|Bloodlust and Courtly Romance|
|Summary:||Bastien comes to bid Ceinlys farewell.|
|Ceinlys' Chambers — Highfield Keep|
|This private suite enjoys arguably one of the best views of the entire Keep. Upon entering, one is greeted with the illumination offered by tall windows, lining both of the outer walls. Those that overlook the garden and trees below, though, additionally have plush benches within their alcoves; an ideal spot for reading. Given the vast shelves that dominate the segments of wall in between, that is a near-constant pasttime for the Lords Steward. With the chamber cleverly designed in an L-shape, the main body of it is a fairly modest affair, with only the occasional evidence of a womans touch inherent in small details - the golds and silvers of the thick damask curtains, the finely polished oak of the grand table upon which numerous parchments lie neatly rolled and tomes properly stacked, the sweet fragrance of herbs wafting inward from a window left ever so slightly ajar. Around the corner, the sleeping alcove is separated by layers of gauzy muslin curtains, mingling together enough to become almost opaque; disguising the raised, comfortable bed beyond, without entirely diminishing the light. A servants cot rests along the foot of the platform, presumably for a Ladys attendant.|
|October 12th, 289 A.L.|
'Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.'
This day, just like the previous, has seen much activity in the halls of Highfield. Numerous comings and goings - with the emphasis, it seems, on the latter - endless missives and ravens to be dispatched.. and as if all that were not enough, it would seem the majority of the Charlton siblings under the roof are rather ready to snap. Not for the first time, Ceinlys sits at her grand table, wondering why she didn't just become a Septa. A ladylike method of refereeing squabbles, without the need to carry a child. Though, trying to maintain equilibrium here.. she may as well have a mess of toddlers at her feet.
Sighing softly, idly toying with the goblet dangled loosely from the fingertips of one hand, the Steward looks out through one of her tall windows, leaning back in her tall chair. A rare moment of respite.. and maybe even introspection.. as another servant hastens off with a message to some other part of the Keep. Likely the Castellan. There's no love lost, there. "Brigid..?" The young lady's velvet tone is softer even than usual, distant and distracted. "..fetch me some more wine, would you?" Her grizzled, sour-faced attendant pushes to a stand with a series of protesting little groans. Old age comes to us all. But she goes to fetch the pitcher, leaving her raven-tressed mistress alone at the table, still gazing far beyond the walls. The door to her chambers has been propped open, the easier to receive what has proven to be a steady stream of messengers.
Approaching the doors to Ceinlys' chambers, Bastien's dress does not depict his new position. That simple chain shirt that he tends to wear as casual clothing and the sword strapped to his belt make him look like little more than a wandering sellsword, not the Master at Arms for Highfield. Stopping at the door, the large man lifts a hand and knocks against the frame without entering. "Lady Ceinlys." His voice floats through the opening towards the occupants within, and after a moment, Bastien takes a step inside. There's a hardness in the man's expression, seemingly new compared to the previously apathetic stance he seems to take in just about any situation. Despite this, his words speak nothing of what has been quite openly going on between he and his siblings. "I felt it appropriate to come and speak to you. To give you a…farewell, though we will still be living under the same roof."
Glancing up with a vague start at the sound of his knock, Ceinlys then simply relaxes at the familiar silhouette of her former guardian, against the backdrop of bright sunlight that pours through the landing windows. She even affords him a gentle smile, setting down her near-empty goblet carefully beside a somewhat unruly pile of parchments. "Ser Bastien. Please." Though he ventures inside, she invites him further with a trailing motion of fingers through the air, sitting up a little straighter. "Would you care for some wine, perhaps? Seeing as you are no longer required to ensure I am not attacked whilst partaking of it?"
Despite the tease in her words, the Steward eyes the knight consideringly, regardless of whether he chooses to take a seat, and clasps her hands loosely on the table's surface. "It was gracious of you to think in such a manner. I would have understood entirely had you run for the hills at your first opportunity." She's not an easy woman to guard. Mostly because she prefers not to be, at times. But, incredibly given their temperaments, the pair have never come to blows. Not even close. You might think they hadn't bothered to know each other well enough for such frissons of tension to arise. But the ebon-maned young lady is nothing if not watchful and even as she's speaking in light humor, those vibrant azure eyes are studying the near-impassive lines of his features.
