Somewhere in the South…
Tyani's "home" hold, various locations…

Warning: Some strong language ahead…

It's been months since Tyani was kidnapped. Winter turned to spring. Spring turned to summer. In the south, it's now autumn, if not close to winter (not that it can be easily recognized as the north). Each day was difficult. Each week its own trial. Rayathess changed too. Not because he lost hope, but because he found the resources he needed (and Faranth, don't ask at what cost). He was stretched to his limits, using as much Harper training as he has to do things by the books and resorting to his time trapped in those blasted camps when he had to sink to the darker shadows that lurk in any sizeable hold or harbor. Promises were made and kept, others broken, threats and careful subtle maneuvering. Rayathess got what he wanted though, in the end and finally, FINALLY, today is the day it ends. Not by sneaky treaters. Oh no. He's going to ride right into Tyani's father's hold (with backup, of course) and right through his front door.

Tyani has changed as well. Once again, she has withdrawn. Played the part. Become the mask her father required she wear. Sort of. Her pregnancy was used, revealed when a date for the wedding was set, and the Healer confirmed it and the wedding was off. Her father was furious. Hit her. Since then she's been locked in her room. Her weight has not gained as it should, and despite her round belly she looks sunken, slender, frail. Her hair has lost its luster, cheek sunken, beauty diminished by heartache, hanging on purely by hope and the unshaking belief that somehow he will come for her.

Rayathess will not be prepared for the shock when he does see Tyani. Her father best hope he has some distance between himself and the Harper — especially when he learns of the physical abuse. "Where is your lord?" he barks as he strides into the centre hall, his usually bright green eyes now dark and hardened. His hair is shaggier than usual and he's grown a goatee, making him look all the much older and ragged. Not a man to be messed with. He's flanked by other Harpers, neighbouring holders who Tyani's father could not buy (or Rayathess bribed and threatened back) and Guards (also not tainted by bribery).

The steward looks up in surprise. Oh, he recognizes Rayathess. Knows who he is. With hardly a dip in his chin he darts off to summon Goryn, and the man - this time - does not keep the Harper waiting as he storms down into the hall, flanked by his own guards, hand on his sword hilt. "You again. I should run you through where you stand, ruining my daughter like you did. You know how much money you cost me?"

"She isn't your daughter any longer and ceased to be the day you disowned her!" Rayathess fires back, not at all cowed by Goryn's threats. Haggard though he may look, he stands confidently. "It was witnessed and by law she is a free person! She is not livestock you can claim and barter. So I am here to take her home." Without even so much as a falter in his voice or a waver in his gaze, he glares at the old holder. "We are also here to arrest you on several charges. If I were you, Goryn, I'd cooperate… The evidence against you is staggering."

Goryn laughs. "Memories can be changed, dear Harper, surely even you know that." He glances towards the stairs and snorts. "You can take her. She's damaged goods now. But I am not going with you." And he turns towards the stairs, gesturing flippantly at the Steward. "Send the bitch down, her stud is here."

Rayathess doesn't rise to Goryn's barbs. He turns his head and gives a curt nod to the Guards. The Harpers and holders with him look… disgusted by the holder's attitude. Little does the man know he just further condemned himself. "No, you're Steward can stay here. He's a part of all of this, isn't he? I'm sure your Guards are too." He'll give those men poignant looks. Back out now and save your skins. Turn against your master. "I will go and see my fiance," As is his right! As Rayathess turns to step up those stairs, the Harpers step forwards, with one beginning to state out loud all the charges Goryn is currently facing. It's a damning list from minor to major.

Goryn ignores the Harpers and continues up the stairs. His guards step forward to block anyone from following, tense, hands on blades…this won't go down without a fight. Either Goryn has paid them well, or (more likely) has their families in precarious positions to guarantee their loyalties.

No, it won't go down without a fight but Rayathess has no interest in killing Guards (or anyone, for that matter). He'll shove his way past them, giving them all a warning glare not to try to pursue them. There are several indignant mutterings from the group left down in the hall and the Guards step forwards to put themselves between the innocent and Goryn's Guards on the stairs. "Are you completely mad, Goryn?" Rayathess growls from behind, looking to either follow him up or stop his progress by barring him at the top.

