|Thicker than Water|
|Summary:||Alric visits Cein to discuss a few delicate matters.|
|This private suite enjoys arguably one of the best views of the entire Keep. Upon entering, one is greeted with the illumination offered by tall windows, lining both of the outer walls. Those that overlook the garden and trees below, though, additionally have plush benches within their alcoves; an ideal spot for reading. Given the vast shelves that dominate the segments of wall in between, that is a near-constant pasttime for the Lords Steward. With the chamber cleverly designed in an L-shape, the main body of it is a fairly modest affair, with only the occasional evidence of a womans touch inherent in small details - the golds and silvers of the thick damask curtains, the finely polished oak of the grand table upon which numerous parchments lie neatly rolled and tomes properly stacked, the sweet fragrance of herbs wafting inward from a window left ever so slightly ajar. Around the corner, the sleeping alcove is separated by layers of gauzy muslin curtains, mingling together enough to become almost opaque; disguising the raised, comfortable bed beyond, without entirely diminishing the light. A servants cot rests along the foot of the platform, presumably for a Ladys attendant.|
|November 6th, 289 A.L.|
Blood's thicker than water, and when one's in trouble
Best to seek out a relative's open arms.
~ Author Unknown
Early evening, and at last the continuous hustle of the Keep seems to be slowing. Somewhat. As dusk creeps in over the landscape beyond her tall windows, the Steward is seated at her grand table, reading and re-reading a parchment in her hand, before admitting defeat with a sigh. Dropping the sheaf to the polished oak surface, Ceinlys settles back more comfortably, loosing a soft sigh and raking her fingers through her ebon mane.
Ever on-hand, Brigid pauses by her mistress, topping up her goblet with freshly warmed strongwine. She knows better than to advise her charge to take a break, but she can at least be attentive in seeing to her care in the meantime. "Thank you." murmurs the young lady, wearily opening her eyes and offering the chaperone a wan smile. The doors to her chambers are open, still - it's easier to receive the steady flow of servants, messengers and other guests that way. Saves Brigids legs, anyway.
One of those guests happens to be Alric this day. Looking his usual calm and cocky self. With his blade hanging from his hip and eyes looking into the room and towards Ceinlys. A knock is given to the door to announce himself before taking one step forward, "Lady Ceinlys." Comes the greeting, along with a bow. "I hope that I am not disturbing you too much. I just thought that I would seek you out. To discuss a bit. If you have the time that is." Having a smile on his lips.
His eyes studies the room a bit before returning to Ceinlys. Trying to see her reaction to him and what he says. Standing still to let her decide to let him in further or not.
Glancing toward the doorway as another silhouette darkens the light from the landing beyond, the steward musters a more genuine half-smile of greeting at the sight of the young Fenster, waving him inside before he's even finished greeting her. "Young Lord Alric. Please." Her fingertips trail vaguely through the air to indicate an empty chair at her grand table. "..you are not disturbing me, I assure you. In fact, you've chosen a rare moment of relative quiet to stop by, so let us make the most of it." Her soft-spoken tone is even, difficult to read at the best of times.
Brigid steps forward discreetly and, at a nod from her mistress, moves to close the door gently behind this latest guest, for a little privacy. Following that, she returns to the side-table where she left her pitcher, waiting for the young man to seat himself before offering him some warmed wine.
Alric nods and his own, more or less, constant smile. Moving over to take the offered seat. "That is good then. I hope things have calmed down a bit for you. Seeing as it must have been quite stressful this last few days." He starts with. Trying to just start a casual conversation perhaps. Resting his forearms against the table and clasping his hands. Keeping his posture though.
After letting another moment pass and see to that they both are feeling rather comfortable, he goes on, "I am sure that some rumours regarding me might have reached your ears. If so then I just wish to explain that I brought her for you and your brother. Or at least until we get to broadmoor. Then it is all up to you. I thought that perhaps you could need a courier." Perhaps having chosen her for more than so, but he will start with that.
"Oh, things are rarely 'calm', here. But yes, I've a little less to do, now that the wedding arrangements have been taken care of." Shifting in her chair to better face Alric, folding her hands in her lap. "It was a change from paperwork and trade agreements, for a time. I shan't complain. Did you enjoy the festivities?" She can play at 'small talk', too, needs be.
