Page 297: First Impressions
First Impressions
Summary: Muirenn and Riordan get to talk one on one for the first time.
Date: 12/05/289
Related Logs: Guests in the Garden, Riding Out
Muirenn Riordan 
Four Eagles Tower - Roof Terrace
This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenelations are about.
Saturday May 12, 289

Having broken his fast in his chambers, so as to further prepare for his eventually meeting with the Lord of the Roost, Riordan now takes a break from his work upon the rooftop terrace of the Four Eagles Tower. Hand idly tracing along the crenelations as he moves, he walks slowly along the length of the roof, as he has been for some time now, just drinking in the entire sights laid out before him. His boyish face is thoughtful, his dark eyes watchful, and from his throat comes a light hum, that sounds rather like the tune of the Bear and the Maiden Fair.

"I do not see why you must travel all the way to the roof to read my lady" comes the irritated grumble as Septa Waldesteinia's veiled head crests the stairs, "I think y…" whatever she was about to say dies off as she shoots a narrow eyed glare at the man who stands there. Tartly she continues over her shoulder, "I think that we will *NOT* be going to the roof my lady" and turns to descend.

Dark auburn gleams in the sunlight, hints of copper mingled with burgundy shining around the large pearls nested therein. "Why ever not Septa?" Muirenn inquires as she tops the stairs and steps onto the roof. For a moment her attention is curiously upon the elderly woman and not reviewing who or what is on the roof. "It is not too hot yet, I swear I shall sit in the shade and shall not burn my skin, and we can send Minnie…" The handmaid soon follows her mistress, " get you a bit of refreshment if my reading becomes to tedious."

Riordan's wanderings are brought to an abrupt halt as the glaring head of the Septa rears up from the stairs like a viper whose tail has just been stepped upon. Indeed, the instinctive look he gives the woman is very much the same as someone startled by such a thing. Quickly replaced with a smile and the sparkle of laughter in his eyes, even as the woman retreats. "I apologize if my presence offends your lady ward, Septa. If you wish, I can retreat to a less offensive vantagepoint." His voice carries the soft and warm tones of amusement, as he eyes the stairwell to see what might appear from it next. Perhaps a squad of Mallister armsman to toss him over the edge?

Another voice intrudes and Muirenn ohs, her cheeks flush as she steps out onto the roof and she sees what..who has her Septa flustered. "No, please stay Lord Regent. Forgive us for interrupting." Chastely she lowers her eyes and hovers near the steps, "If you wish, we can go inside and leave you to your thoughts." Suddenly she lifts her chin and gazes directly upon Riordan. This close, the flecks of green in her grey eyes are apparent. She is silent for a moment and there is a quick, almost guilty sideways glance to her Septa before she studies the Stonebridge Regent again and asks abruptly, "Why are you here my lord? Truly? For I am suspect of the motives with this visit so soon after Ser Gedeon's death and with all the rumor and scandal that flies like the ravens upon the wind."

There is something in a gaze that is almost protectively fierce, though the Septa gasps in horror, "Lady Muirenn Jillain Rose Mallister! You will remember your manners at once!" The teenager stiffens at this rebuke and she inclines her head, "Forgive me Lord Riordan Nayland. My words were blunt and lacked grace.." She looks to her Septa as she continues, "But the sentiment and curiosity are there." She glances back to the young man as she brushes past him in a rustle of silk and with the fragrance of summer roses to seat herself upon one of the benches next to the wall.

"You are not interrupting. I am merely a guest here. It is I who should apologize," Riordan says gracefully. Which, you know, is why he did. When Muirenn lifts her gaze to his, his dark eyes meet her light ones without hesitation or apology, and easily returns the studying look right back. This close, it is likely easy to tell though it is hard to tell his age, and he certainly looks young, a lot of that has to do with his clean-shaven appearance, his wide and easy smiles, and his laughing eyes. The way he holds himself and his assured and easy manner come from more experience then his looks might originally hint at.
Seeming unoffended by the blunt question, Riordan actually smiles further at it. With an arched eyebrow given in the Septa's direction, Riordan addresses Muirenn, moving out of the way to allow her easier access to the bench, and then positioning himself nearby, at a perfect distance that allows for both decorum, and quiet conversation. "What have you heard?" he asks, rather then answering her question right away. The question does not appear to be a true deflection though - rather, he seems openly curious.

