Blood of Dragons is the only author-approved MUSH based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Play the Game of Thrones and become a part of the history of the Seven Kingdoms:
The fog has remained, even on the cliff-top, and it cloaks the castaways in damp. But strides have been made to make them comfortable for the night. A great fire blazes away for warmth, for drying and to signal anyone who might be searching, but better still, for the cooking of several fat rabbits. There is water as well; some is heating in a dented pot that washed providentially ashore, and plenty in a spring that burbles past the chosen campsite for the washing of salted clothes and even bodies behind a pair of blankets hung between some stunted trees for privacy.
The soothing, healing salves brought by Marian Stark and Elyn Ryswell are being shared around sparingly; each lady gets a bit to spread over her battered feet and legs with the majority hoarded for more serious injuries. There is no bush too small to have something draped over it for drying; Reyna Saltcliffe is huddled in a blanket in front of one that boasts her gown of tattered golden muslin. But she is not lamenting their lot just now—she has a piece of sturdy tree bark in her hands, laden with fire-roasted rabbit, and she’s munching her way through it single-mindedly.
Huddling in another of the blankets, Desmera winces, she too is eating a little bit of cooked rabbit. She looks as if she will cry, but fights it back. “I’m ok, don’t worry about me.” she says to the guards. “Here take it, you need it more than I do.” one of the guards looks stunned, a lady offering her portion to man? The girl’s cheeks are tear streaked, she’s been heard crying and talking in her sleep.
The brushing of the salt-soaked material against the scrapes on her legs is too much for Carmella to bear, so she’s resorted to keeping her skirts tied up at her thighs. Modesty is a thing long since gone on this trip and she doesn’t seem to care. Considering Marian Stark’s limited attire, showing off a pair of legs means little right now. She’s wandered around the campsite and more than once she’s strayed past the light offered by the campfire, making it necessary for Sariah to run after her and bring her back.
With this last wandering off Sariah finally walks Carmella over to where the others ladies are sitting, eating the rabbit. “They wouldn’t even let him come,” Carmella says worriedly to Sariah, only to receive a kindly pat on the arm from her maid. “I wonder who will find us first,” she says to no one in particular as she’s seated and offered some rabbit.
Wearing nothing more than a petticoat and the thin silk blanket thrown over a thin chemise, Reyna and her rabbit scuttles forward to sit between Carmella and Desmera. “There’s plenty for the men,” she says soothingly to Desmera. “But we’ve none of us eaten since this time last night, and you need to stay strong. Eat it up, and we’ll take our turn with the comb, hm?” She puts a hand lightly on the girl’s tangled hair, then onto her own as she turns to Carmella. “Wouldn’t let who come?” she asks around the fat piece of rabbit she’s raised to her lips.
Desmera eats a little of the rabbit even if it’s only to appease her friend. She swallows and smiles as Reyna makes a mention of the comb. “That’ll be nice. My hair is will make the septa mad , if she saw me like this, but it can’t be helped… can it?”
Carmella takes the rabbit greedily and rips off a healthy length of flesh, hardly hearing anything around her. Sariah disappears for a bit to find some more water and check to see if anyone else needs her. Licking the juices from her fingers she looks at Reyna. “Hmmm?”
“Of course it can’t!” Reyna exclaims, still soothing Desmera as she tosses a pair of bones into the fire. “Your septa won’t be angry, sweetling. She’ll be mad with joy that you’re well and whole, and if she’s any kind of septa at all, she’ll coddle you for a week until your hair is soft again.”
Looking across at Carmella, the Saltcliffe wife laughs hoarsely. “It’s good, isn’t it?” she asks, picking another piece off her ‘plate.’
Desmera smirks. “I don’t know, you don’t know Septa Sorian. She’d say I was bad for evening going on this trip without her. I told here there was a Septa and several ladies maids going… and I would be alright.”
Carmella nods to Reyna and takes another bite of the rabbit, happy to have anything to eat right now. “If only we hadn’t lost all that wine,” she says somewhat mournfully as she again licks her fingers. “It would have been good with this. Ah well.” She takes another bite and looks over as Desmera. “Did my Septa come along?” She seems genuinely uncertain as to that, though the Dondarrion septa was not on the ship. “She’s off to find a sept I would imagine. There must be one around here.”
