|Asked and Answered|
|Summary:||Lady Faline and Ser Justin happen upon one another in the cellar. The Lady Rebecca wanders in, her madness is confirmed.|
|Cellar, The Four Eagles|
|The Cellar's stairs drop down from beside the kitchen entrance and drift below ground as a shallow angle. The dirt floor in the basement provides just enough dampness in the air, mixed with the cooler temperatures, to help keep the goods stored down here somewhat fresh. The foods are kept to one side and down a set of halls while the casks of wine and mead are kept closer to the stairs.|
|Mon Oct 01, 289|
Only a few select persons had purpose for voyaging down the stairs from the kitchen and into the cellar. The kitchen servants, the keep's stores maintainers, or those with an actual reason for being down here. Faline would not be one of them however it was quiet and she was alone, save for the occasional scampering of a rat in dire search of subsistence. The cool rainy weather filled the air with warmth and moisture even below the Four Eagle's great stone construction. The pale yellow shawl draped against her backside had been tugged a bit higher, covering her shoulders as her eyes continued their search. Various clay containers filled with herbs, oils, kitchen spices and tawny sacks of grain. Opposite of the shelving system she stood by there were a couple barrels containing mead or wine. She's already peeked at those and had moved onto the jugs lacking any sort of labels. Faline plucked one from the shelf and held it to eye level. The light was dim, a few torches lined the walls but it was the lantern she carried with her that illuminated the remainder of the cellar.
There is the sound of bootsteps on the stone stairs that let down along the wall into the cellar. A man's tread, the faint chime of spurs. Justin has returned to the tower to have a much needed hot bath, change into warm, dry clothes and clean the mud from his boots. His dark hair is damp, faintly curly now that it's trimmed shorter. It is growing back out and within another month or so it will be hanging back down into his eyes. He's not a man to fuss much with his appearance as long as he gets clean now and then. The Sheriff does take to wearing his house colors however, most often in doublets or surcoats as he is garbed now, the brassy eagle of his sword's pommel recently polished to gleam dully in the dimmer light down here.
Carrying a lantern himself, he sees that someone else is already down here. Justin smiles a little and starts in the direction of the other light, "Anais?" Apparently his goodsister spends a lot of time down here, keeping records updated on their stores.
The echo of footsteps hadn't jarred her from peering into the clay container. It was the sound of another that startled her eyes to dart upwards and in the direction of the approaching lantern. Quickly she replaced the lid and settled the less than substantial reserves of tea leaves back onto the shelf and promptly stepped away. Both arms re-wrapped themselves in the pale yellow shawl and the honey brown eyed female stepped into view. "I'm afraid not cousin. Just I." She turned her features in the direction of where she once heard the scampering of a rodent or two, "And the scavengers."
"It's all the more reason stores down here are casked or put into thick stoneware jars to keep the rats out of them." While she wasn't directly in view, Justin couldn't see what she was peering into, yet he heard that faint sound of a lid being put back into place. "Many of them sealed with wax against insects as well." Justin pauses to hang his lantern and direct it to add to the general illumination of this end of the cellar. "Anything you need down here, you are welcome to, cousin. Merely put a note for the Lady Anais so that she may adjust her records. Were you looking for something specific?"
As for himself, Justin keeps his baritone low in volume as he walks over to check on the flagons of Charlton wine and the few small casks. None of them here bear the Terrick vineyard nor brewers marks though behind a locked door is Lord Jerold's best stash, saved for important occasions and not to be used for regular house hold consumption. Her cousin looks at the labels to choose something, "The first wine casks are going into the upper warehouse in town in about a week. Though there won't be many. It'll be months yet ere they have a substantial pressing and enough casks made to lay in any quantity and the brewery needs time to build up more than is consumed locally at once."
