Page 477: Of Witches, Northmen & Blind Girls
Of Witches, Northmen & Blind Girls
Summary: Teale hosts a small picnic where Anathema reunites with her brother Emrys.
Date: 12 November 2012
Related Logs: Trial by Combat of Rafferdy, and other things.
Teale Emrys Anathema 
Upstream Landing, Stonebridge
The waters here are more adequately described as a stream or tributary and thus the boats moored here are of the smaller variety. Two or three dozen of them with sails and even small dinghies and rowboats are tied up along the wooden docks. Sailing farther downstream takes one to Seagard while upstream to the north leads to the Green Fork and The Twins.
November 12, 289

With Naylands so recently upon the minds of most wagging tongues given the recent Trial, it would appear not all family decided to make the journey homeward to partake in the event. An oversize, yet somewhat tattered blanket, is strewn near the docks upon a small patch of dry grass playing host to meager fair of crusty bread, cheese, bitter Mire ale, and some sort of meat. What the meat might be is anyone's real guess, but it smells tasty enough. A basket is discarded to the side to help weigh down the corners from the light breeze.

Niecie lounges upon the blanket, propped up by her elbows as she looks out to the docks with a whistle, "The men here are far better than the marshmen - and they don't smell like bog-ass neither. Best decision you ever made bringing us here, milady. Still not sure your Lady Aunt won't turn me into a newt, but she's not so bad as they say. I think I can get to really like her, especially if she tells your Lady Aunt Rhia off more. Oh, what I wouldn't give to see that."

Idly twisting the strings upon a small dulcimer upon her lap, Teale manages a faint curl of her lips in a smile, "Auntie Ana is worth more than most back home credit her for. I suppose she could be scary to those who do not know her, but she's always just been family to me. As for the men here? I wouldn't really know if they are better than not. They /do/ smell better, yes, but there is more to a man than simply his scent."

For his part, he is not a Nayland, rather an outsider here amongst the reeds and light breeze which cools in the summer day. A shift-perhaps might give away his presence as he comes further down the easily followed path. Dark colors and leathers, still set him apart from colored wools of other lords and knights that stalk around the river lands. Lean and slight, his shadow doesn't seem to blot out anything, but a line could easily be cast out upon the blanket left on the ground as Emrys comes closer to the party.

His dark eyes glance down to the prone figures, set about on the ground, like pieces left in a cyvasse game. "Ladies." comes his usual accented voice. The breeze catching him and sending the familiar scent of leather out. "I hope I am not interrupting" and there eyes go to the assorted men at arms, and back. "I had thought though, a lady would need some form of company. At least company with teeth." as if to insinuate that the good men of Stonebridge had none. If he gets glares he notices not. "If you don't mind, I'll stand more in the shade though.." And his eyes focus on Teale "You can keep playing. No minds to me."

Speaking of the Witch of Stonebridge, she is out this way. It wasn't necessarily her intentions to cross paths with her niece. No, today Lady Anathema Nayland is out for a ride on what could only be described as a monster disguised as a horse. Old Rumor cannot abide by roads, those huge hooves cutting through the soft peat with a sort of angry vengeance. She is dressed in a riding gown of darkest green — considerably plain for a noblewoman without a hint of embroidery or silk. Her cloak is drawn up around her, hook pulled over her loosely braided hair and shadowing her ageless face. She had heard rumor that her baby brother was around, though ill chance kept them apart. Until now. As the black gelding climbs the banks, flanks soaked from a crossing some ways down the stream, Anathema lifts her head toward a familiar voice — three in fact, though one stands out more than the other. Her lips curve with a youthful devilishness before they sober into a mummer's grim line. She clicks her tongue, pushing her horse toward the blind girl, her maid, and the brother eleven years her younger.

"The Old Gods, they bring me a worthless boy," Ana says with a sternness Emrys would remember from their grandmother — those very same words were said to him so many years ago when he had too been brought to those far Northern lands. She flashes Teale's maid a quick smile before she starts to swing out of her saddle with a heaviness of wet skirts.

