|Belonging to No Man|
|Summary:||A showdown between Aleister and Aron.|
|Date:||4 February 2012|
|Related Logs:||Blood and Wine and Pouring Poison|
|Private Tent - Charlton Camp|
|The private pavillion of Lord Charlton at Seagard.|
|February 4th, 289 A.L.|
The past couple of days had shown favor to the feebled lord, for the fever had broken and Aleister had seemingly begun to regain the strength in which he'd lost. Word of such thing had begun to spread through the Charlton Camp, though no one was entirely too sure, for the Lord hadn't ventured outside of this pavilion, nor had the maester's or guards offered any insight into the man's condition. It wasn't until the previous evening that his attendants saw him out of bed, that rumors begin to turn into fact.
Today, with no need for a watchful eye to be focused upon him, Aleister had dismissed all attendants and guards from the tent, leaving him a measure of silence as he sits at the small camp table. Before him, a map has been rolled out, one that shows the lands around the Roost and Stonebridge, and it would seem that he's studying whatever information he deems them to hold.
While those attendants may have been dismissed, there's always a guard or two watching over the pavillion. Let the Lord have his illusion of peace and quiet.. for a while, at least. The approach of the Lady Erenford, handmaiden of their mistress, does perhaps raise a few brows. But it's simply not the place of these lackeys to deny her entry and she knows it. Offering them a calm smile in passing, Ceinlys slips through into the tent, curious to see for herself the evidence of the speculation surrounding Aleister's condition.
Well, there it is. Pausing upon the threshold, the young lady lets her eyes adjust to the less plentiful illumination within before they fall upon the back of the seated Charlton knight. "Ser." she greets him, her soft-spoken tone cordial, and holding in the cadence the opportunity for him to simply wave her away in dismissal, if he so chooses. She's attired in the same hooded gown of teal and ebon, her raven locks tumbling loose about her shoulders and draping to her waist. There's frankly little point in trying to tame them in this sea air and breeze. But that very same thing has lent a little color to her cheeks. Not unpleasant.
There's no movement from Aleister as Ceinlys slips into the pavilion and even as her greeting comes to be offered, he remains still in his seat, eyes downcast upon the map to which he looks. Then, a faint, "Hmm," escapes his lips before he's offering an idle, "Lady Erenford." Hands shift to the edges of the map, rolling it up and then setting it aside before he's beginning to rise from his seat, turning so that his eyes may come to focus upon the other noble. Although he still wears the bandage upon his head, his normal color has begun to return and his smirk once more sits easily upon his lips. For all intents and purposes, he seems as he once was, with the only difference being something .. colder held within the glacial brown of his eyes.
Lifting a hand once the turn has been completed, he's motioning to the limited variety of seating in the room, "Please, do come in and take a seat." It would seem some items have been delivered in the past couple of days, as well, for a breastplate of full plate sits off to one side of the bed, with a wicked helm shaped in the form of leviathan next to it. The helm, though, has clearly seen battle, for numerous dents have breached the metal in a variety of places.
Aron arrives from the Charlton Campsite.
Aron has arrived.
Inclining her head gently at the invitation, Ceinlys sweeps her heavy skirts back a little with both hands and starts across the floor with her usual unhurried air. Those cerulean eyes do flit, with open interest, over the armors arranged nearby. "Thank you. Have you been receiving gifts, Ser Aleister..?" Turning her gaze back upon the tall man as she eases down to a graceful seat in a high-backed chair, the young lady offers an absent-minded smile.
His expression is certainly.. different. She notices, of course. But there's no mention made, for now. Aleister has been through much; of course some things must change. "I hope I am not disturbing anything of import." she continues, pleasantly conversational. "..but I had heard you were risen from your rest and, well.." Her lips quirk slightly to an answering smirk. "..I had to see it to believe it. How do you feel, Ser?"
Ducking into the tent, Aron carries himself with his usual poise - a haughty arrogance that seems to perpetuate itself as a force-field around him, protecting him from lesser things like blades and far more important things like mud. He allows a slim smile to touch his features as he spots Aleister and Ceinlys, making his way further in with a respectful nod to the other Lord. "I had heard you were awake, Lord Aleister."
He absently pauses beside one of the chairs, glancing down at it for a moment thoughtfully, then to the injured Charlton. "Do you mind if I join you?" A look aside for Ceinlys, and a slightly-broader smile. "Hello, Sister." He doesn't sit, as yet, too well-mannered to just steal a chair without permission but altogether too arrogant to truly believe he wouldn't be invited.
