The Punchline
The Punchline
Summary: Following a week of intrigue and heartache, Riordan goes for a ride down memory lane.
Date: 05/05/2012
Related Logs: The Danae/Riordan Saga
The Countryside - Near Stonebridge
Fri May 04, 289

Mounted atop a tan mare with a bronze-colored mane, Riordan rides through the countryside near Stonebridge. His riding clothes are simple in design, lacking any ornamentation or design - and yet, like all his clothes, they still are clearly made by the finest hands, and still designed for one of noble birth and station. The greens and browns blend him in with the countryside, and as he approaches a particular stream, he slows the horse. His two guards behind slow as well, having given the Regent of Stonebridge a respectful distance on this entire ride thus far.

"There there, Lily," Riordan says to the horse. The calm beast moves her head into the touch, but otherwise does not seem troubled. Indeed, of the two, it is the rider whose dark gaze seems to hold more worries. Indeed, the burden weighing on him is palpable, and even though the ride has been pleasant, for once it seems to refresh him. "Come. Let us get this over with," he murmurs to the beast.

The mare moves forward once more at the subtle directions of her skilled master, hooves daintily guiding them down the slight incline of the bank, and across the shallow crossing of flowing water. Behind, the sound of the guardsman on their own horses following can be heard. For a time, all that can be heard, besides the normal sounds of nature, is the sound of hooves on grass as the trio of riders moves through the trees. And then, as the trees begin to become a little denser around the already narrow deer path, Riordan brings Lily to a halt, and looks over his shoulder.

"Wait here," Riordan says, in a quiet but intense voice to the guardsmen as they too bring their horses to a stop behind him. "I will not be far, or long," the Regent adds, forstalling any objection. And then, with a gentle maneuvering of the reins, the mare and her rider move further down the path, until they round a small bend, and disappear from sight.

A short time later, having since moved off the original path itself, Lily brings Riordan through a break in the trees, into an otherwise enclosed, and peaceful looking clearing. Inside, the sounds of nature are more palpable; The songs of birds as they flit about overhead, the chattering of squirrels playing idyllically in the branches. Quietly, almost reverently, the Nayland knight dismounts from the horse, removing the tack so as to free her head and allow her to graze. He does not, however, remove the saddle, not planning on lingering.

Moving to the center of the clearing, Riordan looks at the grass, as if he might find something there. Nothing, just grass, until… a small patch of yellow field flowers, almost hidden among the long grass, obviously dead from being broken and crushed some days ago. "So it did happen," he murmurs to himself, the smile on his face wistful, and yet bitter, all at the same time.

Falling to one knee, he touches the flowers, confirming. And among their number, he finds a new flower. Smaller then the rest, and yet recently having grown among the patch of the otherwise dead flowers. A hand instinctively moves out, as if to pick it… and then stops. Letting out a sigh, Riordan rises, and simply looks about his surroundings for a long time.

From deep within him, a sound comes, moving slowly up from his core until his shoulders shake, and tears stream from his eyes. And yet the sound, when it bursts forth, is not a sob, or a scream. Laughter scours the air, harsh and loud, a mixture of sadness and almost maniac glee mixing in the tone. Simply rocking on his heels for a time, the Regent of Stonebridge laughs and laughs.

"I understand," he says, finally, as the laughter begins to fade. Idly wiping the tears from his cheek, the residual chuckle that still enters his voice turns more simple. No sadness, or glee. It is just the chuckle of a man told something funny. "Sweet Seven, but I understand now. I get the joke."

Riordan is still chuckling, when a short time later, he returns mounted on Lily, to find the guards talking idly among themselves. The two men look up, at first with some concern, and then with mirrored relieved smiles to find their Lord in such spirits.

And idly tucked into the knight's collar is a tiny, freshly picked yellow flower.

"Let's go. Stonebridge waits for no man. Or woman."