Sunlight is sparse in the Kingswood, much of the forest floor denied it by the canopy above. Signs of a recent rain can be found everywhere, water dripping from trees above, sounds of it here and there where it’s collected into small areas of runoff seeking lower elevations. The wind may overshadow that, strong and fierce today as it leaves branches swaying, creaking more in the distance, autumn-colored leaves collecting where they will after being blown about.
In spite of that, it’s not the worst day for a small hunt for those who are prepared. After gathering at the lodge to finalize preparations to go out to the trails, the party moves out on foot and horseback as needed, various huntsmen already deeper in the woods to wait for the rest. Meanwhile, fires are kept burning back at the lodge, some cooking and baking already with the expectation of more to be added once the men and women return.
A particular clearing has been deemed best for today’s game, consisting of rabbit and grouse. This would be known given the fact the plans included bows and birds of prey, no boar’s spears or anything of that nature. There were reasons to keep things small this time.
Even Janden Melcolm, the Royal Huntsman, has come with a hawk one of the huntsmen keeps at the ready with hood and jess, a leather glove tucked into the knight’s hunting leathers at his left side until needed. He’s dismounted from his horse, tied off at the edge of the clearing as he consults with a couple huntsmen for an update on their preparations, nodding afterward. Though the area around them has been scouted and judged safe, a sword is visible at the Valeman’s side. Given what happened outside Storm’s End, one can never be too careful.
Malwyn Hightower is nearby, also dressed for the hunt and ready to assist, though the squire does not have anything special with him for the hunt itself. Janden looks back toward the rest to see how they’re coming along, waiting for them to gather fully into this section of the clearing.
Since only small fry was planned for this hunt Ser Josmyn Reyne was given gracious permission by his betrothed to participate as she did not need to fear her soon-to-be-groom being skewered by a boar’s mighty tusks. The Reyne is now riding with his squire and two retainers, chattering among themselves about this or that until Josmyn gestures for them to be quiet as they near the clearing. No need to scare the prey with loud prattle now.
After ensuring that skewering would not occur until the wedding day, Alyce Bar Emmon continued to busy herself with nuptial preparations, rather than harp on Josmyn. He even convinced her to join the hunt to take a break from planning. Well, she joined, but there are no promises as to the other. Even as everyone gathers, she is rattling off a list of things yet to do to her loyal maid, Melaen.
Ser Astos Corbray is among those nobles who are joining the hunt today. He arrives on his dark brown courser, wearing light leather armour and a woollen cloak in light grey with the sign of his House embroidered onto it: three ravens in flight, each holding a red heart on a field of white - probably the needlework of his wife Lady Belissa who is notably absent.
The Corbray knight brings his steed to a halt and dismounts swiftly, casting a quick glance around the clearing until the gaze of his grey-blue eyes finally settles on Ser Janden. Although he obviously left his wife in the Red Keep another old companion is present: his sword, safely stowed away in its sheath hanging from his black leather belt. The quiver and the bow he is carrying both seem not to have been used too much recently.
Slightly leaning on the large decorative longbow of gold and oak - the prize of last archery tournament he won- ser Albyn Crane scans the small group of nobles that had gathered today for the hunt. His pale blue eyes stand attentive and there’s a sense of a starting smile in the corners of his mouth now the rain had ended. He doesn’t stand far from the -soon to be Reyne- couple while his squire Haston remains near as well, carrying his knight’s shortbow as well and two quivers with arrows around his shoulder. The boy is studying a rather strange arrowhead and just like his master, he only carries a dagger, confident in the safety provided by the Kingswood company.
Orene Lefford rides with the party, chatting about nothing in particular with her accompanying handmaiden. There is a leather hawking glove tucked into a bag at her side, but she does not actually have a hawk with her, not wanting to embarrass herself in front of the likely more skilled hunters in attendance. She’s dressed in a heavy burgundy hood, drawn up over her head to protect her from the wet, dripping leaves. Her redgold hair trails down the front of her shoulders, loosely braided.
Atop a large old courser, Andred rides. The horse slogs through the damp earth near the rear of the column. He still wears his mail and surcoat and they clamor all the same. He seems very ill-equipped for the hunt. At his side, his actual warhammer bounces. He has no bow, no bird (apart from his sigil), and no spear. It would seem he has come to hunt pirates not game. A few others dressed in Arryn livery seem to be enjoying the hunt; never one for hunts himself, Andred does not. His eyes watch them and no others for now.
Arriving on a grey horse, Eon was going to live up to his name and join this hunt. He regularly hunted in the Vale, but today he was going to get some practice with falconry. On his gauntlet was a hooded falcon, ready to release it when the hunt began. Eon had heard of the issue at Storm’s End, so on his hip he wore his sword, though if they were fortunate he would not need it. He kept his eyes open for his sister, having heard she would be present today.
One knight amongst the party, it seems, has no desire to hunt. Ammon Massey is dressed in his worn riding leathers, his plain but well-cared-for sword hanging from his hip. Strangely, perhaps, he does not wear a surcoat bearing his house’s sigil, as is his habit. He has ridden in silence for the most part, lost in his own thoughts, with only that sword to put paid to the game. He carries no bow, nor any arrows—not that he could draw a bow: his right shoulder and a long swath across his chest are still visibly bandaged under his leathers.
Ammon’s squire, however, is prepared. Benther Estermont carries a bow, more arrows than any fifteen year old boy could need, and attentively watches the forest for any sign of game.
The additional pair of knees, Lady Bessa tends to show at some occasion at court seems to have completely vanished in secure and fluid movements. With a wide smile and her pale cheeks blushed with excitement, she rides gracefully on a tall dappled grey gelding. Her gown, as always in sylvan colours, allows her all movement that will be needed on a hunt like this. She carries an adorned shortbow of horn and wood with her, as well as a quiver filled with silvery befeathered arrows on her hip. Her rebellious curls are well subdued in a braid and her cloak, glistening with tiny raindrops, is closed by a buckle shaped as five fanned arrows.
In plain black skirts, a black cloak, and just the hints of the deep red color of her bodice peeking out from the gaps of the cloak, Elrone Darklyn rides a bit nervously. The calamity of the last hunt is still on her mind- and in fact her attire is not dissimilar to what she wore that day, though true to what she vowed on the way back her hair is fully pulled up into a low coil- there will be no tempting ropes of hair to be pulled on this time. She stays close to her brother, and not far behind them are others in Darklyn livery. A newly-made bow rests in her hand, made of plain dark wood free of any ostentatious designs, and a small quiver rests on her back.
Benedict had initially planned on joining this hunt when he’d heard some of his new acquaintances would be here. The knight who had been from Storm’s End had also heard of their troubles, so he has his sword at his side as well. Benedict was also armed with a bow and quiver, but they seemed not all that well used. His black cloak with its silver lining presents everyone with the view of his house sigil. Once he sees Ammon, though, his mood lightens and he approaches the man, “Well met, Ser Ammon Massey!”
For his part, Addison Darklyn has chosen to linger near the lodge. It likely comes as no surprise, given that crippling wound he received during the war in Dorne. Dressed warmly in black wools accented with the reds and gold of his house, he rubs absently at the stubble of his beard, itching at that scar that lines his right cheek. Consumed by melancholia as ever, he gazes listlessly off toward the woods, lost in his own thoughts…
Josmyn tries to catch Alyce’s attention, but since she is busy yakking at poor Melaen, he turns around instead to look out for his relatives, the Hunter siblings. While he knows Bessa at least a little bit by now, young Eon is a stranger to him and might need some taking under his Reyne cousin’s wing.
In part, the idea of the smaller hunt may be due to recent events and others soon to be. Whatever the case, it provides a reason for people to spend a day outside the Red Keep and King’s Landing proper. Another huntsman, perhaps one of Janden’s seconds here, listens to a few more words before nodding and disappearing into the woods. He, like Janden and Malwyn, is dressed in colors that make it easier to blend in with their terrain.
Once everyone’s gathered in roughly the same part of the clearing, Janden steps closer and speaks in a tone that’s quiet yet enough for those nearby to hear. “Just a couple things. Beyond that end of the clearing,” he points to the opposite side, “I have huntsmen ready to flush out game. I don’t want anyone getting hurt by a stray arrow, so no rushing in close for anything. There should be enough for you to pick off a few rabbits or grouse if you’re a good shot, and once it’s over with we’ll move in to collect what we took down and head back to the lodge.” Of course, the ones with falcons or hawks have their own ‘collection bags’ for whatever the birds bring back.
