|Summary:||Aeliana and Justin meet on the beach and get their first real chance to assess one another. There's a bit of information traded, and Aeliana impresses Justin with just how perceptive the Charlton lady can be.|
|Related Logs:||None yet.|
|Coastline, Terrick's Roost|
|The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion. A small dock is being constructed of thick northern timbers, with mooring space for two large ships, or perhaps a half dozen smaller craft.|
|September 11th, 289|
<FS3> Justin rolls Blades: Success.
The day is partly cloudly, the breeze coming in from over the water, strong. Anvil clouds are forming out there, a stormline in the birthing. They are far enough out that it could drift to north or south and miss here or bring in a goodly storm later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, gulls wheel lazily over the cliffs on white and grey wings like swirling confetti blown about on the breath of the sea. Below a pale grey horse lingers, unsaddled and rolling with great pleasure in a sandy patch amid the stony beach. Back and forth, his darker legs to strike out against the sky, tail to flail, then to roll over onto his side like a listing ship. Up he rises to shake it out of his coat, blowing contentedly.
Further down a short distance, Justin has his blade drawn, working through a sword drill. There is no one else here, no man to practice against. He tries himself on the stony footing, his eyes as well as his mind focused upon the exercise, his hair lightly sweaty as the wind constantly combs through it as he turns. A fluid swing of the blade, followed by a drawing backcut up at an angle, a sudden thrust as he steps forward, working muscles to keep his balance on the iffy footing. Justin has his surcoat off and his off-white shirt loosened below his throat. A stone shifts beneath his boot as he steps forward again and pivots, almost dropping his guard too low but he keeps his feet and the blade only wavers the barest breath before he's continuing the exercise smoothly.
From around a corner nearest the knight, a small party moved; two guards, five horses. Only the men are on horseback; leaving the women to walk and the leader of their party is the young woman Aeliana Charlton. Her dark hair seems fey struck by the wind, the inky strands piled artfully atop her head, bound with thin gold ribbons. It compliments the gown she's wearing; a crushed shade of gold as well, with a high empire waist that stops just beneath her bosom; pinched together and wrapped with a wide band of green, over which tiny clusters of mistletoe have been embroidered. A heavy cloak dons her shoulders, its hood thrown back so that the silk that runs inside can be seen and it too matches the gown with the colors of her house. Hollyholt, not Highfield; because in her mind there's a huge world of difference. A slender fan dangles from the girl's wrist and the hemline of her gown is wet, but there's a sense of lively animation to the girl complete with wind-flushed cheeks.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Ae mused, those thin long fingered hands cradling at glance what appears to be a collection of small shells. "It's just a pity some of the larger pieces were broken. I should love to see some whole. Do you think perhaps one day we could find someone to show us where their might be a sandy wash of shore instead?" 'Perhaps, milady,' Myrth mused, kindly amusement in the older woman's eyes. Unlike the girl, she'd experienced the sea before so there was none of the child-like joy in her about it. "I can't believe they swim in it though. It looks so dangerous!" 'It's not the only thing that looks dangerous,' Myrth replied, with a faint inclination of her head up the beach towards the Lord that they were enclosing on. "Indeed," Ae mused and her smile quirked in shying amusement as she watched both man and horse.
"Good afternoon, my Lord Terrick!" The girl called, voice pitched to carry the distance in greeting.
<FS3> Justin rolls Blades: Failure.
The grey horse noses around the rocks, walking a few steps before he lifts his head at the approach of others, ears pricked. The gelding stands his place, watchful of the strangers.
Justin himself continues his practice, the blade cutting through the air and the bright sunlight dancing back as it flashes in reflection. The calling of his name distracts him and he sharply turns his head to see who hails him - missing his footing as stones shift beneath his boot as the direction of his weight settles. He has to catch himself to keep from falling and does so. The rhythm of his sword drill however is duly lost and his blade lowered to the side to help him keep his footing. It was for the instant an ungraceful recovery.
