Page 196: Golden Stags and Silver Horses
Golden Stags and Silver Horses
Summary: Knights are terrifying creatures, when you're a lowly stablehand…
Date: 29 January 2012
Related Logs: All the Siege of Seagard ones
Aron Hollister Keelin Starling 
Army Camp - Common
The temporary encampment just outside Seagard
January 29th A.L.

Early morning and the camps stir long before the city seems to. The mass of men and animals already lend their sounds breaking up the peaceful silence that the pre dawn dusk afforded. Cooking fires have been started, and the common soldier is moving, well them that can. Out and about the Terrick campsite, which butts close to the Nylands, is one of the grim faced bastards that saw the blood and steel the night before.

"Even th' sun seems red this early." Ser Hollister Slane, mutters to himself as he walks the border between the two sights, finding his way to where the horse are kept and being seen too. Eyes watching the bodies stirring from sleep to see to their own duties, and already the common folk and squires attached beginning their care of the beasts. There's a scant glance in the direction of Seagard, but nothing more is said. Content to let the morning do it's talking for him.

Emerging out of the Haigh encampment, Aron is another of those whose lance-tip tasted blood last night - but he hardly seems fazed by it, apart from a nasty bruise rising against his left temple. Humming cheerfully, the young Haigh knight is dressed in fine black silk and leather riding braies, swaggering toward the common area of the encampment with a fine silver-pommeled sword at his hip.

Overhearing Hollister's comment, the haughty young Haigh flashes a smile in his direction and shifts course to make his way over. "Ser," he acknowledges the man, his azure eyes sparkling. "It does run to blood, doesn't it? I heard the galleys were nearly swamped by the wounds of their own wounded."

Where there's horses, almost invariably, there's Starling. But it must be said, the animals she has tended, even at this forsaken hour, look content; munching on only slightly dusty hay likely foraged from the last reserves of the city's stores and with fresh water hauled from a nearby stream at regular intervals. The girl does her job well.. assigned or not. This morning, in the wake of battle, squires are more likely than not busied with the cleaning and hammering of bloodied and broken armors, not the care of coursers and carthorses.

With a handful of dried grass wadded in a fist, the slender brunette is briskly grooming the coat of a fine creature; tall and midnight black, with hooves easily weighty enough to crush a man's ribs. Even on tiptoe, she can only just reach his back. If anyone paid any mind to such a figure, they might note that Starling's wide brown eyes are rimmed rew, evidence of many tears shed in the past day or so. But for the time being, she's getting on with things, perhaps finding comfort in monotony. The approaching knights are afforded a fleeting glance. Though for the most part? She tries to keep her head down.

Keelin is one who is awake early, and he's with the Terrick camp at that, having decided to stick with them for at least some time period, once he arrived at the fighting. He is seated by one of the fires, carefully tending his sword. As he finishes, he puts the basic cleaning gear away, sheathes his sword and then heads over towards the stable area to check in on his large bay named Tiny. His armour is in the hands of his squire, leaving Keelin free to check once more on the horse. His Mallister colours are easily visible, as is his own sigil, the silver key. He pauses as he spies a few folks ahead of him, not wanting to intrude on any private conversations.

There's a faint look over towards where Aron's voice has been heard. And he nods his head in recognition before responding in kind. "Ser." Though Hollister doesn't give an answer for some time. Instead he remains focused on the sunrise for a bit longer before finally allowing a nod, as if that would be sufficient. "Aye, it does Ser. Perhaps it's been busy drinking in the sluice from the streets and the sea. If so, it'll have it's fill and then some this morning, I warrant you." A dry laugh there as he halts shy of where the horses remain eyes looking, as if trying to sniff out something, or someone. A shake of his head to some unsaid comment, before the knight is turning to the noble. "Oh we can say surely, the Warrior's been awoken, and I feel we'll have more mornings like this before we find our backs back in our own beds." A sniff, before the old man pats at his belt. "Though it's early, would you care for a bite of sourleaf? I have some left." A wad of the red leaf procured and held out in his palm towards the younger.

