The square sail billows with the wind, its shapely curve handsome to the sailor’s eye. Single-masted the small boat dives over the heavy seas rising over swells and following the seams between waves.
The Stormbreaker sits in the stern, a heavily muscled arm, bare to the elbow in a loose-fitting wool tunic, grips the tiller as he guides boat into the wind. His other hand holds the sheet attached by clever stays that fix the boom to the mast and allow the sail to form a certain shape with the wind.
Sarmion’s dark blue eyes are glued to two tiny pieces of string that stream with the wind, telling him how strong the pressure that pushes his stable vessel along the waves of Shipbreaker Bay.
And in a sheltered part of the little vessel sat a slender form with serious grey eyes. Her pale hands are clasped in her lap and with a somber gaze, she regards Sarmion with thoughtfulness whilst his attention was distracted.
With a shiver, she clasps her cloak a little tighter.
“You like it out here,” she observes softly.
Smiling at Lyrissa, the Stormbreaker says, “I was born, here, my love.”
Tying off the sheet to a stay at the starboard gunnel. He beckons the maiden once his hand is free. “Come sit with me,” he says, he stretches his legs to either side of the hull creating a space for her on his lap.
Beating leeward, they continue to follow the coast on an even keel.
There is wariness is the gaze of the maiden afore she maneuvers slowly across the floor of the vessel. A small tilt on the deck and she all but tumbles into the lap of Sarmion, her small fists clutching at his breast.
“I fear this is your world,” she laughs softly, “My own body is not used to it.”
Laughing, Sarmion says, “You’ll learn!”
He cradles her head with his heavy hand against his chest and then helps her to adjust her posture so that she can sit on his lap with her back braced against him. Letting go with his free arm, he points northward where the chalk white cliffs snake eastward until they disappear into a thin black coastline.
In their midst, Storm’s End reaches upward, stalwart and straight, its battlements defiant against the waves that smash themselves against the cliff beneath it.
Lyrissa sits stiffly for a moment, awkward in her lack of ease at their proximity - but it takes but a few heartbeats before she relaxes a little.
“Your home…” she murmurs, her head tucked ‘neath his chin, “Beautiful in its grandeur.” She laughs a little self deprecatingly then.
“I admit I find it intimidating.”
“I have not seen the White Tower,” Sarmion admits, keeping an even keel over the rough waves, diving down troughs to follow the grain of the sea. He breaths in deeply, filling his powerful chest with fresh air.
Exhaling, he offers, “But such a place, must be more imposing than our lonely tower on its cliff.”
He grins, looking up over his young wife’s head to judge the shape of the sail.
“Oh, it’s lovely. There is such strength…such…” she tilts her head up as she pauses, “..there is the feeling that it will be there forever. Long after all of us no longer walk this earth.” She looks back to Storm’s End and rests in silence for a time. Finally, she comments in her soft way;
“There is a different strength in your home…our home. as though it could weather any storm and keep those within safe from anything.”
“It has stood for a thousand years,” Sarmion says simply, looking at the defiant battlements, “The waves and storms break themselves upon it and have so since then. It has never been taken by force.”
“Yes, it is strong,” the Stormbreaker says, as he unstays the sheet and lets it loose, while directing the tiller with his other hand.
The prow of the boat tacks with the wind, carrying it to port and on an angle away from shore.
“What is your path now, my husband?” Lyrissa queries finally, ending the silence that had descended whilst he worked, “After the melee. Are you to return to the Red Keep? And wither shall I go? Shall I accompany you? Or is it your wish for me to remain here?”
“I will go where my King bids me go,” Lyrissa’s husband says with a sigh, “For now that means King’s Landing for I am His Warden of the Kingswood.”
Smiling down at her, Sarmion says, “I would like you to come with me…” He scowls, then, adding, “Even though that city is a cesspit and the Court a nest of maggots and treacherous fools.” Taking a deep breath, he shakes his head, “No, it is not so fair as this place, or as hospitable as I’ve heard Oldtown to be… but I would not be away from you.”
Laughing, the Stormbreaker offers, “You may choose otherwise! Perhaps you will tire of me - a grim old man.”
Lyrissa laughs softly, and raises a youthful hand to caress his bearded cheek.
“I shall rely on you to protect me in King’s Landing…though I am not wholly a shrinking violet,” she pauses for a moment, considering his face thoughtfully, “I have the feeling though, husband, that it shall be quite some time before I grow weary of your company. Already you have provided more surprises than I thought a hardened warrior of Westeros might be capable of.” And she drops a light kiss upon his lips.
