|Sapphire and Emerald|
|Summary:||Daryl gets to know Ceinlys a little better. Albeit too late.|
|Great Hall — Broadmoor Keep|
|Room desc goes here!|
|November 23rd, 289 A.L.|
The windows of my soul are made of one-way glass, don't bother looking into my eyes if there's something you want to know. Just ask." ~ Ani Difranco
Those with an interest in such things can easily keep track of comings and goings at Tanglewood Manor. Until now, Aleister's Steward has always been the main overseer.. but this evening it seems she has instead become the central point of considerable change. The Western Stairs, the Courtyard, the Stables - all are abuzz with new activity as an entire household is bundled and prepared for departure, come morning. Nobody really seems certain of the whys and hows, and obviously some are more pleased with the notion than others. As for Ceinlys herself? She accepts things in stride, at least outwardly.
Calm as ever, seated for the time being in the Great Hall and savoring a soothing brew of tea as her staff organise one another, the ebon-tressed noblewoman nods and murmurs a few words in response to the latest report of progress. All is well, all is ready. They take their leave at dawn. Yet, oddly, Lord Aleister has been nowhere to be seen, throughout all this. Does he even know he's to lose his right hand? Oh, surely. He must. She wouldn't go without a goodbye, would she..?
Sweeping her tresses back behind her shoulder, the young lady scans a freshly unrolled parchment, held in her free hand, while her handmaid bustles toward the kitchen, no doubt to procure a quick dinner for her mistress.
Its at this moment Daryl Ashwood enters the hall, straightening his jacket and stepping further into the room towards the tables, perhaps in search of a meal. Or perhaps ale. Either way the man slows as he spots Ceinlys, and moves to approach slowly, green hues taking her in as she reads the parchment, awaiting the moment he'll catch her gaze, "Something amiss, M'lady?" Perhaps he's one of those who knows all the comings and goings, perhaps not. His look is steady, examining her with interest.
Well, if she wanted to avoid Ashwoods, she wouldn't be in the Great Hall. Glancing up as she's addressed, the young woman offers that half-smile of her habit toward the deputy. "Lord Daryl." she offers, in soft-spoken greeting, laying her sheaf of parchment aside politely in order to speak with him. "Oh.. nothing terribly amiss, I assure you. Merely a.." The noblewoman pauses, vivid azure eyes casting about the chamber briefly as if for inspiration. "..a sudden need to take my leave. For a time." Up close, telltale shadows already smudge her porcelain skin.. but then, that's not entirely unusual, in itself. Given the work burdening her slender shoulders, she more often than not looks quite exhausted. Just tonight she looks, well.. fragile. And that's not a trait usually found here. Not at all. "How are you? Has Lord Aleister yet discussed your ideas for the crops with you..?" An expansive gesture sweeps toward a nearby chair, inviting the man to sit if he so desires.
"Ah, I hardly see my Lord cousin. But I have finalized all the plans for potential higher yield and organized them. Shouldn't be much longer now." He tilts his head a touch, but his eyes remain on her, taking note of her unusual manner. "Perhaps…The work can wait until after a meal?" He smiles softly, the contagious charming sort. He motions his head just a touch, and the servants approach with food for the both of them, a large mug of ale set before Daryl. "I assume its nothing you want to go into detail about?" His voice is smooth, but there's a tinge of curiousity there.
"And I am doing quite well, as of late. How about yourself?" He moves to sit down across her.
"On the contrary," begins Ceinlys, her gaze wandering to the approaching servants absently, "..would that I had more details to share, m'Lord." That smile remains half-weary, half-wry as her eyes return to study him once more. "Alas. Women are seldom afforded such things. Not when an order ought be enough." Leaning back a touch as a young servant girl sets down a bowl of steaming broth, just as another places a platter of warm bread dripping in butter between the two nobles, the raven-maned Steward surveys the offerings hungrily. Perhaps she hadn't realised her appetite until her new companion went ahead and made the decision for her.
"I am certain you know better than to take his absence personally." she continues, regarding their absent Lord, as she reaches for a piece of bread, flitting Daryl a glance. "He was genuinely interested, when I put forth your ideas.. likely he is simply buried beneath other matters. And yes, thank you." Her smile warms a passable amount as she inclines her head, just once, in assent. "I am quite well."
Daryl observes the food set before the two of them and seems more interested in the ale at the moment. He lifts that to his lips first, nodding softly then. "Ah. Now I see." His eyes lower briefly, collecting a piece of bread for himself. "I don't take it personally. Rather, I feel sorry for him. Seems like a lot of work. His eyes observe her frame, top to bottom. Well, atleast till tables edge. "Him and a certain steward who seems a little overworked." Another sip of ale, and the Ashwood leans back in his chair some. "It's a shame you have to leave."
