|No Easy Conquest|
|Summary:||Fenrir tries to convince Orlagh to spend a little time with him.|
|Date:||1st February 2012|
|The encampment of House Flint and their forces at Seagard|
|Fenruary 1st 289 A.L.|
For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks. — Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
The Flint Camp, this morning, is in generally higher spirits than it has been these past few days; the brief sight yesterday of their Young Lord up and about clearly having boosted the morale of the men, despite such heavy losses in the recent clash with the Ironborn. Everyone seems to be seeing to their daily chores with grater gusto and good cheer is audible, often, in the air between these Northerners, many of whom have grown up together. True brothers in arms. And any semblance of normality is good for soul, in times like these.
Making the most of the gradually increasing warmth of the day, as sunlight takes a firmer hold over the blue skies and the salt of the coast lends a rare hint of pleasant climes, Orlagh is seated outside the Lord and Lady's tent, a short distance from the entryway atop an upturned crate. Already, a small campfire has been tended to and a spit is set above it, which the girl occasionally glances to, checking on the progress of the stewpot slung from the iron. But the more pressing task in evidence, for the maid, is the drape of cloth settled across her lap. Dextrous fingers thread and tug a needle through the hem, repairing a ragged tear. One of Cordelya's ruined garments, no doubt.
The day is already warm enough for men of the North; the heavy cavalry has been hard at practice since dawn, exercising their horses and taking turns riding at long posts driven into the good earth. Each post has a side of meat lashed to it, confiscated from the Ironborn stores, and the men drive their lances - or axes, or swords - into the target with abandon. Foremost among them most of the morning has been their young master-at-arms, Fenrir Viiding, leading by example.
But for now, his courser is spent - the animal is sweating as heavily as its master, and he dismounts and spends some time giving him the attention he clearly desires before beginning to lead him toward the tents, leaving his underlings to carry on for a bit longer. He draws to a halt alongside the young blonde woman, wiping sweat back off his forehead with a gauntleted hand before leaning over to sniff the stewpot. "Morning, Mistress. You reckon there'll be a crust and a bowl for me, once the Young Lord eats?"
"Ser Fenrir." The girl greets the Master-at-Arms as smoothly as any courtier, even rising a little from her perch in order to dip a proper, shallow curtsey, passing him a blithe smile. But she settles back down without waiting for his permission. He outranks her, certainly, by far; but he's not that superior. Those sorts of displays are reserved for Anders alone. "Good morn. And I am certain I can spare you a meal, Ser. Once, as you say, the Lord and Lady have dined." Whether she actually has the ability and patience to have the absent noblewoman sit still long enough for a whole meal remains to be seen. But Orlagh seems confident enough.
"I trust your training goes well, Ser?" she enquires, pleasantly; with a nod in the direction of those still working across the grass.
Absently taking a knee beside the young woman, allowing his courser to munch at a patch of tempting grass, Fenrir smiles at the young woman and brushes windswept hair back off his forehead. "Master Fenrir, if you please, Mistress - I'm no knight like the Young Lord." He casts a glance back out to where his men are still practicing, whooping and howling as they perform feats of derring-do atop their horses, and grins. "Oh, yes. Seeing the Young Lord up and about has us all feeling better." Looking toward the tent, he adds somewhat hesitantly, "And is he well enough today? Didn't over-do it, did he?" Like a very sweaty mother-hen, this one.
"Forgive me - uh, I know I've -seen- you.." And here he pauses, giving the young woman an appreciative smile, as though to convey silently 'you're hard to miss,' "..But I never got your name."
"Then you must simply address me as Orlagh, Master Fenrir." counters the blonde, still smiling. "For I've not skill enough to be considered mistress of anything." Well, that's not entirely true, is it. Orlagh's plainly very capable, even if only in the capacity of smoothly running a household, such as it is. Allowances have to be made, of course, for sleeping in tents and living out of trunks. "Just Orlagh." she confirms, lowering her blue eyes for a moment as she draws another stitch through the tatty-edged chemise she's working on.
