|A Rivers and Hills By the Sea|
|Summary:||Knight and squire encounter the lady of ill repute (but good reputation) on the beach.|
|Coastline — Terrick's Roost|
|The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion.|
|Sun Sep 11, 288|
This long summer has birthed a sun that is full and bright, heating up the stones of the beach almost unbearably during most of the day. Even in the evening, the smooth rocks still give off a radiant heat, making things warm and sultry with the tang of the ocean breeze.
This one particular afternoon, however, a milk white form lays stretched out across the ground at some length down the beach. From a distance, it looks as if it might be a person. A little closer, and the person looks as if they had been washed ashore.
With morning drills done and the equipment stowed, Cayt's a-taking of his ease with Ser Jarod, going barefoot with his riding trousers buttoned up above his knee, loose linen shirt unlaced and loose, letting the breeze billow at it and cool the sweaty lad as he jumps from rock to rock in the bright afternoon, just winding up some utterly inappropriate anecdote or other for Ser Jarod's benefit. "An' then the bloke's wand'rin' in, his trousers half torn ta shreds, an' says he to the barkeep, 'Ay, so, where's that gramma with the sore tooth?'" Pitched upward at the end, as all the best punchlines should be delivered, as if he himself were half-restraining laughter.
Jarod is barefoot as well, pace easy and relaxed as he makes his way down the beach with Caytiv. The story gets a laugh from him, a loud and merry one that echoes down the coast. "I think I've heard that one before. Though the way I was told it, it was a dowager aunt, and it was her tongue that was sore. Though I suppose one hole's as good as another for it to work…" He trails off, squinting down the beach at the flash of something white on the shore. "You see that?" He points toward the form, quickening his stride and motioning for Caytiv to follow.
As the two men draw closer yet, it becomes apparent that the figure belongs to a young woman with long golden hair fanned out about her and down her back. Her hair, really, is almost as long as she is tall, but well kept and barbered, shining bright and dark gold as it dies under the heat of the relentless sun. The woman's clothing is wet as well, the cotton clinging to her form in places like a second skin. She is face down.
However, just as all this becomes apparent, the woman lets out a half-asleep sigh and shifts a little.
That is, until the clatter of stones reaches her ears and she pushes herself upwards with a knife appearing in hand and a street-hardened glint in her sky blue eyes. "Who are you and what do y—" The knife suddenly lowers. "I recognize you both," she says suddenly, her features losing their hard edge. A sheepish blush creeps onto her cheeks. "You startled me," she murmurs. "I'm sorry."
Caytiv doesn't, at first, but after the form's pointed out, all the mirth flees from his features and, "Ay," he answers back, a tense, tight syllable to accompany his leap to the next rock, then the next, making his way over at something close to a run's equivalent, then going to crouch down by the body before the body stirs and draws a knife on him, startling him enough to make him tumble backward from his crouch to sit on his butt on the stones. "We startled ye? Seven bless, lassie, we thought ye dead, ay? You go swimmin' in all a them clothes?"
"Indeed!" Jarod comes to an abrupt stop as Irys rises. He offers her a quick half-bow, holding his hands up. He's still wearing his sword, but no attempt is made to draw it. "Easy, Miss. We mean no harm and figured you may've been done some injury, laying so still as that. Are you all right?" He can't help but look her up and down appreciatively, though he does make some attempt not to leer. She's right there. He may as well look.
Irys suddenly smiles at Cativ, like the sun breaking from behind a cloud. "You're a westerman," she says, her own accent thickening back up in the presence of the other blonde. She pauses and slips the knife back into its sheath. "I know you mean no harm, Ser Jarod," she says a little distractedly. "The girls at the Rockcliff have told me how generous and ..attentive you are." The tiny doll-sized woman tilts her head at Caytiv. "Well, had some noblewoman been wandering down the strand, I didn't want to scandalize her by swimming in nary a stitch," she finally answers him. "Besides, my body isn't free. A full view requires compensation." She calmly readjusts her long hair, fanning it back out with some sort of order. Those blue eyes twinkle at Jerod. "I'm not dead," she says softly, her accent almost a twin to Caytiv's now. "I was letting my hair dry."