Janden slips the glove over his left hand, near to the elbow in length, and his own raptor is brought over to cling to his fingers with a strong grip. A few quiet words are spoken to it, fingers of his other hand stroking it a few times as he steps off to one side toward where the others with their birds are collecting. “Shouldn’t be long before you start to see something,” he says to the rest, turning to listen for the signs of game pushed toward the clearing.
Sure enough, bushes and shrubs rustle and the first sign of rabbit and grouse can be seen, a few of the birds trying to escape something unseen by going into a glide just off the ground; they can’t do much more than that.
At length, Alyce finishes her verbal list and looks around at the others before nudging her mare toward Orene. Of course, she offers polite smiles and nods to the other nobility she passes along the way. “I am pleased to see you have joined us, my lady. I don’t believe, however, we have been formally introduced. I am Alyce Bar Emmon.” She notices her betrothed, prompting her to giggle girlishly before returning her attention to the other lady.
Cleyton quietly rides a grey courser. Like many of the other knights in attendance a sword hangs from his belt. He carries a plain hunting bow; well made and maintained, but well worn with use. As game comes into view he readies an arrow and looks for a good shot.
Ryckon rides in on his black destrier. His leather training armor is doubling as his hunting leathers today, and he has both a crossbow and an iron mace with him, should anything go wrong, which seems to be happening very often of late. With Farin absent, Ryckon could very well be the representative of the Kingswood Company at this hunt… though it is more likely that he’s only trying to enjoy the hunting. He glances around at those present and at the grouse-filled bushes.
As the party comes to a halt, Ammon nods to his squire, and moves away from the main party. And so he finds himself near to Addison Darklyn, in the back. “My lord of Darklyn,” says Ammon softly, with a nod to the man before turning to watch his squire at work. Then another man approaches him, a familiar man. And, for all Ammon’s sullenness, a smile tugs at the corner of his lips when his eyes alight upon Benedict’s sigil. “House Rogers?” Ammon asks with a look up to the man. “We are cousins, then, and you know me ser, but—” Another moment of thought, before Ammon continues. “You were at the inn the other evening, were you not?”
With her mien still showing her bright mood, Bessa rides over to her older brother. “Eon! Why the stern look on your face? I’m sure there won’t be any pirates today, they aren’t that stupid. Meet our cousin Ser Josmyn…”, she introduces him “And Ser Josmyn, meet my beloved brother Eon!” But just a heartbeat later her attention is caught by the rustling bushes and her thin, white hands are preparing her bow and an arrow to meet.
Orene turns in her saddle to face Alyce, smiling warmly. Her horse nickers loudly at the excitement and she seems to have some amount of trouble controlling it. “Lady Alyce, hello! I am Orene Lefford, I’ve only just arrived at court. I was so excited to do a bit of socializing and introductions today, but my horse decided it was a lovely day to go into heat. I’m afraid I’m not so familiar with this one.” She frowns a bit, but reaches down to stroke the gelding’s mane.
“Looks like they’ll be expecting pirates in the Kingswood.” Albyn observes amused to Haston as he nods to those carrying sword and mail. As Janden readies his men, Albyn pulls an arrow out of one of the quivers and nocks it on the string. And just as the Huntsman promised, soon there’s game to shoot. A male grouse -proudly coloured in brown, dark blue and white feathers- is unfortunate enough to attract the attention of the heir of Red Lake… A grin is spared for the nobles nearby as crane-feathered arrow breaks the flight of the bird midway.
Breaking himself out of his trance, slowly as it might be, Addison looks over toward the Massey knight and gives him a courteous nod. He replies, “Ser Ammon, well met.” His pale blue eyes drift down to the bandages that cover Ammon’s right shoulder and chest, and he frowns, murmuring, “I see you are not to participate in the hunt either…”
Once the groups seems safely into the clearing, Elrone relaxes slightly, and paces over to Lady Bessa, bow in hand. “Lady Bessa, good afternoon- did I hear you say this is your brother? Well met, ser- Elrone Darklyn. I have found your sister to be a delightful friend at court.” She smiles politely, then nods to Josmyn, since he is nearby as well. “Ser Josmyn, hello,” she adds with a smile as she removes an arrow from her quiver and looks around for a good target for her rather inexperienced hands to shoot toward.
Alyce blushes and giggles at Orene’s words. “Well met, Lady Orene. I do so hope none of the stallions about us cause an issue.” Voice lowering, she adds, “I have heard one can be rather injured from a mount attempting to… well…” She coughs. “Mount. While you’re riding, that is.” Despite the danger presented, her eyes alight with amusement. “You could always share my mare, if it comes down to it.”
Eon did not smile when his sister approached. He appears focused on the hunt. Before he could respond to her and Ser Josmyn, the first prey appeared. Eon was not going to release his falcon on the low-flying grouse, lest his bird gain some new feathers. After the initial shots, Eon says, “Greetings Ser Josmyn, and to you Lady Elrone, it is good to meet the two of you. I would have brought my bow, but I do not fancy shooting from horseback.”
Josmyn inclines his head in greeting to Eon and smiles. “A pleasure to meet you at last, Ser Eon. Your dear sister talked of you alot. Ah, and there’s Lady Elrone, good day, Mylady.”, he greets the newly arrived woman, but as they reach the clearing and the hunting gets serious, he removes his bow from his shoulder and strings an arrow, while his keen eyes look around to spot anything with fur or feathers in the foliage.
Eon has disconnected.
As soon as he hears the rustling bushes Astos swiftly grabs an arrow from his quiver, the feathers a little grey from the dust, and aims at one of the birds that is trying to escape its fate. As he releases the string, the arrow flies on - and misses its target by several inches - much to the birds pleasure obviously. And the Corbray knight lets out a sigh of regret. He is actually not a great hunter.
While others seem to be on edge, Andred seems absolutely casual about the whole affair. He lazily holds his reins with a single hand. His other hand runs through the branches of low hanging trees. He makes conversation with no one. His stomach however is quite talkative. The entire ride it has been growling and grumbling. The other topic of conversation seems to be “Feed me! When Andred feels some what he takes for berries, he complies.
He rips the berries down when they come to a stop. They are a pinkish hue and look much like cherries, but of course, with Andred’s luck, they are not. He bites into one projecting to taste something delicious, but its sour! He promptly spits it out, not once, not twice, but at least three times (just to be sure). With the large group present, someone is sure to have heard his rather disgusted spitting noise.
What he ate was a crabapple, not poisonous, but not too tasty either. He quickly reaches from his water pouch to douse his mouth from what he thinks is poison. While he does this, he does not notice his horse’s nose. That nose sniffs the butt of Orene’s horse. He would do nothing about this, because well, he has been poisoned by a tree!
Benedict grins, and nods, “I was there, though I was not as much use as I would have liked, cousin” He then formally bows to his cousin and his acquaintance, “Ser Benedict Rogers…” He then straightens and frowns as he gives one last look at his cousin’s arm.
Orene’s expression is somewhere between horror and amusement. “Oh my, I would be mortified—Seven save me,” she says, trying not to giggle and continuing to stroke her horse’s mane and murmur sympathetically. “I thank you for the offer, Lady Alyce, but I hope you don’t mind me saying that I hope it doesn’t come t—oh!” She turns, startled, to see Andred’s horse nosing at her mare’s rear. Her cheeks color rapidly as she tugs on the reins and wheels her mount around.
“No, ser,” replies Ammon. “Poxy and the maesters say I may begin training with a sword again—slowly—, but I don’t have the strength to draw a bow yet.” He shrugs, wincing slightly even as he does so. “Not more than once at any rate.”
“Ah,” says Ammon to his cousin. “Benedict! Of course.” He dismisses Benedicts words with a wave of his three fingered hand. “The incident was nothing to concern yourself about, ser. But tell me, how is Amberly? I’ve not been back in—oh, a decade, I’d sa—.” He cuts off at Andred’s spitting, frowns a bit, but doesn’t address the bastard for the nonce.
As the hunt begins, prey tracked by the people with their bows, a few rabbits and grouse come to a halt with arrows sticking out of them while others scamper and glide around in a frenzy, unsure just where to go. They were already driven out of the safety of the woods, so they can’t very well go back - though some do.
For the moment, the raptors are kept at the ready until a few volleys of arrows have been let loose. “Hold,” Janden can be heard saying, a hand up as a couple other huntsmen repeat the gesture. “Those of you with your birds, let them go and see what they come back with, shall we? The rest of you, wait for them to return before you take your next shots, if you would. It doesn’t look like we’ll be at a loss for chances today.”
