Page 044: The Food Taster
The Food Taster
Summary: The Roost gets one more unexpected arrival, this one hailing most recently from Seagard and, more broadly, from Dorne.
Date: 25/08/288
Related Logs: A Brother Departs
Avinashi Jacsen Josse Lucienne Jaremy Anais 
Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower
The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.
25 August 288

The letter to Seagard gave a requested date of arrival, and it seems the lame Terrick's retainer has no desire to disappoint. A small carriage with a clothing truck fastened to the top comes rolling in past the porticullis late in the afternoon of the requested date, once the driver announces himself. The pair of men-at-arms flanking the carriage bear the banner of House Mallister, and the whole small, tidy party makes their way inside the walls of Four Eagles Tower, coming to a dignified halt in the courtyard. The curtains of the carriage are drawn, but one is nudged aside just enough that a golden eye is able to gaze out.

He could not have been so far from the courtyard, for the announcement that the long-awaited carriage from Mallister lands has already reached the Lord Jacsen Terrick and seen him come out from the heart of his father's Four Eagle's Tower. He is not much changed from when last he and Avinashi spoke, her peeking eye will reveal, still the same lame-legged lord with a gaze a touch imperious for one of his diminished nature. He waits with the Septon Josse at his side, exchanging a few words with him. "I'm telling you, you'll have rarely met her like, if at all," he insists, "But she is of a good sort, I can promise you that."

"My Lord," Josse chuckles under his breath. "If you have any tastes I doubt, it's not those for companionship." He's not the fidgety type, waiting in relaxed sort of posture with his hands sunk into his belled sleeves. "But say her name to me again? I'm afraid I had it and now have lost it again."

The driver hops down from the front of the carriage, coming around to open the door for the occupant within. There is the faint chiming of tiny bells as Avinashi Ruhi descends down the from the carriage and into the courtyard. She's in red and gold, today, the diaphanous red layers of her strange, wrapped gown stitched with designs of delicate gold leaves and vines. A translucent red scarf sits back on her head and falls down her shoulders and back. In the middle of her hairline is a red and gold clip styled to resemble a flower with several buds dangling down onto her forehead. On her feet, below ankles wrapped in bangles with little bells, are a pair of red sandals, and they carry her towards the Terrick and the Septon. With a quiet smile on her lips, she presents herself to Jascen, dipping into a low curtsy. "My lord," she says, her voice soft and with a strange, lilting accent.

Jacsen seems set to reply, but his attention is willingly stolen by the display at the carriage, the vision of flowing silk and dusky-skinned woman causing a smile to cross his lips. "Can you imagine, that all of Dorne is thus?" he asks the Septon, though it does not seem he is quite expecting an answer, at least not now. He takes but two steps forward on his cane, letting the woman cross the remainder of the distance. "Avinashi Ruhi," he offers, by way of greeting and answer to the question Josse posed to him. "Welcome to Terrick's Roost, at last."

Josse hears Jacsen's reply, though the septon's hearing is likewise eclipsed by the abrupt treat for the eyes. "Whatever I could have imagined," he says under his breath, "It did not do the least bit of justice." He doesn't step forward when Jacsen does, keeping his place behind the nobleman. His head bows to the woman in red and gold, not quite so deeply as it would to a Lord or a Lady but still with gracious honor.

"It is a pleasure to be here, at last," the Dornish woman replies. "Your home is very lovely, from what I have seen of it. And, who is your companion, my lord?" She looks to Josse, returning is courtesy with another graceful dip of her body.

As the dusky skinned, red and gold silked Avinashi dips her curtsey to Jacsen, his smile ripens a touch, and he looks to the Septon at his side. "Septon Josse, dear friend and counsel, I present to you Avinashi Ruhi, daughter of Dorne, my food taster and dear friend of these past several years." The three stand not far from the Tower's entrance proper, where further in the courtyard a small carriage and its accoutrements sit, a few men coming over to assist in taking the luggage down from the thing.

