|An Inadvertent Distraction|
|Summary:||As Ceinlys arrives at Heronhurst, she's thrown momentarily off the warpath by a wayward Flint.|
|Courtyard — Heronhurst|
|Lush olive trees line the interior, slender branches arching for the sky with arms that gracefully sway and creak in the wind that skims along the top of the wall. Around the inner edge of the wall is a shaded pathway between the trees and the solid, sun-warmed wall of the keep, large planter boxes made of pale, slender lattice work blooming with fragrant jasmine, lilacs and forsythia at the base of each tree. A well brings water into the courtyard and spills into a shallow pool edged with flowering shrubs that offer brief glimpses of often surprising colors intermingled with shoots of green that hint at herbs and even fresh vegetables. To the east of the courtyard are the main stables for the castle and, through the stables, a smithy and the barracks that the guards of the castle are housed in. A wide flight of stairs leads up to the main entrance hall and, on a clear day, the breeze from the river tugs at the pennants and the river itself is easily glimpsed to the west. Armsmen clad in the colors of House Erenford stand to either side of the entrance to the main hall, the portcullis, in the training yard and are spotted along the rooftop promenade.|
|December 4th, 289 A.L.|
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” ~ Fydor Dostoevsky
Well, something had to go wrong, didn't it. In the wake of what ought to have been a pleasant - or at least hungover - afterglow, following the amiable marriage recently made official here, it's almost a pity. And, joy of joys! It's about to get worse. Word had arrived earlier that a party would follow, later that morning. From Broadmoor. Considering just who has gone missing, that really only leaves one person who would be an uninvited guest.
Yes, the Lady Ceinlys may be tactful enough to avoid social occasions at Heronhurst, when normally she's seen in the company of her counterparts at such events. She might have gracefully accepted the lack of recognition from the House. She can even stomach the bitter hatred between Lord Miraz and her father. But this is a different matter entirely. Hafwen is not only her daughter, she is also an heiress of House Erenford. The only daughter of the late Young Lord Diarmud. And say what you like about the Steward, she has never wavered in her stubborn conviction on that front.
The thundering approach of heavy hooves grows closer to the courtyard.
Where as the men of House Erenford, might indeed quake and stammer or perhaps see to informing the Lords and ladies of the house that such an esteemed visitor was ahoof. And indeed there may be calls on brass and bell rung in the sept. But, of all those things-for the man clad down in black and leather, it is nothing that seems to overtly concern him. As the thundering hooves can be heard in their ever close clattering, the lanky and lean Lord remains seated beneath one of the lush trees held in the Courtyard. Next to him a wine skin hangs from his hand, uncorked-while his blade lies up and sheathed. The hilt wrapped to the scabbard in black leather-a peace tie likely left on from the festivities. Half lidded eyes look over to the Porticullis as men move and the training yard clears a little-perhaps folks being ready to accept such a party. One hand, it's calloused digits rising roam over his beard and tug down, before a sip of wine is taken.
He is no Steward, Emrys Flint. But an observer-and likely someone out of place here amongst the pink and gold.
The first mount to storm into the courtyard, albeit being reined in to a swift trot by its mistress, is a powerfully built golden palfrey. A palomino with enormous feathered feet and a roman nose, and a young woman clad in copper and green sat astride. They're followed in short order by a handful of guards, thoughtfully attired in the subtler hues of House Haigh. Ever the politican, even as she rides her in frantic haste and fear for her child, it seems the noblewoman still thinks better of insulting or enraging her impromptu hosts. Eyes of vivid azure sweep over the courtyard and, just for the faintest split-second, the austere young noblewoman might be noted to hesitate.
But that courtier's mask of polite enquiry is set firmly back in place as she swings out of the saddle, landing lightly and thumping a hand in gratitude to her mare's heaving, muscular shoulder. Good job the animal isn't one of those flighty, fine-boned little things.. she'd have ridden it into the ground.
