The anticipation had been killing her. Bernardt spent a few days sorting out his business, showing her Eagle's Landing, and she took her time learning the place. It certainly was not Rhisoka, but it held a certain charm, a certain humor that her once beloved city had never possessed. She made herself comfortable and the place didn't seem to mind in the least. Soon enough, however, it was finally time to travel to the Province's Capital, as promised - and she was only too quick to abandon her new found home. Nea was so excited that she could hardly sleep, and though she tried to contain herself, she was sure she had kept Bernardt up for at least part of the night.
When the first light of morning began to stream through the openings in the roof, she took to reading, though her mind wandered more than was condusive to actually making any sense of the text, and so, after allowing him just a little more sleep she playfully, but gently, began trying to bring him back to the waking world. Kisses and nudges and eventually pulling the covers away. Nea was ready to go long before he was.
It was a long ride, though she supposed that in the grand scheme of things, it was actually quite short. Half a day's ride. It was past midday when they finally arrived. And when she finally came upon it, the city was everything she could have ever hoped it would be. Nea swung wildly back and forth between silent shock and awe at the unique architecture and asking question after question, making her own observations and imparting them to him. The sheer height of the thing, the size of it. It was overwhelming.
The horses were taken care of, a place to stay was procured - but that was inconsequential. She let him handle it and simply continued to marvel at her surroundings, the buzz of the strange new metropolis all around her. The time seemed to pass quickly and yet agonizingly slow as she waited, waited to get to the good part. Hurry up to when they would be there, in the market he had promised. He had told her so much about it, boasted really. And today, well, today was finally the day she would see it for herself.
And then there it was. Her cheeks practically ached with all of the grinning. Fingers laced with his as she pulled on him, tugged and inquired, "And where do we begin? How do you make sense of all of this confusion? What should we look for first? What do you usually do when you come? Should we find something to eat? Or are the books nearby?"
Had she stopped to take a breath? She couldn't be sure. All she knew was that she was in a city cut into the side of a mountain, and that she was very, very happy about it. That and there wasn't another soul in the entire realm of existence she would rather be in said city with.
Bernardt had to juggle a bit between helping Nea learn the new city and sorting out his duties, but he managed pretty effectively. Of course the day for them to go to Dawn's Rest was getting close and Bernardt regretted it. Nea was like a little kid. Of course he was happy that she was happy...but never in his life had he wanted to sleep in peace so badly. At one point he considered tying Nea down and gagging her but decided against it. He kept telling himself that he had slept through worse...it was a lie.
He wasn't surprised that she was up before him but he didn't care. He lost sleep, he was going to make it up, by thunder! So he rolled over and slept in a bit. But of course he had no choice and had to get up. He finished up and quickly got their stuff on the horses for the long ride.
They finally arrived and Bernardt couldn't deny that his heart swelled when he saw Nea get all giddy as the city loomed over them. He led her to the stables and their things were taken to a nearby inn built into the mountain. The room was made of stone but there was ample covering along the walls and floors to make sure they didn't get cold. The hearth was also lit and made the room quite toasty. Maybe Bernardt could prepare something romantic for the two of them if he managed to get some time alone from her.
And now it was time for the market. Bernardt had a decent amount of money on him for her to buy plenty of things for herself. She yanked him along as she darted from shop to shop. He laughed all the way over her giddiness, it was a treat to see her so happy. He wouldn't be surprised if she wanted to move here.
"Nea, relax! Let's start at the beginning then work through it like that. Trust me, you'll find everything you're looking for here and more." he said to her, trying to get her to calm down. His eyes quickly caught sight of a clothing stall which he pointed out. "Want to get a few new dresses for when you're in the city?" he asked her, figuring she would like some new dresses. Especially ones that look like they're from a wide selection of places.
Although Bernardt had minded being dragged from bed, he didn't seem to mind being dragged about now. Nea smiled up at him sheepishly as he attempted to calm her, but how could she be calm? He told her to start and the end of the row and then work the way down. It was a good plan, she supposed. Then she could she absolutely everything. She turned as he pointed out a clothing stall. There was no reason to answer. With another tug of his hand and a quick bite of her lower lip she hurried over and started parsing through.
