|Summary:||Ceinlys questions Daryl's dedication.|
|Related Logs:||In Truth I am the Least and the Missing Children TP in general|
|Guest Room — Rockcliff Inn, Terrick's Roost|
|A simple, spartan, homely little guest room.|
|December 6th, 289 A.L.|
Appearances are not held to be a clue to the truth. But we seem to have no other. ~ Ivy Compton-Burnett
It's a bright afternoon at the Roost, but the only light creeping in comes from the open window of the room, set on the second level of the Inn. When Lord Daryl Ashwood heard word Lady Ceinlys may be diverting her direction from Highfield to Terrick's Roost, he quickly sent word for courier to request her presence at this very inn, room number included. Within the room is a desk with various parchments and maps set up, the Ashwood setting his hands on the corners of the desk as he peers down at them. His attire is currently armor, perhaps he's about to go out for another search soon. His helmet is set aside, however, leaving a handsome, if a bit wearied, countenance. Oddly enough the door to the room is cracked open someways.
By nature, the Lady Ceinlys tends to be rather punctual and businesslike. Given the overwraught air of these past few days - and the lack of sleep or even rest, what with all the upset and upheaval - it might be permissible that she's a touch less purposeful, this afternoon. Yes, the message was conveyed. Just as she dismounted from her golden palfrey, in fact. And it was met with a fractional nod, a weary smile and an assurance that she would be along shortly; as soon as she had changed from her riding clothes. As luck would have it, the Steward had sensibly elected a modest room at the Inn, too, so it's really not asking too much for her to pay the Ashwood a visit.
And so it is that, freshly washed and attired, with her dark tresses finally swept back into some semblance of order and a sharper expression in her always cold eyes, the young lady arrives at Daryl's door in due course, primly folding her hands against her skirts as Brigid steps forward to knock gently. Seeing as the door's ajar, the handmaid peers round it, announcing in a tone designed not to unduly disturb the occupant, "..m'Lord? The Lady Ceinlys, at your request.."
Daryl sets a gauntleted hand down to move one of the parchments aside, reading it. His emerald hues flit from the left, slowly to the right, then repeating as each line is read. There's a faint frown, and the Ashwood straightens, drumming metal fingers on the desk before glancing back at the bed, set in the opposite corner of the room. A couple bags lay there on the mattress. "Please, come in." He announces as he hears them approach. He peers up from the bags and straightens, opting to look an impressive sight in front of the lady and not a tired, worn down one.
With a respectful bob of a curtsey, Brigid lowers her gaze and carefully pushes the door further inward, stepping aside in order to leave her mistress plenty of room to pass. Still clad in that olive and copper ensemble, with the hood of the gown flung back to leave her freshly-washed hair still a little damp about her throat and shoulders, Ceinlys sweeps into the room with far less presence than usual. It's more of a drifting, really. But that could be put down to the fatigue that's beginning to take it's toll upon her. "Lord Daryl." Ever the politican, she summons a passable smile for her host, briefly flitting her blue eyes floorward before regarding him directly. "My apologies for the delay. Have you.." A glance back over her shoulder has her chaperone quietly closing the door before the Steward will continue. "..have you any news..?" She sounds less hopeful every time she has to ask someone. But it's still there - that defiant little flicker of belief.
The smile is returned, but Daryl's never really been one to mask his outwards emotions unless he really had to. His look is assessing, in a warm manner he looks her over, trying to see through and sense how she's really doing. "Lady Ceinlys. You seem to have been riding as much as we have lately. Think nothing of the wait." He steps back towards the desk, shooting a look Brigid's way, "Close the door if you would." To Ceinlys, Daryl exhales lightly, "Nothing since what I shared in Heronhurst. But…" He indicates the maps, looking at the maps with a similar persistence. "Here are the maps of Terrick's wooded area, across the river. It's a start." As he looks over them once more, he makes a couple marks with a writing utensil, before asking in a more casual, familiar voice, "…How are you, M'lady?"
"As well as can be expected. Thank you." The answer is simple enough, but it comes a little too swiftly. A practiced response for the same old questions. At least she seems less wracked with grief, since last he saw her; that much appears under control. To be honest, though, even the strongest woman couldn't disguise the fear and exhaustion still assailing her every waking second.
And so, just for now, she relents. A little.
