|Bold and Bloody|
|Summary:||After Riordan's visit, the Tordane camp figures out their own hand to play in return.|
|Related Logs:||Remains of a Heart|
|East Bank — Stonebridge|
|Pavilions still stand on the east bank of the river.|
|May 1, 289 A.L.|
"I should have smashed his face in," Alek practically growls where he draws closer to Danae, his strides almost like a prowl as he returns to her side with his attention still focused on the retreating regent. His fingers curve over his sword still, though where they literally itched to draw it before, they have only tightened over the curved pommel. He pauses, finally glancing back to Danae with a drag of his gaze, narrowed, to her belly before finding light eyes again. "Danae, what he said—."
"That would not have served our cause," Danae utters softly, shaking her head as her hands rise to adjust her hair into the picture of perfection that it was before. The slight lady waits for her sworn to join her, whispers of wind rustling her skirts amid the grass. Her pale eyes trace the sharp lines of the departing regent, watching him until her sworn speaks her name. Blue eyes lock with grey; they are solemn and pained, but unwilling to look away. "You have one question, Alek. You may ask whatever you wish and I will answer it truly, but I promise you this — any child I bear is not his." A thread of finely woven steel strengthens her voice, confident in a way that she was all too often meek before.
Limited to only one question, Alek does not waste it thoughtlessly. Instead, as steel eyes make a study of the woman before him, his mind considers each question brought up by Riordan's words in turn before dismissing them. Finally, one settles on his lips, a harsh thing where he asks, "Did he know?" The person in question hardly needs to be named, the man that binds them and hangs between them even now.
The lady, his lady now, is a picture of poise as Danae regards him as if awaiting his judgement for her past sins. Her blue eyes are clear and unrepentant for her deeds, any of them. Generous lips purse at the harsh edge of his question, however unexpected a one that it might be, and she shakes her head in a slight, single motion. "No. I would have told him had he lived, but one night of marriage," she pauses, voice cracking on the word, "That is not meant to waste on dreams we've outgrown. I have no doubt my husband had his own, but from the moment I accepted his betrothal…I was his."
"You certainly are not the only woman he's fucked. Not even the only lady," Alek replies quietly after a moment, though the sharpness of his gaze still does not weigh fairly in judgment over Danae at what he's learned only recently. He adds, flatly, "My sword was promised to you, and it still is. But when he tells that, you better hope none believe it."
This information hardly seems to surprise Danae, drawing a slight and almost vulpine curve of amusement to her lips in response to a past memory. "Oldstones boys," she murmurs to herself. Her hands fall from her hair, folding neatly across her stomach in a light clasp. Beneath the pale curve of fringed lashes, she regards Alek and his all too flat words with sharp eyes. "No. I except at number will be all too willing to believe his words, it will make it all too easy to set my claim to be a fake. No matter how ludicrous his words sound: a secret marriage and a lover's tryst? In so short of days? They'll be willing to believe the worst of me because it is easiest. He has done me a kindest by coming to announce it this day, though." If the actions of one's enemy are known, then you can seek to counter them.
Perhaps it is merely the sight of Danae smiling that reminds Alek that he knows how to do that as well, for all that he has not much of late. Crooked, his lips quirk at the corner at her soft murmur where he catches it. He says nothing, only looking at her helplessly. Oldstones boys, indeed. His manner seems to soften towards her as well, dragging his fingers through his hair slowly as he questions, "What will you do with it, then? Knowing what he will do."
"The only way to kill a rumor is to destroy the reputation of the one who directs it, words only have power if belief still lays behind them," Danae opines thoughtfully, catching a lock of hair and tucking it back behind her ear. Her gaze slips away from Alek to trail beyond the copse and the path that the Lord Regent trod. "An action has echoes…how curious that the Lord Regent would visit us this day, dressed like commoner."
Perhaps it's the commotion, or maybe some was smart enough to go and find the armored septon, either way Marsden is not too far off, from the copse where our heroes are located. His bootfalls aren't hidden, nor does he make any inclination to muffle or hide his descent. Instead he is just-there. Eyes looking between Danae, and then to Alek. "Everyone all heart and able?" He asks finally.
Alek's gaze lifts immediately to Marsden, the tension only relaxing again when he identifies the man with a tip of his chin. "You better ask Danae, if you want an answer to that," he replies, his tone dropping flat again as he paces away from the lady, putting distance between them in the other man's presence.
