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The area around Blackwater Rush to the west of King’s Landing is overcast, a cold wind blowing, a good day for this kind of hunt. The river flows freely, some sections calmer than others due to the way it twists and turns, leaving parts of it mostly still with minimal current. It’s in one of those places that the hunt is prepared, far enough from the city for it to take most of the day to get to and return from with time factored in for merriment.
Elsewhere, in an open field far enough from the banks so as not to disturb the hunt but still within view of those who are eager to see, tents have been set up for the nobles that are gathered to enjoy time together. For the moment there is mostly idle chatter - no music, no singing or dancing, but once the hunt has finished and the day’s catches prepared to go along with basic food and drink already available, things ought to pick up. Small fires burn in a central area for those who need something more than warm clothing or drink.
Here and there as few officers of the Kingswood can be seen, stationed on duty to help keep the peace and assist where needed. In addition, a few rabbits have been skinned and set to cooking on spits, most of them seasoned in various ways as well, evidence of hunting that’s already taken place. The occasional huntsman arrives with another pair and cooks set to preparing them further.
Over by the river where tall reeds and water grasses grow thick, huntsmen dressed to blend in wait at the edge of the water, monitoring wooden decoys that float nearby in a couple different places. A raft of ducks swims leisurely in the calm waters, though here and there they come closer to a decoy before changing course. It’s been this way for a time even before anyone else arrived, the men either seated or on their stomachs, still as can be as they patiently await the right time to act.
Amongst the ladies who have turned out for the hunt is Lady Soranna Hawick, accompanied, as ever, by a guard of her house. She appears far more interested in simply being with people, and learning the latest news, given even though she bears a bow, it is still strapped to her back. She pauses to lean over and pluck an autumn flower though, the colours more muted than spring and summer blossoms, the plant hardy to survive the rains and chills.
Janden Melcolm is dressed warmly in accordance with the weather, a dark brown cloak worn over clothes in earth tones similar to what the huntsmen are seen in. He stands in conversation with Luthor Rivers away from the tents, closer to the water where they’ve gathered with a few others that have hawks and dogs ready to use. The Valeknight gestures toward the decoys before rubbing his mouth for a few seconds, appearing to study what they’re all keeping an eye on as words are shared in hushed tones.
Ser Urston Coldwater is dressed in plain leathers, unadorned with either sigil or finery. Instead he is wearing his most supple and fresh riding gear -still smelling faintly new- as he sits in the saddle, horse blundering along at an amiable pace level with that of the other Kingswood men keeping a precautionary safeguard over the hunt. He breaks off -as his noble blood well entitles him to- to circle closer to the nobility. He seems well at ease, ponytail removed and allowing his hair to hang loosely.
Alyce is dressed in her warmest wools for this event, donning a bow and arrow strapped to her back. Of course, any who know how new she is to the weapon may hope it is only for show… or give her a wide berth once the hunt begins. her hair has been pulled back into one long braid, which hangs over her left shoulder to stay out of the way should she actually attempt to shoot. She walks over to Soranna, leaving her men-at-arms to tend to her horse for now. “Good day, my lady. It has been some time, has it not?”
Brynden Tully has also come along, dressed much as he generally does, in his brigandine and such. Perhaps it is just a chance to get out away from the castle environs, perhaps there are other reasons. If so, he hasn’t mentioned the, to anyone. He spies the Warden of the Kingswood and moves in that direction. “Ser Luthor!”
Luthor is dressed in simple clothing for the hunt, a voluminous but warm woolen tunic, a forest green cloak, leather breeches and high boots. His sword rides on his hip, as does a dagger, but all in all he seems more ready for sport than battle. “This is your show, Ser, I’m just the happy spectator,” Luthor informs Janden with a smile and a hand clapped on the other man’s shoulder. “But be of good cheer, it’s unlikely a duck will emerge to maul us at hunts end like that boar did.”
