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She may not be all too adept on a horse, but Jyana certainly knows, at least, the basics of taking care of them. Even when the stableboy protests, that he, of course, m’lady, could do the rest for her, she declines it with good grace, after all it was the least she could do for the horse who had to deal with her clumsy maneuverings this morning. And so while the young boy is off getting grain for it, she in turn is with the animal, petting his nose delicately, and picking up one of the brushes so she could brush it down. Her touch is light, and like the cheerful soul she is, she hums under her breath while she works.
It is the early morning, the mist outside had done wonders to quell the humidity the later morning fostered, and what the early afternoon bloomed flush. Perhaps this is why the Vale maiden seems to almost be always up and here at the break of dawn, to relish in the cooler temperatures that reminded her of her home. Not that she looks the least bit homesick, her eyes half-closed and absorbed with what she is doing at the present moment.
The horse whinnies softly, and she strokes its neck soothingly.
“There there, you’ll be fed soon,” she murmurs softly.
Close-cropped fair hair plastered to his forehead, Ser Almer Connington emerges from the stables amid gales of laughter within. The lean, hard-eyed knight is clad simply in black hunting attire, soaked to the skin from sweat or dew, and a saddlebag and bridle are slung over one shoulder. “Tell that to your wife, Wat!” he calls back to the grooms in some coarse jest.
He stops short in surprise at the sight of Jyana, apparently not expecting to see the young lady here. “Good morrow, Lady Jyana,” Almer says after a thoughtful pause, as if just now recalling her name. “Getting an early start?” He shifts the burden on his shoulder, and his gaze slips from girl to horse, curiously.
A familiar voice reaches her ears soon enough, speaking her name. The brushing pauses and Jyana cranes her neck to see the much taller Almer Connington standing nearby, her eyes on his features, then moving to his attire and the things he carries on one muscular shoulder. A small smile, faint, tugs upwards on the corners of her mouth. “More accurately just ending an early start this morning,” she responds. “I’ve been up for a few hours.”
She pushes the mane of the horse aside so she could work on brushing its neck. “But good morrow to you as well, of course!” she states with a small laugh. “What are you up to this morning?” She pauses from her brushing so she could look at him fully.
Dropping the saddlebags with a dull thud, Almer steps closer to the lady and offers her a friendly smile. He crosses his arms and continues to study Jyana’s horse with an expert eye.
“Hopefully something you will appreciate, my lady, given your aptitude for strategy,” he replies. “A good commander knows the lay of the land, and so I was just doing a bit of scouting for a hunt I have planned tomorrow.”
The Connington knight reaches out to stroke her steed’s neck. “This is a good horse,” he says approvingly. “Clean-limbed. Yours, I gather?”
“Interesting, where have you been scouting?” Jyana asks, inclining her head a little bit, though she has to crane her head slight as the man is almost a foot taller than her. “And it sounds interesting indeed, though the first question in my mind is what exactly are you and your fellows planning to hunt tomorrow. If I may ask, of course. After all, I don’t know if you intended to surprise your own with whatever it is you’re planning to bring back from such a trip.”
The sharp gaze trained on the horse she is tending to is noticed, and while the knight inspects the horse, Jyana inspects how he inspects the horse. But when he inquires she nods. “Yes…it was meant for me, anyways, for the trip here. The Eyrie needn’t much use of horses but since I was sent, my father figured I could use one.”
She sighs quietly, but her smile is gentle and a touch sheepish. “I’m still learning, very much a beginner considering.”
Almer pats the horse once again, then turns back to devote his full attention to Jyana. “Well, you certainly have a fine mount to learn upon. Your father has a good eye for horseflesh.”
In answer to the petite lady’s first query, he laughs. “Well, about the only prey between here and Rosby are deer and boar. In fact, I took a fine boar not three days past, and I hope to find his brother in the morning. They are wily as Dornishmen, though.”
A moment later, a thought seems to occur to him and he drops to one knee to dig through his saddlebags. “Who is your riding instructor, my lady?”
“I certainly hope so,” Jyana laughs, softly at what Almer says. “I’ve little knowledge so far with what goes on with a horse, I could definitely use a more experienced eye. And since my father rides whenever he can…” She lets the rest fall unsaid.
When he laughs, her smile broadens. “Alas, the poor boar,” she says dramatically. “And his poor brother. During the hunt I suppose you’ll find a third, or even a fourth brother. You may very well be cultivating a family tradition of them running away at the very sight of a griffin emblem.”
His last query surprises her, and she blinks just a little bit. “Well…I left my riding instructor in the Eyrie, he is needed there. I sometimes I ride with Lady Marian Stark before breakfast, who has been very obliging with her tutelage - however I loathe to take up too much of her time. She runs a hospice for her people in the city, those who have been hurt or wounded in the war. I cannot in good conscience insist upon her company when so many depend on her kindness. Occasionally when the heat isn’t too oppressive in the early hours, I ask the Keep’s Master of Horse who has been very generous to me. But no constant instructor.”
Nodding as she speaks, Almer seems displeased at that. “Well, that won’t do, Lady Jyana. The only way to gain a good seat is through practice, and experience. You should have a proper teacher.” He smiles, then rises, a small leather-wrapped parcel in one hand, though he does not comment upon it, as yet. “My squire has been coming along nicely, once he figured out which end of a horse was the head and which the tail. He hardly needs me any more, save for jousting.”
