Page 171: Mug Slayer
Mug Slayer
Summary: Captain Aeric Mallister takes some hot beverage with the Lady Cordelya Flint. Then that hot beverage is lost in a temper over life, Gods and duties.
Date: 3/1/289
Related Logs: Ironborn Invasion
Aeric Cordelya 
The Coast
A desolate coastal area where the Flints have set up camp while on the road.
January 3, 289

It's not rare that Corrie needs to be reminded to eat, no wonder she's so thin and drawn out, and this morning was no different. While she knew there was something going on up ahead with her husband and his guard, she didn't dare intrude on that. It wasn't her place. So, after being gently coached by her lady's maid to go find food and a hot drink while they are camped, that her maid would watch her injured charge, the tall, thin brunette has wrapped herself up in her cloak and drowsily wandered into the camp, near one of the fires that has been set. She's not exactly shivering, but she does look half drowsy. She keeps looking out to the sea alongside of the road, straight in the direction of the wind.

There. Just off shore. It is a sight of solace.. of sorts. It is a war galley flying the colors of the Roost and of Ser Aeric Mallister. On board are easily a hundred seasoned fighting men. Men who are longing for vengeance. Lannisters, Baneforts, Westerlings, Terricks, Mallisters, their livery is mixed but their purpose is singular. THey mean to kill every Greyjoy man sullying the Riverlands with their presence. Ser Aeric, their commander, shares that purpose. Happenstance favored a meeting of the vessel with the Flint contingent earlier this day and long was the meeting between Mallister and Flint. Now, the Mallister takes a moment to find what might be fit to eat within the camp. He wears brigandine in his personal colors and so there is little clank in his step but his footfalls are a trifle heavier than might otherwise be. In lieu of his shield, he bears a two handed blade across his back in addition to his broadsword and dagger. He is a man who has dealt death by the score of late. There is a purpling of his cheek and a healing lip to prove it. As he notes the presence of Cordelya, he moves to stand beside her and regard the sea and his vessel. There are no words for present but he does sip the steaming cup in his hand.

With her lady's maid and the injured Flint nee Camden, Cordelya is one of very few women to make up this camp. After all, it is a war party. It's probably a shock to see a lady with them at all, or a testament to how close the Lord Flint is with his lady. Either way, the tall thing, drowning in her long, elegant blue cloak has been lost in dreaming thought on the ship in the waters beyond, staring at it, considering the sights, scents and sounds the ever blowing wind brings from it. Probably nothing concrete, but that does not change that she still swears she senses such things. The life of a ship. Near the waters. Almost like home but wider, more endless and free. It's dizzying to even think about. And then one of the Lord's men is pressing a cup into her hand and something drags the dreamer's thoughts back to reality, especially with the fact there is a lingering presence RIGHT next to her. She half gasps, double taking in Aeric's direction, jade eyes going wide. He's not even a man she knows. "…Lord?" She inquires, shocked and shy, a touch awkward to say the least. She's spilled half her drink across her hand but she barely seems to feel it. There is some momentary disconnect behind her eyes, but it disappears as she focuses more upon him, especially that purpling cheek. "Lord… you are injured…?"

His injury is seen deeper than he is at first. Corrie studies that purpling and that lip with a sharply intelligent, studied gaze, the look of a Maester but from a female's eyes, someone who breaks down the body to just the mechanical parts. But there is no real flaw with his parts. Healing is correct. Cordelya gives a small, brief nod to herself and then pulls back enough she can look into both his eyes, and then back out to his unnamed ship. "To survive this mess it must be a miracle ship indeed." She mutters softly, a few of those distant notes crossing her voice. But he is there and making proper introductions, her mind should not be off with his ship. She turns back to him and gives a quiet, shy sort of smile, bowing her head. "Ser, then. Forgive me. I did not know we were getting… Company. Lords or Sers. I am Lady Cordelya Flint… Ser Anders' wife. He was kind enough to permit me to ride to Stonebridge with him, but no farther." As if that would excuse her riding with him at all.

"Lord. Ser. Such things are mere words during wartime. It is the blade which matters now." Ever the pragmatic one, Aeric still maintains his lordly presence and poise. He sniffs once against the brisk sea air then sips his drink. "A pleasure Lady Flint though a darkened one. Would that our first meeting be under more pleasant of occasions." He considers her a moment then looks back to the sea. "Still. It is good to have a healer. Even the victor can die if his wounds be grievous enough."

