|In Truth I am the Least|
|Summary:||Perrin and Daryl discuss Hafwen's disappearance with her mother.|
|Related Logs:||Any of the Missing Children TP|
|Guest Room — The Riverwalk Inn|
|A cozy, rather modest chamber, this room features little beyond the necessities. A pair of armchairs rest before a cheery little fireplace, and shelving occupies one wall near the door, scattered with books and belongings. A generously sized bed of carved wood is set in the far corner, while a well-worn table for dining or writing waits for use in another.|
|December 5th, 289 A.L.|
A friend, a love, a child—- it matters not, I know indeed
That I must sacrifice them all if there should be the need
They know and they forgive me—- doing more than I require,
With willing minds and loving hearts go straight to grasp the fire.
~ Mercedes Lackey, Cost of the Crown (because I love this song and it was stuck in my head - Cein)
Following her recent arrival in Heronhurst and a frankly brief meeting with the Young Lord of the same, the Lady Ceinlys has now established herself in the inn, by preference. It evidently pains her even to be here, she's sure as damnit not going to break bread with the Erenfords, no matter the tragedy that forces them together. Having brought a handful of guards and her weary, dour old handmaid, the noblewoman has rented herself a relatively modest room at the Riverwalk, with a single door that is kept under watch at all hours. Her men, of course, know full well the sorts who would be permitted to knock, and those go unhindered.
Attired in fairly sombre, plain hues of olive and copper - a stark contrast to her usual flair - Ceinlys is currently pacing the floor of her chamber, watched over by her chaperone and sipping morosely at some warmed wine that was set in her hands. She doesn't recall taking it, but there it is. And she must admit, however grudgingly, that the brew is something of a comfort. Telling shadows smudge her blue eyes, her waist-length hair is left riotously unbound and - perhaps most poingantly of all - maps of the outlying areas are spread across the small table set in one corner.
It's nearing four days since Perrin first heard of the missing Hafwen. Nearly four days with no bath nor a change of clothes. His whiskers fill his tired and gaunt face. The jingle of mail as well as the creaking of leather accompany him as he climbs the stairs. Word had of course come to him that his sister was at Heronhust and where she is staying. Knowing the issues with the Erenfords the location she has chosen suits him just fine.
As he nears the door to her room, one of her guards almost stop him, till the growl that he gives and then the slow recognition of who it is allows him to go to the door. Raising a hand, to knock, Perrin pauses as he gathers what wits he has left. Then, with gauntleted covered hand he gives a firm single knock "Ceinlys, it's me," is all he says.
Halting abruptly at the knock, his sister then simply nods curtly toward her handmaid, who was already rising from a comfortable seat by the small fireplace, setting her embroidery aside, laying the red fabric in a drape over the padded arm. Brigid hauls the door open a crack, peers through, then bobs a respectful curtsey, pulling it wider to allow Perrin to enter. Ceinlys herself, perhaps likewise gathering herself, steeling against whatever news her sibling might bring, has paused before the hearth, cup of wine still in hand and azure eyes reflecting dancing flames, looked upon unseeingly. "..did you find anything?" Not the most courteous of greetings. But pragmatic, as is her nature.
Perrin hardly even sees Brigid as he brushes right past the handmaiden. Not a normal thing for the usually polite Perrin. Instead his eyes have locked on to Ceinlys. He swollows hard, this is not a meeting he has wanted to do. But it must be done. "Cienlys," he starts but a crack in his voice causes him to stop a moment. Then with a sigh he shakes his head. "I haven't found her," he levels his eyes intently on his sister "yet. I will find her, you have my word." He looks about the room, and moves to where a pitcher of wine and a spare goblet rests. Pouring himself one he drinks it all down before turing back to Ceinlys.
"Ceinlys, I think she has been taken." He tells her with a controled voice. Watching for any reaction that those words may cause his sister. He continues on "I do not think she is here on Erenford lands any longer."
He hasn't found her? It's not like the Haigh daughter to rely so heavily upon anyone, but when it comes down to it, she will always choose her brothers. They're the only ones she truly trusts. At Perrin's words, though, the young woman raises her free hand to cover her mouth in a discreet manner, seeking to stifle the soft gasp that escapes her. Admirably, she masters it, swallowing it back and simply nodding her understanding, not yet turning to face her sibling. She just.. stares into the fire.
