|The Intentions of Serpents|
|Summary:||Travelling slowly back to Stonebridge, Gedeon and Ceinlys enjoy a cryptic discussion|
|Date:||14th January 2012|
|Related Logs:||Time to Say Goodbye, Ironborn Invasion|
|The return route from the encampment to Stonebridge|
|14th January 289 A.L.|
An hour or so into the journey, and the sun has risen above the horizon, casting a cheery illumination across what, so far, appears to be a peaceful little patch of the world. Still, those in the party as it rumbles along cast glances often over their shoulders, more concerned with what might be at their backs rather than what lies ahead. Ceinlys is no exception and has remained unusually quiet until now. Reining in her mount's lumbering stride a little, though, she draws for the time being alongside the simple cart hauling her belongings.. and one new addition in the form of a young knight.
"Ser Gedeon." She addresses him politely, icy blue eyes settling upon his features as she apparently seeks at least -something- to distract her thoughts from whatever dark place they have wandered to. "..are you comfortable enough?" The young lady has had little to do with the man before this, save a passing glance when he was initially brought in from the battle.. and he probably doesn't recall that part at all. To be expected. Raising a hand, she sweeps back the hood of her travelling cloak, allowing the morning sunshine to touch her pale, pretty features as she watches Gedeon.
Perhaps it's advantageous that Gedeon is lying in such a manner that the only thing he can see is the road on which they're already traveled. The borrowed crossbow lies beside him, loaded, as well as some additional arrows, and his attention remains on the road as they travel closer to Stonebridge. It only slides away as he's addressed, offering the pale woman on horseback a small nod. "Comfortable enough, thank you, my lady. We're nearly at the half-way point, now."
"Are we?" The young lady casts an absent-minded glance over her surroundings, as if expecting to see some landmark to familiarise herself with them. No such luck. "I shall have to take your word for it, Ser." Offering the wounded knight a smile, the mere ghost of a curve tugging at her lips, she settles herself a little less rigidly in the saddle, allowing her borrowed horse to lope at a sedate pace. "You are not missing being surrounded by pretty young healers too terribly, then, I trust.." Amusement sparkles briefly in her expression. It was rather well known that Gedeon was taken very good care of, during his time in the tents. But she doesn't press the matter, offering only that passing jest. "I wonder.. might I ask you something, while we are, for the most part, in private?"
"Somehow, I shall find the strength to go on, even without the presence of my feminine chiurgeons," Gedeon opines with twinkling eyes and a theatrically wistful sigh. He nods a little as Ceinlys speaks on. "You may, of course, ask anything you wish, my lady. I cannot say, until I hear the question, if I might answer, however."
Inclining her head in thanks for the half-permission she's granted, Ceinlys then pauses, as if to judge her words before she voices them. Her tone is surprisingly low, for a young lady, throaty in timbre.. yet not unpleasant. It has a strange, velvet quality, particularly when, as now, she speaks gently. "You shall have to forgive my nature. I made enquiries about you, after our first encounter. Something about the way.. certain people receive you caught my attention. Is it true, then.." Those blue eyes are levelled firmly upon the prone knight. "..that you hold some manner of claim to Stonebridge? Rumours abound, of course. But I do prefer to hear the side of those at the center of them." A slight smirk quirks at the corner of her lips. "If only those who discuss -my- past were so considerate of such things as 'truth'." Gedeon may or may not know what she refers to. Regardless, she seems to consider it something they may have in common; being a topic of gossip and speculation.
Whether he has an inkling of Ceinlys's past or no, Gedeon's thoughtful expression gives no sign. Instead, he tips his head in a small nod. "Yes, my lady, that is true. I have indeed laid a claim to Stonebridge, which is a rather tangled tale in and of itself. Sufficed to say, the short of it is that we now await word from the king to determine whether Isolde Nayland or myself shall rule there. Unsurprisingly," his lips quirk in a wry smile, "the king has been occupied with more pressing matters as of late."