A few breaths before he offers the approaching group a nod, his baritone lifted to carry, "And to you, lady Aeliana. Do you enjoy the beach?" Some do, some do not care for the stones but they can't be helped and are some small aid against horses and men who are not accustomed to them. The sword held in his hands is old and much ill used in the past. No end of honing and polishing since it has come into his possession can hide the fact that the old blade has been pitted with rust and the edge many times knicked. The brass pommel in no way was original to the blade for it does not match the crossguard. Justin sheathes it ere they come too close and takes a more relaxed stance himself, glancing aside to check on his horse's position.
Whoops! There's an instinctive wince upon the girl's face, clear apology in her eyes for causing the slight. "I feel compelled to apologize, my lord," Ae murmurs, before her lips quirk up faintly in amusement, "And at the same time…not. They tell me that you are a knight and earned your spurs in battle." Of course, gossip is often wrong and she's not entirely sure, "So perhaps training with distraction is good," she mused, gently tucking the little treasured shells away into a small little leather satchel. "My Uncle would say that nothing should distract you and if you had seen my knuckles ere we trained, you'd know the truth of it." The girl laughed and there was genuine humor in the sound; light and easy and filled with warmth. The same type of warmth that touched on her smile.
"But I have been enjoying the beach, it's a nice chance from the rivers that I'm used too. Though the stones seem to be a bit rough on the shells," another little laugh then, but then, Ae found it easy to laugh and life a joyful experience rather than a morose one.
"Your uncle would be right, yet distractions happen and one needs to keep aware also of what goes on around them. I haven't his years of experience as a veteran yet. I have killed men in a few skimishes - both Ironborn and bandits." Justin has turned to walk the short distance to come to a more friendly conversational spacing. He hooks his hands loosely into his sword belt as he regards her and her party. "No apology necessary. I will train for years, yet, lady Aeliana." After all, he only just turned 20 and most men don't truely hit their prime until around 30. If they live that long. "Aye, the stones do. Further out you can find better shells when the tide is low, out along the sand bar. The stones come from the cliffs, not the sea. But it is those same cliffs that have helped us hold this land these past two hundred years."
Aeliana moves to meet him halfway, where maid and septa linger behind; the latter taking sanctuary behind a particularly large stone, enough to catch a break from the wind. Myrth herself moving to go and speak with the guards. It granted the illusion of privacy, at any rate. Beyond immedient earshot, instead of pointedly lingering. "May the Gods grant you the years to do so," Ae replies with a low bow of her head. Her eyes swept towards the sea though, as he spoke of it and she looked back to Justin with a somewhat baffled expression. "Sand bars? My lord, you'll have to forgive me, I'm not as familiar with the ways of the sea and the terms of it as you seem to be. But I shall bare that in mind." And then ask someone the best time to go out and enjoy it, too. Though, for a moment she studies him, head canted curiously to the side before she speaks. "Are you unhappy, my lord, to so share your home with me?" It hadn't been more than a look, a brief one, and he'd passed it to his sister just as soon as he'd heard her name; but Ae saw it.
Justin listens, then lifts an arm to point, "If you look out there … you'll see a thin line where the water is rougher, yes?" For her to look out where he points, she'll have to stand briefly rather near or slightly behind him to see along the length of his arm. "It gets moderately deep, then rises up shallower. Sand from further out is brought back up to form something like .. a great ripple along the coast. The water lifts it up, I suppose, to accumilate there while stones do not. When the tide is out, it is shallow enough to stand on and may be capped with high waves on days when the water is rougher. At higher tides it is too far and too deep. However, it is unwise to venture further out than that without a boat for the undercurrent is too strong, and there are things in the deeper water that are unsafe for men at some times of the year." Sharks, for example. Justin lowers his arm, that riffle of rougher water not very obvious with the tide higher at this time of day, but easier to locate early in the morning and later in the evening.
Aeliana's last question turns his head to look at her, "Unhappy? Whyever would I be unhappy to have you as our guest? I know you not, lady Aeliana. And we do have an Accord with Highfield, so none of those of either House Charlton nor Highfield will find unwelcome here among us."
