2019 Winter Games

As most of y'all are aware, I'm a runner (at least, I'm a person who runs).  And in my running circles, there's this guy nicknamed The Rabid Squirrel.  He puts on a bunch of crazy races throughout the year, and in order to run, you have to fail a sanity exam.  Yup.  The first time you ever run one of his races, you are given a nickname, which is then your forever running name for his events.  (If anyone is interested, my nickname is Tolkien Ghost Bees.)


 

And, once a year, he puts on The Winter Games.  Basically a crazy version of the Winter Olympics.  And this year, my brother and I participated.  My brother was on Team Norway, and I was on Team Palau (yes, that's a real place, look it up, lol).

Norway was hosting the games this year.

 
Basically, how this works, is all the events are split into three places - The Olympic Village, The Slopes, and The Track.  The teams (countries) are split into rotations, so there are always three teams at each place.  At noon we take a break for lunch and play Yukigassen, and then continue the rotations.  After everyone is done, the Hockey Championships are played.  Then comes the figure dancing, and then awards are given.  Sounds confusing, right?  YUP.

The Opening Ceremony

The torch is handed back and forth to a representative from each country, and they bring in their flag bearer.  Once all the flags are in, the games are open!
 
Norway lights the torch.
(Kids and fire and flags and wind...nothing could go wrong here!)

Canada representatives coming in.

Palau flag bearer.

Norway presents The Rabid Squirrel himself with a gift for putting on the games.
 

The Slopes

Alpine Running

Basically run downhill as fast as you can and weave between the flags.  Simple, right?  Yeah, try zipping around those at top speed on a steep hill with lots of roots.  But it was fun.

Lots of zigging and sagging and tripping.

Even kids got to compete for their teams (countries).
 

Bobsled and Luger

Sleds with wheels going downhill.  Oh, and you can't steer them.  And they like to go backwards or shoot off the road.  Also, don't fall off because that hurts.  And getting your thumb rolled over hurts to.  Oh - and don't get hit by a car.

Basically you start at the top of the hill, the timer shouts GO, and you push off and continue to push to get the sled to go as fast as you can.  Once you cross the line, the timer stops, and that time is recorded.  Now you can no longer push and must coast to a stop, trying to get as far as you can.  One the sled stops, stretch your hand (or foot, if you ended up backwards) as far as you can.  That's where your length is recorded.

Palau Captain...no steering available.

Greenland trying to achieve speed.

Watch out for the neighbors!
 
Snowballs

So there are no pictures to be found anywhere, since apparently everyone was 100% confused.  So read the instructions for yourself.
 

The Track

Ski Jump

Fairly self explanatory.  Get a running start, run up the ramp, and try to jump as far as you can.  Wherever your heel lands, that's where the length is recorded.  Just don't face or knee plant after impact.


It's harder than it looks...

My brother showing me how he jumped to win the gold medal.
 

Iditarod

Pulling a sled with weights a certain difference, being timed as to how long it takes you.  Women pull 100 lbs, men 140, young children either an empty sled or else a weight or two.  Basically trying to make everything even.


 

Ice Chucking

Stand at line, chuck ice as far as you can.  Don't hit the cars lining the road.

 

Plunder

A game of teamwork.  There are six objectives, and you must choose a teammate to do each objective.  The timer starts and everyone runs out into the woods.  They complete the objective, and run back.  Once everyone is finished and back at the start, the timer ends.


The Objectives
I was given the task of Pillaging...

Don't be fooled...this fishy weights about 50 lbs!


Plunder Map
 

Olympic Village

Nice Hockey
 
Basically, a hockey game, played against the other two teams with you on your rotation.  The winners of the three rotations compete in the finals for gold, silver, and bronze.  Two people from a team play at a time, switching how however they like.  Try to score as many goals as you can in 10 minutes.

Norway vs. Great Britian

Palau vs. Peru
 
 
Hockey Sticks
 
Place three pucks on the four X's in the four corners of the rink.  Try to shoot as many into the goal as you can.  (No pictures...nice hockey was far more exciting!)
 
Curling
 
Play against a member of the opposing team.  Slide or push the "stones" onto the circles and knock out your opponent.


For some reason I could never find someone to play against??  So I never actually got to do it...
 
 
Hot Chocolate
 
Basically throwing marshmallows into a cup from different distances.  (And for some reason no one got any pictures of this as well???)  The further the distance the higher the points per one you get in.
 
