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In the Wake of Giants


The Eager Rper
Janine looked up to Raban as he spoke. Killing someone. Janine and Raban talked about the brief moments where you entertain the idea of taking a life the day before, but when it actually came to it, in the face of the very real possibility, the idea of being so close to doing so rather scared Janine. She didn’t want to be the one to take a person’s future away with her bare hands. Especially not to a man like Sir Kiegal. It was true that she was infuriated at him, but he was a man just like Raban - a man who had morals and was thoughtful and fair. She didn’t think she’d deal with taking his life in any capacity if she followed through. She was thankful that she managed to summon some form of self control in that moment.

Raban then spoke of him being the one to apologize, for putting her in such a terrible situation. She sighed inwardly, her head leaning in against his shoulder while in thought. Nothing could’ve been changed - he was stubborn in his ways, like a mule. She couldn't have changed his mind no matter how hard she tried, she knew that now. All she can do at this point is hope and pray that these things don’t become frequent - the suffering between the two of them wasn’t something she would be able to handle. But apparently, Raban was unable to die like normal humans. Was it exclusive to him, or was this common between all werewolves? It was a strange and curious question, one that Janine didn’t want to focus on at the moment - she wanted to focus on the here and now of the moment, and that was making sure Raban was okay.

She looked up when Raban complimented her about her being the best friend anyone could ask for. She felt her face grow warm with this growing sense of happiness, and once again, those vibrations in her throat came up again, noting her emotions; it was sweet of Raban to think about her that way. “Th-thanks, Raban. You’re a wonderful friend as well. Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend with how caring and considerate you are.” She rearranged her arms to wrap around Raban’s body, squeezing him slightly for a hug. She knew that Raban wasn’t used to close contact, but she wanted to give him a hug - it felt to be the most appropriate thing to do at the moment.

Eventually, the silence was broken by another question. With no name spoken, Janine looked up to see Raban facing the door, and knew exactly who he was talking about. She sighed a little, shaking her head as she shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. To be honest, I haven’t been keeping track of time at all tonight. I’ve been more or less going through the motions,” Janine replied. It was then that Janine flinched with a groan as her stomach ached, growling noises easily being heard in the quietness of the Hall. How long had it been since she ate? Yesterday morning? Maybe? She couldn’t remember, but it felt like it had been forever. “S-sorry. I hadn’t eaten since morning,” Janine sheepishly said. She always felt embarrassed when her body made noises around Raban. She turned her head around, remembering the tray of food and water Sir Kiegal sat down for them. “Sir Kiegal left us some food and drink for us, Raban. If I’m hungry, you must be really hungry,” Janine said as she shifted her body to turn around and grab a couple of slices of bread and cheese. She warily sniffed the pieces of food, wondering if she could detect anything strange. It smelled fine enough, she supposed. She bit into the piece of bread and cheese, chewing them quickly before swallowing. “They taste pretty good together. Here,” Janine offered Raban a piece of bread and cheese, eating her food with quick bites as she watched Raban.


the Hugger Troll
For once, Raban did not shirk or stiffen or squirm in the hug. The contact felt needed in the space and anxiety of the trauma they had both experienced in such a short space of time. Raban was aware it was also largely down to the a fact that hugs and other touchy feely practices humans normally engaged in was just not something he was exposed to growing up. Cadfael was akin in that he wasn't one for the hugging or pats and the like and Raban realised he had been reflecting that aspect in himself. He looked at Janine and smiled, perhaps he could allow for this to happen a lot more than he normally did even if it was just for Janine and perhaps her mother. He still remembered when Tina had hugged him regardless of how well she had known him at the time. God bless her, he thought.

Silence came but it did not come with an unwelcome edge but rather more of comfort and promise. He was alive, free and he felt safe and in company. Raban supposed not every werewolf that had been caught could ever state to have had that same luxury. He was grateful he was present in the here and now.

He nodded, that was fair and he supposed the man would return eventually rather than let his Knights find them later on. It was then Raban heard a familiar growl of hunger and he looked at Janine. He shook his head somewhat dismissive of the apology, "It's not exactly been much of a routine day, to be fair." Truth be had, he wasn't sure when he had last eaten either but surely it hadn't been that long ago, had it. Perhaps it had.

"He did?" He blinked before he nodded as she turned for whatever food Kiegal had left them and she produced the bread and cheese. Raban smiled both at the practicality and simpleness of the food Kiegal had left them. It was familiar fair and he welcomed the choice; the situation was still too anxious for anything complicated. "Thank you, I could use it," he nodded, and reached for a piece of the bread and cheese. He hadn't quite intentioned to eat so fast but he must have been more hungry than he realised as he wolfed the food down in the manner of eating he had shown in form. He did the same for seconds.

He looked to her after they ate and smiled, "Thank you for taking care of Chestnut too, by the way... She's told me what the other Knights tried." The thought of what he supposedly fellow knights had so nearly down with his other favourite friend and companion was almost too much to think about. Yet, he could hardly deny that such a betrayal was in the cards the moment they learned his truth. He had preferred to show Kiegal alone but he had doubted at the time whether that would have been answered and accepted in the time he had available before the silver meant he could no longer use the energy to transform.


The Eager Rper
After the first few bites, Janine realized that she was hungrier than she anticipated. She scarfed down her food, savoring the plainness of the food and appreciating the fulfilling feeling in her belly. Shifting again, Janine grabbed water to drink, thankful that she didn’t have to work with the thickness of her food by itself.

“Are you thirsty?” Janine asked as she offered a cup of water to Raban. She tilted her head when Raban told her about Chestnut, and that she told him that Janine helped her with the knights. Her mind went to earlier in the day, when Chestnut was surrounded by those foolish knights. She scoffed indignantly, “Not a problem. They’re lucky that I only shouted and cursed at them. And Keith was lucky that I just punched him. I could’ve just let Chestnut kick him into a pulp,” Janine said with no hint of regret or remorse. It felt good to hit one of those immature children, it just didn’t feel good that they were acting that way in response to Raban’s exposure. She didn’t care if nobody liked her, she’d prefer Raban to be liked - he was leagues more likable than her anyway. “I hope you’ve reconnected with her, she’s probably going to need reassurance since she’s most likely lost contact with you earlier.” Janine said with a nod. She might have not known what Chestnut was thinking, but she knew that she would have been equally worried, if not more so, about Raban.

The young woman sighed as she settled down in the dark hall, her mind drifting about the events of late. She wondered how things would’ve worked out if she never came to the Hall for Raban. Would Sir Kiegal have freed Raban on his own? Would this even be happening? Would Raban have even gotten to this point: somewhat dying in a cage all alone? She shook her head, unable to think about what would’ve happened.

Despite what they went through, by some miracle, Raban was alive, and while the worst had happened, they still weren’t out of danger. She wondered what they were supposed to do. Sir Kiegal freed Raban, but he couldn’t stay in the Order anymore; hell, he probably would be exiled from Amastad altogether. Janine just hoped it would be a quiet exile. The thought made her frown sadly - when he leaves, where would he go? Would he stay in the forest? How would he stay safe? What if a dragon attacks? More importantly, what would she do? Would she really be able to stay in the Order after Raban left, with what Sir Kiegal could possibly suspect about her? He would surely have questions, ones that she can’t be sure if she wanted to answer truthfully, despite his newfound knowledge of Raban. What Janine and Raban differed too greatly for humanity to tolerate. While improbable, humanity would sooner trust a werewolf than a demon in the face of everything.

She paused when she yawned, tiredness coming back to the forefront of her mind and body again. It was a tad uncomfortable in here, with everything being so cold in the Hall, but she couldn’t do anything about that - besides, between the mental stress and emotional exhaustion, she couldn’t see herself staying awake any longer at this rate. “Damn, I feel tired again…” She sighed, looking down into her blanket as she simply stared at darkness. She groaned as she rubbed her eyes.

“Raban…? What’s going to happen to you now? You can’t be in the Order anymore, and with Greaves around, it'll be too dangerous for you to be in Amastad now. Where are you going to go?”


Kiegal walked through the soaked streets of Amastad, wondering what to do about his new predicament. Raban and Janine… They were not like the other Knights. It made him wonder if there were others like Raban. Were there people like them here in Amastad? Should he do anything about it? Would Greaves find them? His eyes widened at the thought. He gave Greaves a week to find more werewolves… What if he actually found some? And then there was the thought of the future prospects. He felt this urge to do some sort of contingency plan, but he wasn’t sure what to do about the situation he was dealing with.

And Janine was another aspect in this thing. She truly showed that she cared for Raban. The rage she displayed was… powerful. He had never seen anything like that out of Janine, not once the entire time she had been serving with him. He also felt something else about Janine, something that came out when she attacked him. Her glowing eyes and sharp fangs did not escape him, but he was a bit more occupied with the situation at hand. He frowned, feeling that pull of curiosity in his head. He was usually a self-kept man, never prying into business that wasn’t his own, but this one time, he wanted to ask questions. He wasn’t even sure if he was ready for whatever answers he’d be met with. He sighed, wiping the light spray of raindrops off his face as he headed to Janine’s home.

He was thankful that the rain had died down to just a light sprinkle - it made traveling across the streets a lot less wet. Kiegal couldn’t help but realize how unorthodox this whole thing was, going to a lower ranking Knight’s house at their request. The only reason that he went without Janine’s instruction was because he happened to catch her coming out of her house on a whim one day. They caught eyes and greeted each other, but nothing much after that. He can’t believe that he managed to remember the way to her home, but he did have a decent memory. He eventually got to the house with relative speed, opening the gate and noticing the two horses in the stables. The skinnier horse snorted at the other horse before stomping, seemingly unhappy at the unfamiliar face. Keigal watched for a moment making sure the horses weren’t working themselves up too much before knocking on the door.

Almost immediately he heard footsteps and shuffling, rapid and almost panicked.

“Janine?!” a woman’s voice called out as the noises drew closer to the door. When it opened, an older woman opened the door; Janine’s mother, he had to assume. Her face was forrowd and troubled, as if she was disappointed in seeing his face.