Looking down into her eyes, Lyrissa’s husband says, “You will be safe enough in King’s Landing, even though the chief among my rivals is the Commander of the City Watch…” He chuckles wryly and looks down the waves, “It is only the City Watch and its Commander can’t even protect his wife from herself.”
Shaking his head, Sarmion adds, “No, you will be safe enough. I have 42 knights sworn to my service, a score of men who have served me since before the war, and allies in the Brothers of Battle.”
Grinning, he looks down at her, “And you have me! I am more terrifying to anyone than all of that combined.”
Lyrissa laughs, “I’m not certain whether I should feel protected or worried that I might warrant such protection!” She leans back again to look upon the path their vessel took.
“Commander…” she murmurs softly, “Was she the one who presented the gift of the Tyrell?”
“Yes,” Sarmion says, bitterly, “Reyna Tyrell, a disgrace in Court - despite anything she would have you believe - more treacherous than she is stupid and I think you’d find more wits in dung heap than you’d find with her.”
Shrugging, he adjusts the sheet once more to change the dimensions of the sail and how it catches the wind, then adds, “Truth be told, I know not what she is. She’s either the disgraced sister of Lord Tyrell, forced to marry an upjumped sellsword, or - as she would have you believe - she is the voice of High Garden at Court.”
He laughs at this.
“She has been a source of discontentment to you?” Lyrissa queries, a frown drawing her brows together, “Is she hurting relations between Baratheon and Tyrell? Ardon Tyrell sat upon our table…” her voice drops to a low murmur, as though half to herself, “...though he had her present the wedding gift.” She purses her lips thoughtfully.
Frowning, Sarmion says, “She insists on meddling with my - our family. Interfering with my niece, Sarya - an impressionable girl who acts younger than her age - my sister, Elanna, and my nephew, Tancred.”
Waving his hand dismissively, he says, “She is a nuisance but no real threat. Whether she has compromised Tyrell’s relations with Baratheon - whatever they may be - depends entirely on how seriously you consider her to be. But Ser Ardon sat with us because his brother is Lord of High Garden and House Hightower is sworn to his.”
Smiling wryly, he adds, “I’m not sure what else he was after. I do not know Ser Ardon overly well.”
“Mmm, well I shall not allow her to bother me or my family if I can help it,” Lyrissa replies, a little sharply, and very firmly, “I do not like game playing - whether she is sister to the king himself…or the swineherd’s mistress.” She sighs.
“I was protected from so much at home. One thing to be told, quite another to see it.”
Laughing, Sarmion says, “She could very well have been the swineherd’s mistress! I wouldn’t be surprised!”
Looking up at the sail and then judging the wind he seems to come to some decision. Taking up the sheet he adjusts it one way, then grabbing another he loosens the square-rigged boom lashed to the mast. This changes the shape of the sail somewhat. Even as he does so, he moves the tiller and suddenly the boat lurches and spins around, its prow suddenly cutting through the waves that cut across the bow.
Now the cliffs of Storm’s End pass to port and the wind feels differently. In the hush, he smiles down at Lyrissa, asking, “What do you expect to find in King’s Landing, lady?”
“It will be as difficult for me to negotiate those waters as it would be if you handed me that steering…thing…” Lyrissa gestures at the tiller, “But..I am a daughter of Hightower, I shall not be a disappointment to you, Sarmion, nor to my family.” The latter is spake firmly.
“You worry too much,” Sarmion says, bluntly, “That is not what I mean to ask.”
Pointing the prow so that it takes the wind better and carries the boat further into the waves, he adds, “I mean to ask, what do you expect as my wife? No doubt you will find the Manse in King’s Landing and King’s Landing itself a disappointment after Oldtown.”
Looking down into her face, he asks, “What can I do for you to make it easier?”
“Mmmm,” Lyrissa hums thoughtfully, her gaze upon the bright skies above, “I never expected to remain at Oldtown for the rest of my life. I knew that one day my marriage would be arranged and I would join my husband wherever he chose to make his home.” She pauses again, and chews on her lower lip, a rare moment of uncertainty, “I will miss my family…as for what you could do…” she frowns, “I should like to know more of the people there. Who is courting the favour of who… who holds the king’s favour, who does not. And most of all…” a quirk of a smile, “A promise that you will not leave me to it on my own…too soon. Not if you can help it.”
