|A courier, by any other name|
|Summary:||A brief farewell between Bastien and Ceinlys.|
|Orchard — Tanglewood Manor|
|Fragrant and far more orderly than the neighbouring wilderness of the Keeps gardens, the orchard is evidently well cared for and maintained. Immature apple trees are laid out in neat rows, with a few of their elders toward the far end; step-ladders and woven baskets awaiting the sweet produce for the kitchens and the towns brewers. Its a pleasant spot, safe in the shade of the high walls. One can stroll from here toward the main gardens, or closer toward the exterior of the Keep itself, where a vine-covered walkway appears to conceal a little seating area beyond.|
|January 25th, 290 A.L.|
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
- Romeo & Juliet
The Orchard, a place of peace and tranquility amongst the currently tumultuous Tanglewood Manor. The sun sits high in the sky as the afternoon's warmth spreads over the Riverlands. With the death of Aleister, everything seems to be up in the air. Since their last talk, Bastien seems to have started to make his way out of that stupor. The Young Lord is still quiet, but his introversion lacks the brooding and mournful nature it once previously held so close to its root. It's no surprise that he's been spending his spare time in the Gardens, walking amongst the trees and thinking about the future.
All morning the manor has bustled with the comings and goings of servants, namely those of the Lady Ceinlys' personal household but they haven't gone wanting for aid in the form of the Ashwood retainers. Unsurprising really, given how long they've all spent in each other's company these past months.. or years. When a man departs, even a Lord, it seems all he need do is hop astride his horse and be off down the road. Not so for a noblewoman. It's around midday by the time the last trunk is secured in place, the last books and papers swept from her grand table and onto the shelves, where they will remain until someone else comes to claim her former position. It's not the first time she's been through it, either.. only this time, the young woman is left without the bitterness upon her tongue; rather the sweetness of fond reminiscence, and sorrowful parting.
No doubt the new heir was aware of the goings on. At least, one would hope so. Still, Ceinlys doesn't seem surprised when, upon enquiry, she's directed toward the orchards beyond the gardens if she seeks the Young Lord.
With handfuls of her skirts grasped lightly in each fist, she crosses the grass without any real difficulty or concern, until she's amongst the fragrant branches of the blossoming trees. In a rare moment of solitude, having left Brigid dealing with the final touches of their journey back to Broadmoor, the raven-haired Haigh casts her gaze along the rows as she picks her way through, eventually sighting the towering form of the man she's looking for and starting toward him. She's not the sort to concern herself over intruding upon solitude, and well he knows it. "M'lord." Following the murmured greeting - and gentle nudge to awareness of her presence, were it lacking, she folds her hands before herself and simply waits.
Whatever the Young Lord has on his mind, its got him staring quite intently at a small bird perched upon a branch. He doesn't seem to notice Ceinlys immediately when she intrudes in upon his solitude, and after hearing a voice in the garden other than the wind's, Bastien's brown gaze sweeps down and over the much smaller woman. "Lady Ceinlys." There's a calm in the man's voice, familiar to her, and seemingly lost in the days since Aleister's death.
Taking a few steps towards her, Bastien clasps his hands behind his back and bows his head respectfully. "I'd hoped if I hid, you would not leave. It seems my plan has been foiled." The deadpan tone belies the humor in his words, and after a moment of brief pause, he bringsh is hands forward to draw a sealed letter out of his belt pouch. "This is for your father."
A knowing smile twitches at Ceinlys' lips, even as she inclines her head gently in return. "There are few places to hide in Tanglewood, Lord Bastien. And, alas for you, I know every one of them. Besides.. my cousin's wedding is only a few days away. I really do have to make sure everything is in order.. that, as you know, is definitely a task for a woman." Shaking back her ebon tresses, she too steps a little closer, undaunted by the man's intimidating size as he looks down upon her. "Everything is prepared and organised, within my chambers, should you or your new steward have need of anything. I believe everything is up-to-date as far as the treasury, also." This is likely as close as this particular young lady comes to small talk. Does she want to prolong her stay, even by a mere matter of moments?
