It begins with a prayer.
“Father above, judge Lady Doryssa justly….” And so the septon, his seven-colored belt swaying as he moves, drones on and on and on whilst the white-robed septas join their sing-song prayers to his.
A large box rests upon a bier, dappled with specks of rainbow light from the sept’s sacred crystals. It is draped in a white linen shroud bearing the sigil of House Massey: A triple spiral, red, green and blue on white. It is here that the septon stands, filling the sept with his prayers and incensed smoke from his censer.
Her brother kneels at head of the bier. Ammon Massey’s face is pallid, his hair matted to his head. He is dressed in mourning black from head to toe save the white linen bandages wrapping his injured left hand. His drawn sword is before him, tip grounded on the hard stone floor, the worn hilt held unwaveringly before his lips.
Elmer is standing by one of the pillars, looking glum, his large form clad in all black, his hair painfully combed back, and there is sadness and anger in his eyes. Such a young lady to fall, and such a laughing presence as she used to be. He’s not armed, exept for a ceremonial dagger at his belt.
The ironborn woman, Katla Greyjoy, is seated off to one side in the sept. Her face is stolidly, solemnly neutral, a hand occasionally reaching up to her throat to touch the last vestiges of healing bruises; elsewise her hands are folded in her lap. She watches the service, listening quietly, following the examples set forth by the others in the sept, a heartbeat behind them in her mimicry. Her gaze drifts to rest on the shrouded bier, the woman she spent a week closeted with, a companion who left for parley to save lives, and never returned. She bites down on her lower lip, unconsciously smoothing her hands against each other periodically, listening quietly.
Galan the Green Lion is in attendance. His clothes are dour and his mood is even worse. There is no smile on him today and he makes it a point to wear his grief on his face. He too, has his sword in front of him as silently he prays to the Seven to guide the Lady Doryssa. He glances over at Ammon and thento the other mourners in turn.
Seated amidst his good-kin the Masseys, Ser Luthor dutifully bows his head while the septons rattle off their platitudes about the Father’s justice and the Mother’s mercy. As the prayers drone on the black clad bastard shifts anxiously, the bruised knuckles on his right hand popping softly as he opens and closes his fist and his eyes rise from time to time to look impatiently at the septon as though he could will him to silence.
Josmyn is there too, standing next to Elmer, himself in somber black as well. He even ditched the bandanna, exposing the bandage around his head to the world for once. His expression is grim as he listens to the sept’s, his thoughts far away… back in Crackclaw, on that terrible day he witnessed the young lady die.
Captain Romny Saltcliffe too is amongst the pillars, leaning against one with his feet crossed at the ankles. He has foregone his sea-salted black leathers this day in favor of a satin double of similiar hue. He too was present at the death of this girl, and is known to foster many strange superstitions. This is perhaps another of them, and for that reason he is able to bear the scrutiny of the Seven.
Melene Darry is sitting near the back of the sept, dressed in her Darry brown-and-black, her hair covered with a black shawl. She has her hands folded in prayer, silently echoing the holy words of the ceremony. Likely not many recognize her, but she is here nonetheless.
And, after a time, it is done. A final benediction and Doryssa is given over to the Stranger. The mourners rise and move off, departing the sept to gather in the chilly, windswept yard. But, in the Stranger’s alcove, the Silent Sisters wait to complete a job undone—Lady Doryssa must be made ready to return to Stonedance.
Ammon moves along behind the rest, spurs clicking upon the stone, his gaze lingering on the box containing his sister’s bones—or on the carved statue of the Stranger, perhaps. In time he too is outside, standing with the Iron Serpent and his lady wife. As that pair move off, Ammon is accosted by several other mourning well-wishers. If the look on his face is anything to go by, he would rather be anywhere else.
Elmer raises his head, his eyes filled with sadness still. He didn’t know the Massey girl that well, but yet, such a tragic event. He raises his fist in salute towards Ammon, his eyes scanning the crowd. He nods towards his brother in law and towards Ser Galan Lannister.
Katla rises, her lips moving in a short and simple phrase, and she rises with the rest. Her gait is only slightly stilted, a soft but sharp indrawn breath as someone bumps into her. Her eyes skim through the crowd, settling for moments on Ammon, Galan, Romny - and Luthor, for a pair of heartbeats, before her eyes flash back to the linen-draped bier. She then moves with the throng outside to bid her condolences to the grieving.
