“Long ago, there was a maiden who—”
“Is this going to be a love story?”
Jyana Arryn looks up from the patch of grass she is sitting on, blinking her blue-eyes at the small group seated in front of her, inquisitive pairs of eyes, much younger than herself, looking at her with the sort of boldness only early childhood could imprint on such faces. “Well, a little bit,” she admits with a small, but sheepish little grin. “Most stories in this book are love stories.”
“But that’s boring!” the only girl in her small crowd of three pouts.
“Aye!” the oldest of the bunch declares, frowning. “I don’t want to hear the icky stuff.”
“You know you’re going to have to do the icky stuff eventually right?” Jyana reminds him, forcing down a grin. She is rewarded by a wrinkle of his upturned little nose, and a resounding ‘BLECH!’ echoed by the other children.
There is a pause, and Jyana sighs, picking up the book from her lap, thumbing right into the middle and opening it up to that part. “Alright,” she relents. “We’ll skip to the good parts.”
The chorus of “YAY!” is enough to encourage her. Picking up a stick, Jyana gets on her feet and with the book dropped onto the ground, placing her form in a parody of a defensive stance she has seen her twin brothers practice on one another several times before. Besides, she knew this part of the story by heart.
” ‘You fight very well indeed, ser Westerosi!’ exclaimed the Braavosi waterdancer,” the Jewel recites dramatically. ” ‘But I must tell you now that I have a secret I must impart upon your ears before this duel could go on any further!’ “
She skips a little bit, to face the opposite way, with the same stance. ” ‘Oh?’ replied the Terrible Reaver Robyn, his calm expression hidden well by his black, metal helm. ‘And praytell, what secret is that, ser Braavosi?’ “
” ‘The secret is this!’ cries the Braavosi sellsword. ‘I….am not left handed!’ “
She tosses the stick onto her right hand, and finishes the recitation with a dramatic slight, albeit unpracticed, lunge.
Having come quietly upon this scene some moments before, a golden-haired knight observes the reading—and its subsequent dramatic rendition—with a growing sense of visible mirth. A look of delight kindles in his eyes, watching the joy of the little children, and he moves to come closer, crossing the brief expanse of close-cropped lawn toward the story.
He comes at them from the right, such that the children—intent upon Jyana—and Jyana, intent upon her tale, are less likely to notice him. Or so one might think. The imaginations of little boys, especially, are fired by the prospects of a duel, and one such has already begun searching the yard with an eagle eye for potential foes or heroes.
Might be he’s found one.
“Ser Jaesin! Ser Jaesin,” cries the lad, a pudgy, tow-headed page of six years or so. “It’s a duel, Ser!”
“The clash of steel from both swords resounded over the earth,” Jyana continues, her voice shifting to reflect the tone of the book. “Their shadows dancing upon one another as both fighters continued. It was when the Terrible Reaver Robyn was on the brink of defeat when he faced his enemy and spoke:”
She clears her throat, and deepens her voice. ” ‘Ser Braavosi,’ he said. ‘Before this duel could continue, I’m afraid that I, too, must impart upon you a secret.’ “
” ‘Oh?’ the sellsword replied. ‘And what is that?’ “
Jyana tosses the stick back onto her left hand, and slashes the air with it, tilting her chin proudly, and doing her best to mimic the smirk that she envisions on the reaver’s face.
” ‘I,’ Terrible Reaver Robyn declared. ‘Am not -right- handed!’ “
This is when the oldest child in the group seems to have his attention caught elsewheres. “Ser Jaesin! Ser Jaesin. It’s a duel, Ser!”
Surprised, for her back is turned to the knight that has approached, Jyana turns around, blinking at who she sees. While the slightest of embarassed color blooms on her cheeks, she gives him a wry look, though she can’t help the smile unbidden tugging on the edges of her mouth. Caught, and yet again.
“I thought by now you’d be more of an advanced age for these stories, Ser Jaesin?” she asks with a grin.
Ser Jaesin Lannister shares one of his famous smiles with the maid of the Eyrie and her audience both, and gives an exaggerated shrug of his shoulders. “I’ll never be so old that I’m ‘too old’,” he quips. To the six-year-old page that spotted him, the knight directs a collaborator’s wink, and the boy giggles.
