4.07 Good Morning

Taylar woke first. The dwarf's chest was still rising and falling deeply, and for several long moments he just watched her sleep.  She seemed so calm and so vulnerable.   For a minute he stared at the woman in his arms, taking the time to drink in her nakedness, there hadn’t been much time for calm contemplation during the night before. He was amazed, it had really happened. 

He reached down and ran his hands across her chest and down her back thinking that she would waken to his touch, but she didn’t.  He reached down and kissed her, first softly and then harder, but still she didn’t wake up.  He realized then that she really hadn’t slept properly while he was away. 

He thought of how to wake her and then he remembered her in the Gosling saying that a proper breakfast was the only way to wake up.  Taylar pulled on his clothes, neglecting to put his armour and weapon belt on.  He stepped out into the daylight and swiftly made his way around the town.   He started off stalking keeping to the shadows aware that he hadn’t revealed his clean face to the people of this town so they wouldn’t recognize him. Skulking around the rear door of the Gosling he eyed up everything he wanted.   He saw warm meat from the night before, fresh bread, a small bottle of mead, a jug of ale from the night before, fruit, and even a pie. He stayed low and silent and waited until the scullery maid left the room, then he was in the room in a heartbeat grabbing everything he wanted and putting it into a clean linen bag, and then just as he was grabbing the ale the scullery maid started to come back into the room so Taylar activated his invisibility and moved quickly, unobtrusively, and invisibly back to his shack.

Tamarack was wakened gently by a soft nose on her cheek.  She smiled as she slipped out of her dreams and stretched, yawning.  Then she realized the nose on her cheek was accompanied by whiskers.  Not beard whiskers, but rodent whiskers.  Her eyes flew open to meet a pair of black, beady ones.
"Eeeaghh!" she squealed, leaping up from her tangle of blankets.  Rats wouldn't normally cause her to squeal, but being woken by one was far from pleasant. As the blur of sleep cleared from her eyes she realized there was something very wrong about this rat.  It looked like it had been tortured on the rack—all stretched out.  But perhaps it wasn't a rat at all.  She grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and examined it.  It was very like a weasel, but not exactly the same. She glanced about the shack.

"Taylar?" she said aloud.  The little gnome was gone. There was a moment of panic.  Surely he hadn't disappeared again!  Had she dreamed his return?  It had been rather excessively epic in her remembrance….  But no, it must have been real.  She hadn't undressed herself in his shack.
She looked closely at the weasel-like creature still wriggling in her grasp.  "Taylar…?" she whispered dubiously.
She paused and chuckled at herself.  Surely he hadn't gained THIS much new power during his brief trip abroad.  She was tempted to toss the rodent-thing out the door, but just in case it was some new pet of her friend's, she deposited it into the rotted barrel in the corner.

Tamarack shivered.  She was still undressed, and it was cold in here.  She dove back under a blanket, mostly to cover herself in case someone should walk in
unexpectedly.  But where was Taylar??  She contemplated getting dressed and going to track him down.

Taylar got back to the shack, dismayed to see that Tamarack was awake, he had hoped to get back before she woke up.  Now she would be angry.  And what was she doing with his ferret? Taylar snuck in the back door of the shack, well back door was a bit of an  overstatement.  It was a bolt hold that had been concealed with boards and covered with old cloth.  He entered the room silently and placed the bag, jug, tray, and bottle on the floor before he cleared his throat to announce his presence.  

Tamarack spun round and noticed the stuff on the floor, but she still couldn’t see Taylar.  Taylar was totally confused, she was looking at him but she couldn’t see him, then he remembered the invisibility spell and let it down to reveal himself. He was standing before her wearing the new shadow-suit he had bought, tight form fitting black showing his clean hands and his clean face looking at her nervously but with great affection.
Tamarack relaxed visibly, but still clutched her blanket around her like a gown.  "Gods, puppy!  Where were you?  I near had a fit.  Did you go… shopping?"
"Well, you said before that you needed a big breakfast after a good night.  So I went and got one.  Sorry if I scared you but you were sleeping like the dead."  Taylar started to set the breakfast things out on a tray like the trays he had seen rich people order, albeit with mead and ale to drink.  While he was doing so he kept glancing at Tam, she couldn't quite work out whether he was looking for approval, making sure she was still there, or trying to sneak a peek past the blanket.
Tamarack grinned as he arranged breakfast for her, but her smile slowly faded.  This seemed awfully… domestic.  Normally after a romp she would blithely flee the scene, but now she had not only stayed the night but was also about to share breakfast.  This seemed uncomfortably 'relationshippy'.
But something else trumped these concerns as he approached her with the tray.  Two realizations: one, that this food and drink was from the Gosling (having spent enough time there she recognized the style), and two, that he had snuck in here invisible.  A likely picture formed in her mind.  She couldn't know for sure, but she could make an educated guess.
Tamarack placed a heavy hand on his shoulder as he came within arm's reach.  "I don't want you stealin' for me - ever!" she said sincerely.  "Not 'less I ask ye to.  It's one thing to liberate trinkets from the rich, but… Chargurt runs an honest business, and his employees work hard.  Many have families to support.  You might as well take bread from the mouths of chil'ren!"
She broke off and sighed.  She knew she wouldn't sleep well until she left an extra-extra-large tip at the Gosling to make up for this.
"Puppy… even beside that…" she continued softly, "I don't want to lose you again - to a prison or whate'er else.  At this funeral thing you found you had more friends here than you thought - why risk that?"

