|Summary:||Damara and Lady Kathryna speak of their own experiences and lives.|
|Date:||15 Nov 2011|
|Related Logs:||Ladies and ladies|
|Stables and Kennels - Four Eagles Tower|
|The Tower's Main Stables are nestled into the corner of the courtyard near the portcullis to facilitate quick, easy exits when required. The rear of the structure is backed right against the interior wall of the castle with the heavy wooden roofing gently sloped down towards the slate out front, the floor of the stables kept to dirt. Thick wooden beams are plunged into the ground and serve as a base for the walls between each stall. Hay serves as most of the flooring in the area with a large stack of it off to the side. Each stall has a thick layer on the ground to serve as bedding, with most of the space dedicated to horses though a few have pens of dogs and hounds. An enclosed structure at the end serves as dry storage for riding equipment and saddles.|
|November 15, 288|
Many of the small group of Camden sworn and retainers are either returned to the Rockcliffe or finding sleeping quarters in tents just outside the gates. Damara though, remains yet in the stables, working with the young boys who are still feeing the mounts of the visiting group. Hunkered down on a stool, her jerkin is over the stall side pole and her bow leaning against it. She is working at the hoof of Gethin, the Lord's horse, using a scrapper to clean out his hooves from the journey. She clicks her tongue as the beast moves and she rises to set one hoof down and move to the other back one. She clucks her tongue and pets along his side, slowly lowering to lift the hoof and bend it back to be able to continue to clean, a small lantern flickering near her to allow her some matter of light in the dimness.
There whicker and sound of the other horses fill the stables, it's cozy here in ways that the large stone keep is not. The smell is also something more comforting than cold halls. "Good boy…" Comes the soft tones of the falconer.
Warmth. Especially out of doors, but warmth in the stables, not constant rain and storms, it's something Kate is still needing to adjust to. It was strange not to be hugged under a cloak half constantly and numb. The sounds of the horses and the even greater warmth promised inside had started to draw her, but the voice she heard quietly echoing across the beasts completed the task. Damara. Falconer. A woman of intelligence. That alone quicked the Ironborn's step down the stalls and past all the elegant, healthy beasts. She studies them as she goes, marvelling at how robust a creature can be when weather is always good and food supplies steady.
"…I think… part of me had forgotten what a healthy horse… Looked like." Kate confesses, seemingly out of no where, as she rounds the corner of the stall nearest to Damara. Of course, she's also gazing over at least two very strong pulling horses, bigger and more masculine than some of their counterparts.
The presence of othres is something Damara addresses but the voice is unexpected. Looking up and over her shoulder a moment, the voice is rather familiar. Smiling, she looks back to her work. "This is how all horses should look. I take it that is not so on the isles?" She asks as she scrapes at the inside of the hoof and along the shoe. Clods of dirt fall free between her legs, hitting the hay on the flooring as she continues her work. She finishes in not too long, setting down the hoof gently for the horse while Gethin continues to eat from his oats.
She turns, wiping the tool on the rag that has found its way tucked into the waist of her pants. Jade eyes settle on Kathryna, the two of very similar height.
She pats Gethin as she comes towards the fore of the stall where the Lady stands. She cleans the tool off and pulls the rag free, then folding it and wiping her hands on the clean side as it is brought free of her waist. "I figured you would be heading in after your time with the Lord Dafydd. It's rather late and the Terrick's do offer a pleasant chamber to their guests."
Kathryna comes the rest of the way around the horse, studying his flanks, the rather majestic swish of his tail, but even she knows enough not to pat him from behind lest she spook the creature. She has no wish to be kicked tonight. Instead, she comes just close enough she can lean against a post and settle into watch Damara work. Actions Kate has never learned to take, never truly having owned a horse in her life. Horses did not cross the water, ships did.
"Horses are a rare thing on the Isles. Used here and there, yes, but we do not have many pastures for them to roam or feed. And there are few places of worth other than around your own lands that one can get to on a horse. Ships are our horses, and they do not need fed, shoed or exercised regularly." Kate answers with that huskily sardonic tone to her voice that she often keeps. As if some part of life is a very big joke and she is both amused and exhausted by it. "I do not sleep well, especially not in a castle I barely know or trust. So, I thought I might explore some. You are not resting yourself?"
