Page 194: Made of Husks and Leather
Made of Husks and Leather
Summary: Starling keeps Einion company for a while.
Date: 27 January 2012
Related Logs: Siege of Seagard
Einion Starling 
Seagard - Low district
The lower class residential district of Seagard, just inside the city walls, with all the worst smells of the fishmonger's trade and the tanneries mingling together. The roads are paved with cobblestones, but the avenues which wind between buildings are of packed dirt, reek in the heat and turn to muddy morass in the rain. With little of worth, and only enduring occupation for a scant few hours, this quarter of the port city is largely intact.
January 27th 289 A.L.

The sun rises, and morning comes. It doesn't much matter in terms of sleeping, however, as there are guards set to watch over the small Nayland contingent. Word had spread like wildfire about the attack on the Flint 'camp' down at the waterfront, as well as the numbers of their own that had been injured in the house to house battles. With their knights hurt, and in one case, down, they're in something of a delicate position.

Einion, tanner turned pikeman serjeant is settled at the fire now, his shift now completed. His pike is beside him, and he's wearing the only armour he has, the leather jerkin, his leather cap in hand, his legs stretched out straight before him. There are pieces of leather beside him, coupled with some dry corn stalks. A small leather-working knife is in the dirt beside him as he works with some husks, folding and turning it around in hand, leather thongs across his knee.

"Whatcha doin'?" A voice comes from behind the tanner, startlingly close, as he works. How does she do that? In the midst of the Nayland gathering, already wide awake, apparently, despite the early hour - or maybe she simply hasn't slept yet? - Starling peers over Einion's shoulder at the assortment of materials and the husks in his dextrous hands. The girl is without her hat, for now, letting it dangle against her hip from the fingertips of one hand, arms folded as they are across her midsection, leaving her long hair loose about her shoulders and back to be stirred by the salty sea-air of the besieged city.

Maybe she considers it safer, now, to move freely amongst the weary and injured men. They've bigger things to worry about than a young stablehand, after all. News does travel fast, and Starling has been lingering a touch closer to the most familiar colors during the night. Not that anyone would notice - that's the thing about perching up on rooftops.

Einion startles, the husk dropped into his lap as he twists around. There's a twinge of ouch that flickers across his face at the rapid motion, but it fades quickly as he sees the source of the start. A smile rises on his face, and he shifts a little on the log to make some room. On the off chance she wants to sit next to him, that is. "You haven't left yet." It's both a good sound, and something of a dubious statement. "You're really going to see this through?"

Still, Einion is pleased to see her and he retrieves his work and holds it for review. It's half formed, so there needs to be a little imagination as he begins to explain. "When we were at war years ago, I'd make little things for my little sister, just to let her know that I was thinking about her. So she'd have something to play with, too." And to possibly remember him by, but that's not added. "So, I'm making a little doll.." And there's the thongs to put the corn husks into place.. legs are laced off, but the arms are still formless. "Just to keep busy." He looks over to her, the smile turning lopsided, "Kinda silly, but it's something. How are you?"

"Sorry." Noting the flinch, the dark-haired girl grimaces apologetically. She likely really didn't intend to sneak up on him.. she just has a very quiet way of moving, unless she concentrates on being heard. To be polite. People don't like being taken by surprise. "And no. Still here." Starling's usual smile begins to return as she states the obvious, the curve tugging cheerfully at her wide mouth. "Despite -lots- of opinions about where I'd be better off. No real sense in leaving now, though, is there?"

Stepping delicately across the log, rather than walk around, the young woman eases down to a seat, leaving a proper amount of distance between herself and Einion. Wouldn't want to impede him in his task, after all. Only up close is the toll of exhaustion upon her more apparent - it's in the way her upper body sags forward to prop elbows on her knees, the soft sigh as aching muscles are relieved, the subtle shadows about her wide eyes. But still. She's a lot better off than most, present company included.

"..I like it." This in regard to the little dolly, which she regards with the mildest trace of amusement before looking to Einion, studying the man's features contemplatively. Is he looking better? Hard to say. "..I'm fine. Can't complain. And you? Aside from me likely burstin' your stuffin' out again just now..?"

