|To Share a Nurden|
|Summary:||Ceinlys returns to Highfield.|
|Related Logs:||A Gruesome Revelation|
|Courtyard — Tanglewood Manor|
|The courtyard opens up into a barren expanse of well-trodden, hard-packed dirt underfoot. Surrounded on three sides by the looming structure of the Keep, and on the fourth by the outer wall and gatehouse, the courtyard benefits from both sunlight and shade at most hours of the day, illuminated in the evening by well-placed lanterns. Through the western wall, an arching, covered walkway leads to the paddock and stables beyond, by way of the Lord's kennels and hawking mews, while the opposite building houses the Keep's barracks and armory. The main building looms tallest, dominating the area with it's weighty double-doors - easily twice the height of a man - at the pinnacle of a clean-swept set of steps.|
|January 7th, 290 A.L.|
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
- C.S. Lewis
The courtyard has lessened a bit in life since the death of late Lord Aleister, and it shows. Any flags about are set at half mast, and many of the houses retainers walk with lowered heads, speaking in hushed whispers rather than bold statements. Near the entrance of the courtyard, Daryl is just standing, hands at his sides as he peers up at the keep, back facing the gate house. The sight seems…Almost unfamiliar to him…He had spent very little time there since his stripped nobility, and now, after this? It seems a strange sight. The Ashwood levels his gaze on the entrance doors, silently observing. Noteably, he's wearing all black under his armor, and those cool bracers she got him with his hardened leather.
A brisk procession approaches the gatehouse, several horses ridden at a trot yet with a pace still easily passable as 'sedate'. No dramatic galloping, nor melancholy trudging. A mere businesslike arrival. Once one takes stock of the House colors on display, even with the more sombre hues of mourning, that might be even less surprising: Haigh. Word must have reached them quickly, what with the Lady Katrin being present for the recent.. findings.
Slowing her golden palfrey to a walk as she passes through the gatehouse, the Lady Ceinlys leads the small party into the courtyard, swiftly noting the presence of one familiar face. There's no smile in greeting for Daryl - what would be the point? The young woman has her features set in a carefully neutral expression. When a stablehand approaches to take charge of her horse, the noblewoman dismounts, landing lightly and smoothing her skirts with a sweep of her palms; pausing long enough for a slow breath while her accompanying guards and retainers likewise set to the ground.
When the Deputy turns to look her way, slowly shifting his head in her direction. The first thing noticeable is just how 'far off' his gaze is. She had made her approach when he was deep in thought, whether it be grievances over his sister, the future of his house, his personal tribulations or anything else inbetween. He just doesn't look himself. His eyes do widen just a smidge at her appearance, however and theres a spark of life suddenly in those emerald hues of his…The only things showing any semblance of emotion on his face. A thin line of a mouth and cheeks that don't rise or fall with expression. Those orbs depict a still very recent anguish, anger and now recognition…Relief? At Ceinlys' arrival. He watches their horses be taken care of and waits where he is, his head tilted ever downwards at a fourty five degree angle in acknowledgement of her presence until she draws nearer. He does not yet voice greeting.
The familiar presence, back once more in the courtyard of the wistful house, might come as either relief or worry to those nobles and retainers who remain here. But Ceinlys, as usual, plainly doesn't much care what they think. That much is only emphasised as she approaches the Deputy, lengthy strides easily covering the short distance between them. Without a trace of hesitation, nor concern for onlookers, the former Steward merely moves to wrap her arms about the young man in a light embrace, if permitted. There are no words fitting, after all. Only the understanding of loss and uncertainty.
Her handmaid, a few paces behind, gently clears her throat but offers no further sign of displeasure at the uncharacteristically gentle display from her formidable mistress. Regardless of opinion, when it comes to Ceinlys, everyone here present can at least agree on one thing; she loved and served Aleister unwaveringly. And Daryl has lost not only his Lord and cousin.. but his sister, too. A moment's comfort is better than none at all, and several pairs of eyes simply avert their gaze from the pair.