Damara nods her head, as if understanding at least in her own way. She sets aside the tool and rests the rag off to the side. "Familiarizing yourself with a new place is often a wise thing to do. Best to know every exit and entrance. I can understand the sentiments…I am used to my simple hovel, one room, easy to find things. It doesn't hide people either." The falconer smiles and then takes up the brush, beginning to smooth down an already brushed coat, but she is working out what is left of the sweat along Gethin's back.
"Sleeping…well I do do that occasionally. I like to sleep and I do not find it too hard. But after the long ride we had, its best to make sure the horses are good for the night, nothing like a lame horse to ruin a Lord's mood." She follows the path of the brush with her hand. "Your ships mean much to you, I am supposing they still need upcome as much as many other things do." She says and then grins a little. "Tall Oaks has little use for ships…they don't work well in a forest..the horses tend to have sure feet on uncertain terrain and unlike a ship…..when you ride, especially at night, you must allow the horse to lead sometimes..it's about trust."
Trust. A funny word. It makes the ironborn frown. Kate folds her arms across her chest as she leans against that pole, studying the darker woman as much as she was the horse, but now it's those intelligent pale eyes she's searching. Trust. What an odd subject. "…There is little you can trust in this life beyond that the day will come, and the night will follow, and you will eventually die. Occasionally I trust my ships, but even wood rots, and no ship can survive every wave in the world. But yes… they do mean much to me. A ship is an Iron born's life. More home than any castle has ever been." Kate confesses quietly, tired enough that perhaps she's rambling a few too many words, but the woman has spoken freely as well. Why should she not return the favour?
"Tall Oaks sounds… a good bit of distance from here, if it is no where near the coast. Why visit now? What brings your party so far from your forest home?"
Continuing to work at the damp hide of the horse, Damara lets her head turns occasionally to make eye contact and break her attention from her work. The Mistress nods a little, as if understanding. "Yes and a ship is a home, a horse is a companion, as our my falcons. They hunt with you, they live with you, they learn to trust you to provide for them so they can do the same in turn. It is a funny thing…yes. But companionship of the loyal often brings greater results than one can find on their own." She's older, that much can be seen and the falconer has her own set of scars, faded and drawn, white most of them for their age.
"It is not all that far when considering other places. You have come further. But it is more than a days ride, that is certain." She admits and then slows her work. "The Lords of Camden our worried that the increased tariffs from Stonebridge will cut off trade further North to our lands. They have come to see if that is so and what can be done. House Camden….is a peaceful sort, more used to dealing than fighting - except for the rare man or two." Dafydd. But her voice indicates Kathryna may have met one such man. "But those are the matters of Lords. They do so to keep their costs low and to keep the interest of their smallfolk in mind." She pauses, "And you, have come for diplomacy." She says and smiles faintly at the thought. "I can not say I am not surprised.."
Kathryna is not young in that she is a child, but she is no where yet a spinster's age either. In the prime of womanhood, it might be said, body as fit as it might ever be, mind sharp and focused. She definitely has that vibrancy for life that comes in one's middle twenties and almost at no other time. Perhaps that is another reason she was sent across the great waters to this task, she was more like to survive it that anyone else. She reaches into her long coat, pulling out a flask and lazily unscrewing it, in no real haste to get to the drink inside.
"I suppose this is true. I have never had a chance to be much with animals. They are just another mouth to feed, sadly." She flickers a look out to the pleasant evening beyond, a hint of tired amusement in her ice gaze. "I do not think summer ever truly made it to the iron islands. It is alright. It makes us stronger for it." But lonely as well. She came with no seeming retinue. No other guards or lords or even lady's maids. A suicide mission, perhaps. "No offense, Mistress, but Tall Oaks seems rather…. Boring."
Moving about the back of the horse to get to the other side, Damara keeps a hand to the horse to let him know where she is. "Boring?" The falconer laughs a little, that smile remaining and beginning to fade into a thoughtful, yet sad one. "Yes, perhaps it is. But the people are happy and we are fed. Some of us have paid to much already and would like to live the rest of our lives able to remember those no longer with us." She says, passing the brush over Gethin's hide. "Boring.." She huffs a little. "War and conflict is an easy thing to produce, too many people wanting to protect what is their's or gain more. Peace..that is a hard thing won. You do not sound much a peaceable woman…that makes an odd diplomat." She observes and gives Kathryna a look.