Whether the rats were successful in their searching she wouldn't have known. Faline followed the lamp's hanging, brightening an otherwise dark and damp chamber. Her fingers toyed with the edge of her shawl tucked within her folded arms. "No, not really." She returns, sweeping her eyes around the dank surroundings. "It is quiet here. Something rare to find from up above." Indicating the amount of activity the house has seen lately and while she was used to such a large family even they desired some peace and solitude. Now facing her lantern it was plucked from the shelf and held in hand as Justin began to educate her on some of the stores and their soon movement. "We shall manage." A few soft words of encouragement and positive thinking. "These are from House Charlton?"
Justin turns to watch his cousin, "Aye, these here come with the monthly Charlton shipments. The casks I was refering to though, they are from our own vineyards and aren't stored here. We've had to rebuild for we lost the warehouses to store them, and all the casks they had been using before were taken or burned." He selects one and stepping nearer to where Faline stands, Justin gets some leverage on the wine flaggon to exert muscle to break the seal and remove the cork - this time he manages it without needing to draw and use his knife.
Once it is open, he offers the open bottle to her to smell of it or taste it, "Charlton red is quite acceptable, though I've a taste for family wines. Terrick wines were even favoured in Riverrun and well appreciated."
Curiosity settled Faline nods with understanding to Justin before her eyes now take to the various casks, particularly their own house vintage. Shortly after Justin breaks open the seal to one of the Charlton wines and the young female settles her lantern atop of a nearby barrel, the warm metals clink against one another. "Our benefactors?" An amused smile slipped across her lips once she lowered her gaze to the open bottle and graciously accepts. At first it is sniffed, eyes closed to revel in that intital aroma from hopefully month or years of fermenting. "In Riverrun? Truly?" Faline's thin and dark eyebrows raised. "What is our base for it? I have enjoyed plum wines very much. And this exotic red fruit though the name escapes me…"
Recounting her own personal favorite which was not procured for her voyage 'home'. "I'll admit my eagerness to know the taste of true Terrick wines. I cannot say I've had the pleasure before." Faline searches both to the right and left of her and then to the stares. No one else was in presence, not even her handmaiden. Once accounting for just these two bodies alone she murmured, "The next few moments should be wiped from your memory." A proper lady never drank from the bottle, not even for a sip but as it was wine, freshly uncorked the young female stole herself a small sample before returning it Justin.
Justin laughs softly, quite amused with his cousin though unaware that she doesn't even have a hand maiden down here rummaging around for tea or something. At least she's family. "I see nothing you need to worry for, good cousin. Likely enough as children we lurked down here when we could get away with slipping in behind the steward or my Lady mother, getting into worse mischief." Aye, Justin's grey eyes are bright with laughing even as he subsides. "Grapes, mostly around here. Though some make elderberry wine and I have had it - it's very good. Not all are easy to grow, store or ship as well as grapes and do not have as wide an appeal. Apple cider is my favorite, crisp. Yet it is neither brewed nor is it wine."
Watching Faline, her cousin takes up leaning against the near wall. It's actually pretty dry down here else it would be of no use for a cellar. Justin's baritone echoes faintly, "Tell me, what do you enjoy doing with yourself? What are you best at, or enjoy most? And does your father have plans for any particular house to betroth you to?"
Faline touches her lips gently, assuring herself no lingering droplets of grape made wine was upon them. Through her fingers she answers, "We hid often once we managed to escape the nursery." The memories created another smile along with his laughter. "Jarmey was to blame mostly." Though it was truly the bold curiosity of young children.
Watching as Justin made his comfortable the young Terrick woman curled a bit more securely into her shawl. "Riding, when I may. People in general are simply fascinating. In the great library in the Eyrie they possessed countless librams of stories, historic tales both truth and fabricated. I enjoyed reading them immensely and desired to see such wonders." Faline lowered her head a touch embarrassed over sharing her desire for travel and exploration. Shaking her head the female answers his later question, "Not to my knowledge, though if he does." A single shoulder shrugged upwards. "Gaelena was the better for a match, more beautiful. Extremely gifted."
He gently takes the wine from her to put the bottle to his own mouth and taste of it. Justin huffs a breath, "I so wanted to be like him. Like Jaremy, when we were boys. To be a knight, at least, if not heir. Things changed." More than he will say.
