|Summary:||The fatal combination of Ser Maldred, Cat Taken and the squires, Hugh and Hoekenn, end up swimming about together…then running into Cat's grim-faced 'father', Gerry.|
|Related Logs:||The Song From the Stepstones 'Foraging'|
|The Shallows, Stonebridge|
|Without having to walk through the underdocks, at the foot of the stairs, is a small rocky slope that descends the last few feet to the water. Caution is needed on the descent but the water is upriver from the ships and is often considered safe to swim and quite a few people do just that. The slope is kept in retainment by a low stone wall that descends into the water providing for a soft, muddy bottom where swimmers need not worry too much about hurting themselves when diving in.|
|2nd August, 289|
Layed stretched high on the wall, lithe form soaking in what remained of the sun and enjoying the very decided…silence. Because it was quiet. Peaceful even. Devoid of men and busybodies and boys asking questions. Her dress made a pillow beneath her head, leaving her clad in only crisscrossing leathers worn in the the dothraki women's fashion, which is to say, they covered only what was necessary. There was a rope around her wrist too, its end disappeared down deep beneath the waters edge, with a bit of chicken liver on it. Cat was sunning and hutting for snapping turtles.
Even as time goes on there are swimmers around the area. Two of those being the Nayland squires Hoekenn and Hugh, who have been working for quite a while now. Having made their way for a swim after tough labour the last few hours. Though perhaps not suspecting to see people around. Or at least Hoekenn wasn't. Moving a bit to stay to himself a bit, away from the clearly recognized person there.
Like most of the brats of the Twins, Maldred Rivers spent a large portion of his childhood falling into this very river, not so very far upstream from here - or pushing in his siblings. He saunters down the stone stairs without any clear intention of swimming, though he has removed his gaberdine cloak, and stands for a change in a dirty-white singlet, quite readied, in theory for a dip. Not that he is a fine swimmer - Freys may fall in, but they tend to scrabble out as quickly as possible, preferably over each other's writhing forms. So his own riverine eyes linger quietly enough for now on the waters, quite oblivious to any company, as he indulges in…fond memories.
Hugh lopes along side Hoekenn, looking at the other squire from time to time, trying to goad him into talking. "All right, but you have to do that dive. I dare you." And he has his tunic half way off when he stops talking and stares at the young woman lying on the wall. Several emotions cross his face….surprise, at seeing a young almost naked woman there turns to…annoyance, at recognizing which almost naked young woman it is which rather quickly turns to…curiosity, as it is after all a naked young woman. He looks at Hoekenn to see if the other squire has any sort of reaction and sees him scooting a bit away. "Ken!" a hiss! "Where are you going?!"
Catryn seems to have blocked Hugh's peripheral vision. He doesn't notice the knight.
I dare you. That phrase, with that voice, cut through the girl's peaceful bubble, so that her head came up and those blue eyes narrowed in towards the sound of the ruckus. "Oh fer fucks sake," comes the oh so warm greeting and the cat sighs, pushing those tumble down curls away from her face. "Wha, do ye…," but the question never finished, because illfated lines flirted with her memory. Something about their being a witness to every encounter, so that quite suddenly it wasn't just the squires she was looking for and…ah. Yes. Of course. "Wha'd ye all run in a pack now er somethin'?"
Hoekenn snaps out of his state. Looking to Hugh, nodding about the dive and then looking to Catryn. His mind perhaps not going as far as Hugh's as he rather just let her be. She's not fully fond of him anyhow. At least to his knowledge. "The dive, yeah…" Confused as what to do he watches Hugh for a moment. "Leave her alone." He suggests, for some reason thinking that she might be able to beat either of them down if need be. Then drown them both in the water. But too late. As she spots them. Then she calls for his attention to spot Maldred as well. Though a chuckle escapes him at her words.
"Just looking for a swim." Hoekenn tries to explain. Moving towards where they can dive. Disappearing into himself. Who would want to talk to him when others are around anyhow, and he is fine with that.
Even more genuinely surprised than the girl - if probably more pleasantly - as she tosses a yellow head and cranes a bare neck in his direction on a sudden, Maldred steps uneasily out of his past, like a man leaving a lukewarm pool on a chilly day. At first looking neutrally puzzled, he is smiling cautiously again before long, as he takes in the import of Catryn's exasperation, and, following the switch of her angry stare, observes the pair of would-be otters, too.