"The Young Lord fares well." she continues, conversationally but with a politely guarded air. It's not her place to discuss the goings-on inside that pavillion - she's no lowly gossiping servant. She's better than that. "Gods willing, with the Lady's care, he will go from strength to strength. And yourself, Master Fenrir?" Flitting a considering look over the rangy man, she arches her brows in subtle enquiry. "You appear hale enough." Doesn't he just, all lean muscle and fair hair.. ahem. "If you recognise me from anywhere, I would expect it to be those engagements afore now where Lord Anders' sister was in attendance. I served in her ladyship's household." That doesn't exactly explain why she's here, though.
"Wouldn't do, Mistress, wouldn't do - you're clear as a summer's night running this campsite as well as any castellan. But I'll call you Orlagh - if you'll call me Fenrir." The rangy armsman smiles again, his gaze twinkling as he takes in the young woman before he continues. "Oh, I'm well and better than well.. Orlagh - I'm a rider with a lovely mount, a soldier with a grand army, and a servant with a caring Lord. I can march all day, shave an Ironborn's neck, and still have time for a mug of ale! It's a fine life, this." His impudent grin grows, mischief sparking in his dusty features, and he turns to look out over his men for a moment, still alert to their doings.
"You worked for Lord Anders' sister, eh? I expect she sent you here to check on his health, then." The way he says it, he expects no such thing - there is a knowing glint to his eyes; after all, he has served this House all his life. "Will you be staying with us? -Say- you are - Jory and Strom are handsome fellows, 'tis true, but their company is beginning to grate on me."
Orlagh laughs, blushing prettily at the charismatic man's brazen flattery, though she seems at ease in his company, as a fellow lifelong hand of the Flints. While there might be nothing uttered out loud, they likely share at least some understanding of the political power-play between the branches of the family. Though the girl is less apt to dwell on such things. "I am to remain as a handmaid for the Lady Cordelya, yes. And to aid in the care of Lord Anders, at his sister's behest. The Lady Liselle is deeply concerned for him." Why she's concerned, Orlagh presumably doesn't put too much thought into. They're siblings, aren't they? It's only natural. A brief glance of subtle caution is offered to Fenrir, though, lest he remark too boldly upon those matters that do not concern him.
"I hope my company will be found to your liking, Master Fenrir." she replies, airily, setting down her mending for the moment and rising smoothly to a stand, stepping across to stir through the rich-smelling stew. She's tall, strikingly so, with a braid of white blonde that falls to her thighs, neatly arranged. Those details might have been overlooked, before today. Servants are only ever a blur on the periphery, if they do their job well.
Fenrir takes in the young woman boldly, his gaze trailing up and down her lengthy form. He folds his arms across his chest as he studies her, the scrutiny going on for far longer than might be considered proper. At last, with a judicious nod, he says "..You'll do." After a brief pause, the man tilts his head a bit, manner becoming somewhat more businesslike. "I hope you've laid in plenty of good wax candles. Lord Anders doesn't like the light the cheap tallow ones cast, and he does a lot of reading." Again, the sense of personal concern for his younger lord is striking, if perhaps a bit invasive.
"Lady Liselle's a good woman, I always thought," he acknowledges neutrally - avoiding the topics of politics as well as possible. He leans over to sniff the stew, smiling lopsidedly up at the young woman. "Mm. Sweets, I've got a favor to ask you. If I got enough ingredients and a few helping hands, could you make a -big- brew of stew? Enough for a bowlful for all the wounded lads?"
"I know full well the preferences of the Young Lord, Master Fenrir, never fear." To the extent that she hefted a saddlebag full of books to keep him entertained, though she doesn't point this out. Indeed, her tone, if anything, is just gently amused. The girl has the intricacies of the Flint House bred into her, steeped and versed in what is expected of her and more than capable of pleasing the heir. That's her job. But she doesn't guard it jealously. After all, having a coterie of men who love their master is a bounty to any household.
Lowering her gaze to Fenrir as he bends and inhales deeply of the mouth-watering scent, Orlagh considers his earnest features for a long moment; quite obviously not fooled by the expressions of innocence he adopts. Still, at least he has manners. Sort of. "..I would need more rabbits.." she muses, stirring still the contents of the pot. "Or at the very least, some bread, to make a broth of the leftovers. If you can find me either, Master Fenrir, I will gladly see to it. I am certain Lord Anders will approve of the notion." And that's what matters. That Anders is happy.
