In the Wake of Giants


The Eager Rper
Janine nodded and looked to the horse with a sad smile. She stroked the horse again as Raban told her that Chestnut hadn’t come back yet. She looked up when Raban patted her shoulder and encouraged her. “Yeah. If you say so,” Janine said solemnly. A week? It’s been twice as long. Raban must’ve been worried about her at some point. They’d been friends for a long while. She wondered if Chestnut was worried about Raban. She looked at the horse again at Raban’s promise. Nodding her head at the proposal. “Ah yes. Conversations. We can talk at my house.” Janine said with a smile. She wanted to tell him some things too. Her mind went to the owner of the horse; apparently, it belonged to a Knight named Luxley. The name rang a bell or two…. The recognition then struck Janine, and she sneered up at Raban with a huff. “He wasn’t the most polite of Knights. And he often grumbled whenever Kiegal made a rather tough decision. I never liked hearing him complain under his breath, but I certainly wasn’t going to tell him otherwise. I’ve just been waiting as patiently as I could to see him to get punishment for his attitude. He keeps talking like he knows better and he’ll end up getting hurt, or worse,” Janine snorted.

The woman kept herself on guard for low-hanging banners or streamers as the decorations were being put up. Being blinded by rouge pieces of paper was not a pleasant way to spend a holiday. But she mainly kept a lookout for a certain group of people. She really didn’t want to meet up with them while walking with Raban. Keeping composure was something Raban wanted her to work on here and there, so she planned on working on it. Not as much as she wanted, but still.


the Hugger Troll
The horse caught him off guard again as it shifted. He was not used to the thinner girth, but he was happier that they were at least moving from the prying eyes of those nearby still giggling and nattering to each other in the same fashion that he had seen birds in tree twittering. It was rather odd really. He nodded, they certainly did need to talk.

Janine huffed and he glanced at her as she spoke. reading the distaste in her voice. He couldn't blame her, Luxley was and had never been the sort to think things through, to think he knew better and complained bitterly at old leadership. He was rough, course and had no tact. It was a loss to the Order but only because they lost the training the man had been given.

"He got worse," Raban said, perhaps a little too bluntly. He had not been happy to have lost the man even if he might have deserved such a fate. If the man hadn't been so reckless, than it might not have come to pass but it had and he felt responsible for being unablr to bring him back. Even if he had no control over it at the time. He doubted he'd be mourned though.

He glanced at the decoration, reaching to rub at his face as they moved through the streets. He had to lower himself as they passed one piece of bunting that had been hung with a little too much slack in it and grabbed the saddle horn as he had to catch himself. "Damn," he muttered, righting himself again. He shook his head before he decided to swing a leg over the horn and he landed neatly on the ground. He fed to rein over the horse's head, leading it behind him as he joined Janine's side.

"Wonder how much the populace is going to increase by in nine months time after today," he muttered, peering at the bunting and other decorations people were putting on their houses and walls.


The Eager Rper
Janine snorted when Raban told her the man got worse. Worse than what? Being hurt? Serves him right. She never liked the man - talking as if he knew better. That kind of arrogance was never the attitude that the Order liked to uphold.

They walked a few steps before Raban had to save himself from falling off the horse entirely. She snickered at the man as he decided to get off the horse and just walked beside her. His little joke made her snicker even harder, to the point where she had to cover her face as she laughed. She then gave a light smack on his shoulder, as if reprimanding him.

“Oh look who has jokes. Stop it, before we get in trouble somehow,” Janine said with a giggle.

Luckily, without too much fuss, the two had made it to the markets. The whole area was bustling with goods pertaining to Sweetfall’s Day, and of course, multitude of people were trying to get their hands on items to give to their sweethearts. Everyone had to be in the spirit of the holiday. What would be sold that she would ever want? All she wanted to get were apples. Janine groaned and looked up to Raban.

“The apples better be in these first few stores. I don’t want to be seen by anybody,” Janine complained. She looked around warily, even sniffed the air slightly. But with all the perfume and scents all over the place, it was hard to pick anything out. She couldn’t even smell the apples that she was normally able to find. It was a bit frustrating, and a little overwhelming. If it was a normal day in the streets, Janine wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But for some reason, Sweetfall’s Day had the potential to make her…. Claustrophobic. She backed away a little beside Raban, as if she was hiding from someone.

“Uuugh… I hate the markets on Sweetfall’s Day. I didn’t think it could get more chaotic down here,” Janine moaned.


the Hugger Troll
Raban glanced at her when she snickered at him but he said nothing of it. One of them might as well find him nearly falling off amusing. He grinned when she laughed, catching on to his humour and was glad to hear the sound. He looked to her as they walked and smirked as she struck his shoulder.

"Yes ma'am," he chuckled quietly, forgetting himself in the moment but as soon as he heards shouts and bustling, his usual facade returned. He frowned as faces turned towards them. The markets were busy with vendors and people wanting to get their hands on the goodies they wanted to given their special ones. It went from everything from fruit to carved wood. There was enough people here to make him uneasy.

He glanced at her as she spoke and grunted in return. He supposed a few more apples couldn't be a bad thing. Apples were a last chance of sweetness before the winter. Raban was partial to a good rhubarb and apple crumble himself on occasion. He glanced back at Luxley's horse and supposed the beast could use a few himself. Raban couldn't recall if the man had named it at all. Probably not, he mused.

"Should be here somewhere," 'somewhere' was the operative word. There was no way to tell in aomgst the throng of people where the apple vendor's were. They would just have to muddle through the crowd and find them the old fashioned way. He gave a deep breathe. Had he been on his shire, he could have easily parted a crowd. This horse was thinner and would not part a crowd quite so easily. He felt Janine shift behind him somewhat and he glanced at her briefly as the horse snorted.

"And it's not even midday yet," he nodded. "Come on, sooner we trudge through, sooner we get out and get to sit down for a bit," he encouraged before he paused and looked at her with a smirk through his scruffy onset of a beard, "No use hiding behind me. Snort here might step on your heels," he nodded, peering at the bay he was leading behind him. He lead the way through the market with a slow, methodical pace that allowed him to check the stalls for their fare. It was nearly at the end before he spotted their quarry, a stall with a number of rosy reds, succulent greens and a mixture of other varieties of apples. It seemed the orchards had a good harvest this year, even with all the troubles afoot.

"Here we are,"


The Eager Rper
Janine sighed when Raban told Janine to move along with him. She didn’t want to, but she had to if she wanted to help carry the apples back home. She wished she could be more help, but she didn't have anything to take with her but the clothes on her back. Even a small sack would’ve been nice to have, or a couple of coins to help Raban out. Nonetheless, she let Raban and the horse lead the way - better for him than her with this stuff. She followed him diligently, keeping close so she wouldn’t be lost in the crowds and scents.

He finally found the apples - which of course were at the very end of the marketplace. She sighed softly, but didn’t make a fuss, since she was happy to even find them before things got too crowded. As she waited for the apples to be bought, she suddenly felt something slap her in the back of the head. She gasped in shock, but the shock was almost instantaneously replaced by anger. She stared at Raban for a few seconds before a low rumble vibrated out her throat.