Relaxing, Justin listens and sets the wine flaggon on the shelf between them, within her reach. There are no cups down here. "She's also older and therefor the more pressing to find a match. I haven't kept track of your side of the family. I thought she was married already." Justin shrugs, "There's a fine reading room here in the tower. You should enjoy it. You don't strike me as the outdoors sort but if you ride, I am leading a hunt in a few days up into western Highfield. I have asked the lady Nedra Mallister to help organize bow hunting, that the ladies may participate. Go after birds perhaps, while I lead the men to hunt boar, elk, or bear."
Listening Faline's head cants a little the side while matching her honey brown eyes to his grey. "All younger sons do. The eldest is delivered all the promise and the weight of a house. Some accept their fates well." While others do not which goes unsaid. She is wiser than that. "But you have accomplished that, knighthood sworn and guardian of this keep." A corner in her mouth raised. "You should not reflect on yourself too poorly Justin." Addressing her kin by first name. "Your deeds have not gone unnoticed." Perhaps hinting that this Terrick branch knew more than they allotted.
Again her eyes sweep over to the wine flaggon and delicate fingers pluck the bottle from its rest. "No, I am afraid not." A remark made about her sister's lack of marriage. "Traditionally yes, the first borns are wed before all others. I do not see myself weaseling in before her. I could not do that my sister." The smile faded just a moment before she quickly concealed it by drawing another sip from the wine. As for her lack of outdoorsy self the woman's thin and dark eyebrows raised. The flaggon removed from her lips. "Not… outdoors sort?" She prodded, setting the wine back to its place, smirking. "It will be a challenge, for certain." After a thought she turned the question, "And what of you? Betrothal prospects? As the developing prospects of a few friendships are on the horizon many new considerations may be opened."
She coaxes a wry half smile from one side of his mouth, leaning there with his arms crossed over his chest and for the moment, "I'm doing all right, I suppose. I /haven't/ screwed up yet." There's always time, as Faline herself pointed out to his annoyance not long ago. Justin draws a slow breath, looking around the cellars. "I'm certainly trying not to."
And easy shrug to Faline's question, "No betrothal prospects for me really, at this time. Not unless my father or the Lady Anais is negotiating something I don't yet know about." His lips twist a bit more sourly, "The last one with the Naylands didn't go so well. She was apparently already uncrossing her legs for a not very knightly Groves knight, if rumors be true. It would explain a lot of odd behaviors by Ser Rutger as well as herself. Whatever the truth, I suppose she is getting what she wanted and I'll hope she's happy. I'm glad now we didn't get entangled in that mess."
"You'll have support, should you welcome it." Faline offers, again that would be up to who and not entirely her place to set others in the fold. She lowers her head in the moment of readjusting her shawl. It's withdrawn from her shoulders while Justin shares a little insight pertaining to his own prospects and those that have failed. Shaming the woman's actions Faline shook her head. "I am glad you aren't as well. It does not bode well for either to enter into a marriage so dishonorably. But I am not so nieve to believe it doesn't occur." There, the shawl is managed again and she cups both hands beneath her bosom.
"It was for the better, she does not deserve a good man." And before he may respond the woman asks, "I wondered, about something. No one dares speaks about it allowed but what should happen Lord Jacsen is not found? I mean would be presumed dead? If so I would think the seat of Heir would fall to you."
Justin takes another drink of that wine himself, though he goes lightly with it. Lowering the flagon he watches this cousin he hardly knows, "Typical Nayland scheming. As for support … that depends on what your father has in mind, coming back here. Unseat my father and his blood to replace us with his own sons, or to strengthen us and tie the family together stronger as a whole? He's a cunning man, some say even brilliant." This Terrick hasn't decided yet, though there could be a vague flavour of respect for what Ser Bolland has gone out and accomplished himself, so far.
The wine flagon is stoppered. Justin came down for it and he'll take it up with him shortly. Aye, that's not a subject to be spoken of lightly. "Assuming the Lady Anais is not with child, and I do not think she is, then aye, it will be for me to fill. Better than my brothers."
