|Tea and Memory|
|Summary:||Muirenn and Liliana watch the fires of the Oaks from the wall, and talk of life and other things.|
|Related Logs:||All of the ironborn invasion logs, generally.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|03 Jan, 289 AL|
It has been some days, now, since the initial attack on the Roost, since the Ironborn settled into their encampment around Four Eagles Tower. Since life, as it had been had ended. Time enough for Liliana to recover from the worst of her injuries. Recovered enough to be out of her bed. Recovered enough to have ventured up from her room. To have heard the news brought on the wings of a maester's raven. To have walked, slowly, haltingly, with a limp that keeps her progress a product of tenacity rather than the easy forward movement of youth. To have settled at the wall of the terrace, eyes unshaded from the nearly noonday sun, as she looks out across the distance between the Roost and the oaks of her home, and the smoke and fire burning there.
Up the steps, Muirenn carefully walks as she searches for her friend. "Liliana?" Even from here you can see a glow on the horizon and imagine you can smell smoke. Moving quickly across the terrace, she goes to wraps her arms about the other girl. "Oh Lili…"
Liliana does not turn, does not move from where she's standing, looking at what can only be one thing, really, though she does return the one armed hug offered her. "I believe Jace was wrong about the Ironborn not making it as far as Tall Oaks. The Oak Hall is burning. There has been no word from my family." Not after the initial raven saying that Ironborn had come to the woods that bridge the Riverlands and the North.
"Aye, it seems he has been wrong." Muirenn replies quietly as she continues to hold her friend comfortingly, "It seems…" there is a pause, "grim. Strong women despise platitudes, I know I do…so I will not give you any. We can hope and we can pray until we know otherwise." She gives another squeeze to her friend and tries to lead her to one of the benches. "Tell me of your family, I met them so briefly.'
Liliana allows herself to be lead, leaning some small bit on Muirenn, though she sits so that she can still study the sky, watch the fire burning. "We are simple people, for all that we bear a noble name. We have some small number of smallfolk, two hundred at most, and we do not tax them, nor force them to levy. But we live a part of the land, not above it. My mother, Ailith Olyia, you would not have met her. She married my father Mikah barely a few months after her sister Leayn wed my Lord Uncle Sarojyn. They were happy together, I think. My father and my mother. Lord Sarojyn and Lady Leayn. He was…not the same after she died during the birth of their third child." And as Muirenn would know Sarojyn has only two children, fraternal twins, it's a foregone conclusion that the third child died with its mother. "He is a good man, and kind, but filled with a terrible sadness, that I have only recently seen lifted."
There is a nod, Muirenn says merely, "It sounds like a very pleasant life, not one that I can imagine though." She mms and says, "He did not seem sad when I met him, very stern and…stern. Though I suppose most Lords must be such when not with family." She twines an arm through her friend's as they sit at watch the firey glow, "It does me good to see you up and about Lili." The Mallister maiden's lips curve slightly as she comments, "Give me but a moment dear, I will summon a tray of willow bark tea and cold meats. The tea will help ease the pain a little."
"I think…he and his Lady wife did not marry for love. But after her death, he would take no other. And that was long and long ago." And that says something about the quality of a man's love, whether it comes before a wedding or after. "Tall Oaks is not Seagard. It is not the Roost. People have often said that we bear more in common with the men who call Lord Stark liege than Lord Tully. Perhaps that is true. But there is no fault in one House or another. It is simply different." There's a slight pause, the thought seemingly disjointed from the rest, "I had occasion to see the Lord Jason at the tournament of Stonebridge. And again at the Roost wedding tournament. Though I have never had occasion to meet him. He is a valiant knight." Fangirl moment! Liliana nods, accepting the offer, "I will try to eat if you wish it. Though I have not much appetite."