His response is summarised in his light shrug, as he admits, "When my lord father mentioned a mission of vital import in Stonebridge, he neglected to inform me that the place was plagued by a three headed monstrous beast. Obviously his information is fading out of date…"
Hugh seems to realize that he still only has one arm out of his tunic. He removes his arm the rest of the way and tosses the tunic aside. He's not totally lily white under there as he has been swimming off an on during the summer, but bronze god, he is not. And though his is blessed with a strong body, it is still a growing body, and there are only a couple of chest hairs that Hugh has been cultivating. Hugh spies Maldred and gives an incline of his upper body before he goes back to looking at the young woman. "I can speak for me and Ken, here…" because Ken isn't going to do it much, "…and say, yes! We work together, so why wouldn't we be together?" He looks over to the knight. "I think that maybe great minds think alike, is all." Hugh grins as though he has just made a funny joke as he unties the laces of his trousers. "Don't worry. We won't bother you."
"Didja get that kiss yet?" The girl teases towards Ken with a grin that's just a little crooked, before her gaze slips on to Hugh and lingers there with some amusement, if only for the way he's half in, half out and still acting defensive. "Fergive me, boy," she addresses Ken and then, as if to explain why, her gaze slips on to Hugh instead. "But ye said it, no me." She got the joke, her joke, whether anyone else did or not and it made her smile almost wolfish. It still was in fact, when she sat up proper, letting long legs dangle over the slope of the wall, as she took in Maldred. "Well, why dunche g'head and strip down with that rest, Ser Bastard, lessen yer too good fer a swim, yerself."
Catryn had at least sounded only teasing when she'd said Ser Bastard, more endearment, less insult.
Hoekenn is slightly caught off guard by the girl's question and he just shakes his head. Seeing Hugh strip off, so does he. Though a different in body is clear between the two squires. Hoekenn still does not have hair on his body, but it is more muscular. A early grower perhaps. Looking quite well trained for his age. Moving along silently, only half listening as well. He does look to see if Hugh is moving along to dive or not.
Maldred's small, glassy-grey eyes narrow speculatively at the girl, from a vague and sidelong glance. "Does m'lady request my presence in the Green Fork?" he asks so meditatively it barely even sounds ironic, "well, since you request so courteously…" And he eases off the cambric singlet in his next movement. When his head re-emerges, and he has settled at the water's edge, he unstrings his drawers, and hurls that scrunched-up garment up in the direction of Cat herself, calling "A favour at m'lady's disposal," before he jumps. Accordingly, his frame isn't on display very long, but what part of it is briefly on display looks pasty, but surprisingly and serviceably muscled.
Hugh shucks off the rest of his clothes quickly, and while he doesn't seem ready to dive himself, he does seem more than ready to try to push the other squire into the water. Yes, Hugh is from a huge family with a lot of brothers. This sort of horseplay is par for the course. Girls and work are forgotten for a moment, as his immaturity takes over and he simply enjoys the chance to cut loose. Of course, naked girls will not be forgotten for long.
Catryn sticks her tongue out at Maldred's mockery, before she's left attempting to duck his flying britches and gets smacked in the face. It obscures her view, but the squires no doubt heard her muttered curse, before she balled up the offending garment and tucked it in, beneath the curve of her arm. Her bracelets glitter in the light, as does the belt; the three things aside from clothing she didn't remove, namely for fear of theives. "I aint throwin' this down, I do an it'll get dirty an then yell gripe an there I'll be t'blame." So she stands, her own dress tucked up with Maldred's piece and begins to make her way down from the wall.
"Hrmm….," Cat sounds thoughtful for a moment, her gaze considering. "Yall should race," she offers, before that grin turns cheshire. "I'll give a kiss, t'tha winner."
Hoekenn isn't prepared to be pushed and is looking wide eyed at Hugh as he falls backwards into the water. A splash and he disappears under the water. It takes awhile before he reappears, though this time a bit away from where he was pushed down. Not sure why he was pushed he just blinks. Then hearing something about contest and whatnot. Lost in it all he just looks around.
Maldred Rivers is a great smiler, and the grin his bobbing head wears as the rest of his frame courses about beneath the murky water could have adorned a pike. After a few satisfactory widths of this bend in the Fork, he pauses, rising out of the dark green surface to his waist, his normally strawish hair more like black now with water and filth. He looks up at the 'maiden' who proposed the competition, and for an instant his face alters, softens, even moons. A very picture of a true knight's devotion - and a picture is all it is. "Perchance the valiant second prize could be mine own drawers," he suggests mildly. "They are somewhat dear to me. A whore wove them, and not even the one who bore me, at that."
