|For a Lady's Own Good|
|Summary:||Valda and Cherise see to it that Briallyn will have a proper chaperon as Ilaria remains ever silent on the issue. They are soon met with another Westerling trader by the name of Roric.|
|Town Square, Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
|Wed Apr 11, 289|
"It's really not that bad, Ilaria. Really. You need to worry less. You're going to bloody die before you've a white hair on your head," Briallyn is saying, steps light and quiet on the stone of the street as she strolls alongside her younger cousin at a sedate pace. At their backs trail a small retinue, including no less than their maids and a singular guardsman with a stiff expression. The Lady Haigh's dark green eyes scan the square curiously, noting little of interest beyond a few merchants eagerly hawking wares to uninterested passersby.
A pair of elaborately carved and decorated dice are rolling across her palm, a likely sign of boredom and nervous energy with nowhere to go. "Surely, you have better things to do. Hasn't your brother found you a whole gaggle of suitors yet? I would be truly surprised if he had not. He's quite the busybody, if I recall correctly, and I do." The other hand is casually tucked behind Briallyn's head with fingers draped across the back of her neck.
Valda glides along the stone walkway, a maid and a pair of guardsmen in tow. Her polite, condescending smile only serves to accentuate the air of authority surrounding the Castellan of Stonebridge. Sharp cerulean eyes scan the area, seemingly in a permanent state of assessment of all around her.
As she nears the Haigh duo, her head dips in greeting. "Good day, my ladies." Her cold gaze flicks beyond the girls to their retinue. "Have you snuck away from your septas?"5r
As Cherise ventured into the town square accompanied by her two handmaidens, midwife and naturally guard, there was no specific goal in mind. Simply eying the wares in hopes of new shipments arriving. An uncommon thing since the men had left the isles, leaving the shops quite bland for choices. Her progress was slow, unrushed in her steps as her large blue eyes floated over the shop's signs and various display carts. The heavy aroma of roasted meats was all too tempting.
Ilaria's pace is as calm as her cousins, despite the fact that her expression is one of great disgust. She clutches a little book in her hands, and her green gaze slices sideways to avoid looking at Briallyn. "Will you please put those away? Preferably straight down a /well/, but any place out of sight will do. It is bad enough that you have caused yourself to become an object of /scandal/. You certainly do not need to be—tossing them around. You are so defiant. What does it bring you? Grief!" The younger of the two tosses her head back, lifting her chin and tucking stray strands of hair behind her ears.
Ilaria sniffs delicately and continues: "In any case, I worry not about you, but about what your reputation will do to my family." She looks forward again just in time to spot Valda, and she dips into a slight curtsey in greeting. "I do not sneak at all, my Lady. My septa's sleep is eternal. I hope the day finds you well."
"That's only because people are so bored with their own blasted lives that they have to make up nonsense about those of others," Lady Briallyn retorts rather sharply, with no small edge of temper limning every word. Reluctantly, and likely with no small resentment, she mutters something darkly beneath her breath as she tucks the dice away into the bosom of her dress. No doubt those words, despite whisper, might reach Ilaria's ears and set them aflame.
And if Briallyn appears ready to speak, again, it is abruptly stifled by the appearance of the rather formidable noblewoman. Initially, she gives voice to no response as her gaze scours Valda with an inappropriate intensity of curiosity. "Nor I, my Lady-" She bites something off promptly before it can leave parted lips, clears her throat. "I've no Septa, nor do I desire or require one. Our good friend here has a forbidding expression enough to send people scattering as is." Her head tilts in the direction of the guardsman behind them, who still remains rather… stony.
The Castellan's smile spreads in a way that would be warm and endearing on nearly any other in Westeros. On Valda, however, it is almost wolfish. "It does, thank you. And I am quite sorry to hear about your pious teacher's demise, yet surely we have no lack of septas to chaperone each of you."