He turns when his name is called and grins as the young Tully knight approaches him. Luthor bows. “Ser Brynden, well met,” he greets still smiling.
Soranna turns to greet Alyce, rising up from the tuft of wild flowers. “My Lady Alyce!” she greets with some enthusiasm, her own cheeks bright from the fresh air and walking, “It has been far too long. Congratulations as well, on your engagement. I am so glad for you it is all settle, and I am sorry I missed the celebration. Lady Hollyse was taken with a chill, and asked me to take over in the household while she recuperated.” She then reaches out, offering the grey-blue flower to Alyce.
Janden keeps a sword at his side as well. The women with their bows have been noted but there are no plans for their use this time around. “Well, all things considered, so far so good. Though, I’ve not yet seen a duck like that. Best we don’t, I’d say.” His eyes also swivel toward Brynden when the man draws nearer and he makes a gesture with a gloved hand to keep it down, pointing to the water where the ducks give pause and hesitate. Their eyes sharpen on the movement toward the men gathered while the others around the tents continue their conversations for the moment.
The thunder of hooves heralds the arrival of two fine stallions, galloping as though all the fiends of Hell were after them and churning up the sandy path with their hooves.
In the lead, upon her beloved chestnut, is Lady Costayne of the Three Towers, warmly and sensibly clad in grey and black, her only ornament a grin stretching from ear to ear; a good fifteen yards behind her, lengthening to twenty as she urges her sand steed to a final burst of speed, is the resplendent knightly figure of Ser Josmyn Reyne, his house colours of red and white bright against the blackness of his warhorse’s coat.
The race, for surely that’s what it is, is won by the lady, who celebrates her victory by giving vent to a loud and unrestrained laugh of pleasure and pride—pleasure not at besting Ser Josmyn so much as the sheer bliss of being outdoors and on horseback, even on such an inauspicious day as this, and pride not in her own horsemanship so much as in her horse, whose dark mane she strokes proprietarily as she waits the few seconds for her competitor to catch up and rein in next to her.
“Well done, my lady,” calls Ser Josmyn, extracting a small coin pouch from his belt and tossing it at her. His perpetual good humour, bolstered by his recent betrothal, is undaunted by so small a thing as losing a race to a friend.
Lady Costayne snatches it from the air, and raises it aloft in her fist in a salute to him. “Well-matched, I thought, to the end,” she replies generously, stowing her winnings away somewhere beneath her riding cloak. “If it hadn’t been for that fallen tree—But I think I see Lady Alyce looking for you.”
A small band of Costayne and Reyne guardsmen arrive then, striving not to appear abashed at being so thoroughly outdistanced by their principals. (The Costayne guards at least are used to it.)
Lady Alyce is, in fact, busy with conversation with a friend of her own. “Thank you, Lady Soranna,” she replies with a bright grin. “I had hoped to catch up with you earlier, but with recent events—good and bad—I have been quite preoccupied. Have -you- any news to share?” The smile slips into an inquisitive smirk.
Of course, all the sudden noise cannot be entirely ignored. The Bar Emmon looks over and acknowledges the pair with a dip of her head and warm smile, but quickly returns her attention to the Hawick. She will not get off the hook -that- easily.
Having been doing his duty, and being observant, it was rather easy for Ser Urston to take note of the blissful and delighted laughter of Lady Costayne. Turning his horse about to make his way over to herself and the Reyne, Urston smiles. “What pleasant belated arrivals! Lady Costayne, Ser Josmyn-” casting a glance at their horses, then back to them, he grins “-well ridden. Please, let me accompany you both to the rest.”
Soranna simply shakes her head, “None Lady Alyce.” Her eyes too though turn towards the two newcomers, and then the knight who approaches them, sighing softly before looking back to Alyce. “Have you any thought as to when the wedding will be?”
