The Run of Magic
The fragrance of the fields were so uniquely pleasant. Coming from a city that produced only corruption and waste in large quantities the fresh smell of the food in it's natural home was a wonderful thing to savor. Sammael wished he had more time to do just that. Right now the theiving mage did little more than run, eat, and sleep. When he found a horse to steal life was easier for awhile, but they always seemed to find him. It wasn't that the emerald haired man was a gifted thief and had robbed the wealthy blind. It was how he robbed them blind that worried them. Magic, in the East, was forbidden in most lands and nearly extinct as far as the public knew. Using this gift a little too much led them on and gave them the backing of any land they crossed, the Templar Agents. It was their duty to snuff out magic when it came around.
Now the only source of magic was in the middle of a farm, laying down in the tilled soil, enjoying the cool sensation on his back and the scents around him. He would pick some, of course, before heading out. For now, however, he simply played with the wind, twirling it into a small twister above his head, gathering leaves into the little dance they would do. With a sigh, he let them fall, covering himself with the foliage. "hoh, hum... another day of traveling ahead." he said to himself before drinking the rest of his water-skin dry.
Astrid let out a sigh of relief, and tucked a well-worn book into the pocket of her apron. "Mama, I'm going out!" She called, picking up a small bundle wrapped in faded blue-checkered cloth. It was midday, spring, and she was taking a well-earned break. Papa was talking a bit of a nap, and her brothers had been sent to town for the day, so Astrid was taking the opportunity to have her meal outside in the warm sun.
She rushed out of the cottage before her mother had a chance to answer her and headed up to the fields. Most things were still growing this early in the season, but they had been able to harvest peas, turnips, onions, the first of the carrots - while they were small and still sweet - and their strawberry crop was particularly bountiful this year. Astrid fully intended to pick a few to bring home for their dessert tonight before heading home. They would sell the extra in town, and she hoped it would mean some ribbon, or perhaps a new book, for herself.
Her steps faltered as she reached the field. There seemed to be someone laying there. Was it a thief, come to steal their harvest? But why would they be laying there? Perhaps they were hurt? She rushed up to the body - a young man, she saw, looking to be the age of her elder brother - "Are you hurt?" She asked as she reached him, kneeling beside him and setting her lunch upon the ground.
Enjoying the coolness of the water Sammael allowed it to stay in his mouth, swishing it around. It was a comforting feeling, similar to that of the wind or the ground. What was less than comforting was the random voice that began to speak to him out of nowhere. This sent him into a coughing fit as the water got caught in his throat on the way down by the surprise. Elite warriors were after him, yet a girl was able to glide over without any attention drawn to her? It was practically pathetic on his part. He watched her as he coughed, covering his mouth with the tail of his cloak to contain the noise. After a moment Sammael removed the cloak with a drained look on his face. "Well, now I feel a little under the weather." he said in a tone that was much harsher than his mood really was. Feeling that he wasn't going to be able to enjoy the tilled earth much longer he dipped one hand underneath the soil for a moment, taking in the soft chucks of dirt that he held. "Is there a problem with a man getting some shuteye? All the peace and quiet in the world ruined in a single moment. You know, a simple wandering entertainer could do with a few less disturbances like that. Now, if I was a bandit or some hooligan I can see you getting your knickers in a bunch..." he continued to mutter to himself, completing a facade of mock self-importance and arrogance. It was better this way. If he was chased off or she left him alone, at least if the Templars came by they could claim innocence of helping him. Sammael couldn't bear more damage like the last family that took him in.
Astrid sat back on her heels, frowning slightly. She pursed her lips. "And that traveling performer happened to think our field was a good place to rest? You're lucky neither my brothers or father caught you. Performer, thief, or bandit wouldn't matter to them. You're on our lands, and likely to steal part of our harvest."
She looked him over carefully. He looked like he had been traveling a lot. And could do with a good meal or ten. Well, Mama always did pack too much for one person to eat for lunch. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and picked up her bundled lunch, setting it upon her lap and slowly untying the fabric. There was bread and cheese and a few slices of baked ham, the good bits with Mama's special apricot glaze. "You need something to sweeten your mood." Astrid said, as she started to divide her lunch into two piles. She placed a smaller pile on a cloth napkin, then set the larger pile - still on the cloth - on the man's lap. She stretched her arm out, reaching over him and picking a few ripe strawberries that were in reach, coming back with a small handful. She added a few berries to both their piles, before popping a berry into her mouth. She hummed in pleasure at the sweetness, and gave the man a bit of a smile.
