|Summary:||Liliana's fitted for a new dress for the tourney. Stragen is…concerned with what's fitting.|
|Related Logs:||Pretty much every Lili/Strag log.|
|Lady Liliana's Chambers — Four Eagles Tower|
|Simplicity in all things, even to the accoutrements of the bedchamber set aside for the Lady from Tall Oaks. The walls are kept bare, accented only by the window hangings usually kept pulled back to allow a view of the land beyond and in the distance, the sea. A neatly appointed bed, set with coverings of blue and white, with a storage chest at the foot, is matched to the dressing table and small chair by the easterly window. The hearth is well-tended and neat, wood for the fire and kindling set to the side. A old, but equally well-tended rug covers most of the floor for warmth and comfort.|
|25 Aug, 288 AL|
It seems the women of the House have been given a rare day in. Or perhaps…just the ward among them. With all of the dressmakers and cloth merchants trooping through the keep in the days since the wedding was announced, it hasn't been difficult for Liliana to book time with a small group of them. Sequestered in her personal room, the small cluster of women bustle about the woman now standing on a blocking pedestal. She's fully dressed, or close to. Her underdress is one of her finest, a soft daffodil gold, her hair pinned up away from neck and shoulders. It's her overdress that's being worked on. That intricate play of sleeves, bodice and overskirts, the samples in varying shades of Terrick gold and Camden blue. And all of it much fancier than she would normally wear.
And, sitting a distance away, with a lacquered dressing screen in between him and Liliana and the bustling women, is Stragen. Sitting on a chair with his arms crossed, aimed towards the door, his swordbelt unfastened and the sheathed blade propped up against the wall, he looks thoroughly uninvolved. In fact, he's struggling with nodding off. Far enough from the women to be proper, yet, nearby as necessary due to his duties… yes. He's here. And he's bored.
"Will you be participating in the tournament, Stragen?" Liliana's voice reaches past the dressing screen, knowing, if only because she hasn't seen the door open and the back of his head slipping out, that her sworn is still in the room. "I am very much looking forward to it." Indeed, so much so, that even the prickings and pinches of women trying to fit her into the dress being made for her hasn't seen fit to darken her mood.
Stragen gives a short snore punctuated by a quick snort as he nods awake. "Whathm? Tournament? Yes, of… of course," he stammers, wiping his face and looking annoyed with himself. He shakes his head as if to clear it. "Lady Isolde Tord- er, Nayland," he corrects himself, "wanted to see me fight in the last tournament. Couldn't get around to it. Couldn't scrounge up the entry fee, to be honest." He stifles a yawn with the back of his hand. "Besides, I was too busy spreading the tales of Lady Blackmane and vanquishing her Ironborn crushers. Would've killed that Pyke, too, if Ser Kevan hadn't beaten me to the punch."
Liliana's laughter is a light thing, as she hears the man wake from his napping. Indeed, she's been standing in one position for what seems like hours. "Is she someone of great importance to you? It seems you have many women in your life of whom I am not aware, save to hear of them by name. I wonder that you do not spend more time outside of the hall." An intake of breath, as, unseen by Stragen, she submits to the lacing of a corset, but the strain in her voice is evident, "And such a variety…ladies and whores, and who knows whom in between."
"Lady Isolde is special to me, aye, but not in that way. It's… a long story," Stragen explains, turning slightly in his seat to look towards the lacquered boards. He can't see anything, naturally. "It goes back to the Battle of the Trident." He chuckles. "As long as the Riverlands think I'm some kind of lady-killer, that's fine by me. It's not true, of course."
"And what of this Lady Blackmane, whom you fought Ironborn to protect. Or the woman who sent you that parchment, Irys Hill? You must have meant something to each other, for her to have thought to give you such a reminder of your time together." Halfway through her words, Liliana's voice softens. Clearly, she's either gotten used to the corset, or they've loosened it enough for her to breath comfortably. "It seems you have quite the string of female admirers, even excepting the Lady Nayland."
He chuckles. "Lady Blackmane, just a yarn I spun so I could provoke a couple of Ironborn crushers," Stragen explains. "Used it to cut them up good, I did. And this Irys Hill is an old… friend, I suppose. She's seen quite a bit of my coin, and I've seen quite a bit of her." This no doubt causes some of the ladies to gasp and natter. "That's all. I swear to you. And I wouldn't so much call them admirers."
"So this Lady Blackmane was not a woman at all, but a figment of your imagination?" Liliana seems to pay no mind to the reactions of the women, her voice amused as she addresses them, "Believe me when I tell you that I have heard worse." Of course, that only gets a deeper sniff of displeasure from the woman fastening the stays on the 'sleeves' of her gown, "You must have had a number of opportunities, as there does not seem to be much of her." Given the picture of the pair she saw.
"Well, she was quite very much a woman, but she's no longer in the Roost. She was urged on by the local sheriff, I believe, to prevent more Ironer violence." Stragen rolls his eyes. "Something this town needs is a bit more Ironborn. They make for good drinking, good singing, and good fighting. Aye, and they die well too."
"That is a shame. It seemed she brought you her own sort of enjoyment. Though perhaps not quite the same as you could easily find at the Rockcliffe without me." Indeed, there hasn't been a single brawl at the inn since the last time Liliana and Stragen were there. "Lord Ser Jerold has agreed to allow me to participate in the tournament. Perhaps we will find ourselves facing off at competitors."
