|Summary:||A great gift is bestowed on Isolde by Josse.|
|Tower Hall Gardens - Stonebridge|
|The rose garden of House Tordane is about three hundred square feet and hemmed in by walls about eye level to keep out the attention of wildlife. Bees hum about the area and around the stone archway which has seen the flowers grow up over and nearly encase in solid vine. The scent is sweet, mixing with the air coming off the water to produce an atmosphere some might find extremely calming. Stone benches have been chiseled out and placed along the path for visitors to relax on.|
|Wed July 27, 288|
The tourney is still abuzz with the news of the recent duel and resulting win for the Knight of the Riverlands. Isolde herself is glad of it but the Ironborn are being watched a little more closely and the need to speak with them will come this evening. This day then is taken in quiet peaceful stride and the Lady of Stonebridge has opted to let her mother oversee the next event, staying with her Lady Cousin Igara at Tower Hall.
With basket on her arm, Isolde attends the rose bushes that are her pride, moving about them to find the proper stems to cut for the upcoming visit to those of House Frey and to check on the injured Lord. The basket is set down before her feet and she leans forward, trailing fingers down the stem that disappears within the large bush. Pressing the small cutting knife inward, she hooks the stem and with a turn of it, cuts it clean, drawing it out. Turning the flat of the blade along the stem, she skims off the thorns one by one.
This next event must be one that bores Josse, a message sent yesterday that if it would please the Lady Isolde to host company this afternoon he would bring by the promised gift of days ago. He too was at the duel, though the septon's reaction to it was carefully schooled in public and if there was discussion after he's been prudent about keeping opinions diplomatic. Nonetheless anyone at the duel would have seen him standing conspicuously near the Terricks, even as his prayers called on the Warrior in both combatants' names.
Bearing his large rucksack and carrying something wrapped in white cloth in the crook of his brown-robed arm, Josse follows a servant back into the gardens, pushing his hood off the back of his head as they emerge into the sanctum's sunlight.
Turning the rose about in her hand, Isolde is satisfied and sets it with the one other she had collected. The season for the flowers is nearing its end but another few weeks will see the rest of the large shrubs rush to bloom. The Lady and takes note of the entrance of others with the soft interjection of sound. Her head lifts and she tilts herself about the edge of the shrubt to catch sight of Josse. Her smile grows and she sheather the knife, lifting the basket and setting it within, "Septon.." She greets him warmly and moves to greet him, the servant nodded to, "Water please…" She looks to Josse, "Water or summerwine, Josse?" She asks of him.
The shift of her dress around her legs is hampered a little by the hook of the edge of her skirts into the belt about her waist.
"Summerwine would be perfect, thank you." Strict decorum would call for the septon to take water instead of alcohol, if only because his higher-ranked hostess does — but Josse was rarely one to observe that particular nicety. Two years haven't fixed those manners. The soles of his sandals scritch the path as he heads down it, blue eyes flickering at the flora like a face that he can't quite seem to remember a name for. "The colors here have changed, haven't they?" he says, turning his head to look at the noblewoman for confirmation.
The servant who had shown him in bows and moves off to gather the refreshments as Isolde nods her head towards Josse, "Just slightly, a new flower had been brought by a dear friend of my father's. I gave it such attention that it is growing over the presence of my father's red. But, they bloom at different times..and they will cross over in the next week." Red and coral, the white blossoms about to burst too. "It seems not far from when I am to wed.." There is a faint sad smile but it is wiped away with a motion towards a bench, shaded by the twisted old smooth beech tree. "It grows too hot in the day, why do we not take respite beneath the shade." She eyes what he has beneath his arm with a faint curiousity before turning to lead the way. The basket sways on her arm before she asks him with a gaze along her shoulder, "Are you enjoying the tourney?" She asks of him and shifts, slowing as they near the bench.
The basket is delicately set down on the side before she gathers her skirts and lowers to take her seat on one side.
Josse catches her glancing at The Thing he's holding, and his teeth show in a quick flash, grinned. No move to uncover it, but he follows the noblewoman towards the shaded area. "I am, it's nice to get out of the house…so to speak." He settles down after she does, and promptly jumps back to something that had distracted him a moment ago. "You're going to be wed next week?" The surprise in his voice was likely unintended.
Blinking at his surprise and rebound to the past comment, Isolde pauses. Her hands smooth her dress slowly and then a nod of her head is given. "Yes…Josse. I thought you had heard. It is to be announced at the end of the tourney and the following day…I am to be wed here. In the gardens." She stills her hands to her lap and then looks somewhat less lively. "But to put that aside, let us see.." Her smile returns and she motions to the item he keeps covered, green eyes alight with interest.
Josse opens his mouth as if to say something and then appears to reconsider — for now, anyway. He clears his throat with purpose and shifts the book (for that is quite obviously what it is) onto his knees. "Yes. This." His hands settle on top of the white covering, a moment of silence clearly for dramatic effect. "You know Brother Amery and I have been all over these past two years, and I've collected a lot of what we saw. There are ways of mending out in the far lands that are nothing like here. We…were able to observe so many things, and though I could not record them all I did start this book especially for you." He tugs the white covering off as he speaks this last, revealing a front cover with painstaking calligraphy — 'Herbs and Practices of the North Plains'.