Daryl straightens his shoulders, jaw clenching some as he raises his chin a little, putting on a stoneface of a countenance, though the ghost of his old smile so freely given before, is shown, the edges of his lips rising in a brave, hard-earned smile. Since the event his family has been too grief stricken to speak too, and the majority of his grieving has been spent behind locked doors, or in the presence of commoners. So when the Steward wraps her arms about him so, he is taken by surprise, but his at first flexed and resisting muscles melt into the embrace, holding her there and more than grateful for the comfort. Damn it, he was doing so good with his neutral face too, but its more or less shattered within the seconds they stand hugging. "…It's alright." He whispers firmly, strongly. He had to be. "It's okay," Even though his own heart has been wrenched from his chest, he opts to provide her comfort as well, despite her alleged souring relationship with his late cousin. "…I'm glad your here."
"No. It's not." Ceinlys' whispered words in return are edged with ferocity rarely perceived in the usually calm and pragmatic creature. Withdrawing after a moment, she seeks Daryl's eyes for a steady, meaningful gaze, hands bracing lightly upon his upper arms. "..but it will be." Softening just a little, given his obvious exhaustion and pain, the young woman presses her lips together for a moment before venturing something further. "Oh, Daryl, I'm so sorry." A hand rises and rakes back through her faintly windswept hair as she steps back away from him, to a more proper distance. That, at least, seems to pacify her attendants.
"I've come to offer my services, should they be required. I thought perhaps it would go some way to easing the burdens of your new Lord.. if only for a time." Her vivid eyes wander the courtyard consideringly for a few beats. "..and only if he desires my company and counsel." Summoning a small smile, seeing as the Deputy made the effort, she adds, "If not.. well, that will leave more time for drinking, before the feast."
When their hug finally does release, Daryl does not so quickly let their close proximity further, finding her exotic blue eyes…Ones which he had not looked on for so long. There's almost a tension, a moment of anticipation as if he were about to say something, or even go so far as to dare a kiss, but instead his green eyes just reflect a meaning across that his mouth does not utter, 'I've missed you.' Her words, uttered so quietly have him agreeing with a slow nod, a single blink of his eyes with it. "…It will." He speaks, refusing to show any further pain as she steps back, "My Lord Cousin is ready to take his mantle, and I hope he will see that you are a valuable ally…Lord Brennart has made his way here as well." He ventures a glance towards the entrance of the hall, numbly. There's no smile or wink or jest at the mention of drinking, just a stern nod. Different, for the man.
Bastien makes his way through the Tanglewood Manor like a ghost, moving quietly and without a sound. The large man hovers here and there, staring at a brick or piece of decor that might catch his eye, before finally returning to his treaded path. The servants that follow behind him hold a worried look in their eyes, nervous glances exchanged when the Young Lord isn't looking directly at them. The clothing he wears, a long cloth shirt that hangs to his knees and a pair of leather pants, make him look as if he had just awoke from his slumber and started wandering.
When Bastien comes upon the courtyard, his eyes squint and he lifts a hand to shield them from the noonday sun. It takes him a moment to adjust and realize who is in the courtyard. As he walks down the cobblestone steps, it becomes apparent that the man is not wearing any shoes. His stoicism seems to have returned, but the way which he holds it seems different. Slightly cracked.
If that momentary flicker of tensions perturbs Ceinlys, it's not apparent on her features. She doesn't recoil, nor invite. She just regards the man calmly with those icy blue eyes of hers. Has she missed him? Who knows. She's as unreadable as ever, even to one who knows her well.
Ugh, Erenfords. Though Brennart, at least, is one of the more bearable ones. Given Daryl's recent betrothal, which presumably may yet hold in the future, the noblewoman offers no remark beyond a quiet 'hmm' at the mention. But it does prompt a further thought. "I have something for you. Forgive me if you consider it tactless but.." Reaching a hand toward one of her servants, a freckled, faintly plump young handmaiden presumably newly appointed steps forward, bobbing a discreet curtsey toward the Ashwood and handing a small something to her mistress. Unfolding the oilcloth with delicate fingers as it lays in the opposite palm, the Steward unwraps with care a small scrap of cloth, embroidered with an attempt at a wolf. "From Hafwen." She murmurs, by way of explanation. Her own embroidery isn't an awful lot better, of course, but //he doesn't know that. "I promised I would pass it on, with her thanks."
