Save Sir Hopsalot! ((Attn: Rowan))
Gretta had been intending to go on an evening run. She decided that she didn't want to go to the Park and Preserve. It was further away and a favored place of her kind. Gretta was looking for a small patch of woods for a simple jaunt through the spring night air. This little neighborhood park was perfect. It was nestled against a small forest and served as a community playground for several apartment complexes in the area. There was a group of three baseball fields and a soccer field just across the small side street.
She had intended to get far enough into the woods to sneak off behind some bushes and change. Of course that was before she saw the epic battle that had just begun.
The kids were squaring off into two teams but one team was made of the older, faster kids and the other team was made up of a couple of younger kids and an older child that looked like he spent more time on the sofa and less time outside. His glasses were constantly falling down his nose but, from what Gretta could see, he really wanted to play.
"Can I join?â€ She asked the smaller group. The youngest little blond blinked up at her and considered protesting. "You're big.â€ She observed.
"I am but that's okay, isn't it?â€ Her potential bespeckled team mate nudged himself ahead of the small blond and quickly nodded. He obviously saw an advantage to having an adult on their side. "Its good. I mean, its fine. You're invited....uhm, My Lady.â€ He even gave her a courtly bow, having to shove his glasses back onto his nose as he did so. The other team's members rolled their eyes and then ran off to a very colorful fort on the far side of the small sand filled playground area.
"This is ours.â€ Her blond guide led her to the plastic fort on the other side.
"What are the rules?â€ She asked her young knight. He smiled up at her and nodded back to the other group. "We've got a treasure and they've got a treasure. My name is Jack, by the way. That's Amy and the one there is Sam.â€ He pointed to a very quiet little boy with big dark eyes and a mop of brown curls. Sam looked at least part Hispanic and Gretta wondered if he was quiet because he didn't speak English or if he wasn't fond of talking.
"Hola, como estas, Sam?â€ He smiled at her and answered that he was good. Just the one word. Well at least now she knew the answer.
"This is our treasure.â€ Jack pointed to a small rusted green and yellow metal frog. Gretta suspected that it was old, older than most of the parents around the park much less their kids. "Amy says he's magic.â€
"He's a prince.â€ Amy confirmed.
"Their treasure is Elise's dumb barbie doll.â€ Jack said, getting back to the explaining of the rules, clearly not wanting to go into a debate on the merits of the frog. Amy did huff and mutter under her breath "She's not even a princess barbie.â€
"If they are able to steal our treasure and get it back to their fort then they win.â€ Jack patted the little frog. "We'll do our best, buddy.â€ He sighed and looked up at Gretta. "If they catch you then they can put you into the dungeon....which is the swings. You have to stay there until one of your people breaks you out of jail.â€
"How does that happen?â€ Gretta was intrigued by this incredibly involved set of rules. These kids obviously played together often. "The team mate has to make it to the swings, without getting captured, and tap on the metal bars three times.â€
"Magic.â€ Amy affirmed.
"Ok, I think I've got it. So we have to keep Sir Hopsalot safe and capture the other person's treasure while not getting captured. I am Gretta...by the way.â€
The kids seemed to approve of the new name for the frog. Amy giggled and Jack smiled. "Nice to meet you.â€ Jack said and started backing away from the fort. The other team was headed straight at him. "If you could capture one of two of them that'd be nice also.â€ The last portion was said as he ran around the outside of the fort away from two older boys.
"Sam, Estancia aquÃ con la rana et Amy.â€ He nodded somberly and stood on top of the big yellow cube looking toward the other fort. Amy watched in the other direction. The rest of the team could probably over power them but they'd have to get them out first.
Taking off after the two boys chasing down Jack, she caught up with them easily. "You two, off to the dungeon!â€
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew, oh I forgot to mention. You can only send people to the dungeon when they are around your fort...cause your a defender.â€ Gretta looked at the two boys; they were headed to the swings discussing something as they went. "Which in this case worked out.â€ Jack added.
"They are going to be coming for you now.â€ She nodded, watching the two boys as they continued to discuss their plans. Of course she could also hear them quite clearly but she was trying not to pay attention because that would be more unfair than it already was. A team mate came and rescued them quickly enough since no one from Gretta's team stopped them.
"We need some strategy.â€
((OOC: Gretta is wearing a jeans, a white pirate shirt and a red brocade vest with gold buttons. Her hair is braided into two separate braids around the crown of her head that come together in the back and finish off as one single braid. Of course there are plenty of wispy fly away strands of hair escaping it.