Josse lifts his head just enough that he can see the unfamiliar woman's eyes. "Miss Ruhi. It's a great honor to greet someone at the end of their travels…or at least a stop in our Roost if nothing more." He smiles a little bit, the expression cutting lines at the corners of his eyes that usually don't appear until far more advanced years. "I hope you'll allow me to also welcome you here."

"If you are a friend to my lord, then I am most pleased to meet you, indeed, Septon, and I thank you for your welcome," Avinashi replies, offering Josse one of her small, quiet smiles. "I shall be here as long as Lord Terrick has need of me." Her glance towards Jacsen suggests it is not Jerold to which she refers.

As she appears in the great doorway to the entrance hall, Lucienne has a curious look upon her face. "Surely not," she tells her handmaiden, who's insisting there's a Dornish woman in the courtyard. The Terrick lady shrugs, and follows behind the plump young girl to the top of the stairs, her middling brown eyes scanning the vicinity under the length of her lashes. Upon sighting - indeed! - a Dornish woman, her chin lifts gently and she reaches out to settle a hand upon her maid's shoulder. Hattie stills, not daring to say 'I told you so'.

"Indeed, our good Septon is that," Jacsen affirms for the sake of the Dornishwoman, clearly amused in no slight fashion at Josse's surprise upon meeting Avinashi. "How was your travel, then? I trust the weather not too stifling, and the road not unfriendly on your way from Seaguard, " he inquires, brow rising slightly.

"I do what I can, until Lord Jacsen grows too weary of my prattling." Josse smiles slightly. There was definitely surprise in his blue eyes, which is quickly shifting to thinly veiled curiosity as Jacsen begins to ask questions of the woman's journey. Dorne. So many questions, so little oxygen.

"The trip was pleasant enough," Avinashi replies, "it went much as would be expected. Perhaps, if you could tell me the way to the stables, I might direct the carriage and men? They will wish to rest and water the horses, and if a place to sleep might be spared for them so they need not return to Seagard until morning, I am sure it would be most appreciated." She chuckles warmly for Josse's joke, watching the holy man as he watches her. "Do you prattle, Septon Josse? If Lord Jacsen counts you a worthy companion, I find that difficult to believe."

Having observed the introduction taking place, and held her eyes upon Avinashi for a suitable length of time, Lucienne overtakes her handmaiden to approach the trio. "Forgive my interruption, but what a pleasant surprise," she says, bestowing a smile upon the Dornishwoman. The lift to her brows asks her question for her: is there news from Seagard? Poor Hattie is still frozen on the steps, unsure of what to do.

"Enne!" Jacsen calls when he hears that familiar voice, and turns to watch his sister as she approaches down the steps. "Surely you remember Avinashi Ruhi," he remarks, indicating the woman in question with a faint motion, as if it were needed at all. "And may I present," he remarks to Avinashi, despite knowing her familiarity with the Terrick woman, "My lady sister, the beautiful Lucienne Terrick?"

"I do," Josse replies to Avinashi, half-smiling. "I prattle, I prate, and occasionally even pontificate, but fear not — for guests and guests only I keep it short." He turns his head as Lucienne joins them, inclining his head in proper fashion to his class better. "Lady Lucienne, how nice to see you."

"Always, it is a pleasure, my lady," Avinashi answers, smiling warmly at Lucienne as she offers the Lady Terrick a deep, graceful curtsy. In answer to that unspoken question, she says, "Lord Jacsen had written to bid me come to Terrick's Roost. It seems he expects to be here for some good while." She peers over at Josse, lifting a hand to press her fingers to her chest. A sort of 'my goodness' gesture, it looks a bit peculiar when the woman who offers it is no noble lady. "Gracious, Septon. All of that? I shall have to witness it some day, guest or no."