“We all thought we’d be alright,” Reyna replies unhappily, watching Carmella with a worried expression. “No, sweet, your septa didn’t come. Just Sariah and Ser Giles.” She swallows her last bit of rabbit as if it were stone, then draws the comb from her pocket. “Keep eating,” she says to Desmera, positioning herself behind the girl and going to work as gently as possible.
“So, no sept?” Carmella asks Reyna after she takes another bite of her rabbit. That doesn’t seem to trouble her overmuch, but there is some confusion in her eyes. Watching Reyna comb through Desmera’s hair she reaches up to touch her own hair and once again her fingers find the bump at the back of her head. “Huh,” she murmurs, surprised to find it there. “I didn’t know I was so bumpy,” she tells Reyna and Desmera, as her fingers move over the rest of her head, searching for more bumps.
When she’s done as much as she can with Desmera, Reyna returns to her own cross-legged seat and starts on her own. It’s a lengthy process, as all the ornaments must be picked out of the tangle, pins unpinned. Each pin is collected in her lap. “You’re not usually bumpy, dearest,” she says to Carmella as she searches her own head for pins. “You hit your head when the ship sank. And no, no sept, I’m afraid. We’re rather a long way from home.”
Desmera sighs. “So, we’re lost, and far from Kings Landing, do you think we’ll be found?”
“Men don’t like bumpy heads,” Carmella says rather matter-of-factly as she drops her hand back to her lap. “Don’t tell them about it,” she says in a whisper as if swearing them to keep a great secret. “My father will never be able to marry off a bumpy-headed girl.” She sighs and tilts her head back to look up at the sky. “At least it’s pretty here,” she says dreamily.
Reyna looks from Dondarrion to Hightower and just for a moment looks as if she’d like nothing better than to have a good cry herself. “Your bump will go away, pet,” she says, pulling a waist-length lock of hair over her shoulder and going to work with the comb. “And we’ll be found, eventually. I’m sure they’ve already determined we’re not coming back, and have sent a ship out after us.”
Desmera nods. “I hope so. I mean have we missed our return date?” she asks softly. “I’ve lost track, simply watching the scenery go by and the world at it’s most beautiful. I wish I could paint or draw the stars on a night like this.”
Carmella reaches over and pats Desmera on the arm. “They’ll come, they always come,” she reassures her, though one has to wonder if Carmella is fully aware of the situation. “That’s what knights do, they save their ladies.” Her hand pauses and then she withdraws it. “Well, some of them do. Some want to but can’t, but they won’t forget about us.” She beams with confidence as she looks to Reyna. “Right, Reyna?”
Glancing around at the thick fog that envelops them, Reyna looks concerned for Desmera. “We were meant to return before noon today, remember?” she says patiently, working on her wealth of tangled hair. And she even manages a smile for Carmella. “They will, of course,” she says firmly. “My own lord is likely mounting a search as we speak. And you know Ser Dagur is not a man to fail, so he and everyone who cares for us will be here before we know it.”
Desmera smiles. “You have a knight, and some one to save you, I don’t my brother is gone, and there is no handsome lord to rescue me, though this might make a very pretty poem or story…” she smiles. “Oh yes…”
Carmella’s smile falls at Reyna and she shakes her head. “Not everyone,” she says with a sigh and a shake of her head, which isn’t really a good idea. It causes her to groan and shut her eyes. “But enough I’m sure.” She opens her eyes a fraction and looks at Desmera. “Pretty girl like you, I’m sure someone will rescue you too. They write songs about it.” She’s silent for a moment before she nearly explodes with excitement.
“You’re in the middle of a song! Your knight is going to save you and take you back to King’s Landing on the back of his horse! Many verses to go yet, though,” she mutters the last and moves to stand up.
“You have Ser Myles, who will come to your aid,” Reyna says to Desmera without a hint of deceit. “Your cousin is a good man, and he’ll do whatever he can to help us all. Why… Carmella serves Princess Daena, you know, and so perhaps even the Dragon Knight himself comes along!”
