|The River and the Sea|
|Summary:||A Dornish woman and an Ironborn walk into a bar…|
|Rockcliff Inn — Terrick's Roost|
|The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.|
|14 November 288|
It's early evening with the sun creeping down the west, and the Rockcliff Inn is just beginning to bustle as prime drinking time begins. Amid the usual cluster of men with tankards and women with tight bodices and palms looking to be filled, sits a figure clothed in green silk embroidered with yellow, dressed rather unlike a native Riverlander. By her feet sits a basket of purchases from the market. In her hands she cradles a mug of something hot and steaming. While she garners an odd look now and again, it seems she is familiar enough a presence that she goes mostly ignored by the other patrons in the inn.
The door opening to the tavern probably doesn't normally draw a lot of attention, a few careless glances before people plan to return to their drinks and nothing more. But this time, those glances become double takes. The woman who presses her way into the room is worth a second glance. If her face didn't look so feminine and her white blonde hair wasn't half way down her back, one might wonder if she was a man, dressed in leathers, boots and with a long sword at her side. She's got ice pale face and matching, arctic eyes, all of her colouring just screaming of her being from the Iron Islands. It's enough to drive the entire room quiet for a few heartbeats, then a few rushing whispers to follow. As two men rise, possibly ready to start something, she just raises her calloused hands in an open gesture of peace before pushing her way on towards the bar.
As the door opens, Avinashi draws a small sip from her tea. It's not until the hush falls that she lifts her gaze to regard the woman approaching the bar. Gold eyes blink slowly, her expression quiet and thoughtful as she has another small swallow of tea and sets her mug down. If she is observing this stranger rather closely, she is certainly not the only one.
Kathryna does her best to ignore the lingering half dozen eyes upon her, though at least one other man does get a challenging gaze. The look on her face says if he wants to start something, she -will- finish it. Apparently, losing his ale isn't worth the battle. She finally steps up next to the bar, a few feet down from her polar opposite in colouring and seeming heritage. She tosses a brief look at Avinashi and gives an actual half tilt of her head to the woman. She knows what it is to be out of place. She then looks up at the man tending the bar. "Wine. A bottle. A glass." She huskily rasps out, voice thick from years of screaming across decks.
As she is noticed, the Dornish woman offers the lady from the Iron Isles a faint smile, just a little curl from the corner of her mouth, and a small nod in turn. He table seats two, and with only one seat occupied, she reaches with her sandaled foot to nudge the other, empty chair out a little in wordless invitation.
Kathryna accepts the wine and she pulls out a pouch from where it hangs on the leather belt on her hip. She opens it to reveal gold. Oh goodness gold. Not a commoner's amount of coin, not by far. She offers a good payment for the wine, accepting some change but giving a quite good tip in turn. She then shifts her narrow, toned frame back to the room, just in time to see the offered chair. Well, that was interesting. Quietly, the pale woman steps across to the darker one. "You sure you care to be seen with an Ironborn? The salt might rub off." There is a low bitterness in her husky voice.
The Dornish woman does not stand as the Iron Islander approaches, but she does lean back a little so her face might remain in the Avinashi's vision. "And do I appear, my lady," she begins in a voice warm and rich with a lilting accent, "to display great concern for the opinions people make based on dress and coloring?"
Kathryna gives a low, little laugh at that comment, her ice pale expression best termed as sardonic. "… Suppose not. Point taken." And with that, and a quiet grunt, she sets the bottle of wine down on the table. She then pauses. "You drink wine?" She doesn't really wait for an answer as she goes to the bar and hoists herself up, leaning across to steal another glass. She doesn't bother asking for it. She then plops lithely back down to her feet, something almost animalistic in her motions, and goes back to the Dornish woman. The newly stolen glass is set before her and Kate sits.
For the question of wine, the darker-skinned woman offers a small nod, and her quirk of a smile returns at that quick lean and snatch. She accepts her glass, nudging her mug to the side for now. "As you are far from home and unfamiliar with the ways of the Riverlands, I am pleased to inform you that before sharing a drink with a new acquaintance, it is deemed most courteous to exchange names, first."
Kathryna nods slightly, "That's… fairly sensible back home too, really. I'm Kate." She offers her hand in a gesture of a shake, a rather masculine motion, but it suits her well. "Uh… Lady Kathryna Harlaw, to be formal about it. But Kate is fine. We're in a tavern, not a court." Her voice is a quiet, somewhat surprisingly feminine mezzo despite it's huskiness, the slightly hard accent of the Iron Isles clear in her words. She -just- arrived, if her accent says anything.
