|Where the Wild Things Are|
|Summary:||Tommas discovers a wee feral thing in the forest.|
|Related Logs:||Ironborn Invasions Logs.|
|Forest — Near Seagard|
|Many Trees, also pinecones.|
|Friday, Feb 02, 289|
The dappled fall of light in the forest reveals none of the ugliness of the recent month, the length of trees running from Seagard to the Roost left unmarred in patches. These trees, unlike the Tall Oaks, did not meet the flame and fervor of the bloodied barbarian hands. In a respite from that corpse lined streets of Seagard, Tommas walks beneath the trees with a hand on the shoulder of his exceptionally ugly horse. A small pack sits on the back of his saddle, bundled with the necessities that a rider might need making the day's trip up towards the Roost.
Ah, such a nice day for a walk (or a ride)—especially in such a quiet place as this where the signs of conflict are not so readily evident. One might even think it safe here. It probably should be. So it's likely surprising when an arrow flies right by Tommas with a soft shfff noise to embed itself in the ground nearby. The angle of the arrow stuck in the ground is such that the feathered tail points midway up one of the trees. No other attack immediately follows.
It should be. The Ironborn have been pushed back to sea, the blood of Lords spilled to see it through — yet. That arrow. Tommas's horse (Buttercup) wickers quietly as that arrow embeds itself in the nearby soil, hooves hammering at the ground anxiously. The hand at its shoulder is all that keeps Buttercup from bolting; Tommas pulls his hammer from his side, narrowly eying the trees and that path marked by the arrow's tail. "Show yourself," he calls, voice low and stout as a lion's.
Silence greets that command, which is an answer in itself: No. It is quiet for awhile, just the sound of wind through the trees and some birds in the distance can be heard. After a bit, a pine cone or a seed pod or something like that smacks the ground ahead of Tommas. If it's another attack, it's a considerably more pathetic one.
In a short gesture, Tommas flicks Buttercups reigns forward and ground-ties the beast. The fingers of his large hand twist tightly around his hammer, feet creeping closer as he watches the trees with trepidation. Oh, the lack of honor to have fought at Seagard only to be brought low by a — pinecone? That is pathetic. Pathetic enough that he stares at it for a loooong moment before looking back up at the tree. "Come down," he calls. "I won't hurt ye if you're a Riverlander!"
Possibly Tommas should consider himself lucky it was just a pinecone. Or unlucky that he's encountered an angry…tree. A second pinecone gets closer to him, but is still frustratingly short of the mark. They just don't lob that well, frankly. Whoever is in the tree is stubborn, scared, distrusting or some combination of all of these things, because they don't come down.
A rather vicious tree. Squinting towards the branches, Tommas shifts the hammer in his hands, balancing the weight beneath his palms. "If you don't come down, I'll have to convince you," he warns, stepping onto that pinecone with a heavy crunch.
A vicious tree indeed. And…apparently suddenly silent. That's probably not encouraging, but no more pinecones rain down from the sky immediately.
Tommas…well. He doesn't say much more, lifting his hammer he brings it solidly down against the base of the tree. A tremor goes up along through the base and choruses through the branches, making them shiver and sway.
The tree shakes and looses some branches and foliage down. From up in the tree there's a yelp and the sound of a branch or two breaking as a scruffy looking teenager half falls out of the tree and then catches some branches on the way down. With a scowl, some more pinecones are tossed vehemently (and a little frantically) at Tommas. Go away.
"I am not going to hurt you, lad," Tommas protests, swatting a few of those pinecones out of the air with a bat of his hand. The hammer is slipped back into its loop at his belt, more pinecones bounding off his shoulders as he steps closer to the scruffy treed teenager. A large paw of a hand lifts, shooting up abruptly to snag the scruff, treed creature by collar and try to withdraw it from the branches. "Come 'ere."
That is so frustrating, Tommas. Why are you so hard to properly hit? The 'lad' (Tommas doesn't get corrected, just scowled at) resists being scruffed. Wiry and quick, the teenager swats at Tommas' forearm, batting and clawing like a wild cat. For what little good it does, for the treed person gets untreed anyway.
He is easy to hit properly, but one of the few bonuses of being built like a misshapen oxen happens to be that you're bigger than most things. "Blood and ashes," Tommas swears as the treed teenager acts more like a feral cat, scoring his arm in a few deep marks. "Ye feral kit, come here." The words come with a growl, arm sweeping the teen from the tree and heavily into his arms. Hi.
He's easy to hit at all, but considerably harder to leave a mark on. Might as well have been throwing pillows, for all the difference it would have made. There's no satisfaction on the teenager's face when the marks are scored, just an intent anger and fear. Nothing helps being swept up into Tommas' arms though, not even a growled protest. There is some wriggling, but that probably doesn't do any good either. Scowl.
Tommas holds fast to the feral wildcat in his arms, one arm wrapping around the teen's kicking legs as the other binds the child's waist. There is no joy in him in doing so, movements careful to hold but not to injure; he murmurs soft words of reassurance as one might do to a panicked horse. There. There. It's okay. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm a knight of the Groves," he promises.
