|Into the Wild|
|Summary:||Bastien and Blaire stumble upon each other.|
|Out in the countryside, near the Ashwood/Terrick boundary|
|October 30th, 289 A.L.|
With the sun hanging brightly in the noonday sky, a small entourage makes its way through the woods along Highfields south-eastern boundary. The group numbers no more than five, though all are armed. Leathers supplemented with chain allow for relatively quiet movement and decent protection from bandits and boars alike. Spears and bows seem to be the weapon of choice, though the largest amongst them carries a sword at his hip. Their prey is anyone's guess, but from their form they seem to be in the middle of some sort of military practice.
The thick, balmy heat that comes with such a long summer occasionally manifests itself as air so dense it barely seems breathable. But here, in the dappled shade of towering trees, there's a little respite to be found. The excitement of birdsong clamours high above, beyond the reach of sprawling branches and the heady aroma of earth underfoot and vibrant foliage clustering atop. What a pity a small mob of armored ruffians should decide to disrupt the natural tranquility in such manner.
It's really a bad habit that Blaire has. but she can't help it. A whim, leads to a thought, leads to a notion, leads to somewhat aimless wandering through meadows and across brooks. And so it is that she finds herself a considerable distance from the Roost, traipsing contentedly through the undergrowth, fingertips trailing through the taller frond of ferns and other plants, booted feet making surprisingly little noise. Nobody's going to miss her anyway. They only need her when someone's hurt or ill and all seem in relatively good health for now. Is she aware of the advancing patrol? Highly unlikely. The girl's barely even looking where she's going, utterly lost in her thoughts.
And quite the disruption they are. Bastien's voice is no subtle thing, the man shouting at one of those on the march who has started to fall behind. "Pick your feet up, lad. You're no use to Ashwood if you can't survive without a horse." Upon closer inspection, it wouldn't be hard to see what exactly they're practicing. Each of the individuals seems quite beleaguered under the weight of their own clothes, and sweat stains any cloth in contact with their bodies. Despite the condition of all the marching boys, the large Knight seems perfectly content in this heat. If not for the sweat plastering his hair to his brow and neck, one might even think Bastien was comfortable here.
It's with curiosity rather than alarm lighting her dark eyes that Blaire looks up, in the vague direction of the advancing men, at that bellow from their leader. Probably without any grasp of just how far her feet have carried her, the petite creature doesn't seem to see any reason for concern. Slowing gradually until she halts, the girl braces one palm against the rough bark of a tree trunk, peering round it in a manner not unlike a dapple-deer scenting the air. The other hand bears a small bouquet of wildflowers, a sprig of sweet-smelling herbs too. She doesn't recall picking them, but here they are. Blinking down at them consideringly, Blaire then turns to settle her slender back against the tree's support. It's not a deliberate thing - why would she sneak up on a bunch of thugs? But it does, perhaps instinctively, create a chance for her to be overlooked, given their opposite directions.
There is little doubt to whom the "thugs" owe their loyalty. Both the words of the leading Knight and the clothes of each individual carry the mark of Ashwood's new colors. Lifting his hand to signal his men, they all come to a stop as Bastien looks around and sniffs at the air. "This is as good a place as any to rest. Get your bearings and drink. We'll be moving twice as fast tomorrow, I expect at least half of you to do me the favor of not dying from a mere walk in the woods."
With the opportunity given, all the men collapse on their respective spots. The light sound of chatter starts to fill the air as young boys talk about what young boys enjoy talking about. Bastien on the other hand looks out into the woods, his brown eyes narrowing as he stands watch over those who's lives are his responsibility. Sliding his fingers down to grip the hilt of his sword, he lifts a hand to quiet his men. "If you're a poacher, show yourself. Better to lose a hand than your life." His words draw a confused look from the men, but they know better than to question the Master at Arms.
A few wisps of light-brown hair drift past the silhouette of the aged tree trunk, the first nigh-imperceptible confirmation of another presence, from the knight's viewpoint. They're followed, slowly, by a pair of dark, doe eyes and the profile of dainty features. That's the strange thing. The girl - for that is very clearly what she is - is smiling warmly, almost in amused greeting.