She smiles at her young companions, tossing a smoothed hank of hair over one shoulder and pulling a tangled one over the other. “Ser Jonn will come for his Kellyn, of course, and for his cousin Rosalind. And if Bonifer Buckwell hasn’t already set sail in search of Lady Elyn, I’ll eat my comb! He’s quite taken with her, I know. Poor Marian has no kinsman or sweetheart, but she’s so well-liked that no one would think to leave her unrescued. Carmella, pet, where are you going? Call for Sariah instead.”
Desmera smiles. “Well Cousin Myles is nice, but I want a young Lord to come and whisk me away…” she sighs, as if she’s been reading to many of her own writings. “Yes…” she yawns. “That would be nice.”
Carmella looks down at Reyna with a look of pity in her eyes. “No no, you stay here, wait for your knights. I’ll find my own way home. I don’t want my brother to find me. No one writes songs about a brother saving his sister,” she says, sticking out her tongue. “It can’t be too far,” she adds, looking around the camp, but not moving from where she’s stood up. “There won’t be a horse for me to ride,” she says, again rather matter-of-factly. “Better to start walking now.” And yet she still doesn’t move.
“They rarely write songs of husbands saving wives, either, but you don’t see -me- haring off into the night,” Reyna says sensibly. “Sit down, Carmella, sweetling. It’s far too dark and too foggy to go walking off. We’ll all go walking tomorrow and see if we can’t find our own way. We can’t just stay here on top of this cliff. Sit, let’s have some more rabbit!” For to be sure, they are passing more of it around for seconds.
After drinking deeply of the fresh water and cleaning her wound again, Rosalind spent the late afternoon and early evening sleeping soundly. She stirs, effects of the willowbark wearing off, waking. The girl runs a hand through her tousled curls, trying to smooth them. She has a bit of a flush to her face, probably a slight fever.
Reyna looks to where Rosalind stirs, and she pockets her comb. “They’ve willowbark steeping there,” she says, pointing toward the fire. “The cups aren’t all that good, but if you need some, I’ll fetch it…”
Carmella slowly sits back down alongside Reyna and stretches out her bare legs towards the fire. “I suppose,” she says glumly, not looking at the other woman, but rather at the dancing flames. She looks at the offering of more food and she takes a small bit more for herself. “Sariah should eat too,” she mentions, though it is likely that the maid has had some as well.
Rosalind looks over, yawns and nods. “Think I need it. Thanks.” She murmurs. Blinking a few times, she looks around her. “Is everyone all right?”
“Sariah’s eating over there,” Reyna says, nodding in the maid’s direction as she rises in her blanket. She returns with two cups, very crudely cut from sections of wood by the men and each brimming with willowbark tea. She holds one out to each of the ladies as she sits back down. “I think everyone is well,” she says to Rosalind. “We’re all eating, and we’ve all had a wash in the spring. All immediate needs are being met, at least.”
Carmella takes the tea and drinks it as quickly as she had first eaten the rabbit. She leans over towards Rosalind and whispers, “And I’ve got a bumpy head,” she tells her and then holds a finger to her lips as she smiles. Carmella drinks some more tea and looks around the campsite. “Why aren’t the musicians playing? We could use some music on such a lovely night.”
Rosalind carefully takes the willowbark tea and sips at it. “Thank you.” she says, “Water was probably the most urgent. Do we have any idea where we are, in relation to a town or village.” She steals a look at Carmella. “You did hit your head hard. It may take a little while for your thoughts to settle back in your head.”
“The men said there’s a track that runs into the Kingswood there,” Reyna says, nodding off into the fog as she pats Carmella’s hand. “We do -know- it’s the Kingswood, at least, but what part of it, or how far from a road…” she shrugs helplessly, then draws her curling hair over her shoulder to begin plaiting it.
“Then Ser Sarmion should be coming upon us any time now,” Carmella says brightly, as if that were all there was to it. “The Warden and his men,” she continues and then starts humming a little to herself before sipping some more of her tea. She looks over at Reyna again, purses her lips and furrows her brow before she asks, “Did my septa come along as well? I can’t find her.”
Rosalind looks over where the woods likely are, if it wasn’t for the fog and the dark. “I would be very happy to see Ser Sarmion,” she admits. Then Rosa reaches for her walking stick and somewhat gracelessly, pulls herself upright. “I think I’m going to wash in the cool water again and try to keep this fever from getting worse.”
