|Part of the Rabble|
|Summary:||Tam and Starling find a quiet place to discuss the day's events.|
|Date:||23rd January 2012|
|Related Logs:||Siege of Seagard|
|Seagard - Ramshackle Stables|
|Ramshackle smithy just by the gate|
|January 23rd 289 A.L.|
Just outside the city of Seagard, there are dozens of pavilions being pitched for the various great Families that have come to the rescue of Jason Mallister and his ilk. But for those less fortunate, the Low Quarter has some houses that have been forcibly emptied - and even a stables, for the knights truly on the bottom of the social totem pole. It's in one of these - what looks to be an abandoned farrier-cum-stables - that Tam Cooper has made his nightly nest. He sits against a haystack, wearily grinding down a few nicks in his massive bastard sword, humming as he works.
The man looks terrible, even for him - his beard is matted with sprays of dried blood, and the chainmail jerkin that he's gratefully dumped atop the hay shows a few broken links. The gambeson he wears now has a small slash in it, stained with more blood, and a wicked bruise is rising on his left temple. Still, he seems in good cheer - and, perhaps conspicuously, he has chosen the stable nearest the west gate. Perhaps the man has hopes of a visitor?
The sounds of heavy hoof-tread betrays an approach long before a shadow falls across the doorway of the stables. More than a few of the lesser knights lucky enough to still have a mount to call their own are making use of the larger barn nearby for the night, so such a thing is hardly unusual. But it seems this particular figure is likewise electing the relative quiet of the more ramshackle old smithy. Pushing open the heavy swing-door, Starling guides her sturdy black and white horse in with a skilled hand, drawing it around herself by its bridle so that she may close the way again behind them. Alas, only with this task complete does she become aware of another presence already within.
Dark eyes flit over the bloodstained hedge knight with a lack of genuine concern, despite a perfectly pleasant smile cast his way as she removes her hat and tosses it into a feed-trough in passing. "Ser Cooper." The young courier's tone is far from elegant, bearing a thick accent that clips some of her words a little short. But it's polite enough, all things considered. Clucking her tongue, she guides her mount into an empty, cobwebby stall.
"Well, well.. I sort of hoped you'd be coming by, little bird." Tam's voice is likewise clipped and gutteral, but the grin that he flashes Starling is brilliant in its genuine friendliness. With a gesture of one heavy hand, he invites Starling to sit nearby. "You can call me Tam. Or Coop, if y'like. Ser Cooper's for arrogant prats like Rygar Nayland and folk I work for." He rummages around in the hay, producing a battered flask from where it has fallen.
"I got some bad news. Einion took an axe to the gut." He delivers the words with a grunt, before slugging from the flask and absently holding it up to be taken and shared. "He's alive, but he ain't feeling well. That fucken bastard Rygar sent his own levy into the meat-grinder, little bird." Despite the bleak nature of his words, his tone is perfectly cheerful - this is, after all, old hat to the grizzled knight. "And what word are you bringing, little bird? Is Tully marching?"
Though she briskly busies herself with untacking her black and white mount, tossing the saddle and blanket from its back to the stall rails with surprising ease despite her slender build, Starling nevertheless pauses for a noticeable moment as word of Einion's injury reaches her ears, gazing unseeingly down at the aged and worn leather.. but she rallies, entirely unwilling to have -Tam-, of all people note any weakness to her. "..well, least he's alive. That's a start."
Ducking, she slings a long leg through the railings of the stall and steps briskly toward the haystack, promptly scanning the upper layers for any that might be salvagable for her weary horse to dine upon. Still clad in a dusty riding coat, jerkin and leggings, the girl herself looks tired; telling shadows about her wide brown eyes and a tousled, windswept look to her long hair. But there's things to be done, always, and she simply gets on with them. "..any word I bring, Coop, ain't meant for you. You'll hear from your superiors, I've no doubt. Just like ever'one else." Grasping a decent looking wedge of hay, she starts working it free from his stack, hauling it this way and that with soft grunts of exertion, jaw determinedly set.
Tam's laugh is low and rumbling, distant thunder, as he nods agreeably to this. He returns his attention to the bastard sword before him, its rawhide hilt stained pale brown from sweat. "You're such a tough one, little bird. Come tomorrow, or the day after, Nayland'll order me into the city to take back the rest of the docks. I fought in a siege before - it ain't any good fun. Learn it with the rest, she says." He laughs again before grinding his whetstone down the sword's blade - notably, this is not the fine castle-forged steel that she may have seen him bear before. *That* sword is visible, safely wrapped in linen, its gorgeous hilt protruding from his bedroll.
"You have any trouble getting in? The boys are gonna be rowdy tonight. S'always the same, when you take a city." The way he talks, it's as though Seagard were a hostile town being sacked. Still, there's a certain humor to him, a boys-will-be-boys mentality that shines through. He reaches up absently to brush at the bruise on his temple; from any sort of close proximity, the smell of the man overpowers even the scent of hay - coppery, mixed with sweat, and a raw leathery masculinity that even the blood fails to mask.
"Not much. Couple lads of some little noble or other, gettin' a bit big for their boots, but they let me by." Finally dragging an armful of hay free, starling staggers back a half-step off-balance before turning to heave it over the rail and into her horse's manger. Dusting off her hands on the back of her coat, she then glances absently about herself, searching for something in particular. Ah. A few lengthy strides take her across toward a water-barrel, set cleverly beneath a particularly leaky-looking corner of the thatched roof. And look at that.. still a pail beside it!