"I see. What led you to this conclusion, brother? And where do you propose she may have been taken to?" Fair questions to ask. Unfair to expect them answered. Taking a small sip of her wine, Ceinlys glances just fleetingly over in his direction, a mere flash of cerulean eyes through tousled ebon locks, then it's gone again.
Perrin sits heavily into one of the chairs, adjusting his sword almost absent mindedly as he does. A hand runs over his face as if to clear his thoughts. He saw his sister's reaction. Yes, he needed to sit for this one. "The small folk, they talked about some woman and a creature. Taking children here and there. Why I hadn't heard it," he sighs once more and motions for to the chair by him "you should sit."
He doesn't wait for her to sit as his eyes to stay fixed upon his sister. "I paid the rumors little attention. Just tales to be told late at night. But the more we have searched." Shaking his head "Ceinlys, she could not have escaped our search on her own. There is no way she could have." He pauses long enough for his words to sink in. "I then started paying such tales a bit more attention. Then I started looking for signs besides those made by a child." The look on his face would suggest he found such signs.
Ceinlys' fingers become white-knuckled in their grip upon her carved goblet. Once she notices, she looses a breath she hadn't realised she was holding and gently sets the cup down on the mantel. "I can't sit.." she murmurs, little above a whisper, as she leans the heels of her hands to the stone and closes her eyes. The firelight dances shadows of her eyelashes upon her pale skin. "I've heard the tales, brother. I wouldn't normally put any stock in such fanciful stories but.. I just.. don't understand how this could happen. If she were.. if she had been.." Trailing off, the noblewoman draws a breath again through gritted teeth, loathing herself for this weakness. "She wasn't found among the dead. But that only means that whatever.. whoever has her.. they're capable of killing a troop of guards, as well as an innocent Septa."
That brusque, icy edge has made a momentary return to the Steward's velvet tone. At times, that hardness is all she has to cling to. Tilting her head back and straightening slowly as she regards the ceiling, Ceinlys slowly turns to face her brother, uncaring of her dark tresses being tousled about her porcelain features, or the fearful apprehension assailing her blue eyes. "Just tell me." Flitting her gaze over the man's expression, she sets her jaw, determined to maintain her composure, no matter what. "Perrin, what did you find..?"
There's the sound of a rowdy cheer down below, muffled through the closed door. Footsteps can be heard approaching, and there's no pause following, a knock heard on the door. A pause. "M'lady Ceinlys? Are you there? Its Lord Daryl Ashwood." Another pause as the deputy of highfield looks back down the hall, exhaling lightly.
Sitting there, Perrin watches everything that passes over Ceinlys. The white knuckles, her not sitting, the edge to her voice. When she speaks of hearing such tales as well he nods "If I had paid them heed sooner," again he shakes his head "I will track them, I will find her and bring her to you, I swear it Ceinlys."
"Trails like I haven't seen before," Perrin begins just as the knock at the door sounds. "Must be one of my men," he says as he stands tiredly, expecting to find one of his Knights bringing news. "I told them where I would be, we are soon to go back out," he explains to his sister.
Moving away from the hearth a little, then simply halting again when her brother rises, Ceinlys distractedly waves her handmaid back toward the door again, in the wake of that knock. "You haven't answered my-.." A shadow of consternation passes across her features, as something dawns on her. Well, it's a change from that nauseated worry which has been plaguing her. "..Daryl?" When you're so fixated on one thing, in one place, it's easy to find yourself thrown off-balance by the simplest of changes. An Ashwood, in Heronhurst. Shaking her head abruptly as if to physically clear it, the young woman sighs. "I want to know, brother. Even if you think it will upset me." This is uttered in a soft-spoken aside to the knight, as her chaperone heaves open the door again, permitting the visitor entry. "Lord Daryl." Setting her shoulders back in defiance of her evident exhaustion, Ceinlys folds her hands before herself - the almost perfect and gracious hostess.