“Oh..! I’m so sorry. I was expecting someone else,” the woman said with a sigh. She then narrowed her eyes, looking into the Knight’s eyes with a suspicious glare.

“You look familiar… Who are you?” the woman asked cautiously.

Kiegal cleared his throat as he bowed his head a little. “I am Sir Kiegal, from the Order, ma’am. I am here on behalf of Janine -”

“Janine?! You’ve seen her!? Is she okay?! I haven’t seen her all night, do you know where she is?” the woman frantically asked with worried eyes. Sir Kiegal nodded his head in response. “She’s fine… At least physically.”

“Physically?! What does that mean? What is going on?” The woman pressed. Sir Kiegal sighed, unsure how to explain these recent events to her. Should she even know about Raban? He was directly the reason Janine was even in this situation. He sighed, figuring he had no choice. “Miss…?”


“Yes, Miss Slovas. I will tell you everything you need to know if -” the thunder rolled before Kiegal finished his sentence, making him look up at the dark sky as the droplets dampened his clothes. The mother gasped and ushered him inside the house, closing the door with a sigh.

“I am so sorry for leaving you standing in the rain for so long, Sir Kiegal. Please, please tell me what’s happening to my Janine?”


the Hugger Troll
The food was simple yet incredibly delicious to his taste buds. It hadn't been that long since he had food before this but given the exertion placed upon his frame inside the cage, he supposed he had used up energy reserves he hadn't realised he had used up. Raban could go for an entire deer but he would take what he was given. At the offer of quenching thirst, he nodded and accepted the cup, "Yes, thank you.... I feel like I could drink an entirely pond."

Raban drank from the cup and refilled it twice from the jug before he was content, not wanting to overwhelm his stomach. He listened as she regaled him about Keith and his buddies. He chuckled softly against her, "I hope they season off when they get older. Never wise to mess with a Knight's horse... especially that of a horse that weighs in more than a thousand pounds."

Raban didn't need to add that Chestnut wasn't normal and had more to her kick or bite than a normal warhorse would, one could easily kill a man outright without demon fire alone. However, that was stress neither of them needed added to what was already a hot pot of a situation.

"She has, she sent an inner warmth moment we reconnected before she went back to sleep. She likes her sleep time," he replied, stifling a yawn himself as he relaxed against the wall. It no longer felt cold through his clothes. His future still lay in question but right now he was just grateful to be out of the cage. He recognised it wasn't something Sir Kiegal was obligated to do... he could have just left him in there but he supposed they weren't too familiar with how werewolves existed.

He glanced as he heard her yawn and nodded. They had a tiring day and most of the night too for slightly different but no less important reasons. He reached and shifted the blankets to be tighter around them both without speaking a word. He was concerned knowing the cold was not something she did well in. He, on the other hand, could manage the cold a little better, especially if he went into his furry side but he didn't really have the energy to do that right now and it made conversation difficult.

It was then Janine spoke and asked the big question that was rattling around his headspace, and he realised it had every right to be rattling around hers too. There was so many causes and effects in this entire situation that he couldn't fully comprehend or anticipate them all. A big part of it would rely on Kiegal's decision with how to deal with him and in part the man that had instigated all of this.

"I don't know... " He had to be honest with her, he refused to lie to her or attempt to pull wool over her eyes. She meant a great deal to him. "I thought I had a little longer to think about this eventuality... I think, if Sir Kiegal does let me leave, I might lead a nomadic life. See where life takes me... It's less routine or stable, I suppose... but I'll see more of the world." Raban spoke quietly, pensieve and uncertain, but he realised he had a question in what he replied with that he wasn't entirely sure was fair but other than being with Chestnut, he didn't want to be exploring the world alone. He preferred to share the experience now that he understood and cherished the benefits of having friends to share them with. Janine and her mother had opened his eyes to more than what Cadfael had taught him.

Raban had resolved to get better at the hugs.

"But that's about as far as I've thought about it... Any ideas?" he raised his brow to her. He would miss Amastad to an extent; for many years it had been his home and the seat of his career as a Knight. Raban had given much of his time and duty to the city's safety. It was familiar and he had lived much of a stable lifestyle without his darker side interfering too much.

He knew he could have chosen to remain human the day the dragon first appeared/ It would have saved him from this fate presenting itself in the way it had. However, he had acted purely on an instinct to distract and save a fellow knight who would become his best friend from a terrible fate. No one could be in two places at once and thus it had made sense at the time. Raban did not regret his choices; without them he would not have gotten to know Janine at all and earned what he now considered to be one of the best things to have happened to him thus far.


"Thank you," Sir Kiegal nodded and entered, moving to an appropriate point in the space before he turned and looked to Janine's mother. "Janine is al right; she is with Sir Raban... I do not know if she's told what's happened regarding Raban at all?"


The Eager Rper
Janine sighed as she fought the sleepiness in her body, eyes drooping while she leaned back against the wall. She was happy that Raban managed to reconnect with Chestnut, she wasn't sure if the fire demon could go on with worry, whether she’d admit it or not. She felt her body shift when Raban moved the blanket tighter against their bodies, pulling her closer to his body. She finally felt warmth come from him, and she was somewhat able to stop shivering, but she felt a part of her stay cold.

His voice pulled her from the cold sensations as he answered her question. So he'd just go across the land? Just living as a nomadic traveler? She paused for a moment, the idea strange to her, but she didn't have too much of an opinion. She knew that she, in a sense, traveled to and from the city with her father when she was younger, so she wasn't a total stranger to leaving home, but leaving a city altogether, never to come back, after living in it for so long? The idea made her frown. What did one do when they had to continuously move from location to location? Considering what Raban was, she had no doubt that he would have a significant chance at survival, but the whole idea was just… drastic.

She felt herself getting homesick just thinking about it.

"Well… that sounds like the only logical way to go about it, I guess," Janine muttered.

Raban then asked if she had any ideas. Janine looked up at him, cocking her head as she wondered if he was trying to be amusing or not. It sounded like a rhetorical question. With a slow blink, Janine thought about anything that he could do, but after a few moments she just shook her head. "Not me… The only thing that I can think of is to just hide you in our home, but that wouldn't be fair to anyone. Not to mention dangerous," Janine said with a sigh.

Was there really nothing she could do? No, she knew that this would be the best thing for Raban, whether she wanted him to leave or not. Trying to interfere any further wouldn’t be wise at all; she had pushed her luck this far, she couldn’t afford to push it anymore. Sending Raban away was the safest solution for this dilemma. Janine would just have to face the possibility of a life without Raban, and that upset her more than she’d cared to admit.

In the middle of her thought process, Janine felt the bite of cold nipping at her again. With a groan, Janine looked down at her body, trying to figure out where she was most cold. It was then she realized her feet felt half numbed with the cold, so she reached forward to take her shoes off. They were still soaked, so Janine felt it necessary to toss them further away from herself and Raban, to keep the blankets from being too wet. Maybe she could finally get warmer at a quicker rate. Her feet shifted under the blanket to begin the process of getting them warm, before curling back into Raban.

"I… I don't want you to go." Janine said with a sigh. She closed her eyes, but tried her best to stay awake. "I know you most likely have no choice, and it will be… difficult to… not worry about you," Janine said with hesitation. The words coming out her mouth made her feel nervous, though she didn't know why. "I don't want you to be hurt out there."


Ms. Slovas turned to Sir Kiegal at his question, her brow furrowing a bit before shaking her head. “I’m not sure I know what you mean, Sir.”

Sir Kiegal nodded slowly, figuring that he’d have to explain himself. “This might come as a shock to you, but whatever I say will have to be confidential between us, do you understand?” He asked with a hint of uneasiness in his voice. He needed the mother to understand that the situation in play was delicate, and it needed to be dealt with in a certain way, without panic and rashness coming into play. The woman cleared her throat with caution, folding her hands in front of her.

“Yes, I understand. What is going on with Janine and Sir Raban?”

Kiegal cleared his throat as he looked at the woman. “We began an investigation a couple of weeks ago, about a certain beast in the woods. We hired an expert and today, or, yesterday, we discovered that Raban was the creature,” the man said with nervousness.

Ms. Slovas narrowed her eyes, her head tilting in slight confusion. “I don’t understand. What creature did you find Sir Raban to be?”

“...A werewolf.” the man carefully said, gauging the woman’s body for a reaction. He watched as her eyes widened, her sturdy stance shifting in what he could only assume was shock. He expected this to be the case.

“Oh, Janine..! I assume that you did something about it once you found out,” the woman asked in a voice that was surprisingly calm. The bodily reactions were what he expected, but the verbal tones were different than what he imagined her to sound. He shoved his thoughts away, chalking them up to the assumption that the mother was perhaps more stoic and composed than other women.

“Yes, Ms. Slovas. We… Had locked him up in confinement. Janine was rather upset; in fact, she was the only one who tried to stop the investigation.” the Knight said with a small nod.

The mother stood across from the Knight with a small nod of her head.

“I see. That has to be why Janine was so upset when she came home. Everything makes sense now.” the woman said as she walked to the window. Kiegal watched as the woman peeked out her window for a moment, before nodding her head and taking a cloak of sorts with her.

“Come, Sir Kiegal,” the woman said as she walked past the man and towards the door.

The Knight blinked in shock. This was not how he expected this conversation to go. Some things were anticipated, but the majority of the short conversation was not how he imagined otherwise.

“Wait, where are you going?”

The woman turned around. “I am going to see my child and Sir Raban. You can tell me the rest of the situation while we ride Venus,” the woman said as she walked outside.


Janine leaned her head to Raban’s side, his heartbeat easily heard thanks to how quiet it was in the hall. She didn't realize that she'd miss such a sound; the soft thudding encouraged her to close her eyes, helping her relax as she brought the blanket up to her face. She felt nice like this. She wouldn’t mind sleeping like this for a few days. Janine tried to be as noticeable as possible, trying to let Raban notice that she was falling asleep on him, but it was hard when one was in a comfortable position.

