And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
Lord Darron Nayland in his dotage turned every decision of importance over to his wife, Rebekkah, called by some the Hag of the Mire, and so it was that it was she who personally selected their son and heir’s wife. Young Lord Rickart himself had very little say in the matter, as is right and proper among noble matches. Lady Sylvainne Groves was, then, a noblewoman Rebekkah found relatively acceptable. Old Lord Groves’s eldest child, she was cool, intelligent, and strong willed. While very striking looking, she had beauty of an eldritch kind that was intimidating to most men. Best of all from Lady Rebekkah’s point of view, she came from a House sworn to Seagard and so represented an incarnate insult to the Nayland liege, Lord Frey, against whom the Hag of the Mire nursed an old grudge. Rickart himself was a lot less sure about his chilly, highly strung, unusual wife, but was prepared to suspend judgment till she delivered him an heir. A daughter in the first year of marriage was not what he sought, but at least Rebecca, named of course for her grandmother, was a fine looking child, with all her mother’s dramatic distinction, red-gold hair, a translucent complexion and large, feline green eyes. She also had inherited a tougher, Nayland constitution – and various other things, that did not yet make themselves clear.
Old Lord Darron dropped off in short order and Rebecca was the adored Young Lady, with many a dance thrown in the little girl’s honour. Inside the solar matters were far less cheerful, for no siblings followed her. Lord Frey began to mock his vassal in public for this unwise marriage. “Only barren seeds,” he remarked once, “sprout in eagle-shit.” The personalities of the new Lord and Lady of Hag’s Mire were also desperately incompatible. Sylvainne loved Rickart genuinely and deeply, but he found her passionate displays as embarrassing as her sudden rages were inconvenient. Soon enough he was disgusted by this undisputed beauty’s very touch, which only reminded him now of barrenness and disappointment. One of the Most Devout of the Faith of the Seven, who happened to have been born into the minor House of Asterholm, was more than delighted simultaneously to help at dismantling Lord Rickart’s marriage, and replacing it with an advantageous link to his own family. To add to Sylvainne’s troubles, Rickart conceived a great lust on sight for the proposed new bride’s ample, child-bearing hips. The separation and annulment was arranged between Lord Rickart and Lady Sylvainne’s younger brother, Lord Campbell Groves, with the help and counsel of their respective maesters and the Faith of the Seven. Initially inclined to bastardise his hitherto beloved only child, Rickart was prevailed upon to compromise with a mixture of threats and pecuniary inducements the Groveses could ill afford. House Groves was to take on care of Rickart’s cast-off wife and twelve-year old daughter.
Thus began the next, peculiar chapter of Rebecca’s existence. After she had faced certain very hard truths, it was not a wholly miserable life. She had adored her father, and now hardly ever saw him, and then on terms of icy distance. She continued to be acknowledged her grandmother Lady Rebekkah (mainly out of that formidable dowager’s perverse pleasure in irking her son), but their time together was limited by Rickart’s order. She had been the Young Lady of the Mire, and now she was…what, exactly? No one quite knew. Her name was Nayland, but it brought her nothing, save nobility that isolated her from low company and disinheritance that barred her from high prospects. She was not a bastard, not quite, and not a ward. She tried to look upon herself as a niece, and a Groves like her mother. That mother had increasingly given herself over to grief and hypochondria. Lady Sylvainne barely left her chambers now, and Rebecca was left to her kindly uncle Lord Campbell, as yet unwed, and a new Septa, as raddled as the Crone but as kind as the Mother. But whether a curse lying inherent in her only now began to manifest itself, or because the constant, morbid, cloying embraces and whispering of her mother now began to turn her head, Rebecca started to behave…oddly. She went into dreams, almost trances. She could not be trusted at hawking, as she would impulsively release the bird to liberty or, during one disturbing attack of pique, wring its valuable neck. As she entered womanhood Lord Campbell proved an understanding and affectionate protector; too affectionate, some said. Soon he married a lady of the Vale, so hastily some whispered it was to deflect scandal, and Rebecca’s importance and identity diminished accordingly. Besides, she was a…funny…girl, queer as her mother, she quite justified poor Lord Rickart’s actions. Men young and old behaved oddly around her, half-worshipping her for brief spells, then turning on her as if she were a viper. All women except her mother, her Septa, and innocent little girls placed her on a spectrum between suspicion and loathing. All this Rebecca learnt to understand, and, since needs must, exploit.
Fifteen years elder than her oldest Groves cousin, Young Lord Stafford, twenty-seven years old, already a spinster, at the birth of Lady Rosanna, her very name setting her apart, and distrusted by her Vale good-aunt, Rebecca was left out of the children’s pursuits. Nor did her mother seem in a hurry to find her a match, the freedom and place somewhere else she desired. Lady Sylvainne insisted that her girl needed nowhere else. She was the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter, clever, bewitchingly beautiful, a singer, a dancer, a rider! She, not the Asterholm whore’s spawn, was the rightful heir to the Mire! If she wanted to take some knight to lord, why, she could wed one of her handsome cousins some day…
Gradually Rebecca came to suspect that some of this narrative of her mother’s was false, but she was never sure quite which part.
