It’s about noon when the the sky turns brilliant blue and cloudless. The sunlight shines brightly while a strong wind starts to blow from the northwest. It is that wind who carries the sounds of laughter, excitement and even pain through the air. But above all sounds the cheering of men and the whinnying of horses. Not far from the tourney field, a small group of nobles and men-at-arms alike, have gathered around a small improvised horse pen. Prominently among the spectators are those clad in the blue and gold of House Crane. Closer to the group, the voices become clearer and it is by the conversation between soldiers, that the reason of the event become concrete.
“Damn ‘orse almost broke me back.” one of them -an old serjeant- states as he rubs his lower back with a painful expression on his face. His younger companion nods in acknowledge although he bears the grin of a proud boy who had won his first duel. ” You’re getting too old, sir. Myself I kept up pret’y good.”
” Yeah. Till that devil launched your skinny arse over the pen.” A nasal voice says. Another man approaches - an elder stable-boy at the looks of his clothes and the stench of horseshit- , squeezing his nostrils to avoid the blood running from his nose. ” I think it broke me nose..” he complains. ”
“We should ‘ave known. Ser Albyn is probably going to cash that pot once it’s big enough. He is a be’er rider then all of us.” The serjeant replies as his head turns towards the pen where ser Albyn Crane and several of his men are enjoying large wine skins and spiced bread as they watch the capers of their newest catch: a large stallion, black as the night and with a well muscled body. Returning from a day’s hunt, the small party of Crane men had returned with what seems to be an escaped stallion with a /very/ bad temper at the look of some of the men, bearing white bandages around their arms, legs and even wrapped around a head or two. The horse itself was found with its saddle still on, no noticeable owner marks on it. It had led itself without much troubles back to King’s Landing till one of the men tried to mount it. A roll of the eyes, a jump or two and the fun had began… . Ser Albyn, less solemn when among his own men, had quickly allowed a small contest. The one that could have the horse bow to his wishes would be accepted as its new owner. To participate however, five copper coins had to be donated, which would form an additional price for the winner. And so it became that one horse and a few brave men formed an interesting attraction, one which quickly became known throughout the court that noon as already a few passing nobles had tried their luck.
The day is bright, for a change, but the wind threatens to blow dark clouds over the sun’s paltry light, and it is still vastly chilly. A sign, perhaps? Either way, the day sees Ser Alek Reyne, Commander of the River Gate and an officer of the City Watch of King’s Landing, is seen walking with a pair of his men. The group seem solitary, taking absolutely no heed of their surroundings as they stroll and talk. Rather amiably, it seems.
Rumour spreading among the Goldcloaks, who gossip like washerwomen with the right persuasion, is that Ser Alek is, while strict, a decent Commander. This is high praise for the Reyne lion, considering the circumstances of his ascension to his current position caused much discord among the ranks of the City Watch.
Melissa has made her way out here with the entourage and retinue, eagerly anticipating some distraction from the excitement and word about the return of the king. With Baelor on the march and coming into town, things are uncertain as to the events and conditions that will follow. So with her guards, a septa today, and her faithful personal maid, Wylla, Melissa Lannister arrives in a litter to come and view the proceedings. She steps out to the sounds of a horse in the distance, and frowns, looking to Wylla with a doubtful smile, as she wanders on over to the scene.
Josmyn has been out for a long ride as is his habit in the morning. Passing by the tourney grounds on his way back to the keep, he notices a rather surprisingly large gaggle of people there and reins his horse in to a slow walk to get a better idea of what’s going there.
With her Septa, a maid and two guards, Soranna Hawick arrives, wrapped against the wind. She is out for a walk while he weather is permitting, as is her custom. She sees the others, and inclines her head towards them when they catch her eye.
The Commander pauses in his talk, noticing his nephew nearby before raising his hand and calling. “Josmyn. Good morning.” Alek then begins to make his way over, the two goldcloaks falling in to flank him.
Nibbling on a piece of spiced bread, Albyn looks at the horse as it changes its ears attentively to all kinds of direction as the laughter and whining continues around the pen. For now the crowd seems to possess no immediate volunteer after the last one got thrown off pretty hard. The otherwise solemn Crane turns a few time to his men jesting and grinning and it is during one of those moments that he sees the arrival of a few familiar faces. The Reynes seem to have noticed eachother while from afar he sees the arrival of the Ladies Soranna and Melissa. Both obviously followed by a retinue and septas.
“Uncle!”, Josmyn brightens when he sees Alek and hears his greeting. He nudges his horse over to Alek’s side to walk with him. “What’s going on there?”, he wonders, “What is Crane doing with that unfortunate horse?”
Melissa comes to the stands and intercepts Soranna, “My Lady, how fare you today? My goodness did you walk out here?” She shakes her head and says, “This simply will not do. When you depart you must ride with me back to town in my litter.” She grins and says, “Have you come to see what excitement might be out here? I heard tales of a wild beast.”