“I’m still listening,” Janine muttered.


the Hugger Troll
The desire for sleep was edging around his mind but Raban's mind kept it at bay with his thoughts. They spun and circled around his mind like falcons riding in the air. There was a level of relief in some ways. His secret might be out and known by all by now but he no longer had to be so careful in keeping his dark truth. Whilst he never minded it and understood the importance for doing so both for the benefit of his own survival and that of innocent lives he crossed paths with, it was a taxing thing to maintain where even the smallest slip up could have the dearest of consequences.

Course, now that Sir Kiegal and the rest of the Order knew what he trully was, it mean that his life was automatically made forfeit. He might have been pulled out of the cage by Sir Kiegal but Raban understood the laws of the Order... Cadfael's old words rattled around his brain again and he hoped that Sir Kiegal would extend himself to a little bending of the rules. He was understanding that he would likely never be allowed near Amastad again once this was over but it had been all he had ever known.

He wasn't so sure it was as 'logical' as Janine guessed; there were too many unknowns and what ifs and Raban had no idea what else was out there. The Dragon was out there somewhere too. It was a new experience and journey entirely for him and he was not ashamed to admit he was, quite frankly, afraid of it and what it might bring him along the way. Another reason to not want to be alone. Safety in numbers wasn't an alien concept to wolves, even the werekind. Numbers meant a higher chance of securing a larger prey item after all.

And he considered Janine as part of his tiny pack as it was. Her mother too, as were his landlords and posthumously Cadfael. He missed his mentor... He could have talked the Order around this like a knife through butter.

He blinked and looked at her after he realised what she had said, his thoughts distracting him, "It would... especially when She does take over me." It had been one thing he had inadvertently omitted in his confession to Sir Kiegal about his peculiarity as a werewolf. The forced changes were rare and varying in strength that Raban hadn't thought it would help his case much to include it but had Kiegal pressed it, he would have told the man. No, it would be too dangerous to hide.

"A shame though... Your mother does make good cookies," he hadn't forgotten that.

Silence took them for a long moment as he settled beneath the warmth of the blanket. Janine was more fidgety and he sooned learned why as the boots were tossed a little aways from themselves. Not quite warmed up then, he mused. The hall was silent with barely a murmur from other activity which allowed Raban to brood lightly, his breathing and heart playing to their usual tunes. He happened to glance down at her and smiled with the affection made by close friends.

She was curled up against his side as if he were a cushion or elsewise. Raban did not mind even though physical contact for him wasn't something he had always been used to. He had learned though, and given his recovery from the cage's ordeal, she had helped him realised it wasn't something that was wrong or strange but rather something that was useful and spoke more than words did alone. He kissed the top of her head.

"I don't want to leave either... This place, it's home, family. But I doubt I will be allowed to remain within its walls after this. You will worry about me regardless... just as much as I will about you. You're my friend, Janine and friends always worry about each other. I know me changing that day we met has lead to this end but I don't regret it. Not for an instant. It gave me the honour of getting to know you. You've taught me how to be more human in the space of a few months than Cadfael or the Order tried in years... "

He smiled and let the silence engulf them once more even after she said something about still listening. Sometimes, Raban liked the silence. It was more vocal and telling than noise was at times. There was a lot of unknowns and uncertainties but he had no regrets and considered himself lucky to have had the life he had led and to have met the people he had known.

Raban was about to speak after a while of letting the silence sit about them when the door creaked open again. The sound of the rain was still there, not as heavy and he swore he heard a familiar nicker from a horse outside. He turned his head towards the sounds of footfalls and smiled as he recognised Tina with Kiegal in the woman's wake. He nodded to her but made no move to rise... he didn't want to disturb Janine too much.

Sir Kiegal's face was telling and in that moment Raban could see he had explained what had happened to Janine's mother. The man looked physically drained and withdrawn. Lines had appeared in the night on the man's face. He looked to his commander and nodded to him as well albeit more formerly in the acknowledgement, "Sir."


The Eager Rper
It was getting harder and harder to listen to Raban as he spoke to her. Her hearing was going in and out while she struggled to stay awake, but she heard the important parts well enough. She heard Raban talking about a "She" holding something over him? She couldn't recall who "She" was, but her drowsiness fogged up her ability to dig too deep into her memories to even try and figure it out.

She barely recalled it, but she could remember him speaking of being friends and that worrying was what friends did for one another. He spoke of not regretting the choices that led to this moment, and that she taught him things that Cadfael never did. She couldn't help but to make a sleepy smile, happy and surprised that she was able to teach Raban anything.

Everything else that he did say was a blur, and even though she claimed to be listening, she couldn't readily tell if Raban was still talking or not. But whether he was talking or not, all Janine heard was silence, and the longer they sat in the dark silence, the further she slipped into the grip of sleep.

It wasn't long before sleep completely took Janine, and she laid next to Raban with soft breaths for what felt like the rest of the night.

When the doors first opened, Janine was in too deep of a sleep already to react. She stayed in her sleeping position as her mother half ran towards the two sitting on the floor, only stirring when she was grabbed by her mom.

“Janine! Are you okay?”

Janine groaned, body semi-limp in her grasp. Her mother shook her and even patted her face a little to wake Janine up, which managed to snap Janine out of the deeper part of her sleep.

“M-mom?” Janine asked with a slurred voice.

“Janine, are you okay?”

"Hmm-hm… Tired… Cold,” Janine said between breaths. The mother sighed, quickly realizing that Janine was going to be too drowsy to be properly conscious, especially if this was influenced by the cold. Why did she not think about the rain? Surely it was raining when she came out here? With a shake of her head, she kissed Janine’s forehead, letting her daughter rest next to Raban again. Her attention then focused on Raban himself, her eyes furrowing with concern.

“Are you okay Raban?” she asked. “Sir Kiegal told me why Janine was out here, and why you’re out here as well. I must say, I didn’t expect today to be so…. Worrying, but I’m so very happy that you’re alright. That both of you are alright,” the woman said with a small smile.

“Ms. Slovas?” Sir Kiegal asked as he cleared his throat.

The woman turned her head with a tilted head. “Yes?”

Kiegal shifted a little before speaking again. “I can’t help but notice your lack of reaction to our previous conversation…” Kiegal started before pausing to figure out his next words.

Tina shrugged her shoulders while folding her arms, “Sir Kiegal, I’ve lived in Amastad for a long while, yes, but I’ve lived outside the kingdom of Amastad for the better part of my life. I’ve seen and experienced things that most people would consider impossible. Believe it or not, you telling me that someone in your brigade is a werewolf is not the strangest thing I’ve heard,” the woman mused with a small chuckle. “I’ve since then opened my mind and heart to the stranger things of the world that we don’t readily understand.”

The woman watched as the Knight blinked to himself, perhaps considering the words into account before she turned to the doors. “It’s late. Way too late for any of us to be up and not be in our homes. Now, you three have gone through rather stressful events. I want to take my daughter home to rest. But what about Raban?” Tina asked as she turned to Sir Kiegal once more.

“You’re not planning on placing him back in that cage again, are you?” she asked in a nearly offended voice.

Sir Kiegal shook his head. “No I don’t, but I don’t know where he could go for the night. I’m still trying to figure out how to tread with the decisions I’ve made up to this point,” the man said with a sigh.

Tina frowned, figuring that everyone needs rest and time to properly think. “Well since it’s so late, how about I just take Janine and Raban back home with me, so everyone can rest properly?” the mother offered as she turned her head to Raban. “Unless you’d rather sleep elsewhere?” the woman offered gently.


the Hugger Troll
Raban became aware over a time how heavier her body grew against him and after the silence had filled his ear, his hearing soon picked up on the change of her breathing. He didn't move, only adjusted the blanket as he held her against him and kept a steady rhythm of his own breathing. Right now, he was her heat source, something she sorely needed in an otherwise cold hall after having travelled in the rain. He did not begrudge her doing so but it still left him worried. He would move her someplace warmer or lit the candles but his legs were still stiff and he wasn't yet confidant standing under his own weight just yet.

He wiggled his toes in the boots she had brought him earlier and shifted his legs just a little. He had control in their movement but there was an apathy present within them. It didn't help the whole thing had left him pretty tired and put out. It wasn't surprising, he had used more energy than he usually did in a space of a few hours. However, he was happy to stay awake for her and try and keep her warm till Kiegal returned. He had to return, surely?

Raban's eyes shifted as Tina all but flew to her daughter and took her in her own arms, with Raban letting his hold on Janine relax entirely. The worry and concern was apparent and open on Ms. Slovas's face and he touched on Chestnut's mind as he watched Tina with Janine. The response was there, warm and inviting.

"Too bad she's not a demon also... She'd rock as a demon,"

Raban smiled at the very rare compliment for what Chestnut would otherwise have deemed a total meatsack. He supposed the woman had equally earned a place in as much as Janine had. The woman had shown him zero hostility given what he was and even extended understanding and encouragement. The woman was a rarity in a world that was otherwise hostile to demons and supernaturals.

He looked at Janine as the Knight replied sleepily to her mother and his gut tightened in anxiety. The longer Janine spent in the cold space and stone of the Order's hall, the worse she would get and Raban could only keep her warm with his own body heat for so long. Janine was laid back down against him and his arm went around his friend to hold her not entirely conscious of the act.

"Yes... very tired but I'm all right..." he nodded in reply, he felt as if he could sleep solidly for a good eight hours but he wanted to stay awake for now. There were too many questions and anxieties fluttering about his brain right now. Raban smiled back to her certain his own exhaustion was apparent in his features but he kept going as was his way. At least till he knew it was safe to.

Raban glanced as Kiegal spoke and he read the remaining hesitancy and uncertainty left in the man. Raban's guilt for deceiving his commander returned, he had placed the man under a lot of stress with things and also a lot of responsibility no one else had really accounted for. However, it seemed the man was dealing with this to a larger extent... the man seemed to be open to a new reality and side of what previously had been so feared and misunderstood.