The Royal Huntsman has a way about him out here that’s different than within the city, as if being out in the middle of nature gives him more life. He’s alert, especially with the welfare of others partly his responsibility right now. It may not lead to him being in conversation with others now, but there will be time enough for that later. Janden then undoes the bindings on his own hawk, hand rising to send it off. One moment, a grouse is trying to glide away from the danger. The next, a few feathers fly free after the hawk has streaked forward to claim it with a cry of triumph, soon returning with it before picking off another. Opportunistic thing.
Alyce nods, attempting to be solemn, but as her prediction begins to come true, she cannot help but laugh. Loudly. Blushing, she covers her mouth and looks back to see who the rider is. Of course. “Squire, please keep your stallion under control,” she cautions, too busy trying not to giggle to sound even slightly stern. “There are ladies here.”
Nodding sympathetically, the Darklyn man looks as though he might reply to Ammon, but soon finds that the man’s cousin has chosen to join in the conversation. He gives Benedict a courteous nod, then turns a dark look on Andred as spits out some manner of food, then guzzles down as much water as he can. With a sigh, Addison shakes his head and looks back to the Rogers man. He remarks, “Well met, my lord of Rogers. I am Addison Darklyn, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Are you to hunt? Or have you some manner of ailment that impairs you as well?”
“Lady Elrone! What a pleasure to have you as company at this delightful occasion!” Bessa answers, with a wide smile dancing around the corners of her mouth. “Indeed, this is one of the finest knights in the Vale, my brother Eon.” Having missed the first chance to shoot down a rabbit while talking, she frowns shortly but shrugs and soon finds back to her felicity. “Isn’t the Kingswood beautiful?”
Having watched her arrow skim just under one of the bird’s wings, Elrone grins wryly at the missed mark. She is, after all, quite new to the bow, though those who may have happened to pass her lesson with Humfrey would know that despite her utter lack of technique she does hit the target rather more than should be normal for someone of her skill. In fact the arrow came much closer to the bird than it had any reasonable right to. She turns to Eon, smiling at the woman’s regard for her brother. “Lady Bessa speaks of you often, ser. I am glad to make your acquaintance.” And then she turns to Bessa. “It is- and a fine day as well.” As Elrone turns, her eye is drawn behind her toward the situation with Andred’s horse and she giggles quietly. “Oh dear.”
Andred finds himself completely and utterly engrossed in his imagined poisoning. The colored cheeks of Orene and her quickly movement of her horse, frowns from Ammon, and whatever else pass him by. He gargles the water in his mouth, because it destroys poison better that way.
In the throes of gargling, he hears Alyce’s chastisement. He looks down to see his horse eating grass. He figures the beast has been doing that the entire time. Apparently unaware of the unswallowed water in his mouth, he says a garbled “What?!” which sends of spurt of water flying out of his mouth. That spurt flies towards the ladies, but the main missile shall undoubtedly fall into the dirt. But, drops, horrid drops that accompany the main projectile may fly close enough to, seven forbid, hit them! Such an act causes Andred’s cheeks turn the pinkish hue of the crab apples he just spit out.
Josmyn looks satisfied as he watches his arrow slam into an unsuspecting rabbit that has no choice but to fall over dead promptly. The young knight turns to his retainers with a rather smug look and gestures for one of them to dismount and retrieve the rabbit in question whenever it is safe to do so. In the meantime, he strings his bow once more and starts looking around for the bigger challenge of a flying target.
Eon smiles, “It is good to know my sister thinks well of me.” Before he could say anything more, he sees a hawk swoop to kill one of the grouse. Agreeing that it is safe enough to release his own bird, Eon loosens the bindings that keep it blinded and tethered and gives it a light shove to urge it into the air. He watches it fly and swoop, grabbing one of the grouse and flies to return to the young knight. “I’ve always enjoyed falconry, though it takes a bit to get used to it.”
Benedict turns to look at Andred, his had dropping near his blade, but stops when he sees what caused the commotion. He sighs and shakes his head, “Not many Ravens have been coming from Amberly of late. Last I was there, thimgs were active, and father was always as bullheaded as he ever was…but recent matters? I am in the dark…” He then regards the Darklyn man, “I am here for the hunt, but I’ll let others get their shots in first, it would seem that there is more than enough game here for us all.” He then gestures at the…company…that already has been supplying entertainment…or more appropriately…mortification for the other participants. “Plus, it would seem, that the squire should be watched more than the game, it would seem…”
His failing first shot seems enough to discourage the Corbray knight for the moment. Lowering the bow he glances around the clearing looking for familiar faces - and an excuse to take a little break from the shooting. And glimpsing Bessa, her brother Eon and Elrone he mounts his horse and rides over to them. “What a delightful day for a hunt, Lady Bessa. I see you are in the company of your brother, Ser Eon. And Lady Elrone. Alas, I am not very lucky with my bow today.” He inclines his head in a polite greeting.
“The Warden not around, boy?” Albyn asks sweetly as he has managed to sneak upon the squire after letting the rest have a shot or two. ” Don’t worry, Haston and I will make sure you won’t get shot.” he jests before turning to the small group of nobles next to them. ” Sers.” he greets politely before presenting the ladies a slight but elegant bow. ” Ladies.”
Orene’s cheeks have quickly turned only slightly lighter red than her hair. Her eyes widen when the spluttering spire turns his head towards her, and her jaw actually drops when a few wet dots appear on her front. She stares at Andred in disbelief, then turns to look at the others. When she sees them staring she quickly regains her composure, pulling her hood back and giving Andred her most disproving frown. “Is there not some other side of the party you could be spitting over?”
Ryckon continues peering at the bushes. He had fired a good number of quarrels off during that round of the hunt, with only one of them actually killing a grouse, and another grazing one, and now he waits intensely during the falconry so that he’ll have a target in sight as soon as he can shoot, at the expense of socializing with or paying attention to the others present. When Albyn approaches from behind he jumps, startled, and almost reaches for his mace before he recognizes the voice. “Er, Ser Albyn… He’s not. As you can see. Clearly. But… thank you for your protection.” He doesn’t sound especially enthusiastic about being protected.
Alyce lets out a tiny squeal as two—count them, TWO—drops of bastard-spit deign to land upon the delicate skin of her hand. “What, you ask? Mayhaps if you were paying attention to your mount, rather than your filthy eating habits, you might have noticed the creature showing undue interest in Lady Orene’s mare. I wonder if you would have taken notice when you were toppled because your horse reared back to have his way with hers.”
With the initial volley of arrows finished, the coast is clear for falcons and hawks to satisfy their predatory natures and further thin the herd, so to speak. The relationship between the raptors and their owners is an interesting one involving trust. The birds trust that their human owners will give them easy chances to collect prey while the owners trust they’ll return with it in exchange for food rewards. So it is that Janden supplies his hawk with a few bites of meat already designed for such reasons, offered on the end of a small stick.
The Royal Huntsman speaks quietly to Malwyn as he places the hood and jesses back on his bird, offering some instruction relating to falconry as he turns to watch the proceedings after giving the hawk back to its handler, his glove tucked in at his side again afterward. “Once your birds are safely back, the rest of you go on and finish your shooting, then we’ll go collect what we’ve got.” He does his best to follow what he can nearby, but there’s enough happening that most of his focus is on the other end of the clearing. The wind continues to howl; perhaps it’s responsible in part for a few errant shots.
Josmyn fires his arrow at a bird, but it seems to escape just about unharmed. Laughing a little, the knight lets it go, deciding to be content with the rabbit he had struck earlier. As soon as the clear is given, one of his retainers wanders off to retrieve the rabbit and bring it back to the knight.
Cleyton raises an eyebrow and shakes his head at Andred, chuckling softly at the spectacle. He then watches as the raptors return with their prey. After he accounts for all of them he returns is gaze to the game. Spotting a fat grouse, he lets loose an arrow at the unfortunate bird. It lets out a pitiful squawk as the arrow impales it. A small satisfied smirk crosses his face.
Ser Astos! A pleasure to meet you as well!”, Bessa greets the approaching Valeknight. “Ah, the first one is always a tricky one, especially with the autumn winds. I’m sure you’ll be more lucky the next time. Ser Albyn, I saw your shot. Expertly well, as I expected after the tournament.”, she smiles to the other knight. “Let’s see, if I could manage…”
After those words of courtesy, Bessa is again focused on the prey. Taking a deep breath, she swiftly shoots an arrow, which finds his immediately finds his aim : The back of an other panicked rabbit. “And, as I see, I managed that indeed.”, she adds with a winning grin.