Returning the smile with a thoughtful air, Ceinlys likewise nods in understanding. "Mmm. Unsurprising." Tucking an errant wisp of dark hair back from her cheekm the young lady tilts her head a little askance, regarding Gedeon for a further few moments before venturing further. "..that explains Ser Rygar's diffident attitude. But, if I may.. I wish you luck in your endeavour." Does he hear that often? Maybe. "Better a proven warrior to see to the defense and politics of a town so affluent as Stonebridge, rather than a girl. Particularly if that is shown to have been the wish of your predecessor." Chatting away in a conversational manner seems to relax her, no matter the topic. "I doubt either of us have need to discuss the qualities of House Nayland in any depth, however. You are bound to the Valentins now, as I understand it?" Arching a brow, she studies the knight's expression as she rides alongside him. "I know scarce little of them, I am afraid."
"I am not sure Ser Rygar needs an explanation for his diffident attitude. I believe it comes naturally," Gedeon replies, straight faced, "though I thank you for your kind words, my lady. However, I doubt the rest of your house would agree with them." One blond brow lifts slightly as she speaks on about women. "That is an interesting opinion coming from you. I had not thought you expected so little of your own sex." The wagon rumbles on a few beats, jostling Gedeon a little, before he speaks on. "I am, currently, bound to the Valentins. They are a small house of humble beginnings, which I find endears them to me more greatly. I hold high respect for Lord Ser Anton Valentin who is, indeed, a proven warrior and has been a friend to me, besides."
The young woman laughs softly at this summary of the sour-faced Nayland, though at least has the grace to modestly lower her eyes as she does so, obscuring at least partially her amusement. Sobering with some effort, though, she continues, casting her gaze out at the path ahead of them. "I do not deny -all- women the capability of governing matters of import, Ser. My mother has long shown skill for it. But it seems to me that Lady Isolde.. perhaps leans upon and heeds the opinions of those in her court more than perhaps she ought. A true leader should take on board the opinions of their counsel yet ultimately make their own choices with confidence. And on the contrary, Ser.." Shifting her focus back to Gedeon, Ceinlys offers him a wry look. "..I imagine my family would -heartily- agree with me. I rarely speak out of turn, regardless of appearances. Consider." Adjusting her seat a little, she rests her hands on the pommel of the saddle, giving her mount a long rein. "..the Naylands are a bannerhouse of the Freys, as are the Haighs. -And- the Erenfords, though they are of little consequence. Surely you, of all men, Ser Gedeon, can see they are, in this, reaching rather above their station? When I say I wish you luck.." She holds his gaze seriously, an odd intensity to her glacial eyes. "..I mean it -most- heartily."
Gedeon regards the lady as she speaks, his gaze thoughtful, one finger tapping lightly on his knee. "My lady, I do not know whether I should find in you a fortuitous ally at a time when I should need one or a well-placed serpent, as elegant as she is cunning. But, in either case," he tips his head in another nod, "you play your hand most beautifully."
Unperturbed by the lingering assessment offered by the knight's gaze, Ceinlys serenely returns his smile. "I do enjoy a gamble." she replies, that curve widening to a slight grin for a moment, revealing a glimpse of white teeth. "..find in me what you will, Ser Gedeon. All the assurances I could offer will not make that decision for you, so I shall not waste my breath with them. You are wise to be wary of, as you call them, serpents.. a caution I admire, given your predicament. What I will say is this." Gathering her reins a little, she urges her dapple-grey closer to the cart, that her voice might remain audible even as it softens further. "..I have no love for those who clutch at power at the expense of those who better deserve it. I have known such a thing myself.. which perhaps explains my vehemence on the matter, Ser. Perhaps in time, you will see my qualities as worthwhile to keep. Until then.." She offers one hand toward the knight, leaning a little in order to do so and smiling ruefully all the while. "..I have said my piece. Good luck to you."
Let it never be said that Gedeon Rivers does not comport himself with all the trappings of chivalry. As that hand is offered, so it is accepted, the blond bastard resting his fingers beneath Ceinlys's and leaning in, never mind the stitches, to brush the back of her knuckles with a chaste kiss. Sinking back against his pillows in the cart, he smiles faintly. "Stonebridge is not a place without enemies for me, and I return there weak and in need of care. You are an intelligent young woman, I think you well understand what that could mean, my lady. I expect these coming days will give you ample opportunity to demonstrate the side you truly support. I find I hope quite sincerely that the words you've offered here are truth."
