|The Place of Man and Woman|
|Summary:||Hardwicke and Anais have a difference of opinion on defending the castle.|
|Date:||January 13, 2012|
|Related Logs:||Bump in the Night|
|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.|
|January 13, 289|
Anais is practicing. After the excitement of the attack on the gates, the first real up-close encounter with the Ironborn for most of those within the keep, a measure of sobriety has settled over the people inside. It's not just tedium. It's the realization that all that stands between them and their enemies is the stone wall. For many, that's meant holing up and staying quiet. For Anais, it's meant a flurry of as much activity as she can manage. Doing anything is better than dwelling on the situation. And so, while some of the smallfolk practice with bows, she stands at the end of the line, one of her guards gently correcting her stance. The target is fairly well-feathered, mostly toward the center, though Anais doesn't seem particularly satisfied. "I was terrible, Kincaid," she mutters. "Just short of useless."
Hardwicke generally leaves the bow training of the smallfolk to one of his guards more adept at handling the weapon, though he certainly keeps apprised of everything that's going on, and often watches. He's just making his way from inside the castle from some other duty or other when he spots Anais at training. He slows, and then stops, watching her with a creased frown, but holding his tongue.
"Anais, it was pitch dark in the middle of the night," the guard informs the lady dryly. "Everyone misses. You don't usually shoot at a lone target anyhow. You shoot at the line and hope it hits /someone/." Anais wrinkles her nose at the explanation, but doesn't respond for a moment, focusing on her shot. It veers left, but maintains its level. "I'm never going to be that close, Kincaid. Ever. Because if I can hit them, then they can hit me, and I'm not a soldier." That's promising at least, isn't it? "I just…I want to be able to make a single shot when it matters. When there's no one else who can, you know? In case the worst happens. I want to be ready."
Kincaid looks like he might say something, but - being a guard - he notices Hardwicke's approach, and clears his throat meaningfully instead.
"Lady Anais," Hardwicke greets from behind her in a quiet voice. He leaves it at that, brows just slightly arched as he watches her. His gaze flicks to Kincaid for a pointed, lingering moment before returning to Anais.
"What is it?" Anais starts to ask her guard, lowering her bow and turning to find…Hardwicke. Oh. There's a moment of hesitation as she tries to decide how to play it, but afterward she hands the bow to Kincaid, brushing her hands off and smoothing a hand over her skirts. "Ser Hardwicke," she greets the captain, a faint smile fading as she glances to the walls. "Everything is all right, I hope?"
"As well as can be expected, my lady," Hardwicke says, voice even and low. "There's no way to repair the damage to the gate without further endangering the castle, but the portcullis still holds. We train what we have the best we can." His gaze slips to the bow she's handed to Kincaid for just a moment.
"I miss the doors," Anais admits, glancing toward the portcullis. "I don't like that they can see in." Following his gaze to the bow, she summons up a small smile, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. "It makes me feel better and it makes the men," she nods toward the smallfolk, "Feel competitive. And work harder. They don't like to see a girl do better."
"There is little for them to see, my lady, that they couldn't already guess. We are preparing." The line of Hardwicke's mouth thins just slightly at her smile and her words. "Whatever Lord Jacsen sees fit to allow, my lady."
"But you don't much care for it," Anais supplies, watching his features closely. At least this time she seems more curious than angry. Kincaid shoots an apologetic look over her shoulder to the captain; it seems like the sort of thing he has a fair amount of practice at.
"What Lord Jacsen sees fit to allow is not for me to care or not care about," Hardwicke says with firm disapproval.
Anais tilts her head slightly, still inspecting him. "But you weren't happy when your girl came running to the gate," she observes, crossing her arms loosely over her chest. "Even though she clearly knows a good deal more about handling herself in that sort of situation than I do." Another pause, and the faintest touch of a smile tugs at one corner of her lips. "You'd have a heart attack if Lady Evangeline so much as set foot outside, though, wouldn't you?"
With a distinct scowl, Hardwicke says, "What Belle knows about handling herself will keep her that much safer inside the castle and away from any combat." His gaze narrows on her at the question, and he replies evenly, "Having women near combat makes it harder for the men to fight."