Caytiv leans to one side, pushing the heel of his hand on a rock and getting his feet back under him. "Ay," he confirms his nationality for Irys, one brow raised as if wondering why she'd meant to bring it up. He gets his elbows onto his knees, but remains crouched there, not standing, just yet. "I reckon most women, even the chaste lassies of the noblefolk, know what a lass looks like naked. So you trouble ye to swim in your clothing on the chance you'll find a lad to give ye coin to take 'em off?" He sounds highly dubious of this notion, and looks up and to his side at Jarod, as if looking for confirmation.
Jarod gets an easy laugh out Irys' words. Her comment makes him grin broadly. Almost proudly. "I work hard to maintain my reputation, Mistress Hill. And I am glad the girls speak not too poorly of me, for I am fond of them as well. It is Irys Hill, is it not? I've a poor head for names but faces I remember, and I recall you as a friend of Master Stragen Stone. He received your note you brought that day, by the by, though I did not see his reaction to it myself." A pause and he says, with a gesture to Caytiv. "This is young Caytiv Hill. Squire to my half-brother, the Young Lord Ser Jaremy Terrick. And brother to his betrothed, the Lady Anais Banefort. We were finished in our exercises for the day and taking a bit of liberty. The shore is a most pleasant place for it."
Irys does indeed incline her head a little at the mention of her name. "Indeed. Irys Hill of Silverhill. Though I've not been home in a good many years." Her eyes twinkle merrily at Caytiv. "A pleasure," she says easily. "And aye again. Stragen's an old friend of mine. Used to be one of my johns back in King's Landing. A regular of the whore house I was apprenticed under at the time." She pauses, her expression sobering up a little. "Thank you, by the way," she says quietly. "For helping him with.. you know."
Just as quick as that, she changes topics and turns back to Caytiv. "Well, I wouldn't wear this particular chemise for anything but sleeping or swimming to be honest. Even a whore has standards, my good man." Her eyes twinkle. "So you're a Banefort? Interesting. My father is Harrion Serrett, though I've not seen him since I left the Westerlands."
Caytiv might be a Westerman, but he spent most of his life in the Westerlands high on the mountain passes with very sparse neighbors and only his family and flocks for company, and the efforts made to cram his head full of every noble name in the universe before he left his father's house… well. He passed his test, but has subsequently forgotten much from ill-use. "Ay, well… the Lord Banefort has spied his seed in me." That's not to say that he's a Banefort, himself. "I don't get it… if your father's recognized ye, why does he let ye make your living suchwise as this, ay?" he wonders. He might not know who these people are, but Hill— that's a recognized bastard. He knows that much.
"Well, we're all of us kinsmen," Jarod says, boyish grin making him look even younger than his one-and-twenty years. "Hills and Rivers and the like. We should call on Master Stone, get us nearer to a whole set." He listens as Irys speaks of her family with some interest, though it's not a matter he presses for details on. As for Stragen, he inclines his head a touch. "I like Stragen, Miss, and I think he's a good sort. If he's had any trouble in our house it's trouble I can understand, and I hope he'll come out all right in the end. He seems to have a decent handle on the situation." He does some curious about the answer to Caytiv's last question.
Irys shrugs faintly and her smile grows a little. "Another question for another time," she answers merrily but firmly. "Let it suffice to say that my -chosen- profession was not what my father likely intended for me." She stretches languidly and then grins at Jarod. "Stragen -is- a good man. Not as many would take the time of day to befriend a whore, but Stragen's 'bout the only friend I've got in the world. Used to be just me and him back in the days. We looked out for each other. King's Landing is -not- the kindest of streets." Her eyes twinkle a little at something and she shakes her head. "I much prefer your 'Roost' in comparison, to be certain." Her blue eyes dance further. "The sewage smell isn't as pervasive."
