|Can't Go Home Again|
|Summary:||Tiaryn isn't quite a Camden. Avinashi isn't quite a Dornishwoman. Raffton isn't quite a Riverlander.|
|Rockliff Inn — Terrick's Roost|
|The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.|
|21 December 288|
Raffton enters the inn dressed in the livery of a Terrick man-at-arms, which ought to be recognizeable to anyone who has spent more than a day or so in the area. He is just pulling off his gloves and unfastening the neck of his doublet as he goes, apparently coming off duty of some sort. He finds another fellow similarly-dressed at a table near the door and taps him on the shoulder, the pair speaking for a moment. Then the other leaves and Raffton heads further in, looking about for a seat in the lunchtime crowd and finding one at the edge of an already-occupied table.
Tia is eating lunch, seated at a table and glancing around the inn with a little bit of curiosity. There's a couple folks in Camden colours keeping a watch on her, but giving her at least the illusion that she's alone. She looks up as someone finds space at the table, and inclines her head politely. "There is plenty of room, please do take a seat, sir." She has no issues placing the livery, but has no idea who the fellow is. Still, it's a busy place, with many folk coming and going, and Tia would never wish to keep a hard working man from a meal. Course, that does get Marie's attention, the maid sitting and working away at some form of embroidery or other. She glances up abruptly, but Tia simply pays her absolutely no mind.
Amid and mostly lost to the sounds of patrons and waitresses and plates and glasses clinking, is the faint chiming of tiny bells as one more figure joins the afternoon crowd at the Rockcliff. Avinashi is recognizable by her strange dress, if nothing else, garbed today in blue silks with silver embroidery and a matching translucent scarf that rests over dark hair. Hanging from one arm is a basket. She has become a familiar enough site in the Roost that she only garners a few curious glances as she moves into the room.
Raffton glances sidelong at the guard and maid in Camden colors and their charge, hesitating over the seat at their table until Tiaryn speaks. His head turns to look quickly her way through his lashes, and then his head bobs in a respectful nod/bow hybrid as he replies in something of a mumble, "Thank you, lady," he tugs out the chair to sit.
Hey, Tia isn't a cute young bubbleheaded thing. She might be bubbleheaded, but she looks to be in her mid twenties, rather than a young teenager sniffing for a husband. "In a place such as this, I have learned it is often good to share," she says with a nod to Raffton. "I am Tiaryn Flint. May I inquire as to your name?" She would at least like to know who she is sitting with, so she can pass on her compliments to Lord Terrick for his stellar man-at-arms. The sound of bells certainly does not catch her attention, though the sight of the oddly garbed woman might well do so, since Tia is not a usual guest in the Roost. So, as she looks up and catches sight of the woman, Tiaryn for a moment cannot help but stare.
The woman in silks makes her way towards where the Camden-blooded woman and the Terrick man-at-arms are settled. The latter gets a small smile, "Master Howell. I hope this fine day is seeing you well. And, my lady," Avinashi offers a graceful curtsey to Tiaryn even as her gaze darts over the men in Camden colors sitting near if not quite with her, "How pleasant to have a Camden in the Roost for a visit."
Raffton nods politely once again, repeating, "Thank you, lady." As she offers her name he amends, "Lady Flint. Uhh. Raffton Howell, lady." He mumbles it, just loudly enough to be intelligible over the general noise of the room. He glances over his shoulder as Avinashi in her bells and silks approaches, nodding politely to her, too. "Miss Ruhi," he greets her, faintly less mumbley. At least until he offers to her the quiet correction, "Flint."
Tia isn't the sort to take exception to being called by her birth name. "Good afternoon, Miss - Ruhi is it?" she asks, her head tilting slightly. "A slight correction, if you don't mind. Although I am a Camden by birth, since my marriage, I am Lady Tiaryn Flint. Though I am here with my brothers Camden. Or at least, with Sarojyn. I think maybe Dafydd has departed already." A pause, since that is something she's not quite sure of. "Are you looking for a seat as well? Please join us." A glance over to Raffton next, and Tia quirks a smile at him, her blue eyes dancing. "Master Howell then, it is good to meet you as well. Lord Terrick has good men here. If you are one of them, it speaks highly of you."
