|A Kinsman's Grace|
|Summary:||Ser Kerrigan Groves comes to the Roost to fetch Rebecca home. Between them the cousins prove what the smallfolk say about redheads.|
|Related Logs:||Rebecca at the Roost in general|
|Four Eagles Towr, courtyard followed by guest chamber|
|Room includes mumbling septa and heavily draped bed|
|18th November, 289|
The sun has begun to set, and thus the fourth son of Lord Campbell Groves rides into a courtyard cast in long shadows and fading light. While Kerrigan's horse is perhaps not the best that the Groves' stables has to offer, he is a fine beast, and they've been through a lot together. And in any case, the horse looks better groomed than Kerrigan does. His hair is in disarray, though there's probably not a comb in the kingdom brave enough to try and fix that mess. He is dressed, not in the purple of his house, but instead in non-descript, if fine, black.
It's been a while since he's been here, and even longer since he's seen his cousin Rebecca. He's spent at least the past year or two traveling and Kerrigan has returned a changed man. When a stablehand comes to assist him, he gives a curt nod, and dismounts, leaving the horse to his care.
Dressed like some stray Night's Watchman that cadet of House Groves might be, but his sombre composition is about to be disrupted by more than that ruddy, unkempt mane. A scrap of bright green cambric floats down from some high casement or other, weighed down with, well, something, to assist its aim.
<FS3> Rebecca rolls Marksmanship: Good Success.
Quite as its propellant had intended, the knotted up, emeraldine little handkerchief strikes the gallant young knight of Kingsgrove firmly among his tangled locks, and its ballast - a small quantity of flour - paints both the fiery hue of his head and the sober mien of his garb a paler shade. Should he glance up, in exasperation or even neutral surprise, he will first see a rope of hair familiar to his sight, similar but not identical in colour to his own, for it's a brighter red-gold - the colour of his aunt Sylvainne's head of hair before it went white. Near as white as her daughter's face, currently so impishly arranged, green eyes dancing down on the long adventured cousin, but not quite so white as flour…
"Baby Kerrigan," Rebecca's low, insinuating timbre calls down, "I had quite forgotten what they had done with you. What a sweet surprise."
Kerrigan makes a choked noise as the handkerchief hits him in the head, and he lifts a hand to his hair, fingertips coming away covered in flour. Startled (if not exactly surprised) he lifts his attention upwards, only to find Rebecca. "I am certain," he calls up to her, "they would very much like to forget as well. You're looking lively, cousin. I hope you're in good health." If he's angry, it doesn't show. Perhaps he thinks it would be wasted. Instead, he maintains a calm demeanor, as if about to discuss the weather or crop rotations or something droll.
"Well, whatever it was, you throve on it, cousin," that mischievous murmur continues. "So that amusing horse was yours? Well, I never…"
At that, Rebecca's blazing head withdraws further within the chamber and recedes from sight, leaving the knight of her blood to kick his bespurred heels a few more minutes. Eventually, though, a youth marches smartly out of a side door between trellises laden with blooms; the lad is attired not in Terrick livery, but a tabard of Kingsgrove. "M'lord," the boy pronounces with nervous gravity, "m'lady Rebecca Nayland, Young Nayland of the Mire that was, should and shall be, requests y'follow me up to her quarters. She also bade me attend yer with this."
The groom is carrying a sponge and a rag, both sopping with clean, cold water…
"That won't be necessary," Kerrigan's words have a certain bite to them, but it's clear that he's attempting to be polite to the poor boy, since it isn't his fault that Rebecca is — well. Rebecca. "Perhaps I'll start a new fashion." Evidently, the flour'd hair is the least of his concerns at the moment. "Just take me to Lady Rebecca, if you would." He doesn't exactly wait for a reply. Instead, he starts heading towards the house with long, determined strides.
It may be fairly clear that the boy is as alarmed by the knight as he is enthralled by his mistress, and in either case obedience is his inevitable course. He puts the rag and sponge in the same hand and attempts to stoy them behind his back in a perfect blend of finesse and embarrassment, that leads to him accidentally distributing the cold water over the hind of his britches. Sopping or not, though, he has loitered here at Rebecca's command long enough to be fairly reliable as a guide, and not so much longer, he and Ser Kerrigan stand before a wide portal of light wood, an inch open. The boy knocks as a formality, is ceremoniously bidden within, and then opens the knight's way fully.
