Page 436: Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
Summary: Ozric interrupts Anais' crying spot. He's not great with comfort, but at least he shares booze.
Date: 01/October/2012
Related Logs: Jacsen disappearance stuff
Anais Ozric 
Cellar — Four Eagles Tower
The Cellar's stairs drop down from beside the kitchen entrance and drift below ground as a shallow angle. The dirt floor in the basement provides just enough dampness in the air, mixed with the cooler temperatures, to help keep the goods stored down here somewhat fresh. The foods are kept to one side and down a set of halls while the casks of wine and mead are kept closer to the stairs.
October 1, 289

For the last several days, Anais has been cool and calm where everyone can see her. She's focused on keeping the day to day machinery of the tower running smoothly, managing the new guests and residents, and otherwise acting as the lady of the keep. Where anyone can see her, she is the picture of cool, calm, and collected. But even the best facade must crumble under enough pressure. With the latest news from Justin, she's left maid and guard in the kitchen and retreated to the cool dark of the cellars. And from behind a dark stack of wine barrels, there is the stifled sound of breathless sobbing.

There is a sound, boots coming down the cool stone steps, and then a rustle- something short of a curse, followed by a rather loud squeak. Some poor mouse's death shriek seems to be the herald of a visitor to the cellar, as even more scraping noses follow. Only then does the noise subside as a soft enough whistle is broached-knowing it will likely echo in the cellar walls.

Fingers move over dust coated bottles as the tall figure barely caught in lantern light combs the collection of wine for something particular or peculiar. His lone light blue eye transfixed on row and row of wine, till an open cask, showing some fine red vintage is selected and a bottle pulled out and blown on. "Arbor..interesting.." comes the gruff voice-though perhaps it is missing some of it's command than when it was heard on the parapets. Though-there is a pause.

It's only in the quiet silence of searching for wine does Ser Ozric notice something, and that would be the sound of sobbing. A turn of his head and the bottle is lowered. Tact dictates he should likely slide out of here without much notice-but that coincides with heartlessness and does away with curiosity. The Vale knight remains silent for a moment, before he is turning and moving down towards one of the stacks not too far off. "Someone there?"

There is a sound of rustling from the casks, a few caught breaths, before Anais appears from the shadows. Her composure might be more convincing if there weren't cobwebs in her skirts, her hair mussed and her eyes red. "It's all right," she says quietly, though her voice is strained and hoarse. "It's just me. I was just- just checking on a few of the older stock, making certain nothing had turned." She reaches up to shake a hand through her hair, then tries to pat her skirts clean. "Was there something I could help you find?"

"Crying." Ozric supplies for the Terrick woman. Still he does not offer a hand or else to her. Instead he allows his solitary eye to skim along her form before locking to her face. "As for if it had turned-it would be the fault of bad bottling and not worth tears.." the knight continues before hoisting his find towards Anais. "A red. I think I have made a fine selection." he adds, as if straying to an easier topic that requires less truth, or perhaps polite truth. Still he shifts his weight and stance in order to allow the lady to come closer and inspect the bottle. "Too much dust?" he asks, as if opening the door-should the lady wish to walk through it.

"A lady doesn't cry," Anais murmurs, shaking her head and stepping forward to take the bottle for a quiet inspection. "Crying accomplishes nothing, and it is the duty of a true lady to achieve all that she can for her house." There's something of rote to the words, though she seems to believe them well enough. "It's a good vintage. We used to have better, according to the ledgers, but I think we used the last of it at the wedding."

"Women cry, lady. And so you are a woman. You have tits as a woman does, hips and all else." Ozric should never, never be called on to console someone who is grieving or else. Still he is looking to the bottle-even as Anais rattles on how a woman should be-correction: Lady. "That may be so, but sometimes it suits those who need to do it." a sniff before he is back to looking at her. "I would cry if I had an eye to do so. Alas, it seems the seven deemed I should keep my uncaring eye and thus I do not weep." a bit of jest in all of it. "Whose wedding?" he asks carefully there before he is looking to the top. One hand slides to his belt and reaches over for his flat and short knife.

"Mine," Anais answers softly. "Almost a year ago now. In about three weeks." She falls silent for a long moment, then draws a swift breath, as if shaking out of a reverie. "I'm sorry. You came for a drink of wine, not to listen to a foolish girl. I trust the room is all right? If we can ever get a moment without guests, I assure you, you and Lord Brogan will have your own rooms. I know it's something of a hardship for grown men to have to share."