That wasn’t going to go unanswered.

Janine turned and ran down the same direction the assailant disappeared, which was immediately regretted thanks to all the pieces of brown and orange and red streams of paper being dragged through the air. She huffed angrily, but soon saw a body escape down an alleyway. She hissed to herself and made a run for it, hoping to catch up to the person. When she finally did get to the alleyway, she was by herself for a moment. Then she heard a series of chuckling. Multiple people? Multiple enemies? Her body tensed as she prepared for an attack. Maybe it was that stranger from weeks before?

Her senses sharpened as the people stepped forth into her view. The people revealed made Janine grimace as she sighed. Not a serious enemy….. But still.

It was a group of adults around her age. They often bullied her when she was younger, since she was always the odd one out. They didn’t usually go out of their way to mess with her. Only when it was most fun and convenient. Like Sweetfall’s Day.

Awww, what’s wrong Janine? Not who you were expecting?” a female voice called. Janine turned around to see her exit being blocked by none other than a young woman named Ashley. She was accompanied by none other than her boyfriend, David. She backed away with a tinge of nervousness. Surrounded. But she didn’t want to make a scene, or else risk people looking at her for beating up multiple couples. They might get the idea that she hated the holiday so much that she’d willingly lash out at whoever was out here celebrating. She couldn’t have rumors like that floating around.

“Ugh, what do you want Ashley? Not enough boyfriend lips to infect?” Janine spat.

Ashley didn’t seem to like the fact that Janine dealt the first blow. She grumbled and shook her head. “You would say something like that, rat. Why don’t you go on and spread some disease around? You’re good at that, being all filthy and all. Go on, shoo,” Ashley said with a shooing hand. Her other friends shickered behind her at the joke she made. Ugh, could this day get any worse? “Can you not? Can we do this at some other time? I’m not in the greatest mood right now,” Janine said with a huff. She tried to leave the way she came, but the two people in front of her wouldn’t let her leave.

“Why Ashley? You literally told me that you wanted me to go off, so I am. Just let me go, please?” Janine asked as politely as she could. These guys were beginning to test her patience. She still had to get back to Raban. He probably was looking for her.

“What? Where do you have to go in such a hurry?” Ashley asked with a sneer.

“Probably to her mother’s house. Going to go back home to mommy?” a female behind Janine taunted. If she could recall, that one was Leslie. “Another bitch in the making, I presume?” Janine asked with a sneer.

Janine never liked it when anybody talked about her mother in a taunting manner. She turned towards the head bitch and her obedient dog. “Piss off. I’m not in the mood. You already know how I am when I’m irritated,” Jainine said.

“Yeah. You become a filthy beast. Why do you even come out here on Sweetfall’s Day? Only humans celebrate this holiday, not forest children. And your mother doesn’t even count.” Ashley said with a bitchy laugh.


the Hugger Troll
The place wasn't as busy as it could get to be and for that it made the going that much easier in the least. He would hate to be here at its peak, he could well imagine the thickness of a budding crowd. Still, he was content to have finally found what they were searching for. He bought a fair amount of apples of different colours. He thought a mix might be nice for them at least. He bought enough to have spare for later on. Thanking the vendor after paying the man and hearing a gasp, he turned only to find Janine staring at him with a growl. He blinked unsure what he had done to upset her this time around only for her to turn and run off.

He gave a groan.
Not again.

Sighing, he tied the burlap sack of apples he had bought to the saddle before he took its reins. "Come on, Let's see what's got her attention this time around," he sniffed the air and followed the trail of her scent. he upset a few people as he turned but there was no helping that. He walked with speed but not in haste. It wouldn't do to alert or worry anyone around him. He also knew that Janine was capable of handling herself but he also knew it never hurt to have someone backing you up if things went south. They were also both out of armour and that could be deadly.

It took him longer than he liked to follow her trail through the mud and alleyways. There was so much scent in the air that it was hard to discern her scent from the heady mixes of sweat, body odours, perfumes, rotting meat and vegetables, mold and feces. He knew there was a dead rat somewhere nearby as he walked, the snort of a horse behind him. "Quiet now,"

After a time he heard voices, one recognizable but the others were unknowns and were a lot more indistinct. He paused for a moment before he moved on again. He could hear the remarks now and his gut sat in distaste. He didn't like where these comments were going nor did he like the nature of the voices speaking them. He tied the horse off to one side before he pulled one apple from the bag. He moved closer, keeping his footstep light, hardly making a sound.

He came upon them to find Janine being blocked off from being able to leave these people. Whoever they were. Raban didn't like the tone of their voices nor did he like the way they were laughing. It wasn't harde to know the subject of their amusement. They hadn't seemed to have seen him yet as he stood behind one of them. Being what he was, he was able to sneak silently, and creep up on quarry. Had he been in his true form, it would have been the easiest thing to toy with them. Make them lose their sanity. But he was not that kind of person nor was it dark enough for his liking for that to be an option.

Instead he took a bite of the apple he had brought with him. It was enough to make at least one startle so much that she nearly tripped over her own feet. Raban took no respite from it though as he peered at them all, munching slowly on his mouthful. He eventually sniffed, swallowing the mouthful.

"As you say. It is Sweetfall's Day," he paused to look at each and every single one of them with a look of deep study that was hard on the eyes. "A time for randy dogs and their womenfolk alike. Humans aren't exempt from primal natures. You might want to remember that next time another enforces themselves upon you," Raban's tone was blunt, and he made no secret of what his words aluded too. He knew humans were just as good at evil ventures as his own kind could be in wreaking blood and devastation. Humans went to war over so little, mothers forced to mother children they had not wanted and torture in the midst of it all amongst other things.

"So, do yourself a favour and run along, enjoy the day's festivities. Go ride a horse or go an fish from the river. You cast yourselves no favours,"

Raban did not like bullies. There was no room for it in such a world where they should be standing together, not apart and divided. Humans were often referred to as a plague upon the earth. He had it from so many. Especially from races that had chosen to stay away from human populations.


The Eager Rper
Janine paused and lifted her head when she heard a male’s voice speak up behind Ashley and David. Raban. He found her. She almost didn’t want to stop arguing - she wanted to mess with up. She was tired of them messing with her, and they expected her to never stand up for herself. Why? Why can’t she teach them a lesson?

She backed away, looking at Raban with what seemed to be thankfulness. She smiled when Raban began to talk to them in his typical fashion.

“Psh. Back off old man. This doesn’t concern you,” David sneered.

It was obvious that the majority of the people before him didn’t understand exactly what he was saying - admittedly, Janine didn’t understand either, until she thought about it. She let out a soft giggle, which caught Ashley’s attention. Janine stopped her giggles, but it was too late. She looked back and forth between Raban and Janine before walking up to the woman in the middle of the alleyway, who balled her fists in preparation for some physical altercation. “So, what? You like playing the damsel in distress now? Pathetic.” Ashley sneered. But then she gave a look that made Janine a little wary, before looking towards Raban once more. Janine backed away a few inches, unsure of what was to happen. The nasty female smirked and shook her head mockingly at her.

