|Summary:||A summary of events leading to the acquisition of Highfield.|
|Related Logs:||Prior to A Timely Warning|
|Hollyholt Keep and the inn in Stonebridge|
February 28th, 289 A.L.: Arriving at Hollyholt, Ceinlys and Aleister finally voice what they're really thinking…
Evening had fallen by the time the Charlton entourage had reached the gates of Hollyholt and as such, much of the town was bypassed as Aleister led the group to the keep proper, so that horses and the like could be tended to. With that, retainers and servants scurried about, eager to deposit the supplies and personal effects in the proper rooms, so that they could be dismissed to visit with family and friends in the limited time that they were afforded. Ceinlys was escorted to a suite within the keep, one that resides within an almost empty wing of the keep, though that doesn't detract from the splendor of things. Tapestries and statues line the halls and within the suite, the plush carpeting covers the floor, while elegant oak sets the stage for the items within the rooms.
With his own horse tended to, Aleister had made his way to that same empty portion of the keep and then to a series of rooms that made up his chambers. There, he'd resided for a period of time and when he ventured back out, angling down the corridor to that of Ceinlys room, to offer a light knock and a quick, "Lady Erenford," he was no longer clad in armor. Instead, an elegant outfit of blacks and greens has been chosen, no doubt designed in the fashion of the colors of his house.
The young lady has been well attended to, since her arrival. And, truth be told, Ceinlys seems to have missed being treated as the noblewoman, rather than the attendant - it is her rightful standing, after all. The suite is more than adequate, after so long spent in tents and inns; the lavish decor suited to her tastes and admired greatly for quite some time as she settled in. But, one cannot spend all night gazing in fascination upon tapestries.. tempting as it may be.
Freshly bathed and attired in fresh garments of luscious gold hues, the raven-haired noble is comfortably residing, for the moment, upon a padded window-seat, idly flicking through a leatherbound tome from the libraries of the Keep. Why not learn a little something of the heritage of this place and those who have dwelt within its walls? Occasionally a hand strays toward the cup of warmed wine she has been sipping at steadily. But, for the most part, she is still and content, her legs curled up beneath her under the cover of opulent skirts and tendrils of glossy dark hair now and then tumbling forward with the downward cant of her head.
Undisturbed by the light knocking, she leaves it to one of the family handmaidens to answer it. She has been assigned a few. Ladies have their needs, after all. Even those as forthright and brave as the Lady Erenford. Pulling the door ajar, the middle-aged retainer dips a low, low curtsey as she realises who waits beyond, then hauls it open wide, turning to rouse the attention of her temporary mistress. "M'lady… Lord Aleister is here." Ahh, no doubt the desired effect. Letting her book lower to rest lightly upon her knee, her thumb keeping it open at her current page, the young lady looks up now with a warm smile of greeting toward the Charlton. Her chambers are softly lit, aside from the bright-burning lamp in the window by which she reads, and the scents of numerous herbs and that spicy wine is apparent. Yes.. she looks happy enough.
As the door to the chambers comes to be offered, Aleister is dipping a slight nod of his head to the handmaiden, offering a softly murmered, "Mistress." Then, as the doorway comes to be opened entirely, he's taking a step within it's frame and then another, bringing him into the room proper. A flit of his eyes takes in the surroundings, from the softly lit lights to the glowing lamp by the window. There, a smile comes to play across his lips as he gives a bow of his head in Ceinlys direction, "Lady Erenford."
Rising from that bow, he begins to move further into the room, angling over in her direction, though stopping several feet away, the smile still holding to his lips. A show, perhaps, for the maidens that linger and aren't of his choosing. "I hope you are finding that chambers to your liking, my Lady. They are some of the finest that can be found within the keep." That said, there's a quick look to one of the maidens and a quick, "Wine," before he's looking back in his 'guests' direction.
"Ser." The murmured, formal greeting is accompanied by a demure downward cast of blue eyes and a subtle incline of Ceinlys' head, in parody of a seated curtsey. But her smile holds as her gaze returns and she turns her book over, settling it face-down for now upon the sweeping gold of her skirts, the better to afford her visitor her full attention. If the maids in attendance are disturbed by aleister's being here, it doesn't show; mostly they are still busied with making last finishing touches to the woman's accomodations for the evening. Bedcovers are smoothed with light palms, fresh candles replace those that have almost burnt out, a washbasin is set on a sidetable with a pitcher alongside. It's nice to be treated so well, but at the same time, such luxury is not entirely new to the woman. She barely seems to notice these goings on.
As the maid from the door dips another curtsey and hastens off to fetch the Lord his wine, Ceinlys pulls some of the voluminous fabric of her clothing aside, freeing space on the upholstered cushions of the curved windowseat. "They are perfectly lovely, truly." Whether she believes the tale of their esteem or not, she seems genuinely appreciative. "And yourself? I trust you have settled in comfortably." Those vivid blue eyes flit, just briefly, over his new garb. And not without approval, though she doesn't dare to voice it in present company.
That smile remains light upon Aleister's lips and as the handmaidens move about, tending to their duties, he's sparing them each a quick glance before returning his attention back in the direction of Ceinlys, "Good." Then, at the mention of his own comfort, there's another nod and a light chuckle that escapes past his lips, "Indeed I am, my Lady. It is nice to be back in my own chambers, even if it's only for a day or two." No doubt he dislikes the quality of tent living as much as the next person.
"Was it your intention to remain within this evening? Or would you prefer if I had the servants prepare the dining room for a meal?" Smoothing a hand lightly against the side of his pants, he begins his approach towards her and that windowseat, though he makes no move to lower down to it. Instead, a hand makes a slight motion in it's direction as he offers a quick, "May I?".
"Of course." There's room enough for two, and even for a modest space between. Propping an elbow comfortably on the windowsill, Ceinlys lets her gaze briefly wander past the lantern and glass, to the twinkling lights of Hollyholt far below. It's rare to see her so relaxed, particularly with an idle smile to play about her lips. But there's no particular necessity for machinations this evening.. and she is far from the skeptical, wary eyes that she has begun to grow accustomed to. "I did not wish to presume, Ser.. I had thought you might wish to sup with your kin, at least tonight, and intended to keep out of the way, for such an event."
Turning her cerulean eyes back toward Aleister's dark ones, the young lady quirks a wider smile. "..I have no desire to impose too far upon your hospitality. I can just as easily dine here, for tonight." She doesn't question why he's here, despite the protestations of his prior and far more binding ties by blood. Didn't she say that his company was ever considered a pleasant boon? "Have you plans? Other than much-needed rest?"
There's a simple bow of Aleister's head before he's shifting and then lowering himself down onto that window seat, hands coming to clasp within his lap as his own eyes drift over to look over the city. They rest there for just a moment before returning to Ceinlys so that he can give a slight shake of his head, "I had actually intended to take breakfast with my family, not supper, so there is nothing binding me to them for this evening."
Now, a soft laugh slips past his lips as he gives a quick shake of his head, "You could hardly impose, Lady Erenford, for while you are here, you are a welcome guest and to be treated as such." Ever so polite and proper on this evening and as such, the smile remains upon those lips of his, even as he turns back to look out upon the view that the window provides.. "Aside from rest, which will come, I have not plans of any importance. I had thought to have something light delivered from the kitchen and then consider what the evening might hold."
"In that case.. I have a request." Shifting her weight a little, Ceinlys props her jaw in the cup of her palm, elbow still settled on the windowsill, and regards the man beside her in profile thoughtfully. "Once you have eaten, of course." She chances a slight smirk at this. Never come between a man and his food. "I should like to see more of the Keep. Would you be averse to giving me a tour, later?" Her vibrant eyes are distracted as the maid returns, offering the cup of warmed wine toward the Charlton Lord with cowed deference. In a brief, shining moment of kindness, Ceinlys offers a subtle nod of approval, before addressing the chamber at large and those within it.
"Ladies, you may leave me now. I thank you for your assistance and company." It's more polite than she really has to be. But here, of all places, it's better to err on the side of gentle charisma. That way, if her reputation precedes her she can cast it into doubt.. and if not, a new one will hopefully not blossom in the meantime. Of course, it hasn't escaped her notice; the choice of suite. In a near-empty wing, and not too far from Aleister's own chambers. Oh, the things she could imagine. Could. But shan't.
The servants bid their farewells with curtseys, then make themselves scarce without hesitation. None of them are chaperone to the young lady.. and most likely they are all rather hungry themselves, by now.
Her mention of a request perks Aleister's interest, causing him to turn back towards her as a brow begins to loft upwards. Lips curve from smile to smirk as he dips a nod of his head towards her, an indication to continue. Then, when the request is made, a low chuckle sounds in his throat before he offers, "It would be my pleasure, my Lady. But, we needn't wait for me to eat, for I can do so after such a thing, if you would prefer." The reutning of the maid with his wine draws his attention and as he accepts the cup, he's offering a simple nod of his head before looking back to Ceinlys.
Lifting the cup to his lips, a small sip of the warmed liquid is taken and for a moment, it's simply savored as she see's fit to dismiss her attendants for the evening. A flit of his eyes watches their farewells and curtseys and when the last of them has made their retreat, he's turning those darkened eyes back in her direction, "Such a wonderful display of politeness, Ceinlys." A slight, little tease is what that is.
Reaching for her own wine again, now that her visitor has his own cup, Ceinlys takes a small sip, not bothering to watch the servants as they depart and instead letting her attention stray to the window again. The silhouettes of she and Aleister reflect strangely in the glass, with the lights of the town in the distance beyond. Which is she looking at? "You sound surprised, Aleister." she remarks, drily, having swept the last trace of moisture from her lower lip with a flick of her tongue. "I am capable of being pleasant, as I told you before. And shouldn't I do my best to please, in your household..?" Looking toward the man, she captures his gaze with her own when she finds it upon her and offers him a smirk right back.
After a moment, it widens to a slight grin. "..you were doing it, too, you know. Feels strange, does it not, to be in such a place again?" Fine rooms? a Keep? a city? Hard to say. "I expect you will be busy tomorrow, then. Is there anything you would have me do, while you are meeting with you brethren and such? Or shall I simply wander aimlessly and enjoy being the mistress of my own destiny..?" Shaking aside an errant ebony lock from her brow, only to have it then fall to be ignored against the sweeping curve of her jaw, the Lady Erenford studies Aleister expectantly. Regardless of what she may say.. she seems very glad to be in a place such as this.