The other woman accepts the offered hand with a light clasp. There is, conversely, nothing much masculine about her at all. "I am Avinashi Ruhi," she offers in kind. "Avinashi. A pleasure to meet you, Kate. May I ask what duty it is that calls you here to Terrick's Roost?"
Kathryna studies the woman's strangely pale eyes across from her, the only thing that is pale about her companion. She takes in the knowledge that lies there, too clever by half, no doubt. Kate then gives a small sound from her throat and shrugs, reaching for the bottle of wine to pour them both out some glasses after removing the cork. "An Ironborn was killed in a duel several months past. It took a bit for news to travel. Once it did, well… we feel we are owed recompense. Duels should not be deadly. I've come to negotiate for such and to, hopefully… Ensure it does not happen again. Even if he was a bastard."
"Ah," Avinashi murmurs, "at the tournament at Stonebridge. I had heard that such a thing occurred. A shame for his family, indeed, if they loved him well. How goodly to send an envoy for such, as the tales of the Iron Islands would rather have them sending battle ships, it is said. But, not all rumors and legends can be believed." She lifts her glass, once poured, and has a small sip.
Kathryna smirks down towards herself, "Do I look like a battle ship? I was lucky to get a ship at all to come out, much less one to make war. No, no… we are all practically neighbors. Perhaps it is time we started to act as such." She keeps her full mouth into that line of a smirk across her not quite yet touched wine, "Not that I suspect either side will fully agree wit me. A woman does what she can." She shrugs her sculpted shoulders, heavy coat looking hot for the summer weather outside.
Avinashi lets her gaze glide over the other woman, her masculine dress, the few weapons that are visible. "Only very slightly," she opines, smiling faintly. But for the idea of better neighbors, she offers an approving little nod. "Never an unworthy proposition, in my thinking. But, then, I am a woman, as well."
Kathryna cocks a thin, pale brow at the very slightly comment, trying to figure out if that's a slight to her woman hood or her actions. She smirks again, looking back down to her weapons. "Yes. I've heard the women of the main land were far more… fragile creatures. Taught they should be weak and delicate, so they are…" Kate shakes her head quietly with a disapproving sort of grunt in the back of her throat. "A shame." Is all she can say about the matter. "You are a woman… Do you find they take your advice? Listen to your wisdom?"
"Well, that is surely what is expected. I dare not say a woman of the Riverlands is without her own weapons, though they may not flash in the sun, as yours do," Avinashi replies. "I find that my words are heard by certain ears, and I have worked hard to make certain those ears belong to persons of influence."
Kathryna nods in approval, a slow smile creeping across her mouth. She could get to like a woman like this. She finally takes a good gulp of her wine, slightly sinking back into her chair, slightly letting some of the constant tension in her muscles ease away. She breathes out slowly through her nose. "Well, that's good to know. As long as they treat you right… Long as you're living a life you intended to live? That… that's what matters. Making your own way. Bowing because you chose to, not because they make you."
"Of course," Avinashi agrees with a soft nod towards to woman of the Iron Islands, "just as it was your heart's choice to take up a blade and learn to fight as men do. May it be that we are always greater than compromise, Lady Kate."
Kathryna is about to say something, but she actually does take a few heartbeats to consider Avinashi's words about the blade. A briefly cool smile flickers across her mouth again and she takes a good sip of her wine instead, back sinking into the chair as much as the blade along her spine will allow. Which isn't much. "You like to speak in riddles that make people think, don't you? Most would consider it a bad habit." But her husky voice seems complimentary as she offers that observation. She then raises her wine towards the Dornish woman. "Indeed, cheers to that.. always being greater than compromise."
The Dornish woman lifts her glass and lets it tap against Kate's. She has a sip before speaking further, though her smile deepens a little. "I play the part of the gadfly, when it does seem pertinent to do so. But I do my best to be wise as to who and when. My present company strikes me as exceptional and some who I hope may think on me with interest and kindness. I must do my best to catch your attention."
The last admission from the woman actually draws a touch of confusion from the pale Kate's eyes. She tilts her head, a few more locks of white blonde falling across her shoulder. "Exceptional?" She laughs doubtfully, shaking her head as she gulps back a bit more wine. Apparently, she is a woman who has a fondness for drink. Or, at least, who can hold it well. "I am little to nothing, miss. I suspect they sent me here because I was the most… Disposable, should something go wrong. Not first or second born. No ship of my own. If I can manage to make some sort of friendly relation with the Roost, then everyone will be shocked and proud they sent the right person for the job. If I do not, well then, clearly I was too weak to handle the job. I have no foolish designs as to why I was sent here."