Big Marshmallows
 
Same as above, only using HUGE marshmallow pillows and throwing them off the porch into a box down below.
 
YUKIGASSEN
 
Essentially Capture the Flag crossed with Dodgeball.  A game is 4 minutes long, with four teams playing at a time.  They place their country flag in a spot and try to keep other teams from stealing it.  If you get hit with a ball, you're out.  If you manage to capture an opposing flag, you must run with it to the middle of the course and get it to the tree with the Russian flag on it (the winning team from last year).  After every team has played 4 rounds, the four teams with the most points compete in the championship.





 
 
Finals
 
Once all the teams have done their rotations, everyone heads back to the Olypmic Village for the Hockey Championship.  Greenland won, followed by Norway, and Palau came in bronze.



 
Then the Ice Dancing and Bad Figure Dancing was held.



 
 
All in all, everyone had a really good time.  Only had to call 911 ONCE - when someone let one of the dogs out.  He took off, running through a crowd of people and tripping Susan.  She fell and dislocated her knee.  But otherwise was unhurt.



A car did get hit with a chunk of ice while Great Britian was ice chucking.  There were also some mixups about timing and how exactly a few things were to be completed.  But all in all, everyone had a great time.


 

Forging the Fellowship

Julia over at Lit Aflame created this tag, which sounds kinda neat!  (Okay, I lied...I actually stressed over these questions and stared at my bookshelf and flipped open books and panicked and then just grabbed some random characters and said this is my fellowship and we're all going to die.)(So thanks Julia, thanks a lot for that.)

 

The Rules
 
Include the tag banner in your post

Link back to the creator of the tag

Thank and link back to the person who tagged you

Forge your Fellowship Out of book characters by answering the given questions!

Tag three bloggers to pass the ring to.

The Questions

[The Ring Bearer]: If you could choose, which of the four races would you be: Elf, Dwarf, Human, or Hobbit?

Umm...honestly, I'd love to live in Rohan. (so um...human??)  All those horses (and more horses)!!!  Edoras has always been a favorite place in the books and movies.  So maybe I'd be a gal from Rohan who travels a lot, maybe has friends among the rangers and visits Rivendell?  :)

[Gandalf the Grey]: A wise/powerful elder/mentor character.

Prof. Hamilton!  Like...who doesn't want him as a mentor??

[Aragorn]: A character with good survival skills.

Leith, hands down.  Have you seen some of the stunts he pulls??  Like riding into the dessert alone...yeah, this guy is a survivor.  (Plus I just want him in my little Fellowship, okay??)

[Boromir]: A character who makes mistakes, but has a good heart.

Parvin, from the Out of Time Trilogy.  Yeah, she makes mistakes, but she's trying.  She may not always have the right idea, but we all know she's got a good heart.

[Gimli]: A stubborn character.

Enna.  Love her, but she's feisty and thick-headed and opinionated and good ol' Finn just puts up with her and they're adorable.

[Legolas]: A character who is talented.

Ahhhhh does wrestling gators, failing at Feechiesings, and causing panic at a play count???  Then I'm going with Dobro Turtlebane, the best part of the entire Wilderking Trilogy.

[Peregrin Took]: A character who at first seems useless, but ends up surprising you.

The first character that came to mind is actually from Sarah Rodecker's story The Herbalist's War, but I don't want to drop any spoilers and get into trouble...

[Meriadoc Brandybuck]: A character who is small/not very strong, but has great courage.

Brandi, from The Blades of Acktar.  She may be just a little girl, but she's brave and courageous (and maybe a tad bit reckless). 

[Samwise Gamgee]: A character who is extremely loyal and doesn’t give up.

Um, the first character that jumped to mind was Cullen from The Silver Branch.  He's a little fellow, but very loyal.  Maybe a tiny bit foolish.  But still fiercely brave.
 
I tag...
 
Someone who knows at least two of these characters...
Someone who might consider wrestling a gator...if it's a baby one
Someone who would gladly live at Rohan

January Wrap-Up

So far, 2019 is wet.  Very wet.  And kinda cold.  I've had a few people tell me that this is the most rain we've ever received in our neck of NC in a looooooong time.  (And we got snow, too.  So yay for that, I guess.)

I spent most of January chilling (relaxing...and freezing).  I read a bunch of books.  I wrote a few little short stories.  Worked with the horses around the house (since all the trails are closed because of the rain).