Reyna studies Carmella, looking very close to weeping again. “No, love,” she says instead, patting Carmella’s hand. “Your septa isn’t here. She’s back in King’s Landing, safe and sound, and she’s waiting for you to come home so she can tend your poor bumpy head.”
“Alright,” Carmella says cheerfully enough to Reyna and then waves to Rosalind as the other woman departs. “I think she’ll be very upset though, she’s not that good of a healer,” Carmella says to Reyna. “Maybe she’ll have to send for a maester instead.” She reaches back to the bump again and starts to press on it. “Or if I can do it myself then she won’t have to bother with that,” Carmella comments and then winces as she pushes too hard. “Are we going to sleep here tonight, Reyna?”
“Here, pet, don’t do that,” Reyna says, reaching out to catch Carmella’s hand. “That will only make it hurt more. Yes, we’re sleeping here to night. I wish we weren’t, but there it is. Right here by the fire, on these lovely beds the men have made for us. They’re all grass and brush and they smell of the outdoors and…” she trails off, biting her lip against a threatening sob. “They’re very nice beds. Not nearly so bad as those rocks last night.”
“They made beds?” Carmella seems to have forgotten that fact as she jumps up quickly to look around, but all she finds are the grass and brush variety, not the real sort of beds she was hoping for. “Oh…” The disappointment is heavy, enough to force her to sit down again. “I thought you meant ...” She sighs and slumps over, dropping her head into Reyna’s lap. “I’m tired of this trip, I think we should go home now,” she says, exhausted.
“I think we should too,” Reyna sighs, taking her comb out again and applying it ever so gently to Carmella’s tangled tresses. “On a night like this, I might play the harp and sing a little. Dagur likes it when I sing, I think, though he’d never admit it.” Straight hair untangles more easily than curly, and her fingers are careful with Carmella’s poor head as she eases the locks into smooth sections.
In the close, muggy darkness at the edge of the fire, Elyn has been seated for quite some time, taking stock of her limited supplies of medicines and tending to the wounds on her legs. Retying the last bandage - one of many strips of her previous underskirt that became such - Elyn closes her bag carefully and leans it against a boulder. Lann, satiated by half of his mistress’ rabbit portion, slumbers in a limp drape about Elyn’s neck.
Wincing as she rises and moves, the Northern girl makes her slow way over to Reyna and Carmella, pausing before sinking down a few feet away from them.
“How are you ladies faring?” Her quiet alto voices.
Carmella mmms softly and lets her eyes sink closed as Reyna runs the comb through her hair. “Almost as good as mama,” she comments quietly, content for the moment. “I can’t play the harp, I am hopeless at it,” she murmurs with a small smile on her lips. “But I can sing, really well too,” she adds. “The prince taught me some songs and they’re really pretty.” She slowly opens her eyes and looks up at Reyna. “Men like when a woman sings, I think. I am sure it pleases Ser Dagur greatly.”
As Elyn’s shadow falls across her she looks over at the northerner, but doesn’t lift her head. It’s feeling quite heavy at the moment. “You found a kitten,” Carmella says, pointing at Lann around Elyn’s shoulders.
“We’re well enough,” Reyna murmurs, smoothing hair back from Carmella’s temples as she combs it gently out. “Poor Carmella is still a bit muddled, I think, but we’ve both got full tummies, and she’s had a dose of willowbark tea. Rosalind’s bathing in the spring; she said she felt a bit feverish, and thought the cool water would help. And I… am combing everyone’s hair. It’s all I know how to do.”
She bends over her friend and smiles then. “It’s a marten, sweetling. Elyn’s marten, Lann.” She shifts the girl’s head a little to draw the hair from under it, then plies her comb to the still tangled bits.
Gentle laughter, slightly husky with the mistreatment of her throat lately, escapes Elyn as she crosses her ankles to one side, tugging the remnants of her skirt over skinned knees ineffectually. Reaching up to grasp Lann’s limp form, she pulls him from her shoulders and deposits him carefully next to Carmella, so she might touch him if she wishes. “He’s only still and out of trouble when he’s sleeping. He’s normally awake at this time of evening, but I think last night took its toll on him, as well.”