With surprising consideration, the young lady tries to keep a close enough pace with the cart that Gedeon need not strain himself overmuch.. though she does smile shyly at the chivalrous gesture before gently withdrawing her fingers. "It is good to have enemies. It lets one know they matter, one way or another." Falling silent for a long moment, Ceinlys captures her lower lip between her teeth in a pensive expression. Even in this, she somehow manages to appear graceful. Shaking aside her wayward ebon tresses when she looks back to the knight, she hesitates before making a quiet enquiry.. and subsequent offer. "..do you -have- anywhere to go, upon our arrival, Ser? Only.." She cracks another of those slight grins. "Well, you do not trust me, as yet. And I cannot grant you much in the way of assistance immediately. But should the remainder of our household return relatively unscathed, I imagine my brother could easily spare a few good men to see to your.. wellbeing. Sadly, I think I can offer you, for now, only the questionable pleasure of my company.. and a little Sweet Sleep, if you trusted me to procure it." She did make mention to Miss Delacourt, before they left, that her maester had been well supplied. Does the young noblewoman have talents -beyond- a silver tongue? Who would have thought it..
"I've coin enough for a final stay at the Crane's Crossing which strikes me as a better place for me than Tordane Tower, though I expect Isolde Nayland will extend the invitation." Gedeon smiles again, a faint and playful thing tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Enemies are well and good, my lady, but I hold out hopes of surviving a little longer, despite them. Sweet sleep…" he considers. "I dare not take any drugs, I fear I shall have to be as alert as I may manage. But. Having a little on hand may be useful, even so."
A pleasant 'hmm' of apparent agreement precedes Ceinlys' uttered response. "It was recommended that I seek board there, also. So at the very least, Ser, my household could attend to any needs you may have." Blue eyes wander over the weary figures accompanying them; some on horseback, some trudging along on foot. They do -seem- nice enough, occasionally offering the knight a morsel to eat, or a sip from a waterskin. "Oh, an invitation to the tower.." The young lady rests a hand to her chest lightly, affecting an air of dramatic enthusiasm. "Is your heart not set all a-flutter at the notion?" Grinning back at Gedeon, apparently approving his own subtle amusement, she cants her head a little, a thought striking her. "..I assume the girl would think to do so for reasons other than baiting you, though. Do you know the lady well, Ser, nowadays?" Her expression is touched briefly with further knowing mischief. "..or perhaps one of her ladies..?"
"I do find the thought of staying under that roof at such a time quickens my heart," Gedeon replies a little dryly as his gaze travels over the men keeping company with their little cart. He politely declines, however, morsels and sips. He has his own waterskin from which he drinks and seems to have no interest in food, at present. "I am not sure what Isolde thinks of me these days, I suppose she may hold some fondness for me, still, though it is tempered greatly by the struggle for Stonebridge. Her ladies I know only in passing. The Lady Lorna Frey may be… sympathetic towards me. If nothing else, I suspect her currently above whatever machinations stir there. Her other lady, Igara Frey, is a delicate creature of frail constitution. She rather reminds me of a type of spider I recall from Braavos. Fragile, beautifully colored, immensely poisonous."
"Freys do tend to remain above the petty rivalries and politicking of court." replies Ceinlys, with an evident hint of pride. By way of explanation, with a glance toward Gedeon, she adds, "..my mother is Lord Walder's eldest daughter." It's not much, as a claim of lineage. But it's not to be sniffed at, either. "Interesting, that the Lady chooses such women to surround herself with, all the same." Permitting a quiet chuckle at his comparisons between one and a spider, she shakes her head a little, then raises a hand to push back the resulting tumbling cascade of raven curls. "I suppose I ought to be flattered by the serpent notion, then. Snakes are at least beautiful and capable of defending themselves. Truly, Ser Gedeon, are there any women you do -not- have reason to be suspicious of?" Studying him for a moment, her expression softens. "..that is perhaps too bold a question, I apologise."
He chuckles, shaking his head, "I should not take it too greatly to heart, my lady. I find, in this world, there are very few people I might trust, women or otherwise. I am not entirely sure the company Lady Isolde keeps is entirely her choosing. She supposes herself in greater control of the world around her than is the case. But, I find conversing with you far more pleasant than attempting to do so with the Lady Igara. She effects the veneer of a timid and terrified maiden, too meek to talk in the presence of men. How genuine it is, I've no idea, but it makes for tedious company." For Ceinlys's brass question, his own smile softens and perhaps it saddens a little. "I have, my lady, indeed met a woman or two whom I have found above suspicion. But they are rare creatures. We all have our defenses, I cannot fault you yours. Serpents can be very beautiful. Mesmerizing."