Also went on a tiny trip to Gatlinburg, TN with my family.  That was nice.  We didn't ski, since Sister 1 is having back problems and wouldn't have been able to hit the slopes with us.  So we went ice skating and did other things.

I did do a lot of ice skating this month.  There's a local rink we go to on Fridays, and we also went skating while in Gatlinburg.  (Also had to go for the Winter Games...I'm on Team Palau and my brother is on Norway.  The official Games are in February, but the ice skating section was earlier, to work with everyone's schedules.)  Sister 2 is able to cruise around by herself without even going near the rail, and Sister 3 will let go of the rail for a few steps at a time.  Meanwhile Sister 1, Brother, and myself are all sailing around, attempting spins and fun stuff like that.  :)

And also went to a hockey game with family and friends.  That was pretty fun.  (And went ice skating before it, lol)

In case you haven't noticed, I've also been updating the look of my blog.  Honestly, I felt like it was a little too dark?  And I just wanted something a little brighter and more cheery.  Also, purple is my favorite color.

Favorite Read of January

Defy, by Tricia Mingerink.  Definitely.  I cried again while reading it.  But it's just sooooo good.  But since it's a re-read, does that count?

If so, my favorite new read of January might just have to be the first part of History of the Reformation Volume I, by Jean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné.  I actually didn't expect to like it so much.  I was planning to only read a chapter a day, sort of on the side.  And the author started with a "pardon me for talking about Geneva so much, and about what happens before Calvin came to it" and I was like oh boy, this is gonna be boring...

Well, let me tell you...it wasn't.  And not only was it really interesting, now I'm looking into writing a historical fiction (maybe historical fantasy, since that's getting popular?) about Geneva and the fight for freedom there.  Cause yeah...it was pretty cool.  Political intrigue, torture, fights, heroes...and I'm reading a lot more a day than I thought I would.

(Or does that one not count either, since I haven't actually finished the entire thing?  I'm now on the second part in the book??)

Favorite Movie of January

At least I have a solid answer for this one!  Hands down, Black Lightning.  Though technically we started watching it in 2018 (so maybe not a solid answer).  It's one of the movies we watched while staying up waiting for the new year to roll around.  It's in Russian, but I believe you can also get a version with English subtitles from Amazon?  But it's such a super cute movie with some very good lessons.  It's kind of a superhero movie?  But really, it's amazing.
 
Daily Bible Reading Plan
 
Going strong!  Haven't gotten behind, and thankfully have gotten somewhat of a schedule down.
 
The Inevitable Photo Dump

Ice storm.
Tree down on the fence after the ice storm.

Working all 3 at once-ride Pepper and lead Spirit and Bree.

Taking the tram in Gatlinburg up to the mountain.

Winter Games - representing Team Palau.


"Story Research"
 
 
How was your January?  It's been pretty cold here in the South, but not as bad as the Midwest, so I hear...so for all my friends who have the negative temperatures, I'm so, so sorry.

Comments I Could Do Without

This idea for this post came to me during NaNo, and I very much enjoyed creating this post.  Hopefully y'all enjoy it as well!



"What's your book about?"
I'm sorry, my brain just died.

"Can I speak to the manager?"
I am the manager, fear me.

"Why is your car named The Falcon?"

I take it you've never seen Star Wars...

"How come your horses are so dirty?"
Because they roll in the mud and sleep a lot.  Lazy beasts.

"Is the electric fence on?"

Touch it and find out, because I'm not going to.

"Why is the check engine light on?"
Rule One: The Falcon lies.

"Is your car supposed to make that sound?"

Technically no, but the Falcon is very much the little TrailBlazer that cried wolf, hence Rule One.

"Do you want to go for a run tonight?"
Haha, do I look like I want to?

"How many miles are you planning to run tonight?"

I'm going to see how far I can get before I die - to the end of the parking lot and back to the car, basically.

"Are you really gonna wear that?"
No, I just showed up wearing this outfit to surprise you.  I'm heading back to change now...

"You signed up for a race.  Are you going to train?"

Um, nope.

"How are you running this race?  You haven't even been training?"
I run off adrenaline, sugar, and regret.

"Are you published yet?"

While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?

"Why do you carry a gun?  What are you sacred of?"
Nothing.

"Can I gallop your horse?"

Spoken by someone who's never been on the back of a horse until I offered to lead them around on one of mine.

"Have you finished your book?"

"This is just a ravine!  Do you really go sledding here?"

Spoken by someone prior to spending six weeks in a full body cast.