Spotting the young woman at the gorgeous ebony charger, Aron shifts course again, though in truth he is not so very far from her. "He seems to like you, young mistress," remarks the Lord with a solicitous smile - he can be charming, when he likes, after all. Producing a gold stag from the pouch at his belt, Aron holds it out to her. "You could hardly tell that he's been in battle. I know my squire promised you payment; take this atop it."

Absently scratching at the charger's side, he turns to look toward Hollister once more. "Ah, thank you! You're with the Terrick lads, are you not, Ser? I was hoping to speak with one of your knights. My Lord Aleister Charlton, whom I am pledged to serve, is gravely wounded. No one has been dispatched yet to the Roost, and I was hoping to ride with whoever you send.. to bear the word to Lady Cherise."

Stooping - not ducking intentionally, really! - the dark-haired stablehand currently in among the ranks of destriers picks up the mount's off-side fore in both hands, carefully working a single pebble free where it has comfortably nestled in. Surprise has her jerk her head up when she's addressed, having been unaware of the knight's approach. Blinking, she sets the creature's hoof back down in the grass and straightens only slowly, her gaze falling to the offered gold. What to do? Would it be more polite to accept or refuse? Starling looks utterly baffled, a flush of warmth stealing across her cheekbones. In the end, she reaches with a tentative hand to take the trinket in only slightly muddied fingers, with a murmured, "Ser.." She's not well versed enough - or appropriately dressed- to offer a curtsey and is instead left staring warily at Aron's back when he turns to walk away again. Her gaze flits toward Hollister, perhaps in vague recognition. But she doesn't approach. No sir.

Keelin steps around the conversation, an easy athletic movement, as he goes nearer the horses. The exchange of the gold stag is eyed, and ignored as none of his business. The common born knight then heads down the line a bit, to the large bay who whickers as he nears. "Easy there, Tiny," he says as he nears, a hand reaching out affectionately. Big tough destrier alright, but intelligent enough to want carrots. Keelin's smile is perhaps not seen by most, as he takes time to check Tiny over for any injuries at all, just in case.

It seems that Aron, was able to spot what his old eyes couldn't. "Bloody looks like a boy in this fucking light." That or the older knight is not one to admit he was being lazy in his own search. Hollis moves to join the other knight, his hand coming back with the red ball which he breaks apart with his fingers. Sticking part of the small wad into his mouth, the other is rolled and packed with the remnants, as he is not one to waste.

A nod is given to the Haigh Knight, before he responds in kind. "Aye, I am with the Terricks." A look back to Aron before his arm is thrust over, politely, as the other hand clamps down hard on the ball of leave in his hand. "Ser Hollister Slane, at your service." eyes steady on the young Haigh before he turns his gaze over towards Starling. "You." comes his gravelly voice. "Girl, do not stray far. A word is needed with you." Alas, poor Hollis. Despite his intentions, he probably sounds more menacing than anything else. And with that he is back to Aron- "I do not know that, as I have not been told myself who is to head back to The Roost, and who is to remain. I fear you have found one of the lower hanging apples." Keelin gets a faint glance over and off as do the horses in general before he is looking back to Aron. "But, I can make the request known."

"Please do, Ser Hollister - and a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Aron's hard grip on the other man's arm is callused and muscular, despite his dandyish appearance. He releases the man quickly, however, clearly not one given to overly-long embraces. Or anything of the sort, really. Looking back at the young woman as she is addressed, he raises his brow slightly to the other knight.

"I hope you do not intend to steal her away from my charger, Ser Hollister," he remarks, half in jest. "I was going to have him saddled and prepared for the ride. The sooner I depart, the sooner my Lord's wife knows he yet lives." This appears to be a comment to both Starling and Hollister. His gaze passes over to Keelin briefly, marking the knight, before returning to the nearby pair.

The young woman, frankly, looks like a startled doe when her brown eyes widen that way. And she was caught looking. At knights. Bad day. Very bad day. Nodding her vehement understanding to the formidable elder knight who addresses her, Starling is rooted to the spot for a long moment, even after his gaze is turned from her once more. What was she doing? She was doing something.. oh. Right. Horses. Moving with an oddly quiet air, she pats the ebon destrier's flank a last time, before moving back toward the creature's massive head. He -does- seem to like her. At least, he doesn't try to trample her. Standing unperturbed against the curve of his muscular shoulder, the brunette sets to working a few tangles from his mane. Not something that would normally warrant her time but.. she has to stay close. And not just stand there staring, slack-jawed. The stag is, after a furtive glance about herself, stuffed firmly into the front of her jerkin and for the time being Starling busies herself with this little chore. Oh, monotony and going unnoticed.. so much easier than dealing with the gentry.

