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A Visitor, Monday midnight, The Gowran Residence

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#38 - Residence of the Earl of Gowran

The residence is separated from the bustle of the street by a five foot tall brick wall. A carriage arch with ornate wrought-iron gates leads into the modest but elegant front garden. A gravel driveway forks towards a small stable with an attached carriage house. The facade of the two-story townhouse itself is plastered with lime, and the fashionable sash windows have been painted black for contrast. Above the massive walnut wood double door is a balcony with a wrought-iron balustrade, supported by four pillars, creating a small portico.


Getting in had not been an issue - the wall was hardly a hinderance and the gravel driveway easily traveled. The was no moon which was why he had picked this night to get the statue back. Having watched the place for a few days he’s been able to determine how best to proceed and so he was confident. Yet there must always be a plan if things went wrong. He scaled the wall near to the carriage house landing with a soft ‘thud’ and then waited. No dog bark disturbed the night sounds so he swiftly scurried ahead to the back side of the house where he’d already marked out a window.

The day before he'd taken a plump very willing housemaid behind the carriage house and she'd happily answered all his whispered questions as she'd taken her pleasure. He learned about the storage rooms and also where the bedroom he needed to search was located.One hand wrapped up in his jacket the glass was quickly broken and caught and tossed into the shrubbery. Another wait then he disappeared inside. Finding the door was easy carefully openeing it he went out into a hallway where he found a candle and a flint and he smiled at how easy things were going in his favor as it was lit. But he had to scale upwards out in the open and there lied the Risk. Determined he carried on until he reached what had to be the entrance the faint light from the candle creating shadows all around. His eyes took in everything but he hadn’t time to waste on picking up other things. Stairs taken two at a time brought him to a landing where he had to go left or right. He chose right and was soon on the upper floor.

A faint sound had him halt and he blew out the candle as he backed up against a closed door. Waiting a few more minutes he turned and cried out so startled was he which made him drop the candleholder! No way to cover the thud as it bounced on the floor and he realized that it was himself that looked back from the mirror that was placed along the wall.

“Christ Almighty!” He swore under his breath then froze.

Someone was about. The creek of the floors easily heard.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Midnight was not the latest of hours for Diana.  She was one of those people who lived their life in random spikes of energy and then would sleep for a day before the next couple of weeks she’d run off mere hours of sleep every day.  Tonight was not one of those nights. 

Plagued with a headache, she’d gone to bed early and alone except for the every exuberant spotted coach dog that was often at her side.

Something had jarred her awake though, a sound or something she’d not quite registered.  Sitting up in her bed, she blinked blurry eyed and listened to see if she heard it again.  Her dog was gone but that wasn’t surprising, she’d probably trotted off to join John in his bed.  Sighing, she laid back against the pillow and closed her eyes.  

There was another clatter only this time she was awake enough to recognize that it had come from just down the hall from herself.  Bounding out of bed, she swore under her breath.  Queenie had probably knocked something over.  Grabbing the pink silk robe, she slipped it over her nightgown, she was going to lock the dog in the stable if she’d knocked over the hall table again.

“Queenie.”  She hissed, as she opened the door of her bedroom.  “Queenie, where are you?”

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He knew that voice! 

He cast eyes Heavenward and gave a small grin but remained quiet not daring to move.

The distance was not great from his spot to what he assumed was her bedchamber and he could, he reasoned, reach it quick enough. Yet therein lay the problem - was her husband sharing that bed or was she alone?

That blasted candle dropping had turned out to be quite fortitious as he now knew where he needed to look. 

He had two options - one stay still and hope she went back in then after some time continue on and set to work. The other had him returning when there was less risk of being caught. Plus the daylight would help while the darkness was good for cover but hindered him searching her bedchamber.

She had not come full out and her calling had to be for a dog. If that was so he had no problem sending it off if it appeared.

He made his decision.

Reaching behind him he took hold of the door latch of the room he hoped was empty and quickly entered closing it with no sound. His back aganist the door and the small dagger in his right hand he waited for his eyes to adjust.