“Now, Lady Jyana, if you’ll be so kind to tell me,” the knight wonders aloud, all assumed innocence and childlike wonder, “at what part does Lann the Clever come into the tale? I’ve always been partial to Lann’s stories.”
Another child, a girl of perhaps four, wrinkles up her face in a frown at the knight. With all the wisdom of her years, she gravely intones, “Lann’s not in this tale, Ser Jaesin. Robyn Reaver is fighting the Barravosi sellsword.” As if this was clearly obvious, and anyone should know it.
Her companions all add nods or noises of subtle agreement.
“It grieves me to disappoint you, Ser Jaesin,” Jyana replies with a replied exaggeration with a solemn look that isn’t too sincere by the look of her eyes. “But alas, Lann the Clever is not present in this tale. The very intelligent young lady is correct in informing you of thus.”
The little girl preens from where she is, but when the boy next to her, the quiet one, with enough of her features to be a sibling, mutters something under his breath, she pouts and hits him with a mighty, and tiny, fist.
“Oh, Ser Jaesin hasn’t heard it!” the page exclaims eagerly, turning to the young knight, worship in his eyes. “Lady Jyana, he could join us, couldn’t he? And you could also tell him the story!”
“I want to sit next to Ser Jaesin!” cries the little girl.
“No, me!” the page argues with his sister.
“Easy little ones, but I believe Ser Jaesin has -two- sides in which you both can sit,” Jyana reminds gently. “Should he decide to join us of course.”
The page and the little girl goggle at him with their huge, shiny eyes.
“....I’ll sit right in front, Lady Jyana,” the quiet boy says, scooting forward.
“Very well, very well,” laughs the Lannister knight, lowering himself to the lawn on bended knees! “There’s room enough for all of you, let’s not argue.” Unbuckling his swordbelt and tossing the scabbarded blade aside—some five paces away from the children, at least—he sits down at last, a new little comrade to either side.
With an easy grace and a lazy manner, Ser Jaesin messes the hair of both the little girl and her brother, who laugh aloud and duck away. Their peers all giggle in similar fashion, and when the brief storm passes, the knight grins up at the storyteller.
“Go on then, my lady. My friends and I should like to hear the rest of your tale.”
Fighting back a rather wide and delighted smile, Jyana clears her throat. “Ahm. Well then, now that everyone’s settled we can most certainly continue,” she remarks cheerfully, and she waves the stick slightly, repositioning herself and turning to her audience.
“Now,” she says, tapping her chin with a fingernail and a thoughtful look. “Where was I? Oh, yes!”
She re-enacts the duel with her own flair, pausing now and then to answer questions, however she only did so for the duels. Pretty soon, however, the children are engrossed with the tale so much that they have forgotten their earlier derision for the “icky parts.” Indeed, the storytelling would have gone on for longer, if it weren’t for the children’s septa coming out and calling for them to return to their lessons. Groans, protests, and entreaties to stay “just a little bit longer” fall on stubborn ears.
“Thank you very much for entertaining them for me, Ser Jaesin, Lady Jyana,” the septa says, gesturing for the reluctant page boy to move forward despite his pouting, though her beaming smile is of course much more directed towards the famous champion. “I could only hope they didn’t impose too much.”
“You’re most very welcome, I enjoyed it,” Jyana tells the septa with a smile of her own and curtseying in turn when the older woman departs.
Having risen with the children to say his own goodbyes—and receiving a great many more hugs and giggles than a tourney champion might reasonably be used to—it is a simple thing for Jaesin to acknowledge the septa’s thanks with an inclination of his head. But his own attention, conversely, is focused on the child.
Taking a knee, Jaesin leans to whisper something in the lad’s ear that brightens his outlook considerably. Jumping forward with glee, he needs no further admonishments from the septa—who trails after him, puzzled—to return to his studies.
Smiling a lopsided smile, the knight returns to his feet and regards Jyana with the slighest hint of mischief. “Little Alain reminds me of Mathin,” he confides, “and as his father is a member of my household, I thought a promise of personal instruction—pending success in his studies, of course—might raise his spirits.”