As the door opens, it doesn't reveal one of Lord Perrin's men, but he is part of the search team, having stayed after the wedding when news of the tragedy occurred. The Ashwood looks between the two, dipping his head briefly, but it is a rushed formality. First, his emerald hues avert to Ceinlys, and his expression softens. It had been some time. "M'lady. I am so sorry." A look to Perrin then and he makes introduction, "Deputy of Highfield. Sheriff Erik Jast and myself have stayed here in Heronhurst with Young Lord Brennart's permission, in order to aid with the search and recovery of Lady Hafwen." He looks back at Ceinlys, a determined and steely confidence about that statement.
Thrown off balance must be running in the family this evening. The arrival not of one of his Knights as expected but Daryl Ashwood. He watches the interactions between Lord Daryl and his sister and can only appreciate his sister all the more as she puts on the gracious hostess in such times. He bows his head "It is good to meet you, Lord Daryl. I only wish it could have been under better circumstances." Looking to Ceinlys "I was just explaining to my sister what I have found and what I have not. If you are part of the search then I think you should hear this as well. I also thank you for staying. The more help we have the better the chances are."
To Ceinlys he then nods "You shall hear all of it, then. Tracks we found. Plenty. Not of Hafwen but other kinds. They led us deeper into the forest then just as we felt we were getting closer they would disappear. Nothing I have ever seen before in all my time in the woods has this happened. Then further away we found it again only to find that they led us in circles and then disappear once more. But all in all the tracks kept heading to the river." Perrin looks to the two. "I think they have crossed over the Rill. For we have found no camp and no sign of any."
Ceinlys musters a faint, tremulous smile for the newly-arrived Lord, a worrying contrast to her usual effortless indifference, and inclines her head slowly in acceptance of his condolences. "Thank you.." There's.. really not much more she can say. Not much she trusts herself to say, if she wants to maintain any semblance of decorum and propriety. A sweeping gesture of one long-sleeved arm invites Daryl to a seat before the fire, where Perrin had been a moment before, including her brother with a glance should he wish to rest again as they speak.
The lady herself seems to prefer standing, wrapping her arms about her slender midsection and turning her gaze more attentively upon her sibling as he continues his speech of what has, thus far, been discovered. Only a fractional waver threatens the quiet of her lower lip, and she bites down hard upon it to quell the giveaway, lowering her eyes to the floor as he finishes and striving to set her mind to his words. "..what do you mean by 'other kinds' of tracks, Perrin? Horses? Men?" A vague glance in Daryl's direction conveys her bewilderment. Who are they, and what do they want with her daughter? The mind leads to dark places, if allowed to wander and it's plain she is struggling not to think about certain scenarios.
Daryl dips his head in acknowledgement of Perrin, "You as well, and your thanks is not required, but appreciated. This has gone on far too long, and regardless of House, it is a tragedy that needs resolving." As he speaks further about the mysterious tracks, he furrows his brow, eyes unfocusing as if trailing into deep thought. Theories, explanations on how this could be. He snaps back to reality, nodding as they speak of the site where the guards and Septa were murdered, "Hounds perhaps? The horse meat was stripped clean from their steeds, and then chewed into. Could mean they have hounds, or a wild animal could have gotten to it." He exhales lightly before his eyes drift to Ceinlys. A polite dismissing wave of his hand to sitting, perhaps he's a bit restless. "M'lady Ceinlys…Is there anyone who you think might harbor grudge for you? Or House Erenford…?" A pause then, and a stranger question, "And did Lady Hafwen have any sort of…Favorite flower? Any certain type that had special meaning to her?" Seems he's been thinking deeply into this.
A cloud passes over Perrin when Ceinlys directs the question to him on the tracks they found. A shrug "Not like any I have seen, sister." Which in it's self is strange with him always going out into the woods as a child. It's as if he can read Ceinlys. "She will be found, Ceinlys. She will return to you." His voice full of conviction. A promise made and maybe one he shouldn't. But it's made none the less.
"We did find a campfire," Perrin tells Daryl as he speaks of horse flesh. "They feasted on horse as well. But they cooked it as we found half still on the spit they used." He quickly looks to Ceinlys "Nothing was found of Hafwen." Relief perhaps but frustration as well. He listens to Daryl ask about flowers. Thinking of a daisy not long a go, of Hafwen and flowers, Perrin lowers his eyes.
