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Sites of Interest
Horse Play and Word Play
IC Date: Day 8 of Month 3, 158 AC.
RL Date: December 07, 2006.
Participants: Aidan Dayne, called the Knight of the Twilight, Carmella Dondarrion, Dagur Saltcliffe, called the Iron Serpent, Jonn Lannister, Liane Uller, Reyna Rowan, Rurik Greyjoy, called the Raven and Tanyth Toland, called the Black Tempest.
Locations: Red Keep: Old Keep <Great Hall>.

Summary: The Old Keep's Great Hall becomes the scene for a conversation about Princess Daena's demands on her ladies-in-waiting. At least, that is what the ladies are talking about. What Tanyth Toland, one of the Dornish hostages, is talking about is not quite so readily apparent. And when you add an Ironborn or two into the mix, it gets even livelier.

With the sky turning to black save for the silver gleam of stars and crescent moon, many of the residents of the Red Keep have retreated to the comfort of well-lit halls and chambers in the various towers and keeps of the castle. One of the more crowded of these is the great hall of the Old Keep, where some three dozen or more lords, ladies, and knights while away a few more hours before bed time. Gallant knights and fair ladies flirt, lords discuss the affairs of the realms, and more. Presently a bard takes to his lute and entertains some ladies in a corner with, “My Lady Wife”, while a group of musicians at another corner are quietly preparing their instruments to follow him with something a bit more lively.

Although most of the tables are rather full of nobilty, there’s one that’s rather empty, and the reason is for its occupants: four or five Dornishmen and women, in their bright robes. Some seem only to be talking, while others still are dicing. Ser Aidan rattles a pair of dice in a leather cup and rolls them out onto the table, quickly counting ... and making a face. “You’ve won that throw,” he tells his immediate opponent, Lady Tanyth.

“Again, cousin dear? I am truly starting to regret that I was unable to persuade you to agree to some more interesting stakes,” replies Tanyth with a quick flash of a fierce smile, even now reaching for the pair of dice and the cup to prepare her next throw. “Perhaps next time? It would add some much needed spice to life around here.” An impatient toss of her head, sending black curls flying around her head, and then she rattles and throws the dice once again. “Oh, but look, here is a terrible throw on my part,” she exclaims in a melodramatic fashion, though still with her lips quirked into a smile. “This time, surely you will win something off me.”

The noise of the gathering rises and falls like a tide, and one of the lulls sweeps Reyna Rowan in with a pair of companions. “...and -now- I’m to learn to ride to the rings!” she is saying as she vainly pushes a wisp of hair out of her face.

Indeed, she looks rather the worse for wear. Her gown seems in need of pressing, and her hair is far more wayward than usual, when its errantry is by design. She drops into the first available chair and waves for wine.

Unlike Reyna, Carmella appears freshly groomed, perhaps missing whatever activity has Reyna currently looking as she does. Ser Amond is here as well, a fair distance behind Carmella, but here all the same. When the Dondarrion girl turns to watch a couple of men walk past she catches sight of her second shadow and almost glares at him before turning back towards the other ladies, taking a seat at the table.

“Well, at least you were spared the afternoon’s ride through a drenching rainstorm,” Carmella responds, not sounding entirely upset by the idea. “I do think that riding gown is completely ruined,” she adds, glancing around the room, taking note of the who’s who, including the Dornishmen currently involved in a game of some sort. She can’t quite make it out from here.

A purple-eyed glance at Tanyth, and Aidan merely smiles. “I fear I’ll try to hold onto my purse as best I may, sweet cousin,” the gallant knight responds as Tanyth passes the dice back. “Lets see if I can win the main, at the least,” he says. A rattle and then the cup is slammed down onto the table. Lifting, he reveals a seven, and grins. “Another chance for me, at least.” He pushes a small silver coin forward as his wager, and waits to see if Tanyth will match it. As he does so, an easy glance about the room makes note of the bard finishing up “My Lady Wife”, and of the latest entrants to the hall.

“I think one must have sturdy clothing to keep up with one’s duties,” Reyna says, plucking at her limp skirts. “What I’m to wear while -jousting-...” she shakes her head, and gratefully receives a goblet of wine from a servitor. She drinks of it deeply, and seems somewhat revived after. “I’d prefer a ride in the rain to -that-.”

“You would not trust your own sweet cousin to hold onto your purse for you? I am told I have skilled hands, so you would not need to fear for it, Aidan dear,” replies Tanyth with the sweetest of smiles as she watches her sweet cousin make his next throw, and succeed rather better than her this time around. “I suppose, for the time being, I shall have to be content to help fill your purse,” she remarks then and pushes a silver coin of her own forward. “Let us see if luck will favour you again.” Before the throw is made, however, she too casts a glance around the hall, her black eyes coming to fall upon first Reyna and then Carmella, giving them both a brief but appraising look.

“I think my septa nearly fainted when I mentioned that proper riding leathers might be appropriate in this case,” Carmella goes on to say, eyes widening a bit as Reyna talks on about jousting. “But if I’m going to continue ruining dresses to appear to the whims of our dear Princess, well she’ll have to see reason.” A steward approaches the table and offers goblets of wine to the women and Carmella is eager to take one, if only to give her hands something to do besides pick at the fabric in her lap. As she takes her first sip her eyes glance around the room a second time. She takes note of the musicians and her toe taps along under the hem of her dress. Eventually she finds one of the Dornish women looking their way. Her lips quirk into an almost smile as she gives a brief nod in Tanyth’s direction.

Though well-lit for a hall, there’s still a bit of murk to the great hall, and that may help—a little—to obscure a faint rise in color in Aidan’s countenance. “If my luck holds, of course,” he finally offers, now seeming doubtful for reason or another. A shake and then the dice are rolled out more gently than last time ... and appear to be favorable, for his confidence is returned. “Hah!” he manages, before taking Tanyth’s coin and pulling it over to his side of the table. As he collects the dice for another role, he quietly informs her, “The disheveled one is Lady Reyna Rowan, though now widowed; she is of House Tyrell by birth.” A quick glance to the other lady in dark gold, and he shrugs his shoulders slightly. “I’ll leave my stag on the table, Tanyth, to see if you’ve the heart to give it another try.”

“Oh, do not doubt it for a moment,” Tanyth is quick to reply, pushing another coin forward. Another glance is then cast back at the two other women, now accompanied by a slightly arched brow as she takes their measure more thoroughly. In the end, a slight nod is given to Carmella, before she looks to Aidan again. “Lady Reyna ... she was the one who spoke up at the council session, no?” she asks of him, and then a most unladylike curse escapes her as his next throw also proves to be a win. “I shall soon have no coin left, cousin dear, and then what shall I put forward to match your bets?” For some reason, the prospect seems to be one that amuses rather than irritates the Dornish lady.

If she notes the glances sent her way, Reyna makes no indication. “Riding leathers?” she asks weakly. “I’ve never worn riding leathers in my entire life…” At that, she tosses back the rest of the wine and waves for more.

Only then does she hear her name spoken, twice. She turns, and though her cup is empty, she lifts it in salute to Aidan and his companion. “Ser Aidan Dayne,” she murmurs, turning back to Carmella. “And his… friend. I don’t know who she is, but she looks interesting.”