"Why so many knives?"
 

"Did you forget your saddle or are you really planning to do this long and fast ride bareback?"

Um, looks like I am now.

"Did you remember to grab your lunch when you left home?"
There was lunch??

"Did you remember to grab your car keys before you locked the door?"

Ha, yes I did, they're in my...oh, no, they're not.

"Did you remember to grab your shoes before you left the house?"
Shoes are overrated.  Socks only is the new norm.

"What else did you forget?"


"Really?"
 
"Can you stop playing that same song over and over?"
Look, I gotta learn it somehow, and playing it until I can seems to work best.  From now on, I'll try just learning a new song in one go.
 
"You know Tolkien wrote another book after The Lord of the Rings?  The Sil...the Silma-something-or-other?"
*whips The Silmarillion out of my purse*  You mean this one?
 
"Do you ride English or Western?"
Um, neither...
 
"So what do you do with your horses?"
Feed them, mostly.
 
"Is this post over yet?"
Yes, it is.  You may continue on with your day now.

Voted Most Likely Tag, Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the Voted Most Likely Tag!  (Hope you enjoyed the first one...)


Rules
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Use your own lovely Original Characters (OC’s); don’t use a friend’s characters or characters from your favorite fandom. They can be from any project, so long as you created them. For more fun, try to use as many different characters as possible.
  • Tag at least five lovely bloggers to play along!
For something a little different, I'm referenced three of the quirkiest characters from three different book series.  They are:
Betrayal and Bravery
Tach the Minstrel, Ondore Windborne, Wisdom Ravencroft

Rauladin
Fitz, Berend nae Richimae, Ravenna Castrandottir
 Heritage of Kings
Cadren Finn Fëvere, Cade Tannerin Fëvere, Josharin "Joshi" Coderim Fëvere

(Please note that all these scenes are merely written for fun and are not in the books, lol.)
Most Likely to Cheat on a Test
"I wasn't cheating," Ravenna pushed her lips into a pout.  "It's not cheating if I figure it out on my own."
"But you didn't use the correct methods," her father pointed out, gesturing at the sheet of paper.  "I need to know you can actually do the math on your own.  Not figure out the answer by guessing my train of thoughts!"
"Your thoughts are harder to figure out than math.  You should be proud."
"And I am.  Couldn't be prouder.  But it's also my duty to teach you math, little daughter.  And this time, I want to see you prove your work."  Castran handed Ravenna a blank sheet of paper.  "Answer every question on this.  Then we'll see about going for a griffin ride before dark."
Ravenna grinned.  "I'll see what I can do."
Most Likely to Say “Oops” After Setting Something on Fire

"Oops," Joshi muttered under his breath.  The flames grew higher, feasting on the pile of straw.  He narrowed his eyes, risking a quick glance at his eldest brother.  Finn stared at the flames, the corners of his mouth twitching.

"In my defense," Joshi started, but his other brother, Cade, slapped a hand over his mouth.

Finn spun on both of them, frantically gesturing with his hands as he tried to figure out what exactly to say.  Thankfully, Baldor didn't have to wait for the words to come.  "Are you out of your mind?" the old Dreman bellowed, his eyes practically blazing red.  "Who had the stupid idea to build a catapult??  Inside?!"

Joshi contemplated disappearing on the spot, but Cade had a good grip on his arm.  I got this, his glance seemed to say (at least, that's what Joshi hoped he was saying).
"And if building a catapult wasn't bad enough, you thought using a firebomb would be a perfect test shot?"
"Oops," Cade said.
Baldor was just getting warmed up.  Joshi wondered if they should have gone with Plan B - use Joshi himself as the test shot.
Most Likely to Open an Orphanage

She couldn't say no.  She just couldn't.  But as she led the little girl towards the West Band barracks, Wisdom's heart sank.  What would her Captain say to bringing an orphan into the barracks?  What would the other warriors say?  She looked at the little girl, barely five years old, and stirred up every bit of determination she had.  "Don't worry, it'll be okay."

Duren Blackburn stood in front of one of the sparring arenas, his sword tip stuck in the dirt, his hands resting on the hilt.  He barely blinked as Wisdom stopped in front of him and saluted.  "Captain?"

He turned, looking the little girl up and down, then raising an eyebrow in Wisdom's direction.

"She's an orphan," Wisdom started, sliding a protective hand around the girl's shoulders.  "Can we keep her at the barracks until I find a home for her?  I'll share my food with her, and she won't cause any trouble.  You won't even know she's here."