“Oh, Janine. Looks like I was wrong. You do have a man, Janine. All he does is to walk up and tell people what to do and you think everything’s alright. Maybe you aren’t a horrible disgrace of a woman who can't attract a man,” Ashley said as she surrounded Janine like a prey animal. Janine huffed and shook her head. “Psh, whatever. Say what you want. I ain’t gotta man. And he said go on and celebrate. Leave me alone,” Janine said with a huff.

Ashley nodded her head and tapped Janine on her head. “But this is more fun. You don’t have anybody on Sweetfall’s Day. At least, that’s what you want us to think….”

The woman turned as she walked up beside her boyfriend. “Although, he isn’t our age…. Perhaps you paid him to pretend to be someone who cares about you,” Ashley said with a smirk. Janine tried to be angry at them, but the fact that she was being humiliated in front of Raban was becoming too much. The words were beginning to seep in and bite her with the remembrance of why she disliked being out and about on Sweetfall’s Day. She looked to Raban for only a moment before lowering her head down, not wanting him to see the tears that were beginning to form.

David began to perk up and invited himself into the humiliation. He walked up towards Raban a few feet, but he didn’t walk within arm’s reach. He seemed to have some sort of sense under his thick skull.

“Hey, man. How much did she pay you to stick around? We won’t judge you; she probably paid you a lot. Heh, I wouldn’t blame you,” David said with a smirk. Janine didn’t know what to do at this point. They were just throwing blow after blow, and they were taking small jabs at Raban. Physical altercations were better to deal with than these kinds of encounters. Especially when they were personal like these. Her head often muddled itself up with emotions, which made her slower on judgement. Or faster to make a more angered move.

“Leave him alone! You're so full of it! He ain’t gotta be paid to be with me,” Janine barked.

“Oh? So it’s pity company? He shouldn't have to do all that just to make you feel good,” Ashley said with a smirk. “We're pretty sure he can find someone else who would be more deserving of him. He'll have to raise standards,” the young woman said as she gave a small giggle.

Janine began shaking with anger. How dare they talk to Raban like that!

But they were all aiming to get at Janine. Why did they have to tease her in front of her friend? Why disrespect him like that? Why not mess with her when she was alone? Her fists balled up tighter and her eyes shut halfway. She felt herself getting to that point where she might lunge at either one of them, but she couldn’t do that. Not now. And not during a day like today.

‘Just stay calm… Don’t let anyone see you cry. Don't lunge at them,’ Janine desperately thought.


the Hugger Troll
He took another bite of his apple as David sneered at him. He wasn't phased by it. He'd been insulted and chased by people far worse and above this boy's station in his time. It was clear they were not intelligent to work out what he said and that spoke more of Amatad's education. That was a shame. After a moment though, Janine got what he was referring too even though he had been quite blunt. He was glad she did find that amusing in the least as he peered at the rest, his gaze pausing upon 'Ashley'. It seemed that this was the leader of this little group of idiots.

They reminded him of wild dogs or Hyenas. He watched as Ashley spoke, speaking as if he belonged to Janine or vice versa. He frowned, unused to such associations but he supposed he just never had the time nor inclination to care before. After all, it had taken him this long to have a true friend that he could trust and confide in. He knew it was pretty much the same for Janine too. She didn't deserve this level of humiliation. He hadn't been on the receiving end of being bullied before beyond the occasional slight but he had seen it happen. He didn't like it, tried to stop it where he could but bullying seemed to be a fact of life for some.

His eyes narrowed at Ashley by a fraction of a millimetre as she went on to suggest Janine had paid for his company. It was a sorry world where such things existed and if he had been in his armour and tabard of office, he supposed the girl wouldn't be as quck to make the accusation. This was not the fun and games the woman made out to be. His gaze remained on the other even as the male walked up to him. It was only when David stopped that Raban peered at him.

He didn't respond right away. Raban preferred to gauge and think things through before coming to action. It also restrained him from rising to words designed to goad a reaction out of him as they were trying to do with Janine and himself now. He had to wonder at their stupidity. He might not be wearing a sign of the Order but he hardly screamed 'grocer's boy' or some other profession where fighting wasn't part of the daily trade. It seemed that this boy had some nowse, he had stopped a few feet away from Raban. Not that it made much difference. Humans were slow compared with a wolf.

Raban switched his gaze to Ashley with a swiftness that bordered inhuman before he gave a chuckle. "You? Find me someone more deserving?" he eyed her up and down, sensing the displeasure it gave her boyfriend. Raban was not worried. He moved past David, entering the circle with no fear of being struck or hurt. He drew close to Ashley and sniffed once before he shook his head at her, "What would a scrap of girl yet to bloom know about the finding of women for the older man? Hm?" he asked softly knowing Janine would read the predatory note in the inflections quicker than these louts would.

He smiled ruefully at her before he turned towards her boyfriend, sizing him over with the same look as he had given Ashley as the boy grumbled at him. Something about staying away. "Growl all you like, boy. You're insecure, and I feel for you. All of you. I'd be willing to wager decent coin that you and the rest of your friends here have no spine."

Raban shook his head, "It's sad, really, that you feel you must taunt and humiliate, which by the way; not working, to make yourselves feel better. Don't prattle at me like suckling piglets. "

"I won't tell you a third time. Leave and enjoy what the day offers. Enjoy your freedoms, because when that dragon returns, and he will, you may wish for someone to help you that might think twice about doing so because of what you have done. So, get,"

Raban's tone was serious and dark. He had enough of people and their stupid ways of needing to feel superior over others, that they thought they knew best, that they had to pick on people and abuse people. His tone brook no room for disagreement. He had not made friends, but he chiefly did not care for them. He would take Janine's friendship alone if that was all life offered him because there was more quality and care in her friendship than the tons of empty hands this lot offered.


The Eager Rper
The young adults of the alleyway looked towards one another as Raban walked past them and went towards Ashley. His insults and remarks made her scoff indignantly at him, her mouth open as if shocked he would say anything about her as such. Janine’s ear twitched a little at Raban’s tone; she heard that predatory incline and turned her head a little. Was he trying to scare them with his voice? She wasn’t sure if they’d be able to pick up on it, but she supposed his larger frame would be able to do enough for him. David looked towards the other people, but they looked at each other nervously. They didn’t seem to take the possibility of Janine having someone like Raban to defend her into consideration. And certainly not Ashley.

“Wh-whatever, old man. We were gonna leave anyway,” Ashley said with what she tried to display as a sneer. David, Ashley, and the others hurried themselves down the alleyway to make thier leave, leaving the two alone in the alleyway.

Janine tilted her head at Raban. He drove the bullies off, thank god, but she felt the damage had already been done. Janine kept shaking even after they left. It was her fault. She shouldn’t have ran off. What would she have done if the person was someone else? She had to learn to stop being so eager to attack someone.