“Oh. Yes, you would have seen her—that’s the one,” the young Dornish knight responds, even as he merrily pulls the stags he’s won to the small pile on his side of the table while leaving his original one in place. The dice are scooped back into the cup as he adds, “You know I’ll not leave you destitute. For one, Tamlyn wouldn’t forgive me, and for another, neither would my lady aunt.” That may well not be the answer Tanyth wanted. Once Tanyth matches his wager, he makes a cast ... and shrugs as it comes up indifferent. “Neither good nor bad, but another chance to win a stag.” The dice are scooped up again, and both leave their stags be.

“Nor have I, which is why I believe my septa nearly collapsed at the idea. I still remember her talking about how inappropriate Lady Marian looked when she first arrived in King’s Landing,” Carmella continues, laughing a little at the memory before taking another sip from her glass. Unlike Reyna she isn’t hurrying through hers.

It isn’t Reyna’s name that catches the Dondarrion girl’s attention so much as the curse that comes from the Dornish woman’s lips. Eyes widening she quickly takes another sip and looks back to Reyna with a shake of her head. “She sounds interesting too,” Carmella notes, with some obvious hesitation in her voice. Truly her septa would have hours of complaints about the Lady Tanyth.

“Surely some sort of skirt can be added for modesty’s sake,” Reyna remarks a bit anxiously. “My own septa would die of the scandal if I was seen riding about in trousers! Still, my seamstress is rather clever; if you like, I’ll send word when I consult her, and we’ll see if she can’t sort you out, too. And I know a smith who could contrive the most cunning helms for us…”

A disdainful snort from Tanyth, and another toss of her head. “Tamlyn would be amused, cousin, and you know it. Though I suppose he might set out to win it from you, for his own sake.” Another glance around the room as Aidan prepares to make his next throw, and she catches the salute offered by Reyna. She pauses for a moment, in a considering fashion, and then inclines her head slightly to the other woman before turning back to the game just in time to catch her dear cousin making another winning throw. “I am afraid, though, that you are about to put an end to this particular pastime for the evening, Aidan. Unless you are willing to ... alter the stakes?” It is rather slyly asked, that question, though the wry smile that plays on her lips seems to suggest that she knows better than to hope for an affirmative response.

A trifle smug at first, Aidan collects his winnings and starts to scoop up the dice again when the dark-eyed Tanyth puts her question to him. “Come now—” he starts to protest, when his cousin directs his gaze back to the other two noblewomen. “Ah, well. You’ve the right of it, sweet cousin,” he remarks, and after tucking the dice and cup into a small pouch that he hides away within his over-robe he stands. Rounding the table—and consequently drawing nearer to the two noblewomen—he remarks quite courteously, though hastily, “Lady Reyna, good evening! A moment, if you will, as I should wish to make an introduction.” And so he goes to Tanyth and her side of the table, to offer her a gallant hand as if she might have need of it.

Carmella keeps her head tilted slightly so has to keep an ear on the Dornish conversation while keeping up with the one she’s currently engaged in with Reyna. “I would be most grateful, Lady Reyna,” Carmella says with a smile. “It might be simple enough to make a skirt that is split to give the illusion that it is a proper gown. Or the entire thing could be made of leather,” she muses, twisting her goblet between her fingers.

The goblet comes to an awkard stop. “A helm? Oh blessed Mother, I ... Oh surely one wouldn’t be needed.” There’s a nervous pause. “Would it? I am a horror with a simple needle and thread, I fear what might happen if a lance was put into my hands.” She’s comtemplating that exact fact as Ser Aiden makes a greeting to Reyna. She cannot help but turn and look up at the dark-haired knight, but doesn’t say anything as of yet.

Looking up, Reyna smiles. “Of course, Ser Aidan, it is a pleasure,” she says, rising gracefully. While she waits on Tanyth, she looks back at Carmella. “I really don’t know. I’ll ask my cousin, Ser Almer, and see what he says. Though if she takes it into her head to try the quintain…”

“You should agree with me more often, Aidan,” Tanyth wryly notes, then takes the offered hand and rises gracefully—she hardly had need of it, as such—to allow her cousin to introduce her. “I would not have thought you would have made any acquaintances here—at least, not any female ones—after just a few weeks,” she dryly notes to the knight, casting him a sideways glance. Something of what the other women are speaking of seems to reach her then, for her lips quirk into an amused grin and she remarks, “It is not so very hard to handle a lance, my ladies. Just hold it firmly but don’t grasp it like you are trying to choke it.” For some reason, that sounds vaguely inappropriate.

It’s all that Aidan can do to keep his mien a well-balanced show of gracious behavior and politeness when Tanyth is given to such ... enormities. “Lady Reyna, may I introduce my cousin, Lady Tanyth of House Toland,” he states after a notable pause, his tone carrying the sort of modulation that suggests an effort. “Her brother, Ser Tamlyn, is also here in the Keep.”

Carmella remains quiet, eyes drifting from Reyna and then to Aidan and Tanyth as she too rises to her feet. Her own innocence is such that she doesn’t quick pick up on the Dornish woman’s innuendo, though the tone in which Tanyth speaks, the hint of inappropriateness causes her to tilt her head and narrow her eyes in a lost look of confusion. “I’ll ... keep that in mind,” she finally says quietly. “Thank you, Lady Tanyth,” she is quick to add, remembering her manners.

Reyna blanches, but manages to maintain her composure. “Er…I’ll keep that in mind, Lady Tanyth,” she says with careful courtesy, then smiles to find she’s echoed Carmella. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” she adds then, bobbing a quick curtsy.

It may be unseemly, but Aidan hurries to follow up on those shocked thanks by turning to Carmella, and offering the younger noblewoman a brief but elegantly executed bow, the wide sleeve of his satin outerrobe briefly touching the floor as he does it. “I am sure we have not been introduced, my lady,” he tells her, smiling pleasantly, “for I would not have forgotten it if we had been. I am Ser Aidan Dayne, of Starfall.”

Tanyth’s own curtsey is everything that the rest of her manners not always are; polished and elegant. “A pleasure, Lady Reyna,” she replies. A brief pause, as Aidan speaks up again, but then she smiles slyly again and adds, “It is an excellent exercise in horsemanship, I have found, and I am sure you will enjoy it. No doubt there will be many a knight lining up to offer their help, as well.” A glance then just happens to stray to her cousin. “Do you not think so, Aidan dear?”

“I’m sure they will,” Reyna repies drily, turning to assure herself that Carmella is not left too much alone. Looking back to Tanyth, she smiles. “But I shall take no instruction save that of my cousin’s. He’ll laugh himself sick, no doubt, but I can rely on him to make no improper advances.”

Still musing over the use of lances and the possibility that she’d have to don a helm like a knight, Carmella is a little surprised by Aiden’s bow and flattering words. Her cheeks flush crimson for a moment and she gracefully returns the bow with a curtsey of her own. “A pleasure, Ser Aiden Dayne, of Starfall. Indeed, we have not yet been introduced. I am Lady Carmella Dondarrion, of Blackhaven.” She’s smiling as she rises, hands brushing over the sides of her skirts as her dark gaze trips back to Tanyth. “Well, I imagine it might be a more worthwhile excersize when I’m not left falling out of my saddle on every attempt,” she says, working on a smile as she says as such.

