|For the love of Briallyn|
|Summary:||Briallyn visits her cousin with a shocking revelation.|
|Guest Room - Crane's Crossing, Stonebridge|
|The rooms at Crane's Crossing are of the finest quality to be found at any guest quarters among the Riverlands, though not as finely done as those in the castles — by far. The rooms are spacious with plenty of room for not just a noble but a small entourage to gather in. The sprawling beds are finished with fine sheets and goosedown-stuffed pillows. Rugs are lain about except nearest the door with a few couches placed to one corner for guests of the room holder. Chambermaidens are on call at all hours to clean and refill the wash basins or provide new washclothes - or to even take sullied clothing for cleaning. The windows are set out a bit from the wall to provide bench seating that overlooks the sprawling green of meadows, distant forests, and bubbling creeks.|
|April 3rd 289 A.L.|
The Lady Briallyn Haigh can only find so much to do to occupy her time in Stonebridge, and writing a letter to her father can only contain so much before she runs out of things to say. Staring down at the parchment, unnerved and looking visibly tired, albeit not exhausted, the young woman gives the paper, clutching it by a corner, a small flick. No sand for drying, the ink is left to the open air in the hopes it won't smear. "Adelia, if you would," Briallyn murmurs quietly as the handmaid returns, stifling a yawn behind a slim fingered hand.
The handmaid, dipping a quick curtsy, obeys the wordless command and leads Briallyn down the hallways. Dark green eyes flick down the opposite path towards a different room, expression unreadable, before Adelia stops short before a particular door. "Thank you. See to it that this dries properly, no smudges if you please, and send it with the boy." The nervous handmaid is handed the piece of drying parchment, and a small copper penny, and before too long, Briallyn finds herself standing at the Lady Ceinlys's door, wringing her wrists and heaving an unconcealed sigh before lifting a hand just long enough to knock politely.
Within the appointed suite - a rather larger one than the others, of course - there's a bustle of activity. A large table has been moved to the center of the floor, around which several figures mill; guards in Charlton livery, a few handmaidens.. and a pug-faced little man who seems interested in merely observing the goings on. He's going entirely ignored by the woman at the apparent center of things. Clad in hues of palest blue and cream, with her dark tresses loosed about her shoulders, Ceinlys stands with a grizzled elder retainer, poring over what appear to be maps upon thick vellum, and scattered sheafs of parhment, spread upon the surface of the makeshift desk. Nodding as the man traces a fingertip around in a vague circle, murmuring perhaps some sort of suggestion, the young lady doesn't glance up immediately at the knock on the door. It's hardly the first today.
The door actually stands ajar, rather than waste the time of those who pass through with the usual formality of a servant's greeting. But fortunately for Briallyn, her cousin's personal chaperone seems to be keeping a watchful eye out, all the same, from her place nearby. She waves the girl through with a kindly smile, before announcing her presence to her mistress. "My lady.. the Lady Briallyn is here." That draws the noblewoman's gaze, with a surprised arch of her brows.
Straightening, she too gestures her relative closer. The men nearby take their cue to bugger off and talk amongst themselves for the time being, clearing the way for the younger lady. "Hello, Briallyn, dear." comes the velvety greeting, as Ceinlys rounds the far end of the table toward the other. If anything, she seems glad of a distraction.
"Lady Ceinlys," the young woman replies, though the name leaves her mouth as almost a yawn. She stifles it, dips a brief, but graceful curtsy, and straightens to survey the room with open curiosity. The Lady Briallyn remains close to the door, not as if she intends to bolt, but rather to remain as far from the other woman as possible. Down wind, so to speak. "I hope I was not intruding." Despite the etiquette of the words, harmless in themselves, Briallyn cracks a smile that she almost immediately covers with a cough.
"You are. Most certainly." replies the elder of the two, still with that faint smile curving her lips. Folding her arms, the dramatic sleeves of her velvet overcoat draping across her midsection and almost reaching the lower hem of her skirts, she continues to approach at that unhurried gait. One hand shifts to accept an offered goblet of wine from one of her servants - one that has already been tasted, yes. Can't be too careful, these days. But she doesn't sip from it quite yet, regarding her cousin with a thoughtful tilt of her head. "Completely and utterly intruding."