Josmyn nods to the Lady Costayne, his cheeks still glowing. “I shall ask for revenge, and you know it.”, he winks to the lady and nods when she indicates Lady Alyce, his eyes lighting up. But there’s Urston as well and he smiles at the man. “Take care of Lady Costayne, Coldwater.”, he suggests amicably, “There is someone I must say hello to!” He dismounts from his horse, leaving servants to deal with him and heads over to where Alyce is standing with Soranna. “My ladies. How good to see you here.” He bows to Soranna, then takes Alyce’s hand to bring it up to his lips for a kiss.
The noise of the horses racing into the area startles some of the ducks that have been milling about near a decoy closer to the path leading to the fields, sending them scattering. A portion of them disappear into the trees while others move to different parts of the river to settle back down again. Others swim away back to points further from the huntsmen in wait, forcing the men with the hawks to keep their patience. The hawks themselves remain hooded, ignorant of the brief commotion. As for Janden, a frown mars his expression but he stays mostly still while muttering something under his breath. One of the men tending a decoy jostles it to get the attention of a few ducks once more.
“Ser Urston, well met,” replies Lady Costayne, still beaming with delight upon the world and all who inhabit it—even Ser Josmyn, whose defection from her side she so indulgently promoted.
A little clutch of Costayne retainers come out to meet her in Ser Urston’s wake; she slips lithely down from her chestnut’s back, gives him one last fond petting to reward him for being such a good boy, and then entrusts his reins to her favourite stableboy and accepts in their place a cup of steaming hot tea from her maid.
The stableboy commences walking the lathered chestnut up and down behind the tents, and Lady Costayne accompanies Ser Urston inside, to sit for a moment.
Alyce quirks an eyebrow. “None?” Her smile slips a few degrees, gaze following her friend’s over to the Coldwater. “How unfortunate.” Before she can answer Soranna’s query, however, her betrothed has neared and captured her hand. In turn, she offers a deep curtsey with a hint of a blush. “Good day, Ser Josmyn. Our lady of Hawick was just inquiring as to our wedding plans, as did Lady Serry last night. Were we agreed upon holding the event here or did you wish to wait for your lord father to weigh in on the matter?”
“I’m sure way too many people would never forgive us if we didn’t hold the wedding here.”, Josmyn smiles, “Besides, it is conveniently located between Dragonstone and Castamere. But we can discuss this later.”, he says and lets go of her hand. “I will find something to drink and a bow, so I can accompany you on the hunt.”
The Coldwater dismounts and, having of course waited patiently as the Lady was fussed over by her servants and fussed in turn over her horse -quite the interesting chain of command, that- follows the Lady of Three towers inside her tent, signaling first to and idling recruit he had trained to fill the gap he had left in the precautionary patrols.
Soranna’s eyes follow Lady Costayne and the Coldwater a moment before returning to the two people at hand. She curtseys politely to Josmyn, quietly listening to their interaction thereafter.
Brynden catches up to the Warden and the Melcolm knight. “Good morning, sers. This seems like good weather to be outdoors in. Still, something to keep us warm might be welcome.” With that he produces a full skin of wine, which he offers. “Not quite an Arbor red, but passable.”
Lady Costayne exchanges nods with her particular acquaintances amongst the lords and ladies taking their ease inside the silken pavilion, and, leather-gloved hands wrapped around her cup of tea, lingers inside long enough to warm herself by a brazier and exchange a few congenial words with Ser Urston. “You Kingswood men have my eternal gratitude for arranging such a delightful outing for us all,” she remarks.
Luthor takes the wine gratefully and takes a swallow as he watches the ducks sore skyward. “Good wine,” he remarks as their quarry escapes for the moment. “Hope you brought a bow as well,” he smiles. “Might be the only way we have something to eat tonight,” he says lightly keeping his voice low out of habit if not out of necessity now.