Duren shrugged, and she suspected that he might have smiled - if he was a smiling kind of person.  But that was the best she could get.  "Thank you, Captain!"

The little girl didn't cause any trouble, and Wisdom soon found a family willing to take her in.  But word must have gotten around...three days later two brothers and their little sister appeared at the front door of the West Band barracks, their clothes tattered and dirty, and hopeful looks on the sharp little faces.  "Our parents are dead," they explained.  "We don't have anywhere else to go."

Duren, sprawled across the floor of the dining hall, re-stringing his fiddle, only shrugged.

Wisdom found the siblings a new home as quickly as she could, over-thanking each and every fellow warrior for every little contribution - extra blankets, extra food.

Then a teenager came, his head thrown back in pride.  "I don't need any help," he announced, as Wisdom put down her broom and stepped outside the barracks to greet him.  "I've got a job."

"I'm glad for you."

"But my brothers and sisters don't have a home.  I don't have enough money yet, but I'm saving up, I really am!"

Wisdom, of course, believed him.  "We can keep them here."

She should have asked how many siblings he had, but she didn't think about it in time.

The two sisters were given the spare bunk in the woman's room, and Duren let the three boys sleep in his bed.  By the time their brother had saved up enough money for a place they could call their own, all the siblings could throw knives as good as any warrior.
Most Likely to Run off to the Circus

She took one look at the brightly-colored tent and knew she had at last found a place she could stay forever.  The music tugged at her soul, beckoning her closer; the laughter pulled a smile from her lips; everything about the circus brought merriment to her heart.  She never even heard what her brother said - she just took off running, dodging around people, nearly tripping over a tent peg, following the music until she found herself at the first ring.  A man dressed in bright colors bellowed something but she didn't listen to the words.  Her eyes followed the three dogs, walking on their hind legs around the ring.

"Ondore!  Come on!  We need to talk our seats!" Red was at her side now, pulling her away.  Her feet tripped on something, and her brother dragged her to the benches.  Caven was already seated and waiting, a bowl of food balanced in his lap, his sword propped up against his knee.

"I never want to leave this place!" Ondore declared, grabbing a handful of Caven's treat before he could stop her.  "I want to join the circus!"

Red laughed, perhaps shrugging off his sister's enthusiasm, but Caven narrowed his eyes.  Finally, he said, "I think you could make it.  You're odd enough."

"Is that a complement?"

"No," Red said, too quickly.  "Don't encourage her, Caven."

The man merely raised an eyebrow.  Ondore laughed aloud, clapping as the first entertainers stepped foot into the arena.  "I love it here!"
Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

"Berend, we need your assistance!" Raul's voice echoed through the forest.  "Hurry!"

Berend dropped the firewood and ran towards the direction of Raul's voice - towards the goat barns, as far as he could tell.  His knee twinged, refusing to bend, but he set his jaw and just pushed his good leg faster.  Raul wasn't one to cry out for help.

He broke into the little clearing to see Raul dragging the goats into the house, ignoring their screams.  Normally they would be excited about going inside, but now that it wasn't their idea, they didn't want to do it.

Sarador stood at the edge of the clearing, pacing along the broadest tree branch that served as the road towards the village, his sword drawn.  "They're coming this way, hurry!"

Berend slowed, then ran to Sarador's side.  Thankfully the gypsy didn't wait for him to figure out how to word his question.  "Undead ones are walking this way.  I've never seen anything like it."

That was the danger?  Undead?  Berend shook his head.  Perhaps he hadn't understood Sarador correctly.  He had only been speaking the Gypsy tongue for a few weeks now.

The first of the horrible creatures crashed into view, slipping and nearly falling off the branch, down to the murky water far, far below them.  Berend took one look at the pale flesh, the blank eyes, and decided he'd understood Sarador correctly.

"I can...I can fight them," he wasn't sure what word to use, but drawing his sword probably proved his point.  "Get Raul...get the door...house door."  He sprinted towards the undead, sword in hand.

Whatever these things were, they wouldn't get past him.
Most Likely to Fake Their Own Death

Jerrick hesitated for a good three minutes before knocking on his wife's door.  How was he ever going to explain this to Hilkiah?  She was a strong woman, but what would the sudden death of her brother do to her?

He knocked again, then pushed the door open.  "Honey?  It's me."

