|Chasing the Dragon|
|Summary:||Leon visits an ailing Rebecca and is told a curious story|
|Related Logs:||A Kinsman's Grace|
|Rebecca's chambers, Braeburn House|
|Lady Rebecca Nayland's apartment within Braeburn House is a deliberate excrescence, festooned with faded, dusty hangings of Nayland green-and-orange, on principle. The chamber is not particularly large, which makes the four-poster bed of heavy, dark oak seem even more looming and oppressive. The room's atmosphere is stiflingly perfumed; Rebecca burns incense there rarely, but very lavishly. Two generously ledged, arched windows appear at first glance to relieve the chamber's stuffiness, but closer examination proves one to be but a tall looking-glass of smoky crystal, the other - a suspiciously permanent view on dark woodland, capped with wan stars - undoubtedly a painting of Lady Rebecca's own design.|
|13th December, 289|
Musk hangs heavy on the air and seems to seep from the very draperies of Lady Rebecca's sanctum this fading, early evening. Some civet cat somewhere has been through a lot of pain for this. As Ser Leon Undyl is guided through the threshold by the servant who brought him his invitation here, he will at first see no sign of his hostess - then be greeted by her eerie apparition apparently outside one of the windows. The left hand mirror is in fact, of course, a looking glass, and Rebecca is kneeling on her vast bed at such an angle as to hide herself from the doorway while facing the mirror's misty surface. A small, enigmatic smile creeps across her face, but she otherwise looks far from well, her white shift looking off-cream beside her skin's paleness and clinging to a frame that has obviously lost weight. Even her hair is less exuberant, bound back and darkening.
"Welcome, brave cavalier," she whispers. "This is my domain, but for the time, treat it as yours…"
There is no natural light, only a pair of tall candles that Samphire would be proud of (and in fact quite possibly selected). Nor, other than the bed itself and the 'window' ledges, are there any obvious places to sit…
While Leon had no idea why he was being summoned, he knew it would be better to not let the lady wait. And he's gathered enough manners along the way to not let his jaw drop in terror when he enters the room. Instead he bows deeply to hide his face for a brief moment and when he straightens again, it is with a smile for the woman or rather her apparition in the looking glass. "Lady Rebecca, what an unexpected pleasure your summons was. How can I be of service?" He remains standing by the door, his eyes still wandering around the room to work out the concept of the mirrors and the position of the actual woman.
The creature in the mirror laughs long and light. (So does the one on the bed, though her hidden angle does make the disjunction between them slightly disconcerting for a moment.) Then she seems to ease out of the side of her glass, as the flesh and blood Rebecca swings herself over to the side of the bed that faces the door. Her bright green eyes narrow as she mutters, "They also serve, who only stand and wait." Probably out of some book; there are a few hefty examples of them in another corner, far away from the danger of the candles and so shrouded in near total obscurity. "And you, Ser Leon, need not even stand to serve me." It might be an invitation to sit down - but where? "I find the company of true knights refreshing. And the tales they have to tell me. A drink to accompany such tales, perhaps?"
Rebecca motions to one of the Groves servants to carry this idea into action. She doesn't treat the retainers of her mother's house with the intimate absolutism of her own chosen attendants, like Samphire, but merely waves them impersonally about. For their part, they have obviously been instructed to ensure Rebecca is never left altogether alone with her visitor.
"Thank you, Mylady, a drink is always welcome.", Leon agrees, although the look that follows the servant is slightly suspicious as if he wonders what in seven hells may be on tap in this spooky place. And he remains standing. Perhaps he didn't catch the hint. Or he prefers to pretend so. "So have you called me here to regale you with tales, Mylady? I am afraid that a humble hedge knight like me has no tales worthy of a refined lady such as yourself. But I shall endeavour to please you nonetheless of course.", he promises, bowing again.