Stepping out unhurriedly into full view, Blaire tilts her head, serenely taking in the gathering of men, their pretty colors, shiny weapons. All rather out of place, isn't it? But then, she's no room for comment. Attired in a mere white dress, still with the splash of pastel hues of her flowers held down by one thigh, she looks all at once natural here, fey and wild.. and entirely wrong. Why, after all, would an apparently well-born young woman be out here, without so much as a servant to watch over her. "..do these count..?" With a slow blink of long lashes, the girl extends the blossoms toward Bastien, her question seeming quite innocently genuine. Can you poach flowers? Who owns flowers, really?
What little chatter there was left dies off completely as Blaire steps out from behind the tree and offers forth the flowers. The eyes of every one of the young boys seems glued to her petite form as they stare with mouths hanging agape. This is not exactly what one expects to see while out doing drills. Bastien himself simply blinks before furrowing his eyebrows. "What kind of trick is this?" His eyes flicker down to her hand, taking in the sight and source of the previously caught scent. "What are you doing all the way out here, girl? Have you become lost from your retinue?"
Blaire doesn't seem to notice the stares of those in the background. Matter of fact, she might not notice their existence. That's just the way her mind works, you see. Focus so entirely upon the first and most obvious matter, and all else fades into a blurry backdrop. Equally unperturbed by the huge knight's displeased expression, she answers him in a pleasant, conversational manner; her tone sweet and peaceful as she follows his gaze down to her slowly wilting sprig. "I'm afraid if I'd had the forseight for playing tricks, I'd likely have had the notion to bring a vase." The girl's features are cast briefly sorrowful as she regards the stems. But her good cheer returns, stubbornly, as she fearlessly regards Bastien again. "..but you seem very organised. Do you happen to have a cup, maybe..?" One fingertip gingerly touches a fragile petal as she ponders the man before her. Eventually, she recalls his other questions and shakes her head gently. "No.. it's a rare thing that a whole retinue be sent for the purpose of paddling through streams and climbing trees." This time, a sparkling glance flits by him, pointedly sweeping his companions. "Or is it?"
The woman's request for a cup goes unfulfilled as Bastien's eyebrow slowly raises. The sprig is quite pretty, but he seems far more interested in finding out what exactly is going on with this little woman all the way out here in the woods. "You've no men to guard you?" He seems confuonded by it, and after a brief moment locks his gaze on her own. "These woods are dangerous. Poachers, bandits, wild boar." Lifting a hand to ruffle through the matted hair on his head, Bastien takes a moment to think before he finally asks, "What is your name and where do you come from, Lady…?"
"No." is the simple answer, regarding her guards.. or lack thereof. Blaire seems already distracted, her gaze having returned to the unhappy looking posey. "I suppose I wandered further than I realised." That's about as close as she's going to get to sounding apologetic. After all, they're out here. Why shouldn't others enjoy a walk in the sunshine, too? As the knight asks for her name, though, that smile is returning.
Wide eyes, dark pools of gold-flecked chocolate, rise to meet his unwaveringly. "I'm Blaire." As if that ought to be the end of the matter, she plucks one of the fresher looking daisies and offers it toward the glowering man between a thumb and forefinger. "And you are..?" It's almost like a lady offering a favor. That is, if ladies often stood ankle deep in the dirt in the middle of the woods.
Cautiously, Bastien reaches forward and gently slips his fingers around the stem of the offered flower and brings it up to his face. With a sniff and a raised eyebrow, he looks from Blaire to the flower and back before finally introducing himself. "Bastien." His free hand motions curtly towards the men at rest behind him, and their staring eyes. "This lot are all Ashwood squires. Why are you this far out in the woods alone?" As he speaks, he rolls the stem of the daisy gently between his fingers.
Obligingly looking past the knight's shoulder at that flicked gesture, the girl eyes his companions with polite acknowledgement. But they weren't exactly troubling her, it would seem - that smile lingers quite contentedly. It appears to be her natural expression, nothing contrived about it. "Nice to meet you, Bastien." Despite his obvious position, seeing as he didn't include the 'Ser', neither does she. Nobody around to hear it, is there?
