|Dragons and Ladies|
|Summary:||Rebekkah has tea and chats with Isolde about things past and to come for the family Nayland. Belle attends The Board.|
|Lady Rebekkah's Chambers - Fortress of the Sevens|
|The dragon lady's lair.|
|Sat Aug 20, 288|
Lady Rebekkah Nayland's chambers are some of the larger rooms in the castle at Hag's Mire. In addition to a place for bed and bathing, they include a sizeable study. It's not as large as the castle's library (which was supposedly largely the work of the Nayland Dowager throughout her life here) but it includes several books. Including hand-written parchment manuscripts bound in slightly less professional-looking leather that, if one looks closely, were authored by Rebekkah herself. A cyvasse board - set up with the pieces in play in what looks like the middle of a fairly involved game - occupies a table by the window. The board is crafted in varying colored marble and each piece, if one looks closely, is done in a different type of metal not unlike a maester's chain.
But it's not at the board Rebekkah presently sits. She's on a little sofa that's flanked by a pair of chairs, another table in the middle on which sets a tea set. She is waiting. She's dressed in a black robe of good silk, with little golden dragons embroidered on the hem.
Summoned to the Lady Dowager's chambers for tea and conversation, Isolde was left little in the way of choices for this day when Nimue took the rest of her dresses to fix or use to fashion new ones. Her hair, set in a twist around her gold circlet is dotted with pearled pins to match the simple cream linen dress she wears. The simple afair has been dressed up a little with an embroidered green sash and a set a jade necklace that rests against her collarbone. The chambermaid assigned to the Lady of Stonebridge opens the door for her and she steps within, giving a look to the large chambers for a moment with a cursory glance before spotting Rebekkah.
Stepping closer, the Lady dips a graceful curtsey with hands to skirts before she rises, "My Lady." She greets properly.
"Isolde, dear, sit down," Rebekkah croaks with a smile that doesn't quite touch her sharp, beady blue eyes. "And please. We are family. You will call me Rebekkah. You look lovely. How do you like your tea?" She indicates the set. "I have come to prefer the sweeter varieties as I've aged, though I still like a good, strong black tea now and then if I've got to be up late. But I selected a sort made with rosehips today, which isn't so strong, and which I think you will like. There's sugar, and I've a little bottle of brandy in my night table if you prefer something a bit…stronger." Smile. "I might have some in mine."
Entering last, but not long after Isolde, is Belle, the dowager's handmaid. Sent to fetch finger foods to complete the tea, she bears a tray fragrant with fresh baked goods — crescent rolls, scones, tiny pastries and sandwiches. Dropping a beautifully balanced curtsy to the ladies present, she serves from the tray, arranging the little plates artfully around the tea service while leaving room for cups and saucers.
Stepping closer, Isolde smooths hands to her skirts and then offers a smile in return. Her green eyes look over the cvyasse board a moment and then steps aside as Belle starts to lay out the food that begins to scent the air. "Thank you, Rebekkah. The tea sound delightful…I have also been one to like ginger or camomile. Black currant is also a good choice that you may like if you enjoy a sweeter variety." She explains as she takes up the seat opposite from Rebekkah with a smooth descent to her perch. Her eyes lift then to Belle, "Thank you." She says once the retainer is done setting the food. Her gaze flits back then to the small library of sorts, lingering there.
"Belle, dear, fetch my brandy flask," is the first thing Rebekkah says to her handmaid as the girl enters. "I would like a spot of something spirited in my tea. Just a little. Warms the bones." Not that Hag's Mire is anything short of stifling in this long summer. "Did my raven come while I was in Stonebridge?" The question is still addressed to Belle. "It has been over a month, and I have been expecting it." To Isolde, she explains. "I keep up a correspondence with a maester in the North. We play." She indicates The Board. "By raven. We knew one another a bit in our youth, and he is the only person who is still able to beat me more than half the time." Her tone is somewhat wistful. "When we play, we will use another board. Perhaps the one in the library. It is the one I most frequently play on with those in the castle. This one is…reserved for he and I. Please do not disturb it. Our games can sometimes go for years and we engage in some fairly complicated gambits. It can be difficult to reorder the pieces if they are disturbed and that…displeases me."
"Not yet, my lady," says Belle, smiling as she delivers the brandy. "I do check twice daily, and there is word well-known in the rookery to find me the instant it comes, otherwise." She poises the decanter to dispense a delicate trickle of amber liquid, allowing Rebekkah to say when. "I think, perhaps, you've well and truly stumped him, this time."
