Blood of Dragons is the only author-approved MUSH based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Play the Game of Thrones and become a part of the history of the Seven Kingdoms:
Should the position of the sun be necessary to be described, it is aligned magnificently with the ends of the earth, casting an aurora of cool colored flames across the sky, on a night crisp enough to enjoy it. The guest tower, however, receives little of its light, and unless one is peeking out of just the right arrow slit, not visible at all. The wall sconces provide a significantly less majestic view, though they continue to serve their purpose well enough, as the passageways and staircases remain in working condition. The hallway of the Prester apartment is no exception, and somehow seems more cheery than usual, though its outward appearance has not changed. Something from within changes it. Something that can be heard out in the halls. Something that sounds suspiciously not unlike laughter.
Pausing outside the door, Aurana eavesdrops shamelessly, a small smile curving her lips. Blue eyes dart to Davi, showing the guard her joy and contentment at what she hears. She shifts the basket that she carries and steps aside so that Davi can knock on the door.
The lady awaits its opening in a gown of indigo silk, the color far deeper than her usual. At her wrists and about the portrait collar of her neckline is a small amount of grey myrish lace. The voluminous skirt of her gown is slashed with thin panels of grey brocade making it so that each step provides a flurry of blue and grey, though the latter seems almost absent when she stands still. Her hair is, as usual, drawn back and accented with a braided crown of her platinum tresses. A single pale moonstone is nestled at the hollow of her throat. Beyond that, there is nothing in the way of jewelry - only the faint scent of lemons and green things adorns her.
The jokes Aurana hears are bawdy ones, somehow intermingled in a bloody storytelling as though sex and gore were perfect companions. Though perhaps the specifics of the tales didn’t reach her, the fact that either Farin or Urron or both were sent rolling by each other’s (or Humphrey’s) comments is surely enough to make the smile cross her features. The door is answered within moments, as Humphrey proves that he is not quite so old as to lose his senses.
The man’s perpetual frown is greatly lessened today, almost enough to express a neutrality of emotion; yet the old feel still lingers. He nods knowingly to Davi, and turns the the pretty young woman arrayed in her indigo and grey finery. “Which shall I announce you here to see, my Lady?” he asks curteously, though skips the salutations.
She smiles warmly for Humphrey, showing a fondness for the gruff old man. “Neither if I’m going to be interrupting your merriment, Humphrey. It sounds as though there is much going on within already. Though, I did come to see Farin. Mostly. I have Urron’s most recent winnings with me as well.” Lashes flutter as she winks at the man, her partner in conspiracy to tame the Iron brat.
Humphrey responds with a quirked eyebrow and a motion the sends the door opening all the way, if slowly. He turns to enter the room, and announces quietly, “Lady Buckler, to see Ser Farin.” Urron can be heard to groan, and Farin’s laugh comes all the louder. “Send her in!” he calls back. Humphrey responds with something nearly inaudible, though good ears would lead anyone listening to believe he’s said something akin to “I already have.”
“Thank you,” Aurana whispers as she steps past Humphrey to enter the room proper. A fair brow lifts as she examines the males within. “I can hear the two of you laughing all the way into the main hall,” she tells them both with mirth. One hand slips into the basket, tucking beneath its covering and reappearing a moment later with a bottle. “Mayhap I should have Humphrey set this aside if you two are already too drunk to taste it truly.”
“Nay!” cries Urron, who is clearly at least halfway through a cup that he shouldn’t have had. He leaps to his feet, wobbles, and holds his glass up towards the approaching woman. “My father always says, if a man can’t hold his liquor, he doesn’t have the iron to stay on the ship.” His face scrunches after he says it, and his eyes dart off to one side. “Or something like that. Anyhow we-” “Enough, Urron,” the Prester knight cuts on, not bothering to stand to confront his ward. “You and I shall drink another night. Go get yourself in trouble, or something. Just don’t get your damned doublet dirty again, Humphrey is tired of washing it.”
Urron seems not to have heard the last. He grumbles a protest, but shambles off to follow orders regardless. He heads for the door and makes his way out into the night - though not before Humphrey relieves him of his wine glass.
The Buckler lady can do little but grin at the merry men, casting the Greyjoy a warm look even as Farin cuts him off. As the boy departs, Aurana approaches the settee. “I take it that you are well and pleased to be in familiar quarters once more?” she inquires, remaining standing, bottle and basket still in hand.
