The Red Keep is filled with cats. A kitten crossing the yard, therefore, is not an unremarkable event. The kitten—tiny, large-bellied, and with immense blue eyes—is only remarkable in that a somewhat untidy child, all arms and legs, follows it as if on a leash. “Acorn!” she admonishes in a soft voice, seeming not to want to draw attention to herself. “You better not get lost again!” She pounces and grabs the protesting kitten by the scruff of its neck, wrapping her arms around it, and then pausing to take in her surroundings. As she notes the Dornish hostages, her eyes grow huge, and her lips round into a silent ‘o’ of curiosity.
One knight in lilac and white, slender and swift despite the weight of scale and plate on him, drives back his opponent a few steps. Clatters and thumps ring out as they swing their wooden swords at one another, striking shields and occasionally armor. The first knight drives the other further and further back, nearly to the wall ... when his opponent, with a green dragon biting its own tail upon his shield, slips a high blow aside and then lets out a wild laugh as he tackles his foe. It’s not particularly chivalric, it seems, but it does the trick—the other knight exclaims his surprise as he falls.
Then he laughs, and throws back his visor to reveal a typical Dornishman: aquiline nose, olive skin, long black hair ... and young, it seems. “Ser,” the young knight says between laughter to the man who’s atop him, “I said we’d practice at swordplay, not roughhousing!”
“That’s true,” the other fellow says, clambering up and raising his own visor as he does so. “But I was getting bored, dear coz. Here you go.” He offers a gauntleted hand to help the other knight up, and it’s accepted with a grin. “Bored, you say? You were bored of losing this time, you mean, Tamlyn.”
The aforementioned Tamlyn shrugs his shoulders, but smirks as if to note that perhaps that was more his meaning. “I’ll never tell,” he says, belying his sly expression, before wiping at his brow with the silken sleeve of his green robe. He’s the first to take stock of the yard, and mutters something to the other fellow when he sees the girl and the cat.
Alyse squeezes her kitten so tight to her chest as she watches that the little furball lets out a distinct squeak. She seems to be absorbing every little detail, from the make and shape of the armour, to the way the men move as they fight. She lets out her own squeak as the men go down, all clanging armour and laughter, but smothers it. As she is noticed, she simply gives the man a long solemn stare, although her cheeks redden as he mutters to his companion. She sits her jaw mulishly, and asks in a crisp voice, “So is a /normal/ way of fighting in Dorne?”
Turning dark eyes beneath a sweat-touched brow towards the young lady Tamlyn indicates, the young knight in white and lilac, with a white sword and falling star upon his shield, starts to reply, “No—”
“Careful, Aidan,” Tamlyn says, still smirking. “She may well be a spy, sent to discover our secrets, and that might be a shadowcat in disguise to protect her.” Then he bares his teeth at her, looking quite fierce.
“Hush, ser,” Ser Aidan—that must be his name, anyways—says, though with a certain familiar ruefulness which suggests such behavior is common from the knight named Tamlyn. “No, my lady, it is not ‘normal’. Though in battle, one often does fall to grappling.” He pauses a moment, then sets down shield and sword so that he can lift the helm from his head. A padded arming cap is beneath it, with a few stray black locks of hair sticking to his forehead.
Two pairs of blue eyes watch the Dornishmen; the kitten’s, and the girl’s, darker in colour. Alyse only thrusts her thin chin ahead stubbornly as Tamlyn bares his teeth, appearing quite determined now to be cowed, although such determination in a skinny twelve-year-old runs closer to comical than impressive. “I’m not a spy,” she replies. “Although if I -was-, I’d be a really poor spy if I admitted it, wouldn’t I? So maybe I am, and am just denying it to confuse you. Or I’m not and am admitting to it so you think I am.” She pauses, having apparently lost herself in her own logic, and falls into a small curtsy. “Sers,” she adds politely.
Shaking his head at Aidan and at the chit of a girl, Tamlyn turns and calls to a knight with an axe-wielding leopard upon his shield, who has just thumped, stabbed, and tripped two Dornish knights into submission with a wooden spear, “Ser Madyn! My sweet cousin has abandoned me for gentler company, though she speaks like a drunken maester. Shall we see if I can manage against that spear of yours?” He gives Aidan a last, amusement-laden look, and then moves off.
