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Not even midday and already the heat is enough to drive most people off of the streets and into their homes for some reprieve, at the very least, from the glare of the sun. Most people. Other people go to Manse Row to enjoy the canopying oaks and, possibly, find excuse to visit friends.
Two riders make their way along the stone street, their pace leisurely. The man is liveried in Buckler blue and bronze and, though the lady does speak often to him - pointing out bits of decoration in windows or how finely wrought the gate traceries are or even some snippet of rumor she may have heard regarding a passerby (once they’re well out of earshot, of course) - , he speaks not at all but continues to watch his surroundings with a wary eye.
The pair near the Baratheon Manse and the fair haired woman draws rein. “Just a quick visit,” she promises the guardsman, smiling from her place in the saddle. “I wish to check on Elanna.”
“My lady, we were only ‘just’ going to the Sept. Already we have taken the long way to return to the Keep.” The guardsman does not seem pleased. Though he argues, there is also a note of resignation in his voice, knowing that his words will mean absolutely nothing.
Standing outside the gates leading to the Baratheon Manse is the young heir of Storm’s End, Tancred Baratheon. He appears to be busy talking to the guards standing watch at the gates, and apparently it is not orders he is giving them, nor does he appear to question them in any way, most of all he adresses them as equals. The guards appear to be pleased by his presence if not truly enjoying that someone so highborn takes his time to speak to them while they are carrying out this long and deadening watch at the gates. Their voices might be heard from Aurana’s location:
“Truly this task is something else than fighting in the war,” One of the guards says while offering Tancred a smile. “Indeed, There is less excitement to be found standing still than fighting for ones life in the heat of battle, Ser Tancred,” the other replies rather dryly.
“Yet your work here is just as important, as you are guarding my familys property here in the city, in other words, you are the frontline against all what this city might throw at our house. It is a truly honorable task indeed.” Tancred offers both guards a smile, and is replied with a low laughter and a grin from both guards.
Glancing over at the guards as they chat, Aurana flashes them a warm smile, a familiar face of late at the manse. “Does that include young ladies?” A pale brow arches, one corner of her lips following suit by lifting and giving her a lopsided grin. Mirth sparkles in her eyes as she awaits reply, still seated on her sidesaddle. “Or are they barred as well?”
Tancred turns his head looking back at Aurana. “Ah, lady Aurana.. A pleasant surprise.” He looks back at the guards grinning at them, “Young ladies are allowed to enter if they carry themselves with the same beauty and grace as the fair lady Aurana Buckler.”
The guards replies in chorus, “Certainly, Ser Tancred.” Their faces remain neutral, though a hint of amusement is playing in both pair of eyes as they glance briefly at eachother.
“Have you come to visit my lady aunt, Lady Aurana?” Tancred asks, having turned his attention away from the guards approaching Aurana on her mount. He reaches upwards offering to help her dismount.
While Davi simply gives a small shake of his head at his charge’s momentary straying of upbringing, Aurana brightens. Even as she chuckles, she has the grace to blush, her eyes following the Baratheon heir.
“The standard is low then, is it?” she teases, her voice warm to match her features. Gloved hands reach out, the young lady accepting the assistance gladly. “I have come to visit the Lady Elanna, but it is good to see you, Ser Tancred. I trust that you are faring well? Thank you.” The last is murmured gratitude for his gallantry.
“I am faring quite well, milady,” Tancred replies politely while a small smile keeps playing on his lips, “.. It is good to see you as well, lady Aurana.” He pauses for a moment offering her his arm while looking briefly at the house before looking back at her, “Low standards? No-one born in the Stormlands are of low standard, milady.. I fear my lady aunt would frown should she hear that you think such of yourself, lady Aurana.” A small smile forms on his lips again as he lowers his voice a little, “.. and one should not make my lady aunt frown.. the consequences could be dire.” he says in jest.
Her feet firmly on the ground, she tugs at her gloves quickly, tucking them into a pocket inside her sleeves before accepting the arm. Her head cants to one side sending small locks of silvery hair brushing over her cheek as she listens, blue eyes lifted to his own as he speaks. Her lips remain curved upwards in that warm smile of hers, parting when she laughs at the murmured words. “So I have seen,” she replies. “And having seen for myself, I am afraid that I am now placed in a very unpleasant situation.” Her tone is sober of a sudden, her expression, too. “For now I must beg a favor from you, Ser Tancred.”
“My honor bids me to assist you in any way I can, milady.” Tancred replies with a polite smile, “But please, do not beg a favor.. A Stormlander needs only asking, not begging.” Tancred says with a serious tone in his voice as they slowly walk closer towards the guards standing at the gate. He does however stop at a fair distance of them to allow her to speak in a low voice without fearing of eavesdropping if she so wishes. He falls silent to listen to her request.