She tells Sam to stay with the frog and Amy. I would have started more of the battle but the rules took a while to explain. ))
He nodded his understanding when she said she had a PhD in psychology. Rowan had taken enough courses in it to get his medical degree; the undergraduate work always required some basic knowledge of psychology, particularly when many mental disorders had physical symptoms as well. He laughed at the idea, though, that she didn't look like a PhD.
"We come in all shapes and sizes," he said. He'd never met anyone who took one look at him and thought, 'Oh yeah, totally a doctor.'
He listened with fascination as she described her previous work. This was the sort of discussion he could really get into. "That's so right," he said. "We see it in medicine, too. Obviously not as closely as you must have, working with that exact thing all the time, but when there are siblings or other family members present I try to draw them in an engage them all. Can't have little Billy jumping off the roof for attention because big brother Johnny broke his leg paying soccer. That kind of thing."
It was actually a fairly common occurrence. "So what made you move away from that sort of thing, to become a diplomat? It seems like that's such rewarding work. Not that your current job isn't, of course."
As hey entered the farmer's market Rowan was paying far more attention to Gretta than anything in any of the booths. An intelligent conversation about this sort of topic would grab his attention every time. He did make an attempt to glance down now and then. Unfortunately, March wasn't a great month for produce in this area; the fresh vegetables and fruits weren't what he would have liked. There were other homemade goods though. Muffins, breads, fruit preserves, even some homemade pastas that looked delicious.
He could see a table with local cheeses a few stalls down as well, and began to revise his plan toward more of a bread and cheese plate. That would go wonderfully with a good wine, too. He didn't think Cris was going to be very particular about it - it was more the idea of it. The intimacy of sharing, the atmosphere he would create for the two of them to enjoy.
Waiting for Gretta to answer his question, he bent and put a few muffins into a paper bag; they were almost like a german kuchen, with poppyseeds and almond paste on the top. Rowan enjoyed them. They smelled good; Henri made muffins like these quite often.
Rowan explained the version of attention seeking behavior that the general practitioner saw. They could both come up with many more examples. Despite her assertion that she was probably much more interested in the topic than he was, Rowan seemed quite willing to continue the conversation.
He asked her about why she went from psychology to diplomacy. With a shrug, she attempted to explain. "It was an interesting opportunity. I also love languages and culture. I still get to help out from time to time.â€ All the time. "but this job allowed me to work with my very best friend from childhood so every day is a blessing...and I receive a paycheck.â€ Gretta smiled. "I hear that most people can't say that about their jobs so I am happy to be one of the few who can.â€
She looked around the market, collecting a loaf of fresh baked Italian bread and several kinds of cheese. From Rowan's selections, she suspected that he was altering the original plan. There were some baked tarts that smelled delicious; Gretta got a few of those for herself.
"So you get to roll out of bed and, voila, you are at work. That beats morning traffic.â€ She could do the same when the work for the day was at The Den. However work still required travel; like the recent trip to New York. "So that leaves just going out for groceries and fun, right?â€
((OOC: Feel free to go back to the previous conversation. I moved on because Rowan asked her a question that changed the subject. There didn't seem to be a good way to bring the other back up again yet. ))
It was spoken with the happy glow of a person who was utterly satisfied with their own lot in life. "My partner works for Meridian too, and he happens to be my very best friend as well. Different fields, but we are always close to each other."
He could probably wax poetic about Cris all night. But that would hardly be appropriate, really, and he was enjoying Gretta's company. Anyone who could jump into a kid's game and then converse intelligently about the current topics at hand was more than okay in Rowan's book.
Chuckling as he looked around the small farmer's market Rowan nodded. "Pretty much. Groceries, the occasional dinner out, movie, whatever. Sadly we both work pretty long hours so we don't get to go out as often as we would like. We have a vacation coming up soon though, so we're looking forward to that."
Honeymoon, actually, but Rowan wasn't going to nitpick. 'Vacation' was just as well. Just the thought of it practically made him giddy though. Because going on their honeymoon meant they would be married, which still made his heart pound.
Continuing the conversation and his polite information-gathering Rowan said, "So have you had the opportunity to go anywhere in the States but Nachton since you've moved here?" He grinned a little sheepishly. "I have to admit I don't know exactly what sort of things diplomats do on a day to day basis."
((ooc: Eh, no worries, they'll either get back around to it or they won't. ))
Rowan had a similar reason for being where he was. Gretta smiled and reached over to give him a quick hug. "That's wonderful!â€ It really was wonderful and it seemed that her new friend didn't need to compromise either. Rowan clearly loved his current position; it sounded rewarding and challenging on its own merits. He also was around his partner; which made it even more special.