Josmyn heard many words spoken before, so he just follows the throng outside as well, nodding towards Ammon if the man happens to look his way and otherwise remains in the background with the others.
Despite his earlier anxiousness, when the prayers are done Luthor stays seated in the first row of pews just staring at the bier. Only a gentle touch of his wife’s hand on his shoulder stirs him and a few words pass between them before he squeezes her hand and rises, turning quickly to depart while his wife rejoins her kin. On the way out he spots Ammon best by well-wishers and after a quick frown turns in his direction. “Good-uncle,” he says cutting off some plump Crownlander noble of some house Luthor cannot recall. “You must be tired after your vigil, perhaps these noble lords will spare you further talk and be on their way.” He flashes the nobles in question a thin smile.
Melene goes along as well, following the rest. She politely greets whoever of the many people speak to her as they disperse, but for the most part she stands apart and watches the knots of people offering their final condolences to the Massey knight and his good-nephew the Warden of the Kingswood.
With all the people inside it is not hard to omit a thin shadow standing at the back of the sept. Ser Willard Ryger joined the ceremony at somepoint, unnoticed and stood there, brooding and grim, by the doors. He was one of the people who witnessed the Massey girl’s demise and it has been heard that he was deeply upset at not being able to do anything neither to prevent her death, nor to avenge it.
Now the young Ryger nods absentmindedly at the words spoken and whispers something of a prayer of his own. Raising his eyes he notices many familiar faces and nods to the lady Katla, Ser Luthor, Josmyn and… as his eyes meet Ammon, no - Ser Ammon now, his mouth tightens and he also bows his head. All in silence, so not fitting the Ryger knight.
Galan Lannister moves outside into the fresh air. He rolls his head along his shoulders trying to let his grief shake off of him. It’s a futile gesture and the grief stays heavy on him. Not one to brood though, he nods to Lady Katla in returne. “Good evening, My Lady.” he says somblerly to her.
Ammon sighs with relief as the Crownlander moves off. “Thank you, ser,” he mutters to his nephew. “These false courtesies are grating.” And then more people are before him, murmuring their sympathies.
Ammon plays his part like an apprentice mummer at his first farce; his false smile is a weak thing, barely denting his cheeks. Still, he speaks to Luthor as he can. “Are your preparations made? We depart before dusk.”
Romny Saltcliffe is amongst the first to depart the halls of the Seven, but he does not place himself in the queue to offer condolences to Ser Ammon Massey. He watches the long line of well-wishes, though, his head shaking in bemusement. It is clear that he remains unfamiliar with this particular greenlands custom.
Katla looks to Galan, a polite nod of the head serving instead of a smile. “Good morning, Ser Galan.” She tilts her head. “Doryssa spoke of you fondly,” she says softly, as if seeking some way to reach out in a form of grieving she does not quite understand. “She told the ladies Mellony, and Reyna, and I that there were betrothal negotiations going on.”
Elmer moves forward to step behind Luthor, and nods towards Ammon. “You have my condolences, ser….Your sister was a jewel of our realm.” he says, shaking her head. “Losing warriors in battle happens, but this…House Crakehall is in mourning for your loss.”
Galan nods in response, “Indeed they were. I was hoping to finalize the negotiations when the Massey’s returned to King’s Landing.” He frowns, “She was the noblest of Ladies and I cannot help but feel my life is poorer with her absence. Were you close with her, my lady?”
Luthor nods wiping his palm against his breeches after shaking hands with a particularly damp handed courtier. “Words are wind,” he agrees. “In this case a cloying and over-sweet one.”
Luthor makes no effort to hide his disdain for the line of false-friends meeting empty courtesies with curt reply before he simply steps back and let Ammon deal with them. Though not without murmuring to Ammon “So good to see we have so many friends, a shame they were all too busy to lift a hand when your sister needed them most.” Then at Ammon’s question he nods. “My men are loading my things as we speak. I will be ready to go as soon as I see my cousin to the Tullys’ care.”
When Elmer joins them he nods in quiet greeting to his friend and battle companion, one that seems earnest for a change.
Willard lowers his head and comes out into the yard following the throng of mourners. He looks to the now Ser Ammon, but shakes his head. The man doesn not need another empty courtesy and all that needed to be said was said during their boat travel back to King’s Landing. He just stands in the back and observes the people, not bothering to come closer lest someone calls him. Quite a turnabout from the smiling, forward youth from before.