Now that he's accepted the dainty daisy, Blaire loosely clasps her hands behind herself and absently rolls on her feet, from heel to toe and back again. "Well.. what are you doing this far out in the woods with a mob of squires? Are you looking for something?" It's an odd way she has of speaking; everything sounds so utterly innocent! What an odd question to ask. But maybe his was odd, too, to her mind.
When his question is answered with a question, the large man frowns and looks towards his men. "Training exercises. We've stopped to rest." With his free hand, the man pops the top off his water skin and lifts it to take a drink. Another moments hesitation and he's offering it forward to Blaire. Suspicion and curiosity clash within the man's mind. Every little warning signal is going off, but something drives him to try and be helpful.
"Oh. Thank you." The girl accepts the skin almost as unthinkingly as the knight offered it, only to then peer down into the contents, through the neck. "..what is it?" A delicate sniff punctuates her enquiry. Well, she wouldn't want ale or something. Then again.. he hardly seems the sort to be drinking on the job. That much plainly occurs to her; the thought written across her features as she casts Bastien an upward glance, accompanied by a shy half-grin quirking her lips. "I was out for a walk. Looking for herbs, actually. My family has only recently moved here and.. well, I don't know where anything is. They're not very forthcoming, plants, you know. You have to work for their company." Hmm. Spot the hidden meaning.
Still, he's being very nice. And something in his demeanour perhaps tips Blaire off to how uncomfortable she's making him. Well, she's used to that. "I live at Terrick's Roost." she explains, kindly, before looking thoughtful a moment. "..is it really that far..?" A skyward flit of her gaze likely gauges the time of day. Probably for the first time since she set out.
As she reveals the purpose of her walk, Bastien's mind calms slightly. One can never be sure when it comes to strangers met in the woods! Moving to a nearby stump, the large man lowers himself onto it before looking to the skin. The corner of his mouth tilts upward ever so slightly as she asks that question and memories of Uncle Harold come streaming forward. "Only water. I've an example to set." The last few words coincide with a nod towards his men, who have started to lose interest in the talking pair. "From Terrick's Roost, its not /too/ far. Still a ways to have come on foot." The suspicion has slipped away from his tone and leaning forward, the man seems to be opening up ever so slightly. "You'd do well to get your hands on a map, if you're going to go wandering when you don't know the land." Placing his hands on his knees, the daisy rests tucked between two knuckles as Bastien continues to watch Blaire with that curious gaze. "And a guard."
The girl doesn't bother to follow, regarding the skin a moment or two longer before, following Bastien's answer, venturing a tiny sip. Then another. How exactly does someone like this manage to survive at all, when they're so easily distracted? Sheer talent, obviously. "I'm not sure Lord Bolland would see the use in assigning me a guard." she admits, candidly, "Not when he has daughters of his own to worry after. Guards are for ladies. Not common-born pestilences." There's a lack of bitterness with these strange words, as if she were merely repeating something she had been told but been unperturbed by. In a world of scheming ambition, Blaire seems to be a creature quite lacking in guile or hidden agenda. If one could judge so swiftly.
Smiling, she takes a step or two forward in order to offer the knight's water back toward him. "I do like maps. They're usually quite beautiful. I just.. well, it's sometimes hard to see what they mean in relation to me." Chewing dubiously on her lower lip, she studies Bastien as if hoping for some kindred understanding. A tentative hope of friendship, maybe? Not that she seems to be going out of her way to charm him, with her riddles and non-answers. "I suppose I choose different landmarks to the sort of people who draw them." As something belatedly occurs to her, she glances toward the now thankfully uninterested group nearby. "Ashwood… that's.. Highfield, isn't it? I haven't been there, though I hear of it from visitors at the Roost, sometimes."
