|More Lichyard Levity|
|Summary:||Rebecca encounters Samphire, a young 'admirer' of hers, and a new arrangement is considered.|
|Related Logs:||The Stranger's Song|
|Lichyard, Four Eagles Tower|
|Graves and worms and epitaphs|
|7th October, 289|
"Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!" - William Shakespeare
In a land so often frequented by death, to stroll through a lichyard may seem an unusual pursuit - especially when the ancestors at rest therein are not even one's own. But never let it be said that Lady Rebecca Nayland is not an unusual woman.
She has happened upon a fitting hour for her visit - well, in fact, she's planned and formed a regular habit about this - and now the sun's career is mostly settled in the chill sea, dying light stains the moss on the stones bloody. Rebecca's own appearance is intensified rather than diminished by this atmosphere, so perhaps it's hardly a surprise that her red, now looking even ruddier, mane trails loose, sharpening the contrast of bone pale and indeed bony shoulders her long, draping gown of green allows on display.
The lady is not looking at any particular grave, just strolling and humming…an unfamiliar tune, save to a select and dwindling band of diehard Targaryen loyalists…
<FS3> Samphire rolls Folklore: Great Success.
At this place, where many noble feet rest movelessly to eternity, those of at least one commoner seem to step lively over the grey stones with that dark ivy, that almost seems black like ink in last breaths of the day, shily crawling over the carvings.
In her usual sea-washed dress of maroon linen, Samphire raises her chin to let her eyes stray searchingly over the yard, catching yet an unexpected sight though. Boldly she decides to come a few steps nearer to the figure, wandering around the yard, knitting her brows in curiosity. It takes a heartbeat, then another before a soft tune reaches her ears, a tune that might be unsettling and dangerous these days, but also a tune she knows well enough. Carefully skimming the area she doesn't seem to notice any other people around, so after clearing her voice silently, the hummed tune of a sight singing leaves quietly her closed lips.
The airy, and eerie, figure of the noblewoman at her meandering excursion is seen for an infinitesimally short moment to recoil and flap in *fairly* poised but obvious alarm, when the refrain of the catch she was absent-mindedly emitting - a refrain that can be perilous, if you choose your timing rashly and are not a highborn lady rumoured to be of doubtful sanity - is nonetheless re-echoed.
Like a cat, the lady pulls herself together, standing elegant, proud, and, now, silent and insofar as she's capable, attentive. Like an embarrassed cat, too, she radiates a disdainful aura that insists there's been nothing to see - or even hear - here.
And then her questing green lagoons of eyes, which by their persistent confusion are revealed to be quite probably myopic, settle on…the girl, she of the candles and the seven hairs. And Lady Rebecca smiles, and beckons, with a sweep of one wild, pond-coloured sleeve.
Samphire's steps are firm, as she approaches the noblewoman, her posture neither cattish nor airy, for her own figure still shows the vestiges of a days work on her salty seems, rolled up sleeves and the wisps of hair, still clinging to her face. One of her knitted eyebrows sinks down peacefully, as she stands before the noble lady.
"That is a tune I haven't heard for years m'lady. My dear old grandmother used to sing it to us, back when we were still small enough to fit in a cradle. I seem to have had a light sleep in my early years, though. Later my mother forbid her, forbid us all to sing it again. Vehemently. She said it was dangerous and you have to be insane to cling to this little melody. Well…" she ends her sentence with an innocent blink, before she lets the little dry smile conquer her heart-shaped face. A curtsy follows to show the respect one of her birth should, as crooked as this movement might look with knees unused to perform this obeisance.
"Indeed, they think me mad, girl," Lady Rebecca replies as if from a long, seabound distance, employing her disarming directness. "At times I rejoice that it is so. A woman of whose mind men have despaired gains certain…accidental privileges of choice. Whether relating to her musical taste…or her…principles." Her short smile of welcome has faded during this admission, leaving her carven, chalky face a solemn, stately mask; a death-mask, you might say, if you were carried away by the lichyard air…
"I treasure those who remember the Right Line of the Kings, I care not who hears me say so," Rebecca now insists with an archness perhaps just too strident to be plausible. "And be you never so lowly, the King over the Sea shall treasure you, too, if you love him well, when he comes into his own and raises up the Just."