As Ceinlys starts across the floor, Aleister is affording her a moment's grace of his eyes before he's moving to another table, one that contains a pitcher and some goblets and when it's reached, he's claiming one of them so that it can then be filled from the pitcher, "Not so much gifts, Lady Erenford, but rather spoils of war. The breastplate and helm of Lord Volmark, the man to which is responsible for my injuries."
"You disturb nothing, Lady Erenford, and as for how I feel? Well, I suppose alive would be the best answer that I could give." With goblet in hand, Aleister turns back just as Aron makes his entry into the tent and with a slight nod of his head, there's a quick, "Ser Aron." Now, he begins to start back across the floor, angling over towards Ceinlys so that the goblet can be extended in her direction. There's a flit of his eyes in the direction of Aron, a deepening of the smirk that crosses his lips before it's broken by, "Do you think me a fool, Ser Aron?"
As the presence of the rather ugly armor is explained, the young woman lets her eyes drift back toward the breastplate and helm with a new understanding.. and a curl of distaste to her upper lip. "I should prefer to see them painted with a target and set out on the range for the squires, in that case, Ser. But you must do as you will." Surreptitiously keeping an eye on the Lord as he moves about the tent - taking note of the ease of his stride, the steadiness of his hands, that manner of thing - the Lady Erenford calmly turns back to an eventual regard of him as he approaches her, seeming about to speak further as the wine comes to be offered toward her.
As a familar form enters, however, she hesitates, just for a fraction of a second, before passing a winsome smile toward her brother. "Good morn, Ser Aron." Ever proper, ever polite. She seems, to all intents and purposes, perfectly at ease in having him here… without attendants. Or guards. Or any manner of witness…
Accepting the goblet from Aleister, she brings it to her lips for a sip, only to hesitate, flitting the knight a glance across the rim. Discreetly, it's lowered to rest upon the arm of her chair as she leans back, adopting a recline of obvious unperturbed calm. Really. The woman could be seated upon a golden throne, if her demeanour were to be judged. The words cast toward her ebon-haired sibling, though? While she doesn't flinch, she looks warily toward Aron, to see how he handles a suddenly unpredictable and potentially volatile situation.
"Did you catch on that Taggett was drinking watered wine the whole time, then, Lord Aleister? Not my idea, I assure you." Aron doesn't seem concerned, apart from a faint stiffening at the man's tone. "I'll pay back the gold, if you wish. No, of course I don't think you a fool." He glances aside at Ceinlys, gauging her for a lengthy moment before offering a faint smile of reassurance.
Looking back to Aleister, the young Haigh reaches up briefly to brush hair off his forehead. His tone grows more serious, but perfectly calm, neither angry nor afraid. "I'd hope, my Lord, that you know precisely how I regard you - much like myself, dangerously ruthless, but with ambitions that I lack. Qualities I admire - which is why I agreed with my sister to /side/ with you, rather than oppose you." The frank words are accompanied by another brief smile. "Have I done something to make you think otherwise?"
"The armor will serve as a reminder, Lady Erenford, and a lesson, that one should always watch their step when engaging in such a deadly dance." As those words come to be offered, Aleister's attention remains settled upon Aron, a hand lifting to idly dismiss the notion of Taggart and the challenge, an indication that's clearly not the concern that he has. When his question comes to be answered, there's a very slight nod of his head and a quick, "A good choice, Ser Aron."
A short couple of steps are claimed in the direction of Aron, enough that Aleister must tilt his head a touch to look up at the man, the smirk remaining easily upon his lips, "I know well who and what I am, Ser Aron, but it would seem that you simply think to believe that you know the same. Let me educate you on such things." Hands shift from his side, sliding behind his back to clasp together. "When you strike one who draws coin from my treasury, without my permission, it is a strike against myself. An insult and an offense. One that will not be tolerated. Do so again, Ser Aron, and I will have the hand that wields both sword and lance cut from your arm." A shift of his lips and the smirk takes on an almost cruel visage, though it's slightly offset by the bandage that wraps around his head, "A punishment, one that is most fitting to the offensive, and one that is my right to exact."
Oh, that meddling little cuss. As realisation dawns across Ceinlys' features, the shadow of weary resignation replaces the worry of a moment ago and she finally takes a lengthy draught of her wine, letting her azure eyes drift closed. There's a brief pause, a pregnant silence left to hang heavy in the still air of the pavillion, before the young lady interjects; tone even and quiet. Even if she does have to correct her address of the Lord. "Aleist-.. Ser. I think, perhaps, this matter has been taken beyond original proportions. I had not realised the Lady Cherise would be quite so.." She can't help a faint smile. "..concerned, when she demanded an explanation. I do apologise for unduly upsetting her, when she is already so fragile in mind and.. heart."