Nea was down to one fully intact dress. One she had torn for scrap, and other had been ruined who knew how. She may have been a natural with mending skin and bone, but her skills with needle and thread left a lot to be desired. Besides, even if they had been whole, they weren't meant for Kriege winters. Rhisoka never saw snow so she had never had any need for anything heavier, until now, of course.
"What do you think of this?" She pointed out a grey dress. It was rather plain, but it looked like it would be comfortable as well as plenty warm. And she did like the button details on the sleeves.
"I like this fabric, but look at these sleeves! How do you do anything in them? I mean, they are pretty - but I'm pretty sure I would get caught on just about everything I pass by...." She placed back the second grey dress.
"What do you think about green? Though I suppose it might actually draw away from the color of my eyes - maybe a different color would be better... What do you think about red? Or maybe purple?" Nea was being indecisive. She liked the simplicity of the green dress, but what did he think? She cared very little for fashion, wasn't quite so vain to care what she looked like. But, she did care what he thought. After all, he would be the one looking at her. If she was going to get something new, it mind as well be something he liked.
"What do you think? What do you think would look alright on me?"
Bernardt laughed as she yanked him along again. At the stall he stood with doe eyes as she jumped from one dress to the other. He didn't know a thing about fashion or dresses. He knew practicality. Naturally she asked for his opinion and he started to get nervous. He didn't know a thing about this stall.
He decided to stick to what he knew and looked the dresses over with a practical eye. He looked each one over and gave a few quick glances to get a picture in his head of Nea in them. Finally he narrowed it down to the first grey dress and the green one. "Both the grey one and green one will work nicely. They feel good and they'll keep you warm when the winters come in. Plus I think you'll look lovely in both." he told her as he held both in his hands to look them over.
He turned to her with a smile. "Is there any chance of getting a better price if we take both?" he asked the shopkeeper. She immediately sparked up when he talked to her. "Let's see..." she said enthusiastically and looked at the prices of both dresses. She stood deep in thought for a second or two then looked up to the two with a smile. "Half price on each one if you take them now." she said happily. Bernardt gave Nea a smile as he fished some coins out of his pouch and paid the woman. She folded them up and placed them in a simple cloth bag to keep them wrapped up for her.
Bernardt took the dresses and thanked the woman before turning to Nea. "Problem solved." he said with a wide smile, content with getting her stocked up with some new clothes. "On to the next stall, then?"
Nea watched him as he eyed each option, looking back and forth between the garment and her frame. She had half expected him to be of just as much use as he had been the first time round (not much), but this time he was much more invested. He held the two he seemed to like, talked quickly with the shop keep, asking about prices. She seemed to consider it and then agreed to giving them a lower price. Nea watched astonished as they completed their transaction. She had never witnessed this sort of negotiation - not on such a small scale anyway. She had heard her father strike this deal and that, bit when it came to purchasing things for herself or the household she had always paid the marked price. What a strange place this was.
Bernardt held the bag with her new outfits and asked if they should proceed to the next vendor. She nodded emphatically and then started off. The next few shops did not have anything that she wanted to buy, though she enjoyed looking through the textiles and trinkets. Another dress was purchased, this time something a bit less practical. Maybe not quite so warm as the others, but it was very pretty.
Again it was Bernardt who dipped into his room purse, paying her way. Though she appreciated it and it was certainly very pleasant to be spoiled, she couldn't help but feel the weight of how unbalanced they were. He was always doing such sweet and thoughtful things for her - and what had she done for him? Dragged him out of bed early and chattered his ears off. It didn't take her long to decide to rectify this, but how? She supposed she could get him a gift, but what?
As they continued to look through this and that,along their jokes, her pulling him along as she laid eyes on each new thing of interest,. She wracked her brain to think of things that he might like. By the time they had moved onto where the food stalls were set up she had come firmly to the decision that men were hard to think of gifts for. At least Bernardt was.
