|Cutting to the Heart of Things|
|Summary:||Morla speaks to Kamron as he prepares for the rescue.|
|Date:||04 June 2012|
|Related Logs:||Logs pertaining to the Kidnapping at the Picnic, the Lady Ghost, and the Frey Courtship.|
|Somewhere Outside of Tordane Tower|
|Hey, look. You can see the tower from here!|
|June 4, 289|
The sun has not been above the horizon long, but already there's movement in the encampment that's sprung up around Tordane Tower. Breakfast has been brought up from the inns, down from the Tower, and out from carts and packs of those who came from elsewhere in the Cape. Kamron Mallister has already gone to check up on the maps inside the Tower, and now he's outside again. With so many telling him how worn he looks, he's decided to do something about that, and now stands before his squire, a razor clasped carefully in his right hand, his left arm still held close against his stomach. The lanky squire holds a silvered mirror in his right hand, and a bowl of water in his left, which undoubtedly explains the foamy soap lathered up in the stubbly whiskers that have made their appearance on his jaw.
Despite Saffron Banefort's stubborn loyalties to the Terrick's Roost, Mistress Morla Fielding has found herself quite comfortable in Stonebridge. Its comforts are far more similar to the Banefort where she has lived all her years. She walks through the courtyard of the tower in a modest, simple dress of the Banefort colors. Her hair has been resigned to a simple braid of white rather than her stacking styles. There is no glancing to see where she might go, no decision making — she instead starts in toward the the Mallister knight with deliberate steps, by no means as silent and soft as her charge. Her face is thin and drawn, her slender fingers folded together before her stomach. Dark circles frame her dark eyes, accentuating that she has no slept in a number of days. "Ser Kamron," she announces as she gets close.
Kamron has his head craned up and to the right, drawing the razor down his left cheek as the Dragon Lady approaches. Percy is — as usual — the first to spot her, and the young squire clears his throat, murmuring, "S- Ser…" That's enough warning for Kam to lift the blade from his cheek without drawing blood, wiping the accumulated stubble and soap off on a cloth hanging from his left arm. He turns about to face the approaching woman, blinking once in surprise as he sees who it is. Bowing his head, he greets her, "Mistress Morla." The razor flicks up toward his soapy face, "I must apologize for my state." That's really not that important, however, and so he clears his throat, and tries another tack, "We'll get her back, Mistress. I promise."
Mistress Morla gives Percival a slightly glaring look as if she has her own opinions on the young squire that do not precisely align with the giggles and sympathy from other ladies. She greets him politely enough however, though her gaze immediately turns on Kamron. Her eyes are stern, solid, obsidian. "Your state is perhaps no better than Saffron's, Ser Kamon," she says as she steps up closer to the knight, giving a sharp nod to the squire. "Go now, give me a moment with your knight." Her fingers remain folded at her front, her poise tall and precise. She waits until Percival scampers off, at least out of earshot, before she turns her sight on the knight. "And just whom are you rescuing, Ser Kamron? Lady Saffron or Lady Ghost?"
Kamron shrugs his right shoulder a little at the first of the woman's comments, "I'll survive, Mistress Morla. Hardship is a knight's lot." Percy gives Kamron a look that combines 'I don't want to leave you alone with this dried up old hag' and 'please, please let me escape this scary, scary woman,' and the knight gives his squire a nod, "Leave the bowl on the camp stool, Percy." He takes the mirror from the squire, holding it out a little gingerly to the chaperone with his left hand, "If you might, Mistress Morl — " That's all he gets out before the question, and he clears his throat, "I don't know what you mean, Mistress Morla. To my knowledge, Lady Ghost is not among those missing." The point, however, has been made. He swallows once, lowering his voice a little and tilting his head again to attack the scruff and stubble that has gathered over the last few days, "Every precaution has been taken. There are no improprieties."