And so, ignored by the Darklyn man, Ammon turns once more to his cousin. But he does little more than shrug, turning his attention to the hunt—or, rather, the confrontation between the bastard squire and the women. “Either it’s mud, or spit, or something else, cousin,” says Ammon. “Yet none of it means a thing. The bastard doesn’t bear watching.”
Andred is either completely clueless or just ignoring them all, but the boy does not react to the horror of the crowd. Besides, he has got his own horror to deal with. His taste buds still are inflamed from the sour crab apple, so he pours more water in and swishes it around.
At his third swish, the combined wroth of Orene and Alyce comes down upon him. It causes his cheeks to pinken more, but it does not stop him from spitting the rest of his water out safely upon the ground.
It takes him a few moments, but it finally gets what she is saying. The boy tries to stifle his laughter, but the image of his horse mounting Orene’s is just too much for his repressed teenaged mind to handle. It causes him to snort in laughter. “I am so sorry, my ladies.” he says with only the slightest, barely detectable hint of sarcasm. “I shall control my horse’s and own appetites. I do, I do apologize- ” His eyes flicker as he sees a bush of what he knows to be blackberries. “Please excuse me, my ladies. I must, er go.” Lead by his stomach, he goes to pick himself some blackberries. The boy shall never learn.
Albyn’s eyes sparkle amused as Ryckon startles and nods in acknowledge at the boy’s thanks. ” Tell him I’m confident that we’re visiting a safe Kingswood now he’s in charge.” he adds before presenting a genuine smile for Bessa as she compliment him on his shot. At least someone noticed… It wasn’t easy to adjust this quickly to the new bow but Albyn has been seen almost every day at the targets after the tournament. If the Crane has put his mind on something, he’s not easily derived from it till he has reached his goal.
Elrone smiles pleasantly to Astos as he approaches. “Nor I, Ser Astos. How fare you today?” She looks back out toward the bushes as the approval to shoot again is given, and this time goes for a rabbit, perhaps hoping that it will be a more still target. Drawing back again with obvious lack of training, she lets the arrow fly and it again just misses the flank of the creature- perhaps fortunately as it is dispatched by Bessa’s arrow seconds before Elrone’s hits next to it. Elrone laughs at the realization that they were aiming for the same target. “Yours, I think, Lady Bessa. Well shot.”
Benedict turns to pull off his bow and notch an arrow, and lets loose at a rabbit who changed course mid shot, and, fortunately for the rabbit, got away unscathed. “You are right, coz. Why is it that some bastards make the rest of the world view us like that?” And he notches and looses another arrow, this one securely penetrating through the rabbit’s skull, a frown of anger fills his face as he puts his bow away.
Eon looks at the grouse that his bird has brought him, it is in fine shape, considering. Turning to Ser Astos, “Greetings, I have only bagged one grouse, though I am content with it, usually I am not the most fortunate with hunting.” He looks at the other nobles’ fortune and sees that they had done well themselves. “I would say today is a success, no injuries, and more than a decent amount will be brought back.”
Orene raises her hands to fastidiously make sure her hair is in proper place, wiping at the front of her dress in concern. “Of all the magnificent ways to embarrass oneself, I chose the worst,” she sighs, then turns a sheepish grin towards Alyce and shakes her head. “How is it possible that I find myself -more- mortified than that sputtering idiot?”
Alyce sniffs sharply as Andred mocks his endangering of nobility. Once he has left, she turns her attention to Orene and offers a sympathetic smile. “Because my dear lady, you have a healthy sense of propriety and shame. I would blame his bastardry, but Ser Luthor is one of the most upstanding men I have ever met. I know not this one’s excuse.”
Cleyton shoots a rabbit. Then turns his horse to join the Hunter siblings. “Ser Eon, good to meet you properly. Sorry about having to run off last night just as you joined. Did you ever find a reason for the party?” Turning to Bessa “Good shot Lady Bessa. That night time practice did you well.”
“Us, coz?” asks Ammon softly. “Whatever I am, I am not a bastard. Not yet. Excuse me.”
And Ammon spurs his horse into a walk, making his way close to Andred and the offended ladies—but he doesn’t answer the women, save a tight smile and a nod for Alyce. “Bastard,” he says to Andred. “I’ve some dried venison in my saddlebags if your hunger won’t wait for our return the lodge. It is safer than these poisons.”
Josmyn tucks the rabbit away carefully before glancing over towards Alyce. Someone is in for a nice present later. Then he goes mingling with some people so that nobody pays him any attention.
Ryckon nods slowly at Albyn. “I’ll be sure to relay that message, ser.” One might think that he was being icily sarcastic, but clearly a squire would never talk that way to a knight. He glances around his company again and opens his mouth to greet those next to him, but before he can he catches movement in the corner of his eye. He fumbles to get his crossbow ready for the rabbit and fires off a few misses before landing a quarrel in its side. “Ha!”
Once the hunting party’s had their share of picking off those poor rabbits and grouse, Janden and the huntsmen with him signal for everyone to lower their bows. “I think we’ve sufficiently thinned the ranks enough for the feast being prepared. Everyone, go ahead and collect what you got and we’ll bring it back with us.” Huntsmen within the woods are already doing the same with a few of the animals that had thought to escape back into the forest and begin to appear at the edge of the clearing, having taken safe shelter away from the firing area before that.
Ser Humfrey Westerling rides into the clearing, where the ladies watch the knights loosing shafts at rabbits and other game. The knight is arrayed in the chestnut and forest green of the Kingswood, with a boar spear in hand. He spares his fellows, at the other end of the clearing a glance then frowns slightly and glances to his spear, then to Lady Alyce. “Ah, it seems I have am late and poorly equipped.”
“An excellent shot, Lady Bessa.” the Corbray knight remarks. “Which does not surprise me, with your House having quite a tradition in archery. You as well, Ser Eon, for the same reason I think.” And to Elrone’s inquiry Astos replies: “Well enough, Lady Elrone. I saw your brother Ser Addison in the Eastern Yard before we left for the hunt. I have not seen him here among the hunters. Did he stay behind in the Red Keep as my wife did?”
Benedict nods at his cousin before storming over to collect his rabbit. He then looked over at everyone else and started to return to his companion.
Alyce glances over as the heir to the Crag nears, then bows from atop her mount. “Good day, ser. You are not so poorly equipped. After all, you’ve a spear and I presume you know how to use it.” After a beat, she notes, “This is Lady Orene Lefford. My lady, Ser Humfrey Westerling, heir to the Crag.”
After Ser Cleyton’s mentioning of nights time practices, Bessa hurries to explain to her brother, Lady Elrone and all the other nobles around after clearing her throat: “Ah, Ser Cleyton. Yes, it was late this evening, when some sparring knights were keeping me from my practices. I’m glad though I had a good shot in the twilight, Lady Meria, you and my pious septa could watch. Thank you, Ser Astos, Lady Elrone, for your kind words.” With this she nods approvingly to the rabbit in the hands of a huntsman nearby.
Insults fly about like the so many birds in the sky.
However, also like those birds, Andred shoots none of them down. Instead, his old and perhaps perverted horse plods off towards a strange bush bearing black berries. The boy drops from his saddle and lands upon the ground reaching out to the blackberry bushes then…
“Ouch.” he mutters as his bulky fingers were pricked by the bushes. But, after a few more muttered “ouch”‘s, Andred gets his fingers upon those juicy and delectable blackberries. He promptly stuffs them into his mouth not caring about the black stain they produce on his fingers. The processes of ouches and then a reward repeats a few more times before Ammon comes.
He looks up to see the aforementioned knight offering dried venison. Andred jumps back up on his horse before he nods to Ammon. “I certainly would, ser.” he says. “I am quite famished.” He says if it was not already very obvious. He would start walking his horse back down the game trail with the rest of the men departing perhaps riding beside Ammon if he follows.
“Oh, no, he is…” Elrone turns and waves to an area well behind the core of the group, where Addison and Benedict stand, before she looks back to Astos. “-back there. I do not think he likes to hunt very much, though I am glad he could accompany me… I would have been too nervous to come if he did not, because of… the other time.”
Orene bobs her head in greeting. “Ser Humfrey, a pleasure. As a girl I visited the Crag often, I believe we may have met briefly some years ago.” She replaces her hood and prepares to head back to the lodge with the rest of the party, eager to be off her troublesome mount.
