Smiths Are Supposed to Shoe, Not Shoo

The smithy is settled comfortably in a clearing on the far side of a low hill. Built solidly of fieldstone below and timber above, it smells of horse, fresh-sawn wood, and the acrid tang of coal and hot metal. A pair of wrought iron posts, their tops in the shape of stylized horses' heads, supports the long wooden hitching rail standing behind a watering trough which apparently started life as a forty gallon steel drum. Beside the trough, enormous double dutch doors are marked by a neatly hand-lettered sign proclaiming Lucas Maker, Blacksmith.
A spur of the cart track continues around the back of the building, while the main track makes a neat, packed circle in front of the building to double back on itself to return to the farm.
Obvious exits:
Smithy Farm Road

Simon runs out towards the road, apparently intent on getting somewhere quickly.

Simon disappears into the trees, on the cart track back to Farm Road.

Rex glances back at Miki, dilated pupils shrinking as he emerges into the sunlight. "Where to?" he asks in a low voice.

Miki inclines his head after Simon's fleeing form. "That way."

The track winds into the trees, eventually curving around a hill before joining up with Farm Road.
Farm Road
Farm Road is a rutted dirt track that obviously sees quite a lot of use. Nearer the town, it twists through overgrown shrubbery and the remains of driveways, and at the other end it is a long winding way through grassy hills. At this end, it loops gently between two rising hills, and passes between two gateposts neatly constructed of stones and mortar. A tree with fernlike leaves shades the right-hand post, and each post has a round bronze plaque set in among the stones. There is no trace of a gate. In the distance, you can see higher hills, furred with forests, but as yet there is no sign of a farm, only the rolling green hills.
(there are views here)
Obvious exits:
Forge Track New Moon Farm Towards Town

Rex emerges on the tree-lined cart-track.

Simon is talking urgently to Sunshine at the head of the track into the Farm, gesturing towards the Forge. He seems agitated, but also intensely curious.

Sunshine listens, apparently trying to get Simon to slow his tumbling words a few times.

Miki arrives, in a tearing hurry, apparently a little worried about Simon.

Rex trots after Miki, looking intensely thoughtful.

Sunshine finally nods to Simon, placing a hand on his shoulder for an instant. With a distracted nod to the other two boys, she heads towards the Forge at a rather faster pace than her usual.

Sunshine steps off the main road and onto the cart track that leads to the Smithy.

Simon heaves a deep sigh as he watches Sunshine go. "Man... I wish he'd've let us stay..."

Folding his arms, Miki looks after Sunshine. "I wish so too."

"Yeah," Rex mutters. "What we did see was pretty... interestin'."

Simon bounces slightly, edging towards the Farm. "Do you think he was right? I mean, about Mr. Lucas wanting to hear how his life's awful?"

Miki shakes his head slightly. "I *doubt* it," he says. "He was feeling... bitter, is all."

"Mr. Maker ain't like that," Rex says authoritatively. "That Arrow fella's just... I dunno... jealous or somethin'. *And* whacked." He shudders just a little. "That smile there, at the end..."

Miki flaps a hand dismissively. "People get like that when they are really upset."

Simon nods. "Somebody must've hurt him bad, and not just Golden, whoever she was. Is."

"The Smith," says Miki, with perfect confidence.

Rex turns a baffled look on Miki. "Ain't no one *I've* ever seen looked like *that* when they were upset. The man's not all there."

Rex then looks taken aback. "*Lucas* hurt him?"

Simon blinks thoughtfully. "You think so? It could be, I guess. He got awful sarcastic if Mr. Lucas wasn't in there somehow."

Miki gives one of his enigmatic shrugs. "It seems likely."

"Huh," Rex says, a little dubiously. Then he sighs. "I guess... aw, hell. They looked like they were, you know, *good* friends once. Or else Arrow had the hots for him and Lucas didn't, you know. Shit," he finishes. "Lucas was lookin' at me today. First time too. Guess it'll be the last time."

Simon glances at Rex. "Looking at you? Why wouldn't he look at you?" His tone isn't entirely suggestive of disbelief that anyone could possibly not want Rex, but that's definitely there, alongside the generalized confusion.

