|Summary:||Fenrir bids Orlagh farewell as she prepares to depart with their Lady.|
|Flint Campsite - Seagard|
|A large cabin-style tent stands in the center of the small area granted, the light and dark device declaring it to be House Flint of Flint's Finger hangs just outside on a make-shift armour stand. Dotted around the main camp are smaller tents for the cavalry (who have to share tents), and for the foot soldier (they are stuffed into tents like sardines). There is a small but adequate holding area for their horses with a tent for the tack. In the center of their small area is a cooking fire, with appropriate cooking supplies.|
|February 9th 289 A.L.|
Ninety percent of true love is acute, ear-burning embarrassment. - Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters
As usual, activity has begun in the Flint camp long before dawn. Some of this, of course, is down to the endless course of training and sparring and practice bouts that the men are set to, regardless of the hour. Many are only now trudging to their bedrolls. But there's a new source of.. well, not commotion. There's rarely commotion, when Orlagh is overseeing anything. Perhaps it's just the nervous anticipation of a journey afoot that's silently making its presence known to the morning air.
Servants and handmaids bustle about here and there, several stifling yawns or rubbing wearily at eyes only half-awake as yet. But the fair-haired form of the mistress herself is set, as ever, a little apart. A few horses are readied and stand idle now, resting a hindfoot and chewing contentedly at their fodder. It's to a hardy little pack mule that Orlagh attends.. and she appears to be struggling to notch the last strap on its final bag. Stubbornly gritting her teeth, she grasps the leather in both hands and pushes up on tiptoe, slender muscles quivering with the exertion. The buckle just.. won't.. go.
Coming up behind Orlagh, Fenrir observes her struggling with the bag's strap for a lengthy moment in amused silence. Or perhaps he's just taking in the sight of her one final time before her departure. Regardless of the man's motives, he finally decides to announce his presence, stepping to the woman's side and grinning crookedly. "Morning, Mistress Orlagh. May I, uh, get that for you? Helps a man feel useful, this sort'a thing."
Hitching his shoulders briefly as he continues, his tone unusually rambling, the lean master-at-arms absently rests his hands atop the strap, without making any actual effort to pursue the work as yet. "I hear you're likely going to miss us sailing for the Isles," he notes, watching Orlagh out of the corner of his eye, his tone decidedly casual. "Wanted to say, uh, when I get back.. if you ever want to go dancing again.. that is to say, I'd really like to.." An awkward clear of his throat, and he gives up on whatever he was trying to get at for now. "..Please, let me get that?"
Stepping back with a sigh, Orlagh pushes her fair tresses back from her brow, plainly irked at not having been able to manage the strap herself but graciously conceding to the Master's offer of help with a murmured, "Thank you." Patting absently at the rough hair of the mule's shoulder, she turns her blue eyes upon Fenrir with a smile of easy familiarity. "..and good morning to you, also, Master Fenrir. I hope you partook in breaking fast before venturing to seek out the damsels in distress about the camps?" In the face of the tall man's uncharacteristic awkward moment, the kind-natured girl simply smoothes it over with a jest, as if it had never existed at all. Years of practice. Still.. she does regard him in profile for a long moment, the curve of her lips perhaps a touch less than usual to the observant eye. "..I think.." she answers, softly, with a bow of her head in unspoken assent, "..that perhaps it may be better that the Lady Cordelya is not present. Less upsetting." And less chance the woman will find herself a fishing boat and sail after them. "So aye. I will be absent, too. My Lady will have need of company and comfort, no doubt, and it is my duty to see that those are in no short supply."
Tilting her head a little, tucking a stray wisp back into the thick braid that hangs heavy against her back, Orlagh looks more directly to the man's features, softening somewhat. "..Master Fenrir. I would be glad to accompany you again of an evening, when you return. Should you still wish it and should our Lord grant me leave to do so." In her own, ever proper and delicate way, she's trying to reassure him. She'll still be here.