He scratches an eyebrow, glancing at her profile. "It's, ah. Particularly for use by women. You understand, my Lady."
Listening with great interest, Isolde actually shifts closer, tilting her head to watch him unwrap the gathered tome that the culmination of his travels. The Lady pauses a moment, "The Northern plains…" It is said with bright childish astonishment and when he says that it is for her, her face flushes. Her gaze lifts to him and she smiles warmly. "This is…" She reaches out to touch it, the front cover with reverence. "This is the best gift, such a treasure…" Her smile grows and she can not help but shake her head, gazing just at the cover alone serves for her curiousity to grow. She lets out a sharp sigh and leans over, placing a quick and chaste pack of her lips to his cheek, overcome with absolute joy at the propsect of what is within.
It is his last statement that has her gaze lifting again to his. "I understand…yes…dear Josse." Her voice is warm and she hesitates at the cover. "May I?" Asking permission to open it.
"Please." Josse's face is slightly red after being kissed, and he even smirks at himself. He hefts the book carefully over to her, letting her set it upon knees or bench of her choosing, and then settles back. The pages are about half writing and half drawings, with many pages of labelled dried herbs pressed carefully to the rough material. "Much, I'm sure, is worth more study. Many of these procedure neither I nor Brother Amery had ever heard of. But I could not think of any better than you to champion such an endeavour."
As he moves the book, she is helping to settle it to her knees. Isolde's green gaze is intent as she opens it, leafing through the first few pages with great care, lingering on a few pieces of information. "This is..amazing, Josse." She whispers softly and reverently she traces a drawing, reading the instructions for a procedure. She can not help but shake her head in amazement. "You flatter me, Josse, but thank you. It is almost like I was with you. I wish I had been." She turns another page and takes note of the herb, reading of it and she furrows her brows. "I would be glad to study this …you really honor me." She smiles fondly up at him, "You really know how to make me happy…" She laughs a little and gives him a nudge of her shoulder.
"Would that I could do it more, my Lady. This world would be a brighter place." Josse's soft-spoken voice and faint smile saves this from being idle flattery. His shoulder nudges her right back, and he lapses into silence for a few moments to watch her enjoy her first encounter with the unique tome. Before he speaks again there's the faintest hesitation of an inhale. "I hope that your to-be Lord Husband is…agreeable" And boy that word's got a little edge to it. "to your interests."
She rocks with the nudge back and finds comfort in the familiarity they share. Isolde is engrossed in her study but when he speaks of her husband, her gaze grows a little dark and clouded. "I am unsure…if he will. I do not see him objecting. It is not like I am lifting a sword." She tells Josse. She blinks a few times, "You had a chance to meet him…but know what my father wished too, my ties to Terrick are slowly dissolving, dear Josse. I think they will not last after this tourney and it is slowly stealing me with it." Confiding in him, she lingers in the study of the page before her.
"Lord Ryker?" Josse leans forward, resting his elbows down on his knees. "Forgive me, my Lady. Two years without word of home is a long time, and the last I knew the Tordane tie to the Terricks was in line to be strengthened. I remember talking about your Lord Father, but…"
"They were….but my mother had a hand." Isolde says and watches him, "Lord Ryker…and he seems agreeable." The Lady tilts her head, "He allows me a voice. For that I am grateful. I can not seem to find the heart to hate him." She admits and then lets out a breath. "And that gives me guilt. My father's oaths are being forgotten.." Perhaps there is more meaning to her than that but she turns her attention back to the book. "You will come by though? To help show me some of these? Besides, I rather like your company, Josse."
If the septon had further comment, he keeps it to himself for the time being. Josse turns his head to look at her profile. "Of course I will, my Lady. I would hope you know that a marriage may change your name, but will not change who you are to me." He looks back at his hands, lacing them. "I find no room in study for politics. They smear the ink."
His comment makes her smile and Isolde leans over to kiss his cheek again. "Thank you…for that." It is the only time someone has said it to her. Those green eyes have grown somewhat sorrowful at his words and she sighs, "That is where we must differ, my life from here on wil be all about politics. As smeared as the ink will become, so will the alliances and friendships. I may lose many of those I care about." She lets out a sigh and rests her hand over the page to secure the tome to her lap. "I am glad one will not be you. Keep politics away as long as you can." SHe advises him, her head dipping.
"I understand, my Lady." Josse's blue eyes return to her after her lips grace his cheek again. His laced fingers let small slats of sunlight dapple onto the shin of his plain robe. "I don't envy you the burdens of blood. God is demanding, but sometimes I wonder if men aren't ten times worse."