“I do not know, I fear.” Alek says, on foot while his nephew is ahorse. “It could be to do with His Grace returning, but, somehow, I doubt it.” The Commander’s golden cloak billows in the wind. “What say we go take a look, eh?”
Elmer rides in too, the big Crakehall knight wearing chainmail and his usual Lannister cloak, his unruly hair flowing in the wind. He hears the greeting between Josmyn and Alek and inclines his head cooly towards the older man, while his brother in law receives a warm smile, as do the two beautiful ladies.
“Certainly.”, Josmyn agrees with his uncle as they start heading for the tourney grounds. Seeing Elmer nearby, he gives the man a wave and a smile in return. “Ser Elmer, do join us! We are trying to find out what’s going on there…” He points towards the grounds and the excitable horse surrounded by men.
Soranna smiles at Elmer, inclining her head and speaking up, “Ser Elmer. Out to enjoy the fine weather as well?” She tightens her shawl against the wind.
As to Elmer’s arrival, Alek gives no heed. There is no recognition between lion and boar in that regard. “Ah, yes.” Alek says, spying Soranna nearby. “Lady Soranna bid me to pass her wishes onto you last we met, nephew.” Alek says to Josmyn. “But it seems that I am too ate to give them, as she can tell you in person, no doubt.”
Soranna turns to Melissa and smiles, “Lady Melissa! It is good to see you. Thank you for the offer but really, yes, I like to walk. I try for several hours a day, though that will end with winter coming.”
Elmer makes his horse dance prettily, smiling and nods towards Soranna. “Indeed my Lady, such a day is made for sport..” he chuckles and watches the fractitious horse and the Crane smiling.
“Ah..and have you found any answers, Ser Josmyn?” he asks.
Melissa smiles back and says, “Well, yes, unfortunately. We shall see how Winter treats us, but I suspect you might find some comfort strolling in the Keep?” She looks up and says, “Ser Elmer, always good to see you.” She eyes the Reynes and gives them both a warm smile of greeting. Wylla approaches with a poured gold cup of wine.
Josmyn looks surprised at Alek’s words. “Oh? What did the Lady Soranna wish you to pass on then?”, he asks curiously, before shaking his head to Elmer. “No… but I suppose we shall find out soon. Oh look, there’s Melissa too!”, he beams and gives her a wave.
Seeing Elmer, the Crane smiles and rises his hand in greeting. ” Ah, ser Elmer! Such a pleasure to see you around.” Throwing a glance at the chainmail he arches an eyebrow. ” Not up to any bad, aren’t you, Crakehall?” A grin goes along with the jest as he reaches the man his wineskin. To the ladies he presents a gallant bow while the Reynes receive a slight nod.
“Merely her well-wishes, nephew.” Alek says, before raising his hand. “Lady Melissa, good morning.” And then a bow to Soranna. “And Lady Soranna, of course.” Elmer continues to go ignored by the elder lion, and Crane does, also.
Soranna laughs, “Yes, but I can do that any day. It is rare enough it is not raining and I can enjoy the grounds. I admit, I hadn’t heard about the animal….” She turns towards the others. As she is greeted she curtseys to each in turn, a small movement though a deeper incline of her head.
The sound of hoofbeats announce a rare event; the Warden of the Kingswood showing his face among the nobles of the Red Keep. Dressed for the ‘Wood, Luthor’s garb is all boiled leather and steel rings, his cheeks are unshaven and his hair falls in tangled curls from beneath the battered nasal helm he wears. The knight reigns in his steed accompanied by his squire and handful of men and eyes the scene with dark curious eyes before he removes his helm. “What’s all this?” he asks as he rakes his hand through his unwashed locks.
Elmer grins and takes the proferred wineskin, not one to ever refuse such an offer, and drinks deeply, then dismounts. “Thank you, milady Melissa.” He looks at Soranna and shakes his head. “in truth neither have I” he chuckles as Luthor comes in. “Now this is truly a gathering.” he inclines his head with a smile. “Good day, Rivers.”
The sound of hoofbeats distracts the elder lion present, and he turns, a smile blossoming on his face. “Ser Luthor.” He offers, walking toward the horse. “You look like the hells, man. Just returned from the ‘wood?”
At the arrival of Luthor, the heir to Red Lake turns and bows respectfully. ” Warden.” Then he gestures to the horse who now seems to be comfortable with tasting the grass between its front legs. ” Just having some entertainment, my lord. We found this devil enjoying the salad of some poor farmer’s field. The lad was close to presenting his family horse steaks tonight.”
Melissa grins to Josmyn’s smile, but says to Soranna, “Well, shall we explore a bit?” Then to the arriving horse she turns and grins a little more, “Ser Luthor is here, why, I have not seen the man in an age. Perhaps the tides really have turned in the woods.” To Elmer she smiles a bit, and gives him a grin, “I know you know these vintages well.”