With his attention settled upon her, Aleister allows his fingertips to tap idly against the side of his cup as that smirk returns to play across his lips, "Perhaps I am, Cein. I suppose I have not had cause to see such a display, prior to now." Regardless, there is a slight nod of his head and another soft chuckle, "Oh, I had no doubt that you could be pleasant, to that degree, and I would not argue that it has it's place here. I was simply .. impressed." The smirk deepens a touch before being hidden beneath the confines of his cup, which has returned to his lips for a longer sip this time.
When the cup finally comes to be lowered, there's that hint of a rumbling laugh that sounds in his throat as he gives a slight nod of his head, "I was. A necessity to ensure that my family did not think me ungrateful for the short notice of the visit and the fact that most of my personal attendants remained back with my wife." Letting his eyes wander from her, they come to settle on the pane of glass to the side, studying something beyond or within as he murmers, "It does feel nice and you are right, I will be busy for a portion of tomorrow, for I must meet with my Uncle about matters. While I am tending to such things, you are welcome to explore the city at your leisure. I'm sure you will find many things to your liking, my dear."
Well. There's a revelation. Quirking a brow, Ceinlys remains silent for a long moment, content to merely watch the nuances within her companion's expressions with what is steadily becoming a practiced eye. Eventually, though, she does comment, albeit sotto voce; "..so I vex you.. and now I impress you. This is good to know. What would you have me do next, m'lord..?" The honorific is a faint jest. she never calls him that, usually. "Surprise you some other way, perhaps? Throw a new step into the dance, just when you think you are grasping it?" Even as she's saying it, though, the young lady stretches, languid as a cat, and sets down her wine for the time being. "..no. This trip ought to be a pleasant one. I shall try not to distract you from your business." Of course she will. Because that's what she's good at. Not distracting Aleister.
Dropping her arms with a satisfied sigh, having eased muscles weary from a day of riding, Ceinlys folds her hands in her lap. "I can always find something to amuse myself. As you well know. But a day to myself may be a rare treat. Thank you." Tilting her head a little, she smiles almost fondly as she observes his gaze wandering to the dark window. There's no reason to press him on the whys and wherefores of his meeting, come morning. Or rather, little point. If he wishes her to know, he will tell her. If not? It'd be futile to ask.
Aleister can't help the smirk that dances upon his lips, teasing there for a moment before being broken as he inclines his head just a touch to her words, "I will leave what to do next, to you, my dear Ceinlys. But I have no doubt that you will surprise me, for you have yet to not." Lifting the cup back to his lips, the contents within are finally drained in a long haul and when the cup is lowered back down, he's idly setting it off to the side before offering, almost as an aside, "Hardly a distraction. And if you are, it's a pleasant one from the day-to-day nuances of things."
For a moment, his eyes remain fixed upon a point in that window. Perhaps watching her reflection or the glittering lights that linger within the town. Which ever, though, seems to be holding his attention until he gives a slight shake of his head before looking back to her. "Enjoy it. I fear that as quickly as tomorrow comes, you will find it gone and we will be returning to Stonebridge, where we must content ourselves with what they have to offer." Absently, a hand lifts to rub lightly at his shoulder before his hand falls away so that his arm can come to rest upon that window sill, "You know. I almost wish that we had more time."
"I try." remarks the young lady, equally offhand. She doesn't seem perturbed by Aleister's attention being elsewhere. At least for a little while. It grants her the chance to look at him more closely than she would with those dark eyes upon her in kind. "And I will make the most of what time we have here, as best as I am able.. I only hope you, also, find time to take enjoyment from it." Lowering her gaze now to her fingers, she twines them loosely in her lap, looking distant for a short time. She even ignores the forward tumble of her tresses with the motion. The raven waves are entirely loose, this evening; not a single pin within their silky curls. "..I almost wish the same. Almost. Stonebridge holds little interest for me.. and it will hold even less, with you gone, I fear."
Her attention is drawn back upward with the movement of Aleister's arm - observant rather than startled. "Pretend, for a moment, that you had all the time in the world here. That your hours wer truly your own, just for a while." Ceinlys' lips twitch in the ghost of a smile as she sets the foundation for toying with the Charlton Lord, seemingly sleepy blue eyes tracing across the shadows the lamplight throws across his features. "..how would you desire to spend this evening? Or tomorrow? What would you do, if you could do anything, Aleister Charlton?" Perhaps to ease him into the game, she offers her own answer first. "Myself.. well, how a Lady chooses to spend the dark hours is perhaps not a seemly thing to speak of, in such fine and gentle company. But tomorrow? I would want to see street performers. I would want to go hunting. I'd spend some time loosing arrows and some in watching swordplay. I would buy a dress of exquisite crimson and the gems to match, and be taken dancing. I would swim naked in the river.." Yes, she said that much out loud. "..and dry myself in the afternoon sunlight, in the grass of a meadow. I would stroll the streets cloaked and hooded and drink some outrageous concoction from a lowly inn. I would wander the gardens and pick one of every kind of flower. But most of all, Aleister?" Her smile turns almost wistful. "..in this pleasant fiction of mine? I would be the one to kiss you farewell when you took your leave.. and the one warming your bed upon your return."
A quiet laugh escapes past Aleister's lips as he once more inclines his head to her words, followed by a murmered, "Oh, I will make the most of the time that we have, Ceinlys. For this venture from Stonebridge and the Roost, I will surely not take for granted. It may be some time before the luxury of a visit such as this presents itself again."
He's silent then, listening to what she has to say, his brow arching with the question and when it lowers and she begins to answer first, there's a slight tilt of his head. Something within those words draws the hint of a smirk, a shift of his body and a murmered sound of nothingness, though it's hard to say just what caused it. And when she finishes and a sigh has escaped past his lips, he's leaning a bit towards her as he settles his weight against the arm upon that window sill. "If the days and nights were mine to commands, Cein, I would relish in a bout of senseless swordplay where money was wagered and winnings spent upon the drinks for those involved. I would partake in a hunt and enjoy the ride amongst the tree's, with nothing but the breeze to harass my senses." Now, his eyes drift from her, shifting back to the window and the view that it has to offer, "I would walk the streets and visit the merchants, buying things not because I need or want them, but because I can. I would enjoy a swim and the view that it provided." A look back and there's the teasing hint of a grin upon his lips, though it fades to that of a slight smirk as he leans in a touch more, his words dropping to that of a low murmer, "But were this more then just a pleasant fiction, I would spend the evening entirely in your company. To tease and to please and to savor that which is hidden from view." A breath of a pause and he's adding, "That, is what I would desire to do."
She can't help herself. At that mischievous sidelong glance and the smirk that accompanies it, Ceinlys laughs softly, the rare sound a melodic and pleasant thing to behold. Raking back her hair with the fingertips of one hand as she listens to his low timbred notions, pushing the lustrous waves back behind her shoulders, the young lady seems strangely lulled; enough that she doesn't bother to pull back or even really notice when he leans closer. Well. Of course she notices. The sudden thumping rate of her pulse attests to that.
Unthinkingly, she draws a hand up, with the simple intent of tracing her fingers in a light caress from his temple, along his cheek to the line of his jaw; a slow sigh escaping her. "..a very pleasant fiction.." she murmurs, able to speak very softly now that he has drawn closer. Searching his eyes, after a pause, she seems to hesitate, as if she had been intending to speak further only then to think better of it. In the end, it's merely his name, breathed barely audibly as her thumb explores the contour of his cheekbone.
"..it seems our desires are not so grandiose as the world might assume." It takes her a good few moments to muster even that remark.. and still, it seems the young lady still sways over a decision. "..at least for tonight."
Dark eyes follow the movement of her hand as she pushes those lustrous waves back behind her shoulders, something that he finds rather pleasant to watch and when the movement comes to end, Aleister is seeking to find those glacial eyes of hers, the smirk still holding lightly to his lips. He'd certainly moved closer, but he doesn't move to close any further towards her, nor does he shy away when her hand lifts to run that caress from temple to cheek and then along the line of his jaw. In fact, his head shifts a touch, canting into the touch, lips parting to offer the a near breathless sound.
"No .. tonight, the desires do not venture so grandoise as others might assume," is murmered softly as his eyes remain fixed upon her. Having noted that initial hesitation, his hand lifts upwards, fingertips coming to graze lightly against her arm and then her shoulder, the touch something light and airy, barely there and yet firm enough for it's presence to be noted, "Say what you wish to say, Cein."
"I do not know that I wish to say it. But I have to, all the same." Even that fleeting touch along her arm, across the soft gold of her dress, rouses a falter to her words and Ceinlys visibly steels herself against further lapses. Or tries to. Her own hand comes to rest at the side of his throat, following a smile at the lean toward her palm. Drawing a deep, steadying breath, her vivid eyes offered an ethereal golden gleam by the lamplight so close by, the young lady keeps her tone quiet.. but it doesn't want for sincerity.
"There is no benefit to you, in any sort of union with me, Aleister. I think.. you enjoy the idea of me. I know you enjoy the thought of taking me to your bed.." Her gaze flits past him, briefly, toward the waiting four-poster in the adjoining chamber. If not his own bed, then just 'a' bed. "..and I think you know all too well how much I wish to let you. But I do not believe you ever have any intention of having me at your side, not truly." Raising her hand a little once more, she traces the outline of his upper lip with a featherlight touch of one fingertip, watching the motion in fascination. "Given my past, perhaps that does not bother me, in itself. But I find myself wondering why you would bother to imply it, all the same." Pressing her lips together for a fleeting moment in a firm line, she looks back up into the heat of his dark eyes.. then just says what she actually wishes to. "Stay?"
For his part, Aleister remains silent, fingertips continuing that light caress along her shoulder and upper arm before finally coming to still, his hand shifting so that his palm can simply settle against the fabric of her dress. As her hand comes to settle against the side of his throat, he's straightening a touch, eyes never wavering from her.
As she begins to speak, he's listening intently, his brow arching just a touch and the hint of a smirk appearing upon his lips, before it's brushed away by the kiss that comes to be offered to the fingertip that brushes his upper lip. Whe she finishes, his hand begins to fall away and one might see the tensing of muscles, an indication that his weight shifts to prepare for him rising. The motion is stilled, though, by her request to stay, to which he's giving an ever so slight nod of his head. A moment's pause follows, before he's breaking it with a soft murmer, "There is much benefit in such a thing, Cein, and you do yourself an injustice by thinking otherwise." Now, the smirk returns, muscles releasing that stored tension, though his hand doesn't return to her arm. Rather, it comes to rest in his lap, though his eyes remain ever-fixed upon her, "Perhaps there was some truth to what you say, at some point. Perhaps their might still be a measure of truth to them now, though I find that waning with the passing of each day. But .." In these situations, there is always a but, isn't there? ".. the same could be said about you? You did not truly ever consider standing by myself, were it to be offered. Was I not a simple pawn in an ever changing game?"