Brigid, having closed the door, is now shuffling about, arranging things on shelves and into coffers, not qishing to disturb the nobles as they converse. Besides, her charge's brother is here, she's safe enough. Even with an Ashwood present. No, as Ceinlys' chaperone, she doesn't think much of those Ashwood fellas. Ah well, any port in a storm. The lady herself, at least, seems glad of another friendly face. Though as questions are turned upon her, she moves rather woodenly to take a perch on the chest at the foot of her simple carved-wood bed, bracing her hands either side of her hips. A hollow, humorless laugh works it's way free of her throat. "I think the list of those who might not would be a shorter one, m'Lord." Rueful, but there's some truth in the words. You don't claw your way to positions of power and respect, as a woman, without making some enemies along the way. Oh, but wouldn't it have been easier just to marry some poor dimwit and give him lots of heirs? The clarity that comes with hindsight. "A favourite flower..?" Blinking, she glances up, looking from Daryl, to Perrin, and back again. "Not.. that is.. I don't believe so. I.." Swallowing a sudden lump in her throat, her lilting cadence drops to a husky murmur. "..I spent too long away.." Leaning forward a little, she closes her eyes, arms still securely hugging her waist as she wills herself to keep a hold of her emotions. All she can manage, for the reassurances of both men, is a mute nod, barely perceptible.
Daryl nods his head reassuringly, noting Ceinlys' current state he chooses not to press further. While Daryl and Ser Jast had also ridden out at first light to investigate the scene, he decides to be thorough, asking Lord Perrin, "Is there anything else you can tell me? Anything at all?" Again he is thinking hard. A looking towards Ceinlys, "Any particular Ironborn?" Then to Perrin, "Perhaps you would know who might've last spotted Lady Hafwen in the garden? With the woman in white?" Despite the melancholy of the situation, he's remaining persistent.
"Pretty ones," Perrin answers for Ceinlys his gaze going from sister to Lord. "Hafwen loves pretty ones and they are all pretty. I don't think there is not a flower out there that doesn't' catch her eye." He then looks questioningly at Daryl "What does flower have to do with this?" Of course he can see the distress that his sister is trying to hide so he moves to her and stands beside her as she sits. His hand resting on her shoulder.
"I have told you just about all that I know right now. I have two men still searching. I had thought," hoped? "That when you arrived it was one of them." He pauses a moment, "All that I heard was that one of the maids had seen her in the garden the night before. Then in the morning," Perrin's voice trails off as they all know what the morning found. "You do not get where my sister nor my House has gotten with out making some enemies along the way. I do not think that there is any Ironborn that harbors any thing near like for us. But it's a long way to travel to try to take Hafwen." Perrin shakes his head "I am putting more stock into the tales that has been told to me from the small folk. I also think that they have crossed the river." He gives Ceinlys' shoulder a squeeze "I would suggest we begin searching the other side. That means we will be in Ashwood and Terrick lands."
Perrin looks to Daryl "Would there be a problem for us to travel and search the Ashwood lands?"
At the comforting touch to her shoulder, Ceinlys slowly regains her composure once more. First a grateful glance is cast subtly upward through wayward raven tresses toward her tall brother. Then those striking eyes wander back to Daryl, with a new sense of resolve. "My brother is correct, I think. No Ironborn could come so far without being seen and slaughtered. And while the Erenfords may dislike me.." There's the twitch of a smirk there, to tug at her lips. "..Hafwen is one of their own. I refuse to believe they would cause her harm. Of course, I fail to see why anyone would seek to harm a six year old girl." Raking a hand back through her tousled mane of ebon, the noblewoman shakes her head, apparently not wishing to dwell upon the fate of those who had dilligently served and protected her daughter.
"I don't imagine Lord Aleister would see fit to prevent the search continuing through his lands, if that it where the trail has led, Perrin." But, despite her gentle, assured tone, she flits a glance toward Daryl, leaving room for him to respond also, should he wish. After all.. she's not part of his House any longer, is she?
