|In His Chair|
|Summary:||An old friend returns to House Charlton.|
|Date:||18th September 2012|
|Related Logs:||All the old Al/Cein logs. That should take a while to wade through.|
|Private Pavillion - Charlton Campsite|
|Lord Aleister's private pavillion, on the edge of the Stonebridge battlefield.|
|September 18th, 289 A.L.|
Under the circumstances, it's a pleasant enough afternoon for those that have taken up temporary residence in the wilderness surrounding Stonebridge. A little breezy, perhaps - but such a remark outloud would be considere mere grousing and of little consequence. With all the comings and goings of Lord Aleister's men, amid their various tents and pavillions, it's likely permissible that yet another small entourage clad in the hues of Highfield be overlooked. Arriving a few hours after midday, the group quietly find a place for their weary looking mounts and begin to merge their belongings with their already present fellows with little pause. And if one, draped in a deep-cowled cloak - manages to unobtrusively seperate from the rest? Well, they're probably not going to be missed. Not for a while, anyway.
As it happens, the stranger finds themselves a most comfortable seat; lounging in the high-backed chair at the head of the main table in the Lord's private pavillion. Ballsy. Add to that the goblet of rich wine they dangle from their fingertips and the interest with which they appear to be poring over scattered maps and papers, well.. suffice to say perhaps they may not be met with a warm welcome. Or even a polite one. Little can be said of their own thoughts on the matter, however - their features remaining veiled in shadow beneath their hood.
The camp itself, while busy with activity, is lacking in the sheer number of men that it had just the other day, but that can easily be explained by the fact that the bulk of the army can be seen in the distance, massing along the line of Stonebridge's lands in preperation of something. The force at the camp, then, is no doubt a reserve and judging by the fact that Aleister's guards move about the camp, he can't be far removed from it. And sure enough, that stands to be true for shortly after the cloaked figure has found her way into the pavilion, there's the sound of horses arriving and several bouts of 'M'Lord', only to be answered by the rough sounding grunt.
It's after that grunt that the tent flap is pressed to the side and Aleister is moving into his pavilion, clad entirely in that armor of his, along with the almost hidious leviathan helm that had once belonged to an Ironborn Lord. That helm is quickly removed though, to be settled beneath his left arm, and as a hand lifts to smooth back through the lengths of his hair, he's noting someone else in the tent. In his chair. There's a slight narrowing of his eyes and a dance of a smirk to his lips before he offers, "A single man sent to breach my pavilion? Clearly the Naylands do not value the lives of their men." There's no warmth to the words that he speaks.
The shadow-wreathed figure remains unperturbed by the arrival of their 'host'. Or so one could assume from the lack of change to their posture. In contrast to Aleister's timbre, a voice of richly-toned velvet offers reply; calm as you like. "And what makes you think, m'lord.." Straightening, the intruder comes to full height. Which is still notably dwarfed by the armored man they address, even across the distance of the table. "..that they would send a man?"
A gentle chuckle precedes an unhurried sip of wine, before the goblet is set down and aside, carefully. The figure raises their other gloved hand, sweeping back the deep hood of their luxurious cloak with a practised, graceful air. A tumble of glossy raven hair spills about the shoulders of the visitor, just as a faint smile plays across lips stained ruby by their drink of choice. But still the usefully dim lighting conceals the upper half of their features. How thoughtful of them, then, to begin a slow stroll around the corner of the table! "..Women and wolves are far more dangerous, after all." Striking blue eyes make their appearance; equally troubled by amusement and a flicker of uncertainty, but as brazen as ever in their regard of the Lord she addresses. Ceinlys.
"Hello, Aleister." The warmth of the greeting, at least, seems genuine.
"Because the Naylands aren't smart enough to send a woman to try and end," is the counter that Aleister offers quite simply and if he seems at all concerned about the presence, he makes no move to draw his weapon. Instead, he's angling over towards a small table, so that his helm can be settled upon it and when he turns back, it's to watch a hand lift to the hood of that cloak. Even as the hood is drawn back, he can't quite make out the features beneath and when that figre begins that slow stroll around the corner of the table, there's something in the words that causes a brow to arch upwards and then lower, almost in a single, fluid motion.
At last, though, the individual comes to be revealed and that smirk deepens upon Aleister's lips, even as he comes to offer a slight incline of his head in her direction, "Ceinlys. I should have known." When his head lifts from that incline, his eyes settle back upon her, watching her intently for a moment, even as a half-step comes to be claimed in her direction, "It has been some time, Cein, since you have graced us with you presence in these portion of the Riverlands." Now, that smirk begins to shift to that of a grin, even as his head cants just a touch to the side, "I had begun to wonder if your father had decided to see you married once again."