Sammael laughed at her comment about stealing the harvest. "Haha, okay, you got me." he said, sitting up all the way. Before he continued speaking she interrupted by dropping a hefty amount of food on his lap. He was going to protest, but again, he was silenced simply by her actions. She leaned over him to pick a few berries nearby and dropping them onto the pile. Looking down at the food before turning his face towards the fields around Sammael let out a grunt of annoyance. Nice people were aggravating. They put themselves in danger too much. The trouble was, now that the food was offered and in front of him, it was harder to resist compared to when it was just growing a few feet away. Seeing her pop one in her mouth he allowed a small smirk. Her happiness at such a simple pleasure was interesting. It defined people's character, the ones who were like that. Looking at the food he gingerly picked up a berry and inspected it a foot from his face. "...alright, I guess I should be fair. I am a thief of sorts. I was actually doing a good job of ignoring your harvest until you popped half of it in my lap too!" he said, giving her a half accusing glare. "But I wouldn't have taken your food anyways." he said with a shrug, putting the whole strawberry in his mouth. "Honestly," Sammael said, chewing between words, "I only steal from those with too much. And you guys seem to be fairly even, not drowning in abundance, so I would've went through and took nothing."
Sammael put a piece of cheese in his mouth, staring off at the fields. "You shouldn't have helped me. Now when they come through you'll get in trouble." Sammael said, running his fingers through his grass colored hair.
Smiling at his words, Astrid shrugged. "We do well enough. Enough that I can spare you a few berries, at least." The wind blew across them, bringing with it the scent of earth and the sweet smell of strawberries.
"You shouldn't have helped me. Now when they come through you'll get in trouble." Her smiled faded as she watched him look over their fields.
She tilted her head and looked at him, locks of brown hair stirring in the breeze. Her hair ribbon floated up to lightly kiss her cheek. "All I did was share my meal. I don't know how that could be considered helping when it looks like you could use at least another ten good meals." She paused. "And what do you mean, trouble? Who are 'they'?" Astrid sat there, staring at him, the rest of her food untouched, waiting for an answer. A feeling of dread started to creep up in her stomach; she hoped she hadn't just helped a murder or some such thing.
Sammael just shook his head, staring at the food in front of him. "It's called "aiding a criminal", and they would bullshit a reason if they wanted to anyways... But don't worry about it. If they finally made it out of the river, they'd be at least three days behind me." he calculated in his head, remembering the last encounter they had and watching the armored battalion getting swept away with their horses by the large waves that tried to drown them. "I'll be far away from here before then. They are just a group of metal covered thugs who try to kill people who are too... unique."
Holding up the piece of ham, he sniffed at it curiously. Ham was a meal he'd never had before. Chicken, yes. Fish, on occasion. But never ham. The smell made his mouth water. "What... is this?" he asked, the piece of meat flopping in his hand as the look of genuine curiosity appeared on his face.
"Did you steal something from someone you shouldn't have?" She asked, hoping it was something that simple. He had mentioned that he was a thief of sorts. And Astrid couldn't help but find herself interested in him, even though the more rational part of her said she shouldn't be. Things so rarely happened here. He was something new - and deep down, she really didn't think he was bad.
She laughed at his question, his look of curiosity. "It's ham. With mama's special apricot glaze. She made it for the holiday yesterday." Beltane, the holiday of fertility and hopes of a fruitful farming harvest. "We live to far out of town to go in to celebrate it there." Not that she had a sweetheart to celebrate it properly with. Not that she wanted to celebrate properly. Or perhaps she did... A blush crossed her face, with no indication for what caused it.
As he popped the ham in his mouth he nearly choked at her question. After a couple seconds of swallowing the piece of ham he let out a loud laugh. "Steal from someone I shouldn't have? Are there specific people I should be stealing from? Because if so, no one has informed me!" he said, almost rolling on the ground now. After a moment of calming down he cleared his throat. "I would say I've stolen from a lot of people I shouldn't have, to be frank... which reminds me, my name isn't frank, it's Sammael." he said, sitting up and holing out his hand. "Between you interrupting my nap, me berating you and then feeding me I seemed to have forgotten some of my manners. I haven't been keeping track of the holidays myself, but your mother makes a delicious meal. I'd like to repay you all with something if I can, since I wouldn't want to get a meal for free." he said in a pushing tone, suggesting he would do some form of work for the meal.
She pouted a bit as he laughed at her. "I meant... from someone powerful. Like a lord or something..." She muttered, staring down at her lap before beginning to eat her lunch - or what was left of it, anyway. When he was finally done laughing, and introduced himself, Astrid shook the offered hand. "Nice to meet you, Sammael. I'm Astrid." She paused a moment. "There's no need to pay me. The meal was freely given. After all, what girl could resist a cute boy showing up just as she was having lunch?" Oh gods, was she actually flirting? And she still hadn't let go of his hand...
Trying not to blush, she let go of his hand and placed her hand back on her lap, fiddling with her apron. "Besides, if you're on the move, do you have time to stay and work off the meal? Though if you do stay, you could probably get dinner and a bed tonight, as well. Papa does have to chop firewood tonight, as my brothers won't be back until tomorrow, and his back is bad...so if someone could help him..." She trailed off.