"The flower that was given to Lady Hafwen that day. It was likely used as a marker for kidnapping, or it is possible it had some sort of properties to it. Knowing what kind of flower it was could, hypothetically give a lead as to who gave it to her…Who took her." A shake of his head then as he dismisses it for now, adding to Perrin's thought of crossing the river with, "Or fled by boat." He meets Ceinlys' look head on, nodding his agreement, "Obviously I can't answer for sure, but i'm sure he would have no qualms. Lord Aleister is as commited to finding her as we are. I will bring news of this to him, and the Sheriff." His next look to Ceinlys is unguarded, expression softening. They had only chatted a few times, but to see her in such a state…" We will not rest until we find her, M'lady Ceinlys. Lady Hafwen is lucky to have so many people who care for and are looking for her. It is only a matter of time." He seems to believe in his words wholly, nodding then to Lord Perrin. "You will be seeing me around in the upcoming days."
Perrin looks down at his sister "I shall hunt down anyone that has had part in this, Ceinlys. I don't care who or what they are." He nods about Lord Aleister before looking to Daryl "My Lord. If you would be so kind to seek the permission that we would need to have to search your lands, I would be in your debt. I know it's not proper for me to ask this of you but I am rather limited at the time on spreading my men so thinly." The flower sticks in his mind though, brows knit as he thinks then finally giving up "I do not know what kind it was, but I shall find out as quickly as possible. If there is anything else you wish of me to find out before we depart, feel free to ask of me."
Kneeling to be beside Ceinlys, his eyes at the same level as hers. He fixes upon her as his voice softens but the fire that has remained in those eyes of his remain "Perhaps you would feel more comfortable in Highfield? I am going to ask Lord Alric to make haste to Terrick's Roost and gain the same permission I am asking for from Lord Aleister. I am certain that Hafwen is not on this side of the river so I intend to cross and begin searching the other side." He then smiles and brushes back a wayward lock of her black hair "She will come home, dear sister."
Ceinlys listens quietly enough as the pair exchange ideas and information, likely scrambling to gather what she can from the conversation, even in her current state. When Perrin kneels, though, she offers him a tight smile. "Perrin… please don't be nice to me. Please. If you're nice to me, I'm at genuine risk of crying. And I fear I might not stop." Drawing and loosing a slow breath, the noblewoman forces a smile onto her lips, raising her head more properly. "..and then nothing would ever get done, would it?" Still, she leans across after a moment's pause, to brush a soft kiss across her elder sibling's stubbled jaw; in gratitude and recognition of his own weariness and pain as he pushes her hair back into some sort of order.
Looking up and aside to the Ashwood next, the Steward arches a slender brow, considering Perrin's suggestion even as she's studying the Lord. "..I.. well, if that is the direction the search is taking, it makes sense. I'd certainly rather not linger here any longer than necessary, once arrangement have been made for.." She leaves that unspoken. The business of seeing bodies returned to their families. "If such would be acceptable, of course..?" No longer so close with the Lord of Highfield, she has to rely upon Darly, in front of her, to make the decision.
Daryl nods firmly towards Perrin, without hesitation speaking, "Consider it done. And do let me know what you find. And if the maid who last saw her could be brought for questioning, that may also help." The Ashwood looks over the Erenford woman once more, his jaw clenches just a tad, his fingers in one hand restlessly stretching and clenching into a fist before it relaxes. "If this is where the search is moving, then surely we will not turn you away as long as you seek your daughter." There's a bow of his head to them both, "I will take my leave and further our cause. Keep faith, and I will continue making contact with you as the situation progresses." How uncharacteristic of the nonchalant jokester. All business when he puts the uniform on. "Farewell until later, and good eve." Daryl turns then to move for the exit, casting one more look over his shoulder towards the pair.
"No, don't you cry else I shall as well. And that would just rust my mail," Perrin says softly to his sister. "Arrangements being made to ready Hafwen's room for her return," he says to her in that same soft voice, correcting to where he thought she might be thinking. With a nod of his head "Then I am in your debt, My Lord." Perrin responds back to Daryl as he stands, tugging on his armor to settle it back down from his kneeling. The words from Daryl about where Ceinlys would stay reaches him. If there is any emotion with in him it's not shown on the outside. See, he maybe learning that trick from his sister. Another bow of his head "I shall be seeing you in Highfield, My Lord. Be safe in your journey. I shall try to find the maid and bring her with me as well. At the least I shall question her myself."