"To be underestimated can be a weapon cleverly concealed as well," Avinashi replies, letting her hands rest lightly in her lap as she regards the pale woman across from her. "But, if I may ask, is it your wish, then, to achieve the goal they have set you? Have you come with the determination of building a strong alliance with Terrick's Roost?"
Kathryna does genuinely consider that for a few moments, apparently liking Avinashi enough not to give her the rote answer of yes, of course! Or, perhaps, she's trained to think for herself and not bow and scrape to her superiors even if she's a long sea away. "I have come to… learn what I can of the honour of those that dwell in the Roost. I hear that you Westerosi consider yourselves -far- more honourable than us Ironborn. I will be curious to see if it holds true. If they are willing to pay recompense for the death of Pyke, then I will know those claims are true. I do think that we all wish much the same thing. Strength, prosperty for our families and our lands, protection should winter ever rear it's head again. It is foolish to think we shall find that by being at each other's throats for decades and decades."
"I should say, rather, that the tenants on which Westerosi honor is formed vary from those which belong to the followers of the Drowned God," Avinashi muses, "and in some ways, the two shall conflict. But in others, as you say, there are great similarities. And we all, after all, serve the Iron Throne. In that, if nothing more, we are brothers and sisters."
Kathryna bows her head in affirmation, "Aye, we do. And I am certain they do differ. But if we can find enough common ground to, perchance… Brook an alliance? It will make all of us stronger." Even as she says it, though, her pale eyes look tired and doubtful. She does not have vain hopes about her assignment on this warm and strange land. "And you. You clearly look like these Dornish of whom I've heard so many tales. You are a long way from home as well, are you not?" She drains the rest of her wine and scoops up the bottle, pouring another large glass of the stuff. She'll top off Avi's if the woman permits.
The woman does permit, though she has only managed about half of her first glass when it is refilled. "I have come a very long way from my beginnings," Avinashi agrees, her lips lifting again. "But my journey has brought me to the Riverlands where I do proudly serve the Young Lord of the Roost, Jacsen Terrick, so perhaps fate was kind when it guided you to the Rockcliff."
Kathryna manages to mostly conceal the fact that information does surprise her, but her ice eyes have gone a touch wider. She just nods, drinking in that news like she does her glass of wine. "That…is an intriguing post, no doubt." She grins darkly across her goblet, head tilting in amusement, "But you still have not told me -how- you got here. Why leave your beginnings? Why make such a long trek?"
"Ah, well," Avinashi muses, letting a finger run around the rim of her wine glass as she considers, "that is a tale. And one, I am told is difficult to believe, though as you do not follow the Seven, perhaps it will make better sense to you, my lady. The shortest rendition that I might manage is that my people are children of the river, in Dorne. We are the last of the Rhoynar, the last of their ways. We follow the gods of the river, and those gods sent me a vision. I came here to follow it."
Kathryna so -doesn't- follow the Seven, so those words barely make her blink. Hell, another water-god actually seems to drawn a hint more interest to her features. "The gods of the river…" She gives another one of those short, cold laughs. "Sounds nigh unto a cousin of the Drowned God, though perhaps a touch more gentle than my god. Still, I understand the power of water. The ways it can and will shape a life. Your god gives you visions?" She does look quite interested now.
"Now and again, never one so clear as the one that brought me to the Riverlands," Avinashi replies. "A river can be violent, but it has not the great and endless expanse of an ocean, and our gods have not known death as yours does. They are different but… closer I think to one another than to The Seven who know little of water and much more of temples and great, glass stars."
Kathryna shakes her head slowly, another small smirk dancing across her full mouth as the Seven are discussed. "Glass stars to not make one strong… temples…" She shakes her head once more, cutting herself off in her briefly tempting diatribe. It will do no good. Wine instead. Wine to drown her frustrations. "What is dead cannot die. Gods of the water do give their followers strength. And humility. I have found it to be a most useful combination." She finally mutters, voice momentarily quiet and proud. There are a few things in Kate's life that are sacred, it seems.
"And yet it cannot live, either," Avinashi muses, watching the other woman thoughtfully. "The Drowned God has fascinated me, I do confess. I would enjoy learning more of his ways some time, if you are agreeable to such a discussion. Strength and humility, however, are both essential virtues if one is to thrive."