"Oh? Vacations are nice.â€ She smiled, picking up some blackberry jam. "Where are you going? If you don't mind my asking.â€
He asked her about her travel in the United States and Gretta shook her head. "No, I haven't traveled here much, as of yet.â€ She considered the other jars on the table and then her eyes lit up as she saw a different section on the table. "Oooh, honey!â€ Kneeling down, she peered at the various varieties printed carefully on hand made labels. "I have been to New York. The city mostly but it was for work so we did not see much of the tourist sights. We did visit Central Park. There is a lot to see there.â€
"Look.â€ She held up a jar of dark, almost black honey. "Tulip poplar. That is a local tree, right?â€
He looked up when she asked about their honeymoon. "Lauterbrunnen Switzerland," he said. Then he explained further, since it might seem an unusual place for a vacation. "My partner's family are all from there originally and there's still an old home in the family, a chateau in the mountains. No one lives there permanently at the moment so we're going to use it for a couple of weeks."
Granted the old home was a beautiful mountain house, kept fresh and furnished, and by 'in the family' Rowan meant Cris still owned it after generations, but obviously he wasn't going to say that. "My own family are all from different parts of Europe. We moved around a lot. So we thought we might take a day trip or two to some of the places I remember from when I was a kid."
That was the beauty of traveling in Europe, one of the things he did miss about it. It was so easy to visit different areas since the expanse of land was nowhere near as vast as the Americas. Being from Liechtenstein, though, he figured Gretta probably knew exactly how he felt on that score. It was like the Delaware of European nations. Well, worse, actually - Delaware was huge compared to Liechtenstein. But same principal.
He grinned at Gretta. "Maybe we'll swing by Liechtenstein for a few minutes, just to make sure it's still there. I've only been there a couple of times, but I do remember how pretty it was."
He'd told Gretta he thought it was a lovely area and that was true. With his muddled up accent, which he was perfectly capable of hiding but rarely did, he didn't think it was difficult to believe he'd grown up all over the place. He knew many native speakers of different European languages and none of them could place his accent. Even Cris, who was incredibly good a such things, hadn't been able to do so.
As Gretta picked up a jar of something, Rowan peered at it. He shrugged at her question. "I have no idea," he admitted.
Fortunately the vendor did, and it was, and they spent the next minute or two learning about the honey as well as having a tiny sample. The sweetness of it would go nicely with some of the bread he'd gotten and it might compliment a bottle of mead very well, so Rowan took a small jar of it with him.
Gretta nodded and laughed when he added Lichtenstein on the list of places to go. "Then I will get a bonus in my paycheck for helping the tourist trade. Thank you.â€
They both looked at the bottle in her hands. Rowan wasn't sure about it either. Another customer nearby answered that it was a local tree and that it was more mild than most dark honeys. However, she also said that it wasn't normally in season until late April and Early May so this was probably a year old and someone had some left. The helpful customer pointed to the more abundant stock of wildflower honey and the gallberry honey which the woman had come over to grab a jar of herself.
"Why that one?â€ Gretta looked from the woman to Rowan, giving her companion a shrug and then turning back to their helpful local.
"It works really well for baking as a sugar substitute and its also great in hot tea. The really nice thing is that it crystallizes slower than most honey so you don't have to heat it up if it does crystallize. Not that I ever have a problem with that.â€ To make her point, the woman added another jar carefully to her netted grocery bag.
"Ok then. Thank you.â€ Gretta set down the poplar honey and picked up a jar of the wildflower and one of the gallberry. She would give the gallberry to Gris and Josh and keep the wildflower for herself, or maybe she would give them both jars. Josh could certainly use any helpful local allergy fighting goodness that she heard honey provided.
"See anything else interesting?â€ The little place had more variety than she would have expected for so small a place. The selection would probably become better in the coming months but even now there were plenty of things to look at and consider.
A helpful shopper gave them even more information on the honey they were looking at. Rowan didn't mind the age on the poplar honey; it never went bad. He knew, thanks to the encyclopedia Henri, that even after it crystallized honey was just fine. He kept a hold of his small jar but added one of gallberry as well. Not that he planned to do any cooking with it, but occasionally he and Cris had a cup of tea and the addition of the local honey would be nice.
He thanked the shopper with the information and looked around when his companion asked if he saw anything else he wanted. Rowan shook his head, looking down at the purchases he'd made so far. Fresh bread, local cheese and honey.
"I might actually have to stop at a regular store for the rest," he said. He liked what he already had but there needed to be something sweet; maybe green apples, with the little bit of bite they would provide. Wine, too, something light and fresh. There were two or three local vineyards with shops in Nachton itself. He was pretty happy with what he'd found so far.
