|Dont't Beat Your Visitors|
|Summary:||Ceinlys offers her cousin some advice, then shares a moment or two with Bastien.|
|The Rockcliff Inn — Terricks Roost|
|October 14th, 289 A.L.|
'What if he's my Prince Charming…….
…. but I'm not his Cinderella?'
Listening quietly, Martyn pauses for a few moments at Katrin's words. He keeps quiet for a few moments of pause, before he offers her smile. "You, my lady, is one of the bravest persons I know…" Spoken a bit quietly as he glances around the room once more.
"Or incredibly foolish," Katrin replies with a quickly flashed grin. "No matter the end result, I do hope you know that it is for you. And I will have no regrets in that." Sitting off to the side are Martyn and Katrin, speaking in hushed tones though properly accompanied by the Lady's Septa. The Haigh girl sports healing cuts all along her face that don't do much for her appearance, even if she's immaculately dressed otherwise.
The sound of footfalls descending the stairs is unlikely to be cause for alarm, within such a cheerful and propsering little establishment. Isn't it just the quaintest thing? Nothing seems amiss, anyway. No guards. No shackles. No body parts scattered about the floor. Nice and quiet and.. yes, quaint. That's definitely the word. Followed by her aging chaperone, trailing always in her austere and brisk shadow, the Lady Ceinlys sets booted feet quietly on the main floor of the Rockcliff, with a nod and half-smile of acknowledgement toward the chap tending the bar. It's not really a proper time for wine. Besides, she just had some. So her gaze roams onward over the rest of the room.
Clad in the same riding habit she arrived in, the young lady is still evident in a crowd as nobility; though not a face necessarily familiar in these parts. For most. Well, would you look at that. Vivid blue eyes find and settle upon the dark-haired form of Katrin. And a young man. The vague smile that curves the Steward's lips is not entirely warm, as she alters her course to stroll toward their table without preamble, her skirts swishing lightly about her boots and a hand absently trailing fingertips across the front of her snug bodice. "Foolish..?" comes her worryingly calm tone, as she overhears a snippet, drawing closer. If her presence were not already noted, there's little doubt the girl would recognise that voice. "..surely not."
Martyn chuckles, offering another smile. "One doesn't exclude the other, my lady," he offers, before he adds, "After all, people claim me to have been brave when I did something so incredibly foolish." He pauses for a few moments as Ceinlys makes her entrance, turning to offer her a bit of a nod as he studies her for a few moments before he looks back to Katrin. "I know. And I will never forget it," he replies to her, a bit more quietly.
Katrin allows herself the briefest of moments to wince in private before a smile curves her lips as the young Haigh turns to look toward the newly arrived woman. "Cousin Ceinlys," is the gentle greeting, marked by the caution not even bothered to be veiled in her eyes. "Might I introduce you to Ser Martyn Mallister?" she queries, gesturing toward the man with her. "He stopped in today to inquire after my health."
Affording the man a gentle nod in kind - well, it was polite of him - Ceinlys allows her gaze to linger upon him a moment as the introduction is somewhat made. "Ser." Well, at least he's a knight. Drawing to a halt and folding her hands against the front of her riding skirts, the elegant noblewoman returns the brunt of her attention rather swiftly to the young lady he's seated with. "Lady Katrin. What a pleasant coincidence that I should cross paths with you here. I was actually just visiting with your darling sister." Pausing, she flits a glance between the pair, arching her brows in an expression of polite enquiry. "I do hope I'm not interrupting anything dire.. I had merely hoped we might have a chance to.." Her blue eyes land sharply back upon Katrin, accompanied by a faintly wolfish grin. "..catch up. Before I leave. My business is concluded, after all. for the most part."
"A pleasure to meet you, Lady Ceinlys," Martyn offers to the lady, looking between the two ladies for the moment. Nodding a bit at Katrin's words, he offers her a bit of a smile for now.
"Yes, I am sure your duties require you back in Highfield, cousin," Katrin replies with a slow nod. "But I am pleased for the opportunity to catch up with you before you would depart." She flicks a glance back at Martyn before letting it drift far more slowly back to her kinswoman. "Would you care to join us? I am sure Ser Martyn would have no objections to your presence."