Ser Urston meets the ladies grin with one of his own “You are of course quite welcome, Lady Costayne.” he replies in a cheerful tone bordering on companionable, though he remains near enough to the entrance of the tent rather than enclosing on the brazier for warmth. “I myself cannot accept much of the credit, that belongs as always to Ser Luthor, all business in the Kingswood passes through him. I do hope you enjoy yourself further.” he remarks politely, not stepping far at all from proper etiquette, despite his presence here being as a mere guardsman.
Janden counts off the ducks that have left them, nothing to be done for it now. “I did notice some of the ladies with bows. Perhaps there are enough rabbits that can be rounded up for them to see about putting a few arrows into. We’d best give it a few more minutes to see if the ducks get comfortable again before we release the birds.” In the meantime he accepts the wine with a quiet thanks, studying the patterns of the ducks further as they mill about.
Once the Reyne knight makes a noncommittal response regarding the wedding’s location, Alyce again looks to Soranna. “Have you heard anything else from your father of late, my lady? Aside from the word you have longed for.” Her tone is soft and empathetic, glance shifting toward the tent with no little annoyance present.
Again Soranna simply shakes her head, “No milady, I have heard nothing at all. Actually there has been no news at all that I have heard from Saltpans. Lady Hollse was starting to be concerned when her husband pointed out that the weather has been an impediment all over.”
Brynden nods again. “Lady Sarya and her bird should bring something down, at least. She is here somewhere.” He laughs. “We always rely on our women to fill the table, do we not? They shall not disappoint today.” he jests.
Sarya has her beautiful white hawk in its cage and the thing seems a little upset with the Bartheon lady, ruffling its feathers and wanting to get out of its cage. When Janden says they have to round things up she raises an eyebrow but says nothing and puts on her thick leather glove and reaches in to pull it out, keeping its little hood on so it doesn’t get too startled.
This seems fair enough; Lady Costayne, stripping off her riding gloves one at a time while holding her tea cup in the opposing hand, nods again to Ser Urston. “I’ll be sure to thank my cousin as well, when he has a moment free… He seems quite the popular figure,” she observes, one eye on the figure of Ser Luthor in the distance as she downs the last of her tea. “If you’ll excuse me?” She scarcely waits for him to acknowledge her words before hurrying outside, for she has just espied her particular guardsman, Ned, who has her peregrine falcon temporarily in his charge.
The empty teacup is traded to her maid for her worn and well-oiled leather falconer’s glove, which she slips onto her left hand and buckles in place as she strides over to join Ned. “How is she?” she asks.
“Just the right weight for this weather, milady,” is Ned’s considered reply, at which Lady Costayne nods in satisfaction.
“Good. It’s been too long since I’ve had her out; I was worried she’d have gained too much, cooped up in the mews,” she comments. “I’ll take her now.” She has been keeping the bird’s flying jesses in another of her voluminous pockets, with the gold she won earlier from Ser Josmyn and who knows what other useful little items. She brings them out now and encourages the hooded bird to step across from Ned’s wrist to her own, that she might the more easily exchange them. The tiny bells stitched to the jesses tinkle cheerfully with her movement.
Lady Costayne with a falcon on her wrist is almost as natural and fitting a sight as Lady Costayne sitting high on her chestnut’s back; she’s still smiling, still pleased, as she carries her bird over to where she sees Ser Luthor and Ser Janden in conference.
Upon spotting a couple of the ladies with their raptors drawing nearer, Janden smiles and offers brief bows to them both. “Ah, just in time. I was hoping we might have more than just the men with their birds. The ducks are settling down again. I think we’re very close.” Interesting that he’s the one directing the huntsmen in this case, not Luthor.
Before long, over a dozen ducks take enough of a renewed interest in one of the decoys that the huntsman tending it slowly begins to draw it closer by way of the rope tied beneath it. Looking as if it’s found something interesting, the ducks take the bait and move in close enough for a couple other men lying in wait to spring into action, shouts and whooping heard as the ducks suddenly act by taking to the air.