Goryn snorts. "You think you can unseat me, boy? Hardly." He turns left at the top of the stairs. Tyani's room is to the right.

"I can't. The Conclave can and enough have seen just now how corrupt you are, evidence aside." Rayathess snipes at him and now, that they're out of hearing from those below, he won't hold his tongue. He'll speak loud enough for Goryn to hear and maybe Tyani will pick up on his voice. "You're as twisted and power mad as Laris was," Pride before the fall! Rayathess' tone says it all, speaking volumes of how he feels about Goryn. Despicable.

Goryn just keeps walking, slamming his office door closed. And locking it behind him. Locked. Just like Tyani's room is - from the inside and the outside.

Rayathess sighs and swears under his breath, glaring daggers at that slammed door. Oh well, not his problem now. Goryn can go hang himself, for all he cares. Remembering his last visit here, he'll find Tyani's door easy enough. He can unlock this side and he knocks, trying not to put too much force behind the gesture. "Tyani?" he calls to her. "Unlock the door, dearheart. It's me! I've come to take you back home. He can't hurt you or stop us."

"Rayathess?" Tyani's weak, thin voice calls through the door. "Unlock it. Unlock it now, Falta!" There is quiet murmuring, soft, pleading, and then silence. "She won't unlock it…"

Rayathess runs his hands flat along the door, trying to see if there's something he can do on his end. He can hear Tyani's weakness and it has the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. "Falta, open this door!" he barks. "Goryn has released her. He's facing arrest! There are more Harpers downstairs, as well as holders and our Guards. Don't make me bring them here with an axe, so help me Faranth, I'll do it!"

A scared squeak of protest and more silence. Then rustling, and a key in a lock, clicking open before the knob turns and someone struggles to open it.

"Careful," Rayathess warns as he's not sure who is on the other end. Falta he could care less about but Tyani he doesn't want to hurt. He'll try to push open the door and step into the room, his eyes searching.

And there she stands. Weak. Frail. Ill looking, but with that rounded belly. She looks at him with sunken eyes, lips parted, searching for his gaze as her breath hitches in her chest.

Rayathess's breath catches as well and he'll stand frozen in front of her. Shock is evident on his face but he hasn't even registered half of her condition. "Tyani… what has he done to you?" he breathes and that seems to snap him out of his state of shock. He strides to her, gathering her in his arms to hug her as fiercely as he dares. It's only then that he'll feel not only how thin she is but the rounded belly barring him from holding her tight and flush to his body. "—- what?" Looking down, his eyes widen and then darken as his mind jumps and leaps to a sinister conclusion. "Who touched you?" he whispers gruffly but there is anger there. Not at her, but at the guilty man who he THINKS has impregnated her. "Was it one of those thugs?"

Tyani weeps, falling weakly into his arms, her body trembling, shaking, unable to support herself. "My father…" she whimpers.

"… Goryn? Goryn!" Rayathess' anger is so swift, so fierce that for a moment he does grip her a little too tight. He supports her without question, but it's bound to be uncomfortable despite it being his attempt in being protective. So very, very protective. "He would be so sick as to… to do this to you? To… touch his own…" No, he can't even say it out loud. If he could, he'd storm that man's room right now and kill him with his bare hands. That much can be seen in his eyes and the way his jaw sets. He won't move though, not with Tyani so frail and weak. "We need to get you out of here." he whispers gruffly and kisses the top of her head. "Far away from here. Home. Safe."

Tyani whimpers when he squeezes her too tightly, flinching away and trying to stand on her own again. "He…he hit me when he found out…" she whispers, maybe clarifies, as a hand goes to her belly. "When we ruined his plans…" There is a tiny, tiny spark of defiance in those words.

Rayathess lets her go but he's puzzled by her flinching away from him. He'll hover by her protectively and possessively too. "He HIT you?" Oh, now his temper flares again, cheeks flaring hotly. His hands had begun to curl into fists but something Tyani says sinks in. He wavers, literally, as he feels reality take another lurching twist. "We… ruined his plans? How did we?" Oh. OH! His jaw drops a bit and he looks down at her belly. "The child is mine? Ours?" Duh, Rayathess.

Tyani bites her lower lip and she looks up at him, a small glimmer of love in her eyes. A small spark of excitement. "Ours," she whispers. Surprise? But a moment later she's wavering again, recent events taking their toll on her already weakened body.

