coming," she notes with a shake of her head. Then she lets out a bit of a laugh. "And it is nice how friends become an extended family. Liv is a dear friend, I would do what I must for her. Even Reg, though we shouldn't get along at all considering our backgrounds. Or, at least, my people would say we shouldn't," notes Sandra. "But the young man is so blasted affable, how could you /not/ become friends with him?"

Leaning in closer, Sandra tilts her head faintly, trying to concentrate on the inflection as Rioghan repeats it for her, nodding absently. "Bav.. no… Badb," she says slowly, before looking back at Rioghan hopefully. Of course, his comment about a constellation named after her causes the young woman to suddenly burn with a blush and she shakes her head back and forth. "Oh no. No. Certainly not me. There are greater and brighter figures in history, and even today, than myself. And far more important people. No, no, not me," notes Sandra ducking her head with her blush, revealing her own lack of self-confidence for a moment.

"I would imagine your Hercules who slay the Hydra felt the same way at one time," Rioghan says, gesturing up at the sky. As Sandra leans in closer, Rioghan does as well, unconsciously bringing himself closer to her. "There now, you've got it. It's not so difficult a language. English, now, there was a challenge."

Blue eyes dance in the moonlight as Sandra smiles at Rioghan, holding her breath for just an instant. He is closer to her now, than he has been, and … Sandra can feel the warmth coming from him, or is that a warmth of a blush on her cheeks? What does she care, she would rather it is Rioghan as she realizes in the back of her mind she likes being this near to him.

"Indeed, English … is a … what is the term … fudge pudding of a language. No .. no .. fudge pudgey? Oh, it matters not. It is a jumble of german and french and anything else that seemed interesting, as near as I can tell. Certainly nothing like your own beautiful language. Atlantean … it is a little harsher, not nearly so lilting, but that is necessity. While sound carries under water, the harder and harsher you make it, the more clearly you are understood. I guess … there are two languages, the softer spoken in atmosphere, the harsher in water," she notes, watching Rioghan's eyes intently.

"I love to listen to you speak," she admits without realizing it - a whisper of a thought that was meant to be just a thought.

Rioghan laughs softly, shaking his head. "If you're looking for help on what the correct phrase would be, I haven't a clue," he states, "but this will be my last year of English as a second language, so perhaps I'll learn more of the 'slang' that is used. I still doubt that it will help me understand Jack any better than I do. But I don't think some of the students who grew up speaking English can understand Jack half the time."

"That makes some sense," Rioghan says, "Having to rely on a slightly harsher language to travel through the water." A warm evening breeze drifts through the park, rustling the leaves in the trees, tugging at the two teens' hair, making the edges of the blanket ripple up. Rioghan closes his eyes, turning his face to it and breathes in. Not quite the same as a breeze off of the Irish coast, but it still has the tang of salt and sea water on it. He opens his eyes again and smiles at Sandra. "I've done a lot of talking tonight. More than I usually do. The goddess gave us two ears and one mouth, intending us to listen twice as much as we speak. So, tell me more about your constellations, Sandra… before it gets too late and we need to make our way back to campus."

Absently, Sandra twists at a bracelet on her wrist, before finally ducking her head. "And I was enjoying my two ears getting their use and my one mouth getting a rest," she teases lightly before looking up in the sky. "Ah, I shall tell you the story of Cephus, Cassiopeia and their daughter Andromeda. It all starts with Danae, a beautiful woman whom an Oracle said would bare a son that would kill the King. Well, her father did not like that. He hid Danae away in a bronze tower. But Zeus, being the man he was, knew of her beauty. So he came to her as a shower of gold dust. Danae bore a son, and her father, Acrisius, the king of Argos, did not care for this at all. He threw Danae and the newborn Perseus," notes Sandra, motioning to a constellation far overhead, "into a box which he threw into the sea. A fisherman found them both, and took them to his brother, the King of Seriphos. Perseus grew strong and brave, and had many adventures. The one I speak of now is of how he used Medusa's head, which he killed, to save the Princess Andromeda." Now Sandra motions to another constellation nearby.

"On either side of Andromeda are her parents, the arrogant Cepheus and the vain Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia bragged that both she and her daughter were more beautiful than Poseidon's nymphs. Having had enough disrespect from the king and his queen, Poseidon snatched Andromeda away and chained her to a rock, to be the sacrifice to the horrible kraken. Perseus was traveling through, and heard of this, and saw Andromeda's beauty. He promised to rescue the princess, if he could have her hand in marriage. Reluctantly the King and Queen agreed. Using his winged steed, Pegasus," offers Sandra as she motions to another grouping of stars, "He rescued Andromeda. But Cephus and Cassiopeia would not have it. They called to another kingdom and the mighty Agenor arrived with an army to fight Perseus at the wedding. In the midst of the battle, however, Perseus pulled out Medusa's head, the gorgon who could turn living creatures to stone with one look. The army was decimated, and Cepheus and Cassiopeia were killed. Poseidon, not having foreseen their deaths, put the king and queen into the sky. But Cassiopeia he put on a sedan for her vanity, so that she must spend half the year up-side down. Years later, after a happy life, Athena put Andromeda into the sky, and Zeus put his son, Perseus with his faithful steed, into the sky as well."