"I managed to get a bit of your stew, aye." Fenrir falls silent for a time as he fights with the strap; it -is- hard, and the muscles of the man's forearms clench briefly as he pulls it into place. Finally, with a grunt of effort, he manages to secure the clasp - though the poor pack animal likely has a bit less breathing room than it did a moment before. He smiles in brief satisfaction - the expression a man might exhibit after opening a particularly difficult can of pickles, for instance - before smiling aside at Orlagh. "You're quite right, Mistress - better she ain't here to see it." Unspoken agreement at the subtext of the woman's careful wording is evident in his wry smile.
"We'll miss your care when we land, that's certain. But I wager we can make do on boiled beef for a time." His smile is less awkward as the woman seeks to soothe his fears; perhaps the man feels the comfort in her words, for he turns to face Orlagh fully, resting an elbow atop the saddlebag. "You know, I've a firm policy against carrying favours into battle. Gives the lads the wrong idea, like I ain't in it for the victory. Like I'm in it for the glory of the fight." The man seems to be building up to something, in a roundabout way. "But it occurs to me," he adds carefully, "that there ain't nothing to stop me from giving a thing, so's you might remember me every now and then, 'til we both come back. If you wanted a thing like that. As my way of saying goodbye for now."
Folding her arms comfortably across her midsection, slender forearms bare against the deep, verdant green of her woolen dress, the young woman calmly meets Fenrir's gaze as he turns to face her; that smile never far from her lips as they converse. And yes, she notes the fleeting smug cast across his features when that clasp slots into place. "Thank you." she repeats, with as much expression of 'I loosened it for you' as one can inject into two simple words. "I admit to being rather curious, when it comes to travelling with the Lady. With luck, it will afford us the chance become better acquainted, in places other than an army camp. Not that the company here is not pleasant, of course." Her smile quirks briefly wider as she adds that.
Following the threads of Fenrir's conversation with polite interest, Orlagh seems nothing more than faintly amused as he begins speaking of favors and such. No doubt the infamous Master-at-Arms has been offered many of those, in his time, judging by his portrayal in various legends among the kitchen girls and other servants. His reputation precedes him. When that careful note enters his voice, though, her humor gradually fades, leaving only a thoughtful look in its wake. It takes a few beats for the girl to truly grasp what he's saying and she blinks, splaying the fingers of one hand lightly across her collarbone.
"..for me?" she asks, with an incredulity that could all too easily be taken the wrong way entirely. Her meaning, of course, is rather 'why me', not merely 'why'. Caught quite off-guard, she looks up at the towering Master uncertainly, as if expecting any moment that laughter, scorn or sarcasm will at least remind her of her place. When they do not surface, she draws a slow breath and scrambles to recover her composure; a telling rosy warmth to her cheeks at the loss of it. "I.. would be most honored, Master Fenrir. If you wanted, I mean. Um.." Well, there's a thing. Orlagh Masing, lost for words.
"Of course for you, Orlagh. What d'you reckon, that I keep trying to take every woman out dancing?" Of course, Fenrir has no idea just what those kitchen maids have been saying about him all these years. He meets Orlagh's gaze with an almost painful earnestness, summoning up a wide grin to hide his blush and reaching into his belt-pouch. "I told Lord Anders -weeks- ago that it was you I was wanting to spend time with. That's why he made you go dancing with me. I couldn't have got you to notice me seriously, otherwise." Amazing things, perceptions.
Producing a simple silver coin, slightly tarnished in the center but smooth around the edges, Fenrir offers it out. His voice grows considerably more sheepish as he explains. "This here was my da's lucky coin. Been my lucky coin too. But I need you to not tell anyone. Not ever. If it got out that the Viidings even -believed- in luck?.." He quirks his brows dramatically. "Well, it'd just destroy my reputation, see, precious. And a man lives on his reputation. And on ale. But mostly reputation." If only he knew what his reputation truly was in some circles.
Clearing his throat, though he still offers out the coin, Fenrir shifts subjects delicately. "I know what you mean, though, about wanting to get to know the Lady Cordelya better. And I want you to, uh.. well, you would anyway, but.. keep an eye on her." He purses his lips and leans in a bit. "She's been real troubled about something lately, and I ain't sure what. But I've not seen her this.. upset.. since she was a girl. I'm hoping this trip'll do her good." He flashes a crooked smile, brushing hair off his forehead with his free hand. "And it'll do you good, too, like. Might make your job much easier. She'll take to you - I know she will."