"Of course I remember Miss Avinashi," comes the response, delivered to Jacsen with a little emphasis. Lucienne returns her smile to the woman. "How fortunate for us all, then, and welcome to Terrick's Roost." By now, Hattie has caught up and is hovering behind her lady. Lu's smile follows the exchange between Josse and Avinashi, and as she's addressed it lingers on the former. "Septon, and you. Far better circumstances this time, thank the Seven."

Jacsen's smile for his sister is warm, and he indicates the carriage and its attendants in the courtyard proper. "Might you spare your companion, dear Enne, that she might make arrangements for the carriage and its men?" he requests politely of his sister. "I must say, while you /do/ all those things Josse… you make it far more pleasant than many could manage. Usually." He chuckles quietly, his mood seeming quite pleased for the nonce.

"Indeed, m'Lady," Josse replies to Lucienne, with just a hint more seriousness in his voice. "And I hope you've been well. There's a book I found buried in your Lord father's study that I suspect you might like, but I hadn't managed to track you down. I'll step up my effort." He smiles at Lucienne, an expression that morphs into a brief smirk at Jacsen. Then his eyes flicker back to Avinashi and he chuckles. "I'll do my best." And then, a quick indulgence in curiosity like a burst of steam from a covered pot: "May I…you're a taster?" He looks between Jacsen and the foreign woman to confirm. "You must be an accomplished herbalist, no?"

The Dornish woman listens as the conversation travels around her, gaze shifting as the speaker changes. For Josse's question, Avinashi lowers her head into a small, slow nod. "I am, Septon, yes. And I suppose I have learned a thing or two of plants and their uses in my studies. It is very handy knowledge, for such a calling."

It is a small gathering in the courtyard, Jacsen, Josse, Lucienne and her ladies maid, Hattie, stand with a dark-skinned Dornish woman garbed is silks of red and gold. A bit behind her, a carriage is being unloaded of a clothing trunk by the man who was likely the driver. A pair of men-at-arms, carrying banners of the Mallister House, have dismounted from their horses, one assisting the driver, the other simply waiting until introductions are made and the horses can be taken to the stables.

From the direction of a second-story staircase, Jaremy Terrick appears. Dressed for the summer breeze carrying in from the Cape of Eagles, he pauses at a landing to look down on the Mallister carriage. Counting the faces and the names that go with them, he turns and heads down the stairs. Taking them none-too-quickly, he rounds around the stone-hewn staircase and heads towards the group, fingers looped in the front of his swordbelt as he walks.

Hattie perks up at the prospect of a visit to the stables. She may even catch a glimpse of Squire Hill in there, after all! Lucienne offers an obliging nod to her brother, and gestures for the girl to hop to. "Is that so? I don't envy you that task," - reorganising the study, Lucienne tells Josse. "I'll make an effort to stop by." Hattie scurries over to the men of Seagard to begin her task, whilst Lu listens carefully to the talk of herbalism. Are her ears perked? Perhaps they are.

Jacsen tosses his sister's maid a grateful expression, and seems well pleased as the talk shifts to Avinashi and what she may or may not know of certain esoteric talents. Well, esoteric to one such as Jacsen, in any case. He's removed enough from the conversation that he does not miss the approach of his brother, one he acknowledges with a bit of a grin, and a motion indicating he should come and join them. "You're just in time, my lord brother, to meet a very good friend of mine…" He nods towards the Dornish woman, who is caught up in speaking with the rest.
Anais arrives from the Portcullis.
Anais has arrived.

Josse smiles slightly at Lucienne, though his attention's drawn back to Avinashi as she speaks. "Very handy indeed," he says, something approving in his soft-spoken voice. "I'm always in awe of those that have such skill…such respect for things both beautiful and dangerous at once." A slight nod. "Perhaps I could convince you while you're here to speak more of your studies? I believe firmly in trades of knowledge; perhaps even with your worldliness there may be something I can show you in return." Though he uses the first person he glances a few times at Lucienne while he talks, seemingly including the noblewoman in this. Likely noticed the ears perking, yes he did.

