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A faint hue of burnt orange tints the western sky, hinting at a glorious sunset not long in coming. The yards of the Red Keep are still and quiet, for the most part; here a servant, there a gold cloak or squire, but many of the denizens of the castle are at table.
Ser Almer Connington, clad in all in dusty black save for the long griffin cloak about his broad shoulders, loiters idly by the viewing stands before the quintain. There is a look of mild impatience upon his features, as if he is awaiting some appointment.
Long, brisk strides bring Black Jonn toward the quintain. It is unclear whether such is his final destination, or whether his feet were needed elsewhere. Nonetheless his eyes fall on the black-clad Connington and he alters his course appropriately.
“Did someone die?” he inquires, golden brows arching just above their usual resting place.
Almer eyes the newcomer appraisingly, arms crossed, expression neutral. “Hello, cousin. You don’t approve of my choice of attire, I take it?”
The tall knight’s eyes are cold and unwelcoming, but his mouth quirks now in faint amusement. “I suppose those things matter to some people.”
A slender form in the darkest hue of blue arrives from the stableyard. Her garb is travel stained and she carries a riding crop. The top of her nose is a quaint shade of pink…possibly from sunburn. She whistles a soft tune…if Almer Connington hears her, it is the tune from a very well known hunting song.
She regards both men with a bright gaze and nods her head to first the Lannister knight, then the Connington.
“Good day, gentlemen and well met.”
“It hardly matters to me,” Jonn replies with a shrug that brings a careless smirk to his face, “but usually the black is saved for the grieving widow or the crow in the north.”
The woman does little to intrigue Black Jonn. Slender? Not for Casterly Rock’s forgotten son. Regardless, he returns the nod politely.
“Better a crow than a peacock,” Almer replies with an amiable shrug. “And as for widows, I suppose we all mourn friends lost, in our own way. Which reminds me, Ser Jonn, that I have a matter of some import I wished to discuss with you.”
The Lady Elanna’s arrival elicits a smile and nod of familiarity from the Connington knight.
“Shall I depart for your conversation?” Elanna gestures after returning Almer’s smile ..outward, “I should very much dislike to interrupt?” She glances between the twain with some curiosity nonetheless.
“True, true,” says Jonn, his face remaining carefree…
Until the right eyebrow arches. Then his face grows inscrutable. “A matter of some import?” He looks long at the Connington knight, then nods once. “Very well, what is it?”
He says nothing to Elanna, not being of her acquaintance. He does sneak a glance in her direction, however, as one trying to place a vague recognition.
Connington, on the other hand, offers the Penrose widow an easy smile. “Not at all, Elanna. Pray linger for a moment.”
Then he turns back to his Lannister kinsman. “Tell me, Ser Jonn,” Almer says in a friendly, almost careless manner, “did you know my friend Ser Colyn Rowan? Wed to my cousin, the Lady Reyna Tyrell. Sister to the puissant Lord Tyrell.”
The Stormlands knight’s latter comment is delivered with frosty sarcasm; the feud between Connington and Lord Garvys is widely-known. “I ask, because I have heard some troubling gossip in which your name came up, and I very much desire to get to the truth of those unpleasant rumors.”
Elanna pauses, even as she might turn away, her sapphirine gaze coming to rest upon Jonn then. A slight frown lines her forehead and she rests her crop easily in both hands. A curious peer upon Almer, then back to the Lannister.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” says Jonn, folding his forearms over his chest, and tapping the left with his right index finger. “So she is our esteemed commander’s sister, is she? That might explain her disdain of me.”
Then he smiles. But slightly. And then sighs for effect. “Tell me, what am I accused of this time?”
“Accused? Nothing.” Almer laughs, but there is surprisingly little mirth in the gesture. “You are not on trial, coz. I admit that I do not know you so well as your brother, for I understand you are but new to knighthood.” This comment is, as much of Connington’s words so far, carefully neutral. “Nevertheless your wit is renowned.”