"Likewise, I'm sure, Ser Martyn." is the civil and proper answer given, though in all honesty the woman barely flits so much as an eyelash in Martyn's direction, focuing on her kin. The family resemblance is oddly striking, up close, despite the differences in expression at the moment. "And indeed they do, dearheart." she agrees, regarding her duties. "But I am here for a few more hours, at least." Ceinlys does calmly look over the little table, for a torturous few beats, but eventually she merely shakes her head, sighing softly. "..no. Thank you. I would not wish to intrude and I have matters to tend to, as yet. But.." Now her eyes deliberately look from Katrin to her Septa and back again. "..I would request that you stop by, when you have a moment. I've a room upstairs, where we might speak freely." One hand unfurls from the clasp with the other, reaching to brush a light caress of fingertips across the girl's dark hair, almost down to her cheek but thankfully avoiding those wicked looking cuts. "There is much to be said." With that, and a sudden bright, charismatic smile that entirely shatters her icy demeanour of a moment ago, the Steward inclines her head once more to the couple, before pivoting on a heel and striding for the door.
"Of course not," Martyn replies to Katrin, before he nods a bit more at Ceinlys as the lady takes her leave. "Take care, Lady Ceinlys," he offers, before he looks over to Katrin again now.
Nope, Ceinlys will not have the pleasure of seeing Katrin flinch under the touch. The girl remains impervious but does incline her head. "But of course," she replies. "I would be pleased to speak with you as soon as convenience will allow," she murmurs quietly. "Until then, Cousin." After her departure, she breathes out a pent up sigh.
Some time later…
Hovering just outside of the room of her cousin, Katrin double checks her hair once again. The shoulder-length hair is pristine, not a single strand out of place and it gleams with good health. Hair, check. Clothing, check. A little extra wine to fortify the courage, not yet. Hmm… The young Haigh seems to contemplate going back for that last piece but instead squares her shoulders and nods to her maid, a quiet girl dressed in simple clothes who knocks on the door.
"Come." A voice drifts through the door, with an absent-minded air.. though Ceinlys has certainly been expecting a visitor today. With one order of business already taken care of, in the form of Ilaria's betrothal, it's almost time to return home. There's just one last thing she has to do. Upon entering, her guest would find the noblewoman calmly seated at the modest table afforded her chambers, quill in hand and several parchments spread before her. With one elbow propped, she rests her temple against her knuckles, evidently quite deep in thought as she words her missive. No scribes for Ceinlys - she prefers to take care of such things herself. Call it a trust issue. Her own handmaid, Brigid, is seated on a footstool nearby, embroidery resting in her lap as she redoes some stitching on a light summer cloak.
"Good afternoon, cousin," Katrin greets softly as she steps inside the room, allowing a moment for her eyes to adjust to the settings, sweeping a gaze across each object in the room and surveying locations where there could be hidden people or additional exits. Call it her own trust issue. A pleasant smile curves her lips as she waits patiently, hands clasped loosely in front of her. "I am pleased that you have not departed for Highfield yet and that we might have our little discussion."
The Steward does not immediately look up from her task, finishing a clause while ink remains within the point of her fine, hollow quill. "Good afternoon, Katrin. Please, do sit down." A slight nod indicates the chair opposite before, at last, she raises her gaze to regard her young cousin. Noting that watchful expression, she cannot seem to help a faint smile. "..it's only us, I assure you. Even were I so displeased, do you really imagine I would have any kin of mine beaten in a stuffy little inn? Unlikely." Laying her quill down alongside her papers, Ceinlys leans back in her chair, loosing a soft sigh. As if on cue, her attendant sets her needlework aside and rises, shuffling across the room to fetch the waiting pitcher of strongwine. Her mistress is rarely without it, in private. "Do you know why I wished to speak with you alone, my dear cousin?" In contrast to her tone earlier, the noblewoman seems at ease and genuinely quite pleased to see a member of her family. For once, she's not particularly formidable.