He blinked rapidly catching himself in his exhaustion. His eyelids felt horribly heavy all of a sudden and knew if he didn't move soon, he was going to sleep right here and now just as much as Janine was doing. Not exactly a fun prospect inside a cold hall. It appeared Tina had a similar line of thought and he blinked wearily up at her absently finding it odd to be spoken about. No, not odd, but rather something he hadn't been used to since he had come of age.

Raban was relieved when Kiegal affirmed he was not going back in the cage but equally expressed a lack of knowledge as to where his Knight could be held or go. Raban listened, shifting the blankets so that they were wrapped around Janine, being careful to not wake her. She deserved to sleep and stay warm. She had to stay warm.

It was then Tina made the suggestion that he was to join her and Janine back to their home before she looked at him. It took him a moment to shift the caught rabbit expression from his features before he quicky thought it over; he knew his landlords would not turn him away but he knew it would be safer to accept the proposition given they all knew what he was and Greaves wasn't under the same roof then. He also realised it would be less taxing for Janine if he wasn't somewhere she couldn't see or sense him.

Kiegal coughed, "I... I'm not sure that it's-"

"It's a good idea," Raban cut in softly looking to his superior knowing the man needed to be reassured.

"It is?" Kiegal seemed doubtful and Raban sighed softly before he explained.

"Ms. Slovas knows me, Janine's my friend... You'd know where I am. The only other places I could stay would either be at barracks, which... wouldn't be my first choice. I know revealing my truth to the Knights stirred ill feeling... Ill feelings that could be acted upon and they know how to deal with my kind. The other option is where I normally stay, Mr. and Mrs Longfellows' places... They're," Raban paused for a moment before he continued, "They are good as family to me but since Mr. Greaves is also staying under their roof... I don't think it wise either."

"Think of it as me being under house arrest, Sir. I'm not running away, on that I give my word."

Kiegal regarded Raban for a long moment before he weighed the options presented. He realised that Raban was right in what he said. Had he confined Raban to barracks, the other Knights could act on their feelings of betrayal and ill will towards Raban and equally it would be unfair on Raban and Mr and Mrs Longfellows in making him reside under the same roof as the man that had routed the man out as a member of a supernatural society. Being under Ms Slovas's roof was the soundest of all three options.

"Very well. You are removed to Ms Slovas's custody for the time being. I'll contact you both once a decisions been made... " Kiegal recognised they were all needing some time to think before anything else was done.

"Thank you, Sir," Raban replied before he braced himself and carefully rose to his feet. He had to use the wall for support and to hold himself up as he breathed a little harder from the effort. His limbs were tired but he also knew he wasn't exactly a lightweight.


The Eager Rper
As Raban moved to push himself upwards to stand, Tina moved to grab Janine and move her aside. She made sure to keep the blankets wrapped around her before shifting to Raban, helping him up with her own strength. She might have not been as strong as Raban himself, but she wanted to make sure the man was able to move so she could take him home. They’ve all been out for too long, and she just wanted to go back home where everyone was safe.

Or at the very least, not exposed.

“Take it slow, Raban,” Tina encouraged, “Bend your legs to wake them up if you need to.”

When he stood up, she turned to check on Janine, who groaned a little and shivered as she shifted, putting the blanket over herself. They really needed to get back home, so Janine could be warm again. The mother could recall putting in a log in the fire just before Sir Kiegal came to the house, so the fire should still be going. She also had to think about where everyone was going to be sleeping.

The problem would be getting Raban and Janine to the house at the same time. She'd never ridden a horse with two other people before, not to mention the fact that they’re already having trouble standing up and moving. But then again, how would she even get Janine on the horse to begin with? Moving the food tray out the way, Tina lifted Janine up to sit on the bench, sitting down to wake Janine up.

“Janine. Janine, come on and wake up a little. I need you to get up,” the mother urged as she shook Janine’s body. Janine stirred a little, but didn’t move at first. It was until a few more moments of vigorous shaking and a small slap to the face did Janine wake up with a jolt.

“Mph! Mom, what are you -”

“Shush, just focus on waking up a little. We’re going,” Tina interrupted. She lifted Janine to her feet as they rose, turning her head to Raban before moving.

“I want you to get your strength back, but I want us to be home soon. Come outside whenever you feel strong enough to walk,” Tina said with a small nod of her head. She moved herself and Janine down the hallway, and towards the doors where the cold air blew against their bodies as they stood at the doorway.

The cold made Janine shiver despite the blankets she was wrapped in. The air woke her up a little, but she didn’t know how long that would last. The rain had stopped at this point, filling the air with the scent of rain and mud. She jerked when her mother pulled her along, getting closer to Venus as they approached the equine. Tina directed Janine’s hand to the reins, pushing her up to get on the saddle as she sat down. Tina then got on the saddle as well, wrapping her arms around Janine to grab the reins to take control of the horse.


Sir Kiegal stood silently as Janine’s mother took control of the situation. He was trying to wrap his head around the turn of events that had led to this point, and he just couldn’t quite grasp it. It was impressive how the woman was directing Raban and Janine, and even himself earlier. While she did say how she’d seen stranger things in her past, he marveled at how calm she was in the face of it. Not even a hint of fear in this situation. Hm, perhaps he could be wrong. But for now, he just saw direction and clear-headedness.

A glaring opposite to his current mindset. He sighed as he turned to Raban while he was recovering. Perhaps he would be safer with Janine and her mother. The situation is a bit different now, and emotions would be hostile and high. Nobody knows where Janine lives as far as he knows. He had a small hope that this would work until he could think things out more easily.

“You good enough to move, Raban? Need a hand?” Kiegal offered.


the Hugger Troll
"Ey, ey, ey, easy Little Wolf... That cage did a number on you... take it slow,"

Raban had to bite back the 'yes mum' response as Chestnut scolded him for taking things too fast. He hadn't though he had been that expecisally swift in getting to his feet but sure enough, his muscles complained. He almost didn't register it all as Tina supported him. She was certainly stronger than she looked or just as equally used to moving heavy weights around. He looked to her before he nodded at her words and obliged before his legs seemed happier to hold him with barely any support from the wall.

He watched her with Janine, trying to rouse the sleeping Knight and he wasn't surprised when she almost refused to respond to the wake up call. Janine had pushed herself in weather a demon really ought not to be caught out in. Even Chestnut despised rain and even though she could raise her own temperature to compensate, she often went cold... Raban couldn't recall if he had told Tina about the true nature of Chestnut's identity. He wasn't sure adding that into this complicated mix was wise just about now...

The wolf blinked back the tiredness as he stood there. He could collapse later once they got back to hers and he had a spot to curl up in. He didn't mind if it was on the floor... anywhere was better than this hall right now and its painful reminders.

He looked up as he felt a gaze seat upon him and he nodded, "All right... I'll be along." He watched them go, flickers of his anxiety crossing his features. There was nothing stable or routine about any of this and the part of him that had relished the Order's everyday routine was going to miss it sorely. Kiegal's voice almost made him jump right out of his skin, which for a werewolf to do showed just how out of sorts Raban was.


He looked to Sir Kiegal almost owlishly and confused before he slowly shook his head. Kiegal must have read the self doubt or hesitancy as the man moved towards him and put his arm around his shoulder, the other to Raban's waist. Raban read the equal uncertainty but it was one he recognised. The fear of the beast within. However, perhaps Kiegal realised Raban just didn't seem to have the strength to turn nor was inclined to do so as he helped Raban out.

Raban wasn't used to needing support. Not like this. However, Chestnut told him to shut his pride into a jar and just accept it. If there were a few people Raban listened to and was likely to obey, it was amongst those he was surrounded by now. The outside was cold and dampness clung in the air but the rain had stopped at least.

The two men looked towards Venus with her present load on her back and Kiegal tilted his head uncertain that even as fine as steed as Janine had that it could hold three. Raban wasn't light on his own and he could feel that well enough.

"You can borrow Valiant... He knows the way back," he lead Raban to another stall, one with a sheltered overhang before he opened the gate and lead his own horse out. In all of the chaos, he hadn't gotten around to removing Valiant's tack so it seemed easier to offer all told. The black horse nickered lightly but stood resolute and without fault as Kiegal helped Raban to the saddle. "Just tell him to go home," he spoke up to Raban feeling he would indeed find his trusted Valiant return to his stable later on.

Raban was, after all, usually a man of his word... It was partially what made this whole thing all the more stressful and out of sorts. He walked Valiant to Venus' side and offered the lead rein to Tina. "I, um, will let you know. I'll inform his landlords... They asked... They should know..." he trailed off uneasy before he backed away from the horses with a nod. He decided he'd stay at barracks tonight, sleep and rest before seeing to the matter. A report would need to be written but it could wait.


The Eager Rper
Tina looked back to Sir Kiegal and Raban as they went to a stable with a horse. She watched until she felt Janine mumble and shift, where she then had to give her attention back to Janine to keep her upright.

With how Janine was moving and sounding, she could've been compared to a sleepy toddler, but it wasn't the case at all, as silly as it would've been. They were so close to getting home, she just needed to get going. When Janine was still again, Raban and Sir Kiegal had come over, and she was handed the reins of the second horse.

Sir Kiegal stuttered his words as he spoke with hesitation, giving away the uncertainty that still clouded the man's resolve. She furrowed her brow with pity and concern - she didn't know the Knight well, but from what she'd seen in this short time, Sir Kiegal seemed to be a man that was sure of his authority. With such events shaking his core beliefs, she could imagine his hesitation with things. She prayed that he would find peace and resolve to solidify whatever decision he settles with.

She took the horse reins and nodded her head. "Thank you, Sir Kiegal, truly. We shall keep quiet. And may you have clarity as you rest," Tina softly said as she turned Venus and Valiant around. Steering Venus, the woman then set her eyes upon Raban, who she then gave a small smile to before turning her head forward and urging Venus into a trot, taking everyone back out of the courtyard.


Thankfully, there was no rain still when Tina got everyone home. The woman carefully got off Venus before pulling Janine off, half carrying her through the gate and yard before going into the house.