Once she's close enough, though, she softens her tone to a more conspiratorial sort, gesturing with a wave of her goblet toward one of the comfortable padded benches nearby. "..and I thank you for it, most sincerely. Come, sit with me a while." Does she notice the scent of alcohol about Briallyn? Probably. Ceinlys doesn't miss much. But who is she to comment upon it? As if to convey that same thing, she takes a grateful pull of her strongwine as she alters course, wandering toward the indicated seats.
The closer the woman's approach draws, the more wary the youth appears to be, shifting restlessly upon her feet. Dropping back several steps is not an option, Briallyn's frame only a few feet from the door, and she does have a sense of dignity. Beneath the hint of cheap alcohol is something much more subtle, something more reminiscent of leather and smoke. Clearing her throat, the the younger Lady Haigh's attention is drawn from her surroundings to settle squarely upon the beautiful, and casual, Lady Ceinlys.
"If you like, though I cannot think that my company can be as pleasurable as that," Briallyn replies blithely, and with the invitation in mind, she tilts her head just so to lift her chin and moves in quick, graceful motions to find a seat. Her pace is not sedate, nor is it hurried, but finding somewhere between that is more akin to a stalking cat. "I imagine state affairs, my Lady? Surely nobody is so bold as that. Or maybe they are." That secretive, sly smile brightens moss green eyes, and there is humor tainting every word as they leave her lips.
"It has been long enough between visits that I am certain your company will not be of any detriment, cousin." What a diplomatic way of putting it. Sweeping her skirts beneath herself with her free hand, Ceinlys eases down to a comfortable seat on the plush bench, reclining in a decidedly casual manner, rather than perhcing, delicate and prim, on the uncomfortable edge of it. Her handmaiden, perhaps guessing there will be no further admission for messengers of meetings for now, closes the door of the chamber quietly, then tasks her underlings to clearing away some of the debris of the day; forgotten platters and the like.
"Oh, the interests of Lord Aleister.." is the noblewoman's response, her vivid eyes straying toward the table with just the faintest hint of fatigue. "They never sleep. And therefore, neither do I. Between this, and arranging a naming day celebration for his dear wife, I think I might dab sweetsleep under my tongue and enjoy a week of unconsciousness." Looking back to Briallyn, she quirks a slender brow, swirling her wine gently in its cup. "Where are my manners. Would you care for some wine, Lady Briallyn?" Even before the words are spoken, a servant is hovering expectantly nearby with a pitcher. Hopefully the maid is less interested in the next matter, though. "And do tell me.. why do you smell like a tannery?"
Does she turn the faintest hint of green at the offer of alcohol? Maybe she does, maybe it's simply the lighting of the room, but she certainly swallows. "Ah.. No, no, thank you. I do not have much care for alcohol." The Lady Briallyn appears ready to make some other statement, likely unconnected by the grin on her face, but Ceinlys's words have an impact unexpected. The smile dies on her lips, and color floods to her face.
Dark green eyes flick from the seated woman to the maid hovering nearby with pitcher in hand. "Ah, do I?" To her credit, despite flaming cheeks, her tone of voice is surprisingly calm, save for the slightest raise in pitch. "That's unfortunate. Tanneries rarely smell pleasant. You'll have to excuse me if I've offended your senses. If you desire, I could take my leave to rectify it…?"
Obligingly waving away the servant with a flit of her fingers, Ceinlys grins suddenly, revealing a wolfish flash of white teeth; her blue eyes never having shifted from her younger cousin. "You would have told me so, were the situation reversed. Don't deny it. And no you don't have to leave, Briallyn.." The woman laughs and shakes her head a little. "..I am merely genuinely curious." Leaning inward a touch, she sniffs delicately at the air. "Hmm.. not so acrid as a tannery. But definitely leather.. stables, perhaps?"
Withdrawing again, she stops plaguing the blushing girl. For now, at least. "The Stonebridge stables are really rather fine. That is where Aleister purchased my palfrey, as it happens. Perhaps that's why the scent is vaguely familiar. Oh, do stop blushing.. it's not that bad.."
She draws a breath, but it's clear she's still unsettled, albeit mildly amused, by the other woman's words. Briallyn, sitting rigidly before, relaxes into a near slouch against the back of the seat in which she sits, though her eyes remain pointedly on the serving woman that Ceinlys pays little heed to. "The stables are well enough, though I do not remember much of them," she admits, purposefully ignoring the delicate inquiry.