Katrin remains standing for a moment longer, until she has finished her sweep. She returns the smile and settles down, tucking her skirts beneath her. "You cannot fault me for caution," she replies mildly. "Especially as I do understand why you would wish for our moment to catch up to take place in private." The girl's expression grows a little more somber. "But I would happily sit and listen to your assessment of my situation and how badly I have disappointed the House."
"My displeasure is not so terrible, as I said, that it would warrant a beating." Ceinlys offers her guest an apparently genuine smile across the table as she takes a seat, and extends a hand to receive the freshly poured goblet of wine from her chaperone, without so much as a glance in her direction. "I wished us to speak privately, darling, because I would never seek to publically shame or upset you. For the same reasons that that might be the case though, I cannot be seen to show you particular favor in public. Do you understand?" The dark-haired Steward takes a sip of her drink, contemplative. How about that, it's not even poisoned.
Shaking her head a little in negation by way of response to Katrin's weary assumption, she licks her lips free of any trace of ruby before answering aloud. "I am not going to lecture you, Katrin. Firstly, you've heard it all before. And second.. the heart wants what it wants. I'd be something of a hypocrite if I sat and preached about such things, now wouldn't I?" Raising and dropping one bare, slender shoulder in a shrug, she studies her cousin's features, taking in the mess made of her cheek, against the perfect backdrop of her glossy hair. One forefinger rises from the clasp upon her cup to indicate it as she adds, as an aside. "..she'll pay for that." Simple as you like. Shaking aside an errant wisp of ebon the curls against her jaw, the noblewoman settles herself more comfortably, not elaborating any further, as yet, on the reason for their meeting. Let her wonder.
A tentative smile does appear. "I do understand, Ceinlys," Katrin murmurs in reply. "However, the entire debacle that has transpired with Rafferdy Nayland has done nothing but cause damage to those around me." A soft chuckle slips past her lips. "I was actually relieved to hear word that Ilaria was to be betrothed. I would never have wished for my stupidity and acting like a child to damage her own prospects." Her fingers run gently across the soft fabrics of her gown. "If you believe nothing else that would ever pass through my lips, you must believe that I want only the best for my sister."
She takes in a deep breath, the dark green gaze of the younger Haigh settling on to Ceinlys. "Not that I have not enjoyed your presence, Ceinlys, but I must ask: have you brought word from Broadmoor only for Ilaria, or have you lingered and hoped to catch me in private to bring something before me as well?"
"I've no intention of misleading you. Your being so irresponsible could well have ruined your sister's chances of a fine match." Having been drumming the fingernails of her free hand lightly on the tabletop, Ceinlys now abruptly ceases her rhythm, meeting Katrin's gaze evenly. "And mine. We, all of us, cannot act on selfish whim. We have to consider the repercussions.. oh, but I'm beginning to lecture. My own slate is far from clean." The gentle drumming begins again. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap-tap.
"I was dispatched with a message only for Ilaria. Though it's an astute question." That gives her pause. Maybe her cousin might share her natural flair for politicking. Worth noting. "I decided to speak with you of my own volition, Katrin. And I'm afraid not for joyful reason." Swirling her wine, the ebon-haired woman glances to the contents, then takes another, slightly larger, sip. "I came to warn you."
"To make no further attempts at making a spectacle of myself with the Nayland?" Katrin ventures to guess, a flickering smile wavering on her lips. "To ensure that I keep myself well away from further trouble or scandal else my Lord Uncle may be forced into a situation he might rather avoid." A genuine smile does rise, bringing light to features that would otherwise be destroyed beneath cuts and angry scars. "My word to you is that it is over. I cannot torment myself any further with a love that will never come to pass. Nor can I torment my House with the whispers that could ruin the hopes of so many I cherish. I do know that even if Ilaria is betrothed, if I act in a way continually unbecoming of a lady, the agreement could be severed. There is always a legal way of getting around unwanted alliances…" The words are unspoken but it it's clear where Katrin's mind jumps - newly formed House Ashwood and the discarded Lady Cherise.