Unthinkingly, she extends a hand to gracefully accept the letter as it's offered.. though she does pause, turning it over in her fingertips as her vivid eyes wander the thick vellum. Swiftly, they rise through dark lashes to regard Bastien in only half-jesting skepticism. "..there are matters you would discuss with my Lord father that you trust not to my lips, m'lord?" Crossing one arm across her slender midsection, she props the opposite elbow upon it and lightly taps the envelope against her lower lip, as if weighing her options. "Ought I be insulted, or intrigued?"
"If only it were a matter of trust. There are things which I feel it would be rude to discuss with your father, without allowing for my own personal touch in their delivery." Her question draws a strange sound from deep within the man's throat. The start of a chuckle, likely the first thing close to a laugh she's heard from him in the last few days. "The contents will be made known to you, should your father decide to accept my offer. I…" He contemplates his next few words, before giving her that look which belies his true nature. A soft kindness. "I would not want you to be disappointed by the contents of that letter, should your father turn me down."
Quirking a brow at the, let's face it, rather cryptic response from the ever-stoic nobleman, Ceinlys eventually concedes to settling the letter between her palms as they rest back down against her skirts. "Then I shall see it safely delivered and my unhappiness averted." For a moment, she simply offers him that quiet half smile of hers, looking up at him while a breeze stirs lazily through the orchard. But the silence cannot last forever.
"I just came to say goodbye, Bastien. And to wish you the very best of luck." There's not even a half-second hesitation as she steps a little closer, resting one hand upon his chest and standing on tiptoe to brush a kiss across his stubbled jaw then sinking back to her heels. A fond gesture between friends, nothing that would incite scandal. Then again.. it's Ceinlys. Likely by tomorrow she'll be rumored heavy with his child. Such is the way of the world. "You have a good heart.. and to an Ashwood, that is a strength. Not a weakness. I have every faith in you."
As her lips grace his jaw, the large man's stoicism slips up lets a warm smile seep through. Reaching forward, his large hand finds its place upon her shoulder and his head bows forward. His eyes settle on the letter in her hands for a moment more before he's looking up towards her face again. "Let the time between be short and your travels be safe, Lady Ceinlys." Her blessing does not recieve a reply, at least not one made verbally. The man seems proud. Prouder than he's been in these dark days, and after a moment he seems to hesitate before turning towards the way she walked to get here. "Shall I come along to see you off, then?"
"If you wish." With the letter still firmly wrapped within one hand, the other falls to hold her skirts just a fraction aloft of her riding boots as she prepares to cross the lawn once more. "Will you be attending the wedding yourself, then, m'lord? It might do you good to be away, if only for a night and.. practice mingling with those you'll need to sweeten to notions of trade." Does Ceinlys' mind ever stop working? Even now, when they could discuss more pleasant things.. but she means well. In this instance, anyway. Looping her envelope-wielding hand through the crook of his elbow, she links arms with the Young Lord and sets an easy stroll across the gardens, watching him idly sidelong.
It seems the thought of leaving his home never even occurred to the man, and as he walks beside Ceinlys, the possibility rolls itself over and around inside his head. Can he really trust this place not to fall to shambles without a responsible hand around to keep control? Erik might kill all the commoners. Daryl might sex them up. Who knows in which order, these days. Then again, Ceinlys speaks the truth as the Young Lord seems to have been trying to take the entire load of the Household onto his shoulders, and this small retreat could do him well. As they walk through the doorway into the great hall, Bastien nods to himself as he realizes it'll mean a quicker response from her father and a chance to meet the man in person. "I think I might. Would that I could quell the fear that I'll return to a home burnt to the ground by my mischievous family." There's a fondness in those words. Who knows, he might still love them afterwards.
A soft chuckle escapes the young woman and she squeezes gently upon Bastien's forearm as they wander toward the manor. "Welcome to my world. I never could leave without repeating my instructions to the guards at least five times, and checking the patrol arrangements myself." Looking up and aside to the tall Lord, she arches her brows and casts him a faint smile. "And yet, it still stands. Don't worry for Tanglewood, Bastien. She'll weather any storm. Look first to her heir." For a fleeting moment, she nudges at his shoulder with her temple, then straightens once more, admiring the very building they speak of and walk unhurriedly toward.
And out in the courtyard, the horses and men wait for their mistress, and the journey home.