As the discussion moves naturally onward, though, the steward's expression grows pensive. "Yes.. I do recall hearing something. I hear the threads of so many tales, you see, that I tend to discount those I consider foolish or none of my business." A slight smile. "About Freya, was it? People will always talk about a man being seen with a young woman. I was certain you had your reasons for bringing a formally indentured to Highfield." Really? Or is it relief that prompts these words? "In all honesty, I likely could use a personal courier. But firstly, if you are the one who holds her loyalty and affection, that may be problematic. And secondly, I would prefer to consider my father's opinion of employing such a person." she pauses, momentarily examining her perfectly clean fingernails. "In the meantime, though, seeing as you've brought her this far, you may as well wait a little longer, until travel plans to Broadmoor are finalised. Just.." Her lips twist a little, almost to a grimace but with a touch of humor. "..don't let her in the Keep?"
Alric nods as the small talk goes on. Nodding a bit, "Yes, the festivities were quite enjoyable. I just regret that I didn't get much time at the feast. I got pulle away. Mostly I regret not being able to offer a dance to lady Ilaria." He offers and shakes his head a bit.
As for when the talk turns to Freya, he nods. "That is the one. And I do know that such things will occur. Although I can not say that I find her to be to my liking in such a way." He says and shrugs. Nodding as she goes on as well. "I understand. I do not know if I hold her loyalty, though you are my liege and soon family. I hold onto loyalty. So do not think that I would try anything that could hurt you." He offers. Of course it is hard to know if he means it or not as he keeps the same expression throughout. "Do speak with your father. And do not worry. She should not be coming to the keep." He says and has a a small grin at her last words.
"I should sincerely hope not, with a betrothed of such fine breeding and temperament." teases Ceinlys, in a rare glimpse of humor, as her guest professes not to find the thief appealing. "And I imagine you have more sense than to bring any harm to family and liege. Not when the agreement stands to be beneficial to both our Houses." She does seem genuinely unperturbed, a well-worn mask of polite indifference always in play across her own expressions. Settling back again, she clasps her hands comfortably across her midsection, eyeing Alric with less scrutiny now. "Have the Ashwoods treated you kindly enough, during your visit?"
There is a tug at Alric's mouth that causes a smile. "She indeed is. I just hope that she can forgive me for missing a chance to dance with her." Keeping a rather same leveled and light tone as earlier. Nodding as she goes on. "I must say that they have. Then again, I have yet to meet lord Aleister." He says with a small grin. "I still need to catch up with Robben as well. I have only gotten the chance to speak for a short moment with him."
Even though it might be hard to do he does try to read her. If perhaps more the whole of her rather than just her face. "Another thing that I think about is something that is perhaps not my issue. Though it does worry me a bit. Lady Katrin." Leaving it at that. Guessing that Ceinlys might already have spoken with her.
Ceinlys doesn't mind people trying to read her. She's used to it. Besides, she can't help a wry smile at the mention of Aleister. "It's true, one's entire stay here can have it's pleasure or pain decided by the Lord's mood when he first encounters you. Probably for the best that you've avoided his notice, thus far." With the shift of topic to Katrin, though, the woman is quiet a long moment, gazing at the scattered parchments on her table as if pondering how best to phrase a response. Eventually, she pushes to a graceful stand, rising from her chair and taking a few unhurried steps across the floor toward a window, folding her arms. Her dark tresses spill over her narrow back, the tips swaying at waist level. "Your concern does you credit, Alric." she replies, quietly, "And it is appreciated." Turning her head, she fixes her icy blue eyes upon him once more. "But it is a matter that will be dealt with by her kin. Severely, if necessary. Do tell me, if you would, what exactly you have heard? There are so many tales flying about, of late."
Alric nods, "Lord Aleister a fine man. If with certain tendacies." He says and shrugs. Then his eyes follow Ceinlys as she moves away. Nodding. "I understand and so be it. There is nothing much that might hurt too much. But seeing the rumours that already had come out about her it makes her an easier target for more gossip. She has been spending a lot of time with ser Martyn. You would have to be blind to not realize that there is more there. Also, she does wish to see the trial by combat. With lord Martyn escorting her and lady Aemy going along as well. I just wish to see to her own safety as well as see to the reputation of your house. Apologies if I am overstepping. She is to be my goodsister and I do not wish her any harm. But I fear that there might be if she isn't careful."