"Aleister.." When he almost moves to rise, she withdraws her hand reluctantly. She won't force him to remain, if he doesn't wish it. But there's a flicker of hurt to her countenance that has never been revealed before. "..you asked. I answered. Do not be offended by honesty.. not from me. Would I be saying such things, if you were naught but a pawn?" That's a fair point. The Lady Erenford is hardly renowned for being easily read. Speaking of which, she gently takes up her book and closes it, setting it aside carefully as she gathers her thoughts. When her gaze returns to his, it's wary and searching. Ceinlys is never so openly unsettled. Why now?
"Maybe there was some truth to that, too." she admits, after a moment. "..but I can't remember it anymore. I don't trust you, Aleister.. but only because I know you are uncannily similar to me. And I am not to be trusted." She quirks a faint smile at that. Truer words never spoken. "Alas.. I seem to have found myself in the predicament of having my desire begin to outweigh my fear. And.. I confess I do not know what to do. Yes, I pictured myself standing at your side. But I assured myself it was a mummer's farce to let myself believe it." Venturing to shift closer in a soft rustle of skirts, she maintains her gaze upon the knight, tentative. "..you have Cherise. You have an heir coming to your name. What is it I offer that is so much more appealing than those things? The things you set out to have."
"I hold no offense against you, Ceinlys, for you're right. I did ask." Those words are softly spoken and once said, Aleister's eyes flit in the direction of the window, resting there a moment before he's looking back towards her, "But do not take offense when I say that what's spoken, from both of us, could be nothing more then an added layer to a game that's spiral'd beyond control. Can we truly trust what the other says, even now? Or do we play to the wishes and whims of the other, feeding them that in which we think they want to hear?"
A sigh then escapes past his lips. A true sigh, one of feigned resignation and frustration. Something that doesn't often show from the man. "You're right, though. I have what many want. A wife. A child soon to be born." The movement of her drawing closing see's him shifting a touch towards her, even as his free hand lifts to brush against the stubble that begins to cover his head. "I have what I chose to have. To prevent myself from being used as a pawn in a political game, not of my chosing. But now? Now I find myself torn." As his hand falls from his head, he's moving claim her cheek in his palm, "You are .. different. Uniquely so. Ambitions to a fault. Unyielding. Manipulative. Dangerous." The way it's said and spoken, it's clear that it's a compliment. After all, he could very well be speaking of himself. And to finalize it all, a single word escapes past his lips, "Fuck." Entirely ungentleman like.
"You are all those things and more, Aleister." The young woman points that out gently, not missing a beat. "I cannot promise you will ever consider me truly trustworthy.. because by my very nature, I am not. What I don't do, though.. is admit weakness. Usually." Leaning subtly into his touch, when it comes to her cheek, she musters a smile. "..you've become a weakness. I didn't foresee it, not for a moment. And now, I think we doubt each other further, not because we have ever misled one another.. but because we don't dare to believe there's any truth to their words. It's certainly easier for me to assure myself that you simply toy with me to amuse yourself."
Shifting a little closer still, her legs still tucked up to one side under the rich swathe of her skirts, Ceinlys seeks the Lord's gaze. "Look at me. And listen. If I so desired, I could use you to further my own ends. I could leave you in ruin. I could manipulate you with the mere implications and suggestions of offering you what you desire, and you would say yes. I am ambitious. I am everything you think of me. That doesn't make my desire for you any less real, Aleister. And believe me.. it's infuriating." Both hands push her hair back now, in that habitual way she has, fingers lingering within the soft strands. "..I ought not to be so weak. And I certainly shouldn't invite you to my bed.."
"I think the same could be said about you trusting me, Cein. It would be some time until either of us truly trusted everything the other said. We know what we would do and that casts doubts upon the words and actions of the other. But still .." He trails off there, thumb idly brushing against her cheek as she tilts into his touch. "And still I don't care." A twitch of his lips reveals a smile, one that seems geninue in nature and without the foreshadow of his normal smirk.
As she begins to move closer still, his hand shifts from cheek, falling to graze a touch to her neck and then along her shoulder, before his palm finally comes to settle upon her arm. He meets her gaze, as requested, not shying away from her. Not now. There is little doubt that she could ruin him. Little doubt that he could do the same and yet, he remains, head tilting just a touch to the side before he's murmering, "Tell me, then. What is it that you want. Honestly."
It's just too tempting. Seeing that arrogant mouth curl into a smile, particularly one that seems to be intended for her alone. The wandering caress and the steady gaze of dark brown eyes. Even that final, subtle tilt of his head. For once, Ceinlys has nothing further to say. She simply closes what remains of the distance between them and seeks to press a soft kiss to the corner of Aleister's lips. She tastes of strongwine and strawberries, in equal measure and the scent of soft, intoxicating oils yet clings to her skin from her recent bathing, applied generously by the hands of the now departed handmaidens.
Guiding the Lord into the kiss further, needs be, with a stroke of her fingertips either side of his jaw, the young lady exhales the softest of contented sighs across his cheek. If this is her way of answering.. well, it's certainly more enjoyable than ceaseless debate. In the flickering lamplight of the chambers, their reflections are mirrorred in the window; wrought from flame and shadow into something as dangerous and desireable as either of them are to the other. The first time they've ever been anything resembling alone.. the very real threat of 'what if' is upon them…
Aleister and Ceinlys discussing plans, during an afternoon at Hollyholt, prior to the meeting with Lord Charlton.
After breakfast had passed with his family and before his scheduled meeting with his uncle, Aleister had stayed true to his word and sought out Ceinlys at her chambers, so that the promised tour could be conducted. With such a thing at hand, retainers had been present to tend to their needs and the conversation had been cordial enough as he walked her through the numerous halls of the keep, letting her take in the grandeur and wealth that is clearly displayed amongst the halls and rooms that they pass.
With the inside of the keep nearly complete, Aleister pauses their tour near an archway that leads out into a secluded little side garden. There, he turns his attention towards the retainers, dipping a slight nod of his and a pleasant smile to them as he offers, "We shall take a brief reprieve from the walk for a few moments. Await us in the entry hall, for next we'll show the Lady Erenford the splendor of the city itself." As they dip into bows and curtseys, he's already looking over in Ceinlys' direction as a hand lifts to motion to that archway, "Come. Let us step outside and enjoy the sun for a moment."
Does an occasion exist for which Ceinlys Erenford is not both prepared and beautifully attired? Today, given the opulent grandeur of Hollyholt - and the no doubt high expectations of those she may encounter within its walls - the young lady has chosen a tastefully stunning ensemble, which blends perfectly with the tone of such a House. A velvet dresscoat of shimmering ice-blue ensures that any chill will be kept well at bay, while the snug-fitting bodice and regal skirts do nothing to deny a certain knowledge of.. well, one's place in the world, such as it is. Is it not the duty of a noblewoman to be at all times beautiful and charming? A pretty bauble for others to admire and envy.
But even ornaments can have sharp edges, if the beholder is too distracted by glitter.
Demurely lowering her gaze and tilting her head in some semblance of an agreeable gesture, Ceinlys affords the Charlton a pleasant enough smile. In the presence of watchful eyes, she is nothing but polished manners and graceful, soft-spoken niceties. After all, it… impresses him. Many facets to this particular trinket. "Certainly, Ser." she murmurs, coat and skirts lightly sweeping the smooth floor as she delicately steps after him and toward the indicated archway. For all her guile and formidable nature, it does seem that the raven-haired young woman has in fact enjoyed the sights of his familial holding. What's not to like? But a moment, however brief, in Aleister's company alone? Even better. That much is conveyed in just the faintest flicker of her cerulean eyes toward his face.
With a flit of his eyes over in her direction, Aleister is then offering a slight incline of his head to her and when his hand begins to lower, he's beginning to move through that archway and out into the garden. It's indeed secluded, for it's bordered by walls on all four sides, with the only entrance being the single archway in which they moved through. Bushes of reds and greens, with the hint of yellow and purple, are scattered about the area. Two benches rest in off to one side, affording a hint of privacy and comfort out in the sun.
Now, with the retainers haven't pattered off towards the entryhall, Aleister is allowing that smile to fade from his lips and as one hand lifts upwards to run against the stubble of his head, he's turning his head so as to bring her entirely within his field of view. That hint of a smirk has returned, though it's quickly broken as he begins to murmer, "I hope you don't mind a break in your tour, Cein, but there is something that I would like to speak with you about." He makes no press towards those benches, perhaps allowing her to choose the direction in which they move about the limited space of the garden.
Tilting her face upward as she steps out into the sunlit warmth, the young lady takes a calm moment in which to simply close her eyes and bask. Beautiful and ancient they might be.. but the halls and chambers of the keep still have that touch of foreboding chill, particularly when you spend all morning strolling about them unhurriedly. Though, it's unlikely that anyone else here is so casual. In that, the Lady Erenford is alone. But again, she seems all the better for having had some hours to herself.. and she has obviously spared nothing in her efforts to please her host.
With a contented sigh, and balmly warmth slowly ebbing into her porcelain skin, Ceinlys turns her attention back upon him, loosely clasping her hands before herself, against the fabric of her skirts. The picture of innocence. "Of course not." she replies, gently; assuaging any concern of her displeasure. "I thank you for taking such time from your day to humor me, Aleister… I am certain I can grant you a few moments of your own pleasure." Is that a flicker of mischief sparkling across her features? Surely not…
Extending a hand toward one of the benches - the one not settled in the velvety shade, notably - she gestures for the Lord to join her in a seat, still smiling up into his eyes as if daring him to presume anything beyond chaste and pure thoughts in her words. "What is it that you wish to speak of..?"
While the weather here is no different then it is at the Cape of Eagles, Aleister seems to be enjoying it a touch more. Eyes flit upwards along the stone walls and then higher, to the blue sky and the sun that beats down upon the open spanse of the garden. For a moment, he seems .. content with such a simple thing, for his eyes lift along the stone of the walls, only to then settle upon the blue sky, resting there for a moment before drifting back down, seeking out Ceinlys and settling there.