”I know what you are saying, but paying for things is boring.  We both have enough money to pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner a thousand times over, but why pay if you can just take it?  Everything in this world is owned by someone.  Officially the mayor owns the little dungeon we are running around in, but taking stuff from his property isn’t a problem?  Officially the cow owned that steak, but someone killed him and took it. Officially the bees owned the honey that made the mead, but someone smoke drugged them and took it.  Everything in nature steals, so do I.  I even heard one street priest claim that even owning stuff was stealing.  The longer we stay in one small town the more bored I get.  Cities are so much more fun.  So what do you want me to do, pay for it, or” an evil grin split his face “raid the mayor’s larder to replenish their supplies?”
Taylar pulled the tray towards him and sat down. “Besides I found I have friends here despite the fact that I hardly ever actually pay for food in this town.  So they must have just accepted it by now.”
Taylar pulled bread into his mouth and ate in small bites, quickly and efficiently finishing the roll, it was interesting to watch him eat. It was surprisingly tidy as he didn’t want to waste a crumb of the food he was eating.  He nibbled the food first using his front teeth and then ground it using his back teeth, strange as most humans do one or the other, not both.  “So you want me to ‘acquire’ less in Skyhold, I suppose that is fine.  We can discuss the specifics another time, I suppose.  Aren’t there more important things to discuss?”
Tam sighed.  She should have known there was no use arguing about this with someone who saw the world in the way he did.  "I like it here.  I got a home, and it's been a long time since I felt that way.  There's an expression says… don't s**t where you eat.  I think that's good advice."  She paused to eat—despite everything else, she was pretty hungry.
"So what did you want to talk about?" she asked with a small, cheeky smile.  "The weather?"
“Is that what that saying means? I had always assumed it was more literal.  Look if it means a lot to you I can limit by acquisitions to those we don’t like. My way has always been to move on after a place starts getting hostile and starting again.  But I see what you mean about having friends and a safe warm place.  But creature comforts make you soft.”
“Well we could talk about last night, about whether you guys found that other Crimson Guild member, about what to do about that enchantress, about what to do with a acid bath, about magical boots, about what we tell the guard about they ethereal filcher, about whether anything has changed or whether this was a limited time offer, about whether I should paint my skin, about what colour I should do my hair, about drinking tea as the route to ultimate power, about Jagron, about ferrets.” Taylar starts listing less and less relevant questions until Tam interrupts him.
"Puppy!" she said.  "You talk too much." She grinned and tousled his hair.  "You want to talk about last night?  You were quite the comfortable creature then."
The hand on his head moved to his cheek.  "A little softness is all right," she added.  "So long as you keep it in its place.  Behind closed doors, for example."
“Sure if that is what you want.” There is a slight edge to his voice, it was caused by the thought in his brain that Tam was ashamed.  “Last night was fun, very fulfilling.” He closed his eyes as he stretched like a cat giving off slight moans as he coaxed his muscles to stretch further. “Yes it was very nice.  It was something new, but definitely something I want to do again; if that is what you want.”
“What about the other stuff?  Are we doing back downstairs today? And are we going to kill that enchantress?” Taylar’s busy fast hands started to sort and clean his equipment, strange as he then got out jars of lampblack and boot polish ready to make it dirty again.  It was extremely strange to watch the layers of high quality clothing that Taylar wore under his tunic of rags that he wore over the top to maintain his desired appearance.  Taylar then started to conceal knifes, wire saws, and lock picks about his person often concealing them within cloth or leather and mending the tears closed.  “I need to steal” he corrected himself “buy more healing potions soon.  I used my big healing potion when the assassin demon sliced me open.”
Tamarack watched with interest as he reassembled himself into the Taylar she had previously been accustomed to.  "Yeh… I'm sure we'll be headin' back down.  The others will prolly be expectin' us soon.  As far as the enchantress goes… whatever you want to do, I'll help you out."
She began at last to climb back into her own clothes, and thought about what needed to be said.  She worried she was hurting him.  In a way she was hurting herself.  She had never intended to clutter up her fun with real feelings, but she couldn't deny there had been a tenderness about last night that was quite different than her usual rough-and-tumble recreational style.  She needed to say this to herself much as to him.  "Now… when we walk out that door we can't let anything be different than before.  I mean… this en't 'love', right?  If you want to do it again sometime, I'm surely up for it, but it's just a bit o' sport, and that's all.  You unnerstand, don't ye?"
“Sure I understand.” Not understanding at all Taylar became more convinced that Tam wanted this kept secret because of how people saw him.  He wasn’t sure if what he was feeling was love, deep affection, or simply exaltation at a new experience. Whatever it was, he knew that he wanted to shout it from the rooftops, strange for such a quiet and shy person, but he would respect her feelings, that way he might spend future nights with her. “While we have some time, how about you show me the basics of two weapon fighting? That assassin demon seemed able to strike with multiple weapons with as much effectiveness as I strike with one.”
“And I don’t know what I want to do about the enchantress.  Kill her or not, I have to get some kind of vengeance.”
"Give it some thought," Tamarack encouraged.  "I'm sure you'll think o' what's most appropriate."
She picked up her hammers and balanced them in her hands.  "This takes time and practice…." She shifted uncomfortably, not used to using weapons while in her 'nice clothes'.  "Yunno what, this en't gonna work.  I need to go home and get changed.  Should prolly make sure Ki's okay too.  I didn't tell her I wasn't goin' to be home last night, and I sure hope she en't goin' to ask too many questions."
Tamarack gathered her things.  "I'll see you in a little bit.  Thanks for a lovely time, puppy."  She leaned down to kiss him.
Taylar watched as Tam dressed and gathered her stuff together and when she came to kiss him, he returned the kiss with passion and spirit clinging to her tightly. It was strange to kiss him this way rather than the way he was last night, Tam could feel the spike of his concealed weapons and equipment and could feel his drastically increased bulk from his armour and carefully layered clothing.  She had seen Taylar beneath his masks, and had watched as he positioned each back in place, it would be almost impossible to think of him the way she had before.

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