The arrival of the northman brings a raise of the chunky maid's digits to her forehead to shield her view from the natural light as she looks upon him, "Oh ho, speaking of men." Niecie leans over to murmur to her mistress, "That yummy one's back from that night at the Inn." The maid flashes Emrys a smile and shifts a little closer to her mistress' side to make more room.

Leaning her head down slightly as she plucks a string, Teale makes another fine adjustment before testing again. Once content that she has it properly tuned, she turns her head a bit in the general direction of the incoming man letting shift of his shadow direct her sight, "Company is always a welcome reprieve, your thoughts do you great justice. Would you like a bite to eat? We have bread and cheese and plenty of bitter Mire ale. Niecie? Please make sure our guest has what he needs." She instructs her maid politely. The sound of the clopping of hooves upon the road is heard well enough by the sightless Nayland, her lips curling into a brighter smile as she catches the scent upon the light breeze, "Auntie Ana, I did not realize you had returned. Would you join us? There is plenty of room." She shifts a bit more to make sure, placing her dulcimer to the side as she tries to turn in the direction of voices.

A smile shows on his scarred visage, but it soon falls into aloofness as Emrys moves to come and take a place to stand in the shade. His hands folding before his belt, as he turns to look out to where the river moves along peacefully. "I could eat, likely though, I will not." Emrys intones before he is looking back towards the blind woman. And even then he is turning to look back to the woman in dark green who comes bearing down on a horse. Despite the many years apart from them, one cannot mistake the familiar looks shared-nor the firm grin that shows itself on Emrys face again as the Lady's greeting hits his ears.

"We will be lucky if the wolves don't eat him. Fucked likely." the quote finishes from Emrys before he takes but a couple of steps in Anathema's direction. "His arms are so thin, he'll likely never swing a sword. Only my feckless goodson could produce such a runt." And there a pause as he shifts his weight. "I was young when you ran freer than you do now, Sister."

"Grandmother always had a way with words," the woods-witch says, and before long she has broken her own attempt at remaining grim and stern; her full lips blossom into a smile, and she steps up to embrace her brother without care. Anathema Nayland has never really cared what others think. "There's still some freedom there, Brother… it has just learned to hide itself better." Fondly, she rubs the back of his head with her palm, fingers ruffling up that dark hair that is the same shade as Ana's, though hers is far more silver-stranded than his. When she pulls back, she does so to look over her brother with a critical eye. "Teale, my brother has been proper, has he?" Then she casts the blind girl and her chaperone a smile. She spares Emrys further familial affection as she steps away, moving to tie up Rumor's reins and let the old boy rest. Now she turns back to regard the picnic with her niece, and now her brother.

In the company of so many, the maid grows a bit more quiet. Niecie does, however, rise to her knees to offer assistance in serving the newcomers if desired.

"Proper? Of course, Auntie Ana. I do not see how he could be anything but really," Teale offers easily enough as she lets their greeting play within her thoughts for a moment or two before adding, "I find his company refreshing, what few passing exchanges we have had." The younger Nayland reaches to pluck a blade of grass as she twirls it between her thumb and forefinger almost as if debating before she ventures the question regardless, perhaps already knowing the answer, "How did the Trial go? I heard some whispers, but so many whisper about so many things it is hard to know what is truth and merely fiction."

"Grandmother had a way to make a boy feel feeble and yet give you some fire to warm the hate-in which was used to prove her wrong. I think that's why Da did not entirely care for her." Emrys concludes before he is raising a brow back to his sister. Now teeth flashed in earnest smile as he comes closer. "So you have. Being a Lady suits you." the Lord remarks with a faint chuckle. "I assume your pillar of dust does well? I've not seen the Bootleather for some time." he adds there before he turns and regards the blind woman for a moment.