Setting her goblet carefully into one hand, Ceinlys rises smoothly from her chosen seat and starts toward the two men, skirts sweeping the floor with each graceful stride. "..of course, while I understand your own issue, Ser, would be taken with a perceived 'slight' against one in your service, and not any personal misgivings.. I still find that I must protest. It was an unfortunate accident, nothing more. Certainly naught that my dear brother would intend as insult toward you or your House. Is that not so, Aron?" Flitting her sibling a look aside as she comes within reach, the woman forms a third point to a rough triangle, balancing the standoff subtly.
"..if anyone might be deserving of punishment, Ser Aleister.. it is far more likely to be me. In fact.." Mind racing, she turns an apologetic curve of her lips to Aleister, tilting her jaw upward just a little in order to better regard him. "..my brother was angered on your behalf, Ser. Regarding the rumours circulating the camp. It was your honor that provoked such uncharacteristic ire."
The flare of anger that rises up on Aron's features is icy rather than hot, and he pauses to regain control of himself before speaking. Each word is clipped, his lips white with the effort of biting his tongue. "My Lord.. A few small points." Aron looks gratified as he glances toward his sister, inclining his head deeply. "My sister is correct, in the reasons for what happened. However.." He draws a breath, mastering his anger once again with considerable effort. "It goes beyond that. She is my family, Lord Aleister, and therefore mine to protect. Not yours. We are not smallfolk; we are both members of a noble house, who serve you out of respect. You do not own us, nor do you protect our reputations."
He looks toward Ceinlys again, and this time there is a melting of his anger as he regards his sibling, and he speaks still studying her, voice somewhat warmer. "My sister, Lord Aleister, is the dearest person to me in all the world. Of my Family, perhaps the only one who cares overmuch what happens to the second son. I speak with bluntness, you see, and open myself up to all manner of weaknesses, that you might understand. I fear for her. And for her child. And a small chastisement now may save -great pain- later." He looks toward Aleister again, his voice firming up.
"You would not protect her from rumor, Lord, but I will. It is my duty as her brother. I am willing to serve you faithfully, willing to die or do any manner of tasks that you ask - but you will not tell me that I must drop my familial obligations, for I shall not do that. If it is unacceptable, my Lord, then I accept your challenge and I shall meet you when you are healthy, with sincere regret, but I will not stand here and be chastised like a dog. I would much rather we all set this aside and go on working together to whatever ends you see." He lifts his chin, defiant pride in his eyes, clearly prepared for further tongue-lashing.
There's an ever so slight shift of Aleister's eyes in the direction of Ceinlys as she speaks and the Lord grants a single nod of his head before beginning to speak, "My lady wife was concerned and as such, she brought such a thing to my attention. As is proper." There's a look to Aron, but his attention quickly returns to that of Ceinlys. "Your protest is noted, Lady Erenford, but it does not change what has transpired in this situation. One does not accidently strike another, even if trying to champion another's honors." Now, he casts a look in the direction of Aron, the smirk remaining firm upon his lips, "And my honor, Lady Erenford, most certainly does not need a champion."
Now, his attention remains upon the other Knight and there's a slight shift of his features, one could do be a lift of a brow, were it not concealed beneath that of the bandage that wraps his head, "You are wrong, Ser Aron, woefully wrong. She is ~mine~ to protect, from the moment that she entered into the service of House Charlton. The only reason that you still hold to breath, Ser, is because you are the son of a noble family. But when you entered into my service, your familial obligations become second to that of my House. This is the price that you pay, for venturing down such a path, and I will not keep one in my service who believes that service to their Lord should come second."
Now, Aleister takes a step back, breaking that triangle and turning away from the pair, so that he can begin the walk back in the direction of the table with the pitcher and goblets. "And do not presume, Ser Aron, to tell me what I would and would not do. Your place in my service does not provide you such freedom, nor do you know me well enough to even begin to make assumptions of such." His movements come to pause so that he can cast a quick look over his shoulder, "I make no so challenge against you, Ser, but if you can not accept the terms to which you are bound, then I will simply bring an end to any further issue." A hand lifts, coming to point at the entrance to the tent. "Do you wish to be released from service, Ser Haigh?"