"There has been much to do.." Ceinlys' quiet protest is flawed, even to her own ears, and she busies herself with tearing her bread into smaller pieces, dropping the fragments onto her plate and wiping off her fingertips fastidiously on a napkin. Truth be told, while she oversaw the construction from the foundations up, she does continue to master a great many things. Some of which, one might think, ought to fall to others. Maybe she - or Aleister - simply doesn't trust anyone else to do it right.
Either unaware of or unperturbed by that assessing look from Daryl, she waits until his eyes wander back to an appropriate level, meeting the gaze with a flicker of amusement and a slight cant of her head askance. "Someone will replace me. Such is the way of the world." It's a practiced answer, effortlessly delivered and, combined with that courtier's mask, quite impenetrable. Does she feel anything over her departure? "A shame, you say? I don't know." A subtle smirk tugs at the corner of her lips. "I might enjoy the opportunity to stretch my palfrey's legs. It's been a long while since I could simply take off on a ride." A distracted nod goes to the servant who hefts the pitcher of ale and eyes Ceinlys questioningly, prompting the mousy creature to go ahead and pour. Generally, the Steward prefers strongwine. But she has her brothers tolerance for all manner of beverage.
Daryl just shakes his head with a smile at her first statement, but does not yet pursue it further. "So you are glad you are rid of us then?" Now that grin comes back, still teasing a tad as he reaches to raise his mug her way. Perhaps he's trying to get any sort of emotion or reaction from her regarding her leave. "In all seriousness, however. You were the first to listen to me rant about fallow years and legumes and take me seriously. I don't think we can so simply replace such dedication." His mug is held and dipped in a cheers motion, before lifted to his lips for a drink. A piece of bread follows shortly.
Relenting to a brief grin, a mere glimpse of white teeth as she demurely casts her eyes downward, Ceinlys looses a throaty chuckle. "You twist my words, m'Lord.." she admonishes, equally teasing and quite unruffled. "I have served Lord Aleister for quite some time.. and his former wife. And Highfield herself. And not once have I ever considered myself put upon, or lacking in fortune. It's just time to move on. My own family has need of me." Ahh, so it's to Broadmoor, then.
"I enjoyed that discussion.." she muses, over Daryl's mention of their first encounter. "My father, as I said, has always taken a great interest in agriculture.. and I attribute the plentiful yield of our home to that same knowledge. Knowledge is power, isn't that what they say?" Unthinkingly, she mirrors the young man's toast, though gazes thoughtfully down into the mug rather than sipping from it immediately.
"Then it is understandable. Family is important, and should they require your aid, well…" A smile after chewing down some more bread and taking another slurp of ale, "I suppose i'll make sure Highfield doesn't fall to pieces in your absence." His gaze betrays another look. While he's not to the point of creepily staring, his eyes continue to wander her countenance. Mostly. His look is different, flattering, but not outright lust or flirtation. Moreso intrigue, interest in her company. He knows not to look too long, however, as his eyes trail towards one of the off shooting wings, that Ashwood smirk embedded in his genetics creeping over his lips. "Which was also a pleasant surprise. I have expected you to be turned away with boredom, yet…You even added suggestions which I put into the final organization."
Unable to help herself, apparently, the young woman quirks a brow as Daryl's expression changes. "..you look so like Aleister when you do that. I'd not noticed a resemblance before." Indicating the twist playing across his mouth with a subtle wave of fingertips, Ceinlys then merely laughs softly, shaking her head and lowering her eyes as she takes a discreet sip of ale. Hmm. Not bad. "And I'd be most grateful, yes. Try not to burn it to the ground." Sometimes, it seems that she loves the Keep itself more than those who reside within. But then, it's as much her design as their Lord's. Why shouldn't she care?
It's not just the smirk that reminds her of someone, but that goes unsaid, and his look goes unremarked upon, whether she recognises it or not. "Is it really so surprising, that a woman would have interest in such a topic? Were you expecting polite small talk over embroidery or some equally dull 'ladylike' pasttime?" There's a flare of defiance, beneath the polished exterior; a flicker of fiery outrage at being presumed (maybe) a shallow and fickle little creature, like all the others. "..I'm hopeless at embroidery." Her chaperone, seeing this discussion may pass some time, offers Daryl a surreptitious nod as she eases down to sit nearby. Not smothering, but observant. And yes, agreeable with her mistress' admission. She's a terror with a needle.