The blade which matters now. Something in those words seems to make Corrie stop, resounding sad and uncomfortable, deep within her chest and stomach. She just takes another deep sip of what is left of her warmed tea, letting that cut through some of the coldness of the reasons they travel and the winds of the northern sea. "The honour is mine, Ser. Your ship is… Beautiful. I can imagine she's a thing of many adventures, even if she sails on dark ones now." Though clearly a woman grown, there is something of distant childhood dreams in her voice when she speaks of the ship that so captivated her moments ago. "And yes, that is the only reason my Lord let me ride at all, in truth. My house never kept a Maester growing up so, well… I learned much. I will keep you boys in shape. And all the better having found Einar's good sister, the Lady Flint from Tall Oaks."

Aeric allows himself to smile. Talk of the ship pleases him. To know that he's serving a purpose and a purpose that he enjoys pleases him. Killing Ironborn pleases him. There is a twinkle in his eye. Perhaps its the wind causing it to water? Or the cunning even turn of lip that says he has plotted the fate of his foe and it is a grim one. He lifts his cup to his lips and distracts himself from thoughts of war. "Your house's habit is our gain, Lady. Maester or no, your presence will be appreciated. Is appreciated." Looking to her, he cants his head. "Lady Flint was lost?"

His easy acceptance of her presence perplexes Cordelya just a little bit, her head tilting to the side, eyes studying him a bit deeper. Perhaps he really was just that strange a man. Strange she can handle. And then his last question receives a quieter little frown and she drops her green eyes to the bit of tea that is left in her mug. "From what little I could gather, she fled Tall Oaks on horse back in a desperate break for survival. There were others with her, but she seems to have been the only one that made it beyond the Ironmen. At least, she is the only we have so far found." Corrie is trying to keep a little touch of hope alive, but it's growing more sickly and fading with every passing hour.

Aeric straightens at this revelation and he looks towards Cordelya with a gravity in his gaze. "Tell me everything." It is no more or no less than that. He may not be the most commanding of presences but he does not appear like he will speak until his mandate is answered.

Cordelya frowns a bit more, a furrow coming to her brows as he commands that she tells him everything. It's not really her story to tell and, really, she doesn't know the whole of it! But she tries. Exhaling slowly across her mug of warm tea, she begins. "We were traveling south and the outriders came upon a woman riding half dead on a half maddened horse… it was the lady Tiaryn. Apparently, an impossibly large contingent of Ironborn stormed Tall Oaks. Had everyone trapped in the manner, no way out and no back up. Eventually, they decided to… make a break for it. Tia rode with ten, she said, but the Ironborn over took them. She's the only one we've found." Corrie's eyes drop, sickly sad, to her tea. "From what she said, there is little chance that Tall Oaks still stands. At night… you can see the fire in the far, far distance. When the wind picked up, it rained ash. And Tall Oaks is still over a day away."

Aeric listens to her tale and the darkness in his eyes grows grim indeed. Still, he masters himself to listen to it all before he takes a deep breath through his nostrils. He closes his eyes and looks out to the sea. The rest of his drink? He casts to the waters as though he's lost his taste for it. The cup is held empty in his hand but loosely down at his side. His other hand makes a loose fist. There is a silence. Then a laugh. A silent, soundless laugh filled with irony.

Cordelya tilts her head quietly, a touch more confusion painting across her small, almost elfin features. "…What… why?…Why laugh? Gods, Captain… how many have… died…" Corrie sounds more sick than anything, apparently her sense of irony not nearly so sharpened as him. She clings all the tighter to her mug of tea, her tiny knuckles going white, fingertips trembling just a bit in the wind.

The laugh dies upon his lips and Aeric turns his eyes upon Cordelya. Within them can be seen hatred, wrath, grief, and a deadly mien. "Yes, Lady. That is truth. Always it is death. It is the one constant of our world. And I? I am its instrument."

Cordelya meets his eyes as he speaks like that, her tea forgotten for several quickened heartbeats. She just stares over to him, wide eyed and a touch too innocent. This is a woman who has most certainly never seen war. His promise of death sends a small shover through her thin frame and one of her hands leaves her mug to hug her cloak about her just a bit tighter against the wind, even if nothing can stop that cold, deadly look in his eyes. "…Death, perhaps… but there is also life. Love, loyalty… Men fighting for noble causes. Passion. That… that must be what you fight for. Not revenge. Not pain."

A smile creeps upon his lips turning his bearded mien almost devilish. "Lady Flint, what life I have is sworn to my Lord Cousin. There is ought else left to me in this world. I am the Greybane. I have sunk or slain scores of Ironborn. Oh and men loyal to the old king, too, at my cousin's command. Love? The gods have taken that from me, Lady. I know it not and so I shall love the blade and its naked shaft shall penetrate many a body in the name of the new King and my cousin." His smile grows then he abruptly sobers. "But why not revenge? Do not the dead need justice? The countless innocents along the coast who have been burned from their homes? Even in their folly, the ghost of Tall Oaks cries out for vengeance. Peace is the fleeting wind from a drunkard and pain? Pain lets you know you yet live."