"Oh, in the name of all the Gods.. I am not some cosseted precious flower! And I do not belong to anyone." It's a rare flare of irritated defiance from Ceinlys, and her sharp tongue is not so easily stayed, this time. Folding her arms abruptly across her midsection, fingertips resting on bared forearms, the raven-haired young lady looks between the two in blatant exasperation for a few beats. "The facts remain thus. Both of you heed me." Setting her jaw and squaring her slender shoulders, Ceinlys speaks evenly. "People talk. That is the way of things and I know that better than most. If my elder brother is frustrated by such whisperings, then he has every right to upset. And my protest I am glad is noted, Ser Aleister.. for it is the first I have given, in the face of such outrageous slander, lest I bring any dishonor to your name. Apparently not all ladies give thought to such things."
Setting her goblet down on the camp table, beside the rolled map, Ceinlys visibly gathers herself, drawing a steadying breath and closing her eyes a moment, her fingertips splayed and bracing on the table's surface. "This is not about protecting me. It is the fear and mistrust between one House and another. Something I thought to be overcome, by now, for it is most certainly misplaced. I care not for slander against my person, Sers. But I care less for mistaken deeds weighed against the good name of my kin."
Straightening slowly, as if struggling suddenly to find the breath she had drawn a moment ago, the Lady Erenford settles her cerulean gaze levelly upon Aleister, where he stands opposite. And, for once, she addresses him informally, in the presence of another. "Aleister. I have given you what warning I can of the dangers encircling that which you hold dear. But the condition of my service to you was that I be joined by my brother in it. Would you seek to dismiss me also..? Does it not occur to you.. that perhaps your removing the staunch loyalists within your household may be exactly what your hidden enemies desire?" She pauses, studying his irate features sombrely. "..your ambitions are mine, Ser. Or do you not recall, now?"
Surprise, then frustration, crosses Aron's features as he listens to Aleister. He watches the man grow nearer, then further away, with that same mute frustration on his features; his hand clenches instinctively, then relaxes, then clenches again, but he makes no other move. When Ceinlys begins to speak, Aron turns to listen, his head tilted faintly - he is still locking his jaw tightly, as though to hide the pain of a blow, but nods in grudging agreement to her words. "You're right, sister." Another pause, and he too turns away for a time, marshalling his thoughts before he begins to speak.
"My Lord, I have no desire to leave your service. However, I fail to see how threatening to cut off my hand is not a challenge. If I have insulted you, I.. apologize, but it is not my intent. It has never -been- my intent." That must have been hard for him to say.
"I have watched men slander my sister for years, and it has always been hard to bear. I believe you know, Ceinlys, how much I desire to avenge it." He turns back, features composed, studying Aleister levelly. "My sister desires that we serve you. I will continue to do so, unless you intend to cast me out. She has taken great risks on your behalf — as I am willing to do. Please, Ser.." Again, it takes serious effort to grit out the word. "..Listen to her."
There's a look towards Ceinlys as she begins to speak and for a moment, Aleister simply listens to her and then to Aron and when he begins to respond, he's attention remains on the latter, "It was not a challenge, Ser Aron, because you are in my service and have done something that warrants punishment. It reflects poorly upon my lady wife if her ladies are sporting bruises. Remember that, Ser, the next time that you try to protect your sister."
Turning back to face the pair, his attention comes to rest upon Ceinlys, regarding the woman for a moment before beginning to address that in which she'd said. "I care not that people talk, Lady Erenford. In times of war, it allows the men a distraction from the death and injury that will surely come. And in time, it will fade as another attracts their fancy." Hands return behind his back, clasping together. "And this is most certainly not about mistrust between Houses, but ones place in service. It reflects poorly upon myself, my cousin and my Lord Uncle if I allow those that have sworn to serve, to do so thinking that their service comes secondary to other things. Regardless of what I might think, I will not have House Charlton looked down upon, due to the actions of others."
Turning away now, Aleister closes that final distance to the table, claiming a second goblet so that it can be filled from the pitcher. "I remember well the warning that you gave me, Lady Erenford, and I recall well our talk from the other day." Setting the goblet down once it has been filled, a third is claimed and then filled from the pitcher. "Neither of you will be cast out. But do not think that I bend my will to the words of the sibling Haighs." The pitcher is set down and then those two goblets are claimed in his hands so that he can turn back and begin to reclaim his lost steps towards the pair. "Just remember that while you are of House Haigh, you have sworn to the service of House Charlton. Your actions will either draw our Houses together, or thrust them apart." Now, as he draws closer, a single goblet is extended in Aron's direction.
