Night may have settled over the Red Keep, but that doesn’t mean that it’s inhabitants are ready for sleep yet. Even in the darkness, Guards continue on their rounds, and servants rush here and there on errands. Other than the regular business of the Keep, the Outer Yard is quiet, it’s great bronze gates closed for the night. The cool breeze even makes it refreshing weather for a late walk, which is what Irena Marbrand seems to be doing, as she follows one of the cobbled paths across the outer yard. Her meandering path doesn’t appear to be taking her any place in particular, and in all honesty she doesn’t even appear to be looking where she’s going.
A door opens and closes, casting a brief square of golden light into the gloom of the yard. It is quickly pinched off, the light winking out with the thud of the door, and there is only a small, black-clad woman left in its place. As she moves forward after a slight pause, the breeze ruffles the sheer black veil laid over her head; it blows across her face and elicits a muffled sound of annoyance.
“A pox on mourning,” mutters Reyna Rowan, picking up her pace and setting herself on a collision course with Irena.
It would be much to her Septa’s dismay to know that Carmella was wandering the keep at this hour, and worse on her own, but said Septa enjoyed a celebratory glass of wine or two with dinner and retreated to the comfort of her room, leaving the Dondarrion girl with some time on her hands. So, Carmella isn’t sneaking out, exactly, for she was never expressly told that she must stay in tonight. Besides, the cool evening air feels good in the lungs and Carmella could do with some quiet and around the Keep the evening hours seem to be the only time when such a thing can be found, or close enough to it. Drawing her light cloak around her shoulders Carmella nods in passing to a familiar guard as she continues to wander. She hadn’t really planned on coming here, but then she hadn’t planned on going anywhere in particular. She allows her eyes a chance to grow accustomed to the dim lighting in the courtyard, just in time to notice both Reyna and Irena and the fact that their paths are about to meet unexpectedly. Eyes widening, she lifts a hand and opens her mouth to call out a warning in an attempt to prevent the collision.
There seems to be something going on down the path towards the gates.
The milling servants carrying belongings are visible here even in the dark, bedecked in the colors of the house they served. Horses are sent to the stables, trunks are carried by the burlier individuals, and there seems to be a small group convened at the very end with a short, pink-cheeked older lady clad in a septa’s ensemble looking at her list and, clearly, taking charge of the present arrangements. While there are several people with her, all quickly dispatched with their instructions, this silver-haired, matronly woman seems to be accompanied by a slender figure whose form is overwhelmed at present by a black cloak, with the cowl thrown over her head. Whoever she is, she seems quietly content to let the septa she is accompanying barking orders, her head turned away from the proceedings, and tilted up slightly to train her unseen eyes on the banners waving overhead, her hands clasped patiently in front of her. The cool western breeze ripples through her clothing, the flash of blue and white clearly seen underneath upon the shift, and a single lock of golden hair slipping from the cowl to curl at the ends of the black fabric.
Yet another newcomer, not too uncommon as word has been sent, for quite some time, that the men were coming back home.
If her attention had been placed on where she was going, instead of turning it towards the commotion coming from the direction of the gates, Irena may have been able to avoid the collision with the older women, but at least she slows as turns towards the crowd of servants and activity around the new arrival. Anyone heading towards her is far from her priorities at the moment as she attempts to determine the livery of the servants in the torchlight. Distracted as she is, unless Reyna very perceptive, they’ll collide. It doesn’t help matters any that Irena is garbed in gray and likely to bend into the keep around her in the twilight.
Reyna turns her head toward Carmella, but the warning comes too late; the two women collide. The veil twists across Reyna’s face again, and she reels back a step or two while she claws it away. “By the Gods… are you alright?!”
Carmella feels her attention caught between the collision she was unable to stop and the larger group near the gates. Her dark eyes drift from one to the other; the two women gain a wince of sympathy from Carmella at the moment of impact and a step in their direction, but the larger contingent of new arrivals draws her focus as well. So many new faces, though Carmella shouldn’t be all that surprised, not with the word of the king and knights returning to the city. She’s certainly seen her share of people entering the city since her own arrival months ago, but those numbers have increased greatly in the last week or so. It certainly feeds the Dondarrion girl’s curiousity, enough that she takes a few steps towards the new arrivals, hoping to get a better look, catch a better glimpse of the travelers and maybe pick up a name or house if she’s lucky.
“Septa, oh septa! Where should I bring this?” A young servant girl lifts up a marble-white vase. It looks heavy, but the girl lifts it up the best she can.
