|Summary:||Otto returns from Heronhurst and visits Muirenn|
|Four Eagles Herb Garden|
|The continual bustle and noise of the courtyard are muted here by walls of stacked fieldstone mortared into place. The quiet allows the faint cry of seagulls to be heard as well as the occasional trill of a more melodic specimen. Though for the moment the wall is only perhaps four feet in height, it looks as if eventually it will be raised a bit higher. A path of cobbled stones wanders through the garden in a pleasing curve. At the center is a cleared space where a fountain may one day be installed, a bench for contemplation or conversation has been placed nearby. All around are lovingly tended beds of tiny seedlings and freshly turned earth. A far corner nook contains another bench beside what appears to be a small tree. The garden is a work in progress, but already hints of what it will become can be seen by the discerning eye and in the verdant sweetness that threads its way through the air. A vast variety of herbs and vegetables seem to be harmoniously interspersed with what one day will be flowering vines and shrubs. The effect is one of great beauty and yet is based in practicality.|
|July 25, 289|
Otto walks into the courtyard, this time carrying a few small pots instead of a boquet of flowers. The large man had just recently returned from Heronhurst after being gone for a few days. His squire had the horses and was spending time in the stables grooming them from the long ride. Otto himself wasn't even armed, the massive sword he usually carried was with Squeek as well as his armor and even the large man's dagger. He walks through the courtyard and towards the small garden, holding the small pots out before him, being as careful as he can not to spill them.
Settled on a quilt in her garden, Muirenn is clearly not expecting company. Giggling with her handmaiden, they seem to be in the middle of a war where each is armed with prunings. Bits of leaf and dead blooms fly through the air as they try to hit the other from across the garden. The noble's hands are covered by a pair of riding gloves that seem to have been converted to gardening purposes if the amount of dirt ground into the leather is any indication.
Otto's smile grows wider as he walks in and sees the activity. He stops just inside the garden and turns about, taking a moment to clear his throat. Always better to let the ladies save face than to barge in and start laughing. For now, he was doing his best to pretend not to notice things, only staring off at something in a different direction.
The Septa gives a rather stern *ahem* that causes Muirenn to look up just as Otto clears his throat. Her cheeks brighten as a flutter of mint sails through the air to pelt her shoulder. At that she cannot even hope to pretend, especially as Miniella notices who has arrived and apologizes, aghast "Oh my lady I am so sorry…I didn't see..I.." The dark red hair is tossed over her shoulder as the young Mallister just giggles, "You are welcome Ser Otto. I apologize, but admit at times perhaps I am not as collected and composed as I should be." Still, her cheeks remain flushed in bashful embarrassment as she dusts off her dress, hoping she got everything off.
Otto turns back around with a smile. "I find you more beautiful now than at any other time I believe I have seen you," the large man says as he approaches. He gives both the Septa and the handmaiden a polite bow. "M'ladies," he says before turning back to Muirenn. "I apologize, as it seems I have a tendency to arrive unannounced. Poor form, and I am truly sorry for my manners." Otto then steps forward, watching his step. "I hope the lady does not mind, but while I was at Heronhurst, I spent an evening with my mother and sisters, sharing what little of your tea I had remaining. My mother was quite thrilled, along with being full of questions," he says with a chuckle. "She asked me to bring these to you from her garden." He then kneels down and gently places the two small pots by Muirenn's feet. "They are but clippings that took root, the left is an Aspen tree, when it grows, she claims it's leaves will help with fever or pain. The other is a mint she has cultivated in her gardens. Spearmint, she called it, though it looks nothing like a spear."
Her hands freeze as Otto begins to speak and his first words take the teenager completely aback as they were utterly unexpected. The flush in her cheeks darkens and she lowers her hands, ducking her head forward on the pretense of removing her gloves…giving herself a bit of time to collect her thoughts. "You are so very kind Ser Otto, I am glad that you do not think less of me for such a foible." The gloves are set aside and she looks up as he continues, her eyes brightening as the confusion eases (for really what does that mean? Is she so unattractive that smudges of dirt and bits of leaves are an improvement or was he being kind?) and the topic turns to something more expected, "Oh! I am so glad that they liked the tea. I will have to make some more for them if you think they would care for such?" With a fluid movement, the girl eases to her knees and looks at the pots intently. Two fingers gently rub a leaf of the spearmint and she inhales the oil, "Ohhhhh Ser Otto!" her voice is hushed and she gives a happy sigh, "I do not have this mint…nor do I have an aspen sapling either. What a lovely gift! I must send her a reply to thank her for her generosity!" Sitting back on her heels, she glances up at her Septa excitedly "Look Septa! How exciting! I have something for that back bed now and to fill in beside the spring bulbs." It is evident that the gift is welcomed and appreciated.
Otto smiles and seems quite relieved at the appreciation of the gifts. "She wanted me to tell you that the mint only does well in moist soil, so to water it often," he says softly. He pauses for a few moments, looking a bit nervous. "Lady Muirenn, I was wondering," he starts, then has to take a breath. "Would you like to accompany me on a walk or maybe a ride through the greens? It has been such a beautiful day, I could think of no better way to spend it's evening that to spend time with an even more beautiful woman." He then turns to the Septa, "With your approval and accompaniment of course," he adds in afterthought.