When the young woman reveals her common-born heritage, Bastien doesn't bat an eyelash. Instead, his shoulders rise and fall with a shrug as he puts out his hand to take back the offered water skin. "Make a friend, then. Someone big who can clobber any bandits that aim to steal you away." Taking one last sip from the skin, he caps it and returns it to the belt that hangs around his waist.
There is something strange about the man. He is not impolite, he is not cold, but he seems almost…shy? That slight stiffness which hangs about his words is fading, but still his sentences retain that just an inch away from cooked feeling. Her problem with maps recieves a barely audible sound from the man's throat. A chuckle, perhaps? "Then get a bit of coal and some parchment. Make your own maps." As she starts to place his place of origin, the large man nods his head and runs his hand through his hair, pushing it back and allowing himself an uninhibited view of this intrigueing woman. "You're correct. What do you hear?"
Unabashed big brown eyes slide back toward Bastien and regard the knight steadily in turn. She must have some idea of etiquette, if she's linked to the Terricks.. maybe she just doesn't have much faith in those 'proper' ways of conversing. After a long, musing pause, she states very simply, "..you could clobber bandits. And you're undoubtedly large." Another pause. "The same could be said of a good-sized branch, of course. But I doubt I could lift it." Seeing as he seems content to remain seated, Blaire follows suit. Sort of. Plucking her skirts in the thumb and forefinger of the bouquet-less hand, she then simply crosses her ankles and drops lightly to a cross-legged position in the long grass. Dirt, leaves, psh. Trifles. Laying her flowers in her lap, she rests her elbows on her knees and inclines forward a little, almost studiously watching her newfound companion now.
"That's quite a clever idea.. my own map. It would even need a code, nobody would understand it anyway, except me." The faintest touch of self-deprecation there implies she does at least know that she's different. No doubt it's been pointed out to her many a time. But on to more important things. "Birds. A stream, I think. Men talking about a wench at the Ash and Oak.. what's the Ash and Oak..?" A blink as she refocuses on the seated knight, then blushes prettily. "Oh. You mean what do I hear about.. yes. Highfield. Umm.." Momentarily off-balance, she scrambles for a response. "..I heard that.. the Lady Highfield went err.. mad." There's no nicer way to put it.
Bastien's eyes close slightly as a smile spreads across the man's face. What few soldiers are watching them allow their jaws to drop at the sight of Ashwood's most stoic knight being…unstoic. "As appealing as the idea is, I've duties to attend to back home. Gone are the times when I could drop everything to go trapsing through the woods with a beautiful girl." As she settles down into the dirt, he purses his lips before realizing she's okay with it.
The large man's eyes linger on Blaire as she talks of the Ash and Oak, a wench, and birds. "It's Highfield's tavern and brothel." At the sight of her blush, Bastien nibbles at his tongue and watches, enthralled in a way by her innocence. "In a word, yes."
"That's a shame." replies the fey creature, though she seems sad for him, rather than herself. "It's quite enjoyable, traipsing through the woods without anything pressing to do." A glance again to his men clarifies what she means, though a slight tilt askance of her head betrays curiosity at the few slack-jawed looks. Unusual to have them directed at someone else. Oh well. Men are complex creatures.
Returning her attention to the knight, Blaire smiles at his compliment, without commenting upon it. False flattery, she wagers, having seen the finery and elegance of the sort of women Bastien must usually spend his time with. Far above a waif sitting in the dirt. The explanation of the inn elicits a soft 'oh' of understanding.. but again, that's not something to be remarked upon. Honestly, it's not something that interests her much. "Why did she go mad?" Oh yes, that's the best choice for continuing conversation. She can't help being curious, though. Absently, she picks up one of the small fern fronds from her picked trophy, teasing at the soft leaves with gentle fingertips. Ignoring a lazy breeze that stirs her long hair, she casts her eyes downward to watch her idle work.
Bastien draws the small daisy up to his face and takes in the scent as he contemplates her words. "I would like nothing more, truly." Lowering the hand, he twines his digits together and shakes his head as he looks up towards the afternoon sky. "Perhaps things will die down long enough to give me some spare time in the future."