It takes a little time, but eventually the fight goes out of the young person in his arms. Maybe Tommas can attribute this to his soothing words, but it feels more like energy is lost, draining out of the body in his arms and leaving behind limp limps, heavy breathing and a quickly beating heart. At least there is no more clawing and kicking. There is a little twisting so Tommas can be eyed in a slanted and suspicious way. A knight, hm?
When this feral, twisting child's energy is finally drained, Tommas adjusts his hold so that it is more of a cradle and less of a vice; leaning the wild thing partially against his shoulder. There. "Aye. Now don't look so surprised, I can show ye my sword and blazon if ye have need of the assurance." It's there, on the horse. "Common as my tongue is, you have my word that no harm shall ev'er come to you in my company, child," he promises solemnly, watching that child with a clear eyed gaze. It is a knightly vow.
When this feral, twisting child's energy is finally drained, Tommas adjusts his hold so that it is more of a cradle and less of a vice; leaning the wild thing partially against his shoulder. There. "Aye. Now don't look so surprised, I can show my sword and blazon if you have need of the assurance." It's there, on the horse. "Common as my tongue is, you have my word that no harm shall ever come to you in my company, child," he promises solemnly, watching that child with a clear eyed gaze. It is a knightly vow.
The wild thing frowns up at Tommas in a calculating sort of way, but doesn't make another attempt to attack or flee. For now. Silence stretches a bit even after his oh so knightly vow and he is still watched with an uncertain gaze. That same uncertainty creeps into the sudden question, "What do you /want/?" There is a threat of a wiggle, but the movement stops almost before it starts. Behaving.
The big man raises his brows slightly at the wild thing in his arms, looking down the broad plane of his nose at its unkempt hair and sharp, hazel eyes. "When was the last time you ate?" Tommas wonders examining the feral child in his arms. Arms that show no inclination towards loosening at that squirm.
In arms unbudging, the teenager's expression goes flat and resigned, if /intensely/ so, if such a thing can be said of a flat look. Stubbornness or continuing suspicion keep an answer from being immediate. "Yesterday." It's an answer that sounds defiant despite being essentially defenseless in this situation.
Tommas smiles softly, looking a little bit pained at that answer, it is just enough to cause the edges of his brow to knit. "If you give me your word not to bolt, because I'd hate to have to catch you," and they both know he would catch up to the wild cat, "I'll fetch some food from my pack. Deal?" The offer seems genuine, there is nothing untoward to be surmised from his expression nor his actions.
In contrast, the wiry, dirty teenager's expression remains flat and hard. There is another considering pause, perhaps judging whether anything is amiss or untoward. Since everything seems honest enough, a promise is given. "My word." It could be a lie, but it sounds far too determined to be one.
"A word given is a word taken, so my Ma always says," Tommas notes inelegantly, settling the dirty teenage on its feet as gently as one might place down a kitten. Although, the teenager is slightly less squirmy than a kitten at the moment. "So I'll take that and you —" He pauses to reaches into his saddle bag, plucking out an armband with his house's blazon on it and settling it in the child's hands. "You can hold that while I fix us a mite to eat," he finishes, lifting another pouch from the sadle and giving the horse a pat on the rear. "What's your name?"
Slightly less squirmy, if perhaps only because a person is more likely to judge squirming a pointless endeavor than a kitten would. Set down again, the teenager gives the impression of perching on the ground, looking light and tense and ready to bolt. No running happens, though. The armband is taken and examined several times over, distracting enough that there is less hesitation before an answer for once. "Merel."
"Well met, Merel," Tommas says gently, offering a crooked smile as he carries the bag over to the bench offered by the roots of the tree which Merel was removed from earlier. "I'm Ser Tommas Belte, Knight of the House of Groves, which would be the blazon in your hands there." The words are straightforward with little of the elegance that might come with a lie, his hands busied as he pulls out a bit of cheese, bread, a wineskin and couple of apples. "You can call me Tommas, bit of a mouthful all that. How long have you been out here, Merel?" There's a gesture towards the food, permission given. Eat. Eat.
"Well met," is returned on a whisper. Merel takes a quiet step or two towards the tree roots, still looking skittish. "That is a mouthful," she agrees on a murmur, distracted by the food and, well, since he insists…she crosses the rest of the way and sets his blazon down gently next to him before perching on a root and digging into the offerings. Don't expect much in the way of manners. "Ahwhile," is said around a mouthful. "Why're you here?"
"Tis. That's what happens when you accidentally find yourself with a title, too many words for the common man," Tommas opines with a slender grin. Selecting an apple from the bunch, he leaves the rest of the food untouched and crunches it as he watches her dig in. The food is a little on the travel worn side, but is simple and good. "Since the raids?" He prods gently, looking at those too slender wrists before his gaze climbs back to her features. "I am on my way back to my Lord. I was in the battles at Seagard."