Maybe stuff like this wouldn’t happen. And not in front of Raban.

She sniffled when she was sure she and Raban were alone. Her mind just wanted to break down. Why? Why her? It wasn’t fair. Why did she have to be bullied by everyone else? Why couldn’t she just be left alone?

“You… You didn’t have to do that Raban. They do this every year. And it was my fault anyway. I just take it, like I should. I…” Janine paused to stop the shuddering in her voice before continuing. “They’re right though. I was never able to keep any friends. And whenever I tried, the kids just messed with me until I went away again. Then the cycle would just continue, until I stopped trying,” Janine said with another sniff. She didn't want to look up at Raban, but she felt the need to make eye contact with him while talking, so she lifted her head up, letting him see the tears that were ready to drip down her face.

“I do like to celebrate Sweetfall’s Day with Mama, but it’s really to remind ourselves of Papa’s love for us when he was still with us. His disappearance had us so conflicted, and we were really sad for a long while. Sweetfall's is a way to release the tension and sadness. So it’s a bittersweet celebration.” Janine looked back down at her hands that were fiddling and rubbing each other as she spoke. “But for the longest time I wanted to celebrate the holiday with someone that I cared about. A happy celebration for once. With someone outside my family. Just to see how it felt. But….”

Janine felt herself welling up with a surge of sadness. “Nobody wants to be with you when you’re different. And I do like being different. Being the same as everyone is boring. But… How can you enjoy being different, when all it brings is loneliness?” Janine asked as she looked up to the older man. She let out some sobs while she wiped her eyes in vain. “A-and being lonely on Sweetfall’s Day is the worst! You see everyone enjoying themselves and sharing food and laughter and jokes, and then you’re just in the house, dreading to go out, cause you know that you'll be teased and taunted by someway in one way or another. Or you don't get teased, but someone asks you why you don't have anybody with you, on the day where it seems everyone and their mama has someone to be with. You can be treated like that for so long before you just want to turn away from it all,” Janine sadly stated. “That's why I say that I hate the holiday. But then again, that could just be becoming bitter. Hehe, can you imagine? Me being bitter already?” Janine said with a rueful smile.


the Hugger Troll
He could see his words had cut deep or at least shocked them into a stupor. It was clear they had been picking on Janine for sport and that upset him. Janine deserved nothing of that ilk. She was someone of calibre, honour and trust. He picked up easily on their nervousness and wondered if anyone had stood up to them or had defended someone against them before. They seemed new to it. It only spoke of their insecurities.

"Good," Raban said simply watching them go. He remained so for a long moment before he gave a heavy sigh glad it had not turned into anything physical. He was thankful it wasn't anything worse than just bullies. She could have been hurt and he wouldn't necessarily have been there to lend his aid. That was the scary thought in all of this.

Either way, he hoped her bullied would think twice now before picking on her. He wondered even how much their parents knew of their children's antics. He sighed, closed his eyes for a moment before Janine's voice cut through the silence that had formed like it was butter. He looked to her, hearing her words and the snort of the horse nearby.

His head tilted in return as she spoke. His heart went out to her and did not try to rush her. She seemed to want to explain something to him and he had to let her do it in her own time in her own way. There was hesitation in her but there was also determination too. In a way, it was also painful for him as she talked about her relation with the holiday as it reminded him a lot of what experienced too.

Raban moved closer to her, hating to hear the sadness in her voice and seeing the tears well up. It didn't suit her at all. He waited for her to finish before he spoke, taking her hands to remind her that she wasn't alone. She had a friend in him. That had to account for something.

"They shouldn't be doing it regardless, Janine."

He sighed slightly, "You...are not alone. I... It's not a day I favour much either. I don't entirely... uh, understand it. Never had that many friends growing up. Not until Cadfael and Chestnut really. And friends is hard when you can't tell everything and have secrets to keep. You get wary of people... suspicious, so you don't let them into that inner circle of trust. It... It ostracizes you in many ways... So I get it. I understand. Just because you're different or appear a loner or stay away from society in general does not give them the right to abuse you."

"You celebrate it how you want to. Not by what this damned society has somehow dictated. I beleive Chestnut's followup comment here would be along the lines of 'Sheep, the lot of them." he gave a rueful smile at that. Chestnut had hated the holiday with a passion, always grumbling about this weird human need to profess the meaning of a heart and soul as if they were in league with angels themselves. The fire demon was prone to some pretty colourful language this time of year, and he supposed it had been designed to cheer him up in many respects.

"Ah, you have your mother and you have Venus. And, of course, you have Chestnut and myself now to call friend. So, you're not alone. Even if you just want to share in a pint or something as simple as that," he nodded. He was used to doing mundane things on this day. He had even offered to continue working and would have if not for the firm order to go and enjoy himself and not to come back for a day or two.

He snorted and shook his head, amused, "You? bitter? That'll be the day." He gave her a wink and then a smirky smile before he put a hand to her shoulder and gently squeezed. He then turned and retrieved the nervous horse waiting nearby before he looked back at her and offered a ressuring smile that was definitely more comfortable being used in her company than anyone else's. "Come on. I'm not sure if your mother was told you were let out today. I think it'd be a good surprise for her when you show your face, nay?"


The Eager Rper
Janine cried a little as she looked down into her hands. She didn’t know what Raban would think about her desires and what she went through, but she sure as hell never liked crying in front of anybody. It made her feel weak. So when Raban gently took her hands into his own, she looked back up as he spoke.

While losing a father - no matter the circumstance - was never an easy thing to deal with, she was happy that he was able to relate to her in multiple ways. They both lost their fathers, they both had specific reasons to hide themselves from the world and close themselves off, and they both felt uneasy and rather sad about holidays like this. But they both were raised right by their loving mothers, they both saw more to this world than just ‘good’ and ‘bad’ - there were so many exceptions that needed to be exposed, but the world was just too set in their ways to see them with open minds. And they had each other as companions. To be each other’s support when needed. She supposed they both had that in common as well - a friend at some point in their lives. She felt better about herself around him. She gave a small smile when Raban estimated what Chestnut would most likely say about the holiday, even though it somehow made her feel a little uneasy in a sense. She had wanted to celebrate the holiday like everyone else, despite her acceptance for being different. But perhaps she didn’t have to celebrate the holiday just like everyone else, because she didn’t have relationships just like everyone else.

What she had seemed to be better than what most had in their life - if not just as good. And Raban reminded her of that too. She did have her mother to love, and her horse, Venus, in which she’d be long dead if it wasn’t for her smaller frame and speed. Her personality matched, and clashed, with her own, and she wouldn’t have had it another way. She had her losses, but she had also gained other things that could make her happy, if she thought about it. Like her new friends. And she should celebrate them.

She blinked away her tears when he made fun of her last statement. He understood her. It was something she wanted in her life. Understanding. She was so happy that she was able to let all that bottled emotion off her chest, and as Raban squeezed her shoulder, she felt a great weight taken off her. Maybe all she needed was a talk. To let some of her emotions out. She wiped her eyes as best as she could as he walked to the horse.