He draws a bit of air between his teeth and looks away towards the woodlands in the distance, when she asks that question. How does one answer such a thing? Quite simply: They don't. "I know little, and prefer to know little, when it comes to details about Lady Cherise's madness."
Blaire watches the knight in contemplative silence as he looks off into the distance, perhaps happy to gather an answer from what he doesn't say. It's amazing what you can learn by people-watching, with a perceptive slant to your thinking. "Knowing little is sometimes the safest way to be.. depending." Depending on what? She doesn't elaborate. Though she does seem about to say something further.
Nothing comes out. Freezing with her lips slightly parted, the girl slowly turns to look over one shoulder, her features obscured from Bastien's gaze, should it follow her, by a skein of chestnut hair. When she speaks again, it's back to that soft lilt, barely audible despite the quiet of their surroundings. "Did you hear..?" She doesn't need to finish. A trampling of undergrowth not too far away. Certainly not stealthy enough to be human. One of the aforementioned boar? That's not good. But the lissome girl doesn't move, for the moment; instead remaining perfectly still and listening hard.
The large man nods agreement with her words, seemingly understanding exactly what she means. He is the least politically inclined amongst the Ashwoods, and to survive in that family without becoming a tool takes a special kind of intentional ignorance. Turning back towards Blaire, he opens his mouth to reply when the change in her tone and mood causes a mirrored reaction in his own. A short and soft whistle gathers the attention of his men, and lifting a hand he points in the direction as he rises off his log. His sword might not be ideal for hunting boar, but they've the spears for the job.
Still seated, Blaire observes the organised motion of the squires with absent-minded fascination. Whether you're martially minded or not, it's still a thing of beauty to see such things so well-rehearsed and smooth. When Bastien rises, though, she looks back to him with arched brows. He's leaving? Oh well, if a boar is that important. Laying her frond gently back upon the rest of her wildflowers and sprigs, the girl smiles cheerfully up at the knight, then begins to rise, unhurriedly. "I should leave, I expect. I don't want to get in the way and.. well.." Another fleeting glance to the sky above. Will she make it to the Roost before nightfall? Oh, probably. She appears to be one of those lucky sorts. "..but it was genuinely nice to meet you. And thank you, for the water." Coming to her full height, she lightly pats a little dust from her formerly white skirts.
The group of men surround the pair, and stand at the ready to either spring into action or move. They're a military group, but their youth does shine through as one boy stumbles over another. Bastien's lip curls slightly as he watches them fuss over one another before moving into position. Blaire's words draw the young man's gaze back towards her, and with a shake of his head he words to dismiss her reasoning for departure. "You'd not be in the way. Besides, I'd not forgive myself if we lost it and you found it. Boars can be…vicious." For all his stiffness, something genuine within him seems to desire to protect the woman. Her innocence is a rare thing, and the man is starting to cherish it.
"So can men." notes the petite creature, absently, as she dusts off her skirts with a half-hearted hand. What does it matter if she's far from pristine? At her full height, alas, she barely reaches the knight's shoulder; demanding that she tilt her head back in order to regard him politely, in conversation. "But boar don't wield spears so.. I suppose I'd be best here. For the moment." Idly swinging her small bunch of flowers to and fro, Blaire smiles shyly up into his contrastingly rather sombre expression. "That's a nice thing to say." What, that he might feel a bit down in the mouth if she were gored to death? Yes, charming. Well, she seems to think so. Maybe servants and retainers aren't usually worth worrying over, where she comes from.
Being of a far less martial mind, the brunette doesn't seem to notice any glaringly obvious errors from the encircling guards.. nor does it seem to cross her mind that she is, now, surrounded by men of a House whose relations with her own she can't be entirely sure of. She doesn't seem stupid, exactly.. but naieve, for certain. And altogether too trusting, no matter how handsome the grim-faced Bastien might be, at a glance.
Whatever might be trampling through the underbrush, whether man or beast, seems to draw upon the nerves of the young men. It has become quite apparent that none of them have been bloodied and their combat experience comes down to practice weapons felt roughly upon their backsides. The air outside of the circle is tense, but inside, Bastien keeps that calm and stoic image as he divides his attention between his responsibilities and the small woman at his side. "Tighten up your grip, John. Your footing is wrong, Sam. It's a bloody pig, not an army. The lot of you'll be fine. Maybe not you, David." The last few words are spoken with a gruff kind of humor, meant to invoke a passion to prove him wrong.
