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Topics - edmund.

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1
Private Threads / catch me falling — mia.
« on: April 01, 2022, 07:29:11 PM »
This was the most remarkable thing he had ever seen. Blue gaze like cold steel welcomed the eventual sunrise in all of its golden glory. The approaching morning was so-often perceived as a promise well-kept but for Edmund it felt more like a sigh of relief. He had come to see another sunrise, a gift so often left unappreciated until one witnesses first hand the people who never got to see the break of a new day. Sometimes, Edmund's head was a dark and unnerving place. Sometimes, the promise of a new day could be more likened to another slow-burn death sentence, but today he was okay. Was he obliged to be any more than that, or was being okay more than anyone could expect from him?

Here’s the thing: life is not a cohesive narrative of good days or bad days. Good people or bad people. It’s more like puzzle pieces. It’s layered.

Take Edmund Stirling at face value for example. On the steps leading to the front door, he was slouched over so that he could preserve his own body heat — spring was well on its way, although the crisp night breeze confessed otherwise — whilst he sat beside a woman he could not yet concede to loving. The two star-crossed lovers chose to keep each other company on their current sleepless encounters, and if a newcomer were to come face-to-face with them now, they'd only conclude that Edmund was an adoring man keeping his lady-friend company.

And that would be it.

Every bad deed of his, every murder, extortion, unfaithfulness and more — erased by ignorance.

But that was what made Edmund realise the moment he knew he was in love with Mia Carlisle. This was the most remarkable thing he had ever seen, he thought. Mia Carlisle had heard his heart beating alone in the darkness, and so she sat in the darkness with him, too. After all that she knew about him, all of the horrors he had caused with his own two bloodied hands, she chose to accept him anyways.

God, he hoped she didn't love him in the way that he loved her — if someone like that had come to love him, he'd certainly die. And so, for as many years as he knew her, he kept a safe enough distance. Until now.

❝ Anya was a lovely girl. ❞ With reference to the ex-girlfriend that had briefly occupied his time until recent, eyes darted over to glance towards Mia in the softened glow of the early morning sun. ❝ Really, she was. But it's not about finding someone who will fill the void for you — to... to feel a little less alone — but to find someone that makes you feel like that void is no longer a notable part of who you are. ❞ He explained his contemplations in a soft murmur before taking a long drag of his cigarette. If there was one person Edmund felt like he could even somewhat open up to, it would be Mia. After all, she had been his confidant way back in their teen-hood before any of this really mattered.

Even though she broke his heart back then, the feeling of trust still seemed to remain. And that was the remarkable thing about Mia.

Soft gaze shifted back towards Mia, down to her lips, back up to her eyes, before he looked away once more. Sleepless nights always exposed the innermost confessions of a man.

❝ The sunrise; it's a pretty one... Thanks, you know. For staying up to sit with me. I'm sure you would've wanted to go to bed by now. ❞ He shifted the conversation quickly afterwards, gesturing with his cigarette towards the aureate glimmer of sunlight bearing through the spines of the conifers. Rolling his shoulders back in an exhausted attempt of a stretch, Edmund eventually allowed for his free hand to settle in the space between himself and Mia, grip against the coolness of the wooden step until his finger twitched at the warmth of Mia's hand nearby. Like a comfort. As if he'd been lost all this time, and Mia had been the one to find him. To bring him back down to earth.

And, with a cautious twitch of his finger, Edmund brought his hand closer to rest upon hers. A silent move so reposeful. So comforting. A move which did not fill the void, but made it seem insignificant in that very moment. Edmund rarely knew what peace was meant to feel like, but he could imagine it felt a lot like her.

2
Flintlock Lodge / smile with the risin' sun — open .
« on: January 18, 2022, 04:57:45 PM »
The fire was crackling and, for the first time in a long time, Edmund felt at peace.

Once Edmund had finished bathing Christian and Charlotte (and dressing them in their usual matching pyjamas) to prepare them for bedtime, Ida wandered into the lounge with a proposition to make. It sounded more an eager plea, one which did not at all frustrate Edmund despite the fact he already had his hands so full handling two excitable three year olds. ❝ How do you play the guitar? ❞ She had initially enquired with a curious wrinkle of her nose. With furrowed brows, Eddie peered up towards his half-sister from where he crouched on the floor, jumbling up puzzle pieces for the twins to figure out whilst they warmed themselves up nearby the fire. ❝ Well, ❞ Giving Christian a gentle ruffle of the hair, he rose to his feet before fitting the fireguard across the fireplace — he had always been a very thoughtful father, doing everything in his power to protect his children — and only then did he turn his attention to Ida.