"Well… yes, actually." The response to the matter of his dancing partners is out before she can stop it or soften it, and Orlagh has the good grace to look sheepish about it a splitsecond later. "That is to say I.. well, let us simply say I did not presume to place myself high in your regard, Master Fenrir." That Anders himself appears to have been part of this hatched conspiracy only seems to perplex the girl further and she offers no remark either way. He's still their Lord, after all. He can do as he pleases, even down to choosing Orlagh's outings for her. Who would have thought that any man took an interest in her choices, much less the Young Lord and Master-at-Arms?
Lowering her gaze, rubbing lightly at her forehead with her fingertips now, the girl looks upon the offered silver in Fenrir's hand, not yet accepting it; dropping her hand instead back to an idle, uneasy rest at the curve of her shoulder. "..if it is your lucky coin, Master Fenrir.." she begins, gently, before looking up into his earnest eyes, "..oughtn't you keep it? I will pray to the Gods every morning and every sunfall for your safe return but.. it would be woeful enough if you did not. If you did not, while I were in possession of this.." Biting a little at her lower lip, Orlagh flits her eyes briefly downward as she takes a half-step closer and reaches to his hand, gently seeking to press his fingers back over the talisman, then stealing another glance to him. "There is no danger of me forgetting you. And while I swear not to speak of such notions as luck.." At this she summons a smile, despite the color rising further upon her skin. "..it would not soothe me to know you went without your token."
For a long moment, she simply lingers, perhaps watchful, aware that her denial may sting.. but certain it is done for good reason, all the same. Eventually she moves to the decidedly safer topic of their Lady, nodding slowly as she withdraws from the tall soldier. "I am certain it will benefit her. A little respite from the work and burdens she has taken upon herself."
"I don't need it, precious, really I don't! I just carry the thing 'cos my da did.. I mean, it is important to me.." Fenrir struggles to backpedal, his eyes widening a bit as he hunts for the middle ground of the gift-giving. "..I mean to say, it's really the only thing I got that I can give you, and show you I mean what I say. And luck's a stupid thing anyway. Please. I'll feel better if you got this." In his turn, Fenrir tries to press the coin into Orlagh's palm, reaching to cover her hand with both of his.
Only belatedly does her blurted response seem to dawn on him, and the master-at-arms widens his gaze a bit - seemingly more amused than put out by her revealed assumption. "Mistress Orlagh, there's very few women higher in my esteem than you, like. Why, you can cook, you can plan, you can talk, you can dance, you've got a kind heart, you've got legs that.. well, you're lovely, in any case.." His eyes sparkle with brief mischief as he continues, "And I'm as apt to forget you as to forget how the sun feels in summer."
Compliment delivered - and with the full brunt of his personality behind it, sincerity practically dripping off his words, he briefly turns his attention to the matter of their mutual Lady. "And a chance to see her da, and family. It'll do her good to see Lord Howland, I reckon. But whiles you're away, mayhap you could tell her some more about how she's better'n Lady Cherise by right?"
Allowing the coin to be placed firmly in her hand, Orlagh lowers her eyes as both of Fenrir's cover her smaller one and keeps them shyly downcast as she tries in vain to master her blushing. "Well.. then.. thank you. I will take good care of it, Master Fenrir, I assure you." For all that she may know how best a Lady would respond in such a situation, when it comes to her own reaction she still seems quite at a loss. Lovely? Really? Servants are meant to be invisible, not admired. But the loyalty and duty of her place openly wars with obvious pleasure at having been noticed, against all the odds. And by Fenrir.
When her blue eyes dare to rise again, she seems about to say something further, perhaps question his certainty one more time or.. something else. But she suppresses the words, in the end, settling her mind again on the matters of the House. That's where her thoughts belong, and where they are safest. Closing her fingers about the silver, she withdraws her hand as she replies. "I will tell her, and often, whether she realises it or not. Lessons are more easily learned, sometimes, when the student is unaware they are being taught at all." Ignoring a few wayward strands that cas across her cheek with the stirring of a sea breeze, she glances aside to the patiently waiting mule, falling quiet.