Continuing his pace towards the group, Jaremy lifts his head in acknowledgement to his brother. Waiting until he's within the last few feet, he rests one wrist over the hilt of his sword and another behind his back. Stepping in close enough to make his presence known for all, he flashes a smile towards Lucienne and Josse, eyebrows lifted at Jacsen's introduction. The Young Lord's surprise is hard to hide, seeing a style of look and dress that he's not familiar with. "Thank you, Jacsen, I'd only just heard of the arrival, I was in my room." He clears his throat. "Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?"

"So very many things are both beautiful and dangerous at once," Avinashi agrees, smiling faintly as she repeats the Septon's choice of words. "I should enjoy such an exchange, Septon, thank you. Always, it is important to take those opportunities for learning, when they are found. And thank you, Lady Lucienne, for your assistance." Her attention travels from Lucienne to Jacsen to Jaremy as the third Terrick approaches, and her own brows lift in interested bemusement. "Then this must be your father's heir," she supposes to Jacsen. "My lord. An honor to meet you. Thank you for giving me welcome into your father's home."

Lucienne, Jacsen, Josse and now Jaremy are all in the courtyard, standing near a bronze-skinned woman garbed in red and gold silks of a rather foreign and unusual style. Lucienne's maid, Hattie, is guiding the driver and his carriage, as well as a pair of men-at-arms carrying Seagard's banner and their horses over towards the stables.

"So very many things are both beautiful and dangerous at once," Avinashi agrees, smiling faintly as she repeats the Septon's choice of words. "I should enjoy such an exchange, Septon, thank you. Always, it is important to take those opportunities for learning, when they are found. And thank you, Lady Lucienne, for your assistance." Her attention travels from Lucienne to Jacsen to Jaremy as the third Terrick approaches, and her own brows lift in interested bemusement. "Then this must be your father's heir," she supposes to Jacsen. "My lord. An honor to meet you, I am Avinashi Ruhi. Thank you for giving me welcome into your father's home."

Lucienne, Jacsen, Josse and now Jaremy are all in the courtyard, standing near a bronze-skinned woman garbed in red and gold silks of a rather foreign and unusual style. Lucienne's maid, Hattie, is guiding the driver and his carriage, as well as a pair of men-at-arms carrying Seagard's banner and their horses over towards the stables.

Out and in, out and in. Anais is ever moving in and out of Four Eagles Tower, whether it be on wedding errands, or for her own sake. She left fairly early this morning, with an escort of guards and her quiet handmaiden, Nina. Whatever mission she was about, she seems to have finally completed it, riding in with her little retinue to find another greeting in process. Curious, she slips down from her mare, passing the reins to a guard with a small smile before starting toward the group.

"Young Lord." Josse steps back slightly from the grouping to accomodate the growing number of nobles, bowing his head politely to Jaremy. A slight smile for Avinashi at her response and then the septon falls comfortably quiet — at least for now.

"A good friend, and faithful servant," Jacsen informs his brother, smiling with some quiet pride as he indicates that most unexpected-seeming of women. "My lord brother, this is Avinashi Ruhi, my own taste tester and retainer," he introduces, before his attention shifts to the dusky-skinned woman. "And as you have surmised, this is indeed my Lord brother, Jaremy Terrick, Heir to the Roost."

The group is growing, isn't it? As she usually seems to Lucienne falls quit save for the appropriate dips of her head or smiles to acknowledge the conversation. Meanwhile, Hattie has forgotten all about her hope of catching Squire Caytiv at the stables - she's taken a shine to the carriage driver. "Dear Jaremy," greets his sister.

Jacsen seems to be on the verge of offering more of an explanation to his brother, whom might well wonder at how his own kin came to call a Dornish woman his retainer, but the urgent message that arrives for Lord Jaremy takes precedent. "Later," the younger Terrick brother promises the older, and turns his attention back to the remainder of the gathered group. "It seems you've gathered quite the following, Avinashi, for a woman so newly arrived to my father's keep," he points out, with a light chuckle. "I do think you'll find this a place that is home to many a good sort." And then, sight of Anais causes a glance over his shoulder. "Speaking of such… here comes Lady Anais of the Banefort, betrothed to my lord brother."