Keelin finishes up his quick check over Tiny, and then he turns, attention going back to the other two knights as they discuss a message back to the Roost. "There's bound to be several messages to go that way, I'd think," he says slowly. Though after those words come out, he then nods his head. "Keelin Dorsey, Sworn to Lord Ser J - well now, I suppose that'll be just a Mallister man for the moment." He'll have to go renew his oath or something, no doubt. That brings a perhaps comic look of dismay to his face, and he goes quiet.

"And I, yours." Hollister's own grip is hard and it seems he does not linger either. No cock measuring fellow, is Hollis. Still he nods, before he's looking away to spit off in a different direction, after a small bit of chewing. "Oh, Ser Aron I do indeed plan to do that, once I can." the knight states before he is looking back to the woman. "Commere." said with a crooking finger , before attention is back on young Haigh. "If you need an rider with you-" And there Keelin pipes up which has the Terrick man looking over to Keelin for a moment. A nod given the other. "Master Keelin.." Hollis does manage to growl out before he is spitting another wad of red juice. " righ' I spect we will see plenty riding back to the Roost. I myself do not know if I aim to return there or not." Needless to say he cannot gleen Lord Jerold's mind, nor will he try. Still he remains vaguely focused on Keelin for a moment. "How does those sworn with you?" given their Lord recently went with the Stranger it seems almost a fair if not harsh sounding question.

Seeing Hollister's gesture on the periphery of her vision - having been deliberately keeping him in sight, perhaps - Starling almost visibly winces as it's followed by a spoken command. But she does as she is bid, dusting off her hands on her leggings and surreptitiously straightening the lie of her longcoat as she steps slowly back in the direction of the knights. Likely a hard-learned habit, she stays just outwith the large man's reach. Or so she hopes. But she's certainly close enough to converse. "..Ser?" Her tone is soft-spoken, though not exactly timid. Just an attempt at good manners in the midst of those bred, born and raised in schools of etiquette and subtlety. Briefly, she seems uncertain what to do with her hands. In the end, she just shoves them deep in her pockets, stealing a glance at Keelin before settling her dark-lashed eyes on the Terrick Knight.

Keelin's not one to fuss for formality, but he does nod to Hollister briefly. "That's ser," he says, but doesn't dwell on it. "And I was with the Terricks for the battle, came in with you lot, as I'd been away from Seagard when the squids attacked." He shrugs a bit. "Near as I can tell, it's a bit rough with my folk right now. Think they're licking wounds a bit, but starting to look for revenge, more 'n anything." He looks to the young stable girl, and then back to Hollister, staying quiet now. More or less, he's not the type to babble a lot of claptrap. Keeps his gob shut and stays out of more trouble that way.

"Ah, well, perhaps I can collect more than my own correspondence. I shall try to find Ser Jarod - he'll know how best I can help." Aron falls silent for a moment as Starling is beckoned before Hollister, inspecting the young woman as she draws nearer with a new-found interest. He tilts his head to one side, watching the gruff Knight terrified young woman with evident enjoyment, a dim sparkle in his azure eyes, before glancing aside at Keelin and nodding at the other man's assessment. "Jason Mallister was well-loved by his people," he murmurs politely.

Eyes remain focused the girl as she does indeed come forward, and to that he's reaching for something else, obviously kept in the same pouch as the red leaves he is fond on chewing. "Here." A silver procured and held out. "A fore payment, as I've no squire I need a fine hand to see to my destrier. The rather gray and bitey one. Mean look to his eye, I fear I inherited that bastard of a horse, though I can be sweet or so I've been told. He'll snap your hand off." he states all in one bit of a ramble. Apparently there was to be no chewing out or lewd request at least. But then he is producing another silver and a copper. Money that has been previously accounted for, it seems. "And this, is because I've seen you bout camp. Buy yourself a sharp sticker of a knife from a smith. Surely one of those here will have some given the squids we gutted last night. Make sure it is sharp enough to stab a man's testicle clean through."

