|Not About Whores This Time… Oh Wait.|
|Summary:||Liliana and Stragen take a trip to the market. Things go…just as you would expect.|
|Related Logs:||None, really.|
|Marketplace — Terrick's Roost|
|Residents of the town and surrounding area bring their wares to sell here among small tables built upon the slate grey stone flooring of the outdoor expanse. The area is surrounded by thatched roof buildings and shops on all sides with roads and paths winding their way in and out of this thriving part of town. Most of the commercial capacity of Terrick's Roost can be found here with the storefronts attracting the attention of those among all classes.|
|23 Aug, 288 AL|
With the nuptials of the Young Lord so quickly approaching, and the Ladies of the House engaged in everything from assisting in the preparations of the bride, to the preparations of the House, the amount of time that those Ladies have, to do as they will, is decidedly reduced. So it is for Liliana, who has made yet another trip down to town from the tower. The lists she brings with her, of cloth and spices and other such necessities, never seems to grow smaller. Normally, her duties entail simply placing the orders and arranging for them to be delivered. But on occasion, she's required to search for what she needs among the chaos of merchants who have settled in to hawk their wares for House and smallfolk alike. A wedding, after all, if not just an occasion of celebration for the nobility, but a chance for the common man…and woman, to line their purses.
But travel through the nearly overcrowded marketplace, is not so easy as it is at other times. Riding is possible, at those times, even the use of carriages. But not so, now. Liliana's mare has been hitched at one of the stables, and her companions mounts as well. And as much to keep her close in case of danger, as to help guide her through the larger tangles of people, Liliana walks with her hand tucked into the crook of Stragen's arm. "This too shall pass, Stragen."
"'This too shall pass?'" Stragen repeats, his gray eyes continually searching the crowd in front of them, and to the sides, for any sign of trouble. He keeps Liliana at his right, so that he could draw his sword across her in defense if need-be. "I'm not sure I understand, my lady. Are you looking forward to the wedding?"
In answer to the first question, as Liliana steps her way across the stones of the marketplace, Elise and Vena trailing a short distance behind with their own retainer, "Stragen, even you could not lie so well, that you would make me believe that you enjoy tromping all over the roost looking in every stall and under every canopy of every merchant from all the Seven Kingdoms, all seeming gathered in one small market." A tilt of her head, as she steps closer to her sworn, to avoid a rather large basket of good being hauled by by an even larger woman, "As it is not my wedding, I do not think I could truly have anything to look forward to, being only a spectator as regards it, though I am looking forward to the tournament. I am pleased for Lord Jaremy. He seems well happy with the match, and eager to begin his life with his betrothed. Certainly the House seems to have made her very welcome. And the House could certainly use such a…well-placed ally."
Giving a rumbling harumph, Stragen continues his joyless task of searching out dangers, and making a path for the lady and no doubt her two handmaidens trailing behind. "I don't mind people so much, my lady, and the marketplace is a wonderful study of how our society works. Even at a base level, at the common level. You can find much of the nobility in these common folk, but in a paler shade, perhaps." He stiff-arms a heavy-framed porter out of Liliana's path, who was likely not watching where he was carrying his barrel.
"There is not much difference, truly, between those noble born and those common born. They can be as admirable…and as base, in actions, thoughts and relationships with those above and below them. I look around me, and I do not see myself as any better, more canny or more intelligent than most of these folk here. I have simply had privileges and opportunities that they did not have. If I had not had the fortune of being born into a noble House, as a woman, how might I have made my way in the world? A fish-wife perhaps, a barmaid…a farmer's wife…a whore." That last does bring a slight shudder, felt, more in the hand and arm that are linked with Stragen's, than seen, "I try to remember that when I begin to rue the duties I often find onerous."
"It's the oldest job, you know," Stragen makes conversation in the best way that he knows how: talking about paid strumpets. "Whores, you know. Men always want two things: power, and… the comfort of a woman." Sex. "It's difficult to buy power with small sums of coin. Small sums of coin can get a night in the hay. Hey! Out of the way!" He bellows at the merchant having difficulty with his pack-laden mule.