"Ah, I see," Miss Ruhi murmurs, dipping her head. "My apologies, Lady Flint, I certainly meant no dishonor towards you or your husband. I am Avinashi Ruhi, a woman who serves Lord Jacsen Terrick as a food taster, entertainer and maker of helpful potives." Raffton wins a faint smile for his slightly less mumbly greeting, and then the Dornish girl nods to Tiaryn. "My thanks, lady, I should be mst pleased to join you both in a meal."
"I'm one," is Raffton's affirmative mumble back to Tiaryn, accompanied again by a nod. He retakes his seat once Avinashi has done so, and scratches at his bearded jaw, looking around for a serving girl. One appears, though her attention is offered to the ladies first, Raffton an afterthought. When they have ordered, he tacks on a bowl of stew and cheap ale, and then falls silent again.
"Not at all, Miss Ruhi," Tia says gracefully, her attention first on this exotic woman she's meeting. "I have recently moved back to Tall Oaks, as my husband is one of the unlucky who did not survive the rebellion." Some years back. Her voice is gentle as she explains the situation, though it still brings a thoughtful look to her face. A widow but one who is now coming back out into the world, it seems. When the serving girl looks her way, Tia simply gets a refill on her drink, as she has enough nuncheon to suit. "Please do not concern yourself - it was a long time ago, and you had no way to know. My own error, as I should have said." Ah well, she'll be better prepared for next time she introduces herself, at least. But she does hope to forstall the sympathy and commiserations she is expecting. "I have only indirectly met Lord Jacsen," she adds after a moment. "He seems to be a good man, from all I have seen so far."
"Then I must apologize again," Avinashi says as she settles into her seat, though as the Lady Flint seems eager enough to move on to a different topic, the food taster says no more about it. Instead the places her own order for a cup of tea and some bread and cheese for a light lunch. She smiles again for the last of Tiaryn's words. "He is, indeed, a good man. It has been my honor to serve him these years."
Raffton listens, apparently a common pastime of the quiet guardsman as he allows the two women to converse without his interruption. It is only once Avinashi has fallen silent again after her mention of Jacsen that he speaks up, though 'up' is still a bit of an exaggeration. "Wanted t'pologize for earlier, Miss Ruhi," he says, "Not greeting you proper on my way out of the sept. Was thinking on a thing the septon said and didn't spot you til I was mostly past. Didn't mean t'be rude."
Heathen that she is, Tia has not made it to the sept in the Roost, even once. But there, she is from Tall Oaks. She takes a sip of her drink, and then breaks a bit of bread to eat, letting the other two converse without interruption. In fact, she waits a bit, until there is a break and an opportunity, at which point she asks, "I was wondering if perhaps you might tell me a bit about how you came to be working for Lord Jacsen?" A glance over at Raffton, including him in, as she adds, "Or for the Terricks in general?"
"That is quite all right, Master Howell," Avinashi says to the soft-spoken guardsman. "You looked to have much on your mind, and there was no offense taken." Looking back to Tiaryn, she chuckles. "It is a rather odd tale, in truth. I left my home and people to seek out Lord Jacsen because of a dream that told me I must."
Raffton nods to Avinashi, saying, "Thanks," before glancing up at Tiaryn. But then right back to the Dornishwoman at that explanation, one that by all appearances is new to him as well. "Huh," is the back-of-his-throat noise he makes at the tale. For his own part, he shrugs a bit the Lady Flint and hedges, "Could say I was conscripted, I guess. Found m'way t'the guard in time."