Unsurprisingly, Merel doesn't seem to have any issues with the food, either with content or quality. After a moment, she forces herself to slow down to a normal eating pace, hazel eyes watching Tommas and the woods around them more than the spread, anyway. When he mentions the raids, she goes still a moment, flicking her gaze around in a more concentrated study. The woods remain quiet. "You stopped them?" She asks, expression set hard and eyes burning.
"Aye," Tommas breathes, settling his broad shoulders back against the tree. He pauses, taking bite of his apple and tracing the points her gaze makes along the quiet woods. A lark warbles a airy trill in one of the trees near by. "Aye, lass. The banners were called. We sent them crawling back to their seas, the bodies still litter the streets of Seagard," he says, meeting that fiery gaze with a more placid gaze, however firm.
"Good," Merel says shortly with a certain amount of murderous satisfaction and turning to stare at the trees and off into the far distance. After a moment she realizes she's partially crushing some bread in her fist, loosens her grasp and goes back to eating with a blander expression. It's not a big deal, really
Turning the apple in his fingers, Tommas takes another bite, crunching it thoughtfully while he examines Merel. "We'll be harrying them back to their godsforesaken wreck of an island. I can vow that to you, the King'll not stand for otherwise," he says finally, tone dark with promise. "Do you have anywhere to go back to?"
"Good." The second time the word is drawn out a little longer with a sharp edge to it. Merel sits still, but it's a stillness that quivers with ready energy, ready anger…and fear. A deep, steadying breath is taken, before she continues to eat. "There is no going back, only going forward," she replies a little, weirdly, defensively.
Leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees Tommas bends to look this wild creature in front of him in the eye. "Would'ja like to come with me then? It's not much," he adjusts, scratching his fingers against his rough hewn jaw. "Nothing improper mind, I don't take with none of that on my honor, but it'd be a somewhere to go." Somewhere to begin again. He regards her a soft crook of a smile in the offering.
Merel's shoulders go stiff with tight posture, regarding Tommas in turn. Her lips are set in a hard line, but at least she no longer watches him with edgy suspicion. At least, there is much less of it. Brows raise a tic. "…why?" There seems to be some genuine confusion in the question, brows drawing together in a thoughtful frown. No one does anything without /reason/.
There's nothing lascivious about his look, frank and gently appraising as it might be. Tommas's thick fingertips pat at the bristled edges of his jaw, head tipped to one side as if he hadn't really considered the 'why'. "You remind me of one o' my sisters, scrappy as you are," he says finally. "I can't just leave you out here, I've given you my word. Haven't I?"
As Tommas considers an answer, Merel waits patiently in silence and watches him with a solemn expression. Silence and solemness extend past his answer as she considers it. She starts to say something, stops short and chews on a dirty thumbnail a moment before trying again. "Al…alright."
"Alright? Good then. Do you have any things you need to gather, Merel?" Tommas wonders, rising with a slow smile for the wee dirty lass. He offers his hand to her, like a proper gentleman might to a lady. "We'll ride and be back to my Lord by sun's down."
Merel nods twice, sharply, which goes as an answer to both questions. His hand is eyed for a beat, then she looks a little resigned as she takes it and lets herself be helped up—for a given value of help. She pretty much stands on her own, thank you very much. She nods again in acknowledgment, before moving to scuttle back up the tree from whence she came to get what little she has in the way of belongings. She didn't /throw/ that arrow, after all.
The hand is polite and is not going to bite you, Merel. Tommas watches a moment with somewhat wry amusement as the dirty lass scampers back up the tree; he picks up his band and settles it in place over his sleeve. Then he goes to ready Buttercup, adjust the placement of the saddlebags to make room for another rider — however scrawny of one.
Unlike earlier, this time Merel comes down out of the tree with considerably more grace—though it's hard /not/ to have more grace that falling and being scruffed. She's got a bow and a small bag and such now and once her feet are again on the ground, she collects that lone arrow still sticking dejectedly out of the ground.
She's not hissing and spitting like a wildcat this time either, all in all it's an improvement. Tommas eyes that arrow. "No more shooting at me, yeah? That'll put an uncomfortable edge on our friendship," he requests, standing beside the horse to help her into the saddle and get her bags sorted when she's ready.
Well, if you will /shake/ someone out of a tree, they probably aren't going to greet you with smiles and hugs. You aren't getting an apology for those scratches, but she doesn't seem likely to do it again, either. At least not right now. "Don't give me a reason to shoot you," she says. It's probably not the most comforting of responses, but she honestly doesn't look like she's even considering it, instead accepting his help onto the horse and help with bags without fuss. It's almost a miracle.
"Don't intend to, lass. I'd hate to have to shoot back is all," Tommas retorts, almost cheerfully. You can only imagine how big /his/ bow is. He lifts Merel, settling her towards the front of the saddle, then tucks her bags away with his others. Hooking his foot into the stirrup, he climbs up behind her and then they're off.