Miki pulls one side of his mouth aside in an expression which is not a smile, and looks up at Rex. "Who knows," he says finally. "They have a bitter... history. Besides, just because he looks at this other Maker does not mean he will not look at you."

Rex shrugs, but looks fairly defeated anyway. "It don't matter. I mean, he's old and stuff after all." He raises his head and smiles. "'Sides, I've got y'all." He extends his big arms and hugs both of them against him.

The air leaves Miki's lungs with a "woof!" noise of surprise. He doesn't seem to object, however.

Simon slips an arm around Rex's waist, grinning. "Mr. Lucas's awfully nice to look at, but..."

"You have no idea how *crazed* that man made me when he was first teachin' me to use El Cid," Rex says, nodding down to the sword at his waist. "He had to get right up behind me to correct my stance. Aaaagh!"

Simon's eyes light. "I don't know how to use a sword," he points out.

Miki also slips an arm around Rex's waist, a slight smile appearing on his face. "Ah, poor Rex. Why did you not just... you know? Ask?"

Rex gazes at the sky and shakes his head vigorously. "I dunno. 'Cause he's big and scary and powerful and didn't seem all that int'rested anyway? I didn't want to offend him and stuff? One thing I did learn comin' up the trail is that not everyone lives, you know, like the Oroszlan. An' didn't always appreciate a come-on."

Simon nods in vigorous agreement. "Mr. Lucas doesn't really seem, you know, the type. The other one, Arrow, though. I mean, even if that Golden was a girl, the way he said pretty boys." Coherence is apparently not one of Simon's strengths at the moment.

Miki runs his hand up Rex's spine and rests it lightly on the back of the other boy's neck. "Well." He discards the rest of that sentence and leans back to smile at Simon behind Rex's broad back, to talk about something which is sure to interest them all. "Yes... but the way he said it... do you not think that he was implying that the Smith would, you know, like boys too? And he would *know.*"

Rex nods. "He sure *did*."

Simon thinks about it, resting his chin on Rex's shoulder, his hand on the Kin's lower back. "Maybe," he says slowly. "I dunno."

Miki absently starts to trail his fingers back and forth on the back of Rex's neck. Maybe it helps him think. "I think they were, you know..." He searches for an appropriate word. "Closer than friends," is what he finally settles for. "They had the look."

Rex sighs and hums as the fingers move on his neck. "I'd purr if I could," he mumbles, then says, "I think you're right. And that takes me back to he ain't gonna look at me again. You know, if they renew their acquaintance."

Simon doesn't comment, tilting his head to lay his cheek on Rex's shoulder. He watches the Kin's throat for a long moment. "Maybe Arrow'll find Golden and leave," he offers.

"Well, it could take us back to the, um, startling news that the Smith is..." Miki looks mischievous again. "Well, you know. Possible."

"Besides," adds Miki in a much more practical tone. "Arrow did look much more amenable than Lucas-Smith. I bet one of us could get him."

"Sure ain't gonna be me," Rex says, although he continues to try to purr. "I had my time of sleepin' with a loon. Ain't gonna do it again." He sighs. "Do we want to move somewhere we ain't standin' in the road?"

Miki smiles, tilting his face up to look at Rex. "No, I thought more of a distraction. So you could sneak up and catch this Smith you like so much."

"There's the first day's hay in the barn," Simon offers. "And there's most always a blanket in the corner of the loft..." He leaves off commenting on Arrow and Lucas, for the moment.

Rex looks down at Miki, eyes wide and startled. "You're jokin'... ain't you?" He looks over at Simon. "That sounds nice..."

Miki looks at Simon. "That does sound nice."

Simon grins, showing his white teeth. "Come on, then." He doesn't let go of Rex's waist as he takes a step towards the Farm.

Rex turns his steps toward the Farm gratefully, although he does make a sad sound when, by necessity, Miki has to stop petting his neck.

Miki makes a third in their perhaps a little awkward parade down the track to the Farm, still with his arm around Rex's waist as well.

Simon passes between the gateposts and begins to climb the hill that lies beyond, heading towards New Moon Farm.

Rex passes between the gateposts and begins to climb the hill that lies beyond, heading towards New Moon Farm.