A curt nod is given in reply to the praise from the woman, and as he takes a seat near her, the man does something strange. He accepts the offer. "A glass of wine would be…pleasant, right now. I would ask how your affairs fair, with the recent events, but I feel I already know the answer to such a question." Despite the humor in her words, he shakes his head. "I would not..run for the hills, to escape from the duty which my brother asked of me. You proved fruitful company, Ceinlys. I would venture so far as to say that I actually enjoyed being your escort."
Smiling slightly, assuming that Brigid will have overheard this requirement for a second goblet, Ceinlys settles back a little as her visitor takes a seat, resting her elbows on the carved arms of her chair. "Well, from you I consider that the highest praise, Bastien. And I know.. anything your Lord brother asked of you, you would see through to the end. That's likely the very reason he chose you for the task of ensuring my safety." Lowering her blue eyes in a calculated demure manner, she pauses for a beat before adding, sotto voce, "..regardless of how lacking in taste it may seem. You deserve greater appointments." Shaking off the fleeting almost-apology, she looks up to meet the knight's gaze again, her little half-smile returning. "And for what it's worth, I found your company a great comfort. You will be missed." Living in the same place is not the same as the constant reassurance of his presence at her shoulder.
There's a split moment of doubt in the Lord's face as he accepts the goblet from Brigid. While normally completely closed off to any but his three siblings, the time Bastien spent with Ceinlys lowered his defenses against the women and resulted in something more than mere acquaintance. Even if he did not know it. His stoic and stone cold demeanor softens just slightly as she talks, her words flowing in one ear and staying inside his head. "You should believe me when I say that you were my greatest appointment yet. Master at Arms is a promotion, there is no doubt, but between sharing the company of a beautiful lady, even if I cannot touch her, and training men who smell like they've grown up inside a pen, I would choose your side every time." It's about all the sweetness that man can muster, with his mind clouded by sibling drama, but the effort is there. Taking a sip from the wine goblet, he sets it down against his knee and ponders aloud. "Things are going to be rough, from here on out. Even more so than usual. I…may not be the best speaker, but I like to think I am someone you can confide in during your times of doubt."
"I would like to believe so, and to offer the same in return, Bastien." She seems to actually mean it. But a wry curve twists across the young lady's lips a mere moment later. Would she truly confide in Aleister's own brother? Well.. she does trust him. "It will be strange, knowing you as your own man, rather than something akin to a hired sword. Perhaps.. we might become friends, given time." Given time, she'll be his goodsister.. but that part goes unsaid. "As difficult as the months ahead may be for me, Bastien, they will be far more daunting for you and yours. If you should ever have need of anything.. you need only ask. Your service has certainly earned you that much."
She falls quiet as her attendant circles the table, pouring fresh wine into her discarded cup, idly watching the older woman then, with a vague smile and minute shake of her head, dismissing her to the background once more. Brigid doesn't seem to mind much, bobbing a curtsey toward the seated knight then settling down on her pallet with some embroidery that needs seeing to. "I cannot help but feel I am losing perhaps one of the few friends I really have." the young lady admits, after a moment and a further sip of wine, with her cerulean gaze returning to the large man, in turn. "We must make effort to ensure that is not the case. Because, not that I expect you would ever admit such a thing.. I think we are both in dire need of a friend." Rather than dwelling on the matter - or his compliment which undeniably elicits a twitch of a smile - Ceinlys arches a single brow, before teasing him again. He's just such an easy target. "..and exactly how many ladies do you go about touching, Ser?"
The large knight runs his fingers along the scruff starting to gather along his chin as Ceinlys makes mention of their shared need for friendship. He is no fool, but he's known her long enough to not expect some ulterior motive. Too common a thing in these situations, in these times. "Difficult indeed. Friendship…" He lingers on the word, turning it over in his mind before the corner of his mouth lilts upward in that half-smile which he barely ever affords. "I would like friendship." Her teasing causes the stoic knight's eyes to widen ever so slightly as a small redness spreads across his cheeks. Looking away from Ceinlys, Bastien lifts his wine to take a sip. "I've…I've no time for such things."