“And would most certainly raise his motivation to concentrate on those studies,” Jyana observes astutely, blue-green eyes on the pudgy, tow-headed boy as he takes off and makes headway from his other siblings. “You certainly have a way with children, Ser Jaesin, though I got a distinct impression that you needed that just as much.” A smile is directed towards the knight.
This does not last long however as she turns away, stooping to retrieve the book on the ground, brushing a leaf from the battered cover reverently and folding her hands over it against her chest.
“So how goes the day?” she ventures. “Apart from charming little children, of course.”
“Ser Bryan’s brood are a happy lot, my lady,” Jaesin chuckles, gazing after the departed children.
“Their father is a distant cousin—the many Lannisters of Lannisport, you know,” he laughs again to say it, “and he rode with me in Dorne. I have taken two of the boys into my service since our return.” Musingly, as much to himself as to the maiden before him, the knight continues, “I am even now seeking a place at court for their mother. Hannah may have been born a merchant’s daughter, but she will serve some highborn woman well, I think.”
“But you asked of me,” the knight remarks. “How foolish of me to forget it! I am well, I suppose—we finally managed a few tilts this morning, and I have seen no sign of Dagur Saltcliffe lately. So all in all, a good day.” The last is delivered with a smirk.
“And yourself,” he intones archly, “O fairest treasure of the far, high places?”
There is a light touch of friendly mockery in the phrase, and it is clear by his ironic tone that Ser Jaesin, at least, is one knight at court who does little business in flowery showers of poetic charm.
“I’d very much rather look upon the faces of happy children than despondent ones,” Jyana says wistfully, a thoughtful look cast elsewhere, though it does not linger into the fog of her mind, for she returns to listen to what Jaesin imparts upon her intently. She inclines her head towards him - he being of much taller stature.
“It would be good to have their mother close by,” she agrees, her expression softening. “I certainly hope your petition goes through. If I hear of anything opening up, I’ll certainly pass on the word to you whenever you’re not so busy.”
She nods, remembering their last conversation regarding the Ironborn knight. “I trust things remain unresolved,” she says, pursing her lips just a little bit. “But I think it’s just as well that the two of you not encounter one another soon with the way you parted company several days ago.”
If he were more familiar, she would roll her eyes and tap a knuckle on his shoulder in an equally mocking punch, much she would do to Ondred or Andred. “Don’t -you- start on that too,” she returns with an answering grin. “I rather you call me by my given name. I can’t help but feel a little uneasy when someone calls me the Jewel.”
“Even the ever-glorious Almer Connington? I’ve heard he’s volunteered to give you riding lessons, and my dear cousin has always been as quick with a sweet word as he is with a sword,” Ser Jaesin intones with another quick touch of irony. There is still laughter in the question, though, and the Lannister knight smiles honestly.
“You’ve nothing to fear from Almer, though,” he adds, “despite all this talk of his Dornish paramour. If I’d been a wiser man two years ago and accepted that contract, I’d still say you could trust his instruction. Better by far than that skulking Saltcliffe…”
Jaesin pauses, then, and looks at Jyana more seriously.
“You see more of my brother than I, and he might trust you better,” he quietly confides, after a moment. “Tell Jonn that the pirate is a dangerous man. Like your Braavosi sellsword, I think,” the knight explains with a sudden return to levity, nodding at the book in her hands with a grin.
“Ser Almer?” Jyana says, a surprised look entering her face as she looks upon the smiling, handsome features in that gentle, yet scrutinizing way. But then she laughs, her head tossing back a bit as she takes a rounded step from the knight to watch the goings on at the opposite end of the yard, and the flight of a single, colorful bird that darts to the nearby trees. “I’ve forgotten just where I am at the present moment. News travels fast in King’s Landing. He has offered, yes - by happenstance and certainly on a whim, I suppose. He encountered me at the stables one day.”
She grins. “Granted I was hesitant.” Her face softens with a more serious look. “I know he is a commander held in high regard and I’m certain there are more pressing matters that require his attention than teaching someone like myself to ride, but I’m both proud and ashamed to admit that he bought my acquiescence readily with a book he obtained during the campaign. Have you heard of it? ‘The Three Thousand of Qohor?’ He remembers well that I was reared listening to stories of great battles.”