And Ammon does follow the group, riding beside the bastard squire even as his own squire comes up with a beaming smile and two small rabbits—and quite a few less arrows. Ammon smiles to the boy, but turns his attention back to Andred. The knight takes the promised food from his saddlebags and hands it to the younger man. He rides in silence, one again, however—the conversation will keep until they arrive at the lodge.
Humfrey glances to his spear and slides it into a loop upon his saddle. “Ah, yes, I do Lady Alyce—that Myrman learned of my proficiency with the boar spear during the hunt at Storm’s End.” Humfrey turns to Orene and bows from the seat of his destrier. “Did you visit when you were very young? I believe we did meet, in passing. Or perhaps it was at Lannisport? My father would bring our family to Lannisport, and thence the Rock, every year.”
” Ser Humfrey!” Albyn greets as well. ” Not bad that craftswork of your man. Not bad at all.” he states, smiling softly at the decorated bow. ” A bit unfair for this small game but I’m sure I’ll bring down something large with it soon.” Sending an amused glance to the boarspear in the Westerling’s hands, he smiles. ” Won’t be much meat left on the poor birds with that thing.” he jests while just before he mounts. Meanwhile, Haston’s horse has brought the squire with a quick trot to his knight and together they ride along back to the lodge.
As the hunting party disperses to collect their kills, the sound of hooves clopping together at a reasonable gait can be heard…to the party’s rear. A moment later, six knights emerge from the treeline, in two ranks of three. Five are garbed in the customary wear of the Kingswood Company, whilst the one at the group’s head (an uncharacteristic place for him to ride, assuredly) is a tall knight dressed in a red-dye leather brigandine, which bears the emblem of House Prester. When the party of six comes to a halt, the man in front urges his horse to clop forward another few paces, as he scans the crowd for Janden. When he finds his own quarry, he smirks. “Ah, Ser Janden. How goes the hunt?” he asks, his tone more mocking than amiable.
As visible arrows are reclaimed and various kills are prepared for the return to the lodge, which is a short enough ride away, Janden and Malwyn both climb back atop their mounts and the Melcolm knight steps his horse through the rest, taking note of how each of the people here seems to feel about the hunt. “If you’ll follow us back along the trail to the lodge, we can turn what you’ve caught over to the cooks and…” The unexpected sight of Farin brings him to pause, heeling his mount around to face the Warden of the Kingswood. “I’d say very well, ser,” and his previously content, peaceful expression turns somewhat sour, as if he got a taste of that crabapple Andred bit into earlier. “You’re welcome to join us back at the lodge if you have a taste for rabbit or grouse,” he offers, if reluctantly.
Astos follows the Darklyn lady’s gesture with his grey-blue eyes, catches her hint and nods with a look of concern, leaving it at that. He watches as the prey is being collected by the servants and scratches his well-groomed beard silently as he awaits the royal huntsman’s signal for their return to the lodge. Which appears to delay even further as the Warden of the King’s Wood arrives with his retinue. The Corbray knight notes the tension between Janden and Farin but is relieved that the tedious part of the hunt is over. Keeping close to the Hunters and Lady Elrone he sets his steed in motion.
Benedict quickly returns to his mount and strings the rabbit along the saddle before mounting and following the procession, his mood darkened as he’d hoped it wouldn’t be after the hunt.
Andred would not be very talkative on the ride back. His focus lies on the leathery meat bestowed upon him by Ser Ammon. Each bite follows a similar pattern. His teeth clamp down upon the tough textured meat. His free left hand twists the meat hoping to loosen it, then finally, he shall rip it off hoping to have produced a swallow-able piece. Most times however this is not the case. Most times, he must chew rather loudly break it down to such a size. Such a noise is the only conversation he makes on his ride back.
Ryckon blinks at his master’s sudden arrival and nods with all due respect. He quickly scrambles off of his horse to collect his rabbit and his grouse, nearly tripping on a root due to his haste, and then rushes back, remounts, and rides after the group, keeping as keen an eye on Janden and Farin as he can manage while not riding into a tree.
“Oh, that will not be necessary,” the Warden dismisses casually. “I have a few errands to attend to in the wood today; but I did think to stop by and make sure my men did a proper job of making sure the area was safe enough for you,” he continues on, more amused than mocking now. “I trust all the details on your end have been taken care of - everyone here /does/ have a permit, yes?” he asks, casting his eyes out amongst the lot of them. When he spots Ryckon, he adds, “I know my squire does, /of course,/ and my cousin, as they both went through myself.”
Lady Bessa is one of the attentive observers of the tense conversation between Ser Farin and Ser Janden as well… but this is not the only thing, her eyes are wandering over. She glances over to the squire Ryckon and then back to Lady Elrone on the horse next to her. Her busy, busy eyes are used to speak out the question to the fellow lady, while her tongue rests silently in her mouth.
“Ser Albyn, you will have to try your new bow against a hart or buck, soon—the old man who wrought said that it’s one of the finest he’d ever made.” Humfrey glances to his boar spear and laughs. “Ah, I have been so busy as of late that I neglected to ask Ser Janden what specimen of game we would hunt today. I was held up with my training duties, teaching a pair of new men the rudiments of hack and slash.” At Ser Farin’s arrival, Humfrey lifts one hand in greeting. “Ser, it seems you and I have missed all the killing.” Humfrey winces as Ryckon nearly trips over a root in haste to scoop up his game. “Careful, coz. We don’t want to have to call Maester Talbard out from the Keep.” Humfrey watches Ryckon retrieve his game and nods to his cousin. “That’s a fine grouse.”
“Is /that/ what you’re here to hassle me about?” Janden questions Farin in return. Their history as pertains to the Kingswood goes back a few years. Just over a year ago it culminated in a confrontation in one of the Keep’s yards that led to a resignation or removal from a post, depending on one’s perspective, and a steep fine that helped leave Janden in a darker place for a time. He sucks in a breath of air through his teeth and eyes the Prester man for a few long seconds. Perhaps there’s something else he’d rather say, but what comes out is, “Everything that should have been taken care of was and it was a good hunt, thank you for asking. I’ll leave you to your errands, ser.” Heeling his mount around again, he motions for Malwyn to follow, intending to make the return to the lodge with no further words to Farin.
Eon re-hooded and bated the falcon to his wrist. When the riders approached, Eon frowned and urged his horse forward. Riding over to Bessa, Eon says quietly, “Who are these men?” His hand wandered down to his sword hilt. Seeing that they hadn’t tried anything suspicious or hazardous to the others he had not intention of drawing it.
Elrone stays with the Hunters and Ser Astos as the group moves out, a slightly wary eye on the exchange between Farin and Janden, though she seems happy enough to stay in Bessa’s company. She leans toward the girl as she catches Bessa’s look, speaking softly, though the others around them may catch some of her words. “... ran ... ... when ... was ... ... some ... ... ... ... I ... I ... ... confusing ... ... ... It ... be ... ... supports it ... ... Reyna, but ... just- do ... ... ...” She shrugs at the Hunter girl. “As ... ... ... you ... ... on ... ... keeping ... ...” And she gives Bessa a meaningful smile.
Ammon reins his horse in at Farin’s appearance, watching the confrontation between Warden and the Huntsman for only a second. His gaze moves quickly to the Kingswood men, studying them impassively. And then:
“This is your concern, Warden? That is good to hear, ser. Those brigands we had burned out of their homes last year are dispersed, I take it? Breakhelm and the other—what was his name?” Massey taps his chin with one finger as he thinks.
But the Prester lordling only laughs full in the face of Janden’s restrained efforts. “Well then. It pleases me to see you /manage/ one,” is all he offers in return, content to let Janden ride off to his victory. The lordling knight turns to Humfrey instead, smiling at his old friend with the distinct look of some private joke or triumph. “Why, it does seem we have, ser. More is the pity. Such is our lot,” he says, before turning his palfrey about to face Ammon. “They had been sufficiently put to route, yes,” he informs Ammon. “Until the Black Cells were opened. We can only guess at how many returned. They have kept their silence, however. When there is aught to fear,” he smiles, this time wanly, “You shall be among the first I call, Ser Ammon. Fear not.” And with that, he completes his turn around fully, before calling over his shoulder, “Ryckon. /Do/ try to keep your feet,” and begins moving to depart.
Andred would not get involved in the bickering. Rather, he breaks off from the group heading towards the loud. The cankerous sounds of his chewing slowly fade, so too do the plodding of his old horse’s hooves.
Lady Bessa’s face is rather plain, as she answers to Lady Elrone in a lowered voice as well.
Bessa whispers to Elrone, “... to ... ... ... bit reserved ... wouldn’t ... ... ... ... ... hadn’t ... from ... ...the ... take it?”