Give him a moment! Rayathess' mind is reeling and he's struggling against the urge to just sweep her up and kiss her as fiercely as he had hugged her moments ago. He's still trying to absorb the shock when she wavers and he steps in, reaching out to steady her against his body. Then he takes a better, longer look at her and it sinks in just how weakened she is. How rough her condition is. "Damn it." he growls under his breath. "I'm going to kill him for what he's done." He means it. Only it won't be today. "We need to get you out of here." His voice has softened and he starts to walk her towards her bedroom door. "I'll get you far away from here. Safe."

Tyani has nothing to say to that, she just closes her eyes and leans against him. "Please," she whispers. "Please, Rayathess…I don't…I'm…" Weak.

Rayathess doesn't realize he even muttered the thought of killing her father out loud. She can bring that up later, if she remembers. "Shh, it's alright. I'm here. I'm going to help you." How he wishes he could have been here sooner! Holding her close, keeping most of her weight braced against him, he'll lead her out and carefully towards the stairs.

Tyani shuffles along slowly, her body trembling with the sudden emotion and exertion. "I'm hungry," she whispers. "And thirsty. Rayathess, how are we getting home?" She can't between…

Rayathess takes it slow and cautiously and he'll glare at those Guards if they're still blocking the stairs. "Move!" he'll snarl to get them out of the way. He doesn't mean to, but the other Harpers and holders will see Tyani's condition. Further set her father's charges against him. All Rayathess wants to do is get her away. So very far away. But she has a point… "I know, love. Do you need to sit? We can have some water brought." Food too, while he tries to sort out just how to get her safely anywhere. "I — I know of somewhere safe here in the south. It's an island. Fort owns it." It's full of rogue Fortian riders, but y'know… "No way your father can touch you there. It's watched over by a goldrider." A not-so nice one but Rayathess has handled Jajen before. Turns before she was even Jajen and was nothing more than the mousey plain girl Jajenelja and one of Laris' puppets.

Tyani is torn, and in the end she shakes her head. "No, no. I want to leave my father's house, Rayathess. For good." Again.

"We'll get you something to drink and eat regardless. It'll be a fair distance to travel." Rayathess murmurs and as he's approached by his colleagues he'll talk urgently with them. Will anyone in the hold help? Even if to get Tyani some supplies.

No. They are too afraid. Anything they want they'll have to take while Tyani leans weakly against Rayathess.

Rayathess grits his teeth and tries not to start shouting at Goryn's holders. It'd probably go very poorly if he started accusing them of all being spineless cowards. Luckily for Tyani, the holders brought to witness this sordid affair take pity. "My hold is not far from here. If she can withstand riding for half a candlemark, we'd be at least rid of this place and I can have a wagon prepared for the next day while she rests… Our Healers are good too." he offers, looking from Rayathess to Tyani. It's her call.

Tyani looks to the holder and she slumps against her fiance. "Please," she murmurs, looking from him up to Rayathess. "Let's go…"

Rayathess steadies Tyani but he'll nod his head curtly to the holder. "We'd be forever in your debt," he tells the man. "Give me the directions and we'll be on our way. I'll leave Goryn to the rest of you. See that he pays for his crimes." Because if he gets free or isn't arrested and under trial by the time Tyani is safe and recovered, Rayathess is coming back to finish the job himself and NOT by the books. "We're going." he assures her before gently leading her outside. It's chilly, so she'll soon find his riding jacket being slipped onto her as he walks her to where she has his stallion tied. Checking the saddle and girth, he'll untie the reins and then carefully help her into the saddle, cautious to keep her sidesaddle — like a proper lady. He'll slip in behind her, adjusting her so that she's secure against his body and the saddle too. "You sure you can handle this?" Rayathess whispers, worry heavy in his voice.

Tyani moves silent and slow, and when Rayathess is behind her she slumps back against him. "I have to," she whispers. "I can't stay here another minute…"

Rayathess nudges his stallion into a walk, not daring to make the runner move any faster than that. He isn't sure how much bouncing and jostling Tyani can handle, even though the runner has a smooth gait. "You won't ever have to see it again, Tyani. Never… Just — try to rest, okay? I've got you."

He shipped his stallion down south? Tyani just nods, a soft exhale the only indication that she's slipping into a doze until she goes limp in his arms.

