|Summary:||The various letters traded between the Lady Aeliana Charlton and the Knight of Midnight Grace, for the year 286.|
|Related Logs:||Just Another Joust, By Midnight, By Grace|
The very first letter arrived almost a month after the end of the Tourney of the Tulips, delivered by a guild messenger, rather than a House retainer. The kind who took their oaths of discretion with extreme conviction, as it was their whole reason for existing. As planned, The Knight of Midnight Grace had vanished the night after his joust with Ser Farrow, claiming no prize and leaving no opportunity for a challenger to strike him down. He would go down in the memory of the locals as the undefeated mystery knight, who had vanished as abruptly and unexpectedly as he’d arrived. Theatrical? Perhaps, but definitely amusing.
May 13, 286
‘Little Lady Perfect.
Firstly I would like you to know that you are wrong. First blood counts not simply between the sheets, but on a carpet of soft moss in a deep forest floor, with fireflies dancing like fae about us, and full moon spying through the curtain of tree crowns high above. It counts on the soft sands of a Reach beach, with the sound of the ocean rumbling in the background, and the fresh smell of salt in the air.
It even counts in Braavosi duels. Or so I’ve heard. I admit I’ve never actually tried my hands at it. Their slender blades make me think of needling, and I’ve always been terribly bad at sowing..
But enough about blood.
Your favors won me the day. Your beauty stirred my heart and your lent strength to my arm. Yet while these are things that would leave poets and bards to sing of love already, it has always struck me that love based upon a beautiful face, or a heartbreaking smile, is a fragile thing. Brittle and made to shatter as the years pass. Instead, I would ask you for a third favor, for three makes good all things. Let me learn to know you, your mind and soul, stripped of appearances. Let us simply write, you and I, purely for the joy of writing, and in the writing, learning to know someone new.
Ser Midnight Grace
PS: The courier has been paid to deliver any responses with him, and will wait for up until a week at a local inn if necessary.’
May 20, 286
My Dearest Midnight Grace,
For one who speaks so eloquently as you do and is I presume, supposed to be full of such knightly virtue, I find it…surprising that you know so very much about all the places one may lose first blood. Are as practiced in the art as you are with your lance, to paint such vivid scenes of seduction? Tsk, Ser, Tsk. To think that while you offer such…purity on the field it is not in your thoughts.
I confess that Braavosi blades would be useless in my hand, though a true needle…I shall sew for the both of us then, perhaps of the moon of your shield and the clouds that waft across it. Perhaps too, of the trees beneath, their tops hiding mistletoe in their depths. I prefer to see men with true steel in their hands, true purpose. For why should a thing ever be halfway done?
Isn't it always about blood?
Your arrogance won you the day, good Ser. Your confidence gave strength to your arm. The thrall of the crowd and the power of the horse beneath you, they carried you to victory. My challenge then and not my favor, won you the day. If you are clever, it may win you more yet. For while you may speak of my beauty, I may speak only of your grace, of the way that you moved, of your poise.
Of your poise…and the brazen nature of your request. Who are you that I should offer easily and freely such truths as others may work for a lifetime to achieve. Who are you to trust that, what you may find does not in turn haunt me later. Is that glimpse enough for you? To know that I consider such things. To know that I would worry. I am not something, nor someone to be easily lead to dalliance. And yet, there is a joy in writing, I confess. A pleasure to wonder about how your expression might change line from line. I wish…that I could see it now. Alas, I will have to content myself to waiting. To looking. To wondering if each face I see and meet and pass may be your own. If each voice I hear might match a whisper that seems to me now as naught but a dream.
Are you a dream, Ser?
Watching and Waiting,
July 15, 286
'Dearest Little Lady Perfect.
Let it not be said I am not willing to fulfill a girl's desires. A brief summery then, of my expressions as I read your letter:
A roll of my eyes in response to your chastisement, all the while breathing in the scent still seductive and alluring upon the garter you offered me. For were you no the one to put such thoughts in my head? Or, should I be willing to admit that they were already there, claim not that you failed to provide them both nourishment and water.
A laugh as you complimented me upon my grace, delighted, even as I remember feeling less than graceful upon leaving the field in the end. Still, victory is victory, and here I shall leave you a tidbit of my character: To win is what matters in the end, the only thing people remember. A fine victory is better than a graceless one, true, but a graceless one is always better than the defeat.