"Oh thank goodness the fire is still going," the mother said with a sigh of relief when she stepped inside, the heat of the fire easily making itself known. She laid Janine down on the floor, in front of the fireplace where the heat was more intense. Of course she made sure she wouldn't be burned, but she wanted Janine to be heated up as soon as possible.

When she finished taking care of Janine, Tina went back out and went to Raban next. She helped him as best as she could with the basic amount of strength she had, but she could only do so much. She looked at Venus and had an idea.

"Here. Lean on Venus. Come on girl," she said while making Venus move. With Venus on one side and Tina on the other she helped Raban stay on his feet until they got to the door, where she led the rest of the way. With a small grunt, Tina sat Raban on the chair closest to the fire, taking a gaze at Janine before leaving back outside.

Venus was taken back under the stables and had her equipment taken off so the mare can finally rest for the night. She looked at the stallion and went up to him with a carrot in hand. With a smile, the woman offered the carrot to the horse, where he sniffed the vegetable before slowly chomping it in his mouth.

"Thank you, Valiant. I'd take you to go back home, but - "

The horse snorted before lifting his head, moving it up and down before he turned around and trotted away from the gate. The woman blinked with a puzzled look on her face, making an attempt to reach out to grab at the horse, but she soon felt the light sprinkles of rain again. She gasped, realizing what that meant, and closed her gate before she went back inside her home.

Tina closed the door, hoping the horse wouldn't get lost on his way back, and sat down with a heavy, tired sigh. Finally, she was back in her home, with her daughter safe and sound. Raban as well.


the Hugger Troll
How he got into the saddle remained anyone's guess, or rather anyone but Kiegal but Raban clamped his hands around the saddle horn and felt the shift of the horse beneath him. The scent of the black stallion was strange and foreign to Raban in the proximity of it yet oddly familiar from passing. He leaned forwards, it helped keep himself upright, aware he was on something that could quite easily throw him. To a man used to the broader back of a draft horse, the slighter frame made him feel the lack of horse between his legs.

"Most peculiar...."
"Yeah, put a pin in it. You stay on that bloody thing till you get here."

He smiled lazily in reply even as Valiant was lead and given to Tina.

Kiegal looked to Tina and nodded, he hoped for the same as well and was grateful for her aid even he did find her manner in how she had reacted and dealt with the news of what Raban was a bit strange. He watched the small group leave the courtyard at a trot momentarily lost in thought before a cold shudder ran through his aging frame reminded him that he needed to get warm and get some rest before continuing with any line of inquiry regarding Raban and what was to be done.

With a sigh, the Commander of the Order of Knights turned back inside and closed the door, locking the bar in place after him. No use letting Greaves having a free reign before he could mitigate the hunter's reaction to letting Raban not only out of the cage but effectively out of his sight with a civilian. Well, not entirely... Janine was with him and once she improved, than Raban was under a friendlier watch tenfold. He headed towards the small cot afforded to him as Commander. Nothing special or grand but it served it purpose.


It was a while before Raban grunted and woke from his doze. One of several along the way but he recognised where he was now at least as they made a final turn and the sight of the paddock and house came into view. The link between him and Chestnut grew stronger at the proximity and he knew he did not have to worry any more.

The horse beneath him came to a halt and rested back slightly before he looked to the movement. Tina was seeing to Janine first. He nodded, good... Janine had to get properly warm again and the promise of a fire was enough to even excite him into wanting to get down and inside. He looked down past Valiant's shoulder and frowned, realising the horse had a decent height in hands on him.

Tina returned for him and with a struggle, he got down off the horse. He effectively had to lie across the back and slide down that way. His brain was starting to shut down in its need for sleep but at least this was not the same level of shutting down as the silver had enforced on him. Just a little further, he told himself. It seemed Janine's Mother was doubtful he could make it alone and he knew she was probably right in that assessment.

The scent of Venus filled his nostrils as he leaned against her till they reached the door. Raban tried for Tina's sake to hold most of his own weight up though he wasn't sure he was entirely fulfilling that but the chair was perhaps the most comfortable thing he had sat on in this very moment in time and he sank into it heavily as Tina went back outside. The fire was warm, inviting and a welcomed change after a cold hall of negativity. He doubted he'd want to get up again and a sore back in the morning was worth the sleep in the chair.

His eyes closed briefly in the warmth and safety of where he was. He didn't have to fear for Janine, himself or anyone else here. A brief moment in time. Sounds of a door closing followed by feet and then the sense of a joining presence made him open his eyes again, resting his sight on Tina. He offered a rueful but grateful smile, "Thank you."


The morning came with bright sunshine that bore through the windows as Kiegal made his way to his office where papers awaited him. Despite the anxiety he had yesterday, he had slept surprisingly well and now that he was rested with a clearer head, he had some decisions to make. Decisions he alone had the authority to make.

He sat, the chair creaking under his weight but he ignored the familiar sound as he looked over reports. One from Greaves, a couple from a few others here and there and as he read through them, he realised some were more akin to advisements than reports. Some of them were damning, especially those of Greaves. One from the Matron of the Infirmary further supported the fact of what Raban was but she had also expressed that save for a few upsets in disobeying nurse commands as patients were wont to do, he had not attacked them or given them cause to be concerned for anything beyond his recovery.

Several of the reports held a similar theme and Kiegal could only agree with them. Raban was a werewolf but he had proved he had control of what he was, understood the dangers of what he was and once his truth had been upturned by Greaves, he had been honest in explaining things. Without the Werewolf in the mix, Raban had been a model Knight, one of whom Kiegal would have like every Knight to liken themselves to in terms of their behaviour and how they met situations. There had been no attacks, no ill manners, nothing to merit any bad word against him.

The fact Raban was a werewolf was the only stain on the character.

Kiegal considered this, his chin resting briefly on tented fingers as he thought back to the day of the dragon and the first report of the werewolf. The man who had made the report was confounded as he spoke of a werewolf attacking the dragon in the full light of day and seemed to be taunting the gargantuan into heading to the forest. It was perhaps not an act a werewolf would have made, but it was definitely an action a Knight of the Order would have done.

He lifted another paper and considered the content on the page. An execution request, it was purely clerical in its process meant to expedite matters. However, Kiegal knew and felt that Raban did not ask for his fate... You could not change the circumstances of one's birth after all. Kiegal wrote on the paper, denying and cancelling the execution request. With the decision reached to not have his Knight executed, it still left him with deciding what was to happen with the man.

"Hm," he sighed and rubbed his face before he took a little watered wine and then made another decision. To let Raban stay in Amastad and the Order would invite rebuttal from the other Knights. Most were too young to realise the bending of a rule that Kiegal was making... they had yet to earn that level of experience to understand that the grey was just as important as the black and white. So, he would not die nor could he stay in Amastad.

It left only one option.


The Eager Rper
The morning had finally come upon Amastad, after enduring the night, which felt as if it lasted multiple days. The scent of rain overwhelmed the air with its presence, signaling the promise of a new day. It was cold outside, as opposed to the warmth of the inside of Janine’s home. Thankfully, the fire kept strong all night, thanks to Tina, who made sure it didn’t die out too soon. She made sure that nobody was cold, only stopping when the heat was too much to bear for her.

With the constant source of heat, it allowed Janine to lay uninterrupted. But as the morning sun rose, her body shifted as she softly groaned, her brain rousing itself from its near deep slumber. She looked up, her frame facing the fireplace filled with red hot cinders as its heat emanated from the center. Her eyes darted back and forth across the walls, confusion clear on her face as Janine struggled to figure out where she was.

It took a minute, but she soon realized she was at home…

Back home? As in her house? But wasn’t she…?

“You’re awake,” Janine’s mother hummed as she got up from her chair in the kitchen. Janine looked back with a short gasp. Where did she come from? Janine rubbed her face, trying to get the sleep from her eyes, sensing her mother getting close to her. Janine blinked, leaning forward to give her mom a hug, in which she returned with twice the strength.

“I’m alright, I think. I’m just a bit tired,” Janine replied with a yawn. She blinked a bit with hesitation, trying to figure out why her mother felt worried.

“Mom? Are you okay?” she asked nervously.

Her mother all but scoffed softly as she shook her head. “That’s a question, coming from you. Do you have any idea how worried I was last night? I come up to your room to talk to you, and you just disappear. Gone. And I have no idea where you are or what you’re doing or if you’re alright, and in the damn rain no less! Out here soaking wet, do you have any idea how close you were to sleeping out there? You know how you are with the cold, I’ve warned you many many times,” Janine’s mother scolded, her voice rising as she spoke.

Janine blinked, feeling her eyes misting up. “Mom, I’m so sorry. I just…. I was just worried. I… See, I -”

“No, I know what you were doing, more or less,” the mother said with a raised hand to silence Janine. She then gestured her hand behind Janine, where she turned her head around to see Raban in a chair, who seemed to be asleep. Janine felt her insides swell with shock at the fact that he was in her home. On top of that, she couldn’t remember going home by herself. Janine turned back around to her mother, confusion apparent on her face as it asked silent questions.

“You were getting to that point where you were going into a deep sleep. You couldn’t quite do anything on your own. I had to carry you on Venus and take you home. Not to mention helping Raban convince your lead Knight to let me take him home as well,” the woman said with a sigh. She lightly shook her head as she put her hand in between her eyes.

Janine lowered her head, ashamed and guilty for all the trouble she had put her mother in. What was the whole idea of her thought process last night? It was scrambled and half-baked at best, and just plain reckless at worst. Probably leaning on worse if anything. But Janine managed to catch her mother sighing as she looked back down to Janine. “Mom I’m so sorry, I never meant to make you worry. I didn’t expect for everything to get so intense.”

Her mother blinked a few times before she hugged Janine again. “I know you’re sorry. But we’ll talk about this later, Janine. Right now, I'm just happy that you’re awake and warm. Both of you. I’ll go find some clean clothes for you,” the mother said as she got up, leaving the living room as she went upstairs.

