|Summary:||Blackstone Knights and Fireside Discussions.|
|Tower Hall — Tordane Tower|
|The entrance to the tower opens into a larger common room for receiving guests. Effort has been made to bring warmth and light to the interior, as well. Rugs have been hung from the stone walls as well as placed on the floor to bring at a welcoming ambiance. There is a large table with several chairs off to the left of the door, a cooking hearth against the back wall, and a wooden staircase that leads up. An antechamber behind the stairs is where the servants live and bed down.|
|Sun Jan 01, 289|
After being a properly honorable escort to certain women of within the walls of Stonebridge, Alek seems content to now properly take advantage of his accomadations afforded by virtue of being a knight within the tower so recently attacked. He has a skin of wine to himself, reclining with ease and a carelessness within two chairs, his feet using one as a rest. The blonde knight eyes the hall from his position in front of the cooking hearth, amusement quirking the corner of his lips for some private joke e ven given his lack of current companions.
Lucienne has managed to find her handmaid in the rush of people now bustling about the tower, and so goes escorted wherever she… goes. Currently, she's coming down the stairs, looking no less troubled than any other moment in recent days, her hands joined tightly together in front of her skirts. A quick sweep of the hall brings Alek into view, and despite herself, the Terrick girl heads toward that particular, familiar face.
"My lady Lucienne Terrick," that knight drawls warmly, that feline laze destroyed as Alek rises with a particularly fluid grace that hints only briefly at the alcohol in his blood. He bows, of course, the practiced gesture uniquely his own with it's quirk of what almost seems to be mocking, though certainly not enough to place it as such. "How fare you in such troubled times?"
Light, feminine footsteps sounding from the entrance to the Tower brings the unaccompanied Danae into the Hall proper. She might have shed her usual guardsman at the entrance, but she looks neat and presentable. A small leaf is pinched between her fingers, thumb brushing along its ragged edges as she moves towards the Lady Lucienne and the yet unknown knight near the hearth. "Good day, Lady Terrick, Ser," she greets softly.
He makes a lovely sight for a lady to set her eyes upon, that much cannot be denied. Lucienne dips a graceful curtsy in return, unhampered by alcohol, and greets him quietly, her voice weary. "Ser Coope," she says, bidding him to sit again with a lackluster flourish of her hand. "And my lady Westerling. The day's blessings upon you both. Have I need of making introductions?"
"Lady Westerling, I have heard," Alek replies with an easy humor to the flash of a grin, his gaze drawing over Danae as if in an overly-familiar caress of study. "I am Ser Alek Coope, the Blacksword of Oldstones." He does not bow for the Lady Danae, instead the slip of his callused fingers catching hers, though he stops at raising it to his lips at the leaf caught between.
"I am afraid that I have little had the pleasure, my lady Terrick," Danae answers Lucienne with smile, before looking to the knight. Almost doll-like blue eyes are keen beneath a short fray of blonde lashes, gaze keenly appraising as they settle upon his figure. His catch of her hand stills an easy curtsey in greeting, caught between motions as callused fingers ensnare her slender hand. She freezes rather than startles, looking a little wide eyed as Alek draws her hand towards his lips with a pause. "Ah. Mint," she says of the leaf, regaining a measure of composure with a swallow. "I have heard of you as well, although less by proximity and more by stories, Ser."
"Ser Coope is every bit the man in those stories," Lucienne assures Danae, a hint of amusement creeping into her otherwise dull, lifeless tone. Her own eyes are a little glassy, from lack of sleep no doubt, and she hovers uselessly in front of the hearth, turning a distracted look toward the fire. "Has there been anymore word, are either of you aware?"
Alek murmurs a soft and amused, "Ah, mint. Lovely." And then his lips, those smirking, crooked things, brush over Danae's knuckles lightly, the press of his thumb into her skin before he releases the startled woman and straightens away. "I have no word but what we received soon after the attack. Though, Lord Ser Anton comes presently with bowmen gathered from the smallfolk," he relays to Lucienne carelessly.
Danae's eyes widen slightly further as she straightens, a flush colouring her cheeks as Alek brushes lips over her knuckles. The flavor of the mint is sharp on her skin, both in scent and taste. "A man who is everything that stories say is an impressive one, Ser. Especially if a Lady such as my lady Terrick is willing to avow to it," Danae replies gently, composure settling anew as her hand is returned. "I am afraid I have heard little news beyond that which you know."
"He does?" Alek, you beautiful man. Lucienne's eyes lift, as do her spirits, and the Terrick girl settles a look upon the fabled Oldstones knight. "That's… thankyou. Thankyou, Ser, and thank your Lord." She even manages a smile, warm for all it's gentle curve, and shared with Danae.
