|Page 258: Mud Squelches|
|Summary:||Tiaryn, after collecting herbs, runs into Desmond doing odd things at night.|
|Northern Flood Fields!|
|Through small foot paths north lead to flood fields, some rolling hills but treachours areas where the rivers filter in to create small marshes. The area is hard to navigate if one has not traveled it before. A few scrub trees mark the landscape but on the higher hills stands of majestic beeches and oak offer shade and canopies for weary travelers.|
|April 2, 289|
Not far from the town - actually, just right outside the outskirts - is a young man. Well, it's fairly dark out here at this hour, and there's a single torch stuck in the marshy grass of some steep hill that he appears to be climbing up and down. His roan horse lingers nearby, unhappily grazing on the sour foliage, flicking its tail.
This dark out and Tia probably shouldn't be out. Not with rumours of bandits or worse. She has been gathering herbs, just some basic ones that she can pass over to Corrie, in case they're needed. While Tia is not the greatest herbalist in the area, by far, she is at least adequate. So, here she is heading back into town, hands up to the elbows in mud, wearing far from a good dress, in order to not get it all messed up. There's a sploosh of mud on one cheek, where she accidentally touched it. Her basket - full to the brim and almost overflowing with greenery, and hopefully she's not gotten poison ivy mixed up with golden ivy. "It is the right time to collect this one, Adara," she says, as she slogs towards the town, squelching even once she's found the dry land. "Cordelya said so."
You give Desmond a cookie.
The horse snorts lightly when he spots the muddied woman. Then he stamps his hoof until Desmond takes notice. Seems he's been at this for most of the evening, panting heavily. "Wh'… What's this then, Biscuits?" Biscuits simply whinnies. "Maybe she's lost. I'd better help her." He vaults down the hill, and his legs apparently can't handle enough step. "My Lady!" he calls, just before he stumbles and faceplants into the mud at the bottom of the hill.
Adara's reply can't be heard, as the maid replies in a low tone, but Tia's laughter follows, and it's a sound that is relatively musical and amused. Though as the horse snorts, then Jacob seems to come to the fore, the guard often enough keeping watch over this particular noble Lady. The vaulting running down hill and face planting, does have Tia take a step back, all of a sudden, totally not expecting there to be anyone there. She weebles a bit, but manages to not spill her basket full of herbs, even as there's a brave squire face planting at her feet. "Oh, gods, are you alright?" she asks, startlement and concern obvious. Adara's hand covers her mouth, and Jacob steps forward, ready to respond as needed.
Biscuits just whinnies some more, almost as if he's amused. "Oh come off it, dog-meat!" Desmond yells as he pushes himself upright. "I'm fine, I'm fine," he assures, flustered, all the while waving at Jacob to make sure he doesn't help. "Must've caught a stone or something." Covered in mud, he peers out from beneath his dripping flatcap brim. "You ah, you having some kind of adventure out here?"
Tia glances up at the intelligent horse, her expression turning to amused as it seems that the poor fellow is not too badly injured at the least. "I suppose you could say that. We were gathering some herbs and folklore has it these ones need to be picked at night," she says. "Or at least near sunset. We are just on our way back, though not without a few misteps on the way. You have quite the talkative horse up there." Jacob steps back, once he realizes the situation and decides that Tia's not in immediate danger. Adara relaxes as well, her own basket of herbs equally full though she might be a little less muddy.
"Aye, he's… something else. We're not sure what. Hoo…" Desmond removes his hat, slinging the mud away. "Apologies, I'm Lord Desmond. Er, Westerling. I'll assume you know your way back? Or at least the Knight does? If not, I'll be glad to assist. Or I can help gather some… plants. That is, if you're not done here…" he trails off uneasily, fidgetting. Biscuits snorts.
Tia chuckles softly. "A pleasure to meet you, Lord Desmond Westerling. I am Lady Tiaryn Flint," is the reply. Tia starts to hold out her hand, realizes how muddy it is, and draws it back fairly quickly. "If I might ask, what are /you/ doing out here in the dark?" She has to ask, cause really, it's not so often you have men falling down hill while their horses laugh at them. "Is he friendly? The horse I mean? My own Gethin is a cranky little horse and doesn't like to be anywhere near other horses, or even most people, but he's very sweet to me." Which is the important thing, far as she's concerned.