❝ It takes practice, and maybe a little bit of help to get you started. ❞ Quirking a gentle brow Ida’s way, the young girl huffed before glancing down at her niece and nephew. ❝ Do you think I’d be good at the guitar? ❞ She asked, cocking her head to the side expectantly. So that was what this was all about, huh? ❝ Oh, of course. How about you go grab my guitar from my bedroom and when you get back I can teach you a couple of chords? Sounds good? ❞ Ida barely wasted a moment before excitedly scuttling off in search of Eddie’s treasured guitar. Whilst it meant that the twins would probably go to bed a little later than Eddie would have liked, they were already so immersed in figuring out the puzzle together that the extra half an hour would do them no harm.

Soon Ida returned, guitar nearly weighing her down as she eagerly hopped onto the couch beside Eddie. And then, with his voice as soft spoken as always, he began to guide her through the basics of learning the guitar. Surprisingly, Ida picked up on it relatively quickly, granted she was only thirteen years old. It had been enough to earn Christian’s attention — unlike his sister, who was intent on finishing the puzzle — the young boy pushing himself up onto his feet to investigate. ❝ Can I play? Only once, Daddy, please?! ❞ He squeaked, resting his hand on Eddie’s knee before Ed nudged Christian gently over towards the guitar. ❝ All right, but only once, okay? ❞ Ida began grinning as she held the guitar in place, Christian leaning over to strum a discordant sound from the guitar before erupting into a giggle. ❝ You liked that? Well, maybe Ida can teach you when you’re a little older. How does that sound, Ida? ❞ He looked towards his sister, giving a gentle shrug her way as she beamed proudly. ❝ Obviously! ❞

It hadn’t taken long for the twins to settle down, both of them eventually clambering up onto the couch before falling asleep to the sound of Ida learning how to play Three Little Birds, slowly but surely. With gentle utterances, Eddie guided Ida through the simple chords, gently stroking Charlotte’s hair whilst she slept soundly with her head on his lap. In moments like these, Eddie was truly at peace from the war inside his mind, and those constant, raging wars out in the world beyond Flintlock Lodge. For now, close to his family, close to his children, Edmund would relax as much as his ever-racing mind would allow. Instead, it was in these moments where Eddie could shed the aloof and closed off front he was so exceptional at maintaining. The tiniest glimmer of a smile quirked at the corner of his lip and he praised Ida as she conquered a chord that she had been stuck on. Oftentimes, Eddie loved people too much yet never showed it enough but he was trying to change, if not for himself, if not for the people of Flintlock, but for his children who deserved a father that cared. He was not Alfred, after all.

He was by no means the perfect man — God, he was far from it — but he could look back at those mistakes, try and pick them up. Make certain that his children would never follow in his footsteps and make those same, many mistakes. He wanted to prevent it, but he could never truly  prevent history from wanting to repeat itself. Who was he at the end of the day? Was he himself or was he merely the image of the man that he was trying to be? The man that was so desperately trying to be so gentle around his children, the man so eager to prove to them (and himself) that he was enough for them. Eager to prove that he was not the sinister man with blood on his hands, the reputation that had far superseded any attempts at a faultless fatherhood.

He was like his father in many ways, but at least his smiles were warm and his eyes lit up whenever he’d see those gleeful grins on his children’s faces. Eddie hoped that it would be enough for them. He hoped that he would be loved by them as much as Eddie cherished them.

3
Flintlock Lodge / RAISE A GLASS — OPEN.
« on: November 18, 2021, 05:36:21 AM »
tw. childhood trauma, mention of homophobic upbringing

Edmund wasn’t used to being loved. He never knew what to do. Every time he’d reach out, eventually — one way or another — his raw and real self would never be enough. Who really wanted damaged goods anyway? As much as Edmund wanted to blame his upbringing for how he turned out, maybe the problem lay with him? But he couldn’t be held accountable for what happened to him as a child — none of the Stirlings deserved that. All they needed was some love. A hug. A hand on the shoulder as they were told that they were adored.

But the truth was, their past still haunted them because that was what happened when a relentless cycle could not be broken. He was on Edmund’s mind every waking moment of every single day. The things Alfred had pressured the Stirling brothers into was barbaric and cruel. How could they love when they were taught only hatred and savagery? How could they ever be loved when they were never shown what love meant? Every moment was snarled into his fighting soul, carved into weary bones. Memories burned behind eyelids, Alfred occupied his brain as if it were his home.

He had been dead for two years, but he lived on in Edmund’s head nonetheless.