Nea stopped to admire a shop full of spices, breathing in the air with a grin, she turned to him and her smile faltered slightly. She linked her arm with his, walking beside him. Did some spices bother him? She had never stopped to think quite so far. She knew fruits and veggies were off limits, but he could eat some grain, drink some alcohol. For all she knew about him, she supposed he was still a bit of a mystery.
She watched some of the vendors selling hot food with interest, watching men play games at their small, makeshift tables.
"Are there games you like to play?" She inquired with a nod of her head towards them as they passed, "I don't believe I've ever asked what you enjoy doing when you're not being a heroic knight or off camping somewhere in the woods."
They moved on to another stall and he bought her another dress that looked very nice. He could only imagine how pretty she would look in it. With the dresses all under his one arm she took hold of his other arm and moved through the food stalls. It was slightly overwhelming to the poor werewolf to smell this many different things at once. He actually gave a light cough as they walked past a stall with some very sharp spices. Though he was sure they would taste amazing over some roasted meat.
They passed a makeshift gambling table and Bernardt lingered out of curiosity a bit to watch them play. Nea picked up on it and asked him about it. "I try to stay away from gambling. Lost way too many bets in the past so I learned my lesson." he explained, looking back to her with a sheepish smile. "I'm a terrible gambler." he admitted. She asked him about his pastimes and he chuckled. "I'm as simple as it comes. I like to go gallivant in the woods or go help with some things in town, but I'm not one to sit down and get lost in books. I have you for that." he explained, giving her a smirk and a light nudge. "I'd much rather go read up on alchemy or study different creatures than keep myself busy with arts or storybooks. It helps me do my job better, anyway." he explained to her. In all honesty, the two of them were both very much alike yet also stark contrasts. "That reminds me, actually. I need a book on a few more recipes for my alchemy studies." he said, looking around a bit for a bookstore he knew was nearby.
His eyes found the book store through the stalls and with a smile he led her on without a word. A few seconds later they arrived at the bookstore sunk into the walls. "I think you might enjoy this shop." he said as he rested his head against hers, leading her into the store. Inside were all kinds of books. From storybooks to academic books. The shop owner, an old imperial as well, sat behind a counter, reading a book with some small spectacles on the tip of his nose.
Nea loved games, particularly puzzle games or games of logic - she wasn't familiar with what the men were playing, and she almost asked Bernardt what the rules were. However, he stopped her by admitting that he wasn't exactly great at whatever it was. He flashed her the sheepish smile that she had come to adore, and she matched him with a grin of her own.
Bernardt began to answer her question, reiterating that which she already knew. He liked being out in the woods, liked making himself useful. He explained he wasn't much of a reader, except when it came to things that he needed or wanted to learn. She could respect that. Not everyone devoured texts quite as voraciously as she. He mentioned wanting to pick up a new book on alchemy and with that he was leading them off further into the market. Nea followed him curiously until she caught sight of the goal: the bookshop.
She grinned a bit wider with a nod, affirming that his thoughts were most certainly correct. There were books as far as the eye could see, and as far she could tell, on just about every subject one could imagine. She started off down the rows trying to decipher the system.
Quickly books accumulated in her arms. At this rate they would need a third horse to return all of their new belongings back to Eagle's Landing. At least it wasn't quite so long a ride from here to there as it had been all the way from Rhisoka - or even from Noria. Animal anatomy, healing magic, a book on the history of Kriege, another on the flora and fauna of the region. She passed by him in one of the aisles as he looked for his own text and Nea paused long enough to stand on her toes, press a quick affectionate kiss to his cheek, before moving on again. She found several books on werewolves that she hadn't seen in the library in Noria or in any of the bookshops she had happened upon since meeting him. She flipped through them all quickly, deciding to take three with her.