The more serious look that touches his face is taken notice instantly, and when she hears, she nods. “I will tell him though to be honest I can’t anticipate at the moment how he would react. Chances are…he’ll laugh it off or dismiss it by shrugging his shoulders. Though that is never really a telling indicator as to what he truly feels about a particular subject.”
She grins. “Though I’m rather hoping that Ser Dagur Saltcliffe doesn’t have the ability to switch hands in the middle of a duel.”
“For all his sullen arrogance, this Ser Dagur is a master swordsman,” Jaesin replies. “Not a few Dornishmen would agree, if they still lived to make agreement.”
A momentary shadow haunts his sapphire Lannister eyes, but it passes quickly and he jests instead, “It should not surprise me if he could fight two-handed. He thinks enough of himself to try it, that much I can assure you.” His mood lightened once more, Ser Jaesin looks down at Jyana in open curiosity.
“As to your book, I tell you I’ve not heard of it—nor read it, or any other account of battle,” he says, with an air of innocence that is entirely too wide-eyed to be believed. Until he drops the punchline, that is:
“After all, Ser Jaesin Lannister is a mere tourney knight. He knows little or nothing of tactics, and less of strategy. He only cares for the shine of the sunlight on his bright gilded plate, and the look of crimson banners as they flutter in the breeze.”
“That is what they will tell you,” says that selfsame tourney knight, “and it serves me best not to correct them.”
“I’m wondering, if you would indulge my curiosity, as to how you came across that information?” Jyana asks inquisitively. “I don’t wish to give the impression of doubting your word, truly, but I thought perhaps that you knew of this prowess of his because you faced him yourself, and if you have…” She grins cheekily. “I’d very much like to know who won.”
The darker expression falls on his mien then, and Jyana drifts her eyes down on the ground, tapping a slippered toe on the grass once or twice. “Well, only time would tell if there’s anyone brave or stupid enough to goad Ser Iron Serpent into a fight,” she muses. “And perhaps I will witness it to determine whether he could fight with both hands.”
The innocent look, wide-eyed indeed, doesn’t fool the Jewel a bit, though there was something about his expression that tells her that she isn’t meant to be fooled by it, and at what he says, she cannot help but laugh. “Aye,” she states. “I have been told already, and as a child, or at the very least younger than I am now, I’ve thought the same.” She looks up at the same bird, that has landed nearby chirping. “I’ve never seen a tournament in my life, hence I’ve never been given a chance to grow fond of them and those they attract.”
She admits this unabashedly, and she doesn’t turn her eyes away at any pretense of demure shame on it. She smiles at him openly. “However I like to be able to form my own opinion, as ill received as they may be. I am young, female, and too inexperienced to truly say anything of import. However, it stands to reason that if you were merely just a tourney knight, and purely devoid of mettle necessary to survive an actual battlefield, that the rigors of Dorne would’ve eaten you alive, yet here you are, standing before me.”
Now Jaesin Lannister laughs, long and heartily. Perhaps this one at least, among all the veterans of Dorne, has begun to put the spectre of the desert behind him. “I saw more than Dagur Saltcliffe’s work in the south,” he admits, “and that man slew Utheryn Uller, so for all his faults, never doubt his prowess. But please—doubt mine. Think me a poor commander, I beg you.”
And the devilish smile that accompanies this pleading would be enough by itself to give his statement the lie, even if nothing else had.
“Matrim Jordayne thought as much,” Ser Jaesin admits with a humbler look. “My tournament triumphs had become so well-known that the Scourge of the Stepstones thought so little of me, he named me ‘The Knight of a Hundred Smiles’. It was Daeron’s plan that slew him, as much as my sword, ” he recounts, “but our false retreat was a masterful thing. And Ser Matrim would never have taken the bait, if he thought me a better captain.”
He pauses, and allows her to consider this, before adding, “My father likes to say that a wise man keeps the better part of his gold in the treasury, and judges opportunity carefully before its use.”