Loosing a sigh that seems to take with it the last few remnants of strength, Ceinlys helps herself to a seat, perching upon a heavy chest and leaning her head back against the wall. With her vivid eyes drifting closed, her lashes rest dark against her cheeks and it's suddenly all too apparent that, beyond all the poise and danger inherent in her name, she's only just past twenty. "..I'm tired. And hungry, but nothing wishes to agree with my stomach aside from the strongwine Brigid keeps feeding me, of an evening. And my back hurts, from riding and.. well, that's likely enough brutal honesty, for the moment, I think." Opening her eyes a slit, she studies the young Lord with a rueful curve upon her lips. "..how are you?"
Deep green hues flit to larger maps, for more ground cover. Highfield, the roost, Heronhurst…It seems he's perhaps trying to triangulate a likely camp spot, or places they may have travelled over the river. He tears a look away to settle on Ceinlys, an understanding sort of smile, albeit small. There's something about the look, something that keeps his eyes lingering a second longer before they fall dilligently back on the work before him. "It will all pay off, M'lady…When you hold her in your arms again." The look on his face makes it seem like there's no other option…No force, not by the Seven or any cursed creature, that would stand in his way. "Me? Doing quite well." His tone is light, but he does look a little tired too. Why is he taking this search so personally?
"Lord Daryl.." After a pause, the young lady leans forward to rest her elbows on her knees, clasping her hands loosely before them and studying the man as he pores over maps doubtless committed to memory by now. "May I ask you something?" Apparently not one used to being denied, she continues on without really waiting for an answer. "Not that I am not grateful, because believe me, I am. It's just.. why do you care so much? Really?" Tilting her head a little askance, Ceinlys presses her lips in a thin line briefly, contemplative. "My brother I can understand.. but why you? Hafwen is of no matter to House Ashwood." Perhaps that much is made still more crystal clear by the apparent lack of contact from the distant Lord of Highfield. The former Steward can easily hazard a guess as to what may be keeping him so detained.. but now is hardly the time or place for speculation and she doesn't seem much interested in the topic, beyond it's possible importance to the Lord before her. "I might also beg a small favor of you." Quirking a brow, she adds, more gently, "..do call me by my name, when we are our two selves. Now more than ever, proper 'etiquette' is beginning to grate on me."
Daryl shifts gaze to another map, more local, near the river that divides the three House's lands. Circling footprints of unknown origin. They must've doubled back, bought some time. But they don't have anywhere to flee. Their literally in the heart of the three Houses that had children missing. They must've taken the river. Daryl's mind idly generates possible ways this could be, possible directions, possible motives for capture…Too many possibilities. He snaps back to the present as she questions him softly. There's a moment or two when he's silent, looking down at the maps for a moment longer. His eyes flit her direction, studying her striking hues. Finally, his mouth catches up, "No Lady…No daughter should be taken from her mother." He averts his gaze, clears his throat and adds, "Besides, it is my duty. My orders." He doesn't look back up at her, save for a small, darting glance. Would the answer be suitable enough? "Same goes for you," He speaks in reference to their names.
While he speaks, the young woman rises from her seat in a single smooth motion, folding her arms and approaching him. If anything, her expression could be considered only curious, nothing remotely resembling accusation in those often formidable eyes of hers. "No, no daughter should." Her agreement is softly uttered, but distracted. Elsewhere. She leaves it at that, for a long moment, before speaking again.
"Daryl?" Tilting her head in order to better seek his gaze as she arrives at the map-strewn table, her long skirts swishing lightly against the floorboards, Ceinlys tries to search his features as she ventures something further. "..I don't believe you. I know the sorts of men who follow their orders, who do their duty as instructed by their Lord. But never have I known one that seems to genuinely care about the outcome. Certainly not unless it affects them directly. Tell me." Though that gentle, velvety cadence never once rises above the lilt it began as, there's a certain lack of room for argument. The woman is used to being obeyed, she can't help that.
Daryl certainly isn't the typical nobleman, and at first he resisted, but as she steps to his side, his gaze is again pulled away, the maps and paperwork no longer a sanctuary for him. He straightens, looking into her hues, "I can…Relate. When I was a little boy, one day I was able to slip away into the forests outside Hollyholt. I hadn't known the surroundings back then and…Well, I was curious. Just a child. I was playing near a riverbed when I got too deep into the water." He clears his throat, recalling, "Swept me away and took me a good way from home. When I floated ashore, I…" He shakes his head, "It was one of the worst feelings in the world, being lost so young. Uncertain if I would ever see my family again." He offers a charming smile, despite the conversation, likely trying to sooth her for her daughter's sake. "Eight days they looked for me. And by the time I was found, well…I may have been a little hungry and dirty…But I was safe. And back with my family. I'm going to make sure the same happen's for Lady Hafwen." Their close proximity gives him oause. Despite the armor he wears, their is a pleasant cologne of sorts that can reach ones scent. Freshly bathed. "That and, well…For you, Ceinlys. When I heard she was your daughter, it changed things." His gaze doesn't leave hers, that confidence not faltering in the slightest. "As bad as it may look, there's always hope for her. Don't forget that, because if anyone needs to believe it, its her mother."