“Why, where I told you where -everything- goes, you fool girl!” the septa exclaims, sweat already gleaming off her forehead. “It’s on the list, don’t you have the list?”
“I do, but it’s not on it.”
“Not on it? Impossible! I wrote those myself!”
“I swear to you, septa, it’s not!”
“Preposterous! Let me see. Must I do -everything-?”
“Not too impossible,” finally says the quiet one in the black cloak, her head turning to look at the septa as she looks at her precious list furiously, and her voice gentle still, though tinged with a hint of soft amusement. “...if we had brought the wrong thing in the first place.” Indeed, escalation over a piece of decoration seems quite silly to her, though she was familiar of her septa’s very particular ways. The servant girl however, was looking more and more wide-eyed about having possibly made a mistake, and the last thing she wants is an argument after a very long journey.
“...I -knew- it wasn’t my fault!”
“Oh be quiet and take it to the manse anyway!”
Giggling, the servant girl takes her leave, the septa sighs loudly, flapping a handkerchief against her face. “Oh, but this -weather-. We should have a cool bath drawn for you at once, my dear. I’ll not have you suffer grime any longer.”
“It’s alright,” replies her charge, with the same, patient tone of one accustomed with the fussing. “I’ve bathed in the last inn.”
“And you shall have another one! Maester Arett will be most severely displeased if you were overheated. Oh boy, boy!” The septa waves her handkerchief. “Come here. Please do excuse me m’lady. Promise me that you shall remain here while I finalize everything.”
“I shan’t move an inch,” the lady promises.
And the moment the septa turns to talk to the serving boy, the young woman moves, taking a step onto the path and moving. If anyone were any closer, one would see the slight, impish smile curling up on the edges of her lips. The three ladies up the path in front of her had not escaped her attention, and unbridled curiosity perhaps shared on both sides has bid her to head that way herself to make a proper introduction.
Being as tiny as she is, it doesn’t take much to send Irena reeling, especially on the uneven footing of the cobbled path. Carmella’s warning came soon enough that she was able to brace herself, which is all that keeps the slight girl from falling flat her face. Reyna has her full attention now, as Irena attempts to gather herself together enough to curtsy. The first words out of her mouth are a startled, “I’m sorry!” Followed by a rather more tentative, “I’m alright, are you?”
“Thank the Mother I outgrew my Septa,” Reyna replies, apropos of nothing as the kerfuffle draws her attention. “I’m quite alright, honestly,” she says then, smiling and shoving the veil back again. “A bit addled in the head apparently, but that is hardly your fault. Who’s the little princess down yonder? I’ve never seen such a fuss.”
Is it an amused smile that slowly creeps across Carmella’s dark lips, or is it simply one of understanding as one who has a Septa of her own? As she watches the unintentional performance the smile grows and when the slim young woman steps forward to escape from the rest of the group, Carmella turns that smile in her direction alone. The septa, the servant girl and whoever the boy might be become background noise not really worth her attention. Emboldened by the girl in the black cloak stepping away from the group, Carmella heads further in her direction to meet her halfway. “Are you traveling with a band of mummers, or is this all quite ordinary,” Carmella asks good naturedly, her words baring the faintest hint of a drawl, like one trying to hide an accent or one that learned a region’s accent outside of that particular region. She even gestures back towards the entourage with a graceful flick of her wrist, as if there was any confusion as to who she might be referring.
Having reached the rest of them, Carmella first as she has met her halfway, the first thing the young woman in the black cloak does is curtsey. The second, is an apology. “Forgive us, m’ladies, for the disturbance,” says the hooded head, her voice quiet but genuinely sincere at said kerfluffle. “It’s such a wonderful night, and I am certain that it has been rather peaceful until our arrival. My septa is rather particular, and she can be rather excited when her plans of organization are dented in the slightest way.” She lifts her head, and her hands, drawing the hood away so she could look at the rest more clearly. Golden curls tumble and spill from the black fabric, and warm, aquamarine eyes crinkle slightly at her sides to reflect the slightest of smiles on her lips. “I hope we’ve not offended you in any way with the noise….but I suppose I can rest easy, somewhat, to find you so entertained by their antics.”