And here, just now, the man is sharply business - his genial nature is still there, lurking beneath the surface, but it's clear that he can set it aside at need. He speaks with a gravity that puts the lie to his earlier grins and flirtations. "Mistress Orlagh.. You'll learn this, but I'll save you the time. Lord Anders is a great man, but he's not a soldier. That's why he has me. I'll get you the rabbits." He grin again, as suddenly as he'd gone serious, winking to Orlagh.
"Truth is, I'd raid every foodstore in the camps to have an excuse to spend more time with you, sweetling." Forward! But there's something in his manner, a simple enjoyment of the words themselves, that detracts from any unsavory intentions the words might normally convey. "Tell me something - you like to dance?"
"Did I say otherwise?" enquires Orlagh, merely quirking a brow at the subtle change in demeanour. She knows perfectly well just who and what Fenrir Viiding is - the rumors among the servants, while she may not involve herself in such tawdry talk, are scandalous. Intriguing. But scandalous. And she's not the sort to be easily swayed by piercing eyes and an easy smile. "Or do you imagine those of gentle birth need to be told when they are hungry, Master Fenrir?" Stepping back from the smouldering embers, the girl sweeps her hair back from her brow with the back of one hand, returning calmly to her previous seat.
"Do I like t-.." Alright, that was an unexpected tangent. Blinking pale blue eyes at the tall man, Orlagh hesitates for the first time as she eases down to her perch on the crate, a hand searching blindly for the cloth she set aside. "..I believe everyone enjoys dancing. Though if the question is one of skill, I am afraid I likely have little. You don't need to master a pirouette when you work mostly in kitchens.." The blonde breaks off abruptly, hissing inward through her teeth, as one fingertip finds the sharp point of her needle. She glances briefly down at the swelling pinprick of blood, before simply popping it in her mouth, frowning slightly.
"Ah, now! Let me see that!" Holding out his hand intently, as though the woman had suffered some grievous gash, Fenrir continues on in his normal tone of voice - merciless in his good humor, and only the Old Gods know how long it's been since he's seen a woman still in possession of all her teeth.. not counting the Lady Cordelya, of course. "Reason I ask about dancing, Mistress Orlagh, is I know this place that of an evening does a real fine ale - bit of a brown, if you like that sort. I do. Anyway, they got musicians in there most every night, mostly soldiers, and I'd love to take you."
He grins at the young woman as he talks, utterly poised, his wolf-like features called to mind as he 'stalks' his 'prey'. But whatever the rumors might say about him, all concede that he is.. fun, and no threat to an unwilling partner. His hand remains outstretched for her pinpricked finger.
Orlagh withdraws her poor finger, but doesn't offer her hand out, wrapping it instead in her dark skirts to stem any further droplets. "Nothing to see. How do you think handmaidens come by their callouses?" Fidgeting a little, she casts a woeful, longing look to her mending as Fenrir presses the idea of an outing, warmth again creeping across her creamy cheeks. "Of an evening, Master Fenrir, I am in attendance upon my Lord and Lady. Though I thank you for the invitation, of course." She really isn't easily pried from duty, is she? Without the distraction of her needlework to busy her hands, given the risk of a bloody fingerprint on the white cloth, she seems uncertain of what she should do. Not uncomfortable. Merely grasping for something to do. Idle hands and all that. In the end, she settles for trying to gently chide the Master-at-Arms away, without offense being given. "..the sooner you fetch those rabbits, the sooner you and your men can be fed. I should.." A vague nod is directed to the pavillion, though she fails to offer any believable excuse.
"Just a moment, sweetling." Fenrir turns toward his men, some of whom are leading horses past them - the animals as exhausted as his own mount. When next he speaks, his roar could carry across a battlefield, a booming sound that doubtless his men dread to hear. "Artos! Jory! /ShiftYOURSERVESyoulazypairofHALFEATENturnipheads!/" Whether anyone actually understands the stream of invective, the two soldiers catch the gist and cover the distance between themselves and their master-at-arms swiftly.