“Yes, let’s go on to my house. I would love to see the look on her face when we walk through the door.” Janine said as she walked beside Raban.


When the two got to Janine’s house, Venus had easily taken notice of Raban. She snorted and rose to her feet, as she was laying down, and trotted up to the fence with a whinny. She glanced at the new male horse he was walking with, and flicked her lips around, as if she wasn’t sure about his presence. But she ignored him just as quickly when she saw the apples, and nudged her snout into Raban’s face and hair, both in greeting and in asking for the apples.


the Hugger Troll
It left a weird feeling to know he disliked seeing tears on her face, sadness in her voice and that she had never known a true friend other than her own mother. Family was not quite the same as a friend, he knew. Even Cadfael had that unspoken wall between him and his charge since Cadfael had stepped in as Raban's father figure in so many ways. But they were still friends enough. At least he and Janine had a lot more in common than the average pair of people.

'Come on, Chestnut. Where the hell are you?' he mused silently, he was missing the voice in his head. Something else he never thought he'd think or say but there it was. He was missing the familiar fiery voice that popped a snarky comment or whined about meat sacks. It was a comfort when she was there and to not have her there seemed like a part of himself ripped away. Have patience, he told himself. She would return eventually. Death was not the end for a fire demon.

Raban watched as Janine seemed to consider his words, all of which he knew to be true and honest. She did have people who cared for her, and she was not alone. She could never be truly alone. He gave a smile to her, collecting the reins to the waiting 'wild' bay, of whom snorted uneasily. Perhaps it was picking up the predator in his scent, Raban mused knowing Horses were a lot more clued in than humans gave them credit for.

He smiled and nodded, "Let's." He knew Tina had been wanting this day for a while now. Who wanted their daughter to be kept inside an Infirmary for ages, after all? He was just happy JAnine had someone in her life that could be there for her no matter what. He followed her back to the house and back to the familiar sight of Venus awaiting them. He grinned, plucky mare had already spotted them and was making her way over.

"I think she knows," he chuckled with a grin as they drew closer to the fence. The male followed with none of the same zest showing in Venus at all. It was not what he was used to. THe only reaction the stallion gave was a flicking of ears and a snort as if trying to decide whether it liked the place or not. It was all new for the stallion, Raban knew. The horse had lost its usual owner and was now in a state of flux as it either awaited a new one or remained loaned to Raban. Knowing Kiegal, the man was likely just to state the stallion was Raban's now regardless since he now lacked a horse and there was a horse with no owner. It was a match made. It was going to take a while to adjust to the thinner girth, Raban mused with a grumble.

Turning his attention on Venus, he chuckled as he found a velvety mouth in his face, "Heh, okay, okay. Hello to you too... I did make you a promise, didn't I girl?" he chuckled, reaching for an apple and offered it to her. A juicy red, but he had bought quite a selection. A horse's chocolate box, no less.

He tied the reins for the male to the fence and he gave the male one as well. The horse was nervous about the spherical shaped object offered to it and Raban noted that it seemed a bit surprised to be offered such a treat. "Go on, boy. It's all right," he encouraged, wondering for the umpteenth time at how Luxley treated it. After a moment it did take the apple and crunched on it slowly at first but finished with a happier snort. "There we go. Think you'll need to teach this one how to be more horse, Venus," Raban snickered. He gave the two horses more apples, stroking Venus' face for a moment afterwards.

He looked at Janine and smiled even as he remained pestered for apples, "Feel good to be home?"


The Eager Rper
Venus threw her head up when she saw Raban’s apple gift. With what Janine could only imagine to be excitement, Janine watched as Venus grabbed each of her apples, and ate them with excited vigor. When she took the last apple, she heard Raban’s comment and glanced towards the stallion. Janine considered Raban’s words and looked at her home. “Yeah, it is. While I would’ve loved to sleep in the sunlight a while longer, I’ve had a revelation that made me want to come home more than ever.” Janine said as she glanced at Raban with a look that suggested wariness. She opened her mouth to speak again, but Venus was quick to take notice of her. The equine whinnied happily and nosed herself towards her owner.

“My, my. I sure am jealous of you. Look at you being such a good girl to get all these presents from Raban! Keep it up, and I might be able to mix in a sugar cube or two the next time around,” Janine said with a smile. Her horse whinnied happily at the sight of her owner, running her mouth all over her hair. Janine laughed as she tried to withstand the onslaught of horse lips and teeth. “Haha, I missed you too Venus. Ow, damn girl, did you miss me that much?” Janine asked as she felt her hair being tugged on. “I missed you very much. Now go hurry up and eat your apple, before they get eaten by something else other than you,” Janine said as she patted her horse’s shoulder. Venus twitched her ears at the playful warning, and seemed to take it seriously. She looked up at the new horse and scraped a hoof on the ground while glaring at him, then gave a snort before taking her last apple and walking off to her stall.

“Damn, I said it as a joke. Venus, you take things too seriously,” Janine said with a small huff. She looked back at Raban and smiled. “I’ll tell you inside. Come on then. Mom will like your company as well.”

She knocked on the door a couple of times, waiting for her mom to answer the door. A minute went by before her mother did answer the door. Her eyes widened in shock before a smile settled on her face. “Janine! Oh, they did not tell me that you were being released today! I would’ve prepared for you to come home,” her mother said as she embraced her daughter with a tight hug.

Janine hugged her mother back with the same bit of strength. “Hi Mom. I think they liked the idea of a surprise visit on such a ‘wonderful holiday’, Janine said with a hint of sarcasm.

Her mother opened her eyes and saw Raban standing behind Janine. “Oh! Hello Raban! So glad to see you,” Janine said as she and Janine unlocked each other and went to go hug Raban. Janine rolled her eyes and threw her hands up a little - she knew Raban wasn’t the touchy-feely kind of person, and even though this was her mom, they still technically didn’t know too much about one another… At least that’s what she was able to infer from all the other times before she was out in the infirmary. “Mom, Raban isn’t the kind of person to -”

“Hush child! He’s part of the family now,” the woman declared as she released the older man. “I didn’t expect either of you to be here today! Come inside, I made treats for the holiday. Even though I didn’t expect her to be here, I made them cause I knew she’d always want them every chance she got,” the woman said as she went back in the house.

Janine sighed heavily and covered her hands over her face. “Oh God….. I am so fucking sorry Raban. If I even had an inclination that she’d even get to this point already, I’d -”

“Hurry your asses in here so you can have some milk and cookies!” Janine’s mother called out from within the house. Janine groaned and shook her head. “Oh god help us. She’s going to be in her celebration mode… More cheery and talkative…. Even more so now that we’re here,” Janine said as she rubbed her head a little. She walked a little closer to Raban and nudged him gently. “Don’t worry, I’ll ward off the beast’s attacks while you call for backup,” Janine joked.

“I heard that!”

