|Summary:||Anais and Kell reassure each other that the siege will end well.|
|Related Logs:||Invasion logs|
|Entrance Hall - Four Eagles Tower|
|The Entrance Hall is more than two dozen feet high with ornate columns hefting the fresco ceiling above all. Plush seating is arranged around one side for visiting nobility while the other has less comfortable slab stone or wood benches for the peasantry. Alcoves dot the walls for more private discussions and sworn Guards patrol this hall at all times and especially during court. Several hallways and doorways lead off to different areas of the castle with a spiral staircase carved neatly into one corner that winds its way up.|
|January 3, 289|
Many who had manned the walls before the squid catapults went up saw the distant eerie glow in the northern direction and Kell was one of those. Fearing the worst and hoping for the best, the Hedge Knight can now be found inside the Keep as most have been ushered inside due to the hazard of flying rocks. Instead of sitting on one of the plush seats or even the stone benches, he is sitting against one of the walls by the alcoves, off by himself for the time being. In his hand holds a parchment, one Kell has been reading from time to time though the contents never change with each re-reading.
"I think there are some spare spaces in the cellars," Anais is saying to a woman from the village. "And if there aren't now, then there will be within a few weeks. We can let the children play there. I know it's not the same as fresh air, but it's space, and it's safe, and that's what's important, isn't it?" She smiles faintly, sending the woman on her way with an encouraging squeeze of her shoulder before turning to the hall once more with a soft sigh.
For now, Kell is half preoccupied with his brooding thoughts of someone far away though it is tempered by the other half which transitions to what can be done now that the Ironborn have grown bolder with their boulders. This helpless feeling is something that doesn't sit well with the Hedge Knight though it isn't foreign to him. The words that Lady Anais shares with the woman doesn't register in his mind just yet as his mind is elsewhere for the time bein.
As she scans the hall, Anais notices Kell, moving toward the knight and reaching a hand toward his shoulder, touch light. "Ser Drakmoor?" she asks, offering a small smile. "Is everything all right? Anything I can help you with?"
It takes the light touch to pull the knight out of his thoughts and Kell's attention snaps back to the present with a start. Seeing who it is, there is a series of expressions that plays over the Hedge Knight's face, one from surprise to shock to embarrassment, "Lady Terrick, my pardon, I did not see you approach." Scrambling to his feet with the help of his hand against the wall, Kell rises and then dips his head respectfully in greeting, "I am fine, M'Lady, just… stuck in here for now. Was just with my thoughts, that's all." There is a hesitation as he pauses before finally speaking, carefully, "And you, M'Lady? Are you… okay?" He isn't that dense to think that Anais did not see the glow to the north.
"I have to be, don't I?" That same small smile lingers as Anais claims a space against the wall next to him, her hands clasped behind her back. Which conveniently hides white knuckles as well. "I can't give up hope, Ser Drakmoor. And with so many smallfolk inside the walls to look to me, I can't let them see me looking afraid, else everyone will panic."
The Lady's words causes Kell to look away for a moment as he fully understands what Anais is saying. Part of him wants to reach out to squeeze her shoulder reassuringly, but he holds back this time, either he is finally mindful of his actions with nobility, or the previous chastising by Muirenn's Septa or Elinor's maiden still fresh in his mind. "You, M'Lady, are far stronger than braver than I can be. I may not be the most religious knight here but I am finding my thoughts half on prayers now instead."
Anais shakes her head slightly, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "I should be less afraid than anyone else," she murmurs. "I grew up on the coast. We've seen raids before. It's just that…Well. I'm sure you can see there's something more to this than just a raid. I only wish I knew what, and how." She looks up, head tilting as though listening for the sound of stones. "But if we're afraid of them, then it's easier for them to win. And that, I will not allow."