"Because you're trying to focus on both the fight and the people behind you," Anais guesses. "Like the difference between being a soldier and a bodyguard. You have to think about more." Perhaps surprisingly, she adds no comment about the ability of men to think about moer than one thing at a time.
"No, my lady. Bodyguards have one thing to think about, as do soldiers. But women near the battle requires every man to become both." Hardwicke glances off at the training smallfolk, his expression grim. "It's a dangerous distraction."
"Isn't it also dangerous to be outnumbered, though?" Anais pauses, head tilting once more as her gaze goes distant. "I wonder if there's a formula," she muses. "Quantifying the distraction as opposed to the addition of forces." Remembering herself, she shakes her head slightly, refocusing on the captain for his answer.
"Unarmored women are not an addition of forces, my lady," Hardwicke says blandly.
"Aren't they?" Arching a brow, Anais looks to the smallfolk training with bows, then back to the captain. "They're unarmored. But we're training them. I know-" She lowers her voice, so as not to be overheard. "I know they aren't first-rank forces. But we train them because, ultimately, that small thing could be the difference between victory and defeat, don't we?"
"They are men," Hardwicke says. There is a distinct pause before he adds, "My lady."
Anais' lips twitch slightly at Hardwicke's response. "Presumably, yes," she agrees. "But a bow is a…flexible instrument, isn't it? I can draw one. I can shoot one," she adds, glancing over her shoulder at the target. "Albeit not as well as I'd like to. Maybe not as far as a man can. Probably not as far. Okay, not as far." She waves a hand, dismissing that detail. "Anyhow. I don't- I didn't do it the other night because it was fun, Captain. I did it because…Because otherwise, all I can do is sit and wait. And being powerless is orders of magnitude more frightening than Ironborn scaling the walls."
The muscle of his jaw twitching slightly, Hardwicke looks very close to continuing on in this vein. Then he takes in a slow breath and says, "Whatever Lord Jacsen sees fit to allow, my lady."
Kincaid clears his throat slightly, raising a hand to cover his mouth. "You're just making a challenge out of it now, Ser," he cautions, earning an elbow to the ribs for his trouble.
"I'm just having a /discussion/ with the captain," Anais protests, making a face at the guard. "About the defense of the castle. That's completely appropriate." Kincaid makes a humming sound that could be taken as agreement, even as he shoots Hardwicke another of those apologetic looks. "Ser Hardwicke, is there any way in which I could contribute to the defense without distracting men like yourself, do you think?" she asks, shooting Kincaid a glare of 'see? that's constructive.'
"Keep away from the combat," Hardwicke says. For a moment it looks like he might be truly obnoxious and end on that note. Then he says, "Make sure that the oil is heated and transported out of the castle as quickly as possible. I believe that is what Lady Terrick concerned herself with." His brows twitch upwards with a bland expression.
Anais eyes Hardwicke for a moment, crossing her arms over her chest once more. "Ser Hardwicke, do you know what women tell men to do when the birthing pangs start?"
"The gods have not seen fit to bless me with children of my own, my lady," Hardwicke says, tone dry and a bit distant.
Anais hums, the sound rather like Kincaid's. "Well. When they inevitably do, I am quite certain that, at some point in the process, someone will go and suggest that you boil some water." She smiles faintly, head tilting. "Do you know why?"
"I am certain you prefer that I don't so that you might instruct me thus," Hardwicke replies.
"Oh, no," Anais assures. "My mother always said it was better if we figured it out for ourselves. Better that we should know how to think than to be able to recite everything we've heard. Please." She smiles sweetly. "Why do you think?"
"I assume because the Maester will require clean water, my lady," Hardwicke sighs out impatiently.
"Mmmmhmm," Anais hums again, reaching out to pat a hand to his uninjured arm with a small smile. "Mostly because it helps them to feel useful, Ser Hardwicke. And people are calmer and more effective when they feel useful." Apparently she feels she's made her point, because she turns back to the target, reaching over to take the bow from Kincaid, who shakes his head sympathetically to Hardwicke.
Setting a slight glare on Kincaid as an easier target to lay blame on, Hardwicke says, "As you say, my lady," and turns to go his own way.