The room was cold and he saw no glow of embers from the small hearth yet he moved with caution edging round a table and chair looking to the half open/closed door that must lead to another bedchamber. Nodding and a lick of dry lips had him there and pushed it inwards and then held with one had to quiet the 'squeek'. It too was unoccupied and he blew out a breath. This would work. He'd hide here until the house settled. He took note of the long drapes on two windows and he could easily hide behind if push came to shove.

He sat in the chair eyes on the door. Realizing that he should have picked up that damn candleholder had him quick to the door and then teasing it open ear attuned for anything  ........


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  • 3 weeks later...

Diana’s glance down the hall didn’t reveal the spotted dog she’d expected to see bounding back towards her.  Still not very awake, she paused leaning against the door frame of her bedroom and called for the dog again.  It wasn’t like Queenie not to come when she was called, although… Diana sucked in a mildly annoyed breath. There was the chance that the dog was soundly sleeping with John or curled up by the fireplace in the sitting room.  

Creeping down the hall, her fingertips on the wall as she went she held her own candle up for a bit more light.  

“Queenie.”  She hissed as if it’d make the dog magically appear.  Coming closer to the end of the hall, she spotted something on the floor and it made her pause before she drew closer and sighed a bit agitated with being woken up with the dog knocking over candle holders.  Picking it up she placed it on a nearby table, if the blasted dog wanted to create a problem, so be it… she was going back to bed.  

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Her voice called out again for that damned dog and she soon came into his line of sight. Watched as she spotted the candle stick and picked it up seemingly not caring how it came to be there.

ah she thinks it was 'queenie' well all the better for me

She lingered a few moments more then turned back the way she had come. Easing the door open he slipped back out blending in with the darkness with the intent to follow her. He'd trail her then after some time let himself into that bedchamber as quiet as a church mouse.

Sure now that her husband wasn't occupying her bed - for what man would let a woman go to investigate some strange noise! He thinks too there will be at least some burners about for warmth even maybe a fireplace so that would aid him in his search.

That statue was not that big and he could easily manage it. All the same he drew the small knife from his boot ready if need be to silence anyone .....

There was a nice corner of wall fitted together that he eased himself into relaxing enough so that he could move quick if he had to. She'd been wearing something pink he remembered and the picture she must make lying in bed made him smile.

He'd have to have a look. Maybe even a feel if she was a sound sleeper. Just the thought made his member twitch. That plump maid was one thing and she'd taken care of him but he'd never had a fine LADY afore.

He'd wait for the next ring of bells chimming out the time. Then make his move.

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It was as far as Diana was concerned a night like any other.  Except something was quite off, an eerie feeling that caused her to hurry back to her own bedchamber.  All of those old Irish superstitions were starting to mess with her mind.  It was the stuff parents told their children to give them a good scare.  

Still, she wasn't quite ready to crawl back under the covers of her bed and drift off to a peaceful sleep.  It dawned on her that part of her agitation at the dog was probably due to her own unsettled nerves.  What was the point of having a guard dog if the dog was occupied elsewhere?

Moving to her desk, she sat down and studied herself in the mirror as she tried to bide her time until her nerves settled and she would be tired enough to drift off to sleep or John would arrive home and she could curl up into his warmth and put her cold bare feet into the back of his knees.  

Her room glowed softly with more than enough light for her, she was a creature of early mornings and late nights and use to half lit rooms.  Grabbing a couple of letters and her letter opener, she moved over to the chair closest to the fire and opened a couple of them skimming the general idea of what they were about before nestling the letters and opener at her side.  Tilting her head back, she let out a sigh... She was growing sillier and sillier the older she got, she should be in bed asleep and not wondering why her dog preferred sleeping elsewhere.

Closing her eyes, she tried to quiet her mind enough to go to sleep and she was almost there when the bells chimed again as she slowly started to come to enough to realize she was still in the chair and should probably go back to her bed.  The damnable chair though was so comfortable...

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There it was.