Einion snorts softly at the apology; it's passed and gone. All's good. Instead, he watches as the slight woman take her seat with a smile and returns his main attention to his work, finding it a little too easy to simply stare. "I'm fine enough. No fighting for us yet. Maybe they'll put a sword in our hands yet, but I'd see that as desperation," and he doesn't think it'll happen. They're infantry, field fodder, not skilled swordsmen, and they'd be slaughtered in single combat. Not to think more on that, but rather, he's noticed her fatigue; they're all tired, but if she left, rode home, she'd be able to get more sleep. "Lots of opinions, hmm?" He casts his head to the side, stealing a glance again before he puts his hands back to work. He's made more than a few of these, and it's easy. "Who'd say y'need to go? The sers? Who'd keep their horses?"

With some quick looping of the corn fronds, Einion works up one arm and ties it off with a leather thong. It's a little long, so he picks up the small knife and cuts it easily; very sharp knife. "We heard they'd gotten hurt, but there's no real word coming out. How's Ser Longbough?" Out of courtesy.. he's their Captain of the Guard, but his voice lowers, "Ser Tam?" He ties off the arm, and begins to form another. "We're to stay put," so there's no crossing of those lines, common footman and 'nobility', which he groups those knights, even the common ones. "At least all's on foot. He likes it better than horses."

Grinning a moment, holding the tanner's gaze until it wanders from her then shifting her own to the fire, unperturbed, Starling nods. "..well, I say lots. Two, really. Three, if you'd say it outright. Tam and a friend of his.. a Ser Blayne? Both said I ought to leave." A light shrug raises and drops one slender shoulder. "Luckily, neither of them really cares enough to make me go. So I'm staying." A sidelong glance strays toward Einion as she adds, "..horses to look after, as you say. Some of them are either too wound-up or too stubborn to realise when they should be enjoyin' some respite.. need a firm hand to tell them so."

Sweeping her hair back from her brow with one hand, the girl straightens slightly, placing her dusty hat in her lap and settling to the next topic of discussion. "Far as I can tell, Ser Longbough's fightin' on. It was bad, though. Axe blade.." Her hand drops, the side coming to rest at the vulnerable hollow where her throat curves to her collarbone, imitating the blow as she watches her companion sombrely. "..right here. He got up again, though. Kept the rest of them together, even with blood everywhere. That damn squid didn't go down easy." How can she possibly know that? "As for Tam.." Starling can't help but chuckle softly, shaking her head. "..he'll live. Demanding sympathy for a slice to his leg, the curr. He's fine."

"Ser Blayne?" Einion shakes his head, "Can't say's I know of him. But knights to their own." He continues to wrap, and cuts off the thong for the the one arm before he begins work wrapping up the other.. a hand, an elbow, a shoulder. "If they say you should go, you might want t'take their counsel, y'know." He grimaces as he stretches his arm to take a look at the corn-husk doll, pulling here and there to make sure everything is even before considering wrapping the head. Once that's done, that's the last he'll truly be able to make adjustments. "They'd know what's ahead moreso'n we do." He casts a glance to the mistress beside him, his grimace turning to a smile, something of a lopsided one again, "I wouldn't want you getting harmed."

Einion turns back to his work to get ready to tie off the head, the neck, but he begins to get a little fancy, and takes the knife again to cut some of the remaining husk into strands to mimic hair. "We'd heard they'd almost took his head." His voice is soft, hushed. "Glad he's survived so far. A wound like that'll turn without good care, though." He doesn't question how she'd know; after all, she's gotten news from all over, and who knows what sers say around a fire? Who pays attention to commoners, unless, of course, there's that interest in bedding.. and one as cute as Starling? Einion echoes the chuckle, but it's decidedly sympathetic. "Legs hurt. Hope it doesn't turn and he ends like me." The hint of a smile remains, "Though, maybe that'll force him on horse, finally."

"Oh, they're only telling me to go because I'm a -girl-. If I was a lad, there'd be no argument at all!" Even as she counters with dismissive aplomb, Starling's watching the tanner, measuring his discomfort as best as she can by his movements. Just like trotting up a horse, to see which side he favors. "As for what's ahead.. it's like I said to them. We win, you'll all be glad of an extra pair of hands. We don't? ..then doesn't much matter where I go." Flitting her dark eyes downward to regard the doll, swiftly taking shape in Einion's skilled hands, the girl quiets a moment, lips pressing into a firm line. "..I'd rather not see you hurt, either, Master Einion. But honestly? That's just more reason for me to stay."

