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The afternoon is met with cries and calls from the western yard of the Red Keep. Here the clang of metal against metal, as well as the heavy impact of lance upon quintain heralds the sun at its highest point. A few soldiers train against one another, the sweat of their labor dampening their hair as they train in the summer’s heat. Yet six of those who are adorned with the forked lightning of the marcher lord Manfred Dondarrion are busy observing a knight clad in black steel armor.
The faceless knight bends down from his destrier as he is handed an eleven foot tourney lance by a small boy, whom obviously is pleased he is relieved of the awkward weapon that he had held in his hands. The knight rises to his full seat upon his mount, and in an air of bravado, pulls hard on his horses reins causing the large steed to rear. Immediately when the horse drops to the ground again, it begins to charge forward as the black knight couches the lance, his legs making him rise in his stirrups as he leans forward preparing to impact the quintain that is before him.
Doran charges at the quintain, his horse steadily picking up speed…
Doran’s horse moves at a quick canter towards the quintain…
Doran lowers his lance, aims at the splintering shield and ...
... fails to hit the shield altogether!
The sound of tilting practice has drawn more than knights, squires and men at arms to the yard, it hath brought a few women also. One of which is the slender, dark clad form of Elanna Penrose, a silk veil misting her pale features as she moves to stand near enough to men clad in the sable and gold of the Baratheon. They mumbling greet her and bow, but stare industriously at the ground, or each other. She returns their regard, but distantly, and watches the fellow in Dondarrion colors miss his pass.
“I know, uncle, I know. Unless something comes up—which I will continue to hope for—I will be at the supper at the decided hour. Thought I am sure Sylvina and Lord Terin would have a much better time without me. Not to mention whatever guests they have invited this time around.” A distinct edge of irritation colours Aisling’s voice as she, accompanied by a middle-aged man wearing the bronze-and-black of House Ryswell, makes her way through the outer yard, keeping away from the most busily trafficked sections. Their path does, however, take them in he vicinity of where a few soldiers practice on foot and a quintain has been setup for jousting practice, and the pair pause to look on as a black-armoured knight charges the target.
Laughter takes two of the six guardsmen dressed in Dondarrion purple and black as the black knight misses his pass. Their mirth is quickly stifled, however, when the muscular charger slows his canter and turns around for another attempt. A loud sigh resounds within the armour of the knight, and once again he spurs his horse to charge the quintain a final time. The steed he rides seems eager for this activity, and builds up considerable speed as the lance is lowered by the steel clad warrior.
Doran charges at the quintain, his horse quickly picking up speed…
Doran’s horse moves at a gallop towards the quintain…
Doran lowers his lance, aims at the splintering shield and ...
... strikes the shield a remarkable blow that shatters it entirely and makes the lance flex ominiously!
A squire rushes up to clear away the shards and splinters that Doran reduced the shield to. After a few moments, he hangs up a brand new one.
Murmurs sound within the gathering of Baratheon men at arms, with the sigil of the lightning stag on their breast. Elanna leans forward.
“Hale, who was that rider?” she gestures at the triumphant Doran, “I have not seen his armor before.”
“Ser Doran, the Blackbolt, my lady,” the Stormbreaker’s rider addresses her politely, but studiously at her feet.
“Ahh,” there is a note of recognition now, and she departs the crowd to the relieved mutterings of those within.
“Lady Aisling,” she dips a small curtsey as she approaches the woman, “Came you to see the show also?” A raised brow and a gesture.
“He rides well enough,” remarks Aisling to her escort, who nods in response. “And yes, I know what you are thinking, uncle,” she continues, as the two exchange a glance. “I will not make an effort to have something get in the way of the supper. Though why Father ever allowed that woman to persuade him to send me here I shall never understand. So, now that you’ve done your duty and reminded me of my duty, I am sure you have better things to do than keep an eye on me. I promise, I won’t run away.” With some reluctance, the man—her uncle, apparently—agrees, and makes his way towards the stableyard. Leaving his niece on her own until she, moments later, is joined by Elanna.
“Lady Elanna, well met,” she greets the other woman, offering a curtsey in kind. “I did not come here with that in mind as such, but its one way of passing a little time, I suppose.”