To her words, a smirk begins to creep back upon his lips, though it comes with a slight bow of his head as he murmers, "You are most welcome, Ceinlys, but you needn't worry about granting me a few moments of pleasure, for you have that well in hand .." Lifting a touch from that bow, the smirk has deepend a touch upon his lips, ".. by simply being in my company." When he finally comes to lift from that bow, he's moving to follow her to that bench so that he can lower himself upon it. "I wished to speak of things best not overheard at this time. Of things that will come upon my return from the Isles."
The soft chuckle that escapes Ceinlys, while certainly genuine in amusement, is a practiced mannerism; a 'proper' way to divert lines of discussion that may otherwise lead to.. well. Suffice to say, she knows full well where teasing Aleister lands her. In trouble. Anyway. Easing down to a seat, smoothing her skirts and coat beneath herself with a sweep of one palm, the young lady keeps her vivid eyes curiously upon her companion. "I see.." she murmurs, folding her hands in her lap unhurriedly. The cheerful sunlight certainly does its part in keeping her spirits lifted.. not that the Lady Erenford is ever really seen in foul temper.
"Presumably.." she continues, in her soft-spoken way, "..these things concern me. Or shall. You would not mention them, otherwise, I think." A knowing smirk, to answer the Charlton's expression. "How may I help you, Aleister." There's no jest in these words - not anymore. Whatever she is, wherever she plans to go.. Ceinlys appears to take her service to his House seriously. Who wouldn't?
With that slight tease given in her direction, Aleister brings his hands to fold together in his lap, fingers interlacing amongst one-another. The smirk begins to fade from his lips, features taking on more of a serious tone then is normally offered by him, "Your assumption would be correct, Ceinlys. While they need not concern you directly, what I have planned can only be bettered by your involvement." A genuine compliment and offered, perhaps for once, not simply to flatter. "I am here in Hollyholt, as you know, to meet with my Lord Uncle. The matter to which I meet with him, though, is something that very few know." Eyes shift from her, seeking out the wall opposite of where they sit.
"I seek to expand the holdings of House Charlton, as you know. My goodcousin, Andrey, agrees with what I intend to do and I plan to put it before my uncle later this day. To seek his blessing for such things and to secure the necessary assistance that comes with such things." Now, he's looking to her again, head tilting just a touch to the side, "If he will grant his blessing, I will see Oldstones seized from the nobodies that currently call it home. And if he will not grant such a blessing, then it is my intention to seize land amongst the Fallen Oaks." He stops there for a moment, perhaps affording her the opportunity for question, or simply gauging what she might say.
The young lady takes all this in in silence, thoughtful and unobtrusive. She is many things.. but it cannot be denied that pragmatic is one of her finer qualities. Depending upon the beholder, of course. Not speaking immediately when Aleister quiets, either, it's indeed a long moment before a slow, shallow sigh precedes a response. "..I do not, in all honesty, believe he will grant it." Well, no beating around the bush there. Having allowed her gaze to roam over the spectrum of color in the quiet garden, the raven-haired noble draws it back now to settle upon Aleister's dark hues. "Do not mistake my opinion as agreement. I entirely support your notion of taking lands from those who are undeserving of it. Bastards fancying themselves as little Lordlings, thinking to speak among the true nobility of the realm. Such things disgust me, and seeing the courts rid of such a tarnish would gratify me. Greatly." A glimmer of ice creeps into Ceinlys' already glacial eyes as she speaks… this seems very real and savage discontent with the freedoms those of lesser rank have been afforded, of late. But she masters it in an instant with nothing more than an offered smile toward her companion.
"That said.." continuing calmly, reaching to tuck back a stray ebon curl behind her ear in habitual gesture, the lady makes both aspects of her reply equally clear to the man who has sought it. "..to seize both within such a short timescale? Your forces are formidable indeed, Aleister.. but spread them too thin for swift gain, and you find yourself wrong-footed. Both holdings are far from Hollyholt. Too far. Unless.." Tilting her head in an unthinking reflection of his own posture, she lets her subtle smile curve to something more akin to amused. "..do you intend to make one of these your very own, for the purpose of your own branch? Hmm.." Contemplating this briefly, with a momentary bite to her lower lip, she then nods discreetly. "If so.. I know which I would choose. Because I believe, regardless, your Uncle will advise that the distance between is too great."
The first of her response draws a slight nod from Aleister and with it, that faint smirk begins to return to his lips, but he holds his words. At least until she has finished and it's then that he's lifting himself from his seat upon that bench, "I do not believe he will grant his permission to march against Oldstones. To do so would risk a war in which he would not want. But, none-the-less, he has surprised me before and I lose nothing by asking." A sniff, a sneer herald the following, "The lands have grown weak over the years, Ceinlys. Bastards and Common Knights walk amongst us, considering themselves equals to those of our station. They dine at the same tables. They are summoned to counsel in war." The words are sharp and punctuated by a quick shake of his head.
"But I digress from the true purpose of this conversation," is offered a touch more quietly as he turns towards one of those bushes, one hand lifting to trail the tip of a finger against the petal of a flower that grows upon it. "I will not march against multiple locations, my dear. A single location will be chosen, secured and then proclaimed as the seat of my House. To do otherwise, as you have said, would simply weaken things unnecessarily." A shift of his head and he's casting a look over his shoulder, eyes seeking to settle upon her once again, though this time with the hint of a lifted brow, "Tell me, Cein, which is it that you would choose?"
A sympathetic cast drifts across Ceinlys' features, in the face of the nobleman's none-too-subtle distaste, when it comes to their shared opinion of 'smallfolk'. But she has said her piece, there is little need to reiterate. So she merely inclines her head in a slow nod. ".marching against them in open dispute, he may not support. But there are other avenues to laying a claim.. without the point of a sword. Haven't you a sister, dear heart..?" Leaving that to hang in the still air, with a blithe smile softening the sharp edges, she continues on; absently watching the Lord as he turns his attention to the blossom nearby.
Catching his gaze with an unhurried flit of her eyes back upward, it seems the young lady cannot help but grin slightly, revealing a glimpse of white teeth. "..truly? Were I a man, of this particular keep? I'd have thought it would be obvious. Neither Oldstones nor Tall Oaks would have been my first choice. Though both have their evident strengths, beyond the initial barrage of failings. No.. in an ideal world, I'd have sought to seize Heronhurst.. or Broadmoor." That she can say so in such an open manner, without trace of wavering to her lilting cadence, only further emphasises the way Ceinlys sees the world. She does, however, fall silent thereafter; perhaps thinking it a possibility that Aleister's features may give away any ideas he has along those lines. Only when the pause threatens to linger too long for her liking does she eventually concede, "..Oldstones. Of the two. A better route for trade, and not so far from the coast that you could not, in time, make use of seafaring business also."
The mention of his sister and other avenues in which one might lay claim to things, Aleister is giving a slight incline of his head, though it comes with the barest touch of a chuckle, "Such things have been considered, my dear, but there is much about my sister that you do not know and that is not an avenue in which I am prepared to persue at this point in time. But, I do now understand that in which you are tryin to say."
At the mention of seizing Heronhurst or Broadmoor, Aleister offers a low, rumbling laugh to escape past his lips as he looks back in the direction of that blossom, "Those choices were considered, Ceinlys. Very much so. But seizing either of those would be a costly endeavour and while my House is the more powerful of the three, your family and the Erenfords are not so far removed that the Frey's would overlook such a thing. No, to even seek an attempt at either would risk far more then the reward would bring." Letting his hand fall from the blossom, he's then turning back to face her, "A better route for trade, now, but not always so. The land is treacherous around Oldstones, for it lies in the midsts of a bog with moutains between it and the coast, making any plan for seafaring business to be quite difficult. While the land surrounding the oaks is plains and viable for building, it has the stigma of it's former family attached and the eyes of many still rest upon it."
Unperturbed by Aleister's laughter - does anything really ever ruffle her? - Ceinlys observes him with those striking blue eyes, unmoving from her relatively comfortable seat atop the bench. Overhead, a tunefully whistling bird flits by in a flash, a mere dash of shadow drawing the young lady's attention skyward to find naught but wisping clouds. "Agreed." she murmurs, to the matter of the Haigh and Erenford holdings.. both of which, of course, she has some partial interest in. The subtle implication within the simple reply, though, might be that Hollyholt, too, has been considered. And presumably dismissed for similar reasons.
"One might ask, then, sweetling.." Continuing on as her focus wanders back to the Lord, the woman permits one hand to drift aside from where it has lain restfully in her lap, moving now to pluck a fragrant white flower from the gold-tipped foliage closest to her. All without distracting her eyes. "..why exactly either one of them holds any interest for you. Other than their being the most obvious, presently. Surely you can do better..?" Bringing the blossom to her lips, she mischievously lowers her ebonesque lashes a touch as she inhales gently of its sweet scent. "..I cannot, after all, imagine your dear wife being thrilled at the notion of residing in a bog." Well, that's a blatant untruth.. judging by the curling smirk tugging at her lips, she can not only imagine it, but it pleases her greatly to do so. Still, she presses no further.
Another quick laugh escapes past Aleister's lips at the mention of his wife and the thoughts of their future home and as it begins to fade, he's giving a firm shake of his head, "Her thoughts are of little consequence on it, Cein. She will be satisified with anything that is provided, so long as she continues to receive pretty little gifts." Now, the smirk returns to his lips as he once more turns away, this time so that he can take a couple of steps towards a different grove of bushes that grow in the garden. Again, a hand lifts so that fingertips can trail against the petal of the yellow flower that grows there. "But to answer your question, my dear, they hold my interest because they are both viable and not so far removed from Hollyholt so as to limit our ability to receive supplies."
There's the very faint hint of his tongue clucking against the roof of his mouth before he's looking over his shoulder once again, "And it is not as if land is readily available at this point. While it would not be my ideal choice, both locations could be made .. suitable with work." Obviously not by his hand. "And each holds potential that the other does not. Oldstones, for it's location, could be easily fortified with a proper garrison of trained men. While the land around the Fallen Oaks is more suitable for a township to be developed upon."
A noncommital 'hmm' is the only initial response, as Ceinlys mulls over these ideas and arguments. Twirling the small white flower between a thumb and forefinger, she absently regards its to'ing and fro'ing, ordering her thoughts. And then, promptly deciding against speaking upon them further, she's looking up toward Aleister as he glances back in her direction. "I see. Well.. I hope that the meeting with your Uncle goes smoothly, Aleister. I can think of little reason that such a man might be against expansion, so long as it is prudent and well-executed. The choice, then, is largely your own. Which you prefer and how best to take it." A moment's pause, before she adds, with a genuine, low-throated laugh, "..not dissimilar to women, all told."
