|The Other Side of the Bridge|
|Summary:||Rowenna Nayland crosses the stone bridge to give Lady Danae her regrets.|
|Related Logs:||All related to Gedeon's claim to Stonebridge, especially The Misfit Guard|
|Lady Danae Tordane's camp — Other Side of the Bridge — Stonebridge outskirts|
|10th day, Fifth month, 289 AL|
It's early evening, some time past supper, though the sun is still present enough in the sky to cast long shadows between deep, gold swaths of light. Those men sworn to the Widow Tordane call out at the approach of a slender figure on foot, wearing a long scarlet surcoat and girded with a slender blade. Rowenna Nayland's garb is modified somewhat, the surcoat laced and tailored so that it might almost pass as a gown — were it not for the slits up the front and back, and the breeches worn beneath. It's an odd compromise between the masculine and the feminine — one she wears confidently enough, however it might trick the eye. She stands her ground when she's bid halt by the sentry, calling out, "Rowenna Nayland, once squire to Jarod Terrick and Gedeon Tordane, as well. I would speak with your lady, Sers."
It might trick the eye, however that given name would fool no one and especially not with a Nayland attached to the end of it. "You my enter," one of the guards begins, eying Rowenna sceptically from tip to toe before adding, "My lady. However, your sword is to remain with use. You may retrieve it once your business is done." The cadence of his tone hints that this is a standard request and not one he is willing to discuss. That said, another guard is sent to fetch the Lady Tordane, who can be seen from where the Nayland Lady-Ser stands. A flicker of gold and onxy against the horizon from were she stands watching the sky melt into rose and gold.
Rowenna relinquishes her sword — and two daggers from elsewhere on her person for good measure — before entering the camp, approaching Danae only with the permission of her guard — or the lady herself.
There might be a less than subtle raise of brows at Rowenna's display of talent at so secreting the daggers on her person, but they are taken without comment. After a short word to his Lady, the guard gives a nod of permission for her to approach. As Rowenna draws near, Danae turns to regard her with pale eyes cast dark in the day's late late. "Good eve. I have heard many things of you, Lady Rowenna Nayland. It is a pleasure to meet you face to face."
The lady-ser inclines her head respectfully. "Lady Danae. Likewise." She studies the young widow a moment, then curves a faint, sad smile. "You're beautiful," she observes. Then, smile dwindling with the light, she adds, "I grieve the loss of your husband, lady. My deepest and most sincere condolences."
That gesture of respect is returned with the slightly dip of a curtsey, fingers brushing her skirts in a sweep of ebony. "We do have more words of others between us than our own," she says, the faintest hint of mirth touching her lips. There and gone again. "Well met." Danae's blue eyes widen briefly at Rowenna's observation, the brief flutter of lashes against her cheeks a note of surprise. Her own smile grows as Rowenna's fades, sad and soft. "My thanks, my Lady. He would appreciate that there were those who care so deeply for him. It seems he was a man with many unexpected friends. I am to understand that you were his squire, once?"
"Once," says Rowenna, her smile returning — still faint and sad. "It seems like another life, now." She lowers her lashes, studying her boots. "I don't know how to do this with any grace, my lady. Ser Alek… suggested to me that I might serve you, in memory of your husband. Because… I loved him. We all did. And I would protect what he loved — most especially his child." She blinks and lifts her dark eyes to Danae's pale blue. "Lady — I beg you, abandon your claim to Stonebridge. It's not… it's not worth the end you might come to. Go far away and live a happy life, raise your child in peace."
"My lady," Danae breathes, words soft and low once Rowenna has raised her eyes again. She pauses to shake her head, folding her hands neatly at her waist, gaze calm. Back lit by the falling sun, she is a picture of shadow with a halo of gord burning against her edges. "Your words warm my heart as well that you would see so said, from love. My husband — what he loved best and what he fought and bled for, it was not me nor my child if the Seven leave me so honestly blessed, it was Stonebridge. I cannot betray the one wish that he would ask of me."
Rowenna nods, blinking rapidly and swallowing against a lump in her throat. She looks away a moment, taking a breath. "I know. It's why he chose you." She brushes at her cheekbone with the heel of her hand, then looks to Danae again. "Lady, I don't believe in Gedeon's claim. I believed in him, but he's gone. I believed in the King's decree, but that was overthrown by the Gods themselves. And — really, it doesn't matter what I believe… there's one thing I know: this has to end. Somehow. It's gone on too long and harmed too many. More people than Gedeon have died for this, some of them more innocent than you can know. Like you — and your child. Pawns in the game."
Expression sad but composed, Danae simply watches the other woman's shifting emotions. "Here," she murmurs, drawing a hankerchief from her sleeve to offer it. "It's dusty out here." Just in case. If Rowenna does not accept it, the little bit of embroidered cloth will simply be folded before her hands. "It is. There have been many already who have said that makes him cruel, in his way. Think you though — for all those pawns, that all that blood that has been tied to this Stonebridge and the Iron hands that have ruled it: that does not make this new claim disingenous, my Lady. It hurts me to think of. In truth, I do not disagree with you, it is for the King and Lord Tully to decide…but I offer a third party, separated from the rivalry of the good houses of the Riverlands." That of Terrick and Nayland. "No longer entrenched in Westerlands politics, by the hand of my marriage. It might be mad to think that I could in turn offer some sort of peace to Stonebridge — but it was what my husband wished, if only that I try."
"You are not mad, my lady," says Rowenna, smiling wryly at the offer of the handkerchief but shaking her head. "And yet… all love is a kind of madness. What Gedeon inspired in people — was well-nigh fanatical." She takes a breath. "I can't serve you, my lady. I am so sorry. I wish I could. Stonebridge does thrive under my family's regency — if it were otherwise, I could not support their claim. But I can — I will — " She flexes her fingers at her side. "I will do everything in my power to make sure no harm comes to you, Lady Danae. I cannot support your claim, but — my friend loved you. My brother loves you. I will not abandon the hope that there is some way to see you safely through this, after all."
Smiling gently at the refusal, Danae folds the hancherchief between her fingers delicately and brushes a thumb along the embroidery. "It seems so…" For a moment it seems like that thought is going to be continued, instead she simply shakes her head. No. "But for those things that did not come to pass," she whispers instead, looking at the ground for a moment. Only for a moment, then her keen gaze rises to meet Rowenna's once more, equally appraising and sympathetic. "I appreciate that my Lady, for the love you bare for my husband." If not the love of her brother. Reaching out, she bridges the gap between them to just briefly touch Rowenna's arm.
Rowenna bows her head again, reaching out to gently squeeze Danae's shoulder. "May the Mother keep you and yours, Lady, and the Warrior walk beside you." She hesitates a moment, then offers, "I like to think — free from pain, embraced by the Seven — Gedeon would want better for you, now, than he… was capable of, when he was alive. Please consider that his wishes might have changed… and if you need me, call. I will do what I can."
"And may the Father guide your heart and the Crone seek to grant us both wisdom," Danae bids softly, tipping her chin as Rowenna bows her head. A small quirk of her lips, too faint to be a smile, emerges. "I only have the words that breath gave him, any else has been taken from him. They are of the Stranger's keeping now." Lifting her hand she covers the one that Rowenna has placed on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "My thanks."
"And mine to you, my lady, for the gracious reception." Rowenna steps back, hand falling to her side, and bows before turning to go, retrieve her weapons, and return to the other side of the bridge.