"Yes dearest, food is needed." Rising, Muirenn moves to the stairs and instructs one of her maids that accompanied her to gather the requisite tray. Moving back to her friend, the maiden seats herself. "My Uncle is much loved by the people as well as the rest of his family. We are proud of him." Her lips curve, "My Father also did well in the tournaments but an injury left him unable. He and Mama spent most of the their time at the keep taking care of me." There is a pause as she says delicately, "Should the marriage with my cousin Aeric go forward, you may rest assured he will find you as beautiful as before."
"That is a gift, however it came to be, to be both noble, and to have the love and attention of your parents and family. That is something we believe to be true, in the Oaks. My Uncle Dafydd…I think, if his faith in the Old Gods, but more, his duty to our House had not demanded it, I think he might have sought the path of knighthood. He is…the most martial of his brothers. Seryl is very much like him, in his way." At mention of the Mallister knight, Liliana shakes her head, "I think…I do not know what will come. If the news is grave, if…" her voice softens, hitching with the words, "If my family is lost…if…I am all that is left, I will marry no Lord, bear no nobleman's children. To do so…would be to lose my name. A commonborn man, of good quality, one to whom I could give my titles and my surname, that might be more to suit." A glance, over at Muirenn, her expression…as though the dream of such a wedding has burned along with her family's holdings. "There must always be a Camden in the Tall Oaks."
"I know not whether such things can be negotiated, the keeping of names. I imagine that there is much creativity in assuring that names and titles are continued. Besides, I doubt that Lord Jerold will let you marry beneath your station darling." Muirenn reaches over and brushes a lock of hair from her friend's forehead with a gentle touch, "Besides, my cousin…he is quite dashing and as handsome and brave a man that any of us noblegirls who must be married off for the glory of our House could wish for. In addition, he is very kind." She falls silent, turning to study the ruddy glow on the horizon almost sadly.
"I believe it is done so. If two nobles marry, the man's titles and name take precedence over the wife. So Anais Banefort became Anais Terrick. But if a noble woman marries a man of common birth, who has no titles or nobility, he takes that of his Lady Wife and becomes himself a Lord. It is how it is done, if a nobleman marries a common woman." A snort, not humour, or if it is, it's of the gallows sort, "I think, the sky beyond is indication enough of my station. I have not even the timber hall they joke of, of the Knight of Oldstones, now." Another smile, at mention of Aeric. "He is all of those things. But your family's dislike for mine is a thing well known. And I think your Lord Uncle would not sully his family's name so."
"That is perhaps true." Muirenn says honestly, "My Uncle was most…" there is a pause as she picks through her words carefully, "upset that your Uncle did not take up arms for King Robert when the call was made." She tilts her head a moment and then says, "Sometimes things that are beaten and torn down can be rebuilt stronger. And no matter my Uncle's feelings, I will ever count you a friend and your bravery will never be questioned." Her lips quirk faintly, "Your seamstress might bemoan this fact, but your bravery will never be questioned."
"When an enemy comes approaching your gate, if you have only one guard, would you send him out to engage the enemy from afar, and leave yourself undefended? Or would you keep him within your walls to defend you closely? Tall Oaks has one knight, we have less than a handful of skilled swordsmen. Our archers hunt game, not fight wars. We did not have enough men to send and protect our lands as well. I am certain your Lord Uncle did not empty his lands when the call came, but kept some to preserve the security of Seaguard. And to have sent them would have been to betray the tenets of our House. Our place as a sanctuary for all Houses who have need." Liliana finally looks away, studying Muirenn's face for a moment, before she looks back to the flames, "I am glad that we are friends. I do not know that I was brave. I did not acquit myself well, against the ironborn." Nevermind the fact that every one of them are hardened warriors, fully armoured and she went against them with a simple hunting bow and her best blue dress.
"War and its strategies are not something that I was allowed to learn. It was deemed not useful. Other things not thought ladylike my Mother thought useful and allowed the maester to teach me." Muirenn gives a wry smile, "It would not make sense to divide the populace so, but my Uncle does not approve of trying to keep a true neutrality. I think he feels it cowardice to not stand up for something you believe in." Her shoulders lift in a shrug, "Truly though, I was kept out of the war and as Cousin Aeric says…I was much sheltered. My mother is a determined woman and kept putting Uncle off when he wished to send me away as I was younger."