Even as she speaks, Ceinlys' gaze flits across Daryl's shoulder, distracted by movement of greater import than the handful of servants going about their business in the quiet courtyard. Recognition and concern make their presence known briefly before the noblewoman straightens stubbornly. Whether he walks barefoot or not, here approaches the new Lord of Highfield, the Keep she had so adoringly governed what seems like a lifetime ago. Bringing one shoulder and hand forward, the other dropped elegantly back, she demurely lowers her eyes and sweeps a poised curtsey. "M'lord." It's a pointed manoeuvre, designed to show her support of the change to any who may have doubt of it.
It was that by chance glance towards the entrance hall that drifts and finds Lord Bastien, and its apparent that when he said his cousin was ready to take mantle, he didn't exactly mean -dressed- for the occasion. Just that he would do what was needed when the time came. As Ceinlys mentions she has something for him, be arches one brow an inch, and then…At mention it from being from Hafwen, his expression softens some, but only for the moment as he delicately takes the cloth, running a thumb gently over its surface, a very faint smile playing at his lips. "You be sure to tell her I love it." A genuine smile hidden behind his grief and then he moves to stand and face Bastien as well, taking Ceinlys' side rather than being in the way. He puts away the cloth in a pocket of his black pants, with matching color tunic under his armor. He bows his head at Bastien firmly right behind her curtsey, before leveling his gaze silently on the man.
When Ceinlys bows, Bastien's gaze sweeps over her for a brief moment before moving towards Daryl. "Fetch us some wine." Pure apathy seems to mark his tone as he gives the once-Lord a command. There's no anger in it, no joy, no sadness. Nothing. Looking back to Ceinlys, the large Lord Knight frowns slightly. "Whether I am the Lord of this keep or your watchful bodyguard, I beg you not to fill our conversation with formality."
Looking down upon his garb, the man lets out a small chuckle, dry and hollow. "Though I doubt I look the part. What brings you all this way, Lady Ceinlys? Does Broadmoor not need your attention?"
A nod of assent is directed to Daryl in answer to his request. "I shall." A glance does wander to his bracers, eliciting the twitch of a smile to tug at her lips for just a moment. Well, at least he likes his gifts, unusual as they may be. And then she looks to Bastien, frowning right back at him without concern, despite his towering size. Familiarity breeds contempt.. or in this case, glowering lack of intimidation. "I hadn't intended to. But you ought to get used to being treated in such a manner." That implies she'll keep using the title until he shuts up about it, most likely.
She knows better than to offer an embrace to Bastien. He's simply not the type to appreciate that at all. Instead, she merely reiterates what the Deputy has already heard. "I've come to help. In any way I can. It cannot be for long, given my duties at home, you are correct.. but I can take certain matters and obligations off your hands. If you wish me to." Relenting somewhat, her expression lightens from that scowl. "..all else aside, Bastien.. you proved yourself loyal and good, to me. Allow me to offer the same, in kind."
"Yes Ser," Daryl responds quickly, dipping his head and without a moment of hesitation, to contest that there were simple handmaidens who could do such a menial task, no. The Deputy steps off away from them, and he's always been good at finding alcohol. Two goblets are retrieved and filled, before Daryl steps on back towards them, his once confident swagger now a humble stepping that tries to avoid any attention. The drinks are offered to each of them with a small dip of his head, and this time he takes Bastien's side, hands folding in front of him as he looks between the two. There is a faint moment where his eyes flit to his bracers, Ceinlys, and then back to his bracers. The tiniest smirk with dies quickly. The three are gathered in the courtyard, and Bastien is in a very casual outfit, barefoot…He has finally ventured from within the keep's confines.
"I would not keep you from your duties and family, Lady Ceinlys. Even if I do need someone with your expertise to help me settle into the running of this household." It's an admission of weakness, but there is nothing in his eyes that speaks of shame. Perhaps he's lost that part of him? "You are always welcome within the walls of my home, you know this already."