"Competitors?" Stragen lightly scoffs. "You'd easily beat me in archery, my lady. I saw your skill first-hand. No way I could skewer a boar like that if had to try. And heavy steel is no woman's match." His chair shifts as he crosses his legs, resting an ankle on the opposite knee.
"He is my sworn," is Liliana's sotto voce comment to the woman finishing her dress, "If I cannot trust his discretion, then I can trust no one's." That said, the sound of rustling satins and silks accompanies Liliana stepping down from the blocking pedestal, her head peeking out from behind the screen, "Still, I would be glad to pit my strengths against yours. He has allowed me to participate in the hunt and in the archery contests."
"Aye, well, we'll see," is Stragen's noncommittal answer. "Are you decent? Let's see what they put you in, aye?" He catches her gaze when she peeks out from behind the screen, and he gives a slight grin.
"I am always decent, Stragen." But she does step out from behind the screen, the women peeking out now and then, but mostly occupied in putting together their wares. The dress is blue as the base colour, yellow as the accent, the corseted bodice leaving her neck, collarbones and shoulders bare. The sleeves are unattached, but are tied onto her upper arms, the open belled sleeves light enough to fall away to leave her forearms free. Delicate embroidery, that leaf pattern she seems to prefer, at hem, and along the belt that marks her waist.
Stragen lets out a low whistle, no doubt causing more of the women to giggle. "If you don't win at archery, my lady, you'll certainly win the whiplash tournament. What, with all the heads turning suddenly."
Liliana looks down at herself, smoothing the fabric, adjusting the split overskirt just so, before she looks back up to her sworn seated not far from where she's standing. A few steps closer, to give her room to move without knocking into anything too painful. Hands gather up just enough of her gown to allow her the freedom to turn in a full circle, "Do you really think so, Stragen? Would yours?"
Stragen shrugs a single shoulder. "Were you a common woman, my lady, I'd have both flattering and perhaps coarse things to say," he begins. "But, as you're a lady and I'm just a common man, what I'll say is that you look quite nice and that I'm certain those of your station will have flattering and eloquent things to say."
Liliana makes a complete rotation, allowing the man to look over the entirety of the gown, before she settles back to her feet. "Stragen, please, can't you stop with that? Why must you persist in comparing yourself to me like that? Can I not just be Lili with you? There are no nobles here, no courtesies which must be maintained, save for what is proper. I do not wish for eloquence or flattery. I do not need to be reminded of who you are to me, or what my station is."
Stragen nods his head. "Aye, my lady, begging your pardon, but you do." He rises to his feet, dusting off his trousers where his heel was resting. "I tried to be firm with you when I took you for a swimming lesson. You rejected my warnings on propriety. It got you quite in the good Lord Ser's disfavor. So now, I'm more strict." He clears his throat. "And if it means deprecating myself in order to remind you of your place, so be it. Because I sure as the Seven Hells can't do anything else to convince you."
"So, to your mind, I am not to have a friend, but only a servant. Someone to do as I bid them, but never to be willing to share my thoughts and feelings with. A retainer who is good for nothing more than following after me, seeing only my station, but never that I am more than the name and House that goes with me." Liliana nods, dipping Stragen as polite a curtsey as she would offer the Lord of the Roost himself, "As you will then, Stragen. If you wish only for a lady who will expect your service and nothing else, then you shall have her. Perhaps, if you perform well enough, Ser Jarod will see fit to find you a charge more suitable." hands still in her skirts, Liliana turns back around, every inch the lady she is, stepping back behind the screen. "We are finished for today. The gown is lovely. Tomorrow I will sit for the riding gown."
Left standing there, Stragen's jaw clenches and his fists ball up at his sides. There's nothing that can be said. She said it, but not in the fashion that he would. "You are my charge, my lady," he says through his teeth. Taking a steadying breath, he continues in a less seething way: "I have no desire to be bodyguard for anyone else. Ser Jarod put me in charge of your safety and your virtue, and damn it, I'm going to do just that!"
It takes a few minutes, to deconstruct the gown Liliana's been made, the fabrics set aside for recleaning and pressing, in preparation for the tournament, the odds and ends the women brought with them folded and set back into their chests, to be carried back out by the retainers Elise rises to call, once she sees her Lady well on her way to be redressed in one of her usual indoor gowns. "As you like, Stragen," is Liliana's carefully neutral reply, coming from behind the changing screen. When she's finally finished and decent once again, she steps out from behind, hands sliding the changing screen out of the way, to allow the women and their trunks to exit the room.
Stragen folds his arms across his chest and gives a downright nasty scowl. He glances after the departing ladies and, presuming that's his dismissal as well, is quick to follow them.
True to her word, Liliana makes no comment, even after she sees the man's expression, only waiting politely, offering thanks and compliments to the seamstresses as they depart, the retainers and the trunks following with them. Even Elise steps out, though she settles into a comfortable chair just outside of her lady's door, picking up some small bit of needlework she seems always to be working on. Leaving only Liliana, back pressed to the door as she locks it, eyes closed to fight the sting of tears slipping out from beneath her lashes.