Yes he did. If he was going to be down south for so long, it'd be easier for him to bring his own stallion than to purchase another runner or keep renting some. Plus he trusts this runner. Rayathess keeps the pace as steady as possible as he follows the directions given to him. He will only wake her once they've arrived and he's told those who come to greet them who he is. The holder sent his firelizard ahead, so the Steward was waiting. "Tyani? You have to wake up. We just have to get to our room." he whispers softly as he begins to move. Not to dismount, but to gently help her down and into the waiting hands of concerned folk. Not that Rayathess leaves her alone for long. A few crisp orders on the care of his runner and tack and he's possessively hovering by her side again.

Tyani stirs awake, but she's sluggish and silent as she moves down, needing all the help she can get and leaning heavily on those that help her. But she gravitates more towards Rayathess, of course, seeking the comfort and security of him.

No one forcibly holds her back from going to Rayathess' side. He keeps her close and they're lead straight away to the guest quarters. It's nothing grand or opulent, but it's safe and warm and clean. Leading her to the bed, he will sit her down and start to gently undress her. "They're going to let the Healers in soon. Just for a little bit, okay? I've got to speak with the Steward, but I'll be right outside that door."

Tyani is pliable in his hands until he says he's going to be leaving and Healers are arriving. With a sudden, surprising strength, she grips his arm. "Don't leave me alone with someone else," she whispers hoarsely, eyes wide and fearful, almost wild.

Rayathess rests his hand over hers, surprised by her reaction but immediately he moves in to comfort her. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he'll lift his hand to cup her cheek. "Okay, Tyani. Okay, I won't go. I won't. I'll stay right here if that's what you want." he reassures her.

Tyani nods, closing her eyes and dipping her head again, a hand moving to touch her belly. "Don't leave me alone," she whispers, her hand moving softly. "I don't know if the baby is okay," she whispers then, not looking up at him. "Father never had a Healer to look at me…"

"I'm not going to," Rayathess reassures her but he goes silent as he looks down to follow her hand moving to touch her belly. He's STILL processing this! His brows knit and his concern deepens, along with his urge to strangle Goryn and make him suffer in unimaginable ways. Instead, he just exhales heavily and leans in to kiss her forehead. "It'll be alright." It has to be, right? "You'll be alright. Both of you…" Yeah, that's still so STRANGE to him. "I'm going to call the Healers in now, okay?" He warns her, before doing just that. Maybe it's luck that they're women, both of them, as they step inside. One Journeyman and one Apprentice as her aid. Rayathess is true to his promise, staying close to her but out of the way of the Healers.

Tyani is nervous during the checkup, looking to Rayathess most of the time, watching him and taking comfort in his presence. The Healers are kind, soft spoken and talking amongst themselves. "You need to rest and you need to put on weight. That baby is taking all you have and pretty soon you'll be out of things to give. So eat. Rest. Drink plenty of water. And you really shouldn't travel…"

"Can she travel by land if she is resting in a covered wagon?" Rayathess asks them. He's listened quietly while they've examined Tyani, most of his focus on her and keeping her calm. Now though, he needs to know just how fragile her health is. If he could, he'd take her FAR away from these lands. No doubt his plan was to bring her to Stonehaven. No chance of that now.

The Healers confer and then shake their heads. "Not now. Not until she's more stable. Put on weight. She really should stay here…" Tyani, at that, looks relieved and then worried, reaching for Rayathess' hand. "What if he comes for me?"

Then Goryn dies. Rayathess doesn't say it out loud but he's seriously entertaining the idea, nursing it. He nods to the Healers to show that he understands. He doesn't like it, but he understands and so they're dismissed, unless they've medicine to leave or further instruction. "He wouldn't dare openly oppose another holder. Your father is too much of a coward for such an act. I'll be here too and so will the Guards. We're not among your father's allies, dearheart."

Tyani shivers, waiting until the Healers are gone before she begins to cry, soft, exhausted tears. She doesn't cry long before she's dropped into a deep sleep. A healing sleep, but one that will not last long due to her hunger and her thirst.