It would seem that the Lady Erenford has nothing further to say, for the time being; her striking eyes follow Aleister in his every gesture and utterance, keenly, intensly observant. When his gaze moves her way, she meets it steadily, but offers no response to what he says. Her slender form, if one knew well enough how to see, is fraught with tension that only slowly dissipates.
Well, if the men will seek a distraction from pain and bloodshed, perhaps it's a compliment, odd as it seems, that their choice should fall upon her. A faint smirk answers the Charlton knight's dismissal of such tawdry, inconsequential things as gossip. Of course it doesn't matter to him. If anything, it will just afford him greater admiration from among his own ranks, if they genuinely believe he's powerful enough to command the Lady Erenford as a mistress, right under the nose of his child-heavy Westerling bride! Men love a scandal as much as their counterparts, regardless of what they say.
When that goblet is offered toward her sibling, Ceinlys turns a little to look up and aside to his taut features. Older brothers, of course, are the exception. Will he stay, or will he go? Aron was always the unpredictable one.. and this exchange is subtly outwith her control, as it happens. The words are left for him to answer as he sees fit.
There is a frission of tension about the man as Aron considers Aleister's words and the out-thrust goblet. He turns to look at Ceinlys consideringly, his expression unreadable, then back to Aleister. His adam's apple bobbing up and down, the man flexes his jaw, staring the other Lord full in the face before nodding once and taking the goblet from him, lifting it up to take the long, symbolic, sip. "With your permission, then.." His hard neck does not bend easily, and the words are pained.
"..If you will not care to silence these rumors, perhaps we might start one anew. I shall spend a bit of coin, spread it about, that I am buggering some serving boy. I would rather that than.." Another glance toward Ceinlys, his features caving briefly with some deep inner anguish, "..hear my sister slandered so horribly. The men shall enjoy the tale, I think, my Lord, and I am not so proud." Another sip of the wine, his hand trembling faintly with the effort by which he grips the goblet. A slow inhalation of breath, Aron's gaze meeting Aleister's levelly.
"It's a matter of religion, do you see," he murmurs, not bothering to explain further. Pacing backward a step and looking around the tent, Aron adds, "I do not expect you to bend to our will, Lord Aleister, but I do pray - for your sake - that you heed my sister's. She has always been the smarter of the pair of us, and she holds you in high regard."
There's a fleeting glance that's cast in the direction of Ceinlys, but Aleister is then returning his attention to Aron and when the goblet comes to be accepted, the man is offering a simple nod of his head before his own is lifted to his lips, a quick sip taken from within, "I have every intention, Ser Aron, of seeing the rumors put down. You see, for while a bruise upon my good wife's lady does not reflect well, nor does it reflect well upon me to have whispered rumors of the Lady Erenford lingering amongst the camps."
"But, if you wish to start another rumor, then please do so. It will serve no purpose but to lessen how your peers will come to look upon you, Ser Aron, and while you might not care for such a thing at this moment, it may have consequences that will not be immediately seen." Turning to the side, he's moving to claim one of the chairs, lowering himself down into it before claiming another sip from his goblet. "Do not worry, Ser, I am well aware of just how smart your sister is. Her words will not be so easily cast aside."
"I was given little choice but to accompany your wife, Ser. As is my duty. So if is thought unseemly for ladies of station to be here and she would heed your dismissal, I would of course depart alongside her." There's a dangerous edge to Ceinlys' voice, though it is swiftly enough masked as she casts Aleister one of those infuriatingly unreadable half-smiles. But then it's to her sibling that she turns, fully, already shaking her head in gentle negation. "..do not lower your own standing to protect my own, brother. It matters not what speculation surrounds a lady-in-waiting, but you are a knight, with your own reputation to think of. And is it not better than they deliberate upon the necessity of my being here, rather than the legitimacy of the Lady Cherise' unborn babe?"
One hand extends, gently steadying Aron's trembling hand with her own as she smiles subtly up at him. But there's nothing more to be said. After a pause, she looks back toward the Charlton knight as he seats himself. "I will leave you to your work, Ser. No doubt your good wife will be missing me." Oh, no doubt. But her aim's improving.
"As you say, my Lord. I expect these rumors will die out shortly, then, and I shan't need to debase myself." Ceinlys's words, and her hand atop his, provoke a fond smile as he looks aside at his sister. He opens his mouth to say something, then slowly nods, his smile fading reluctantly. "We have given ourselves into your care, Lord Aleister - I have every confidence that I shan't again be presented with a reason to do something so rash, but if I do, I shall remember your promise." He finishes off his goblet quietly, swallowing and setting it aside.