Giving Carmella a closer look, Elyn purses her lips and glances at Reyna. “I am concerned about that. If it persists or worsens…she might have some permanent problems. But we’ll have to wait and see.”
Elyn watches quietly and then nods towards Reyna’s ministrations. “Do you think I might ask you to do the same for me later? Or at least lend me your comb?”
Carmella reaches over and runs her fingers over Lann’s still form. “Serion painted his fur, but it looks fine to me,” Carmella says, patting the marten on the head as if praising a child. “Not Serion though, he doesn’t look good in blue,” she notes, looking at Elyn and then up at Reyna again. “You can comb her hair too, I don’t mind.”
“Of course I will, Elyn. You’ve done so much for all of us that it would be a pleasure to do something in return,” Reyna says, smiling over Carmella’s head. “She has been very confused,” she says in a low voice then, her hand lightly laid over the girl’s ear. “She keeps asking for her septa, but then she has a lucid moment or two… as you see,” she adds, laughing softly. The girl’s hair is as untangled as it’s likely to get, owing to the tender bump at the back, and Reyna plaits it loosely into a tidy rope and tied with a strip of cloth from her own gown, which is still drying on the bush behind her.
“I wasn’t particularly partial to the colors. I happen to hate yellow.” Elyn replies with a glance at Lann and a moue of distaste. “But since the colors he used were not permanent…neither was the blue he found himself later on.” The Ryswell concludes, reaching out to stroke Lann’s belly before he curls into a tighter ball, tail fluffing over his nose.
Elyn scoots closer to hear Reyna’s words, her solemn expression deepening as she glances at Carmella again, but she nods. “We’ll just have to see.” She says again, eyeing the Dondarrion critically.
“She seems very like my poor Meryn—my brother, you know,” Reyna says, shifting Carmella’s head again so she can reach over her to Elyn. “Turn around, if you will. Merry’s never had all his wits, and he’s ever so sweet, but inclined to confusion and his memory… well, he still thinks my first husband is alive, and just away from Highgarden. My sons, and all the Highgarden children just adore him.”
“The problem is, the longer she remains this way, the more likely there will be some kind of permanent damage.” Elyn says under her breath as she moves so Reyna can work on the salty strands of her hair. She pulls the bit of ribbon off what remains of her braid and sets it aside, tossing waist-length tresses over her shoulder. “But as it just happened last night, there is still hope she will improve. And although I do not doubt what you say, Lady Reyna, it would be a shame for such a lady to have such an end.” Elyn concludes, glancing sadly at Carmella.
“Thank you, Reyna,” Carmella says, sitting up and pulling the loose braid around to look it over. “My septa will be very upset to know I was showing my legs to men,” she says, looking down at her bare legs as random thoughts come to her. “Maybe they won’t tell her, they don’t look very pretty,” she says, turning them this way and that to study the scraped limbs in the firelight. A shadow emerges from just outside the camp circle, Ser Giles has arrived with some more wood. He throws some of it on the fire and leaves the rest to the side. It isn’t a generous amount, for the night makes it difficult to find anything and this area doesn’t provide a great deal of fuel. He looks to Carmella for a moment and then turns away to return to his duties. Like everyone else he looks tired and the scruff of new beard along his jaw makes him look even rougher.
“No, it would break my heart if she were to be this way always,” Reyna replies, smoothing Carmella’s brow one last time with a gentle hand before taking a handful of Elyn’s hair and starting to untangle it from the ends, slowly working her way up. “We all have a dreadful lot of hair,” she remarks before smiling down at Carmella. “No, pet, I doubt she will scold. She’ll be happy to have you home, well and whole. Ser Giles, have you eaten? You must rest as well, ser. We all rely on you far too much, and it’s time we took care of you a bit.”
Giving Reyna a sympathetic look before turning around to let her begin her work, Elyn smiles reassuringly at Carmella. “I’m sure Lady Reyna is right, Lady Carmella. And if your septa tries to scold you in any way, I’m sure any of us would be happy to scold her for you and insist upon your bravery. In fact, everyone here has been very brave in the face of what’s happened.” The Northern girl asserts.