"Lady Tiaryn Flint," Desmond repeats, and there's a smile in there somewhere. "Well I was… /sentenced/ to jogging up and down that damn hill until I collapsed. Meanwhile my teacher is off likely smiting all of Stonebridge's women with his strong chin." He sighs. "Sorry. Oh yes, Biscuits is friendly! Gethin is an interesting name… I know another mean horse that is only kind to its owner. Tch. Here, don't let me hold you up, I'll walk with you at least. Biscuits, stay there!"
Tia blinks at the sentenced, her head tilting briefly as she puts two and two together. "You must be a squire then?" she says, hoping her guess is somewhat near right. "Gethin - my brother named him, though I seem to have inherited him, of all things. I don't know if I would have chosen him, but he's got history now." She wrinkles her nose a bit, and then says, "If you would like to walk with us towards town, you're welcome to, though I would hate to cause you any additional trouble. It seems you might already be in plenty enough." The guard and maid keep an eye on things, but they are actually very efficient and very used to Tia by now, so that they don't get all flustered and their presence is almost easy to ignore.
Desmond isn't really up to anything suspicious, at least outwardly. "That's right… A squire of Garett's. Believe me, I'd much rather be elsewhere right now. No, my Lady, it's no trouble. It's good to have a bit of company. Hope you don't mind a mud-man walking beside you. Inherited, hm?" It's then that he notices the black band. "If I may ask - ?" He gestures to it, carefully.
Tia glances at her own arms and then she laughs. "I think I'm nearly as muddy as you are, Lord Desmond, so that is not a concern," she starts with. And then with his look to her armband, she pauses a moment, her eyes darkening for just a moment. "Oh," she says, softly, and then she lets her breath out briefly. "Have you perchance heard of Tall Oaks? My name before my marriage was Tiaryn Camden. The Ironborn attacked Tall Oaks, and many did not survive. Including my brother Daffyd who trained Gethin, along with the rest of my family at home at the time." Adara takes a step closer, but Tia gestures easily to stop the maid from moving in. "I have not been particularly happy company for the past while, I'm afraid."
"We'll be quite a sight when we reach the square," Demond chuckles lightly, but his smile fades soon enough. "Mm," is his initial respond, eyes looking ahead. "Tall oaks. I am sorry, my Lady. I did not mean to bring back grim memories. Don't worry about your company. We're all given time to mourn. Just be sure to glance up everyone and a while, and spare yourself from the doldrums."
Had Desmond seen Tia previous to yesterday, she'd have been entirely dressed in black, having only recently moved to dull but not black colours, more or less. "Thank you," she says, with a bit of a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes at the moment. "It is not your fault, you had no way to know," she says softly. "And there is nothing but time to cure it, I know. But I am trying to keep myself busy and to lighten my mood with music where I can." She pauses, her feet squelching some more as she walks. "We are likely quite the sight indeed, if there should be anyone there to see us. Are you staying at the inn?"
Desmond smiles sadly. "You're a fan of music then?" he asks, turning to her as they reach the crest of the hill that dips back into Stonebridge. "Yes, I'm staying with Ser Garett until… Well I'm not sure. We're supposed to be serving as guards for his sister, Lady Danae. But he'd rather be off drinking his mind away. Good man, and I'm proud to be his squire. But he's a slave to the grape, I think. Don't tell him I said that. Shall I let you go?"
Tia pauses as they reach the crest of the hill and Desmond comes to a temporary halt. "Ah, I see," she says for a moment. "No, I won't tell, I promise." She does recall Ser Garett having briefly met the man, but she really has little to say about him at this point. She looks down at her hands briefly before she nods her head. "You could say that. Music has kept me from going crazy, I think, when all else conspired against me. I don't know what I would do without it." She wrinkles her nose, and gives Desmond a smile that has a hint of impishness in it. "Thank you, M'lord Westerling, for you company to this point. You have been quite chivalrous, and I do appreciate your assistance, and should be well able to make it from here, especially with Jacob and Adara to keep watch over me." She even adds a curtsey in, all properness, though the impact is ruined by the squelch of her wet and muddy feet as soon as she takes a step.
"You'll have to introduce me to some of this music some time." Desmond finally rubs away the mud over his cheeks and pulls his cap away to bow again. "All right then, be safe. A pleasure to be in your company, m'Lady." And he smiles at the humorous squishing sound. "Do make haste, a jewel has no place in a swamp." Her servants are given a respectful farewell as well.