"The Lord Regent seeks to declare me a slattern in spite of my marriage, good Septon," Danae responds simply, tone unwavering. Clear, blue eyes lift from the bodies of the copse to look towards Marsden, adding, "He wishes that I annul it and run off to the Mire to throw myself to Lord Nayland's…better nature. Ser Alek and I were just discussing it."
Marsden raises a brow towards Alek, before he is nodding slightly. His focus shifting to the Lady as one brow raises up. He of course will wait to hear what she says on the matter, though if he was ever worried about distance or closeness, it apparently doesn't show on the septon's features. "A slattern you say?" Marsden repeats before shaking his head. "Well it is a good thing we kept your sheets from your beloved wedding night. I knew that should this be pressed the Naylands would try to make such a fine woman to appear as a whore."
Shaking his head he looks back towards Alek, "Did he hit her?"
"He kissed her," Alek says sharply, tone implying that he obviously thinks such is worse as steel grey eyes rake back to the woman.
"It is a good thing, that you are so prepared a man." There is a twist to Danae's expression that does not disagree with Alek's implication of that being the worse of the two things. A thoughtful sharpening lights her blue eyes, gaze flitting from the Septon to the Knight as idea strikes her. "He also…Ser, would you strike me?"
"Then someone should kiss her with bone." Marsden replies evenly, before he is looking back towards Danae. "If he seeks to make you a whore-then we will paint you the saint. I think that is fair. After all Tordane's crest has a red badge for warrior, or martyr. Let us play the part then and let the little lord regent fuck his own ass." a sniff there and he is moving to remove a leather glove. "Did he have a ring on?" it appears the septon has no qualms with striking a woman.
"Also, where would you like to bleed, to bind your hands?" A subtle question there, but he is looking to Danae. "Since we kept your sheets."
Where Marsden volunteers to strike Danae, Alek does not bother to also give his assent, though he'd already nodded tightly at the question. With such lovely guards, surely the lady is in good care. "Somewhere that her dress well covers," he replies quietly, a certain tension to his shoulders even as he does not break the flow of their plans.
Of all things, that have come only the Septon's words to colour her as martyr bring a flicker of shame to Danae's features and she exhales a slow, soft breath. "Not I. My husband will be painted the saint, I will be the woman whom which they see him through and nothing more," she decides softly, lifting a hand to halt the Septon's stike. "Not you. If you will bleed me, then Ser Alek should be the one to lay the strike of the hand. You both now hold my only secret, a stupid girlish whim, let it not break faith between us." There is steel in her gaze, gone the errant sweetness of an untried girl and left in the coils of fire, sharpened like a sword as she looks from one man to the other. Lifting her chin, Danae offers Alek a soft smile. "Come, Ser."
"I'd say the curve of her ass to leg. No one is going to fucking peek under a cheek, and should your ass be fine, as we all imagine it is- then I am sure, Lady, it will hide whatever cut we make, in order to produce the right marks of blood." A glance back to Danae. "A black eye won't do, but a cracked lip- if anyone sees you and does not notice, they'll be quick to think back on it. A black eye might prove too much. Of course, I would say we give you other bruises as well. Be rough with your arms…" A glance to Alek "As you were here when he was, you could vow as a knight to have seen him be rough with her?" a beat. "If what they are saying in the crane is true-then he's got himself a temper."
There's a faint nod back towards Danae-that I can do. I know the marks that need to be present to simulate fucking, and how it should be spread.." A sniff and he nods to Alek, taking a step back. "No my dear. You are a daughter now of the Mother, once of the Maiden. We will show your plight, and make enough that the High Septon cries out for censure of the Nayland honor.." A pause then as everything simply holds and the weight settles in. "Is this our course then? If so, let us be bold and bloody."
The weight of Alek's gaze falls on Danae at Marsden's final question, seeking his answer from her rather than himself. Whatever it is that he finds, apparently it satisfies him as he repeats flatly, "Bold and bloody." He does not warn her as he paces back to the lady, striking with sudden violence that cracks the back of his knuckles across her cheek in a way that it would if Riordan had so surprised her. He catches her arms with a tightness, pulling her close against his own lean frame, murmuring an added, "I'm sorry."