The hedge knight is fairly safe for now; it may be Kingsgrove cider alright that, inevitably, the serving boy brings in, sweet yet heady, but it isn't one of Rebecca's or her mother's special concoctions. The lady does not repeat her oblique suggestion that the knight sit, but rather alights to the floor - the bed is high, but her limbs are long - before striding in a few paces to the ledge beneath the glass, and seating herself to one side of it, leaving the other free. This would be a less frightening position for the knight, at least, than a berth upon her bed.
She smirks now, an expression that would briefly bring out the Nayland in her, before insisting, "I called for no minstrel to give me 'refinement', nor did I desire any of the small folk with their repetitive fancies of stolen babes. I asked for you, Ser Leon. You make me curious, …fascinated. Your sister, too, but you…still more."
"Is that so, Mylady?", Leon muses, getting distracted briefly when the servant brings him the cider, "If there is any way in which to satisfy your curiosity, I am entirely at your service, Mylady. And I do hope that you find my sister's service pleasing,", he adds as if he suddenly thinks of something, "Samphire is very fond of you and happy to serve you." He lifts his cup in a slight toast to the lady, then takes a careful sip. Oh it's actually drinkable. He takes another, bigger, sip quickly.
"Your sister is an intelligent, discriminating girl," Rebecca remarks in what sounds almost as much of a concession as a compliment. "And Seven willing, she will grow even more so." But the slightly cold note that trickled temporarily into her tone might hint that she thinks it's her prerogative to be fond of Samphire, rather than vice versa. "Tell me of your travels, ser. Your…knightly education. And how you find these ravaged and misguided lands now you have returned." There's a leading question if ever there was one…
"It filled me with great sadness to return here and find my home destroyed, Mylady.", Leon explains, starting to shuffle a little on his feet as he realizes that sitting down when asked to might have been a better idea. He might be standing for a long time now. "But while the sight fills my heart with sadness, it is still my home and I hope to be part of its renewal. Kings Landing is a very interesting town, but frankly, eternal sunshine becomes wearing after a while and I longed for the bleak hills and raw winds of home. Have you ever been to Kings Landing? Very impressive buildings and so filled with people… all humanity seems to be assembled in its crowded alleyways…"
Submitting to Leon's stubborn resistance to joining her on her perch, Lady Rebecca coils out her considerable length in a spacious stretch along the ledge below the mirror. She listens with quiet intensity until the knight has asked his question and said his piece, but her answer is almost sullenly dismissive. "Why should I gaze upon the cavern now it is empty of dragons? To stew among the Usurper's sluts, whether golden-wombed western broodmares or tavern drabs? I think not." Her …political position is as usual frankly expressed, and her unflattering description of Queen Cersei may relate make to her scorn of the peasants complaining of vanished children - the natural envy of a lady who has remained, practically forcibly, single and childless.
"You are no friend of King Robert then?", Leon asks - he does have a knack for asking the obvious, but then he is still trying to work out what 'golden-wombed' might even mean. "Well, yes, it's a pity there are no dragons alive now. I never saw them either. Live dragons I mean.", he explains quickly, trying to collect himself, "Still, I enjoyed my time in Kings Landing. It's a good place for a young man to be. I learned so much from my betters and it was a great honor to be knighted there. Perhaps some day I will return. Once Stonebridge is blooming again and my sister is safely settled in marriage."
Lady Rebecca suppresses her look of disgust with what looks like self-conscious charity. "I suppose you were born under Terrick rule, ere Stonebridge's banners shifted, ser. You naturally follow the error of your true lords, and foul though the Usurper may be, I for one shall not blame you for loyalty, albeit misplaced. When the true King enjoys his own again, and I am at my rightful place as head of House Nayland, I intend to let Stonebridge return to its old Terrick allegiance," the dowerless spinster hypothesises with spontaneous grandeur which rather suits her.
Ser Leon's mention of 'live dragons' appears to puzzle and intrigue her both. "You speak of the royal house, ser, or the beasts that once upheld its just power? As it happens, I," she coughs modestly, "know a little lore concerning the great dragons of old."