Rising gracefully to a stand, the pale frost-blue of her crushed velvet coat smoothing as she straightens to her full height, the raven haired Lady Erenford affords her companion a smile of sincere warmth. "..mostly, of course.. I am simply pleased you saw fit to speak with me of such things. I must have done something right." The words are uttered in feigned innocence, betrayed by the fleeting glint of wicked mirth in her cerulean gaze. "If there is anything further I might do, once your Uncle has given you his answer.." Well, she doesn't have to say it. Surely he knows by now he can come to her. But some other matter visibly occurs to the elegant noblewoman, even as she's hazarding a quiet step closer toward the Charlton Lord. "I am almost certain this is a foolish question, Aleister.. but.. for the duration of your absence, have you appointed a Castellan, to oversee your interests..?"
"Then you share the same hope as I, Ceinlys," is offered in reply, along with a slight nod of Aleister's head before he allows his hand to drop from the flower so that he can once more turn to face her, "It will be interesting to see if he shares the same ambition that his son and I share." Then, there's that comparision of choice to women and it's drawing that deepening smirk to his lips and a slight nod of his head as he murmers, "Indeed."
"I chose to speak with you, Cein, because you are not so different then I. You view things differently then most men and women and you do not cower behind your gender, tending to needlepoint and mindless tasks. It is a useful trait. One that would catch many offguard." His eyes follow her movements as she begins that quiet step towards him and at her question, there's a simple nod of his head, "I have, actually." A pause is taken, lasting the length of a breath or two before he's offering, "You will serve in such a position, if you find it to your liking. When I depart for the Isles, there will be much to be done and with your hand guiding it, I would imagine things will come to fruition that much sooner."
"My embroidery is rather good, I'll have you know. I can also sing, pleasantly I'm told." For all her airy, dismissive teasing, a faint flush of pleased warmth colors the young lady's high cheekbones. In the end, she has to ask, if only to confirm it in her own mind. "Me..? Well, well. that is unexpected, to say the least. But I am immensely flattered, Aleister, by your faith in me." Closing the distance further, though not to any improper degree - the walls sometimes have eyes as well as ears, after all - Ceinlys offers the twirling ivory flower toward the Lord between her thumb and forefinger, holding his gaze with her wintry hues. "..thank you. When the time comes, I will gladly accept." Up close, the sweet, wafting scents of various herbs are apparent, no doubt settled upon the woman's dark hair, or even in her rich attire, and mingling now with the fragrance of the little blossom she holds. She's every inch the graceful noblewoman… in appearance, certainly. Just perhaps a little more worldly, a touch less wide-eyed. Yes, she is like him. But for a woman? That's a dangerous quality.
A soft chuckle sounds in Aleister's throat as he gives a slight nod of his head and a quickly murmered, "Of that, I have no doubt. After all, you are a woman of many talents." As she comes to close the distance between them, though not to any improper degree, he's turning to face her more fully, making no move to close that remaining distance. That is, of course, until the ivory flower comes to be offered, for a hand lifts to claim the flower, twirling it between finger and thumb for a moment, "I know that my faith in you will be well placed, Cein. I do not anticipate you disappointing me." When the words end, the smirk begins its return, though it's masked as his hand lifts upwards, bringing the flower to his nose so that he can inhale deeply and then, for a moment, he simply savors the scent of those herbs and that flower. When it finally comes to be lowered to his side, he's beginning to turn back in the direction of that archway, "There is certainly much to look forward to, Cein and even more to be done in the coming months."
Aleister visits Cein's chambers, to tell her the outcome of his meeting.
After their tour had come to an end, Aleister had excused himself to
attend to the meeting with his Uncle, leaving word with Ceinlys that
he would return in a few hours, once a decision had been reached.
Unfortunately, she doesn't get those few hours. In fact, she doesn't
even get a couple of hours. A mere hour after his meeting had begun,
Aleister had returned to that wing of the keep, boots echo'ing his
footfalls down the hall, slowing only as he reaches her door.
He's dressed as he was earlier, fine ebon pants that blouse at his thighs
before being tucked into a pair of knee high boots. A white silk shirt
with billowing sleeves that are cut in and held at his wrists with golden
clasps and over that, an elegant tunic done up in an darkened gold.
Fastened around his neck by way of a silver chain is the flowing cloak of
black and green, though he currently has it pressed over his left shoulder,
allowing his right arm to lift and knock upon her door as he calls out,
"Come." Ceinlys' unmistakeable voice floats through the weighty doors;
the young lady apparently without attendants for the time being. Late
afternoon sunlight pours through the tall windows of her beautifully
appointed suite, casting a golden warmth over the furnishings and rich
carpets, further illumination scattered here and there by mirrors and the
glinting of other polished decor.
The Lady Erenford herself strolls unhurriedly back and forth across
the floors, utterly engrossed in another of the Charlton tomes,
which she carries in both hands before herself, head slightly bowed
over the aging, musty pages. Having changed into rather more
casual attire, seeing that she has a few hours until dinner - and,
she had thought, until she would see Aleister - the raven haired
noblewoman looks perfectly content in her surroundings.. almost
unusually familiar. Had eyes other than her Lord's or those of dutiful
servants noted her presence and carriage in Hollyholt.. well, it likely
would lead to speculation over just who lays the strongest claim
to power in Aleister's branch of the distinguished family. This is no mere
Regardless. She looks up with an expectant smile and a quirk of a brow
as the man arrives, drawing to a halt within the rays of sunshine from
a nearby window.
Once her voice comes to pass through those weighty doors, Aleister is
seeking to open them and then step through before they are just as simply
closed behind him. Eyes shift amongst the suite and the elegance that it
holds before they finally come to rest on Ceinlys. There's a slight quirk
of his lips to that of a smirk as he takes in her casual appearance and
then the book that she holds in her hand, to which he's offering, "I would
have thought that you'd venture into the city for a few hours, Ceinlys."
He doesn't seem too disappointed that she didn't, for as his hands slip
beneath his cloak and to the small of his back to clasp together, he's
beginning to stride forward, angling over towards that window with the
seat upon it, where he found her the last time that he paid a visit to her
chambers. "My meeting has concluded with my Uncle. At first light
tomorrow, we will depart back to Stonebridge. The servants will arrive
later to see your stuff packed and prepared, my dear."
Quietly closing her book as the Lord speaks, Ceinlys regards him calmly,
that smile lingering in a subtle curve across her lips. Setting the tome
aside on a small carved table, her other hand rising to sweep aside a
tumble of dark curls as her gaze is drawn briefly downward in wake of the
motion, she replies, "..and I had thought perhaps we might venture there
together, this evening. If it please you." Fair enough. What better
chaperone and guide could she ask for, after all?
The news her handsome messenger brings, though.. well, that gets mixed
reactions. Very mixed. Confusion, at first. He is back early.. and
they'll depart so soon? Never one to hold back when it comes to enquiry,
with this one in particular, Ceinlys slowly turns in order to keep her
cerulean eyes upon Aleister as he heads toward the seat.. and the memories
of the previous evening. "..what happened." It doesn't really need to be a
question. Why wouldn't he tell her? It's merely polite to utter the words.
That done, she starts the sedate few steps after him. "-Stonebridge-?" For
once, she doesn't entirely conceal the dismay lacing her tone. "Must we? I
had thought I would be travelling to the Roost directly. Unless.." She
cuts her words off abruptly, drawing a deep inhalation. "Tell me." May as
well have one answer before she demands more.
The mention of perhaps accompaning her into the city has Aleister
inclining his head in her direction as his lips curve into a small smile,
"Such a thing would please me, Cein. After dinner, then, we shall venture
out so that you might see what our city has to offer." The window is then
reached and for a moment, he looks out over the view that is provided.
Only when she begins to question what happened and his choice of location
do those darkened eyes shift from the glass to her, settling there for a
moment before the smirk begins to dance upon his lips, lightly at first
and then deepening quickly, "Yes, Stonebridge." His body begins to turn so
that he can face her as hands unclasp from behind his back, "You see,
there is this land to the north of Stonebridge. Beautiful rolling plains
that border a river on one side and trees on the other. Land that will
very shortly be mine." A short breath heralds the soft chuckle that comes
in his throat, "It would seem that my Uncle, Cein, shares my expansionist
Always so calm and collected. That's perhaps one of the most appealing
qualities in a Castellan, isn't it? But the news of Aleister's success -
and accomplished in so short a time! - elicits an unthinking 'oh!' of
delight from the young lady. A moment later and she has closed the
remaining distance to fling her arms around the taller Lord's neck in an
impromptu and probably entirely improper embrace, the light fabric of her
sleeves flaring with the motion. Assuming her permits such a thing, of
course. "Truly?!" is the breathless question she musters, before
continuing, regardless. Surely he wouldn't tease. "..then I am so
happy, Aleister." The sincerity in her voice is utterly unquestionable,
especially given the rest of her response. "What did he say? What plans
are laid?" Too much to ask! And all while she teeters on tiptoe, pressed
against his chest in the balmy afternoon light of the sky beyond the
There's certainly little doubt that her calm, collected demenour is
appealing to Aleister and when she breaks it for that 'Oh' of delight,
followed by her closing the distance to fling her arms around his neck,
there's a split second where surprise crosses his features. It's quickly
washed away with a soft laugh and a movement of his arms to her waist,
where their circle loosely to simply hold her in that entirely improper
embrace. With a slight incline of his head, he's murmering, "I explained
my thoughts to my Uncle, for both Oldstones and the land to the north. He
would not commit to Oldstones, simply because they hold Lord Tully's favor
and close relations with our Lord Paramount." Viable reason, one could
suppose. To draw the ire of the Lord Paramount would be political suicide.
"He easily agreed to the north, sharing my view of the Camden lands and
their worth. And to aide me in things, while I am gone, he will be sending
one hundred and fifty peasants to begin cultivating and construction upon
the land." He pauses there, long enough for the smirk to return to his
lips as he ends with, "For a price, of course."
Unseen, Ceinlys grins broadly across the man's shoulder, tilting her head
to rest her temple lightly against his as he murmurs further explanation.
But she simply can't remain on tiptoe forever. After a long moment, she
draws back enough to settle on her slippered heels again, brushing a kiss
along Aleister's jaw in passing and continuing to smile in a less blatant
manner as she seeks his gaze with her own. Both hands drift to cup his
cheeks, just fleetingly, before she replies; more of her typical even
timbre once more.