Daryl raises a brow and his face lights up in a smile that covers the smirk, something Aleister may not do as quite as much as him. "Ahh I've heard it all before. I've been told a lot of us look similar. And why not? Molded from the same clay." The nobleman takes another bite, gulp of ale, and then hands it to be refilled. He sure can put it away. As she lights up a bit he bites his lower lip a little, holding back his grin as he responds, "Not really. Rather that you would take my work, wait for me to leave, tear it into teeny tiny pieces and then lie it underneath where the birds shit in the rookery." A soft laugh at that, and his eyes light up with amusement at her final statement, taking his new ale for another sip. "Prick your finger a few times? Why's it matter, your skills and intelligence already set you apart as a rare, charming and intellectu…" He smirks just a touch, and seeks to change the subject then with a small clearing of his throat, "Upon my namesday I would like…As a gift from you…A hand-embroidered pillow. With my name etched in. Maybe a little heart around it." A snicker, and seems smooth in transition from topic to topic.
Somewhat mollified, and perhaps oddly relieved that he didn't choose to stammer an apology or appeasement in the face or her momentary - albeit mostly feigned - displeasure, Ceinlys sets her ale aside and pops a small piece of bread past her lips, chewing calmly. Flashing Daryl a smile, conveying her lack of concern, all told. "Only a fool sabotages beneficial ideas. An industrious person passes them on and shares the credit." It's blatantly untrue, that much is apparent in the mischievous attempt at innocence upon her features. She shrugs it off a moment later.
"Hmm." A noncommital sound answers his suggestion for a namesday gift. "Well, if you desire it to match everything else in your possession, I suppose it would have to be swirly embroidery and lovehearts. Based on whisperings within the Manor, at any rate." Having picked up another morsel of bread, the Steward eyes it, thinks better of it, and launches it half-heartedly across the table toward the young Lordling. Leaving a compliment unfinished is grounds for food-based warfare.
Daryl points his finger towards her, "I knew it! You were only in it for the shared glor…" Bap. That bread morsel hits him in the chin and angles downward into his lap. His eyes follow it, and then slowly rise upwards to meet her gaze. He's unable to hold back a laugh as his toothy grin brightens his features again. "The rumors are true. I do have a big heart. Thus, it is fitting…" Hrm. She got him good there. He shifts to offense. "If its rumors we're basing this by, then each loveheart of yours will have to be encased in little ice crystals that don't allow in any warmth or goodness." He seems satisfied enough, snickering a touch as he looks away. "What, did you want me to finish your praises?"
Pondering his rebuff for a long moment, her striking blue eyes unwavering, Ceinlys then offers the simplest of answers. And, fortunately for him, probably one of the most civil, of the selection in mind. "You wound me, m'Lord. Assuming you are fool enough to put stock in everything you hear..?" Arching a brow, the young lady rests her elbows upon the table's edge, linking her fingers to serve as a prop for her chin. Get out of that one, you swine, is what the expression in her glacial eyes might say. But she's still smiling. "I've as little need for praise, as you have for embroidered pillows. Which is fortunate, as both would likely lead to a pinprick, hmm?" The noblewoman's gaze lowers, regarding her broth as it cools to a palatable level. But she doesn't set about it yet. Maybe the verbal sparring holds her interest more than food. "An Ashwood with a heart.." The words trail off into hushed laughter.
Glacial blue meets a deep emerald as their eyes lock, and even under fire they remain cool, collected. -Interested.- He seems to be enjoying the conversation as much as her, He hides a smirk behind his mug as she makes the comparision of praises and embroidery, taking in a large amount of drink, giving him some time for his response, "Well, that would be, except you make the mistake of assuming just because you don't know how to slip something in and out properly that I don't as well. When in reality…I'm very good with my hands." He's outright laughing softly with her final comment. "Okay, okay…You make your point. But isn't my smile enough? Who needs a heart?"
"Oh," He adds, "And I didn't actually hear any rumor about you being an ice queen. In fact your eyes and general dedication to your duties gave me the idea." And cue Ashwood smirk (tm) oncemore. Its like it has a mind of its own, creeping onto his features with the right social ingredients.
"Oh, but that would be the least you'd have heard, had you listened to the murmurings at all." remarks Ceinlys, offhandedly. "Though also, perhaps, the most truthful." Lapsing into quiet contemplation for a moment, still seeming amused by the familiarity of his expression as he smirks across at her again, the Steward then seems to simply dismiss the matter. If she were the sort to be easily upset by gossip, she'd have left a long while ago, after all. As her gaze wanders to the crests decorating Daryl's chest, she seizes upon the opportunity for a change of topic.
"A Deputy now, hmm? How are you enjoying your duties, I wonder?" Loosing one hand from the other, she reaches for her ale again, bringing it to her lips for another small sip. "I imagine it involves less paperwork than my own.. and the requirement of careful use of those hands. At times." A calm smile plays about her lips, in contrast to his. That neutrality is well-worn, a courtier's grace to conceal the danger of - gasp! - a woman with very forthright opinions and methods.