“A very politic answer,” she murmurs approvingly, mischief dancing in her eyes again. Despite the slow walk, when they do come to a halt momentum carries her skirts, the silk rustling as it sways. Tilting her head back, she gazes up at him, a small smile finding her lips. She does speak lowly, but it is evident after the first few words that there is nothing serious about her request at all. “Let’s not tell her. I would hate to incur her wrath.”
Typically the proper lady, since Aurana has been spending time with Elanna, some of that gives way to her strange sense of humor. It is exhibited now as pale lashes flutter, the Buckler lady winking up at the Baratheon heir.
Tancred doesnt appear to get it at first, opening his mouth to say something reassuring to the ‘damsel in distress’. However when she winks and her lashes start fluttering, Tancred cannot help laughing, something he doesnt do often, which also reveals plenty of boyish features on his face that normally arent visible because of the serious, almost stern, expression he has picked up from his father. “Uhm..” it takes a moment for him to catch his breath, “I must admit, milady.. That I find great wisdom in your words.” He tilts his head while looking at her, “.. I shouldnt be so surprised though by such a display of wit, Stormlanders are known for such, are we not?” He grins.
The laughter is catching and, for a moment at least, manse row is filled with the sounds of youthful joy. “Well we must do *something* to while away the hours,” she muses. “Honing wit as well as blades keeps us well and truly prepared for any attack at all.”
Still holding his arm for escort, her head tilts a little once more, precursing a query. “You have an interest in strategy and tactics? I do admire the physical feats our knights display at tourneys but I have ever been curious about the rest.”
“Since childhood I have considered my lessons in warfare, strategy and tactics to be the most interesting and enjoyable ones.” Tancred replies while glancing briefly at the guards as they approach the gate. “Let me know if there is anything particular you would be interested in?” he asks politely, with only a small smile adorning his lips. “Yet..” he pauses as his eyes suddently sparkles with amusement, “.. You seem to be quite capable of using the right tactics yourself, milady.. Afterall the little jest you succeded in before caught me off guard.”
“Yes, well, ladies are taught strategy and tactics as well. Our battlefield, however, is quite different. But we do know well the advantage of surprise,” she confides, her head tilted slightly so that she may look up at him. “Predictability can be so dull.” As they walk, she keeps her pace easy, in no particular rush. “As to what I am interested in… Well, I confess I know very little but the hows, whys and wherefores have always been something I’ve been curious about. Father has spoken on such things a few times but I think he fears to frighten me.”
“Battle is frightening and only a madman would find joy in the horrors that take place.. Yet sometimes a battle can be the only way to settle an argument.” Tancred remarks dryly, “As fascinating as I found it as a child, actually being in a war has taught me much.. one thing is that battle is not to be sought unless all other options have been tried. There is glory to be found in war for the one who knows how to fight and command well, but there is honor in keeping the peace as well.” He pauses for a moment looking quite serious, “My lady aunt has expressed her doubts in me that I will be willing to risk my life for my house, yet she did not see me during the war.. these men did,” Tancred nods towards the guards standing at the gates. “To begin with, do you know the difference between a strategic choice and a tactical choice, milady?”
The young woman nods slowly, her expression having sobered briefly. “My father has said as much. There is glory and honor that can be earned on the field but war itself is not about either of those. War is blood and death and horror. And for we women, it is worse in its own way.” A few more steps or taken before she continues. “As to your aunt… You must give her some time. She has suffered more than one loss and she worries. For you as well as the house. I am certain you served your King well, though. But I must confess… I do not know the difference.” The last, evidently, was in reference to his query.”
Tancred nods slowly in reply to her companions analysis of his aunt but doesnt comment anymore on her words. “A strategic choice is the choice being made on a large scale.. In the dull example of warfare, one can say that strategy is planning the conduct of warfare,” Tancred explains quietly while walking slowly next to her, “Tactics on the other hand is the choice made on in the moment.. In a battle it is tactics that are used to engage and defeat the enemy.” Tancred looks at his companion, smiling a little, “Tactical choices can win a battle, Strategic choices can win a war.”
Listening, her blue eyes remain intent upon his face, taking his words in with solemnity and speaking no words. The only sound from the young woman is the swishing of her skirts as she walks. Nodding slowly, she smiles, finally responding when he has finished. “I see. Is that what you seek to accomplish, Ser Tancred? To be a master strategist? Perhaps the king will have you on his small council,” she suggests. “You would do well, I have no doubt. Are you enjoying King’s Landing?” Before he can answer the lady chuckles, shaking her head. “That is a silly question. Forgive me, Ser. Of course you are enjoying it after Dorne.”
