|Summary:||Anais and Aelina meet, with a guest appearance by Justin|
|Reading Room, Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|Sep 10, 289|
It's a lovely day in Terrick's Roost, with the sun shining outside and the people in better spirits than they were before the accord between the Terricks and the Charltons. If there's some grumbling about the state of Stonebridge in the village, it's less grumbling than there was about empty stomachs. And with Lords Jerold and Jacsen both indisposed, it seems the bulk of the administration of the Roost has fallen to Anais, whose small desk in the reading room is now a larger, more busy one. It's there that she holds court at the moment, frowning down at a pile of parchment.
There'd been mindful instruction given to the stable hand who'd been left with Aeliana's courser, a tall beast of an animal, sired from her Uncle's own Wicked. Keeping the horse company, were her escort; four guards, whose colors marked them as Hollyholt sworn. A septa and maid had kept traveled with her, as Ae finds herself at tower of Four Eagles. Though she'd not begged a long audience nor more than a moment really, as whomever goes to report her presence may convey. A well mannered creature, content as well to simply be turned away if there wasn't time. It was respect that had her desiring to ensure that they knew she was there, that the guards who'd escorted her and stayed with her were her own; that, with the current turmoil and tension in the rest of the houses, their presence wasn't an attempt to sneak Charlton men through Terrick lands.
Busy or no, Anais does her best to accommodate guests, and so there are Terrick men to entertain some of the Charlton ones, and some to escort Aeliana to the reading room. As one sticks his head in to announce the arrival, she looks up with a flicker of a smile, rubbing a pair of fingers between her brows as though to scrub out potential wrinkles before pushing a few of the papers away. "Please show her in," she invites. "Nina, could you check the tea?" she asks of a slender handmaid in the corner, who sets aside a book to comply.
'Now remember she is busy…,' Myrth, a squat woman of some ten and thirty years reminded, her dark hair shot through with broad bands of gray. "Yes, Septa." Came Aeliana's dutiful response. 'And remember to…' That was as far as the woman got that time, "Septa, this is not the first time that I have gone to call upon someone. I am not going to disappoint you," Ae promised, though the fan that she carried against her bosom, an earthy brown affair, to match the colors of her riding dress and in turn, show less of the road dust from her travels, might have gone just a tinsy bit quicker for her impatience.
It snapped closed as they drew near to the reading room, so that as the slight trio swept inside, with Ae the tallest of the lot, it was simply clutched near her middle as she swept into a low curtsy. "Lady Anais," her head dipped with it as well, fey struck hair whisping in scattered directions. It did that whether she wanted it too, or not. "Thank you for seeing me, I sincerely hope that I haven't interrupted," Ae implored as she straightened. She'd a bright smile, the girl. One that came easy and touched on her eyes, leant warmth to her features.
"Nothing that couldn't stand it," Anais assures with a swift smile, the corners of her eyes crinkling with it as she stands. "I'm always glad for an excuse to step away from all the paperwork. "Lady Aeliana Charlton, yes?" she asks, taking a cup of tea from the handmaid and offering it over. "Please, have a seat," she invites, gesturing to one of the more comfortable seating groups. "I hope the travel was pleasant?"
Ae chuckles in the wake of the Lady's words, an easy sound, lighthearted and full of an appreciation for the sentiment. "It is, yes. And you may feel free to use me for an excuse if ever you need one," she jested, lightly before dipping her head and murmuring her thanks for the tea. Fan dangling at her wrist, the Charlton moves to claim an offered seat; giving the tea a moment to cool. "Pleasant and exhausting," because she'd to take a decidedly longer root to avoid Stonebridge. "I shall be glad to settle for a while and relax. The view you've from your lands is amazing!"
"It is, isn't it?" Anais agrees, looking out the window with a small, contented smile. "And thanks to the arrangement with Lord Aleister, we may be able to keep our people alive to see it. I'm grateful for that." She takes a cup of tea for herself, adding a generous drizzle of honey to it before taking a testing sip. "Though I could wish things were more stable in Stonebridge. I've been…somewhat disappointed by the word that reaches us from there."
"It certainly is to me. I've had naught but mountains these past months to see, pasture. To have the ocean seems a most delightful change," Ae mused; fussing a hand down the folds of her skirts as she settled the teacup against the top of her knee, ankles neatly folded together. Though at mention of Aleister she smiles, "It was not a one sided piece of aid, my Lady, Highfield flourishes as well with the crafters that were leant. Oh but that reminds me, my Brother and Uncle both send their greetings. And honestly, I believe," the girl blew cooling breath against her tea, "Share you disappointment as well."