Rioghan listens in rapt attention to Sandra as she tells the stories and gestures to the constellations that are forever reminders of the historical figures within them. "Vanity, greed, lust for greater power… the downfall of any group that draws its breath of life," he says, shaking his head, "And in spite of it, we can continue to have hope because there are those that fight for honor, and love, and keep us reminded that there is still good out there."

"Chomh fada a fhanfaidh realt sa speir, ni bheidh ar fad a bheith caillte scath," Rioghan lilts out, "So long as one star remains in the sky, all will not be lost to shadows."

Sandra blinks and looks at Rioghan, listening intently with her head tilted to the side. "Pandora's box. Pandora was the first woman, and when she was created, she had a box, she was told not to open. Well, one day, her curiosity overcame her. As she opened the box, all the ills of man flew out - sickness, greed, vanity. As the box0lid closed, there was a tiny thump from the inside. Opening it once more, Pandora found little frail Hope in the box. Freeing the seemingly slightest of all of Man's gifts, Pandora freed the greatest gift of all," she notes. "I can only tell the tale as I have no saying such as yours."

Sandra purses her lips in thought a moment, then shifts, reaching to her wrist and taking off the bracelet there. "Rioghan, I wish you to have this," she says, holding out her hand for his wrist, holding the dainty chain. "It was a gift given to me upon leaving Atlantis. The runes of Protection and Luck are scribed upon it. It shifts to it's wearers personality," she notes. "But if you wear this … at least some small part of Atlantis, part of myself, will be with you when you need Protection and Luck. And I will not feel as if I am neglecting my promises."

Rioghan blinks. He extends his wrist, meeting Sandra's gaze with his own. In the moonlight his blue eyes are almost iridescent like a cat's. Almost. It adds to the unnatural blueness of their depths. "This is unexpected," he says quietly, "but you honor me with your token, Alessandra of Atlantis."

Sandra is caught, momentarily by the near-iridescence of those eyes, and finds herself just smiling up at Rioghan. Then the moment is gone, and she forces herself to concentrate on her actions as she blushes and looks down demurely to Rioghan's wrist. "I hope it is not an unpleasant sort of unexpected," offers the Atlantean Princess with a shy whisper.

As the bracelet is lifted and placed around Rioghan's wrist, the gold and pearls shifts, and twists, growing to something heavier from the delicate women's bracelet. When it settles, it is half an inch thick, and appears to be made of stone - a warm gray hue, woven like threads together with a granite of grey dusty green, lavender and white in an endless ring of knots.

"This," motions Sandra to the largest of the knotted symbols, "is 'Prostasia', or Protection." Sandra's finger follows the winding cords to the next symbol, "And this is Thychi, or Luck. The pattern is repeated," she notes with continued movement, "over the entire bracelet. My mother gave this to me. And now I gift it to you, Rioghan," she says with a subtlety shy glance up at the Prince.

Rioghan brings his other hand to run a finger along the pattern of the bracelet. He is quiet for a long moment, just looking at it. Then wordlessly he brings his hands together, drawing the ring that he had played with earlier in the coffee shop off and into his hand. Also without speaking he reaches for Sandra's hand, gently lifting it palm up. "Tis only fitting if I give you a gift from home as well."

He places it in her hand, closing her fingers around it. "It's not magic, only gold. And it won't change to fit the wearer, so when we return to campus, I can get you a chain to wear it on around your neck if you wish… but you remember the story I told you earlier?"

It's a man's claddaugh ring, inscribed on the inside with a bit of Gaelic script, 'Dha lamha, ceann croi, riocht amhain.'

Blue eyes watch Rioghan's movements, then her eyes widen as the ring is placed in her hand - her breath catches as her fingers are closed around the ring. Sandra looks from her hand, to Rioghan's eyes, her eyes blink and confusion and hope? mix upon her features as her hand trembles in Rioghan's grasp.

"I …" Sandra's voice trembles, failing momentarily. "I remember the tale, Rioghan. I remember it well," she murmurs softly, eyebrows rising. Swallowing, she looks down at her closed hand, then up to Rioghan again, at a loss of words.

"Two hands, one heart, one kingdom," Rioghan says, translating the inscription. "It was my grandfather's. My Da's father," he says, "And I want you to have it. A piece of Ireland to carry with you as I now have a piece of Atlantis." He clears his throat, standing up and offering Sandra his hand. "We should get back to campus. Tomorrow is a school day."

Sandra takes Rioghan's offer of help up, rising as she looks at him in wonderment. Then she looks down at the ring in her hand, before suddenly attempting to give Rioghan just the briefest of hugs. "This is too wonderful a gift, Rioghan, thank you," she whispers, before trying to pull away, and busy herself with folding the blanket for the walk back to campus.

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