|The Sister and the Sword|
|Summary:||A sell-sword and a Septa meet in the aftermath of the tournament.|
|Related Logs:||Vigil: meeting Isolde. Carry On: the gift of the sword.|
|Outskirts of Stonebridge|
|The roads are worn and well tended here and the fields on either side are lush and filled with wildflowers. The tournament tent is set up just north of the road and a grand pavilion rests to the central right of it, set with the colors of House Tordane. Knight's tents are being set up everywhere there is room and high ground. They dot the countryside and near the Tordane tent there is a cart of water and food, a small general area for the nobles to greet the hosts and partake in food to ease their journeys.|
|31 Jul, 288 AL|
Sitting on a tree stump sits a tall, broad-shouldered and blonde-haired man, out of the way of the daily hurly-burly of the nobility, their retinue, and the commoners swarming around them. Clearly some sort of common sword, the common by his garb and appearance and the sword by the armor he wears and the heavy weapon strapped at his waist, he's currently gnawing on what appears to be yesterday's bread. Probably rock-hard stale right now, all he's doing is managing to create a snow shower of crusty bits that are attracting birds. "Aye, you're hungry too, I get it," Stragen comments to his avian friends, shooing them off with a threatened boot. "But I'm bigger. Bugger off!"
Winding her way through the collection of tents, spread out like so many colourful hills on the flat plain the the tournament ground, a woman of little colour, and less emotion. Or perhaps better to say that what emotion she does display, has none of the boisterousness of the Knights and their households that teem between the tents and through the grounds, still awash with excitement and the thrill of competition that comes at such gatherings. But she goes not unburdened, hands filled with a bundle of clean white, bandages and a simply apothecary's bag, clothing and accoutrements marking her in complementary ways. As a Septa, and a healer. The squawking of birds draws her eyes away from the path, and to the man settled on the stump in the midst of them. "They want only what little they can find to sustain them. But that is little proper sustenance for one such as yourself."
"Dirty beggars, is what they are," the large man responds by way of a curse. He eyes what's left of his bread, turning the crust over in his hand, and then with a dissatisfied grunt he tosses it aside. Naturally, the birds follow, chirping excitedly as they flap their wings and peck hungrily at the discarded food. "Wasn't that good anyway." He regards the woman in front of him, dusting his hands off of crumbs. "Sister, eh? Looking for bodies to mend, I see."
"One hardly needs to look far to find a body in need of mending, at times and in places such as these" comes the Septa's lilting words, rich with the humour that is likely what sees her through her daily, and likely grisly work, "But bodies are easily mended. Not so the hearts and minds they contain. You do not have any injuries yourself, I trust? I have only been called a carrion crow once today. I fear I am beginning to lose my touch." The tone of her voice matches the youthfulness of her face, the Septa seemingly lacking the dourness more common among her sisters.
The Northman, or Islander, or whatever he is shakes his head. "No, my body's quite scarred over and grisly already, Sister. Could've used you a half dozen times in recent history, but it's nothing that strong drink and a hearty meal couldn't have fixed." Which is to say, he's likely not received much in the way of proper healing in his time. "I figure there won't be much work for either of us to do, come tonight. Things should be winding down and folks heading back to their respective bridges, towers, and roosts."
"Alas. Health." The tone of her voice at that word, as the swordman's affirmation of his health is a sombre, dour thing, completely the opposite of her eyes, which dance with humour, "Perhaps, then, if your health is such that injuries do not overcome you, you might be willing to assist me in returning these supplies to our tent?" The Sept has one, a few, actually, though most are little more than covers against the sun underneath which the Septa and Septons ply their trade. "Like birds of carrion, flying off once the last of the bones have been picked clean."
Stragen quirks an eyebrow and his eyes narrow slightly. "I'd never be one to refuse a Septa, but of all the men you could've chosen, you choose a broken down, hard-luck mercenary, who likely has enough sense still left in him not to hold his hand out for coin to a member of the cloth." He chuckles dryly. "Sure, why not." He pushes himself up off his stump, and satchel gets picked up off the ground and slung over his shoulder. For the first time, Ilya can notice the oilcloth-wrapped bundle carefully strapped to his pack. A wrapped sword, by the length. "Lead the way. My back is yours." Odd that he would carry such a carefully protected blade, and yet have another at his hip. Maybe he's just well-prepared, but by the width of the blade it's no broadsword.