The black knight pulls back on the reins as soon as he passes by the quintain. The massive steed he sits atop slows to a halt, and the armoured figure discards the lance, tossing it to the ground to be picked up by his squire at a later time. A heavy gauntlet comes up, raising the visor of the helm that adorns the dark warriors head. Ser Doran Dondarrion guides his mount around, observing the destroyed shield that his efforts had accomplished. “Storm is not Lightning, Torben. If I don’t find my seat, Ser Jaesin will be making quick work of me at the next tournament.” The Blackbolt’s voice is solemn and directed at one of the guardsmen who had laughed previously. The gauntlet comes up yet another time as the marcher knight unfastens his great helm and removes it.
The long tendrils of black hair that gave Doran his byname tumble from underneath his helm as he lifts it from his head, sweat making many of the follicles stick to his face. “Two hours is enough practice. Now that I’ve made a fool of myself in front of my own soldiers. Let us just be thankful we don’t have Black Jonn or Stormbreaker here to add more embarrassment.” The young knight throws the helmet to the guardsmen he spoke to, and Torben catches it in his hands. Doran’s eyes glance about the yard, and take notice of the ladies whom were not there moments before, and a darkened flush will make his dark skin turn a hue that would make an apple envious. “Pardon me, gentlemen.” He offers as he guides Storm towards the two ladies.
“I suppose it might be,” Elanna agrees with the Ryswell maid on that point at least, “Good afternoon, Ser Doran.” She bows her head in greeting, “A fine tilt that last one.” She has the courtesy not to mention the first, at least.
Turning the corner of a small structure used for storage, Ser Aidan Dayne rather purposelessly seems to be meandering about the outer yard, no doubt trying to find something to do. A gold cloak, looking both bored and a trifle annoyed, dogs his heels by a few paces while the Dornishman tries his best to ignore him. Seeing the gathering in the vicinity of the castle’s quintain, he hesitates a moment ... and then draws nearer. Garbed in an entirely unwarlike fashion, and lacking horse and lance besides, it seems unlikely that he means to try his skill today.
As Doran draws nearer, Aisling glances up at the still mounted knight, and offers a dip of her head. “Ser Doran. Getting comfortable with your new mount?” she queries, though it appears to be mostly out of politeness than anything else. To Elanna, she says, “It is a diversion, at least, and something other than spending ones time indoors, with needlework or what have you.” As it happens, she catches sight of Aidan just then, and a thin smile quirks her lips. “Though, no doubt that would be much more appropriate.”
The flushed face of the Blackbolt still firmly holds onto the crimson tint that exertion and embarrassment have given him. The marcher knight halts his mount, which seems more behaved on this given day, obviously tired from his own efforts against the quintain. “My ladies.” The Blackbolt states in his strict unwavering formality, his head bowing low to both the women present. “It does me good to see you both.” Doran offers a weak smile as he speaks, and he nods his head in agreement to Aisling as she queries in regards to his steed. “Storm is strong, and swift. He’ll give me the momentum to unhorse most of Westeros. Yet his weakness is in his ride, it is rough and this makes it difficult to guide the lance to target.”
Aidan doesn’t seem to hear Aisling’s remark, which is—perhaps—just as well. Glancing at the armored warrior upon his tall steed, his eyes then turn to the ladies, and he inclines his head in greeting. “Good day, my ladies,” he tells them quietly, and adds another nod towards the Dondarrion knight, “and to you as well, ser.” Not having watched any of the knight’s performance to speak of, he does note the fact that a new shield is being hung upon the quntain. His attention turns back to the knight as he discusses the horse’s qualities. “Such large horses,” he offers, with a certain diffidence, “rarely have the smoothest of gaits. Their stride is too long and heavy.”
“You will have quite the competition, Ser Doran,” Elanna replies softly, “For other fine horses will carry other fine knights. It is meet you get in the practice you can now and…teach your horse not to miss.” The latter is spake a little wryly. She clasps her hands before her, turning her head to observe the approach of the Dornish knight.
“Ser Aidan,” she nods, no added words of pleasure for the meeting or otherwise, just bland acknowledgement.