"Really?" The arch of Ceinlys' brow implies skepticism at such a claim. "Well.. you are no longer in my service. That ought to afford you further opportunity to find your way in the courts, as well as the training grounds." A thoughtful distance passes across her bright blue eyes as she regards Bastien contemplatively. "I know you're dedicated to your arts, and the defense of your kin. That is a noble trait and to be admired. But.. you are the brother of a landed Lord, and the son of a great House. Sooner or later, a match will be arranged." A wry curve tugs at her lips and she reaches to take up her wine, swirling it gently in it's cup.
"I speak from experience, you would not wish to go into a union with your eyes shut. Make time. Learn. So that you will not fumble when your hand is forced to gentility, rather than the hilt of a blade." The Steward takes a small sip, still watching him across the rim of her goblet.
Bastien's teeth grind together as the woman continues to tease his notably innocent sexual demeanor. The man is a brutal killer, but love and romance were bereft from his education. Pursing his lips, he gives Ceinlys an accusing look as he lifts his wine goblet to his lips. Speaking into it, he mutters. "If I did not know any better, I would think you're enjoying this conversation too much." The friendly accusation is finalized with a gulp of the wine before the goblet is set down against his knee. "W…what is there to learn? It all comes naturally, does it not?" Another moment and he's drawing his eyes away from her towards the idle elderly handmaiden. Such a strange occupant to sit in upon such a private conversation.
Brigid, fortunately for the young knight, seems not to be paying the slightest bit of attention. She's an excellent chaperone, since she really can't be bothered with eavesdropping on idle chit-chat. "Indulge me." replies Ceinlys, with a growing smile, as her handmaid pads across the room to set the pitcher down and resume her embroidery. a wolf, by the look of it, upon fine golden cloth that can only be a gown of some sort. "I've had little in the way of entertainment for some time." The teasing is dulled just a touch, her expression briefly remote as she considers her own words. Everyone knows what she is to Aleister, at least within the walls of Highfield. But being trapped in that situation, with his poor, dear wife laid up in bed in the other wing.. it's hardly likely to keep one in high spirits. A promise is only a promise until it is made fact, and her position is by no means certain.
"If you are fortunate, yes. If you are betrothed to one who has already captured your heart, or at least drawn your eye, it may well come naturally. But matches are not formed for romance, Bastien, as you well know. They are formed out of necessity, for power; be it wealth, lands or mere standing." The young lady pauses a moment, her gaze straying to a set of shelves beyond the knight's broad shoulder. "..I think I've some reading material on the subject, if you need.." Has she realised the obvious, from his words? Perhaps. "Besides. Usually any wife you take would be a maid, when you were wed." There's no bitterness or warning in her tone. She was married before, such stipulations don't apply to her. "But really.. there are none who have appealed to you? Highfield and Hollyholt have both seen their share of beautiful creatures."
Bastien's eyes roll slightly at the request to indulge her teasing, though the man does not dismiss it. Settling back comfortably into his chair, he cradles the wine goblet between both of his hands and looks down into its wine-filled depths. "I understand that. It's the first thing taught to us. Love is a thing for commoners and children's tales." The words are spoken casually, "R…reading material?" He follows her gaze towards the shelf and blinks a few times before shaking his head. "I don't think thats necessary." The man seems nervous. Definitely a first. Looking back to Ceinlys, Baz takes a moment to think before finally making eye contact. "It is not that there are none who have appealed to me. You speak the truth, there are many a beautiful women who have made this place their home. I simply…never afforded myself the time to persue such an interest. My family needs me strong and stalwart, I cannot be such a thing if I am chasing the skirts of any woman who catches my fancy."
"Mmm. Rather exotic volumes." is the answer offered by the young lady, calm as you like as she licks a trace of ruby wine from her lower lip discreetly, following Bastien's wary glance to the indicated shelves. "Well, the offer shall stand, if you change your mind." She studies him a moment longer with that detached, musing air, before relenting to a softer demeanour. "Bastien. I have seen you knock opponents from their mounts at a full gallop, shatter shields and reduce men to sprawled messes in the dirt. How can it be that this topic should make you so ill at ease?" Permitting herself the softest of chuckles, Ceinlys shakes her head, then raises a hand to sweep aside the resulting tumble of ebon locks against her cheek. "Nothing gives a man such strength as love. Be it for siblings, or a family of his own making. When it happens, you will know it.. and all the 'stalwart' logic in the world will not save you from it. It's not always pretty. Sometimes it's outright agony and despair. But it will make you the best you can be, I promise you that much." A momentary pause. "And no.. I do not believe you could ever be the skirt-chasing sort. Which is more than can be said of many 'noble' men in the Riverlands." Perhaps feeling a little bad at how uncomfortably her companion speaks, she moves without preamble to a conversation.. better suited. "I have two matters for you, Bastien. The first a pleasure, the second a pain. Which would you hear first?" She is changing the subject, right..?