Melissa grins in return to Alek, and bows her head, “And a good morning to you as well, Ser Alek. Have you come to ride that fearsome monster?”
Josmyn bows deeply to Melissa and Soranna, as they reach the ladies and smiles at the latter in particular. “I hear I am to thank you for your well-wishes, Mylady. How very kind of you to favour me with your thought.”
“Of course Ser Josmyn. I sent my thoughts to you and to Ser Elmer, as I’d not spoken to either of you of late. One must remember their friends,” Soranna says with a smile, her expression and voice gentle still.
“I fear not, my lady.” Alek says, before motioning behind him at the two imposing watchmen behind him. They make quite the trio. “My men and I were merely out for a stroll when we chanced upon this delightful menagerie of nobility and other beasts.”
At the lady’s remark, Albyn grins rather mischievously. ” Have you, ser?” he asks to Alek. ” You look like you could use some coin.” he says before he winks to Elmer. ” What about you cousin?”
“Crakehall,” Luthor grins before he swings down from his horse and passes the reins and his helm to his squire. Settled on his feet, he claps Alek’s shoulder. “It shows does it brother?” he asks the elder knight. “Aye, back from a long patrol, but what’s all this here…” he begins before Crane supplies the answer and Luthor spares a nod for the heir to Red Lake. “Good eating on a horse,” he remarks idly but with the tone of someone who knows this from experience. “So you’re trying to break him I take it?”
The ladies and Melissa in particular get a gentle bow from the knight before he turns his eyes back to the horse.
Elmer returns the wineskin and grins towards Melissa. She’s one who would know his faults, and he chuckles then adds to Soranna. “I am glad to see you indeed, my Lady…have you given thought to those matters that were preoccupying you of late?” he asks raising his mailed fist towards Luthor, the the are good friends even if he can’t be as friendly towards Alek himself.
“You forget yourself, ser.” Alek says, a hint of coolness in the lion’s voice as he replies to Albyn. “I need not for coin, just as I need not for the risk of concussion at this moment. My wits are needed for my duties, now more than ever.”
Melissa eyes Soranna and Josmyn lightly with a small smile, but looks to Alek and nods, “You have come upon a most interesting animal. It is quite fearsome.” She curtsey to Luthor and offers him a small grin, “Ser Luthor, it is a pleasure to see you again. Indeed, you are sorely missed in town. I wished to send you word regarding the current situation, as we hoped to hunt, but with the king’s return, I fear the hour is too late.” She hears a word from Albyn and turns her head, “Did I hear matter of a wager going on?”
With all the greetings out of the way, Josmyn has fallen silent to see howt hings are proceeding.
“Much ser Elmer, though I still need further information,” Soranna says rather vaguely before her eyes turn as well to the whole commotion.
” Ah yes. The King’s return ofcours. The gods be praised that we will receive him back in good health. To the Lannister lady he nods. ” Well yes. As ser Luthor just mentioned… we’re trying to have the animal bow to ones wishes. There’s a small fee to try and the one who succeeds will be granted the horse as well as the gathered fees. Worth a concussion if you’d ask me, not?” A sweet smile is formed on the Crane’s lips. %r %r Elmer nods to Soranna, undoubtedly a matter to speak of in more private surroundings then grins. “A wager?” He’s no horse tamer, but he looks to see. “I’ll put a coin or two down, depending on who takes the challenge.”
“I’d say, no.” Alek folds his arms. “And I trust the Hand has given you leave to do this, ser?” the Grey Lion continues. “I am surprised that Prince Viserys would give up one of his retainers to a horse when the Keep’s stablehands can do just as well.”
Melissa hmms and watches as the horse crashes about, and says, “In this I would agree with Ser Alek. Sport is one thing, but if there were to be men be hurt…” She frowns and looks around, and watches the men try to decide. With that she smiles and sips her wine, looking to Soranna, “Do you think they would dare ride that thing? They should bind it down together, so he cannot move. Sadly, I wish I was better with horses to understand them.”
Josmyn looks over to Melissa and chuckles. “But my dear Melissa. Horses are much like women… they need to be treated with care, patience and love… not by trussing them up. Although with some women that might be a good idea too.”, he winks.
Alek nods to Melissa. “Why would a knight risk his health in something a stablehand is better suited for? And they are paid for the job, also.” Folding his arms, the Reyne knight regards the beast. “Besides, I have need not for another horse.”
Elmer chuckles at Josmyn’s words. “Bold attitude, goodbrother..” he then looks at Alek and smiles. “There have been cold words between us uncle, but no actual bad blood.’ he grins. “I was thinking of placing a dragon on yourself, but if you will not take up the challenge I’ll place it on Ser Luthor.”