"Oh yes, in the beginning mint needs lots of water and sun. It will grow like wildfire." Warming to the topic, she sweeps a hand towards her left "See all of that there, it came from three seedlings. I like that your mother gardens. Not too many of the nobility do, mores the pity."
The Septa looks rather amused by the proceedings until Otto begins to ask a question. The elderly lady's gaze spears him like a well aimed javelin. Hearing him out, she glances towards her charge as again the tall man compliment's the girl's beauty. Knowing more than perhaps anyone else in her family how awkward the teenager feels about her height, she is soothed a bit that at least *this* potential suitor is going about things the right way. Saying nothing she just gives a small shrug as Muirenn looks over at her with a questioning hopefulness.
At the shrug, Muirenn looks up at Otto. Her smile is breathtaking, wide but shyness edges it. "I regularly walk or ride in the evening when it is cooler. I always welcome the company of friends. So…yes, I would like to join you very much my lord."
Otto's smile broadens. "I very much look forward to it, my lady," Otto says as Muirenn agrees. "And I am glad that you like the small token I brought from Heronhurst." It was apparent in his eyes that the man was having a hard time forming words or thoughts, taken with Muirenn's beautiful smile and demeanor. "Should I have the innkeeper prepare us a meal to take with us?" he asks. "I mean, should we decide to stay out a bit after dinner time. I can have him fix enough for however many will be accompanying us as well, and I'd be grateful for something to eat other than the salted fish that my cousins and I packed for the road back here."
The idea of a picnic seems to please her and she nods, "That would be…well, that would be wonderful Ser Otto. Your kindness and generosity overwhelm me." Muirenn's smile softens as she tilts her head slightly in thought "There will be myself, Septa Waldsteinia, Miniella, and two guards." Another blithe giggle fills the garden as she teases the tall man, "Upon my oath your reputation shall not suffer if you walk with me." Her words shyly fade and then she asks, "When shall you return for our walk?"
Otto actually laughs at the jest. "My lady, I assure you, were we to be alone, your reputation would be secure. I would never think to sully your house or more importantly, you," he says with a deep bow. "I should get back to the inn and wash away the dust from the road and change into more appropriate attire. And, of course, inform the innkeeper that a dinner for six needs to be packed along with a pitcher of mead for the guards and a bit of wine for us. Do you have a preference, as to that, my lady?" He seemed excited about the whole idea. "I was thinking a ride would be best as the sun begins to dip. I believe the moon will be at it's fullest to light our way should we venture too far."
Her hands clasp together before her as Muirenn nods, looking a bit overwhelmed as unexpectedly she actually has plans for the evening…WITH a man. Her cheeks flush as he gives his assurances and bows. About to speak, her words are silenced as the elderly Septa pipes up tartly, "Let me assure you Ser Erenford that while you may think her reputation secure, her ladyship is never..alone." The dark watchful eyes glare faintly at the knight, as if she feels the need to establish certain boundaries here and now.
Eyes going heavenward, the teenager gives a laugh, "I am sorry Ser Otto, I think you will find most of my family and retainers inordinately protective of my well being." Her lips curve into a smile, "The guards will drink nothing stronger than watered wine I am afraid. After the…" swallowing, her eyes skitter away as she looks to the ground, "…the incident…much care is taken with me while I am away from the keep. Nothing that would impair their alertness and that sort of thing." The abduction of all the ladies and of the rough state Muirenn was in when everyone was rescued is well known gossip around Terrick's Roost. It is little wonder that she still does not wish to speak of it.
Otto gives a bow to the Septa when she speaks. "Septa, I assure you, I have nothing but the noblest of intentions," he says in a soft and serious tone. He then rises back up and looks to Muirenn. "And, my lady, your protection is heavy upon my mind as well. You may not know me as well as you do your guards, but I am a knight of the realm, and I worked hard to earn that. While I am of a noble house, I was not handed my knighthood, only the opportunity to prove myself. Should anything threaten you or yours, my sword, my spear, and my life are yours. My horse is large, but he is also fast and fierce, and it would be he who carries you back to the safety of the Roost should anything happen." With that said, he gives another bow and a light smile. "If you'll excuse me, I must clean up and make the arrangements. My lady," he says giving a deep bow. Then he turns to the Septa and gives a polite nod of the head.
Whether his speech impresses the dry Septa is unknown, but it is clear that Muirenn is quite impressed with the tall Ser Otto. As he speaks, her grey eyes shine and she murmurs, "I am confident that we will be quite safe while you are near my lord. Again, your generosity overwhelms me." At a loss for words, she gazes up at the knight but finally, a deep flush suffusing her cheeks as she replies, "yes, I must go clean up. I will see you soon my lord." Her eyes follow him as he leaves. Once they are alone, both Muiri and Minnie squeal and giggle delightedly before they jump up and rush off to go figure out all those girlish details that so delight teenagers…like what to wear.