"And yet, my House did stand up for something that it believed in. In the need to create a place where the game of thrones could be set aside, and all could find their way to deal as equals with each other. And we have suffered much, for it. I am sorry that your Lord Uncle cannot see that. But, perhaps it no longer matters, or will not, if the news goes ill for my family." A smile, soft, and sad from Lili, "There is nothing wrong with being sheltered. There is nothing wrong with being a true lady. I will never be, not really. I long too much for the soft earth beneath my feet, the feel of the wind on my face."
A gentle hug for her friend and Muirenn laughs, "Men like women who are not ladies. The true ladies find themselves with empty marriages more often then not. But I am not sure that many true ladies would agree that I fall into that category." Her youthful lips curve into an amused grin, "I did not faint at the sight of blood and indeed tended the wounded and used my needlepoint to advantage to assist the Maester. I also love riding Pryderi and walking barefoot along the coast when no one is watching…hiking up my skirt and gathering mussels…fishing…but yes, I am perhaps more of a gentle and sheltered soul than most I have become acquainted with here." Her shoulders lift in an embarrassed shrug.
"Have you received any word from your cousin? The galley was not at anchor when the ironborn arrived." Liliana still can't seem to look away from the north, but at least talking gives her something to do beside worry, and mourn, "I also enjoy riding, and though my skills at a needle on cloth are dreadful, on flesh, I do well enough, though not so well as you. But Lady Evangeline has been a teacher of uncommon skill and patience. You would not recognize the girl I was, when she and Lord Jerold took me into their house." A shake of her head, "There are many ladies who are not so ladylike as would be liked here."
"No, I have had no word from Lord Aeric nor any from Seagard." Muirenn says quietly, "I have faith in them and their strength though. Fighting the Ironborn is what we are bred to do afterall." A wry smile and she looks up as the tea tray is brought.
"And mine were bred to preserve the peace of our lands. And our hall…could not have withstood much assault. But even so, they would have been hard pressed to flee from it. I will keep you and yours in my prayers. Perhaps the gods, yours or mine, will smile down upon them." It's all that Liliana can hope for." But when the tray arrives, she rises, as if needing something to make herself useful. Slow and halting, her steps, though she is not so badly off as the Young Lord, that she has need of a cane to assist her movements, as she moves to serve Muirenn a small plate.
With a nod Muirenn says "The willow bark tea is what I have them make for Lord Jacsen to ease his ache. It is a special blend of my own creation from home that is made with mint and actual tea so the taste is palatable and there are other healthful properties." The redhead accepts the plate, "Be careful not to overwork your leg."
"I am taking it very slowly, as you instructed." Only once Muirenn is served, does Liliana fix a plate for herself. More things to pick out, than something someone with an appetite might select, but she's at least trying. The tea she takes in full measure. As she settles, she picks back up the thread of the conversation, eyes sparkling with interest, "I would like to, one day when we have the luxury of time, to sit with you and share our recipes. I also have some things that I have made myself, and I have some supplies you might find of interest, from deep in the Greywater."
With a smile, the Mallister maiden nods "I would enjoy such very much." She daintily places a bite into her mouth and wipes her fingers upon her napkin. After she has swallowed she says, "I learned a lot about chiurgeonry and herbs from our Maester and Seagard's Maester. Most fascinating…all of it. I love experimenting and creating my own teas. My family I am sure is glad to be rid of me so they don't have to deal with tasting any more concoctions that are perhaps not so enjoyable." Her lips flash into a grin as she gives a soft giggle.
Liliana eats slowly, carefully, nibbling, drinking more of the tea than she ingests of food, "I fear what knowledge will be lost, when this comes to an end. What stories we never told, experience we never shared. I only rarely met our Maester, Sebastien, but he came to the oaks only after I had left for the Roost, when our maester died. I read and write down as much as I can, so that I will not forget." Again, a glint of humour, a smile for the recollection, "Does everyone at your hall table put a hand over there glasses whenever you are in the vicinity?"