"We are…because we do things knowingly against each other. Such crimes are conscious ones with no purpuse but selfish claims.." Isolde is just as guilty of them and she trails a finger along the edge of the page before looking down to it. "One wonders when we as a people began to move each other as pieces?" It is a question better left unanswered. A breath is expelled and she smiles. "Such dreary discussion for such a beautiful day…tell me more of your travels."
Josse smiles, only moving half his mouth. "Dreary indeed. Well. I can tell you of the river floodplains, or the great forests east of Flint's Finger…the expanses of the Neck, the waters of Cape Kraken…I can tell you that the best time to learn to swim is not after falling off a barge while trying to grab for a fallen sheet of paper."
His last causes a bright laugh and some of Isolde's weariness drains away into mirth. "Dastardly those winds I would say.." the Lady intones with a tsk. A shake of her head is given and she keeps her place. "Were your travels everything that you had hoped? Were you glad to back in the Riverlands?" Curious noble she is and hungry for an explanation. Her smile remains and it seems those dreary topics have been shed.
"Everything and more, my Lady," Josse says, and he doesn't bother trying to hide a note of wistfulness. "To see the broad brush that God paints with. Like looking at the street after someone has broken a fistful of marbles with a strong shot…after they've rolled everywhere and it's hard to imagine that they could've have come from the same place once. Or even if they did. One goes hunting answers and digs up mysteries instead. I wish you could have come with us."
His words and wistfulness draws her in and Isolde gives her attention wholly to the study of his face. The metaphor softens her gaze further, "It sounds like it took you in and kept you…I am glad we got you back.." At his last though, she shakes his head, "I have found dreams and wishes fall hard." She breathes. "I hate falls….I dislike heights. But yes, I would have loved to walk with you.
"There's always something to be said for home," Josse agrees quietly. "One doesn't need to leave the city to have an adventure, so to speak." He glances at her profile and smiles again. "Sometimes there's just the thrill of something you've never done before, something right under your nose. Has that ever happened to you?"
"Only once or twice, Josse." Isolde replies in honesty and then gently closes the tome, wanting to preserve it. Her hands smooth over the cover and she cradles it closer to her stomach, lifting her legs so it doesn't slide free. "Right now, I don't notice such things, but perhaps I will find them in Hag's Mire…or I will discover another side of myself. But I do like what you tell me of the places you have been. It serves me well." She pulls the tome to her chest and cradles it with care. "Josse, I feel like I shouldn't keep this, but borrow it. All your travels and work are in here.."
"Then next time I'll bring my personal scratchings and tell you a right story or two." Josse flashes her a grin, then promptly shakes his head. "No, my Lady, it's yours. It was always meant to be. I have my own records, believe me, I'm surprised I can still bend my fingers with how much I wrote. That is yours. It's your work, and the only thing that would make me happy is to see if go to good use."
"I will give it a good home…and treasure it. It will most definitely be put to good use." Isolde says and keeps it close to her. His grin is returned and the Lady smirks some, "Your stories…that I would love as well. Perhaps one of the feast nights at the tourney, you will sit with me. It would do well for you and my husband to be to speak and get to know each other." She advises gently. "For him to take comfort with you would help me out."
"I will do my best for your sake, my Lady," Josse promises. He glances up at the position of the sun over the garden wall and then looks back at her. "Is there anything else I can do? It's noble that you wish so well for your husband, but…is there anything for you?"
"You have done more than I could ever ask of you. Just be as you are and visit with me. That shall be all I need." Isolde says gently with a soft smile. "This will keep me well for a long time. Just to read of this will make me smile." Distract her too. "I may need you though…after the wedding night. I have no one else to confide in….if you feel you can ..do such a thing I would be forever grateful for that." The Lady shifts, settling her arms more tightly around the tome. "I do not ak this lightly, but if you could find the time to visit me, I will need to speak to you of the Seven and my duty to my husband. Perhaps it will help me."
Josse lowers his eyes just briefly, covering it by gently rubbing the tip of his nose. "That I can, my Lady. And perhaps it will. Men are complicated in some ways…and not, in others." His own words bring a one-sided smirk to his face that's brief, gone with the next statement. "I will keep my time open after the wedding. You know how to reach me when you're ready." He sets his hands on the sides of the bench, getting ready to stand. "I should get ready to take my leave. As much as I would stay here for hours more."
"I will call on you when the time comes….but I would appreciate you at the wedding itself." Isolde says and then stands with him, "Next time, stay for hours.." She offers him. "For this.." She taps the tome. "I am very grateful." She smiles and shifts stepping away from the bench with him to show him to the exit. "Your company is always welcome in this Hall. Never think you need to call before you arrive. There is always a place for you." SHe says to him and then takes care with the tome, stilling her steps near the arch. "Be well, Josse and I look forward to your stories next time."
"You humble me with your generosity, Lady Isolde, as always." Josse's formality is cut at the knees by his tone, which is much warmer than what someone would normally use to talk to a noblewoman. "I'll keep a candle for you at the sept. God bless." He bows his head politely and follows it with a light wink, smiling at her once before he turns to head for the corridor and the Stonebridge streets beyond.