"I make my own decisions my lord. I listen to all sides and weigh all things and use what wit the Seven saw fit to bless me with and make up my own mind." She is not to be distracted. Long fingered hands gently smooth her skirt in a silken caress. In the shadows the light does not reflect from the bits of shell that adorns her gown, but makes the intricate swirls of color more apparent. It is evident that the maiden wishes to remain on the roof and so the Septa and handmaid pass the lord Regent to assume their places nearby.

From a hidden pocket inside the wide wealth of material that is her sleeve, she withdraws a small book. It is placed gently upon her lap, one of the elegantly formed hands rests on the cover. "Answer my question if you please my lord. While I cannot claim to possess powers that can detect if a man is lying, I would like to hear your intentions from your own lips." Lifting her eyes she gazes back up at the young man, her attention focused upon his face "The Terricks are my family's favored vassals. Their well being is something I take great interest in."

"You misunderstand my question, my lady… Might I have use of your name?" Riordan asks this last out of politeness. Since he has heard her name, but not received proper introduction to allow him to politely name here, it is only right that he ask permission. Then, after receiving permission or not as the case may be, he continues. "I was not asking to refuse you answer, or to imply any such thing regarding your person. Rather, I am curious as to what has been said about my arrival here, and my purpose. Once you have satisfied my curiosity, I shall have no problem satisfying yours." He continues to address her in a forthright and honest answer, still waiting for the answer to his questions before he gives her his.

"I am very close to the Terricks. I was one of the healers here through the siege. I care for the Lady Anais like the sister I do not have." She inclines her head and says softly, "I am the lady Muirenn Mallister. You may have use of my name if it so please you." There is a pause as she considers his question, one of her fingers tracing some of the gilt lettering upon the leather of her book, "I do not wish to spread the talk that we of the family had as we broke our fast. Suffice it to say that I think my guardian will balk at what brings you here." Her attention turns as she gazes out over the edge of the wall and says pensively, "I find it very difficult to believe that you truly desire nothing more than peace between the Houses. Tell me what it is you desire?" Her tone is quiet, thoughtful but her voice is low. She continues to gaze out at the clouds, "For all that you indeed live up to the reputation of being exceedingly charming and very pleasing to the eye, and for all that you come across as quite good natured and honorable…you are a Nayland and Naylands I am told are very…" her words falter as she attempts to find something suitable to express her sentiment, "..clannish? What I mean to say is that like my own House, what each member does is for the good of the House as a whole not necessarily for the express power grab of the individual." There is a pause as she turns her head and tilts it asking, "Am I clear? For I fear I sound confusing even to myself." So close, each of the small freckles across her nose can be seen though under normal circumstances they are not to be noticed.

"For someone who professes to hear out all sides in a matter before making a judgement, you appear well and truly decided when it comes to my family, Lady Muirenn," Riordan points out, his tone easy and not the least bit offended at the nature of her questions. "Your loyalty to the Terricks do you justice. But it is well known that Jerold Terrick holds a personal hatred for my father. Just because the Lord Terrick is accounted a good man, does that mean my father, and thusly all who sprung from his loins, must therefor be naught but evil?" He lets those thoughts hang on the wind, before moving to the edge of the parapets near to Muirenn's seat, running a finger idly over the stonework as his eyes now leave the Mallister woman, and gaze outward instead to the land and sea below. "My family looks, as ever, to grow and prosper, as do all noble families. We are just honest about it, unlike others. And yet, how can we be the bloodthirsty and powerhungry people we are said to be, when all beneath our rule thrive and prosper from it. Were you to visit Stonebridge several years ago, you would have found it a poor and bitter place. Oh, there was a pretty facade to it no doubt. But I've seen the ledgers, and I saw it in its hayday. It was a dying thing, Lady Muirenn. Nayland rule has made it live again." He glances to her, and says simply, "I am here now because the Terricks can no longer claim Stonebridge. Their last hope is dead, and Lady Danae, should she get her wish, will not bow to the Roost. Lord Terrick has nothing to offer her. No, she will be strung up and made into a puppet for a power not from this immediate area, if she has not already. And meanwhile, this house that is sworn to yours will continue to suffer, and mine will lose what it has worked so hard to gain." He offers a simple shrug of his shoulder, looking back to her. His voice remains as honest as ever, his expression open. "So that is why I am here. House Terrick can not threaten what my family holds, but it may be able to help keep it. And in return, House Nayland has it within our power to offer concessions that, should we continue to hold Stonebridge, will see the Roost and its Lords prosper greatly."

And then, after this long explanation, Riordan's expression takes on a more teasing one, as he asks far too innocently, "You think me pleasing?" His voice lowers a bit as he says this, perhaps to prevent it from carrying to the nearby vulture of a Septa.