Humor flickers in Alek's expression, in the play of his lips as he touches the tip of his tongue to the lingering taste of mint. "I am sure you will have ample opportunity yourself, once he arrives," he assures Lucienne, before his gaze slides back to Danae. "The stories leave out much, my lady. Let us hope you are so impressed after we are familiar with each other." There is a drawl to the word 'familiar', subtle as it rolls over his tongue, but there.
The change that comes over Lucienne is not unobserved by Danae, her own returned smile of a quieter nature for the news. It is good news, indeed. "It is good of him," she agrees softly. Blinking, she looks up at Alan as he addresses her once more and it takes her perhaps another moment than strictly necessary to respond. "No introduction survives its first encounter, Ser Cooper. I am certainly that you shall do yourself justice." If her gaze flits to his mouth and the roll of his tongue before returning to his eyes, her smile at least does not falter. "Is Oldstones a lengthy ride?" Nor does the pink of her cheeks fade.
Lucienne ignores that hint of impropriety, too busy mulling over the Lord Valentin's contribution to the resistance effort. She opens her mouth to return something to Alek's assurance, but his attention is so swifty back to the Lady Westerling that she keeps it to herself instead, eyes flitting down to her hands.
"A day and a half, on a fast horse. Not much at all," Alek answers mildly, his wine caught up again to sip at as he settles back into his chair with a lazy grace with a nod to the women. "Longer, of course, with the march of smallfolk not used to such discipline."
"I see. That is not so long at all then, still. Hopefully their way will be fairly clear, Seven blessed," Danae offers, curling her hand around the leaf within. Tilting her head, she looks to lady Lucienne as she speaks.
"Not so long at all," repeats lady Luci, looking up from her hands to Danae, by chance. "In the meantime, there is much to do to ready ourselves here. I don't suppose either of you have seen the Lady Nayland about the hall?" Her brows lifted, she looks between the knight and the other lady.
Alek's lips only quirk in humor at the invoked blessing, watching Danae for a brief moment before his attention turns to Lucienne at her question. He replies with a flick of lean fingers, "I believe she was on a mission to settle what goods they went to town for earlier. Check the kitchens, perhaps?"
"Not since much earlier this day." Alek's answer earns Danae's attention, mouth twisting in a slight purse. "The kitchens or perhaps the stores…I should speak with her as well soon. The gardens have a short supply for herbs, in the likely event we should I need them." she adds.
Alek's answer earns himself more than just Danae's attention. Lucienne bestows upon the knight a warm smile, and dips another curtsy. "You, Ser, have single handedly brightened a sombre lady's day. Thankyou." The Westerlands lady's addition dulls Luci's expression to something more concerned, though, and she worries her thumbs together. "Troublingly short, my lady? Perhaps it might be remedied by a visit to the market?" Lucienne and Danae are standing in a group near the hearth, whilst Alek reclines in a chair. With wine.
"I do have quite a talent at that," Alek murmurs with a healthy dose of dry humor around the lip of his flask, grey-green eyes sliding over Danae with a dance of amusement.
"I know not else what they keep here, thus I'd prefer to speak to Lady Nayland before making that particular assessment. The market would do for anything more unique, but the hills near are lush and many of the more common could easily be gathered," Danae demurs with a shake of her head. She smiles gently at Lucienne, tone soothing and thoughtful. "It is a concern that she can remedy more readily than I would care to start worry over. She knows this place better that most."
"Of course," says Lucienne, though it is not immediately clear who the reply is aimed at, given the way her eyes flit between lady and knight. "The Lady Isolde is certainly knowledgeable in that respect," she offers, gaze settling on Danae. Fondly, she adds, "I spent many a day in my childhood following her about the countryside."
There is something of a curve to Alek's brow where the women speak on the subject of the countryside, surprised and amused and not without concern where he intercedes, "Though, I would not venture so far, given the current state of affairs. You are entirely too lovely to be a salt wife."
Down the stairs from the upper level of Tordane Tower walks Rygar at a steady pace, a slow pass of his cold regard passing over the common hall, as talk of salt wives carries on.
"She certainly is." Lucienne's fond recollection draws a slight smile to Danae's mouth, it softens her entire countenance. "Aye. It would be an undertaking and not a jaunt, should it so need to be done," Danae replies soberly, some of the warmth of her gaze lingering as she looks to Alek. "There is no appeal in marrying the salt for any woman."
"If you have need of a sword on such an undertaking, mine is available for you so long as my Lord does not command is elsewhere," Alek murmurs with a charming quirk of a smile, crooked on his lips. He does not miss the appearance of the man in the hall, vague recognition tingling on the tip of his tongue for a tourney that seems long ago now.