Benedict sees his cousin trying to provoke the Warden, and smirks, he’d been itching for a good fight, but looks slightly disappointed at Farin not going for it. he rides back in silence.
Humfrey watches the exchange, his face placid, like the stony aspect of a long dead lord, his dark chestnut eyes darkening to a shade reminiscent of damp earth. When his Commander and old friend from the Rock addresses him, Humfrey spares the other Westerland knight a smile as slim as a dirk—then turns to Janden, directing a weighty stare at the Royal Huntsman. “I wonder who would have the better of it, if it came down to tourney blades.” The last is said within Janden’s hearing, a threat? a challenge? Or is it merely the Westerling knight’s martial mind thinking aloud? “It was a splendid hunt, Ser.” Humfrey tugs on the reins of his horse and heads back toward the lodge.
Almost like a hunting dog, Albyn smells the tense that rises in the air and slowing down the trot of his horse, he follows the situation attentively.
The exchange with Farin done with, Janden pauses to reply to Humfrey, “He’s had little luck there in the past. He is of no concern to me with blades, tourney or otherwise.” No, Farin’s potential threats come in other forms. He continues to wear a look of annoyance as he quietly leads the way back to the lodge while others may engage in happier chatter after some of their successes.
Kills made for the stews and other plates of food still being made await their return and cooks set right to cleaning and preparing an assortment of dishes as people settle in at seats and tables inside. There’s also time for them to change out of hunting leathers and riding clothes if desired, and the next time Janden’s seen he’s back in a dark green doublet and brown leggings tucked into well-worn black boots, a cup of wine in hand. Some may catch him talking to Malwyn, grumbling something about Farin not trusting him when apparently the King himself does.
Elrone is still speaking in a low voice to Bessa as she eyes the food being prepared for them in the lodge. Her cloak is off now, revealing the dark red bodice she was wearing underneath it, as she claims a comfortable place at one of the tables. “... ... I ... not ... ... does ... ... that ... for ...” her eyes flick toward the Westerling squire, resting there for a moment before she turns back to the Hunter girl. “... ... ... ... favor. ... certainly has ... ... anything like that. As ... the ... upset at ... ... ... made ... And Ammon-” her eyes move to where Massey stands, and Elrone shrugs again as she turns back to Bessa. “... far as ... ... at all ...”
Having arrived at the lodge, the Crane makes a most elegant dismount as he’s not hindered by mail or weaponry. His feet -clad in soft leather boots- thump slightly on the ground. A Crane servant runs over to attend the horses of both Haston and his while another takes over the bow and quivers. A short whisper by the servant brings up a genuine -a rare thing- smile on the man’s face as he looks with anticipation at the lodge.
Cooks and servants continue to work on their preparations using the fresh rabbit and grouse, seasoning certain things specific ways. Other meats have already been cooking for dishes where a deeper flavor is preferred, though wine and other drinks are already being brought around for the visitors to enjoy along with fruits and cheeses, bread and butter and other small courses.
Janden takes a seat near a few of the others that were out on the hunt and appears to be trying to forget about Farin’s little visit, judging from his efforts to steer conversation back toward how those nearby enjoyed the hunt.
For his part, Ammon has made no effort to change from his riding leathers. His sword still hangs form his hip, his three-fingered left hand still rests casually upon it. His squire, on the other hand, has changed into his raiment bearing the sigil of House Estermont. The boy is all smiles, proud of the two rabbits he killed, and goes about his business, socializing with some of the younger lads.
And though the lodge is crowded, and loud with the nattering of the nobles, a single name carries to Massey’s ear from Elrone’s lips. He turns to her at mention of his name, quirking a brow. And so he approaches the women, seemingly uncaring that he is intruding, and accepts a glass of wine from a passing servant.
Cleyton sits off to the side sampling the wine and cheese. No longer in the saddle with bow in hand, he looks much less at ease.
Lady Bessa, just without her cloak as well, took her seat between her brother and Lady Elrone and seems to be in a conspirational mood, since she is pretty occupied with a rather quiet songs… This time she addresses Eon.
Bessa whispers to Eon, “... ... were ... ... Prester ... ... Janden ... ... part ... well, ... ... ... been ... betrothed ... ... Janden…”
After that, Bessa listens closely to Lady Elrone’s words, before her eyes wander over the men she mentioned. But as one of them approaches, she just squeezes her hand and smiles.
Astos does not bother to change into other clothes that are probably more suited for the occasion, only removing his light grey cloak and handing it to a servant. He heads over to the table where Bessa and Elrone are having their little conspirational chat and bows deeply before them - a little exaggerated gesture perhaps. “Might I join you, dear ladies?” And not awaiting their response her is about to grab the next chair as he notices the Massey knight approaching and hesitates for a short moment - but with a pleased smile. “Ser… I mean, Ammon. I am sure we two are interrupting some very secret conversations here - but do join us.”
Eon dismounts and makes his way into the lodge. He hands off the grouse to a nearby servant to be dealt with. He takes a seat near Lady Elrone, though soon after his sister joins them and speaks to him. Nodding his head in understanding he accepts a glass of wine and sits to listen to the room, still trying to gain an understanding of his new environment.
Entering the lodge, ser Albyn hands over his cloak to Haston -who quickly goes to attend other business- and as the Crane continues, he looks around searching for someone as it seems. A slight frown decorates his face however as the lodge is filled with nobles… except for the one he wants. ” Haston?” he inquires without a glance over his shoulder but the squire has already disappeared.
It’s about this time that, a heavy fur cloak wrapped tightly about her to ward off the cold, pale blue with fine cranes worked into the fabric in golden thread, Delanei Crane steps through the doors to the lodge, a servant accompanying her. She draws the hood of the cloak back, and takes a deep breath, taking in the warmth of the room and the scents of roasting meats and other viands, cheeks flushed from the wind. “Thank you, Anna,” she tells the servant as she relinquishes her cloak; dressed in a gown of similar coloring to the cloak, with a finely-embroidered belt around the waist, she steps forward, and looks around, her lips curving into a smile as she spots Albyn, “I’m here,” she taps him on the shoulder from behind, laughing lightly.
“Hello Ammon… Ser Astos.” Elrone smiles, giving a look suspiciously close to a wink to Lady Bessa as they are joined. “Of course not, Ser Astos, would we conspire the moment our septas leave us out of their sight? That would very unseemly.” She smiles more broadly, nodding to Eon as well as he joins them. “We were simply discussing the local game- Lady Bessa was much luckier in the hunt today than I. As is only fitting for her house.”
Janden glances toward Bessa and Elrone as enough of their murmurs are heard to know that he and Farin are being talked of. Much like Ammon did moments before, the redhead pushes up to his feet to approach their spot, the brow with the scar running past it arching. “Something I can help you with, Lady Bessa, Lady Elrone?” he asks before having a seat. Malwyn’s off stuffing his face with what he can as tasty scents and aromas drift from the kitchens. Won’t be too long before the real dining starts.
Hearing the voice, the heir to Red Lakes turns and smiles down upon the smaller lady in front of him. ” My lady.” he greets with a smile nodding most elegantly before bending over to whisper.
Albyn whispers to Delanei, “... ... want ... ... ... ... ... for such ...”
“My thanks, ser,” Ammon says to Astos with a nod, “though I can’t stay long. I thought to ask a favor of the lady here.” Massey’s gaze travels from Astos to Eon, and then to Elrone. He smiles at her—and then looks to Bessa. “Lady,” asks Ammon Massey, “I wonder how skilled you are at embroidery, and whether you would perform a task for me. I would ask my lady of Darklyn, here,” Massey says with a gesture to Elrone, “but I have seen her battle with her needles enough that she would not thank me for the task. I would repay you, of course.”
After a fair bit of time outdoors, spent in pensive silence, Addison Darklyn enters into the lodge and again joins the hunting party. Though he has managed to will himself into the public light once again, his thoughts seem elsewhere as ever. It takes him a little bit, but he spies his youngest sister seated amongst a crowd of nobles, mostly men, and begins to limp his way on toward her.
Delanei whispers to Albyn, “... ... You wound ... ... the ... ...” she laughs lightly. “... ... ... ... the ... ... ... well ... ...”
The members of the group may have noticed that Ryckon was missing for about half the ride. The squire, distracted and alarmed by the whispering of certain ladies, had taken the wrong turn at a junction of game trails and had ridden along the wrong one for a time before realizing his mistake and riding back. So he arrives only now, looking a little flustered, hands his grouse and rabbit to a servant, and approaches the tables.