An eyebrow quirks lightly at Briallyn, whose words earn a longer stare. "My lady, every maiden requires a septa. A man-at-arms may not enter a lady's private chambers, nor is he equipped to teach her the gentler arts. Furthermore, it would be scandalous for him to teach about the Seven. Lord Haigh would be -most- upset if any scandal should befall his House." Glancing toward Ilaria, she asks, "Is that not so?"
Her attention is grabbed, however, by the appearance of the rounding resident of the castle. With an inclination of her head, she offers, "Lady Cherise, good day. Please do join us. As a married woman, surely you can impress upon these young bastions of propriety the importance of reputation and how the presence of septas with them at all times can improve such."
Once addressed Cherise's attention floated towards the trio, the small smile worn is blanket for all with personal apprehension cast aside for the moment. "Lady Nayland, Lady Haighs." She greets by the nod of her head while directing her troupe closer to the small circle. Small bits of conversation have been overheard and from Valda's inquiry the amusement deepens in the pale cheeks. "As it should." Her gaze wonders over the pair of younger females as she joined both hands atop of her swollen belly. "Though I am afraid Lady Nayland some noblewomen are lost in the practices of propriety."
Ilaria is silent, and instead bows her head quietly while listening to Lady Valda speak. When Lady Cherise is invited to join, the girl looks up to watch with raised eyebrows. Finally she does speak, offering a soft smile that reaches her eyes. "My Lady, it is so kind of you to take upon yourself the burden of caring for our upbringing. So few seem interested in the livelihood of young girls, but you are right in expressing your concern. I am afraid my dearest cousin, Lady Briallyn, has not been granted the most esteemed tutelage of a septa - although I shall not pass judgment upon the circumstances."
Ilaria glances to Briallyn then, still smiling, and continues. "It was a sad affair when our own septa left us, for my sister and I. I daren't understand why she has yet to be replaced, but have made do as best I can. It would be most welcome if you would offer advice to my brother, Lady Tordane, for I am sure he would listen." She is quiet for a moment as Cherise speaks, and dips her head in recognition of the lady's words. "It is true, some noblewomen are 'lost'; but this implies they merely require a knowledgeable guide, my Lady."
"On the contrary, I attended Sept just as everyone did in my family, and we had a lovely Septa who remained with us. However, my mother is not a hale woman and requires a great deal of attention and prayer. I'm sure you understand, my Lady," Briallyn says cooly, moss green eyes sliding away from Valda just long enough to drink in the details of Cherise's unwelcome appearance. Her countenance remains relatively calm, save for the lingering fire in the depths of those eyes as they fasten upon the very rotund blonde.
"Lady Cherise, always a pleasure," the young woman intones with a grin that is neither kind, nor unkind, but not unlike Valda's wolfish smile as she drops the hand from the back of her neck to intertwine her fingers against one hip. "I could not agree more, of course. Some noblewomen entirely lack for propriety, but I am most glad to see you are well rested enough to walk about. The fresh air will do you good."
"Lost? Oh, surely not, Lady Cherise. Times are not so dire as that, are they?" Valda nods in approval at Ilaria's words. "I shall speak with your lord brother this very eve, my lady. If he should grant me permission, I shall hand-pick septas for you both to best suit your unique educational requirements." Her gaze shifts to Briallyn, letting the words sink in. At length, she adds, "I'm certain your ill mother could rest just a touch more easily, knowing her sweet daughter will receive all she needs to succeed properly."
Considering Illaria's retort Cherise nods subtly, "Yes, you are right, a knowledgeable guide with a firm resolution for results." She then turns to Valda then, smiling, "A wise offer Lady Tordane. House Haigh should be most appreciative of your efforts. As it seems, the Lady Briallyn seems quite fond of my cousin, Ser Garett. If there is a chance of a blossoming marriage prospect, I would like to offer my aid where I may." The two handmaidens accompanying Cherise glance idly to each other before the Lady Charlton addresses Briallyn. "As you Lady Haigh." She relays simply.