Irena doesn’t even look her age of fifteen years, much less old enough to be wondering around without her Septa as she is, but like Carmella she has managed to leave her supervision behind for the night, although it will probably come looking for her when it realizes her brief walk has turned into a long one. She comments to Reyna after a moment turning to look at the commotion, “The color of the livery is blue and white, so I believe the young lady is probably a member of House Arryn.” In the darkness not many people would be able to tell the colors, but Irena seems very sure of herself as she gives them. She seems rather relieved that no harm was done by the collision, which she shows by a friendly, if somewhat restrained smile. As the hooded figure nears she turns towards her, curtsying with much more grace than her earlier one. “There is nothing to forgive. When you are here during the day you’ll see that you’ve caused no disturbance at all.” Irena still isn’t used to how ‘chaotic’ the Red Keep can be, although she tries to pretend it doesn’t bother her.
“Ah,” replies Reyna, bobbing a little curtsy in return to the little Arryn’s. “There are a great many children converging on the city. We shall soon be overrun by Septas, I believe.” She looks then at Irena. “I am Reyna Ty… er, Rowan. I have rooms here in the Keep until the manse can be made ready.”
There’s only the faintest flicker of surprise in Carmella’s eyes when the other young woman curtsies before she returns the gesture, her hands lightly holding her skirts with the bend of her knees. “Offended? Not in the least,” she says, her surprise growing more at that suggestion. Not that Carmella really has much say in the matter, she is only a guest like nearly everyone else. The words and greeting of the other two women, draw her attention from the blonde and she takes a step back, widening the circle of conversation. “Trust me,” she continues with that same faint drawl and a comfortable attitude of one familiar in her surroundings. “I might begin worry if a night passes in complete silence here.” She follows Reyna’s introduction with one of her. “I am Carmella Dondarrion, happy for some new faces here at the Red Keep.”
The accent that Carmella tries to hide is not lost on Jyana, but there is nothing on her face that suggests censure, but that same, friendly warmth, delighting perhaps, in having other people to talk to than her same entourage. “Yes….‘tis better to make certain, perhaps.” She fold her hands in that same, serene gesture, glancing up and beyond Reyna and Irena’s heads to the Keep and beyond. “I’ve never been to the Red Keep. Or King’s Landing. Or anywhere else in between. One can say this is my very first real adventure. I suppose it shouldn’t be so unreasonable to think a little noise is unwelcome, given word that there will soon be many personages about, but I come from a relatively quiet place.” Her fingers slip through her curls to push back a tress behind her ear and smiling a touch more openly at the rest once introductions are being given. “My name is Jyana. Jyana Arryn. I am here to meet my cousin and brothers home.”
Continuing with the introductions, Irena gives her own, “I am Irena Marbrand.” She continues after a moments pause, as if she isn’t sure she should say it, “I’m here at the Red Keep to study.” Her remains expression a friendly and open smile, despite her somewhat vague statement. It seems very odd, that a young girl would be at the Red Keep to study anything, and she seems to know it. She adds to Jyana, “It’s those same personages that make most of the noise, although I have been told it has been more somber than it usually is, given the situation.”
“Aren’t we all?” Reyna says in reply to Jyana’s justification. “Well, perhaps not. -My- brother will lay low, if he has any sense; my other brothers did not go, and my husband is coming home in a sack. I suppose you could say I am here to send his bones home with a Silent Sister.” But the lady from the Reach shrugs eloquently, lifting the veil from her shoulders and out of her face at last.
Carmella’s eyes widen at the confirmation of the blond girl’s House and she looks eagerly on the verge of asking questions, even leaning forward a touch as if about to pelt Jyana with her bubbling curiousity. But at the last moment she remembers herself, settles back and resumes an expression that is a little less enthusiastic. Surely there will be time later for such things, not now when the other girl hasn’t even had time to shake off the dust of the road. “I too am awaiting the return of my brothers, though I’ve been here for nearly eight months, waiting for news,” she says, all earlier cheer gone, her voice almost bland in its delivery. Maybe it’s Reyna’s declaration that makes it so, as if the woman’s mourning garb wasn’t signal enough. “The Gods were gracious enough to see them through,” she says before glancing towards the new widow. “Though I am truly sorry for your loss, I don’t know if I could begin to imagine it. You have my condolences.”
“Eight months?” Jyana replies, pausing at what Carmella says. She seems to want to say something more, but she does not, keeping her boundaries at the present moment like what propriety desires. But her reply seems to cling to the young newcomer some - something to be addressed later, perhaps. Perhaps they can share, when things are not so hectic. Irena’s response causes a perk of interest in Jyana’s eyes, but the hesitance in her voice isn’t lost on her either, while she is tempted to ask just what she is studying. “I hope it is going well,” she replies courteously, in reference to Irena’s studies. At Reyna’s reply, she nods - the widow’s black had given it away, but considering she doesn’t know the woman, she wasn’t about to bring it up unless she does so first and have her open the door to the issue. “My condolences, Lady Reyna,” she says softly, but nothing more than that, her words simple and sincere - after all, who would want to discuss such a thing to a stranger?
