It was not that she was embarrassed. Well, in truth, perhaps she was just a little. Ian's praise was far beyond anything she had expected him to utter in public. Still, as she looked around, her color deepened for the Elves seemed most interested and also were nodding their agreement.
Now she was faced with one of those diplomatic quandaries for which she had been prepared so carefully. How to defuse this one? What was at issue was that to refuse the request of her husband would be to rebuke him. She had little liking for that idea. On the other hand, to agree was to present, in Avalon, a spectacle of two Humans competing for dominance. That was not their purpose here. But what to do? Was there no third alternative?
At last she saw one. With a genuine smile, she took the two steps that brought her directly before Ian. She stretched up on tiptoe, risking losing her balance as she put up her chin and closed her eyes, pursing her lips as obviously as she could in expectation of a kiss. When Ian made good on her unvoiced request she stepped back with a smile.
"Guid Ian! What a lovely thought! Yet I dare say tha' Sir Falkirk and I wuid attract attention, and tha' is nae praeper on this aeccasion, dinnae ye see? We are here tae celebrate the jaeining of thy son Richard and ..." she double thought, and decided to use the Elven form of the half-Elf's name. "... Terahissa," she finished. "Ye dinnae want oos tae make a spectacle of oorsel'es, diu ye?" She smiled anew and reached to put a soft hand on the side of his chin. "Perhaps when we return to tae the Sleeping Dragon, ...?" she offered as a suggestion.
To her relief, Ian nodded and smiled, then swept her up and kissed her again. Off they went to join the hunt. The first buck they spotted was fast, though he was missing an ear. Ainsley touched the sides of her mount lightly and leaned forward, as she had been told to do. The horse complied and soon ran the buck to ground. One arrow from her dispatched the creature. An Elf dismounted and waved her onward to join Ian in his search.
She had to speak to him after he failed to chase down a buck and a doe that both, though thin, were able to run and dodge. The problem seemed to be his arm. The scars there and the lack of tone prevented him from bringing his bow to bear quickly enough. She suggested that he sit his horse standing and wait while she and two Elves selected and drove a deer toward him. He agreed and they found one that appeared to move more slowly than most. This one he was able to shoot, and it seemed to go down almost with an air of gratitude. Whatever had been the reason for it to be marked for the gathering had caused it discomfort.
The three Elves who had accompanied them brought the deer they had taken, as well as hers, and they began the task of skinning. The Elves immediately disappeared all of their clothing except a pair of very short trews that hardly hid anything. Ian's apparal also changed similarly. Ainsley believed that they kept those only because of her presence. For her part, she doffed her skirt, her shoes and hose, her blouse, and her kirtle, retaining only her shift. She wished for a pair of short trews like theirs, and some sort of a banding to go about her breasts, but sighed for the lack of such practical clothing.
A subtle tickling at her brain caused her to look about. One of the Elves raised an eyebrow, and stayed that way. She realised that he was inquiring if she wished for him to make the answer to her need a reality, and she nodded. The bottom of her shift kilted itself, and then began to shrink, while it also split at the waist. The upper part shortened into just such a breast-band as she had envisioned, while the lower part became a feminine version of the short trews. With a grin she took up her knife and began the process of dressing her deer.
As soon as she was finished, she went to help Ian. He was having more difficulty than she, for his weak right arm impeded his movements. They worked together for several minutes, and in brief course it was done. A few words and gestures from the Elves and they were cleaned of the gore of slaughter in seconds. Ainsley's shift recovered itself, all without leaving her in a compromised situation. She hurried to dress in the rest of her attire, glad to have that chore done. The five were back at Ravenscrag with their take long before the horn sounded the ending of the hunt.