Mustering her usual sunny demeanour once more, valiantly, she continues. "I won't get hurt, anyway. So don't be worrying about that. Worry about your own arse, as Coop would say." It can't just be the oh-so-cunning disguise of a longcoat and hat that's kept Starling out of rough hands during her time here, credit where it's due. There are plenty of women available for the battle-ardour of young knights and squires, the ones fortunate enough to still be hearty enough to enjoy or those rewarded for effort and injury with the coin for a tumble. But when she's seen, Starling is almost always alone and avoiding notice. Except for.. well, now. "He could do a lot worse than to be a bit more like you, really." she muses, on the matter of the absent hedge knight. "But he's not built for being mounted. Too abrupt. And coarse." Do manners matter that much with horses?

"Well, yes.." The words are out before Einion can stop them, and he tries to make that sounds a little better. "You have to admit, you're built a little different from a lad." He pauses again, and takes stock of his words. Taking a careful breath, he hangs his head and tries once more. "I wouldn't want someone I cared about in the field where harm could come. I'd not let my mother, neither my sister either." Is that really any better? "Besides, there's plenty of work a woman does that we don't. Why add to't?" The life of a common born woman is a great deal more difficult than a lady's, as far as he's concerned. He quiets a little, and he casts a glance, "I'd not want t'see you hurt, mistress. There's a light that comes when you're about." A confession of sorts, but her own makes him feel a touch guilty. "But please don't stay for my part. If anything happens t'you because you got it in your head to look after me?" Which is something of an assumption, and he quickly adds an apology, "I'm sorry if I presume such, if I'm wrong."

With that confession given, Einion begins shredding again, and begins to tie off the head with a smaller thong, settling the neck first, then ties up for the hair.. and now the doll form has the two arms, legs (with knees), and head with long hair. All's that's left is to find some cloth for clothing, or.. Leaning over, the tanner has some very light weight leather that he's formed for this doll, and he sets it upon his leg. "I worry 'bout mine, honestly." He smiles gamely, checking the size of the little dress, complete with apron. "And I worry about the line, and.." he chuckles dryly, "Ser Tam's a good man. Made good, he did, and I won't say anything against him. He's one of the few that'll give a man a chance, and maybe one day he'll take a common lad as squire what deserves to be better. He'll find a horse that'll suit him and his roughness."

"I should hope so." teases Starling, unthinkingly, when the comparisons are drawn between her form and that of a boy's, before she trails into a quiet laugh, watching Einion do his best to phrase things properly. She lets him squirm for only a few beats, though, before reaching to lightly pat at his shoulder with one hand. "..breathe. I know what you're tryin' to say, I do." A pause, her fingers stilling for a moment. "..but I'm still not leaving. What would I do, go and sweep out stables back in Stonebridge and wait for word? No, thank you."

She makes no comment either way about whether he and his wellbeing are the true reason for her lingering here, simply withdrawing her hand and clasping it with the other, absently caving in the aged crown of her hat where it rests across her thighs. The doll is watched, for a time, with rapt fascination; the details like the teeny apron drawing a wondering smile and an occasional glance to the tanner's intent features. Bloodied and battered, stuck down here with the rest of the fodder.. and this is how he spends his time when daylight peeks over the rooftops. There's a certain charm, in that. As the conversation drifts back to Tam, however, Starling looks away, settling her gaze back on the fire with an uncharacteristic frown coming to shadow her pretty features. "Made good?" she echoes, softly. "..suppose it might seem that way. Can't fault a man for trying to make up for his past. Only tryin' to forget it." Well, well. What's -that- all about? Delving into a pocket of her oversized riding coat, the girl produces a small hank of tough jerky, which she sets about with her teeth, tearing off a small corner and chewing in silence.

There's a warmth that exudes from the touch on his shoulder, felt through the leather, and it remains after the hand is lifted. Einion chuckles, casting his head to the side, full in the knowledge that there was that moment she'd simply let him flounder before the rescue. No harm, however, and he takes it with good natured amusement. "And who's to tend the horses back home then? Are they fed enough?" He returns his attention to his work, setting the doll into the dress and apron, and pulls some sinew and a needle to begin sewing the corn husk doll in. "I know the goats are fed.. and used to benefit." Back on his mother's farm. "I wish there was someone to tend my leather, though. I've a feeling that some of the hides'll turn before I'm back." And there'll be waste.

"I don't know 'bout his past, and never saw fit to ask. I know too much, an' if I knew more, it'd be hard to get up." Einion shakes his head; there's whispered rumours about a few of those 'in charge', that they'd fought against Robert.. in that war that'd take his father. "All's I know is he's a good man now. Can't take a man's deeds from years ago and say that he can't change if he puts his mind to it." Picking up the doll, it's an easy task he's set himself to, and it's finished quickly and easily, the knots pulled at with experienced tooth and hands. "Could be, all's he needs is a friend to soothe the rough."