If indeed he feels otherwise at any level, Justin keeps it to himself, his words smooth enough. Back to the other topic, Jerold Terrick's third son adds, "Up there at the cove, there is no sand bar. It drops off steeply into deeper water, but I know not why."
Ae ventures nearer, when he lifts his arm to point; close enough perhaps for him to catch her scent despite the hint of seasalt on the air, a light mixture that hints of rose-petals and honey. Those dark eyes narrow in though, attempting to tell one rough wave from the next and even with eyes as good as hers, it takes a moment before she nods her understanding. "It would be a neat thing to see, I think. Like walking on water, to be surrounded by it and yet..not," she ventures, looking thoughtful. "I had noticed that you'd docks being built. Do you suppose one might find a row boat there, for such a viewing?" Those eyes flitter back to him with the question and while she straights again, that hint of nearness remains.
It makes it easier for her to watch too, and she does, particularly his eyes when he answers her. "Hollyholt," she corrects him, Highfield and Hollyholt, for both are Charlton. "And I was aware of the Accord, yes. Tis part of the reason that I wanted to make the faces of my guards known at the Keep when I arrived, least there be any confusion as to the appearance of the men." Because she'd wanted to ensure they were known as hers and their faces didn't change, instead of some cloaked way to move through troops. Yet, as she ventured on, Aeliana did so carefully; tongue peeking thoughtfully against her lips for a moment. "Still, it had been my concern to ask. I'm aware…of my brother's reputation." And while she doesn't look pleased with it, perhaps Justin has at least a measure of understanding there, with one brother on the wall and another abed and addicted to poppy. "I just…," the sigh there is a slightly pained one. "We do not get to choose our family, my lord. And I have no desire to make anyone uncomfortable with my presence."
<FS3> Aeliana rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<OOC> Justin says, "She might think while he's not lying persay, he is holding something back. Distrust, likely."
<FS3> Justin rolls Reaction: Failure.
Any awareness of her nearness or the scent she wears, he gives no sign of it nor is he anything but relaxed, it seems. Justin gives a faint nod, "There was a ship in from Seagard that likely had a dingy. But it has departed on her way. You aren't likely to find anything at the docks but a local fisher may have a small craft. You may swim out to the sand bar early in the morning or later around dusk when the tide is out and wade, for it will be about waist deep or less. Tide times are variable with the moon but if you stay here with us a while, you will pick up a sense of the timing in time." As for himself, he smells of sweat, faintly of soap, of leather and of his horse.
Justin idly takes a few steps from her, then squats to pick up a stone. A flattish, rounded one. He flicks out his arm deftly enough but the stone doesn't skip, it catches the incoming wave and is swallowed by it. The Terrick frowns, keeping himself out of the waterline since he has on his boots and spurs and the salt is not good for them.
He looks back to her, "I'd be curious to hear what /you/ think your brother's reputation is, lady Aeliana. I know him not and we have not really met." For her comments about choosing family, Justin only gives a nod and looks back out over the sea.
<FS3> Aeliana rolls Reaction: Failure.
"A lovely notion," Ae muses, laughter in her voice, "But you seem to have forgotten as I was telling you and your sister the other evening, I do not know how to swim. So alas, t'will be a fisher, mayhaps or not at all." It came with a small shrug; before the girl reached up to tuck her hair back in behind her ear for all the good it did her fighting with the wind.
But she watches him, curiously, when he aims to skip the stone. "Oh oh oh!" Delight registers on her face then, "I can do that! Uncle Harry taught me when I was little, there's a river that sweeps through Kellen, winding and slow. It was perfect," she explained, whilst rummaging about for a stone herself. It a tiny thing, flat as is appropriate and the girl lets it fly with a delighted laugh, that only grows in volume when she manages, straight way, to sink it.
It's a self depreciating grin that's given Justin then, her eyes twinkling with amusement. "Or perhaps I can't. Your ocean seems to make a neat trick of complicating it. Of course…I am somewhat…older than when I last flung rocks so that may have a little do with it, do you think?" She pondered, while that smile remained. Warm it was. Genuine and easy; the kind of smile that just…seemed to invite others to join along with whatever it was that amused her.