Soranna rolls her eyes halfway before catching herself and flushing slightly. “I am certain he will make a fine horse once broken, but I pity the one who breaks him.”
Melissa’s words cut succinctly through the chatter. “How long until the King returns?” he asks the Lannister lady, clearly surprised to hear the king’s return is imminent. “And yes, a hunt may have to wait, his grace is not fond of hunting, but we shall see what he says about others partaking once a suitable time has passed,” he says.
When the topic turns to the horse again so do Luthor’s eyes. “Trussing up? Is that your secret Ser Josymn?” he quips lightly to the knight as he looks at the horse with a considering eye. After another moment, he says “I’ll try it.”
Alek claps Luthor’s shoulder. “On your wits be it, brother.” The lion says, before grinning slightly. “I’ll be sure to get you to the Landing when you are too dazed to walk.” %r %r Again, all Alek spares for Elmer is a slight glare, his green eyes frozen over. “I would ask you to keep your gold, Crakehall.” He responds. “What happened between us is a matter of opinion.”
” Ah! I like that attitude their, Warden.” Albyn states as he calls for the man who’s responsible for gathering the fees. ” I’ll go next. That is, if you don’t break the horse ofcours.” Taking Luthor a bit apart he lowers his voice. ” We may have had our differences as well, Warden but I do want to warn you. It’s a furious lad, that one.” Albyn whispers as he throws a glance to the horse. ” Good luck.”
Melissa looks to Luthor, and says, “My you have been in the woods a long time. They say his approach is only 2 or 3 days out now. He should be here in due haste. Have you not been in the town yet? Preparations are everywhere.” She smiles a moment, before slowly turning her head to Josmyn with an unreadable smile, “You, Ser, are dangerously close to scandalous. Did you not speak of rumors a day ago? Words like that will have mouths talking.” She waits though and watches, eyeing Albyn and Luthor, saying to Alek, “I think we’re about to find out.”
Josmyn just laughs good-naturedly at Melissa and Luthor and shakes his head. “A wise woman told me that if tongues are wagging anyway, it’s best to just carry on as usual and ignore the gossip mongers… And I still think it’s best to deal with a spooked horse by being patient and kind and not force your own will upon such a noble grateful creature…”
“No, I haven’t been inside the gates for the better part of a month now,” Luthor answers Melissa as he unbuckles his sword belt. “But two or three days? I will watch myself then, it would do me no good to be knocked out by this horse and miss the king’s return,” he unwinds the battered sword belt from his hips and wraps it about the sword’s scabbard and thrusts both at his squire. When the blade is taken, he nods absently at the japes and counsel of his fellow knights and begins to walk carefully towards the horse, hands out to his sides murmuring softly.
The steed stirs, when it spots the knight approaching and wheels about to face him. There’s a moment of silence between man and beast as their eyes meet and they try to take each other’s measure. Luthor edges forward, and it looks as though the horse is about to let him draw close enough to touch him when suddenly it rears up, forelegs flailing. Luthor’s retreat is far from graceful as he tumbles onto his arse in the mud, but the horse’s hooves don’t manage to stave in his skull, and that must count for something. He pushes himself back with his hands and legs in the mud before standing. “The beast tried to trap me, I should have brought my bloody sword,” he says, though he smiles while he does so. “Crane, you have a go,” he says as he marches back through the mud to let someone else try to tame the hell horse.
Alek applauds. “Well played, Warden. Well played.” He’s grinning as Luthor makes his way back, all covered in mud. Weither his praise is in jest or serious is unknown.
Soranna watches, her hands cose together, occasionally tightening as the animal rears and then tosses Luthor. She steps forward as he passes the role off and asks, “Are you allright Ser?”
Albyn throws a few coppers to the ‘treasure holder’ before arching an eyebrow at Elmer. ” This will hurt I guess…” he says with a rather overplayed grin of confidence showing he’s not that sure anymore about the fun of it now /he/ has to make a try. He then approaches the magnificent horse, step by step, slowly as not to startle the animal. Already used to having a few men doing the same and then trying to mount it, the black horse dances away at first, only to have his curiosity get the better of him when the blue-and-gold-man rises an open hand just high enough so the horse would have to step closer to see what lays in the palm. The hand offers a piece of carrot to the horse who finally decides to allowed Albyn in its presence… against better judgment. Having managed to gain the horse’s trust for a short moment, the Crane now wanders slowly along its side, his left hand grabbing the saddle horn. Then without warning, he leaps into the saddle, his thighs closing firmly against the saddle as the horse immediately reacts. One jump, two jumps and the Crane already makes a growl due the effort of keeping in the saddle. Then the beast tries another tactic by circling around as to disrupt its rider’s sense of direction. Still Albyn remains into the saddle but then it happens. Quick as a snake, the horse leans through its back first, only to throw it into the air afterwards. Still a bit dizzy the heir of Red Lake is surprised and he’s launched forwards, his face ending up in a painful collision with the ridge of the horse’s neck. Only semi-consciousness, the Crane still falls of the horse like a sack of stones. Several of his men -who had been sitting on the edge of the pen- quickly enter to lure the horse away while the others drag their lord into safety.