"Please send them my regards as well," Anais murmurs politely, taking another sip of her tea. "So what is it that's brought you here, if I may ask?" she says, looking up with a small, polite smile. "We may be recovering, but I fear we're not quite the destination we were before the reavers came."
"It would be my pleasure," Ae replies, before finally venturing a faint sip of her tea. "And…if I may be so bold, you may be recovering, but you are still a great deal more than an inn and shops still growing, like blooms in the spring; one can see the potiental but..it shall be long in coming." Ae shrugged and then, sighed, "Truly, between us, I had thought simply to get away from the constant tension. I am not a warrior to understand the talk, nor a Maester to have advice to lend. Uncle Harry spoke well of his time here and those he came to know, yourself among them and suggested I might find myself at least more content here, than there. And I think..," her eyes sparkled merrily, "That he might have been of the mind that I could learn something from you."
"Well, you have come to the right place if you're looking to escape the conflict," Anais smiles faintly, rueful, as she flicks her bangs away from her eyes. "The recovery of the Roost is my first priority, the long-term success of it my second. And I have always maintained that the key to the Roost's future is the stability of Stonebridge, regardless of who holds it. We'll take no part in this if we can avoid it at all." She settles back in her chair, a glimmer of amusement in her features at the last. "I wasn't under the impression that the Charltons would be interested in learning anything from me aside from what we're likely to do next."
"That was my hope," Ae agrees, giving a faint nod of her head. "It helped sway my decision too, that you'd a sept here, that I was hoping to make use of." Because it might be foolish and even silly, with the state of things to think a few prayers from the proper place might help but..they couldn't hurt, either. "Though I am inclined to agree with you. It's my hope, truthfully, that they find some resolution yet that would spare us war." With worry in her eyes, another small sip of tea is taken, as if it might somehow help sooth her nerves. Though at the lady's statement, Aeliana laughs; a small sound, her hand rising up immediently to cover her lips until it passes. "Forgive me, my lady. I had not meant anything like that. My Uncle respects hard work and keen minds and those who tend to their people. These are qualities that he has endeavored to press upon me himself. You were merely cited as one such lady of example and if I may be so bold, I agree with him. A harder path than most you've been given and I daresay that when you married, you did not expect to have the burdens of an entire House upon your shoulders and yet…you are accomplished. You are respected and your people admire you." Summed neatly up with a tiny shrug as if that explained it all.
"I…thank you," Anais says quietly, smile twisting as she rests her temple against the side of the chair, her cup almost forgotten in her lap. "It means very much to hear that from someone who isn't here all the time." Absently, she tugs at the hem of her sleeve, a motion no doubt responsible for some of the wear in the fabric there. "My mother did her best to prepare me for this. It's just that none of us expected it so soon. But I suppose there's nothing like a little war and destruction to make you learn to handle it or fail trying."
"You're welcome," Ae replies, though her smile's gone a bit shy much as her eyes seem a hint timid, "I hope I haven't over stepped myself," the girl endeavored to explain, "And I did not mean to nudge your mind towards such unpleasant thoughts. I simply did not wish to leave you with the wrong impression, particularly as I should like to stay little while and I hope…perhaps gain an acquaintance, if not at least a friend or two in the meantime. I mean you no ill will, my Lady. Nor any of yours. The guards who escorted me, are my own personal guards and they too shall cause no trouble during my stay. I promise." Still young, this one, still trying.
"As I said, if it's sanctuary you seek, you've come to the right place," Anais assures, leaning forward to set a hand to the other lady's if she'll permit. "Only know that the same is offered to anyone leaving Stonebridge," she adds as a caution. "The Erenfords have likewise been kind to us, though they may hold little love for your family now. All the same…" She draws a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I grew up in the Westerlands, Lady Aeliana, where Lord Tywin's word is law and this sort of nonsense is not tolerated. I should like to see that sort of stability here some day."
Ae doesn't shy for that touch; for all that a moment her hand turns plam up to embrace it with a light squeeze. "Sanctuary," there's a hint of weariness in the tone, about her eyes, "Is all I am after, truly. And perhaps recommendations for a decent Inn to put both myself and my men. You shall hear of no judgement from me for whom you offer it too, on that you have my word. We all have ambitions, Lady Anais, but..not everyone's ambitions match those of my brothers. You are not the only one who would wish these times past us. There are too many people, all of them, with too much to lose." The girl sighed, giving a slow shake of her head. "I envy you the knowing of such childhood, my Lady."