"Most of the horses are either here, or were taken to be used elsewhere." There's a wistful note of sadness within Starling's reply. She cares deeply for the animals in her care.. often more than the people they belong to, truth be told. "And I expect a lot of them are dead, by now. Part of the reason I want to tend the ones here, at least." The initial charge upon Seagard was certainly not without loss, and it's the screams of dying mounts that has kept the girl from restless sleep these past few nights, rather than sympathetic pain for their injured knights.

"-Dog!-" The sudden outburst is directed toward a trio of barrels, resting at the corner of a nearby building. A wiry-haired hound raises its head from where he had been nosing around, wagging his tail in rather less-than-earnest apology before trotting toward the stablehand. Einion's presence doesn't appear to bother the mutt; he likely recalls the tanner from across the street, back home. "Men can appear to change, for all the world, Master Einion.." continues the brunette, softly, one hand extending to ruffle at her dog's coat when he arrives to lay his head on her knee. Those big dark eyes turn back toward the soldier she addresses, for once without a smile to accompany the look. "..but they're still the same person who made those same decisions, for one reason or another. You be his friend, if you think that's what'll cure him. I'll withhold my judgement, and keep turnin' him down."

Einion finishes the little corn-husk doll, the dress and apron properly in place. He runs fingers through the husk hair; all that's really left is the eyes, nose and mouth, but he's not got anything that'll work for that immediately except.. and he reaches into the fire for a small piece of wood. It's hot, and it's quick work before the tanner drops the hot charcoal back into the fire. Now 'she' has a face, though the eyes may be a little lopsided. But the tinder was hot and it couldn't be helped.

The dog's sudden appearance takes Einion by surprise, truly.. and he blinks at the little wire-haired thing, a smile drawing upon his face again. Her words, however, causes it to fall, the seriousness of the tones and the sobriety in which they're spoken. He sits there, silent, now wondering what it is the man's done to earn that look and that consideration. He shakes his head, "He'll not be a friend to me, Mistress Starling. He's above that now. Common born that he was, he's got the rank of something higher. And the oaths he's taken for it? Not something taken lightly, and if he's working t'something so he forgets? Means he's not proud of it, and lesson's learned." Sounds like faith. "But," his tones turn softer, "I can't help but be thankful you've turned him down." With those words, he looks away, and at the doll before he hands it to her, "If you don't want it," he works to soften any rejection that might come of it, "if you come across a little girl who needs it, then pass it on?"

Starling's displeased expression similarly softens as she looks upon the now smiling doll, a quiet sound of amusement, not quite a chuckle, loosed from her throat. Dog, seeming to sense some peculiarity in the moment shared between the two people, plops onto his haunches and looks, very helpfully, between them with an air of expectation. "Go away." Starling's suggestion is not unkind, more absent-minded, and the mutt simply wags his tail and drops to lie on his side, facing the fire instead. Ahh, warmth.

"Tam likes you, Master Einion. Fact of the matter is, if things were different, I'd probably have liked him, too. Can't be helped." Letting her brown eyes wander up, she listens with an arching brow as the tanner muses aloud, not bothering to hide a slow smile as it returns. "..stop making so much sense. It gives a girl trouble when she's trying to be unreasonable." Well, at least her usual good humor is returning, gradually.

Blinking as the doll is offered toward her, Starling accepts it after a moment, holding it gingerly in both hands and looking down at 'her' for a brief few beats of consideration. "..but.. it's yours." she ventures, uncertainly, eyeing Einion. She doesn't refuse, though.. nor does she part with it. Dog, again, oh so helpful, wags his tail at the sound of her voice, tail thumping the dirt, though his head stays on his paws. "..are you sure?"

If things were different? Einion clears his throat, a soft cough, and he offers a lopsided smile, "If there wasn't so much grey on him? Or if he didn't curse so much?" His voice lowers, "You know more'n that I do about him, which tells me you've spent some time talking. Seems there'd be no reason to do so if you didn't like him." Just an observation, mind. And not something he'd like to dwell upon because, well.. for selfish reasons. "And the chances are good that he's not to open to me and tell me what he's confided in you. That chance'll not come." Nor does he particularly hope that it does. "I know he likes me.. he's saved me more than a couple of times from her Ladyship's kindnesses. You know the kind.. the ones that'll get a man in trouble with his Lordship." He whistles softly before he catches what he's said, and shakes his head, "But not like that. More'n way of, 'D'ye think you're treated well?' or.. 'What's to do for you to make things easier?'. Ser Tam told me not t'answer when her Ladyship had me at the spot, and Seven bless him, he took her ire.. and I was released."