The Princess sat on the edge of her bed, a leg tucked underneath her.  Across from her sat a shaggy-haired man - the spitting image of the man Jerick had just seen lying dead on the road in front of the castle gate.

"Fitz!" Jerrick nearly fell over backwards.  "What are you doing here?"

Fitz only grinned - that old smile Jerrick had grown to hate.

"Something wrong?" Hilkiah raised an eyebrow.

"It was my idea," Fitz started, attempting to explain.  "But Berend helped.  Ravenna did the finishing touches."

Of course.  The most annoying Gypsy in existence and the stone-faced Kinsmen were perfect partners in crime to a man who liked to play every prank imaginable on his brother-in-law.  Not only did they give Fitz suggestions, but now they were helping him with his tricks!

"I was getting excited," Jerrick sniffed, trying to regain his composure.

Fitz grinned.  "Sorry to disappoint you."
Most Likely to Die and Haunt Friends

Raul threw up his hands, turning away from the floating blue person.  "Berend!"

The bodyguard appeared at the doorway in an instant, sword in hand.  He merely raised an eyebrow at seeing Ravenna's ghost, and looked to Raul for an explanation.

"I don't know why she's decided to come here," Raul gestured at the Gypsy, "but she's getting quite annoying, and I need you to ask her to leave."

"Oh, sure," Ravenna snorted, trying to seat herself on the edge of the desk and kicking it when her ghostly bare feet.  "Like I'm scared of Berend.  I'm already dead.  He can't kill me."

Berend took a step forward, accepting the challenge, and Ravenna pranced a safe distance away, jumping onto the bench by the fireplace.  "Let's not test my theory, shall we?  Now, Raul, as I was saying, I really think you aught to..."

Raul ran for the door, slamming it behind him.  Berend turned to Ravenna, his brow wrinkled.  "What happened to you?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Ravenna stuck her tongue out at him.  "While I've got you here, let me ask you a question..."

Berend turned and fled.

In turn, I tag...

Voted Most Likely Tag, Part 1

So this is such a neat and fun little tag, and I was pleased when Nicole tagged me.  :)  I love any chance to talk about my characters!  (However, this post is very long...you might need to get some snacks and a drink...)

Rules
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Use your own lovely Original Characters (OC’s); don’t use a friend’s characters or characters from your favorite fandom. They can be from any project, so long as you created them. For more fun, try to use as many different characters as possible.
  • Tag at least five lovely bloggers to play along!
For something a little different, I'm going to reference three of the quirkiest characters from three different book series, just so I don't get character overload.

Betrayal and Bravery
Tach the Minstrel, Ondore Windborne, Wisdom Ravencroft

Rauladin
Fitz, Berend nae Richimae, Ravenna Castrandottir

 Heritage of Kings
Cadren Finn Fëvere, Cade Tannerin Fëvere, Josharin "Joshi" Coderim Fëvere
Most Likely to Become a Poet

Tach leaned back against the wall, his eyes half-closed, the firelight across the room warming the tip of his nose.  Laughter and the clinking of plates covered most of his thoughts as the occupants of the inn talked over their dinners.  A chair scraped as a shadow fell over his face and someone cleared their throat.  Tach opened his eyes to see a family standing across the table from him, their homespun wool marking them out as villagers or farmers - the poorest sort in Raybir.

"May we share your table?" the father asked, sliding his hat off respectfully.  "It's crowded here, and we can't find room for all of us."

"Yes, please, take a seat."  Tach grabbed his pack and offered his chair to one of the older daughters, waiting until they were all seated before claiming the empty spot on the bench, squeezing in beside a couple little children.  He hung his lute back up on the edge of the bench, waiting until he knew it wouldn't slide onto the ground before finally letting go of the strap.

"Are you a poet?" one of the children asked, his little brown eyes wide.  "Do you write all the stories?"

Tach laughed.  "No, I'm a minstrel."

"A minstrel is a poet," a sister, probably two or three years older, corrected.  "They write songs."

"I don't write songs," Tach corrected, trying to be casual.  "I just learn ones that others play."

"You don't make your own songs?"

Okay, so once he had made up his own little rhyme, sort of a chant to sing while trotting through the mountain tunnels, a pack of Bibles over his shoulder.  He never repeated it to anyone, but secretly, he liked it.  "I do make my own songs.  They're not any good."

"Then you're a poet," the little boy announced, as if that's all there was to it.

Tach shrugged a shoulder.  "Alright, then.  I'm a poet."