"That will be all, Lovel, unless my cousin desires wine; up here we have only the last of our own cider," the quiet, silky voice intones. Rebecca rises now from her place sprawled behind the draperies above her pallet bed. She looks accoutred for a ride, except that her hair is unwound and unrestrained, and she extends towards her twenty-years younger kinsman a long arm, with a large white hand, and justly famous claws. In one corner maunders an ancient septa Kerrigan might just recall from his boyhood, Bridwayne, mumbling to herself in supplication to the Crone. It is quite rare to find that pious dame awake…
"We won't be staying long," is Kerrigan's terse reply to talk of wine or cider. "I hope that you've prepared your things, cousin. We've all been looking forward to your return home." He takes the offered hand, bows over it, no more and no less than required. The knight seems… tense. To say the least.
"Things?" her reply comes in an innocent lilt. "I believe my possessions are all packed, cousin, save two. My new maid is not yet returned from an errand in the Roost-town - as dear Stafford sent me no word of your coming, I could hardly know when to command the dear creature to await you. And the Mire is hardly a moveable chattel. Nonetheless…"
She has his hand, and it seems she intends to manoeuvre it. "Do come and sit beside me further within, for a little. Where we are private, save ourselves and the septa…and then perhaps…well…I may be able to make certain…adversities…clearer…"
Kerrigan does not look thrilled. In fact, he looks like he's dearly considering telling the maid to follow later. He was impatient before he arrived; and after this family reunion, his restlessness has only grown. "Adversities?" he repeats, eyebrows raised, as he allows Rebecca to draw him further into the room. "I am sorry to hear that you have been troubled, cousin. It was my understanding that your hosts were being kind to you; if that is not the case, it is only more reason for us to quit this place as soon as possible."
Rebecca's smile widens…but so do those rather alarming feline eyes, and she adds in what would be a hiss, were it not so imploring, "Quieter, cousin." Releasing his hand now, she nonetheless glides firmly into the further chamber himself, impelling him to follow her if he would. "If Stafford had come himself…I do not know whether he told you why I requested an escort? What he himself wrote, requested, heretofore? We must talk on this…ser cousin." She adds the title with a diminishment of her grin, an appeal to the seriousness coming to the fore in this young man so far, and as she sinks back down on the pallet's far side, she motions him to join her, either beside her or on the seat opposite.
Kerrigan tries not to sigh, but he still exhales, suddenly feeling as though he's not going to avoid this conversation and must resign himself to it. He takes a seat on the chair opposite the bed. "Stafford has only asked me to escort you home," he answers, "and treat you as you deserve." Which, could perhaps be questionable, considering Kerrigan's current opinion of the situation. Then, he quiets, to listen to what Rebecca has to say.
"And I take it, cousin dear, that your own judgment of that desert is scarcely a lofty one," Rebecca replies quickly in a queerly ambiguous tone, as low a whisper as ever, but with both asperity and tenderness about it. "You would not be the first to mistrust me, though few stoop to accuse me of any misdeed. However, your brother is of a different stamp. He gave me a task, Ser Kerrigan," Rebecca insists with quivering intensity, "and I have carried it out. It was a dangerous boon, in its way, but I did it. That is both why we must leave, …and why we cannot, not yet, not so fast as to leave any impression of…discourtesy. Linger, Ser Kerrigan. You have grown tall and charming; charm, then, our hosts. In a day or two, we shall return with Terrick affection and honour, home to Kingsgrove. And none shall know that we take a dear treasure indeed away with us, a rare secret. None shall know, till we are safe back with Stafford, that I have found out who is the sire of Lucienne Terrick's unspawned bastard. A truth that could tear down this castle where the Ironborn failed, were it known."
"I have neither mistrusted you or laid accusations at your feet, dear cousin," Kerrigan replies. "You are, after all, the one who attacked me upon arrival. Your own conduct shall determine how we shall proceed." And then, he /smiles/ at Rebecca, showing his teeth. "I don't have any use for the affection of the Terricks. If you have discovered this secret, then let us leave now with it, so that we can, as you say, tear down this castle. I don't see how courtesies come into it, especially when the Terricks have shown so little regard towards us in the past."
"Attack…?" Rebecca reiterates with an incongruous, throaty giggle. "My dear boy, what sort of knight quails so 'gainst flour? Had it been an egg, would you have bled…?" Notorious for attacking a knight of Frey in truth not so long ago, scratching his face so that he collapsed, Rebecca no doubt finds this new charge irresistibly comic, but soon she has calmed to her earlier tone of slightly severe urgency. "Would you ride out like a thief, cousin, with not one eagle hailed? 'Twould be ill done. You are yet but young, ser, howsoever bold. If you deem the Terricks enemies, …then you should dare to learn, by speaking them meadow-fair and harbouring steel intent. That, at least, I could begin to teach you."
Her large green irises assume a darker colour; no doubt countless instances of resentment against practically every House in the Cape, Frey foremost, her own of Nayland, her hosts of Terrick, aye, and Groves too on certain accounts, gleam in her heart as they brood in her stare.