Einion nods his head as she takes it, and looks at it. "S'not mine, and my sister's got more than enough from years ago. I've not got anyone to send them home, anyway." Courriers are for the nobles and knights. "My mother doesn't collect them." Though she probaly has taken one or two from her daughter's collection, unbeknownst to him. "Aye, I'm sure." She likes it!

Still looking upon the girl of husks and leather, daring to play gently at the strands of 'hair' with the fingertips of one hand, Starling is quiet for a while. Elbows propped on her knees, with that stray morning breeze still occasionally toying with her own dark locks or setting the lengths of her coat to flapping against her calves, it's difficult to put an age on the young woman. In some ways so hardened and dismissive of what life can throw at a person.. and yet presented with the gift of a doll, of all things, she's as flustered and coy as any ingenue. "..thank you." The words are murmured, and she avoids looking up to catch Einion's gaze.. but the gratitude seems heartfelt.

Apparently aware of the tenuous ground of the discussion, though, the girl calmly seeks to return it to a clearer path, smoothing the doll's apron with a swipe of her thumb. "I like him well enough. That's the trouble. I oughtn't to like him at all." A deep sigh carries this odd admission, before she's shaking her head, seeming amused at the tanner's suggestions as why she might not find the hedge knight 'suitable'. "He hasn't confided in me, Master Einion. What I know of him, I knew before now." At last, she turns her wide, dark-lashed eyes back toward the man, with a smile. "..if he's done you a kindness, that goes some way to improvin' my opinion.." She does halt to laugh as he corrects her direction of thought before it can proceed too far. "Gods help me, if you're aspiring to have yourself a woman of noble birth, though."

The way Starling holds the corn-husk doll tells Einion more than enough, and he accepts that she truly does like it. Something small, but it's a token, something to not necessarily remember him by, but to have -something-. "You're welcome." And he's very glad she likes it.

"You knew him before, then." The tanner chuckles softly, his brows rising, "Then he is redeeming himself," comes as a gentle tease. "He's done me plenty of kindnesses. That's just t'name one. I could name others." The suggestion, however, that Einion could be aspiring to nobility earns a barked, sudden laugh. "There is no way I could hope to have one.. nor would I wish one." The words are plainly honest, and he first looks to his side, the woman near him, and he shakes his head, "I couldn't keep one, and I believe there's work to be done for all. The girl I marry one day'd have to know how to get her hands dirty, whether it's in the soil, in the hides, or what she chooses. As long as it's good, honest work. And there's the house. I'll never have servants, so alls to be done by our sweat and hands too, but she'll have her own house." Not a glamourous life, by any longshot. He smiles lopsidedly, all of a sudden a little shy as he gestures towards the doll in her hand, "And more of those that she'll care to do with."

"I knew him before." confirms the girl, before nudging toward Einion's ribs with her elbow in gentle rebuke of his teasing, despite her grin. "Aye, he's guilty by association, I know. Shining reputation tarnished by the likes of me."

Looking up as a handful of men-at-arms stride briskly by, no doubt en route to a patrol, Starling watches them idly, the conversation falling to a natural lull with the distraction. Without thought, she wraps her arms again, settling the doll carefully in her lap, vaguely protective, and simply listens to Einion talk. One of the passing men flits her a curious glance, though, and she promptly averts her mahogany eyes, back to the safety of studying the tanner in profile.

Sometimes, for all her obvious wits and such, she really is just a girl. Splaying out the fingers of her hands, she looks down at them judgementally, before she can stop herself; despairing a little of her ragged, dirty nails and the various welts and little scars across her knuckles. These are not the graceful hands of a 'pretty' woman. Clenching them back into fists, she stuffs them under her arms, feigning a chill from the breeze. "I don't really know where life's going to take me," she admits, after a moment. "Been a few places already. Here, obviously, being a highlight." The sarcasm is tempered with a slight smirk as she glances toward Einion again.

Einion laughs at the nudge, a grin plastering on his face. "Then I have the advantage. You don't know my past wrongs." He pauses, then, "Or.. perhaps I shouldn't say such. I have a younger sister who would be thrilled to pass along stories." And she has.. many times, lastly to the mysterious Eyrian who had departed around the same time as he. He settles a moment, his mind on that tangent. No idea where she's gone, and there's a prayer to the Maid that she's safe before, "And you say he's making up for his past?"