Taking her cue from Aidan, and speaking up quickly, Tanyth’s remark comes hot on the heels of Reyna’s. “Alas, I can rely on my own cousin to not do the same as well,” she interjects, again with a sly, sideways glance at Aidan.

“If it is the Princess’ desire that her ladies follow in her pursuits I fear I may have to find an alternate teacher than my brothers,” Carmella says, just realizing what this all would entail. “I have a fear that they would not approve of me learning such skills, not in the least.” Carmella’s eyes stray past the two Dornish to spot Ser Amond not far away, but since the knight doesn’t look angry or otherwise upset he must not have overheard the conversation. “I fear they might try and to pack me off back to Blackhaven,” she adds, though she hasn’t said definitively that she’s going to attempt to refuse the princess either.

“One does what one must for the family honor,” Reyna says in a pompous tone and rolling her eyes at the same time. “It would never do to be dismissed for displeasing our princess, so I suppose it’s to the rings I shall go. Surely the lances are lighter for ladies?” She turns this assertion into an appeal to both Aidan and Tanyth.

“I am sure Lady Reyna and Lady Carmella will find such aid as they require, my lady,” is Aidan’s slightly hasty response, but then he quite visibly winces at Tanyth’s last remark. Another pause, and then he asks, “Dondarrion? You must be the Lady Loreza’s daughter, for I can see the mark of Dorne in your features, my lady.” After that, he’s happy enough to (hopefully) find safer ground for discussion when it comes to the princess. “I have heard that Princess Daena enjoys riding at rings. It’s not unknown for noblewomen to practice at such in Dorne, for their recreation…” A glance to Tanyth follows then.

A few dozen noblemen and women are partaking of such entertainment as the hall can offer in the evening. Some dice, some gossip, some listen to music, and others still dance. Just now, a group of musicians start up a quick-rythmed tune on fiddle, flute, and drum, and soon enough some of the gallants and ladies are in the middle of the room practicing a dance involving quick steps and the occasional change of partner.

Off to one side, Ser Aidan and Lady Tanyth speak with two noblewomen, the ladies Carmella and Reyna.

Carmella nods to Aiden, even smiling a bit more now that her mother has been mentioned. “Indeed, Lady Loreza of Yronwood is my mother,” she confirms, sounding quite proud of that fact as her fingers tuck some of her raven hair behind her ear. “I have been told that I take after her,” she notes, though that seems to be in appearance, for the girl obviously has no knowledge of handling weapons or many other Dornish traditions.

“But yes, I have heard that Dornish women learn skills similar to men. In fact, I was speaking with Lady Liane Uller just the other evening and we spoke on a similar topic. Though I can’t say that she ever mentioned jousting in lances.”

“Lances for riding at rings are lighter in general, Lady Reyna, and you will have no need to use a shield at the same time either,” replies Tanyth to the query, making it plain enough that she must be one of those Dornish noblewomen who do practice such things. “A steady seat and an ability to manage your horse without using the reins is what is most important. Horsemanship is at the core of such exercises.” For now it seems she is inclined to oblige Aidan’s desire to speak ... safer topics, though that wry smile never quite leaves her lips. Especially not as she turns to Carmella, saying, “You must speak to your mother, Lady Carmella, for some advice on how to manage your brothers.”

“Without using the reins?” Reyna asks, her voice sounding weak again. “I’m competent enough on a horse, but… I shall have to engage a riding master just to avoid embarrassing myself now.” She seems not undone now, but irritated. She looks swiftly at Carmella, frowning. “Did -your- septa ever imply one must go to such lengths?”

As though summoned by Carmella’s mention, Liane slips into the great hall, taking a look around as she steps off to the side of the room. She looks over the dancing pairs, but does not seem inclined to join in, instead following the wall and looking over the remainder of the crowd gathered this evening with a searching, uncertain gaze.

“I fear in some ways our reputation north of the Red Mountains exceeds reality, Lady Carmella,” Aidan comments, though he couches it in a conciliatory tone of voice. “Everyone seems to think that every woman is like Nymeria, leading armies and winning battles. Were it true, well, Dorne would no doubt have remained unbowed.” Then with a faint smile and a sidelong glance to Tanyth, he follows, “But alas, _most_ of our ladies must depend on knights such as myself. It is as the gods willed it.”

“A riding master would be quite appropriate,” he adds to Reyna. “Jousting is three-quarters horsemanship, my lady, though some would prefer not to admit it.”

Carmella looks to Reyna, eyes wide and shaking her head slowly. “But I believe that is because my septa never imagined that I might serve as a lady in waiting to a princess such as Daena,” she says, so glad that said septa isn’t currently here. The woman might have a failing of the heart right here and now. “But it would be ill to refuse the Princess, would it not? Though I do hope she allows for some additional lessons in riding. I too am competent enough to sit a horse for an ordinary ride, but this?” Carmella shakes her head in disbelief.

It’s the same kind of disbelief she shows in looking to Tanyth. “I fear my brothers might have a word or two to say on that. They are men of the Stormlands and I very much doubt they’d be willing to submit to Dornish instruction.”

The quiet entry by yet another Dornishwoman briefly draws Tanyth’s attention away from the small group, and she offers a smile and a dip of her head in Liane’s direction, followed by a gestured invitation to join them. But soon enough she finds herself drawn back into the conversation, as Aidan’s words draw a wry chuckle from her. “How fortunate for you, cousin, and for all other knights,” she dryly notes, though its with a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. To Carmella, however, she speaks rather more seriously a moment later. “That must be difficult for your mother, even though she is an Yronwood.”

“I’ve a nice sturdy palfrey,” Reyna says, nodding to Aidan and running a hand over her head. “She stands thirteen hands, but… will she do for this? I don’t think my brother’s generosity runs to small destriers.”

“Ser Doran seems willing enough to deal with Dornishmen,” Liane chimes in as she reaches the table, flashing a friendly smile towards Carmella before bobbing a slight curtsey towards the others there. “Or Dornishwomen, at least. Cousin,” she greets Tanyth, and then, “Sir Aidan, Lady Reyna, Lady Carmella.” She perks up a bit at the talk of horses, brows rising slightly. “Horses?”

For her troubles, Tanyth recieves a wry look from Aidan, who seems to have recovered from some of his earlier ... difficulties. The new arrival then draws his attention, and he offers a quick bow. “Lady Liane. Yes, apparently Lady Reyna and Lady Carmella have some ... concerns about the expectations of their service to Princess Daena.” Then, turning to the aforementioned ladies, he tells Reyna, “I fear it probably will not. But surely, you might borrow something more suitable from the royal stables? It is, after all, done in royal service.” And then, after a pause, he suggests something a little different. “Surely you could appeal to the princess on the matter? Or, if not that, perhaps her lord uncle, Prince Viserys? I doubt it would please him if his subjects were risking needless harm for a princess’s fancies.”