"Mmm." The young lady's response to the matter of her absence is neither concerned nor commital, though she meets and holds Aleister's gaze with that same almost-smile. "Well, there's such a slim chance of invites to social events when one's Lord finds themselves imprisoned. I thought I might take the time to have some new gowns tailored, for his imminent release." Relenting to a slight grin in kind, a mere glimpse of white teeth, Ceinlys continues toward him unhurriedly. One would have to know her well to discern the faintly tentative air to her steps.
"I am pleased to find you well, m'lord. For my absence, I can only apologise. By the time word of your freedom reached Broadmoor.. well, simply put, these things take time." The notion of her marriage elicits a brief laugh from the ebon-tressed noblewoman, but she only shakes her head, letting her cerulean eyes drift aside as she responds. "Fortunately for the gossiping dregs of society.. I remain unwed." Her gaze flits back upward as she draws to a halt, a step or two from the taller Lord. "The question is.. do you still have need of a Castellan. Because something tells me I am unlikely to be called to wait upon your dear wife again." For some reason, this thought prompts another momentary sparkle of amusement, and she can't seem to help but add, "..pity."
He doesn't seek to claim any more then that half-step and when she meets his gaze, Aleister seems quite content to hold it for the moment, though when she speaks, he can't help the smirk that banishes the grin from his lips, "Mm .. unfortunate that you had not arrived sooner, my dear." Now, he's watching as she begins to take those tentative steps forward, but he doesn't seek to move away or draw himself closer.
"I am surprised it took so long for word of my release to reach Broadmoor and your ears. I have had command of your Father's men for quite some time." The words sound like there might be a 'but' to them and it comes with a lift of his hand, an idle wave to dismiss any notion or displeasure of that particular thought, "I had thought perhaps Leslyn would use you to strength his ties, now that he's found himself bound so closely to Charlton." After all, Keegan's daughter was betrothed to one of Leslyn's. The price for the committment of his men, "Another seeks the position of Castellan, Cein, of that I will not lie .. and you are right, you will find no such place in the service of my wife." Another 'but' sounds in those words and it's with a lifted hand in her direction, "There is another spot that you can look to fill, Cein. One that is more suited to your talents."
It's likely - as usual - that the thoughts voiced by the Charlton are uncannily close to the heart of things. But - just as typically - Ceinlys' carefully schooled expression and manner keep from giving much away in regard to those matters. Had a match been arranged? Maybe. Was it of an appealing sort? Well, who knows what appeals to her at any given moment. What matters, apparently.. is that she's here. Whatever has taken place, she has waded though it, as is her way, and returned to.. the frontlines, as it were. "I would not have expected you to continue without someone to oversee your household, m'lord." And it seems as though she means it; there's no trace of hurt behind her glacial eyes. Wariness, perhaps, as she steals a glance toward his offered hand.
"And what position might that be..?" she enquires, sweetly. Too sweetly. Sweet on Ceinlys is a dangerous foreshadowing. "And be warned, should it be bait of any sort, I may be forced to set fire to your pavillion in a fit of pique." The words are uttered in jest. Probably.
There's a certain coldness that surrounds Aleister these days that reflects in the inflections of his words and the way that he holds himself. Even that smirk seems just a touch .. darker then it once did. No doubt, the past five months have certainly been trying, even if he doesn't look any worse for wear, "Too long did my keep sit idle, my dear, when I was not around. Another has seized the opportunity and has spent this time earning the right to call herself such."
When she only steals a glance to his hand, rather then taking it, Aleister allows it to lower back down to his side, that smirk holding ever present to his lips, though it's broken by a faint, 'Tsk-Tsk' and then, "A shame that would be .. for my guards would have little recourse but to seize you. And /that/ would surely be trouble then it's worth." There might have been a touch of humor in those words, though; a small jest offered in return of hers, "Now that the Keep is completed and running, Cein, the Castellan will see that it remains so. That the staff are doing their jobs and that supplies are always stocked." A single step forward comes and he's trying to lift a gauntleted hand to brush the tip of a cool, metal finger against the line of her jaw, "You, though .. you would not settle for such a meanial task. You would wish to rise and call yourself Stewart of these lands, for then you could speak in my name and with my authority."