"This is no raid, that is certain." Kell says grimly as his attention looks around the interior of the keep, "But I've heard that these walls have held since it was raised, I have no doubt it will continue to hold till they crumble from age. You will have nothing to fear, M'Lady, we will kill them all before they get near you." The knight is certainly confident in their ability to hold this defensive position. "I fear more for those to the north…"
"Tall Oaks," Anais says quietly, pressing her lips together. "The Camdens know the woods well, Ser. We can still hope that they may have retreated before whatever happened to set things ablaze. Gods grant they were wise enough to run." Her eyes are distant, more than just the Camdens on her mind, but she can't linger there. "For now, we must focus on ourselves and what we can do. It's the only thing we can control."
If it were only that easy, to just turn his attention here as Kell seems slightly pained in thought, "I wish I could do more than hope… I had given my word to Lord Camden and another, when the time comes that I am needed, I will be there for them. But I am unable to fulfill that vow. Damn the Ironborn." He ends with a gentle murmur, the last words spoken with venom. "But you are right, M'Lady, there is no use wasting thoughts on what we cannot change."
"I'm sure the Camdens would understand," Anais notes, smile faint. "They could hardly expect you to break the siege yourself for the express purpose of adding a single sword to their strength." She shifts a bit, freeing her hands only to clasp them in front of herself instead. "I could do without the catapaults, though."
The siege weapons are certainly their biggest immediate threat as Kell nods his head in agreement as he turns his eyes to the doors of the Keep, "Indeed, M'Lady. When the time comes, I will focus my fury on them. I am sure Ser Captain, your Lord Husband, and Lord Father are drafting up plans on how to destroy them so we can freely venture outside." Perhaps even more is planned, like the slaughtering of the Ironborn horde outside but one can't be too hopeful.
"I could do without Jacsen feeling a need to ride out against them perhaps most of all," Anais confesses in a low tone, gaze fixed on the floor in front of herself. "But any plan will help. Information would help as well. But there's no sense in /wishing/ for things. Do you know, the worst part of a siege is the sitting and the /waiting/. Even when you know it's the safest thing, the best thing, it still…chafes, to watch and do nothing."
Kell manages a tight smile at the confession by the Lady's concern for her husband as there is always a chance of danger when one rides in battle, even if surrounded by guards and soldiers. "You have read my thoughts, M'Lady, about being stuck in this Keep. Not that it is a bad Keep, not at all." The knight adds quickly, not wishing to offend, "But having lived a few years as a knight of the hedges, I am more use to being outside and… doing, than waiting." Of course, being a Hedge Knight, Kell has never been in a siege before, in fact the worst he has had to face were ill-equipped bandits.
Anais nods, rueful. "I used to hate it when I was small. And then it rarely lasted more than a day. But the being closed in, the not knowing. The being told to stay inside. I just…It's such an illustration of how little control we have over our own lives sometimes. Elinor was always so much better at dealing with it than I was."
The sharing of her past seems to put Kell more at ease as he seems to be able to have a normal conversation with this particular noble, though it may be more due to the current situation. However, at the mention of Elinor's name, there is a reaction by the Hedge Knight as the smile fades and his eyes tighten, the man looking away once more. The hand that was gripping the folded letter tightens its grasp as well. He was about to speak but then isn't sure what to say, not knowing what would be appropriate, "You do not give yourself enough credit, M'Lady, I am sure Lady Elinor would be most proud if she saw you right now."
Anais laughs, a more genuine smile crossing her features just for a moment. "She'd probably tell me to stop fussing about everything and go sit with the women," she admits, amused. "And she'd probably be right. There's a world of difference between what gives people hope when you're a maid of thirteen and when you're wed to the heir of the keep. I'm just afraid of overdoing it, I suppose. I don't want to make light of what people have already lost. That won't make them feel any better."
"Some say that a knight's duty is important but not many realize that a Lady's duty is perhaps even more so and that it is just as difficult, perhaps more so for them." It seems like being common born and a Hedge Knight, Kell has surprisingly unique views on the world and society. "And I am sure that your actions will give others strength, not have them feel you are making light of it. Though your sister may be right on her advice, the risk of overdoing it is overworking yourself, I hope you are resting enough, M'Lady."
