With a sigh and a smile, Moondance lifted the little girl onto his knee. At least a dozen children had him surrounded; and the horrifying thing was that this was only a fraction of the children who lived at Forst Reach. What a disturbingly overpopulated place this was.
The girl jerked him back to the present by yanking on one of his braids, in an apparent attempt to look at it. He nearly yelped in pain. "Why's your hair silver?" She asked, stumbling over the words like a typical child her age.
Moondance knew how to deal with children, of course… Brightstar had once been that young, after all. But Brightstar had always been a mature, polite child – doubtless anyone whom Starwind had a hand in raising would be- by the time he had turned fifteen, that had all changed… but that was another matter entirely.
Moondance gently pulled his hair from the girl's chubby fist. "My hair is this color because of the magic I use, little one." He said kindly.
"Magic?" Her eyes lit up. There were similar expressions on the faces of the other children.
Nodding, Moondance held out his hand, palm up, and summoned a small mage-light. It glowed green-gold for a moment, before he dispelled it.
The children looked at him in awe. He couldn't help but chuckle; some of their mouths had dropped open even.
A little boy sitting very close to Moondance's chair recovered first, and asked eagerly, "Is your hair long because of magic too?"
Smiling, Moondance shook his head. "It is long because I prefer it this way."
This, as many things did with small children, prompted more questions. The one he heard best was from a wide-eyed, shy looking little girl seated in front of him. "Is the other man your brother?"
Moondance laughed. "In a sense. We are of the same clan, and this makes us brothers, though we do certainly not share a mother. In fact, we are lifebonded – which I suppose may be comparable to marriage." He clarified. Of course it was not really comparable at all, but it was the only way he could think to explain to these children that they would understand.
Another young girl planted her hands on her hips, exclaiming, "You can't do that! You're both boys!"
Moondance raised his eyebrows. "Whyever not? Love is love, young lady."
She didn't seem able to come up with an immediate answer, so simply crossed her arms over her chest and pouted at him.
"He's scary." A little boy said, nodding knowingly.
Moondance gave a light laugh. "He may often appear so, aye, but do not be frightened. Only respectful." He bounced the little girl on his knee slightly.
A boy of about ten was gazing at Keshana. "Can I pet your bird?"
Moondance looked at his bondbird. :Would you mind if the children touched you? I will tell them to be careful.:
:distaste: A pause. :agreement:
"She will let you stroke her." Moondance said to the children as he transferred Keshana to his forearm. "But only if you are gentle and do not crowd her. Pet her down her breast, the way her feathers grow." He did so himself, to make sure they understood and did not damage any of the gyrfalcon's feathers.
While they were distracted by Keshana, Moondance reached out for Starwind. :Ashke, rescue me from this tidal wave of children!:
The reply was flavored with soft laughter. :I am confident you can handle this situation yourself.:
:If you abandon me now, I will have my revenge later!: Moondance teased. Keshana fluttered to his shoulder, thoroughly tired of the grubby children.
At that moment, however, someone did come to his rescue. Vanyel came over, scooping the little girl off of Moondance's lap. "Now, now, stop bothering our guest. Tana, I'm sure your mother is looking for you." He set the girl down. "Run along."
"They are not bothering me." Moondance said, smiling serenely, though in Mindspeech he added, :My sincerest thanks to you, Wingbrother Vanyel.:
:Oh, it's not a problem. I know my family can be a little… overwhelming.:
:To say the least!:
Vanyel rested a hand on Moondance's shoulder. "I suggest you run along too, if you want any peace. Come up to my room, if you like. It's been so long since we've talked."
Moondance beamed radiantly. "I hoped you would ask. It has been far too long."