“No, of course not,” Sarmion says, “But who can say what the future holds?”
Shaking his head, he shrugs, “I am not a man of peace, my lady. I am bred to battle and war. So…”
He sighs, looking behind him to a point in the mountains west of Storm’s End. The peaks are wreathed in cloud and it is not clear what he looks upon, “I will be called upon one day to serve my King, or my Lord Brother, in that which I do best.”
“I know,” Lyrissa replies simply, “And every day that you are gone, I shall pray to the Seven to protect your path. And with me shall you find a respite from that which you do so well, however brief.” She stills for a time, before asking;
“What do -you- wish of me, my lord husband? I am not so naive to think that our marriage was not also a benefit to you. How can I help fulfill the promise my family made your own?”
“A son would be nice,” the Stormbreaker says, rubbing Lyrissa’s belly affectionately.
Grinning, he adds, “But I will risk ruining your innocence by telling you this match suits both our house’s well within the court. Baratheon gains an ally in the Reach, which challenges House Tyrell. Hightower gains a Great House as its ally, which strengthens its position in the Court, and allows your Lord Father more freedom to oppose House Tyrell, should he choose.”
Then, he laughs, “And your Lady Mother - she wishes to use me to frighten the Lannisters!”
Lyrissa flushes a little, “Well…the Seven will grant us your first wish when it tis the right time. With their grace I shall give you all the children you shall wish - strong sons and beautiful daughters.” She smiles though, and reaches up to touch his nose with a forefinger.
“Aye, you are very fearsome,” she drawls, “I have much to learn, husband, but you will find me a quick study.”
“Surely, you don’t expect me to leave this to the Seven alone,” Sarmion says in mock gravity, “I have heard of such rumors, of women claiming to have suddenly fallen to child after it being fathered by the Father, or the Warrior, or the Smith.”
He laughs, “Indeed, I hope I do have -something- to do with it!”
Lyrissa blushes more fiercely, “Oh…I’m sure you shall.” She raises a hand to her throat and clears it awkwardly, “Though even my mother isn’t certain that I have the hips to give birth to any of your issue.” She looks down at the tilting deck, a smile on her lips.
“Does she?” Sarmion asks.
He gently turns the prow towards the cliffs, keeping the wind in the sails so that it keeps some speed over the waves. Clearing his throat, he asks, “What can be done about that?”
“Trust to the Seven…” Lyrissa pronounces confidently, though she does look a little worried nonetheless, “And with practice…” she flushes again, to her discomfiture, “I am certain we will be just fine.”
“Trust to the Seven?” Sarmion repeats querulously.
“Isn’t Oldtown the seat of the Citadel?” He laughs, “You’d think you’d trust to Maesters instead!” Grinning, he observes, “Or do you know too much of them and so trust them less?”
Lyrissa just smiles, “The maesters are still but men. I prefer my life to be guided by gods rather than old men,” She looks at him curiously though, “What is it you wonder?”
“I wonder, if you trust so little in old men, how much could you trust in me.”
He smiles, piloting the ship nearer to shore, seeking the stone quay just beyond the ancient forest grove. Soon, the vessel rounds the sea wall and enters the calmer waters of the quay. Sarmion releases the stays spilling the wind out of the sail and suddenly bringing the boat to rest.
He quietly picks up Lyrissa and moves her to the tiller bench, while he moves towards the mast to reef the sail and break out the oars. Smoothly rowing, his shoulders rippling under the woolen tunic, he smiles at Lyrissa as he faces her, “We’ll soon be on the dock.”
“You are not so old,” Lyrissa smiles, “And if I cannot trust my husband…who can I trust?” She shifts on the bench and watches him with bright eyes.
“It was nice being out here…with you…a break from the maelstrom of the wedding. Thank you,” she braces herself against the rocking of the boat.
“You are welcome, my love,” Sarmion says, he rows nearer the dock, then looks over his massive shoulder towards the jetty where a man stands poised to receive them. Lifting the oars into the hull, he lets the boat drift forward as he climbs into the prow and throws the painter line to the man.
Returning to the stern, he offers his hand to Lyrissa, “Shall we return to shore, my lady?”
Lyrissa places her smaller hand in his own broad paw and rises to her feet. She gives him a small quirk of a smile, “Ready when you are, my lord.”