When Daryl arrives with the twin goblets, Bastien takes the one offered to himself and quickly downs its contents. Bastien…drinking. Wiping the cuff of his sleeve against the corner of his mouth, the man looks over towards Daryl and squints. "Have yourself a drink as well." The goblet is offered forth to Daryl, and the words speak themselves as both a request and a command. Better not to try and decide which, eh?
"Then I'm staying. M'lord." There's no room for argument, when Ceinlys uses that tone. Bastien is not, after all, her Lord. Just a long-time trusted friend. "… thank you." This is offered toward Daryl and that second goblet, taking that one from him in the wake of that almost-command from his cousin. "I assume my old chambers are in use nowadays, but no doubt I can find room at the inn. Especially as I expect you'll have many more visitors to house, in the days to come. In the meantime, I can handle much of the less.. important matters, in order to give you more time.." Evidently the Steward herself can function, whether grieving or not. It's her job. And without pushing further, she takes a long, slow sip of wine.
Daryl takes the goblet from Bastien, turning then and moving back off to the side. The wine pitcher is hefted and fills Bastien's old goblet, as well as a new one, presumably for him. As he fills the second goblet, he watches the deep red liquid flow slowly from container to container.
Behind emerald orbs, that haunting picture of two kinsmen's heads suddenly strikes his mind. He can almost still smell the stench. His sister's delicate features so cruelly battered.
The Ashwood nearly overflows the goblet, snapping back to reality with a small surge of his body. A universal flex of his muscles. He lets out a slow, calming breath before sipping his goblet to a more reasonable level, and heads back towards the two, offering Bastien a refill, should he wish it. If not, i'm guessing Daryl can handle it. He takes a long sip of his goblet, and at Ceinlys statement, there's a small flicker of hope- a look to Bastien.
"Your quarters are still your own. You will stay here, I'll not have you resting your feet amongst whores after a weary day." The new goblet is taken in hand and sipped at, this time slower. Bastien never really was one to enjoy wine, but the recent events have made him quite aware of its numbing properties. "We will need to catch up, but at the moment I've an urge to be alone." What's left of the goblet is finished before he's handing it off to the nearest servant and turning to walk away.
Stepping out from the huge building itself, Robben takes a few moments to look around briefly. Gaze stopping on Bastien, Daryl and Ceinlys for a few moments, before he starts making his way in their direction, steps a bit slow for now.
Resting feet among whores? Surely that'd be the ideal remedy, for those she's speaking with? But, fair point, not her. "Thank you." Ceinlys' gratitude seems genuine, and is accompanied with a slow inclination of her head, even as Bastien obviously prepares to take his leave. "I shall have my things brought up shortly, then, and seek you out later for further discussion." In private. Watching the large man as he turns from she and Daryl and wanders back toward the keep, the noblewoman's expression changes, just fractionally. Barely perceptible at all. But if one had a keen eye, it'd be quite apparent that, despite their curt manner with one another, she still has a soft spot for Aleister's younger brother.
Looking to Daryl again after a pause, she lofts her goblet in a slight, unvoiced toast before drinking from it again. Robben's approach doesn't go unnoticed, for he's cast a nod of recognition from the former Steward a moment later.
Daryl lifts his goblet for a more steady drink as Bastien steps off, his eyes following his leave with an almost skeptical impression. Was it his cousin's drinking that earned the look? Or perhaps his request for him to partake? His gaze shifts to Ceinlys oncemore and he just offers her a look of almost amused surprise. Perhaps he shouldn't be, at her offer. He silently raises his goblet in toast, and in a steady, easy motion puts it back. The taste is not unfamiliar to him. As he sees Robben's approach, there is another nod, but the Ashwood who has been so quiet to his younger cousin since their night at the tavern keeps to his streak, looking to Ceinlys and dipping his head formally before moving to step past her, and one may notice a few words are uttered quietly before he steps off towards town.