Although her initial comment was offered without showing any particular interest in the manner, it seems Doran’s continuation of the topic of mounts is enough to call upon her attention. Before she can respond, however, an opinion is offered by the newest arrival, and she turns to eye Aidan with thoughtful appraisal. “Yes, that is quite true, Ser Aidan,” she agrees, a certain coolness in her voice, though it is all but gone as she continues, speaking not just to the Dornishman. “Still, one can have good results if one focuses on a little less speed and on getting more weight on the hindquarters rather than on the forehand. Most destriers are taught to think only forward, though.”
The crimson that resides in Ser Doran Dondarrion’s face does not relent, and in fact it seems to intensify as Elanna makes mention of missing. He offers no more words of excuse, and seems relieved when the Dornish knight joins the gathering, hoping that his arrival will turn the topic away from his lack of ability on his former pass. “My lord of Dayne.” The Blackbolt offers in greeting, once again bowing his head low out of respect for the Knight of Twilight. “Would you care to attempt a tilt with Storm? I doubt that your…” Doran’s statement falters as he seems to search for the appropriate name to call the gold cloak that shadows him, “companion… would object to a tourney lance?”
“There is merit in such training,” Aidan states unequivocally. “A horse that does not balk in the charge, with other horses all about it, is better than one that is hesitant.” He pauses and starts to say more, “Sandsteeds—” when Doran addresses him. The offer is ... a surprise. He glances back to the gold cloak, who seems to have preferred being ignored, because he has little enough to say for himself when referred to. He mutters ... something to Aidan.
“He has no objection,” the knight of Starfall says, a faint smile touching his lips. “But truly, I am uncertain ... I have never ridden a destrier such as Storm.”
Elanna purses her lips slightly, though whether in approval or disapproval…it is hard to tell. Perhaps talk of horses and tilting is not her forte. She glances at the Baratheon men at arms, and they also watch the scene with curiosity, no knight of their own to outfit.
“If you wish assistance with anything, you are welcome to borrow the Stormbreaker’s men for a moment?” she gestures.
At Doran’s offer, Aisling arches a brow, though the black-haired lady refrains from speaking until Aidan has offered his response. Following that, a dryly amused smile quirks her lips. “And yet, the other day, Ser Doran, you thought him too much of a handful for me. Are you sure he is not too much of a handful for Ser Aidan, too?” Its almost innocently asked, but the glance that shifts from Aidan to Doran, and then back, most definitely isn’t.
“My little lord of Darklyn is at the smith today, he is getting more coronels forged for my lances. So I shall serve as your squire, but only if you assist me with dismounting.” Doran continues his sad smile as he speaks. His gauntlet comes out towards the Dayne knight, begging assistance for his dismount due to the heavy armour he now wears.
Doran’s smile falters considerably at the mention of the Stormbreaker, and his brow furrows as Elanna offers his men for assistance. “I have no use for Ser Sarmion’s butchers, we will make do with what we have.” As the Blackbolt replies, he does not so much glance at the Lady Elanna.
The flush that began to dissipate will once again return as Aisling makes mention of words he used in their prior meeting. “My previous statement was not aimed to offend, my lady. I have heard of the Knight of Twilight, and there are some who speak with reverence in regards to his skill on horseback. I assume he can manage, as could you, Lady Aisling.”
With an inclination of his head to Elanna as silent thanks, Ser Aidan is then left looking between Aisling and Doran both. The exchange between them clearly piques his curiousity, as his violet eyes—made all the more vivid by the cobalt hue of his overrobe—flickers. It’s a long moment before he offers delicately, “Perhaps, Ser Doran, Storm would not take kindly to being ridden by another; I would not believe myself more able than my lady of Ryswell, and if you have doubts… And I have my own doubts of my ability, riding at the quintain upon such an animal, huge and unfamiliar.”
Yet for all that, the yearning in Aidan’s eyes, as they look upon the beast and then at the quintain with its newly-hung shield, is clear.
Elanna snaps a glance at Doran, and her eyes grow thunderous, “I beg you pardon?” Her voice was cold and harsh.