Hugh turns to look between Maldred and Catryn before throwing himself off and down into the water. When he comes up out of the water, he gives his head a shake and grins, "I don't want a kiss. Not from you!" He does a couple of back strokes. "I know a proper lady who will give me a kiss." He looks over at Hoekenn and teases, "And Ken wouldn't know which end he is supposed to kiss. So let the Knight have the kiss and then he can tell us about it!" He listens to Maldred and laughs a full belly laugh…"Perhaps I should forfeit!"
Catryn meanwhile, was padding along the bank of the river, feet mindful of her steps, one at a time now that all three are out in the water. Maldred appears to be closest, perhaps, but still, he's old and she isn't. So it's….quick the hands that start plucking up the clothing of all three of them, piece by piece; obviously in a hurry. "Didna wanna kiss yer snooty arse anyway, just wanted you, over there." The grin is fiendish, almost cheshire while she hurries through the task. "An we'll see how ye like walkin' home soaked t'tha bone!"
Hoekenn looks around, not even having heard of a kiss. Instead just frowning at Hugh, first for pushing him into the water and then more or less calling him a half-wit. Rather uncalled for. Not knowing what to make of that. Though he just shrugs. Then tries to understand what is happening and he just blinks. Perhaps he is slightly slow, or at least has no idea about social interaction at this level.
Gerry had yet to reach the shadllows proper, but was rather meandering his way down with an absolute lack of hurry, a straw hat atop of his head and one of the straws picked out and stuck between his lips, being sucked and chewed and flitted this way and that as he walked, bouncing, too, with every step. Presently he'd done away with his leather jerkin, and his sword, too, replaced with a fine enough shirt it might fit a simple nobleman. It made him somewhat less conspicious these days, when people might find an unbonded swordsman in their midsts slightly unappreciated. Not that a bit of fine cloth took away completely his generally dodgy like demeanor. That dangerous slink, those hard eyes, that confident fighter's roll to his steps. But a wolf could only look so much like a sheep.
As if answering to the re-echo of a martial reveille, a horn sounding, a command given, Maldred surges back where he came from. This very unNayland harpy ineluctably possesses his drawers, but it seems he's desperate and eager to make a play for retaining his singlet, which the light-handed stripling is now verging perilously close to. In fact, however, this is all a feint, and quite another reflex is at work - as Cat stoops for his shirt, Maldred's kraken arms seize for her legs, aiming to drag her in too, once and for all!
Hugh grits his teeth and starts to plunge out of the water. "Don't you dare!" But then his warning falls off as Maldred seems to take it into his own hands. He turns and gives Hoeken a grin. Nevertheless, he keeps moving towards the girl with the clothes.
Ah-ha! The last of the prizes in hand; Cat swings up triumphant, the trios clothing clutched in greedy hands at the same time…equally greedy and entirely larger hands catch against her ankles. Bare feet scramble on mud; proceeding the thump and splatter of it, where the minx goes down, but at least she'd their clothing to break her fall! Which doesn't entirely spare for the mud that's slathered over..everything. It was almost as good as winning; almost. Everythings landed in the muck anyway. Including her. "Ye bloody Bastard!" Cat bellows, laughter in her voice; a goodly hand of mud scooped up and flung towards the bulk of his chest.
Hoekenn still tries to understand though he does notice that their things are with Cat and a small grin forming as he tries moving that way as well. Though Maldred seems to have things more or less in control. Hoekenn moving behind all the rest as he was the last to actually understand the situation. Blinking a bit as he comes closer. Close enough that a little mud does fly his way when thrown towards Maldred. only small stains hitting his arm.
The sound of voices caught his attention, and the sound of a particular young woman's laughing bellow in particular. The laughing part ensured that there was no rush to the rescue, assuming that he'd be rushing anywhere even if there hadn't been, but rather a continuation of his even stroll. From one of his pockets he produced an apple, brushing it to a fine shine against the front of his shirt before sinking teeth in with a loud -crunch-. Then finally he turned an obstacle and set his cool stare against the shallows, and the scene at hand.