"I chose a man who seems to me, a survivor of many battles and one who, from the look of him, the absence of a boy of squirely age, and the plainness of his speech, does not seem disinclined to hard work. But it is not your back I need, only your arms." To which end, she holds out the rather large bundle of bandages, the cloth not of silk alone, but also of homespun and soft cotton, "But we are both mercenaries in our way. You trade your sword for favour, and I trade my place with the gods." Of note, that she doesn't name the Seven specifically, despite the fact that she wears their mark above her robes. "Come, the tent is not so far as all of that." The man literally towers over her, but she seems less unsettled than that than most might. "I am Ilya, bound to the Sept at Hag's Mire."
Stragen takes the bundle gently, but not with any undue gentleness; they're just bandages and such. There's no reverence in his gesture. "Stragen Stone is my name, or, one of them. One of two that are commonly known around these parts. Other places, it's 'thief' 'brigand', and often 'liar.' But I promise I'm none of these things today."
Indeed, just bandages, and once passed off, Ilya's hands are free to straighten the skirts of her robes, before she starts off towards one of the tents scattered about that bear the mark of the Seven, "I think, until actions prove you otherwise, I will accept your promise and simply address you as Master Stone, and leave the concerns of other less savoury titles for that day when they become mine. I fear, in my profession, I have more than enough concerns on a daily basis to be getting along with." It isn't so far to the tent, a few minutes walk and they should reach it easily enough.
"That's probably just as well, because half the time I don't even remember if I'm telling the truth," Stragen laughs, easily falling into a slow stride besides the Sister. "Even when I aim to be truthful. That's the problem with being a liar and a yarn-spinner, is keeping track of all your lies so that they match up in the end. So I don't bother. Makes for a much more interesting life, I say."
"We all tell lies, so you are not alone in that. Some tell them openly," here she gives a nod towards the man, "But many more we tell only to ourselves." Between the pair of them, they make short work of the distance between Stragen's tree stump, and the Sister's tent, which seems as much a storage place as one to recieve those who need care but have not a tent of their own. "Please, if you could set them on the pile there to your right." An open traveling trunk reveals more bandages, the trunk perhaps half empty at this point in the tournament. As for the sister herself, she steps through the rear of the tent and towards where women similarly attired are tending to their cooking fires.
Stragen watches the Septa walk off towards the back, and then shrugs, going about his work. "Bad luck to steal from a Sept, Strag, so don't even think about it," he mutters to himself as he places the bundle where he was instructed. He's not one for precision, especially in women's work and Sept work (linens? bandages? wut.) so they get stored with a minimal amount of rumple.
Ilya is not long away from the tent proper, but she returns as burdened as she was when Stragen first saw her. But this time, there are no bandages. Only a serving board, upon which are two bowls of stew, bread rolls still fresh and smelling of the oven from which they were pulled in the early hours of the morning, and a mug of what appears to be cider of some kind. Being that it comes from the Sept, it's unlikely it has anything as decent in it as alcohol. "Please sit, Master Stone."
Looking surprised, Stragen asks the obvious, "You're feeding me?" When she asks him to sit, he shrugs and drops down to the ground ungracefully. "This isn't necessary, you know. I would've found a loaf of bread not so stale as to be bird food. Or maybe a bird that wasn't as tough as a stale loaf of bread, aye." He does lick his lips, salivating at the smell, and his stomach announces his interest even if he's attempting to be humble and modest.