"I've only been there once, several days ago, and it wasn't terribly memorable. Of course, I was distracted at the time, but my own horse is stabled there, so I am likely to pay another visit. I shall give you a full report when I do." Despite the cold sweat, Briallyn clears her throat, and the smile curling the corners of her mouth upward is not so dissimilar from Ceinlys's. A family trait, no doubt.
"Oh, please do. If there's one thing I have a dreadful shortage of and longing for, it's reports." Over the rim of her goblet as she takes a sip again, the dark-haired Lady Erenford gazes briefly in the direction of the quietly talking men across the room. The stubble-jawed veteran, Fleming as he's known, catches her eye briefly, and offers a fleeting smile before returning to his discussion. Who's next? Ah.
Ceinlys' expression sobers as her eyes alight upon that pug-faced little rodent man, still lurking nearby, openly staring at she and her cousin. "Bertrand." she calls, curtly, rousing him from his dull reverie. He hurries over, looking expectant. "..I want candles." Blank stare. "For the party? The Lady Cherise wants one, remember?" More blank staring. She aids her orders with simple pointing gestures. "..take some parchment." Table. "..go to the marketplace.." Door. "..and bring me details of who sells them, and at what price per dozen." Shoo'ing motion. "That will be all."
Unable to find reason to argue, the retainer bows shallowly and does as he is bid. Pisses off.
Rolling her eyes with a long-suffering sigh, Ceinlys looks back to the young lady beside her. "..one of Cherise's lackeys. She has him following me, can you believe it? He even trails me to the door of my bedchamber, of an evening! But anyway.." Shaking her head, she musters her smile back to the fore. "What can I do for you, Briallyn? You hardly seem of a mood for a purely social call."
"You are the Castellan of her husband's property, are you not? And judging the animosity with which Cherise treats our House and your charms, his bed, as well." There's nothing innocent about the statement, and Briallyn says it rather shrewdly, lips pursing with displeasure at the Lady Charlton's name. The young woman lowers her voice, however, though anyone in the room is likely to hear the carefully enunciated words.
"As for my purpose here, I wished to ask a favor of you. Nothing that you yourself will have to do anything for. A.. permission of sorts. Nothing dramatic, mind you. I am ever the pinnacle of what a lady should be." There is a disparaging tone there, washing the simple statement with wry humor, and she looks away from the woman with a strange turmoil lurking beneath her placid expression, making a study of the walls.
Likely anyone left in the room now is perfectly aware of the truth of the situation. Ceinlys certainly doesn't so much as bat an eyelash at the remark.. but then, nothing much bothers her, does it? "If the dear Lady Cherise suspects me of sharing her husband's bed.." she counters, with a perfectly languid and pleasant curve playing about her lips as she traces a fingertip around the etched rim of her goblet, "..then I fail to see the point of having my own chaperoned when he is hundreds of leagues away. Unless she's simply bored." Shrugging one shoulder lightly, shaking back her ebon locks, the Lady notes that sour expression of her cousin's, and seems amused by it. "..of course she despises us, Briallyn. We are better than she is. And what must truly irk her is.. we do not have to try. That was, however, an astute observation, whether it is accurate or not." There's a note of genuine approval in these words. A compliment.
Falling quiet to listen, as the true purpose of this little visit begins to become plainer, Ceinlys props an elbow on the rear of the bench, curling her legs comfortably up beneath herself. Refusing to be baited by that self-deprecating remark from her cousin, she merely glosses over it instead. "A permission, hmm? From me? You have my attention, Briallyn." Another gesture with that wine. "Go on."
"I sincerely doubt that it is your bed she worries about, my Lady," Lady Briallyn remarks with equally dry wit, but she continues to avoid looking directly at Ceinlys. She hasn't been in this room, giving her an excuse to scour the details of her surroundings, glancing from wall to ceiling with deliberate cants of her head this way and that. "You will be disappointed to know how uninterested I am in politics, whether I can discern their purpose or not. If Lady Cherise weeps into her pillow every night on the consideration that you have stolen what she views as rightfully hers… Well." The young Lady Haigh gives a small shrug of her shoulders beneath that refined blue-gray silk.