"Hello," Anais calls over cheerfully as she approaches, absently brushing one hand over her skirts and fluffing the fingers of the other through her hair in an attempt to look reasonably respectable. She turns a rueful smile after Jaremy, shaking her head. "And off he runs," she sighs dramatically, turning back to the others with a glimmer of humor in her eyes. "What's all this, now?"

Avinashi straightens as a servant darts up to Jaremy to rush him away with urgent business elsewhere. "I already feel most at home here, with thanks to your family's kindness," the food taster replies to Jacsen. Then she looks over towards Anais as she joins the little cluster in the courtyard. "My Lady," Avinashi says, dipping into yet another curtsy. "An honor to meet you, and many congratulations on your betrothal. I am Avinashi Ruhi, once of Seagard. I proudly serve Lord Jacsen as a retain and as his food taster. I am greatly pleased to have been asked to join him here at Terrick's Roost."

Josse cocks a brow in veiled amusement as Jaremy strides in and strides right back out, and Anais takes his place. "My Lady, I assure you today," he says to Anais in a wry tone, "It's not because of the way I smell." Clean clothes, no falling on his face in the stables for him this time.

Lucienne has her mouth open too, the breath drawn to speak let go with mild disappointment as Jaremy's called away. "Nevermind." She leans in to joke with Josse and Anais in a soft, playful sort of tone, "Perhaps it's me - I've had no end of trouble pinning him down, lately."

"A pleasure to meet you, miss," Anais nods politely to Avinashi, even if she arches a brow at Jacsen with a teasing smile. "How very…cautious of you, Lord Jacsen. Septon," she adds, the corners of her eyes crinkling with her laugh. "I am quite certain Jaremy would have no reason to run from you. Anyhow, he's probably just off to see to yet another detail. They keep popping up when I least expect them."

"One does not turn down good help when it is available," Jacsen remarks to the Banefort Lady, with an amused twist of his lips the barest of half-shrugs. "I've arranged for quarters to be provided you, Avinashi," he points out, turning his attention back to the woman draped in silk. "It is not private, much like in Seaguard, though I think your fellow lady's maids in the chambers will be a touch more welcoming. When you're ready, simply ask any of the servants and they can take you there. I fear for now…" He glances about the assembled, "I should take my leave. There are some things," he says, though observers like Avinashi or Lucienne can see how he favors his leg, and assume it is for that which he seeks to leave, "That cannot wait much longer."

Josse smiles at Anais, taking a small step aside so that Jacsen can get past him. He glances up at one of the Four Eagles' windows and then back at the group, softly clearing his throat. "I should be on my way as well, if my Ladies and Miss will excuse me." A deep incline of his head to the noblewomen and a slightly shallower one to Avi, with the last words to her: "I much look forward to chatting." And despite the reserved vocabulary that he always seems to use, his tone is as happy at the though as a small child on his nameday. "Seven bless."

"Thank you, my lord, I shall do so," Avinashi answers. She glances towards the Lady Banefort, studying her with expressionless features as her value is brought so gently into question. But then Jacsen is offering his farewell, and Avinashi's attention moves to him. "Of course, my lord," she says graciously. "I will find my way from here." The Septon is given a small smile as he departs. "As do I, Septon." the Dornish woman murmurs.

"And /I/," says Lucienne, "Might go remind my young Hattie about the merits of virtue. By your leave, Lord Jacsen, Septon, Miss Avinashi… Lady Anais." Of course, she's easy to follow if one has the desire to see young Hattie reprimanded - that's the way her steps carry her from the group after a deep curtsy.

Anais tips her head slightly to one side to consider the Dornishwoman as everyone else departs, a glimmer of amusement lingering at one corner of her lips. "Yes, of course," she replies to Lucienne, nodding after Josse and Jacsen. Once they've all scattered, she turns a rueful smile on Avinashi. "I think I frightened away your welcome party," she observes, a touch of laughter in her voice. "Sorry about that."