Again, Anais laughs, though it's rueful this time. "I rarely rest enough, Ser Drakmoor," she admits, shaking her head. "I suppose that's one of the useful things about it. I'm not getting any less sleep because of the siege. I think. I don't know. Mostly I just…slip in a little when I get a chance." She reaches up to rub lightly at her eyes, blinking a few times. "Besides, I don't need to stay as sharp as the fighting men do."
Inclining his head to the Lady's words, Kell manages to take his turn at smiling, "Sometimes it is easier to give the people more hope when looking and feeling more refreshed from a good night's sleep, M'Lady. As for fighting men, those of us who have been through the war or been on the road have learned to stay sharp without as much rest when we don't have the benefit of it. Either that or we don't stay fighting men for much longer. But you are right, we do fight better sometimes when rested." Or when there is something in their hearts driving them on.
"If I could rest, I would," Anais assures, smile slipping crooked. "But I'm afraid I've never been good at it." Looking down, she thumbs at the hem of her sleeve where it's begun to fray, frowning at it. "Now when did I do that?" she murmurs, only to shake her head. "I should fix that. That will make me look more ragged than a lack of sleep."
Kell's eyes moves down to the fraying sleeve, something he did not notice and wouldn't have if the Lady didn't point out, "I doubt that would make you look ragged, M'Lady, but if it truly worries you, you should heed your sister's urgings as if she were here and take a break to mend the sleeve. I apologize for my skill with the blade is limited to one that is much larger and broader than a needle." Dipping his head apologetically though more in jest than anything else.
Anais laughs suddenly, a few heads lifting at the sound. She flushes, shaking her head and ducking her chin with some amusement. "I assure you, Ser Drakmoor," she murmurs. "Mending it myself would make me look even /more/ ragged. As for your skill with a blade, I am certainly grateful for every bit of it. Frayed hems or no."
The laughter, though rare these days, is most welcome as Kell looks towards the side where those who have peeked up to the source of the pleasant sound. "I am glad that I can be of service here, M'Lady. I had the honor to escort Lady Elinor before and I am glad my protection of sword and shield can be extended to her sister. You have my word, no Ironborn will lay a hand on you or your family if I can prevent it." There is a hardness to the man's word, as if the words of conviction are spoken not just for Anais's sake but also his own, words that helps strengthen the man's resolve.
"I appreciate that," Anais says with quiet intensity, reaching a hand for the knight's arm. "We certainly have braver and truer men than the squids do, if that counts in the eyes of the gods." She draws a deep breath, releasing it slowly to center herself. "Stay strong, Ser Drakmoor," she says with an encouraging smile. "We'll weather this."
Nodding at the Lady's words, Kell seems to have no doubts that she speaks true as he is thinking the same, "We will make the Ironborn pay for what they have done to the people here and to what they did to the Oaks. They will wish they did not leave their wooden boats before we are done with them, M'Lady."
"And perhaps they won't even reach their ships again," Anais agrees quietly. "Some of them, at least." She pushes away from the wall, chin rising with a little more strength and defiance. "Now. When was the last time you ate, Ser Drakmoor?" she asks with an arch of her brow, looking him over critically.
When the scrutiny of his own well being and behavior is brought up, Kell manages a good natured smile for Anais as he holds up his free hand in a surrendering gesture, "I have eaten recently, M'Lady, do not worry. I know it is important to keep up my strength so I am not a weak link in our defense."
"Good," Anais approves, nodding once. "Then I think I'll go and get /myself/ some food, if you'll excuse me," she continues with a small smile. "And maybe some for Jacsen as well. Be strong, Ser Drakmoor," she urges. "We'll make it through this."
Kell inclines his head respectfully as the Lady announces her departure, "Yes we will, M'Lady. Thank you."