With a soft laugh, Muirenn ducks her head head "Quite the opposite, they spoilt me I fear. My father humored me and would judge my teas by how they went with his liquor when he made them stronger." Her cheeks flush happily at the memory, "I wrote down all I learned so that it might not be lost." There is a pause and she nods, "Some may be lost, but I am told that there are great libraries at the other castles so perhaps not all knowledge will be lost or forgotten." She sips at the tea and glances at the fiery glow that just gets brighter as the sun begins to fall in the sky. "I wonder how long this siege will last. I know it grates upon the soldiers…as does it all."
"Your family sounds as if you have genuine affection for each other. That seems to grow more rare as the years press on." Liliana is perhaps a quarter of the way through the meal she set out for herself, but she sets the plate aside, cradling the tea between her palms, "Not all…but I am afraid. So many stories now, are lost to us. Stories of the first men. Those were always my favourites." A thoughtfulness, as she settles in, "Many weeks, I would dare say. Take the travel time between our allies and ourselves, double it for having to carry men and provisions, plus add time to battle whatever ironborn they might encounter…I recall when a courier came from King's Landing, it took two weeks of riding at good speed to make the journey. Imagine that with an army behind you."
Staring at her tea, Muirenn just nods, "Yes, it is so. Curse the Greyjoy and the destruction they have caused." There is a cold steel in her voice that is not usually heard as she makes her feelings known. Exhaling in a sigh she attempts to change the subject, "Yes my family does care for one another." Smiling faintly she glances at her friend, "How about as we wile away the hours when our tasks are complete I teach you how to make a tapestry, so that the stories might not be entire lost…but continue forward through the generations in pictures."
"I would enjoy that very much," Liliana offers, setting aside the thought of Greyjoys and the northern burning as best she can. "I have little skill at the precision of needlework required, but Eli," here she indicates the young maid sitting a short way off sorting threads, looking for all the world as if it were a normal day, or doing her best, "Will help me with my embroidery. She draws the patterns for me to follow. I have never learned the art of remembering such things in my head." It's a skill that only very few women master, the ability to hold the patterns and stitches and spacings in their memories and commit them well to cloth, "But I would like that. For a hanging on the wall, perhaps…I have…some cloth which I never had chance to make into a gown. I had intended for it to be for my wedding, but…"
"Keep it for your wedding…I swear life will go on." Muirenn leans over and gives her friend a gentle hug. "I have plenty of thread and yarn to start the weaving," she offers. "By the time we are ready for more we will be able to take a trip to a market and get more," choosing words carefully she doesn't say which market because who knows what the reavers will leave behind when all is said and done.
"If the galley does not return to our docks," meaning the one given the Terricks for the wedding, commanded by the Lady's cousin, "I would wonder if it were perhaps better that it did not." Whatever Liliana might say, about throwing off the bonds of convention and seeking to preserve her name, it's obvious, perhaps more to Muirenn than it might be to others, even has the Camden woman returns the hug, how much Liliana's thoughts dwell on the missing Mallister Knight Captain. "But I, we must not dwell on such terrible things." She's trying to cheer herself up and all, "Maybe we go and pick out the threads? Perhaps I could tell you some of the stories and history of my people, and we could choose particular ones…"
"He is a Mallister. I am confident he will be well." She regards her friend and smiles. "Besides, it is my cousin Aeric. He could survive on personality alone." Glancing across the distance she falls silent. Finally she looks back and finishes her tea saying, "I would enjoy that greatly. Once we choose a subject we can work on sketching the pattern."
"He certainly has….personality." A sparkle, there, in Liliana's eyes, before she sets aside the remainder of the small meal, "Then let us away. I am certain Eli will be delighted to show you what stores of threads and such she has collected during our rambles." Leaving the dishes and such to be collected by the same retainer who brought them, Liliana rises, awaiting Muirenn joining her, before the three girls depart back into the keep proper.