"Oh, everything has its price. But this advancing of your own station is
invaluable. What does he ask in return?" With her palms gliding to a rest
upon his chest now, the young lady regards his features in proximity with
telling interest. This is fine news, indeed, for him. Why shouldn't she
take the opportunity to watch him be pleased? "..do you wish me to oversee
the work, when I am done at the Roost?"
There's an idly brush of his fingertips against her back as her temple
comes to brush against his and when she begins to lower back down and pull
away, his hands are shifting against her until they come to rest upon her
waist, even as her own drift to cup his cheeks before retreating down to
"Half my harvest and half my income must be paid to my Uncle." As that is
offered, there's no anomisity from Aleister. This venture suddenly costing
him very little to get started, what with the Lord Charlton baring the
brunt of the cost. "Not unreasonable, considering the resources that he
affords me the use of." Letting one hand fall from her so that it can then
lift up to brush knuckles against her cheek, he's giving a slight nod and
a quickly murmered, "I do. But do not speak of this to others just yet, my
dear. My Uncle has reason to keep this quiet for the moment and so quiet
it will be kept. When the time is right, you will know, and will be free
to discuss such a thing." Oh, she should be happy, for his gain is her
gain as well, is it not? "The only thing left on my part, is to find an
appropriate name for the land and my title. For once it becomes offical, I
will then be known as Lord Charlton, Knight of .." He trails off,
signifing the significance of the name.
As if she needs to be told. But she doesn't chastise him.. this is
important, after all. Simply leaning into the brief caress of the Lord's
hand, Ceinlys holds his gaze, rapt. Aleister may as well be crooning a
lullaby, to her ears. She's unable to help a wry smirk though as he muses
over the name he must conceive of. With a low-throated chuckle, she leans
in to gently bump her nose against his as she offers an amused suggestion.
Is his gain truly hers to share? No, not really. Not yet. Though she
doesn't raise the matter, she does search his dark eyes for a moment,
falling quiet. It's only brief, though. Soon her faint smile is returned,
along with further suggestion. "We should celebrate. Shall I send for some
wine, perhaps..? If nothing else.. it seems this may be my last evening of
leisure for quite some time.." Not that she seems displeased by that
notion. Castellan to Lord Charlton? No. No complaints there.
Keeping his attention firmly upon those glacial eyes of hers, Aleister's
teeth graze his lower lip as she leans into the touch of his hand and when
it finally falls away, it's returning to that spot upon her waist,
uncaring that such things might not be considered polite or appropriate.
Her chuckle and the bump of her nose to his, along with that 'suggestion',
draw a throaty chuckle to bare as he leans in to brush a fleeting kiss to
her nose, "I would not give them the priviliage of such a thing. Perhaps
Oakgraves." It's a jest, for there is clear humor to be hand within those
With his eyes still upon hers, he takes in that silence that she offers,
watching her and saying nothing as she seemingly searches his for
something. Only when her smile returns, faint as it is, along with the
suggestion of a celebration, does he begin to pull himself away from her,
his head coming to give an approving nod that's echo'd a moment later,
"Wine would be a welcome thing, Cein. There will be much work to be had
when we return, for both of us." After all, in his absence, is it not the
Castellan who speaks in the Lord's name.
Under the touch of his hands, gentle as that may be, the soft fabric of
the Lady Erenford's attire does nothing to mask the warmth of her skin, so
close beneath the two layers. Normally, her form is secured away inside
far grander schemes than this; a mere chemise and jerkin. It's not an
unpleasant change - just perhaps one she's suddenly very aware of as that
kiss brushes the tip of her nose. With obvious reluctance as Aleister
steps slowly back from her, Ceinlys lets her hands slowly drift, then fall
from his chest; her blue eyes absently regarding his form and attire
again. Just for a moment. But her smile remains. There's still this
evening, after all. Inclining her head in a nod of assent, the young lady
turns to stroll unhurriedly toward the door, presumably to call for one of
her temporary handmaids. But the chamber is large enough that she still
has time to further address Aleister. "Oakgraves.." she echoes, with a
soft laugh. Not above macabre humor, this one. "It has a certain charm to
it, for certain. But I am sure you will think of something befitting."
If Aleister notices the warmth of her skin so easily felt beneath those
simple layers of cloth, he makes no mention of it, nor does it seem to
effect in any fashion. That is, of course, until her hands have drifted
from his body and he's stepped away, for his hands lift to unclasp the
cloak and pull it from around his body, drapping it over his left arm as
his head shifts a touch to watch as she begins to make her way in the
direction of the door. When his humor is returned, the smirk springs back
to his lips, broken by a quick chuckle and a quipped, "I thought it did."
He's turning from her then, moving towards a chair so that his cloak can
be deposited over the back of it, followed a moment later by his tunic
which is easily slipped from his body. "I did not think that naming the
land would be such a difficult choice. One must be careful not to pick
something that might inspire thoughts of weakness."
For the time being, Ceinlys ignores the Lord. Or that may be the
impression, as she pulls the door ajar and, following a softly-called
summons, has a brief exchange with a servant outside in the hallway.
Whoever it is it seems is easily sent off on the quest for wine. Again,
had she been permitted the -hours- she had expected, such things would
already have been tended to. Closing the door again gently, the young lady
turns back to the suite at large, and Aleister, now made comfortable by
his diminished clothing. She seems unperturbed. Then again, she has
seen him bare-chested. And that's hardly something to trouble her.. even
if it does warrant the occasional sleepless night, according to her own
"Perhaps, when you visit the lands, a name will become apparent to you. If
one does to me, I will certainly inform you of it.. but it is hardly my
choice to make, now is it?" Again, a fleeting glimpse of good humor is
alight upon her often distant features, as she recalls his description of
the countryside in question. "Knight of Bog.." Breaking into a soft laugh,
she shakes her head; electing to wander toward the window seat rather than
approach the man directly. "Oh, Aleister.." With mirth still in her tone,
his name is breathed upon a quiet sigh. "..what am I going to do with
Aleister had gone so far as to undo the clasps upon each of his sleeves,
opening the cuffs and then rolling them up his forearms a touch. Clearly,
the outfit was warm and this allowed the man a fashion in which to cool
off. Hearing the hint of a murmered converastion, there's no heed paid to
it, at least until the door comes to be closed. It's then that he's
looking back to her, flashing the hint of a smile and a nod as he moves to
settle his weight against the side of the chair, one arm coming to rest
upon the top of it.
"Perhaps it will. Though, I would like to have a name in place before I
depart for the Isles. So that when word gets out, they will know who has
claimed it and what it has been called." No doubt a nightmare for map
makers when such a thing happens. "Should something come to you, my dear,
simply suggest it." A soft chuckle then escapes past his lips, followed by
that of a quick laugh as his shoulders lift into an almost teasing shrug,
"why Ceinlys, I'm surprised that you would need to ask such a thing. After
all, I could think of numerous things." There's no denying the tease in
"Oh, so can I.." replies the young lady, equably, as she eases down to a
seat in the curve of the window, smoothing the few layers of her skirts
beneath herself. "..and therein lies the problem. Could. Shan't." If he
wants to tease her, she'll do the very same in kind, echoing her words of
another time. "Much as it pains me to dismiss such inspiration, of
course." Letting her gaze roam from his eyes, all the way to his booted
feet, and back again, Ceinlys offers the Lord a wicked smirk. "But do I
not exist to hear your ideas and desires, Ser? Please.." A vague gesture
of her hand accompanies the request, encouraging him. "..do tell."
Perhaps fortunately - for him - a timely knock is rapped gently upon the
door. The wine has arrived. But the noblewoman doesn't so much as flit an
eyelash in that direction; still steadily regarding Aleister as if daring
him to deny her oh-so-polite question.
The response that she gives is rewarded with a soft chuckle and the flash
of a smirk as Aleister dips his head in her direction, "Of course, my
dear." When his head lifts and she asks that last question of him and his
lips part to answer, only to close at the sound of the knock. Eyes flit in
that direction, but he makes no move towards the door. Rather, he shrugs
off from the chair and lowers his voice a touch as he returns that wicked
smirk that she offered mere moments ago, "I would be happy to tell you of
such things, my dear lady Erenford .." There's little doubt that a but is
is coming, "But .. such things shouldn't offend your … delicate senses."
Oh, he's clearly teasing now and when the last of his words are offered,
he's turning to cross the room, to the door, to no doubt claim the wine
"Of course, my dear." It's so easy to mimic his way of speaking, sometimes
she does it without thinking. This is not such a moment. Deliberately
echoing his words, Ceinlys passes a blithe smile in the Charlton's
direction as she settles herself more comfortably; drawing her legs to
curl up beneath her on the cushioned seat and laying her hands in her lap.
Quite the little princess, in her luxurious chambers. The lack of white
knight? Not a concern, it would seem. Seeing as Aleister has so kindly
chosen to fetch the wine, the young lady unabashedly turns her attention
from him, looking out through the window. What began as a vague gesture of
indifference, though, soon has her attention fully. Leaning toward the
glass further, she props an elbow on the sill, resting her chin upon the
heel of her hand as she looks out over the rooftops and greenery of
Hollyholt in full daylight. "It is rather beautiful here. I will be
sorry to leave it at our backs." Sorrier still to return to the service of
his wife, even for a short time. And woefully dismayed that tonight is the
last handful of hours she will have in any sort of solitude with Aleister
before he departs for shores unknown. Not that she says any such thing.
Once the door comes to be opened, there's a murmering of words that are
exchanged before Aleister is accepting a small tray, one that contains the
wine and two glasses. With the door being pulled shut by the servant, he's
turning to begin his approach back towards that seat by the window, and
ultimately, Ceinlys. The smirk still holds to his lips, lighter then
before and at her comment of of beauty, his eyes are lifting to what he
can see through those panes of crystal glass, "I will not deny the beauty
of the city and her lands, Ceinlys, nor will I deny that I will miss such
a thing when we depart." After all, he's then venturing to the Iron Isles.
A place of no real beauty. "But in a matter of time, the lands that have
come to be mine will hold a beauty of their own. A beauty that you will
help shape." As he begins to near her, he's stopping so that the tray can
be settled upon a table and the glasses filled. Then, they are picked up
and he's moving to settle next to her, a glass coming to be offered in her
direction as he murmers, "To wealth and power. Both of which will be ours
in the coming months."