"You do not think that my sisters are cooking just for ourselves, I pray. As well you can see, it is our duty to tend to the body as well as the spirits of all who have need." Indeed, it seems something of particular pride for the sister that the Septas that came with her seem as as keen as she does. "It is nothing so fancy as you might find at a lord's table, but it is well spiced, I think, and sustaining." Once Stragen takes his place on the ground, something that does get a bit of an odd look, more curious than anything else, from the Septa, she bends herself, robes pooling around her feet in grey waves, to offer the board, "We have more than enough to feed even a man such as yourself," that said with a quirk of her lips, and a glance at the top of his head. A runt the long-haired man is not. "Eat your fill, and if you have need of more, I will bring it for you." But for now, once the board is passed over, she moves to busy herself with the linens Stragen so kindly returned to their trunk.
Taking the board, he rests it on his knee, and begins tearing into the meal in earnest. Probably quite hungry, he looks the sort that has become quite proficient at sleeping outdoors, not because he enjoys it, but because his life has taken him in that direction. "Thif if juft fwn," he says with his mouth full, likely meaning something along lines of 'this is just fine.' When he does come up for air, it's to drain half the mug in an attempt to wash it all down, managing to not get much into his beard. Burp. "My thanks, Sister. This is top-notch fare. If there's anything you need doing, labor, chopping wood, I'd be glad to work for this repast."
Idle hands is clearly not a fault which can be placed on the Septa, and Ilya works quickly and deftly, refolding the linens and preparing them for storage. It is not only the nobles who will be returning to their houses in the days to come. "I am glad that it is to your liking. Yesterday you might have felt differently." That's said with obvious humour, "One of our novices was quite liberal with the pepper. We had need to break more than the usual number of casks to see our visitors through." The offer of payment receives a look from the woman, "We do not ask for payment for what we offer," Sept, see, all about the poverty, doncha know. "You have already been of great help to me." healers do tend to get a workout during tournaments.
"Well, I thought I would be a gentleman and offer. Don't have to tell me twice," says the barbarian-in-looks but not in speech, and he quickly finishes off the bread and stew in short order. With his final bites, he clearly gets a thoughtful look, eyes traveling from the linens to the sword strapped to his pack and back again. "Say, Sister, I don't suppose you've got some old linens that're too stained for use in proper bandages, do you?" Not that he'd know what a proper bandage was. "You know, some ratty cloth you're not using. I've something that could use a cleaning and proper wrapping." Maybe he is injured, after all?
Ilya's hands still long enough for her to move back towards the seated man, retrieve the serving board and return it to the back to the sisters, who, when not cooking or serving food to those who come to them in need, are washing the wares in which the meals are served. The cider, sadly still nonalcoholic, is refilled and the mug returned to the swordsman. "A ratty old cloth will not do for proper wrapping. But if you tell me what you need preserved, I can see what we might be able to find that would suit your needs."
Stragen pointedly glances at his pack, and he dips his chin in a nod towards it. "There, there's a blade. It was a gift to me, and I'm doing my best to waterproof it and protect it from the elements, but I'm afraid I just don't have the means to treat it properly. It used to belong to L…" Pause. "A dear friend. I'd like to make sure it didn't deteriorate."
"Ah. Of course. I think I can find some of what you need in our things. Please, if you will lay it out on the table there, so that I can measure the cloth to suit." Ilya moves away from the bandage trunk, and moves towards another trunk that, when opened, reveals a collection of stoppered bottles and sealed jars and the like. "That oilskin is new, and has been cleaned recently?"
"Aye, I've done that much," Stragen says as he pushes up to his feet to fetch his pack. Almost with reverent care, he withdraws the bundle and sets it atop the table. Unwrapping the stitched-together oilcloth reveals a nobleman's long sword that's clearly seen some use. And if Ilya had an eye for heraldry, she might recognize the crest of Geonis Tordane, and a new, small engraving of Lady Isolde Tordane indicating a passing of ownership of the blade.
Ilya soon returns, making a few trips between the trunk and the table. Septas are very much like turtles, in some respects, they carry their houses on their back. A flask of limestone powder is set down, the sort used to clean and prepare implements of steel and iron, to remove dust and old oil, as well as a nearly clear stoppered flash of oil. Some fair selection of the ill cut clothes, clearly a novice's hand again, good enough for cleaning. To the blade itself, Ilya makes no attempt to touch, though her eyes trace the lines of it, the marks on its hilt, "I can see why you would want to keep his blade so well."
