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The sept at Stone Hedge is not a small one. Perhaps there is some piety in it, or perhaps it’s meant as a slap in the fact to their godless rivals, the Blackwoods. But in any event, when Ryckon Westerling began his vigil here the night before, he was never alone. Add to the fact that the Brackens recently had to retreat from battle, it might be understandable that there are many there - ladies and ladies-in-waiting praying at the statue of the mother, knights praying at the statue of the father for their lost allies, and many more directed to a smaller statuette of the warrior while Ryckon is left to his vigil in front of the main statue of the Warrior.
And there he has remained all night, on his knees in prayer. An uncomfortable position at the best of times, and while wearing little more than a shift of undyed wool, it could even get irritating. Before him is his armor, placed at the foot of the statue, and his mace, set upon it.
Light, however, is finally beginning to stream in from the high windows…dawn is here, heralding the end of the vigil.
To his credit, Ryckon has not fallen asleep. No, the wool shift would have itched and scratched him any time he tried to doze off, and as an extra precaution he has been muttering prayers in a low voice all night to keep himself focused. And, of course, the great magnitude of the event he has been preparing for might serve to keep him focused as well.
“...and my mother and my sister as well.” He finishes a prayer and glances around, almost turning back to the statue before noticing that sacred rainbow light is entering the sept. Drowsily, he rises and looks around for the septon.
The septon is not hard to find. The man stoops over several bottles he has prepared, and when he rises to look out at the squire, he gives him the “come along” gesture, and waits patiently until the young man has made his way (stumbling or steady) to stand before him at the main podium.
“Your prayers were heard,” he assures the almost-knight, though he does not specify by whom. “Kneel,” he commands softly, and prepares the first of the seven small vials of oil. And then he empties them, one by one onto Ryckon’s exposed collar area, dabbing it in with his pointer and middle fingers after each pour. When he is finished, he smiles, and mumbles, “Rise. You have completed your prayers and been annointed; now make your way to your knight.
Ryckon stumbles his way to the septon and kneels as ordered. He nearly flinches at the strange feeling as the first oil has applied, but by the seventh, he has gotten used to it. He rises, as ordered, and gives a deep, reverent nod to the holy man. “Thank you, ser—er, septon. I will… work to honor the Seven as a knight.” With that dubious promise, he exits the doors of the sept into the yard of the castle and removes the threadbare slippers from his feet, beginning the barefoot walk to Farin’s pavilion.
The Prester pavillion is quiet, with a few visitors and other well-wishers standing by the watch. The buzz of servant activity has ceased, and all stand in waiting of the squire’s arrival, leaving a wide path for him to enter.
Ser Farin stands in his wargear (his helm off to the side), in direct opposition to the woolen shifts meant to symbolize humility. His, of course, is a deeper symbolism, as he has explained to anyone asking why: it symbolizes the end of the path, as Ryckon takes his first steps at its beginning. “Is that him?” Farin asks his cousin, as the stumbling form of the barefoot squire just begins to come into view. An idle hand drips to his swordbelt, whereon rests Farin’s own sword - a ceremonial thing, rarely ever used, and not even quite up to the Prester lordling’s usual standard of adornment.
Luthor is dressed in a surcoat of black dyed leather sewn with his sigil, six acorns gold on brown. He too wears his armor and the lustreless black steel is clean at least if not polished. “Who else would be staggering barefoot across the yard this morning, coz?” he remarks to Farin. “Aegon has gone home.”
Ryckon nears, making it clear that it is indeed him and not Aegon. He begins to graduate from his stumble, standing more upright and walking at a slow and dignified pace. He does not stop when he winces after stepping upon a pebble, which happens more than once, and more focused on his destination than whoever might be watching him pass by (or, unfortunately, whatever rocks remain in his path). Finally, he arrives at the pavilion, nodding to Farin and Luthor. The almost-knight drops to one knee. “I am ready, ser.”
Farin cracks a smile at Luthor’s jape, and offers the man a lighthearted chide. “Come now coz, you should not speak so ill of our illustrious patron…no matter if he did try to get us killed.” But then Ryckon is walking, if not wincing, into the pavillion. And then it’s all business.
Farin stands, his armor giving his shoulders a broader range, and he looks down at the bulky boy in front of him. “Kneel then, and ready yourself for your vows,” he orders, though his tone no longer has the clipped measure of impatience that is the hallmark of a knight’s words to his squire. The Prester lordling waits until Ryckon has knelt, before drawing his sword - the long, honed sheen of polished steel sliding out of a steel casing announcing the blade’s presence.