If Ceinlys takes any offence at the insinuation regarding the Ashwoods, it's not apparent. But then, she's mastered the art of showing only that which she wishes to be seen. She even chuckles, low in her throat, a fractional raise of her goblet suggesting a silent toast as she replies. "Very true. And that was a decent guess, sweetling. But no, not exactly." Setting her wine down, for the time being, the noblewoman twines her fingers, propping both elbows now and resting her jaw lightly atop her knuckles. Her striking blue eyes narrow a touch as she considers the young woman across from her. Pressing her lips firmly in a line, then wetting them, she begins carefully. "..while the displeasure of the family is apparent enough, in the wake of that little fling, til now it has been just that. Displeasure. Nothing more. Gossip happens, after all.. I would know. But it isn't slowing down, you see. And with the distance between here and Broadmoor.. it is difficult for them to be sure what to dismiss and what might require their attention. My father.." Her gaze strays to the parchments by her elbow, idly. "..has made one thing very plain to me. If your reputation worsens even a little further.. they have no qualms about sending you to a motherhouse."
A rare thing - actual sympathy plays across Ceinlys austere features now. It could just as easily have been her, hearing this warning from another. Maybe that's why she's deigned to care. "Now, I wasn't told to warn you.. and I'd prefer he did not find out I had. But it behoves me to help you in this. We are little more than tools for bargaining, as you know. Do not reduce your usefulness to the House any further. I know it is not your intent." Twisting her lips, she cants her head a little to one side. "If I thought it would do any good, I would take you to Highfield with me, to serve as a lady in waiting. But I don't think it will. Not yet. My suggestion, in lieu of this, is that you make yourself seen. Be brazen. Go to every social function, dally with the nobility from any house that visits the area. Prove, beyond doubt, that you've the making of not only a subtle and skillful politican.. but a proper and elegant young lady. Then they'll have nothing left to whisper about."
Katrin inclines her head, "I had thought he may have reached such a point," she admits. "It is one reason I resolved to sever ties with Rafferdy on my own." She rubs at the back of her neck. "Ser Martyn made a request to his House for a betrothal between us, however Lord Patrek wishes that I prove my innocence before he will consider it." Color crosses her cheeks. "If I take the test, it will prove just how foolish I have been. I do not know what to do," she admits. "I would happily marry Ser Martyn who is a good man, but I do not wish to cause him scandal, even if he knows the truth."
It does, at least, obviously pain Ceinlys to be the bearer of such bad news, even if her cousin had some inkling of it. "It is hardly an easy decision. But.. quite honestly? I hate to say it, dearheart, but I expect you will be refused that wish, regardless of your choice. Better to refuse, than to go through with it and provoke further scandal for yourself. Never mind him." With a sigh, she straightens a little in her chair, smoothing a hand back across her dark tresses. "I know that is not what you want to hear. But it's the truth. And.. the Mallisters are a very rich and noble house. Regardless of how the two of you may feel about one another, I expect Lord Patrek will be seeking a.. well, a grander match. One beneficial to them in wealth and standing. I don't say that to impugne you, of course. It's just.. in light of the recent happenings." Shaking her head, she watches her cousin for a moment. "We cannot afford to love. It only ends badly. Depressing isn't it? But you have my advice, and that is the best I can give you, for now. When things blow over, if you wish it, I would gladly have you in my service. I could introduce you easily to the ways of things and find you a niche from which to recover."
The door leading into the room resounds with the heavy bang of a single knock. A short moment later, Bastien's voice filters barely audible throught he cracks to announce himself. The man wandered off shortly after the meeting began between the two women to explore the Roost. Giving them ample time to make themselves proper and finish up whatever business they seem to be attending to, Bastien finally opens the door and sticks his head inside. The apathetic man's lidded eyes scan around the room before landing on Ceinlys. "Lady Ceinlys, it is time that we started towards home. We do not wish to ride in the dark."
Quite a timely arrival - as Bastien's solid knock resounds through the room, Katrin is already halfway to rising, with a nod and a smile toward her seated cousin. Ceinlys herself seems quite unperturbed at the appearance of the Master-of-Arms, remaining where she is. Though she does begin to shuffle the parchments before her into some semblance of order, arranging them in a neat pile to be rolled, now that the ink has dried. "Very well. Do come in, Ser Bastien, if you wish. I'll be a moment." A glance to her handmaid is enough to send the woman to the task of gathering the few remaining items to be packed away. Sensibly, the Steward didn't bring much. she's still in her riding bodice and skirts, just without the jacket for now.