"I am sure Lord Ian will relent and quickly, Lady Tordane," Ilaria replies to Valda with an amused grin. "It will mean he does not have to listen to me talk about it any longer." There is little else for her to contribute, however, so she clasps her hands behind her back and looks between VAld and Cherise, listening quietly. Only when the mention of marriage arises do her cheeks turn pink and she glances sideways to Briallyn, mouthing "Marriage prospect?" with a wide-eyed, astonished expression.
Some of that lovely color pales from Lady Briallyn's face, but she maintains a smile even if it begins to wan. "My mother would be most relieved to hear that," she agrees with genuine sincerity in her voice. Whether or not she is pleased with the offer is another matter entirely, but she simply stands there with tension growing in her shoulders beneath the dark green silk. Cherise, however, proves clever and for a fraction of a second, the young Lady Haigh's eyes widen, promptly narrow, and then fix upon Cherise with a nigh unreadable expression. That smile, however, is a touch frosty, and conflicted.
"Ah, Lady Cherise, I did mean to express to you that Ser Garett had already written home, with the good graces of one of my own family, who has done much the same." Despite the warmth of her voice, Briallyn looks suspiciously to be talking through a lightly clenched jaw. "Your input would be most welcome, though I had thought there was to be some measure of quiet over the matter until our families had come to an accord." For the moment, the young woman cannot bear to look at her younger cousin, gaze still riveted to the Lady Charlton.
Valda glances sidelong at Cherise, her smile shifting into a hint of a smirk. Refocusing upon Briallyn, she nods once firmly. "Then it is a most precarious time indeed, my lady. It would be a terrible shame were anyone of note to speak ill of either prospective betrothed to the other's House. Of course, I am certain you will be -most- cooperative with my suggestions, as I think only of the best interests of House Haigh, much like your lovely lady cousin here." After letting the silence go on a bit, she looks around to the group. "It has been a pleasure speaking with you, my ladies. However, I have much to attend to this day. Would you do me the honor of joining me for supper this eve?"
Cherise's demeanor would appear utterly gleeful, inviting and warm. Delightful on some other account. "With the unsavory rumors floating about Stonebridge, it would be a blessing to ensure such talk is unfounded. Especially when it has the promise of relating to my House Lady Briallyn. No house deserves a scandal tied to them. So it is gratifying to know that you do agree and accept the efforts from Lady Tordane here and myself. However should House Westerling decline at least your reputation as a lady should go without stain." Unless it already has. Idle fingers lay comforting strokes along her abdomen. "Of course Lady Tordane, I should be in the Tower soon enough." Cherise does return her glance to the pair of young Haighs, her brows raise a touch a silent suggestion to agree.
Ilaria's once flabbergasted expression disappears quickly as the young girl snaps her mouth shut. The wrinkles disappear from her brow, and her lips settle at a calm and neutral position. However, her hawkish gaze stares daggers at Briallyn until the conversation takes a turn that can include her once more. She tears her attention away from her cousin and instead looks to Lady Valda. Her eyebrows rise upward at the offer, but she smiles most pleasantly and bobs a quick curtsey. "I cannot speak for my cousin, Lady Tordane, but I would be most happy to dine with you," the young girl answers, gaze drifting sideways to take in Lady Cherise's demeanor and expression. "With the promise of such pleasant company, I could not say no."
Despite the growing pallor of her skin, Briallyn manages an uneasy smile, inclining her head. "Of course, Lady Cherise. I've little desire to see that House Westerling, or Haigh, suffer any inconvenience or tarnish on my account. Ser Garett is a good man, an honorable man, and I'd like nothing more than to ensure that events continue as smoothly as possible."
Whatever her expression might be, she quickly diverts attention by reaching up to obscure it by rearranging a few locks of dark mahogany hair with a few quick motions of her fingers. Drawing a deep breath, the Lady Briallyn levels a darting stare at Cherise, with… admiration? Can't be. Settling back on her heels, the tension in her shoulders growing slack with a sharp slump, Briallyn manages a small, but toothy smile. "I'm afraid I must decline, Lady Tordane. I've already made arrangements with the Lady Erenford, and I must be available should she have a need for anything."