Isolde looks away from the accumulation of scrolls and books as Rebekkah mentions the board and game that is obviously underway. A brow lifts at that. "That is quite the feat of patience." She admits and then draws her hand back from her thigh to keep her arm from bumping the table inadvertantly. "And how many times has he beaten you and you him, my…Rebekkah?" She asks of the dowager as she considers the pieces. "I must admit that the game is a curious one, I have seen it played before and know what some of the pieces are but I would be grateful to learn of them all, if that would not upset the game at present?"
"I am making use of a feint based off the Myrian Strategem," Rebekkah says, not without some pride. "It is somewhat risky. I am a more aggressive player than he and he is very skilled at spotting weak points in my defenses. We shall see what he makes of it." Isolde's interest in the game seems to please her. A pair of fingers are held up toward Belle, to indicate she has enough liquor. "That board is a rather unusual one, dear, and perhaps not the best example. I had it custom-made in Dorne, for considerable expense. Each of the ten pieces is a different variety of metal. That is not standard, just a little joke of mine. For I play with a maester, after all. I make use of gold and silver, of course. Black iron and plain iron, bronze, brass, copper, Westerlands steel and electrum. And my little pride and joy, the Valyrian steel piece. I use that one for the central piece. Each one, you see, moves in a different way, so they must be carefully positioned to make best advantage of their attacks. The Valyrian piece is my warrior queen. She can move in any direction, and cross as many spaces as she pleases. She is the best protector of her golden king. Who can do little in the way of attack, but whose taking wins the game."
Belle stops pouring at Rebekkah's behest, returning the decanter to its place on the sideboard. Then back again to the tea table, fixing the dowager's cup with the graceful economy and efficiency borne of habits and preferences long familiar. Rebekkah is served first, of course, to permit her the choice of whether to serve her guest, herself — a novelty of noblesse oblige.
At the explanation of the King and Queen pieces, Isolde can not hide the smirk that bubbles to her lips. It is one of amusement and consideration. "What Queen is not a warrior, even if in secret?" She places fingers to her lips and looks over the board. "I do remember the Queen piece for some reason, that seems to stand out. The Knight pieces too…I believe they can move vaguely three one way and one another..such as .." She lofts a finger carefully over the board to originate what at what she thinks is a knight piece and extends her finger to the right three paces and then towards the dowager by one. "But that can be modified to go any which way."
"Many queens are not. The bad ones," Rebekkah replies to Isolde with that same smile, sipping her tea. She makes a soft "Mmmm" sound. She likes her rosehips. And her brandy. "Yes, dear." A little nod of actual approval at Isolde. "The knight's are quite key in any game that goes beyond strictly beginner tactics. They're highly versatile, though you must be careful how you make use of them, as their movements are complicated and you can occasionally out-smart yourself if you rely too much on them. And their early loss is quite devastating. You say you did not play, dear, but you seem to know some rudiments. Was your mother a cyvasse player? Or your father?"
Since Rebekkah seems more inclined to enjoy her tea than the novelty of catering to her guest, Belle makes Isolde's cup as well, silently taking the same subtle cues, physical or verbal, to construct the infusion. This done, she settles into the third chair, hands composed in her lap, listening to the dowager with an attention that borders on vigilance.
A nod of understanding as some pitfalls are revealed, her lips pressing together as she shakes her head finally. "No..though mother may have she never has in front of me and my father did not. I actually learned portions of the game watching my Aunt Arianna play. She taught me the pieces though I must say as it was some time ago." She admits and adds, "I have forgotten all but a few." She admits and then points to the smaller more numerous pieces. "I think there is a special case with these..they can move two paces only forward during their first move….but then can only move forward one after that..and take other pieces by moving forward diagonally. They also can rescue lost pieces if they reach the other end of the board…" A furrow sets to her brow as her fingers point and make motions well above the pieces.
When the tea is made for her and offered, Isolde smiles towards Belle and takes it in silent thanks to test the nature. She sighs and relaxes some.
Of course Rebekkah does not cater to her guest, though Belle earns a grateful smile and birdlike nod for her good work there. "When you are done, dear, go fetch the Valryian steel dragon queen from my side of The Board." Unusual, that. Her pieces are usually disturbed at someone's peril. "Make sure to note where she was positioned. She will need to be put back, but I would like Isolde to hold her. It will benefit our instruction this afternoon." That said, her blue eyes are fixed back on Isolde herself. "Yes. Knights in cyvasse, as in life, are useful creature if applied properly. Albeit occasionally silly. Well. We shall play later. I actually wanted, dear, to discuss history with you this afternoon. How much do you know of the history of the Riverlands?"