“I’d be happy to help teach you a few tricks, if it pleases you?” There is no flirtation in the offer, nor subterfuge; indeed, this tall young Stormlands knight seems to relish the idea of gentle company away from the intrigues of court.
She laughs. “I have deprived a knight of his squire in the last evening,” Jyana comments with a grin. “And now I may very well be depriving a squire of -his- knight for an hour or two. My grandfather would be displeased to hear that I’m leeching bits and pieces of time away from martial training.” She’s clearly jesting, however, but her face softens in a more sober expression, however still cheerful, at Almer’s offer.
“Are you certain?” she asks softly. “You are a most active commander, after all. You have audience with the Hand more than some, you’ve your family and relatives here, your squire and your men, who you take care of so sincerely if yesterday’s court session was any indication. And while it would please me greatly…would you be able to promise me that it wouldn’t be too much of an interruption with your other obligations?”
“Of course not,” Almer replies with a wry smile. “You are kind, but I wouldn’t have offered if I did not think it a worthwhile enterprise.” He begins unravelling the thong which binds the leather parcel in his hands. “I am a firm believer in doing a task properly, if it is to be done at all. We can’t have a lady of the Eyrie riding like a sack of turnips!”
He finishes unwrapping the bundle, revealing a small leatherbound book, its pages yellow and crackling with age, and apparently stained with soot. “It is fortunate that I encountered you today, my lady. I nearly forgot about this, and I’ve been carrying it about since Godsgrace.”
He offers the book to her. “Please accept it. I took it in Dorne; it is called ‘The Three Thousand of Qohor’, and it is a history of a great battle in the Free Cities long ago. Perhaps you will enjoy it, I’m told it is rather rare.”
Aquamarine eyes are cast on Almer’s hands as he turns slightly to worry about his leather-wrapped bundle, Jyana inclining her head inquisitively and falling silent for a few moments. At the very least, she takes a careful time period to observe his movements, for some reason. “No,” she agrees. “Most certainly not. I would certainly relish expanding my options should an enemy of my cousin’s decides me a worthwhile target.” She grins, another jest but perhaps there lays a grain of truth upon such - Lord Jonothor wasn’t the most charming or diplomatic of men, and she knew that quite well. “I’m firm believer of learning what is necessary to be able to take care of myself to the extent I’m able.”
She is about to say something more, to thank him sincerely when he brings up something…for her? “Forgot about…?” she prompts delicately, and then, her eyes fall on the small book. And when he tells her the title of it, he would be graced by the striking, blue-green orbs just -rounding- at him.
“Are…are you serious…?” she asks, indeed her fingers twitch at the effort NOT to be so eager, taking the book gracefully and turning her amazed expression towards it. “Ser Almer, how…how did you GET this? It’s…are you certain? Have you already read it? Because I will not if you haven’t!” She looks sincerely stunned, already surprised at the offer, and now -this-?
Almer laughs, clearly pleased at Jyana’s enthusiastic reaction. “Well, I regret to say I gained this book through less than gallant circumstances,” he says with a smile. “I won it from The Black Lance, Ser Crispyn of Tarth, in a little wager. And I was prudent enough not to ask Ser Crispyn where -he- got it from.”
He picks up the saddlebags once again and shoulders them. “To be honest, I have not read it yet; I haven’t had the leisure. I know something of the battle, but not many details.”
“Perhaps if you studied it closely, you could tell me the full tale of it? When we take our first ride, you could teach me of Quohor as I teach you of horsemanship.”
She blushes at his laugh, the color blooming on her cheeks for Jyana does detect it has been caused by her enthusiasm, a slave to such stories as she is, and an attribute of herself that this particular knight has learned about before. “Perhaps you can tell me that story sometime whenever we go riding,” she says softly, with a shy smile - though no matter how much, she still somehow manages to meet his gaze, despite the color of her face.
She watches him pick up the saddlebags again, inclining her head just a little bit. “Oh…of course not, as I knew before you’re usually tremenduously busy…” she says. “But I certainly shall. In detail! I’ll study it so thoroughly that when I tell you about it, it’ll be, hopefully, as good as reading the book. Thank you so very much! But…I’m…really at a loss as to how to repay you for this. You know some of my interests to be sure, but I would like to be able to return your kindness someday…”
“The pleasure of your company is more than sufficient, Lady Jyana,” Almer laughs again. “I hope you enjoy it, and I shall look forward to my history lesson.”
He inclines his head to her, still smiling. “I should be returning to the Keep. It was very nice to see you again. When you are ready for a ride, do please send word. It will be my pleasure,” he says, turning to go.
“If you say so,” Jyana says with a smile, lifting a hand to wave at the knight. “And I most certainly shall, in fact, it’s almost guaranteed! And…I won’t keep you for long, but thank you for taking the time to converse with me today. And for the book. And for the riding lessons. Truth be told I think you very much singlehandedly made my day.”
She laughs at the last, and she sends him off with her enthusiastic wave and a smile. “The Mother keep you, Ser Almer!” she calls out. “And I most certainly will!” She tucks the book carefully with her own belongings, and resumes brushing the horse.
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