Darkness and cold is one thing that is never lost on the Lady Erenford, and she thoughtfully studies these fractional changes to Aleister's familiar bearing as he draws closer. Any other woman, particularly one no stranger to scandal and threat, might recoil from the proximity.. but that's hardly likely, in this case. Instead, she tilts her jaw upward a little at the icy metallic touch, the shift required to maintain the Charlton's gaze. "My worth and the trouble I bring have ever been a precarious balance on the scales, have they not?" she murmurs, though the moment of humor between them fades as she considers his further words.
"I have never been the sort to settle for anything that did not appeal to me, Aleister.." she begins, with gentle emphasis on her meaning and a thoughtful cadence to her soft-spoken words, "..Steward. Yes, I do imagine that would suit me rather well. For now." Her vivid blue eyes drift downward to his lips, before snapping promptly back up. "..you still have such faith in me, after the trials of late..? Ought I seek such a place?"
The icy tip of that finger trails that touch for only moment after her she tilts her jaw up and when it falls away, it's so that it can return to his side, even as Aleister is offering, "You have proven your worth, my dear, time and time again. Of that, I would not question." For a moment, that smirk dances deeper upon his lips before it begins to ease back to a slight thing. "For now? My dear Cein, do you still have aspirations of something greater?" Now, there's no concealing the humor or tease with those words, nor a hint of .. appreciation perhaps.
"Much has changed in your time away, dearheart." And there's that old term of endearment, "But no, you need not seek out a place in my House. You, Cein, are part of the reason that my lands have come to flourish. The reason to my offical confirmation by Lord Tully." For that, he does give a slight incline of his head in her direction, "For such, I ask you to take the mantle of Stewart for House Charlton of Highfield."
"I believe the foundation of our.. 'friendship'.. was a mutual desire for that something greater." Ceinlys replies easily, the tension of a moment ago melting away as she finds herself in the warmth of the man's subtle welcome and gratitude. "You would respect me no longer if I became contented, now would you." While his touch falls away, her own hands dare to rise, fingertips lightly tracing along the curve of his cheekbones. But, despite the evidence of the notion and a question flashing in the azure depths of her gaze, she presses no further than this. For a long moment, she seems simply to admire him; to commit to memory every noteworthy change. Then, with a calmly-drawn breath, she withdraws and demurely lowers her gaze as she speaks aloud once more. Perhaps she never truly lost that habit. Or maybe it's the likelihood that Aleister himself enjoys it. There's certainly nothing about the noblewoman that otherwise suggests frailty or feminine weakness.
"In any event.. I accept. With pleasure, m'lord." The formalities are back. "But tell me.. what else has changed that I ought to know of?" As ever, she refuses to speak directly of his odd wife, nor of the child she birthed him. While she may bear the child no ill will, it's still hardly a topic that will genuinely hold her interest. No, her glance over a shoulder toward the table implies her concerns are for far greater matters. She ignores the wayward dark curls that fall against her throat with the motion. The windswept look has always rather suited her, anyway.
"Of that, Cein, I can offer no dispute … and nor would I wish to," is the reply from Aleister and it comes almost as a murmer; something softly spoke and with a measure of warmth held within. The lift of her hand to trace fingertips lightly along the curve of his cheekbones has his head tilting into the touch, savoring the light feeling that comes with it until it seeks to fall away and formality returns, "Then you should soon find your way to the Keep, Cein, and seek out the one known as Ysadora. She has been seeing to things in my absence and in the absence of one to manage not only the keep, but also the lands."
The hidden question of change draws a chuckle from his lips and it comes with an ever so slight lift of his shoulders into a shrug, "I have brought war to the lands, Cein. One that we could have won, were it not for the reinforcement the Erenfords offered the Naylands at the last moment, causing us to retreat as they harried our camp." But, a hand lifts, to give an idle wave in that regard, "We still out number their combined force and have marched forth to show them such. But, my Uncle and Commander of my armies will ride forth with a banner of peace, to express desire to end this conflict. After all, I have no desire to bleed Lord Miraz's men when I might find an ally amongst his people."
As she listens, the noblewoman gently nods her understanding and approval. "First have them tremble at your might.. then force them to recognise your mercy. A slight they will not forget." Ceinlys' lips curve to one of her trademark wolfish smiles. "I love it. And I have little concern for the allegiance of the Erenfords.. clinging, caterwauling bastard infants, the lot of them. That they offered their number is an irritation. But should you wish to see them undone, when the current conflict is over with.. well, that can be arranged, can't it." It's not really a question. She would destroy the House for Aleister at his command, and do so with great personal satisfaction.