"I hear your Drowned God is a bitter one… he takes as he pleases. I do not envy you that God. There are already men enough in these lands that will take what they want. No need to give that reason to a higher power." She says. "Rarer yet is happiness…though it is a different thing to everyone. Mine is my duty, it keeps me steady."
Kathryna tilts her head, slightly, studying Damara a hint deeper. Studying those whitened scars upon her face. Old scars. Older than those that Kate wears, at least mostly. The woman across from her is someone who has seen war, conflict and pain. "…In what war did you fight? You wear the scars of a warrior, yet you stand here brushing horses, speaking fondly of peace and happiness like some old grandmere." The words are meant as a touch of a tease, not an insult. Though Kate is gruff, she does it in the fond good humors of the way a unit of soldiers or crew of sailors tease each other. The comment about being peaceable makes her breathe out slowly. "I… am simply used to having to fight rather harder to keep the peace. I am not accustomed to a place where people are willing to simply sit and talk. It is… disconcerning." She confesses, just a flicker of doubt about her mission in her eyes, but then she shakes it off and goes back to her comfortable, sardonic smile.
"The Drowned God gives strength. That which is dead cannot die. Once you have died once and been brought back, you have nothing to fear of death again. He takes away our weakness. He gives us what we need to survive. He helps us fight the storm god every time we set sail. He is a God I understand. I can respect. Your seven…" She shakes her head with a cold laugh, "it seems… Needlessly complicated."
"I am no warrior, my Lady.." Damara says simply, "But if the time were to come, I would fight for that which I hold dear." It is said with patient certainty and as she looks to her work, she can not help but laugh a little to herself. "I did not fight to get these scars, nor did I brush a horse to get them. My family has long taken care of the Lord's falcons and been proud of their work. When King Robert took the thrown, the Camdens sought to send a gift and talk of trade at King's Landing…but Targaryen sympathizers struck the peaceful caravan. I lost my family that day." She explains and then adds, "Including my son."
There is a moments quiet and she continues the calm measure of passing the brush over the side of the horse. "The Seven are not my Gods. I speak to the wierwoods, the Old Gods…for they were here long before. They were seen by the children of the Forest and their trees given faces. Though we can not hear them, they live in all that we do. The Seven are no concern of mine." She explains and then slows her work to a stop to add. "In everthing we do, there is something to learn. You tell me the islands are a rough place, so it has taught you to be strong, resilient and to fight…when I have lived in a place sheltered by the trees, wealthy in fertile land in a thoughtful Lord. We have learned to survive in our environments, my Lady. Perhaps when I have need to adapt I will. If you are to be a diplomat, it is good to learn of who you are dealing with..and why they act the way they do."
Kathryna tilts her head slightly to the side, true interest flickering through her pale eyes. "I would be most curious to hear anything you would tell me. Yes… Learning of this place, these lands. These people. It will be essential to the process, I suspect. And yet I do not wish to brook false with them. I will not make myself into some soft and proper lady just to bend their ear. Honesty is as important to diplomacy as a willingness to try and understand will be." It is clear the slightly younger woman has at least thought this through. She probably had a long boat ride over to consider at least some diplomatic techniques that body guarding never taught her.
The other matters of the old gods, that draws a truly intrigued look. It's clear Kate has heard the name once or twice, but that is all. "…I.. am sorry for your losses, Mistress. I know they've made you stronger, more capable a woman… but it does not make them hurt any less." She offers, her words gruff, but doing their best to be sympathetic. Emotions aren't something Kate really -gets-, but she's attempting. It's a start, if nothing else. "…did you find comfort in these old gods of yours? When war and hate took all that your heart beat for?"
"You need not change who you are to learn of others. It is the matter of knowing more than it is of being." Damara says and smiles faintly, "Lord Dafydd wishes action where I am one to watch and wait…better to learn first before you strike when there may be no need to. Save your strength and it will surprise your adversaries more than a constant demonstration." SHe explains.