The passage of the men-at-arms brings the tanner's gaze down, the smile fading. Superiors to the pikeman, serjeant or not, and he looks to the fire, unaware that he's being studied. It's a moment of quiet, companionable, though he can't miss the studying of her own hands, fingers splayed a bit. They're good hands, from what he can see.. hands used to work, even as her face is one that could easily be that of a lady.

"Are you holding aspirations for a lord, then?" Turn-about is fair play. "You could have your pick, you know.. The younger sons.. and their knights. You could have yourself in pretty dresses.. layers of skirts, having men do your bidding with a word." His voice lowers, "Though I'm sure you could have that now."

"..perhaps I -should- return to Stonebridge. And check on your sister." Passing a blithe smile Einion's way, then permitting it to widen to a grin that reveals white teeth and a youthful dimple in each cheek, Starling watches for his reaction a moment. Dog, it must be said, seems oblivious; snoring away contentedly by her booted feet. "Your past doesn't matter, Master Einion. I see who you are now, good and bad. Loyal and stout and honest… if a bit stubborn and reckless and sometimes downright foolhardy." That's plainly a reference to his being here, with those cracked ribs. But there's absolutely no point in pressing that particular matter, is there.

Ugh, lordlings. Knights. Dresses! Wrinkling her nose in blatant distaste, she eyes the tanner askance, as if uncertain as to whether he's making fun at her expense. " In a dress?" She snorts, shaking her head. "I'd look ridiculous. And hardly practical for mucking out stalls." Her expression turns thoughtful when Einion softens his tone, amusement returning to sparkle in her eyes. Around them, the arrival of daylight is rousing many from uncomfortable doze and slumber; the stirrings of life becoming audible throughout the encampment. As if on cue, Starling yawns widely, covering her mouth with one hand and absently glancing about herself before she answers him. "..could I? What would I ask of them, though?" Her fingers drift under her hair, rubbing wearily at her nape. "..I need to find somewhere to go and shut my eyes." The direction of her gaze, where it lingers, suggests that the roof of a nearby, burnt out apothecary might be the location of choice, before her attention returns again.

Einion laughs, the action echoing in his eyes. "You'd be caught at the house for days, then. Mother would feed you until you couldn't walk, and my sister would always find just one more story to keep you." Common folk. The laugh fades easily into a lopsided grin as she begins to use his words against him, and looks guilty for the time that she lists his achievements, as it were. "You forgot talented." He gestures towards the doll with the words, and finishes with, "and humble." He is, actually, though for the teasing, he's willing to affect a bragging pride in ability.

The morning's sun is definitely rising, and sleep will be calling him as much as it does tug at her. "I'm certain you can find a place," Einion looks around; he can't offer her a place anywhere in this area that'd be safe. "If you'd like, I could look and watch over your sleep?" There's something to ask.. though he's pretty sure she won't. He needs his rest as well, and he echoes the yawn. The pike is used as an aid to rise to his feet, and holding a hand out, he offers support for her to gain her feet as well. "Thank you for coming and sitting by the fire with me." He's genuinely thankful, "I wish I could offer escort," but his comings and goings are sharply curtailed. He doesn't have the same freedoms as the knights and nobility to simply move about. "If you see Ser Tam, be sure to tell him that I've asked him to treat you properly."

Accepting the offered hand, still grinning at this insight into Einion's family back home, as well as his humor in self-deprecation, Starling rises smoothly to a stand, barely affording him even a balancing point of her weight; likely trying to keep him from strain. "I did, didn't I.." she says, quirking a brow to adopt a mischievous expression. The doll is firmly grasped in her other hand - she didn't forget it - and her rising rouses Dog, with an audible grumble, from his slumber.

"I'll likely just sleep in the hay again." The girl admits with a charming candour. She's spent many a night curled up under the mangers in Stonebridge, fast asleep as hay floats and settles about her, dusting her dark locks and aged leathers. Why not here? But yes, she does deny his offer of guarding her, gently shaking her head and squeezing his fingers a little within her own. "I'll be fine. And you need to rest; I've kept you long enough as it is. Thanks, though."

Perhaps deliberately, she says nothing of the hedge knight. Instead, after a split-second hesitation, she draws Einion's hand up to her lips and - yes - brushes an almost chivalrous kiss across his bruised knuckles, holding his gaze and grinning broadly. With that, she pivots on a booted heel and takes off almost at a run. Dog scrambles to his feet with a 'wuff!' and hastens after her, paws scrabbling in the dirt.