“Ryckon Westerling,” he booms, suddenly, inflecting his voice as though on a battlefield, before the flat of the blade touches down on Ryckon’s right shoulder. “In the name of the Warrior, I charge you to be brave,” Farin continues, and then the blade rises and falls again on Ryckon’s left shoulder. “In the name of the Father I charge you to be just,” and then again the blade rises and falls to his right shoulder. “In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent.” Again. “In the name of the Maid I charge you to protect all women….” And this continues until the seven charges have been made. “To these holy charges, you must avow yourself. What say you, Ryckon of House Westerling?”
Luthor grins silently at his cousin’s chiding before ruling his face into something like solemnity for the formal taking of the vows. He does not watch the goings on however, staring off into the distance instead; the corner of his lips twisting slightly upwards with a wry expression.
Ryckon stares up at Farin with as much solemn focus as he can muster, the drowsiness resulting from not sleeping for an entire night forgotten. At the mention of the Father he furrows his brow and briefly looks down before raising his eyes once again with renewed intensity. After the charges have been made and Farin asks his question, there is a thoughtful, momentous pause, and then Ryckon says, loudly, slowly, clearly, and carefully, “I do avow myself, ser. I accept all these charges and avow myself to them in the name of the Seven, the realm, and the memory of my father.” Once again, that word inspires his focus to falter, but he takes a deep breath and continues kneeling as he waits expectantly for Farin’s reply.
Farin turns for a moment, and takes Ryckon’s own swordbelt from a nearby table. “Then rise, and accept your knighthood,” he orders, holding out the belt for Ryckon to put on; the act symbollizing the acceptance of the burden of responsibility. While Ryckon rises and puts on the belt, Farin turns to Luthor. “The spurs, coz?” he asks, holding a hand out for Luthor to place them in.
“Hmm?” Luthor says as he snaps back to the moment at hand. “Oh,” he steps forward to present the gilded spurs to Farin, setting them one after the next into the Prester knight’s outstretched hand.
Ryckon brings his bulky form to a standing position, rising like he spoke, slowly and carefully to avoid any of the mistakes that have happened frequently in the past. Once standing, he nods to Farin, accepting his swordbelt and putting it on, though it has no sword attached and his mace is back at the sept. Just to be safe, he adds, more quietly than before, “I accept my knighthood,” but by then Farin has already turned away.
“And these…you have waited for, perhaps overdue,” the knight smirks, adding just a touch of informality to the scene, now that the knighting is all but done with. “Most give theirs out before the ceremony, but I thought to wait. They are yours now, in any case. Make sure you keep them in top condition,” he warns, and passes along a pair of gilded spurs, usually reserved for wealthier knights. “And continue to do our Houses proud. The Westerlings will expect great things of you, boy, now that you have shown yourself worthy of it. And I will expect them too, as a reflection of my teachings. And now…you are free of my service, Ser Ryckon.”
“Well done Ryckon,” Luthor says with a solemn nod. “I am sure you will be an excellent knight.” Then the bastard steps back and lets his cousin talk with his former squire.
Ryckon accepts the spurs, and his eyes widen at their high quality. “These… thank you, ser.” He moves to affix them to his boots, but of course he is still barefoot, so he just continues holding them. He raises an eyebrow. “Boy? ...I will do all of us proud, ser. I do not think I could allow myself to do any less. Thank you, ser.” He looks down at the spurs again. “I suppose I should put these away, then, and get my armor back… am I still staying in the pavilion if I am free of your service, ser? I do not have one of my own, obviously…”
Ryckon smirks a little. “Of course I will stay and assist you, ser. I hate to start a war without finishing it. Besides, if I rode up to Riverrun from here claiming to be a knight, either they would not believe me, or they would throw me in the dungeon for being yet another treacherous Westerling rebelling against them.” He eyes the wine goblet expectantly.
“Beggars cannot be choosers,” Farin chides his former squire, now boon companion. But then a sigh escapes him, and he snaps his fingers for a servant to bring Ryckon some wine as well. “As for Riverrun, they will learn. You will be the shining example that Ser Humfrey never was.”
Ryckon nods gratefully when he finally receives wine. “I will certainly do my best to be a shining example. There are many battles left to… further prove myself in. Though I wonder how admiringly the Tullys will view me if we eventually end up fighting against them… I suppose if we do I shall have to be a chivalrous opponent, now that I am a knight.” Here he pauses and sighs exultingly. “Will we fight them, ser?”
“Let us hope our plans come to fruition long before then, hm?” is all Farin has to offer in response. “Now, get yourself dressed. I will be in the hall…come and join me for a meal, if you like.” Old habits die hard.
“Right, ser. I would be glad too.” Though now a knight, Ryckon still sounds like a squire as he addresses his former master. The young man enters the pavilion to get suitably dressed, and thenceforth to collect his armor and weapon from the sept and join Farin in the hall as an equal.
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