"So." With a brightening tone that masterfully conceals that momentary surge of, let's face it, undiluted evil, the slender young woman turns from her Lord in a lazy swirl of ice blue skirts, wandering toward the table - and her wine - without a backward glance to ascertain whether he follows. Aleister does as he pleases; if he wants to remain near her, he will. Taking up her goblet, she swirls the contents thoughtfully as her blue eyes stray across the maps and parchments. "Ysadora." She tastes the name in contemplation, having no real information upon which to draw. "Where does she hail from?"
That smirk dances delightfully back to Aleister's lips as he gives another incline of his head in Ceinlys' direction and follows it with, "That is preciously it, my dear. We will take the loss that we incurred, in stride, and show them that while we can not take Tordane Tower at this time, we still have the men to make them bleed and stain their lands red for years to come." There's a certain pleasure within the words, as if he .. enjoys the thought of such a thing, but it's whisked away with a wave of his hand, "We needn't seek to destroy the Erenfords. There are elements within who find themselves leaning towards our favor and I believe others can be swayed."
When she turns with that swirl of ice blue skirts, Aleister is simply watching for a moment before he does indeed begin to follow her, though it's with the sudden sound of armor falling free of his form to bang upon the ground as the clasps of the breastplate are released and undone, revealing a simple shirt beneath, "One of the few who survived the destruction of House Camden's lands. Fitting, I thought, that she should seek service in Highfield."
"If you believe they can be swayed.. and that it is worthwhile to do so.. then I will offer them no reason to doubt. You have my word." As if he needed it. Then again, she's hardly a favourite with the Erenfords, regardless of her taken name. With a tiny sip of wine, Ceinlys slowly returns her attention to the approaching Lord, across the rim of her goblet as it's tilted. While her lips may remain obscured, there's no doubt of the amusement that makes itself known in her blue eyes as he rids himself casually of his armor. Five months of absence, forgotten in a matter of minutes. A pleasant thing, such comfortable familiarity. But the mirth manifests as a throaty chuckle as he speaks further on this mysterious Castellan. "House Camden? How priceless." Trust Ceinlys to find such enjoyment of another House's misfortune. "And plainly her efforts please you, m'lord." Continuing another few strolling steps, the brunette lowers herself with an easy grace back to her seat. In his chair. Is she asking for trouble, or does it simply not occur to her? Who knows. Regardless, she reclines and balances her goblet on a carved arm, fingertips toying with the stem. "And so I have no cause for concern there, either. Aleister." Her tone becomes an odd entanglement of long-suffering and mischief. "..you must give me something to occupy me and to give credence to my new title!" The words trail to quiet laughter, before she's taking another sip of wine, all the while studying the man before her.
"Even if they can not be swayed, I can ill afford to harry both Stonebridge and Heronhurst and have Lord Frey sit idle. He cares too much for his money and even if we are his favored House, he would not stand for a total disruption of the flow of coin to his coffers." With the breastplate now shed, it becomes apparent as to why Aleister might have been so quick to remove it, for when his shirt follows suit, to be tossed to the floor, there's a bandage stained with a spot of red upon his left shoulder. His right hand lifts to rub at the top of the shoulder, even as he watches her move to reclaim her seat .. in his chair, "Her efforts have pleased me, Cein. She gives herself entirely to her job and does not bother hiding the ambition that she has." His steps move him further towards her and as he moves around the curve of that table, he's stopping near to her, so that he can settle himself on the table itself. "Must I? And what is it that you would desire? A parchment baring the offical statement of your position? A fine room in the Keep? A cottage on the edge of the lands?" Now, there's no denying the light tease that hints in those words.
Ceinlys simply offers a murmured sound of approval at the Lord's praise of the new retainer, her gaze wandering as, no doubt, new plans and ideas unfurl in her ever-busy mind. Only when Aleister settles does her attention gradually return, blue eyes alighting upon that bandaged shoulder though she makes no mention of it for the time being. "I have little time for parchments not directly related to your lands, Aleister. And I think you know full well my preference when it comes to living arrangements." What finer bedchamber than a Lord's, after all? That assumption is softened - fractionally - by a flash of a grin up toward him. As aforementioned - he will do as he pleases.
"No, m'lord. I do not speak of decoration, but of a task. Your men.." Her free hand makes a vague, encompassing gesture toward the distant forces. "..may wield fine blades and don exquisite armaments. But I have my own weapons. Make use of them, that I might not feel superfluous to your desires." In fairness, if she has no purpose, he won't keep her. They both know it. Besides, it pleases her to see things done for him, especially so when she can achieve them in a manner strikingly similar to his own approaches.