Who the Just may be is, at the very least, intimated as the tall, fair lady holds herself higher and stiffer still.
It is in, apparently, a mellower mood that she paces closer, her body relaxing, her gaze sinking down gently; her voice lilts in sing-song in her next enquiry: "Are they in life, my dear, your mother, and her mother before her? Mine are, you know. We make strong daughters in our line."
Samphire presses her lips together. Her eyes have the murky colour of the breathless sea, right before the furious whip of a storm is about to stir it up, as she meets those of the noble lady. "My grandmother also told me, I should stay away from nobles and whoever I choose to love, to stand up for, I'd better choose to praise them from afar, since there are few stories of those like me, raising up with the just and way more of them finding their heads next to their feet, while trying to love the right one by heart, m'lady." Lowering her gaze, her hands move absently over one of the rough headstones, as she continues with her voice a bit brittle "But no, m'lady. If the daughters in our line were strong, they weren't strong enough to survive the Stranger’s walk through the Riverlands."
It is a lonely scene, as sparse as picturesque, but in fact the two women are not left *wholly* to their own devices. As if in implicit answer to the maid's gloomy strictures on the threat of the strong, the helplessness of the weak, and the tread of the Stranger, Rebecca points one long, long hand's sharp, ill-famed index nail over the girl's shoulder, back to the lichyard's gate, where the figure of a man and a long shaft he holds is just about traceable, even by what is mainly starlight.
"Child, yonder stands my guard, a man-at-arms of House Terrick. He is equipped with a steel pike, stout-hafted and honed. Yet he believes himself to be in my power. He refused to enter a field of graves in the company of a practicing sorceress. By any standards I am at his mercy, and he shivers at my approach. I inhabit a world where power is an uncertain and a patchwork thing. What is thy name, child?"
Lady Rebecca possesses the cool arrogance of one born to rule, if few other attributes of that origin, and does not bother to waste time on her own identity, even out of courtesy, knowing full well that the candle-girl is acquainted with her name quite as much as her repute.
Instead she asks another question, both pertinent and *im*pertinent… "You were told to praise those whom you love from afar, you say, child of chandlers. Well, did you? Do you? Ere you asked me a gift, and after…did you praise me?"
A quick glance behind her shoulder and Samphire easily catches the sight of the guard near the gates, the steel of his pike glistening warmly in the light of a torch, he is just about to set alight. "Indeed m'lady, many strong necks bend to weak words. Few clever heads know to bend to strong ones."
As the tall noble lady straightens her shoulders, as well as her questions, the commoner steps indeed an inch back, since the light and the fierceness in her voice seem to bring back the scent of the memory of their first encounter in the courtyard. Weighing her next words closely on her tongue, the flaxen-haired girl dips another equivalent of a curtsey, as she speaks her name. "Samphire Undyl, I'm called. Or simply "girl" more often. Whether I praise you from afar, m'lady? Standing here before you, this question is not easy to answer, for I might not be as wise as my dear grandmother was. What I can assure you, is, that the prayer I send, as I received the honour of this favor of yours, got answered and answered well. All I could offer you to thank you, are my humble words. Again, my deepest thanks, m'lady."
"Not as wise? On the contrary, little…Samphire," Rebecca replies, toying almost lasciviously with the new name's resonance in her low, melodic drawl, "I am starting to see that you are a wise child, indeed. And I can see things, you know, things more important than paths bemossed, or worm-eaten names." She flicks at a gravestone dismissively with those claws of hers, and moss and limestone disintegrate at her touch. "Truesight is not madness, my dear…"
She laughs now, does Lady Rebecca, and long and low and ragged is her mirth. "So you *are* a pious creature, after all. I hope you were able to find a congregation of worshippers with lined pouches at their belts…" When matters touch herself, Rebecca is not, after all, so entirely unclad in awareness, or cynicism.
And again Samphire's moveable brows knit her forehead into small wrinkles, as she observes the tall noblewoman's movements. What arises of the soft fold over her eyes, are questions, neatly wandering through moss and the memory of names, yet unreadable as the sun finally has sunken into the arms of the night. "The truesight is telling you about a commoners wisdom? Well, maybe some people need at least the faint hint of wisdom to be able to point out the use of this curious gift m'lady. But tell me, why is it I met you on your own for this… sorcery, this loyal guard shivers upon. Where is this septa, you have… walked with lately? And indeed, having found the right congregation for your prayers often mildens the peak of one's life… Pray, if I may asked you for yet another favor, an other answer. Who brushes your hair, here at the Roost, who ties your gown, m'lady?"