Carmella is just about to speak to Tanyth when she notes a more familiar face arriving. Smiling warmly to the Uller noblewoman, Carmella laughs a little and shakes her head. “Well yes, my brother doesn’t seem to feel ill towards them, but I don’t imagine he would take well to his sister suddenly acting the part of a Dornish maid and handling him as a Dornishwoman might.” There’s a brief moment before Carmella’s face turns a lovely shade of red and she nearly buries her face in her hands. Her gaze certainly drops from those around her. “Not that I would ever intend to ...” rather than just make it worse, she silences herself and waits for her cheeks to stop burning quite so fiercely.

When she feels able to speak again she clears her throat gently and looks towards Ser Aidan, though not exactly directly at him. “It is not that I am completely unwilling to make the attempt, Ser Aidan. Many in my household would tell you I am far too subborn for such things, but ... Well, the Princess is far more advanced in such skills than I and I fear her expectations of her ladies might be more than what we are actually capable of handling.”

“Cousin Liane,” Tanyth greets her kinswoman, flashing her a quick smile. “Would you believe that Aidan managed to beat me at dice today? Though only since he, gallant though he says he is, would not allow me to bet anything other than coins.” She just had to bring that up again, and when doing so, she casts one of those sly glances at her other cousin, the aforementioned Aidan. Fortunately for him, Carmella’s little misstep then draws her attention and brings a wry grin to the Black Tempest’s lips. “That does not sound like it would be acting the part of a Dornish maid, Lady Carmella.” The stress on that one word is .. distinctive.

Reyna seems quite discomfited by Tanyth’s commentary, but she manages to ignore it—mostly—and continue speaking to Aidan. “I would ask, but it seems such a daring thing to do, and I must confess that it intrigues me. As for the horse, just as you say. I let anxiety get the better of me for a moment.” She glances at Tanyth as if waiting for what the lady will say next.

Liane rolls her eyes good-naturedly at Tanyth’s quip, a smile finding her features with a laugh. “They’re never going to believe we’re harmless at this rate, you know,” she points out lightly, leaning her hip against a chair rather than sitting down. The talk of horses, though, has lit a more thoughtful spark in her eyes. “Perhaps Dornish steeds would be more suited to such pursuits,” she suggests, gaze flicking towards Tanyth and Aidan with a quick smile. “Speed and endurance, after all.”

“Tanyth,” is all Aidan says at first, exchanging a glance with his cousin and quite obvious pleading with Ghost Hill’s notorious daughter for a little propriety. Regardless of the result, he turns to Carmella and says with a certain formality, “Being willing to make the attempt is, surely, not the same as taking such risks as would no doubt displease yourself and your kin if the worst came to pass.” A look to Reyna and he speaks more generally to the two, “Surely, the Hand would hear you out. I cannot see any reasonable cause for him to reject such a request. After all, in some sense the princess and her siblings are all his wards.”

He half-hears Liane’s remark to Tanyth before he adds solicitously “If you do not wish to make the request in your own person, I should be glad to make the attempt on your behalf, ladies. The Hand has no cause to love me, but I hope I have given him no reason to dismiss me without hearing me out.”

That, alas, provides a hint of a spark for the volatile temper that Tanyth also is known for in Dorne. Fortunately, she is fond enough of her cousin to simply shoot him a sharp glance, punctuated by a derisive snort. “Cousin dear, why would you think you need to give him a reason to be dismissive of you?” She, quite clearly, is not one of the hostages who has meekly accepted that particular faith, and there’s a distinct edge of anger in her voice. The next moment, however, it is all but gone as she speaks to Liane, saying, “I do think you have the right of that, Liane. I have not found anything here to compare with a Dornish steed. Especially when it comes to endurance.” Indeed, now that anger is all gone, and once more her tone of voice is slyly amused.

“Noooooo…” Reyna says musingly to Aidan’s offer. “You are so very kind, Ser Aidan, to offer, but I need a riding master in any event, and the more I think of it, the more challenging it seems. Bit more invigorating that needlepoint, anyway. But if Carmella…?” She raises a brow at her young friend, then looks finally to Liane. “Lady Liane. How nice to see you again.”

Reyna seems to have quite gotten over her reticence for the Dornish.

Quick-paced dancing music—fiddles, drums, and flutes—drift out into the night even through the keep’s thick walls, and the occasion noble arrives drawn by the promise of entertainment. If so, they join a few dozen others spread throughout the great hall—some dancing, yes, but others merely talkig, or playing at tiles or dice, or even (yes) needlework.

One group, of a Dornishman, two Dornishwomen, and two other noblewomen, seems quite caught up in talk with one another.

Carmella isn’t quite sure where to look at this moment. She still bears a smile for Liane but that is often traded for a somewhat cautious look towards Tanyth. Aidan’s response once again brings a faint smile to her lips, this one a look of appreciation but before she answers she casts a sideways glance to Reyna, who is in the same situation as she is in regards to Princess Daena’s desires.

“You are far too kind, Ser Aidan and you are certainly an asset to your House, no doubt. But if I have a problem I’d prefer not to hide in the shadow of someone else and let them work it out for me. I have no doubt the Hand would listen to my complaints, if I had such, and be reasonable in his response. Am I nervous? Yes. I will not lie, but,” she pauses and looks to Reyna again, smiling a little more. “As Lady Reyna has already mentioned it is a challenge and I do not back down from them easily. Now, in a couple of weeks I might regret this decision when my skin is bruised in a rainbow of horrific shades, but for now I will make attempts to quash my fears.”

Liane manages a polite smile for Reyna, but she seems perfectly content to avoid a direct engagement with the other lady. “If you’d like, Lady Carmella, I would be glad to ride with you through the Keep,” she offers. “Some riding is skill and training, but a fair portion of it is simply shaping the body to deal with it. Practice makes perfect, as with other things.”

What whimsy brings Rurik into the Great Hall perhaps only the Drowned God knows. While there are ornaments aplenty fit for plunder, the security apparatus of the Targaryen police state would not look kindly on their removal. And so as the Ironborn pirate enters the room with a swagger, he can only gaze somewhat covetously up at the auroch horns. His eyes sweep over the assembled group of nobles, Dornish and otherwise, and murmurs, “I don’t know when they turned this hall into a nursery, but it seems the children are ripening well.”

With nothing but obvious insolence in his eyes and on his lips, he interjects himself into the conversation from afar, “I’ll bet the lady could use a riding master indeed.”

Briefly, the lips beneath his rather bold nose are pursed, first at Tanyth’s sharp remark and then at Carmella’s response. But he knows the one, and ignores her gibe with as much grace as he can, and responds to the other with acquiescence. “As you say, Lady Carmella,” he murmurs, with a brief nod. He starts to speak, saying, “If you wish some assistance, I am accounted a good lance—” That’s when a new voice becomes party to the conversation, and he falls silent as he turns a little stiffly to see who it might be.

The appreciation that Carmella had shown for Aidan is doubly given to Liane. “Lady Liane, I would be most appreciative of your company and any instruction that you might be able to provide. Certainly my brother would be more accepting of than arrangement.” There is a tinge of regret in her voice. It isn’t heavy, but it lingers a bit. The girl is no longer a child and there are some desires that cannot be killed just because a brother wills it so. And just with that, the Dornish knight makes the offer as well and there’s a glimmer of amusement in her eyes, but she blinks and it disappears. “Again, Ser Aidan, you are quite generous. I would not refuse any offer that might keep me in my saddle instead of in the dirt,” she says. With another look to Reyna she adds, “Perhaps Lady Reyna might join is as well.”