"Muddy, not bloody," Maldred corrects his victim shortly. "Would that 'twere blood; that'd be more proper to my station…" He combines, as ever, prickly awareness of rank with enough mordant irreverence to, well, muddy the waters. The bastard's vicious grasp at Cat's ankles is now relaxed as he rolls, without self consciousness, fully from water to land, clothed only in filth, and that thoroughly. But his hands remain in the region of Cat's legs, as if they simply don't have anywhere better to be right now - and perhaps that is not inaccurate. This is the posture in which Gerry Taken finds him in relation to his (foster?) daughter, and it will look decidedly compromising.
At the apparition of the somewhat stern looking but otherwise unknown to him commoner, Maldred, perhaps unwisely, seizes upon a chance of relief. "Ah, good man. We have all four of us been, ah, bathing, and find ourselves short of clean clothes. If you would hurry to the Crane to procure some spares I have left there, there would be coin in it…"
By this time, Hugh has been able to get closer, slipping occasionally in the mud. He can play at this as well, and he intends to. He scoops up a handful of mud, and the boy has big hands. He tries to get close enough to Catryn while she is busy with Maldred to splat the mud on her head while she is distracted with Maldred. It is only when Maldred addresses Gerry, that Hugh seems to notice he is there. Hugh is not sure what to do now. So he freezes for a moment.
Cat squirmed, not in revulsion, but play and then attempted to press the advantage of being mud-slick to change up their positions, always a fan of being on top. So her legs aimed to wrap Maldred's torso, as she threw her weight in against him, attempting to roll them both. She'd not intended to make the position awkward, but then her intentions went to shyte, when Hugh doused her in mud and blond locks went ruddy as the struggle stopped and her eyes shut tight to help keep the mud from them. Of course, it meant she hadn't seen her Pa walk up either…
Hoekenn is moving closer, a bit away from the others when the man is spotted. Recognizing the man as he sees him, a slight smile offered to the man. Along with a bow. "Gerry." He says and falls silent. Then remembering something and he takes one step further away from Cat, just to be safe. Even if he is the only one that has yet to actually touch her. He remembers the threat good enough.
The sight of Maldred's hands on Cat put a mask of cool anger on Gerry's face. He continued to move forward, but it was now with a different kind of purpose to his steps, and his hand had gone down to where his sword.. was not. So he shifted his grip to the dirk opposite to that empty space instead. Whatever murderous glow might have come alght in the sellsword's eyes, there was nothing but calm efficiency in the way he drew his blade, in the way he held it in the kind of underhanded grip that came from having learned close fighting of a very different school than a knight did.
"Let go. O' me feckin' daughter. Right feckin' now." His voice was a growl, vocalized from the midst of a snarl. Don't think Cat was free of his glare either, mind, bathing with a bunch of menfolk, but the vast majority was decidedly directed at Maldred, and growing sharper the closer Gerry came.
"Cat, get yer skimpy troublesome arse here. -Now-." Then you could almost see the thoughts working in his head. The calculation. Couple of squires, meaning the older man was likely not a commoner. Frowning all the more, the tension that hummed tight-wire on the cusp of violence still there.
The Frey bastard's limbs are quick indeed to relinquish their catch, though his lippy tongue is a mite less prudent. Disentangled, and, in the circumstances, able to retrieve, at least, the filthy cambric singlet, he stands and drapes it over himself with carefully affected sang-froid, and sidelong murmurs in Cat's direction, "My apology for the interruption of knightly service, m'lady. It seems the good man would like a word with you…"
Hugh wets his lips and steps back, watching the man with the sword carefully. He grabs at some of the muddy clothes and finds Hoekenn's. He tosses them to Hoekenn. This is one of those cases that Hugh actually makes the right decision and /doesn't/ say anything. He will wait until Cat moves to fetch his own trousers.
Oh. Shit. While the mud made it almost impossible to see the way the color leeched from her face, there was still a moment when Cat went decidedly rigid at the sound of Ken saying Gerry's name. She stayed that way too, while he growled and worked to smear the mud from her face; those bright blue eyes blinking out oh so innocently from a filthy mask. She's still smearing it away too, when she stands; from face to neck and neck to chest, chest to stomach; flinging away the excess. That it leaves glimpses of tan smeared beneath and all in all, could have been a remarkably appealing show, though probably under different circumstances.