Franklin too had been cursed with such horror, but perhaps the two brothers dealt with their anguish in different ways. Whilst Edmund was adamant on trying to follow in his father’s footsteps because it was the only lifestyle that he knew, Franklin had been preoccupied with the niggling thought that there ought to be a better life out there somewhere for him. His homosexuality was something that he was quiet about around his family for fear of judgement, but his life in Bluestem Prairie had felt so liberating. The constraints of fear had been eradicated, and he had been unshackled from Alfred’s cruel and, quite frankly, dated beliefs.

But what was a life free of constraints when Franklin had to go about it alone? He never fit into the western dream Bluestem Prairie made itself out to be — he had only settled down there so that he could be with the man that he loved. He sacrificed everything that he had once known, only to be betrayed. His husband disappeared in the night, taking all that Frank had come to adore with him. Ever since, waking up in an empty home became unbearable. Soon after, Frank retreated back to the only place that felt like home. Despite the tensions between Edmund, perhaps he had been right all along. His ex-husband was bad news. With bitterness in his heart, Franklin did all he could to settle back into the life of the Stirlings once more. He became cold and aloof again, just as Alfred had taught him.

Perhaps Alfred was only raising his children in such a way because he knew that life was harsh. Life could only be tolerated if it were done with a cautious guardedness. Like Edmund, Franklin learned better than to defy that life lesson.

Edmund could acknowledge that he and Franklin were the same; it was just about time Franklin came to understand that as fact too. With his hands tucked in the warmth of his coat pockets, Edmund wandered towards the bar in Flintlock’s village, the bell jingling softly as he nudged the door open to find his older brother sitting alone at the bar, taking a sip of lager. ❝ Thought I’d find you here. ❞ Edmund acknowledged, chin tipping upwards in greeting as Franklin glanced over his shoulder towards Edmund dully. ❝ Yeah? ❞  He returned with a restrained murmur. Ed huffed a soft breath, sliding onto a nearly barstool. ❝ Yeah… I was thinking... ❞ He glanced around the quiet bar, unmanned since the passing of Frederick. ❝ how would you like taking over the bar as your own? ❞ Frank looked over towards Ed, eyes squinting almost suspiciously before nodding his head slowly. Carefully. ❝ Yeah. I can do that.❞

Whatever could tie Franklin down to Flintlock, Edmund would do his best to keep his brother around.

❝ Well, as the new owner, ❞ Frank put down his now-empty glass as he stood up. ❝ how about a drink on me? ❞ He looked over at his brother, straight-faced, as Edmund shook his head slowly with a glimmer of a smile. There was the brother Edmund had missed — his snide, dry sense of humour. ❝ Sure. ❞ Eddie returned, drumming his fingers on the bar counter as Frank went to pour the both of them a drink. A lager for Frank and a glass of whiskey for Eddie; Frank still knew his brother well, despite their differences.

4
Flintlock Lodge / memento mori — open.
« on: September 22, 2021, 03:54:21 PM »
tw. reminiscing on the death of loved ones

There was not a day gone by where the ghosts of Edmund’s past did not linger in the forefront of his mind. He still daydreamed about those lost in his memory, perhaps somewhat romanticized by the grief that he struggled to shake off. However, after experiencing loss on such a relentless scale, as well as being someone who seldom acknowledged his own fragility in his bereavement, it was no surprise that eventually the feelings became monumental. The build-up was unfaltering and some day he’d no longer be able to bear the weight of his own head on his shoulders as it would be so heavy with thought. But for now, Edmund would slog along, working his fingers down to the bone because honour and duty would be prioritized above all else.

Young Ida was built for speed; whilst she was petite, she was strong-willed and her frame was muscular for her age, likely from just how active she was becoming. After being introduced to botany in the more recent weeks, Ida had become besotted with the idea of exploring the forest verdure for any signs of herbs that could be used at her disposal. Alternative medicine, Ida would suggest with a smug smile. A word that she most certainly learned recently, Edmund theorised. ❝ This one is… a purple bittercress. ❞ Ida pointed out a wildflower emerging from the mulch beside a forest evergreen, hardly hesitating a second before whipping her head to the side to make sure Edmund was paying attention.