Reyna turns as well, her eyes flashing. “Yes, to be sure,” she says absently to Carmella as she searches for the speaker of such a ribald comment. Her eyes fall on Rurik, and narrow slightly, then she turns haughtily away.

There’s a flicker of a wry smile that touches Liane’s lips reflexively when the obvious bawdy joke is made, though it fades when she turns to find the source, eyes narrowing curiously on the unfamiliar figure. After a moment, she too turns back to the rest of the group, clearing her throat with a faint smile. “No doubt Sir Aidan would be a better instructor if it’s lances you’re interested in,” she continues. “But I would be glad for a chance to exercise myself, and company in which to do it.”

“You have the right of it, Lady Carmella. Ser Aidan is indeed far too kind,” interjects Tanyth, though then she too finds herself distracted by the remark from the new arrival. Turning to see who it might be, her dark gaze falls upon an unfamiliar face, prompting a sharp-eyed study of the man in question. An amused smirk quirks her lips, an echo of which lingers as she looks back to Carmella, adding, “In fact, if Ser Aidan was a little less kind, he would be an even greater asset to us all. But it is certainly true that he is accounted a fine lance indeed. He knows how to handle himself.”

Outlandish garb and outlandish manners are not so common at court as one might think, despite King’s Landing being so large. Finding himself distracted, Aidan gives the ladies a quick, forced smile and a bow of his head. “As Tanyth said, no doubt there are many knights who would offer assistance; I can only say that I have offered first, and not that I would be best,” he says, before turning back to give the stranger a long, hard-eyed study.

Then he says aloud, with practiced formality, “My lord, you are impertinent. You have not even introduced yourself, although it is clear that none of us here have had the pleasure.”

Rurik studies the glitterati somewhat more carefully, taking his time of it. His examination is quite thorough, but his eyes seem marginally more directed at Tanyth than any other. Somewhat grudgingly, courtesy obliges him to address the knight that addresses him. “Masters of riding, masters of the lance. Perhaps I would have been a knight, were I also fixated on the crossing of swords.”

Rurik advances a few steps closer, “I am Rurik the Raven, the finest singer in all the Seven Kingdoms. My bitch is the sea, but worry not, for she is not a jealous mistress.”

“A Raven who sings prettily? That is something new and unusual, at least,” remarks Tanyth then, and inclines her head smoothly to Rurik, a wryly amused grin playing on her lips. “Your mistress must indeed be quite laid back about keeping you, to have you stray away from her like this. But I gather you are not here to offer your expertise as a riding master then?” Turning back to Aidan, she flashes him a quick smile too. “Cousin dear, you are too modest, as always. But that is what we always end up arguing about, is it not?”

Reyna’s cheeks are burning brightly as she retreats before Rurik’s advance, coming to stand nearer Carmella and Liane. “I’ll lay you odd’s he’s of the Iron Isles,” she muttters to the ladies. “His affrontery is even bolder than most, I’ll say that for him.”

Liane settles an elbow on the back of the chair in front of her, propping her chin up on the heel of her hand as she looks between those at the table and the latest newcomer. After a moment, she drops the hand, straightening a bit. “And as we know you,” she interjects, gesturing around the table. “Ser Aidan Dayne, Lady Tanyth Toland, Lady Reyna Rowan, Lady Carmella Dondarrion, and Lady Liane Uller,” she concludes, a wry amusement deepening her smile at one corner at Reyna’s words. “What a bad bet that would be,” she murmurs under her breath.

Dark brows lower as Aidan responds with a stiff nod after Liane provides an introduction on his behalf. “My lord of Greyjoy,” he says curtly, “you are far from your isles.” He certainly recognizes the name, but then the isle of Starfall has had its visitations from ironmen in the past. That might well explain the shortness…

“As you say, my lady,” he says, turning to Tanyth. “No doubt it’s a disappointment.”

Carmella’s dark eyes watch the advancing man warily, more so as Reyna steps closer to her and speaks on him. The Dondarrion girl nods to Reyna, but her eyes don’t leave Rurik, as if expecting him to do something rather improper and unexpected if she might perhaps turn away. She does offer the faintest of nods with Liane’s introductions as her name is said. Leaning towards Reyna she nods again. “I’ve heard some tales, she murmurs,” though her voice doesn’t suggest that those tales are exactly inspiring.

Noticing Reyna’s blush, Rurik does not allow the chance to toss a wink in her direction to escape. “No matter how rough her caress,” Rurik responds to Tanyth, “I always tame her and steer safely to port. And she never minds if I make a gift of pearls to my other loves.”

He pauses for a moment, not content to halt: “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintances.” The already thick smile upon his face widens. “I confess that I have already enjoyed some of the charms of Dorne. We on the Iron Islands are prone to noting you were only invaded because you refused to share your finest riches with the rest of us.”

“You’re very bold,” Reyna says tartly to Rurik, anger flashing in her brown eyes and the color fading from her face. “I think the sea has dried up your manners.” She tosses her head and turns very pointedly away from the Iron Islander.

“Really,” she says to Carmella and Liane, sitting down and drumming her fingers on the tabletop. “From one vexation to another, each worse than the last.”

“Mmm, but the question is begged: Did the charms of Dorne enjoy you?” Liane’s inspection of the Iron Islander perhaps lacks some of Tanyth’s focus or raw emotion, instead bearing a sort of desert dry amusement. Willing enough to abandon the answer though, she looks towards Reyna as the other woman sits back down. “The Keep does seem smaller every day, doesn’t it?” she murmurs, finally moving to sit herself.

“Such generosity must surely mark a most gallant man, knighted or not,” says Tanyth to that, having heard Rurik’s response, and her skin of dusky olive shows no sign of being touched by a blush. But then again, her own tongue seems predisposed to ribald talk as well. Fortunately for Aidan, she’s not turning it on him at the moment. Flashing him a smile, she says, “Still, cousin dear, I love you well, as does my brother. We have learned to appreciate you.”

“One must begin to wonder if they can be avoided at all,” Carmella responds to Reyna, again leaning her head towards the other noblewoman while keeping an eye on Rurik, but the look isn’t what one might call inviting. Again, innuendo goes over her head more often than not, but she can gauge enough by Reyna’s reactions and words to get an idea. A small smile emerges at Liane’s remark and it seems that the Dondarrion maid is keeping an ear open, learning as she’s led into uncharted waters.

“The hour grows late enough,” Ser Aidan remarks suddenly, mouth now having tended to a hard, thin line, “that I, at least, shall retire for the evening. My ladies, it has been a pleasure.” A bow follows. “My lord.” And then a curt nod. And last of all, to Tanyth he remarks, “Shall I escort you, Tanyth? Or must I ask you to escort me, perhaps?” A little humor, but the young knight is presently unsmiling.

“I may be the one singing when I arrive, but it’s usually a chorus by the time I leave,” he responds to Liane. From his body language, it seems as though he might do the unthinkable and actually take a place at the table.

“When I walked into the room the conversation talked on endurance, Ser Knight. It is good to see that while you may have me in years, it is still the Raven who endures. Goodnight to you.”