As it is, clean white teeth gleam from within and while she doesn't take more than a -step- in Gerry's direction, fairly certain there's a cuffing in the near future, unlike Hugh her mouth does open. "Oh fer fuck's sake, Ger. We's only havin' a bit of fun is all. S'a good day fer a swim. Only got messy when I slipped down to umm…..takeeveryonesclothesandthrowthemintheriver." The last came in a mumbled rush, one foot shuffling guiltily in the mud. "Dun go pissin' on everyone's good mood."
Hoekenn get the clothes from Hugh but doesn't seem as bothered by Gerry. Even though he should. "Nothing has happened. Teasing and so on." He says, not really lying. Pulling on the muddy clothes and just stands still and watches Gerry. Confirming Cat's words. And he doesn't really have a reason to help her. She doesn't like him and he is unsure about her. While he does know Gerry.
The blade slammed back into its sheath once Maldred took the wise course and let go of his daughter. And while Cat didn't take more than a step in his direction, Gerry had no compunction at all against crossing over to her and delivering a proper -smack- in her direction, rather than just the usual playful cuffs one could see him throwing in her direction often enough. Of course he'd been teaching her how to fight, and how to move fast, and how to avoid men trying to put their hands on her. So when that bit of violence failed spectacularly, he had nobody to blame but himself.
"Ah, fer feck's sake," he growled, but didn't try another. After all, if a girl dodged a blow, she'd kind of earned the reprive until the next time she pissed him off.
"Don't excuse no puttin' fondlin' up a lass' legs. Even if.." he had to admit at Cat's own admission, there was a smidgen of understanding to be had. But he'd not say that aloud. No. He made his mouth a stern line of disapproval. "No. No excuse. Keep yer feckin' teasin' an' playin' hands off."
Maldred has been watching this composition through narrow, calculating eyes, his smile more quizzical than ever, as he roots about for his drawers. When he discovers them, he frowns in disgust and tosses them straight into the river, then saunters in his long, mud-streaked, and water-thinned cambric shirt past the lovely family pair and up the narrow, stony staircases.
"A delightful reunion," he declares, already from the safety of the flight's crest. "Such a tom-cat as I could have dreamed for this kitten. Now for Seven's sake," he calls back towards the squires, "one of you get on my horse Graymalkin - you'll find him tied up just up the bank - and fetch us some decent clothes. There'll be a drink in it, warm, strong, and expensive enough to purchase ten girls quite as…sinuous…as the one we leave behind."
Hugh grabs his trousers as soon as he can and mud or no, he puts them on. He looks over to Hoekenn and then decided that he will probably draw the short straw for getting some clothes. He books it obediently to the horse. He rides off to get some clothes.
Catryn gave Gerry a look that said 'What?' because really, what had he expected? Though it turned into a pout quick enough and a look of accusation that said clearly he'd cost them free drinks by being a stubborn ass and refusing to go and get the nice men clean clothes. 'Now see,' those eyes say, they could have been us. But, she'd a white toothed smirk for the lot as they began to seperate. "Until next time, Ser Bastard," and dipping a low half bow, the minx turned and dove straight back into the water. /She/ wasn't going to leave muddy. Hmph.
Hoekenn doesn't move, even though Maldred asked for his horse. Two reasons possible. More respect for Gerry than Maldred, or he just didn't hear while being someone lost in what to do and just keeping still. Before he can do anything Hugh seems to be in full roll to do what he is told. Instead lowering into the water with clothes on and then up and moving towards Gerry. Waiting to see what the man would say. If he could speak up about the work they might have together. For now being silent and just watching all the others.
Part-Frey and whole-stoat, Maldred's glance does sort of flicker to the girl's lissom descent back in the water, more or less lingeringly; certainly, it's an attractive sight, but also a ripe means of irritating that brute of a father, with no conceivable repercussions for Maldred in person. When the spritely creature submerges, Maldred turns and lopes off into the trees to await Hugh's return, whistling what he can remember of the Tyroshi air the girl sung at their first meeting. No doubt that, too, is intended more as needling to Gerry than compliment to his daughter.
"Bastard, eh? Rather high'n mighty fer a baseborn," since having a noble for a father, no noble necessarily did make. No bow from Gerry, then, though he did watch the Frey with a look of consideration. No farewell, either, especially when the son of a bitch made a point out of looking at his daugher like she were a juicy bit of meat he'd wanting to set his teeth into. So he stood there, glared a cool glare, and said nothing at all for a while.