Bells chimming the hour. Time to move. There was nothing but silence surrounding everything and he was grateful for the caprets that hid the sound of his boots as he moved slowly but with determination towards that closed chamber door. From inside his shirt he pulled the scap of black cloth that would serve to hide the lower half of his face from view tying it behind his head as he crept forward until he was there facing that closed door. It was the same as the one where he had hid and that had opened with no squeek so he thought the same of this one. This was always the moment right before he committed himself that that inner voice whispered and he heard his dear dead Mothers soft voice begging him to repent of his Sins   ........

A slight shake of his head made that go away as one hand reached for the door latch and he held his breath as it opened with no sound as hoped. Barely enough for him to see yet his eyes had long ago adjusted to the darkness. A bed there. Desk by the fire and a chair in which the Lady nestled. Letting himself in fully he made no sound. Indeed the only noise came from the pop and hiss as the wood burned bugs trapped inside and under that cover he moved closer his eyes dancing over every surface looking for it. He did not move to her direcly still unsure if she was truly asleep yet knowing that at some point they might have a confrontation. He had no desire to shed blood so if things became out of hand or she screamed he would simply give her a gentle tap up one side of her pretty head strong enough to send her out but causing no real damage.

For now he stilled himself waiting to see how he was to move next.

just where have you put that damnable statue? hid it away out of sight have you ... well if thats the case I'll have to get you to tell me where that is

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Diana wasn’t so soundly nestled into the chair not to realize that someone had entered her room, and far more silently than John or the servants ever would.  That could only mean the guest was an unexpected, uninvited, and probably ill-intended one. She knew without opening her eyes that her dagger rested under her pillows and experience had taught her of all the things she knew about being attacked that she had to remain calm.  

At that moment, she had the upper hand because he obviously did not expect her to be awake and two because this was her room and she knew exactly where everything was even in the dim lighting afforded by the candles and the firelight.  Those were two very important advantages… She needed a plan.

And with one in mind, Diana committed herself to it.

In an easy movement, she used the surprise of her being awake to slide the letter opener into the pocket of her robe.  Her eyes opened at the same time that her voice clearly, lowly echoed through the room in a sensual, sultry manner.  

“It took you long enough.”  She blinked and focused her eyes on him.  Lie, lie, lie… Her mind was working quickly and she figured this was the noise she’d heard in the hall rather than the dog… had it been Queenie, she’d still be lingering at the scene of the crime or would have come when called but now that she thought about it… She only had to make him believe she’d known he’d been there the entire time.

The mask he wore told her he would rather not harm her unless he had no other option but she’d still wager a fair pound that he was armed.  

She shifted to stand up slowly and sit on the arm of the chair so her back was facing the fireplace and she was facing him.  With her right hand naturally poised in the pocket of the pink night robe resting on the letter opener, her left hand grabbed the chair’s throw pillow that had been at her back and pulled it casually into her lap every so coolly.  Tilting her head at him she spoke in the same liquid calm, confidence as before.  “I’ve been waiting for quite some time.  Is there something I can help you find?” 

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Most assumed that due to his line of 'work' he was therefore dim-witted and slow. And this had proved many a life being cut short. 

He knew that the chance of her being awake was clear and so he was not surprised by her speaking into the dimness. He saw her arm move and thinks he was right - the letter opener must have been beside her and so she thinks to out-wit him? He smiled a bit under his mask.

His own dagger was well concealed aganist the palm of his right wrist and he had no doubts of his skill level. He had to give her points for keeping herself in check and the pillow was a nice way of distracting him but it mattered not.

"And here I thought I was as quiet as a mouse. Yet I know you had no idea I was hidden just down the hall. Was an easy trick to wait and since the need for pretence is not needed I wll cut to the heart of it."

"The statue. I've come to get it. Play nice and I won't need to bother with the trying to get you to say."

His stance was a relaxed one yet he was not - she was no easy piece and she ment to defend herself - and that was fine as he was far stronger than her.

"I'd hate to mar that fine skin of yours M'Lady."

The threat was clear in his manner even if his words seemed casual.