For a moment, a flash of disappointment crosses Tanyth’s face, but it is replaced quickly enough with a pleasant smile. “I would not have minded staying a little longer, but since I have just proclaimed my affection for you, cousin, I could hardly let you retire on your own.” With perfect polish and grace, she gives him her hand, “Please, Ser Aidan, do escort me back to the tower.” Before the pair can leave, however, the Black Tempest’s smiles wryly at Rurik’s words, remarking, “Ah, but look what he walks away with.” And then they’re off, she at a saunter that still keeps pace with Aidan’s more determined strides.

“Endurance in regards to horses,” Liane laughs, brow arching with amusement. “If you look to compare yourself to horses in that way, I’ll keep an ear open for those choruses.” She flashes a grin after Aidan and Tanyth, shaking her head slightly. “Good evening, Ser Aidan, cousin,” she calls after them, murmuring under her breath again with a soft laugh. “That poor man.”

Reyna regards the Greyjoy with suspicion over the rim of her wine goblet. “Can we be of some assistance to you?” she asks, for politeness’s sake.

“Fair evening to you both,” Carmella says to both Aidan and Tanyth as they make their departures, tearing her gaze from Rurik long enough to do so properly. She’s even able to bring forth a smile in her farewell, though when they are heading of the hall her smile dims a little. “She seems quite ... spirited,” Carmella notes to Liane with a nod of her chin in the departing Dornishwoman’s direction as her fingers reach for her goblet. With only a sip or two left she finishes her glass and looks around for a steward to refill it for her.

A distant whistling approaches from the depths of the keep, accompanied by swift footfalls. It is a strange, discordant tune, enough to set one’s teeth on edge—save that under it lurk hints of a wild, skirling melody.

They grow nearer, the whistling and the footfalls, and then a tall, lean man all in black steps through an arched doorway, his cloak cast carelessly over a shoulder.

“As a matter of fact, my lady, you can be of great assistance to me. You have something I greatly desire.” Rurik takes a seat at the table without asking permission, and lets his eyes lower from Reyna’s face. “A glass of wine would work wonders for me. This place, for all its drafts…” Rurik turns on instinct as a slight gust tickles his neck, spying the man in black, “is terribly stuffy nonetheless.”

“The Black Tempest, they call her,” Liane supplies for Carmella, smile wry. “And it seems she has her eye set on Ser Aidan, in one way or another. Poor man doesn’t have a snowball’s chance at noon in the desert if she decides to do something about it.” Rurik’s request of Reyna draws a curious glance, brow arching as she waits for Reyna’s reaction, leaning back just a bit. Just in case.

“There are stewards for that,” Reyna snaps, looking displeased as she self-conciously checks the set of her neckline—modest—with a pale hand. Nevertheless, she beckons for more wine, and drains her own cup in a shockingly long draught.

The whistling trails off on a rising note as the black-clad man finds himself not the only one in a hall. He glances at the women, then casually at the man, already beginning to turn away—but there he stays and his eyebrows rise.

“A Greyjoy, a Greyjoy and thrice a Greyjoy.”

And then, inconsequentially to himself, “Poxy, you canny bastard.”

Carmella’s brows rise quite high as Liane fills in some details about the aforementioned Tempest woman and she looks from Reyna and Rurik to the door, through the two Dornish hostages are long gone. “So, she has a well-known reputation for being ... spirited?” It seems to be the new word for the Dondarrion girl when she needs be polite of one’s behavior. She sends a quick smile to Liane and returns her attention to Reyna and Rurik, curiousity winning out. Ser Amond, Carmella personal guard, has wandered closer to the table, watching them closely, but since all that have been exchanged are a few words he doesn’t do anything. He does seem a bit annoyed, however and tries in vain to catch Carmella’s attention.

The combination of an attentive staff and a noblewoman pleading his case serve to hasten the apparition of a goblet of wine in Rurik’s hand. He sniffs it langorously. Though he has spent a life at sea, his hand nevetheless has an uncanny nimbleness more befitting a panderer at the pleasurehouses of Lys. Rurik raises the glass to the voice behind him, squinting to make out who the man addressing him is, “Is it brawns before brains over there, or does your seeing triple mean I need to catch up.” The wine disappears down his long neck.

“More wine,” he bellows to the stewarts. “And you there,” he calls to Dagur, “Come join us. I’m about to teach these ladies the finest drinking songs in all the Free Cities.”

“Quite,” Liane nods to Carmella with a flicker of a smile. “Dornishwomen are even shocked on occasion,” she winks. Dagur’s arrival is noted then, and Liane leans back in her chair with a slow, amused smile, settling herself where she can see Reyna, Rurik, and Dagur as much as possible. She even gestures for a glass of wine herself, ready to sit back and observe.

The Highgarden lass looks almost relieved to see Dagur. “Ser Dagur, good evening,” she says breathily as she is handed a third glass of wine. “It would seem your, er, countryman has invited himself to tea.” She treats Rurik to a withering glare, then gestures toward one of the remaining seats. “Do sit and join us, ser.”

“Really?” Carmella seems surprised by Liane’s comments on Lady Tanyth, perhaps stories she’s heard have just been proven false? “She certainly did have some colorful language,” the Dondarrion girl notes before she holds out her glass to the waiting steward. She gives him the briefest smiles before her attention swings back to the conversation and, more importantly, new arrivals to the Hall.

You paged Jyana with ‘Oh, well Aidan and Taynth have left, both Aidan and LIane have offered their instruction in making Carm a better horsewoman. Now Rurik has just sat at our table, Dagur just walked over and Almer and Jonn have just walked in the room. Carmella’s caught between feeling uncomfortable and curious. :)’

“Are you, then? Finger dance and all?”

The black-clad man makes his unhurried way to the table, snagging a goblet from an advancing attendant on his way. “Have a care,” he nods to Reyna in greeting. “When Rurik the Raven sings, mischief is afoot.”

“Maybe,” a deep raised voice comes from outside, “you ought to waddle your fat ass back down the Iron Way—” a dramatic pause, “and put those tits to some good use!”

A loud horrendous shrieking follows.

A moment later, Jonn Lannister strides through the door, face flushed, deep red wine clutched in his right hand.

“It seems to be on many feet this evening,” Liane observes with some amusement, taking a sip of her wine once it’s poured. “It just padded out on Lady Tanyth feet, and now it returns…” She pauses, smile slipping crooked as Jonn makes his appearance. “Three-fold.” Chuckling softly, she shakes her head and looks towards the other women in the room to gauge their state.

It is obvious that the name Dagur, especially when prefixed with the knightly formality, is known to Rurik. He stares at the new arrival intently. “Last I saw you, “cousin” - this title is delivered ironicaly, “You were no taller than your grandmother’s teats.” His latest words seem to harmonize with Jonn’s, who cannot help but inspire a beaming smile in Rurik, a degenerate proud of all his brothers-in-arms.

“Have any of you ladies ever seen a knight so fine as our very own Ser Dagur?” he asks of the group, taking a pull of wine.

For her part, Reyna seems most inclined to hide behind her goblet. The bawdy talk and the wine has put color back in her cheeks. “Three-fold indeed,” she murmurs to Liane. “If this isn’t a receipt for wildfire, I don’t know what is.”