Returning her gaze to Aleister when he draws closer with the tray and
looks to the city beyond, Ceinlys watches him in profile with a smile and
an air of.. contentment, for once. Not calculating, or scheming. Simply
taking time to share his victory with him. And over wine, too. Accepting
the glass, she raises it a touch aloft in response to his toast, murmuring
the same sentiment before taking a sip and savoring the sweet taste. "..it
is a wonderful thing, to see one's desires realised. Or at least the
current ones." Her smile widens, fleetingly; shrewd lapiz eyes searching
Aleister's. "On another matter of import, though.. I expect you shall
still desire your dear wife to remain in Stonebridge, following our brief
return there. Do you wish me to remain with her any time, before I leave
for the Roost?" Suddenly, it seems the coming months are going to be
formidably busy for the young lady.. and rather than shy from it, she
seems instead to revel in the idea. This is what she's good at, after
all. Politics. And overseeing that which her Lord requires. Not fussing
over a pregnant noblewoman. No, she's not good at fussing. And Cherise
does seem to require a lot of that.
Lifting his own glassa touch, Aleister brings it to his lips so that a
quick sip can be taken and when it comes to lower, he's murmering, "I
agree. Entirely." Her smile is matched by his smirk and the flicker of
amusement, and something else, within those darkened eyes of his. When she
moves to the other matter, the one concerning his wife, there's a
deepening of the smirk and a quick shake of his head, "You needn't concern
yourself with my wife at this time, Ceinlys. As such, consider yourself
released from her service as a lady in waiting. With your new position,
you will have no time to deal with her and tend to her needs. I will see
rooms aquired for you at the Roost and in Stonebridge and will assign a
small detail of my guard and retainers to tend to you, while I am gone."
You can tell a lot about a man simply by watching his eyes. Aleister is no
exception. But the young lady doesn't comment upon whatever she presumes
to find in those mahogany depths.. she just watches him, gently swirling
her wine a little in the glass she holds. As her, albeit halfhearted,
concerns are addressed, she dips her head in a subtle nod of acceptance
and appreciation. "..thank you." Being bathed in sunlight lends her
porcelain features a healthier pallor than is often seen, that much is
certain. But something else, something in her overall demeanour, seems to
have shifted somewhat. "It is likely just as well. Somehow I doubt she
will approve of my new position at all. And yes, I know.." She's already
shaking her head, grinning slightly at the Charlton. "..she will do as you
command. But the disapproval or.. wrath of a woman is a far more delicate
thing. It slips through shadow, unseen, until the opportune moment. Like a
serpent. I have been compared to a viper, in the past.." Pausing, she
tilts her head a little, offering Aleister a knowing look. "..then again,
I think that's part of what excites you. The wondering. The occasional
thrill of considering what might happen if I were to strike the one with
whom I dance." With that, she takes another slow sip of wine, amusement
sparkling in her cerulean hues.
While she might seek the answers to things from the depths of his eyes,
Aleister tends to seek those sublte mannerisms, the way one holds
themselves. After all, that's how one stays alive in combat and it's
something that's shifted to politics as well. Her thanks is answered with
a simple nod and another sip that comes to be claimed from his wine. When
he lowers it this time, it's coming to rest upon his knee, fingertips idly
tapping against the glass as a laugh escapes past his lips, "Oh, she will
not approve. She will no doubt lecture me about such an appointment as
well. But, the choice is mine." A pause is taken as he cants his head a
touch to the side, "Whether she will do as I command or not, I do not
think she has it in her to plot against you." That's offered quite simply,
but his features take on light humor at the tail end of her conversation,
"I will not lie and say that it does not. But, I am sure you do not find
that at all surprising." A faint cluck of a tongue comes to be offered
before he's offering, almost as an aside, "I would not have compared you
to a serpent. A wolf perhaps. Beautiful and majestic in looks with a
cunning personality. But should they feel threatened or should the right
opportunity arise, they will not hesitate to strike with a deadly grace."
"Yes, well, the one who made that particular comparison, suffice to say,
lacked the.. 'insight' that you can claim, dear heart." Still, Ceinlys is
evidently pleased by his opinion of her. It still comes as a pleasant
surprise, at times. Setting her own glass carefully on the window sill,
she lets her fingertips lightly caress the base as she muses further
aloud. "Wolves have as many fine qualities as dangerous ones, as you say.
But they work best with others of their kind.." At this, she's flitting
Aleister a pointed look. "..and they wil fight ferociously to protect that
which they consider their own." A slow blink. An equally slow-burning
curve of her lips. What does she consider to be her own, that she
would imply such savagery to keep it? But the moment ebbs and she looks
again to the ruby hue of her drink, sighing softly. "..I should have
eaten, first." And then, the wine is immediately dismissed. No more, lest
she loosen her tongue any further. Then again.. "We should truly
celebrate, tonight. I have never seen you merry with wine, Aleister.
Consider that my request, for the evening."
BACK IN STONEBRIDGE
After the trip to Hollyholt, and the success of Aleister's venture. The night before everyone leaves for Seagard and the ships.
It's a far later hour by the time the young Lady Ceinlys is seen again within the common room of the Crane's Crossing. Only a few patrons still linger, by the light of dimmed lamps, their chatter long since diminished to companionable - or just plain inebriated - silence. Nobody seems to pay much mind to the quietly passing woman as she makes her way through the tables, a rosy apple loosely clasped in one hand and the draping hood of her dress pulled up over her glossy raven tresses. It's a dreadful habit, this wandering about unchaperoned at odd hours of the night. But if the alternative is waking her ancient handmaiden, after a day of riding.. well, franky she'd rather take the risk.
Ceinlys has changed out of her riding clothes, no doubt with some relief, despite her usual enjoyment of the pasttime. Tonight, a steaming hot bath and fresh attire somehow sounded more appealing; even if it did twinge at a few particular aches and pains that still assail her svelte form. Clad in hues of olive and copper, she's clever enough not to immediately stand out in a crowd. Though, an experienced eye would easily note the fine tailoring of the gown, as well as the graceful carriage of its wearer as she heads toward the doors of the inn. Why would someone look so purposeful, when the rest of the world seems to be sleeping? Perhaps it's merely her habit.
One of those patrons that seems to be lingering within the confines of the Inn's common room appears to be Aleister. At least, it looks like him, but the clothing doesn't seem to be what he would normally wear. His outfit of simple dark trousers and a plain white shirt is more what a commoner would wear then a man of noble birth. Gone is the armor and sword, too, it would seem, for there's nothing more then the glint of used dagger, slipped between the fabric of his trousers and the belt that wraps around his waist.
The table that he'd claimed is off to one side, near the corner of the room directly to the right of the door and upon the surface rests a simple plate of bread. A pitcher of ale sits before him and there's a mug resting idly in his right hand. Dark eyes flit amongst those lingering about, but it's the walking figure of a woman that catches his attention and for a moment, his eyes rest upon her. He makes no move to stop her, though, but he does press his mug to the side, releasing it and then beginning to rise as she reaches the door. Perhaps he aims to slip out after her.
Whether she's aware of Aleister's presence or not, the young lady doesn't slow her stride until she reaches the heavy door, which she hauls open before stepping lightly out into the chill night air. And already, some of her tension dissipates. With a soft sigh and a glance upward toward the cloudless starlit sky, Ceinlys sets a more sedate pace across the square, oddly enough seeming to find some enjoyment in the place being quite deserted.
Tossing her apple idly between one hand and the other, the ebon-maned noblewoman takes her sweet time, blissfully unconcerned, it would seem. Then again.. she has a certain talent for appearances. What is she up to? Why is she even awake? No doubt time will tell. If one is so keen to observe. Pausing, she lingers by the well for a moment, peering down into the fathomless depths as if actually believeing she might see the water far below. Doesn't everyone do that?
It's only after she's hauled open those heavy doors and moved to step out into the night that Aleister slips around from his table, claiming a cloak from the back of his seat and drapping it over his shoulders. The hood then comes to be pulled up before he's pulling the fabric a touch more tightly around him. It's then that he's moving towards those heavy doors so as to pull it open and slip out into the night.
Once outside, his eyes flit upwards to the stars that litter the sky before drifting back down to search the square and catch the unhurried figure of Ceinlys as she begins to move across it. When she comes to pause at the well, only to gaze within it, there's a tug of his lips to that smirk, but he makes no move to follow. Instead, there's a step to the side so that he can then lean his body against the side of the Inn. He's watching her, but at the same time, he's making no move to conceal himself.
"You should be sleeping, Aleister." There's no accusation in the young lady's tone.. if anything, it's vague and distracted, her hooded figure still seeming to observe the invisible water as she speaks. "You do, after all, have a very warm bed, tonight." Subtle, but there's no mistaking her implication. And she's not talking about the furnishings of the inn, evidently. Slowly turning to cast her gaze toward the Lord, she nevertheless offers a perfectly charming smile, a mere glimpse of white teeth, before she's off again.
She moves no more hurriedly than before. Did she know all along that she was followed? With Ceinlys, who so rarely shows weakness, it's nigh impossible to guess. Maybe she did. Maybe she didn't. What does it really matter? Gliding lightly across the muddied ground in the queer half-light cast down by the heavens, she heads for the main barn of the stables. Ah. That explains the apple, at least.
Beneath the starlit sky, the cowl would do little to conceal the smirk that deepens upon Aleister's lips as he dips his head a single time in the direction of Ceinlys, "As should you, Cein." Pushing off from the wall, his hands release the cloak, though he makes no movement towards her, just yet. "I do not doubt the warmth of my bed. After all, the comforters that this Inn has to offer, are the best to be found in this region." The Charlton's do have two suites reserved to them. Perhaps, he's claimed the second.
When she turns to continue her walk across the square, the Charlton Lord is giving only the slight shake of his head before he's setting off to follow. He doesn't hide this fact, but nor does he try and rush forward to catch up with her. Instead, his hands slip beneath the cloak, no doubt to the small of his back as he simply enjoys the stroll across the square towards the bar. It is rather peaceful for a change, what with the lack of commonfolk milling about, trying to peddle their wares at every pass.
Ceinlys glances back over a shoulder as she reaches the heavy double doors, resting her palms upon the aged wood as she regards the Charlton contemplatively. "But.." she wonders aloud, in a honeyed tone of sincerity, "..when, then, would I meet the assassins to discuss their payment..?" For a few beats, she stays where she is, affording her the opportunity to take in Aleister's unusual clothing.. and to simply watch him wander unhurriedly along a similar path as the one she herself has just taken. He doesn't frighten her. He doesn't.
