|Ladies of the Lake|
|Summary:||Kittridge and Roslyn speak on magic and moats.|
|The Fortress of the Sevens looms high on its island, the structure holding a commanding view over the surround waters and terrain. The outside of the castle is pockmarked with strikes from seige weapons but nary a crack can be seen in its structure. The island is only half an acre larger than the castle but holds a small grove of trees and bushes, the edges around most of the island dropping at steep banks into the water but for the ferry access.|
|Wed May 02, 289|
In the bright light of a summer's day, there is little look of danger to the marsh that captures the Fortress of the Sevens, just bright, reflective water meeting those sharp banks. The wind stirs the little grove of trees set outside of those castle walls, tugging at the skirts of the slim figure that paces slowly through the carefully planted trees with a book open ahead of her even as she walks. Roslyn has since changed from their travel, favoring a jewel-bright blue silk currently that manages to make her own eye color change in the reflection of it.
Despite riding for much of the night, Kittridge seems to have elected not to rest just yet, or at least not to do so in the guest room the Naylands have kindly made available to him. He has changed, clothes once browns and blacks for travel now grey and forest green instead. He sits outside at the base of a tree, legs drawn up so his boots can be planted flat-soled on the dirt and his arms draped around his knees. His head is tilted to the side, cheek on his bicep, and he seems to be gazing out across the swamp. Or possibly dozing. Hard to tell from behind.
That tree that he has found is the perfect tree, the curve of it just right to cradle a back and the ground underneath soft enough for comfortable sitting for hours. At least, it is Lady Roslyn's opinion and the lady's favorite tree, as that is where she is moving to. She is distracted enough not to see the man until she's almost upon him, though the occasional flicker of her eyes upwards catches him before she actually stumbles into Kittridge. Stopping immediately, her gaze draws over him to check on that possibility of dozing before calling attention to herself.
There is a definite possibility of dozing. Kittridge doesn't seem to notice her approach, not reacting if he does hear it. He doesn't move except for the slow rise and fall of his back as he breathes.
Without anyone around to see, Roslyn's nose wrinkles slightly as she tries to decide what to do with the dozing knight and her taken tree. She twists to shoot a look around her, as if searching out anyone else who might be nearby, before she smooths her expression back to something more neutral, squares her shoulders and — clears her throat.
Kittridge wakes abruptly at the noise, though he doesn't seem to know quite what it was that did it. He startles upright, blinking and rubbing a hand over his face, as if surprised to discover he had been asleep. He turns after a moment, and spots Roslyn, and then hauls himself to his feet. "Ah, lady Roslyn," he says, "I'm sorry, you seem to've snuck up on me. Not that," he gesturse vaguely, "That you did it on purpose, I mean. My fault." He blinks a few times, and widens his eyes real big to try to get them to stick open, and then gives himself a shake and smiles sheepishly, "I'm sorry, I think I was napping."
"I assure you I did not mean to sneak up on you, my lord. I only wished to find a bit of privacy myself, and was quite surprised to find you in my spot," Lady Roslyn replies with an apologetic smile of her own, tipping her hand in a gesture briefly to the tree before hazel-turned-blue eyes are raking carefully over Kittridge's features. "You must be quite tired, to nap in the grove, but was there something wrong with your rooms?" The question holds an immediate concern brushed low over her words.
"I'm sure you didn't," Kittridge agrees easily, "I didn't mean to imply it, I apologize." He rubs at his cheek again briefly, and shoves hair back away from his brow and says, "Oh, is it your spot? I am not surprised, it seemed too nice a spot to not be someone's. And no, I assure you," he says, spreading a hand her way, "The room is very comfortable. I just thought I'd come look around a bit, and enjoy the weather while I was here, since it's to be such a brief stay. And I guess I was more tired than I thought."
"You have no idea how relieving I find that, lord ser, that you were not left uncomfortable with our hospitality." Her gaze slips for a moment to follow the gestures of his hands, but Lady Roslyn is quick to return to a polite level of interest as she meets Kittridge's gaze. "And how does it compare to the memories of the last time you were here?" Suddenly moving with a quiet rustle of skirts, she takes a step closer to the tree to squint at it before gesturing to a carved notch of initials. Not surprisingly, they are RN. "Whatever my brothers tell you, I carved them." Wry humor sparkles for a moment in bright eyes as she informs him of that.
"I am sorry to have given you any doubt of it," Kittridge replies, "Your family has been nothing but generous to me and mine both in Stonebridge and here, and I think you for it." He smiles, and looks about, scratching at the back of his head and admitting, "I suspect the trees are taller? I don't remember much, truth be told. But I do still find the fact that it's on an island very entertaining. I remember liking that a lot as a boy. It seemed like something from a story." He smiles, and then turns to look at the initials, and chuckles. "Alas, you share them with too many others to ever prove it."
"Ah, but they can't prove that I didn't, either. If only a kindly knight would take my word for it that they are mine," Roslyn teases lightly, humor chasing across her expression briefly before she turns away only to look around the island as well. "What story did you imagine as a boy? I must admit, I used to think there was something—magical to it when I was a girl as well. As if the island had some sort of protection over our home and family." She catches herself with a light, dismissive smile. "But I am sure your own home is just as interesting?"
"I will defend your word on it against all comers," Kittridge jokes back with a smile. Too soon? he moves on quickly, shrugging, "Oh, all sorts of things. The swamp was obviously full of all sorts of supernatural creatures. Water dragons, giant serpents, mermaids, sword-bearing ladies, you know. And the castle probably housed a great treasure to be gained, or a fair maiden to be rescued or something like that. Your usual fantastical tales of adventure," he says, smile tilting in lightly self-deprecating humor. As for his own home, he shakes his head, "Oh no, I'm afraid Braeburn House is terribly dull in comparison. We've no castle at all, which I've never quite got over, I admit."