Rayathess' heart breaks to see her cry again and to really begin to see just how changed she is from her imprisonment. He does his best to sooth her while she cries and when she drops into a deep sleep he will tuck her in and let her rest. He doesn't leave the room, but he will ask that food and water be brought in. He also asks for pen and paper. Before he can write his letter though, she wakes up and he is instantly back at her side. "I've water here and some fresh food. Here," He holds out a glass of water to her first.

Tyani is momentarily frightened when she wakes, until she remembers where she is and who she's with. Sitting up slowly, weakly, she reaches for the water with a trembling hand. "Thank you," she whispers, her eyes seeking his, wide and scared.

Rayathess steadies her hand and helps her take those first few sips. Once she's done with the water, he'll set it aside for her while also pulling the tray of food closer if she wants it. Most of it is very simple fare. Orders from the Healers, no doubt. A thick, hearty soup and some flat bread, both which should be easy on her stomach. Seeing her scared look, he tries to look reassuring though his concern shows through, along with a myriad of conflicting emotions. "You okay?" Stupid question, he knows that.

Tyani shakes her head. "I don't know," she whispers, honestly. "I hope so. I…I worry about the baby. I worry about Father."

"The Healers didn't seem too worried? If you or the baby were in danger, they'd still be hovering over you right now." Rayathess tells her and it's hard to say if he's reassuring her or more himself right now. As for her father, his expression darkens. "Goryn won't ever touch you again. He has bigger concerns… and if he weasels his way out again then I'll take care of it."

Tyani closes her eyes. She doesn't ask for clarification. She doesn't need to. "How long will we stay here?"

Rayathess is thankful that she doesn't pry into his words. He picks up a piece of bread, softening one end of it in some of the broth before handing it to her. Eat? "Until they say you're strong enough to travel. We can't go north until the baby is born… but Drake's Lake would be a safe place to go."

Tyani nods slowly as she carefully nibbles on the bread. "And that's a safe place?"

"As safe as it can be. There are holder folk who tend the herds there but a Fortian goldrider resides there too. Goryn would be insane to try threatening you again." Rayathess assures her again and looks relieved when she nibbles at her food. He falls silent, his eyes downcast and expression withdrawn.

Tyani shifts on the bed. "Lay with me?" she asks, watching him. "What's wrong, Rayathess? I'm…how…I'm sorry…"

Rayathess does as she asks and without little hesitation. He only pauses to undress, slipping out of his dusty travel clothes before carefully stretching out beside her. "Don't be sorry. None of this is your fault. I just…" He frowns, silent again as he tries to piece together his thoughts. It doesn't work, they scatter and so do his words. He looks frustrated. "I should have challenged your father earlier. I KNEW it was him…" So there's guilt. So much guilt.

Tyani turns to look at him, her own expression…clouded. "Why did you wait?" she asks softly.

"Because I needed proof. If I went to your father without it, he'd just remove me. I tried to get the Hall involved but they were reluctant." Rayathess explains and he doesn't mask his frustration with that either. "I even went as far as coming south and hiring riders… an exiled one and a few independent ones… to help me track down those men your father hired. Not a day went by that I didn't think of you, Tyani. Had I known… how bad it was, how bad he treated you…" He reaches across to touch her. A gentle and loving touch.

Tyani shifts beneath his hold, reaching to twine her fingers with his. "I never lost hope," she whispers.

Rayathess twines his fingers with hers and his grip is firm but not crushing. "And neither did I." he whispers back and again his eyes sweep over her body, noting the changes and not just her pregnancy. "Was he starving you?"

Tyani closes her eyes, unable to watch his reaction to her body. "He ignored me completely once he found out. I…probably could have gotten more food if I'd demanded it from my caretakers."

Rayathess frowns and then scowls, his jaw tensing as he struggles with his anger again. "So he willingly ignored your health and that of your… our… unborn child?" Chalk up some more charges against the man!

Tyani shrugs slightly. "He didn't care about me once he discovered he couldn't marry me off to expand his holdings."

"Bastard!" Rayathess swears in a low growl. He's not going to mask his hatred for her father right now. With a sigh, he nuzzles her gently and he will let go of her hand but only so he can wrap his arm around her and hold her close. Possessive. Protective. "He's going to pay for this. For everything."

Tyani leans softly against him with a small shiver, letting her body rest. "I don't know how to feel," she admits quietly, to his admission.