Caytiv stands up, finally. "You chose it, so?" That's something to think about for a while, isn't it? He looks at her in her wet shift, lifts a hand to scratch with one finger at the corner of his mouth while she goes on. He has next to little opinion on Stragen, having met him in passing, perhaps, but never having spent much time with him, so he leaves that prong of the conversation to Jarod.
Jarod lifts his nose to sniff the air, as if checking for sewage. He nods in satisfaction. "Indeed, Miss, it's not too ripe out here. And aye. I can understand that. We're not entirely rustic I'd like to think, but this is a small place and most know most others at least by association. So if someone has trouble - or makes trouble - all hear about it sooner or later. How long ago were you in King's Landing? If it's an unpleasant story I'll not ask for details, but I'm curious if you spent time there since the Baratheons came to power. I must admit I'd like to see the place someday, just to visit. I hear Good King Robert keeps a merry court, and I would like to walk in his Grace's city, for I hold him in high esteem."
Irys pauses. "I made it to King's Landing… About five years ago," she says quietly. "Not quite five, but close enough." She seems to be considering her story as if trying to recall every detail in perfection. "After a little while of the streets there, I decided to apprentice myself to one of the finer whorehouses in King's Landing. His Grace does make his patronage there on occasion, but I never lay with him. I hadn't learned enough for the Madame to feel comfortable allowing me to attend the King." She shrugs. "The Docks are pleasant for me. The smell of the salt washes out the worst of the sewage stink." She turns back to Caytiv and gives him a slow, kind smile. "Yes. I chose it. It got me under a roof, gave me a bath, lots of fine clothes and pretty jewels to wear, plenty of money… And, frankly, I enjoy feeling men inside of me. Well, most men."
The traces of Cayt's uncertainty are slow to leave his features, but he quirks Irys a smile for the one she gives him, no less, quiet through her stories of the Landing and her reasons for choosing her profession. When she comes to the point, as it were, that she enjoys the work, Cayt gives a mirthful little huff. "I put coin down for a lassie's time before. I ne'er had a more wretched time of it. An' I mean no slight to your craft, lassie," he pardons himself, "But I've since reckoned that if a lass doesn't like the thing, well, you oughtn't do it to her, ay? An' if she does like the thing, well, why should I be the one to pay?" That last with a cheeky little grin and a glance to Jarod.
"I've always held the opinion there're some similarities between a whore and a warrior, Miss Irys," Jarod says, grin crooking in a self-deprecating sort of way. "Both do jobs they occasionally find unpleasant, but that the world shall never lose a need for, given the nature of men. And both spend a great deal of their time wrestling with the pointy end of something, generally for coin." He chuckles. To Caytiv, he shrugs. "For my part, I think paying keeps things simple. A few hours of fun, everyone gets something out of it, and you part at the end with no hard feelings or a need for anything more than that. Find it gets complicated with girls otherwise. And I do try to make it as un-wretched possible all around, for my part."
Irys can't help but roll her eyes a little, her expression amused if nothing else. "Men think in terms of wrestling and war," she says calmly. "For me, it's business. I have something men want that they can't get from proper girls and (more often than not) wives. Why should I give it away freely? Out of the kindness of my heart? Nay. If a man wants what I've to offer, then he can very well part with his silver." She does pause, however. "THough I shall give our friend the River his due. Payment does keep things simple." She straightens and stretches, pressing her bosom against the still damp shift as she arches her back. Eventually she pulls her hair over her shoulder and begins to braid it intricately. Her fingers move a deftly as a lady's maid.
"Take that sweet wench you were feeling up during the spar the other day," she says, nodding to Caytiv. "A nice girl, and she probably takes good care of you, aye? Maybe cooks you a bit of food to give you energy for your rolls through the tall grasses? Pretty soon, she'll stop wondering at the other women who look at you, Mr. Caytiv. She'll start eying them suspiciously. And she'll swoon for you prettily and light up when you come into view, aye, but she'll start expecting you to marry her, whether she's said she wouldn't or no." Her fingers never stop braiding. "And you might be fine with that. But if you're not, it's nothing that couldn't have been avoided by getting with a professional woman. Also, there's the problem of children. If you get a proper woman with child, you're in trouble. Get a whore pregnant? Not an issue as much."