Rebecca arrives from the Entrance Hall.
Rebecca has arrived.
"My father prides himself on his lineage. His house. He would not see it to ruin just as equally as yourself." Faline answers hoping to soften the man's suspicions of her father. "All of us truthfully." She breathes while observing the floor.
"Better than your brother's sons." The girl's correction was hushed. "Everyone makes mistakes Justin. Even first borns." And seconds. "And should she not? What is to be done with her? Would you take her as a wife? Or seek a profitable dowry from another house?" These all had to be asked but perhaps Faline was not the right person to ask them. "I suppose what ever shall benefit the Four Eagles the most. I do not envy your position in this cousin."
The rain has been coming down all day. Evening finds the tower rather quiet, slightly more subdued. The cellar door however has been left partly open and winding down the stone steps one will find two laterns lit and may hear both a man's and a woman's voices speaking in conversation. Justin himself leans against a wall near a shelf full of jars, his arms crossed over his surcoat with a flaggon of wine set on the shelf by him. On the other side of the flaggon, his cousin Faline speaks with him. Although one would expect the lady Faline to have a handmaiden or Septa lurking about down here scoping out the various jars of tea, there doesn't /seem/ to be anyone else down here but the two Terrick cousins.
Faline certainly has Justin's attention. "I like her, and certainly would be tempted to marry the Lady Anais herself. She's a beautiful and capable woman. But, she is also my goodsister and if barren, that would do our House no good." Grudingly he admits, his baritone low, "I will marry as best benefits our House. We do need to lure in a rich dowery, if possible. One that could see us finish our docks and build a few serious fishing boats would be excellant."
Justin muses the question further before he adds quietly, "I would try to keep her on at least for a while, if she is willing. She's a good administrator, but I imagine she would remarry and go to another House eventually, or home to her father."
A voice of faintly distracted cheer, low, tuneful, full of fresh implication, sidles its way to join the pair of stray kin in their dim redoubt. "Why, Lovel, Septa Bridwayne, I do believe something is *up* down there, as it were. Do you just await me here…no, of course, serjeant, you can come as ever, quite…"
So it is that the lanterns seem to generate a fresh one, as a spool of winding hair perfectly hued to reflect the firelight with alarming drama descends into the gloom. Lady Rebecca has found a new hidden nook for her peregrinations. A gruff Terrick guard, different from the previous days, is not far behind her.
"Ah, my lord sheriff!" she begins with her conscious, woven courtesy. "I do hope my swift withdrawal gave no offence, yesternight? And here is the beauteous Lady…Faline." Rebecca is very good with names, but so poor at faces that quite a pause is required ere this one comes…
Faline opens her mouth to speak however the words are hushed by the sounds of another approaching. Briefly she feared it may have very well been the Lady Anais herself. That widened look in her eyes remained when the newcommer was no sooner revealed as the Lady Rebecca. Cautiously the young Terrick maiden took a step back and reached for her lantern. "My lady Rebecca. It is good to see you are in spirits to wander through the keep." Those words tasted most foul on her tongue.
If it /is/ a trist with his /own cousin/ down in the redoubt, it sure is a disappointing one. Justin's not even feeling Faline up or anything. And the only open flaggon of wine close to hand is currently stoppered at the moment. Piff. Seems to be a quiet family chat, at least until the lady Rebecca descends the staircase with another lantern.
Justin looks from his cousin to the new arrival, his arms still folded across his chest as he leans comfortably, "Lady Rebecca, good evening. What brings you down into my father's cellar at this hour? If you seek for something, tea, or wine, or something else, do make it down on the ledger there by the stair. So that my goodsister Anais may keep our stores records accurate." It's not really a request. Justin says nothing of the evening before.
Instead, his gaze goes to studying Faline's reaction. "I was fetching a flaggon of wine ere I retire to study law for the evening." There could be a warning glint in his eyes when he looks back to Rebecca not to rile his cousin, Faline.