And with that he's looking back to Keelin. "My apologies. Ser." A snort before he's sending a stream of juice away again, it's own deep red pattern on the ground, looking like blood. "You seemed familiar to me, but I'll admit not knowing.- And I suspect you'll tuck with us just fine then, till your young Lord calls you back, or not. Still my apologies." On either the Lord being dead or missing his title. Perhaps both." My mind feels a haze as if I drank too much last night..Little sleep will rot it.." a complaint and a shake before he finds himself staring right Aron for a moment in that self same haze. Ahh, the sourleaf at its work.

"Aye fine and good then Ser. Ser Jardo is who I would find as well. A good man he is."

"Well, yes, a fine man. Certainly a brave one." Aron smiles politely at Hollister, though he seems to be - rather unsuccessfully - hiding his amusement at the way the man handles his affairs in regards to Starling. He glances toward his own mount, and back to the young woman. "Before you tend to his mount, young mistress, have my charger saddled. I'll be leaving just as soon as I attend my affairs here."

A look to Keelin. "As for yourself, Ser? Do you have anyone in the Roost that I might carry word to? A sweetheart, perhaps?" Is it offensive, or perceptive, that he doesn't bother asking Hollister the same question?

Horses. Alright. Horses are safe. Starling's relief is palpable, markedly so as the tension departs her shoulders and they return to a rather rakish slump beneath her overlarge coat. But again, the offered silver is given a look askance. These people toss shiny things about as if they grow on trees! Numbly, she offers her palm out..- then withdraws it hurriedly. It's covered in dirt and dust. Wiping it off more thoroughly on the front of her jerkin, she offers it again, capturing her lower lip between her teeth and daring to look up.. and up.. at Hollister more directly. Then, inexplicably, there's a wide smile as he describes the beast in question, revealing a youthful dimple in one cheek. Starling -rarely- smiles, when around folks like these. But there's notable, if rather gruff, affection in the knight's tone and that's something she appreciates, it seems, in a horseman. "I know the one, Ser.. I'll see to it. Thank you." It's no small thing, to ask the task of a girl, rather than a squire. Even if she is far more skilled than many of them.

The clinking of the next coins added, though, has her arching her brows again, looking down at the fresh weight in her hand. Even she looks amused, when she's told what these are intended for. But she swallows the chuckle that threatens and nods once. "..yes, Ser. Thank you. Again." Another nod, though a little distracted, perhaps, is given to Aron, in turn.

Hollister nods once in Aron's direction, and seems not to wait for Starling's response. Just merely thrusts the coins with a spit close by to her feet. " "I'll find you out later. I am needed to Ser Jardo soon enough." A glance to Aron and he nods. "I will see you later, then.." And with that as grumpily as he came, he is off in another direction. "ta." called over his shoulder as a means to all.

Keelin arches a brow at Aron, and shakes his head. "Not a sweetheart, but Lady Mallister is there - though I'm sure that m'lord Patrek will be sending her word, t'wouldn't go amiss to send her further information." He'll make sure to send something that way, as proper as can be, if there's the chance. "Bloody mess this whole thing is, innit?" He looks to watch Starling's reaction to Hollister's donation to her safety and request for horsecare, and he smiles again, as the older knight then departs in a rush. Huh. "Was it something we said, d'you think?" he asks, looking to both Starling and Aron with amusement easily showing.

"Ah. Yes, of course, Lady Mallister. I will.. inform her as delicately as possible, if no word has come on my arrival." Aron seems to take -that- duty seriously enough, features grave. He, too, watches the grizzled knight depart with an amused quirk of one brow. "Easy to spot what happened - he was caught out being kind, and could no longer stand the sight of us. Tough old men are often so. My father, for one." He smiles evenly toward Starling, before - his tone altogether *too* gentle - remarking, "You /will/ saddle my charger before you rush off, young miss?"