“I’m sorry for your loss, Lady Reyna,” Irena seems honestly mean her reply to Reyna’s statement, even if the lady herself doesn’t seem to mind it too much. She brightens as she turns to Jyana, a smiling completely taking over her features, “When you get a chance you must go see the murals in the Kitchen Tower, they are really lovely!” What this has to do with her studies is really anyone’s guess, and seems to realize as she adds, “I only arrived a week ago, so I haven’t even really had a chance to begin. Everyone is so busy with preparations, that no one really has time to explain anything, even if they are the rare people that will even let me listen.” This seems to be a somewhat sore point for Irena, but that doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t really explained anything yet.
Reyna bends her head in acknowledgement of the condolences, and seems, for a moment, truly grieved. She remains thus for a long moment, and only looks up to respond to Irena. “I am sure that once the men have returned and the wounded settled, someone might be found among the Maesters to oblige you.”
Carmella offers the Arryn girl a nod in response, Jyana did hear her correctly. “My lord father thought it best that we be away from the Boneway,” Carmella mentions briefly, offering enough of an explanation without delving into her personal story, for now doesn’t really seem to be the time. A trivial matter, to be sure. Nodding along with Irena’s assessment of the murals she adds, “There is much to see here in King’s Landing, though I’ll admit I haven’t spent all that much time away from the Red Keep myself and some of the more respectable streets in the city.” For yes, Carmella has a Septa of her own and the older woman doesn’t usually leave Carmella to her own devices, certainly not in a city such as this. “Though I imagine the crowds will only continue to grow until the entire city is fit to burst with celebrants. It seems as if it will be quite an event by the time they arrive home.”
At the bright smile, Jyana is much more inclined to return Irena’s enthusiasm. “I would very much like that,” she says, the gentle tone persistent through her speech. “Perhaps you would be so kind as to show me where they are, sometime? I’m afraid judging by the size of the Keep that I’ll only make myself lost.” She also nods a little bit at what she says about her studies. “I’m quite certain once everyone else has arrived and things have settled down that your studies will progress quite quickly.” To tack onto Reyna’s comment about the Maesters. Irena’s earlier assumptions about who she was isn’t lost on her - she knew the other girl was, at the very least, observant. To Carmella, she nods, though something changes in her eyes at what she says - it is a subtle thing, but certainly some of the mirth leaves it. The reason why, however, is not apparent.
She turns slightly to look at the gates. “The celebrations will be many,” she agrees. ‘But so will the funerals,’ are the words left unsaid.
Irena briefly returns to her cheerfulness to reply to Jyana, “I would be happy to show them to you, once you’ve settled in.” From her expression she wouldn’t just be happy, she’d thrilled, her smile is that big, although it turns down a notch as she continues, “Although Lady Carmella has probably seen much more of this place than I have.” She adds in a more somber and serious tone, “Yes, once things have settled down there should be more people with the time and inclination for instruction, but really, as is, other preparations are more important.” The war has touched Irena lightly, so although she seems honestly concerned about it, she’s also more distant from it and it’s sorrows than the others. The cousins and uncles that are fighting are ones she sees rarely.
A rising breeze sends Reyna’s veil across her face, and she exhales sharply to expel it from her mouth. “Feh, be glad you are not compelled to put on mourning,” she says to no one in particular. “No dancing, no colors. I fail to see why one’s grief requires an outward show that has nothing to do with one’s heart.”
Carmella offers Irena a warm smile. “You do speak the truth, but you appear to have a great appreciation for the murals, no doubt Lady Jyana would enjoy that as well as the works themselves.” She glances towards Jyana but is clearly speaking to all three women. “But I’d be happy to show you some of the places I’ve seen in my limited exploring of the city if it might make you feel more comfortable here.” And yet, at the moment a feeling of heavy discomfort settles over the dark-haired Dondarrion girl. Pretty words are stale on her tongue as she silences herself at Reyna’s comments. Suddenly she’s at a loss of just what to say. Truly, not all wife and husbands hold love or even affection for each other, that is well-known, but Carmella’s obviously not been around death too often to understand how to handle such honest words. So instead of saying anything, her teeth bite on her lower lip and her eyes are cast downward as she fights off the uncomfortableness.