Did the ladies at least bear proper Valyrian swords that they would give to you, knowing you were the strongest to wield it? I think my brothers may have had the same thought, once or twice," Roslyn replies, the hint of tension more noticable as she relaxes into the comfortable charm of Kittridge's presence. Gaze flicking over the knight at his words of how, she presses curiously, "What does it have? Besides, of course, for the abundance you have in food."
"Naturally," Kittridge confirms with a grin and a nod, "Occasionally a magical spear or giant axe or something. Depending what sort of knight I felt like being that day." His dimples reappear briefly, and then he leans back against the tree with an arm, shrugging. "It's a manor house," he explains, "A fortified one. So basically a house, but all stone, and slate roof, and heavy shutters and things. It's got a courtyard in the middle, a bit like a castle, I guess, but not quite."
"And not nearly as defensive as a castle, which I am sure would have sent my own ancestors into shock and dismay," Roslyn comments on the subject of manor houses, watching Kittridge claim her tree casually again before she adds, "But, I do not really think a castle is any better, nor a tower. And you fared better than us all during the invasion, even without a castle."
"There was a castle once," Kittridge says, "Or a keep, at least. And it's actually quite defensible, but I suppose not so much as a castle, if only because the walls aren't so high. And we're not on an island, or a cliff or inside a moat or anything dramatic like that." He shakes his head a bit, "The Ironborn didn't think we were worth the trouble with the Roost right there for the taking, I guess. We've never been so glad to be the poorest of our neighbors."
Though she nods understanding, Roslyn also offers a counter of, "One could always dig a moat, if you wished." She pauses, wry amusement playing more in the bright color of her eyes than anywhere else in her expression. "And then dramatically fill it with frogs. Though I think at this rate, you are like to go home with more frogs than you know what to do with, if Rutger believes your lady sister would like them."
"I'll suggest that to my father," says Kittridge with a smile, "For the umpteen-hundredth time. Though I think it's been some years since I did last, maybe he'll have changed his mind." He laughs about the frogs, rolling his eyes a little at the last about his sister, "Yes, that will be interesting, won't it?"
"Perhaps you should simply get a shovel and begin digging in the dead of night," Roslyn suggests wryly. "I believe it is my family's motto that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, in most cases."
"And my personal motto is never try to dig a whole moat yourself, especially not when you could pay someone to dig it for you," Kittridge replies. That is probably not his real motto. He grins a bit and says, "In the spirit of that, then, I'm going to ask you an impertinent question: why are you still a Nayland?" He seems genuinely wondering.
Roslyn's lips curve slightly at the question, drawing all the straighter from the angle of her chin to the way her fingertips splay over the book she carries. She answers diplomatically, "My father has not found a match for me yet that would benefit our house, unfortunately." She does not quite shrug her shoulders, but there is certainly a dimissiveness about her manner. "With the gold you stand to make off of our offer, if you should accept, you could certainly hire moat diggers, if your lord father agreed to one."
Kittridge nods, "Of course," he says, "I am sure he finds it difficult to find a match equal to the prospect of losing you." He smiles, and lets it go, laughing instead, "Yes, I'm sure I could. I will see if I can convince him that is the best way to spend our treasury, should we manage to put together such a deal."
"Or he was never quite sure he could not reach higher, until—. Well," Roslyn concludes with a dry humor, doing the barest of an unladylike sweep of a hand gesture over herself. "It is the best deal you are like to get, for all that it puts your house in an awkward circumstance. But then, so will anything that comes of my lord brother courting your sister, if it goes beyond that." She pauses, studying Kittridge. "The damage may be done either way."
"I can see how that might happen," Kittridge admits, with a crook of a smile, "Even when Lord Patrek Mallister was suggested as a possibility, I found myself thinking Rosanna could do better." He rakes a hand through his hair and leans against the tree once more, nodding, "It may be that that's true. I do not know what my father will choose to do. The Terricks may offer us land; they will have to, I suspect, to match what your brother has offered. Does he have the authority?" he asks, "To make that deal? I assume so, but." He feels like he should check, apparently.
It is half a question, where Roslyn's curiosity gets the better of her and she states wryly, "And with my own brother's suite too, I'd imagine. You must think your lady sister could find better, if you thought it of Lord Mallister." She nods, once, a sure and simple thing as she glances back towards the castle before seeking out Kittridge's gaze again. "He does, my ser lord. Though I doubt if you had tried to press for more that we could have agreed to it."
Kittridge smiles crookedly, and shrugs, "I am sure your brothers think the same of you, Lady." He glances back to the castle as well, and nods, and the smiles, "And would you tell me if I could have?" he returns, teasing lightly, "I think you are cannier than that, Lady Roslyn." He taps a finger alongside his nose and chuckles. "Forgive me," he says, "I think perhaps I had best rest for an hour after all. I'd like to be awake to speak with your brothers later. And see about these frogs, of course."
"It would not be very ladylike of me to lie to a knight such as you, would it?" Lady Roslyn questions, though it is with a smile and the subtlest of colors to her cheeks briefly. But she nods, dropping into a curtsy towards the knight. "Rest well, Ser Kittridge. And do not let my lord brother push you into the marsh when you go frog hunting. It is his favorite prank."
"Not in the least," Kittridge replies, grinning a little, unserious. He bows, polite and graceful, and says, "Thank you, lady. And thank you for the advice. I will make sure to keep an eye out, and my feet beneath me. Until later," he says, with another smile, and heads back into the castle.