"She is a simple minded snark. But, I did not come here to insult, shocking as that may be." Likely a stalling ruse, babbling about things she claims no interest in, and she gently nibbles her full lower lip. "Stonebridge, in many ways, bores me. I have already written to my father, Lord Brynmor, for the possibility of securing trade in food supplies for the Roost. More than that, I have to find my own ways to amuse myself." Briallyn shifts her weight in the chair uneasily, ceases biting her lip to wet them instead. "I want to go hunting. More to the point, I desire to go hunting with my choice of chaperonage."
Ceinlys says nothing further on the idle chatter of the absent Lady Charlton. No need to spoil the taste of her wine, after all. But she does concede to a low-throated chuckle, listening to her cousin's thinking on the matter. "Nobody's interested in politics, sweetling. It's a means to an end and nothing more. A necessity, to realise ambition. Tiresome and usually dull." There's a momentary pause. "..rather like carrying a man's child, I suppose. There. Now I am done with insults."
Glancing to the remnants of her wine, she holds out the goblet for a refill, which is promptly seen to by her elder handmaiden. "Ways to amuse yourself. In Stonebridge. Seven help you." Grinning a little as she draws her drink back in toward her tightly bodiced chest, the noblewoman considers a short while before answering. "I would take no issue with your going hunting, Briallyn. I enjoy the sport myself. Or did, when I had the time. But as for the matter of chaperone.." Drawing a breath, she frowns, just a little. "..the entire point of a chaperone, really, is that they are not of your choosing. Because you would choose someone who would turn the other cheek when you wanted them to." Here, she casts a saccharine-sweet smile toward her own, Brigid, who simply smirks back, glancing up from her embroidery. "I see no reason you would not be permitted guests. But a chaperone would still need to be present, especially outside of the town walls." Twisting her lips in a contemplative manner, she softens her tone still further. "..be honest with me now, cousin. Your words will go no further. Are you desiring a little time with any one person in particular..?"
"Perhaps I misspoke, then." She evades answering Ceinlys's question immediately, her rich moss green eyes sliding downward from the ceiling to study the other woman more closely, settling pointedly upon her face. "I've a chaperone in the figure of my handmaid, Adelia, though she is presently on errand. I felt it prudent, and did not think it would cause any talk if I were to speak with you privately." The smile on Ceinlys's face is returned, but it is more of a knowing smile. "She is a good woman. Obedient. Observant. But, mostly obedient."
Clearing her throat, her fingers brush lightly over the gently wrinkled silk of her skirt, though her gaze doesn't wave from the Lady Erenford's face. "Let me be frank, my Lady. Yes, and no. Yes, I do desire such privacy and time. On that same token, I could find it in other ways. I do genuinely desire to spend at least some of that time truly hunting. I've not had the chance since I arrived, and it would do me good. I am too restless here." For one who despises politics so, she's certainly a talent for avoiding direct answers.
For her part, this time, Ceinlys does nothing more than maintain her smile, quite motionless until she enquires again. "You would not be asking mer permission for a mere outing, with a trusted chaperone, Briallyn. Who do you plan to accompany you, outside of our own household?" The twitch of a smirk appears now as she tilts her jaw downward somewhat, regarding the other girl through her ebonesque lashes and shaking her head gently. "..I am unlikely to deny you. I just want to know what it is that I am almost agreeing to."
"A Knight and his squire will accompany me, as well as my handmaid. Both are well equipped to deal with any brigands I might encounter, and I am adept at hunting game, so I do not think there is any danger in the matter." Sitting idle does not sit well with the Lady, and she rises to her feet restlessly. "A Ser Garett and his squire, Desmond. Both are able fighters, and I think their company would suit me well on my outing. I would take dear Ilaria, but she would rather be holed up within a convent reading prayer." Lady Briallyn gives another small shrug of her shoulders as if to indicate some resignation in the latter troubles.
"Westerlings." There's little given away by Ceinlys' tone alone. But her blue eyes narrow a fraction, in thought. She doesn't seem to mind that Briallyn rises and fidgets - it just gives her more time to consider. The brother of the very enemy they had just been discussing. The one who would have a loyal retainer poisoned, based upon rumor, or shadowed based upon paranoia. And her young cousin wants to go haring off into the woods with he and his squire? "Fine." Well, that might come as a surprise, judging by the girl's increasingly agitated manner. She said yes!