“Not at all,” Farin replies easily, lightheartly, as he makes an effort to stand. He’s had a few glasses too, but it does not show on him nearly as much as the Greyjoy boy after one or two. “You really ought to feel what it’s like to sleep in a castle that you’ve just taken. /Much/ more exciting.” By then he’s standing tall, and bows elaborately for her. “It is my pleasure, however, to present you with proof positive of the success of my oath,” he says with a quirk of a smile as his back straightens again.
As he bows, she hastens to set down her load, placing them on the table. Blue eyes sweep him critically, as if searching for something to counter his claim. Finding nothing, however, she simply beams up at the man. The lady reaches up a hand to squeeze his arm. “Gods, but I worried,” she confesses happily. “I listened to rumor after rumor. The docks were just… So many different tales and most of it simply made up… Thank you…”
The Prester lordling stiffens at her touch. “Do be a little careful with my right shoulder-seems I’m not the only one fond of ‘stars-but I still stand, and the man responsible is carrion for the crows,” he says, voice low, almost husky, as though this concept could be entertained as attractive before taking a small step back.
“How badly were you wounded?” she demands. Fingers begin a very light and tender caress over the shoulder, searching for any indication as to the location and depth of the wound. The notion of personal space does not seem to apply to her and his withdrawal doesn’t seem to be a taken as an escape either.
Her explorative probe would uncover a bandage wrapped tightly down over the offending shoulder, covering all the way to his collarbone. “Nothing serious. A few puncture wounds, heavy bruising, of course. Shattered my armor, but not me.” He leaves out the bandage covering his chest, under which is a gash extending from one nipple to the other, narrowly missing both. The tension rises; Farin watches Aurana carefully, but does not shove her away. No, his hands are tightly down at his side now, almost too tightly. The muscles on his arms bulge ever so slightly with a contained and mostly hidden effort.
Mostly hidden. But since her fingers are wandering over his flesh, the tensing is noticed. It is, however, mis-attributed. “Oh… I’m sorry,” she murmurs, flushing as she assumes that she’s hurt him further. She pats at his good shoulder and smiles up at him. “Sit, Ser Farin. I wanted to welcome you back but, truly, if you would rather rest some more, I certainly understand.”
“No, no. Sit, Lady Catsbane,” he commands, following his own order. “You and I have some catching up to do,” he says calmly, the tension ebbing as personal contact is broken. “And you suggested that you have a bottle? Shall we drink it together, while you catch me up on the court gossip? I could tell you the story of our adventure, too, if you like…”
“What court gossip?” she moans, settling down into the chair nearest the sofa. Propriety and all that. “Um.. The queen has been insisting on ferry trips and the like. I think she’s bored out of her skull…” She gestures to the bottle of wine idly. “It is Dornish. As I understand it tastes of plums, so a bit sweet, but it has a bite. Peppers, I believe. I have not had any but… It did sound interesting. And I thought, well… Who would better appreciate such subtleties than Ser Farin Prester. Of course, it could be swill, for all I know…”
Farin leans back on the couch,looking into another room. A moment passes, and then he gives a nod, and Humphrey’s steps precede him into the room. He takes the possible swill, gives it the royal treatment, and then the wine is in the glasses and the manservant is in the other room again. Farin leans forward, picking his up. “I /will/ tell you if it tastes of swill, you know,” he tells her very seriously. “But to that end, you seem to be possessed of good discretion. Shall we?”
She watches the efficiency that is Humphrey with a grin, shaking her head slightly in wonder. Blue eyes meet Farin’s and she inclines her head. “I ask for nothing but honesty, Ser Farin.” The lady raises her glass, slowly bringing it to her lips. Taking a tentative taste, she pauses, letting it float on her tongue before finally swallowing it.
“Passable,” the Prester knight admits. “Potent. It almost fails to be bitter in its sweetness, but it is tempered by something. I would not select it for a party of men, for the sweet would drive them away, nor for a party of women, for it would be too strong too fast. But for a feast of singles, it would be responsible for many a bastard,” Farin chuckles. “Shall we call it Bastardbrew, or perhaps Luthor’s Lineage?”
She laughs at his assessment, flushing only faintly as she grins. “Mayhap we should switch to something less potent then… Father would kill me. And then, no doubt, you as well,” she teases, winking as she does so. One leg gets tucked up beneath her as she shifts, making herself comfortable in Farin’s chair. “How did your cousin fare in the battle? Oh! And what is this I hear about you and your cousin buying more swords?”