"Yes, I imagine it would be. After all, we have the necessary tools for it from the day of our birthing. It is the one profession that any woman can do, if she can find a man who finds her pleasing. And has some small inkling of what she ought to be doing." A beat, "And some men seem notoriously easy to please." Her hand tightens on Stragen's arm, urging him to pause, "It's alright, we are in no rush. Truly, his beast looks ready to collapse under the weight of his load. No wonder it walks as a man going to the gallows."
Stragen comes to a halt, half-turning to face Liliana. "I don't like standing still in the middle of a busy plaza, my lady. It's not safe for you or your handmaidens. And I'm reluctant to start cutting my way through my problems after the last time that happened to us." He scans past her, over her head, to watch the crowd in the rear quarter that they just passed through.
As close as she is to her sworn, as he turns to scan the marketplace, actually looking up at the man is a task in itself, destined to give her a crick in the neck, if done too long or too often. But as he looks one way, she looks in the other. Well matched, in some ways, the Lady and her Sword. "Then guide us by the safest path. I had intended to visit that Dornish cloth merchant on the far side, but I can easily rearrange my list. There is the parchment maker, just there. Can we go that way?"
"Aye, we can." And with that, Stragen makes a path, through physical imposition, and sometimes through commanding voice. Eventually, the lady, her bodyguard, and the lady's handmaiden make it to the parchment stall.
Thankfully, the stall is not so busy as some of the others, and there's room enough for the group of five to settle in. Elise and Vena busy themselves quickly enough, looking at some of the smaller scraps, perfect for passing notes and other such secrets, while their Lady disengages herself from her sworn, moving towards the larger pieces, "Have you had occasion to learn how to read and write, Stragen?"
"On occasion, my eyes have scanned a parchment or read a sign, aye," Stragen says, turning to rest his back against a thick pole and cross his arms across his chest, watching the crowd while the ladies do business. "I'm no Septon or road scholar, mind you. And I've been told that my mouth moves when I read. Not too bright, you see."
"Do not insult yourself so, Stragen." Liliana begins a careful perusal of the parchments on offering, after a moment to join her handmaidens, passing the two girls a few coppers so that they might buy such as pleases them. "I had a mind to teach you, if you did not have the way of it. But knowing, now, that you have, I would see about improving it. It can be a useful skill, particularly in one such as yourself. Men in your position are often underestimated."
"If my lady wishes it so, it shall be," Stragen says, glancing her way briefly, but then returning his watchful gaze towards the crowd. "I'm sure the skill would be useful. Although I'm not entirely sure if my lady would not earn the ire of her betters if she spent her time teaching a mere commoner."
"Enough, Stragen Stone." Lili's ire is clearly peaked, as she turns to study the man set up at the exit to the stall. "I am a Lady of Camden and Terrick, it is my duty to make certain that my House has all of the advantages that it can. But clearly, you've decided your duty is impressing on me just how distant my station is from yours at every possible occasion." She sets aside the parchments, "I shall have to look these over at another time," offered to the rather surprised craftsman, before she turns to her handmaidens, "Complete your purchases as quickly as is possible, Elise, Vena. I am returning to the tower. Stragen will wait with you." Angry, indeed, as she attempts to brush past Stragen, picking up the other sworn retainer, who had accompanied her handmaidens, on the way.
Stragen starts, his jaw briefly dropping. Then, as he recovers, a stern gaze darkens his face and he pushes away from the stall's pole, causing the whole canopy to shake in protest. "I will do no such thing," he growls, stalking after her. "My lady, you must wait for me!" He shouts after her; as she's far smaller in stature, she can dodge between folk easier than he, and he's forced to dodge and shoulder his way through the masses to keep up.
Liliana's face, still blanched white with anger, but cold, steely enough to hide most of her emotion from those who might be looking at her, seems determined to ignore the sworn thundering after her, the retainer and the handmaidens fighting to get back to her. She's slowly but surely working her way through the crowd back, mostly, in the direction of where their horses were left behind.