“Damn. Alright, already…. Let’s go inside. We still have our own conversations to speak,” Janine said as she walked herself in the house. She bent down slightly and ushered Raban inside, and pointed to the various chairs that were in the living room. She looked around for a few seconds before closing the door, focusing her energy on the inside of her home.


the Hugger Troll
Raban smiled when Venus finally realised her owner was there too and turned to her. He was glad for that, always feeling a little uneasy at the attention from animals that weren't his own. He didn't want them to transfer too much of a bond that surpassed ownership. He knew the two were good for each other in just as many ways. He chuckled as Venus fussed over Janine as if the woman was a newborn filly. It was an interesting sight to behold and one that genuinely amused him.

He smiled as Venus eventually took a hint of sort and moved away to munch on her prize. He gave the male another apple before he nodded, removing the apple bag from where he had tied it before turning to follow his friend. "Well, apples are a serious business," he chirped in as he walked behind her towards the house. They paused at the door after she knocked upon the door.

It took a moment but watching as Tina opened the door and realised who it was was worth coming in itself. She seemed suprised and happy to see her daughter and that was good for them both. Of course, there was much waiting in the wings they both needed to know or hear but it was information that could wait. He looked towards Tina when she noticed him and he smiled, dipping his head in greeting. "Hello Tina, likewise," he replied before he found himself being hugged as well. He stiffened slightly, not entirely used to such gestures that walked right into a personal space. He did not her too well for this to feel that comfortable but it seemed Tina had made up her mind on him already. Raban stood quite awkwardly as if not entirely sure how to react and seemed to settle for at least not pushing her away. He knew she was not a hostile and he knew she was glad that her daughter had a friend to call on.

He glanced towards Janine as she spoke and was countered. He stood a little easier when he was finally released. Raban glanced at Tina when he realised a moment after what she had said in dismissal of Janine's words. 'Part of the family', he echoed in his mind... He felt as if he was stepping up in the world. At least he didn't have to be wary of the woman. She knew what he was too and was keeping it a secret, for which he was grateful. He could afford to let her be closer than he would let strangers.

Raban smiled as Tina carried on speaking and he nodded. He didn't want to feel like he was encoraching on a day that was special to them but Tina seemed insistant that they both should in her tone. His gaze switched to Janine and he nodded, "It's all right."

The wolf glanced towards the aperture of the doorway at the shout and the command, simple as it was, reminded him squarely of Cadfael. He snorted with bemusement before he looked back at Janine. He could imagine that to be the case. If you were not expecting to get your daughter back from the Infirmary ahead of time, then it was always something people were going to hark about really. He raised his brows at the joke but he grinned all the same and then chuckled when he heard Tina's voice holler back.

"That we do," he nodded as he followed her inside, setting the bag of apples down in what he hoped was an obvious spot. Rotten apples were not so nice to eat or smell. The place was cozy and unsurprisingly more lived in than where he usually stayed. His room was spartan, he didn't need anything but the basics usually, but their home looked inviting and that was the main thing he reasoned.

He looked at one of the chairs before opting for one that looked sturdy enough. Raban felt rather out of place already but to leave now would not be the best route now. "Been some time since I had milk and cookies," he mused aloud.


The Eager Rper
Janine’s mother had already prepared cookies for the Raban and Janine on the table, smiling as they came inside. Janine took some in a napkin and went to go sit. She was hungry, and sweets were always a good start to the day, in her eyes. “Come and get some Raban,” Janine offered. And her mother insisted as well. “Yes, Raban. I suggest you get some before somebody eats it from under our noses,” she said as she glared at an already retreating Janine. “I have no idea what you’re talking about!” she mused.

“Sure you don’t. Now, what are you two going to do today?” Janine’s mother asked excitedly. Janine blinked and looked to her mom, wondering where she got the idea.

“Um… Nothing? I mean, we’re going to be talking about important things…. We need to catch up over what happened these last couple of weeks,” Janine said as she bit another piece of her cookie off. Her mother glanced at the two of them, as if she wasn’t sure about her answer. But her mother just chuckled and shrugged her shoulders. “I’m kidding! You two talk then. I’m just going to sit here and enjoy my own labor,” her mother finally said.

Janine sighed a breath of relief. Somewhat. What she had planned to say was most likely going to set her mother and Raban on edge. But she somewhat feared what Raban’s reaction would be more than her mother’s. Her mother was predictable for the most part. She had ideas on what she might say or do…. Raban on the other hand... While already being close to him, he’d shown what she figured to be perfect calmness in almost everything he did. Even when he was in the face of certain doom, he strived to keep himself from physically showing the pain inside him. But what if what she said made him really angry? Like, angry where it was visible? She wouldn’t blame him if he was angry - she’d be angry if Greaves did to Raban what he did to her.

Humph. No matter. He needed to hear this. Both of them did. They all needed to be wary of the next move he might do. Maybe Raban’s reaction might not be so… Enraged? She could only hope. As Raban settled in a chair, she looked down at herself, trying to prepare herself for the incoming reactions. She looked up to Raban with a serious tone in her voice.

“First off, I want to apologize to you, Raban. For driving you off so aggressively when you came to visit me the second time. You know I would’ve loved to talk to you and never drove you away, but something happened not too long before your visit, and it had me so…. Scared,” Janine hesitantly said. She side-glanced her mother, who seemed to have taken attention to her words already. Of course. She cleared her throat and continued.

“Earlier that day, I was visited by someone. I thought it was you, and I woke up from my sleep to greet you, but it turned out to be…. Greaves,” Janine said with a tone of hatred in her voice. She clenched her cup in her hand, recalling all that happened to her in the time of his visit. “He asked me about the day the dragon came, how ‘impressed’ he was about a woman doing jobs that a male Knight would have had trouble doing himself, all that condescending stuff. I don’t know what he was trying to pull, but I wasn’t falling for any of it,” Janine said with a huff.

Her mother huffed a little as well - she was trying not to be a part of the conversation, but it seems as if she already was. “Who is this… Greaves fellow?” Tina asked. Janine turned her head to look at her, then to Raban for a moment, before looking to her again. “Well…. He’s someone who’s recently come here. The Order had requested for him to assist them in finding a werewolf that is suspected to be in the city,” Janine said. Her mother blinked and nodded her head. She could tell that her mother didn’t understand what his presence meant completely, but as far as she knew, Raban was the only werewolf of her knowledge. And she understood enough to know that Raban and Janine were wary of the sheer mention of his name. “Is he dangerous?” she asked.

Janine gave her mother a hard glare. “Yes. Very much so.”


the Hugger Troll
Raban wasn't really used to the concept of going round a friend's house for cookies and the like. For the longest time it had just been him and his mother and then him and Cadfael, who had raised him since he was eight. So, he wasn't too informed about the etiquette involved. He was happy when Janine bustled him about simply because there was an instruction laying in that which he could follow.

He glanced at Tina and then grinned at the humour that was soon passed off, "Thank you, Tina." Least it couldn't be said that he didn't know manners. He helped himself to what he thought was an appropriate number, not wishing to take too few nor take too many. He didn't suppose that would be a problem but you never could know with others. He sat once he was done collecting his share and found that quite quaint too.