Morla holds her gaze steady and unchanging on the knight. She calculates each movement he makes, it is almost as if she can see how his breathing changes, if his heart has started to pound louder. No wonder Saffron is so intimidated by this old crone — everyone is so transparent to her. "Think me not an idiot, Ser Kamron," she says in an even, quiet voice. "I have known Saffron since before she was born. I swore that Lady Alyss carried a boy with the sheer vivaciousness of that unborn child. She kept her mother up all knight, moving, kicking, dancing in her womb. How surprised we were to find that once more Lord Bernard had been gifted with daughter." Her eyes narrow then, her expression tense. "Why do you think, Ser Kamron, that I have allowed her to sneak about in her grandmother's cloak without escort? I'm aware that you would not ruin the girl nor her house."
Kam holds up relatively well under that gaze, probably because he's just too damned tired and worried to care what the older lady thinks of him at the moment. Still, he manages the barest shadow of a smirk, "I think you about as far from an idiot as is possible, Mistress Morla. But the protestation had to be made for the same reasons that Lady Ghost will always be safe in my presence." Assuming the woman is willing to hold the mirror up again, he resumes his shaving, hefting the razor a bit, "I thought it might be good for the men to see that the knights and lords aren't entirely beside themselves." There's a pause, "Even if we are."
That said, the Mistress does hold up the mirror to the man so he may continue to shave. "I'm afraid that there may not be a Lady Ghost much longer," Morla says as she watches the man shave over the edge of the mirror. "As I understand it, she is being called back to her own kingdom… a man cannot find love in a shade no more than a shade can find love in a man." At his assessment of the men, the old woman nods her head in a single, simple gesture. "It is not just the knights and lords that are beside themselves," she says idly. "Mind the spot beneath your ear, Ser Kamron." And she gestures to the bit of soap that is trying to hide itself from the razor edge.
Kamron continues working his way across his jaw, doubling back as directed for the few hairs and spot of soap. Every so often, he wipes his razor or rinses it in the bowl of water, giving him time to respond, "However much I might enjoy the discussions I have with Lady Ghost, and however much I understand the need which created her, I would not be seen meeting with another man's betrothed. Should such a match be actually made, I have no doubt that Lady Ghost will fade away entirely." And there's definitely sorrow in the tone of those quiet words, and he closes his eyes a moment. And then he remembers his responsibilities, and opens them, offering what is intended as a reassuring smile, "The flower of the Cape is here, Mistress Morla. The women will be brought home safely. You may rest assured in that."
"Yes," Morla says in a stern agreement with Ser Kamron's assessment of Lady Ghost, though she tilts her head a bit as the man closes his eyes. She flares her nostrils a bit before she tilts the mirror a bit to provide a better angle for the man to continue to shave. "It would be a tragedy, wouldn't it?" Her thin, craggy brows lift over her eyes briefly before they resettle into her firm expression. She does not meet his smile, nor does it seem to provide much comfort to the old crone. "I do not be assured of anything, Ser Kamron. But if it makes you feel better, you can continue to provide me with comfort." She allows there to be a moment's lapse of silence before she flexes her jaw a bit. "Since we are speaking frank, I am dissatisfied with the courtship. I have seen to a dozen successful marriages between Banefort Ladies and proper Lords. Magnola will always be my greatest success, but what good will it do if Saffron is my greatest failure?"
Kamron nods his agreement at the pronouncement of the incipient tragedy, but he doesn't comment on it further. Scrape, scrape, little by little, the scruff is being wiped away from his jawline. "It does give me something to do… reassuring others." There might be a little wry humor in the words, but it fades quickly, replaced by anger as he hisses under his breath, "You're dissatisfied by a man who won't stir himself even to hire a few hedge knights or sellswords to help find the woman he's courting?" The Mallister has to lower his razor a bit, as a snarl now contorts his features, "If the lump were worthy of it, I'd call him out as a coward and see him dead for it." Both hands tighten down into fists, enough to cause the razor to tremble. It's another few breaths before he can find his voice again, "Success or failure cannot always be measured by the quality of a marriage, Mistress Morla. Lady Saffron is intelligent, charming, and has a good heart. I would consider that a success."