"Damn woman," Stragen growls in irritation, lagging behind, unable to keep at her heels. When he finally does catch up, though, she could be easily atop a horse and speeding away. "Lady Camden, wait!" He shouts out in vain.
Either to Stragen's good, or Liliana's detriment, she is not at her horse, but caught up in a thick knot of traffic, buffeted this way and that as a pair of merchants try to move their wares at the same time. While she might have been inclined to go easy on the merchant and his mule before, now it just serves to increase her anger. To her credit, however, she does not harangue the men to move more quickly.
Stragen comes to a skidding halt. "There, caught you," he declares, stepping in front of her, separating her from the bustling merchants. "Don't ever do that again, my lady," he huffs, face reddened from the exertion of crashing through and dodging the goers in the marketplace. Glowering at her, he points at her, "If Jerold heard of this, he'd have your hide. And Jarod would no doubt hang me for my failures! What are you thinking?"
"What failure, Stragen? Elise and Vena stand there, their sworn has been with me." Mostly. They could see her, at any rate. "They have done their duty. And I am nearly to my horse." Liliana might be the better part of a foot shorter than Stragen, but the look on her face, tilted up to see his, is defiant. "Perhaps the failure is mine, in thinking that I could expect to be treated as a human being. And not to have those around me find every opportunity to impress on me how base and defiled everyone else in the world is aside from myself." Cutting the tone of her voice, "Or perhaps just you. That is what you wish me to think?"
"No. I would much rather you think more pleasant things, my lady," Stragen states evenly, doing his best to not let himself show aggravation with her. "My orders are very clear: to keep you out of harm's way. Charging off when you're beyond a sword's length means I can't protect you. I haven't learned how to throw my sword with any accuracy."
"Any harm that comes to my body will heal, Stragen. You should know that better than most." The man himself, is a tapestry of the cuts and slashes of his mercenary life. "But there are other wounds that do not and will not heal. And as good as you are at wielding your sword, better still, you seem to be, at that sort of attack. Let me pass."
"Aye, my lady, as you ask," Stragen says, stepping aside, giving a mildly facetious bow and flourish with his off hand to indicate that she can pass. He seems to be showing signs of frustration. "Wounds of the spirit I can't prevent, my lady. I'm only charged with your physical well-being and your virtue."
"You claim you cannot prevent those wounds, and yet you attack me with every word that comes out of your mouth." Liliana continues past, handmaidens and retainer in her wake, moving to make up the last of the distance between herself and where her horse awaits. Her hands reach for the reins, holding to the saddle to mount the mare, "I sometimes wonder if I might not have been better served to have been born a whore. Then, at least, I would have known that I should expect such hatred from the men around me."
Stragen throws his hands up in frustration; finally, he shows signs of weakness, that not even he can keep up with Liliana's verbal thrusts. "My lady, excuse me, but I do not you think you mean what you're saying," he manages to grunt through clenched jaw. "No one here hates you."
Liliana mounts her mare, neither asking for, nor apparently, needing assistance. A moment she takes to settle herself, before she looks back down to the man now standing below her, "That would seem a believably truth, Stragen Stone, if it were not coming from a man who likes to style himself one of the best liars and tale-spinners in the Seven Kingdoms." Her eyes shift to Elise and Vena, and their retainer, "If you are ready to return, we will go by the safest road."
Stragen stares in disbelief up at Liliana. "Oh, right, now you choose the safest path," he laments, shaking his head. "And I've yet to lie to you, my lady. Not once have I told a lie, fib, or otherwise embellished when it wasn't obvious." With a resigned shrug, he takes point. "Let us return, then."
Liliana, it seems, has no more to say to the man, her face turned towards the road back out of the market, her expression, no longer angry, but a mask, emotionless and still as a river, frozen over in midwinter. All that remains is for the small party to escape the chaos of the market for the relative ease of the road back to the Roost. But whatever amount of chaos she leaves behind, as much remains within the Camden woman, and no amount of distance will allow her to escape that.