” I see.” Albyn states, letting an approving gaze run over the embroidery. Then he offers his ellbow to the green-eyed lady as to guide her to one of the tables where the Darklyns have gathered. ” Glad to see the King’s own have joined us for a hunt.” he starts, smiling politely as he gestures to the empties seats near them. ” You mind?”
Baffled Lady Bessa looks at Ser Ammon, her pale cheeks blushing to a blotchy pink. “Mylord it would be a pleasure and but… well, I’m afraid I just hurt my finger at the hunt and my needlework won’t be at its best. For the next months. My fingers feels very limp, a bowstring… and.. I should probably have a maester have a look on them. ” Helplessly, and by now as red as a strawberry, she hides her hand under her skirt and looks over to Lady Elrone.
Astos’s glance wanders from Ammon to Elrone, then to Bessa and finally back to Ammon. And suspecting the secretive whispering of the ladies a few moments before has something to do with granting certain nobles a favor, he leans back in his seat with a knowing smile, which broadens slightly at the belated entrance of the squire Ryckon.
Elrone bites her lip as she stifles a laugh, offering a friendly look to Bessa before she turns to Ammon. “Perhaps try Lady Reyna for that, Ammon.” She looks up as the Cranes and Janden join them, gesturing toward the empty seats. “Please, I think we can all fit. Thank you for arranging this for us, Ser Janden- the kitchens smell delicious!”
Elrone smiles to her brother as he nears the table. “Joining us, Addison? Doesn’t it smell wonderful?”
Delanei smiles, and accepts her husband’s offered elbow, allowing him to guide her to the table, “so I take it by the scents coming from the kitchen that you would count the hunt a success, then?” she asks him, green eyes sparkling as they make their way across the room.
“Ah, well,” Ammon says to the Hunter girl with a sad smile. “Injured fingers can be a terrible thing, my lady. You would be wise to see the maester when we return to the city.” And then so many others arrive, and Ammon is greeting them each—politely enough, it must be said, if not enthusiastically: Ser Janden; Ser Albyn and his wife, who he doesn’t know; Ryckon; and finally, Addison. And then, to Elrone, “I will do so, Lady Elrone, but I had just thought of the need, and so I thought to ask.”
Janden takes his seat, content to leave the food-related business to those who know what they’re doing. “It went well, Lady Delanei,” he answers with a nod, leaving out the brief part that wasn’t so great. “Just as soon as they’ve finished with the preparations, we’ll be dining on our catches.” He adds to Elrone, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
Still sitting on her hand Bessa’s helpless eyes wander from Lady Elrone to the smiling Ser Astos and cling to Ser Eon a heartbeat long, before she turns to Ser Janden and Ser Addison with relief, avoiding the eyes of Ser Ammon. “My apologies, mylord, my apologies….” A few heartbeats of silence follow before she addresses the other noble. “A fine hunt, indeed, Ser Janden. I enjoyed it. That’s what we were talking about, Lady Elrone and me…” As soon as a cup of watered wine enters her reach, she has it in her other hand and on her lips to prevent any further words escaping her mouth.
” Only shot one bird. Didn’t want to shame the others.” Albyn whispers merrily to his wife before nodding thankfully at lady Elrone. A short glance to Addison gives Albyn enough information and tapping a nod he greets the man. ” ser Addison, I assume?”
Not spotting another seat within convenient range, Ryckon approaches the table holding the most nobles with whom he is acquainted, with a frown on his face that turns up into a slight smile as he nears a seat. “Er, hello, everyone. No one minds if I sit here as well, I hope…?” And assuming no one raises any objections, he takes the seat and looks around. “...Right, er. Good hunt, all things considered.” The squire leaves those things up to interpretation.
Pale blue eyes look to Albyn as he asks to join his sister and him, and he tilts his head curiously. He manages a ghost of a smile as Albyn guesses at his identity, and the Darklyn man gives a faint nod before replying, “Indeed, I am he.” Spying the Massey knight again, Addison gives a nod, equally brief and polite as Ammon’s own. He smiles much more at ease, then, to his sister, saying, “Yes, it does. What would you recommend?” He skims over the table, then dismisses it with a wave. Looking back to the Crane man, he notes, “But I do not think we have met, ser. Might I ask who you are?”
Janden was seen not even using a bow, which, after not shooting very well in the archery tournament, may be a good thing. He was content to use the hawk and keep watch over the others. “And Farin, I caught that much.” Before anything further is said, a hand is lifted to stave it off. “But don’t trouble yourselves with it. Whether I like it or not, he’s the Warden and it’s his right to look in on things. His men ensured the hunting area was clear of any trouble, as well.” All the same, he really doesn’t sound appreciative of the apparent nagging of asking after permits and it’s tough to keep all annoyance out of his words and tone. “It went well, though. From what I could see the huntsmen performed well in preparing the area for all of you.” He gestures toward Ryckon and adds, “Sit. Don’t be nervous about it.” Malwyn is still off elsewhere chewing on his own food.
Speaking of which, those tasty scents grow stronger as the doors to the kitchen open wide and a procession of food begins to come, a handful of servants making multiple trips to ensure each table has enough for the visitors to fill their bellies. The rabbit and grouse have been worked into solo dishes and combined as parts of others with vegetables and sauces, glazes and more. It’s not a huge feast, but the variety is enough to satisfy the appetites of those here.
” Ser Albyn Crane, heir to Red Lake.” Albyn introduces himself before gesturing to his wife as well. ” And my wife, lady Delanei who has the honour of attending Lord Roote of Harroway as his heir.” he states with a quick wink to Delanei before shifting his attention back to Addison. The Crane ponders for a moment as he throws a glance to Addison’s leg. ” Dorne?” he asks, a soft sparkle… -of pity?- in his eyes.
“Ooh,” Elrone looks delighted at the food arriving- she has gotten quite hungry during the course of the trip. “Ah-” she tears her glance from the food to try and head off what she thinks Addison’s likely response to Albyn will be. “Ser Albyn won the archery tournament that Durance competed in the other day. He is quite a good shot.” She smiles somewhat optimistically to her brother before she turns to Albyn’s wife with a warmer smile. “A pleasure to meet you, Lady Delanei.” Spotting Ryckon after he gets his seat at the table, she turns to Bessa with a pointedly raised brow before she looks back to her brother.
Delanei smiles up at Albyn, and looks from him to the grey-haired man with whom he’s speaking, and she gives a polite nod to the knight as well as to Elrone, nodding in approval at her deflection, and giving Albyn’s arm a gentle squeeze. “And you as well, my lady,” she returns the smile. “Did I hear talk of embroidery a few moments ago?” she asks, with some interest.
“I see…” Addison remarks when his sister speaks up in support of the Hand’s retainer, and a bit more of a smile begins to form. Yet, as he then asks about his leg, it soon fades again, and the Darklyn man almost regretfully replies, “Indeed… The war took my leg and gave me this scar-” He traces a finger across the scar that mars his right cheek, “- but it did not take my life.” He gives a weak shrug at that, then turns his attention back to the various dishes available, asking, “What would you recommend, Elrone?”
Ammon considers Bessa, and her apparent nervousness around him, scratching his chin with his ruined hand. But at last he shrugs, wincing slightly at the motion—again—, before looking for his own squire. And there is Benther, sitting by the Huntsman’s squire. The two are in an animated conversation over their trenchers. Ammon, surprisingly perhaps, smiles at this. And he turns to the Royal Huntsman.
“I believe I’ll head back to the city. Would you see my squire back safely, Ser Janden? I’ll spoil the boy’s fun enough tomorrow; no need to do so tonight as well.”
Albyn lifts his cup in salute to Addison and everyone who -in opposite to many others- has survived the wars in Dorne. He’s about to turn his attention to the lady Elrone when another noble approaches and greets the Crane. There’s a very short moment when Albyn narrows his eyes - probably to dig up a name and position from his memory- before he greets the man by name and rises from his seat. Placing a quick kiss on Delanei’s cheek he wanders of with the other noble in a busy conversation.
As Ser Ammon scratches his chin with /his/ ruined hand, and as Lady Delanei’s speech comes to embroidery as well, Lady Bessa sinks an inch down in her seat, eyeing under the desk, as if she is seriously considering to flee down there -still hiding her own hand under her skirts.