You pass between the two gateposts and follow the gently curving track up to the crest of a hill, and you can see New Moon Farm below you. A rough semicircle of houses surrounds an enormous oak tree, with the flashing glint of a river in the distance behind them, and trees and plants everywhere. The houses look like small stone cottages married with low rounded hills for the most part, but large windows and solar panels gleam in the sun. Fenced fields can be seen beyond the houses, where goats, alpacas, and cows graze peacefully. The shining mirror of a pond (well populated with ducks) is off to one side, and fields (planted in spirals, curves, and waves, seemingly disdaining square corners and straight furrows) surround the arc of little houses.
You continue along the track, slowly descending the hill, until you finally enter...
New Moon Farm, Front Circle(#152RJ)

You walk along a cart track which circles around the guest house, and walk into the nearest barn through the big double doors.
Near Barn, New Moon Farm
The old concrete floor of the barn is crumbling a little now, attesting to the great age of this old building. It is a big round room surmounted with a hayloft, which is presently empty but still perfumes the dusk of the barn with the scent of sunny grass. In one corner, pieces of an old cart and broken hoes, scythes, and other farm tools await mending. There are a few stalls in the back, built sturdily of heavy timbers, but for the most part it is open space. A stick horse leaning in one corner, and a child's pull-wagon mutely testify to the present uses to which this barn is usually put.
Obvious exits:
Barn Doors
Rex enters the hay-smelling gloom of the barn through the big double doors.

Simon stops at the base of the ladder. He hesitates for a moment and then stretches slightly upwards to nip at Rex's neck. Whether he connects or not, he lets go of Rex's waist and tries to scamper up the ladder.

Rex sighs in the dimness of the barn after squinting in the late afternoon light, then laughs at Simon's grab at his neck. He lets Simon scamper and glances down at Miki.

Miki takes that as an invitation and reaches for the ladder, climbing swiftly up. After two steps-- that is, when he's taller than Rex-- he leans back and teasingly kisses Rex on the nose before quickly climbing the rest of the ladder and vanishing into the loft.

Rex chases Miki up the ladder, launching himself into the loft once he gets to the top.

Simon has the promised blanket spread on a pile of hay when the other two reach the top. That done, he doesn't quite seem to know what to do with himself.

Miki darts across the room and leaps onto the blanket, as if reaching the safety point in a game of tag.

"Mmmm, hay smell," Rex says cheerfully, pouncing onto the blanket himself. "Hey, what're you doin' up there?" he asks Simon, just before reaching up and snagging the other boy around the waist to drag him down.

Simon drops willingly next to Rex, managing not to get his knees or elbows anywhere unfortunate.

Miki props himself up on Rex's chest and grins at Simon. "What were we talking about again? I forgot."

"Hot older men!" Rex laughs, leaning up to kiss Miki's cheek, then Simon's.

"What, we are not good enough?" asks Miki, pretending to be indignant.

Simon wriggles closer to Rex. "Plans for the smiths, I think." The dark boy's cheeks are quite warm, even if their color can't be seen in the dimness.

Rex pulls them both closer. "Ahhh, you're good enough for me."

Miki laughs into Rex's ear. "You are so kind," he murmurs, his breath tickling. One hand is still splayed across the lion-Kin's chest, half-reaching for Simon.

Simon wriggles until he, too, has a hand on Rex's chest. He doesn't say anything, but after a moment's hesitation, he leans closer and kisses the lion Kin slowly on the cheek.

Rex grins and kisses randomly, apparently in a Very Silly Mood. He may get Simon's nose, Miki's ear, Simon's chin, whatever.

Simon flinches at the unexpected silliness. His fingers jump lightly across Rex's skin, perhaps tickling.

Miki kisses back, getting a mouthful of hair.

Rex pages the room: Let us then assume mad rolling around and possible undressing to the waist? (which Rex has already done, conveniently)

Miklos pages the room: Miklos can assume that, yes...

Simon pages the room: Sounds good. Simon will likely be called away at some point before anything more entertaining happens. Somehow, the adults at the Farm have a sixth sense about this sort of thing.

Note: When Simon got called away, Miki went home, cutting westward through the woods.