“Well, if you are a spy, I should let you know that Ser Tamlyn is given to jests,” the young Dornish knight tells the girl as he tucks the helmet under his arm, voice solemn as if he was taking the matter seriously. Only the faint crinkling of his eyes suggests he’s holding back his amusement. “And if you are not, well. It doesn’t hurt to know it. Nor to know that I am Ser Aidan Dayne, of Starfall.” He even bows, armor and all.
Alyse glares at Tamlyn. “I do not! You have obviously never heard a drunken maester,” she claims. The kitten squirms, and she rearranges the set of her arms to give the little one space to breath. She nods to Aidan’s comment with an air of infinite wisdom. “Of course. I knew it all along, and was only playing along to further my cover as a not-spy.” Oh! Introductions. She flushes again, and gives another little curtsy, no smoother than the last. “I am Alyse Stone. Of the Eyrie,” she adds very hastily. Her voice is ever so slightly tremulous as she pronounces her bastard’s name, and her gaze flicks anxiously to his face.
It’s true enough that there’s a flicker at the corner of his lips at the bastard name, but it’s gone as swiftly as it appeared. “I’ve heard of the Eyrie. It is famous even in Dorne. Skyreach—that is House Fowler’s castle—is high in the Red Mountains, but nothing like so high as the Eyrie is said to be,” Aidan says, reaching a gauntleted hand up to pull the arming cap from his head and shoving it into the open end of the helm tucked under his arm. His sweat-soaked hair is tied up in a tight queue, and must be quite long when let loose. “Is it true that the dungeons are open to the sky? Another tale I’ve heard, though I never gave it much credit.”
Alyse’s shoulders relax just a little at the lack of comment on her name, but a touch of apprehension remains on her face. “It’s true,” she assures him once. “Not that I spend much time in the dungeons, but I was curious and asked to see one once. Open to the sky. We lose a lot of prisoners over the side. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not,” she adds. “And it’s very, very high. It takes a day’s ride to reach it, all the way up.” Her head tilts back as if, even from here, she could see it, perched in the mountains. “I was always afraid someone would push me off,” she adds a little mournfully.
An arch of a dark brow at Alyse’s last remark, and then Aidan offers the bastard girl a grave smile. “I’m sure I would feel the same. I cannot imagine what it would be like,” he says quite seriously, and indeed his brow furrows as he apparently attempts to imagine it. He shakes his head at last and says, “Well, I am sure Lord Arryn would be very displeased if you—”
*CLANG* *THUMP* *CRASH* The noise interrupts whatever Aidan was saying, and he turns to look… “Oh, it seems Tamlyn got the better of Ser Madyn,” he tells Alyse, grinning at the sight of the leopard-knight having been caught out by his cousin.
Alyse’s expression is dubious as she watches Aidan’s brow furrowed, her lips pursed thoughtfully. Any remark she may have been about to make, however, is cut off by the sudden thump. Alyse squeaks again, leaps partway in the air, and the kitten takes the opportunity for flight, leaping to the ground—and then making her way leisurely over to the side of the yard, sniffing as she goes. “I am sure Ser Tamlyn is very…” the girl says politely, not returning to the earlier, more awkward subject. “Formidable,” she decides, an eye on her cat.
Off to the southeastern end of the yard, a lone figure leaves the large drum tower that houses many of nobles staying more or less temporarily at the Red Keep, moving northwards past the Godswood and nearer to where the tower housing the Dornish hostages stand. As she passes the Godswood, Aisling pauses briefly, casting a glance in among the trees, but a moment later she continues onwards. As it happens, as she nears the Dornish tower, her attention is drawn to the activities in the small yard not far from it.
“He is at that,” Aidan says to Alyse, quite unselfconscious about praising his cousin while his violet eyes follow the cat’s progress. “Though he’ll tell you himself that his sister is even more formidable, in her own way.” From the cat he moves to glance towards Tamlyn, who is busy trading friendly barbs with Ser Madyn while helping the knight onto his feet. He confides, conspirationally, “The singers called Lady Tanyth the Black Tempest.” He starts to go on, when he catches a glimpse of a familiar face. He does not importune her with a spoken greeting, but Aidan nods over the young girl’s head towards Aisling.