Morla judges his reaction with a callous calculation, and she nods her head in agreement then. "Lord Walden Frey honors his House's reputation well. He is rest assured that you will do the work for him, and still he will have the Lady you would have rather courted." There is the slightest upturn of one corner of her lips, though it is quick. Rumors, they say, rumors. Then she shakes her head a bit at his assessment of quality and success. "The quality of a marriage is determined on the cooperation and partnership that is forged, not just the upward or lateral movement of power and wealth. Unfortunately, Saffron has become the a patch that is hastily applied to hide the embarrassment and tragedy." In those words, it actually sounds as if Morla has both pity and caring for the Banefort girl who angers her so.
That razor freezes again just before it touches Kamron's cheek. "I esteem Lady Saffron as a friend, Mistress Morla, but I'm not the marrying sort." That definitely has the sound of a rote response, spoken time and again until it's habit. Once more, the razor resumes its scraping, clearing his right cheek and jawline with slow, steady strokes. Pausing to wash and wipe it free, he speaks up again, "She deserves a great deal better than that. Lord Jacsen and Lady Anais are a demonstration of what happens when a patch is applied." His jaw tenses, and then relaxes through force of will, "And Lord Walden Frey is an apt demonstration of what happens when a coward and curr is allowed to court someone worthy of much more."
Morla smirks suddenly at his hasty denial. "Very well, Ser Kamron… I will allow you to play the fool for a little longer. But, know that the door can only stay ajar so long before it is slammed shut, and the slow and dimwitted are the ones who are left out in the cold." The crone precisely turns and tilts the mirror to provide the man with the best possible angle to complete his shave. She is quiet for a moment of time as she considers him, his words, and the bits of him she cannot quite see. "You may be right, Ser Kamron." And then there is a touch of cruelty in her dark eyes. "But Lord Walden is the marrying sort."
Kamron does his best to maintain a cavalier attitude toward the whole affair, but with his nerves already frayed, it's not a particularly good facade. Working under the chin has him silent for a long moment, but then the razor needs to be rinsed and wiped once again, and he says, "There are other houses in this part of the Riverlands with as much power as the Twins, and a great deal more history and honor." Kam really shouldn't try to do 'sneaky' or 'subtle' when he's dead on his feet. "If the courtship with Lord Walden were to fall through, do you think that Lord Banefort would consider an alliance with House Mallister?" One of the other cousins, of course, since he's not the marrying sort. "I would say that our two houses have a great deal in common, Mistress Morla, and I believe that Lord Mallister would see the benefit as well, should there not be any honor to be lost in the match."
Morla maintains an impassive expression, her cold eyes unwavering in their focus on the Mallister. "I see no reason why Lord Banefort would deny the opportunity to forge an alliance with the Mallister house. Both are of suitable power, and the Banefort and Seagard share commonalities such as ships. Of course, I cannot approve nor deny a marriage for a Banefort lady, but I imagine that I could write a letter along to Lord Banefort suggesting my approval in the match." The crone hardly lets an ounce of emotion invade her expression. "Granted, Lady Saffron isn't one of Lord Banefort's own daughters, so I wouldn't suggest her being offered up to one of the Lords in the main line. Perhaps a cadet branch. I'm sure there is a lesser heir there that would be happy to take on a… how did you describe her?" She doesn't even pause. "Oh yes, a charming, intelligent lady with a good heart."