Dipping her head to the sympathy, she passes the brush another time over GEthin as if it helps her think. "There is no comfort Gods can give for the loss of the living. None. I did pray to them, for those lost. But my own acceptance came with time. The Old Gods are more silent then any and they ask for sacrifices or for candles as the Seven do. There are those that can hear them, but they are no longer here. Some say gone forever. But they have left the Godswoods, the faces on the trees to let those who can not hear the Gods know they yet watch. To me…" She pauses and then stops the brushing, looking to Kathryna. "The Old Gods..are about seeking answers within yourself. The silence allows one to seek their own strength. But I know they watch, for they have given me much in the loss of so much."
Kathryna considers those words a bit longer, not quite commenting yet. She steps across the few feet between them, her head tilting. She offers one of her hands, "Is there something I can do to help with the beast?" She asks gently, almost curiously. She's never tended a horse before, it would be a worth while learning experience. Once another brush is given over, or a comb for the mane, Kate will accept simple instruction before she falls into the motions given her. It's easier than standing there bored and cold.
"It seems the old gods also make you strong, for making you find ways to deal with things yourself, instead of relying on a god to soothe your pains. I think I could respect these gods." She nods approvingly, her gruff voice doing it's best to be warm. Friendly. She's not used to having a friendly ear. It's rather nice but… Odd.
"Aye, just always let Gethin know where you are with a touch of your hand…and speak to him if you need to. They can understand in the tone of your voice, if not the words.." A comb is handed over for her to work the mane and tail. "Start at the bottom, and slowly work out all the knots.." She motions to the mane and then brings the brush down over the whithers of the gelding.
"Many have forgotten them, many follow the Seven that were brought with the Valyrians….the Old Gods have no names..they need no names but the Seven carry titles that I myself do not understand. To worship a God because of what they stand for is not worshipping, its asking of a certain need. Perhaps what you need is not what you think…it is best to let your fate be guided and watched over by those that know more." She smiles faintly over at Kathryna. "You are doing well. When Gethin gets to know you better, he will know who you are..he will show you different ways to talk to him." She then nods and adds, "Tell me more about this drowned God."
Kathryna is quite smart, dangerously sharp some might say, especially for a woman. But it's because she takes time to -listen-. She gives her conversation partners the entirity of her attention, especially when they are instructing. So, pale blue eyes flash fully on Damara as the comb is handed over and she notes exactly where the woman tells her to start on the mane, nodding firmly. "Mm… Gethin, is it? Here… just ensuring you're at your best, young man…" She murmurs slightly awkwardly, but in her own attempts to be soothing of the horse. She then rubs gently at the side of his throat and mane before bringing the comb up to start working through that hair. Her calloused, small hands do fine, smooth work.
The question of her god draws a slow, thoughtful sigh to her lips. "…What is dead cannot die, but rises again, harder… stronger. That is one of pour most common prayers. All of us are drown just after we are born. Annointed in salt water and given to the god. Our priests do it a second time, until they no longer breathe… And are brought back to life by their bretheren. It is not a forgiving religion. The Drowned God teaches you to fight for what you deserve… if you are strong enough to have something, take it. There is no coddling. No gentle guidance."
Watching Kathryna for a long moment, she makes certain that everything as well and Gethin whickers, tossing his head a bit when he finishes his oats and then shifts for his water, bumping into the Lady. Smiling at this, near a half grin, Damara listens to the explanation, her jade eyes lifting at the mention of drowning the new borns. "What if a child does not return? Is that not a loss. Why would any mother allow their child to be drown?" It seems a shock at to her. "There are already too many ways children can die…" why add to it?
Silence fills the air again, perhaps she may not understand, but she listens as well. Her life is to serve and to listen to another is not something beyond her whatsoever. "No guidance…" She says faintly. "What was your childhood like?"
There is a half laugh, though it's bittersweet, almost hesitant as the question of drowning new borns comes. "It is… Usually… a symbolic drowning. Though I have heard stories of more… severe priests, normally they are not kept under long enough to truly cease breathe, not if they are a child. That more severe ritual is saved for those who would truly enter into service for live of the Drowned God." Kate explains simply, blinking as the horse bumps her a bit. She gingerly bumps him right back, not scolding, but a fond sort of massaging gesture. She then begins to go back to unknotting the mane, having work to keep her hands and eyes busy seems to let her speak a bit freer. She's never been very good at small talk.