Janine frowned with a small sigh, sitting as she tried to recollect her thoughts. Some of the night was a blur, but she did remember sitting next to Raban, wrapped in blankets. Everything else beforehand was. She scrutinized Raban’s sitting frame, wondering if he was awake. A part of her hoped he wasn’t. Would be embarrassing for him to hear her and her mom squabbling about being wise and recognizing recklessness. She sat up, sighing softly to herself while she wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and stared at the half-dead cinders, fearing what the day was going to bring.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban's head lay back on the back of the chair but his frame was otherwise relaxed and at peace. All the tension he had been riding with for the last few days seemed to have evaporated in one embrace of a warm and safe environment. His breathing was even and nothing seemed to be able to disturb him. Not even the raising of temperature.

Whilst he slept, he dreamed a dream he usually had every now and then. A kaleidoscope of suggestions and memories whirling around in in colours and smells. It started as it always did with the farm where he had been born and raised by his true parents. Bright sunshine kissed the fields and the back of the cattle they kept, their lows raising into the air only for it to shift and be interrupted by angry voices. His mother and father arguing again. Raban could nothing of the words themselves. No matter how hard he tried to remember, he never could. He could never remember his father's face either. It was all a blur.

Always a blur.

It shifted again to a memory of death, sadness and hope as he saw Cadfael's face and the moment the man had carried him away from the farm and had sat him on his black gelding. He remembered never having seen a horse before and that the novelty had distracted him at the time from how Cadfael had found him. Eventually his house grew smaller and smaller in the distance, the farm warped and swirled into the buildings of the Order. Coldness and warmth filled him, the words of study and lecture assaulted his ears as well as the sounds of sword and shield.

Flashes of blood was cutting in to the dream, the smell of a prey's fear, the thrill of the chase, the need to give in to the urge but yet finding the solace and will to control it. There was his own fear, drawn manifest as the dream took a greater hold on Raban. His eyes moved swiftly beneath the lids, his fingers twitching to a tighter hold on whatsoever they happened to grip. It was a strange heady mix of child and adult fears combined into one and this was usually a point where he would wake either heavy breathing or in a sweat too.

However, he did not wake but seemed to calm again, his frame relaxing as before and sunk gently further into the seat of the chair. His back would undoubtedly complain later on but he slept soundly now, not stirring at all as the others talked in the space of the room.. Chestnut, too, kept tabs on her favourite little wolf and seemed content to let him sleep, tending to the needs of her own trapped form.

By the time Raban stirred and blinked his eyes open, Janine was the only other in the space with him. His eyes rested on her, waiting for his vision to catch up and focus. He watched her for a moment in his moment to reacquaint himself to the space around him and was relieved. She looked much healthier now and he knew Tina must have been tending to her daughter for most of the night.

Something made him shudder and grunt, a spike of a chill he supposed but he felt otherwise warm and all too comfortable. He sat up in the chair with a groan that came from the stiffness of being in a chair for too long, but he knew he wasn't exactly in a rush. He was effectively housebound till Kiegal sent word of his fate.

"How are you feeling?" he spoke gently, not wishing to startle her if she hadn't picked up on the sounds he had already made.


The Eager Rper
The cinders were comforting in a sense, crackling softly as they emitted its heat. Janine sighed, wishing she could just stay in the house and not worry about anything but staying warm. Outside, things were dangerous and uncertain. Her eyes drifted to her body as she wrapped herself tighter in her blanket; her ears caught soft noises in the background, but they didn’t reach her enough to alert her of the stirring behind her.

But then she heard a voice to her left.

Janine blinked with a small gasp, her mind returning to the world around her. She turned her head to see Raban sitting up in his chair, waking up as he looked down to her. She couldn’t help the small smile that slowly formed across her face, happiness and relief washing over her as she turned her body to face Raban.

“I’m… feeling better. I mean, I’m still tired, but it’s not the pull of the deep sleep, so that's a good thing," Janine replied. A yawn was quick to overcome Janine, and she quickly covered her face with her blanket. A sheepish look was on Janine's face afterwards.

"S-sorry.” Janine said with a sheepish voice.

Her eyes made a general and brief glance at Raban’s body, imagining him to be a bit uncomfortable in his position. But she was also trying to see if she could find anything bad in his person. Granted, all she could see was his face since he was covered in a blanket, but she couldn’t help but to stare for a moment, in hopes of finding, or not finding, some stray sign of evidence that signaled unwellness.

After a moment longer, Janine shifted her eyes to make more direct eye contact with him. “I’m sorry for staring, but I was just trying to see if there was anything about you that was still… unwell. I’m a little more worried about you. Last night was super stressful on your body, and I don’t want you to move around or anything while you’re not fine,” Janine said as she looked down at her blanket. She fidgeted her fingers for a moment before looking back up, getting on her feet to test her own strength. Her head felt a bit dizzy, but she managed to stand firm after a second. She wrapped her blanket tighter around herself as she walked closer to Raban.

“How are you? Have you recovered all the way? Or perhaps you need to rest a little more? Did you have a good sleep?” Janine asked.


the Hugger Troll
Raban shifted so he was a bit more comfortable as he continued sitting in the chair he was in. He was wamr and cozy with no real desire to move anytime soon but he knew he would have to eventually if not for duty than for other bodily needs. She looked his way in surprise and he hoped he hadn't caught her too off guard but seeing her smile was warming and welcomed. It had not been a good day or so and it was practically his fault that lay at the cause of all the upset.

He smiled and nodded before the up and down gesture of his head turned to a side to side motion, frowning as she apologised for yawning. He fought against the urge to do so himself. "No, you clearly needed the rest. I'm glad you were able to catch up and get warm again. I was worried about you."

Raban shifted the blanket a little and realised she was studying him with the look of one who was concerned for another. He didn't mind. He probably would have done the same if he hadn't fallen asleep in the chair. His spine twinged but that was due to sitting in the same position for so long rather than to any physical hurt derived from his time in the cage or when he had been dragged out of it. He winced, he was glad at least he had put his clothes on... he wasn't sure Kiegal would have appreciated that.

She spoke and he smiled a little, "I feel okay... Just tired and achy. I don't think my back is going to like me when I have to get up..." he blinked as she stood. She didn't look all that steady and he leaned forwards in the chair in his own equal concern for her wellbeing as she walked closer to him. He shifted a hand free from the depths of his blanket just in case her legs gave out.

"I'm all right, honestly. Just achy, and a little itchy perhaps... I slept well, yes, thank you... I hope I didn't keep anyone awake with my snoring," he smiled lightly. "Feeling warm enough?"

This was a dreamy moment where they could just talk and sit cozy by the dying embers of the fire. He hoped it could last a little while before his judgement was passed. He didn't know what fate lay in for him but he had hope he might live to see another sunrise and sunset.


The Eager Rper
Janine nodded when Raban spoke, saying that he was alright despite what he endured the night before. She nodded lightly, allowing herself to feel a sense of relief. Of course, there was the achy back from being in the seat, in which she chuckled at the comment, but other than that, he seemed fine. When asked about his snoring, Janine tilted her head with another giggle.

“I didn’t know you snored, Raban. I didn’t hear anything at all.”

“Well I did!” Janine’s mother’s voice called from the stairs. Janine gasped as she turned to the woman coming down the steps with articles of clothing.

“Mom! You’re not supposed to yell that,” Janine whined.

“What? I’m not supposed to say anything?” her mother said as she walked towards Janine, “calm down, I didn’t mind too much. I was much too tired to be bothered with such a sound anyway,” Janine’s mother said with a short chuckle. She turned to Raban with a reassuring look on her face. “Don’t worry, you weren’t snoring loudly,” she said with a small smirk.

Janine groaned with embarrassment as she hid herself in her blanket. “Mom, must you always embarrass Raban?”

“Hush woman child, and go change into some clean clothes,” the mother said while handing Janine’s clothes to her. Janine groaned again as she extended a covered arm to receive them, then turned her head to Raban with an apologetic look on her face.

“I am so sorry, Raban, I-” Janine began before a loud and deep tolling sound echoed across the town. She stopped talking to listen, head tilting as her ears focused. After a few moments, she looked down to Raban as concern and shock grew more apparent in her behavior.

“It couldn’t be…” Janine muttered.

Her mother picked up on the tone in Janine’s voice and shifted. “Janine? What does that mean? What are you hearing?” her mother asked.

She looked at her mom with a frown. “The bell. That’s the Order’s bell tolling. It’s a summoning call. Our superior is recalling everyone for a meeting,” Janine said with a hint of nervousness. She remembered Sir Kiegal telling everyone that he would call everyone for a meeting when he came to a decision; but she didn’t expect him to have a decision so soon. It had barely been a day, but then again, so much had happened within such a time frame. Had he really made a sane and careful decision? Thoughts swimming in Janine’s head made her nervous, and she turned to the window with a frown.

“Well, what are you waiting for, Janine? You need to hurry!” Janine’s mother said as she moved her hands in a shooing motion. Janine snapped out of her nervousness to run up the stairs to change, not wanting to be late for the important meeting.

It was a couple of minutes, but when Janine came back down, she was fully dressed, armor and all adorned on her person. She took a quick glance to Raban before hurrying out the door, where Venus was snorting and moving around in her stall. Thankfully, her mother was quick to think about dressing Venus in her equipment, and thus was ready to be ridden when Janine got to her.

“I’ll be back soon!” Janine called out to the household as she rode away. She had no clue what the day held, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready to face whatever was to happen in that courtyard.


Janine got to the Order courtyard as fast as she could, where she saw multiple members of her order already there before her. The nervousness spread across her body, and she already wanted to retreat and go back home, where it was warm and safe. She had actually turned to do so, but when the present knights saw her, Janine suddenly froze, as if they wouldn’t see her if she stayed still long enough. Venus nodded her head up and down with a sound that she could’ve sworn sounded similar to a ‘harumph’, and Janine groaned at her.

“Be quiet Venus. That is not helpful,” Janine muttered as she turned Venus around.