“My dear Coz led one of the flanks in our earliest land battle. He lives as well, as harmed as I, but none too dire. His Dornish healer has some skill yet, and it pleases me to see him submit. To be honest, Luthor deserves far more praise than he will ge-oh, no, Humphrey, it’s all right. The Lady was joking. Leave the wine,” he commands his servant, who had been passing through the room when the lady made her claim. As Farin waves him off, he rolls his eyes knowingly behind Farin’s back, and continues about his business.
As Farin continues, however, a deviant look comes down softly on his face, and his tone is tipped in a sweet venom. “The extra swords, /I imagine/, are for his eminent attempt to sway the good Lord Massey into delivering the Pretty Pennei’s hand,” he says, savoring each syllable as though it were delicious to say. “He seems to…expect resistance.
“I had heard that he was trying to court her,” Aurana confesses, taking another sip of wine and curling both legs up under her skirts in the chair. She leans heavily on the arm, as near to him as she can manage from her perch so that speaking does not have to be done in such great volume. “I suppose I can understand Lord Massey’s hesitation but… truly… no one else wants the poor woman. If she would be content with Luthor, why should he not have her?”
The corner of Farin’s mouth quirks knowingly. “Clearly, you’ve never had the pleasure of marrying your child to a bastard. It’s bad enough when you’re forced to make the association with your own blood, but to accept it willingly? Still, Luthor is remarkable for his heritage, and thrice the man of any of the fops he’s been presented against. There is a time and place to look at “Rivers”, and a time and a place to look at the man’s merit.”
“No, I haven’t,” she admits regarding marrying off a child. “But… I see what you mean. When Endros did say he was going to marry Rosalind, I did try to drown him…” Aurana shrugs and listens a bit, her head tilting. “And is it that time and place for Lord Massey? To look at the merit rather than the name?”
/Now/ Farin’s grin becomes truely wicked, after one more sip of the potent wine. “My dear Lady…what do you think the swords are for?” he asks, looking content with himself, regardless of her answer.
“So you will force his hand then? Ambitious,” she murmurs over the rim of her glass. Still, the expression of her face and the tone of her voice lend the notion that she’s impressed rather than put off. “And you will help him. Are the two of you always so ruthless to get what you desire?”
Another quaff. “We were not always so. But, the swords help. So too does his reputation, and the man has more friends than I by far. We have so few opportunities…we must /seize/ the ones we have. Better to be given, but taken, if necessary. Opportunity is not gold, after all…we are not robber knights. Merely…” he trails off, sipping again, looking for the right justification.
Her gaze lowers as he trails off, her expression falling a bit. The lady has nothing to add to that but takes another draught from her glass, a larger one than those that went before. Her cheeks are somewhat flushed and the smile seems only painted on with nothing to back it up.
Farin shrugs, the folds of his doublet shifting and rippling as his shoulders move. “None of that at all, really. We get what we want. Everyone tries, do they not? A woman has her own swords, certainly.”
“Some wield them more effectively than others,” she mutters wryly into her cup. Another sip and she’s dry. “Tell me of the battle?”
“Indeed they do. And far more ruthlessly than many men, I assure you,” the Prester knight says with a grin and a wink. He relaxes again, finishing off his glass. “Which one would you like to hear about? I participated in all four.”
As he finishes, she uncurls her legs, letting her feet touch the ground again so that she can take up the wine bottle. Rising a bit so that she can reach his glass, she leans forward and pours for him. “All of them. Any of them,” she offers with a grin.
Farin begins to return the grin, although it’s soon taped on as the rest of his attention is drawn elsewhere. He recovers himself, though, stammering out a quick and barely whispered thanks as he takes the glass she’s poured for him. “The sea battle came first,” he begins, trying to clear himself up. “We were ready for the pirates. They came like a storm and lasted as long, but by the time they’d been thinned to nothing, Ser Ethos was already aboard the next ship, alone, trying to take it himself, the damn fool. After we saved him and routed the last, we…well, you know about that already, the ship came /here/.
“When we landed, the Stauntons were besieging a Brune holdfast. They turned to fight us, of course. Luthor led the left flank, Burton the right, Dagur kept the center, until he went down. When he did, Luthor took the center, and gave me the charge of routing the left. I did, and ours was the first one done. After that, the other sides fell in short order, being overwhelmed. Lost my horse, but I managed to steal the one that Ser Lymond Wode rode as he led the right against our left. I plan on giving it to Luthor as a wedding present, magnificent beast.”