"I usually am only proper when it suits me." Which one could argue as never. Still there he goes on grinning. "I believe we shared a drink, lady. That should be refreshing." he adds there before falling silent once more. It seems the question on Teale's lips is one for the lord as well.

Mention of the Trial draws Anathema's expression grim. "It did not go well, my dear Teale. Certainly, your cousin lives, which perhaps is a blessing to your Uncle's heart, but he chose the Ashwood Lord to be his champion." She glances toward her brother before her gaze once more settles on Teale, and she releases a bit of a sigh. "But, your Gods found him…" And there is a sour hint to her words. "Innocent." She shakes her head a bit as she shakes out her damp skirts and cloak, letting the hood fall back from her dark hair. "You should not expect Lord Rafferdy to be in Stonebridge, however. He will stay at the Mire, or elsewhere, but as he put his fate in the hands of the very man who tried to bring Stonebridge to his knees…" There she stops, perhaps unwilling to cast a shadow deeper across the reputation of her would-be nephew. So, she instead turns her attention to Emrys's inquiries. It brings a laugh out of her. "Yes, my old Bootleather is doing well, though it appears our family has brought upon it a luck as cold as Winter. Your niece Visenya has returned to us a widow, her husband felled during a hunt. I fear that the Old Gods sought to spare him further grief after the stillbirth of their firstborn son, though Visenya now must live with the loss of two." A weary smile is offered to her brother. "That compounded with Aeron's wife dying a few short months ago, I am a mother of widowed children." And that does not suit the woods-witch, not one bit.

"If a man is found to be a traitor with proof one should have hung him." Emrys comments without any sort of malice. "Or gutted him. Only if you think there is some accusation should you let the party prove himself. But, then-no true man hides behind champions." Likely a very Northern or Flint mind of thought there, from the Northman-and despite not being asked for his opinion he gives it freely. "That he is your kin." he states with a nod towards Teale "I am only sorry." A glance is given towards Anathema and there's a faint smirk from the younger to the elder. "You'd be fucked to remain where you're not wanted." Ermys notes "Likely he'll be found dead soon enough if he stays there." he adds on before he is looking back towards his sister

"That is your lot for casting in with a river man, Sister. They do find themselves fucked from time to time." A glance given to Teale there and a bow of his head as muted apologies filter through. "Hnh." to the last bit of news. "Some ground can't hold seeds." And there he turns his head to spit. "Put a lambskin to a tree and the luck'll turn."

The mention of the Trial brings a decided frown to the blind one's brow, her body heaving with a soft sigh, "Perhaps it is because of so much death the Seven thought to see him spared. There is only so much tragedy any one family can bear, Auntie Ana, before it becomes harder to claw one's ways back from the darkness." Teale's lips twist unevenly as she thinks further upon the matter, "He chose /the/ Ashwood Lord? By the Sevens, I swear he does not have a lick of sense." Emrys' words bring a deeper sigh to her lips as she shakes her head sadly, "That he is not the worst of all my cousins is sadder still, Lord Emrys. I do wonder what is worse, the cousin that knowingly engaged in poor behavior and is able to recognize that was an unwise decision… or the one who does so and believes that he is entirely in the right for such things." The comment about Riverlanders inspires a slight perk of her head, "You cannot judge all of us Riverlanders by the actions of some. Not all of us are bad. Sadly, milord, lambskin is not something I have amongst my stock."

"He would have hid behind his brother if not the Ashwood, and at least the Nayland champion stood for a long while before the Ashwood's mace was too much for him to further withstand. He yielded, and thus Lord Rafferdy was redeemed." She casts Emrys a slightly enigmatic look as he suggests that Rafferdy may not tarry long in this life, though she speaks nothing on it. She merely nods her head, smoothing out her skirts as she takes a place on the blankets set aside for the picnic. "Well, perhaps the bare-armed fool will go swear himself to Lord Ashwood and we can be done with this nonsense." She does offer Teale an apologetic smile, and it carries through her tone. "Certainly my baby brother will have time enough to see the merit of the Riverlanders. After all, he doesn't think terribly of my husband." And she gives Emrys a look that dares him to contradict that. There is no love to speak of in the marriage between Anathema and Tyroan, but Gods be good, they are fiercely protective and dutiful to one another. Maybe that is a kind of love, in its own way. She waves off further talk of sad things, though. "Now, Emrys… what has even brought you this far South? Last I heard you were still sworn up at the Finger."