"I am thrilled to hear it, Lady Cherise, Lady Ilaria." Valda's tone remains pleasant, but her gaze flattens considerably when the other Haigh responds. "Of course, Lady Briallyn. It is best this way, I'm certain. We may instead dine with your lord uncle in a few days' time. I imagine he will ensure your schedule is clear for the event." Inclining her head to all, she finishes, "Good day, my ladies. I look forward to our meals." With a neutral smile, she turns and starts back toward the castle.
"Good day Lady Tordane." She awards the elder female a gesture of good parting, lingering in silence before returning her gaze upon the two. Pointedly for the chameleon Haigh. Cherise shakes her head a touch, "Nonsense Lady Briallyn, as the Lady Erenford expressed to me added hands will only hinder her efforts to ensure my husband's wishes are carried out. Besides, I do not wish for her to have any further distractions to restrict her from the tasks ahead. Her duties are of a delicate nature and do forgive me if I am minded to make certain all is followed through, of course you understand?" The Lady Charlton asked then proposed, "I shall speak with the Lady Erenford on your behalf. It is the least I can do."
Ilaria isn't stupid - not by any means - but she is quiet. Perhaps she is even too quiet. The youngest of the group curtseys quickly at Lady Valda's departure, and then slowly turns her body to form a sort of triangle between herself, Cherise and Briallyn. Still she does not interject, not when the Lady Charlton is addressing her cousin in such a manner. Instead, she worries her lower lip between her teeth and turns her gaze outward toward the busy bodies milling around in the square.
The three women are standing well out of the way of passersby quietly conversing among each other, and each with their retinue of retainers looming behind them.
Further tension relents in the young woman's frame, and she stares after the Lady Valda until the woman eventually fades from sight. Those rich moss green eyes swing back to settle on Cherise with considerable turmoil churning in their depths. "That was extremely clever of you, Lady Cherise," Briallyn murmurs quietly, her voice not entirely hollow, but difficult to discern her intention. Her fingers disentangle, fingertips and nails worrying gently at the dark green silk of her skirt with a white knuckled grip. "My dear Lady Charlton, I thought I was not so caught between the two of you?"
Cherise lifts her chin up a touch. "Unfortunately Lady Briallyn, true colors give me great concerns over the well being of my husband's interests. Whether they are Haigh or not. I would rather not have them jeopardized should one be unable to maintain propriety at all times, given weight by one most disheartening encounter." She takes a glance over the shoulder one of her handmaidens, the small group of retainers shifting idly beneath the sun's warmth. "The loyalty to one's house is defined by their actions and willingness to do whatever is necessary in order to protect it." She pauses, "But no, you have no involvement Lady Briallyn and I am making certain it stays that way."
Arriving from the east walk are two men, the first a well-dressed traveller with a nobleman's gait and the second a far more imposing and seemingly less friendly fellow who trails his Lord a few steps back while keeping an eye on the crowds they pass. The guardsman remains dutifully observant and dressed in the livery of a retainer of the Westerlings and carrying a stony expression, while the nobleman looks interested enough in the scenery of the square. He casts an eye over to the fishmongers but grows disinterested soon enough, making his way around the square with a focused expression as if he were searching for something.
There is little Ilaria can do in this situation. She blushes profusely on Briallyn's behalf, at least, glancing up to Cherise from beneath her lashes to quickly study the woman's face. Rather than deal directly with the touchy conversation, she instead changes the subject. Clearing her throat, Ilaria reaches up to place her hand on Briallyn's forearm while looking instead in the newcomer nobleman's direction. "Do you know who he is?" she inquires very quietly of her cousin, and her eyebrows arch upward in curiosity.
One can practically hear Briallyn's teeth grinding, and her jaw is cleaned tightly enough for it to be visible to any onlooker. "As you say, my Lady Charlton," she says quietly from between gritted teeth, offering no assertions. The tension in that athletic figure is growing, fingers biting ever more deeply at the expensive silk of her well crafted dress. Seemingly a Gods send, Ilaria lays a hand upon her arm, which releases that tension with a sudden upright jerk from the Lady Briallyn.