Belle's eyebrows rise a little — but only for an instant. "Of course, my lady." And so she rises again, taking one moment to look at the board before carefully, with surgical precision, reaching in to fetch the dragon. The piece is brought to Isolde and offered in both hands, like the sacred privilege it quite is.
Watching Belle, Isolde casts a look from the corner of her eyes. Her head tilts and she gives a slow nod of her head. "As much as I could read or have been taught. Is there a specific event you are referring to?" She asks of the dowager as then her attention settles to the offered piece. There is a moments hesitation before she leans forward and sets aside her tea. With both hands she takes up the piece and settles it with care, feeling its weight and looking over the small details in its make. Truly remarkable. A nodded thanks is offered Belle as a thumb brushes over the side of the jaw to the dragon.
"Our beginning. And our making as anything other than slaves to be pillaged and ravaged," is Rebekkah's reply to Isolde. She watches Isolde with modest approval as she handles the dragon queen. And it is, indeed, a dragon, sharp little wings in faint purplish steel. What indication that it's female is unclear, but Rebekkah refers to it rather firmly as a queen. "The Riverlands was not, before the coming of the Targaryens, one of the Seven Kingdoms. This is the origin, I believe, of what some men of low character refer to as the 'eight' regions of the land." She snorts primly. "In any case. We were ruled, long ago, by the Iron Islands. I say 'ruled' in the most charitable way possible, for they were not our lords, but brutal pirates who took what they wanted of the crops and goods and woman of these lands. This is where we call come from, my dear. Whether highborn or common as dirt, this is what we were."
Belle settles to sit, once more, on the edge of the third chair, hands folded. Listening. She keeps her gaze lowered save for the occasional glance up through her lashes, monitoring cups in case either lady should require another pour.
"I do know of the Iron Islander's occupation of our lands." Though the Lady of Stonebridge seems to grow a bit more sober with this talk. "Nobles are made the same way as smallfolk are…to treat it otherwise is only to engorge the fact that we rule because we believe we …are positioned to do so. Perhaps we were, but some take a great advantage to making this known." There is a breath drawn and she then looks to Belle before regarding Rebekkah. "Without the smallfolk we have only these positions in our heads." She smiles faintly. "It is a tenuous thing and something of balance - a wire to be walked. But tell me…though I know of such things as the fact we once mingled with the Ironborn, what are you making of this?" She asks, her gaze narrowing as her thumb continues to explore the small details of the figurine in her hand.
"Look at the dragon, dear," Rebekkah says to Isolde, almost gently. "For most of Westeros, the Targaryens came as conquerors. Burners of fields. Riding dragons, who brought destruction. But to us, you and I and my sweet Belle…to all of us whole carry the blood of these lands…the dragons were our liberators. They broke our chains with fire, and forged us in our rivers into something that matters. They do not hold the Iron Throne anymore. And even when the last of the Targaryens did…he was no dragon. And the fearsome, wonderful creatures that made us were long extinct. But we must remember - if no the Targaryens - then at least the dragons. For you were forged by them, my dear girl. As was I. In fire and water. And if we have had any lives in this world to speak of, we must thank those creatures as we thank the Seven. Particularly those of noble blood, for we are guardians of this land. And we must never forget the strength that made us, or the wings upon which we rode from slavery. We must still find that in ourselves." A pause. "Have you ever seen a dragon?" Another pause. "I have."
Belle's subtle gaze shifts as Rebekkah speaks, fixing on the dragon in Isolde's hands. The way her lashes stay low and her breathing barely there, she might appear mesemerized by the dowager's words. Reverent. Those lashes abruptly flutter up, though, at the claim tacked on the end. She draws a breath, lips parting as though she might speak, but she doesn't. She listens.
Doing as she is bid, Isolde lifts the dragon carefully to turn it about and getting a real look at it - possibly testing her ability to not be butter fingers in this case. The Lady listens, taking in the edge of the teeth, the wings on which the creature would have soared. A slow breath is drawn and she peers up at Rebekkah at the mention of seeing a dragon. "I have not, seen such a thing. Though I can not hide that in my youth we often dreamed of them, imagined them…the last of them has passed from this world. Sadly, I think I will never have the chance to see one..save the represenations that are made." She indicates the figurine in her hand. "I envy you."