"May the Seven guide your speedy path to the rulership of House Nayland.", Leon says politely and entirely straightfaced, though he seems glad to be able to move on. "I speak of the beasts, Mylady. Those that once lived in the dragon pit, which is now a sad hollow shell of its former magnificent self. Although I am afraid that the Dragons who ruled are no longer among us either. A sad day indeed. But please, do tell me what you know of dragon lore, Mylady. Do you think there are still some alive somewhere? In the far North perhaps or across the Narrow Sea?"
<FS3> Rebecca rolls Dragon Lore: Failure.
The lady seems much softened by the knight's courteous adjustment to her view of things, however genuine it might be. Besides she is attending now with particular concentration. When the knight makes his speculation, her lips purse, her in any case capacious green eyes expand, before a proud, clipped claim emerges from somewhere in the huskiest regions of her throat. "But of course - and not nearly so far off as that, ser. I have seen them myself."
Too bad that Leon had just lifted his cup for another gulp of cider. It promptly catches in his throat and he coughs viciously, but at least he avoids sputtering the liquid all over the place. "I beg forgiveness, Mylady.", he hastily apologizes and clears his throat once more, before he is able to offer a warm smile again. "Have you indeed, Mylady? Here at Kingsgrove perchance?"
"Some miles into the woods outwith the town," Rebecca corrects rather sternly. "I was out riding - I was not kept so sequestered in those days - but not so far off, the Ruby Ford and the Red Fork were earning their names. The day of the battle of the Trident, yes, then, I saw a dragon shrieking through the sky…" Her voice has become vague and dreamlike; she turns aside to the 'window', as if to seek another dragon in another sky, where she will find only herself.
"I see." Leon lifts his cup to hide his grin until he's got himself under control again, "It must have been a terrifying sight. Still, you were lucky to see one at all. Did you enjoy riding? Do you still? I am rather fond of riding myself, especially now that I find myself in one place for longer times. Perhaps we could ride together some time. That is… if we will be staying here much longer?" It's not directly a question, but the tone implies that there is definitely a question mark at the end of that sentence. Accompanied by a rather anxious look. Someone's getting jumpy.
"Riding is a great passion of mine," Rebecca replies ardently, but she qualifies this statement in a sadder tone, "though you can be sure my uncle's tame maester will claim it is bad for my health for as many moons as he can. They want to pen me in, you know, the Groves, the Terricks, the whole pack of them. They are," she explains evenly, with no care for the loitering servants, "all in my father's pay, or else Lord Frey's. But no, we need not stay long in this nest of traitors - and I am touched that you would accompany me wherever I may go," she assumes casually, "for when my rights are recognised, then we shall proceed to my old home, the Mire."
Leon's eyes widen just a little bit when he realizes that she is absorbing him into her retinue, but since he doesn't know what to say, he wisely keeps his mouth shut until she's done talking. "Perhaps I can have a word with your maester or even your uncle. I am sure they are just worried about you riding out on your own. There are so many terrible things that could befall a lady on her own out there. But were you within my care and with your guards to join us, I am sure there is nothing to fear. I think you would benefit from some fresh air. It does get stuffy in these old castles after a while, doesn't it?", he remarks politely and very neutrally.
"Even in a humble manor house such as here," Rebecca agrees readily, heedless that the clotting of the air in this chamber is of her own doing. "I should like that. Perhaps you might ask permission of one my oh so gallant cousins." Her voice is as ironical as a septon's virility when it comes to those kinsmen. "But for now, ser," she admits, clambering up and floating back towards her bed, "I fear the maester must have his way. I should not risk overtiring myself, and must recline a little. But do visit me again soon, kind Ser Leon. Whenever you like…"
"Of course, Mylady. It's been a pleasure to see you. I'm always at your service.", he assures her politely and bows deeply, before withdrawing from the room.