Setting to filling the bucket carefully, lean muscle hoisting it up from the depths of the chilly water, Starling barely offers the hedge knight so much as a glance as he grumbles away to himself, perhaps having grown accustomed to that little quirk some time ago. She does, however, eventually just interrupt him. "Coop. Would it -kill- you to wash some of that blood off your person, rather than bothering with that knackered old blade? You reek worse'n the bodies they've been burning outside the walls." For a split-second, when she turns, the girl hesitates, a gleam of mischief flickering across her eyes as she realises.. she has a perfectly fine amount of water already in hand to help him do just that.
Whenever Starling's back is turned, Tam's head is up - he's watching the young woman move with a primal sort of fascination, but some sort of gutter gentility prevents him from acting out what is very clearly a serious lust for the young woman. And when she looks back toward him, he hurriedly returns his attention to the blade, grinding away. "'T'ain't knackered," the hedge knight protests affably, grinning down at the steel. "You know how many whoresons I cut up with this old thing?"
Thus it is that poor Tam -utterly fails- to notice the mischievous look in Starling's eyes, as he is far too busy trying to avoid getting caught as he checks her out. "And there ain't much sense in washing up, now is there, luv? Just going to go right back out to play and get nasty all over again." His tone is fond, as though he's well-used to this sort of nagging from the young woman. "Oi, when you going to settle down and have my babies, anyhow?" he asks idly, grinding away at the steel. "Then I'd have a reason to go kick those noble pricks right a'twixt their twigs and smash their noses down their throats for good measure, and that'd make me -happy-."
"Certainly ain't pretty n'more." replies Starling, calmly, before nodding toward the man's bedroll. "Not like that one there. Which I coulda taken from you twice by now, you drunken old fool. Hide it better than that before you pass out in a wench's gusset, eh?" Thinking better of drenching him, she simply moves by, topping up the small trough in her horse's stall then setting down the half pail that's left beside the rugged hedge knight. For her own part, she takes a perched seat on an aging block beside him, likely used for beating hot iron in the past, now simply covered with a threadbare cloth. Resting her elbows on her knees, hands dangling idly between, she thoughtfully watches Tam as he adoringly tends the aforementioned feller of whoresons. "..I'll settle down and have your babies, Coop, the day the sky's green, the grass is blue and you learn how to talk like you don't swill out your mouth with what you find in the gutter. How's that?"
Leaning over to 'bop' his head lightly against Starling's knee, Tam shrugs equably. "Gotta be honest, there, poppet. Ain't precisely the answer I was hoping for." He laughs, laying his sword across his knees and looking up at the young woman for a moment. "That other sword, that's for when things're good again. You know I'm gonna have a nice quiet li'l place? Maybe even a squire. A real bed." His tone is gleefully envious of his future self.
"And then I'll wear a pretty sword like that, and ride a horse when I gotta go fight some fucken bandit or summat - but until then?" He raps his knuckle against the bastard sword and sets it aside. "I'll do man's work with a man's blade." Despite his earlier protests, Tam leans over and splashes water from the pale onto his features, beginning the process of clearing out the blood and grime from his beard. "You wanna be my squire? Dress me, tie on my sword-belt, help me remember where I left my gods-be-damned signet ring and the like?"
"Makes you feel better, wasn't exactly my idea of a dream betrothal neither." Propping her jaw comfortably in the cup of one palm, Starling nevertheless relents to one of those wide smiles as she glances down at the knight's upturned features and listens dutifully as he rambles on about the 'good life' he intends to have. Heard it all before, most likely. Behind her, the sturdy little horse munches contentedly on his hay, ignoring the pair of them, while outside, in the streets, the gathering dusk does inded seem to be bringing out the more raucous elements of a day's victory.
As Tam settles to actually scrubbing at his face, the girl seated nearby allows her doe eyes to wander out beyond the doors of the barn, taking in the dazzling sunset down by the docks only a short distance away. Fire and brimstone, melding to ice and twilight, with the diamond pinpricks of the stars already striving to be seen high above. Breathtaking. Enough so that she simply leaves his banter unanswered at first, straightening a little where she sits in order to improve her view.
"Uh-huh. Well, young Einion'd have a hard time bending his knee. -Good- man, though." Tam eyes his companion with surprising shrewdness, leaning up against the hay before looking toward the sunset. Without speaking for a time, the man reaches over and rests a hand atop Starling's knee, companionably. His own gaze grows grave and distant as he studies the docks, perhaps remembering the day's work, all the joy of it faded out of him for now.
"You know, I've spent a lot of time in army camps, sleeping rough, and this's always been my favorite part of the day. When everything sort of.. grows cool and quiet." He smiles crookedly up at the young woman from where he rests, head tilting. "You gonna wait 'til I fall asleep and steal my sword, luv? I'd hate to think I'm just another quick purse."
"Don't make fun of him. He -is- a good man. Which is more than I can say for most of this rabble, runnin' round like chickens with their heads cut off." Those innocent dark eyes turn upon Tam as the light begins to ebb and fade from the world. "And then there's -you-." Quite what she means by that is hard to say, given her remote, thoughtful expression. Even her smile, when it comes, is faint and unreadable; only a vague answer to his own. All is still and quiet.
Or it was.