At that moment the birds of prey are unhooded then released and the chase is on as other ducks react to the panic by trying to escape as well. Some do get away, but soon ducks begin to fall to the water or end up injured back on shore to be dealt with, dogs sent into the river to bring back the ones that splashed down as feathers fly. If there wasn’t much reason for attention to shift toward the water, there is now.
As the hunt commences, Ser Urston Coldwater returns to his horse and fills in line with the other Officers of the Kingswood, going about his duties as he must and sparing little time for idle pleasantries. Indeed, he gets rather caught up in the whole thing.
Soranna turns to watch as the ducks rise, debating whether or not to try and shoot at one. She looks about, and apparently thinks better of it, perhaps out of deference for the lives of those around her.
Indeed Luthor is directing little but Brynden’s wine down his gullet. He passes the skin back to the Tully with a smile, glancing over to where Sarya has her bird. “A fine bird, she will no doubt keep us fed,” he concedes and leans against a tree, ready to watch what is about to transpire.
By the time it’s all finished and the hunting birds have returned to their keepers (and ladies), Janden, Luthor and the rest come back to the tents with over a dozen ducks to go toward the feast as the last of the rabbits are brought in, close to twenty of them in all. Anyone looking for a sign to kick off the music and revelry just got it and it’s not long at all before some of the women attending start up a small dancing circle.
Sarya is about to take her space when she slips on a patch of mud, she gasps and starts to go down, with a lady like squeek!
Out of the corner of an eye Janden, who’s close to Sarya as it is, spots her slipping and a hand darts out to clutch at an arm. “I’ve got you!” he begins to say, hopeful that indeed he will save her from a muddy demise.
Lady Costayne and her peregrine falcon having acquitted themselves brilliantly, the former feeds the latter raw meat from one of her kills, exhibiting a most unladylike disregard for the blood seeping from the meat, and the mud spattering the bird’s plumage.
“That’s my girl,” she murmurs fondly. The raptor, of course, takes no notice, holding her dinner at a far greater worth than mere words of praise from her servitor.
Then the Lady of the Three Towers gives her falcon back into the charge of her guardsman Ned, and submits with as much grace as she can muster to being cleaned up by her maid, who brushes dried mud from her lady’s divided grey riding dress with a cloth, pins back the wisps of hair which have come loose from her braided bun, and tut tuts with habitual despair over the rest.
Ruddy-cheeked, weary with a mellow contentedness, Lady Costayne takes her place at the feast and buries herself gratefully in a goblet of hot mulled wine.
Brynden happened to be looking towards his betrothed when she falls and heads quickly in that direction, though doubtless her guards and such are already on the way. “Lady Sarya?”
Sarya gasps and is caught by her guards, the men in black and gold grasp the Lady buy her underarms and one takes the falcon from her, “OH!” She says with her eyes wide and her cheeks flush, “I.. I’ll be fine thank you.” She goes to take a step and winces, “Oh.. oh! No no I’ll not.. I seem to have twisted something in my ankle.”
Janden takes a step back as the guards see to Sarya, looking toward Brynden afterward with a frown of some concern. “Best to get you back and off that foot then, my lady,” he suggests, adding, “I don’t recall seeing a Maester about, but hopefully you’ll be able to make the ride back comfortably by the time we’re done feasting.”
Of course, Brynden does not touch Sarya or otherwise interfere with her people, but he does look on concerned. “I will go with you, lady. We will get you to a maester at once.” he says.
With the hunt concluded, the weather stays overcast and cool but good enough for the lords, ladies and their various guards and retainers to enjoy themselves a few hours longer as duck and rabbit are cooked succulently and added to the feast being prepared. Before and after, much music, dancing and singing is performed by those good at it - and in some cases not so good - before the time comes to break down the tents and return to King’s Landing. Somewhere along the way Janden and Luthor converse about one thing or another, the two having worked closely to put this on for the others.
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