At the somber expression returning on the tiny girl’s face, she can’t help herself. Her hands stretches out, reaching out to gently take Irena’s to squeeze them with reassurance. “It’s alright,” Jyana says with a cheery smile back at Irena, determined to at the very least keep her lofty. She has only been here a week, they were both newcomers. “You mentioned them first, I would be happy if you would show them to me. And Lady Carmella, too. I’m afraid I get lost in new places very easily, they almost couldn’t find me in our last stop when I wandered off…” She releases them gently, and a glance is turned to Lady Reyna at what she says, and like Carmella she falls silent. Words were on her lips, they were right there for her to say. But considering they seemed like vocalized thoughts rather than directed at any of them, she quells them down.
“As long as one follows the rules of mourning, one doesn’t have to worry about showing their real feelings though. It’s a protection that way.” Irena doesn’t elaborate on what it may be protection from though, and she seems perfectly willing to let the subject turn to happier things, as it isn’t in her nature to stay somber for long, even if her somewhat dramatic nature means that she visits the emotion often. “As soon as you’re settled then, I will be sure to show you the murals.” The smile that returns to her features as she speaks to Jyana is far more natural than her previous frown. She adds, “Even if Lady Carmella is needed to show us around elsewhere.”
Reyna looks from shocked face to shocked face, her fair skin paling. “I… forgive me,” she stammers, drawing a fine lawn handkerchief from her sleeve and touching it to her eyes. “I am not myself, not myself at all. I say such thoughtless things when I am… when I’m upset. And I have been upset ever since I arrived here this morning…”
When the talk returns once again to the Red Keep’s artwork, she stifles a sniffle, and bobs a polite curtsy. “If you ladies would excuse me, I think I can rest now.”
The moment of discomfort lingers on but Carmella presses through it, enough to offer the widow a kind farewell and a sympathetic half-smile. “You need not apologize, Lady Reyna. No doubt this is a difficult time for you, for many in the city.” There’s warmth in her voice, but slightly forced, for this kind of encounter will no doubt play out again and again. Carmella will just need to learn to better deal with such situations. The Dondarrion girl returns Reyna’s curtsey, eyes on Reyna as the woman makes her departure, again caught without much to say.
Irena returns Reyna’s curtsy with one of her own as she says, honesty evident in her voice, “There is nothing you need forgiven for.” It’s the polite thing to say, but she obviously means it as well. She adds after she has risen from the curtsy, “I should be returning to my apartments as well. It is getting late, and I would not wish my Septa to worry overmuch.”
With the handkerchief at her nose, Reyna’s nods and touches Irena’s arm. “One mustn’t upset one’s Septa,” she offers in a shaky voice, filled with some of her earlier disdain for the breed. “Good night to you all.” At that, she turns to go, flying back toward the door she earlier departed like a nightbird.
Carmella watches Reyna’s departure quietly, her lips tighten against each other just to keep from biting them again. Is this what King’s Landing is going to be like for the foreseeable future, uncomfortable silences amidst sobbing widows and orphaned children? Carmella waits until the door closes before she lets out a sigh and turns her attention back to Irena and Jyana. “No, upsetting one’s Septa rarely brings anything positive,” she says, speaking from experience and as a way of beginning a farewell. “I would love to show both you and Lady Jyana the small part of the city I’ve toured and help you settle in. It can be quite overwhelming.” Again she speaks from experience. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Lady Irena, but don’t let us delay you further.” As she’d done with Reyna, so to does she do for Irena and offers a curtsey with the farewell.
“It was nice to meet you both as well.” After a nod and a curtsy to the remaining group, Irena turns to leave, walking deeper into the Keep. Unlike earlier, this time watching where she’s going.
She curtseys to both of the departing women, watching Irena leave, and Reyna as well, though her gaze remains on the latter. Jyana remains silent for a few moments, even as the widow’s black disappears in a flutter of fabric into the darkness. Finally, she speaks up softly. “....I would like to think that the color black is there to remind the world and the person wearing it most of all that proper respect must be given to those who have been taken away…” Jyana pauses, and adds. “I’ve been told that people are most truthful when they say what they think without taking the time to realize that they are thinking it before the words leave their lips. And in that….I don’t know if her tears were really meant for her departed husband, or for herself.” She turns to look over at Carmella, and she smiles faintly. “Forgive me, I tend to think out loud.” And she curtseys. “Perhaps I will see more of you then, Lady Carmella. I would love to know, if you will oblige me, as to why you have been here for eight months.”