Nea carried her stack back to the counter and the bespectacled shop owner. She greeted him, asked him about his day, and he was friendly enough. She glanced back into the aisles, wondering how it was possible that she could have beat him back. She excused herself, leaving her pile on the counter to go in search of him. Finally, she located him, mischievous grin taking her features as she hatched her plan. Quietly she approached from behind, and though she had every intention of trying to startle him, she thought better of it. Instead her hands found his sides, snaking across his ribs as she pressed herself against his back in a hug.
Just like that Nea was off, running up and down the aisles and loading in all kinds of books in her arms. Bernardt was much more relaxed. He wandered through the aisles, looking for very specific books. He stopped by a row to page through a book when he saw Nea come from the side. He smirked as she pecked him on the cheek then watched her as she ran off again. She was like a kid in a sweets shop...it was adorable.
Nea was at the counter long before him. He had seen her stack of books and was a bit worried over how all of that is going to be transported. But that was a problem for later. His own pile was merely 3 rather big books on different alchemy recipes and directions. He was looking through the third one when Nea's arms wrapped around him. He smiled and put the book down as she talked to him. "I'm just taking my time." he said calmly and gave her a teasing poke in the side. He turned around in her embrace to look down at her then planted a kiss on her forehead before wrapping his arms around her as well. He looked over to her pile and the old man getting lost behind it all. "Do you think there's going to be enough space on the horses for all those books?" he asked her with a smirk as he looked down at her.
He walked off with her arms still around him towards the counter and placed his books down along with hers. The shopkeeper gave him the price, a little more than he guessed it would be, and paid for it. Thankfully the shopkeeper had a cart to drop the books off at their room while they could go shopping further.
With that settled he led her out of the building back towards the marketplace outside. "You know, if you want to act like a kid in a sweets shop, let's at least find a sweets shop." he teased with a chuckle and pointed to a stall with all kinds of treats and sweets. He led her to it...then took his leave. "I just want to go sort something out that I just remembered." he said a bit anxiously. He gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Pick out what you like, I'll be back in a minute or two." he said, then walked off into a direction.
Nea giggled as she was poked in the side, loosened her grip on him slightly as he moved to turn and face her. Eyes closed gently as his lips pressed against his forehead, falling into a contented grin as she looked back up to him. "Entirely too much time, if you ask me." She playfully complained.
She laughed at his comment about the horses, giving a slight shrug of her shoulders, "I suppose we need a third horse, we can name them 'Library' or 'Lord of the Books'."
Finally, he made it to the counter, adding his measly contribution to her pile. She gave him a bit of a sheepish smile as they were given the price, half tempted to remove some of what she had chosen and put it back, but she wouldn't have been sure what to even get rid of. Bernardt, however, made no complaint, and she thanked him profusely as they made their way back to their room so they could deposit all of their new goodies. Luckily, it did not take long to sort out this business, and soon they were right back where they had started.
A joke was made about her acting like a child who had been given freedom in a sweets shop, and though she had half a mind to protest, she knew that he was right. He pointed out a stall that had hundreds of different confections and then led her to it. She had only just started to peruse the selection when he began excusing himself. Her attention turned to him curiously, searching his face and noting the somewhat anxious expression that had found a home there. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and gave her permission to pick out whatever she would like. She wanted to ask where he was going, and what sort of business that needed to be attended to right at this moment - especially one that she didn't seem to be invited to - but something in his eyes told her that he wouldn't admit whatever it was even if she did ask. So, she let him go, watching after his retreating form, only turning back to the sweets once he was completely out of sight.
Although there was plenty to tempt her in the stall, after her antics in the bookshop (and the fact that she had just gotten three dresses...) she decided to be a bit more frugal. She selected some cinnamon candy, and another that melted in your mouth and tasted of lavender. She went back and forth on whether to buy chocolate or the little rose and mint flavored jellies that were shaped like little flowers themselves. She had to admit, she was a sucker for anything floral.
He left her alone and disappeared into the crowd. He saw a jewelry stand a ways down but led Nea away on purpose. She might be angry if she found that out, but with the trinket he saw there he was willing to risk it.
