Page 471: Harsh Lessons
Harsh Lessons
Summary: Some tough love for Katrin.
Date: 07-Nov-2012
Related Logs: Harden Your Heart and Thicker Than Water
Ceinlys Katrin 
Ceinlys' Chambers - Tanglewood Manor
This private suite enjoys arguably one of the best views of the entire Keep. Upon entering, one is greeted with the illumination offered by tall windows, lining both of the outer walls. Those that overlook the garden and trees below, though, additionally have plush benches within their alcoves; an ideal spot for reading. Given the vast shelves that dominate the segments of wall in between, that is a near-constant pasttime for the Lords Steward. With the chamber cleverly designed in an L-shape, the main body of it is a fairly modest affair, with only the occasional evidence of a womans touch inherent in small details - the golds and silvers of the thick damask curtains, the finely polished oak of the grand table upon which numerous parchments lie neatly rolled and tomes properly stacked, the sweet fragrance of herbs wafting inward from a window left ever so slightly ajar. Around the corner, the sleeping alcove is separated by layers of gauzy muslin curtains, mingling together enough to become almost opaque; disguising the raised, comfortable bed beyond, without entirely diminishing the light. A servants cot rests along the foot of the platform, presumably for a Ladys attendant.
November 5th, 289 A.L.

The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life's essential unfairness. ~ Nancy Mitford

By the time Ceinlys' messenger was dispatched to the Ash and Oak, the hour for dinner had arrived. And now it has come and gone. The young Steward has taken her meal in her chambers, for what it's worth. Still picking at the offered fare, which rests on a platter at one end of her table, Ceinlys paces back and forth across the floor, for once without a book or parchment in hand - merely the thoughts whirling behind her eyes. Brigid, ever stony-faced and weary in motion, idly bustles about the chambers, tidying and re-tidying things that were quite orderly in the first place. There's a distinct air of unease in the near silent room; the calm before an inevitable storm, perhaps?

And Katrin finally makes her appearance, out of breath in her haste to make it to the keep. But at least the girl has taken the time to dress for the occasion, a dark green down to complement her coloring with a golden sash about her waist. Her poor old Septa had difficulties keeping up with the more energetic young girl and comes huffing and puffing up behind her even as the Haigh taps politely on the door.

"Come." Ceinlys' even tone sounds from beyond the door, inviting the new arrivals to enter promptly. Her own attendant glances up from folding a neat stack of fabrics away in a coffer, worried eyes, for the hundredth time, taking in her mistress' slender frame and obvious disquiet. Drawing to a halt at the far end of the room, the young lady waits for her cousin to step over the threshold and gestures her to a seat. She herself remains standing, however, folding her hands against her silvery skirts. "Hello, Katrin." The Septa goes without greeting, for now. In fact Ceinlys studiously and icily avoids even acknowledging the older woman at all. She'll have to find her own place. "I expect you know why I want to speak with you, don't you." It's rhetoric, surely. But the woman falls silent afterward, simply watching her kin calmly.

The younger girl slips into the room, hands clasped together in front of her. But Katrin's chin is lifted, shoulders squared. "Good evening, Ceinlys," she replies in a soft voice. "I do apologize for my tardiness in coming to see you. I only recently returned to the Inn after being out riding most of the day." She claims her seat and settles in, taking her time to tuck and smooth her dark skirts into a manner just so. "I would imagine you wish to speak with me regarding Lord Alric's visit to you." A brief flicker of amusement in her eyes. "He informed me that he came to you over a few concerns he had."

A non-commital 'hmm' is the only initial answer to that supposition, accompanied by a brief arch of a skeptical brow. Ceinlys' features, so prone to at least some warmth in the presence of family, are now devoid of any discernible emotion at all. Her most favoured mask, and one that certainly doesn't bode well for those who see it. "He did. And who can blame him? He is, after all, to marry into our family. He has the right to concern over the reputations that form around it. Not to the extent that I have, or our Lord. But a right, all the same. And, apparently, the grounds."

Ignoring her handmaid as she ventures forward to clear away the forgotten remnants of her barely-touched dinner, Ceinlys trails a fingertip along the carved back of her tall chair, before simply folding her arms atop it in a seemingly nonchalant pose. Yet, this evening, every nuance, every gesture, seems somehow predatory. As if some fury were to be unleashed at any moment, with any sudden movement or wrong word. "Most of them were matters already raised between us, Katrin. Which means only that others observe and form opinions. That much, we both knew. But it was also what I warned you against, at the Roost. And now.." She leans forward a little, resting her chin upon her folded arms and narrowing her blue eyes a little in thought upon the young woman. "..I hear you intend to further ignore my counsel. That is disappointing."