She laughs. “Well,” Jyana says, pausing to consider his entreaty to think him a poor commander. “I suppose you’re in luck. I merely said that you knew enough to be able to survive a string of heated battles like Dorne - you could still be a poor commander as far as I know. After all I’ve never seen you give orders, nor have I seen you speak with any of the men you command regarding strategy.”
Aquamarine eyes roll heavenward at the devillish grin at what he says for a last statement, but that too, is a jest, for she is smiling again to return it. She pauses at that, with a start, perhaps catching herself or surprised at herself that she could speak her opinion so frankly without being berated for it, but she presses on. “I hope I don’t sound unkind, of course, despite all my jesting. “
Her interest piques then, even more so now that they are talking about battles in Dorne - nodding when Jaesin speaks of Matrim Jordayne and Daeron’s own strategy. “I hear His Grace is a genius in the battlefield,” she says softly. “Perhaps I’ll meet him one day.”
But her expression turns sunny yet again at what he says. “A false retreat? Really?” she asks, laughing. “I thought it was already such a household tactic that no seasoned commander would dare charge after! So he really thought so little of you? THAT little of you? Ah, what sort of commander would disregard any sort of wariness towards someone out to bring him down, no matter what reputation? I imagine if I were born a man and stuck in a middle of a war with just my arms and my wits, I wouldn’t have trusted anything.”
She winks at him. “But you needn’t heed me too much on that. It’s also very easy for one who has not been in the shoes in those particular circumstances to say that he or she could’ve done better.”
At his last words, she nods, folding her arms behind her back, book clasped within one, turning sideways to look into a copse of trees. “Aye…” she says softly. “The element of surprise could very well turn the tide.”
“We’d had the Tor besieged some weeks by then, and they were desperate for a breakout,” Ser Jaesin explains. “I suspect that their eagerness for some manner of victory played a part in the result. Remember, too,” and now his eyes shine more sharply, “I was the knight so desperate for glory that I deserted my father’s men, and left them to my poor, unblooded brother.”
There is still that hint of knowledge withheld, of less than full disclosure, that marks him a poor liar—and he knows it. “Daeron made good use of all those foolish tales, and more,” Jaesin explains. “No potential weapon goes unused once he learns of it—and he learns quickly of everything. He is shrewd with his strategies, moreso than many men twice and thrice his age—though his uncle the Hand is wiser in the wider world, I think. His Grace’s plans came out aright. Even Jonn earned his salt in the end.”
The last is said with a hint of pride, and not the grudging sort.
Now he falls silent, and follows her glance into the trees. “You no longer speak of swords and spears, I think,” he ventures carefully.
Jyana listens attentively, moving so that the arms folded at the back of her fold right over her chest, much of her earlier levity gone and instead replaced by an expression of serene, studious interest. “I know very little about actual war in terms of experience and chances are I will never have a chance,” she begins. “But if the men had been the sort predisposed to action, I could see how that may be.” And then there is his remark, so biting, and a quote she has heard before, and she couldn’t help but look startled, watching him for a moment, before turning her head.
“I cannot comment on that, and not just out of the thought that you may find my opinions tremeduously biased.” She sighs, lifting a hand to clear a stubborn curl away from her eyes. “But I assure you that I am not above thinking that there are extenuating circumstances that you may or may not wish to disclose to anyone as to why you left them to Jonn.”
She seems to much admire the tactical prowess of the King, as she has grown to foster appreciation for those skills. “It’s fascinating to hear how,” she replies with a nod. “I’m inclined to believe that His Grace seems to have always had an aptitude for it. Perhaps Lady Taria would know for certain, but I can only go by what I’ve heard. And from one so young….he couldn’t be no more than your age, then, Ser Jaesin?” She knows of the king, but it seems she is unfamiliar as to just how young he was. Yet after a pregnant pause, she smiles faintly. “But you are proud of him. I think in his position it would count for a lot.”
The careful poking causes her to look back at him. “Hm?” she states, before laughing. “The ponderings of a maiden who thinks too much and cannot help it,” she states in a disparaging tone that she did not truly mean. “Forgive me. It’s always been that way. I’ve a closeness with my lord cousin that he values my honest words and since then….” She pauses. “But perhaps not always. For some reason, you make me feel at ease enough to speak almost freely.”