"How about you? Anything else catch your eye? There's plenty more market left. I can only imagine what it must look like a couple months from now."
He'd seen it, actually, last year and the year before. It was thriving with customers and vendors alike. An impressive array of people shopped here; he and Cris had done so on several occasions. It was the only farmer's market around, and it didn't disappoint.
((ooc: Josh says he has no allergies but that's just so damn cute he wants to squish Gretta.))
Nodding, she considered what she had gathered and tried to decide if she needed more to add to it or if the random gift was plenty all on its own. Perhaps she would find a nice basket somewhere and arrange the jars and other things artfully and leave them on Josh's counter.
"I might add some things as well...but I need to decide what I am adding.â€ Maybe some dish towels or something to line the basket. Some random quirky salt and pepper shakers in a weird shape that Josh would be compelled to use for something.
Her companion then asked if there was anything else around that caught her eye. Gretta looked at all the different shops and then let her nose be her guide. "Yes, this way.â€ She weaved through a few more tables to find a food cart that was selling hot pies and pastries of a kind that she was accustomed to seeing at home. Gretta bought a spicy meat pie and hummed with delight at the excellent taste. She would definitely have to remember this place.
"This is really good. " She held it up in illustration. "I hadn't realized how hungry our epic battles had made me. Saving the enchanted kingdom of Ashwood is tough work.â€
((OOC: He doesn't currently have allergies but they are now living really far from home with strange trees and flowers. She wants to make sure he doesn't have any problems adjusting to the local plant life. She says he might not want to squish her when he gets two salt and pepper shakers shaped like wiener dogs. ))
"That it is," Rowan said, "but it was well worth the near-starvation."
He bit into his pastry and gave a soft 'mm' of surprise. It was very good; the pastry was light and flaky, similar to phyllo, and the hazelnut was blended down to a paste and mixed with the fig for a soft, sweet filling.
Rowan glanced back in the direction of the cart. "One second."
He trotted over to it and looked for a card; he didn't see one but the woman attending it produced a couple when he asked. He returned to Gretta and handed one to her. The food was incredibly good. They didn't have a public store front but they did make small custom orders and larger ones by appointment.
It didn't take him long to finish his pastry; it was just a little bite or two. When he licked the last crumb from his fingertips he glanced at his bracelet, to check the time. It had been longer than he'd intended, not having planned to get waylaid by children. He only had a little time before Cris got off work and came home, tired and hopefully not too stressed out. If he was, though, Rowan was more than happy to de-stress him.
Tossing his napkin in the closest trash he gave Gretta a little bow. "Well, Lady Gretta, I have to say it has been an unexpected pleasure meeting you here. I need to finish up my menu and get back home but I wish you the best. Maybe we'll bump into each other here again?"
There was a time when he'd have flirted harder, or flirted period, and not been happy until he'd gone home with her number or with her - and three or four of her friends - but that time felt like it was long past. He'd thought that that part of him would never be repressed and would always be who he was. And perhaps that was true, but for a long time now the only person he'd been interested in flirting with was Cris. Even after several years together, he still made passes at his partner. He didn't think he'd ever take him for granted - at least he'd try not to.
He bid Gretta a good night and headed off to the Strip, where he did find the additional things he was looking for. He even made it home with enough time to arrange everything on a small plate, light a couple of candles, and make their living room look a little bit more intimate. It was just a small thing, really. Like playing a game with a few kids for half an hour or so. Small things could make a lot of difference in someone's life, after all.
((ooc: Rowan out pending response. And Josh is looking at the prospective wiener dog shakers with something akin to horror and curiosity at once. It's funny, I've never seen one side of his nose twitch like that.))
After finishing their small snack, her new friend bowed and said that he must part ways. With a curtsy, Gretta replied. "Indeed, valiant Sir Rowan. I hope that we will by chance meet again. Perhaps here on the border of these two fine kingdoms. I believe that I will want to visit often and watch over our new friends so perhaps I will see you here as well.â€ She smiled and waved him off with a shooing gesture. "Now, go and fulfill your own quest. May you have all the success you desire.â€ With a wink, Gretta departed as well, meandering through a few more of the stalls, tables and booths.
At the back she found a crafter who made baskets out of various materials. Gretta found a nice brightly coloured bowl that would be perfect for Gris. He seemed to like green and this particular piece had a lot of lime. Oooh, limes... Perhaps she would make another stop before home.
((OOC: Gretta out and on to more of her own wandering quest. She says the wiener dogs were interesting but there were others that were far more cute. ))