"I'll admit, it's been something of an adjustment," Anais muses, leaning back in her chair and looking out the window. "Coming here and finding that so few lieges can be bothered to act on behalf of their vassals. Terrick's Roost will be different. Thank all the gods that the Mallisters are different," she adds with a shake of her head. "Anyhow." She flicks her fingers, dismissing the topic. "I'm sure you'd prefer to talk of lighter things. The Rockcliff is the inn in town, but if you'd like, I'd be happy to find you a room here."
Aeliana laughed at that, a sound of quiet amusement, "You sound as an echo of my Uncle now, though he views them as neglectful fathers, I believe. With screaming children who need turned over a knee in order to best learn," she mused and did so with fond rememberance. "You needn't change the topic on my account, I confess I would be interested to hear more of the Westerlands, if ever you felt inclined to speak of them," Aeliana invited; though her eyes betrayed her surprise at the invitation when it came. A true sign of genuine hesitation then, weighing with consideration in her eyes. "I have no desire to put you out, Lady Anais, though you do me an honor with your invitation. I would be foolish to decline."
"My lady, Four Eagles has been a veritable inn since…Gods. Since I showed up," Anais declares with a surprised laugh. "Wedding preparations, tournament, siege, recovery. I don't know what I'd do with an empty keep," she says with a rueful shake of her head. "The Rockcliff is lovely, and they will appreciate your patronage if at any point you decide to visit them. But you should know that the keep will welcome you as well," she concludes, warm.
The sound of Anais' laughter easily draws Ae's own, so that the girl smiles, relaxed and relieved. "It sounds as if you operate best under chaos, my lady," Ae teased, before remembering her tea and taking another small sip. "Though I can see how it would be..siege discounted, a pleasant life. To always have something to draw your mind and keep you busy. To feel appreciated. I can only hope that one day I too may prove up to your mettle." It's a genuine compliment that, warm as her eyes, easy as her smile. "I shall be sure to visit them then, upon your recommendation, and honored as well, to stay within your walls. Though I hope then…," she trailed off, giving Anais a hopeful look, "That it would mean this isn't the last time I get the pleasure of your company."
"I'm busier than I might care to be of late," Anais admits, taking a sip of her own tea as she looks back to her desk. "Everything just sort of happened all at the same time. Lady Evangeline's passing, Lord Jerold's grief at it, Jacsen's injury flaring up. Though at least Justin came home around then, which was a relief. But as we start to recover, I'm glad to pass along some of the duties." She laughs softly, shaking her head. "I've had the same thought, though. That sometimes it's easier to handle everything in a crisis, when all you're thinking about is making it to the next day, than it is when everything is all right."
"If I may," Ae ventures very carefully, having never been going to touch upon the topic at all, er the woman had not brought it up, "Is your husband recovering alright?" There's nothing but concern in her voice, a fretting little wrinkle in her brow, that someone so lovely and so young should end up a widow. "Though if you prefer not to speak of it, I understand. We could talk of the keep instead? And from which corner above I might glimpse the best view?"
"It's an old wound, from the Trident," Anais explains with a small smile, lifting one shoulder in the slightest shrug. "It is what it is, I'm told, after so long. As for the view, the view from the terrace is lovely from any angle, though the water view is my favorite. The guards have grown rather used to me up there," she laughs softly.
"Would sometimes, that men had a woman's strength, for all they consider us the weaker sex," Aeliana mused. A hint, just a hint, of sadness there in her eyes while her mind drifted towards her own recent loss. Nothing at all compared that which the woman before her suffered and still she sat tall. Still she smiled. "We would have less wars, I think and more time to enjoy blissful views."
"Fewer wars, perhaps," Anais muses. "But I think no fewer would die sometimes. Besides, not all women have the sense the gods gave geese," she adds with a grimace, blowing a puff of air up through her bangs. "If Isolde Tordane had had the…the gumption to wrestle Jaremy Terrick into a wedding, Stonebridge would still belong to the Roost and none of this would be an issue. Instead, she continues to be a source of strife." She rolls her eyes, reaching for her cup to take a swallow of tea. "Men are nice enough the way they are, really. For the most part."
"Well," Aeliana considered, amusement quirking her lips, "Some geese are simply destined for the oven, my lady. After all, what else would we eat?" The tea was finished aftward; as Ae leaned forward and settled it upon the edge of the nearest table. "I'm sure Isolde rues her foolishness and in time, will pay for her mistakes. She's made too many not too."
"I wish her and Lord Riordan well of each other, for whatever they find," Anais sighs, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes for a moment, rubbing at the corner of one to relieve some tension. "Forgive me," she murmurs, looking back up with a tired smile. "The reading is a strain on my eyes, but I forget about it until I take a break sometimes."