Reaching up to brush the woman's cheek lightly, stroking the hair back off her cheek, Fenrir grins still wider as he spots the woman's blush. "Thanks for taking my coin, precious. It ain't exactly the best favour to give a woman, but I never given a woman one before." He grins, glancing aside at the mule, then back to the young woman before him. "You know, once this war finishes, I reckon you and I are gonna be working together again."
His eyes narrow a bit as he looks down at the young woman. "It's a pretty easy bet I'm gonna ask you to dance every day. Just fair warning, like." A hint of mischief evident in his eyes, he continues. "And when we get back, I'm gonna take you to a -proper- tavern, not an army camp's makeshift. And I'll even convince you to let this braid out. Least, I hope I will."
Mustering something approaching her usual calm, polite indifference, Orlagh slowly turns her gaze back upon the tall man with a soft smile. "Good luck to you, then. I do not believe anyone has seen my hair loosed since I was a child. Likely not, in fact, since you dropped me in the water trough. I was set to work the next day, after all. Besides.." Rolling her small shoulders back absently, she affects more convincingly her typical airs. "..only a certain sort of woman wears her hair wild in a tavern, Master Fenrir." Shouldn't he know that?
Smoothing the front of her dress with a sweep of her free hand, she lowers the other to carefully tuck the weighty coin into a small pouch on her belt, loosing a soft sigh. "I.. should likely get back to work. And I am no doubt keeping you from your duties. Unless you were planning on retiring to your bed." Gods above, now even that has a muted touch of her blush returning and she stammers briefly as she withdraws a step from the Master-at-Arms. "That is.. I mean.. you must be weary. Oh.." With a shake of her head, she gives up trying to correct herself any further, that softly uttered 'oh..' betraying the choice and resignation. Casting Fenrir a demure, wryly amused look from under her lashes, Orlagh steps to the mule's short neck, rubbing at his coat lightly before busying herself with a strap on his harness. Which looks suspiciously as if it needs no further tampering at all. "..good day to you, Master Fenrir."
Amusement mingles with something else entirely as Fenrir studies the woman silently - watching her blush, stammer, turn away, all with the same little smile on his features. He draws in a deep breath, reaching up absently to scrape his unruly locks back off his forehead, then - as he exhales - reaches out to rest his hand on the back of Orlagh's neck, largely deflected by the thick braid around which so much conversation has swirled.
"I think I will go back to bed, precious," he murmurs softly - leaning forward enough that his breath is warm against Orlagh's earlobe. "I'll see you in a fortnight at the outside, and we'll.. discuss your braid." As if he has any say at all in the way Orlagh wears her hair. Straightening, the whipcord-lean man flashes his predatorial, canine smile at the woman's back before slowly turning and beginning to swagger away. Over his shoulder, he calls "Pleasant journey, Mistress Orlagh."
She knows he's amused. That's probably what flustered her most, those laughing eyes upon her in a rare moment of faltering. But it's only when the subtle weight of his hand comes to rest at her nape that Orlagh goes very still, her fingers freezing where they had been checking the lie of the leather strap and breath catching in her throat of its own accord. She doesn't dare move as Fenrir breathes a promise across her skin, her lashes simply lowering in increments as she lowers her eyes in an unthinking gesture of modesty.. and acceptance. She doesn't agree out loud, of course. She wouldn't. But if he returns in a fortnight's time, that simple motion implies that yes, she will be present for that discussion.
It's probably well that the girl doesn't see that wolfish smile of his, and it's a long few moments further until she looses her held breath when he strides away, barely audible words borne on the exhale in apparent address to the decidedly bored-looking mule. "Ohhhh, dear…" Curling her fingers gently at the little animals neck, she steadies herself with another breath and returns to rearranging his straps. "..I'm inclined to blame you for that, Onion." Always easiest to blame the innocent bystander. The mule simply flits his overlong ears at her, unperturbed. "Yes, yes, I know. Keep your counsel.." And so the departing servant continues about her business, cheerful conversation with a mute partner going some way to calming her. Still, every now and then, a hand strays down to check the weight of her pouch.