Luthor is scooping mud in handfulls off his leathers when he looks up and flashes his teeth in a grin at Alek. “Thanks,” he says and as his limping gate draws hi closer to Soranna he nods. “I’m quite alright my lady, my thanks. It was quite the clever beast.”
Josmyn laughs a little and shakes his head at the performance. “I should be going home…”, he comments quietly to the bystanders, “This is almost painful to watch. And my own horse deserves some water and oats. Good luck, if you try.”, he comments softly to Elmer and Alek.
Melissa winces a little and says, “Oh Ser Luthor…that was…never fear, we shall make sure Lady Pennei hears nothing of this.” She grins a bit and watches more, sipping her wine from the side, and says to Josmyn, “Oh, are you departing? Well, have a good day,” giving him a smile. Retuning her gaze to the proceedings, she just shakes her head as Wylla refills her cup.
Josmyn nods to Melissa with a smile and nudges his horse on, galopping off towards the Keep…
Elmer shakes his head towards Soranna. “A wicked beast that one, it seems…no I shan’t try my luck with it, and I will probably lose my temper and bludgeon him on his head like I did with poor Ethos.” he chuckles unsavorily. “Would you like a drink, my Lady?”
“I have made my stance on this perfectly clear.” Alek says, smiling to his nephew before looking back to Luthor. “That limp.” He notes. “Before or after your tangle with the beast, brother?”
Pulled back on his feet, the heir to Red Lake’s face seems to be on storm as he those icy blue eyes look to the black demon. But then he suddenly burst into a laughter, shaking the helping hands of his men off. ” Make sure that devil gets a bucket of carrots. He earned it.” Wiping of some mud from his shoulders, he calls for a cloak to cover most of the mud stains and walks back to the nobles. A soft smile is send to Elmer as he speaks. ” Well. It /did/ hurt for sure.”
Luthor flashes Melissa a smile. “Thank you,” he says. “You know how she worries. Almost as much as Ser Alek here,” he adds with a smile for his friend as well before he takes a seat and asks his squire for some water to wash off the mud. “The limp’s nothing to worry about, just too much time in the saddle followed by a fall on my rump.”
Soranna watches as the next one takes his turn, her posture as anxious. It is her guardman though who comes up to her even before she can ask if he is allright, and she nods. Turning to the others she tells them, “I am sorry, I need to take my leave.” A curtsey and the group of them turn.
Melissa laughs a little to Luthor and nods, “I do, in both their cases. But as it it, I am just more delighted to see you again. All is returning to normal in the woods, then? How fares everyone out that way?” She looks to Soranna as she departs, and gives her a nod of departure. “Sadly though, I think wagering on the times of these rides would be in poor spirits, since some are so opposed.”
Obtaining permission for a gentle ride around the nearby countryside, the Lord of Southshield trots in from the pavilion grounds alongside the Lady of Three Towers. Dressed in his finery as ever - a brocade jerkin of red and white worn over an inky black velvet doublet - Lord Serry pulls on his reins as he spies the scene before him. Arching a slender brow, he looks to Ammara and inquires, “Well, whatever do you think is going on there, my lady?” He glances back to the assembly about the horse.
Luthor holds out his hands when Barion arrives with the waterskin and pours it out slowly for Luthor to wash his hands with. “Mind the splash,” he remarks to Melissa, careful not to ruin her clothes with the combination of mud and water. “And things are finally quieting in the wood, we rode a week without encountering more than a poacher. Which is good, because I’ve other things I’d rather be doing with the wood, than clearing bandits out of it.”
“That is news, indeed.” Alek says, smiling. “What with the progress on mine own investigations, I am sure the city and the ‘wood shall be safe for His Grace soon enough!”
The reins of her splendid chestnut stallion held loosely in her left hand, Lady Costayne lifts her right hand to shield her eyes from the sun. She observes, in a tone none too approving, “You’ve heard of bear-baiting? I think what we may be seeing here is the invention of horse-baiting. That poor animal looks so nervous it might jump out of its skin.”
Her compassion for the animal is, typically, far greater than anything she might feel for the hapless would-be riders who are dotted about the clearing with their bodies and garments in various states of disrepair; scarcely has she taken in the scene, than she is sliding down out of her saddle and putting her hand firmly to her chestnut’s white-blazed forehead, telling him to stay. (But she also ties up the reins so that if he doesn’t, they won’t tangle his legs.)
She weaves her way through the small crowd, a tall and austere figure in her plain grey riding dress, and is soon at the edge of the pen in which the horse is confined, looking around to see who is in charge of this sideshow.