“I believe I just heard you insult those of my house, and the house to which your father holds his banner to,” she throws back her mourning veil, she looks upon Ser Aidan and Lady Aisling.
“Your pardon, Ser and lady, but this insult shall not be weathered,” her voice grows in warmth and there is a pitiless look in her eye, “You speak so very bravely, Ser knight, when the Stormbreaker is not here. So instead you speak thus to his sister? That is neither courteous, nor chivalrous. In short, not knightly behaviour at all,” she eyes him disgustedly, “‘Twould be a pity for my brother to hear what regard one of his Stormlord’s sons holds for his liege lord.”
One could hardly fault the Dornish knight for his courteous response ... though that seems to be exactly what Lady Aisling does. Her dark eyes narrow sharply as Aidan speaks, and no doubt words to match her expression would have been quickly forthcoming, had it not been for Elanna getting there first as far as a display of temper is concerned. Fortunately enough for Aidan, the northern lady remains silent, instead listening with a vaguely curious expression to what Lady Elanna has to say.
The flaring up of dynamics entirely unknown to Aidan seems to put paid to the moment where he might have expected Doran’s offer. IF he is crestfallen, it does not quite register on his lean face, which slips into a distant mask that reveals very little. “I thank you for your chivalrous offer, ser,” he offers with a brief bow, “but I must beg off.” That word he uses seems, perhaps, a trifle calculated given Elanna’s remark, but given the reputation of the Stormbreaker and his men in Dorne…
“My ladies, fare well,” the Dornish knight states, offering them a separate bow. He turns then to go, not wishing to be a part of whatever fracas is in the making.
“I have said nothing that I have not said to Ser Sarmion’s face, Lady Elanna.” Doran’s voice is still soft, always being a knight to be known by his deeds instead of words. “If the truth breeds insult, perhaps you should disassociate yourself with the Stormbreaker. My family bends the knee to his brother, not to him.” Doran’s tone lacks contempt, but it is apparent that he has no love for Sarmion.
As Aidan takes his leave, a look of disappointment crosses over the marcher knight’s face. “Farewell, Ser Aidan.” He offers in his parting, dropping his gauntlet to his saddle as he struggles himself to dismount. After considerable effort the knight does manage, and he lands heavily on his feet. “I did not seek to insult your house, nor you. I just can not abide the butchering of innocents, there are some knights in Westeros who actually consider the vows as vows, instead of words spoken for a title.”
“I refer to Lord Corwen in the first place,” she snaps at first, then Elanna’s features grow pale, her eyes hazy, “What do you mean…butchering of innocents?” Her teeth are visibly clenched and her hands whiteknuckled.
“What is this that you are saying of my brother?”
Possibly even less familiar with these dynamics than a Dornishman, there is little that Aisling can say about the matter now debated by Doran and Elanna. Being in the presence of a heated argument doesn’t precisely seem to make her uncomfortable, yet neither does it appear to hold much interest for her. So, like Aidan before her, she takes her leave. “I should be on my way,” is all she says, and after a dip of her head she moves away, towards the stableyard.
Doran’s eyes betray the sadness that often plague the depths of his heart and mind, and still his soft voice continues, “They are not my deeds to speak of, my lady. If you seek answers to your questions, perhaps you should direct them to your brother?” The Blackbolt reaches up and throws the reins over his mount’s head, causing Storm to throw his head up in disgust.
“It appears I aroused your ire, Lady Elanna, for that I will beg your forgiveness. Perhaps I should have kept quiet, we all know I am not without sin.” Doran glances to Aisling as she too takes her leave, and offers his sad smile to her as he bows his head in respect for her departure.
“I beg my leave of you, my lady.” The Blackbolt directs his last statement to Lady Elanna, still offering his sad smile as he grabs hold of the reins of the massive destrier, and begins to move back towards the Dondarrion guardsmen.
“Doran Dondarrion,” Elanna’s voice is harshly wounded, “You first insult my house, then refuse to provide explanation for it. This insult to Baratheon will not be forgotten. So please, go back to your lances and your pretty Dornish maids, and hope that you will not meet Sarmion in the lists.” With that, the Penrose widow disappears in a swirl of silk.
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