|Summary:||Anton returns to the Roost after a week or so away on business, and learns what's been said about him in the meantime.|
|Related Logs:||The Courier|
|Four Eagles Tower - Reading Room|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|26 August 288|
The night grows late, yet some within the Tower have not yet found solace in sleep. The closest of her handmaidens follows sleepily as Lucienne traverses the angled corridors. The flame from her candle in its brass holder flickers, just the dimmest of lights to illuminate what the moon shining through the windows on the way does not. The door to the reading room creaks as she pushes it open slowly, bidding Hattie to enter before her. The plump girl knocks the door open a good stretch further before she's able to slip through, and she beelines for the nearest chair to snooze in as Lucienne trails in. The Lady's underdress is cottony rather than silken, and fairly simple, with a gauzy overdress obviously slipped on in haste, the top ties at the back left undone. Once inside, she crosses to the nearest shelf and takes advantage of the brighter moonlight within to keep her candle further from the precious tomes it might otherwise threaten as she scans them.
Only a few minutes after Lucienne spirits her way into the reading room, footsteps can be heard coming down the hall. A man, from the sound of it, walking quietly and coming at no great speed, though not shuffling aimlessly or creeping along, either. Eventually, the steps near the reading room, and there they pause, before Anton appears in the doorway, leaning in to look about. He catches sight of Lucienne's candle and then the lady herself, and inclines his head politely, coming in no further. "Lady Lucienne," he greets her, "Some urgent reading, to be done at this hour."
Lucienne traces a finger along several bookspines, sure she's getting closer to the one she's after. The sound of footsteps brings her pause, and she casts her eyes to the doorway - not out of any real concern for who might be about to catch her in the act of late night reading, but perhaps curiosity at who else might be about at such an hour. That it is Anton who appears in the doorway almost sees her candle dropped to the floor, a little wax spilling over onto the holder as the hand carrying it slackens in surprise. "Lord Ser Anton," she greets in return, speaking slowly as she parses his arrival. "I… sleep doesn't seem to want to visit me, this evening. It is good to see you returned." Hattie isn't yet asleep on her chair, but she's not far off.
"I apologize if I startled you," Anton offers. He lingers in the doorway, nodding at her welcome, "Thank you. The hospitality is as always appreciated. I am sorry to hear, though, that the evening finds you restless." He glances at Hattie, and then the window for a brief moment, before back to Lucienne. "I encountered a royal courier of all things upon the road," he remarks, "I gather things have been…busy."
"Not at all," she dismisses the apology. The mention of the king's courier sees a measure of dismay creep into Lucienne's expression, and she bids Anton into the room with a sweep of her hand, ignoring the books for the moment. "Ah, yes. Busy is one word for it, my lord. Have you heard tell of the events here in your absence?"
Anton crosses the threshold when bid, moving into the room and towards one of the small tables. He sets a hand atop the back of a chair and nods, "I have had some news, yes," he replies, "It seems there have been one or two…unfortunate incidents." His expression sours very faintly, and his smile is a bit tight, "I will have to speak with your father or brother about them on the morrow, it seems."
Lucienne draws a deep breath in and measures it out slowly, turning in her place to watch as Anton enters. "Please accept my most sincere apologies for any insult to your House, my lord. The rest of my family intend to issue their apologies and discuss reparation on the morrow, as they are able." Her forehead lowers as she speaks, sending the last of her words down toward the rug underfoot. Hardly visible in the soft candlelight is the fierce red hue that takes to her cheeks.
Anton watches Lucienne's breath and that discreetly-blushing apology, gaze narrowing briefly as hers is directed elsewhere. "I must say I hope that they find themselves able before too long; it is rather inconvenient having my castellan banished from the place I am staying, to say nothing of the absurdity of the whole business."
"Absurd," paraphrases the girl, still looking at the floor. Another deep breath sees her head lifted, firstly to check on her handmaiden - Hattie is faintly wheezing - and next to set wide brown eyes upon Anton. She swallows. "I'm truly sorry for that, my lord. I was not there to receive your Castellan as I should have been; were I…" It isn't fitting for a loyal sister to openly criticise her inheriting brother, and yet. "I am most certain you will hear an apology from several of my kin in the morning. Please, I… in the meantime, I cannot apologise enough on their behalves. The royal courier…"
"I understand that Miss Steward was perhaps not quite as polite as she might have been," Anton says, "And I will be having words with her on that subject. But yes, I would hope for an apology, and an honest answer on the subject of the man sent to Oldstones. From the description I have heard, lady, he sounds like a knight only poorly disguised as a peasant. And I must say I wonder at that, since I have offered to your brother the Young Lord to extend what hospitality may be found at Oldstones to any who should like to visit."