Ceinlys' nose wrinkles a little in distaste at the description of Igara's manner; a quirk she cannot seem to help when something truly rankles her. "I do not see the point in such.. performances. Then again, I grew up in a household of men. I am the only daughter. So perhaps I am naturally less fearful of a man's ire.. and perhaps, at times, more inclined to provoke it." The young lady grins at this, her crystalline eyes drifting back toward the reclining knight. "Thank you, Ser. I am flattered that you find my company pleasing.. and I genuinely return the compliment. I do not believe I have ever heard you speak at any length, until today." Her sturdy mount plods ever onward beside the cart, ears drooping lazily and swaying a little with each heavy hoofbeat, tail occasionally swatting at an invisible itch. For a time, the dark-haired noblewoman is quiet, lost in her own thoughts. But eventually, she rallies again. "Serpents can be perfectly pleasant, if you handle them correctly, Ser. I saw a performer once who could entrance them in return. I do not deny it must be dangerous to learn such a talent, of course." Her smile is all innocence. "You are correct, though.. everyone has their defenses. I am glad there are at least some with whom you can let down your guard, Ser Gedeon."
"I suppose the point is that the Lady Igara sees a need for it, and either she finds men deeply frightening or she supposes she'll be grossly underestimated if she behaves as if she does. I suspect, in general, it is effective for her," Gedeon says, swaying slightly as the cart rolls along, wincing now and again as they roll over bumps and divots in the road. "Many creatures can be perfectly pleasant, if one only knows how to handle them and offers the correct respect for their weaponry," the knight agrees with a wry smile. "To find a serpent, all grace and deadly poison, and yet to trust those fangs will not be turned on him one day, therein lies the true achievement. Another very rare thing." She speaks of snake charmers, and Gedeon shakes his head. "Ah, but you must not believe those performers. I have seen their like before, and they are illusionists and charlatans. The snake sways because the man sways, and it follows him to strike. But, and here the secret of the dance, my lady, it cannot. Its mouth has been stitched shut."
"Then I hope you have a taste for achievement, Ser." Ceinlys' reply is simple, and uttered without a trace of motive, those vivid blue eyes gradually wandering back toward the knight, following a light pat to her horse's neck, rousing his ears at least with a start. With a smile that is suddenly, behind the charisma, very weary, she slowly shakes her head. "Illusionists and charlatans they may be.. but dress them in enough finery and gift them with honeyed words and the crowds will flock to them, all the same. The serpent, at least, has no choice but to dance.. it is the audience, the followers, that I pity. Until someone.." Her lips quirk into a faint smirk. "..comes along to show them how the trick is done, they will be held enraptured by the music." Drawing a slow breath, the young lady glances downward for a few beats, sweeping a palm across her skirts lightly, as if to smooth a wrinkle in the dusty fabric. "Ser… you are weakened, wounded and surrounded by my household. If I had any cause to strike at you, do you not think I would have done so..?" That voice is impossibly soft, barely audible above the dull clatter of the cart, the huffing of the trudging horses nearby. But she affords Gedeon another quietly amused look to accompany it. "You'll trust me not to bite. Someday."
"I find I do," Gedeon replies, equally simply, for acquiring the taste of achievement. "For myself, I pity the serpent. The audience, however they might flock and be fooled, return to their lives once the performance is over. For the snake, it is a darkened basket and a slow, languishing starvation. Strength and beauty, squandered on a conman's trick." He considers as Ceinlys speaks, his smile a little bemused as he shakes his head. "Here, lady? On the road when there is none but you and I and your household? No. You could make quick work of me with ease, but you could not slip the suspicion cast in your direction after. It may never be proven, but the whispers of 'murderess' behind one's back can be quite ample stitches, indeed." Still, those whispered words cause his smile, amused and wry, to ease into something just a little softer. And for her final phrase, he offers only, "I should like that, my lady." And on they ride.