Nearby, Eddie stood with his hands tucked in the pockets of his coat, head tipped to the side to examine the lilac flower before nodding his head in one short motion. ❝ Very good. That’s something I didn’t know. ❞ Eddie pointed out, soon glancing away briefly to keep an eye on Chance’s whereabouts. The old mastiff lumbered around nearby, paws leaving heavy indentations on the rain-sodden dirt as he held his head low to the ground, sniffing at the moss that had extended across a rotting, fallen tree. Whilst observing the hound, Eddie was being subjected to a look of expectancy, Ida awaiting his full attention once more before plucking the plant to add to a bunch of wildflowers she was collecting. ❝ Yes, that’ll be a pretty one to add. ❞ He admired softly as they then continued their slow walk through the forest to reach the burial place of many that they used to know.

5
Flintlock Lodge / can you feel the sun — open, sunrise.
« on: September 09, 2021, 12:45:50 PM »
The peace was temporary, yet came about so indefinitely that its fleeting nature was a comfort. As if at least one thing was everlasting in his life. The cold and moonless sky blended effortlessly with the sunlight as it did every single morning, and Eddie could confidently say that the sunrises in these parts were nothing to sneer at. As he sat right on the highest peak of the world (the highest that he had experienced, anyways) the sky looked more like a canvas in its panoramic glory from way up above. It sure beat the views from a lower altitude.

He wasn’t much of a tender man, not outwardly anyway, and so it was hard to believe that he would take time to appreciate the colours of sunrise as he sat on the steps outside of the lodge to admire the view ahead. A cigarette in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other, Eddie’s early starts were common. With a dog, two children and an unwillingness to sleep at all, the dark rings below his eyes were a sign of his abiding exhaustion. He took a long drag from his cigarette, raised protuberances emerging through a slight shudder at the morning breeze. Even with a sweater on, Eddie felt the cold, a tangible sign that winter was creeping in.

The deciduous trees were withering slowly and the sky began to appear perpetually cloudy, masking the sun’s full capacity away from the sky. Soon the snow would return and the lodge would be as cold as Edmund believed he was. His rosy cheeks, pink from the morning breeze, were proof of this fallacious belief. He was very much alive, surviving, being — that didn’t mean that one was living at all though. Only existing, if not for himself then at least for others. He exhaled a plume of cigarette smoke into the crisp air, and his eyes traced the clouds that lingered at the break of day.

6
Private Threads / fight for my survival — leonardo.
« on: August 16, 2021, 11:53:59 AM »
tw. mention of underage drinking

His jaw was clenched, so tight it was as if teeth had been welded together by the sheer horror. Just as business had picked up exponentially — just as he had planned — suddenly it felt as if the opposition were dying to get in the way. First came the death of his cousin which had been awfully convenient considering he was the man in charge of the bar enterprise itself, and next Edmund had found that their alcohol supply had been sabotaged. Everything. All of their hard work, destroyed. Even the Stirling’s family recipe for whiskey had quickly become frowned upon as something which, although it tasted delicious, had caused massive controversy around the lodge. The stomach upset had been intense, enough to have any man writhing in pain.

What had ignited his anger the most was that along with the rest of the guests who had tried that particular keg of lager, it had also been young Henry who had fallen ill . Luckily, Edmund favoured his whiskey that he decided to drink no more of after his suspicions had been raised, and so he hadn’t been personally affected. But, the horror still tormented him, especially since this was his reputation in ruins for the damage that he, as Captain, had allowed. And, perhaps it had been Edmund’s fault all along for sneaking a fourteen year old something to drink, but he felt that Henry would have been entirely fine with having a drink with this older brother if Eddie was accompanying him that evening. His guilt had been overwhelming. Nobody deserved the anguish.

The more Edmund had time to linger on his conversation with the Knope family when they visited their casino, the more Eddie began to realise that this had been a ploy all along. Frederick’s death, the casino night, the sabotage of Flintlock’s bar; all of it led back to the Knope family, and Eddie wouldn’t stand by and do nothing. Twitching his nose, Edmund fidgeted slightly as he welcomed Leonardo into his office. Gently shutting the door behind him, Ed then stepped carefully into the room, gaze darting across the immaculate conditions he’d leave his workspace in. ❝ Leo, I— ❞ With a sigh, he pressed his thumb and ring finger firmly against either side of his temples.