Fortunately, or perhaps quite unfortunately, Carmella doesn’t know these men, though she had seen Jonn outside her chambers for a brief moment or two. She doesn’t have the same kind of reaction being shown by Reyna, but she does squirm a little in her seat, a sign of some discomfort. She still ignores Ser Amond and for all her discomfort she doesn’t look as if she’s about to leave any time soon. Instead she calmly sips from her wine. “You think there will be fighting,” she quietly asks of Reyna, glancing to each man in turn.

“And last I saw you, nuncle mine,” replies the Iron Serpent amiably, “you were eyeing my grandmother’s teats.”

He seems to be in a strange mood, the ironborn knight; there is nothing of his usual laconic self in his manner. Even Jonn’s entrance—though it draws a faint grimace—fails to darken his mood. “Lady Liane,” he greets the Dornishwoman then, and a silent nod to her companion.

“Oh, I doubt there will be fisticuffs,” Reyna says after another long drink of wine. “But they will surely blister our ears with obscenity until we wish we could pummel them ourselves.”

“I find it most strange,” Liane muses to the other women, “That I need never actually /instigate/ any sort of excitement here. I was under the impression that these northern lands would, of necessity, be rather dull.” She eyes the trio of Rurik, Dagur, and Jonn. “Clearly I was mistaken.” After another sip of wine, she clears her throat to answer Rurik with a wry smile. “Ser Dagur is certainly a knight of a different stripe.” A glance towards Jonn, bemused. “There are many different stripes of knights here.”

Rurik drinks deeply from his cup and banters back jovially, “Perhaps, Ser Dagur. But you can rest assured that a chivalrous man such as myself would never speak with disrespect of the women he knows from the Iron Islands, be they your grandmother or even your mother the Lady Rina.” He urges Dagur to approach, beckoning with his free hand. “Come join us here. It looks as though the Lady Liane is easily bored with the idle chatter of court and would rather come gamble in the backalleys of Flea Bottom with the Raven.” He finishes his cup and calls for another. “So come join us, lest the evening begin to be tiresome.”

Carmella smiles at Liane briefly as she sips from her wine, as if there was nothing amiss going on around them. “It seems you’ll never be at a loss for the unexpected here, Lady Liane. King’s Landing seems to draw men and women of all sorts.” And right here is the obvious testiment to that. “Of course, I imagine my brother wouldn’t be to pleased to know I was here,” she continues, smirking almost as she looks towards Ser Amond. “So we won’t tell him.”

“Oh, the diversions of Kings Landing are innumerable,” Reyna says with a slow smile, nodding at Carmella and Liane. “Sometimes just sitting and watching is the best fun of all!”

With that, she drains her cup. Again.

The wine bottle’s cork strikes the ground, spit from the Lannister’s mouth with force.

He raises the bottle to his lips then, taking a long draw and wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve.

“Incoming,” he says, lifting his leg and fanning his buttocks with his free hand.

“He won’t hear from me,” Liane promises Carmella, raising her glass to the other woman before sipping once more. “Your words are more true than you know,” she smirks at Rurik, though Jonn’s antics get a sidelong glance. “Thankfully, we have Ser Jonn here to provide the full…atmosphere without leaving the safety of the keep.”

“Would she?”

The ironborn knight perches on a chair’s arm; he seems somewhat distracted, an eye on Jonn: “I would think she is tired enough of putting her fate in others’ hands to try her hand at games of luck. A fickle mistress, that. Even more so than your sea, nuncle. At least a man can decide his own fate when he has a sword in his hand.”

Rurik cannot avoid letting out a chuckle in response to Jonn, no humour too base for him. “When you roll with the Raven,” he replies, “you never lose.” He then murmurs something only vaguely audible about the knights and their obsession with swords-in-hand and such, before springing to his feet to hunt down a wine steward directly.

To no one in particular: “besides, it never hurts to know a sea captain and smuggler if you’re interested in travelling to distant lands.”

Looking disinclined to fill her glass again, Reyna pushes the goblet away. “Well, ladies, keep your retainers close by you. Carmella, I’ll see you in the lists.” She gets to her feet a trifle unsteadily, but her turning to Dagur is graceful enough.

She watches him a moment as she speaks to Rurik and then, as if no one else were in the room at all, she reaches out to touch his cheek with her fingertips. “Always so sad, Ser Dagur,” she murmurs, shaking her head and pulling her hand back.

She snaps her fingers then, and speaks to the page who jumps to her summons. “I’ve a guard—hic!—outside, in the Tyrell green and gold. Pray tell him to attend me at once.”

“It’s less the games of chance and more the chance for a moment of freedom that draws my mind to other places, Ser Dagur,” Liane admits, leaning into one corner of her chair, chin rising slightly towards Rurik, though she doesn’t take the bait. Pensive, she gives her glass a gentle swirl as she looks up towards Reyna’s departure. “Good evening, Lady Reyna,” she murmurs, though she watches the departing page to make sure the guard /does/ come for the other lady.

“I look forward to your company,” Carmella says after Reyna, watching the woman get to her feet and watching her nervously as she seems to be in less than steady on her feet. Considering the group that has gathered, Carmella’s worry might very well be justified. But worry or not, there’s obvious surprise at Reyna’s attentions to Dagur and she looks to Liane to see if the other lady is as startled as she feels. Her fingers play along the stem of her goblet but when a steward arrives with an offer to top off her glass she shakes her head.

“So you’re a gambling man?” Jonn asks of Rurik as he slumps down into a nearby chair.

Before a docile wine steward has time to react, Rurik has exchanged his empty cup for a full bottle, not one to go half way. The bottle is tucked under his arm

“I know a few tricks,” he replies to Jonn. “If you ever tire of this place, come find me at my rooms at the Maiden’s Blush and I’ll be happy to take some of that famous Lannister gold off you.”

He takes a few steps towards the exit and addresses the noblewomen still present, “You’ll excuse me, my ladies, but there are a few other ladies that require my attention.”

“That’s not what Alvyn…,” the Iron Serpent begins—only to pause suddenly, his hand rising cat-swift to catch Reyna’s.

Or begin to; he stops the reflexive action with an effort a heartbeat later. But her words seem to disconcert him strangely, his gaze flickering. A brief silence and then he pushes away from the chair, setting the half-empty goblet on the table.

“Flea Bottom will earn you a slit throat, not freedom,” he tells Liane; it is apparent that the easy-going mood of but a moment past is lost. “Not even goldcloaks are always safe there.”

With that and a nod, he strides away without a second look at Rurik or Jonn.

“I’ve never lost a bet,” is Jonn’s confident response.

“Isn’t that right, Ser—” but his words trail off as the Iron Serpent is gone.

Liane raises her glass in farewell to Rurik, bemused. “And a good evening to you as well,” she offers lightly. If she’s shocked by Reyna’s gesture, it doesn’t show, a brief, reassuring smile offered towards Carmella.

The Tyrell guard does come, and Reyna departs with his support, and without looking to see Dagur’s reaction.