It wavered though, at his question and she appeared, with lips pursed to be giving it a great amount of consideration. "I think…," she decides with a small nod at her selection, "That he is ambitious." Which could go…so very many ways. "And that he spoils me. But over that, I shall certainly not complain," Ae winked.
"The wind makes the water rough for skipping stones. It is no matter and will be easier on a calmer day. There is a storm building out there." Which is what he had been watching. Yet it is some distance out. He smiles a little at her question of older and out of practice, "Perhaps." Justin however is slightly aloof, she being a stranger unto him.
He turns his back to the sea and adds low, "You can learn to swim. It is not difficult and only takes practice." The Terrick walks up the beach a short distance to retrieve his surcoat. He shakes it out, then Justin's pulling it on over his head to settle it back into place. His hands unbuckle his arming belt to adjust it to lay over the surcoat, then his regular belt as well with the knife tucked into it. Justin looks back to her for what she says of Aleister, little as it is. He nods, "Ambition by itself is not necessarily a bad thing, for it can drive a man to achieve more than others. As long as it doesn't go too far. Such seems to have backfired upon House Nayland, but they have done many things to make unfriends along their way. Ambition itself is not perhaps to blame."
"You don't laugh much, do you, my lord?" Aeliana inquired, curious mixed with a measure of genuine concern on her face. "And yet…I've seen you at ease," with his sister. It was followed with a thoughtful sigh and a little shake of her head, sending that fey struck hair to dancing about wildly once more. "Time, I'm sure. That's what they always say. It takes time, but I have decided that -they-, whomever the they that said it is, didn't have a family like mine to make it harder." But that's what she blames the distance on, rather than herself. Because she's seen him at ease and even playful in his sisters company; the only difference now is her absence and it isn't the first. It just makes for lonely times.
"Yes. I can," she supposes, "And Lady Anais did promise to teach me." And they're of an age. "She seems so very sweet, your sister," Aeliana confides. "It was nice getting to talk to her. I hope I'll get the chance to again, while I'm here." And she does sound hopeful. Hopeful and with an air of longing in the tone too, for something so simple as a friend.
Though Ae doesn't watch him, as he redresses again; having looked away as soon as she saw him unbuckling his belt. It's the sound of his voice that she waits for and the rustling of clothing to stop, before she turns to glance back at him again. The faintest of frowns too, when he mentions House Nayland. "I have often wondered that myself, Lord Terrick. Truly. But…when children err, do we blame the children, or the parents?"
The grey gelding has taken a few steps nearer at first, curious. Ears pricked, wanting to come forward and see if there is scratching to be had. Perhaps due to the slowly building air preasure that animals are sensitive to with the approaching storm, he verse off instead to walk up the beach towards the cove a short distance but not far.
Justin checks where his horse has gotten off to and he walks over to pick up the brifle, settling the reins and headstall to his liking into his left hand. He whistles sharply to call the animal before he glances back to Aeliana, "I laugh, sometimes." Justin leaves it at that, neither in a dark mood nor entirely feeling lighthearted and wholly relaxed. "My goodsiser would likely enjoy your company, lady Aeliana. Seek her out." Alas, if only Anais were really sister unto him and less his brother's wife, then Justin might see more of her and get to enjoy her company also. But he's aloof much of the time from his own family, staying somewhat apart. When the grey draws up, Justin steps forward to greet the horse and stroke his neck, making no attempt at once to bridle the gelding. Some scratching first, especially around the ears until the horse willingly relaxes and lowers his head. It makes it easy to slip the bridle on then, mindful of gentle settling of the bit. The Terrick is occupied with this for a moment ere he gives answer without looking back, "Both, I suppose. For the parents not raising them better perhaps, but also it is upon every man or women to make their own way, for good or for ill. A parent must do all that they can to prepare their sons and daughters, but ultimately each must sink or swim in the sea of life and politics. Those most fit survive, and those who are not, give way." Fair or not.