As if to prove as much - though whether to the Lord or her own mind is anyone's guess - the young lady flashes another of those grins before simply shoving the doors ajar and slipping through the small gap created, swiftly lost to the shadows inside the barn.
Her words draw the briefest of chuckles from his lips and with a slight incline of his head, Aleister is offering, "That is done through a third party via letter, written in cipher, so that nothing traces back to you." Her stopping to regard his unusual attire allows him to move closer towards her, but his pace hasn't increased. Nor does he seem overly inclined to run to her. Dark eyes do rest upon her, watching her from beneath the very faint shadow that the cowl of his cloak sends affords.
When she flashes that grin and then shoves the door to the barn open, to create a gap for her to slip through, it's a moment longer until he's reaching the door. From beneath his cloak, one hand lifts to press to the wood, to push it open a touch and then, like her, he's slipping in with nothing more then the faint swirl of his cloak around his body.
Inside, once eyes adjust to the mere cracks of light filtering through old, unrepaired gaps in the roof overhead, the main corridor of the stalls is fairly easy to make out. Though, sighting Ceinlys with her dark hair and drably-hued clothing might take a moment longer. Already standing at the gate to her palfrey's stable for the night, one arm is outstretched with that apple resting in her upturned palm in offering. Well-used to such things, already, the golden mare simply turns her head, snuffles, then accepts with an audible crunch. She doesn't even seem perturbed by the trailing length of her mistress' sleeve, when it's gently drawn back. "My remorseless assassin." she murmurs, mostly to herself, though the words are obviously intended for Aleister, too, as he enters.
Glancing his way, the young lady tilts her head curiously askance. "Of course, that is the way to do it.. though, I confess, I know nothing of.. 'ciphers'. I have only the wiles I was born with, I'm afraid." Blatantly untrue, of course. Resting her shoulder to the stablegate and folding her arms comfortably across her midsection, she faces the Charlton more fully. "Do you still think I plot against you, Aleister? Even now?" How she feels about that is a closely-held secret, it appears. Her expression gives nothing away.
In fairness, she does take a moment to carefully consider his question, unthinkingly mirroring Aleister as she raises both hands to sweep back her deep, draping hood and let it fall over her shoulders. The palomino mare, still chomping contentedly, regards the Lord with her big brown eyes, utterly oblivious to the possible danger in the words the man utters. What does she care? Nuzzling softly at his palm, she then heaves a weighty sigh at finding it empty. Pig.
"Yes." Ceinlys' voice breaks through the oherwise quiet dark of the barn, soft-spoken as she is. "You have had ample opportunity to exact any horror that took your fancy.. and you have not. You discuss with me your plans and ambitions. There's no arguing we.. enjoy one another. So yes, Aleister. I trust you. As much as a woman like me can trust a person, anyway." She watches him with her horse, cerulean eyes flitting from the mare back to his dark eyes and calm features. Should I not? The question goes, perhaps wisely, unvoiced. Show no weakness.
As the mare come to nuzzle at his palm an then heave that weighty sigh, Aleister's lifting his hand a touch to scritch the tips of his fingers just beneath her jaw. Then, the touch is falling away, his hand coming to fall back to his side as he dips the slightest of nods in Ceinlys direction once he looks back towards her, "Good. Then you can trust in the answer that I will give."
It's a smile that comes to his lips as he shifts to press part of his body against the stall, for his arms are now lifting to cross upwards and over his chest as he regards the woman opposite him for another moment before finally speaking again, "No, I don't think you plot against me at this precise moment, Cein." There's no scorn in the words. No anger. Just a simple factual statement. "But, you have. Of that I am certain. And you probably had already devised a plan in case things went sideways and you felt that I needed to be removed." Now, the smile returns to his lips, a light tug upon the corners. "I had assumed that such was the case when you sought out employ with us, but conditioned it on the acceptance of your brother into the House." His eyes His head turns back to that mare, eyes regarding the creature with a subtle appreciation and when he speaks again, it's a soft murmer that escapes those lips of his, "I would be disappointed to know that you had not plotted against me. After all, it is part of our nature, is it not?"
"Of course I have. Just as you've likely several possibile methods in mind for removing me, should I become… more trouble than the gain is worth." Ceinlys smirks as she paraphrases. "It never hurts to be prepared for an unexpected spin in the damned dance, after all. But you can't prepare for all of them.." Following the man's gaze toward her mare, her smile turns more fond. A beautiful creature. And she has, true to her word, taken excellent care of the Lord's gift to her. The mare's coat is glossy and soft as silk, her temperament stoic and placid, under the care of her mistress.
"Honestly.." continues the young lady, "..are things not rather more likely to go 'sideways', now, Aleister? For me, in particular. I know full well the risk I am taking. Those that I have taken, in order to come this close." One hand drifts toward his shirt, fingertips lightly, absently assessing the fabric under watchful eyes as she murmurs, very softly, "..it would be a shame to stumble now."
To most others, this would be the oddest of conversation topics. To admit to planning out the removal as easily if they were talking about the weather. Yet, for his part, Aleister doesn't seem at all perturbed by her admission. In fact, for a moment, he seems a touch impressed with her and it shows in the absent flit of his eyes to her and the nod of his head that follows. Then, it's back to the horse, where his attention remains, "Possibilities had crossed my mind, before, Ceinlys. You are right, too, in that you can not plan for everything."
The touch of her fingertips to his shirt draws his eyes from the horse down to her hand and then back to her features, where the smirk once more reclaims hold of his lips, "With us so close to one another, Cein, I think it will be hard for things to go sideways. Your risk has become my risk and in a fashion, my risk has become your risk." His hand then lifts upwards, coming to settle overtop of hers. "I have no intention of allowing you to stumble, sweetling, nor do I have any intention of stumbling myself." He pauses for a moment, long enough for his head to cant a touch to the side as he regards her in silence for a breadth of a heartbeat, "Is there something particular that you feel concerned about?"
"Before." The echoed sentiment comes with a weary smile, once the Lord looks away; his gaze having been held for as long as it lingered upon her. Well.. things change. "Oh, I've stumbled. I just covered it and kept moving with the rythmn of the music, rather than trouble myself terribly." Letting her hand be gently captured beneath his own, Ceinlys turns her blue eyes back upon the Charlton. But she doesn't press closer, as yet.
"There is.. nothing new I feel concerned about..?" she offers, in the end. Though, a twitch of her lips betrays something akin to amusement, if not quite there. "..well, there was one. But nothing that the right dose of herbs could not tend to. So.. no, Aleister." She musters a more genuine smile for him, now. "Nothing in particular. I suppose I am.. well, rather restless. Plagued by thoughts of your departure. How fortunate that I will have things to busy myself with, for the duration." Her fingertips curl, just a little, lightly toying with his plain shirt. And, of course, she has to ask, "..why are you dressed so simply, dear one? Not that you don't look utterly ravishing all the same.. I am merely curious." Flitting a glance back up, from where her attention had wandered to his chest, Ceinlys suggests, "..perhaps you wished to forget, for one night, that you were a Lord with such careful plans to burden you.. and simply make merry with ale and wenches?"
Her echoing that single word has Aleister drawing his head to another slight nod and then as she continues, the faint hint of a chuckle escapes past his lips, "It would seem that we both have stumbled a touch." Once her hand has been captured by his, there's the idle brush of his thumb against the back of her hand, but he doesn't seek to draw her closer, nor does he seek to close the distance between them himself.
"Good. I would hate leaving the Riverlands knowing that you were plagued with concern over such … idle things." A flash of a smirk, brief and fleeting and when it fades, he's casting another look down to her hand as her fingertips curl there, toying with that shirt of his. Her question draws a laugh and a lift of his eyes as he murmers, "To make merry with ale, perhaps, but not with the wenches. The common whores that this place has to offer are of little use, sweetling." A shake of his head and there's another chuckle, "No. I simply wished to not be harassed by the serving girls and wenches. Dress as a commoner and pay in handfuls of pennies, rather then silver, and they hardly cast a second glance upon you. Nor do the others that linger about. In turn, though, you are free to simply listen and watch all that is going on." A light tug of her hand is given so that he can lift it to his lips, to press a kiss to a fingertip before he's releasing it so that she can do as she will with it, "I'm afraid I could only help with your restlessness for a few hours. After that, I can only ask that you think of what we will accomplish together and the power that can come, to help ease your restless mind."
"Clever." remarks the young lady, simply. Nevermind that she seems to have had a similar idea. The flaw in her plan? The lack of any genuinely plain clothing. "..it rather suits you." Well, that's a vicious tease. Aleister as a commoner? Perish the thought. But damnitall if she isn't the one to close the distance that remains; not bruisingly close, but enough that the lush olive and copper of her gown gently brushes the coarse linen of the Lord's shirt. "..a few hours would have been better than nothing at all. But even I am not fool enough to venture into your chambers with your dear wife in the next room along the hall.."
In contrast to her words, Ceinlys' glacial eyes melt a little as she watches the chivalrous brush of lips across her fingertip, briefly allowing her touch to wander Aleister's jawline in answering caress as he speaks. "I will think of little else." she promises, as her palm comes to rest at the curve of his shoulder. "But for the moment.. as your Castellan, Lord Aleister.. I really must make a suggestion." Tugging gently with a fractional curl of her fingers at his nape, the young lady smirks knowingly, flitting her gaze between his lips and his dark eyes. "..I would suggest.. that you kiss me now. As you'll likely have no opportunity, come daybreak.." True enough. It's tradition for the wife and her handmaidens to wave off conquering heroes. Ceinlys is no longer counted among that number, is she?
There's a slight loft of Aleister's brow before he's giving an ever so slight shake of his head, "Perhaps for an evening, but not for each and every day. Trust me on that one." The move of her closer to him draws a smile to his lips, his head remaining a touch to the side and at the words that follow next, there's a soft chuckle that passes his lips, "Perhaps it is a good thing that the suite I have claimed is not near to that of my wife. Or to yours." There's just the hint of a tease in those words.
There's a graze of his teeth against his lower lip as her touch finds his jaw and then the curve of his shoulder and when she makes that 'suggestion', he's offering a quickly murmered, "A wise suggestion, m'lady." One hand lifts upwards and behind her, fingertips gliding into the tresses of those ebon locks and curling there as he tilts his head downwards to claim those lips of hers with his own, offering a kiss that's feverish in nature and perhaps just a touch bruising by design.