“His /sister/?” echoes Alyse, her back to the new arrival and quite unaware of her. She twitches the sash at her waist between slender fingers; a nervous movement, perhaps, but given the way her eyes stray to the cat, perhaps, instead, the movement is meant to draw the kitten back to her. “Is it true ladies fight in Dorne, then?” she asks eagerly. “Or is her…formidability…er…metaphoric?”
As she draws nearer, Aisling eyes those gathered in and near to the small yard in an appraising fashion, her dark gaze lingering a little longer on Aidan and the young girl he appears to be speaking with. The latter, in particular, receives a thoughtful study, and only after that does she return the Dornish knight’s greeting with a nod of her own. A pause, then, as a considering look crosses her face, and she adds, “Good evening, ser.” A more curious glance then passes from the knight to the girl and back, perhaps as she overhears the question posed.
“‘Metaphoric’,” Aidan says, eyes shifting back to Alyse distractedly, though it’s clear by his bemused expression that he’s trying the word for the first time. Perhaps realizing how that looks, he then flashes a quick smile, all easy grace. “She’s formidable in her own way ... which happens to include that she’s a demon archer and horsewoman, and can even fight with the spear better than some knights of my acquaintance.” He glances back to see that Aisling has chosen to approach, and so he sounds diffident as he adds, “If you meet her and ask, she’ll tell you she fought from the walls when Ghost Hill was besieged. I’m sure Oakenfist’s men learned to be wary of her arrows.”
“Good evening, Lady Aisling,” the Dornish knight says, offering the northwoman a brief bow. “I hope the evening finds you well?”
The kitten ventures a little closer to her mistress, eyes fastening on the sash Alyse continues to twitch. Her eyes are thoughtful. “I do not think I would particularly want to fight,” she decides. “It seems to be very messy.” Only then does she realize they are no longer alone, and she straightens up, and turns about hastily, long hair flying (and threaten to whip rather painfully into anyone standing too close).
“Tolerably so, ser,” replies Aisling as she moves a little closer still and, as Alyse turns towards her, offers the girl a polite nod as well. As she continues speaking, however, it is to Aidan she directs her words. “And yet, despite such an acquaintance, you find it curious that a woman might choose to groom her own horse?” A sharply inquisitive arch of a slim brow accompanies her query. “But perhaps that is only appropriate for Dornishwomen?”
Is that a blush on his cheeks? Aidan straightens a little—a hard thing to do in a young knight with such exquisite posture—and offers bravely, “My cousin, Lady Tanyth, is ... a singular woman, Lady Aisling. It would no more do to compare her to other noblewomen, as to compare your Dragonknight to other knights, surely.” He stops, awkwardly, there, no doubt searching something more to say…
“Ah,” he remarks quite suddenly. “I am rude. Lady Aisling, this is Alyse Stone,” he offers, nodding to the girl as he does so, happier to play at courtesy than to explain more fully whatever it is Aisling was wondering out. “And her kitten. They are of the Eyrie. Alyse, this is Lady Aisling of House Ryswell. She is of the North.”
Alyse pounces on the encroaching kitten, and holds her close again. The kitten squeaks and squirms, but to no avail. Alyse drapes the tiny kitten over her thin shoulder, and gives the lady something approaching a curtsy. “Her name is Acorn,” she offers. “And I am pleased to meet you, Lady Aisling. And to serve as a distraction, when necessary, to avoid difficult subjects,” she adds lightly.
“Ah, I see,” is what Aisling replies to Aidan’s attempt at explaining the matter, her voice entirely too pleasant. Of course, she can’t entirely overlook the handy distraction that Alyse and her kitten do make up for the Dornishman, and so the matter of Tanyth is abandoned. For now. “Well met, Alyse,” she responds to her, offering a polite enough smile to the young girl. The bastard name does not, however, seem to elicit any particular reaction from her. “How fortunate for Ser Aidan that you were here tonight,” she adds a moment later, her lips quirking into a distinctly wry smile.