He was deep in thought. If anyone would be able to help Eddie deal with this situation promptly and with finality, it would be Leo. He understood Edmund in ways that many could not; they came from the same background, Leo knew Edmund’s position within his family, the dark jobs they had to perform in confidentially because no normal civilian could know the kind of monsters they’d brought into their lives. And, with what Eddie was planning on ordering next, he needed someone who would understand the importance of what he was about to ask. ❝ Remember when we discussed what would happen to The Badlands if they were to ever target us? I need you to get that job done for me. Arson, an explosive, I don’t care. I just need that casino gone because without it, those bastards are nothing without it. Only then can we have the upper hand and ensure they never interfere with our lives again. ❞

7
Flintlock Lodge / pedal pusher — hunting, open.
« on: August 04, 2021, 03:41:25 PM »
The Stirling family were well-esteemed hunters, perhaps not in the way one would imagine. Growing up in the midst of Boston, there weren’t deer to hunt down or rabbits to shoot — oftentimes the privilege of his family’s wealth ran far deeper than what some would expect. For a long time, his area had maintained its pre-blackout status using generators to keep them unenlightened to the collapsing society around them. But, they were still hunters all the same, except disguised in sumptuous suits and protected by their unspeakable reputation. Nobody was safe if they chose to anger the Stirling family and yet remain somewhat within the Stirling's radar. As long as the Stirlings had their well formed networks, people could try to run but the hunter would always seek their prey.

On a sled, Eddie dragged back the carcass of a freshly hunted buck, rifle slung of his shoulder and hair very slightly dishevelled from his journey. Accompanying him was young Henry and Ida, the two youngsters plodding along beside Eddie as they returned from their lesson of survival in these perilous parts. Eddie gave the sled a sharp tug as it lumbered unsteadily over dirt where the very fine patches of snow provided minimal assistance. ❝ Once we get to the lodge, I can then teach you both how to butcher the carcass. Meat goes to the kitchen, offal and bone to the dogs, a’right? ❞ Irish brogue always sounded thicker in the presence of his family and, in this case, his two younger half-siblings nodded obediently before Ida spoke up.

❝ Do we get to do the cutting? ❞ She questioned with a squeak, pulling Eddie’s one flannel shirt that she ❛ borrowed ❜ permanently tighter around her lithe frame. The shirt was oversized, especially over her small shoulders, but Ida enjoyed the closeness she felt in looking up to her older brother. Henry, on the other hand, was more subtle in his admiration, but he wished for nothing more than to be like Edmund and to involve himself more and more in the family business. He simply wanted to prove his worth, show that even whilst they had once been considered bastard children by Eddie and his full brothers, Henry was still more than eager to play his part in the business. He bent over backwards to prove himself, to prove his worth and show that he was not the impure blood that his older half-brothers once spoke of. Nowadays he was lucky — following Frank’s departure and Alfie and Dominik’s deaths — he was left only with Edmund and Thomas to look up to. They were in the best hands, some would say, as at least Ed and Tommy were mature enough to put former differences aside.

It was hard to hold a grudge when they were family.

❝ Maybe if you’re good, Ida; yes. ❞ Eddie returned, showing the children how to hang the deer up by its legs to prepare it for butchering. Soon, Ed revealed a hunting knife from its sheath, slicing down the carcass without hesitation as he began to explain to the children what they should do. Blood was on his hands as he removed offal from the cavity, brows knitted sternly as eyes darted from the two children watching before looking back at his work.

Blood on his hands, many would say as if it stopped at the wrists. Perhaps for many, that was the true extent of their deeds. As for Eddie, it seldom made sense for him. It was the suggestion that every other part of his body and soul was not drenched in the blood of many, and that the damage remained only on his hands, only on his fingertips. But the blood tainted all of him; the extent of all he’d hunted would follow him throughout the entire course of his life. The blood was not on his hands. It was everywhere, and he'd come to accept that as fact.

8
Flintlock Lodge / wonderful life — open.
« on: July 21, 2021, 02:50:40 PM »
❝ A’right then, there you go ‘n’ pour the mixture in right there. ❞ Sleeves to his flannel shirt rolled up to the elbows, Eddie rested both hands on the edge of the kitchen counter as he watched Ida messily dolloping a ladle full of a beige mixture into each concave section of a muffin tin. Whilst Eddie couldn’t say he was much of a baker — the last time he’d ever involved himself in such a thing was when he was only young and his mother was baking another loaf of her esteemed banana bread. One thing that he did know how to do, however, was follow instructions word for word.

And so he did just that, allowing Ida to do all the jobs such as pouring the flour in and mixing all the wetting ingredients whilst Eddie would precisely measure each ingredient with narrowed eyes and a concentrated gaze. This had been entirely Ida’s idea — Eddie would point out — as it had been her plan to bake muffins for when William and Frederick were due to return to the Lodge after heading downhill to take care of some business that would otherwise interfere with Eddie’s plans to start manufacturing the Stirling’s prized whiskey again.