Kathryna considers this quietly, her head still lulling slightly to the side, studying Avi a hint deeper. "If you wish to learn, I do not mind teaching. I am no priest, I will admit. I did not come here to preach religion. But I will do my best. I would be interested in you returning the favour, though. I was unaware there even -were- water gods in other areas. If they fight the Storm God in their own ways, then it is a religion I can respect."
"They fight… each other, mostly," Avinashi chuckles, "but perhaps that which you call the Storm God, we call by another name. I would be honored, my lady, to indulge in an exchange of the gods of water, both rivers and seas."
Kathryna bows her head almost formally, her small smile the most genuine thing that that Avniashi has seen from her probably this entire time. Kate doesn't really, truly smile much, smirks far more her thing. "I look forward to this exchange of knowledge." She murmurs softly, finishing off her second glass of wine. Despite two in a very short time, her eyes are still sharp and bright. Only her pale skin which now holds a tell-tale hint of flush says she might be feeling any effects of alcohol. "So… tell me of your master? You have served him long?"
"Three years, not so very long, but they have been a good three years. He is an honorable man," Avinashi smiles a little wryly, her head dipping into a nod as she amends, "by Riverland standards, intelligent and wise, and he has earned my respect. You shall want to present yourself first to Lord Jerold, but it may be with my lord whom you work with directly in this matter. He carries his father's signet and may speak as his voice in such matters."
Kathryna nods quietly, taking mental notes, no more wine poured as the woman has come to hand about the house hold which Kate is visiting. She sits up straighter again, expression serious and willing to learn. "I would be most interested to hear anything you might tell me about these men. Anything I could do to… soften my shocking entrance to this land. Whom this Lord Jerold is… how the house hold runs. The least I can do is at least show some respect to their life style."
"I may tell you what decorum permits, though not so much as to offer discourtesy or distrust to my lord," Avinashi replies. She has another dainty sip from her glass and continues on. "As men close to the sea, they will be wary of you, naturally. And, Lord Jacsen has recently wed to Anais Banefort whose family, I imagine you do know, protects our shores from the raids of the Iron Islands. Your presence will be a threat to her, she was raised to feel no less. The Lord Jerold is in many ways much like his son. Intelligent, fair, he will be willing to hear you, I believe. How you dress and comport yourself will much depend on how you wish to be seen. I would advise fewer weapons. A knight would carry his sword and a dagger, but no more. If you come dressed much as you are, they will immediately see you as other and strange. If you come in the garb of a Riverlands woman, they will expect from you the courtesies and demure nature of one, or to dress so would be but an insult to their customs."
Kathryna lets that familiar smirk return, looking down to herself. "I suspect I will remain dressed as I am. It would not do to present them with lies, and I am not a woman who likes to hide under disguse and deception anyway. I am myself. I am proud of being myself. Being another would just start these proceedings on a false footing, and that would do no good. If we cannot brook diplomacy as we stand, then it is not worth doing at all." SHe admits quietly, but the rest of her drinks in those words, the comment about the Banefort woman drawing a momentary frown. That could be an issue. "And very well, about the weapons. If I cannot defend myself with two weapons, then I am no warrior to start."
"If nothing else, you would then have more weapons than your opponent, which I am meant to understand is discourteous in such things," the Dornish woman replies. "Be honest, but be respectful, and the Lord of the Roost shall hear you, though it is not mine to say what he will choose to do, once you have given your words."
"You are wise beyond your years, Miss Avinashi. I… I will owe you, for this information. If you need assistance, you will know to find me any time while I am here. Or if you need to travel across the waters, I will help you get where you need to go. This I promise." Kate bows her head respectfully, sealing the deal in her own mind. She will pay for assistance given, it seems. She is at least that respectful.
"Then my thanks for that, my lady," Avinashi replies, returning the nod and accepting that promise. "I shall not take this offer lightly and do understand the oath of your words. I am very pleased to have met you," and here is another small, secret smile, "not only because you brought me wine."
Kathryna nods and stands, already having paid for the wine. She leaves the other half of the bottle with the Dornish woman. "I do not think this will be our last meeting. I hope, perhaps… we shall develop a very useful and… Informative relationship. I will be eager to hear of your gods, river-woman. We shall meet again." With that, Kate bows her head curtly to the exotic toned woman in front of her, apparently preparing to depart.
She does not stand as Kate does, but Avinashi sits a bit straighter and her smile is a touch warmer for those parting words. "And you, daughter of the sea. Fare you well until such a time that our paths shall cross again."