It was too late to go back. Everyone had seen her, and if they saw anything that was remotely close to weakness, she felt that they wouldn’t let it up. With a deep inhale, Janine continued deeper into the courtyard, trying her best to ignore everyone’s gaze on her and Venus. She eventually stopped close to the wall, where she wouldn’t feel as if she was out in the open.

Janine withstood the tension in her mind and body for as long as she could, until all the knights were present. Despite being a rather open space, the tension was thick in the courtyard, and Janine knew that everyone could feel it. Suddenly, the sounds of the Hall’s doors opened, gaining the attention of everyone who was present. Surprisingly, Sir Kiegal walked outside with that strong air of authority that she had always known, but she felt that he was tired somehow. Either that, or she was just assuming due to her knowledge of the night before.

Everyone slowly gravitated towards Sir Kiegal, as if it was instinct to do so. They all stopped before getting too close to their superior, where he cleared his throat as he looked at everyone.

“I know that this is a hard time for everyone. A hard and stressful time. Some of you have probably thought about hypothetical scenarios about what to do when you get here again. I honestly didn’t expect to call you all so quickly, but unexpected events expedited the process,” the man said as carefully and concisely as he could. Some of the members looked at each other anxiously, others kept their gaze on Sir Kiegal.

Janine was trying to figure out where he was going with this conversation. Was he trying to ease the congregation into his decision? Honestly, she just wanted to hear what he decided, so she could prepare for the near future. Sir Kiegal cleared his throat, making everyone turn their faces to him again.

“Tie up your horses and come inside. I will discuss my decision, and hopefully, some of you will understand,” the man said as he turned around to go back into the Hall. Janine blinked at the order and turned to some of the Knights around her. For some reason, this worried Janine; what would come of this? How would this play out? With a nervous groan, Janine went to Venus, tied her to the post, and walked to the building, along with everyone else.


the Hugger Troll
He smirked lightly quite enjoying the sound of the giggles she made. It was oddly refreshing given recent events and the weather. He didn't particularly enjoy the rain or the cold much even if he was able to withstand it better than most. Either through his own fur or through Chestnut's ability to raise her own core temperature, such was her perk as a fire demon.

Raban was about to respond before a voice called out to the contrary and he looked towards the direction it had come from. He couldn't help but smile deeply at the response Tina had given as the woman entered the room.

He shifted in the chair, he ought to stand soon since his spine was starting to remind him of the lack in merit of sleeping in a chair overnight. He smiled, "Lest I keep the entire house awake, I am very glad it was not so."

He glanced as Janine protested that her mother was embarrassing him. Had they not known each other now for as long as they had... or at least, it now felt like it was a long time, she might have done. However, now, he did not find it as bad as he might have done before. Raban knew how lucky Janine was to have her mother and the woman was perhaps one of the strongest he'd met in his time.

He remembered his own mother although only by her voice and scent. Everything else was a blur. His father moreso, but Raban didn't care enough about a man who had abandoned his family. Cadfael had been more of a father to him than any other male figure in his life and the Longfellows had taken care of him like he was their own but it wasn't quite the same.

Janine began to apologise but Raban's attention was refocused on an all too familiar sound of a bell tolling. Not even the church bell had quite the same toll as that of the Order's own. He knew instantly what it meant and who it was for. Raban remained silent as the other explained the meaning of the bell, and knew instinctively it was not a summons he needed to answer right now. Not if he fancied getting potentially bruised up by the other Knights who held no understanding of events or the peculiarities of his case. If Kiegal had decided to have him executed, he would soon know. Likewise to any decision he made. He had also gave his word he would not leave from his house arrest and Raban was not in the habit of breaking it.

He was a little surprised the bell had rung this quickly but he knew Kiegal didn't like to rest on his laurels and always tried to see to the problem at hand as quickly and as efficiently as possible. He frowned, perhaps this situation had not been dealt the most efficiently by either side but there was no changing that now.

Raban stood as Janine came down and hurried for the door, nodding his reassurance and encouragement in the second he could convey it to her. He couldn't help himself and stood by the doorway, watching as she left on Venus. He glanced to where Chestnut was stood and she threw her head, snorting before she tossed her head a few more times. He nodded, neither of them liked this waiting game but there was no helping it now. Whilst Janine was away, he insisted on helping Tina around the house with whatever chore she could set him to, just to keep his mind occupied and not letting anxiety gnaw at his nerves.


Sir Kiegal returned to the front of the hall where the cage had remained, empty as it now was. He knew his unruly brood of Knights would be quick to spot this and sure enough he could hear the rumblings as they entered and took their seats. He waited for them all to find a place to sit, standing at a relative attention as he regarded their faces. He noted where Janine was and nodded lightly before he addressed them all.

"As some of you have already noticed, Sir Raban is not present. I want to reassure you all, firstly, that he is under watch willingly under house arrest and he will not go against those terms of agreement. I know some of you may even by angered by this decision but know that it was made in due course with his health. I will not have anyone under our care, hunted or not, die before their sentence can be carried out."

"I have not reached the decision I have reached regarding this case lightly. It has been one of the most unprecedented and unlikely situations that no other Commander of the Order has experienced until now."

He looked amongst them all and some were unmoved, others listening with curiosity or consideration, and took a measured breath as he considered his own words. This was not an easy matter and he wished again that he hadn't been cast this lot. At least he had made sure Greaves knew he was not invited and had a Knight stand by the door to ensure he would be booted back out if he tried. Undoubtedly, the hunter would be angered by the decision he had reached and might even try putting Raban down himself. He just hoped Raban had the strength to see that potential fallout from this through.

"I do not need to tell all of you of Sir Raban's record prior to this one shocking event. He has been an exemplary Knight who always has fulfilled his duty with the care and respect a Knight should give, he cares for this family we're all a part of and I know that the Order has been his entire life ever since he became the charge of the Knight who brought him in. He's one I had hoped might have even filled my boots one day but hope is a fickle light upon a candle and this is the hand we've all been dealt."

"I know some of you regard what Raban is to be a betrayal of the Oath we have all taken, but I ask you to consider this before you yourselves condemn him. This is the first time we've have known a werewolf to be in our city... before then there were no maulings that went unknown, no howls that were heard at the midnight hours, no prior evidence... till now."

"I am aware of what our Order is and what it stands for, the lives we are sworn to protect. However, my duty is not just to the civilians of Amastad but also to those under my command regardless of whoever they were before they were before they took the Oath or who they are now."

"Raban was not able to affect the manner of his circumstance, nor is he the typical werewolf we have read about in books or what Greaves described. You all saw with your own eyes that he changed at will, recognised me for who I am and bore no rage or anger as you'd expect from the typical kind."

"I, therefore, have to recognise that Raban, wolf or man, is in control of his faculties in both states. I recognise he has done what he has done in keeping this from the Order was not just for his own survival but for that of our own and for the people of Amastad. I recognise his achievements as a Knight of the Order and that he has accepted his fate even before he was made out."

Kiegal gave a pause to let his words and reasonings sink in around the room. He glanced at the old knight sat to the side, busy scribbling away as he kept the record of the meeting and privately envied the man's position. It would be some years yet before he would reach that age.

"Thus, I have made my decision. Sir Raban will not be executed. Instead, he will be reprimanded to leave Amastad. He will be stripped of his rank as a Knight but I will grant him an honourable discharge not usually given. He will not be allowed to return to Amastad. If he does, only then will Knights be obliged to see to his death."

There was the shock, the intrigue, the anger, fluttering around the room like an excited dog after a meat scrap. Kiegal could not wait for this whole matter to be over. Giving Raban an honourable discharge from the Order was something unheard of, or at least hadn't been enacted for a long time. However, an Oath was for life and he doubted Raban would ever forsake the code even after he was discharged. It was more to remind others and Raban that he could not remain a Knight of Amastad in exile.

"If you have questions, raise your hand and make it concise as possible."


The Eager Rper
Janine walked inside the Hall that she had left many hours beforehand: it was all tidied up and dried, void of any and all evidence of the events that had happened. She was thankful that nothing betrayed signs of her presence, for she couldn't take any persecution from her fellow Knights. Her body gravitated to the spot that she took the day before, where she took a seat in anxious silence.

Her eyes directed themselves to Sir Kiegal, where she caught his gaze to her, and the slight nod. She blinked in surprise - did he really acknowledge her presence? Or was it just a nod that everyone was there? Did anyone else notice? Janine couldn't help but to break her gaze away, even as he began to speak.

Sir Keigal's voice was loud and filled with that strong authority, as he usually did. He spoke of Raban and how he was as a Knight. He spoke about all the truths: of Raban being a role model, an exceptional Knight, and a caring individual.

Janine nodded at his words, wholeheartedly agreeing to every word. Everyone knew that Raban was a model Knight, the one that everyone looked up to. Hell, even she looked up to him at times, wishing that she was more like him. She caught some of the other young men, seeing the different emotions and reactions coming from them.

He also touched on how unexpected and unprecedented this whole event was, and how hard it was to think on a course of action.

And then, it got to the point where Janine had been waiting for. Sir Kiegal and his final decision. She found herself holding her breath as her leader drew closer to his final answer.

And it turned out to be equal parts relieving, expected and surprising: Raban was to be exiled, yet exiled with an honorable discharge.

Janine gasped at the answer, along with several other knights. Expected in the sense that after how everything happened several hours past, she didn't think that Sir Kiegal would kill Raban. Yet, even as he said the words, she let out the breath she was holding, happy that he actually went through with the thought.

The thing that surprised her, and many others, was the honorable discharge. She expected Raban to be stripped of his knighthood and exiled like a society would do to certain people. But an honorable discharge… It would keep everything that Raban tried so hard to maintain, and had maintained throughout his entire career. The idea filled her with an emotion she couldn't readily identify, but she had to conceal it for the moment.

When he was done, Sir Kiegal let the Knights have their questions. The room was silent for a moment, Knights turning to themselves and turning their heads to one another, silently urging someone to speak.

One knight raised his hand, and Sir Kiegal pointed him out.

"Yes Horace?"

"I… I understand the fact that Sir Raban has to leave Amastad, but why the honorable discharge again?" He asked.