❝ Oops. ❞ Ida squeaked as she knocked the bowl, Eddie catching it just before it could slide right off of the counter and onto the floor. Nudging it back into a place safe from the elbows of clumsy youngsters, Eddie murmured softly, ❝ Don’t worry, you’re doing just fine. ❞ There was a softness in his voice, often unheard of when surrounded by most. But, it was needless to say that he always had a soft spot for Henry and Ida, as well as his two children too. 

9
Flintlock Lodge / grey morning — open .
« on: June 26, 2021, 05:21:57 PM »
In the village, Eddie wandered down the grey brick streets where he approached the library at a silently determined pace. Upon arriving, he rubbed his hands together to warm them up — despite the summertime providing a sunshine intense enough to melt most of the snow away, the wind chill at high altitudes could sometimes be one to make itself known to even the most experienced of Flintlockers. Eddie wasn’t often seen taking a break from his duties to wander through the great expanse of the library but, if it wasn’t for himself, he’d gladly take on the job.

Today, he was in search of anything that could be used as a good enough bedtime story for the twins. They were coming to an age where they would no longer settle unless he or Blake waited around for them to drift off to sleep, and Eddie had exhausted the current small selection of bedtime stories he had back up in their bedroom.

Wandering slowly up and down the aisles, Eddie’s brows knitted together thoughtfully. In a library of this size, he was struggling to come across where any children’s books would be kept. He’d continue to search carefully regardless, taking his time to flick through books along the way whilst he made the most of his brief break in his working day.

10
Flintlock Lodge / DREAMERS — MEETING [06/17]
« on: June 17, 2021, 08:51:58 AM »
Eddie trudged into the lounge for today's meeting, his head hanging low and gaze stern as he glanced around the room. ❝ A'right. Meeting. ❞ Pointer finger gesticulated towards the couches for people to begin taking their seats, the corner of his lip twitching ever-so-slightly once he made eye contact with people.

11
Flintlock Lodge / st jude — tasks , open .
« on: June 13, 2021, 05:10:18 PM »
❝ A’right. ❞ With a soft clear of his throat, Eddie wandered into the lounge as he’d called for several Flintlockers to meet him there. Several important tasks needed doing and these people had been specially selected to take on those very duties for Eddie whilst he continued to manage and oversee the workings of the lodge.

With Chance the large mastiff following close behind before clambering onto a space on the couch, Eddie stood nearby with a slight frown permanently etched on his features before clasping his hands together. ❝ I need tasks completed — they’re pretty important ones — so who’d be willing to offer their time to help? ❞

// this thread is ofc open to everyone so throw your character in if you want any thread prompts for your character hehe

12
Flintlock Lodge / The Lodge prison is home — open .
« on: May 16, 2021, 10:31:43 AM »
The ghosts of the past would talk to those who’d listen. And, for Edmund, he dwelled on the past far more than he ever would the future — the undemanding finality of his past was more comforting than the dread of what was to come next. Perhaps the only way he knew how to manage the apprehension was to recreate everything that he knew, everything that brought him peace. After all, history tended to repeat itself, Alfonso would once tell Edmund. It was likely one of the only words of wisdom that his brother had ever reflected upon, but the truth of his words remained ever-ingrained in Eddie’s mind, even to this day.

History tended to repeat itself, Alfie had noted in jest when Dominik would begin to take those on edge steps in their father’s shoes. Learning the ropes of the Stirling enterprise was a bitter pill to swallow, but a life that the boys had grown so accustomed to that there was no normality to them in trying to live a normal life. History of the Stirling enterprise would consume all normal, from start to finish. History was a man in a pristine suit and tie, trying his best to define a home that was never his. It was a boy who’d follow in the footsteps of a man he could never recall to be his father, and yet he’d attempt to fit his tiny feet into oversized brogues regardless in order to desperately relive a childhood that he never really did get to experience.

Edmund sympathised with young Henry; he felt as if he barely got to know their father, either.

❝ Try it again. You’re almost there. ❞ Eddie sat on the couch in the lounge beside the young teenage boy, Henry grimacing ever-so-slightly with concentration as he stared down at the disassembled parts of a handgun on the coffee table. There had come a day where Edmund would have to begin to teach Henry the ways of the Stirling family, not only for prestige of the family name but also for safety. Henry would always be a Stirling, whether or not he enjoyed his involvement in the enterprise, and so he had to learn how to survive with the reputation he was bred into.

❝ Why can’t I just learn how to shoot? ❞ Henry protested softly, slumping back against the couch as he gazed towards his older brother. Instead of caving, though, Eddie looked back with a frown before he uttered with authority, ❝ No. You need to know what you’re handling before you start to use it. Until you perfect assembling one, I’m not letting you run around with a gun. ❞ The last thing he’d want was for Henry to get carried away and get somebody hurt because he was being irresponsible with a firearm.