Blaire's comment causes the large man's lips to twitch slightly, his tan face reddening ever so slightly at the woman's praise. A simple grunt is given in reply as he rests his hand upon the hilt of his sword and quietly scans the woods. "Would you care for an escort home?"
The notion of reappearing at the Roost with a veritable small army of men apparently tickles the girl - her lips slowly curve to a smirk, then a smile, then a grin as she begins to laugh softly aloud. It's a pleasant sound, without a trace of derision; she's not laughing at him, he's just amused her. It's obvious by the lingering approval in her dark eyes. Covering her mouth with the fingertips of her free hand, Blaire waits until she has mastered her giggling, before trusting herself to speak again. "Ahem.. it's.. well, it's a long way on foot. Especially in armors." Her gaze flits pointedly down and up over the knight's attire. He can practice all he wants, she'd still easily outrun him through the forest, needs be. "..and I wouldn't want to trouble you. I've already interrupted your training.."
She's not declining, though. "Maybe.. as far as the river?" A fair compromise. About halfway between here and the distant there, and far enough that maybe it won't be noted that she's traipsing about the wilds with Ashwood loyalists. Bolland might not like that much, and tales of the man's temper already range wide.
The large man nods his approval at the compromise and turns towards his men. "You heard the lady, breaks over men." One of the youth looks over and dares a question, "Ser, what about the boar?" The large man's shoulders rise and fall with a shrug. "What about it? Its one boar, there are six of you. If you can't deal with a bloody pig, should it come upon us, you've no chance of facing down an Ironborn's sword." The young men suck it up and start to move their feet as Bastien turns to Blaire. "Terrick lands are southwest of here. Which would be…this way."
"Thank you." The gratitude is soft-spoken, murmured in an aside toward the gruff Ashwood as he curtly gathers his men. His manner, seeing as it's not directed toward her, goes unremarked upon. Truth be told, it'd be water off a duck's back, most likely, even if she were in the line of fire. Blaire seems particularly hard to ruffle, aside from that fleeting blush a short while ago.
Following Bastien's vague gesture with a flit of dark eyes, the fey girl nods in assent. "That's right. You've got good bearings, Bastien." There's a definite lacing of pleasure as she states that fact. How nice to encounter one that, while noble, doesn't have his head crammed too far up his rear to appreciate the surroundings his family lays claim to. She doesn't linger to be led, instead setting off at an easy pace through the long grass, her skirts swishing lightly against the greenery and fingers trailing through the higher fronds, which easily reach her hips. "..err.." Glancing back over a shoulder, she studies the man as a thought occurs to her. "..where exactly is the boundary between your family's lands and mine? So I don't accidentally upset anyone, in future?"
Bastien starts to walk alongside the young woman, the palm of his hand resting lazily on the pommel of his sword as his men keep formation around the pair. "There is a large tree, long dead and cracked down the middle. Likely by lightning some time long past." His stride is slowed so that he doesnt get too far ahead of her, though the man doesnt seem to mind the idea of this taking longer than it should. "Strangely, I've not seen it marked on any map, but I had to learn it well enough when training these louts. Ashwood men moving on Terrick land isn't something your Lord would take lightly, even if we are at peace."
"My Lord doesn't take anything lightly." observes the girl, absently plucking a fragrant weed to add to her little floral collection. "Does yours?" Not that Blaire strikes one as a likely suspect for spying or infiltration. But then, that's how the most successful of such people ought to be, right? ..no. Cheerfully rubbing the sweet-scented, thick leaves of the latest acquisition between her fingers, then smelling them and wrinkling her nose, she doesn't cut a remotely false or formidable figure. Offering her hand unthinkingly toward the straight-faced knight to sniff, should he desire, she's keeping pace with his rangy strides rather well, light and graceful on her feet.