His question as to how she views him goes unanswered as she ponders his reply. "You are honest with me my Lord. I will be honest with you." She speaks quietly and looks up to regard the man forthrightly, "I do not think that my guardian will treat with you. I am somewhat offended though, you assume that I find your father evil. I have never said such…indeed, all I said was that the House Nayland is known to be clannish."

Her pink lips press together and her face drains of all color as she whispers, "I have *seen* evil and lived through evil, and I assure you the House Nayland is not it." Fingers clench into fists and then relax. Ducking her head, she lets her hair flow forward to cover her face. Her whisper is only a bit stronger as she tries for a bit of lightness, "I am glad that the lady Danae is not my headache to bear…for she has lost what reputation she had…" There is a pause as a faint smile quirks, "At your hands so some of my maids have told me." When she lifts her chin the veil of red slips away to reveal an amused, but collected visage. "There is a reason my Septa was loathe for me to be here with you, even in their presence. You have quite a reputation my Lord Regent."

"Lady Muirenn, with all due respect, please stop taking offense at meanings that are not of my making," Riordan says, calmly, but firmly. "As you brought up the rumors surrounding my family, I was addressing those. Whether you choose to believe them or not is your own business. But I am aware of what is said. About myself, and my family. Whether you believe this or not, I count one or two Terricks as friends. One of them, even if currently held in disgrace by his father, is my Goodbrother, and so I know the prevailing opinion among this household. In fact, it was upon the suggestion of these friends that I am here, banner of peace in my metaphorical hand." He shakes his head, and his smile remains firmly in place. "I am well aware of what most hold my chances to be. I have yet to meet one person who truly thinks I even stand a chance of this. The Lady Anais and Ser Jarod are likely the closest, and perhaps my sister Roslyn, though she is believing in me more then Lord Jerold. But even knowing that, I will try. Because if the Cape does not unite, and soon, we may all well suffer the consequences together."

Riordan then takes a breath, focusing on the other conversation. "Which rumors have you heard?" he wonders, idly. "There have been many of late."

Muirenn's lips curve upwards and she looks pleased of a sudden as he speaks. Quietly she continues to absently trace her finger about the cover of her book. Brushing his explanations aside with a wave of her hand she murmurs only, "and now I know you tell me true." before the girl scolds lightly, teasingly, "My Lord Riordan. I am truly shocked that you would ask me to elaborate on rumors that describe things I am not supposed to know about much less mention in conversation with a man." Her grey eyes dance as she opens her book, "do you read much my Lord?"

Riordan seems amused, more then anything, when Muirenn makes her pronouncement regarding his truthfulness. But he seems utterly content to let the matter rest there, and instead lets out a chuckle at her further words. "That request will seem utterly tame if and when you get to know me better, Lady Muirenn," he says, laughter in his tone and his eyes. "Besides, I am sure a lady as upstanding and well-taught as yourself would be able to answer in a round about manner so as to not break decorum." These words are almost a challenge, his lips curling upward in a grin, before answering her question. "Ledgers and accountings these days, more then anything else, but yes."

"I have been rude enough for one day my Lord Nayland. I could be quite circumspect and have a curious mind but I will let it be." Resting her head back upon the wall, she makes no attempt to still the curls that are tumbled about by the sea breeze that is brisk so high up. "I read a lot…for many years it was the only way I could experience anything of the world."

Silent for several moments, a silence that is not awkward or feels as if it must be filled finally is broken as the maiden asks, "What would you like to know of me? You have patiently borne my prying and atrocious manners my Lord." She looks up with a friendly and open smile.

Riordan nods in response to her words, seemingly content not to press Muirenn further then that. He also seems quite willing to wait with the silence, his finger once more idly tracing invisible patterns on the stone, alternating his gaze between his companion and the vista before them. Then, finally, he turns once more at her question, meeting her gaze openly and returning the smile with a mirrored one of his own. "Hmm… well, now that you mention it, I was rather wondering… how did you get to be so damn tall? What do they feed you Mallisters?" An impish, lopsided grin follows this query.

The question is not one she was expecting and Muirenn flushes a color that goes beyond pink and to a shade that is closer to her hair. "It is my…well…I know not my lord." It is clear that the subject of her height is an awkward one and she lower her gaze, hands clasping tightly together. "Many of my family are tall, though admittedly I am one of the taller of the women. You were honest with me and so I shall be honest with you. I am ever embarrassed by the fact that I am taller than most men or can look them in the eye. It makes me feel ungainly and clumsy around other women." Staring down at her hands, her lips curve up into a wry smile.