"I shall walk my sister out, my lord. Whether or not I've pledged myself to your service, I've still a levy to tend to. However, if you've need of me.. Please do not hesitate." He pauses, watching Aleister carefully for a moment before continuing. "I am a bad man, you know, Ser. Weak and vicious at times, a fault I know well. But no one who knows me will ever doubt my courage. I trust, in time, you shan't find my service to be too much of a burden. Good day." With a respectful nod, just short of a bow, Aron prepares to make his departure.
Looking back to Ceinlys, Aleister is granting her a simple nod of his head and a slight curve of his lips back to that of a smirk, "The roads have been opened and people move freely between the city and towns. She will not depart at this time." For whatever reason, is left unsaid. Eyes flit to Aron, another nod coming to be offered, "Your sister is right, Ser Aron. There is little need for you to bring harm to your own reputation."
Then there's the mention of departure from both of them and it's to Aron that Aleister grants a nod of his head and a quick, "Of course, Ser Aron. Tend to what business you need with your levies. Know that, though, I do not doubt the courage that you have." Pause. "But you needn't worry about walking your sister out, for there is a matter that I must further discuss with her." A flit of eyes drifts in her direction before returning back to that of Aron, "Good day to you, Ser."
Remaining by Aron as he downs the remnants of his wine, the young lady smiles faintly in approval of his tempered response. It's no mean feat, keeping that tongue of his in check and she knows it. A good day, when he can at least gird it to civility. As the pair of them turn toward the entryway though, she's given abrupt pause by the Lord Charlton's further words, glancing uncertainly between he and her brother for a few beats. In the end, she offers the subtlest of nods toward her dark-haired sibling, one hand sweeping lightly downward across his bicep in silent exchange. Go. I'll be alright. "Seven watch over you, Ser Aron. No doubt I shall see you later, provided my Lady is not in great desire of my company." That requirement has been less and less in recent days, with her husband to tend.
With that, she retreats a half-step, backing toward the camp table and looking to her wine, still waiting where she had left it.
Brown eyes follow Aron's movements and once he has slipped out of the tent, Aleister is turning his attention towards Ceinlys, the smirk still held upon his lips, "As a trusted lady of my House, Lady Erenford, I will see one of my men assigned to you, to ensure that no harm comes to you and to act as an escort." A simple nod seals his words before he's quickly advancing into the next, "You spoke brazen words the other day, Ceinlys. Words that planted a seed of doubt within my thoughts." Fingertips come to tap idly against the side of his goblet. "I trust that you have no further information to provide at this time?"
A hand lifts, giving a slight wave to the notion that Aleister wishes to keep an eye upon her. One could very well assume that to be the case, though, knowing just what kind of man that he is. "I will also see on my good wife's other attendants shifted to your service, Ceinlys, so that no one has reason to try and slander your name." Now, the man begins to push himself from his seat at the table, the smirk deepening just a touch upon his lips. "Oh, I do not discount that it was honest, Ceinlys, but it was also brazen. Most ladies would have protected the secrets of the Lady that they serve. You, though?" A cant of his head is given, eyes resting entirely on her, "Seek to exploit it and drive a wedge between her and I."
Claiming that rolled up map from the table, Aleister's then turning to make his way towards a chest, one in which he opens and deposits the map within. "She has had much on her mind, I suspect, for even my time has been limited with her." Rising from the chest once it's closed, he's casting a look back over his shoulder, "You needn't find yourself troubled, Ceinlys. When the fever broke, I was flooded with memories. I quite remember the extend of our discussion." Turning, the smirk takes on a colder appearance as his voice lowers just a touch, "Ambition is such a wonderful thing, is it not? I fear, though, that our game begins to draw to a close. There are only a few more moves to be made."
"Sometimes risks must be taken." replies the young lady, calmly. But it's undeniable that a touch of warmth makes itself known across her cheekbones.. one that has nothing to do with the wine that she brings again to her lips. Removing a stray bead of crimson with a flick of her tongue, she then puts the goblet back down on the table, straightening to a more proper posture, rather than her insolent lean, in the presence of her employer. Clasping her hands, she steadies her countenance, dismissing the trace of that blush and determinedly levelling her gaze upon Aleister's once more, affording a slow smile.
"..would it not be easier, if that were my simplistic desire, simply to seek to seduce you, Aleister?" Apparently the brazen words are far from over. "And where do you expect my loyalty to truly lie, when it comes to it? You are a Lord of House Charlton. She is a Westerling who found incredible luck based on a pretty face and the ever-important capacity of childbearing. As your choice of bride, I of course serve her as best I may. But when she does something to so blatantly have me question her entitlement.. was I wrong to tell you?"