"It has to last the test of time," Stragen murmurs, almost breathes, his brow creased as he looks the blade up and down. "It's a gift from the Lady Isolde. My lady favors me more than I'm worth, I think. So I promised her I'd keep it for her future son." He cracks an unsure smile, glancing up at the Septa. "This is between you and me, aye? You'll not reveal I've possession of this blade? I want no one to know."
"There are few better skilled at the keeping of secrets than those who are bound to the Faith, Master Stone." Again, that light humour in her voice, in her eyes, as she leaves the an to tend to the blade as he requires, "I have met the Lady Isolde, once. A good woman, from what little I saw of her." Ilya returns to the side of the room, unwrapping a bolt of cloth. Silly to cut all of your cloth to size, when you haven't any idea what size you will need. using memory for reference, she begins to measure out the required length of cloth. "we have been very fortunate, at this tournament. Many of the houses and the people of the city have donated their wares to us, and the means for us to see to the needs of the people."
Stragen begins cleaning the blade properly now that he has the right materials. He seems to have skill enough to care for his blade; yet another suggestion that this large barbarian maintains an uncultured guise, for whatever reason. "Aye, I agree, the Sept should get support from all the Houses. Often the common folk can't afford to give. Lately I've barely had two pennies to rub together, but, that's a mark of the time. Peace in the kingdom means little work for a mercenary."
"A sell-sword is hard pressed for work in such times, yes. But your skills do not go out of season. You only need to find the means to put your skills to use. The many craftsmen who travel the roads have great need of guards to protect their stores. Houses of good standing, but non noble birth have need of armsmen to train their sons in the use of their blades, that they too might aspire to greatness. Knights come from all walks of life, after all. It is not a war, nor a battle to be won or lost, but it is honest labour." The cloth is carefully measured, just as carefully handled and folded, so as not to allow the dust and dirt to contaminate it, before Ilya carries it to offer it to the man. or at least to set it on a clean spot on the table, before she returns to her folding and packing.
Stragen snorts lightly. "I'm no knight, that's for damned sure," he chides. Pausing in his work, he sighs. "Apologies, Sister, I meant no disrespect." Or maybe he did, but just aimed towards himself? The length of cloth is perfect, and Stragen wraps the blade tightly as to ward off moisture. "Aye, this is it, Sister. Thank you." Returning the blade to its braided leather sheath, he begins wrapping the complete package back up in the oilcloth.
"If you would take my suggestion," is the Sister's soft reply, the woman seeming to have glossed over the man's insult to himself, "If you do not plan to make use of the blade, I might suggest seeing about procuring a storage sheath of treated wood. Leather has a rather unpleasant habit of collecting moisture and holding it close to a blade." A weird bit of knowledge for a Septa to have, but there you have it. Ilya finishes the trunk, and closing it, moves to return the bolt to its storage place as well, moving lightly and easily enough at her tasks. "Now that the tournament is over, do you have no house at all that has need of your service?"
"I figured I would mill about, wander the Riverlands," Stragen says non-committally. "Someone'll need my services. Either that or I'll just live out of the graces of the Seven and follow you around, Sister." He winks at her. Then, stretching his arms upward and yawning a yawn fit for a lion, he declares, "I think, now that I've seen to my Lady's blade and seen to my stomach, I'm going to go find a shady tree." Taking up the wrapped blade and returning it to his pack, he says, "If you ever need a brigand, thief, or liar, Sister, you know where to find me." With a wink, he shoulders his pack and turns to go.
"I would be glad of the company. Despite what men are want to say about women, we do not all wander in packs." Indeed, most of the Septas and Septons that wander the lands outside of the Sept wander alone, and the Faith is not always iron-clad protection from the baseless and the brigand. "I go where there is need, serving the Riverlands as I am requested. I have no doubt that I will see you again, Master Stone, if only to share the evening meals, until such time as we depart for the Sept. Gods keep you." But Ilya does not, allowing him to depart as he desires, continuing her own work with good spirits.