She sucks in a deep, lightly strangled breath, and looks visibly shaken for the span of a breath before some semblance of dignity replaces itself. "My apologies," she says, a touch huskily, as her breath steadies. "No, Ilaria, I'm not familiar, but he looks…" A dark mahogany brow arches at the man's unfamiliar familiarity; the blonde hair, bone structure, eyes.. She stifles an inward groan at the implication.
The man standing here rises to 6 feet in height evenly, his frame thin enough to give his form an overly svelte appearance. He seems to be an adult in his late twenties with fair skin and an unblemished complexion. Light blue eyes look out from an angular face that nearly seems long, largely devoid of facial hair except for a sparse and well-trimmed goatee. His hair is thick and a darker shade of natural blonde, cut short but long enough that it is usually styled carefully swept to the side to be kept out of his eyes.
He is garbed in the clothes of a travelling nobleman. An intricately embroidered doublet of velvet is worn over his torso with matching breeches over his legs, secured with a skillfully woven belt. A pair of fine, high leather boots decorated with silver scrolling are worn on his feet while the entirety of his form is usually shrouded with a wide hooded cloak trimmed with black fox fur. A large leather pouch with silver buckles is worn at his hip while a woolen scarf is curled around his neck and a pair of moleskin gloves cover his hands.
Noting Briallyn's rising tension Cherise cants her head sidelong at the woman, curious mostly. Once Ilaria points out the distant duo the lady Charlton takes her time to survey the man's demeanor. Once he is recognized she smirks a little, the Westerling livery no doubt and some of her kin are unforgettable. A few words are given to her handmaiden, seeking to send the scrawny girl in the pair's direction in order to retrieve said kin and company. "That is Lord Roric Westerling. Cousin and kin for all it maybe."
Cherise's handmaiden is, of course, intercepted by Roric's guardsman. The nobleman pauses in his search as he awaits for the handmaiden and the guardsman to exchange their words, after which the guardsman politely relays that conversation to his Lord. A nod is given in understanding and Roric sets off after the handmaiden with a curious look on his face, seemingly caught by surprise by the happenstance as he approaches the group of women. His guardsman, of course, resumes his duties by trailing after him.
"Cousin," greets Roric warmly enough as his lips set into a friendly smile upon seeing Cherise, offering his requisite bows to the noblewomen present once he nears. "It's been some time as I recall, though I'm unfamiliar with your compatriots."
"Lord Roric Westerling," Ilaria echoes Cherise, squinting a bit as she watches the handmaiden hurry off into the man's direction. "Oh, your cousin on which side?" It doesn't matter much, but at least it's conversation while everyone is waiting for the aforementioned Westerling to arrive. The young Haigh's skirts swish as she sways back and forth in a girlish manner, hands still clasped behind her back. When Roric approaches, she studies him with a steady and relentless gaze while awaiting a proper introduction.
Normally, it is Lady Briallyn who makes a show of staring people down, but her dark green eyes are downcast, and flick upwards to take in Roric's appearance only briefly. She certainly isn't pouting, her sculpted features a mask of carefully crafted serenity. But, her gaze always has been much too expressive, and those eyes are focused on the ground at her feet. Lifting a hand, the young Lady Haigh rubs gently at her brow, flicking back a few strands of dark hair. "Well met, Lord Westerling," she murmurs in a tone of pure distraction.
She was pleasant, like all times. At least her smile was natural once Roric approached flanked by his guardsmen. To counter his bow she nods her head, hands still folded over her larger than necessary belly. "It has Lord Roric, far too long." Cherise returns, providing a gentle gesture to indicate each of the young ladies in company, "Lady Ilaria and Lady Briallyn of House Haigh. Ladies, Lord Roric Westerling brother to the Lord of the Crag and ever busy in his trade endeavors." She adds a smirk at the last of her words. "Your arrival is a blessing on it's own merit, are you here in Stonebridge for long?"