Was she expecting a greeting? A welcome? Hardly. To be honest, Ceinlys is pleasantly surprised to have made it through the gate without an arrow or ten loosed in her direction. But she carefully takes in any and all who linger, as she hands her reins to a waiting stablehand. A palm rises, sweeping back the deep-cowled hood of her gown to reveal glossy raven hair, just as her disinterested glance passes over Emrys, in his shady little haven. It flits to the hand emblazoned on his chest, and there's a flicker of recognition. Well, a Flint is in no danger of her wrath. Odd to find one here, though..
Brows slightly raise on the Northman's face as he watches Ceinlys vault down from her choice horse. And there he is looking to the steed, more than the rider as he slowly pulls himself up from that utterly useless lounge he was in. Another sip of the cool wine within, the lord turns and snatches up his sword and bely, seeking to secure it on his person, before he is beginning the easy ramble over to where the other riders are likely soon to follow. One hand rakes up through his own slightly wet hair-not with grease, but wet likely from being toused at some point, and he shakes it free, before smoothing back. The cork placed on the skein and he is tossing the thing in the direction of one of the Heronhurst men who comes over to see to the horse.
A brush by the Lady Ceinlys and he turns his head just so, so as to give a good look and account of the beast, before he is stepping closer and placing one of his free hands on the haunch of the mare, feeling the muscle beneath the skin. Teeth show in a grin that is likely only seen by himself as he still slightly ignores the woman.
A turn of his head and the grin remains. "Lovely animal." That northern accent thick and rich-much like the ale he was drinking with little effort. "fine bit of horseflesh indeed. I spose you pinched her for a right bit of coin-does she breed?" Curious questions but questions none the less for the non pulsed Haigh. After all-Who is Emrys but a displaced Flint?
Offering a curt, soft-spoken order to one of her guards as he draws up a short distance away, the young lady doesn't immediately notice the stranger's approach. What she notices, really, is that the groom hasn't promptly led the palfrey away. Why? Oh.
Blinking a few times, Ceinlys lingers protectively close to the palomino's neck, watching the man who quite frankly helps himself to the opportunity to better examine the creature. Of all the things on her mind today, discussing horses was likely not among them. But.. there's that damned inborn responsibility for courtly niceties. One never knows who they are speaking to. And so long as he's not an Erenford, he can't be all bad. Right? Still, Emrys has certainly succeeded in knocking her momentarily off-guard. If only he knew what a rarity that was.
Fortunately, there's no important witnesses.
"I.. she.." Pausing in order to draw and loose a slow, steadying breath, she runs a hand lightly over the mare's silvery mane, meeting the Flint's gaze with a mixture of consternation and grudging pleasure at his obvious eye for fine breeding. "..she's only young. She hasn't been sent to stud yet, no." Drawing herself up to her full height - which is still less than his and considerably less than her mount - the noblewoman remembers propriety, in the end. "I do not believe I've had the pleasure..?" It's still so tricky, deciding whether to address a Northerner as Ser. Probably not, when they're lounging about drinking wine at this hour. Still. "Lady Ceinlys.. Erenford." she offers, by way of prompting introduction.
The look Emrys gives back is a warm, if not broken grin that doesn't quite reach. Likely, it is not entirely something ill to look at, but perhaps not the best for company. A nod is given as he smooths down the front of his tunic and cowl, eyes looking at something that's not there, before it's dismissed with one last brush of a hand. "When she does get to be old enough to stud-and if I am alive, I would like to know. I think she could bring on some fine foals if the stud is a worth enough lot." And there he turns, and farmer blows as discreetly as one can infront of a noble woman. Rubbing his nose once after whatever discomfort was dislodged, he offers a brief nod of his head. "You've not had the pleasure. Because I would remember you if you did." There is no coyness or flirting. It is simply blunt honesty-in a gruff package.