Melissa hmms and steps back a little, “Ahh, well this is most wonderful news!” She grins brightly and says, “It would be wonderful to have you all back safe and sound.” She grins to Alek and nods, but then notices the arrival of Justyn and Ammara, and she smiles to them, raises her cup and grins, but does not call, as they are still a touch too far away for such a display.
“Ah, Lord Serry is up and about, I see.” Alek comments, raising a hand to his lordly good-nephew. “Maester Talbard has worked wonders with him, it is to be noted.” The Reyne knight comments, before glancing over to Luthor. “Rumour has it he even patched up one of the Kingswood Company free of charge, also.”
Luthor nods. “My thanks, my lady, we will all be glad to be back safe and sound as well,” he replies with a smile. “Was it Urston?” he asks Alek about the man Talbard fixed up. “And so… what has been happening around court while I was away?” he asks both the red and golden lions by his side as he nods a greeting from where he sits to the arriving Reachlord and Reachlady.
Dismounting as well, Lord Serry clucks his tongue at Ammara’s remark, showing at least that much sympathy. He flashes a brief, charming smile toward Alek, Luthor, and Melissa as he catches sight of the various non-verbal greetings cast his way. Leading his horse by the reins, he proceeds to tie the rouncey to a nearby post before heading in their direction. “Good afternoon,” he greets the trio, taking a brief moment to glance over toward Ammara as she heads toward the horse. At Luthor’s inquiry about the recent news, Lord Serry chuckles and remarks, “I was about to ask the same thing.” He gives Luthor a slight grin at that.
Alek grins. “Nay, an even more surprising man has had the tender care of the maester.” Alek folds his arms. “It is rumoured to be Ser Leon. Rumours that were all but confirmed when I saw a surprising sight in the yard yestermorn.”
“Lady Costayne, what a pleasure.” The voice of Albyn hovers to the lady on the strong wind that’s been around today. ” Magnificent creature, isn’t it?” he states, knowing the lady’s favor for horses. ” Though a furious devil, this one. As I witnessed myself…” An apologising grin as he gestures to the mud stains on his uniform.
The black stallion is alone in his pen at the moment, circling nervously with his head raised as though trying to keep an eye on all possible approaches simultaneously. Lady Costayne watches him out of the corner of her eye as she greets the Heir to Red Lake in a voice almost too soft to be heard. “Ser Albyn. Whose horse is he? What, precisely, is going on here, if you don’t mind my asking?”
Melissa hmms, and says, “Beyond that, Ser Luthor, you’ve come back to a mostly quiet town. Though with Ser Alek’s investigation, there has been a little excitement. Not a terrible lot but…” She shrugs and sips her wine as the other arrive. “Lord Serry, Lady Costayne, how fare you both? Come to witness the display? A poor abandoned horse, if it is to be understood my lady. And fearsome.” She nods and looks to Justyn, “How good to see you again, my lord. And out and about.”
” Seems this one broke free from its stable. He was close to become steaks after violating a farmer’s field but we managed to safe it from the pitchfork. One of my man tried to mount it but got rewarded with a broken nose. Now the rest wants to do better but I fear even I wasn’t able to have it bow to my wishes.”
The Lord of Southshield gives a brief smile, then shrugging, replies, “Well enough, I do suppose.” He pauses a beat, then adds with a smile, “It… it is good to finally be wed to my Lady Katla.” He then gives a brief bow of his head, saying to Melissa, “And it is good, indeed, to be out and about once more. Still some time until I am ‘fully recovered’, but…” He gives a meagre shrug once again.
Luthor dries his still damp hands on his cloak. “I see that all the excitement must have followed me to the ‘Wood,” he remarks. “I hope it has followed me back again, and life at court will be more thrilling.” He smiles at his companions then, and with a grunt of effort gets to his feet. “But I should go, get cleaned up and see my wife, but thank you both for your company, I will see you soon no doubt.”
Lady Costayne can imagine the rest. She sniffs. “You men always think the only way to succeed, in any venture, is to rush in waving your swords and conquer everything in sight,” she says, giving Ser Albyn a dark and quelling look, as though she holds him personally responsible for the horse’s mood, the injuries suffered by various unsuccessful riders, and probably the coming of winter too. “Don’t let anyone else come in after me, and see if you can talk that lot,” she nods to the spectators, “into lowering their voices.”
She walks away from him and round the pen to the gate on the other side, and opens it just wide enough to admit herself. She slides the bolt back into place so slowly and carefully that the metal is silent, and just stands there for a minute, not approaching the horse, not even looking at it.
Nodding, Alek turns to Justyn and Melissa. “My lord, my lady.” Alek bows, “My own duty calls, and Henry and Theo have been kept waiting for too long. Excuse me.” And, with that, Alek turns to leave, the two Watchmen falling in behind him.