Sir Kiegal cleared his throat before answering. "The reason is like I said before - this series of events have been rather shocking and unprecedented. While Sir Raban is a werewolf, he isn't the typical kind. He still had his humanity and integrity when he changed, and we all saw that. After that, his character or behavior wasn't on trial anymore, but rather his being. As nobody has any control over how they're born, it would not be right to kill a man when they've technically done nothing wrong. However, seeing as we are a society that doesn't take kindly to werewolves in the first place, it is only fitting to exile him as a show of mercy and appreciation, and acknowledge all the good he has done during his time within our ranks. This is what I want to remind us of," Sir Kiegal said with a nod.

Janine was happy with the answer given. Perhaps Sir Kiegal really did give his answer some thought. Her eyes caught another hand raised, and Sir Kiegal nodded toward the hand as well.


"Since Sir Raban isn't in the cage anymore, where is he?" the Knight asked.

The older man shook his head at the question. "I cannot tell you where he is staying, for both his and your safety. Just know that he will not be going anywhere unless told by me. You would be wise to not search for him either, lest you wish to be in an unfathomable amount of trouble," the man said with that tone of voice that most recognized to not challenge.

He turned to the rest of the brigade. "Anyone else with questions?" He asked. Again, the room was silent. Sir Kiegal straightened himself before speaking again.

Janine felt this well of pressure within her. She wanted to ask a question, but she feared putting attention to herself.

"Are you sure? This is it?" He asked once more.

The pressure rose even higher, and Janine felt as if she would explode. With a small exhale, she raised her hand, immediately feeling every face turn towards her. Sir Kiegal turned to see Janine's hand and she could've sworn she saw something change within his face, like it softened or something.

"Yes?" He asked.

Janine swallowed hard before formulating her question. "Um… Do you know when you're going to… discharge Sir Raban?" Janine hesitantly asked.

Sir Kiegal was quiet for a second, then lifted his head. "He will be discharged in time… But he won't be sent away until the winter season is over. It would be cruel to send him into exile just before the winter season comes in," Sir Kiegal said as he looked at Janine.

Janine felt herself wanting to smile the widest grin. His life was spared. Raban was safe all winter. Wouldn't have to worry about freezing to death traveling in the forests. He can have time to prepare to leave. She could spend some more time with him! She was so happy, she felt as if she could run through town.

"Is that all the questions you have?" Sir Raban asked once again. When all was silent, he sighed lightly and nodded his head.

"Very well then. With questions answered, I will close this topic. Now, despite all of the excitement, we're going to start ourselves back into training drills and the usual schedule."

The rest of the Knights groaned and sighed, but the older man raised a hand to silence them. "I know everything is happening so fast, but this is to get us into a normal rhythm again. Or at least, into as normal of a rhythm as possible. Besides, we are still protectors of the city - we have to be ready at any given time. Danger does not stop just because we're going through something," the man explained.

He began walking down the Hall towards the door. "We'll have a short day. Shorter training, but a longer patrol. Let's go."

The Knights looked at each other with light groans and sighs, but Janine was still elated; she did not care about anything about training or drills or nothing, just the fact that Raban was safe. She got up without a sound or protest, and walked outside with the rest of the Knights.

The rest of the day was more or less a pleasant blur. Janine acknowledged having to train, and that she had to focus during such a time. But the patrol was different. She was able to drift during her patrol - that was, when she wasn't hearing the scorned mutterings of certain Knights. Surprisingly, it seemed as if the majority of the brigade was accepting of the decision. That, or they were being respectful and didn't feel like incurring Sir Kiegal's wrath again. She didn't even have to fight with anyone this time around.

When the patrol was over, some of the Knights were dismissed, but she was kept and put to the side. Nervousness spread in her body as she and Sir Kiegal rode away from the other knights.

He turned to her with a serious face. "I know this is a stressful situation, and I'm sorry that this happened. But you now know that you have an additional oath, do you not?" He asked.

Janine nodded her head. "Yes sir, I do."

"You have your assignment. You know how long it is. Your duty is to uphold it, until I say so, understand?"

"Yes sir."

"If you disobey, it will lead to the immediate expulsion of both you and your charge. Understand?"

Janine nodded her head. "Thank you, Sir."

It seemed fair, considering what they were doing. But she doubted that it would come to that. When he was done clarifying the rules, Janine was quick to leave. She rode Venus down the streets with an eagerness she could barely contain, and when she finally got home, she could hardly wait to tell everyone.

She tied Venus up and went inside the house, where her mom was sitting and eating a snack on the chair in the living room.

"Oh Janine! You're finally back!" Her mom said with relief. Janine hugged her, kissed her and backed away with a smile.

"So? What happened? Why are you smiling?" Her mom anxiously asked.

"I have good news and bad news."

Janine sat her mother down and turned to Raban with a small sigh.

"He made his decision. You won't be executed. But you will have to be exiled from Amastad. If you come back at any point in time, the Knights will have permission to execute you then," Janine said in a solemn tone of voice.

Janine heard her mother gasp a little at the news. "Oh dear. When is he supposed to go?"

Janine's sad face turned into a sort of smile as she faced her mom. "He's letting Raban stay until after winter's over. We have a good few months together before he has to go," Janine said as she looked between Raban and her mom. She knew that this news was important to everyone involved, considering that this was where Raban was to be staying until his exile was fulfilled.

Janine then turned to Raban, walking up to him with a slightly bigger smile. "Raban. Sir Kiegal said that when it was time, he'll give you an honorable discharge, for all your services while in the Order. Isn't that wonderful?"


the Hugger Troll
Raban found himself eventually tending to Chestnut after helping Tina in as much as he could. He knew he wasn't considered a burden or anything but it was a feeling he couldn't help. He was not used to having so much free time on his hands. Raban paused trying to recall the last time he ever was able to forgo a summons. He couldn't recall such a time at all. It felt odd and strange and he was at odds with himself because of it. At least helping with the housework or any other task Tina could set him on helped to keep him occupied.

He smirked to himself as he headed for the paddock in which Chestnut was grazing. Tina was quite likely aware how his anxiety might be playing and welcomed the extra help about the house.

"Look at you, actually doing housework."

Raban looked at Chestnut and watched as she tossed her head but all the same, she walked up to him and butted her large skull into his chest, thrusting a wad of her mane in his face. He smiled and stood there, taking a moment to hug her head, one hand resting underneath her jaw whilst the other rubbed along her neck and then reached to give her cheek a good scratch. He knew she liked that.

"Well, Janine's mother may as well put me to use," he chuckled softly before he gave another good scratch on her cheek and then lead the way to the stall. He found the grooming tools and set to work on Chestnut's coat, brushing the dirt out and combing through her mane and tail. Chestnut liked the pampering and stood still through the entire process, her large eyes resting closed, even as he picked clean her hooves. He would have to take her to a farrier soon, her hooves were starting to get a little too rough for wear.

"Janine may have to... Your commander of a meat sack will have a heart attack if you break your house arrest."
"Or Tina, I suppose.... I'm not going to get used to this anytime soon."

"I know, Little Wolf... but it's better here than that cage for now at least. I'm sure the Little Demon will have information when she gets back,"
Chestnut reassured him, reaching round and butter her muzzle into his face. He looked at her and nodded before he lead her back to the patch of grazing that was available. He shifted up, resting on her broad back for a while and just watched the sky. It was a completely boyish thing to do but he hadn't anything else to concern himself with. Not yet anyway.

After a while, Chestnut nudged him out of a doze with a bounce of her rump, "You still need to muck it out, don't be lazy."

"Who are you, my mother?"
"Don't tempt me."

Raban snorted before he rolled and jumped off the Punch's back and headed for the stall where he dutifully mucked out the stall after a quick exploration for the right tools for the job. Raban wasn't afraid of the menial labour, it brought a solid sense of reward after its own right. It stopped him from getting distracted with thoughts about the meeting and what could have commenced during it. It was not long before the hay was all freshly laid, tools and equipment all organised, fresh feed was ready and the refuse dealt with.

"I best go back in before Tina thinks I've run away," he mused to Chestnut and gave her another chin scratch. She played with her lips against his face, the velvety fuzz tickling him and he chuckled, "Gerroff!"
Chestnut snickered as he turned back for the house.

It was a while later before Raban heard the clop of hooves and smiled even before the door was thrown open and Janine entered. He watched the pair hug and raised a hand in his own greeting not wishing to interrupt the well of words that came out from Tina and Janine. The latter was smiling and he canted his head slightly, curious.

He was not going to be executed? That was a relief. Whilst it was something he had long accepted could happen, he never had wanted to die. He liked living and helping people. He counted himself extremely lucky to have survived this long. Raban nodded before his brain filed the rest of what she said. He understood the levity in her voice and he scratched his jaw, ignoring the happy sighs in his head from his demonic companion outside.

Exile. He knew it was a potential outcome in his life... one he hadn't really anticipated fully or wanted really as it was a dangerous life going out into the unknown. There was a bigger world out there, certainly, but it also was filled with other things that might not be so happy for a lycan such as himself to venture there. No matter, it was not a fate he could change now.

He glanced up as Tina gasped and then he blinked as Janine said he could stay for as long as the winter lasted. That helped a lot, he supposed. Winter was a horrible time to travel. Everything was cold, food was not as abundant, whilst Chestnut was not bothered by the cold she still was forced to eat for the sake of the form she was trapped in, he had to eat... it rendered a lot of concerns that winter presented mute.

"That's good of him," he nodded, accepting it even if it also meant more days under a house arrest. He would have to make sure he didn't grow soft and stayed fit. The use of his name made him look back fully at Janine as she addressed him and he listened to her. He blinked and stared openly at her.

"He what...?" he trailed off in disbelief. He had never heard of an honourable discharge happening before, not even with similar situations. Once a Knight of the Order, always a Knight of the Order... it was just the way things went. He rubbed his face, "I... He... That's a first..." he was actually rather stumped by the news.

"How'd the other Knights take it? Does Greaves know?"
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