Lucienne begins to migrate toward the table, her candle's flame threatened by the movement. "That is not the half of it, my lord," she murmurs apologetically. "Miss Steward," she muses, summoning a small smile as she watches her candlestick. "How fitting a name. My Lord Valentin." Again, eyes lift, and Lucienne's smile wanes away to a thin line. "You are not the only one left to wonder at the actions of my dear lord brother. I'm afraid I have not the explanation you seek. Maybe worry for his lady sister took to his head and clouded his judgement?" She doesn't sound confident. "In any instance, I can only repeat to you my most sincere apologies, my lord."
Anton lifts a brow at that murmur, but does not immediately inquire, instead listening and then nodding. "Perhaps it did," he says, "And I apologize, it is impolite to speak poorly of your kin's actions to you, it must put you in an uncomfortable position, as hostess and sister both. I thank you for your apology, in any case."
"You are good to apologize to me, my lord," says Lucienne with a disbelieving shake of her head. "I beg you, do not. For my House has put to you the most awful of insults, and I could not forgive myself if I left our conversation without… without explaining." She sets her candle down upon the table and clears her throat awkwardly. "The royal courier that you would have seen, my lord - he carried a reply to… an inquiry, that my brother sent to His Grace. Regarding," her eyes flutter closed for a moment, then open again, "Regarding your House."
Anton's brows shift at Lucienne's words, drawn together in faint consternation. He seems about to speak and then pauses, listening instead, and his frown grows slightly deeper as she goes on. "An inquiry," he echoes, and then after a moment says, "Please do go on, Lady Lucienne. I admit I cannot imagine what sort of inquiry you might mean, that would require the answer of the king himself."
"As I cannot imagine," latching onto the phrase, Lucienne continues, "What possessed him to send it. Jaremy can be… rash, and I'm sure you will ask him the very same thing. Would you care to sit, as I explain?" It might be wise, suggests her tone. "An informant put the idea in my brother's head that there may have been a question regarding the legitimacy of your House's nobility. Jaremy acted alone, without counsel, to pursue that idea. Needless to say, he could not have been more wrong, and again I extend to you my deepest and most sincere apology for the insult, my Lord."
"Rash," is the word Anton chooses to echo this time, "Funny, as I believe I recall him spending quite a few words explaining the wisdom of patience and caution and how wise he is for preferring them." His tone is dry, and low, and he hesitates a moment, before finally drawing out a chair and taking a seat. One forearm is set upon the table top, torso angled towards Lucienne as she speaks. Anton's brows rise as she begins, and then further, and it is a long moment before he says anything in reply. Nostrils flare briefly as he exhales, and a muscle shifts in his jaw, gaze sliding away from hers before he finally nods. "I see," he says finally, words a bit clipped. One finger taps heavily, steadily against the surface of the table, counting out the beats until he says, "Men have been challenged for much less, you know. For much less than that and still been thought justified."
Lucienne swallows, and then swallows again, hard. That tapping makes for an excruciating wait, whether it's on purpose or not: her breath catches in her chest, only released when Anton speaks again. Out it comes, in one big rush. "I… they have, my Lord." She's rather at a loss for what else to say, aside from, "I'm so very sorry."
Intentionally suspenseful or not, Anton's finger continues tapping on the table, and he is silent but for that for another long few moments. "Well," he says finally, "I thank you for informing me, Lady Lucienne. And for the hospitality that you have offered during my stay. I trust it will be no reflection upon your abilities as a hostess if I say I will be departing tomorrow."
The tapping etches out the new rhythm of her breathing, Lucienne's chest rising and falling just barely. She looks crestfallen at that announcement, beseeching brown eyes lingering upon Anton for a long moment until she catches herself in the act of staring. They drop to her candle's flame, instead, and Hattie lets out a little snore in the background. "I see," says Luci meekly, in the tiniest of little voices. She nods, twice. "I… should have left it for my brother to tell you, I'm sorry. To set my own conscience at ease, I… perhaps he's not the only rash Terrick. I will pray for your safe return home, my Lord, and for prosperity for your House. I am so very sorry…"
The tapping continues, as Anton's gaze, focused intently out the window is drawn back to Lucienne in time. Tap. Tap. Tap. Ta— finally it stops, the pad of his finger this time pressed into a divot in the wood and slid back and forth across it. "It is not you who need apologize, Lady Lucienne," he says, "And I do thank you for telling me, I assure you that it was better heard first from you than another. I simply cannot see how I would remain guest of a house that believes me a fraud and a liar. It is one thing, you see, to be considered an unknown and to not yet have earned people's trust, and I have borne that well enough these weeks because I understand the caution, even if I thought it a bit overzealous. It is another thing entirely to learn that I have been actively DIStrusted. That every word I have said, answer I have given — that my very name has been thought a lie. When in fact, it was your brother who lied, professing an interest in friendship while all the time writing to the very king himself to call me a liar? It seems now that I have been less a guest and more one unwittingly detained in hopes of future arrest."