"On one condition." Ah. Always a catch. Ceinlys smirks a little as she raises a forefinger in gentle warning from its clasp about her goblet. "..you will take two of my guards with you. The surrounding area has been beset with robbers and ruffians, of late, Briallyn. And the Westerlings are hardly famed for martial ability. If you were attacked, those boys-.." Yes, she emphasises that. "..would not be enough. I want you to go, and I want you to enjoy yourself. And, quite honestly, I want you to charm them until they'd offer to swear their swords to your service. But I do not want you put at risk for it."
Nodding toward the gathering of men by her table, she continues, calmly. "Fleming is a fine hunter, and an experienced guard. As well as being in my service directly, not that of the Lady Cherise. You will take him, and one other, and not stray far from the river. Certainly not toward the Roost. These are my terms."
You can see the gears grinding behind that calm facade, and she takes up a short pace, back and forth, before the chair. It isn't a nervous strut, or one born of unreleased anger. The girl simply has too much energy, her fingers interlocked and twitching before her. "They are not unreasonable terms, my Lady," Briallyn says, most graciously, turning her head just so to peer at the woman with a very inquisitive, yet thoughtful stare. Impetuous though the youth is, there is something to depth, and something dark, lingering behind those beautiful, piercing eyes.
"I will not argue on the merit of their skill. I'll waste neither your time, nor my own. I merely want my own privacy, to do as I will, without prying eyes unless my life is in danger. Which it is not, unless we are beset by vagrants." A pause, her steps stop with a sudden thought, and she turns on her heel to face the Lady Erenford with a casual pose, hands relinquishing their joined grip so that one might fall upon her hip. "My own personal interests and feelings in the matter aside, it is my most distinct impression that neither is swayed heavily by the Lady Cherise. Or, perhaps they were, and no longer is that the case."
"You never know who, or what, may beset you when you least expect it, sweetling. And while you are here, it falls to me to at least cast a watchful eye over you. That said.. I am not your mother. And I well know the feelings you speak of, don't forget." Not so long ago, she and Aleister spent a considerable amount of time out in the forests. Though, that was demanded for travel to Hollyholt, of course. Nothing.. scandalous. Or is that a glimmer of wicked mischief, just there in her cerulean eyes as she meets Briallyn's gaze. So alike. And yet, utterly different, at times.
"You, Briallyn, by your very nature, attract trouble and exude danger. To a young man, you're not unlike catnip to kittens. They have to have it. They know not why, or what to do with it should they succeed. But it's all they're going to think about, once they smell it." The raven-haired woman takes another little sip of wine, unwavering in her regard of her cousin. "That's why I want two rather formidable looking dogs nearby, if you'll pardon the play on words. Not to stop you being appealing. If anything, to make you moreso. You are a prize. Never do the running, do you understand? As for Cherise.." She chuckles softly. "That is hardly my concern. Yet. The time may come when she calls upon anyone and everyone she can think of.. and they will be duty-bound to answer. But for now, you let me worry about her. You just concentrate on trying to have your cake and eat it, too."
"You flatter me, my Lady," Briallyn remarks with a faint grimace. "I'm not eager for men to fawn over me. I suppose it would be useful in some regards, but awkward and time consuming, nevertheless. And young men are so easily distracted they are as likely to follow me about like a new weaned pup as they are to flit off when another bitch's scent wafts by." Her language, tsk tsk. The brash young woman, still lingering by the arm of her chair, hums softly beneath her breath and shakes her head with resignation.
"Perhaps now is the time for confessions. It seems as good a time as any, before the rumors start and you hunt me down to find out the truth of things." The young Lady Haigh lifts a hand, presses a few strands of dark hair behind an ear, wisps escaped from a hastily managed coif. "It isn't the squire I've an interest in. It's Ser Garett. And I may or may not have already eaten the cake." Not a hint of shame, guilt, or regret appears in face, body language, or tone, but those eyes fasten upon Ceinlys to gauge her reaction as the young woman stand there, awaiting judgment in the only armor she has: gray-blue silk and a surprising amount of shameless dignity.
There's a long silence, following this confession. The sort where one might wonder if ceinlys were even paying attention at all.. if it weren't for those vivid azure eyes being levelled upon Briallyn's own green hues. "..leave us." Her eventual words are soft-spoken, but enough for her dutiful Brigid to promptly start ushering the remaining folks from the chamber. Rising slowly to her feet, pressing her free palm upon her slender abdomen, the young lady addresses Fleming aside as he passes. "We will reconvene, come daybreak." He nods his understanding, no doubt aware it'll be up to him to pass word around, seeing as his charge is now distracted. Already her attention is back on her young cousin.