"Passed from this world long before even I was born, girl. Only their bones remain. Those are what I have seen," Rebekkah says. She sips at her tea, blue eyes going faraway. "It was when I was a girl. I was sent to King's Landing at thirteen with my aunt and cousins, to learn the ways of the court. And perhaps find a husband. The Darrys - for I was Rebekkah Darry in my youth - were a small and poor house, even then. But they were warriors held in favor by the Targaryens, and so were afforded some honors. Those were glorious days, my girl. The masques, the courtiers at play at politics, the hunts and the tourneys and the libraries so high you could barely see the upper stacks of great books…nothing like that exists anymore." And she says it with great sadness. "But it did once. I made friends with a boy who knew the secrets of the Red Keep. And he showed me the catacombs, where they keep the bones of the dragons."
She pauses a moment, gazing at her cyvasse board rather than either Isolde or Belle. "The last ones born are little more than mishapen dogs. Horrid little things. But the eldest of them…they are terrifying and magnificent to behold, even in death. You could walk into their great mouths, and still cut yourself upon their teeth, they are sharp. I knew the histories then. I knew what the dragons had made me. When I saw them dead and wasted, but even then still awesome, I knelt before them and I kissed one of their terrible noses. And I thanked them, as if they were the gods themselves, for the life they had granted me. And I promised them I would do something with it worthy of being forged by such as them."
Silent, silent, silent as ever, Belle listens. But her lashes are no longer lowered, her gaze fixed on Rebekkah, transported in time and place by the story being woven. Her hands curl into fists in her lap — softly, not enough even to make her knuckles pale, but as though gasping at… something.
The description of the dragon makes the one in her hand seem quite small and much more unimpressive than she had once thought. Her thumb brushes the maw again, as she considers stepping within such a huge skull. Isolde shivers some and then sets the piece atop the table, as if it might to come to life or present a more formidable figure if given room. But it sits motionless and the Lady looks from it up towards Rebekkah. "But the Targaryens…they were not dragons themselves, but riders of them, yes?" She asks, though legends say there were dragons themselves. It is hard to believe that to be true.
Her head tilts and she turns the figure about with her finger, disturbing her tea a little before she stills again. Something worthy. Green eyes narrow on the figure again, as if willing it to move of its own accord.
"They call the blood of Valyria the blood of dragons." Rebekkah shrugs. "I believe they merely rode upon them, for my part. But even that in and of itself is a grand and terrible thing. I would ask you favor, Isolde. If you bear me a trueborn great-grandson or daughter…" And Rebekkah does sound a little doubtful, but it's not a point she dwells on. "…they will rule these lands one day. And though this was not the legacy that I thought I would have a girl when I kissed my dragons, it is still something. And I want it to be more than it is now after I am gone. After Rickart is gone. I never managed to take Rickart to King's Landing to look upon the dragons. And he became a man of no greatness. Very middling intelligence, and more ambition, but no greatness, and anything I tried to teach him he promptly forgot. I know little of his son Ryker, who has hidden himself at Riverrun these many years, but thus far I don't seem much of great worth within him, either, though he may be kinder than his father. So, my dear. I will ask you to do an old woman a boon, if I am to have any hope at all for this family when I am dead and bones myself. If you bear me a great-grandchild who is to rule this House one day…see that they are fashioned into something with the strength of dragons in them. Do not let them forget. And take them, if it is within your power, to King's Landing at least once. For all who were born in the Riverlands should at least look upon those creatures, I think. There is greatness in us, though most of us squander and forget it."
Belle blinks and lowers her gaze again, shifting it to Isolde. She studies the daughter of Stonebridge carefully, looking rather expectant of the lady's assent.
The dragon is released from her scrutiny as the woman lifts her green eyes to regard Rebekkah now. Fingers brush at her dress, shifting them as she feels the weight of the request slowly unravel and be respun before her. The knowledge and opinions that the dowager gives to Isolde are priceless in and of themselves though she says nothing of them. Her head tilts and the Lady of Stonebridge remains silent for a moment in thought before she looks to the dragon molded of steel instead of flesh. A breath as her lips part is taken to construct her words that she wishes - wise and with care for the dowager. "It is a Lady's duty to serve both her husband and her new family in any way she can. Her duty to bear the children to carry on the name in which she was given in marriage.." She addresses all concerns. "In duty I shall do this but not that alone." She considers again her words as she touches a finger to a wing tip. "Warrior queens, you said not all are so. We are the lesser sex in regards to what power we are given…if we allow it to be so. I am not overly ambitious but for my family and children I would do what it takes to see them taken care of and strong in their own right. The dragons, from what I can see blessed you with a keeness that I will not deny, grandmother." Isolde says ahd then her gaze lifts. "If one is to serve and rule with all the facilties given them, it is through knowledge and understanding. I will take what children bless my Lord Husband's and my union to see these remnants of Dragons and let them draw from it what they will - though I pray it be a measure of something you saw. For even your words are ones to inspire."