The look on the tall, thin woman's features is best described as crumpled. Sad. His words first draw a touch of darkened fear to her face, but by the end of his small speech there is only pity and worry across her pale brow. She shakes her head quietly to him, wind catching at her long, dark curls, pulling them across cheeks and throat. She doesn't bother to bat them away. "Your words are… Most noble, Ser Aeric. But… sad too. There comes a time where a man has killed so many, done nothing but serve so long, that that man is no longer a man but just a shell with a sword. You clearly still have passion in your heart, your gut… If all you look to is death and revenge, that will be killed one day. The humors must always find some sort of balance. Life with death… Hate with love. If you truly believe in your calling… in this vengence and this hunt… then find something to feed the other parts of you, before they die and you are nothing but machine."

Aeric casts his mug to the sea with a vengeance. "Do you not think that I have tried!?" He bellows with a fury. "Your news this day makes a mockery of your words. What gods would curse a man so when all he has done is serve?! So they shall burn and Maron's head shall rest upon a pike and then I shall defy my cousin or put on the Black. There, at least, I shall not be pressed and might some day find some measure of peace.. or a death upon ice where my blood's fire might be cooled in its final rest." He laughs again, almost maniacal. "But to whom would I swear? The Seven who have forsaken me? These.. old gods.. whom men have forgotten and have forgotten men?" He takes a trio of deep breaths, mastering himself. "Go, Lady Flint. Return to your husband and your love. Waste no more of your breath upon me. Fate has no plans for my redemption if that is your hope. I save none for myself."

His violent words make her jump a moment, instinctively stumbling back, but then Corrie catches herself and she stands her ground. She lets him get out all he needs to say, bitter and angry, all the emotions that the stern Captain probably cannot show in front of his crew. The Lady Flint listens like a lovely little statue or fond pet, unwavering and now unfrightened. Even as he orders her away, she takes a step closer again, shaking her head once more. "The Old Gods have not forgotten men… though many forget them. Maybe remember also. They speak to us… they cradle us. With the wind. Your seas…" She gives a sad little smile, looking out to the ship. "How do you think your ship just happened to come to coast -just- where we were marching? Such a wide land and an even bigger sea. We have been traveling for days, and yet… " She motions to his vessel, "Someone brought us together at the exact time. The Gods still keep hand in our lives, they just do it quieter than these seven faces to whom you all pray. You are in their hands, even if you have forsaken them. Peace will be found, Aeric… somehow. I swear it."

Aeric's eyes go to his ship. His expression is.. doubtful.. yet uncertain.. He cannot deny the fortuitous meeting yet.. He takes a deep breath and brings a hand to rub his knitted brow. "I am sorry, Lady, for my outburst. It does not become a Mallister." He drops his hand to his side and returns his regard to her, weary now. "Lady.. peace is the fleeting gift of dead men until greed or avarice dooms it to war anew. In my lifetime, I have fought two wars.. now three. I have seen thousands of women and children bear the burden of those battles and known the men who have died. I would that I were a maester and had never known such blooding.. but that is not who I am. Swear as you will, Lady, I have no breath for it. Peace is not something to which I can make promise."

The apology is given a small wave of her hand, dropping her cloak and not hugging it around her as she had moments ago. Her other palm keeps that now cooled tea, but she's no care to drink it. Her eyes are all for him right now, and her heart for his words. "I did not say it would be forever, Ser. I said it would be found. A balance to everything… This war will end, and peace will come for some time. A chance to have children, friends… enjoy ale and books. Maybe learn to listen to the Gods we so often ignore, no matter how their hands weave through our lives." She smiles bittersweetly off to his ship again. "And then yes, there will be more war. Man cannot seem to thrive without blood letting on a sadly routine basis. But… it will come after you have revived your soul and your heart. That… that is all I ask. All I counsel you to do. When you have the chance, remember what it is to be a man. Not just a Captain." Her fingertips reach to, just for a moment, brush his cheek as she says that. A single reminder of what tender human touch might be. She then bows her head and begins to step back, long, thin fingertips falling away. "But I am certain you have to care to hear a lady's words. I should let you be." Another tread back. "…If, however, you do think to listen to the gods, or wish to talk more, just ask. I can be easily found in this camp." With that she turns to go.

The Lady's words are heard, if not replied to. For the present, Aeric returns to silence. His gaze is settled upon the sea. Gods or no gods, her camp is not likely where he will be found. No, his is a brief sojourn to resupply then it is back to sea and to war. This day. This moment. It is a fleeting respite. "Pray then, Lady Flint, if that is your wont. And if I live to see you again then we shall see about your gods. Go in peace." For he shall not.