Ser Jaesin says no more of his reasons, or Dorne, for the nonce. Instead he seems almost puzzled….
“Your lord cousin?” The term confuses the golden knight, and his eyebrows rise slightly—along with his tone—in a betrayal of vague curiosity. “I am glad you find me an easy man to trust, I admit. I am many things, but an honest man and true knight are the foremost among them, I hope—but pray, forgive me my ignorance, my lady. I suppose that, like myself, you have many lords cousin,” he laughs.
“The King has less years than I do, I think,” asserts the Lannister knight with some measure of confidence; then momentarily he quips, “But he is no kin to House Arryn, unless I slept through all my history lessons.”
“And so I must admit my ignorance again, and ask you, Jyana—of whom do you speak?”
“An easy man to talk to at the very least, or one I trust not to berate me for speaking my opinion so freely. After all, it has been mere days since I’ve first met you.”
The smile returns to Jyana’s delicate face, though at the confusion, she bursts out laughing. “Aye, of course, forgive me. It’s just that I rarely ever call him by his given name….just ‘cousin’.” She chuckles and inclines her head. “Lord Jonothor Arryn. In fact I have come here in your sister’s place, apart from my first and formal introduction to the main court. M’lady Lira could not come herself because…”
She pauses, and her fingertips fly to her lips. “Oh….I may have forgotten if you’ve not heard so yet. But I was sent, just in case the ravens did not reach Jonothor, to tell him in person, apart from giving him a warm welcome home, is that he has been, for the last two months or so, the proud father of a healthy son.” She smiles. “I do not know if the ravens have reached you as well, but your sister Lira’s pregnancy was a very robust success. She has named the boy ‘Eldred’. A mere babe, but already so handsome.”
She laughs. “Of course, the King is no kin of mine - and if he were I’d be one of the first to ask him questions should he ever oblige me. Why?” She leans towards him slightly, squinting her eyes at him in the mock parody of an old maester. “Did you sleep through -some- of your history lessons?”
“But aye. It’s Jonothor of whom I speak.”
“Ahhh,” Jaesin sighs in recognition of the name, “Lord Jonothor is known to me.” He nods, pursing his lips before speaking further—as if striving with a recalcitrant memory. The silence is good for a moment’s pause, and then he smiles again, honest and true in fact as well as word.
“An impressive man, this cousin of yours—and my good-brother, I suppose. A talented man indeed, to be raised in the mountains and become such a captain of ships as he proved himself in Dorne. I’ve heard it said he was Oakenfist’s strong right arm, with that Falcon of his.” The knight nods again, pleased with the recollection.
Bending to retrieve his swordbelt, on a knee Ser Jaesin further admits, “I do not know Lira well, for all that she is my sister, but I had a raven from our lord father where he wrote of the lad’s birth. A grandson of the Rock, he said, in the roost of the Eyrie. Perhaps one day I will visit him there—”
Frowning to himself, the knight adds, “I have not seen your famous castle of the Vale.”
“Ser Artys’s Falcon,” Jyana states with a beaming smile, and sincere pride etched upon her lovely features. “Many a night have I drafted plans to steal aboard the vessel unnoticed. You can see how well - those- machinations turned out.” Even if she did try, she probably wouldn’t have made it out of the Eyrie’s gates. But there is mischief in her eyes to go to the slight dimple on her left cheek.
After another pause, she sighs. “Aye….he’s a good man. A far cry from what he used to be. To be honest, he was a lot like Jonn back in the day, and even more prone to excess.” There is a strange expression on her face, as if blindsided by a sudden memory long since buried, before she shakes her head slightly as if she could physically dislodge it. “But his tactical mind, that has been constant. I don’t know how he managed to do so well over the water, but perhaps it was the sort of role he was born to play, despite being from the mountains in a predominantly landlocked area.”
She smiles. “Perhaps,” she says. “The road up is perilous, and the heights are certainly discouraging enough. But I didn’t think it too bad, I was born and raised in the Eyrie. I suppose if I’ve not developed a liking for high places, living there would’ve driven me mad. The journey down could be just as bad. It has been centuries since the mountain clans had given the Eyrie something to worry about, but they still raid, killing men and making off with their women. I think it’s safe to say that the road here has proven to be more surprising than I anticipated myself.”