Raban took a bite, trying to not get crumbs everywhere as he listened to the two women speak. It was a bit of a pointless exercise as he soon found out, crumbs still managed to find their way to the floor. He enjoyed their rapport immensely and the fact they were doing it in his company made him appreciate it all the more. It made him feel included and special.

He was, however, keen to know what it was that Janine needed to say and he also knew he had to deliver on that promise to her about what happened on that faeful day. There was going to be a lot of questions in the air before long. That much he was aware of.

Raban's eyes peered towards Janine as Tina took a seat and a silence entered the room like a restless horse spooked by the loud unknown. It made him uneasy, internally at least. He gave her the time and sure enough, she answered the silent call, beginning with an apology. Raban nodded in acceptance of the apology as he listened, not wishing to interrupt her flow of words. To butt in now would not help things.

His entire frame became more attentive at that one word, 'scared'. Janine was his friend and someone he had gotten close with and he found he did not like the concept of something happening that would leave her so scared that she would rebuff her friend. This was serious. He didn't like it.

If the word 'scared' had made Raban turn more attentive, than the mention of Greaves' name drew a somewhat more animated response. His hand holding the cookie he was eating lowered and he moved forwards in his chair, perching on the edge of the seat with a low growl in his throat. He had not forgotten what had happened on the same day he had watched his horse get carried off. He didn't realise that his free hand had clenched in the memory. It was a sign that he felt comfortable in their presence to be more himself. Still ever the calm person that looked before they lept, but he could react a little more freely now than before.

Tina was confused as to who this individual was and he wished she didn't have to know. What Greaves had done, what he clearly was willing to do to achieve his ends... it was dark work. Still, she deserved and had a right to know the threat this man presented to the both of them. Janine looked at him and he nodded in return. Tina should be told. She might not understood the complexity of the situtation but the woman was smart and wisened to the dangers people like him and Janine had to be aware of.

"Greaves is a hunter of supernaturals, like myself. He wouldn't think twice about hunting demon or their familiars too." Raban did not like this at all. To have a hunter hunting a suspected werewolf was one thing. Him showing his hand by visiting Janine in the Infirmary was something else. It meant he knew enough about her to suspect her.

"Did he do anything else? Say anything else?" he asked Janine with open concern. Raban knew that reading people was an essential lifeskill being what he was. He had to know how far a person could be trusted.

He frowned and shook his head, "I don't like it. It's a very blatant move to visit you like that... He either knows or suspects enough to poke. I don't like to wonder at things on such flimsy pickings but I don't like the possibility that whoever was behind that attack on you in the alley way has reached out to Greaves knowing that the man's profession is."

"He's already too suspicious about me. Now he's suspicious about you," Raban rubbed his face roughly, eyes skittering between Tina and Janine. "I wasn't sure before, but he's staying where I stay and I'm wondering just how much of a coincidence that really is."


The Eager Rper
Janine looked back to Raban as he spoke to her mom about Greaves. Silently, she took a piece of her cookie, nodding her head at his question towards her. She sighed as she swallowed, returning to her story. “He said a lot to me. But I couldn’t trust a word he said. And he was just… Studying me. While I was laying there. And he was talking so slowly and carefully, every word searching for something… I was so nervous,” Janine said as she looked at his face. She silently gauged his emotions, his reactions. He was already on edge, as she suspected. She frowned as she remembered the rest of the conversation. It was impossible to forget it.

“He questioned my ability to leave the destroyed building. He wanted me to say that you carried me out for some reason. But I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction. I refused to amuse him,” the young woman said with a determined tone of voice. She remembered being rather defiant, unwilling to let him know things indefinitely. In hindsight, it might’ve been futile - it could’ve been just a game to him. She didn’t like the idea of being toyed with for his amusement. But then her face morphed into that of worry and a tinge of fear.

“He knows, Raban. He saw some of them….. Pawprints,” Janine whispered as she shook with worry. The fear was starting to spread into her mind, the fear of the unknown and the lengths that a Hunter like Greaves would be willing to go through to get his prize. “He saw some of my footprints…. He said that he couldn’t see a complete set of them, but he’d get to the bottom of his…. ‘Curious find’.... At first, I had no idea what he was talking about, but after a while, I suddenly remembered them. When I was pacing around…. I remembered what I was that day….” Janine said as she looked down. Should she tell him now? Maybe it was best to let him think about what she had said thus far.

“What are you talking about Janine?” her mother said with concern. Janine looked over to her, licking her lips in nervousness before she gave a response.

“I… As you know, when I fought the dragon, it injured me. Badly. When it threw me, I felt myself beginning to shut down, pass out from the pain and sheer blows… But at the last minute, my other half rose up within me… It seemed to refuse to give up. I changed into my other form… Against my will. I couldn't stop it. I guess it refused to just be defeated. But I was anyway…. I’ve never changed against my will like that,” Janine said as she looked down.

Tina frowned, humming to herself softly as she contemplated the information given to her. She couldn’t recall any moment where Janine changed against her own will. Maybe that night when she was in trouble in the forest…? She couldn’t tell if the change was voluntary or not, but it could be argued that it was a mixture of both.

“Maybe you’re right Raban….. Greaves…. He walked up to me. Right next to me. He tried to test me out, I suppose. I thought he suspected me of being a werewolf…. I thought….” Janine said before she paused. She was going to say the rest, but she stopped herself. It was a horrible place in the conversation to stop, but she was growing fearful of what would happen if she told Raban. She even rubbed at her chest, surprised at the fact that she had forgotten such an important part of the conversation.


the Hugger Troll
Raban felt as if they were stood on some precipice. More than he had ever been in the years in which he had lived in the world surrounded by danger. He knew that because his 'circle' of people who knew had increased brought more to it than what it had been for him before but he didn't regret anything. He was gaining a lot more than he feared losing. Friendship was not an easy wall for him to tear down. His cookies went somewhat forgotten as he listened to Janine speak more on what Greaves did and said. It made a tricky situation trickier.

Her words proved that they would have to be careful. It was easier to deal with the rash and haste types of hunters who showed their cards all at once with very little provocation. It was the silent quiet types who hung back that proved more difficult to handle. He knew Greaves wouldn't show his final hand till he was good and ready to. It meant Raban and Janine were going to have to try and anticipate every angle and to not let their guard down. Tina too. If Greaves realised how much Tina knew then Raban doubted he would hold back in using the woman against his targets.

Raban nodded silently. It was clear Greaves knew and suspected a lot more about them in a short space of time than Kiegel knew in his fifty or so years. Kiegel might be wary and suspicious that there was a Werewolf in Amastad. However, Greaves knew that there was a werewolf and it seemed he might at least know about a demon. He reached to scratch behind his ear. It was a question of how far the man's suspicion went. Her mother's question drew back his attention and he frowned as he peered from the older woman to the other.