Following this gentle request, she at last offers a subtle nod toward his shoulder, a single brow lofting in enquiry. "Has your dear wife been tantruming again?"
Now, Aleister can't help the faint laugh that begins to escape past his lips as he dips a quick nod in her direction, followed then by a flash of a grin, "Yes, I am quite familiar with the type of living arrangements that you prefer, dearheart. It is not as if they have been so readily dismissed from my mind." A lift of his arms has them settling crossed upon his chest, "At this time, Cein, my desires have been placed on hold so that I can see to the conclusion of this war. My sister has gone to the Roost, to prepare to request the use of their lands as a neutral meeting point, so that the Naylands and Erenfords will feel more .. welcome." He stops and that smirk dances back to his lips, a nod coming again, "To which .. I should see you delivered there with me. To see you sit across from them as we talk of peace. How delightful their expressions would be."
The nod to his shoulder as his eyes playing down to the bandage, resting there but a moment before lifting back to her so that he can give a shake of his head, "I'm afraid my wife does little of anything these days, dearheart, tantruming included. This was a token gift from the Naylands during our initial battle. A quarrel delivered by crossbow that found a place in my shoulder." He pauses and gives another shrug of his shoulders, "A hinderance more then anything .. but it serves well to remind me why I wish to wipe the Naylands from these lands."
The young woman, likewise, cannot help but chuckle as these plans begin to be plucked from the very air. "I would be delighted to accompany you. And how thoughtful it will seem of you to bring one of their own name as your Steward. Does it not imply good faith?" Of course it doesn't. Ceinlys would sooner douse them in oil and strike a spark than honor any sort of lingering familial bond they might count upon.
Leaning forward a little, then rising, setting her wine down and aside once again as she does so, the tall noblewoman regards more closely the crimson-spotted dressing on Aleister's wounded shoulder. "You ought to have a maester redress this, m'lord. The injury has yet to close." She might not know much of healing, but seeping blood is not commonly recognised as a good sign. A trailing trio of fingertips wander upward from his elbow, along the curve of his bicep, almost unthinkingly; her lips briefly twisted in a subtle expression of.. actual concern. Well, there's a rare thing. The conversation swerves.. perhaps inevitably. "When I heard of your imprisonment.." And as soon as they arrived, the hushed words trail off. Ceinlys is not known - or loved - for weakness. Or any other soft quality. Setting her jaw determinedly, she merely fixes a silent look upon the Charlton Lord. Whatever it is, she has apparently decided it doesn't warrant voicing.
"Mmm .. I do not suppose that they will view it as such. But, then again, I do not need them to view it as anything other then what it is." Afterall, it's not as if Aleister concerns himself overly much with the thoughts of House Erenfords and just what they might come to believe where it relates to him, "Let them think what they will and will simply play it to our advantage."
Her rise from the chair has him shifting a bit upon the table as he gives a slight shake of his head, "Not needed. For the first week the movement of my shoulder will cause it to bleed and to heal more slowly. I can ill afford, though, to brace one arm while in the midst of war." After all, it does make it rather hard to wear his armor. Or wield that two handed mace of his. That touch of fingertips up his elbow and along the curve of his bicep draws just a slight intake of air, one that comes to be held and when she speaks further, he's releasing it softly, lips curving back into a smirk as he gives a shake of his head, "You needn't speak it, dearheart, nor worry about it. I am hale and whole from my time with them and it only served to plunge the Naylands into further disfavor with the other Houses." He doesn't shy from that look, instead choosing to meet it as he murmers, "I have matters to tend to in preperation of things to come. Do try and not get too comfortable in my seat, while I'm gone." when the words come to end, he's tilting down to try and claim a simple, quick kiss from her before rising back to his feet.
Similarly unperturbed by thoughts of lesser Houses than theirs, Ceinlys still looks entirely unconvinced about that shoulder. But she holds her tongue. After all, what does she know of battle, really? Other than the near fatal injuries her Lord always seems to garner, in the midst of them. Still. His assurance that she needn't consider too closely her feelings on certain topics mollifies her somewhat. She does so loathe open displays of emotion. Some, anyway. Others can be permitted, in the heat of the moment..
"Oh.." Teasingly, she casts a feigned wistful glance toward his elegantly carved chair. "..but it does so suit me, wouldn't you agree..? And who better to safeguard it.." By the time she looks back, his mouth has descended upon her own to claim that fleeting kiss, which she returns without hesitation, one hand rising to caress his dark hair in the same way she always has. Some things, it seems, haven't really changed at all.