"Thea's a dear lassie, ay," Cayt will assent to that much. "But she an' I understand a one another, I reckon. I like what she gives me, and she likes what I give her just as much. An' I hardly reckon she'll be wanting for t' marry me… she's taken up with Very, now," he points out, as if to ward off the notion of the lass getting all… clingy. Though if the uncomfortable angle of a shoulder has anything to say about it, Irys might have struck a nerve, there. "Though I do reckon a lass who's taken the time to practice the thing may know a thing or two more'n one with but a casual interest. It's fair enough that may be worth the money. Yet ofttimes to look upon a whore makes me sorrowful enough my cock forgets how pretty she may be. I reckon it's a horrible thing to be compelled by hunger an' need t' such a thing."
"I'm presently in the midst of navigating matters with a proper girl, as you put it, and I assure you it's very complicated," Jarod says, grin turning into a decidedly rueful smirk. "Only thing she hasn't taken from me recently is my coin, and I've not done too well by her, either, though I've meant no harm. But we'll see how that goes. It may save me some pocket money for a time if nothing else, even if I'm a fool for it. Oh really now?" He turns to Caytiv, when Veris is mentioned. "My squire's got himself a bit of girl, eh? Well, good on him. Just hope the pair of them have fun together, and don't do too wrong by each other. Not much more you can hope for when it comes to all that, I figure."
Irys just levels a look at Caytiv for some reason. "Don't pity a whore," she says quietly. "Pity a beaten woman, pity a child hated by her mother, pity the lass tossed aside by a highborn lord after he's claimed her, aye. But a whore that has made her choice? Do not pity her. It isn't 'such a thing', as you put it. It's a business, a service offered just like someone selling milk out of their farm wagon. And it happens to be more reliable than milk cows and more profitable." She shakes her head. "And why not?" She shrugs faintly as she ties off the ornate braid with a bit of silk ribbon that perfectly matches her eyes. "It's only sex."
She turns to look at Jarod for a moment and then chuckles softly. "I wish you better luck than I once had, trying to 'navigate matters'." Her eyes twinkle. She stands from her seat at last and reaches for the pack that was resting near where her head was. She slips a few silver bangles onto her wrist even as she pulls out a simple white surcoat damasked in silver and blue flowers. Silver toggles fasten up the front. A necklace is produced, also silver with sparkling white and blue stones set in the pendant, and this she slips over her golden head.
"Now," she says with a smile. "I do belive that I look proper enough to be escorted back into town," she says with a grin. "I'm off today and tonight, so I'd rather avoid the Rockcliff."
"Ay, so, yet— some lassies tend to take a softer view of the thing, don't they?" Cayt half-points out, half-asks. "An' find it a sorrowful thing to be close to a fellow she doesn't know. Even if they might choose it, it may well be there are few other choices for her to make. And a choice like that isn't much of a choice at all." Look at Cayt, going all soft-hearted on the matter. It may be his Lord Ser is wearing off on him. "I shouldn't like to think myself to have ever hurt a lass in such a way."
"Only sex," Jarod affirms with a short nod. "That's my thinking on it, Miss. Which needn't be a thing anyone's ashamed of, so long as everyone involved is honest." To Caytiv, he chuckles. "You sound like my fair lord brother. Well, that's not a bad quality, nor a bad way to view things. Still, I think everyone makes choices every day about what they want out of life, and I try not to judge folks for it, so long as they're living in an honest way. As I said before. I do think people should be kind to each other, whoever they are, and treat each other as they'd like to be treated. Can't do any better by another man or woman than that, I don't think." As for the other, he laughs. "My navigational abilities in matters of the heart aren't very impressive, and this particular lady seems keen on making everything more complicated than it needs to be. But, we'll see how it goes, and hopefully not wound each other too deeply when all's said and done. And we'd be honored to escort you back to town as gentlemen, Mistress Hill, if you aren't tired of our company yet."