Tiaryn doesn't find a tale of conscription too odd, assuming that Raffton is a local, rightly or wrongly. She does however blink at Avanashi, because wait - a dream? Really? She sets her mug down with a soft thump and now is definitely staring at the other woman. "A dream? Really? That is not the sort of tale one hears every day. Is it possible for you to elaborate?" She doesn't mean to step on any toes or glean any secrets, but her curiosity has certainly been tweaked.
"I suppose it is not," Avinashi allows. She glances towards Raffton at the phrase 'conscripted' and a corner of her mouth curls in mild bemusement, but then Tiaryn speaks further and she directs her attention back to the Lady Flint. "But indeed, my lady. A dream. Among my people, they can be read as signs, and this one bid me go to Seagard and seek out an eagle with a twisted claw. And it was at Seagard that I discovered Lord Jacsen and fully understood the message of that dream."
Raffton doesn't look much like the locals, if the largely brown-haired occupants of the tavern are a representative sample, anyway. He leans back a bit as a serving girl arrives to offload their orders from her tray, thanking her quietly and taking a couple sips of his ale as he listens to Avinashi's story. "Long way from Dorne to Seagard," he remarks simply.
Well, and Tia has met Nares and Kathryna if it comes to that, but she's lighter haired herself, though not quite blonde. "That would be quite an interesting dream to have," she allows. "I might have to follow through should I have such a dream as well. But I have never had any dream that I felt was of portence." A slight pause and a glance to Raffton, and Tia nods, her attention back to Avinashi.
"A very long way," Avinashi agrees with a laugh, quieting a moment as the drinks and food finally arrive. She gathers her mug of tea, inhaling the aroma before enjoying a small sip. "A tiring and difficult trip, but one I found was worthy in its ending."
Now that his stew has had a little time to cool, Raffton begins eating, taking quick but relatively neat bites. "Ever had any others?" he asks after a minute, swiping at his mouth with a napkin as he lifts a brow at Avinashi, "Dreams, I mean. Like that one."
"I take it you've never had a dream to follow either, Master Howell?" Tia asks Raffton, staying within the conversation, though paying somewhat more attention to her meal. Her gaze too goes back to the other woman as Raffton asks his question. Meanwhile, Tia's nuncheon is finished, and she has only her drink left in front of her, but she seems in no great hurry to depart.
"None so clear and vivid," Avinashi answers for Raffton's query. She cuts a slice of cheese, setting it on a piece of bread, and has a bite. Once she swallows she adds, "I've had smaller omens sent to me in dreams, but those I never made much sense of until what it foretold came to pass."
Raffton shakes his head at Tiaryn, shrugging, "Can't say that I have." He goes back to eating, putting away the stew with speed. Another quarter of the bowl disappears before he swallows a mouthful of ale and asks Avinashi, "So y'can tell the future?"
Tia goes back to her drink, listening now mostly, as Raffton asks the juicy questions. Though she does look to see if Avinashi looks at all discomfitted by the conversation, intending to keep things on a nice neutral keel, if she can. "And are those omens for yourself only? Or also for others?" she adds, letting a tiny fragment of her own curiosity out.
"Mmm, well," Avinashi considers, "I should not go so far as to call it thus," she answers to Raffton's query. "Those dreams with portents are never so frequent or so clear that I would claim to know the future. Only… hints of it, perhaps. On uncommon occasion." Glancing back at Tiaryn, she has aother thoughtful moment as she considers the question. "Myself or those I know well, my lady. Or, at least, if I have ever had a dream about someone I knew not, I have yet to recognize it as such."
Raffton sniffs, but it doesn't really seem to be a comment on anything said, at least judging by his relatively unskeptical expression. He eats some more. "Had any lately?" he asks, though thankfully not with his mouth full.