As the air gets cooler, the strain of the day slowly seems to fall back from the commoner's limbs and with the turn of the conversation, even Samphire's mien mildens.
As vigilant of her own pride and position as any Terrick, or as her own House of the Harpy for that matter, Lady Rebecca seems to anticipate a hint of satire and to deprecate it in strong terms, though when those wide eyes narrow, they just look closer to normality. "I have sense as well as sight, and I am hard put to tell which is to be kept the closer secret, girl," she cuts bark acidly. It would seem Samphire has for the moment been demoted back below those various endearments, and indeed, the (relative) dignity of her own name. "But if you doubt me, give ear now…in yonder castle they strain and search for their Young Lord. They waste precious time, and all the gain they will have is the breaking of their next Lord's heart. So it shall be; it is none of my doing, but my knowing? Yes." She sweeps her head and tosses that inferno down her back in evident scorn.
That hauteur gentles to a kindlier condescension as Samphire mentions her much-loved Septa, Bridwayne. "You have a good memory, child, and keen eyes, at least for mortal things. But you should have observed," she chides, but fairly softly, "that dear Bridwayne is not in a condition for too many evening wanders."
Samphire's next question hits like an arrow from a hidden covert; for the second time in the evening, she has made Rebecca start, and now there can be less pretence about it. "What?! Ah…er…my dear Bridwayne…" but that serves but little as an answer, as she has just insisted on the old hag's decrepitude, "or, sometimes I have borrowed Lady Ilaria Haigh's handmaid…", and that doesn't sound very impressive, either. Rebecca scowls.
"A household jumped to my word, once. It shall do again," she vows, rather darkly. This is presumably in the nature of an oath, rather than a prophecy…
Watching a whole assemblage of expressions wander over the noblewoman's face over just a few small sentences, Samphire seems to be smitten with amazement -amazement, that often seems to rob the words of her tongue, that usually chortle so lightly through her throat.
A heartbeat in wonder -an other one to eye her again closely, to check on which wave the tide of her face has come to rest and a last one to let a careful smile sneak back around the corners of her own mouth pass, before she suggests. "Well m'lady, as you just witnessed I'm in the perfect condition for evening wanders and my keen eyes for mortal things taught me how to brush one's hair quite early in my life. If you want to give your dear septa a rest every now and then, and if you don't want to borrow an other lady's maid, I could offer more than just my humble words." Again, Samphire blinks, astonished about herself and her complete crossing of her grandmother's wisdom, not to speak of the bold and maybe indeed not very wise meaning of her last sentence.
The Lady's wide, bright gaze had become abstracted, as it began to fix determinedly on glories to come; but Samphire's bold outburst attracts it back with a slow, majestic swivel. It is a peculiar expression that settles on Rebecca's dramatic features, not unlike some kind of bird of prey preparing to dive, though with a vein of…amusement?…appended.
She does not dive; she does not even speak quite yet. She plucks a silver ring with a green stone shaped as a tiny apple from one of those long fingers; it makes a minute scraping sound as it rounds that savage nail. It's one of several on her hands in variants of pale metal, and cold, precious looking stones.
"Samphire, Samphire, weed of the shore," she murmurs now, and she sounds, almost, mocking. "I want you to have this, to slide off to bed, and think very hard about what you will do with it. Trade it, if you like, to some jeweller, or one of your…friends who sought the hair from mine own head. But know that if I see you again and it is not on your hand, …well," she adds mischievously, "you're obviously a clever girl, I'll leave you to guess the consequences. If you keep it, then I shall keep you. Only, there are certain provisions…for form's sake…I don't think Umdyl will do for a handmaid, quite. Rivers, perhaps? There are some quite presentable Riverses here and there, as long as they do not run to the Mire. As I say…leave me," she breathes, suddenly extravagantly weary sounding, "and think about it."
When Lady Rebecca has handed over the ring, she just glides off without more words of parting, to rejoin her dog-tired escort.