Ceinlys doesn't venture any closer, remaining by the table as her gaze follows Aleister about the pavillion. "..perhaps.. you ought to grant me leave to speak freely before I continue. Lest I cause you any reason for.. upset." The notion of their dance nearing an end only elicits a passive quirk of a brow from the raven-haired woman. Following this, she is silent and still.
"Oh, that is something that I will most certainly not dispute, Ceinlys," comes the immediate reply from Aleister. A faint cluck of his tongue against the roof of his mouth follows the words, his eyes coming to remain levelled upon her, though he doesn't make any movement back in the direction of the table, and her, for the time being. "I would lay claim to you never looking to the easy route, Ceinlys. Such things holds no .. thrill, if I might say so." Now, footsteps begin to take him back in the direction of the table, though they are slow and measured for the moment. "By right, she is now a Lady of Charlton. But I make no claim to whether you were wrong or right. I simply provide a singular observation on what has come to pass."
Now, at the mention of speaking freely, a low laugh begins to rumble in the back of Aleister's throat as a hand lifts to offer a slight wave as he murmers, "Speak, my dear Ceinlys, without fear of upset or anger being drawn from your words." Just before he reaches the table, movements begin to draw to a halt, leaving him still several paces from the table and her.
At this, the young lady cannot help but dissolve into low-throated laughter, a flash of teeth revealed as she grins and looks away from Aleister with a shake of her head. "No thrill? ..do you not value highly your skills within the bedchamber, sweet Aleister..?" Laughing again, she waves a similar gesture of dismissal as she seeks to master her amusement, then rakes that hand back through her dark hair, drawing it away from her brow with a sigh that still betrays lingering warmth, in the wake of rare mirth.
She's perfectly aware that the distance between them is being closed. But for now, such is done slowly and doesn't appear to threaten her. And so she remains in place, folding her arms now across her tightly laced bodice and settling her glacial eyes upon Aleister once more. "Speaking freely, then. I believe you chose in haste. Had you waited, better opportunities for advantage in union would have become apparent to you, just as they have to me. Of course, perhaps I spend more time in contemplation of these things than you might." Raising one slender shoulder a little, in a light shrug, the woman tilts her head a little askance, still holding his gaze as she offers a sympathetic smile. "I mean no offense, in this instance. It is merely an observation. Patience is, as they say, a virtue. Yes, I know something of virtue, contrary to popular opinion."
Again, a laugh begins to sound in the back of Aleister's throat as his head gives a slight shake and when he speaks, his words are still barely above that of a murmer, "Oh, I do not doubt my skills in the bedchamber, Ceinlys, but such things can be too easy at times. The easy path is one that neither you or I would ever walk." A shifting of the smirk affords her a brief hint of a grin before the smirk quickly settles upon his lips once again.
"An interesting observation, my dear Ceinlys. But I fear that I did not choose in haste, for had I waited any longer, my Lord Uncle would have seen fit to arrange a marriage of convenience that suited his purposes and not mine." A pause is taken, followed by a matching cant of his head, "I could very well have found myself married to a Frey, simply for the purpose of strengthen the bonds of our Houses. My marriage, up until now, has well served the purpose in which it was taken." Now, he closes the remaining distance, his voice dropping even further to nothing more then a low whisper that rolls from his throat and tongue, "No offense has been taken, Ceinlys, and nor would I think to question you on matters of virtue."
"Up until now." The way she echoes that choice of phrase could be either in question or agreement. Ceinlys doesn't press, either way, her gaze rising a little in order to remain upon that of the knight as he draws ever nearer. Lowering her folded arms, she lightly settles her hands, instead, on the edge of the table either side of her hips. "I cannot force you to see that which your sight is so determined to avoid, Aleister. Perhaps you will see it for yourself, in time. When the days of dancing are long past."
Maintaining her lazy smile in the wake of his latter, softly-spoken assurances, Ceinlys continues almost conversationally. Almost. "..I trust, if there are so few steps left to be taken, then the finale will at least be worthy of remembrance. I do so enjoy such a gifted partner, after all." In a rare moment of admission, she searches Aleister's eyes, before adding very quietly, "..it is long since my feet were spun from the ground in such a fashion."
A soft, "Mmmhmm," comes to answer the three words that she repeats, but Aleister doesn't seek to clarify just what they mean. Brown eyes rest intently upon her, studying her features and slight movements that he catches and when she speaks again, his lips are broken into the hint of a grin, "Oh, do not worry about what I see, Ceinlys. After all, have you not taken it upon yourself to ensure that things don't go unnoticed? To ensure that information is brought forth to me? Did I not agree to such a thing, earlier in the week?"