The teenager quickly gave up on trying to defy Eddie, instead sighing gently before edging forwards on the couch once more to practice assembling the handgun once more. Once Henry completed it, Eddie leaned forward to take the gun, disassembling it before lowering the pieces back down onto the table. ❝ Now, do it again. ❞ He commanded gently, staring over at his youngest brother who gawked at Eddie with shock before huffing a sigh and reaching out to start assembling the gun once more.

The Stirling family was well acquainted with history. Henry would learn the very same thing that Edmund learned, where Edmund had learned the very same thing from Alfred, where Alfred had learned the very same thing from Frederick Sr. There were many names in their history, but at the end of the day their names meant nothing in the past nor the future. They were solely there to recreate the curse of the Stirling empire from generation to generation, and there would forever be no chance of bringing this curse to an end. After all, this was all that the Stirlings knew.

13
Flintlock Lodge / ease my mind — birthday party , open .
« on: April 26, 2021, 05:36:42 PM »
No matter how much he’d tell himself otherwise, he wasn’t like his father. He could paint himself to be the monster all he wanted, but he was in fact only human. Alfred was rarely human at the best of times. Birthdays were seldom important to him, especially if they were his own sons’. The first time Eddie had ever celebrated his birthday was two years ago when a surprise party was organised for him. Before then, he barely knew what it meant to celebrate a day dedicated to him or why anyone could possibly want that.

But then, with his children, he saw the appeal.

Three years on and he’d gladly make a big deal about his children’s birthdays. They were still young and would perhaps forget this very day, but their birthdays were still something that Eddie felt was an event very much worth celebrating. They were his absolute pride and joys — that was for certain — and so it became ever-apparent what a good father should do to make their children feel valued. Eddie sure as hell never felt that way with his own father; the bitterness ran far deeper than missed out birthday celebrations.

Eddie sat cross legged on the floor of the lounge, young Tommy sat in the centre of his lap as he picked with messy hands at a slice of cake in front of him. Blake and Emery had worked so hard this morning to bake a cake for the twins and decorate the lounge for a humble celebration. The twins seemed to appreciate the gathering, thrilled that people were sitting around to celebrate their birthdays. Hand raised to gently smooth Thomas’ hair down as he was preoccupied with his cake, Eddie lifted his head to watch the way Charlotte wandered from person to person, giggling as she’d hand over random items that she had found in the lounge to thank them for coming today.

A huff of amusement passed Eddie’s lips despite all efforts to stifle a laugh as he watched his daughter hand a box of matches that she’d picked up off the coffee table to a Flintlocker. ❝ Thank you for coming to my party! ❞ She exclaimed, cackling mischievously before tearing around the lounge in search of something else to gift the next person. Eyes soon lifted to meet his brother’s, Tom shaking his head with hilarity before he pointed out matter-of-factly, ❝ The absolute star of the show today, don’t ya think? ❞   

The corners of Eddie’s lips curled upwards ever-so-slightly, leaning back a little to look back at his daughter before he mumbled, ❝ ‘Ey, but aren’t they always? ❞ Lowering his head slightly to rest his cheek against the side of baby Tommy’s head, Eddie listened closely to surrounding conversations. The happiest Eddie could ever be was when he saw his two children happy. Maybe he wasn’t as much like Alfred as he believed he was — he would do everything in his power to avoid his children being raised by a father who had failed them.

14
Flintlock Lodge / 'til the night runs away — picnic, open.
« on: April 19, 2021, 02:21:11 PM »
Now that the war was over and everything was slowly returning to normal, Eddie felt obliged to provide some sort of small get together to celebrate the fact that there had indeed been a light at the end of the tunnel for the group as a whole. Whilst individuals grieved and suffered, all for their own personal reasons, they had sought and achieved an eventual victory. Perhaps this was an attempt to boost morale following the many losses that they faced, plus the weather was faring well as the snow had nearly melted in its entirety, signalling the start of a particularly pleasant summer time.

Baby blues darted across the scene ahead of him. Picnic blankets laid out across the grass and small snacks prepared to be passed around everyone who decided to trek the short distance down the mountain to a wildflower meadow that had materialised over the past few weeks in spring. Whilst many people preferred to relax on a picnic blanket and talk amongst each other, others partook in the games that Flintlockers had brought with them. Eddie’s gaze landed on William as he played rather competitively in a game of badminton, whilst big Tommy and Lucia were sat at a picnic blanket, Tom picking at a punnet of strawberries before handing one each to little Thomas and Lottie. The two toddlers adored spending time with their aunt and uncle, chewing happily away at the fruit that they were given.