Glancing over her shoulder, she quirks a crooked smile for Reyna. “I’ve wanted to cut it off more than once today, believe me. I’d never hear the end of it if I did, but it’s certainly been tempting.” Wincing, she turns around again, remaining still as she can.
Ser Giles turns and looks at Reyna and the firelight causes deep shadows to fall across his features. “Knights are made of stronger stuff than noble ladies, my lady,” he says politely, but he voice is rough. “I’ve eaten enough and there is still much to do. We’ve new dangers here and not enough men should ...” He stops and remembers who he’s speaking with. “There’s work to do,” he says again, refusing offers of food and pampering.
Carmella takes a seat again and picks up a stick and softly starts singing to herself. The song is likely an unfamiliar one, it talks of a lovely and bold Dornish girl and how she seduced a dragon. There’s dancing and singing in the song and some suggestive content that Carmella seems quite ignorant of.
Reyna nods to Ser Giles in acceptance. “I thought you would say so, ser, but I’m bound to offer it nonetheless,” she says, smiling wistfully. She falls silent for a time, combing through Elyn’s tangles and listening absently to Carmella’s song—before gasping. “Carmella! What a terribly lyric that was!”
“I don’t know, Lady Reyna. I found it rather amusing,” Elyn replies, lips curling to one side in amusement. “And you certainly have a lovely voice, Lady Carmella. If I had my harp, I’d offer you some accompaniment, but it’s thankfully back at the Keep, which is better than with what’s left of the ship.” Her smirk grows solemn and her arms loop around bandaged legs as she rests her chin on her knees.
Ser Giles bows to the women and turns to leave again, the darkness swallows him up once more. Carmella doesn’t seem to have even noticed his arrival or departure, but Reyna’s scolding doesn’t go unheard. She stops halfway through the song and looks over, confused. “I thought it was pretty,” she says as her lip quivers into a pout. It doesn’t last long though, not when Elyn speaks. “Ask one of the musicians, maybe you can borrow from them,” she says, not realizing that those were lost as well.
“They’re all sleeping, I think,” Reyna replies, smiling gamely for Carmella. But as she works on Elyn’s hair, she answers an earlier comment. “I don’t feel very brave,” she says. “I want to scream and I want to cry. But it’s not all that helpful, is it? So I just do what I’m told and try to help more than I hinder.” She lays the comb in her lap and gathers Elyn’s hair in her hands to plait. “What lovely thick hair you have.”
“Yes, perhaps I’ll ask them tomorrow,” Elyn adds after Reyna, smiling in Carmella’s direction, although it’s a wavery smile. “But if you’d like to sing a different song for us, I’d love to hear it.”
A heartbeat of silence passes by before Elyn replies to Reyna’s remarks. “My father used to say that bravery is not lack of fear, but doing what needs to be done in spite of your fear. Carrying on though you might want to give up.” Her mouth twists in a ugly fashion, as if she found the words distasteful, but as Reyna is behind her, the expression likely goes unseen. A dry chuckle escapes Elyn a moment later. “And thank you. I’m told that comes from my mother’s side.”
Rosalind returns from the water, hair damp, but looking much cleaner. The cool water appears to have done the girl good, for though she needs the aid of a walking stick, she does move a little easier. The second dose of willowbark also seems to have taken effect, for the flush of fever is gone.
Carmella sighs and tosses the stick into the fire, forsaking the song for the time being. “I’ll sing it tomorrow when we go home,” Carmella says to the fire as she nods. The fire snaps and dances and Carmella lets her head drift slowly towards one shoulder as the flame begins to hypnotize her.
“That’s what Dagur says as well,” Reyna says thoughtfully, twining the thick sections together skillfully. “That it’s not cowardice even if you’re so afraid your knees knock together and you stutter.” She ties the end of the braid, and pats Elyn between the shoulder blades. “That’s you done.”
“Would you like yours combed?” she asks Rosalind, even as she slips her arm around Carmella’s shoulder to draw the girl’s head back to her lap, yawning widely in spite of herself.
Looking a bit surprised at the question, Rosalind replies, “Oh… that would be very kind of you. My hair is in a terrible state, but you are most welcome to try, if you are not too weary.” She hobbles over, using the walking stick for support.