Aidan doesn’t _quite_ stare at Alyse for that last remark of hers, but he comes very close. His lips press together thinly—primly, even—and his manner becomes a little stiffer. “Yes, well,” the Dornish knight says, “you might speak with Ser Tamlyn, Lady Aisling, about his sister. You may understand my meaning better.” Indeed? Why does he make a show of glancing at Alyse sidelong then, one wonders.
As to Tamlyn, he and a number of Dornish knights are just about done with sparring with one another, and most of the idle folk watching the proceedings have begun to disperse. Aidan, at least, appears to have finished early, for his helmet is already off as he speaks with Aisling and Alyse to one side of the small yard where the practice took place.
Alyse seems to be taking entirely too much delight in disconcerting her elders. Her kitten, still draped over her shoulder, gives a forlon little meow. “I /do/ have to make myself useful somehow, my lady,” she tells Aisling. “And I understand from Ser Aidan that Ser Tamlyn’s sister is formidable, metaphorically and unmetaphorically.”
The last of the Dornish knights finish their sparring, and most of them troop back towards the Dornish Tower to disarm and clean up. Many of the idle passerbys who watched the proceedings have begun to depart, as well. To one side of the small yard nestled in a corner of the walls, Aidan Dayne speaks with Aisling and Alyse.
If anything, Aidan’s reaction only seems to encourage Aisling. She smiles thinly and casts an idle glance over at the other Dornish knights—not that she knows who they are—as she says, “Perhaps so, Ser Aidan. If I care to understand your meaning better.” Turning then to Alyse, she listens to what the girl has to say with an inquisitive arch of a slim brow, then nods thoughtfully to her words. “I do wonder what Ser Tamlyn’s sister thinks of Ser Aidan,” she muses, now with another look at Aidan.
Liane slips out of the Dornish tower, likely drawn by the sounds of sparring to more interesting pursuits. She nods politely to the Gold Cloaks outside, though she doesn’t linger near them, moving quickly past and out into the yard. Finding the knights departing, she manages to summon a faint smile for her fellows before continuing out.
Oh, there’s so much to do.. not. Bryce has been trying to keep himself busy all day and has been seen sparring or resting for a good many hours. However, he’s finally gotten rid of his armor and all, and is now wandering the courtyards of the keep, a little frown and a thoughtful, reclusive look about him. He wanders slowly, like every step is a commitment of willpower, and he looks at the trees, the walls of the towers and the people with equal disinterest.
Aidan starts to make a remark, when his name is called from the end of the yard nearest to the entry of the Dornish Tower. He turns his head and waves a gauntleted hand at Ser Tamlyn, who calls, “Come on, coz! Enough of your courting, eh? You promised to have supper with us, and you know what Tanyth will say if you are late.” Aidan’s expression when he turns back is stony, no doubt because the blush on his face is fierce enough that its plain even against his olive skin and with the darkenign sky.
“As you see,” Aidan manages with something approaching equanimity, “even Ser Tamlyn is ... somewhat singular. You’ll find them each, the both of them, quite willing to offer opinions on just about anything.” He gives Alyse a glance, and this time it’s cool indeed, but he offers both of them a bow. “As you heard, I must excuse myself. Lady Aisling, Alyse, may you have a pleasant evening.”
Alyse gives Aidan a little smile, and it is warm enough despite the other man’s cool gaze. “Good evening, Ser Aidan.” She removes the kitten from her shoulder, and waves the kitten’s paw at the Dornishman by way of farewell.
As it would happen, Ser Tamlyn may have done Aidan at least a small service with his remarks, for they do elicit a certain response from Aisling as well. It is rather sharply that she turns in his direction, and even in the poor light there’s no mistaking the scowl that darkens her face. Not to mention the edge of temper that enters her voice. “I see. It must be a Dornish trait, I think, this eagerness to offer opinions,” she cooly remarks. Never mind that she’s quite happy to offer opinions of her own whenever the opportunity is given. “Good evening, ser, Alyse,” she tells the pair she was speaking to, and with a curt nod resumes her walk across the yard.