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Well… He did seem to have her quite figured out, didn’t he?  An elegant eyebrow raised up at his words almost daring him to prove that she didn’t know that he’d been there.  

“Mice aren’t really that quiet, now are they?” She murmured with a small sigh and a less than polite roll of her eyes.

Why was he so interested in her statue?  Had he been the same one from Ireland who’d torn her room up? She took in the size and shape of the man, with the mask on it’d be hard to identify too much there but there were always other things that might give him away.  Clearing her throat, she frowned at him.

“Now, why would you want my statue?  Didn’t you have an opportunity to possess one in Ireland, already?”  Shifting in her seat, she tilted her head slightly at him as she waited for an answer from him, clearly still quite in control over her emotions as he issued his threats. “What an impudent thing to say to me, and here I’m being quite cordial about you breaking into my room!  How rude, what would your mother say to those manners?”  She tsked, and stood up walking over to her bureau and set the pillow down and reached up with her left hand to poke at an imaginary line.

“If I’m to lose my statue tonight the least you can do is tell me why you are so interested in it.” She pursed her lips in the mirror, although her grey eyes watched him carefully through it so as not to be taken by surprise.  “I’d ring for tea but it seems like a most unreasonable time to wake the servants, perhaps some whiskey instead while we discuss my statue and your interest in it?”

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She was all bluff and bluster yet he thinks she is not as calm as apperances make it to be.

"Well now. Since you think to draw this out by this show allow me to say that would not be the wisest choice."

His eyes followed her movements assessing every gesture she was making.

"Come now. I know you've got that opener tucked away and if you wish to try a stab ..." He gave a small shrug and began to slowly move closer to where she stood. "But you'd best be aware that THIS is what I have."

He showed her his blade the steel flashing in the light from the fire. "Now then. Sit yourself back down and lets get down to business."

He drew himself up to his full height just a few paces between them. Again he made his demand.

"Sit Down."

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Every movement Diana made was carefully crafted to fill out the man in her room.  She watched him through the mirrored looking glass of her bureau.  If he thought to surprise her by his knowledge of her letter opener in her pocket or scare her with the flashing glint of his blade he would be a bit disappointed.  Stiffening slightly as he stepped a little closer, Diana shot him a narrow look through the glass.

At his demand to ask her to sit down, she straightened as well up to her full height, and although was not as tall as him, she often appeared much taller than she truly was. 

Clearing her throat, she slowly turned around to face him when he all but shouted at her to sit down and she saw the first crumble in his control.

With a small nod, she stepped back over to the chairs around the lighted hearth, “Shout at me again and you’ll wake the entire house.”

Sitting in a chair nearest the fire, she situated herself so that her back was to the fire and she could watch him.  It was time they got a few things straight.

“I didn’t take you for dense but I am beginning to wonder.” She carefully said, “I’m more than willing to give you the statue for some information and I can definitely assure you that is the wisest course of action from this meeting.”  Pressing her lips together, she waved at a chair on the other side of the hearth.

“Please sit down… You don’t mind if I call you Mr. Smith do you?”  Her nostrils flared slightly but she continued calmly.  “Harming one hair on my head will set every military man and lifeguard in the whole of England upon you, it’d make a man of your profession to have to retire early and honestly, I’m far more intrigued with you than I am that statue.”  

She waved her hand again at him, “So sheath your knife and behave.  You’ll get your statue and I won’t even try and stop you.  This is simply business.”

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She bluffed exceedingly well for a woman. Yet his mantle was up. She began to lecture and he stood there not interrupting until she sat down.

"I must say I did not expect to find a school master who thinks to lecture me. Continue as you are and I shall get annoyed and when I'm annoyed things tend to get out of hand."

"I'm not partial to hurtin a woman but make no mistake - I am not your husband who must be amused at how his Lady thinks to command - and as for that statue .... where is it?"

"Once I hold it I'll tell you a tale. Not before."

He'd moved closer to her his eyes holding hers. "Don't play the high and mighty. Don't make things get messy."