"Yours." he repeats with a brief nod, and then he is blowing dust free from the bottle. Only then does he look over as his knife cuts along the sealing wax, and then is tucked down into the cork as the bottle is placed under his arm. "I came for a drink, the talk with a foolish girl, I think is more or less dessert." Ozric adds with a faint grin before he is turning and and twisting, as if he was impaling a man in his eye. "My room is fine, Lady. I like being up by the wind and I like the smell of the sea in the morning. If Brogan cannot abide it then I do not care." he adds tersely before grunting and pulling the cork free with a sickening pop. "There." murmured. "Now go on about your wedding." And there without waiting for it to breath or fetch a cup-he is drinking. Right from the dusty bottle lip.

Anais lifts one shoulder in a slight shrug, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "It was brief. And a little awkward. All the invitations said I was going to be marrying Jaremy, after all. And it was only a few weeks between his embarrassment and the wedding." She leans back against a barrel of ale, crossing her arms loosely over her chest. "And shortly after, I was told that between the wedding and the loss of Stonebridge, the funds of the Roost were rather tight. I thought I might be able to improve things, but then there were Ironborn, and things changed again. I never expected I'd be wondering where my Terrick had gone again just a year later."

The Swig of wine continues for a few pauses of breath before the bottle is brought down, and lips smacked. Only then does the knight seem to nod in approval. There he offers the bottle towards Anais. "It was your wedding." he notes if she tries to deny the offer. "And perhaps you lucked out." Ozric states with a faint flash of teeth. "Jaremy was a shit even as a child." though Jacsen has his tastes, to what extent Ozric does not know. "Or worse you could have been pledged to me. I am no kind man, but I have years of bachelordom to beat that into me, like a smith with a sword." he adds after a moment. "I had a wife, but for not long. I would say a week or so. It was not love as much as advantage for both of us. She caught a dropsy-and I did not." simple "She was a frail thing..Much like your Jacsen-though I cannot imagine where a crippled Lord could run or hide." A shrug there. "Drink." commanded.

"Unlikely," Anais replies to the idea that she might have been pledged to him, a faint smile flickering across her features as she takes the bottle. "I think that's the worst part of it, really." She drinks, then braces a hand on top of the barrel and pushes herself up to sit on the edge, feet dangling. "I am caught in a net wholly of my own making." She wrinkles her nose at the wine, shaking her head. "This needs to breathe," she notes before taking another sip, and then continuing. "I showed up in Stonebridge and there was poor, heartbroken Jaremy. Sweet, biddable, Jaremy who stood to inherit the Roost and had just been abandoned by the woman he always thought he'd love. So I set my sights, swept in, and netted myself an heir in all of about two weeks. How very clever I thought I was," she laughs, rueful.

"I wouldn't say you made this net entirely yourself." Ozric offers. "There was no way you could foresee that one of your suitors would be sent on to the wall, nor that your current husband would go missing." he adds as he reaches back for the bottle "You need to breathe." he murmurs back before taken another sip. Or three. And there the bottle is passed back. "And you thought you were marrying into a fine house." And there he pulls the bottle back briefly. "And you did. Though current situation not with standing. Lord Jerold is not my father." and there the bottle offered back. "And how did things fair with your missing lord? Well-or not? I did not hear much of or from Jacsen after the war which crippled him."

"I could have left when Jaremy did," Anais points out, taking the bottle back. "Though you're right, I wouldn't have thought Jacsen would run." She drinks again, but doesn't offer the bottle back, instead cradling it in her lap. "As for Jacsen, things were all right. As well as could be expected, given the circumstances. Though I'm not what he would have chosen for himself. I think…I think that he resented the loss of the life he might have had when he was injured. But he built himself a new one in Seagard. And then Jaremy left, and that was taken away from him too. I think he resented the lack of a choice more than he resented me personally." Another drink, and she considers Ozric for a long moment. "Though he complained that I tried to usurp his palce, too."

"Were you too strong for him then? For him to claim that you were going to usurp his place? How does a Lord simply not handle that by either beating you, or fucking you?" A raise of his brow before the knight is coughing and looking towards the bottle of wine. "Pardon my language. I've been amongst men too long. I can assure you, were we to be at a dinner table, feasting. I would speak properly and less likely to offend." Ozric says with a slight apologetic bow of his head. "As else- I am sorry that it seems you have been stuck in a feckless position." he adds as his hand trails to his belt and rests. Content to leave Anais with the bottle for now. "So, what had you in tears then-if not the dust? I might guess your husband's disappearance-but I could be wrong."