He wasn't really surprised in that. If he had learned anything definitive about demons, it was that they never trully surrendered. If their lives were in dire jeopardy, they were going to raise hell and high water in response. He had witnessed times in which even Chestnut got as close as she could get to showing her all when her life was to the end of the line. Indeed she had done when she had taunted that dragon. If a demon had to die, it was going to resist as much as it could before the line was cut by fated scissors. It wasn't something that entirely surprised him even though he knew such an act could be costly to one's survival in everyday civilisation if one survived such a predicament. As was now the case.

Raban raised a brow at that potential. If Greaves thought her a werewolf, then at least he didn't realise the truth of what she was. It seemed strange how humanity could fear demons more than creatures born of the night and shadow. He supposed that stemmed from age old rivalries, he did not know many demons who were agreeable to humanity or liked it. Most he knew about had a healthy dislike for the human condition. Even Chestnut had been slow to accept a friendship with a human and even then he wasn't fully human. She viewed them as helpless meat sacks too full of their own superiority. He doubted she would think twice about roasting other humans she didn't tolerate such as Tina.

He frowned, "You thought what, Janine?" he prompted gently. His eyes read her in the natural way he was used to reading people. His senses were telling him that there was hesitation, fear perhaps. Whatever it was, it had been important enough or terrible enough for her to have trailed off. He really hoped they didn't have to revisit that conversation of trusting in the other.


The Eager Rper
Janine looked up when Raban probed her. “I thought he was just trying to see if I was a werewolf. He…. He tossed me a vial. At first I didn’t know what it was supposed to be, but he told me. Remember Raban? Wolfsbane and silver,” Janine ominously said, her eyes conveying even more worry than before.

“I suspect that he must've thought that I was a werewolf, but I’m assuming that he wanted to get me right then and there. I’m sorry…. If there's any discomfort,” Janine said as she dug under her shirt. She pulled out the vial that she had hidden on her person ever since it was given to her. It was a miracle that she managed to hide it from the nurses for this long. She held it up in front of her to look at the purplish-silver substance, clenching the vial in her hand before looking to Raban. She shook her head and put it over the fireplace before sitting back down. “After he gave it to me, he… drew close to me and...” Janine turned her head, bracing herself for the response she was going to get. But she was also rising with hatred at what he did to her. In her own hospital bed.

“...He pulled out some holy cross and jabbed me in my side. Right on my wounds. He covered my mouth up to prevent me from screaming,” Janine finally said. “He went right into my ear, and told me that he would figure out what to do with me. That he suspected me to know about the werewolf. Or that maybe I was the werewolf. He just….” she paused as she shook with anger and fear, looking down in her lap with muddled up thoughts. She thought it would be easier if she spoke of her experience, but it was harder than she thought. But she kept going. “He jabbed into my side several times, each time harder than the last. I felt sick, and I felt as if I was going to faint again, it had hurt so much. I tried to fight back and take his hand off my mouth, but I just wasn’t strong enough to fight him off. He released me just before a nurse came in. He left, but not before saying that he’d see me again.”

Janine finished her story, putting her head down to avoid everyone’s reactions. She imagined Raban and her mother raging inside.

“That’s why I drove you away. I couldn’t tell what he was going to do, because I couldn’t afford to risk him spying on us if we spoke. I wasn’t sure if he was following you, or listening in on our conversations, or anything. And I was afraid that he’d come back. That’s why I stayed in the hospital longer than expected. He made my wounds bleed out, and they wanted to keep me a little longer to make sure I wasn’t being too active. I had to tell them that I had moved too much, out of fear of bringing more attention to him and myself.” Janine explained. She felt tears welling up a little. The fear of being perpetually cornered while men like Greaves roamed the streets terrified her. Being in hospitals were essentially death traps. You couldn’t get away if they decided to attack you.

"I was terrified that he'd come back and do something to me. For the rest of my time there, I kept one eye open. I couldn't get much sleep after that...." Janine softly added.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban's eyes closed in what was a combination of fear, anger and frustration. He nodded slowly, how could have forgotten that? Even through all that pain going through his nervous system, his ears were straining to hear past the rush of blood coursing throughout his veins and arteries. It had produced one singular thought in Raban that scared him entirely.

He never had killed out of intention. Not in the fifty years he had been alive to walk this world had he killed anyone, innocent or not that he wished to have dead. What Greaves was doing, threatening to do... it was bringing forth emotions and reasonings he had never faced before. Chiefly because he never had the level of friend he had in Janine before. He knew Greaves was bad, evil enough perhaps to instill the want for his death and yet at the same time the thought horrified him.

He forced himself to open his eyes again in time to see her reach into her shirt and showing the vial that sshe retrieved. He watched her with it for a moment knowing equally the effect it would do to him should it break free. It was horror and pain in a bottle and if any of it got on him, he would be helpless to defend against it. He dared not consider the damage it could do to him if it got inside an open wound. Yet, as he stared at such an innocent looking vial, it made him think.

Wrenching his gaze from the vial, he looked back to her and shook his head in silence. He had to know. He needed to know. Not just for himself but for her too.

She spoke and he listened, his emotions boiling as his senses read in her fear and her anger. His own was soon matching hers and he could not stop the angered growl from escaping his throat. His hands clenched so tightly that his knuckles saw white and he felt pail from his fingernails driving into the flesh of his palms. It was an affort to keep the beast at bay. The rage, the anger, that had always been the easiest to call upon no matter how calm he looked on the surface. If he lost that level of self control, he would not be in any position to help her.

He forced himself to a calm, using the technique of breathing and mental headspaces that Cdfael had rigourously taught him. Slowly, his breathe even out and his fingers twitched, unclenching from their hard vigil.

Raban had never had this kind of fear and anger before in himself, that someone else could be brought low because of him. In a fleeting moment, he felt as if running away would be for the best and yet at the same time he could not forsake his friend, her mother nor his duty to the people of Amastad. It was strange and it was unnerving.

He rubbed his face, ears listening where a face was not needed and looked back towards her, letting the silence flow in a need to think over her words and the extent of what they suggested. The silence helped him calm down all the more.

That lasted but for a moment before he stood from his seat and moved to peer at the vial more closely. Sharp eyes could see the glass was sturdy but deadly thin, designed to be neatly stored and break upon impact. He could see the small slivers of silver floating in a solution of what he could only assumed to be concentrated wolfsbane.

"I understand," he said simply at first as he stared at so small and yet deadly a thing. He sighed and dipped his head, shoulders sinking before he looked towards her. "What he did to you... What he said..." he paused a moment before his head shook and his hand clenched gently again. "Forgive me, this is not easy to take in, nor the reaction knowing this now brings forth."

Raban huffed a moment before he knelt before her on both knees, reaching for her hands. "Truth is you are my best friend in all of this... What I have with Chestnut isn't the same and Cadfael... well, he was more like a replacement father and mentor than a friend. To know that this man could do this to one of whom I place my faith in, put my life in trust to. I've.... I've never wished to kill a man so much till now... and that scares me."

Raban drew on a serious expression before he touched her chin to get her full attention to him before his hand took up her hand again. "I need you to promise me something. It's important to me that you. I know it will likely go against everything you feel but I need you to do it. If not for me but for yourself and for your mother,"