The snippet of information regarding the landmark she listens to with care, nodding to convey her understanding. "I will do my best not to trespass again. Do you think it's hollow? Dead trees often are, aren't they." That butterfly-mind of hers is off again, seeming cheered by the idea of a little den. "It's useful to kow things like that." she nods again, looking up at Bastien directly this time. "In case it rains. Though.. it'd have to be an awfully large tree, in your case." Is she.. actually daring to tease a knight? Cheek.
"In times such as these, no Lord can truly afford to take things lightly. Aside from their bedmates." The second half is said with a disapproving grunt as the man takes the offered hand and sniffs, mirroring her reaction on a smaller scale. As he continues to walk beside her, the man shakes his head. "You needn't worry nearly as much about being punished for trespassing, and more so for whatever lurks hidden in the shadows of these woods. You are a precious little thing, and I dare say you'd fetch a fine price as a slave or a hostage." Is that a…compliment? The man has a weird way of saying 'you're pretty'. "I would not know…I'm sure I could squeeze my way in, if I tried hard enough." Oh, he's playing along. Cute.
Well, marginal victory for the knight - his mention of Lords and their bedmates rouses another of those rosy-warm blushes, though the girl does her best to disguise it with a faraway gaze toward the sunlit expanse of meadow beyond the treeline up ahead. "..that's something I wouldn't know. Or speak of, given the recent.. events." Oh. The mess at the Roost regarding the late Young Lord and his.. indiscretions. Her loyalty in saying nothing of it speaks volumes about Blaire's love of family.. and she doesn't seem to mind that he has a dim view of such things. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, after all. "I wouldn't make much of a slave." she continues, chuckling a little. "Lady Tressa always says if I spent as much time working as I did daydreaming, I'd be able to afford a Keep of my own, someday. And I doubt I'd fetch much coin as a hostage, either.. commoners are in plentiful enough supply."
Strange that she can speak of her station so candidly, and without bitterness. Is she one of those rare few that's perfectly content with the cards fate has handed her? Regardless, at the knight's 'almost' compliment, she glances up and aside to offer him a smile, not pressing further or making fun at his expense. He's kind to imply she's pretty, but she'd be a fool to believe charming words from a young nobleman. "A well-timed boot from a helpful companion might do the trick, too." The suggestion comes innocently, to the matter of squishing him into a tree. Come to think of it, her own boots are pretty sturdy looking. "Wouldn't be much of a secret place, though. You'd know where to find me, now."
"The labor of holding up those on top upon our shoulders is a strenuous one." The words aren't said out of spite, or complaint, but merely as a statement of duty. The man allows her to change the subject, though he does relish in that blush of her cheeks. Her mention of a well timed boot draws a light chuckle from deep within the man's throat as he gives her a sidelong glance. "I'm sure you'd be eager to choose who to place that boot." Keeping in step, the large Knight adds, "I'd like to know where to find you."
"You would?" Good cheer wars with uncertainty in Blaire's dark eyes now, for the first time. Is he making fun of her? she had enough of that, growing up, from her Lord's sons to be mindful of it to this day. He's a noble. She's common. If her own 'family' never let her forget it, she can't ignore it now, just for the quirk of a sad, roguish smile.. or can she? Daring to smile in kind, the girl is quiet a moment as she considers, then eventually replies, gently. "..and I think I'd like to be found." Raising her free hand, she tucks her silky brown hair back behind her ear, quite at ease despite the perhaps dangerous admission. "I can't live in a tree, though.."
The statement, as with most of her words, seems genuine in nature. She's pondering aloud. "..if it were dry inside, though.." A surreptitious glance is cast over their companions before she finishes. Not that they're likely to care. "..maybe we could write, without troubling ravens and couriers. I'd like that." She can write? What a well-edcuated little servant. "Just if you want to." she hastens to add. After all, knights no doubt have better things to do with their time.