"Salt and blood," Danae whispers softly, repeating each of their fragmented oaths in place of those words. The avenue to change their course has long since passed, once Gedeon's blood poured out onto the stones of the bridge. The backbone of her poise, calm and not in the least contrite. She does not flinch as Alek slips towards her like a stalking cat, tracing the steps with a calm gaze. At the force of his blow, she cannot help but cry out as the pain resonates and rings through her skull. Were it not for the catch of his hands on her arms, she would surely fall to the ground. Instead, swept in so close, she leans her forehead against the breast of his doublet — small hitched breaths and tears marking its make. It is done.
"Flesh and bread." he replies before he is looking back towards the Lady. There is a nod as he watches the knight strike the lady. A glance away briefly, before he reaches out to steady the poor woman. "Bruise her arms.. Grip hard.." he simply orders. A turn away as eyes scan for anyone who may be watching. Luckily the other servants are off doing their own duties. A sigh breathed out of relief. "We will stain your sheets fine, lady." said plainly as he looks down to remove his other glove.
The force of his fingers press against bone for a moment at Marsden's order, Alek's jaw tightening to a grind where he applies the pressure for as long as necessary to bring bruises to her pale flesh. Once done, it is like he cannot stand to touch her there anymore, one hand dropping away and the other lifting to instead bury within Danae's curls carelessly. "Danae—," is a soft question, gently pulling on strands of golden hair as he seeks out her gaze. But then he is glancing towards Marsden, looking to the other man so his lead. "Should I go fetch sheets here?"
There is no resistance in the small lady in his arms, teeth gritting as Danae presses her face further into Alek's doublet to hide her tears as thoroughly as she'll trust him to hide her secret. It hurts. Gods, there is no denying that even in the harsh perfection in her posture. Wet eyed and welted, she looks up at him only at the guide of his hand; her eyes are pained but soft. "Well done," she says on a hiccup of a breath. "And no. Bringing them out would attract too much attention. We will see it done in the tent. Later."
Marsden looks back towards Alek, before he merely shakes his head. "No, Lady Danae and I will handle that in her pavilion." said plainly. "I'll not have her raise skirt here. if anything we can play it off as a confession and seeing to her wounds from the Lord Regent." a sniff there before he is glancing back towards Danae, as gloves are folded and tucked into the belt at his waist. "I assume the Lady would prefer privacy, yes?" And it seems that Marsden and Danae are of the same mind. A nod once more "Good. It will be done."
Alek's annoyance only seems to increase at the picture Danae makes under his study, the anger that has been tucked away for days now in his expression flickering all the darker for it. His fingers merely run through curls softly for a moment, pulling away with a carefulness not to leave the lady with a sudden loss of balance. "Then there is little else to do left," he replies.
"Think on it this way, Ser." Marsden says after a moment. "We are fighting a war- one half in shadow and half in blood. They've killed our Lord and we shall do all that we can to make sure they suffer. I will see some of them killed if we can manage it. But for now. Let's take their crown and shatter their jewels." The half septon says, his own calmness betrayed. Something in the voice. Anger. Passion. "And in order to wage war you must show them we are able to go beyond the pale." a brief pause "Not just willing."
A low breathy sound is blow out at the stroke of Alek's fingers through her hair. When he makes to step away, Danae is ready for it and stands her own ground as her hand lifts to wrap around the curve of her cheek. Any lingering tears are shaken away with a brush of the opposite. Her lashes lower, closing her eyes for a moment as she steadies her breath against the ringing pain in her jaw. "The dragon is set to the board. Let's see if they run for hills or ready their dungeons," she says softly. "I would have your arm for the walk back to camp, Ser. Let them see me at less than my best."
Stiff, Alek's arm goes up to 'support' the lady Danae. "I will see all of them killed, if need be," he promises to Marsden flatly. "Every Nayland down to whatever spawn that the Lady of Stonebridge pops out. We only have to wait for the time."
"Their death will not win us our war. It would simply enrage the Tullys. I would see them bend before I would see them break, one is by choice and the other by force alone. We do not seek to start a war, we seek to finalize a birthright," Danae corrects mildly, quiet voice soft. Leaning against Alek's arm, she uses it in a way that may not fully be acting. It has been a long day.
Marsden shrugs. "It will do something." he states before he nods back to the Knight and Lady. He will wait a few paces before following behind them. After all he shall not ruin the image of them limping in, with his presence. That and he has a knife to sharpen.
Concern softens Alek's annoyance further, but he does not draw Danae any closer. Instead, he maintains an appropriate distance to escort the injured woman, his free hand wrapped over her elbow in careful guidance where they turn back to the camp to start the first rush of their rumors.