Reaching out his hand he let the tip of the knife tilt her chin up a bit putting enough pressure that she'd feel its sharpness.

"Again. Where is it?"

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  • 4 months later...

For a woman clearly use to flattening anything that stood in her way, she flopped back down in the chair with a heavy, unsatisfied huff and the glare of a petulant child who'd been told 'no'.  Pressing her lips together as he spoke, she didn't say anything immediately even after there was enough pressure with the knife tilting her chin up to feel the sharpness.  Again.  Where is it?

Damn him. Damn. Damn. Damn!  If looks could have killed, he'd have been dead several times over.

"Not in here, obviously," She bit out as her anger flared just a little bit with the momentary loss of her control tones.    "I moved it to one of the guest rooms this afternoon."  Diana didn't offer anything more with that statement just yet.  Tilting her chin a little further up at him, she fought back the urge to pull backwards sharply away from the scraping of the sharpness of the knife.  "But, you are more than welcome to search the room.  It's in the room three doors down, on the right... there is a writing desk and I left it sitting on the desk."  

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He gave a half smile as she gave vent but was quick to temper it. She had spirit he had to credit with even some admiration.

"Very wise to understand the situation. I do destest a blithering female."

He withdrew his hand but kept the knife visible as he used it to gesture her to stand up.

"Well then. Lead on. I'd hardly go out there alone now would I?"

"I've used up too much time but that can not be helped. I want no repeat of this night going forward."

"I've come for that statue and that I will get. I also promised a bit of my Tale but, well, we'll save that for another time."

He grinned down at her his eyes traveling slowly over her person. She was really a fine figure of a woman.

 "M'Lady ...."

His meaning was clear. He took several steps back to allow her to stand. 

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A snotty little voice in Diana's head parroted back, 'Very wise to understand the situation.  I do detest a blithering female', but she kept her lips pressed tightly against each other and bit the inside of her cheek.  He'd withdrawn his hand but the blade was kept visible as a reminder to behave.  He seemed to contemplate the information she'd given and then gestured with the knife for her to stand up and her eyes widened slightly.  He'd just told her to sit down now she was to go on this jolly little stroll down her hallway to find a pretty piece of porcelain and hand it over to him.  

With put out sigh, she used her hands to push herself up from the chair.  Tilting her head, she shot him a look as she muttered, "Why not?  You came in here all alone, makes sense you go out there alone..."  Her words trailed off though as he grinned down at her, slowly letting his eyes travel over her.  Tilting her head, she settled an unphased look on him of a woman who knew she was beautiful and perfectly comfortable with leering looks.  "Bold of you to assume that you'll have another opportunity." As he stepped backwards she took her first step around him and leaned in just a little to murmur silkily, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me...

Looking up at him for just the length of time it'd take to make most men squirm a little, before she looked past him and swept past him towards the door.  "Come along then, if you're going to rob me... then let's get this over with."  The boredom she inflicted upon the words was edged with a barbed sharpness.  The lout had already declared that he was in a hurry and wouldn't tell her what this was all about already, after having told her he'd tell her once the statue was in his hands.  What else would he prove untrue with?

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He gave a little chuckle at her attempt at Bravado as she swept past him moving to the closed bedroom door.

He was behind her in a breath saying

"Rob? How is it robbing when that which you have belongs to me? Seems like the true thief is yourself."

"Easy as you go no need to draw unwelcomed attention." He whispered. "Three doors down is a mere blink."

He walked behind her with his knife still visible. 

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A low, sharp laugh echoed out of her at his words and she jerked her head to look at him.  "Where is your proof that it belongs to you, huh?" She hissed the words at him with a glare, "I went into a shop and bought it.  You snuck into my home and are planning to take it.  Now, I may just be a simple-minded woman but there does seem to be a bit of an ethical line of distinction between the two forms of procurement."  She paused at the doorway out of her room and swallowed, it'd have been a lie if she'd said she hadn't thought about making a mad dash down the dark hallway, screaming her lungs out and awakening every one with one quarter of a mile of their home.  