"Did I not warn you that my earlier question was rather tame?" Riordan asks, lightly, though he continues to gaze at Muirenn. "I am sure that someone in your life must have given you this advice by now. But if they have not, let it not go unsaid. You should bear no shame for something you've no control over. What you were born with is what the Seven gave you. Take pride in their gift, even if you do not understand it." He pauses, adding soon after, with a more gentle smile, "If nothing else, your height marks you as unique, even if nothing else about you did - which even now I can say is untrue. But truly, count it as a blessing. Men who find your height intimidating or offputting shall be marked out as not worth your time - it will show that they are the ones with shame, or a particular lack of confidence. The rest of us… well. That is for you to decide. But at least it will give you an edge that most ladies do not have."

There is a bow of her head as the teenager murmurs shyly, "My thanks my Lord Nayland. I shall treasure your words and try to remember them." Eyes brighten with a grey light as she adds wryly, "I do find it pleasing at the tournaments for I have no trouble seeing over the other ladies who sit in front of me." Her posture relaxes and the impish smile that lights up her face like sunshine hints upon her lips, "I hope you will enjoy your stay here at Four Eagles my Lord Nayland…even if things do not go the way you wish, I admire you greatly for trying."

"Then I hope you will be attending the tournament at the Twins, Lady Muirenn, so you may have an unobstructed view of what I truly excel at. Politics I do out of duty, but the Joust… well. I hope you will attend." Riordan smiles brightly at her, before nodding his head at her good wishes. "Provided that at least some people forget for a few moments that my last name is Nayland, I am sure I will." The words, even if by any other mouth might sound a barb, from him is purely only the lightest of teases, warmly spoken.

"I will be there my Lord…and it would please me to watch you." Her innocent gaze lingers a bit upon his face, though her expression brightens at a sudden thought. Tilting her head she leans forward and asks softly, "Would you care to go riding…later? If perhaps your visit allows? I love to ride. I have a beautiful gelding, Pryderi, that I ride so he does not get fat for I and the grooms spoil him." Her eyes dance, "My handmaiden rides a dapple, my Septa either one of the mares or a mule depending or where we go, and of course my guard. I promise I will bring no scandal to your House.", the last is delivered straight faced, though her eyes dance wickedly in unsuppressed amusement.

Riordan smiles at Muirenn's promise, and that smile only grows with her further words. Indeed, her last comment brings an outright laugh from the Regent. "I am afraid I shall only have a single guard with me, my lady, to gird my honor, so I will trust in your word that it might keep me safe." Riordan manages a mostly straight faced look as he says this, even managing to copy the demure purring-beneath-the-lashes that most damsels seem so fond of. Though he soon ruins it with further laughter, both it and his smile utterly warm and infectious.

The girl does lower her the thick lashes dark as spilled wine as she catches the Septa's glare, "We tease my Lord, but my virtue and reputation for purity is a commodity greater than gold for my House. It is what will allow my cousin to strengthen his position which in turn will allow us to provide for and protect our smallfolk. I can truthfully swear that both our honors will be most dutifully protected." She pauses and looks up saying mildly, "You know that a man's honor is just as important as a maidens. The wenches in taverns and the houses of ill repute mean nothing, but rumors whether it be truth or a lie, that a man has ruined a lady's reputation will prevent other Houses from considering *him* as a viable marriage prospect…and so the dapple grey, a mule, and more than likely one of the chestnuts will accompany us. I hope you do not mind?"

Riordan's smile lessons, though it does not fade completely. And it is an understanding one. "I do not," he confirms, easily, softly. A glance goes to the Septa, then back to Lady Muirenn. "I think it best, then, for both our honors, that this conversation linger much longer. But I look forward to our ride, Lady Muirenn, if we are favored with such. Good day, my Lady."

"I look forward to our ride very much my Lord Nayland for I like you and as lord Justin told me, you are honorable." A soft giggle escapes her, and a bit of that impish gleam lights up her face as she confides in a soft whisper the belated answer to his question, "And yes, I find you very pleasing to my eye." And with a glance to her Septa, she looks down at the open book upon her lap though the warmest of smiles continues to hover upon her lips.

Riordan simply grins largely in response to Muirenn's words, his eyes dancing in silent bemusement. Sweeping a courtly bow for the lady and her lady escorts, the Regent of Stonebridge will take his leave. Once more that tune that sounds like the Bear and the Maiden Fair comes humming up the stairs as he descends.