Like he promised, he was back in a few minutes and a couple coins poorer, but what was inside the small wooden box in his hand was worth it. He returned to her side and slid a hand around her side as he looked the treats over. "See anything you like?" he asked her cheerfully. He looked down at her and admired those emerald eyes of hers. "I got you something. Turn around." he said gently and waited for her to turn around.
Once she did, he took out a beautiful necklace out of the box and clipped it around her neck. He adjusted her hair then turned her around by her shoulders to look at her. "Saw it earlier. Thought it would look nice with your eyes." he said a bit sheepishly, looking at the necklace and her eyes.
Nea had just begun to wonder again where he had gone off to when she felt his hand slide around her. Out of habit she moved closer to him looking up with a smile, a gentle lift of the two small bags she had already decided on as answer to his question. An eyebrow was quirked as he informed her he had gotten her something, she supposed it must have been what he had gone off to do. He instructed her to turn around and she obeyed. He draped a necklace, and clasped it, adjusting her hair to sit properly again once he was done.
She held it up slightly to see before letting the delicate thing rest again, fingers touched it gently as she turned back to him. He was being sheepish again and so very sweet, looking between her eyes and his gift, seemingly comparing the two. Nea looked down at the necklace again, picking it up again lightly so she could see (it was a bit hard and awkward without a mirror, but she managed). Eyes found his again, speechless, unsure how to feel. Finally, she found some words.
"It is beautiful, Bernardt. I don't know what to say.... you are entirely too good to me." Nea offered him an affectionate and appreciative smile, "You really must stop spoiling me. I will go rotten and then what will you do?"
She teased him, trying to be funny in an attempt to stamp out the guilt that she now felt. Dresses, books, jewlery, sweets. And pretty much everything else too. Inns, dinners, and everything else she could name. He took care of it all, indulged her - and she couldn't help but feel like she was becoming a bit of a freeloader. But he was doing it of his own accord - and hadn't she scolded him for refusing a gift the first night they met? This was complicated. Relationships were complicated. How did anyone navigate any of this? She would something, she resolved, something that would make them even and make her feel less guilty for receiving all of his gifts. That would fix it, wouldn't it?
Pushing the train of thought away, she moved to place a kiss on his cheek, settling back to the ground with a sincere, "Thank you, I will cherish it."
Nea turned back to the sweets with a small gesture of her hand, 'Is there anything you can have? Or that you would want? I have what I wanted."
"Don't get too used to it, I'm not swimming in money." he said with a chuckle and pulled her closer to kiss her on the forehead. "So enjoy this treatment while it's here." he said as he smiled down at her. This trip might work out to be quite expensive. But he'll manage, and in his opinion she deserved it.
She kissed him on the cheek and he grinned like an idiot. She told him she would cherish it and he gave her a light flick under her chin. "Anything for you." he said softly.
They turned their attention to the stall and she asked if he wanted anything. He stood with an arm around her waist and looked the items over. There were plenty of sweets that looked good. "These flower shaped ones look nice...but at the same time I'm a sucker for chocolate." he said with a laugh. These sweets were in fact the same ones Nea was looking at earlier. "This is difficult...what do you think?" he asked her, smiling at her.
A kiss on the forehead, a small squeeze where he held at her hip. He smiled and she returned the favor. He told her not to get used to the treatment, that he couldn't afford to treat her constantly, and she was almost glad to hear it. Though she enjoyed the gifts and that he always seemed to think of her, she wasn't exactly one who valued material gifts. She didn't need fancy presents or grand gestures. Just being with him was enough. Laughing, enjoying their time, even just laying in bed and gazing into his eyes in the silence was perfection and more than she could have ever hoped to ask for. She hoped he knew, that he understood, just how deeply she loved and cherished him. All of the books, clothes, trinkets and gold could disappear tomorrow - as long as he was by her side she would find a way to be happy.