But Diana had questions and a woman's curiosity often clouded her perhaps better judgement.  She sated that logical voice in her head by reminding herself that her thief was in breeches and although she was tall... the chances of making such a clean escape were not in her favor.  She swallowed and took a slow step outwards into the hallway, ignoring his veiled thread.

"If you wanted the statue so badly, why did you break the one in Ireland?" She muttered, making her way down the hallway carefully passing the doors until she came to the third one and then slowed and paused.  Her hand on the door knob and tilted her head to look at him again, looking for something visible to cling to in her brain about him.  "I've the oddest feeling that as soon as I give you my statue I'll never get my answers."  She looked away and sighed a bit sadly then opened the door and prepared to step inside feeling like she'd quite lost a game of chess and had somehow failed which was something she never usually dwelled upon but right then seemed to be eating away at her a little.  

Edited by Diana Butler
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He followed her still close behind as she reached the third door with no retort of his own. A gesture with his hand told her he wanted her to go in first  ....

"Strike a flint to a candle" He whispered as the door closed behind him. "And then move away. I'll keep my head free of assault if you don't mind."

He assumed that she was as familiar with this room as her own so knew where everything was placed. Once things were visible and he held the statue he might well spin out his Tale. 

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With a sigh, Diana stepped into the room and lit the candle before stepping backward and waving him inside with a slightly raised eyebrow at him. 

"It's over there, help yourself." She murmured letting her gaze shift around the room boredly. If he wanted it he could get it all by himself.  Leaning back a little against the wall, she crossed her arms demurely in front of her lap and waited. 

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Without taking his eyes from her oh so relaxed pose looking like such an Angel he was quick to scan what he could see from just one candle. Soon several more came into his focus and one by one they too were lit until and the room was bathed in soft light. At any other time he might well have found it amusing - a play at seduction as it were - as if SHE was the hunter and HE the prey.

What he had searched for was suddenly into his line of sight. The woman by the door was forgot as he walked slowly to where it sat and with an almost reverent aire was taken into his hands. He turned it one side to another in appraisal then retraced his steps to within a few feet of her.

"It has taken much to have this at last. I said I will tell my Tale and being female I am sure you are like a cat and full of curiosity so  .... sit there. Tis a Tale not quickly told."

He pointed to a chair close to her and once she did he began .....

"My Father's father was in a line of Business that proved lucrative - a Grave Robber and good at it or so the stories said. Deep in the night with just the moon above he dug about the graves newly made. But those poor souls were just that so nothing sellabe to be had. He turned next to those buried inside in crypts marked out by great carvings and flourshing words. Here too he only searched for those newly laid in. Doesn't take much to open a lid after all. But he was always careful to not distrub the dead just searched about for trinkets."

"It would seem that Fate was dealing him a losing hand but by happenstance he noticed a fine tomb set back into a recess that gleamed in the light from many candles. Drawn to it he walks and then stops to take it all in. Since it was an Abbey after all bound to be Churchman buried therein and this was one richly decorated and the blink from jewels set into the wood seemed to call his name. Not stopping to think he began to use a small dagger to pry them out best he could. Managing to oust but three when suddenly the dagger scrapes aganist the wood which caused a small flap to open. Inside wrapped in a piece of velvet was a heavy small silver cross."

"Four arms tied at the ends with a woven square in the middle. Every Irishman knows it. St Brigid's Cross. Only this one was no cheap market make but by its weight clearly silver and old in its look."

"He looks then to the tomb and finally realizes he dug into to casket of an Abbot of the Abbey he's in - Kildare by name. Could that Cross be ... no. Impossible!"

"But why then would it be hidden away in secret? Because it wasn't supposed to be found. And what better place to hide it in then where he had found it!"

"No time to think for startled by a sudden bang of a door he realized he was no longer alone. He quickly puts the Cross back into the velvet then tucks it inside his shirt. He then closes that secret opening." 

But in his haste the dagger dropped and the sound echos everywhere. Thus a cry was raised and loud voices and pounding feet soon followed."