Most Likely to Dance in the Rain

Marywyn tugged her hood further over her brow and hurried the last few steps through the rain, sighing in relief when she was finally under the shelter of the West Band barracks.  Harpsong filled the air, and she huffed for a moment.  The music had already started, and the room was full.  With the last of the spring rains coating the city in a shiny coat of water, people were more likely to be indoors.

At least it wasn't cold out.  That would be miserable.

"Marywyn!" Wisdom grabbed her elbow and towed her to the corner by the door.  "There you are!  I thought you wouldn't be here tonight!"

"The Princess didn't need me, so I managed to grab a cloak and hurry over," Marywyn laughed.  "Good to see you, too.  Good-even, Ondore."

From her perch on the edge of a bench, Ondore beamed.  "Good-even.  Is it still raining?"

Marywyn nodded.  A new song started, a fast-paced fiddle tune.  "Is Duren here?"

"Yes, he is.  No one else plays the fiddle like that." Wisdom laughed.  "Ondore, where are you going?"

"This is a dance song," Ondore insisted, tossing her cloak onto the bench and unbuckling her sword.  "You can't just sit and listen to a dance song!"

"But it's too crowded inside, there's no room!"

Ondore pushed open the barracks door and stepped into the rain, spinning on her heel and laughing.  Alone, she stomped out the steps to a Raybirn shuffle, her feet keeping time in the puddles.  Raindrops slid down her face, but she only threw back her head and laughed into the night sky.
Most Likely To Look Good in a Kilt

Cade looked at the mirror one final time, sliding back and forth across the stone floor in his socks, staring at his reflection from all angles.

"It looks fine, if that's what you're wondering," Jewel said, looking up from sewing that rebellious button back onto his best vest.  "Just try not to spill anything during the dinner afterwards.  I don't want to clean two kilts tomorrow."

"Joshi already made a mess?" Cade struck up a salute, making a face in the mirror.

"No, but I have a feeling he will."

The familiar horn-wail echoed up the mountain halls, and Cade snatched up the vest and stuffed it over his head.  "I'm going to be late!"

"No, you're not!  You still have time!"  Jewel adjusted the button, studied her husband, and smiled.  "Watch Joshi, keep an eye on Finn, and I'll see you at dinner."

Cade marched down the hall, stretching every inch he could out of his short frame.  By the time he arrived at the great hall, the treaty ceremony was about to begin.  He slipped in the back door and padded to his position, standing beside the throne.  His brother, Clan Chieftian Cadren Finn Fëvere stood at the top of the three steps to the throne, his arms folded across his chest, his head thrown back in that wild Fëvere pride spoken of in tales.  His kilt blazed in the blue and gold patterns of their family, and his sword - their father's sword - swung at his side.  He glanced at Cade, just for a fraction of a second, and Cade raised his arm, his fist clenched, in their private salute.

Finn would be fine.  Their younger brother, Joshi, on the other hand...Cade spotted his lanky form darting about the corner of the room as the spifling rushed to get to his place on the other side of the throne before the Forest Clan arrived.  He scooted into position just as the hall doors swung open with a flair.  Joshi's kilt was splattered with mud, and a dirty handprint smeared across his beardless face.

Cade didn't want to know.
Most Likely to Get Punched in the Face

"Look at him, eh?  He can't even look me straight in the eyes!"

Cade refused to tilt his head back to prove the challenger's point.  Instead, he turned to face the other new recruits, resisting the urge to mutter not again.  This happened every time...the new boys came in, convinced they were the next best swordsmen, only to discover their Captain was barely 5'5''.

"Look at him, eh?" Cade snorted.  "If he thinks he's so tall, maybe he should become a Clan Chieftain, since height determines status!"

The recruit punched him in the cheek, but not only was Cade used to it, he had predicted it.  He let the blow push him away, whipping out his sword and continuing to move, spinning on his heel and coming back around to point his blade at the recruit's shoulder.  "You want to start your record with an assault on the Captain of the Guard?  My assistant would only be too happy to mark you down."

Egin nearly dropped the stack of papers, but only Cade caught the movement.  "Only too happy," the ranger repeated, his low voice making the comment not as threatening as it could have been.

The new recruit only laughed.  "I'm not scared of you two.  You can't order me around."