"Of course," Aeliana agrees, both to his remark about the occasions that he laughs but more perhaps to his instruction that she seek out Anais. It was polite and more than as far as brush offs went, politically flawless. And Ae knew politics.
With a glance she looked back towards her party; a faint nod given that saw both the women moving to take to their mounts, while one of the guards left his, leading Stranger halfway to where she stood. Not all the way, aware of the fluctuating temperament in animals, particularly those unfamiliar with one another and the courser gives an impatient pawing against the ground; tail flicking as he waits.
It's the Terrick's insight that surprises her, a keener glance offered in his direction. "I could not agree with you more, Ser Justin," and that was the first time she'd used his name. Even the smile that she'd given him was soft, appreciative. Considering. "I can not swim in oceans, my lord. But it is only in oceans that I sink."
Justin is not a politically suave man, and he's well aware of it, trying to learn. His horse now ground tied with the reins carelessly dropped to the stones, he sets to saddling his horse. Aeliana's tone, her seeming honesty makes the Terrick turn his head to reguard her in turn, likewise. "All the more reason you should learn to swim, if you are drawn to the sea. As I try to learn what I must do to … keep my house from further decline. To rebuild and strengthen it." Justin turns back to his saddling, "And if we fail in that," or should /he/ fail in that, though he doesn't say it aloud, "Then we are not fit either. And sometimes, a House will fall through no fault of it's own but the choosing of the Seven themselves. So be it." Like Tall Oaks, perhaps.
Everything settled, Justin steps up into the saddle and turns his attention back to Aeliana and her group.
"I can make a deal with you, if you like," Aeliana offers over her shoulder, as she makes her way to her horse; taking a step up from cradled fingers to swing her tall frame up into an even taller saddle. The girl sits astride easy, one must give her that, with a natural carriage and inclination. Do you ask her, she'd say she'd never lived until she first sat astride Stranger's father, Wicked.
It's when she's settled; reigns loosely ringed against the pommel, tenderly sliding those long black gloves into place that she finishes and the smile she gives is one of quiet challenge and just perhaps a hint of intrigue. "If you teach me how to swim, my lord, then, I can offer the same favor to you. Our own accord, if you will. For I am indeed drawn to the sea." As she was danger, perhaps; for the way that great black beast shifted its weight with a lazy flick of its tail, perhaps sensing its Mistress' pleasure. They say sometimes, that animals are a reflection of their owners. So what then, of a girl who rides a beast named for death? Aeliana smiled.
Justin does not likely know the name of her horse or paid it any attention, though his gaze slips over the animal in habitual assessement of it's quality. He studies it briefly until Aeliana speaks, then Jerold Terrick's son's focus is back to assessing Aeliana herself. His own face has taken on something of a stony quality, unreadable with the barest grimness set to his mouth to thin it. Justin's not a man accustomed to deception yet his natural wariness bids him increasingly to mask emotions or push them done and perhaps have them not at all. He only watches her, listening, and has no particular reaction to his features.
Turning his horse slightly aside in preparation to depart, he yet waits to give his answer. "Quite an offer for you to make, lady Aeliana. Do you not think it would tarnish your reputation to request a man you hardly know to give you instruction in swimming lessons? What would your brother think?" Justin actually curls one side of his mouth, a flicker of amusement, "Further, what reason do I have to think you a good teacher in the other?" His own grey fidgets, now eager to go and shying off a step away from the bolder animal. Steadfast not being a horse as well suited to be a war horse as some, despite Justin's efforts to make him into what ever is needed, for the gelding is his only horse. One must make due with what they have, if you are of a poor House.
"We shall see, lady Aeliana. For now, you are our guest. I will bid you a good day - enjoy it ere the storm comes in. Though the storm itself will likely be worth beholding for it's savage beauty of it's own."
Justin has checked his horse to make the grey face the black and not allow the gelding to shy off as he pleased. Stand his ground damn you, until it is his riders' pleasure to turn aside and depart.