Elmer is still here, silently drinking from his wine, and shaking his head. he is definitely not one to be renowned for his training skills though a fine rider and a well know joust knight.
Albyn doesn’t look intimidated by the Lady her glance but he does whisper something to one of his serjeants who immediately spreads the request for silence. As the spectators fall silent, the Crane makes a few gestures to several of his men, known to be well trained archers. Squires are send of to return with bow and arrow and soon there are three archers standing ready to interfere if necessary. The heir to Red Lake was taking no risk at all…
Melissa smiles as she nods to Luthor, “Continue to be safe, and we look forward to your return almost as much as that of the king.” She grins and sips her wine, before looking to Justyn, and says, “You seem to be of better spirits and health. I would say your bride is doing wonders for your recovery.” She smirks a little before looking to Ammara, and she frowns, “By the Seven, she’s not going in there is she?” She calls, “My Lady! Be very careful!” She’s obviously concerned, more for the fact a court lady is about to attempt to do something this risky. “Ser Albyn, do you think this is wise?”
” I don’t…” he grumbles in response to Melissa. ” But she’s the Lady Costayne and from what i’ve heard… I don’t think even I cannot persuade her when it’s about the wellbeing of horses…” It’s almost like the Lannister’s question made his fear grow bigger and with a short order he has one of his man fetch his own bow as well.
It’s certainly a magnificent beast, as Ser Albyn said. Perhaps seventeen hands high at its withers, and coal black from nose to tail. A destrier trained for one rider, and one rider alone, who has misplaced his rider, left behind his familiar stable, and been subjected to all manner of indignity at the hands of strangers.
Lady Costayne sighs slightly. This will be a tough one. She bends down and breaks off a long stalk of grass. Then she begins to walk around the inside edge of the pen, murmuring endearments and nonsense words in an undertone, as though to a child. All her movements are slow and graceful, so she won’t startle the animal as she gives him this time to become accustomed to her presence and to her voice. She still doesn’t look directly at him, lest he mistake her regard for the threatening stare of a predator. At first the stallion echoes her movements, keeping an equal distance between them at all times, but as he begins to trust that she won’t rush up to him and try to climb onto his back the way his other visitors did, he relaxes a little, and just follows her with his eyes.
After several circuits of the horse, Lady Costayne is within arm’s reach of the horse—standing close to his shoulder, out of reach of both sets of dangerous hooves. She reaches out with the stalk of grass she has been twiddling between her fingers, and touches it lightly to his tense, tight neck. He steps away, skittishly. She touches him again. This time he stays.
Lord Serry chuckles at Melissa’s remark, but neither confirms nor denies the allegation that his wife has played any part in his recovery. Looking over to Ammara as the Lady of Lannister points out what she is doing, the Lord of Southshield blinks, uttering, “Why, I do believe she is.” He pauses a beat, then adds, “At least, she’s intending to.” He looks over toward Albyn, waiting to see how the heir to Red Lake might reply to Melissa’s doubts to his course of action. For his own part, Lord Serry -certainly- seems skeptical as the men ready their bows.
Seeing Albyn take up a bow -himself- now, Lord Serry inquires, “And what-ever- do you intend to do with that, ser?” He gives a vague gesture to the bow, shifting his gaze cautiously toward Ammara.
Melissa frowns to Albyn’s own grumbling and she grits her teeth, and looks to the scene in front of her. With a look in her eye of grave uncertainty, she moves to check Wylla and inform her to fetch more wine, to soothe her nerves. But as she is watching she blinks and notices how the woman has a soothing demeanor, and calm handling of the animal, “Ahh, what’s this?” She peers and smiles, “Oh…Look. She’s got to him.” She breathes a sigh and says, “The woman has a way with animals it seems.” Eyeing the others, she frowns, “Careful now, patience…let us see what unfolds.”
” Piercing that devil’s skull if he even makes a wrong move towards the lady. I’m a cautious man… compared to some others, Lord Serry.” The Crane answers though without letting his eyes of the horse.
“Shh, that’s right. That’s a good boy. You’ve had a hard day, haven’t you. But it’s all going to be all right. I’m here now, and I won’t let them bother you again. You’re a very handsome boy, aren’t you. I wonder who you belong to? He must be missing you…” %r %r Lady Costayne keeps up an endless stream of this sort of pointless talk as she takes off one of her gloves and steps in front of the stallion. She offers him her hand, held up near the level of his nose, but with her palm facing down.
He seems suspicious; but curiosity about this human who smells quite unlike all the other ones gets the better of him, and he lowers his head slightly to sniff her hand. She responds by lowering her hand ever-so-slightly… and he lowers his nose to keep sniffing. They repeat this procedure another couple of times, and then she’s stroking his nose, whispering to him.
Elmer gasps as he sees Ammara move forward and he remains silent at Melissa’s side. “A very brave lady it seems.” he smiles, his dark eyes shining in approval and it seems she does know what she’s about, not rushing but making the horse listen to her more closely.