"Take a detail, whoever's bored and causing trouble, and scrounge me up as many rabbits and as much bread as you can. Go on. /Git/." Both men leave grinning - a hunting detail is far from the worst thing that they could be tasked with. Slit trenches always need digging, after all. He turns back to Orlagh with an innocent little smile. "Well, I'll meet you once your Lady's retired, then, and show you the place." His grin widens triumphantly. "Fun don't really start until late, anyhow."
The girl's eyes widen just a touch at that roar, so different to the gentle tone the man uses when speaking to her alone. But again, she seems quietly amused rather than afraid, watching the towering Master-at-Arms for a moment while he's turned from her.. and taking the scarce opportunity to rise again, as it presents itself. Wiping her fingers off a last time on her skirts, she stoops to gather up the chemise in her arms, hugging it lightly to her body in an almost protective stance.
"Master Fenrir.." she begins, in a tone that might have been convincingly stern, were it not for that charismatic smile lingering on her lips. "..how am I to set an example of etiquette and propriety for the other young women present here, if I, without pause, agree to venture to a tavern with you, late at night?" She doesn't emphasise 'you'.. but that point remains valid. Honorable or not, kind or not, intriguing or not.. she'd be playing with fire and they both know it. "No." Even as she turns him down, she's relenting to a grin, shaking her head. "..I will not meet you tonight." She could have sought to embarass him, in the wake of such a suggestion, merely by raising her voice a little. But she doesn't. She keeps her tone gentle in her denial. Is she aware that being a difficult conquest is likely to inspire only further interest from the bold man? ..honestly, she probably has some idea. But it's not her intent. Orlagh is stubbornly devoted to her place in the household.
Watching the woman with her chemise for an instant, Fenrir takes the defeat with good grace - he beams at the woman and tilts his head playfully, mashing a fist to his chest. "Urk. Urgh. Agh. Drove that right through my heart, Orlagh." He playfully mimes falling back, but stops himself short - probably not wanting to spook his horse, who still grazes as placidly as can be. "I tell you what. Pause as long as you like - days, even. I'll ask again tomorrow. And don't be forgetting, sweetling.. it's just a dance. I promise." He beams at the woman.
Idly stretching and twisting, the man's back pops audibly - no doubt tightened up from his time atop the horse. He draws out the steel-bladed knife from his hip sheath, dragging at mud from beneath his fingernails and smiling to the girl. "If you still say no to a dance, how about a ride sometime?"
At first, Orlagh seems almost on the verge of indignant rebuke, her lips parting too quickly, and with a swiftly indrawn breath. But she catches herself, flitting a glance of realisation aside to the grazing animal. Okay. She doesn't need to bite his head off, after all. That's good. Heaving a deep sigh of resignation, she returns her gaze to Fenrir, watching him with his knife before studying his expression; still openly dubious, despite her skillful handling of his undeniable charm. Or attempts at it. "I.." Pausing, she softens just a little. "..I will consider it, Master Fenrir. But my duty is, as always, to those I serve." What has that to do with it? Well, perhaps taking off into the wilderness with one of the House's trusted retainers and well-known rakes will tarnish an otherwise perfect record, in the eyes of her Lord. Yes, it almost certainly would, to her mind. That's obvious, as she looks toward the pavillion, as if expecting the young heir to burst forth and berate her for even entertaining such a notion.
But Gods, he's persistent. And for all her aloof manner when it comes to giggling servants.. Orlagh is beginning to realise the very real and dangerous allure of Fenrir's teasing suggestions and barely-veiled flirtation. Clearing her throat gently, the girl adjusts her work in her grasp and edges quietly around the crate. "That will have to suffice."
"I'll wait," Fenrir says with that same crooked grin. He rolls his knife along his knuckles with a dexterity that's lovely to watch - the blade gleams keenly in the morning lightly, before he spins it a last time and slides it neatly into the sheath at his belt. He holds the woman's gaze, smiling at her with apparently-genuine pleasure. When he turns to his horse, stroking its long nose lovingly, the warmth in his expression multiplies further.
"I need to wipe this fellow down," he muses idly. A glance to the young woman, his brows quirking. "My tent's right over there." Pointing, he smiles lopsidedly. "You think, once the Lord and his Lady eat, you could bring over a bowl and a crust? I promise to meet you out here on the.. thoroughfare."