The girl from Dorne chuckles softly. "You must have very great power, my lady, to frighten so many with such ease. But, it seems I am harder to scare. Or, perhaps, too weary from travel to run. Is it impolite of me to suggest that perhaps we might sit for some short while?"

"Not in the least," Anais assures, glancing upward toward the sky before looking to the castle. "Inside, perhaps?" she suggests. "Or we can sit out here, if you like. I'm not particular. It's been…a long, busy day," she laughs with a shake of her head.

"If you are caught in the center of wedding preparations, then your day as been much less pleasant than mine, my lady," Avinashi muses around a faint smile. "Whichever place would better suit you, then, is where we must go. The outdoors, I do enjoy, but I have yet to see the inside of this tower, so either would be very agreeable for me."

"I've been riding around like a madwoman all day," Anais laughs, shaking her head. "Inside sounds just fine to me." She starts to lead the way then, glancing over her shoulder at the other woman. "What part of Dorne are you from, Miss Avinashi?" she asks as she walks, noting all the small peculiarities with interested curiosity.

"Many parts," the Dornish woman answers with a small smile as she falls into step beside the Lady Banefort. "We traveled up and down the rivers, and sometimes, we lived by the sea. We called no town our home, or many our home, depending."

"The rivers?" Anais echoes as she steps inside, pausing at the doorway to catch the sleeve of a serving girl and murmur a request for drinks before leading the way to a small grouping of table and chairs. "That must be useful, in terms of settling in in the Riverlands, I suppose. One thing they seem to have in plenty here is rivers."

"Many more than in Dorne, but they do not flow so differently," Avinashi agrees. "They do call to me of home, though so much of what surrounds them is different." She waits until Anais begins to sit before she follows suit, reaching back to slide back the scarf draped over her head to reveal dark hair swept back into an intricate collection of braids gathered at the nape of her neck. "And what is Banefort like, my lady? Is it like Seagard or like The Roost?"

"More like Seagard, I think," Anais answers with a crooked smile, settling down and stretching her feet out onto a small stool. "Though I'm afraid I've never been to Seagard myself. I believe Banefort is smaller, as well. But it's on the sea, and rocky, with a few valleys in the hills to the interior. My brother Caytiv could tell you more about those." She pauses, laughing to herself. "No doubt he'd be thrilled to. I imagine there's quite the story to how you came to serve Lord Jacsen as well. I'm equally sure you'll be repeating it a thousand times, so I won't ask you just yet, just for me," she grins.

Avinashi chuckles. "it is very nearly the first question that is asked, once people feel ready to ask their questions," she agrees. "There will be many stories of how it happened before long. At least, that was how it was at Seagard. The smallfolk there have quick minds, but quicker mouths, I must confess."

"That," Anais laughs lightly, "Has very little to do with Seagard, and very much to do with people in general." A servant arrives then, bringing a tray with chilled wine and strawberry-water for the ladies, a glass of each already poured. "We are ever drawn to the unusual and unique. Still, I am glad to see Lord Jacsen with some assistance. He seems to have a good deal of responsibility here of late."

"My lord is a wise man, and they are often in much demand," Avinashi says, glancing over to the servant as the drinks are set down. "I offer him what help I may. This is very nice, thank you." She reaches, first, for the strawberry water to take a small and thoughtful sip. "The local fruits taste a little different, here. I shall have to relearn the kitchen."

"No doubt," Anais agrees at the mention of flavors. "Though hopefully it won't be too painful a process. And I imagine you better understand what things one must /really/ look out for." She takes a drink herself, then leans forward a bit. "I hope you will forgive me, but as a girl, I always loved the stories of Nymeria and her ten thousand ships. Or at least that was what I liked most about the stories that we /had/…" And so the conversation continues, on the ever-important merits of children's tales.