Carmella listens silently to Jyana’s comments but doesn’t speak on them immediately. Her eyes linger on the door through which Reyna departed and her mind drifts elsewhere for a moment or two. Her shoulders drop ever so slightly and she appears to be absorbing some of the sadness of the conversation for the earlier confidence has been consumed by this new show of quiet grief. She’s silent long enough to make one wonder if she’s even heard Jyana at all, but eventually her mind brings her back to the present and she turns dark eyes to meet Arryn blue. “I’ve not met Lady Reyna before this hour, so I cannot say if she’s speaking truthfully or through a veil of her own grief,” Carmella offers, choosing not to make assumptions on the widow’s behavior. Slowly a smile works at Carmella’s lips, a wistful expression, and she comes back to being herself. “But I believe you’re correct in regards to the wearing of mourning and I might have said something similar to the lady if not for the fact that she is little more than a stranger and I didn’t wish to impose on what must be a difficult time for her.” Carmella lets out a soft sigh as she fusses with her cloak. “As for your query, Lady Jyana, that is a brighter story than some we’ve heard this evening. Blackhaven, my home, is situated on the Boneway and is but a short distance to the borders between Dorne and the rest of Westeros. My lord father played host to King Daeron and his men when the king sought to use Blackhaven as his staging ground for the war. We were positioned in a strategic location, or so I was told, but if things had gone poorly we would have been in a dangerous location as well. In exchange for my lord father’s hospitality, the king generously offered his own and thus I am here with some members of my family.” The speech flows easily from her tongue, no doubt she has offered it to others a number of times before.
“Indeed,” Jyana says softly, though there is something in her tone that suggests more. The delicate looking creature keeps her eyes lingered in the darkness, though while her words seemed to censure, her expression was sad in a serene sort of way, neither flinching nor uncomfortable, not once, at the subject of Death - a reflection, perhaps, of one accustomed to hearing such things or something more. It had been common knowledge for some that she has danced with the Stranger many times in her childhood, so such discussions have been approached, instead, by a quiet, calm reverence of one who has accepted every life’s ultimate fate. Turning to Carmella, she smiles. “It was very kind of the king himself to extend you such a generous invitation - such honor indeed.” She pauses, hesitant, but only for a split second before she speaks up softly. “But no doubt without its costs….this entire war…” And her perceptive, observant eyes lift to meet Carmella’s dark eyes with her blue-green gaze. “Must have been very hard for you and your family.” It wasn’t hard to surmise, given her name and the fact that had Dornish coloring, mingled with the delightful crimson dispersed over her predominantly dark hair.
“When one has brothers fighting for the king, one can think of little else,” Carmella responds, her voice going bland once more as she looks around the yard. She’s not avoiding Jyana, exactly, but simply keeping an eye on things going on around them. “But I am not the only one with worries, all of King’s Landing has had it’s collective mind on little else waiting for word from the south. But the young king is returning victorious and the realm entire will celebrate this victory, for we are all one again to hopefully live in peace.” Carmella even smiles as she says that, as if her simple words could make it so. “King Daeron was very generous in his offer and I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed the stay here, for like you I’ve never been away from home before this journey. I just ...” She sighs again, halting her words for a moment or two before shaking her head. “Would you perhaps indulge me a question in return, Lady Jyana? Though I fear I have far too many, one would satisfy for the time being.”
She couldn’t help but notice that the young woman avoids answering the question directly, and her body language spoke volumes, turning her eye onto her surroundings as Jyana posed her questions and she her answer. She accepts it however, though that same, serene sort of sadness falls on her expression once Carmella has turned away from her. It smoothes over, however, when Carmella turns back to face her. “I’m certain,” she responds in her warm, quiet way. “That the Septas Lady Reyna says will flock this castle will have their hands full, with so many lovely birds finally free from their geographic cages.” She links her fingers together and she inclines her head slightly at Carmella, a single lock of golden hair falling to curl against a high cheekbone. “You may ask me whatever you wish,” she proposes kindly, and sincerely too! After all, what did she have to hide? “You may ask me many and I shall endeavor to answer each one.”
There has been too much talk lately of death and war, Carmella is happy enough to speak on something other than such uncomfortable things. With the opportunity in front of her, she once again smiles and that eagerness she had shown when first meeting Jyana begins to show again. “Forgive me if my question seems silly, for I’ve only heard stories of the Eyrie and the Vale of Arryn. It sounds spectacular and unimaginable at the same time. Is it true that your home is above even the clouds of the heavens? Stories that have been told to me say it rests so high in the mountains that even the clouds must look up at it, but that seems almost impossible to imagine. Have I been the made a fool in an unknown joke, or are the stories true?” Considering all they spoke of earlier, it seems almost jarring for the dark-haired girl to speak on one’s home of all things, but in her mind it makes perfect sense.