"That's quite alright," Ae assures, offering Anais a smile of understanding. "Though perhaps you might like a moment of quiet and rest. I didn't mean to monopolize your time, my lady. Though truly I am appreciative of the room," she added, smile sweet.
"Oh, no, it's all right," Anais assures swiftly. "Left to my own devices I'll spend all day staring at the numbers and trying to rearrange them," she laughs. "It's good to be distracted. And to rest my eyes. I'm likely to end up with the most dreadful wrinkles all too early if I don't keep reminding myself to stop."
"Well in that case," Ae replied, sliding forward to the edge of her seat, "While my Uncle would say that wrinkles are what give us character and life, a think I suspect stems greatly from the fact that he has more than most…perhaps you'll let me beg more of your time then? Away from books and away from numbers, a tour, what do you think? I'll be your excuse," she promised, laughter in her voice.
Not really expecting anyone to be in here, or maybe Anais by herself if she's working on the book keeping, Justin opens the door and starts to come on in. The moment he realizes there /are/ others in here and one of them is a guest, the Terrick knight stops in his tracks and blinks once, "Oh, eh, excuse me, ladies. I don't mean to intrude… came in for a law book." Yes, that nice, big fat and heavy one he's been making his way through for a while now that's been left laying out. Justin twists his mouth a bit into a slightly lopsided smile, "Good evening, goodsister. We have a guest?"
Anais laughs softly, taking another swallow of her tea. "I think that could be arranged. What is it you'd like to see?" She and Aeliana are sitting in one of the conversation groupings, and for once Anais has left her increasingly crowded desk unattended as she speaks with the young lady. "Justin," she greets, looking up at the knight's entrance with a swift smile. "We do. This is Lady Aeliana Charlton, who is looking for a way to escape all of the Stonebridge nonsense. Lady Aeliana, my goodbrother Ser Justin Terrick."
Aeliana's smile is an easy thing, full of animation and when Anais laughs and for a moment her tongue peeks lightly between her teeth with her grin. "Anything, so long as it does involve a sawmill or a long winding stretch of road," Ae replies, before her lips purse and she looks thoughtful, "Your favorite..," whatever it was, it wasn't anymore and she politely hushed herself with the knights entrance, her gaze differing to her host. "A pleasure to meet you, my Lord," Ae replies, and despite sitting, manages at least a little bow of courtsey that doesn't look awkward. "Though your talented Sister here speaks the truth and has been blessedly kind enough to offer sanctuary."
Justin looks between the two of them and he arches a black brow slightly at mention that she is a Charlton. Though Aeliana doesn't rise to do any formal curtsey, Justin nonetheless offers her a bow, "A pleasure to make your aquaintence, lady Aeliana. Welcome to Terrick's Roost and Four Eagles Tower." He then steps over to close the thick, old law tome after making certain the faded purple ribbon still marks where he had left off reading the evening before. Justin rests his hands on the old, much worn leather cover that shows elaborate tooling and even has very thinly hammered gilded plates in the corners as though it had been made in Kingslanding itself, long ago. There are however a great many pages that have been added over the years and loose, to amend where laws had been changed or things updated, and the spine of the book rebound.
"Are you then here to stay for the duration, lady Aeliana? Do you guest here at the tower or at the inn?"
"I rather like the beach, personally, though it's getting late," Anais muses, twisting to look out the window once more. "We may have to save that for tomorrow." She looks back to Justin's book then, brow arching slightly. "Did you find anything interesting, Justin? Or still studying?"
"Tomorrow it is then," Ae offered to Anais, before those dark eyes swept once more up towards Justin, "And thank you as well, my Lord, for the welcome. The Lady Anais has been kind enough to invite me to stay here in the keep," she answers him; her hands folded neatly on her lap and idly twirling the closed fan between them. Though she watches the pair, curious eyes drifting over the book that's won his favor. A curiousity offered for the questions answer as well.
"Oh, I don't know about that, Anais. There's something to be said about a walk on the beach at night, or even a ride, when the moon is up and the evening soft. Or to go swimming, then." Justin's baritone speaks low, feeling the binding on the old book. He smiles a little faintly, "I often like to go to the coast at night." And he bets his goodsister has no idea how often Justin sleeps out there or under some fragrant pine, rather than inside of these walls like everyone else. But he doesn't say that. He glances to the book, "Studying. Take me a good, long while to get through this. Kingslaw is pretty stuffy reading much of the time, but sometimes it's interesting. I am marking sections with different colored ribbons to be able to find them again quickly. I have another book for various Terrick rulings and history and it interests me more." As you might expect. Justin gives Aeliana a slight nod, "Very good. We'll hope you enjoy your stay with us, lady Aeliana. We'd be pleased to show you around and do what we might to help you be comfortable."