The stablehand smiles shyly at Keelin, perhaps a little less threatened by the stranger with the easier candour, already stowing the coins away in a pocket of her riding coat. Battered and pliant, the aged leather has evidently seen many years of wear, presumably having been a hand-me-down to the girl. Remembering herself after a few beats, though, Starling looks to Aron. Then promptly, demurely, lowers her gaze to the grass as she nods. If anyone she has met, since she's been here, has been truly intimidating by manner alone, it's the Haigh Knight. "Yes, Ser." mumbling the assent, she turns swiftly on a heel to ease by his mount, almost improperly keen to put some distance between herself and the dark-haired man. The destrier's saddle, weighty and with a fine blanket in the colors of the nobleman's House, rests upon the bar that serves as a hitching post for the line of horses waiting patiently in the main camp.

Aron watches the woman move with an idle curiousity, his muscular frame relaxed and even a bit slouched - the same way a predator's might be. After a moment, he shakes his head, amusement evident in his gaze, and takes a step over to his charger's neck, rubbing it lightly. "You see how it is, my boy? I pay and pay for good help, and the moment I turn away.." His tone is amused, rather than annoyed, pitched loudly enough to be heard by Starling as she fetches the saddle. "I should be annoyed, if I was in any -great- hurry."

Hefting the saddle onto her arms with a practiced motion, the blanket grasped beneath in one hand, the girl turns smoothly, keeping the sturdy leather between she and the knight as she finds him closer than he had been a moment before. "..'scuse me, Ser." Edging by him, Starling tosses the padded cloth up over the destrier's broad back, then readies herself to heave the saddle up atop. It takes no small amount of effort, but her slight frame is apparently leanly muscled, beneath her attire. Settling it high on the withers, she then tugs and manipulates it back into a comfortable place in the hollow of the mount's muscular form. She's working fast - as fast as she's able - though whether to please Aron or simply to make him go away is anyone's guess. Maybe a bit of both. Regardless, she bites her tongue as he engages his mute animal in a discussion of her shortcomings, stooping to grasp the girth beneath it's belly and draw it up to the buckles.

Aron smiles at the young woman as she bends over, absently rubbing at his chin. "I know her from somewhere," he remarks to his mount, still addressing it as though he desires a response. His fondness for the animal is obvious - he soothes the high-strung beast with a gentle stroke along its neck as the saddle is placed on by unfamiliar hands, the animal tossing his head in mild protest and whickering. "Shh, shh. Yes, I remember now. Ser Taggett wanted her." He glances from the horse down to Starling, and finally addresses the woman directly. "Is that right, young mistress? My rather scarred-looking friend wanted you, no?"

Chancing a sidelong glance toward the man when he speaks to her properly, Starling stands on tiptoe in order to fully tighten the straps of the saddle. Gods -forbid- he fall off and break his neck, on his ride. "..wouldn't presume to know, Ser.." is the diplomatic answer she settles on, dropping back to her heels and smoothing the gold and tan of the blanket with a sweep of her palm before taking a step back - both from the horse and its master, eyes lowering again. "..will there be anything else, Ser?" She's hoping not. It's clear in her quiet tone and the way she avoids looking at him. You don't make eye contact with an angry dog. You back slowly away.

The scent of fear. Ah, noblesse oblige. Aron paces toward Starling, ostensibly to check the work she's done on the saddle - idly tugging at a buckle here, pretending to adjust a strap there.. nothing that actually *needs* to be done, seeing as the young woman has performed with her typical skill. He looks down at her for a few moments, and it's clear that the young knight is debating his answer. With a sudden, melodic, laugh, he shakes his head. "No, not at present. You do very good work, young mistress. I shall find you again, if you're still with the army on my return." By the way Aron says it, it's a promise.

In a moment of sheer brazen audacity, Starling looks up at the laughing knight through her lashes, her expression dark. She doesn't say anything, perhaps not trusting herself to speak. In the end, she offers a simple curt nod, before moving to walk quietly away. In the near-distance, a massive grey courser seems to be giving some trouble to a trio of squires. and they're not even tending him, but the horse beside. It's going to be a long day. but at least she's the coins for a hot meal and perhaps an ale at the end of it. That, added to Aron's menacing presence, is plenty to keep her booted feet covering ground.