She blinks, Carmella unwittingly touching a warm spot in her heart as Jyana hears of interest in her home. Her reserved, serene smile brightens considerably, reaching her eyes and injecting more life from the warmth ever-present within - enthusiasm, the gleam and glimpse of a gentle girl prone to impishness whenever the circumstances suited her. “I do not find such a question silly at all, I’m often encouraged to ask as many questions as I can.” She reaches out, and if Carmella lets her, she’ll take her arm in a companionable gesture, turning her around so the two of them could start walking around the gardens….and, the sneaky imp, directing herself away from the path to further escape her septa subtly. “We are situated above an area called Sky,” she explains softly. “In the highest precipice of the Vale. Up there, it is nothing but blue. It can get very cold, and since it is so difficult to get to, it is mostly quiet. But the view…oh, the view. I wish you could see it. You can see everything! Valleys, and mountains, the snow that lingers year round no matter what the weather is like, for it is quite high…the perpetual mist that falls as delicate as lace over Alyssa’s Tears. Oh, it’s so beautiful over the summers, where you could see green and the flowers mottling color over the landscape. And when the sun sets…”
She smiles dreamily to herself, looking up at the stars. “You’d think you’d never have seen a place more lovely in gold. Only until the night falls, where you marvel at how close you seem to the stars - when they still linger so far away.” She gestures her hand lightly towards the heavens above them. “I used to climb up the highest tower when I was well enough to leave my bedchambers, at night. I like to think Mother is up there…somewhere.”
Carmella allows for her arm to be taken and is happy to walk with Jyana, appreciating the company and the distraction from her own thoughts. She hasn’t slept a lot lately, for conscious thoughts are better than nightmares, and this is helping to keep both at bay. Carmella’s even smiling a bit more now and nearby torchlight touches her cheeks, making her skin glow in the amber light. A gasp or two comes as the description falls from Jyana’s lips and for these few minutes her companion has her complete attention. “It sounds like a place the Gods themselves would live, would that they dwell in Westeros,” she says in a voice touched with awe, a perfect compliment to the expression she’s wearing. “Blackhaven’s in the mountains as well and it can be lovely at times, but it is nothing as you describe. It sounds as if it is incredibly difficult to reach, no wonder you haven’t left home before. I am sorry to say that King’s Landing is anything but quiet and I fear it will become worse as the days and weeks wear on and more people flock to it. I imagine it will be quite a change for you,” Carmella adds, as if it hasn’t been enough of a change for her as well. The difference is, she’s had eight months to become acclimated to the city and its conditions.
“It is. It takes a day or more to get up the Eyrie, and on a moonless night it can be quite perilous. No one dares. But considering we often have troubles with the mountain clans, it is for our protection, and it is this that makes the Eyrie impregnable, and those within it quite safe.” Jyana chuckles, perhaps her first show of laughter of any kind through the long and difficult journey. “Though naturally you’d still have to go through my cousin Conrad, who guards the Bloody Gate and I think that alone may discourage -most- visitors, ill-intentioned or otherwise.” But despite this, there is a warm affection when she speaks of her cousin. One of them anyways. “Perhaps I would one day see Blackhaven myself….being so close to Dorne.” Her smile turns wan at the part about not leaving home before. “Yes…it would’ve been difficult to leave it, even if I had been able to.” She laughs softly. “I like to think my family is just being affectionately selfish, keeping me for themselves. Oh…” She sighs. “I wish that had been mostly the case.” She looks over at Carmella. “The change is already concerning most of my staff, as earlier had demonstrated. They fear I will break. Not unreasonable, I suppose - they’ve known me since I was very young, but I’m quite determined to be here.”
Carmella nods, having heard the tales of the Eyrie’s impregnable location. “Well, I must say that would there ever come a time when I would need hide from the world, your home sounds to be the perfect place to do so.” Carmella voices this in a light-hearted manner, though it would be a dark day should such a thought become reality. “But let us pray to the Gods that it would never come to that,” is quickly added, if only to quell her own superstition. Carmella goes quiet again, a little surprised by Jyana’s mention of her own home and its location. “I fear you would find Blackhaven rather bleak, compared to your own home, but I can understand your desire. Having been one who lives vicariously though the stories told by my brother and those who are visitors to Blackhaven, I would be happy and eager to visit any castle that might welcome me, if only for the chance to see something new. But ...” There’s another pause. “The path between us and Dorne is ... was quite dangerous. Skirmishes and the like, though I imagine with King Daeron’s success in the south, things might be more calm.” Or they might get worse, but Carmella’s not one to think to long or hard on military matters. “Besides, the Dornishmen are coming to us in King’s Landing, or so I am told. Some curiousity might be sated without the need to travel.”
