( note: apologies for any mis-characterizations in the spirit of jotting down this quick little snippit of seasonal fun ) The thick planks of the bridge were not yet polished down by boots and still radiated the sweet smell of sawdust. Not wanting blemish the fresh craftsmanship with claw marks of an ostard, Lord Maplestone dismounted from Hopscotch and gently instructed the faithful creature not to eat the freshly booming flowerbeds around the benches of the garden. It lowered its head in a puppydoggish betrayal of the guilty thoughts it had been thinking. With a hand brushing along atop the railing, Maplestone walked out across the fresh bridge across the front of the Yew waterfall. The flowing waters sparkled and misted, but the sound from all the cascading waters was surprisingly soft and melodic. Pausing halfway across, Maplestone turned to watch the falling waters and listen to their peaceful melody, reminding him of quiet, happy times long ago and far away. As if in answer to his sigh, there came the sound of light footsteps and gentle vibrations of another traveler crossing the bridge. Maplestone turned to ensure he wasn't in the way and was met by the smile of a young yet silver-haired lady dressed head to toe in snow-white cloth and leather, the enchanted strands shielding her from harm while revealing much of the alluring shape beneath. Walking with catlike grace, she radiated with the power of elven magic and the peaceful confidence of one who could only have lived a life of performed heroic deeds of glorious good. Her penetrating eyes could make a unicorn blush, he thought to himself. Maplestone bowed deeply with a respectful wave of his prosperous blades, glorious lord to glorious lady and she responded with a smile and a nod, pausing for a minute to enjoy the enchanting waterfall too. He introduced himself and she, the Lady Blesh Terra introduced herself in turn and listened politely as Maplestone began to babble about everything from the politics of recent events to the finer hues of stuffy dwagons. After she had indulged him for a time she mentioned, with favor, having read some of his recent works that were making the rounds of the Britannia Library. This provoked Maplestone to dive into the pockets of his pack and dig out a fine stiff card of rigid parchment, bleached to a paleness which almost matched her attire. Hastily he scrawled a Valentine's greeting up it. She accepted with a smile and bid him stay a moment while, with a flick of her shoulder-length tied-back hair, she sprinted to her mount's pack and back. She then presented Maplestone with a card of identical material, signed with a playful sentiment. With a few more polite words between them, she then heard the call of duty and was forced to take her leave, leaving Maplestone alone once more before the twinkling falls. * * * "Well there's something you don't see every day", stated Tempest, watching as Maplestone spun around in the back corner of Lord Woodwalker's tiny cottage retreat on the edge of the moongate clearing. "Should I tell him the poetry books aren't here? We dropped them off in the study back home. By the way, are we ever going to get around to cleaning that place up, its starting to look like a dusty warehouse?" "You don't suppose he realizes why she was there?", asked Lord Salthook, as the whole high council watched Maplestone's antics. Noticing the confused looks from the two elves, he added "Pariah? The whole of the Northern towns are talking about him. He raced around Britannia high and low, defeated a hundred challengers and braving who knows what all else to win her the prize rose of all the kingdom. Magnificent fellow I hear." "Can I tell him?", asked Tempest playfully with a broad smile, causing Lord Woodwalker to look up from his desk with a shocked face. "Oh come on, he's going to have to snap out of it sooner or later. The least we can do is be there when it happens." "No", snapped Lord Sergonar, who had been standing stone-faced watching the antics . "Leave him be, the boy will come to his senses by the morning. Besides, it's good to see the him like this for once."