Soon enough, they are alone. Even the handmaidens know when to make themselves scarce. Usually, there's three instances. When Lord Aron is angry. When Lord Aleister is here. Or when their mistress uses just that tone of voice. "..first of all.." begins the Lady Erenford, very quietly, "..I am glad you told me. Before you had opportunity to make things any worse." That said, she does take a rather large gulp of her wine, before pacing across the floor, back toward her grand table, where she sets it down, unmindful of the parchments still littering the surface. "You mentioned writing to your father. Did you make mention of this, to him?" Judging by the arch of her brow, that would have been an extremely poor decision. But she waits for the answer, all the same.
Ah, there it is. A look of horror sweeps across her face, and she stares with widened eyes at the woman as if the thought were madness. "Of course, I didn't. I wrote to request, politely, that my father consider arranging trade negotiations with the Lady Anais. I don't need to tell you that the Roost is starving, and my father does very well with his lands and estates." Lady Briallyn looks briefly indignant, a flash of irritation rippling across the calm expression she has been trying to cultivate since entering the room.
"And I am not quite certain I understand what exactly it is you mean by making things any worse. But, I've sense enough not to tell my father at this particular point in time." It's clear the Lady Briallyn is about to dig her heels in by the way she remains rigidly unmoving, hands smoothing wrinkles from the silk snugly sheathing her hips.
"What do I mean by it?" Oddly enough, Ceinlys looks back up from an absent perusal of a nearby missive and smiles. "..I mean that, by coming to me before the rumors began, you may just have saved tarnishing the reputation of the entire family.. and in fact, brought a great advantage. But first things first. I assume you are old enough to have begun your bleeds. Can I then trust you are wise enough to drink moon tea regularly? Oh, don't look petulant, Briallyn.." Raking a hand back through her glossy ebon mane, the Lady Erenford turns to more fully face the girl, leaning her hips back against the edge of the table.
"You say you have an interest in the man. Considering how keen he appears to have been to lift your skirts, we can pray that it is mutual, for the time being. But that is not the way to guarantee his affections will remain." Her expression returns to one of distance and contemplation, arms folding across her midsection as she sighs. "I shall write to your father." She doesn't leave time for protest before continuing. "I will ask, firstly, that you be placed within my household. It will please him, no doubt, to imagine perhaps you have finally shown some interest in politics. And offers the benefit of security, should question of your honor arise in the near future."
She rocks gently, from heel to toe and back again, musing aloud. "I will also press for a match to be made, between yourself and Ser Garett. Nobody need see any reason beyond clever matchmaking. As for the noble knight himself?" Her smile returns, predatory and menacing. "I will speak with him. Were this all to come to light, he runs the very grave risk of losing all claim to his title. And Westerlings do so love their titles. He will agree to the proposal. And that, sweetling.. will give us the leverage we need, not only to safeguard your own future, but my own, too."
The young Lady is stone still and quiet as the grave as she listens to the woman speak, remaining appropriately silent at the avalanche of Ceinlys's machinations. Despite the shock, ruffling the young noblewoman's feathers briefly, she raises no argument. Tilting her head instead, she hums once more beneath her breath in thought. "A clever way to assassinate that poor Charlton woman, I see. I don't know what would occur first. If she were to die of rage, or keel over from a weak heart," Briallyn observes neutrally, dark green eyes glittering. "As for my Lord Garett, I…"
She trails off, wetting her lips delicately. "I think that a wise idea, and I think also that I would much rather the pleasure of your retinue than the stifling eyes of cousin Ian. He is like a hawk, and my poor Adelia can only take so much grilling." The young Lady Haigh takes a few steps, perches on the very edge of the chair, eyes downcast in thought. "I find all of this very agreeable, though I must admit to some curiosity.. Whatever have you done that this shall help you? Have you been a naughty girl, mistress?"