Ryckon nods at Janden’s semi-insult with as much respect as he can properly give to… well, Janden. “Right, ser.” He notices Elrone’s brow-raising and blinks nervously, but then the food arrives and he can distract himself by looking over his options and calling over one of the larger ones. Though more polite about it than other squires, from the way he digs into the dish it is clear that he is hungry. After a bit he notices the Darklyn man. “...Ser Addison, is it? I don’t believe that we’ve met…?”
Janden got that scar on /his/ face in the first war, so he’s among those with the experience. Then there was that recent ambush outside Storm’s End. He looks up toward Ammon at the question, glancing around until he spots Malwyn and Benther off chatting, then he nods while appearing to see what he can as far as Ammon’s healing is concerned. “Consider it taken care of, ser. Thank you for coming out.” He settles back into general conversation before rising to excuse himself from those he’s near, reason given that he needs to discuss the hunt with a few of the men, thanking the rest for turning up as well.
Addison does not deign to return the toast, merely looking down and away from the Crane knight. Fortunately, Albyn seems to move on soon thereafter, leaving the Darklyn man to his depressing thoughts. Though that does not last for long either. Drawn out from his musings once again, Addison looks up to see a rather strongly built youth, and he tilts his head. “No, I… I do not think we have met, but I am indeed Addison Darklyn.”
Eon quietly sits and eats his meal watching the various nobles at his table talk, though he really has little to say. The grouse he is eating is very well done and he slowly eats it despite his desire to wolf it down. He looks over to his sister, who seems uncomfortable, causing a frown to appear on Eon’s face.
“Everything!” Elrone says with excitement, eyes growing bigger with each dish’s arrival. “Perhaps the rabbit, though, if you only mean to try one,” she adds to Addison with a smile. She looks up as some of the men begin leaving or moving off to other conversations, smiling a goodbye to Ammon- it looks like she is considering saying something critical of his decision to walk back through the Kingswood without the full party and not yet fully healed, but she thinks better of it and just nods instead- and just in time to pause the path of some of the food to her lips as she catches Ryckon introducing himself to her brother, which is enough to make her stare for a moment before she turns to Bessa with yet another meaningful look.
Delanei watches her husband walk away, then turns back to the women she’s sitting with, with a small shake of her head and a quiet chuckle. She doesn’t miss Lady Bessa looking uncomfortable, though, or the look that passes from Lady Elrone to the other. “It does all smell wonderful,” she comments lightly as the dishes are passed around, and she accepts samples from some.
“Right, ser.” Ryckon nods. “I am Ryckon Westerling, Ser Farin’s squire.” He glances in Janden’s direction to see if he’ll start some tirade, but he’s gone off already, so he continues speaking. “I’ve… obtained your sister’s favor for the upcoming tourney. That is, er, I asked and she said yes, so… You may have heard that already. So that’s… something, yes. Good to meet you.” He takes advantage of the time between responses to eat as much food as possible before he has to be polite again.
That done, Ammon turns from the Royal Huntsman, saying his goodbyes to his friends—and ignoring those who aren’t—until he comes to Addison Darklyn. He glances quickly at Elrone, considering, while the Westerling squire makes his introduction. But then the Massey knight turns back to Addison and says, “My lord of Darklyn, I’ve heard that you may soon be returning to Duskendale. Before you do, ser, there is a small matter I’d like to discuss with you. I shall look for you in the Keep in the next day or so, if you’ve the time to spare.”
Giving Ryckon an apathetic gaze, those pale blue eyes seeming to reflect neither approval nor disapproval, Addison Darklyn merely remarks, “I see…” And with that, his gaze lingering a moment or two longer, he then turns his attention toward Elrone. Whether or not that is a good thing, who knows? He inquires of his sister, “Did you manage to kill any of the prey, dear Elrone? I think I might try some of the rabbit, since you recommend it so.” He manages a mild smile, then opts to inquire of Ryckon while a servant fetches him some of the rabbit meat, “What made you ask for my sister’s favor, my lord of Westerling?” He then looks over to Ammon as he speaks up, and with a slight nod to him, he then replies, “Of course, my lord of Massey.”
Having found back from the deeps of the desk, Lady Bessa answers Lady Elrone’s look with a tiny nod. Noticing the frown on her brothers face, she manages a soft smile, though. In a quiet voice, she speaks to Eon. “Brother, my apologies. I forgot my courtesy, you haven’t been introduced to most of our companions as well, have you? May I introduce my brother Eon Hunter? The one who left was Ser Albyn Crane and I’ll make sure to introduce you properly at another occasion. This fine Lady seems to be his lovely wife, who I haven’t met as well. A pleasure to meet you, mylady of Crane, I am Lady Bessa Hunter, if you haven’t already caught my name. Again, my apologies… Over there you see Ser Janden, the Royal Huntsman. And now, meet Ser Addison and the squire Ryckon Westerling, who are introducing themselves to each other as well and… this is Ser Ammon….”, she points to the leaving man before she gets silent again to attend every word of the following ones concerning Elrone.
And if Elrone’s eyes were wide at the food before, they have become dinner plates themselves at the exchanges between her brother, Ryckon, and Ammon. She manages a vague mming noise as her brother makes his inquiries of her, before words finally come out… “No, not I- Durance will practice with me- later- I should think.” With a blush on her own cheeks, she looks down, staring at her plate while she pokes at her food, listening very carefully but temporarily unable to say anything or look at anyone else around the table.
Delanei gives Lady Bessa a smile and nod, “and you, Lady Bessa; I’ve had the pleasure of meeting your cousin Garlan recently; he mentioned you’d come to King’s Landing,” she explains, “and how glad he was to have family nearby again. I know the feeling, as I’ve only recently returned from a visit to my father’s keep myself…” she glances over at Albyn, giving a warm glance to his back as he chats on the other side of the room.
Cleyton has been sitting and eating quietly. He’s been intently listening to the other nobles converse with a serious expression as he works out the who is who and what their relationships with each other are. Noticing introductions he starts, as if waking from a trance. “Oh I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten to introduce myself. I’m Ser Cleyton Waxley, newly arrived from the Vale. I believe I’ve met a few of you earlier.”
Eon smiles as his sister introduces him to the other nobles. “It is a pleasure meeting you all. Ser Cleyton, it appears that there are more Valemen than I thought in King’s Landing. Some very familiar names makes me feel more at home, though I am not familiar with all of the individuals.”
“...Er.” Ryckon doesn’t deliver a very promising start to his answer to Addison. “...My c—I have a very high… opinion of your sister’s… conduct.” Nor can he offer a satisfying conclusion. Fortunately, help arrives in the form of new people who can distract everyone from Ryckon’s romantic failings. “Ser Eon! Ser Cleyton. Greetings and good day to you both.” He greets the two Valemen more enthusiastically than anyone else he has met during the day.
“Until then, ser,” Ammon says to Addison as he turns to go. And he -almost- makes it to the door before he hears his name again: Lady Bessa is introducing him to her brother. And so Ser Ammon Massey studies Ser Eon Hunter as the introduction is made, studies his own ruined hand for just a moment. And, after a few moments of contemplation, Ammon nods to the Hunter knight. But he says nothing else as he heads outside and back into the Kingswood.
“My cousin Garlan… I’m sure he is going to be a noble knight sometime! It is indeed more than a pleasure to have one’s kin around. I’m sure Ser Albyn is delighted to have you back. And ah, Ser Cleyton,” Bessa smiles, looking expectantly over to Ryckon as he tries to manage an answer to Ser Addison’s question. “But I’m afraid I have to head back to the Red Keep, I think my uncle, Septon Elwood awaits me at the sept. No worries, brother, I will be accompanied by our guards. Well met, mylords, myladies, I hope we could continue our conversation soon.” To Lady Elrone she addresses “Well and… I may be in need of a bit help with a certain… song. I hope you’ll find the time to visit me these days, mylady?” with another curtsey, she finally leaves the room.
And Addison is indeed distracted by the entrance of Eon Hunter and addition of Cleyton Waxley into the conversation. As usual for his nature, Addison doesn’t say much, but merely gives a nod toward the two Valeknights. But, soon the Darklyn man turns his attention back to the Westerling, and his reply is forthcoming, “Her conduct, you say. I see…” He purses his lips, then gives a slight, thoughtful nod. Fortunately for Ryckon, the servant soon returns with some rabbit meat, and Addison decides to busy himself with that instead.
Cleyton waves a farewell to Ammon as he leaves. And flashes Ryckon a knowing grin. Turning to Eon he says “I’m surprised at the number of Valemen in the city as well. Perhaps they are all leaving the mountains before Winter comes. Not a bad strategy considering winters.” He gives Bessa a polite nod “Have a good day my lady, it was good to see you again.”