Roric looks toward the two sisters with a pleasant smile, though it seems as if he reacts when hearing Briallyn's name. It is slight - a twitch of his brow that is, perhaps, entirely coincidental - but he acts like it never happened. His pleasant demeanor remains, nodding to the two sisters as they're introduced. "A pleasure to meet you both - I've had a few friends over the years in House Haigh, I've always found them to be of their word and very reliable. I may even have need to speak to them again soon, as a matter of fact," admits Roric, looking thoughtful as he turns his attention back to Cherise. "I will be, Lady Cherise. There seems to be many opportunities around Stonebridge as of late, and I'm hoping to take a few of them."
Roric briefly glances to notice Cherise's belly, his smile growing just a bit as he looks back to her. "It seems like it will be quite soon. I'm sure you're very excited - I'll be sure to send along a gift once it happens."
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lord Westerling," Ilaria replies quietly, dipping her head in greeting. She glances up to study him again, just in time to catch the twitch, and she glances sideways to Briallyn. For a moment her lips purse together in frustration, but the moment passes quickly, and she straightens once more while lifting up her chin a degree or two. "Perhaps at some point you have met my brother, Lord Ian Haigh." That is the extent of her courtesy; she allows the cousins to talk uninterrupted while trying herself to catch Bri's gaze.
Her withdrawn state misses entirely the uplift of brow; likely for the best. Briallyn gives herself a shake, straightening shoulders and spine, thrusting out her chest with a deep breath. At Roric's assertion about her House, the young woman cannot help but laugh, an attractive laugh to be sure, but entirely inappropriate. "To be sure, Lord Westerling, to be sure," Briallyn quips, voice still laden with a great deal of mirth, and those striking eyes of hers match the tone of her words.
"The pleasure is entirely my own," she says more smoothly, even if her full lips are curled into a shit-eating grin. It lessens some, catching a hint of Ilaria's expression from the corner of her eye. She comments nothing about the state of Cherise's pregnancy, instead tilting her head to glance at her cousin with an upraised brow indicating 'what?'
Pleasantries overshadows personal opinions while the Lady Charlton nods to agree. "You have been fortunate then cousin." In relation to his experience with the Haighs. "Like you, our cousin Danae and Garett seem to be of similar mind. Should the future permit us a small reunion is in order before either of us are pulled away for fates unknown." But after he glanced to he belly, she had done so as well, taking pride in it. "Very soon. I will be grateful if this babe is none to eager to greet the world before my husband returns." She then looks to the pair of Haighs, then to Roric. "As Lady Iliara and Lady Briallyn here is more familiar with Stonebridge, perhaps they may be able to provide you with insightful guidance of this quaint little town. I would do so myself cousin however I should see to returning to the tower, just there, the sun is draining. I would be pleased by a visit or two, soon."
"Danae would get here before me," responds Roric with a small chuckle interrupting him, continuing afterward, "…Garett, however, surprises me. I've haven't seen him in a time longer than when I last saw you, but I thought he'd certainly be marching with your husband. I suppose I can't speculate much more, the circumstances are his own."
Briallyn is afforded a somewhat confused look on account of her laughter, though that's as far as Roric is willing to take that. His smile returns to being polite, shifting back to Illaria's question. "Lord Ian Haigh, is it? The name is certainly familiar, but I'm not entirely sure I have. If he's in a similar business to myself, I'd be glad if you could introduce me to him. You can never have too many friends in our trade."
"It was a pleasure seeing you this day, Lady Charlton," Ilaria offers to Cherise as she makes noises of a departure. The young Haigh bobs her head to Cherise respectfully before her attention returns to Roric. Despite their new acquaintance, the girl seems oddly at ease in speaking. "You will have to tell me your trade of business, Lord Westerling, for I haven't the /eye/ for these sorts of things. Some people are known for their keen ability to discern specifics based on the smallest of clues, but I much prefer simply being told outright." She smiles, and the corners of her eyes wrinkle with the cheerful expression, while clasping her hands together in front of her. "If you are in the same business as my brother, an introduction is most definitely required."
There is more to this log if others would be willing to provide it