Katrin's brows raise only slightly as she regards her cousin with a reserved expression. "Why cousin, I had thought that I was doing my utmost to heed your advice. Lord Alric had mentioned you showed some reservations regarding my attending the Trial by Combat and…" Her eyes narrow for a brief moment. "Perhaps it is not the wisest of decisions on my part, but still one I feel I must follow through on. Ser Martyn offered to escort me, as well as Lady Aemy, so I would not see that there would be any question of propriety. So please, if I have done something that is such a grievous offense, I would ask that you share it so I can better control my actions."

"Well, fucking the Mallister is the example that most leaps out, on the subject of maintaining some measure of dignity and appearance of honor." The reply is as biting as Katrin's was reserved. "And denotes a sincere lack of wits, considering what you have been told will happen, if this continues. I am doing my damndest to help you, cousin.. and for all the ideals of romance, which I try to pardon you for, you are throwing my counsel back at me, at every turn." In contrast to her words, which never yet rise above their usual timbre, Ceinlys offers a slow, serene smile. That, more than anything, betrays her rising temper, beneath the facade of sweetness.

"And let me see if I have this correct.." Pushing away from her lean upon the chair-back, she takes to a stroll, ever so slowly, around the table. " cannot see any flaw in this idea of travelling to watch your former lover - a Nayland - fight over a sentence that was, quite frankly, as much of your making as his own… accompanied by your new lover, who was, if I recall correctly, forbidden from a union with you, on the grounds of your untested maidenhead." The Steward adopts an expression of moc-consideration, chewing on her lower lip before slowly shaking her head, looking to her cousin levelly once more. "No, I see no problem with that little display." The words are laced with sarcasm. "I would not have come between you and he, if I could help it, Katrin. Because I pity you for your plight. But explain to me, precisely, when you began thinking solely with your cunt."

Katrin's cheeks flush red at Ceinlys' words. Words begin bubbling up in her own defense, hot and angry but she bites down on her lower lip to at least slow, if not halt them entirely. "We have been proper," she finally says slowly, spacing each word out. "I spoke to you in confidence of one night we shared." She takes in a deep breath, schooling her expression down into one matching in serenity. But that sadly shatters under the mention of Rafferdy. The anger she has been holding back spills over, even as she propels herself out of her seat and strides across an open space, turns on her heel and strides back to the chair.

One hand braces against the back of the chair as Katrin struggles to regain any measure of control from her outburst, as silent as it may have been. She takes in several deep breaths, eyes closed. "It was entirely my fault that he faces this Trial, Ceinlys," she says through clenched teeth. "Do you think I will not weep and feel this eat at me for the rest of my life if he actually falls? I brought him to this. His love for me. It is as if I asked him to stand idly as I let them slit his throat. The blood is on my hands, not the Nayland champion." And her small hands do clench against the fine woodwork of the chair. "Ser Martyn offered his companionship to this Trial because he knew he could not dissuade me from it. I sought his presence because I value him as a friend. Perhaps I did not think clearly on the nuances of it, but perhaps it is because I have not become quite so heartless as you yet." She manages a grim smile. "But give it time and I assure you, I will be there."

"If you truly must see for yourself the sight of that young man likely spilling his lifesblood in your name, Katrin, then you ought at least do so in the company of family. Of friends. Of anyone other than that damned man! How could you not see how foolish that choice would be?" If Ceinlys is even remotely perturbed at being considered heartless, it doesn't show. She's been called such things before and in this moment, it's very easy to see why. Halting at the far side of the table, the Steward leans forward, bracing splayed fingertips upon its surface and glaring at her young cousin across the expanse between them. Those eyes, the hue shared by so many of the first line of Haighs, seem to penetrate through to the very core. But her words are still gently spoken, even now. "Do you honestly wish the last sight that Rafferdy Nayland has, to be you standing in the crowds with the man who has already replaced him? To reduce his loss and sacrifice to ashes and confirm, without a shadow of doubt, what the gossips of the courts already consider to be the truth of your standards?" Heaving a sigh of annoyance and frustration, she slowly straightens again, shaking her head and averting her attention for the young woman, dismissively. "I won't be able to hold back the consequences this time, Katrin. You have made your bed. I hope it was worth the lay in it."