"I was trained from the moment I could walk to wield a blade. It comes as naturally to me as breathing now. Intimacy is a completely different matter." Exotic volumes? The man's mind lingers on the content of those books, a childish curiosity rising momentarily in his thoughts before Ceinlys' words draw him back towards their conversation. "Love…I know of love. My sister and brothers. I wish them well, work towards seeing their smiles, and care deeply for those three individuals more than I will ever care for myself. I can only assume that is love. Lust…is an entirely different matter." A possible change of subject comes as a relief to the man. "Pain first."
Ceinlys gently nods her understanding as the man speaks fondly of his family. Having several brothers herself, she knows how they can be. Overbearing, overprotective and an overall pain in the rear. But she loves them, all the same. "The pain. Yes." With a faint, uncharacteristic frown, she rubs at her forehead with two fingertips, closing her eyes a moment. "I have need to make a journey to Terrick's Roost. Only a short visit, mind you. But with the dangers currently assailing the road.. I had hoped you might accompany me. I know.." The hand raises now, palm toward him, in pre-emptive request for silence. "..you are no longer my guard. But.. I would feel safer, just this last time. If you would be willing."
Bastien's smile fades slightly at the request. The look on his face isn't an angry one, but instead a contemplative one. Looking into his cup, the man is silent for a moment as he thinks upon the matter. Time seems to stretch on has swirls the ruby liquid around inside his glass before he finally nods. "If Aleister approves. He has assigned me my current duty, and only he may relieve me of it, even for a short visit." Sitting up, he takes a sip from his goblet before pressing the other matter. "And the pleasure?"
"He's leaving for the Twins, I believe. If he has issue with it, let him take it up with me. One night surely will do no harm." It is a short visit. What can she possibly accomplish in so little time? Who knows. Shifting her weight in her chair a little, Ceinlys sets down her goblet; brightening as the matter is, in her mind, closed. "The pleasure.. well, it is your choice whether to accept. It's rather an.. unorthodox request." she hesitates, mulling over her words before voicing them. "My brother, Aron, taught me the basics of archery. I'd rather like to continue learning, if you'd be of a mind to instruct me. Or perhaps, at the very least, the best way to defend myself with this." Stooping slightly, the young lady reaches inside her boot, drawing from it's calf-length lining a beautiful dagger, with an ivory hilt, and laying it on the tabletop before herself. "I have made enemies, on my way to here, Bastien. Some even now lurking within the Keep. I wish to know how to take care of myself, should the need ever arise."
"I will talk to him before his departure. One night will surely do no harm, but if things do not go well and Highfield is without its Master at Arms, it will not be a good show to our enemies when the news inevitably slips." The man is thinking ahead, it seems. As the topic changes once more and she draws the dagger from her boot, Bastien's eyes linger on the length of steel before its placed on the table. Picking up the dagger, it looks tiny in Bastien's hands. "My skill lies in swordplay and the art of the blade, not marksmanship. I can teach you to use this. Quite well." Testing the balance, he smiles. "It is a beautiful blade, there is no doubt." Setting it back on the table, the large Knight pushes himself out of his chair. "If I am to speak to Aleister, it is better that I do it sooner than later."
"As you wish." Ceinlys' tone is equable - it makes no difference to her who speaks with the ferocious Lord. But she smiles for Bastien's admiration of the blade, inclining her head slightly. "Thank you. It was a gift." She picks up the dagger once more, toying with it with the point on one fingertip, turning the hilt to and fro. "I shall not keep you any longer, then. But.. thank you, Bastien. This was a pleasant respite. Perhaps while at the Roost I might point out a few winsome creatures, hmm?" Indicating the blade with a subtle flick of her wrist, the Steward smirks a little. "You teach me a dangerous art.. and I will teach you one in kind."