"He had to escape and back to the crypts he went. Luckly for him that coffin was still half open so he slips the velvet wrapped Cross inside and slids the lid closed."

He paused as two of the candles spurted and then went out leaving shadows playing about the room.

"He takes note of who lies within and manages to escape undetected. He writes a note on a scrap of parchment and rolls it up tied with string. It tells where the crypt is in that Church and the name of the person buried inside. He buys a cheap statue. Just like this one here. Grinds a hole in the bottom and tucks the rolled up parchment safe inside then seals it shut."

"But bad luck soon followed. He falls ill then knew that Death would soon call. He writes a coded letter to his younger son who has an interest in Mythology to check the statue for it holds a secret. He dies but that son did not understand at all and so the statue made its way to my father as heirloom. My father DID decipher that coded letter. It told theTale and that inside the statue lies the details on where the Cross is. The Abbey where the coffin is. The Location. And the Name. But somehow the statue was lost. And so began the search for it. The hunt for the real statue I mean."

"You happened to buy one in Dublin and it was 'stolen' but we broke it open and nothing inside. It was but one of many. Too many that we have smashed."

"And then Fate once again played into your hand and THIS one came to you a second time."

"Will this be the one? Or will I have this Quest forever to get what is my Birthright back? My Grandfather found it - St Brigid's Cross I mean. His son my Father should have it next then me. Now there is only me. And I will claim that Cross back."

Without any warning he let the small statue fall from his hands where it broke simply in half with hardly any sound.

There, in the light from the closest candle, could be seen a piece of parchment rolled up and tied with string.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The room was bathed in the softest of glows that was only ever achieved by candles. It wasn’t the most elaborate bedroom in the house but in the sunlight it was a rather pretty room.  It was why she’d placed the statue in here; Aphrodite needed that morning sun as she rose from the sea.  Her lips pursed as her intruder walked past her quickly forgetting about her and scoping out the room.  She stepped through the threshold and closed the door softly behind them.  

Curiosity was a fatal flaw of hers.  The reverent way he handled the statue only stoked that tiny fire of needing to know what details she was missing as he examined it, she examined him with equal amounts of curiosity and cynicism.  

His voice was the first to break the silence, issuing the order to sit down as he told the tale. Her lips thinned slightly as she fought the urge to not tell him it was her damn house and she would sit where and when she wanted.  She almost disagreed with him but finally relaxed and moved to the chair and sat down.  Cross her legs and folding her arms into her lap, her gaze never wavered as she waited to hear what he had to say about all of this.

She listened to the story with a neutral face.  Did she believe him?  Hmm… She believed he believed what he was saying but Diana had learned a long time ago fairy tales were for children and that the people who chased them sometimes lost everything in the process.  Wasn’t that what had happened to her father.  He’d decided to sink what small fortune they had into trade, they’d moved to the East Indies to be closer to his investments, and when it was time to return home… there had been nothing left.  

No, she really didn’t want to find herself hoping for a dreamer again.  Her gaze dropped for the first time at the same time the candles sputtered out and he paused, Tilting her head and pressing her lips slightly together.  The tales of grave robbers and secret crypts, of jeweled coffins and an ancient cross.  It was a story her father would have thoroughly loved but instead of making her excited she felt… almost a sadness wash over her.  Even if it was true, she couldn’t quite shake the trepidation.  

Straightening as the story came around to her and it made sense as to why the last one had been broken.  She raised an eyebrow at him, the questions obvious in her eyes.  How did he know this was not just another cheap statue?  How did he know this was the one that held the secrets of his grandfather?  

As if in answer, the statue fell from his fingers and shattered on the wood floor.  She shifted slightly, and found her gaze settled upon the parchment. 

“And what will you do once you possess the cross?” She found her gaze settling back on him, gauging his reactions to the parchment, to her question, to all of this?  Was he in this quest for the adventure or was the cross purely a mercenary acquisition?  Not giving him a chance to answer, Diana relaxed in the chair,  “You know, my father would have liked you.  Most of my childhood was spent chasing one adventure or another so I’m speaking from experience but what will happen if you find this crypt and there is nothing there?”   That was the worst case scenario for any dreamer, it was a bit of murdering their hope, wasn’t it?