“I think that you are full of surprises, yourself,” the Lannister knight remarks drily, but does not explain. Instead, he wonders in turn, “But the road itself has surprised you? I have always found roads rather dull.”
Now Jaesin’s eyes sparkle with that mischief again, and he asks of her, “Did the paving stones hop up and perform a jig? Or perhaps you took the dirt track,” he thinks aloud, “and little chipmunks set sail in twig-boats down the wagon-rut rivers when it rained. That at least might prove surprising.”
“Though I should like to see these mountain men for myself. I have heard they are hairy as apes from the Summer Isles, and less minded of cleanliness. Perhaps if I had come for Lira’s wedding, and not been jousting at Highgarden, I’d have met them already.”
“Tell me: are they more or less savage than the ironmen? It is said that the ironmen take women as captives because their own are so dreadfully ugly.” He winks. “Is this true in the mountains as well?”
Jyana smiles slightly at that. “I’ve been told that many times,” she says, but she will not ask him to explain what he means. Perhaps she’ll find out someday.
But when he starts jesting about what sights she could have seen, she laughs. “With squirrels hiding in the bushes pelting tree nuts at my entourage as opposed to eating them? Mountain boars that fly, perhaps? Believe me, Ser Jaesin…if I’d seen any of those things I think that would’ve been the first things I’d ever tell you about, just to see if you’d believe me.”
She laughs, but when the knight tells her he’d like to see them, she looks a touch more serious. “It depends on the clan you come across,” she tells him. “Their society is a little different from ours to be certain. As for venturing up for Lira’s wedding, well I think Captain Noel Upcliff could’ve used your help. I think I heard something about security for the actual journey up having been a nightmare. Not just for the guests who would have to deal with possible raiders despite my lord cousin’s men, and my formidable cousin Conrad, but the food! I heard they had a time keeping raiders away from the food they were trying to import in for the feast.”
She smiles, slightly. “I’m not quite sure, I wasn’t allowed to go near them when they had ventured close enough to my group my journey here, so I had no opportunity to ask.”
Her face turns a touch serious at the memory, but the smile returns, taking a step around him. “However! That is a story to be told at another time, and if I’m not mistaken.” Her expression turns even more mischievous. “I’ve already told you one today.”
Chuckling despite himself, Casterly Rock’s golden champion airily waves Jyana along, a lazy, backhanded farce of a shooing motion that would fool no-one into thinking him fed up with her company. “Oh, go on then,” he remarks, feigning frustration with a smile that is meant to look half-grudging… but again, fooling no-one.
“Take your smiles and your stories and your laughter away from here, Jewel of the Eyrie,” a supposedly embittered Jaesin Lannister mock-grumbles. “You know that sort of thing is forbidden in the Red Keep. Go wail, gnash your teeth, mourn for some lost Dornish lover or whatever it is that you women do,” he quips.
After a moment of this play-acting, the knight drops the unconvincing masquerade, long enough to return her courtesy with a graceful bow of his own. Rising with a smile, he tells her, “This has been a fair morning. Gods be good to you, Jyana.”
She does him one further and sticks her tongue out at him like a child. “Fine,” Jyana grouses good naturedly, keeping laughter back. “To think I thought you’d be all heartbroken and devastated about me leaving! Now I’m going to have to cry myself to sleep tonight!” She buries her face in her hands to complete the picture. “You’re so cruel!” she mock-sobs.
She laughs at the last, shaking her head and straightening from her curtsey. “And here I thought I was doing you a favor. Would you rather I try to disguise myself as Ser Dagur and challenge you to a duel? I warn you, I can use -both- hands!”
But when laughter dies and enough seriousness is injected yet again, she nods in agreement. “This has been. I believe that today, at least, the gods have been good to me. I certainly hope they do you the same blessing.” She waves and winks at him. “Just stay awake for -some- of those history lessons next time. Don’t even -think- I didn’t catch you dodging that question earlier!”
Flashing another smile at him, she turns around and starts trotting down the yard.