A small smile as I write my response:
I am not a dream.
And while I will refuse to answer any questions of my identity, I will assure you that I am a man of good blood, good standing, and seek no dalliance. In fact I seek nothing less than to win your heart and soul. Dalliances are for the pretty girls who don't leave me tingling with anticipation for a letter, for a window into your mind.
Ser Midnight Grace
September 3, 286
Dearest Midnight Grace,
Would you please me so easily? Truly? And then, in your pleasing chastise me yourself for being out of ribbons? When a knight bids a favor from a lady, what is there to do but agree? To turn you away would have been beyond rude and you had been so gallant; how could I possibly do that? Perhaps I shall confess instead, that I enjoy the thought of you in my head; lounged back in your chair, a glass of wine near your elbow, my garter threaded through your fingers. I imagine your laughter in my ear, the warm spill of your breath….
Is it not a woman's place to nurture? I should be failing to do my duty ere I did not.
Yet…I find myself agreeing with you upon the nature of victory. But…I would pose a question in return. A graceless victory, is still a victory and forgivable as a victory, but what of those beyond the field, when there are not rules of honor by which to measure every step. When the rules of engagement are different, when the stakes are higher…is a victory still a victory then? Does the end justify the means? My gift to you? I think - Yes. Always yes.
Another glimmer of my character with it, because I love the Game. I love the challenge and the thrill. I think, if I did not, I would not be engaged in such a game as we play now. For it is a game, isn't it? Of knowing. Of truth. Of want.
Of foolish pride, in thinking that you may be so engaged in it as myself; to believe that you would answer in truth all things and save lies for those instead, who might smile at you over your next meal. I believe you when you say that you are of good blood and good standing, yet…I find myself skeptical when you say that you would want to win my heart, much less my soul. What I hear instead and from your arrogance, I hear it with a smirk, is that you would possess me. Would you possess me?
You've my apology as well, for the lack of your messenger, but glad to know perhaps that he was put up the past months well and in all comfort. Duly paid for his absence. You see, I enjoy the thought of you waiting…suffering…tingling with anticipation strug so tightly that it becomes almost painful. And I enjoy it almost as much as knowing that I am the one to ease it.
Will you forgive me?
Yours to be decided,
November 4, 286
‘Pretty Little Lady Aeliana, possibly mine.
A favor can come in many fashions. A ribbon, a lock of the hair, a strip of cloth torn from the dress. A handkerchief or a scarf, or simply a kiss upon the helm, if all is lost to the Lady in question. Yet you chose to offer me a garter, and did so with all the crafty intelligence of a woman with a grasp of intrigue. Which in turn intrigued me. Will you pretend the choice was forced upon you? If you do, you will find not find me easily swayed.
For a schemer who loves the game, would not be above the white lie. The tease.
Would you have my opinion on the Game? It's a necessity, and who plays it poorly leaves his House in poor straights. Not every battle is fought with steel. I don't think you are correct in believing that there are no rules of honor, though. I think there is one: To make sure that your actions always benefit your House, even if you play it for the pleasure and thrill of the Game itself. At least that's my excuse, and perhaps it is indeed an excuse. Whatever lets me sleep at night.
And I do, rather nicely. While thinking of possessing you. For can I not possess you and desire your heart, your soul? Is that not a form of possession of its own? Yet I would offer you possession in return, too. A heart for a heart. A soul for a soul. If I should own you, then I find it only fair that you should own me in turn.
No smirk, no arrogance. Oh, I shall not deny I've not plenty of both. But this does not warrant either. These letters, and you, shall be my escape into the knightly tales of romance we're promised as children, but realize soon enough are just that. Tales. Can I not be both arrogant and cynical and yet desire the romance as well? Can I not live on the thrill of the crowd, manipulate it with all the talents I possess, and yet also desire to be worthy of it, and you? I think people who are capable of holding only one thought in their mind, one passion, are small minded fools. The world's too big to be narrow sighted. Let's enjoy instead a panorama of possibilities.
One of them is you, and I, known to each other, and one day meeting and letting our bodies join after our souls already have.