In the soft, romantic twilight of her beauty, her life was altered again, by the events of Robert’s Rebellion. Schooled by her lady grandmother, Rebecca distrusted King Aerys but loved his line with a whole heart, and was fascinated by legends of the Dragons they had once ridden. She was proud of her twin cousins for fighting, though young and new-made knights, for the true King, and bestowed favours on them, to their general embarrassment. It is even said that six knights went to the Trident carrying Rebecca Nayland’s favour, including Ser Jonothor Darry of the Kingsguard. Of these, only Ser Kittridge Groves came back.
After all her sufferings and slights, it was startlingly the news of King Aerys’s murder that appeared to crack her. As if she suddenly realised she and her King had all this time been akin, she flew into a rage which none could assuage, and scratched her good-aunt’s face, calling her a traitorous Valewhore (this assault eerily prefigured a second attack on the unfortunate Lady Ada, by her equally temperamental would-be good-daughter Lady Lucienne Terrick, which took place in September 289). A period of confinement passed, after which she acted as if unaware of her outburst. No one quite believed her.
Since word of her madness spread, Lady Rebecca led an extremely private existence along with her mother. Her grandmother continued, occasionally but without avail, to ask after her. She was permitted to go riding but did not mix any longer with her younger cousins. The return of the long lost Ser Nicodemus Groves, the amatory distress of Lady Rosanna, all this has, apparently, passed her by. And yet, resentment, against her mother’s sickly-sweet falsehoods, her father’s cruelty, the world’s injustice, has welled in her; and one night she took advantage of her usual attendants, an adolescent low-born groom wildly in love with her for all her growing years and increasingly sinister appearance, and her docile, doting old Septa. With their help and company, she saddled her fastest jennet and fled Kingsgrove. In vain the searchers might enquire for her with her grandmother at the Mire. She was bound, for reasons of her own, for Terrick’s Roost.
At Four Eagles Tower for some two months Lady Rebecca remained, and throughout almost all that period she existed, once again, in retirement and disgrace. Hardly had she recovered from her journey's travails when, feeling that a certain hedge knight in Frey service had slighted her, she flew at his face with her nails - and, ominously, he collapsed as one dead. Barely less scandalously, upon this Ser Symeon's recovery, a curious rapport sprang up between the free lance and the eccentric noblewoman who had spilt his blood.
An even more lasting bond coalesced between Lady Rebecca and a rootless candlemaker, Samphire Undyl; the lady going as far as to take her into her service (albeit under an assumed bastard name) and favour her above all others. When a cousin of Groves finally arrived to haul her back home, Rebecca insisted that Samphire come too, especially as her other servants proved indisposed or missing.
But the Terricks, it seems, she failed to charm…
Lord Rickart Nayland, a father turned false
His whore and her spawn
His mother, Rebecca's grandmother and namesake, Lady Rebekkah Nayland, called in secret 'the Hag of the Mire', an occasional defender of her first good-daughter and eldest grand-child, mainly out of antipathy to Rickart
Lady Sylvainne Groves, a mother found false in turn
Lord Campbell Groves, a kind, but weak uncle
Lady Ada Groves, born to House Grafton, Rebecca's good-aunt, 'a traitorous Valewhore'
Young Lord Ser Stafford Groves, Ser Nicodemus Groves, Ser Kittridge Groves, Lady Rosanna Groves - cousins grown distant
Lord Raymun Darry and his ilk, the Vances of Wayfarer's Rest - cousins yet more distant, in geography and actuality
Septa Bridwayne, advanced in age, feeble in wits, but golden of heart, and Lovel, a groom of fifteen years - faithful companions. The septa is now ailing at Four Eagles Tower, sick, perchance mortally; the boy has vanished. So fare defenders of Rebecca.
Viserys of House Targaryen, Third of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm - not family precisely, but, on a certain, the true King, Seven save him.
Lady Rebecca Nayland is very tall for even a highborn woman, an inch short of six feet. Her eyes are huge, and luminously verdant, the irises, like a shadowcat's, practically seeming to subsume the whites. A large morass, if fully disentangled, of red-gold hair is commonly kept tied up in outlandish netted forms. Her complexion, lucent as egg-white, is undoubtedly what the singers call 'bright'; it also makes her look somewhat as if she has never ventured outside, perhaps not even outside of the womb. Her long patrician nose is faintly, disdainfully upturned - it's made that way and implies no insult. Her bosom is very hard indeed to delineate, especially under the long dark green gowns she wears all the time. Indeed, it's supposed to be unlucky for a lady to wear green so often - brings the Children of the Forest to take away *your* children in the cradle and replace them with changelings.
But Lady Rebecca has no children or cradle, and, indeed, feels herself to be a kind of changeling. Her only inelegant features, and also the only ones inherited from her father, are her hands, just like her father Lord Rickart's, large and shifting, if not masculine then certainly…akin to a harpy's claws. If encountered on horseback Lady Rebecca will be observed to have a superb seat. Her voice belies her slightly odd general appearance, low, rich, and inviting, almost whether or not she means it to be.