Tiaryn inclines her head, acknowledging the answer, and then a quick look to Raffton as he follows up with the next question. For her part, Tiaryn seems content now to let the topic go wherever Avinashi wishes, relaxing into a moment of after-lunch calm. Though she then does give her guards and maid a signal. She waits until Avinashi has finished, and then she says softly, "Thank you both for the company during lunch. It is appreciated. However, I fear it is time for me to depart, as I do have some things that need my attention." She gets to her feet, and of course at the same time, so to do those folks of her retinue, one guard stepping forward to head for the door.
"None that I have identified as such, sir," Avinashi replies with a small shake of her head, "though the sea has been a frequent visitor in my dreams as of late. Perhaps, though, that is merely all the focus on the building of the docks." She stands as Tiaryn does, offering another curtsy. "A good day to you, Lady Flint."
Raffton grunts a bit in response to Avinashi, nodding a little, though this has earned her something of a frown. Or her words have earned it, at least. He frowns thoughtfully at his food, eating a few more bites before looking up at Tiaryn. "Seven keep you, Lady Flint," he offers, "G'day."
"Good day to you both," Tia says with a friendly smile. She does furrow her brow briefly at Avinashi's answer to Raffton, but it doesn't mean much to her, all things considered. She inclines her head politely, and then takes her leave, skirts swishing as she heads for the door of the inn and the great outdoors.
Avinashi waits until Lady Flint as left before settling back into her seat with a small, bemused shake of her head. "So many men and ladies present for the sake of a single woman. I confess, even after all this time, the retinue of nobility baffles me."
Raffton sits back down after Avinashi, his polite rise to his feet to begin with only a shade belated. He shrugs at her head-shaking and remarks, "Keeps us guards in work." After a beat he asks, "Not like that in Dorne? Or just not used to nobles?"
"I imagine it was similar in Dorne, but I had little contact with nobility, there. Not until I came to Seagard did I spend any real time in their company," Avinashi answers, "but I expect you are right. We all must have our work and thank those who make such work possible."
Raffton nods his agreement, scraping up the last bits of stew as he does. "True 'nough," he agrees. He drinks and then asks, "What'd y'do in Dorne?"
"I was an apprentice to a Marahama Lagane Vale," Avinashi answers, "A medicine woman. She was a spirital guide and a healer among my people."
Raffton nods again, making an acknowledging noise. "She have dreams like yours?" he asks. After a beat he seems to decide there's another question he'd like to ask instead, and he does, mumble-blurting, "So Lord Jacsen just took you on? You show up and say you had a dream and he took you just like that?"
The Dornish woman smiles faintly at the memory. "I expect, in the beginning, I intrigued him. If a Dornish woman appeared, offering herself to your service, would you be so quick to turn her away? And then, with time, I proved my usefulness and became truly a member of his household."
Raffton flushes faintly at the smiling rhetorical question. His cheeks are too sun- and wind-reddened to show it, but the tips of his ears go pink and he shrugs and lifts his tankard, mumbling, "Guess not."
There is a soft, gentle chuckle for the pinkening of Raffton's ears. "And neither did my lord, Jacsen," Avinashi says, "And so we have been, since."
"Bet he didn't," Raffton mumbles even more under his breath than his usual speech. He drinks deeply once again, tankard lifted to cover most of his face as he does. "Hmm."
One brow lifts for that very quickly mumbled statement. "Cheeky," Avinashi scolds, though she sounds amused rather than put out.
"Shouldn't speak out of turn," Raffton chides himself as she does not, "Terricks've all been good to me."
"And to me as well," Avinashi agree, "We both owe them much, however we might otherwise tease. But you do not need me to say such to you."
"Do you?" Raffton asks, brows furrowing faintly, "You could go anywhere. Like y'said, aren't many'd turn away a Dornishwoman healer. What've you gotten here y'can't get elsewhere?"
"A home," Avinashi says, "People I trust and respect in my company. Perhaps I might go elsewhere, but I do not know that I could ever find quite the same again. And you?" she queries, canting her head to the side and peering at Raffton beneath lowered lashes. "Is that the only reason you remain? Because you do not think anywhere else should have you?"