Kamron does smirk then, taking his razor from his throat to shake his head, then going back to finishing up the broad strokes. "You undoubtedly play that odd Essosi game that the Naylands all seem to enjoy, Mistress Morla. I believe you have me quite neatly trapped." As if he didn't walk straight forward into that trap. Tilting his head from side to side to search out remaining patches of soap and hair, he continues, "I cannot make any more decisions than yourself, Mistress. But I'm sure that my cousin Lady Muirenn has already made at least one suggestion to Lord Mallister." He scrapes up a spot, then adds, "Of course, no such match with House Mallister could be made unless the courtship with Lord Walden was broken off. It would be highly improper to have two men courting the same woman."
Morla offers it to him with the slightest smile at her lips. "Ser Kamron… you have long been trapped, I am merely opening your eyes to that." She then nods in agreement to his words. "Highly improper, I would agree. I will tell you this, Ser Kamron… Lord Bernard will not be happy to hear that the man he would trust to safeguard his daughter did not make a move to save her. I imagine that the courtship will not last much longer. Very little progress has been made on the actual negotiations… like a Frey, he expected to gain much more than a beautiful wife from the Banefort."
Kamron finds another pair of patches, then lowers his razor. Taking in a breath, he lets it out through his nose slowly, "I would appreciate it, Mistress Morla, if you would let me know if and when confirmation of the ending of the courtship between Lord Walden and Lady Saffron is received. I would not have Lady Saffron taken away from the Cape where she has been able to do such good for The Roost." There's a pause, "Have I missed a spot?" A gesture with razor toward face suggests he's speaking of the shaving, while an arch of his scarred brow suggests perhaps he's talking about something else instead.
"You have my complete cooperation, Ser Kamron," the Mistress says as she lowers the mirror, setting it beside the basic. With nimble, withered fingers, she plucks up the towel that has been meant to dry the man's face. She steps up to him, offering him the rag even as she gives him a scrutinizing look. "It will do," she says in her usual, noncommital tone. "You look tired, but that is good. It will be a compliment." She breathes in deeply now, letting out the exhale even as she draws something from the hidden pocket of her dress. "You will give this to the Lady once she has been secured. I know not the conditions she has been in, so I have packed what I deem important. I have kept it small as to not slow you down." Indeed, the wrapped parcel is no bigger than her palm, but it has some weight to it. "You will bring her here."
Kamron folds the razor, setting it alongside the bowl of now-soapy water and taking the cloth from the chaperone. He dabs around the edges, cleaning off any stubborn soap, then sets it down as well, "Thank you, Mistress Morla. I bet that's worth a great deal more than most people expect." He snorts softly at the mention of compliments, "Mistress, I've been too busy and worried to sleep more than a few hours each for the past two nights. This," he gestures to his now-shorn jaw, "is just to keep up appearances." Still, he takes the packet, hefting it a moment in his hand and then tucking it into his belt-pouch, which appears to be otherwise utterly empty, which is certainly not normal. "I'm sure all the ladies will be brought here before they are brought anywhere else. And as Lady Saffron is staying here, it would only be right to bring her here even if they were all being sent directly home." Can't let them boss you around… not entirely.
"And quite an appearance is makes," Morla says in a strangely complimenting tone. Then she offers the man a slight curl of her old, wrinkled lips and she bows her head gently. "Of course, Ser Kamron… though as I expect we are quite the honest pair, calling Stonebridge home is something Saffron cannot will herself to do. But, here is where her things are and where a bath will be, and where a bed is waiting for her." Morla then begins to step back now, clasping her fingers at her front once more. "May the Seven Protect You, Ser Kamron Mallister. We will all be waiting their return."
Kamron bows in response to the dip of the aged minder's head, "Maiden watch over them, and help ensure it is not long in coming. We must find them before the deadline, so we will." He sighs softly, setting down the towelling and gesturing Percival back. Forcing a crooked smile onto his lips, he adds, "I'll sing you both a song once Lady Saffron is back and recovered, Mistress Morla. Until tomorrow night." Because that's saying that she's not going to be hurt enough that it will take more than a day to recover. You know what they say about the power of positive thinking…