Unbidden, there's a sudden glimmer of tearshine in Ceinlys' vibrant eyes - enough so that she turns her head away, studiously settling her gaze upon the far wall rather than meet his. Though the tale does seem to go some way to easing her curiosity over the matter, it also brings to the fore the thoughts she has dilligently been avoiding, at least in the presence of others. "..I don't know what's worse. The horrors of what might be happening to her that plague me when I close my eyes.. or the knowledge that wherever she is, she's afraid, and relying upon me to save her. And I can't do anything!" Rage and exasperation replace the brief waver.. sort of. In truth, all remain, in a precarious balance. Sweeping both palms across her face, the young lady strides away, only to pivot on a heel and take to pacing slowly. Damned small rooms. "I cannot abide feeling so fucking helpless, when all I want to do is drop this bastard's innards onto his boots with a hot iron." The steward barely even notices her uncouth language, her slender form practically shivering with suppressed, futile anger.
Resting one hand upon her lips fleetingly, she draws a long breath, those dark-lashed eyes flitting back to Daryl's as she tries desperately to regain the composure that is long gone. And, as swiftly as it came, the fury begins to dissipate. She even tries to offer him a smile. "..I won't give up hope, Daryl. I can't. And I've no right to your help. I will languish happily in your debt, for as long as it takes. I will raze the Riverlands to the ground if you ask it of me. Just.." Halting now opposite him, she rests the fingertips of one hand in a makeshift light brace on the tabletop, searching his eyes. "..do what you can to return her to me. Please?" It's a singular occurrence, Ceinlys Erenford pleading for help in such a manner. But such is the love of a mother for her child, regardless how heartless a creature she may be painted as by all the world.
Daryl watches her as her emotions release. There's no judgement in his look, no chastising aim. If anything he sees her from truer light, the genuine anguish she harbors over her daughter in peril. He makes no interuption until she sets her hand on the desk. When their gazes meet, his jaw tightens a little, Her piercing glacial hues are like an unstoppable force, colliding with his deep green that serve as an immovable object. It is not her tone or familiarity of command that moves him, not her beauty or charm, but the raw emotion she spills out, heartfelt. The Ashwood dips his head just a touch, a chilly steel gauntlet being set over the hand she uses for brace. "I will. If there is one man who can find her, its someone whos been in such a similar situation. I know the outdoors well, Ceinlys." There's that extra lingering second again before the deputy releases her hand and steps beside, moving to the bed and beginning to tighten the bags he has there, secure them. He seems pretty hell bent on the mission now.
The young woman remains quite still, unflinching under scrutiny, or the cold steel of that brief touch. And when Daryl chooses to move away, she doesn't stop him - she merely watches him a moment, before looking down to her fingers, slowly curling them inward against her palm. Letting him busy himself away from that fleeting, emotionally charged proximity - smart man - it's a long few beats before she speaks again, very quietly. "Did you ever wish you were someone else..?" Drawing her hand away from the tabletop with a light scrape upon the surface, Ceinlys rakes her fingertips back through her dark hair from the temple, then pulls the lengths forward over one shoulder.
"Those less fortunate think they would give all they had to be in positions such as ours. Yet.. sometimes I wonder what life would be like on the other side of the coin. Without the constant demand of facade and politics. Without enemies to thwart and allies to seduce. Without.. ever having need to fear for our children." Yes, her voice caught a little on that one, but she continues, all the same. Drifting across to the small leaded-glass window, she looks down on the square below, watching smallfolk bustle about their affairs. "..I'd wager they have it better than they realise."
"In a way, they do." Daryl responds, still set to his task of readying equipment, He slings both bags over his shoulders and smiles just a touch as he views her staring out the window, "But, it not something we can change…How and where we are born. So I hardly dwell on such ideas." He steps over to the desk, starting to roll up the maps, but then stopping. He knows she's restless, eager to help. A pause. "Keep in mind smallfolk have been taken too. But…I see your point. You wish you could do more." He gestures to the maps should she look his way, "I'm going to be searching this area here." He marks a circular area on the map. "Best way to organize a search, cover all the land…You want something to do? Study these. Mark what spots have been covered and what needs more searching. But, most important of you roles…Is to comfort Lady Hafwen when I return her to you. I take my leave for search." He grabs his helm with one hand, dipping his head and taking a few steps towards the door.