“You have my thanks, ser, and my family’s thanks as well,” Ammon says as he addresses Elmer half-heartedly. “She will be missed.” It is the same answer Ammon gave to the last man who offered sympathy; it will undoubtedly be his answer to the next. And, if he visibly scowls at Elmer as Luthor whispers in his ear, who can blame him?
Katla considers her words for a few moments before responding to Galan. “We were not overly close, but…” she trails off, clearly struggling for the right balance of condolences and courtesy. “We had spent some time together, before… this. Then the… journey, and companionship borne of it. She had a spirit easy to admire, and I had looked forward to the opportunity to know her better.” A half-shrug, the rise and fall of shoulders that says the things that cannot be spoken aloud, the reluctant submission to fate.
Melene continues to stay out of the way to watch the comings-and-goings. Ammon has many well-wishers and does not seem to need any more. Still, she decides to weave through the crowd towards Luthor. She remains well-apart from him, her hands folded as she waits and watches.
Galan nodded. “She was an easy person to get along with. She had such a large heart that I’m sure you would have been a welcome friend. Tell me, I have not heard much about her days during the journey.” He looks surprisingly reluctant to continue, buting a part of his lip. “If I may ask you a question, for my own peace of mind… do you believe she was happy?”
Finally, the well-wishers thin out and Ammon finds himself alone. He sighs audibly. “It’s over,” he says to nobody in particular as he moves from his place by the door. The knight approaches a group of men-at-arms dressed in Massey livery, issues a few orders whilst jabbing his finger towards the sept and the stables. That done, he returns to his place by Luthor, noting Lady Melene’s presence with a slight inclination of his head.
For their part, the Massey men spring into action. Two enter the sept, leaving ten to move off silently towards the stables.
A pained look crosses Katla’s pale face, and she seems stunned at the question, but soldiers bravely to meet it, and wrestle it down, some sort of answer that can set the Lannister at peace. “As much as she could be, in our circumstances,” Katla answers finally, eyes shadowed as she speaks. If it’s not quite an answer, if she can’t quite meet his eyes - the woman has enough reasons to arm a militia. “If… you wish to speak on this further, later… I am willing, and you can seek me out for thus. If you will excuse me - I should speak with Ser Ammon, before he departs.”
A polite bob of the head, and she moves to Ammon, murmuring a few words to the newmade knight. She slips away from the last of the throng as well, moving towards the Guest Tower and its environs.
As the crowd of well-wishers thins at last Luthor breathes a relieved sigh and then follows Ammon’s eye to Melene. “She’s alright,” he tells his good-uncle. “She didn’t know your sister, but she’s not be scant in paying her respects. Have you met?” he asks Ammon, before nodding to Melene, in a silent invitation.
He also nods to Katla as she passes.
Melene offers the Massey knight a deep curtsey from where she stands when he acknowledges her, but does not otherwise trouble him until Luthor seems to invite her over. She steps closer, then. “My lords. I hope your travel is uneventful to Stonedance and back again.”
Noticing the crowd of nobles around Ammon thinning Willard finally stirs, straightens and comes over. His moves slow and deliberate, he stands before Ammon and bows his head once more “Ser Ammon.” his pale blue eyes meet the Massey’s as he speaks somberly “We’ve spoken of this on the ship. You know all I have to say about this, as I’ve already told it.” his only -real- gesture of support is a hand put on the newly made knight’s shoulder. And another deep nod of the head.
And then he’s off, turning slowly, nodding farewells to lords and ladies left and right. Even to people who did not notice his greetings
Awash in crimsons and golds rather than the blacks of mourning, Mathin Lannister departs the sept with a last fleeting look to the Warrior. A turn of his bright blue eyes finds Ammon as he steps outside, though what sparkles therein those orbs is guarded as ever by the young Knight’s stoicism.
“Condolences,” he remarks impassively, the word spoken to everyone; either to everyone, or to no one at all. He shifts and then makes to depart.
Josmyn has been talking quietly to another group of people and finally approaches Ammon as well. “May the Seven guide and protect your journey.”, he says softly, “Take care, Ammon.” Then he too turns to leave.