"Y'had a home," Raffton points out, "Didn't you? B'fore y'came here after y'dream. Could go back, if y'wanted. Sure there's others all over the land'd be happy t'have you." He seems somewhat skeptical. At her question, he shrugs. "No love for my kind in these lands."
"I had a home, but to leave my people means you may not return, so I have it no more," Avinashi replies softly. "It seems to me you could go back, too, if you truly wished. Do they watch you so closely you could not, should you choose?"
"Never heard that 'bout Dorne," Raffton says, frowning a bit, still more thoughtful than any sort of upset. He shrugs at her. "They did. Used to. Guess not s'much anymore, but… 's too late, anyway."
"I am sure Dorne as a whole would have me," Avinashi chuckles. "The Orphans of the Greenblood, my people, they would not. But tell me, why is it too late?"
"Orphans of the Greenblood?" Raffton repeats, brows drawing together in puzzlement. He shakes his head, and asks, "What's that?"
Avinashi hums faintly as she gathers up her tea mug again and has a small sip. "I will tell you of them," she obliges, "but first, you answer my question."
"Your question?" Raffton blinks once, and must take a moment to remember it, so busy now wondering what the orphans of the greenblood are. He frowns when it returns, and shakes his head a bit, replying in tone that dips back into mumbling, "They would not take me back if I went. It's too late."
The Dornish woman considers that a moment, or perhaps she simply studies the faint cracks in the cup she holds. "The Orphans of the Greenblood are a traveling people and the last true remnants of Rhoyne that came over to Dorne from that land. They were a river people then, too, sailing upon the Rhoyne. Now, they travel the Greenblood, orphaned from their homeland. They keep the old ways though the rest of Dorne turned to the religion and culture of the Andals. As the last of a people, they are protective of their ways and the influences from outside them. So, you see, that I left them makes it too late for me, as well."
"The Greenblood is a river?" Raffton deduces. He sips slowly at the last of his ale, nursing what's left in the tankard as he ponders this information. "What's the old ways, then?" he asks, "The… Rhoynish? stuff. That the dreams and fortune telling? Somebody said you tell fortunes."
"Mmm," Avinashi agrees, "The longest river in Dorne. It leads from the ocean in towards the foothills and divides itself into The Scourge and The Vaith. The old ways are, well, yes. Dreams and fortunes and healer women, among other things. We follow the gods of the river and we live on wide, flat boats that sail up and down the Greenblood."
"The Scourge and the Vaith," Raffton echoes under his breath, repeating the words to himself. He smiles faintly at them before he lifts his head again. "You live on riverboats," he nods in understanding, and then asks, "Are you pirates?"
Avinashi laughs, shaking her head. "Ah, no, Master Howell, our lives are not quite so daring. We are traders, mostly, of medicines and embroidered cloths and other such things. And sometimes there are dances or other performances that tell of Rhoyne, others will come to and give coin to see."
Raffton nods in understanding, listening with interest despite the apparent lack of piracy involved. "What do they tell about Rhoyne?" he asks.
"All sorts of tales, in truth," Avinashi answers around a soft smile, "It was a whole nation, there is much to tell and remember. Though those that come to watch, they hope for stories of Nymeria and her ten thousand ships, and so very often, that is the story shared."
"It was… in the east?" Raffton checks his memory before nodding, "Right, Nymeria. I've heard of her. Captain's a fan," he says with a brief, lopsided smirk.
"I have noticed that about Ser Jarod," Avinashi agrees, sharing in Raffton's playful smile. "Your captain has a keen interest in anything Dorne and Nymeria in particular. But now, perhaps, it is your turn. Would you tell me a little of the place from which you came, as well, Master Howell?"
"Everybody's got an interest in Dorne," Raffton remarks, "Dorne's like stories. Bard's tales." He shrugs a bit, and then sucks on his teeth and scratches his cheek at the request, shrugging, "'s others been there more recent than me. Can probably tell you better. What d'you want to know?"