"I'd not expect you to live in a tree, though it might be an amusing thought." His stoicism is starting to fade, replaced by something far more light-hearted. Slipping the fingers of his free hand through his hair, he shakes his head. "Dry or not, there's not nearly enough room for you to live comfortably, I'd think." Her suggestion of writing causes the corner of the man's mouth to tug upward into a smile. "I…think I would like that." The fact that she can write seems to be a bit of a small surprise to the man, and he does not ignore it. "I do not often meet commoners who've the ability to read and write."
Blaire nods, unperturbed by the man's surprise. "I studied with a Maester, in the Vale. Officially, I'm an apothecary for Lord Bolland's household.. though there's only rarely a call for remedies, now." Pausing to hop lightly up onto a tree-trunk lying in her path, then down the other side back onto level ground, the girl grins a little, mostly to herself. "I doubt Lady Tressa would be surprised, if I chose to live in a tree. I used to get in dreadful trouble for climbing onto roofs, to look at the stars." A sidelong glance wanders to the knight, gauging his reaction. "The Maester taught me a little of astrology, too. It's interesting. Much better than embroidery. What do you do, when you've an hour to yourself, Bastien?"
The group of men follow suit, moving a little less gracefuly over the tree stump as they allow her to lead the way. Bastien is no fool and keeps track of where they are as they walk. The last thing he needs is Aleister breathing down his neck for getting the Squires lost in the woods all day. "You're an apothecary? You make just a little bit more sense now." Said with a humerous tone, he seems to be enjoying her company. Her question gives him pause though, as he ponders how to reply. "I've had so little time to myself, that becomes a hard question to answer. I mostly enjoy simply relaxing in the Gardens or practicing my swordplay. I've no interesting or surprising answers to give you, I think."
"Maybe you ought to try something interesting or surprising." suggests the girl, amiably, still watching him with those wide dark eyes. "Life shouldn't be all about work, Bastien. Even for a knight." Easy for her to say, of course. The one who was spending the day aimlessly wandering through the forests and fields. "Climb on a roof, sometime. Look at the stars." Why is that such an appealing idea, to her? "Just lie flat on your back and look at them. I'll wager you've never thought to, before."
She pauses again, her gaze now wandering after a passing butterfly that dances before her, then swirls across toward Bastien, fluttering just in front of his face a moment before going on its way, apparently satisfied. It rouses a soft chuckle from his companion. Fearless creatures, for having such fragile wings.
They large Knight contemplates her reasoning and smiles. "I'll give it a try." As they crest a ridge, the landmark tree comes into sight. Their journey is finally coming to its end, and a sigh of relief is breathed from the bedraggled youths. As much as the pair might be enjoying this, the Squires are all bagged down by training gear and were already marching for who knows how long. Bastien nods towards the tree and starts to guide their direction towards it. "I believe this is the point in which we part, Blaire."
Is that a touch of disappointment shadowing Blaire's features? She disguises it in a splitsecond, regardless, as they crest the rise and she glances to the knight again. "So it would seem." And good timing, too - the purplish tinge of the scarce clouds overhead hints at dusk beginning to meander its way over the horizon. Apparently not wishing to drag the entourage any further - the boys do look weary and disgruntled, the girl halts where she is and turns to properly face Bastien, flowers still firmly in hand and long hair slightly tousled and windswept. Well, that's bound to happen when she leaves it so carelessly loose.
"It really was a pleasure to meet you." She offers a hand toward him, though by its position it's for a shake rather than a chivalrous kiss. "And I will write. All you have to decide then is whether you can be bothered to walk out to the tree and fetch soggy, mice-chewed letters."
Taking her hand in his own, Bastien's gloved fingers are gentle with it. With the difference in their builds, he aught to be. "You've brightened an otherwise dull day." He doesn't really shake her hand, so much as grip it. After a brief pause, he nods his head to her words adn smiles. An actual smile. The full thing. From Bastien. Hell just froze over. "I look forward to fending off the critters and seeing how the weeks treat you." With that, he bows politely and turns to whistle towards his boys. "Alright, double time men. Lets try and get home before your dinner runs cold." Looking back one last time, he simply stares at Blaire before giving her a pursed smile and a nod of the head. Then, he's off and heading back towards home.