Curious eyes pass over the knight as Katrin makes her way quietly for the door, her head no doubt spinning with what has been discussed.. but not so badly that she cannot appreciate the handsome man's stature and presence. At least in passing. With a murmur of farewell, she departs for the hall, accompanied by her attendant.
The young Knight bows his head respectfully as Katrin makes her way past him, and watches her for a moment as she makes her way down the hall away from the room. Turning back towards Ceinlys, Bastien lowers his voice and speaks in that slightly less apathetic tone he seems prone to taking when he's feeling personable. "Your visit was prosperous, I hope?" Stepping into the room, Bastien shuts the door behind him and clasps his hands behind his back as he waits for Ceinlys to finish gathering her things.
"Awkward, painful and somewhat depressing, actually." Ceinlys' velvety tone is at odds with her words, as is often the case with her unnerving calm in such situations. Rising gracefully to a stand, she sweeps her work into her arms, hugging it to her torso and casting the young man a lopsided smile. "But such is life. Being the eldest daughter of Lord Haigh means often you find yourself tasked with the most unpalatable of duties. I suppose.. it went well, though. I did what I came here to do, and a little more." You'd think, for a woman of such questionable repute and definite ambition, that such a statement would be cause for good cheer. It seems the opposite may be the case.
Briefly distracted, the Steward remains where she is, blue eyes turned toward the room's only window. "I so rarely see my family. and when I do, it seems always that I must be the bearer of bad news."
A humorless chuckle rises from her as she shakes her head and starts toward one of the saddlebags waiting on the chest at the foot of her bed. "Perhaps I have a natural flair for making the distasteful sound delightful. But I am rambling.." Having briskly rolled the sheafs and stowed them away, the young woman straightens and turns to better face Bastien, leaving the rest to Brigid, as is expected. "How was your stay? See anything you liked?"
Leaning back against the door as Ceinlys moves about the room talking to him, Bastien's gaze follows the woman everywhere she goes. Her words don't fall on deaf ears as he tilts his head. "Unpleasant news must be delivered. It was good of you not to push the sacrifice upon someone else." He is not one to pry, and so eagerly jumps at the opportunity to change the subject as he pushes himself away from the door. "The people of the Roost are strange. Apparently they found a young poacher amongst the banditry during a recent venture, and instead of cutting her hand off and sending her on her way, they've placed her into indentured servitude." A roll of his shoulders is given as he shrugs off the strangeness of it. "I also had a chance to see Lady Anais again, since my last visit. She apologized deeply for the altercation which left me unaware of my sister's location and situation. I feel sorry for the poor woman. I think she realizes her husband is unlikely to return, but refuses to believe it."
"Well, she has no heir. If something really has happened to Lord Jacsen.. she has no claim whatsoever to the Roost. Which is, indeed, a pity, considering how much she has done to defend and improve the place." Ceinlys' eyes absently follow her handmaid as she bustles about, tightening straps and folding the embroidery she had been working on. Resting her hands on her hips the Steward seems fairly relaxed, despite her recent meetings. She really does seem to have a knack for distancing herself from anything that might cause her upset. Including emotions. Little wonder that she and Aleister work well together; they're equally ruthless and pragmatic in turn.
Looking back up at the towering knight, she arches a single brow, curious in spite of herself. "And what of this 'new' line that have taken up residence? Did you encounter any of them, this time?" Best to find out now if anyone's going to pose a threat. Shaking back her dark locks, she leaves it at that rather than bombarding him with questions. Yet.
"I cannot say that I have, no." Moving to stand beside her, Bastien crosses his arms and furrows his brow as he looks down at Ceinlys. "You know that expressing yourself is not a sign of weakness, if done in private, Ceinlys." The stoic Knight's eyes seem to look into and through her as he lifts a hand and places it on the Lady's shoulder. "Denying sadness does not dismiss it. It simply allows it to grow stronger until you confront it." Where this has come from is anyone's guess, but the young man's voice holds that compassion so rare to the Charlton line. It's a wonder that he was born to Jon and not Harold.