With Daryl's departure, too, Ceinlys allows the toll of the recent events - and her journey here - to show a little. Just in the dissipating tension from her slender limbs, the carefully maintained lack of expression that drifts to genuine weariness. Still, the Deputy is afforded a soft smile and a nod, for whatever those hushed words held. She doesn't attempt to keep him here; everyone needs their space, and to regroup in their own way. She's no exception, of course. But she makes time for the younger Ashwood brother, returning her attention to him once more and regarding him over the rim of her cup as she takes another small sip. Around her, retainers and guards begin the unenviable task of relieving their mounts of various packages and belongings. They know their way around this place, by now.
Robben pauses for a few moments as he sees both his brother and cousin stepping away. There's a brief pause, as he offers a polite nod to Ceinlys, studying her for a few seconds. "Lady Ceinlys," he offers in greeting to her, before he adds, "It's good to see you again, although I wish the circumstances were far different." Waiting for a few moments as he seems a bit unsure of what to say for the moment.
"Lord Robben." With her free hand the raven-haired Haigh reaches to gently clasp the young man's forearm in a quiet gesture of greeting and comfort. "It's good to see you, too. I'm so sorry for your loss." It's her loss too, in a way. But that's not the sort of thing one points out. And Ceinlys isn't the sort to show any pain of her own in public. Seeing as Robben looks a little lost, she promptly comes up with a distraction. "..I wonder.. if you've the time and inclination, might you accompany me to my old chambers?" Still with her wine in hand, she gestures vaguely toward the main doors of the keep, arching a brow in polite enquiry.
Robben nods a bit as he hears that, and as his forearm is clasped. "Thank you, my lady," he replies quietly, glancing around for a few moments, before he looks back to her. "And yours, my lady. I know you and my brother were close." Spoken a bit quietly, before he hears that last part, nodding a bit now. "Of course," he replies, before he adds, "Are you staying with us for a while, then?"
Its not long before Daryl returns, and that goblet is still in his hand, steadily sipping it. It's full, which it wasn't before…Meaning he's finding spots to refill inbetween the places he's travelling to. He moves without hesitation towards the two, to join them. On his way, a pitcher is snatched and he slows as he nears them. A look to Robben, "…Have you spoken with him, yet?" 'Him' probably meaning Bastien. The pitcher is raised in offer of refill for either of them. Eyes linger on Ceinlys a second longer before they settle on a not so proud Ashwood flag; only halfway down the pole, billowing in the breeze. A small frown.
A scowl, even. He averts his gaze quickly, expression darkening.
"Long enough to see that affairs here are set in order." Ceinlys answers quietly, masking the momentary stiffening as Robben recalls her 'closeness' with his late brother. Not something she's willing to dwell on, at the moment. "There's the feast to organise, an effigy to commission.. the ceremony.. Bastien shouldn't have to handle everything alone. He needs time. You all do."
She dismisses the matter with Daryl's return. Of those she has encountered thus far, Robben seems to be the family member handling things best. No reason to unduly upset his cousin. Waving away the offer of more wine with a half smile, she alights the steps leading to the main doors, her skirts swishing lightly with each.
There's a brief pause, as Robben listens to Ceinlys, nodding a little bit. "Thank you…" It's offered rather quietly, before he nods a little bit. "He won't have to handle everything alone…" A brief pause as he says that. "But thank you. I will not forget your help." A brief smile offered, before he looks to Daryl again. Shaking his head, his expression turning a bit more worried. "I haven't had the chance yet. Haven't even got to tell him I've sent the letter," he says, a bit more quietly now.
Daryl dips his head towards Ceinlys, before an extending an arm around his cousin, not in a hug like he did the day of the discovery, but in a leading fashion back towards town, should Robben let him. He'd usher the man in front him just a bit, having him lead the way as he says, "Let's go grab a drink, cousin, yeah?…You'll have your chance to speak to him soon." Assuming Robben looks straight ahead towards town, Daryl would chance a look over his shoulder to observe the retreating form of the Steward. A brow raise from a house retainer has him looking back at Robben. "I wonder if Aeliana will be travelling back shortly."