Rayathess grimaces, "I know he's your father, but I can't forgive him for what he's done. He's…" A very corrupt man. "I'm sorry, Tyani." Should they speak of other things? He's silent for a long time before he speaks up again. "We're going to have a child." Delayed shock, anyone?

Tyani closes her eyes. "I don't want to know what happens to him," she finally whispers, pained but firm in this decision. Then, a happier topic. Hopefully. "We are…"
"You won't have to know." Rayathess tells her but fails to recall that she may be needed to stand trial as witness should her father face his charges. Happier topics! Blinking, he takes a moment to absorb the thought again but he can only look dumbfounded. His hand lifts… and hesitantly lowers so that his fingers brush against her rounded belly. "… are you happy with this?"

Oh, won't that be fun? Tyani's eyes follow his hand down to her belly and she bites her lower lip. "I don't know," she finally admits quietly. "We were going to wait…"

Rayathess exhales slowly. That thought had been on his mind too and he's relieved that she voiced it first. Frowning, he's quiet again and thoughtful. "We were but… we never planned for this to happen." Her kidnapping, mostly. Not the pregnancy. "It's… It doesn't have to be a bad thing? I will still marry you. We can still be married?"

Tyani looks briefly alarmed. "You thought about not marrying me over this?" What's with the 'I will' and the question mark?

"No, that's not what I meant!" Rayathess is equally as alarmed as he turns on his side and looks down at her, propped up by one arm and the other reaching back so that his hand rests on her hip and thigh, firm (and possessive as always). "I've thought about marrying you since… for a long time. I didn't forget, not even when I was hunting for the proof I needed to challenge your father and bring you home to me. I just… I meant, did you want to wait until you have the child or go ahead? Because we can marry the moment you're strong enough."

Tyani looks relieved, her body sagging. "Rayathess…" she whispers, seeking to cover his hand with hers. "Let's not wait. Let's get married. Now. I'm tired of waiting. I want to be yours."

Rayathess can't even utter a single word, she shocks him so completely. "Here? Are you sure? What of the ceremony…?"

Tyani shakes her head. "I don't care about the ceremony. I don't…I don't care about anything but you."

Rayathess doesn't argue further. He just leans in and kisses her soundly. "Then we'll be married. Tomorrow. You need to rest and recover. Eat, dearheart." he pulls the tray closer again. The soup should be nicely cooled by now.

Tyani is satisfied, and she finally shows some interest in the food he's brought for her.

Rayathess looks equally as pleased when she begins to eat. "I love you." he tells her and he means it. Slowly but surely, it's all sinking in. He has her back! She's safe. Alive! And pregnant… That will hit him like a brick wall later. Ezra might get a very rambled, scribbled letter later. "Do you want a bath? I have to let our hosts know ahead of time. The water needs to be heated and brought to the tub…" Plumbing. They do not have it.

Tyani shakes her head. "No. I'm clean, at least…" Just hungry, and tired, and it shows as each mouthful takes longer and longer to be eaten.

"I might have one. I've been travelling…" Rayathess does look a bit ragged and rough. When she seems finished with the food, he offers to set the tray aside. "Better?" he asks softly.

Tyani nods a bit. "Yeah," she whispers, fighting another yawn.

Rayathess chuckles. He can't help it! Leaning in, he kisses her again and then sits up, gently arranging the blankets snuggly around her. "You should sleep. I'm going to bathe and take care of a few things…" And then join her. For the first time in months! Before she can protest, he is swift to reassure her. "I won't leave you. I'll be here in the room, okay?"

Tyani nods. "Don't leave," she whispesr, shifting her body a bit and then rolling over onto her side. A hand reaches for his, wanting to touch him until she falls asleep.

"I won't leave you," Rayathess assures her again and takes her hand, squeezing it firmly and staying seated there beside her until she sleeps. He'll wait until she's out soundly before he moves and quietly he'll go about his business. Note by firelizard has bath water brought up but he'll let no one into the room. The buckets are left outside the door and he'll take care of the rest. He doesn't lounge or soak, bathing swiftly and then sending their clothing off to be cleaned and returned. Checking on Tyani and if she sleeps, Rayathess will grab his writing tools and some paper and scrawl a quick letter to his brother. Shortly after that he falls into an uneasy sleep. Tomorrow will be another day… but at least he has Tyani back (and a lot more).

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