"And how much remains 'private', in the Riverlands?" Her tone is weary rather than dismissive or scornful. Holding his frowning gaze for a long moment, Ceinlys then simply shakes her head at Bastien. "I cannot afford to indulge in such things. Sadness, anger.. any upset, really. Unless I want to end up like Cherise." Well, that was out before she could help it. Biting gently down on her lower lip, she breaks eye contact with Bastien for any reason she can come up with swiftly. the rug. Oooh, look at the patterns. Or is that just where something has been spilled in the past.. hmm. She's meant to be the one scrutinising and calculating people's weaknesses. It rarely gets turned back on her. In the background, Brigid's thin lips twist in vague disapproval as she looks toward the pair. But she discreetly looks away again, concentrating on the last of the buckles on her own saddlebag. If there's one thing her mistress hates, it's being stared at when she's wavering.
"Yet the path you're walking is taking you right into her death bed." Lowering his hand from her shoulder, Baz draws it up to his face to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear. "Ashwood is changing, and so are the people who call it their home. I've no right to determine the way you act and live your life, that decision is up to you. Yet, I feel it would be a betrayal of the trust that has grown between us if I simply let you hurt yourself in this manner." Lowering his voice, the young Lord whispers. "Do not let sadness be your weakness. Let it remind you of how valuable your happiness can be."
The young lady does seem to be listening, and ever so slowly her eyes begin to rise, regarding Bastien first through her dark lashes, then revealing their azure hue more starkly as she tilts her jaw up in a touch of defiance. "Bastien..?" Ceinlys' own voice is suitably soft, for him alone, and her gaze flickers briefly over his features above her as she hesitates, a subtle hitch in her indrawn breath. "..if you make me cry, I will beat you to a bloody pulp with a heeled boot. I give you my word." The threat, be it in jest or otherwise, only confirms that she'd been close to that very thing. But she reins it in, admirably. Even if it requires a few beats of telling tension as she grits her teeth. Returning her voice to it's usual, lilting cadence, she continues the conversation as if those hushed asides had never existed, glacial eyes daring him to push it further.
"That things are changing is undeniable. But you and I.. we exist only to clear the path and safeguard the journey, don't we?" A forced smile curves her lips, as Brigid approaches, hefting a couple of weighty bags toward the door. She knows better than have any opinion of the conversations between these two. If anything, she might grudgingly appreciate her charge having someone who just.. talks to her. Like she's a human being. Fortunately, servants are never asked for their opinions.
"Then I will gladly take the beating." His brown hued orbs lock with her own and the tone in his voice speaks of taking such a beating with grace and dignity. As she starts to gather her composure, the young Knight's voice seems barely audible as he whispers. "Should you ever need a shoulder for such a thing, you know where to find me." Letting Brigid past, Bastien takes a few steps towards the door and places his hand on the ring. "Is that such a bad thing? Nobody remains upon the Iron Throne forever. Better to live your life as a protector and friend than constantly groping for that which you do not have."
For once, as she hears those whispered words, Ceinlys thaws. Just a little. She steadily holds Bastien's gaze and murmurs quietly in response. "..thank you." Though once Brigid 'unwittingly' interrupts the moment, she's withdrawing, both physically and otherwise. "Besides.. I should hate to make a mess of my boot." Never mind that she'd likely struggle to so much as leave a bruise on the knight. "And you are right.. things could be worse." The unofficial bride-to-be of a landed Lord. Most women dream of such a thing. Just the majority of them don't live with the Ashwoods. It's not going to be an easy ob. Assumng it ever truly comes to be hers at all.
Drawing a steadying breath and visibly straightening her shoulders, Ceinlys follows after the man, prepared to head out into the hallway and beyond. "Once more into the fray, then. Perhaps this time you'll indulge me in a race..?" Flashing him a smile that, for all the world, suggests nothing ever gets under that porcelain skin, the Steward steps out of the too-brief haven of her rented room, one hand grasping at her skirts to hold them just a touch aloft from her booted feet. and yes - they do have heels.