"Just like a child," Cade muttered under his breath, receiving a firm grip to a shoulder and a punch in the nose.  The hand on his shoulder jerked upwards, keeping him from spinning backwards.  He sniffed back blood, tilted his head back, and laughed in the man's face.  The man hesitated, then stepped back to see Cade's knife pressed against his ribs.
Most Likely to Drop Everything and Become a Sheep Herder

"What on the Mountain have you done?" Baldor stared in dismay at the goats bouncing on and off the table, their little hooves doing a tap-dance on the polished wood.

"I got some goats," Finn shrugged helplessly.

Joshi jumped onto the table, chasing after one of the kids, and promptly slid across the surface, his socked feet flailing in the air for a moment before he fell to the ground with a scream.

"We had goats back at home.  Always had them.  If I could, I'd go back there," Finn struggled to explain.  "But Tallaran said I needed some kind of a hobby, something outside, that the people wouldn't think was strange."
Baldor passed a hand over his face, looking older than he had in a while.  "So you brought goats into the throne room."
"They're just babies!"

Most Likely to be Found in a Library

"Histories, histories, beginning of the Gypsy line," Ravenna muttered, carrying the stack of books over to the correct shelf.  "Gwen, did you get that last pile?  They go on the art bookcase, third row, between Rousin's How to Draw Mud and the three books on water in Havendenara."

The other girl muttered something from the far end of the library, but Ravenna didn't bother asking her to repeat it.  They still had three more piles of returned books to sort through and put back before lunch, not to mention she had invited Raul over for dinner and still needed to get something from the market if they were going to eat anything besides leftovers and fruit.   He would likely bring his bodyguard, Berend, which meant another mouth to feed...

"I don't get paid enough for this job," she spat, climbing up a shelf to reach the top of the bookcase.  "They could fix the ladders, at least, with all the money they're not paying me!"
Most Likely to Sleep Through an Earthquake

Cade jumped to his feet, scrambling for his sword in the dark.  His fingers scraped against rocks and dirt before brushing against the familiar leather grip.  He pushed up to his feet, nearly falling down as the ground continued to shake.  The camp was all awake, warriors shouting, grabbing their things, a few screaming like they thought the earth would swallow them whole.

Finn sat on his bedroll, watching as everyone ran about the camp, tripping, stumbling, falling.  His eyes scanned the edges of the trees, keeping an eye out for the trailing mercenaries - the earthquake was not on his list of things to worry about.

It only lasted for a few minutes, and by then the warriors were red-faced, embarrassed at their childish reactions to a known fact of life.  Earthquakes happened.  Even big ones.
Cade sighed, and dropped back to his blankets.  From the other side of the fire-ring, Joshi's snores rose up to meet the stars.  Cade elbowed Finn.  "Joshi never even woke up!"  They laughed softly, rolled themselves into the blankets, and tried to get a little more sleep.
Joshi, sprawled out on top of his bed roll, snored merrily.
Most Likely to Steal Food from Other People’s Plates

Finn hunched his shoulders a fraction of an inch lower and focused on serving himself more potatoes.  He should be grateful, he knew, for the food, especially after travelling.  Road fare usually wasn't so delicious as what one would find at a feast.  But, if he was honest, he'd rather be out on the road now, instead of listening to Selia's whining about her...whatever it was she was currently complaining about.
"And you never even went to her funeral!" Selia's loud voice interrupted his thoughts, and he nearly dropped the serving bowl.  Thankfully no one glanced their way - was she only loud because she was across the table from him?  Did no one else hear her ceaseless chatter?
"I said I was sorry," he muttered, glancing at his plate.  Three potatoes?  Only three?  He was so sure he had gotten four...
"And you took my cherry pie!" Selia added, her brows twisting together.  She was only fifteen or so, but she managed to look younger when she contorted her face like that.  "That was really quite rude of you!  I know you were raised out in the wilds, but I thought your father would have taught you better than that!"
"I didn't take it?" Finn was only half-listening.  Cade, sitting on his right, was deep in a conversation with Wedar, something about swords.  On the left, however, Joshi was stuffing his face with...something red and sugary.
Finn opened his mouth to scold his little brother, but then stopped.  The look on Selia's face was priceless.  Even if it meant she thought him ill-behaved, he wouldn't correct her now.  Besides, he didn't really care what she thought of him.
Though, when he noticed, later in the evening, that his cookies were disappearing faster than he ate them, he did consider talking to Joshi.  The spifling did need to learn some manners.

This ends Part 1 - the second part will get published later, and I'll be tagging folks at the end of that.  :)  Hope you enjoyed it!

(Also, most of these seemed to be the Fëvere brothers.  No regrets.)