Ceinlys doesn't bother commenting on her cousin's agreement, instead reaching for her strongwine again as Briallyn speaks and calmly, quietly, taking a pull of the contents, licking a stray droplet of moisture from her lower lip thereafter. She does allow a vague smile to tug at the corners of her mouth, though, at the further commentary on Cherise. "Perhaps she will simply fall down somewhere convenient and be unable to get up. She is rather rotund, nowadays. Either way, I have no preference. I have no real desire to harm the woman, much as that may surprise you, cousin. But you did not answer my first question. Moon tea. Tell me you have it. If not, I will sit you down this very moment and watch you drink a draught. If you fall with child now, you will be disowned, and your child will be a bastard. That is not a fate you want, Briallyn, believe me."
Pushing up from her half-seat, the young lady takes to a casual stroll around the table, her skirts and overcoat sweeping across the floor in her wake, and a thumbnail rubbing thoughtfully at her dainty chin. The younger Haigh's oh-so-subtle curiosity rouses nothing more than an absent smile cast in her direction. "Not in comparison to some. But Cherise constantly seeks to usurp me from my place, and I will not stand for it. With one of her own kin to speak in support of our House, and myself, her own voice will be more easily ignored, should it come to it. We are agreed, then?" Drawing to a halt at the far side of her 'desk', she regards her young cousin, seeming pleased not to have any histronics to deal with. "I shall make the arrangements? And you, in the meantime, will act with greater decorum, on the promise of your union with Ser Garett?"
Now is no time for temper, but Lady Briallyn offers a disdainful look, one of resentment, but the words that leave her mouth are not an argument. "No, I've none. It was not expected that my stay here in Stonebridge would be so.. productive." It's clear she dislikes the idea, but grudgingly agrees. Despite her impetuous nature and lack of interest in keen manipulation, Briallyn has sense enough in her head to see the wisdom in Ceinlys's suggestion. Her eyes follow Ceinlys's movement, remaining perched on the edge of her seat with a tightly clenched jaw.
"Might I make a suggestion in your approach with Lord Garett? I dare say I do know him well enough, as I've spent more time speaking with him than between the sheets." The young Lady Haigh clears her throat, ignoring the rising color to her face, and blithely carries on. "He is a soldier, and you are more likely to garner the result you desire by being honest with him. If I thought you would allow it, I would speak with him myself. Neither of us is eager to jump through hoops."
With a simple nod, Ceinlys is turning and strolling across to a small, carved wooden box that waits within the rather sparse bookshelves nearby. Plainly, those who make use of rooms at the inn have little time for lesiurely pursuits such as reading. Ahem. Setting her goblet on a lower on, for the moment, she opens the lid and begins pulling out several tiny sachets of sweet-smelling herbs, dropping them into the cup of her free hand. "One dose a month, as I am sure you know perfectly well." she advises, almost offhandedly. Eventually heading back toward the table, she drops the handful on the surface and busies herself emptying out a pouch previously used for bearing.. wax sticks. These are simply left to tumble over the parchments. Plenty more where they came from. "No doubt, Briallyn, you know him far better than I. But therein lies the advantage of my speaking with him." Having placed the doses of tea into the pouch, she draws the neck closed with a snap of the drawstrings, looking to her cousin. "..he does not know me. And as a soldier, he will see the sense in listening to one older than his beloved, with greater knowledge of the politics of the realm."
The Lady Erenford crosses toward Briallyn's seat, now, offering the litle cloth pouch toward her as she speaks. Observing the passing rosy hues in the girl's complexion, she relents a little to a reassuring smile. "I will not ask him to do anything that his honor would not, I promise you. I will neither threaten nor judge. I will only put to him my suggestion, regarding my beloved cousin, and gently guide him to seeing it is the correct choice." Shifting back to her original seat now, she keeps her gaze upon the green-eyed lady. "A lady does not gain power and authority by making a fuss, or challenging Lords and Knights, dear heart. She does it by letting them believe the decisions they make are their own. I only wish to give your Ser Garett the gentle push onto the right path. The honest path." The purring cadence of her voice is soothing, well-practiced in being so, and her expression seems quite genuine, head tilting to better study her relation's reaction, with that same half-smile. "Trust me. And speak of this to no-one."
One cannot blame the inexperienced youth her wariness, and she watches the Lady Erenford cautiously, though not fearfully, from her more subordinate position perched upon the armchair within the Lady's very quarters. "Very well, Lady Ceinlys," Briallyn murmurs softly with conviction, accepting the cloth pouch with a dubious expression on her pretty vulpine features that does not match well the surety in her voice. "I shall trust you, but know that I am not merely interested in matters of the heart. I also count him a friend."