As attention turned to the sweets she couldn't help but laugh as he pointed out the two different sweets, shaking her head. Sometimes they were so well aligned, so in sync, that it wasn't even funny. "You are absolutely no help. That is the exact decision I have been trying to make since before you returned. The flowers are so pretty, but chocolate is - well, it's chocolate." She gave another laugh, "Though, we did just have chocolates in Noria - so, perhaps this time, we should opt for the jellies."
They finished making their selection, paid for the few sweets that they had picked out, and then continued on their way. Exploring the market was everything she had hoped it would be, snacking on their treats as they went. There was so much to see and none of the shops they stopped to look at had disappointed. Every so often her fingers would find the largest jewel in the necklace to fidget with it while she looked around. it appeared she had found a new way to employ her hands when she needed something to absent mindedly busy herself.
They came to the end of the row and she turned to him, giving his hand a gentle squeeze as she held it, the other coming up to her necklace again, turning to him with a puckish grin to inquire, "And what else does one do here in Dawn's Rest? The shops have been wonderful, and perhaps we should wander more tomorrow - I feel like there's still so much we've missed - but perhaps we shouldn't burn ourselves out on markets just yet. So, all-knowing and all-powerful tour guide of Kriege, what happens next?"
They finally decided on the jelly sweets and walked on through the marketplace. Bernardt matched her speed and stole a sweet from her packet every so often just to tease her. He looked through the stalls with her, but his attention was more on her. In the sunlight she looked magnificent. Her beaming smile, the breeze caressing her chestnut hair. The jade necklace matching her emerald eyes like a dream. He wouldn't say it aloud to anyone, but he wasn't sure how this could be real. What did he do to end up with an angel like her?
They reached the end of the row and she turned to ask him what to do next. Bernardt finished the last sweet and looked down at her with a smile. He looked up at the sky, then back to her. It was getting late. Past late afternoon. In an hour or so it would be evening. "I think we can head back to the inn. Get some dinner, enjoy the last rays of sunlight as it disappears..." he said, then pulled her closer to him and planted a kiss on her lips. "And tonight we crawl in bed, toast under the warm sheets and stay there until tomorrow morning. How does that sound." he asked her affectionately. He only wanted to be with her, to have her close. That was enough for him. To feel her next to him and to see her smile. That beautiful smile.
Nea watched him with a grin as he finished off the last of his pilfered treats. His eyes turned skyward before returning to her with a soft smile. She listened to him, kissed him back as he moved to kiss her, liking the sound of his affectionately explained plan. She nodded and beamed up at him. "That sounds wonderful. Especially the part about crawling into bed."
They took their time meandering their way back to the Inn, whatever excited energy she had possessed earlier now spent. She was perfectly happy to stroll with him, arm linked with his as they went. She watched the people they passed, made her comments and jokes. It was always so easy with him. The conversation flowed, and their banter rarely faltered. They could make eachother laugh and she was convinced there was no better sound in the world.
When they finally did happen upon the Inn again, had made their way into their room, she deposited what was left of the treats, saving them for later, and then went to remove her new dresses from the bag they had been placed in by the lady at the stall. She debated between the two but ultimately chose the green one. After all, if they were going to have a nice dinner, she might as well dress up a little bit.
Nea gestured for him to turn around and busy himself with something else do that she could change. She did not particularly mind him seeing her, she wasn't quite so shy, and it wasn't like he hadn't seen it all before, buy she did want to get his opinion of the whole ensemble and for that she would need more of a grand reveal as opposed to him watching her undress and redress. After all, wasn't the undressing part supposed to be the fun bit? That wasn't the point now, however. She quickly undressed and then slipped into the dress. She reached up and let loose the locks from the places that framed her face which she had pulled back and tied. With a quick adjustmeny of her necklace and a glance here and there, she finally addressed him.
"Well - what do you think? With all of this green I feel like I could be spring, even here in the beginning of a Kriege winter.". She approached him and beamed up at him with a sunny smile, jokingly she continued, "Who knows? Perhaps I am spring. My birthday is the day before the equinox and I can make plants grow, so who could say I am not?"