Anais arches a brow at the question. "For the first, I was faster than he was," she answers, deadpan. "For the second, he was the faster." She drinks, then offers the bottle back, hopping back down from the barrel and pacing a few restless steps. "If I had been crying, do you not think I'd have plenty of reasons?" she asks, oblique. "To have worked and fought and struggled to hold this place, only to watch it slip between my fingers because my husband can't fight his basest urge? To hear he stopped by the chambermaid on his way out, but not me? To know that Lord Jerold cares not for me, after I dared speak of his daughter's traitorous attempts against his son? To know that should Jacsen not be found, I'm once again at the mercy of the world, without even my father's protection?"

"Well there is the third one." Ozric reminds deadpan, before his own smirk threatens to show through. Luckily he now has a bottle he can pull from, while the Lady of the House is busy pacing. A quirk of his brow there for a moment before he is turning, and one hand comes out to catch her at her back. "Lady. You cannot help that a man might be blind to things in his own home, or willingly blind. And you cannot help a man who let's his cock wander. From what I have seen there is nothing that I deem wander able about you. His loss." said simply. and there another swig. "Should it." and he pauses to swallow and clear his throat. "Should it come to such-I am sure I can see that you are at least gotten to your father should you wish to return there, and that no one does you any unkindness."

"There are some unkindnesses that can't be protected against," Anais says quietly, stilling at his touch without moving away. "There have been more than whispers already. Married nearly a year, and never quickened. What do you think will happen if I go home?" Her lips curve in a small, sad smile. "I'll never leave again. And I'll certainly never make a match with another heir to a solid house, no matter how I may have proven myself as a lady of the keep."

"Oh." And there Ozric falls silent for a moment. "Well. I do not know whether or not my own help can or should be used to help you there." And so the knight remains still, and his fingers still placed solidly on her back, though they slip closer to the small and sit there. "Still if such looks inevitable. I can do what I can-if anything to make your widowed status-or set aside status look more favorable in your case." What ever that means. "Els, I'll keep you on as a maid or something."

Whatever Anais might have thought about the rest of the words, it's Ozric's final words that get a reaction: a hand raised to try to slap him.

Sadly, for Anais, Ozric has a bottle and that is what he uses to come out and block the hand coming out for him. A flash of anger? Or something, and his free hand moves, looking to snatch that same maybe bruised wrist, in order to pin it back to her. He'll likely drop the bottle in this process, but the knight is not one for slaps. Not now at least-even if he was being an ass. "Stop." a cool bark of his voice. Another command, but likely one that holds no true power behind it.

Anais didn't put much more strength behind the slap than she did thought, and so there's little harm from the bottle. When her wrist is caught, she gives only a token tug to try to reclaim it before she goes still, eyes flashing up at him. "Keep me on as a maid?" she echoes acidly, a muscle in her jaw twitching. "Thank you, but I do believe I'll pass. Release me," she orders with cold fury.

"Do you think that an honest and true answer?" Ozric replies. "Lady I may be a bastard, but I am no cruel fucking man." And with that he squeezes her wrist a little sharper as if to bring her to her senses-or maybe to hurt her. And there he shoves her wrist back. "Do give me some credit." And with that he brings his hand to smooth the front of his tunic. "As if you were fit to be a maid." he continues on. "A lady like you is made but for one station and you hold it." for now.

He doesn't say it, but Anais does. "For now." She rubs at her wrist as she steps back, though makes no other sign that she's felt pain. "I'm sorry," she says after a reluctant moment. "I'm a little…sensitive about it right now. The idea of staying here as anything other than the lady of the Roost makes me sick to my stomach. And it's been hanging over me since Jacsen's disappearance."

"Do not let fate hang on you. The Seven and the Mother will see your plight and show you pity." Ozric says after a moment. And there a crooked grin shows. "A Lady does not let fate hang on her.." And there he turns from her, the bottle examined for a moment before he is placing it on a clseby barrel. "It is yours..Your anniversary and all.." And with that he turns, making for the stone steps without much of a word-though he looks back to her. "Do not be sorry. Be yourself, Anais."

"As if I knew who that was," Anais says quietly, turning back to the bottle and carefully brushing the dust from the glass. "Take care, Ser Ozric," she adds in a clearer tone, looking over her shoulder to watch him go.