“Not officially, ser, no,” says Ammon to Luthor as he returns. And then, to Melene: “Ammon Massey, my lady—but you know that.” The knight rubs at his eyes with his good hand. “If the gods favor us, the trip will be uneventful—but they haven’t favored me of late.”
And then men and women approach whom Ammon /does/ consider friends. He greets them all, offers heartfelt thanks for once, and winces visibly at every utterance of the word ‘ser.’
“If the gods are good, we will be back soon,” Luthor tells Melene. “If they are just they will put Saan in our path. Since they are neither of those things, we’re like to sink,” he quips darkly. “Still we will try and return as soon as we able.”
Melene nods. “I hope that raven’s wings are swifter, so that I will have some useful news for the both of you by the time you return. If only the Hand will be moved then.”
Ammon can’t help but smile at Luthor’s dark humor. And, for the first time in a week, that smile touches his eyes—though he doesn’t laugh.
The Massey men have begun to reconvene now; the ten have returned from the stables with coursers and destriers barded with Massey livery. Several of the men have brought more than one mount, including Ammon’s trusty steed, Rumplepuss. The sept doors open once more, spilling the other two men into the yard; they carry the bier between them, the box containing Doryssa’s bones resting peacefully upon it. Two Silent Sisters flank the pair, companions for Doryssa’s journey home.
After a moment of private prayer at the altar of the father, the Lord of Southshield exits out of the sept. Having spent his time at the funeral in somber silence, Lord Serry is mildly delighted to see Ammon outside. He approaches the small group gathered around him, bowing his head in polite recognition to them all before he addresses Ammon, “I’m… I’m terribly sorry for your loss, Ammon. I… suspect you know this already, but…” He gives the former-squire a slight, wavering smile.
A small smile touches Luthor’s lips as he glances at Ammon.
Then back to Melene. “I will look forward to that good news. While I am away I have left Farin in charge in gathering support for pursuing Saan. So you can pass any news or concerns to him while I’m gone. And my thanks once more for taking in my kin.”
Melene waves a hand. “Not at all. It is the least we can do… doubtless she will be a delight to have about the manse. Besides, how could I leave her there with that Mertyns man lairing nearby? I would fear for the young lady’s future.”
Ammon’s answer is to reach out and clasp Lord Serry’s shoulder—the uninjured one, of course.
There is an ease between Ammon and the men who bore witness to his sister’s death—Ser Dagur Saltcliffe; Ser Josmyn Reyne; Lord Justyn Serry; Ser Willard Ryger—that is missing from his interactions with other men. The reason is a simple one to grasp: these men were there. They understand.
And, after his wordless exchange with Lord Serry, Ammon sighs. “Dusk,” he says simply to Luthor, and moves off to join the Massey men.
Luthor nods. “Dusk,” he replies to Ammon. Then to Melene. “Indeed, watch out for Mertyns, he may come sniffing around despite my warning not too. He’s a mad man, but easily distracted.” He places his hand on Melene’s arm for a moment. “I should go, but you’ve my thanks, and I will see my sister and my cousin to your door before I depart.”
Melene nods one last time, then offers Luthor a curtsey. “We serve the banners in their need so the banners can serve us in ours.” She smiles. “I shall return and see that all is in readiness for their arrival.”
And so the Lord of Southshield is soon abandoned by his fellow knights. He gives a polite nod to the Warden of the Kingswood, saying, “Take care, Ser Luthor.” He looks over to Melene, giving her a mild smile, bowing his head as he says, “And… I suppose I should take my leave as well. I pray you will forgive me, my lady.” He gives a polite bow to the lady of Tully with that.
Josmyn is still lingering and he smirks when he hears Justyn and looks towards Melene. “Ah, everyone is abandoning you, Lady Melene, not very chivalrous… But I am still here, should you have need of my services…”
Luthor regards Justyn a moment before nodding. “Welcome back, ser,” he says. “I was glad to hear of your betrothed safe return,” he says without conviction. Glancing back to Melene he nods. “I shall see you before dusk.” His eyes flick back to Justyn. “A word before you go, ser.”
He mounts awkwardly, with one hand bandaged so heavily. If there is any pain, Ammon bears it in stoic silence. The bone box, still draped with the shroud, is placed onto a cart. A few muttered words, a few kicked horse flanks and the escort moves for the gate, Ammon in the lead.
Doryssa Massey is going home.