"When did I become so stupid?" Katrin asks as she retakes her seat, slouching down into it. There's just no energy to bother with a proper posture. "When did I stop seeing the importance of each little act and how they would affect the greater whole? I used to be good at this game, and I thought that it would be smooth sailing toward a beneficial match that would secure me a very comfortable position for the rest of my life. And I was happy with that very thought." She shakes her head, hands covering her face. "How did I fall so far down this hill?" She peeks through her fingers at Ceinlys, meeting the older woman's gaze head on. "I want to get back there. I could protect my sister and my family when I was actually competent, instead of letting myself fall into the trap of a lovesick girl who thinks first with her heart." She gives a hollow laugh. "My love for a man will bring him to his death. A senseless, pointless act that I should have been able to stop. I do not want to see the same thing happen to Martyn Mallister…"

Raising and dropping one shoulder in a light shrug, Ceinlys silently professes her own lack of knowledge as to how things have come to this. "It is not the first time you have turned your thoughts this way, cousin. What I require of you is to keep looking ahead. Stop allowing yourself to be swayed. You did have a talent for the game.. enough that I hoped to find in you a woman of like mind and ambition. But your determination, now, must be set to making the long and arduous climb back up before things have any hope of being mended. I have told you, always.." She turns away, wandering aimlessly back the way she had come. "..that the chance remains. But you have to want it. And yes, I suppose, to that end.." Her blue eyes flit back to her cousin even as she moves. " must, indeed, become as 'heartless' as I am. I can't offer you false promise that it makes things much easier. But at least it would prevent you tumbling any further from where you ought to have been. And it might yet save the Mallister boy from the same fate as the Nayland."

Ceinlys' lengthy strides cover the distance toward one of the windows in smooth, gliding grace. "He will not understand. His own heart is leading him astray and I have no doubt, given the rumors that have arisen from your time together here in Highfield, that his own family will seek to put an abrupt halt to those fantasies. But if you truly care for him, and for your own family, you will set thoughts of him aside. Hurt him, to save him." Slowing, she turns to alter course, walking the edge of the chamber. "I take no joy in asking this of you, Katrin. But there is no other way."

"I will see him returned to Heronhurst where he belongs," Katrin promises in a quiet voice. There is a shadow of defeat. "My greatest ambitions were beyond just marriage. I wanted to be like you. Maintain my own level of power and respect." She breathes out a quiet sigh. "I wanted so very much to be his wife, but I suppose I will just have to accept the fact that it will never happen. There is no use holding on to the past." She manages to straighten her posture in the chair, hands clasped loosely in her lap. While staring down at the floor, she asks, "If there is nothing further, I believe I should return to the Inn for the night. I still intend on traveling to the Mire for the Trial but I will be sure to inform Ser Martyn that his services are not required."

Still watching her cousin from a short distance away, Ceinlys sighs softly. "No, there is nothing further. And for what it is worth, Katrin, I am sorry. But it will be fore the best, in the long run. It really will." Raking a hand back through her long black hair, the Steward turns her gaze briefly upon the young woman's Septa. Her expression darkens again as she recalls one last matter that ought to be addressed. "As for you." The momentary softness departs from her voice, leaving it clipped and cold. "..if you continue to be so reticent on matters regarding your charge, do not doubt for one moment that I shall see you dispatched to the Silent Sisters, where at least your lack of speech will be a useful commodity. And that would be a mercy upon you for your negligence." Well, at least Katrin isn't expected to shoulder all the blame. Her so-called chaperone has failed miserably in her task.

Returning her focus to her cousin, and absently waving her own attendant to open the door in preparation for the departure of the forlorn pair, the noblewoman adds, "I cannot keep you from the journey, cousin. All that remains is for me to decide whether I had best accompany you, myself. That will depend on Lord Aleister, as I have not brought the matter of your indiscretion to the ear of my father. Or any other, for that matter."

Katrin flinches as her Septa receives the tongue-lashing but stays quietly, only nodding her head at the dismissal. "I am sure that it will be for the best," she agrees half-heartedly. "I believe on the return from the Mire, I may find it within my best interest to return to Broadmoor for the time being. Some time at home could do me good." She rises to her feet and dips down into a small curtsey before drifting toward the now opened door.