"Tsk." A sound from the Northman there, as he shifts his weight once more there. "Piss poor." murmured before he shrugs out a shoulder, letting it roll with a twitch in his lip before he is back to his aloof posture. And there he turns his head to Teale, an amused grin showing itself despite the girl's blind eyes not seeing it. "I judge all men fairly, I believe in the way they judge me." a flash of teeth. "But, I do not think all are so bad. Just their rich blooded ones.." he adds on before he glances over towards Anathema. "She speaks true enough." a finger pointed before he is flicking dust from his cowl. "Her husband I like, but he is a true man, and not afraid to be bloody in his beliefs." added on before he glances to his sister. "I come this far South, as I was sworn to the Bolton when we went to war with the Ironblooded.." a faint look of annoyance-though he is fiddling with something.. "As I said, this far south to find a new bridle." or Master. "I had thought of seeking our young Cousin-or seeking you. Einar, Tulketh's whelp let me know you had moved here-so here I tarry."

"Raff would be much better were he to do so, Auntie Ana, but he will never leave the family. He is impulsive by nature and does not ever seem to think of the repercussions of his actions, but he is not wicked," Teale counters thoughtfully as she considers her cousins, "Rio, on the other hand…." her body visibly seems to tense - even if it is just slightly with her fingers tightening into balls upon her lap, "Rio plays Uncle Rick for a fool and relishes in the knowledge that he is the favored son. It is difficult to grow up in the shadow of a golden child, I should know. Rafferdy's done less harm to us in his foolishness than Rio has done intentionally."

There is something about Emrys' remarks that manage to slowly help soothe the blind Nayland once more as she offers with a twist of her lips, "It is perhaps good fortune then that my wealth is held all in the weight of my smile and little in coin. Were it not for the generosity of Auntie Ana and Uncle Ty, I would be singing and playing for my supper. Is that not right, Niecie?" The maid nearly chokes, having just decided to plop a chunk of cheese into her mouth at the same time as the question is asked forcing her to merely bob her head in agreement.

Anathema has to laugh, and she shakes her head a bit. "I admit that I was pleased to see so many Flints wandering this far South, but I'm beginning to worry that the North is driving out our good men… and women. Dear Nerys is even down this far, though I'm certain there is some marriage hopes from her family." She arches a curious brow at her brother now, gauging him with those soul-searching dark eyes. "I'm pleased to have you tarry as long as you wish, Brother. There are plenty of bridles in Stonebridge." And then she offers him a knowing smile. "You've obviously heard that Lord Frey has given the stewardship of Stonebridge to Ser Tyroan, and now we have a township to repair, trade to resume, and pride to reclaim." The Witch of Stonebridge glances toward Teale. "As you have already started good relations with my goodfamily, I must insist you stay a bit longer. Your nieces and nephews will be pleased to see you, as will Ser Tyroan. There is room enough in the Tower, so none of this inn nonsense."

That Northern Witch, the one all these Nayland girls call Auntie, smiles toward Teale at her words. "Riordan will find his fate soon enough, Teale. He has not been forgotten in all this. I told the Ashwood as much." She casts Niecie a broad smile now, sympathetic and amused both for the woman's situation with the sweet blind girl.

"Not wicked?" Emrys asks as he looks back towards Teale. "I am sure your cousin? He is likely dense-but any man who sells another of his own blood's secrets? There is surely wickedness there." But, again more unsolicited advice from Emrys, but it is there. However it is the blind girl's words that brings a chuckle from the lean man. His hands dropping to hang at his side. "I see. An tell me how much coin would you accumulate?" a glance there, before he pushes along.