There is a certain firmness then, in her words, and her slender, clever fingers toy with the drawstrings of the pouch with distraction. Her bold gaze shifts away from the Lady Erenford's face and finds purchase upon the 'gift' now resting in her lap. "But, now, I must ask… If I am to join your retinue, be a part of your house hold, what does that entail? I do not like to think that I have now grasped the lion by its tail." Weighing the fabric pouch, a hint of an amused smirk breaks through the barricade of her somber expression, tugging upward one corner of her mouth.
"I will do nothing to harm your friendship with the man." replies Ceinlys, reclining now more comfortably once more against the cushions. Her blue eyes drift toward her wine, left on the shelves. But she seems disinclined to get up again in order to fetch it. For now, anyway. All told, the events of the day seem to finally be catching up with the young woman. It's easy to forget, with all her worldly manner and important responsibilities, that she's only twenty, herself. "I will take you on as my lady in waiting, Briallyn. The duties vary, but I expect you will find them bearable. You will accompany me, in my travels. Attend courtly functions.. yes, parties, too.. oversee any secretarial tasks I may need to delegate, tend to 'noble' pasttimes, such as lessons in music and dance, horse riding.. you enjoy archery and hunting? Perhaps, when I have more time, we shall include those regularly. You will oversee the other members of my staff. Bear messages discreetly, should I ask. Those sort of things." Stifling a yawn behind splayed fingers, she watches the girl curiously. "..will that be tolerable?"
"As for the finer details.. as you know, for now I serve as Lord Aleister's Castellan, and that means rather a lot of travelling, meetings with members of other noble Houses. Change is coming. And when it does, you will enjoy the benefits of it, as one of my blood.. and as a trusted part of my entourage. At least, until you yourself are wed. Then, at last, your life shall be your own. I only hope I can prepare you well for it, in the meantime."
What is she going to do? Balk? An exalted position that many young noblewomen would tear eachother apart for, and although her stomach is sinking, Briallyn does her best to keep the sensation from reaching her face. She inclines her head and ignores a number of dark strands that fall across her brow, a little stiffly, in agreement even as the words still ring in her ears. "Tolerable? Yes, my Lady. Tolerable."
The young Lady takes a deep, steadying breath and reaches up the gently pinch the bridge of her nose. Dropping the offending hand to her lap, she offers a small smile that does not reach the turmoil in her eyes. There is little else the youth can say, feeling so soundly collared and caught in a web not of her choosing, no matter how gilded the cage is. "I am sure I shall come to enjoy it."
Chuckling softly, Ceinlys shakes her head, letting her eyes wander away from poor Briallyn in her torment. "..it will only be until your marriage is arranged, Briallyn. And the only purpose is to ensure your reputation holds, that that same union can be guaranteed. A small price to pay, I think. And I will not bind you too tightly, never fear. You will largely be able to do as you please. And at least you will be away from here, hmm?"
Alright, the wine is beginning to sweetly call her name from across the room. Pushing her hair back in a habitual mannerism, the young lady turns her smile upon her cousin again. "Now then.. if there is nothing else, sweetling.. it would seem I have yet more letters to write this evening. Be sure and drink that tea, Briallyn. Or you will be beyond even my help. And while that might, in dire moments, seem ann appealing thing.. remember you represent House Haigh. Always." That curve becomes a smirk upon her lips again. She can't help it. "A heavy burden, I am well aware."
She swallows convulsively, likely to still her tongue, as the frustration on her face appears to be peaking. "It was not that I wanted to be away from here," the Lady Briallyn mutters bitterly, rising to her feet. "I want to be wherever I want to be." She closes her eyes, squeezing them tightly shut, as she pauses there for a moment to find balance. Before she has a chance to unleashed what she is clearly keeping to herself, the young Lady Haigh dips into an appropriately deep curtsy with a swipe of nimble fingers, and straightens abruptly.
"If I am dismissed, Lady Ceinlys, I shall tend to your suggestion." Briallyn's face is notably paler than it was, but her expression is one of numbness as she quietly, politely, excuses herself from the room with quiet steps, neither rushing nor leisurely. However, the white knuckles of fingers gripping the dark gray-blue of her skirts are an indication of how eager she is to be rid of it.