When she speaks again in that almost conversationally tone, there's a rumbling laugh that doesn't quite escape past his throat as he takes a single step towards her, bringing him rather close to her now. A hand lifts upwards, seeking to brush fingers against the line of her jaw, "Oh, yes. When the end begins to draw that much closer, the finale will come to light in a fashion that will never be forgotten." There's no shying from her eyes as she comes to search them and if anything, he encourages it with a slight cant of his head. "A gifted partner is a rare thing to find these days. But you .. you are a dangerous creature, my dear Ceinlys." The way those whispers words escape his lips make it sound as a clear compliment to her abilities.
Reflexively, as that light caress drifts along her jaw, Ceinlys' fingernails press somewhat harder in their grasp upon the table's edge. A suddenly much-needed lungful of air is drawn swiftly enough to heave her chest a little, though with any luck that goes unnoticed while Aleister's eyes remain locked with her own. "..as are you." The reply is barely audible, loosed on a soft exhale. But she refuses to draw back from him. He has never managed to make her genuinely uneasy before - that he would know of - and now is not the time for any such thing to occur. Reaffirming her unperturbed mannerisms, she permits one corner of her mouth to twitch upward in a vague smirk, flitting a glance between the knight's lips and back to his dark eyes again. "..I am never certain, Aleister, if you mean to kiss me or kill me.. but I think the same uncertainty perhaps assails your own thoughts, at times."
Rather than lean -into- the brush of his fingertips, she arches her throat a little in beguiling response to it, as if taking direction rather than seeking comfort. "You did agree.." she murmurs, returning to the less precarious ground of his initial enquiry, "..and I will endeavour not to fail in that task, while it benefits us both.."
The press of her nails into the table and the heave of her chest with that breath do go unnoticed, for Aleister's eyes remain locked upon hers, as if such a stare might unlock the mysteries of the woman before him. His own smirk returns to his lips and at her words, a touch of a laugh escapes past his lips, his breath a warm wash of air, spiced with the hint of wine, "And yet, my dear Ceinlys, you don't shy away."
But the topic is quickly dropped, for when she chooses not to lean into his touch, but rather to arch her throat, his hand begin to drift downwards, the touch of his fingertips a mere brush upon her skin, "I have no doubt that you will not fail, for failure is not something that you accept." With out warning, he's then leaning in, though his head tilts so that his cheek comes to brush hers as his lips come to brush against her ear as he murmers, "What reason would I have to kill one who plays the game with such a vexing touch?" And then, as if nothing had happened, he begins to draw away.
"Maybe the idea of one outweighs the threat of the other?" counters the dark-haired young woman, in regard to her lack of withdrawal; never raising her tone above that velvety timbre. But Gods damn it, surely he can feel the rush of her pulse, or the flash of her throat as she breathes, when his touch meanders unhurriedly along the vulnerable line of it. She'll just have to hope it goes unnoticed. Ceinlys does, after all, hate giving any easy advantage to her opponents.
"No doubt, it would spoil the sweetness of that victory you already think to savor.. if you simply ended the dance for no purpose." The momentary presence of his cheek against her own, cool to the touch, halts her words. But, yielding no ground, the young lady pushes herself up a little from that slightly precarious lean to the table, keeping herself in considerably close proximity even as Aleister draws back from her; question in her cerulean eyes as they wander his features, not for the first time. "..but when the music stops..?"
"One would hope that to be the case," comes the murmered reply from Aleister. If he notices the rush of her pulse or the flash of her throat, he certainly makes no mention of it, nor do the tips of his fingers linger there, for they drift down to her shoulder, where they come to rest.
Then, as he begins to draw away, there's a murmered, "One must never end a dance before its time, especially when no purpose can be found." The brown of his eyes are alight with mischief and more and when she pushes herself up from that precarious lean on the table, keeping herself quite close to him, there's almost a hint of pleasure that flickers amongst his features. ".. a new dance shall begin," comes to be offered, as if he was finished the very question she had come to pose. Now, his hand lifts from her shoulder, moving to cradle his palm against her cheek and he makes no further movement to draw himself away. "Only a fool would set aside such a gifted partner." The words are a bare whisper, almost low enough to be lost against the rustle of the tent in the breeze and as they finish, he's lowering his head towards her, to seek a press of his lips to hers in a fleeting, teasing brush of a kiss.