“And risk striking the lady? Are you quite so sure of your aim, -ser-, that you would dare risk -the Lady of Three Towers- without her leave?” Lord Serry retorts right back, eyes narrowed in anger at Albyn’s slight of him. He scoffs, muttering something to himself about how the Hand would love to hear about this…
Lord Serry’s baleful gaze does not lessen with Albyn’s remark, and he simply scoffs, looking back toward Ammara to see how this situation may unfold.
“Ah, now there we are,” Lady Costayne breathes, moving her caressing hand over the stallion’s head, his muscles relaxing one after another beneath her touch. She has him now, she can feel it.
She slips off her other glove and tucks them both through her belt; and, with her left hand still stroking the stallion’s neck, reaches for his saddle with her right—but her intention is not to ride him. Instead, she un-buckles the girth, and ceases her stroking long enough to lift the saddle off the stallion’s back and set it down on the grass. The pad from underneath it soon follows. These attentions disturb the stallion more than anything else she has done so far, and the observers might for a moment think the Crazy Horse Lady of the Reach is in trouble after all; but she calms him with her touch, moving her hands in long, smooth arcs over his back and belly, telling him again and again what a good boy he is, until it seems she’s convinced him.
Melissa looks over to Elmer, still with a touch of worry behind her smile. “Brave, yet…” She doesn’t say it amongst present company. “In any case, she seems to be successful at soothing the beast.” She nods, “Well, he was found with saddle, no? He must be trained in some way,” she winces as the horse whinneys at the removal of the saddle, but calms with the scene. She exhales a breath she didn’t know she was holding, and watches intently…and drinks some wine, because this is also entertaining.
” By the Warrior’s hairy balls…” mumbles an old serjeant as he sees the Costayne lady getting along with the horse. A severe look however of Albyn is enough to have a blush shine through the white of his beard before he remains silent again. The solemn Crane seems to be quite astonished as well to be seen at his gaze.
Disgrunted after yet another displeasing conversation with the Crane knight, the Lord of Southshield simply gives an almost curt nod of his head in agreement with Melissa’s appraisal of the situation. “It would seem so,” he utters, folding his arms loosely across his chest, continuing to watch impassively.
“I begin to comprehend,” Lady Costayne tells the stallion dryly, as she discovers a burr attached to his coat, beneath where his saddle was sitting moments ago. Every time one of the gallant knights of the Red Keep launched himself into the saddle, its little hooks would have dug more deeply into the stallion’s flesh, irritating him still further. She drops it to the grass.
After another couple of minutes of horse-human bonding, she circles around to the side of the pen nearest Ser Albyn, without ever turning her back to the stallion. She beckons the knight over with a small gesture, and tells him in a low voice, “I’m going to take him back to the keep and give him a good rub-down and a brushing. Please see that there is a clear path for us; I think I have soothed him, but if anyone else comes too close, he’s likely to become cross again.”
Melissa hmmms and watches, saying, “Well done, Lady Costayne. You have a magic touch.” She breathes a sigh of relief and even smiles a lot brighter, knowing that what her great worry of court lady scandal turns into triumph. She laughs and nods to her, sipping her wine and watching a bit. Looking to the men around her, she smiles and says, “I think you’re able to lower your bows now, sers.”
Lowering his bow as he sees everything is alright, Albyn nods slightly to Melissa. The icy eyes of the Crane then turn their attention to Ammara, a slight sense of respect within those pale blue pools. ” Ofcours, my lady. May I join you?” he asks. ” Oh and before I forget… there’s a small sum of coppers at your disposal now that it seems you’ve ...tamed him.”
Lady Costayne looks at him blankly. “What do you mean?” she asks. “For his upkeep, until his owner can be found?”
” Well… yes. You can state it that way.” Albyn answers.
The Lord of Southshield slants a wry smile to Melissa as she urges the men of Red Lake to lower their bows.
Straightening out his sleeve, he looks across to Ammara and Albyn as they converse. Pursing his lips, he murmurs a brief “Pardon me” to those nearby, and then turns to depart without further explanation, mounting back up on his white rouncey.
She nods slowly, not quite understanding what he means, but not caring to pursue the matter further when there are much more important things to be done. She puts her fingers to her lips and whistles softly to summon her chestnut, then returns to the black destrier, tugging on her gloves again.
“May I take your reins?” she asks her new friend, and waits for an answering whicker before doing so. He follows her out of the pen as meekly as a foal, and she makes the introductions—chestnut, this is destrier, destrier, this is chestnut. And I’m the boss of you both, so there won’t be any funny business. Are we clear?
An admiring groom gives her a leg-up into the chestnut’s saddle, and she departs with watchful confidence, holding both sets of reins, with Ser Albyn following just behind on his mount.