She could appreciate how difficult Carmella’s position may be, Jyana could only imagine how heartrending it is to face one’s own kin in battle, as her brothers might have done. “I’m quite certain the world wouldn’t be plunged into such a grave threat that you would need my home to hide in, and even if you did, I would gladly welcome you.” She squeezes the other girl’s arm delicately as they walk. She nods - it was dangerous then, and it was even more dangerous now. “I understand….it may even be extremely dangerous for you and your family in particular,” she says softly, pursing her lips a bit. “And yes, it seems like they will. Some of them will most likely be on my beloved cousin’s ship, Ser Artys’s Falcon. In my lord cousin’s hands….” She smiles. “They’ll certainly reach the shore intact.” There is pride there, and love. The fair Arryn girl’s admiration for Jonothor is clear on her face - though as one raised mostly by fighting men with little exposure to motherly figures as it is, it is no wonder that she would admire a commander and a tactician, as opposed to a flowery knight and tourney champion.
Carmella greatly appreciates the kind words, that shows in her eyes when she turns to look at Jyana again. “Well, it isn’t a secret that the Lady Dondarrion was born a Yronwood,” Carmella says quietly, oddly enough, as if it was a secret after all. “But so far most people here in the Red Keep have been kind.” Most, but not all and they aren’t the ones actually fighting in Dorne. Jyana’s touched on Carmella’s fears but she presses on with a watery smile before she turns her attention to the yard before them. “My lady mother remains at Blackhaven and for that I am glad, even if I do miss her. A wise decision on her part, considering the outcome.” Silence again, it seems to be a constant companion of Carmella’s, and an almost comfortable one at that. “Ser Artys’s Falcon,” she repeats, pondering the image that presents, though it brings about a quick shudder as well. “No doubt she is a swift vessel with a name such as that. I imagine we shall be seeing them shortly, both our brave knights and the king’s hostages.” Carmella’s eyes turn towards the interior of the keep, in the direction of the room she calls home. “I fear that I must be getting back to my room. The hour is growing quite late and even with a few glasses of wine in her, my Septa would be well aware of my absence at such an hour. I would hate for her to begin believing that I’ve lost all my senses and ignored her teachings completely.” Carmella glances back to where Jyana’s companions were left behind. “Even within the secure walls of the keep there are dangers for a young maid and I’d prefer to not hear that lecture again,” Carmella adds with a sigh. “But truly it was a pleasure meeting you, Lady Jyana and I look forward to seeing you again. I do hold to my word to show you some of the city.”
“Of course.” Jyana slips her arm away from hers, and gives Carmella a gentle smile, perhaps buoyed by the fact that Carmella seems grateful, or at the very least has eased up despite the fact that they had just met. It seems that the newcomer was, if anything, a sympathetic person. “I would hate to have you encounter any troubles on my account. Please….go and do what you need to do, placate who you have to.” The last is said teasingly. “I will wait here for my septa and she can show me where the manse is. Thank you very much for keeping me company tonight, in truth…I don’t encounter many chances to speak with anyone of my age. It was a refreshing change. I would be very happy to see you again as well, Lady Carmella. I would certainly need an experienced guide, as I mentioned - I get lost quite easily. Please take care.” She lifts her fingers to wave at her, smiling brightly.
Placate? Carmella’s hoping it doesn’t come to that, but there is the possibility of such, so she simply gives Jyana a knowing smile. “If the Gods are kind I’ll find her sleeping off her drink, but she is a Septa and I imagine she has more pull with the Seven than I’ll ever have.” Her smiles grows a bit more at that, an obvious jest. “I have little doubt that soon this city will be filled with women our age,” Carmella assures her, having seen some evidence to that fact already. “I thank you for giving me something with which to occupy my time, otherwise it would have been a lonely night’s walk. I hope you find your accommodations comfortable enough that even your Septa will approve.” With just the impression she got of the woman earlier, Carmella isn’t going to hold her breath. “May the Gods bless you,” Carmella calls back over her shoulder with a quick wave before disappearing into the shadows and deeper into the embrace of the keep’s thick walls.