"Perhaps," Avinashi allows, though the small shrug of her shoulders suggests those others hold little interest for her, just now. "Well, now, let me think. What did you do, there? What was a day like for you in that place?"
"Me?" Raffton shrugs. "I worked on a ship," he says, "Scrubbed the decks, manned the rigging, fetched and carried. Learned how to fight. Fished. Same things everybody does who's not noble, I figure."
"So you also grew up on a boat, though you water was much wider than mine," Avinashi replies with a small laugh. "Were you born on one, as well?"
Raffton shakes his head, "No, we don't live on boats. I guess some people almost do, but… no. I was born in a house," he says, just a little defensively, though it doesn't seem precisely directed at her. After a pause he offers up, "On Great Wyk."
She nods for that clarification before taking another swallow of cooling tea. "What was it like, on Great Wyk?"
"Windy," is Raffton's automatic response, before he ducks his head back towards his tankard, sipping slowly once more before going on, "Y'don't get storms here the way y'do there. And even on a nice day, there's the wind."
"The rivers here, are different than the ones back home, as well," Avinashi muses, "The lands around them, so lush and green. It was much more sparse in Dorne. Much of that country is either sand or mountains. Little of it would permit a forest to grow. We had storms and wind, but none, such , as the kind you must recall."
"Things seem to grow pretty easy here," Raffton agrees with a little nod, twisting his mug back and forth between his hands, "Not as many rocks, neither. Not so hilly. Plenty of space."
"An easy land," Avinashi supposes as she sets down her empty mug, resting her hands lightly in her lap. "Welcoming, but strange."
"Yes," Raffton replies to the first, though the second gets a more noncommittal noise out of the man. "Still think y'could just as easy go somewhere else if y'liked," he comments in a bit of a mutter, returning to previous topics, "Aren't many'd give me the chances Lord Jerold's given, can't see it being the same for you."
"Gracious, are you so very keen to be rid of me, Master Howell?" Avinashi asks, blinking wide, green-gold eyes. "Please tell me what I have done to cause such offense, and I will repair it at once." For the rest however, she nods. "I think you are right to say Lord Jerold was kind when others would not have been, and he saw a boy where others would see only an enemy. But you have been a true and loyal man to him. Should you wish to go elsewhere, I think his good word may offer you more paths than you expect."
"Not keen t'be rid of you," Raffton replies, chastened and a little embarrassed, shaking his head and shrugging, "Just… don't see why y'think you couldn't go just as easy." After a pause he carries on, "People're always talking like they're stuck here, like there's nobody else around who'd take 'em but the Terricks. Don't think they really know what that means."
"I did not mean to suggest I could not leave," Avinashi says, her voice gentling, "in that there is no other place I could go. I mean only to say that I do not choose to leave and that I feel my fate and my duty binds me here. But tell me, Master Howell, if judgment was no concern, if you could go anywhere you did wish, where would your travels take you?"
Raffton grunts in acknowledgment of the distinction, and then shrugs at the question. He tilts his mug, glances into it, and sets it back down. "No need to go anywhere," he says, "Got a good place here, like I said." He seems finished, silent after that for a minute or two before mumbling, "Guess I wouldn't mind seeing my family, if they're still around."
There is a small nod and a sad smile for that. "I expect your family may wonder the same about you. If you are alive. If you are well."
"Been dead to them a long time," Raffton replies with a shrug, "One way or another." He shrugs again and shakes his head, rising, "Not a thing worth thinking on." He digs into a pocket, carefully counting out coppers and setting them down to pay for his meal. "Best I be going. Good afternoon t'you, Miss Ruhi."
"As you like," Avinashi replies mildly, leaning down to collect her basket before setting out a few coins for her own meal and standing. "And to you, Master Howell. Until we next meet."
Raffton nods politely, pushing his chair back into the table before turning to head back out of the inn.