Carmella finishes off the last of her wine and watches as more and more people take their leave. “Perhaps we will need be more entertaining next time,” Carmella says to Liane with a half smile, though some of her discomfort is still evident. It is obvious she doesn’t know how to speak to men such as these. “Though if they are seeking out ladies company at the Maiden’s Blush, then perhaps we were on the losing end from the beginning.”

“These knights. Heroes during mock combats, too craven to go forth into the city.” Rurik’s words are a mixture of both amusement and contempt. A dagger sneaks out from a sleeve to uncork his bottle in a quick action before returning from whence it came. The Raven takes a swig of wine, returning Liane’s gesture before continuing upon his way.

“You are Doran Dondarrion’s sister?” Jonn asks, standing slowly from his chair, his eyes locked on Carmella.

Carmella looks up from her empty wine glass and her voice is instantly wary at the question. “Yes,” she says slowly, sitting up a little straighter in her chair. She’s not defensive, not yet, but there’s obvious caution around her. Given how her brother’s name has been bandied around and how he’s behaved recently, it isn’t all that surprising.

Liane straightens slightly when Jonn starts towards Carmella, taking a sip of her wine before setting the glass aside. She watches the Lannister with a wary gaze, posture changing slightly to align herself more with the other woman.

But Jonn does not move forward, he merely stands and stretches his back languidly. “And yet,” he says, his voice filled with mirth, “you have not insulted me? I admire your restraint.”

Carmella circles the rim of her goblet with her finger and then pulls her hand away, settling it in her lap with its mate. “My brother’s quarrels, whatever they might be with you, good Ser, are his own to fight. Unless you’ve paid some imsult to me that I’ve not been made aware of?” Carmella tilts her head, eyes locked on the Lannister knight.

Ah, there it is. The obligatory eyeroll, delivered as Liane leans back in her chair once more, apparently judging Jonn more nuisance than threat this evening. The glass is reclaimed, and another sip taken.

“Of course I have, dear girl,” Jonn says, laughing as he retakes his seat. “But I wouldn’t have, had I known Ser Doran’s sister was nothing like his own self.”

Carmella lifts her chin ever so slightly as she stares at Jonn Lannister. When there’s a larger group she seems less at ease, but now that the number has shrunk considerably, she seems more able to handle herself. “Since we had not been made fully aware of each other before this evening, unless you count that exceedingly brief encounter outside my chambers, I find it remarkable that you could imagine that I was enough like my brother to feel I warranted insulting.” She smiles a tiny bit, but it is not one of amusement. “Pray tell me, whatever could you have said about me?”

“Ser Jonn, the occasionally accidentally charming,” Liane murmurs into her glass, still wary, but less so now. For the moment, she appears to be content to watch and sip at her wine.

“The usual,” Jonn says nonchalantly. If he notes that her smile is not amused, it doesn’t register in his expression. “I hear Ser Doran’s sister is this or that. Campfire chatter. Nothing you need concern yourself about, though I imagine your brother would be none too happy to hear of it.” There seems to be a subtle suggestion there, or perhaps not. All expression is lost as Jonn tries to finish off his bottle of wine.

If that’s a suggestion that she should run off and rat Jonn out to her brother, Carmella doesn’t take it. “I imagine the life and stories you’ve told of me are far more thrilling than anything I could have hoped to have done,” she responds, reaching for her goblet, only to remember with her hand halfway to the cup that it’s empty. Her hand retreats. “There are many things, however, that are true that I’m sure my brother is none too happy to hear.” She tilts her head towards the rest of this room. “Your company, I imagine, would be among those and yet here I am.”

“Oh, I suspect the things Ser Jonn suggests you’ve been doing are things you’re not quite aware are anatomically possible right now, Lady Carmella,” Liane muses, though she’s looking more at Jonn than at the other lady, expression dry. “Whether or not that’s /thrilling/, per se…” She trails off, drinking again before setting her wine aside.

“Was it a horse or a goat,” Jonn says, slumping farther in his chair, resting the wine bottle on his thigh, “that is the question. As for anatomically possible,” he says, looking at Liane, “I would hardly know, being as devout in prayer to the Maid as I am.” Again, the wine bottle hides his eyes.

Carmella tries not to show her disgust at the idea, but it can’t be helped. Her chin drops and her face wrinkles in revulsion at the mere mention. “Well, perhaps not thrilling,” Carmella concedes, looking over at Liane briefly. Looking back at Jonn she remains seated, but her hands move to the chair’s arms, as if preparing to stand. “So, is this when I’m meant to slap you, Ser Jonn?” The question is asked with feigned innocence and still she doesn’t move.

A laconic shrug. “Please do,” Jonn says nearly gleefully, “I haven’t been slapped in so long.” He sighs wistfully. “Just screaming, yelling, and stamping about. I could do for a nice slap.”

“But oh, how you wish you knew.” Liane smirks over at Jonn, shaking her head. Carmella’s look is met with a sympathetic roll of her eyes, a brief, dismissive wave towards the man. “There’s nothing to be gained from slapping him, Lady Carmella. It’s not likely to change him, nor will it hurt him enough to make it worthwhile.”

Carmella looks again to Liane and nods. “True. And he seems to be willing to accept it, so that in and of itself makes me less inclined to do so.” Carmella looks back at Jonn and smiles a bit more, amused now. “But no, I suppose you will have to suffer the screaming, yelling, and stamping about with the addition of a slap. I’m sure my brother, however, would be more than willing to deliver some punishment to you for your crude insults at my honor.” There’s a pause. “If he was to learn of them, of course. But he seems to be absent, so you are spared that as well.”

“I’ve a trueborn son,” says Jonn, flipping his wrist dismissively at Liane. “I’ve no more need for thrill.”

Then, to Carmella, “Punish me? Yes, I suppose if he challenges me in the lists one more time this week I will feel properly chastised.”

“Attention only feeds him, Lady Carmella,” Liane muses with a knowing look towards Jonn, rising from her chair. “I’m afraid it’s time I made my way back to my quarters, though. Take care, Lady Carmella, and a good evening to you. Ser Jonn,” she adds with a polite nod.

“Then he will have to do it on his own, Ser Jonn and for his own reasons.” Carmella finally gets to her feet and brushes her hands down her skirt, though there seems to be no reason to do so. “I rarely speak to him as it is, I’m certainly not going trouble him with some other pitiful reason that might make him feel I am being improperly looked after.” She pauses and looks over at Liane, giving her a smile. “A good evening, Lady Liane. We shall go riding soon, I promise.”

“He will,” Jonn says confidently, rising to his own feet. For a man who has drunk an entire bottle of wine in a relatively short span, he is rather balanced. But then, he is Wineskin Jonn. “Time for me to return to the manse,” he says abruptly, brushing a bit of dust off his front. He raises the bottle in mock salute. “Here’s to not getting lost and robbed on the way back!” Then he moves swiftly away and out of the room.

“Soon,” Liane agrees with Carmella, nodding once with a swift smile. Once Jonn leaves, she waits a few moments to give him time to get out of the keep and to a different part of the yard before she, too, departs the keep in favor of the safety of the Dornish tower.

Finding herself more or less alone, Carmella finally acknowledges Ser Amond’s presence enough to give him a nod before she turns and heads back to Maegor’s and her own apartments, though she does keep an eye out, uncertain if she’ll come across anything unexpected along the way.

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