Eddie soon turned his head to look towards Henry who sat at a nearby picnic blanket alone, mindlessly tearing away blades of grass one by one as he watched Ida a short distance away picking wildflowers to turn into makeshift bouquets. Slowly, arms folded to cross over his chest, Eddie gravely aware that within all of this celebration, Eddie had chosen to detach himself from the festivities entirely. Stood a short distance away, he’d remain an observer, choosing not to involve himself in the celebrations because he simply did not know how. Instead, he’d shift his weight, quietly appreciating the calm after the storm. This was what life was supposed to be about; Eddie was just never any good at it.

15
Flintlock Lodge / world gone mad — return , open .
« on: April 15, 2021, 04:27:11 PM »
Eddie nurtured his grief, mothered it as if bereavement was the only thing that kept his brother’s memory alive.

The journey back to Flintlock Lodge had been tiresome but it was the final push before he could return home without an abounding burden on his shoulders. Bluestem Prairie had been quashed with a certainty that Edmund was comfortable with, all of Flintlock Lodge had been reunited with the vulnerable members returning from Northstar District after several months, and it was beginning to feel as if he could set normal life in motion once again. The very last task that he, as the captain, had to do was inform associates about the result of the war.

To most, associates solely meant allies in other groups that would have supported Flintlock throughout the fight. But, Edmund was a quiet man who was good at keeping secrets. Flintlock Lodge was far more than an isolated group who looked out for one another, no — there was always more to it. Only family and associates themselves would have been aware of the work that Eddie put into the group behind the scenes, those sly deals between his late father’s allies to ensure that there were many individuals across these parts that would defend Flintlock Lodge. Why? Well, they would be nothing if it weren’t for the Stirling Enterprise; their loyalty was the least they could provide.

And, they ought to know the outcome of the war. Whilst Eddie acknowledged that neither seemed to win, Flintlock Lodge had silenced Bluestem Prairie enough to leave Eddie satisfied. Once he’d tell each and every associate the news, Eddie eventually returned to the mountains on horseback, eyes exhausted and hands cracked and painful from the long days of travelling. Before he would even think of returning to the lodge itself, though, Eddie wanted to make one last stop before he was on his way again.

❝ You would have been proud. ❞ Eddie murmured softly beneath his breath, no ears to listen to those very words as he stood within the silence of the melting snow. A distance away from the lodge lay three men to rest, accompanied with three headstones with three names. Hands clasped thoughtfully behind his back, Eddie’s eyes traced across the very names. Alfonso Stirling. Dominik Stirling. Alfred Stirling. To whom Eddie was talking to, that would remain a mystery, but perhaps Eddie spoke as if he wished all three were listening. He always missed his brothers. As for Alfred, Eddie would forever remain conflicted; he despised his father, but despised even more the way he was slowly becoming him with each passing day.

He stood there for several minutes, vacantly watching the stillness of the ground in which they rested in, before he eventually turned to finish the final leg of his journey.

The horse wearily trudged along as they approached the lodge, Eddie soon stopping to hop off and tie it up outside the barn for Thomas to put away. Eddie hauled his bag over his shoulder, approaching the lodge silently until he heard an eager squeal. ❝ Eddie! ❞

Despite the grief Edmund nurtured, he would not set it free into the world for some unfortunate soul to have to deal with in his stead. Instead, he’d wait until his grief was done with its contemplations before he’d put it aside once again. He’d rise to finish off a day worth of chores, drown himself in whiskey and kiss his children goodnight. Today, he’d put his grief aside as he stopped in his tracks, huffing through his nostrils as he watched Ida bounding over to greet him. Tossing his bag aside, he lifted his little sister up as she hugged him, Henry soon treading over and standing nearby. He shifted in one spot, corner of his lip twitching, as if eager for Eddie’s acknowledgement.

❝ How’s everything been whilst I’ve been away, ‘ey? ❞ Eddie enquired, meeting Ida’s gaze before looking over towards Henry as he lowered Ida back down to the ground. ❝ It’s been good. ❞ Henry replied with a similar softness in his voice, Eddie nodding slowly before peering up at the beauty of the lodge. ❝ Good. ❞ Eddie uttered quietly, relief washing over him as he realised that finally they were all safe again.

He could never let his guard down, though. It was the sacrifice he'd make to ensure everyone remained safe for the foreseeable future.

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