Ae's tongue peeks again between her lips, her eyes considerate as she watches, "Because, my lord, you look at my horse and admire it's flesh, it's breeding and then, you tender a hand to mind the reigns of your own. You look and you long, even if you would hide it from yourself. Because you speak with me and guard your tongue, but I have seen you at ease. You're uneasy with me and quick to mention the accord. You send me to seek your sister's company instead, polite as you may, but are quick to remind me that I am a guest. You were shocked and surprised both to find me here. And you're waiting, I think, for the dark tides to come with my presence," Aeliana explained, pausing for breath, before she continued.
"Because the first piece of true amusement I've seen on you, was when you considered just what my brother might think of your actions. You'd like one up on him, however slight. A poke that may be excused as never a poke at all. And you might even feel a little bit guilty for thinking that way. You might have even hoped to trick me into admitting some foul secret or underhanded lie, when asking just how you could think I'd make a good teacher. Alas, I've only those truths for you. Perhaps, perhaps they will suffice." The woman bowed her head, ignoring the snort of superiority that came from Stranger when the gelding tried to shy.
"The most betraying thing about you though, Lord Terrick, is that when I called my brother ambitious, you defended him, which tells me that you are a man with ambitions of his own," Aeliana smiled and it was not the smile of one condemning another, but rather, offering quiet praise. "The storm at sea isn't the only one that's coming." After all, the Charltons were preparing for war, "But I prefer to watch them both from here."
Her directness and insightfulness are not what he was expecting, either. Despite himself, there is an admirable glint in his grey eyes if only for a breath, and it's most certainly /not/ for her horse. So instead of evading, Justin quiets his horse and says low, "I will not deny it." Not any of it. For her words have been to the mark like a masterfully shot arrow. Still, it may be wiser to not to admit to too much.
Justin smiles, shifting his weight in the saddle, "You are your brother's eyes, here. I do not count him a fool, lady Aeliana. While my interests are my own, I have no desire either to make enemy of him. House Charlton is strong and wealthy. Yet, Highfield without House Charlton's backing would be a fragile thing itself, or never born at all. Even your brother must at times watch his step."
No, Justin for the moment isn't moving his horse off as he intended. He lingers a bit longer to study this young woman, intrigued by her inspite of his distrust.
That look in his eyes, the hint of it, however fleeting, touches color to the girl's cheeks so that for a moment she demurs her head and ere her hands weren't otherwise occupied, might have taken that moment to half hide behind her fan. Alas, there is hiding here and she draws a breath, offering him a warm smile in return.
"I am eyes, yes, my lord. I am ears too. The only error in your assessment," she offered the correction freely, as a teacher might a student and had she not offered him to be? "Is that I am not my brothers creature, nor is he my Lord. A lord, yes. But not mine. As Highfield is but the dream of one man, held by one man, backed by my Uncle." Of which she has more than one.
"I am my own creature." The girl's smile turned sly then, hinting towards amusement while her eyes danced as well with an outward showing of her pleasure. A faint squeeze of those long legs, however, and Stranger starts off as well; holding him back just enough so that it doesn't jolt Justin's mount towards a mind of competition. "And I believe, Ser, that you now owe me a swimming lesson." Grin.
Touche. While not every word of her assessement was spot on, it was close enough nonetheless to impress him. Justin makes his gelding stay still and not allow the animal to shift when Aeliana directs her own mount past him. He keeps his own seat relaxed and deep, offering no preasure of his legs to indicate his readiness to proceed. For several seconds. Then, and only when it is his own intention and not the horse's does Justin turn his grey to better watch her. Not following.
There is a smile that eases his mouth somewhat, as he watches her. "Perhaps I do, at that." If not for the lesson than for the information shared, if it be true. Justin keeps his place there for a bit longer, watching Aeliana and her group move off on their own. When he's ready, he turns his gelding towards the cliffs and starts to make his way to ascend to the bluffs above. He has work to attend to, yet the Terrick does look back at least once over his shoulder. His mind is not yet upon that work.