"True you say?" Daryl still half teases, inquiring of her as he holds a hand out, as if to feel the bare of her skin, hovering right above it. "Are you cool to the touch? Can you freeze a man with a single kiss?" A tilt of his head as he mock interrogates her, "Have you come from north of the wall?" He tilts his mug back to supress any more laughter. Gulp-gulp. "Well. There certainly is paperwork. But it…" A smile rising, "It has it perks, and yes, you are correct in your claims. My hands seem to never have an idle second." He notices her noticing -his- familar expression, and casually averts his gaze once more. "Is there anything a Deputy could do for his Steward before she forsakes the title and removes herself from the city?" The gap in eye contact is long enough, and soon, he meets her eyes again, one brow tilting ever so much.
Aleister made a furious promise once, regarding what would befall a man who dared presume to touch her. But, seeing as Daryl keeps from doing so, just barely, there's little need to bring that particular exchange up. Not when the conversation is otherwise quite pleasant. Entertaining, even. "That's for me to know and you.. not to finish wondering about, I expect." she teases in kind. Licking a last trace of moisture from her lip as she sets down her mug, the young lady this time takes up a small piece of bread to carefully stir her broth with, saturating it before taking a delicate bite. Dusk is drawing in close, and servants busy themselves with drawing the tall drapes over the windows, replacing the illumination of daylight hours with the balmy warmth of lanterns and braziers about the echoing hall. Brigid, still lingering nearby - though now in idle conversation with one of the Keep's cooks - glances subtly in the direction of her charge and that daring hand extended toward her. But she knows better than to assume she need intervene. Ceinlys is a grown woman and more than capable of navigating murky waters.
"I am quite certain, m'Lord," begins the noblewoman, sweetly, "..that I could think of several things you might be able to do for me. To your good fortune, none are of a pressing nature. Enjoy your meal while you can." Slowly stirring the remaining chunk of bread through her soup, she rests her jaw lightly now in the curve of one palm. "I have heard tell of children going missing in the vicinity." Oh, back to business already? The better to toy with the conversation, perhaps; flitting from one extreme to the other. "Have you or your men found anything of note, in that regard?"
Daryl chuckles softly, withdrawing his hand short of contact and using it to fetch another piece of bread. He eyes his mug as it is refilled and does get a bit thrown off when the conversation is brought back to talk of business. There's a solemn shake of his head. " I am very recently appointed. I only know what I've heard so far, but if my cousin Aleister believes I am fit to protect and deliver law, then that is what I shall exceed at." Confident, that one. Another slug of ale is downed. "And the rumors…Quite unsettling."
"The smallfolk, of course, are bandying about their superstitions and bedtime stories.." continues the young woman, quietly pleased that she's succeeded in throwing off the Ashwood, even just a half step. Popping the last bit of bread into her mouth and discreetly swiping a wayward trickle of broth from her thumb, Ceinlys studies her companion carefully. "What do you think?" A gentle push, to ascertain on which side of the line Daryl falls. Logical and pragmatic, or dramatic and easily spooked. Either way. Averting her steely gaze as if it had never been lingering upon him, she follows the progress of the servants, one in particular nearby struggling to rouse the coals in the brazier. Pretty little blonde. She'd best stop looking so wide-eyed, if she wants to last here for any length of time. "You're right.." she murmurs, at length, "..if Aleister has confidence in you, it's well placed and likely deserved. But work hard to maintain it.. his approval is by no means easy to keep."
"Impossible to say for sure seeing the lack of evidence, but…" The Ashwood shrugs lightly, offering explanation, "While I think it likely is slavers using some sort of guise or illusion. Ironborn? Bandits?" A small shake of his head. "More info needs to be obtained. And quickly, before more disappearances happen about." He follows her gaze, examining the blonde servant and then continuing, "I will take my duty quite seriously…Especially under such circumstances." He polishes off another ale, looking her way with those curious hues oncemore. "How well do you know Lord Aleister out of curiousity? Are you two close?"
Ohhhh, tread carefully… Drawing a slow inhalation, keeping her eyes for the moment steadfast upon her dish, the Steward speaks after a pause, with a quiet, guarded air. "I have been in his Lordship's service since he and his former wife were newly wed. First as a lady-in-waiting, then Castellan, and most recently as Steward." Daring a flit of a glance toward Daryl, brazenly meeting his inquisitive green eyes and stubbornly refusing to look away, lest he take it as a sign of feminine weakness, she continues; her voice never rising or growing heated. Cool and detached. Yes, maybe he had her pegged as an Ice Queen.
"We have been through a lot, in that time. and I suppose you might say I know him fairly well. Though he is a complicated man. I doubt anyone knows everything. All I can say for certain is that I was and am honored to have his trust placed in me."
To be continued…