Kerrigan takes a deep breath as he considers his options, and answers Rebecca, frankly: "I don't give a shit." Well, someone is a RAY OF SUNSHINE. "I wasn't asked here to play nice with the other children. I came here to collect you, and that is what I will do."
Nayland maidens of Rickart’s second line may perhaps swear like barrack-room whores, but Lady Rebecca has been nurtured for longer and in a more rarefied ambience, living for years in seclusion with her mother and her septa, meditating on often forgotten interpretations of the Seven, glorious lineages of ancient Houses, or the sublime altitude of the Right Line of Kings. So at her kinsman's coarse word, she blanches like one dead, rolls on her side, and creeps onto the centre of the pallet, further away from Kerrigan. The septa - who might be expected to protest too - continues to mumble to herself, obviously far, far gone in dotage. It is the lady of Nayland, by name, who replies alone.
"Will you so, Ser Kerrigan Groves? Then it shall be by force, and against all the power of Terrick, unless you use me with more of a knight's grace, and a kinsman's."
"I have no problem tying you to your horse," Kerrigan informs Rebecca, conversationally, as if he does it all the time. "As I said before, it's up to you. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. And regardless of what you choose, you can make your complaints to Stafford when we meet him, and I'm sure he'll have a more sympathetic ear than I."
"You stupid, churlish …baby!" comes the lady's voice, raised louder than its nature inclines, for she has now enswathed herself entirely behind the draperies hanging over the bed. "You truly imagine House Terrick will permit you to carry away one of their guests by force?"
"I suppose we'll find out," is Kerrigan's cheerful reply. He rises to his feet, then. "I have come with the support of House Groves, and I somehow doubt they are going to jump at the opportunity to offend us further, Rebecca, by exerting themselves over you."
No answer is now forthcoming from behind the arras; and if Ser Kerrigan means to make good his threat, it seems he will have to climb onto the bed to reach his lady cousin…
As angry as Kerrigan is, it seems that he has little desire to terrify his cousin, or drag her out into the courtyard for the whole world to see. Decisions, decisions. He runs a frustrated hand through his hair. "I'm not going to hurt you," he says, tersely. "If you are determined to say, then I won't force you, but I'll be headed back to Kingsgrove without you directly. I have business that doesn't include chasing after a stubborn cousin. And, frankly, given the welcome I received I'm not inclined to waste my time on it."
A long enough pause results for Ser Kerrigan's long stride, perhaps, to begin to convey him out of the guest chamber - and then Rebecca's head slides out from between the curtains of faded, dusty purple fabric. Her voice is slightly hoarse from her earlier shout of defiance, creeping up from a low rasp. "Cousin, do you wish to do your duty to your brother, and Young Lord? If so…", she sounds practically overcome with shyness now, cautious enveigling, "perhaps you might try to …persuade… me that he, that you, that any of your," she gulps, "our House actually desire to see me anywhere other than the motherhouse, or the grave. I have had little proof of that, these past, long years."
"My lady, I can't even convince myself that they give a damn about me, let alone you," is Kerrigan's brutal reply. Oh, yes. He's very angry. "If you were so concerned about their good favor, perhaps you could conduct yourself in a fashion more befitting of a lady. I'm not unsympathetic to your situation, but that does not give you license to behave thusly. I don't need to persuade you of anything. The way I see it, you need to convince them. And you can begin by collecting your things and leaving with me without further argument." A weighty pause follows, where he watches Rebecca intently. "Or I will have to bid you good night, cousin, and leave you to the consequences of your choice."
"So that is how it is," the noblewoman gasps out, sounding more of the way to her true age than usual. Silence falls again, but not dead quiet as before, a hush torn ragged by Rebecca's unsettled breathing. "Well, ser. As I told you, one of my most mobile things, a new handmaid, is in the village. She will be back, as I count, within the hour. If you await her return - and you needn't even do so under this roof, the Rockcliff Inn is, I gather, acceptable - then I am willing to accompany you…home. The girl, the septa, the boy and I will meet with you at the inn I just mentioned. If you refuse me as much as that, then I stay. The little chit has shown me more kindness in weeks than either of my Houses in decades, and I go nowhere without her. Are we agreed?"
Kerrigan watches Rebecca for a long moment, as if trying to determine if she'll do anything foolish once he leaves. "Very well," he acquiesces. "You will meet me at the inn. I need a drink, in any case." And one can only hope that his mood is improved by it. He gives a short bow.
"I hope it slakes whatever burns within you, cousin," Rebecca returns, relapsing into a dreamier mood. "We shall be there in an hour, or two at the most; for now, good even." She responds to his bow by putting her long hand to her lips - hard to tell if it's ironical - before she draws her draperies shut once more.
"Your servant, my lady," Kerrigan bows again, and then makes his departure. The door slams.