"Dear my lord, Ser Justin," Rebecca Nayland hurries to reassure him, "I meant no particular purpose, to ill or good…I merely heard voices…such…congenial voices…" She offers what is surely intended as an inclusive, warm smile, even it has something, too, unavoidably sad and sober about it, in the direction of Justin's lady cousin. "It is a pleasing novelty, to hear human voices and feel the heart stir, as at birdsong…"
Certainly the cellar lacked any visible suspicions that were scandal worthy. Faline still held that lantern, no reason but containing a flaming weapon in hand had offered some comfort against the proven mad Nayland woman. As proper she maintained a soft smile, fake as it was, it suited her soft features naturally and like most women of her cast the art was practiced daily. "It is a delightful vintage. Perhaps you may enjoy some before your parting?" She suggested to Rebecca as her bright light brown eyes glance to the reserves of wine still here. A small collection but enough. "I…" She had no comment about the voices but instead looked to Justin.
Stirring hearts to birdsong? Justin arches a dark brow skeptically. He unfolds his arms and plucks the flaggon of wine he'd already broken the seal on from the shelf. "Getting to know my cousins. I think, two of them haven't arrived yet or I haven't met them. I'm certain I will. And what of yourself, lady Rebecca? Do you then plan to return with the Lady Anathema who may take you with her back to Stonebridge, or to Kingsgrove? I myself ride to hunt - for meat, bandits, and my brother. Whatever you choose, when I return I will expect to hear no ill of your conduct within my House."
The wine in hand, Justin looks back to Faline, "Come, my good cousin. Gather up what you came for and let us mark the ledger for my goodsister. I have law to study and you have not yet seen the reading room." While he will not stay, Justin can at least escort her up and show her the way.
"Always the rider," Rebecca murmurs of Ser Justin, "always so sure of his destination…do you know, sweet Lady Faline, I think I will have a little of that wine? And you needn't grip that brand so hard, you know; if it slips you might burn yourself, and your cousin has provided you with a surer shield by far." Shield from what, does not apparently need to be elucidated, as she mildly runs a large white hand down the length of her guard's leathered forearm.
That impish touch fades in and out of her face, and she is quite serious in composure as she turns to the Lord Sheriff. "Two of those quarry only shall you find, brave lord." She speaks this as a casual and uninteresting politeness. "I shall myself be the missing third, and await your coming hither…"
People fascinated her however the violently mad were cautionary. Faline released a nervous giggle, almost laughter as though the lady had some humor. She was making humor right? Warned not to grip her lantern so tightly had the opposite affect as she drew in behind her cousin's stance. Closer to her shield. "It is just there. And the ledger is right at the top of those stairs." A gesture made by her chin was given to both the wine and then the ledger, indicating their locations. The realization of the woman's words drained a touch of color from the Young Terrick's features. "That is the hands of our Gods and our determined men."
There is a glance to Faline, but it is the lady Rebecca's words that hold Justin's attention. He is noted to be quite a horseman for his young age, though perhaps not quite as renown as Ser Riordan has been. He eyes this strange Nayland-Groves hybrid woman who's age he hasn't yet pinned. Justin thins his mouth, "We shall see what I find, lady Rebecca. Either way, I keep my blade sharp. If you play to knowing more, you would be wise to be more … forth coming. Perhaps you and I will have our own small chat ere I depart into Highfield lands."
Jerold Terrick's son leads the way, collecting his own lantern with the flaggon of wine tucked beneath his arm. Justin eyes the guardsman escorting the lady Rebecca, "She needn't touch anything down here. Whatever she chooses, have a servant fetch it and bring it up. A lady shouldn't have to carry for herself." And maybe Justin doesn't trust this one not to poison anything. Thankfully only some have keys to the cellar door so it's not left wide open to just anyone tampering with their stores.
The ledger so marked, Justin goes on up with Faline to show her where to find the reading room. He'll collect the law book he's studying and who knows where he departs to after? Someone else is staying in his own quarters, that being the lady Aeliana Charlton.