“I am enjoying the company I find in Kings Landing, milady,” Tancred replies offering Aurana a smile, “Concerning our King and his small council, then I doubt that many would heed the words of a young man such as myself.. The city is flooded with heroes from the war, I am certain that some of those will be appointed to the council.” He pauses for a moment and stands still as the guards open the gates for them, “I know my duty, milady.. It is to the Stormlands most of all, where I will take my lord fathers seat one day. It is my lord fathers wish and hope that I will educate myself and make valuable acquaintances while staying here in the city.”
Aurana returns the smile, inclining her head in acceptance of the compliment. A low laugh escapes her as she looks up at him, turning to face him just a bit more as they stand and wait. “I did not mean tomorrow, Ser. It will be years yet, but there is no reason that you could not stand with them once you have taken your father’s title. Though I do hope that day is long in coming.” Her free hand lifts to brush back a wisp of hair. “Do what you know to be right, Ser Tancred, and your father nor your people will ever have reason to find disappointment in you.”
“Thank you for your kind words, milady,” Tancred replies with a polite smile, “I shall not hide that I would carry out any task appointed by our king, be it a seat on his small council, or something else he wishes me to do, with full dedication.” He pulls gently at her arm, leading her into the courtyard of the Baratheon Manse, thereby allowing the guards to close the gates behind them, “My lord father expects the same from me and from any other soul in the Stormlands. In his teaching he has never failed to mention that it is our most important duty to protect those who rely on our strength and serve the king, whom we rely on in times of need.”
Following where she is directed, Aurana continues to nod. “Your father is most wise,” she murmurs softly. For a moment, silence reigns, the young lady uncertain how to proceed. After another few heartbeats, she looks up at him again, her smile wide and warm as it returns. “Tell me what the heir to Storm’s End does when he is not learning of strategy or how best to be a powerful lord.”
“He practices his riding and sparring as it is expected of any knight, milady.” Tancred replies with a weak smile on his face, “.. besides that I keep myself busy making acquaintances, as any lord-to-be should know, the right kind of acquaintances means more than any strong swordarm.” He smiles at Aurana, tilting his head a little while gazing at her, “And you, milady.. What do you do when you are not jesting with a young man who still have much to learn?”
Aurana arches a pale brow, something akin to pity crossing her features for a second before it fades into something more congenial. “There is duty, Ser Tancred… But duty is not all.” Her smile widens as he teases her, a low chuckle escaping. “Well… I do enjoy trying to play my harp. I must stress the word trying, I am afraid. And I love to hawk though I have not had the opportunity to do so of late. And all those other womanly activities beside, of course.”
Tancred remains silent at her statement of duty not being everything and for a brief moment there is almost a touch of dreamy sparkle in his eyes as if the youth is floating away to such a place that only exists in dreams. He blinks once and that place is gone as Auranas voice brings him back. “Ah, so you are -trying- to become a musician, milady? I think I would make a fool of myself if I ever allowed my clumsy fingers to touch the strings of a harp, there are so many strings and I am afraid that my fingers could never touch only one string at a time.” He looks a bit amused by the thought.
Aurana shakes her head quickly. “Not a musician. Just… It is entertaining. I enjoy trying new things is all. And you would do fine. Besides, you are supposed to hit more than one string and play chords. I am not quite able to do that just yet, however.” Tilting her head to look up at him, she smiles widely. “I would be happy to bring it with me on my next visit if you would wish to try your hand at it,” she offers, amusement shining in her eyes.
“Oh no..” Tancred steps back, moving his hands up infront of him as if trying to protect himself from something, “My lady aunt and Ser Sarmion would think I have become a girl.. They would then try to make a man out of me, robbing me of any spare moments I could have spend with visiting beauties.” He chuckles and moves next to Aurana again, “Speaking of my lady Aunt, perhaps it is unwise of us to keep her waiting.. By now a maid should have informed her that you have come by to visit.” He smiles and bows, “It has truly been a pleasure speaking with you this morning, milady.. It is my hope that the future will grant us more moments like this.”
Aurana arches a fair brow, mischief renewed. “Beauties,” she echoes. “So there is more than one? Well now I shall have to spend some time puzzling out who those ladies might be.” Gathering her skirts, she dips the knight a curtsy. “I thank you for the pleasant company, Ser Tancred. And I assure you that we will speak again. Good day to you, my lord. I hope your duties are fulfilled with ease and quickly that you might find some time for yourself.” Rising, she gives him one more smile before her hands begin smoothing over her skirts and she makes her way up the steps to the door of the manse.
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