And, quick as a sudden storm, Almer’s entire demeanor changes; icy formality supplants his easy familiarity in an instant. “However, I would be personally and deeply grateful to you, ser, if you would assent to refrain from exercising that famous wit at the expense of my dead comrade. And of his widow.”
“My wit does not excercise,” says Jonn, still smiling, “unless it has need of it.”
He pauses for a moment. “I am not in the practice of insulting dead men or their widows, so I wonder why you ask this of me?”
“What…” Elanna’s voice is decidedly perplexed, looking from one man to the other, before she falls silent once more, her lips open in moue of confusion.
Like twin pools of bitter ice, Connington’s eyes linger on Jonn, weighing, judging. “A merry jest to one man may be a poison affront to another.” Silence, long and heavy, descends for a moment. Then it relents, somewhat.
“Look, Jonn,” Almer says patiently, putting a brotherly arm around the Lannister knight’s shoulders. “I rode with some damned fine men in Dorne. Ser Oswent of the Orchard. Ser Denys of Greengate. White Wat. Cadwell the Miller. Ser Crispyn of Tarth, the Black Lance. Baldwyn Brightsmile. And do you know what they have in common?”
“They are crow’s food. They are nothing but a memory.” Connington frowns, and his tone hardens. “Ser Colyn too. All any of us are, in the end, is how we are remembered. And it pains me to think that my friend Ser Colyn could only be remembered as ‘Barearse’ or some other childish jape. Not after he poured his life out in the bloody fucking Carrion Wood.”
Elanna’s features gain a stark pallor and her fingertips barely hold onto the riding crop. It drops by her feet unheeded.
“Why…why would Ser Colyn be called that dreadful name?” her lips too were pale, as her dark eyes scanned one man, then the second.
“It’s just a soldier’s jest, Elanna,” Almer tells the Baratheon lady reassuringly. “I’ll explain later.”
“You don’t have to tell me about death, Connington,” Jonn says almost primly, managing a grim smile. “Surely you can’t have forgotten my brother’s little tryst with the Dragonknight, and the position that left me in?”
He shakes his head. “I may have called Colyn Rowan many things at the campfire with other soldiers, as many did. But to his grieving widow? You said I have a famous wit, and now I think you were just toying with me. That’s just madness, cousin.”
“A soldier’s jest?” Elanna raises her hands to her lips and rubs them briefly, “A poor one then. Does Ren know it?” she asks of Almer.
Almer says nothing for a moment, looking long and hard at Jonn. Then he nods. “Very well. I believe you to be an honorable man, and I accept your word.”
“I know the Lannisters have a saying; about how you always pay your debts.” Connington smiles appreciatively. “I’ve always liked that, and I feel the same way. I owe the men who fought beside me a debt, to honor them for their deeds. So I know you will understand why I am touchy about such matters.”
“I consider the matter concluded, then.” And to the Lady Elanna: “She knows of the rumors, but I don’t know how much. I believe there were some intemperate remarks made at the Arrival Feast.”
“A Lannister always pays his debts.”
Jonn says the words, and quite convincingly. “And House Tyrell still owes me an uncle,” he says, proving at last that a man can appear thoughtful and full of wrath at the same instant.
There is a soft sound from the Penrose widow and she bends to pick up her riding crop. Her hands whiteknuckle on it briefly and bend it slightly.
“I must…go,” she murmurs distractedly, “Ser Almer, a pleasure as always. Ser..” a nod to Jonn. The sweep of her linen skirts is almost loud.
“Lord Tyrell has much to answer for,” Almer agrees darkly with the Lannister.
“I’m sorry to have detained you, cousin. Please give my regards to your brother.” And at that, the griffin knight turns to leave, offering the Lady Elanna that same reassuring smile as earlier.
“Farewell.” He strides away toward the Guest Tower without a backward glance, his earlier appointment apparently abandoned.
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