"Mmmm," Anais hums to Justin, rueful. "As much as I'd like to, I'd prefer not to send Jacsen into an apoplexy when he's feeling well from hearing his wife was out swimming in the middle of the night. And I'm glad you're bringing some order to those," she adds at the mention of Terrick law books. "I remember looking through them shortly after I arrived here, when we thought something could be done about Stonebridge, and feeling like I couldn't find anything useful to save my life."
"My guards are not going to thank you, my lord," Aeliana offers Justin with a tease. "Particularly when I go pestering them about the joys of riding on the beach at night. I've had little enough dealings with them to be familiar with the pleasure, but I can remember riding at my Uncle's. The moon heavy and the fields thick with grass before it was cut for hay. Twas almost like an ocean then." And Harold was kind enough to indulge her. There's a dash of color to her cheeks too, for the babbling and a dash of apology in her eyes, but it disappears quick enough while she listens to the siblings banter. "I would enjoy a guide, my lord, but only at your leisure. I can bumble about well enough on my own, most times," she promised.
Justin almost laughs at what Anais says, "Yes, no doubt. I suppose if I were he, I might object to your doing so as well. On the other hand, I am not he and I would gladly take my wife to do such things by moonlight, if I but had one." And well, if she didn't freak out at the prospect. With his luck, she would. Justin leaves the big law book and steps over to select one of the slimmer Terrick volumes, tempted to do his reading from it instead. He turns his head to look to Aeliana and smirks a little then at Anais, "See?"
"Is that a request, Justin?" Anais asks with a small, teasing smile. "Please, when considering offers, discuss the girl's feelings about moonlight swims? It should work well for both of us, really. One night she can swim with you, then the next she can swim with me, to keep it from being too scandalous. We used to swim all the time at the Banefort," she adds to Aeliana. "I do miss it, though I've managed to make a little more time for my favorite activities of late."
Not…entirely sure what it was she'd said that had brought the lord to smirking at his sister, Aeliana offers a bemused little grin, before her attention slips back towards Anais. "Well then, I shall simply have to borrow you from your books for a lesson then," she teased; though there was a measure of seriousness in it and she glanced towards Justin to better explain, "I had mentioned earlier, that I was not as familiar with the sea as I would like to be. Actually," her dark eyes danced merrily to include them both, "This is only the second time I've really gotten to see it. The first being rather recent itself, when I went down to Seagard for the wedding."
Eh, wait! What did Anais just say? Justin is caught a little off guard, giving Aeliana a quick glance and not knowing her, "No, no! I mean, not with me. Well, I'd watch out for you if you want, Anais but … it's far more appropriate for you ladies to go with your handmaidens, or husbands, or with other ladies." Yes, backtrack a bit there. He wasn't intending to insinuate anything! Proper knight. Or well, he tries. Justin clears his throat and steps back to the table, laying the thinner volume on top of the thick to take them /both/ to his chambers to read for a while.
"Ah, yes, I did see you there. We'll hope you take a liking to the sea as much as we are fond of it ourselves. Now, if you ladies will excuse me, I should bid you a good night and retire to my studies."
"We'll have to go for a swim tomorrow, then," Anais smiles easily to Aeliana, just grinning after Justin and his confusion. "In the daylight." Just then, a servant comes up, waiting by the door with clasped hands, and Anais looks over with a rueful smile. "It looks as though something needs my attention at the moment, though. I'll send Nina to get you set up in a room," she adds, nodding to the handmaid. "It has been a pleasure, Lady Aeliana, and I hope it will continue to be."
"If you don't drown me," Aeliana teases, grinning a bit in response. "And if you do, tell my family that it was an accident and spare yourself some trouble," but there's humor in the tone, for all that she's laughing with it as she rises. "Thank you, Lady Anais, most sincerely for your company this evening. It's been a pleasure to get to know you." Hands fluttering at her skirts, Ae glances towards the door, "And I look forward to future conversations. My Lady, My Lord," her curtsy was offered to the pair. "A pleasure." And with that, she moved to depart; so that she can follow Nina and not get lost or turned around.
"I have never drowned anyone," Anais promises with a laugh. "And I do not intend to start with you. Good evening, Lady Aeliana," she dips her chin in a nod, standing to move toward the desk once more.