"Well, perhaps no guidance. Be strong. Be worthy. Take what you can. Survive. That is the guidance our god gives us." She explains softly, though with a low, husky pride and soul-deep loyalty to the Drowned God. Then the next question comes and she blinks. "It was… good. Rough, often. I have several brothers and a strong father. House Harlaw are not the Greyjoys, but we are just as strong and worthy. I had to keep up. If a woman can prove herself as strong and as worthy as the men in the Iron Islands, then she is given all the same due as men are. If the sea ever takes my elder brother, I will inherit. I spent most of my child hood making certain everyone knew I was worthy."
A measure of relief floods through Damara at the assent that for the most part the drowning is symbolic. The Mistress considers the rest though, still in silence with the added passing of the brush along the hides of Gethin. Her head turns upward to finally look at Kathryna. "I can see the need for that given locations..but here…" She hesitates and then furrows her brows. "Men here are still of that nature…though I think for the most part they rather enjoy plotting against each other. I think the taking of land and what men want in these lands is done by sly movements instead of bold purposeful ones.
Setting aside the brush, she turns to life a blanket from the side wall and slide it over atop the horse to help keep him warm in the chill of the night. So it would be near the coast.
"Westero must seem rather…laid back and unassuming unlike the Isles. I am not certain I could follow this God, though I understand the need for strength."
Kathryna is being rather detailed with her work on the horse's mane, careful not to tug too hard on any knots, using her small fingertips to work them out once she finds one and then running the comb back through the hair. Her work ethic is beyond words, especially for a -noble- woman. But then, it does not seem that even nobility gives any sort of a soft life in the Iron Isles. "That is… deceptive at best. Backstabbing at worst. I would much rather know a man wishes me dead and be able to draw my sword, than to take drink with him as if he was my friend, all the while he is trying to plot to take my lands and people. It is…disgusting." Kate huffs quietly, a bit of a shiver up her back at the thought.
"Westeros seems… Yes. Laid back is a good word for it. I was going to say soft, but that might be insulting. And not all of you mainlanders are soft." She gives Damara a brief smile with that, clearly implying the woman across from her. "And you? Your…childhood? If you would share? What brought you to the Camden's? Has your family all served them before?"
"To war over something that will in generations be taken again, seems so…beyond my understanding. But then, I never would gain from the taking of another's things. That is meant for nobles.." Damara says but at the well hid compliment, she smiles and dips her head in silent thanks. With the blanket on Gethin, she steps to the side and out of the stall to allow Kathryna time with the horse alone. Going over her own things, unstringing her bow and the like, the Mistress sets herself down on the stool.
"Yes, I have always been in the service to House Camden. The Kells, my family have ever been the falconers, handing the skills down to each generation." She intones and smiling faintly. "The Lords children…are like siblings to me, younger ones, but I found a second home there after the loss of my family." She admits and then stops, winding the string about her hand as she gazes for a moment in the air. "I would die to keep the people safe and the Lord's family…even those that see me nothing more than a servant. But I am well taken care of and I in turn do whatever is within my power. My childhood was much the same, I grew to know the Old Gods and of the ways of falcons. The wood is in my blood and here, it is not the same."
It doesn't take too much longer for Kate to finish getting the knots from the horse's mane. She rubs his neck one more time and murmurs a huskily reassuring, "Get some sleep, young man." With that, Kate turns to slip out of the stall, gentle not to brush the horse towards the back areas and risk getting kicked again. She's at least aware of that much. She then steps back out into the night air, listening to the end of Damara's story about the Lord's family and growing up. She nods in almost approval. "As long as they have honoured you and your work, then I shan't consider the Lords Camden too much useless or pompous. At least they might recognize the worthy."
With those gruff, respectful words, Kate nods back towards the road that leads towards the Inn. "Come now. It is not so late, I will surely not sleep tonight and there is much more ale to be had. Your work is done. Come for another drink with me. Your company has been the most palatable thing about this soft and fatted land so far." It's really meant as a compliment. Really. With that, she starts leading the way down to the inn without looking back. Damara had better keep up!