A flicker of disbelief makes itself apparent in the Steward's dark-lashed eyes, before she can help it. A ripple of tensions accompanies, playing along her jaw and clenching her fingers subtly. But her expression she smoothes back, following a slow exhalation, to one of calm. "Ser Martyn has no business escorting her. What Lady Aemy chooses to do with her time is no concern of mine and shall be left to her own kin." Relenting, just a little, Ceinlys softens her gaze upon Alric. It's not his fault, after all. "A pity that you yourself are not attending the macabre event, or I would have asked that you escort her. As it is.. perhaps I will just make the trip."
Shaking her head, the young lady looks out the leaded glass of her window again, arms still folded. "Thank you for letting me know. You do not overstep. She told you all this herself, of the plans to travel to Stonebridge?"
Alric watches her without taking his eyes off of her, nodding. "I agreed. And I was going to join her. Although to first disappoint and then leave her side. I don't know if my betrothed would want that. I was to go though. And I would guess that she wouldn't let her sister go alone anyhow." He explains. Tilting his head. "And I think lady Aemy is joining since you are all cousins." Shrugging a bit. "She did. She spoke of going there. I suggested that she wouldn't but she would never had listened to me if I pushed it anyhow. Then ser Martyn offered to escort. I will join the trip if you wish though."
Sighing deeply, still gazing out at the gardens, Ceinlys skims one palm over her abdomen, before bringing both hands to a rest, loosely clasped against her skirts. "So be it. If she so greatly desires to go, and he so greatly desires to offer safe escort.. he can offer it to all of us. Frankly, I would have advised strongly against a convoy of Haigh and Ashwood colors right to the Nayland's doorstep. But I shall discuss it with Lord Aleister and my dear cousin, before any decision is made." At Alric's assurances of his presence, should they all be travelling, she quirks a faint smile. "Thank you." Turning back, then a little further, she casts her attention toward her handmaid, who has been quietly sitting with some mending to occupy her. "Brigid? Have one of the pages run to the Inn and fetch Lady Katrin. And her Septa, whatever her name was."
Alric listens and nods, "I understand how it can look badly. Hopefully it will not be too badly though. If Erenfords and Mallisters travel as well. I know that the lady Jocelyn will be heading back to Stonebridge soon as well. Although I doubt that she would enjoy a group of Ashwoods joining her. But she seems to be starting to become a friend to your brother. Lady Nedra would probably want to be going as well to see to her own cousin. Perhaps all of that will calm the Naylands?" He suggests with a slight roll of his shoulders. Rising to his feet as well. "I am sure that it will all be fine. What lady Katrin needs is someone to teach her to hide such emotions and make logical excuses for doing things." Perhaps suggesting Ceinlys to take Katrin under her wing. Or offering his own perhaps. But the latter probably won't be as effective. Since he isn't really family. "Do be gentle with her."
"I try. I really do." replies the Steward, softly. "..but gentle, so far, has had no effect. At all. And that is not good enough." Capturing her lower lip between her teeth, she settles vivid blue eyes upon Alric as he rises. Every inch the noblewoman, her posture straight and elegant, her voice never rising above that gentle tone she has, with fine clothing to adorn her and a demeanour largely impossible to ruffle.. it's difficult, perhaps, to think of such a creature as any manner of threat. Unless one knew better. She is not to be underestimated.
"She has been given her chance, from our family. And further ones from myself. I don't know how much longer I can shield her from the coming storm. Especially if she will continue to seek to evade me, so she might dance in the rain. You have a sister, Alric. Was she ever this troublesome?"
Alric listens and nods. "I understand. And I will keep a close eye on her. To have feelings is one thing, but to express them without being careful will get all involved hurt." He says and shakes his head a bit. As for his own sister, he shakes his head again. "Not as far as I know. My youngest sister, lady Arabella, is rather well behaved. Except for perhaps being a bit careless at times. She is a bit too active always running around all day. But no. She knows how to behave herself and she always have her chaparone around." He says. Then he tilts his head. "But I do have cousins that perhaps are not of the best. Especially not if I am to believe ser Trajan." He tries to explains. "Lady Katrin needs to learn subtlety over being told what to do, I believe. And she also needs to stay out of the spotlight of gossip."