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He released his breath on a quiet hiss eyes staring down at what lay at his feet.

He knelt and with a hand that sook a bit gently picked up the rolled up parchment staring at it for what seemed like an eternity before he slipped the string free. He stood and went to the nearst candle and there he began to unroll that which had been so elusive.

It was such a small scap of parchemnt but it held his Redemption. Held the end of the never-ending searching. Held his way out of the Life he led.

"What will I do?" He quiered back in some bemeasument. "I shall follow what is written here. It leads to what has been MINE all along."

"Your Father .... I see no resembalance. He it seems had no staying power and instead made free with his time and yours if your story is true."

"Impossible." He shook his head at her voicing the unthinkable. "It is exactly as my Grandfather said. I will leave on the morrow and make my way back to Ireland. And to where the Cross lies sleeping until I awaken it."

He nodded at his own words then looked at her as she sat back in apparent ease.

"You think the worst because your Father failed and that is a thing not easily forgot. Yet you are different. You would be the same as me ..... stubborn as most women are and keep to the course."

"If in my place what what you do? Satisify my curiosity as I did yours. Tis only fair after all. And then I shall take me leave."

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There was a small almost unnoticed roll of her eyes at his answer as to what he’d do.  She’d known that he wouldn’t have spent all the trouble he had if he did not intend to go after the cross but what Diana wanted to know was on a deeper level.  What would he do once this search that had consumed so much of his life was over? Diana would never have admitted it out loud but now that her search for a husband was complete she found herself seemingly lost and a bit adrift, bored even… maybe.  

Raising her eyebrows slightly, she curled her lips.  So, he’d looked into who she was.  Tilting her head sideways at him, the small smirk grew into a grin, “If my story is true?” She purred in amusement, “Now you’ve truly awoken my curiosity.  What other stories have you heard?”

His words quickly drew the smile from her lips to be replaced by her careful court smile.  You think the worst because your Father failed and that is a thing not easily forgot. Yet you are different. You would be the same as me … stubborn as most women are and keep to the course.  She held his gaze for a moment or two longer than she’d intended and then looked to her hands clasped in her lap.  If in my place what what you do? Satisify my curiosity as I did yours. Tis only fair after all. And then I shall take me leave.

“If I am different it is the challenges I’ve endured that have made me such.”  Her words were quieter almost as if she’d breathed them out before she slanted her gaze back up at him.  “Yes.” It was a strong but simple answer.  “Are you happy now? I would keep to the course.  I’d take what was mine and not even blink about it or what I had to do to achieve it.”   With a sigh, she stood up and fiddled with the rose pink silk robe.  Maybe such an omission made her sound a bit bloodthirsty but sometimes the world was not a very nice place.  She sniffed inwardly and looked at him again, “For your sake, I hope it’s everything you’ve dreamed it could be.”  And not a fool's errand.

“Perhaps next we meet it shall be under better circumstances.”  She crossed her arms under her breasts and waited for him to take his leave.  “I would see you out but I assume you already know you way and I now have a mess to clean up if I don’t want to wake the maids to do it.”

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He gave a small nod in agreement as she answered him back.

"The Tale you spin of your father may not be as True as you think - when seen thru the eyes of the adult you are now and not the child from then."

"Alas I can not say what else I may or may not have heard of you."

"You answered just as I anticipated you would. You would do the same as me and there is no shame in it."

He watched as she righted herself and drew his eye to the flower she teased and he could not help but smile.

"Lady you are I think a handful of 'trouble' yet well worth the discovery."

"And you are wasted on that husband of yours. Ah if only I were better placed .... "

He gave a small shrug of one shoulder as he sheathed his knife.

"Doubtful that we shall ever meet again. But strange things do happen."

His gaze was appreciative as he walked closer to her and with a gesture that was surprising gallant gave her a bow then turned to open the door and was gone just as quietly as he had come. 

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