Danae's serious reply seems to be all that Lucienne would say, so she simply nods in deference to the Westerling. "If you'll excuse me," she murmurs, "I should see to finding the Lady Nayland promptly." Whyfor is anyone's guess, but the dark-haired girl seems determined to go, waiting only for the courtesy of being released from present company before heading toward the kitchen.
Rygar notes the Terrick lady's prompt withdrawal without comment, turning his eye toward the westerling and the common knight with whom Danae converses, but his steps bring the lean Nayland toward the Keep's double doors, and the pair of guards posted to them.
"That is more than generous of you to offer, Ser Coope," Danae demurs, gaze flitting away from that smile as she fidgets slightly. Lucienne gives the the perfect place to resettle it, dipping in a slight curtsey as she breaks her thought with a farewell. "My lady — I am sure it would be appreciated, should the Lady Nayland so deem it a necessary one." She watches the lady Terrick exit a moment, before looking to the Lord Rygar's arrival curiously.
The amusement that so brightens those grey-green eyes only grows at Danae's nervousness, pleasure derived from it slipping through in the twist of Alek's lips. He does not rise for the retreating Lady Lucienne, only inclining his farewell in the tip of a chin before glancing towards Rygar. "I feel disapproved of already. Or intimidated. I'm not sure which," he comments casually of the look thrown towards them, watching the man as well.
Rygar catches Danae's naming of Alek, and it pauses his steps a moment, turning his keen regard slowly to fix upon the irreverent knight. Yet it is to Danae his first words are given. "Lady Westerling. Good eve." Then once again to Alek, "Ser Coope of the Oldstones. Your presence was anticipated to be so.." he pauses to choose the correct word. "Solitary, Ser."
Alek's quicksilver comment draws a short, inquisitive look from the Westerling lady, although Rygar's greeting dismisses anything she might have said in return there is a twitch of her lips that betrays a flicker of humor. There and gone again as she turns towards the Nayland man. "Good eve, Lord Nayland," Danae greets softly, skirt fanning out as she slips gracefully in the appropriate curtsey upon regard for the elder Nayland.
"I do like to surprise, my lord," Alek answers, drawing from his careless lean against the cushions of his seat to sit straighter at least, his smile changing to something more mildly polite. "But I only precede my Lord Anton and what bowmen he has gathered with him."
"And what message through you does the Knight of Oldstones send before him, herald?" Rygar prompts of Alek, manner cold and composed as his steps come to a stop with heels together facing the still seated knight and lady.
The lady remains on her feet, but takes a slight step to one side to physically welcome Rygar into the conversation. Danae's hands clasp demurely over her stomach as she looks from him to Alek.
The drag of Alek's gaze over Rygar is a sharp, careful study for all that wine inhibits him and he affects still a certain casualness. He replies dryly, "Only that he comes, bearing fifty bowmen that we could spare in men from our smallfolk. I am sure there will be need of room and board, though the Lady Isolde has been informed."
"Fifty bowmen," Rygar echoes without color. A short nod acknowledges the news. "A welcome message, suffering only slightly for the manner of its messenger." A breath drawn through flared nostrils. "Provision shall be set aside for your lord and his men, Ser."
"It is welcome, indeed," Danae echoes softly. It is more of a conversational mrumur that a real contribution to the new discussion. Tipping her chin, she looks towards Rygar with a faint tip of her mouth. "Have you heard any other news of late, my Lord?"
"You are too kind, Lord Nayland," Alek drawls with a suffuse of humor to the edges of his words, the crook of a smile as his gaze lingers for a moment on Rygar, especially given Danae's question.
"Then I shall be more blunt," Rygar replies levelly to Alek's easy manner. "I know not what manner you have grown accustomed to at Oldstones, but if by irreverence you again offer insult to a noble guest of this House, you may take your ease outside the Tower walls, among the peasantry. Or, you may remember proper courtesy and be treated as a knight." That said, the stern Nayland turns his eye again to Danae, and notes, "Knights of Frey, Charlton, Erenford, and Haigh ride to join us. A council of Captains shall be convened within days to decide the course of the campaign to come."
The lady at hand betrays not a flicker of expression beyond pleasantness for the sudden sting to Rygar's stern words. It is neither her place nor her house to do so; for a long moment all that Danae does is watch silently. Whence Rygar's attention turns to her, she dips her head daintily and says, "It is good to hear that they come so soon. That should be enough time for those injured to recover and rejoin your ranks."
"I apologize if I have given injury or insult in any manner to a guest of Stonebridge, for it certaintly did not appear such to me," Alek says smoothly in turn, the lingering grey gaze not in any hurry to flick away. Then it does, the study lifting as the knight rises in one fluid movement with a look towards Danae. "My lady Westerling, it was a pleasure to meet you, and I do hope you will call on me should you have need, but I believe I have been given a clear sign to retreat at least for now."