"I have heard that among other things. A good appointment for your husband and Lord, I am sure." he adds on curtly-which is likely the same as polite for Emrys. "I've not seen them. Well since they were smaller." he adds before he nods. "I can do that. I had thought of staying here since my kin was here, but that will be determined between Tyroan and myself." Stated without title. "If you insist I will pay a boy to bring my things." simple and taken care of like that. "An how do we stand with the Ashwoods? Blood buried and all?"

"From the whispers I have heard, most desire nothing more than to bury some hatchet into the backs of the Ashwoods - or perhaps it was the fronts since backs are so very dishonorable," Teale muses slightly in reply to Emrys' question as her Aunt's words garner a slight shift in her attentions towards the direction of her voice, "Whatever fate awaits Rio, I sadly do not think it will be enough to atone for all his damage done. Perhaps it is cruel of me to say, but I do not quite understand how one woman can drive a man to do so much damage. No woman is worth such a cost and any that believes herself to be is nothing but a fool." As she catches the address between brother and sister, a slow smile starts to curl upon her lips easily, "Yes, Lord Emrys, please do stay. Niecie and I can show you about the town, with proper escort of course. I promise it will be a tour unlike one you have ever experienced, as I will teach you how to actually feel Stonebridge beyond the realm of sight."

"I insist," Anathema says sternly, thought not without a smile. Then she shrugs her shoulders a bit at the question of the Ashwoods. "We are on… fragile ground, but we both stand on our own two feet. Tyroan went to speak with Ser Aleister, and peace was achieved, but never has a peace been so hazardously balanced. Neither of us can dare afford another war, and Lord Walder will not dare see his taxes threatened again. Needless to say, it will be years, if not generations yet, before a proper alliance can be built. For now, we are as we are." Whatever that may be. She finds comfort in Teale's earnest welcome of her brother, and she smiles once more. "Then that is done, and I will have Tyroan see you as soon as he is able." Then she takes her own bit of cheese and bread before she starts to stand. "And with that, I should see that your rooms are aired and prepared properly. Besides, I'm suppose to be meeting some of the returned merchants, and I shouldn't look as though I went swimming in the river beforehand."

"She's smart." Emrys says of Teale before he is looking back to Anathema. "Maybe there's hope for you Naylands, yet." he adds on before he is looking between the women for a moment. "I don't care to feel cities, lady." Emrys says with a faint grin as he moves from his place, already making for the trail he followed down to this very spot in the first place. "I assume Lord Aleister helping the turn cloak and kin betrayer is not a step in the sound direction, either." he adds before he rubs his chin. "Still all of this from what I hear could have been avoided if men in this House thought with their brains not their pricks." he adds before a bit of a salute is given both ladies. "Good. I for my part will go an fetch a boy-and see if I cannot run into Tyroan." Emrys is not ever one to wait. "You could." he adds over his shoulder to his sister. "They might take you more to heart then," and his own silent goodbye given

Pondering the exchanges granted, the mention of meeting merchants fresh from a river swim seems to amuse the blind woman, "Oh, I don't know… there is something to be said for a noble who can relate to those she wishes to negotiate with. Hmm, I wonder what it is like swimming in the river here. I might need to try that."

Teale's mind seems to clearly be wandering along the lines, leaving Niecie to scoff in reply, "Milady, long as you don't go sinking like no rock. I maybe built like a boat but sadly I'm no good for hauling from waters."

The younger Nayland seems to jar back at her maid's words with a sigh, "Yes, I know and I'd never risk it without proper guidance. Never feat, Niecie, I know my limits." Head tilting back towards the direction of the departing siblings, Teale offers a final time, "Next time, we have a picnic… I will leave it to Lord Emrys to bring the food. It doesn't do well for a northman not to eat, after all."