Anton's speech is punctuated by tiny gestures of understanding from Lucienne - the ghost of a nod here, an extra blink or two there, a twitch to her lips. All the while, she's wringing her hands, only ceasing when it's her turn to reply. She cups each of them and marries them together with a linking of fingers. "Please, my Lord, it is not our whole House that believed these things of you. My brother was misinformed, and he intends to apologise also, as well he should. There are many rumors spoken about Lord Ser Anton Valentin, some of them truly frightening, my Lord. Jaremy acted alone upon some of these." She sees fit to repeat, "Alone." Resignedly, though, she nods once more. "We would not expect you to remain where you are uncomfortable, my Lord, and it is not my place to beg you stay anywhere. But please, if there were /anything/ my House could offer you in reparation for our atrocious abuse of your good name, would you think to request it before you take your leave?"
"Are there indeed?" Anton inquires, "I would hear more of these frightening rumours, as apparently I have need to pre-emptively arm myself against them. I had not anticipated a keen ear for tavern gossip being a part of lordship, I confess, and I am unprepared for it." He takes up tapping once again, seeming unaware he's even doing it, finger twitching out that constant rhythm on its own. He glances away to the window and then the bookshelves once again, and the chaperone in her chair. His jaw is tight still, spine and shoulders straight, held stiffly away from the chair-back. He looks back to Lucienne at the last and replies, "I will speak with your brother and your father in the morning," he assures with a minute nod, "I would hear these apologies. I make no requests. If they wish to for once marry action to their pretty words I will hear of their reparations. See what my honour is worth to them now that they have the king's word that it exists."
"Taverns, the markets… what the smallfolk say can sometimes wreak more havoc than the word of another Lord," admits Lucienne rather gingerly. Her eyes betray a longing to reach out and still that errant finger, shifting to watch as it thuds out it's rhyme, but no touch is forthcoming. They lift to meet Anton's as he looks at her, and Lucienne rallies her best diplomatic smile. "I hope the Terrick men will not disappoint you in the morning, my Lord. But now, the hour grows late and I should wake my maiden to scold her for leaving me at your mercy - she must not have heard the same rumors my brother did."
"So it seems," Anton replies of the smallfolk, "I will have to go and see what it is they are saying of me, I suppose. I am curious what it could be that is worse than impersonating a lord." Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. At Lucienne's smile and leave-taking, he nods, and rises, chair pushed back behind him. He pauses then, fingers still. "If you were in their place, Lady Lucienne," he inquires, "What would you suggest might serve to…demonstrate the extent of House Terrick's apology?"
Lucienne takes up her candle in its holder, the thin stick of wax having burned down a trifle now. Thank the Seven for the end of that incessant tapping; she likely does, with a flash of another smile. "I have made my suggestions, given my counsel," she replies easily, shrugging her shoulders. Her steps start towards Hattie. "As it was pointed out to me, much of it will depend on the manner in which the Knight of Oldstones looks upon our House after this. I do hope we can earn back your friendship, my Lord."
"Were your counsel better heeded, lady, I suspect there would be little danger of House Terrick having lost my friendship in the first place," Anton replies, "But perhaps a way might be found, in time. I confess at the moment I find it difficult to think why I should bother to keep trying for friendship from people who think the worst of me, while the Naylands have offered their trust and support from the first. But it is not knightly to hold grudges, nor lordly to decide the fate of one's holding based on personal animosity. And it seems I have been failing terribly at seeming like a lord or knight." He smiles faintly, crooked and wry. "For what it is worth, Lady Lucienne," he says, "Know that I do not hold you accountable in this. I will be sorry to leave your hospitality, and without a chance to ride out as we spoke of. I am sure we will meet again some day soon; the Riverlands are not so large, after all."
Lucienne's cheeks flush rosy red, and she ducks her head just for a brief moment. "Your Ser Gedeon may be able to give you a reason," is her hint regarding friendship, given as she gently shakes Hattie's shoulder. The plump girl comes to with a snort. "Or perhaps for the favour of a lady, my Lord. I will be as sorry to see you go, but there will be plenty of opportunity for us to speak again, and to ride… if you so wish it." She dips a graceful curtsy, and bids her handmaiden to do the same. "By your leave?"
Anton lifts a brow at Lucienne's suggestion, looking confused for a moment, but nodding. "I will be speaking to him, of course." He watches her wake her attendant, and then smiles faintly at her words, glancing down briefly. Her curtsey draws a bow in return, and he nods, "Of course, lady. I hope you have better luck finding sleep."
"Safe travels, my Lord," bids Lucienne, before following her handmaiden out the door - without the book she'd come for originally.