Elyn turns her head to give Reyna a wide, grateful smile. “Many thanks to you. It feels much better to have the knots out.” Rising stiffly to her feet, the Ryswell maid moves to the other side of Carmella, retrieving her marten and letting him curl up in her lap as she strokes him gently. Lulled by the humid closeness of the night, Elyn inhales a deep breath and begins singing a quiet tune with a lilting melody, a song of snows and forests and Northern lights. Not a song of death, but of the peace found in winter, and sharing it with others by a warm fire.
Carmella allows her head to be dropped back to Reyna’s lap while her eyes remain fixed on the firelight. “So pretty,” she murmurs, though she could be talking about the fire or the song she was singing or something else altogether. Carmella stares unblinking at the dancing flames while her fingers drag restlessly across the ground in front of her. There’s silence from her as Elyn sings, or perhaps she’s simply entranced by the flames. “So warm and amber,” she murmurs with a smile slowly creeping to her lips. “I miss that,” she adds softly.
With Carmella’s head back in her lap, Reyna gestures to Rosalind to sit, and starts again on another head of tangled hair. “I’m getting very handy at this,” she says quietly, pitching her voice under Elyn’s song. After a moment, though, she is able to hum along, a low counterpoint to Elyn’s sung lyrics.
Noting the harmony Reyna’s produced, the Ryswell girl smiles faintly and launches into a second rendition of the song once she’s reached the end, allowing her melody to twine with Reyna’s voice.
Rosalind sits down, where indicated, letting the other woman attempt to sort out her hair. She doesn’t sing, but falls silent and listens.
Carmella doesn’t join in the singing either, she appears to have her thoughts elsewhere as the fire continues to hold her attention. At least she remembers to cover her mouth to yawn which she starts doing more and more. When the song ends she looks up at Reyna. “I think I should find those beds they made,” she tells the Saltcliffe woman and indeed her eyes look heavy with sleep.
Reyna’s fingers are nimble but gentle, a bit of pampering to remind each of the other women who they still are. She smiles over at Elyn as she hums, combed locks falling away steadily as she makes steady progress on Rosalind’s head. Just when she finishes, Carmella speaks up. “There’s one just here, pet,” she says, indicating the pile of brush and grass just behind them, covered with a tattered blanket. “Lie you down, and I’ll join you shortly. And when Sariah comes, we’ll be snug and warm as can be.”
Letting her song fade away after the second run-through, Elyn nods her head to Reyna. “That was lovely, thank you.” Carmella’s words elicit a yawn from the Ryswell girl, who again rises stiffly to her feet. “I believe I should find where Marian got off to and do the same. Sleep well, ladies.” She bids, and moves off across the makeshift camp.
Rosalind regards Carmella thoughtfully, then murmurs, “Rest well, lady. We’ll need our strength for the morrow, I’m sure.” Another smile is given to the northwoman. “And you as well, lady.”
Carmella lifts her head from Reyna’s lap and brushes a kiss to her cheek. “You’re so good to me,” she says quietly. Slowly she gets to her feet, sways a little before she turns towards the ‘beds’. “Good evening,” she says to Rosalind and Elyn before she slips into the shadows to find some rest and hopefully a healed mind.
“Good night, Elyn. Thank you, too,” Reyna says, smiling faintly over Rosalind’s head to the Ryswell before she goes. Swiftly, she twines the Hill’s hair into a tidy, tight plait, and ties the end of with a bit of muslin torn from her gown. “And that’s you,” she says, patting the young woman between the shoulder blades. “Good night, Rosalind.”
She yawns again, and carefully tucks the comb away before crawling to the ‘bed’ to lie beside Carmella. With their feet toward the fire, and the blanket from her shoulders thrown over the Dondarrion as well, they will indeed be cozy and warm. “Good night, sweetling,” she says fondly to Carmella. “Wake me if you need me…” and her voice trails off as she slips into exhausted sleep.
The fire burns on, keeping the fog and the night at bay, watched over by the staunch Ser Giles and those few men with him. Overhead, a faint twinkle breaks through the fog—perhaps, just perhaps, the morrow will be kinder.
“Thank you,” Rosa murmurs as her hair is finished and that always helps one feel better. She hobbles over to lay near Kellyn, closing her eyes. It takes only a moment or two before she is asleep.
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