"Emrys Flint." Which would mean he is a Lord, given his attire. Likely, what passes for a Northern knight-well those that don't ascribe to the seven at least. Eyes slide over the young woman before he nods as well. "Fine flesh on you too, Ceinlys Erenford." a compliment and a pass all in one nonpulsed response. "Did you come for your kin's wedding?" Because obviously you're late.
Ceinlys, luckily enough, grew up with numerous brothers and not a single sister. There are few mannerisms that are likely to rattle her, and there's a telling absence of fan to flutter before herself. She simply observes the odd man, hearing if not avidly listening to his suggestion. That rather bloodless smile of his is met with a distracted half-curve of her own lips, her fingernails lightly scratching under the mare's long mane before the stablehand, sensing his dismissal, finally gets to leading her away. "I.. will be sure to inform you of such." It's obvious she's still somewhat off-kilter. Most days, she could speak about horses and their qualities - or lack thereof - for hours on end. But.. he's caught her on a bad day. That much is certain.
Taking in his attire, the subtle finery of it, along with the blazon of his House, the young woman nods, as though affirming a thought already in mind. "I see. Well met, then, Lord Emrys. Are you a relation of Young Lord Anders..? I thought I had encountered all of his family who travelled south." Raking a hand back through her dark locks, the Steward can't seem to help a faint smirk, quirking at one corner of her lips, at the man's further enquiry. "And to better answer you, forgive my manner this morning - no, I am not here for the festivities. My daughter has gone missing and I have come to offer further aid in the search for her." And, no doubt, to unleash her fury on those she chooses to blame for the situation. Lucky them. The compliment doesn't go ignored, exactly.. rather she flits a rueful glance over her slightly road-dusty ensemble and wonders. No need for him to see that, though. "Thank you." No, definitely not the sort to blush and feign modesty.
"I am a cousin." Of his, a rather older cousin, but still that is how it rolls with large clan like families, even if the Flints themselves are a smaller house by Northern standards. Ermys for his own part doesn't seem put out when the horse is led away, or for the look the woman gives herself. For his own part he remains there aloof in his stance and in his smile. It's enough that he just shifts how he stands, andplaces a hand there to rest on the hilt of his sword. "You had not encountered me, I guess as we are giving each other greetings now." he adds with a dry chuckle that doesn't reach or inspire life. Still he quiets down and his face slides to a slate like neutral. "Well, I am sorry for your daughter, Ceinlys.." No Lady or other title given. "If I can be of help, let me know while I linger here with my sister." And there a brow raises as if something remembered. "Anathema Nayland." So, his own reasons for being here are given. "And I will help." but that is all he offers. "I won't keep you if you need to find someone here."
"Thank you." The gratitude, this time, is softer-spoken.. and far more genuine for it. Dusting off her skirts lightly with a sweep of one hand, and glancing over a shoulder to ensure her guards - and a very sour-faced handmaid of middling years - are in attendance, the young lady casts Emrys a thoughtful look, pausing as if there were something further to say. But she draws a blank. And the mention of his sister, while it rouses perhaps faint recognition, certainly doesn't elicit a dawning 'oh!' of realisation. She's heard of the woman, but has yet to 'encounter' her, either. "I.. should likely have word sent that I am here. And see the horses settled." Something she prefers to oversee herself, apparently. Perhaps the routine will soothe her ragged nerves? After another moment's contemplation, she offers her hand out, for a masculine shake rather than a delicate clasp of fingertips. "I imagine I will need as many pairs of eyes as are willing, Emrys." Well, if he's foregoing formality, so shall she. "I will keep that offer in mind. For now, though, I take my leave."
"Eyes watch you." A bit of a farewell, before the lord himself is turning. Whether or not there was realization or such seems not to factor in the man's decisions or his pride. His offer was taken, and might be used? Good. If not, Good. Still The lady for her troubles is given one last look as the man looks over his shoulder. His course back to the tree an easy one-and one that already has him fiddling with his sword belt so he can drop in a hound doggish manner, so as to enjoy the rest of his time there under dwindling sun and the shade of a fine tree.