Rebekkah snorts at the words 'lesser sex.' "That is a lie men tell to convince themselves they rule the world. I have been denied some things because of my sex, my dear. My father said I would have been happier born a man, and I am sure that's true. But I have *never* been lesser than anyone. Even if my worth went unrecognized, it was still within me. And I have taken what I have been given, and I have made it into something worthy of at least being remembered. Such is the most anyone - man or woman - can hope for." Isolde promise earns a nod and actual smile that almost - almost - warms those sharp blue eyes. "You are sweet, if nothing else, and I thank and believe you. Perhaps you will manage to make yourself into something yet. Now. Give the dragon back to Belle. She has more work to do if she is to position herself for the not-quite-Myrian gambit. Whenever my raven comes. You remember where she was placed, don't you, dear?" Rebekkah's tone contains no doubt in Belle's ability to remember this. She had better.
Isolde's response earns a faint nod from Belle, as though in approval — though certainly the handmaid would never be so bold as to render an opinion on the actions of her betters. She bows her head to Rebekkah and accepts the dragon queen back into her care, smiling faintly. "Yes, my lady. I do." And she does, returning it to the board with the same controlled grace and precision with which it was extracted — facing, even, the same angle.
Care. That is what the piece is handled with by both Belle and Isolde. Once it is handed over, the Lady of Stonebridge seems glad to no longer be responsible for it. Isolde regards Rebekkah and smiles a little, a faint glint in her gaze. "I do not agree with that assessment either..lesser sex as it is." She refers and then looks to her tea, taking it up as she sets it to her hand. "Again, only a woman with no thoughts of her own would believe that and the sly will make it appear so when they must. The Lord Ryker in any case seems to want to breed strength in me and give me a voice - for that I am grateful that I do not have to ..hide such a desire from him." She sips at her tea and watches Belle for a moment place the piece back.
Rebekkah snorts. "Some women are able to wield power through charm and flattery. It is a potent weapon, if it is at your disposal. For my part? I never had it. I was called, in my youth, the Red Rose of Darry. For you may not believe it now, but I was a beautiful thing. With fiery hair. And even then, a sharp tongue. I was a rose with thorns." She smiles. "Perhaps if I had been more charming at least once…well, perhaps I would be sitting in the Red Keep now, and all of us would be better off." It's so hard to tell if she's engaging in hyperbole or not. "As it is, I am not. I am here. And I have my games, and my unworthy children. And now you, my dear. Whatever you shall be. Are you nearly done with your tea?" It's almost polite, but it's bordering on a dismissal. "I am tired, and I will want to nap soon. Belle, check for my raven again before sunset."
Belle, upon hearing the touch of weariness in the dowager's voice, moves to turn down the covers even before the word 'nap' is spoken. "Of course, my lady," she replies, biddable as ever. "If it hasn't come by the morrow, perhaps we can send the spare." It's not common for ravens to become lost or catch a stray arrow along the way, but it happens.
The hint is not lost on her and Isolde smiles faintly at the retelling of the dowager's youth. Setting aside her tea, she regards the Cyvasse board once more and then the Lady Dowager. "I believe my tea is spent and I should find respite in learning more of Hag's Mire." She says and begins to rise with a graceful rise. "I thank you for your time, Rebekkah. It has been rather enlightening." She offers and dips her head. "I will leave you to relax and hopefully speak with you again. Perhaps over your extended library and more of your tales of King's Landing." She shifts on her foot and waits to be officially dismissed. "At your leave."
"I like to speak of my days at King's Landing," Rebekkah says simply. "Thank you, dear. You were not nearly as dull as I had anticipated, which is better than most people manage, and that is something I can work with." Smile. "We shall talk again soon." That seems to be her good-bye for the day. She savors the rest of her brandy-spiked tea, which she clearly very much enjoys.