Pouring for herself, she then settles back into her chair, drawing her legs up once more and making herself comfortable. She is a good audience, leaning on the arm chair and drinking in every word, blue eyes rapt with attention. Ethos’s bravado is met with a knowing chuckle. “But what will you ride?” she asks, impressed by his generosity.
Farin’s eyebrow slams up at that one, but no comment of curiosity follows. He ponders it for a moment. “Oh. I still have my horses, of course. I lost the destrier, but he turned up again, fancy that. As for Luthor’s gift, well, a man deserves what he’s earned. T’was he who slew Ser Wode, but business brought him elsewhere before the battle was done. I merely held on to it for him,” he says with a smirk.
“Now, after that, we had a week of rest in our taken castle to decide how to rescue Ser Jaesin. None of the families were cooperating. The week was…well needed, and had its own merits, but we were hungry for a reason to get moving by the time the letter came to us. They had Jaesin hidden in a tower in the bog, guarded by half a score men. We couldn’t move on it without alerting them, of course, so I came up with the plan to disguise twelve or so of us and sneak out of our own holdfast in shifts of two at a time, meet at a rendezvous, and sneak the tower from there. Burton was given command, that lousy windbag, but t’was I who freed the Lion.”
She smiles warmly as he explains about the horse, inclining her head once. “I see. You are… very generous,” she decides before sipping at her wine. As he returns to the tales of battle, she leans in again, caught up and hanging on every word. It’s odd, but by the end there is pride filling her gaze as she looks up at him, her smile widening even more. “The Lannisters owe you much then, my lord,” she murmurs softly. “And many others as well, by the sounds of it. I… I know not what to say…” she admits. “It is you who should be teaching Urron how to play…”
The Prester knight smirks. “I had heard about that. Clever. Very clever, he says, tapping the side of his nose as he gazes her way. “Though for once…and dare not repeat this outside, for I am half mad in admitting it as I am, but…I care little about the Lannister response.” Another smirk. “Jaesin is the Queen’s shield, and I would not be Farin Prester if I did not leave the man with a few ideas before I returned the Shield to the woman.”
Another sip, longer, and as he sets it aside, he gazes off ponderously. “But then, where were we? Ah, the last battle…Dagur risked all of our lives in a ridiculous gambit. It worked, by some chance dice roll of the Gods, and we routed a force near twice our size of Staunton and Brunes both. The region is in utter turmoil now, leadership decimated, but we’ll set it to rights. The loyalists, of course, will have their rewards.”
Aurana tilts her head in acceptance of the compliment. Still, she listens, sipping at her wine occasionally and shaking her head about Dagur. “What ideas, my lord?” she asks, intrigued and genuinely curious.
“A few about what extra features the new Justicar might require, as evidenced by their new lack of one, and just what skills I bring to the table…as evidenced by Jaesin’s own well being.” The wicked grin reappears. “My coz is as wise as he is bold, but sometimes, my Lady? Sometimes you need less swords, rather than one carefully planted idea in the right soil.”
“Justicar? Really?” she asks, visibly impressed. “I would have thought Feastfires enough for any man. You do aim high, Ser Farin,” Aurana murmurs softly. “Shall we drink to the growth of carefully planted seeds?”
The Prester knight snorts. “And when will Feastfires come to me? Eventual Heir is no real title. I aim for what I can get, as ruthlessly as I have to,” he points out, referencing her earlier impression. As he does speaks, his eyes wander out of focus on her face, and refocus on her neck, before moving downward, following her curves, undressing her as he goes. His desire is laid bare in that moment, the look of a man who sees exactly exactly what he wants, in its most pure, naked form. He winds his way back up, ending at her eyes as though none of it had occurred, as his focus comes to. He raises his glass, and with the tiniest of smiles, agrees. “To the growth of well planted seeds, Lady Aurana.”
One corner of her lips quirks upwards ever so slightly as he returns the toast, pleased with herself. She noted the look. She definitely noted the look. The lady raises her glass and drinks to future good fortune with the knight. Leaning forward to take up the bottle of wine, she reaches for his glass. Guileless eyes gaze up at him through snowy lashes. “More wine, my lord?”
Farin’s head as a whole twitches slightly at that one, as his eyes flash back up from her chest and its swelling temptations. “I beg your pardon?” he asks quietly, evidently concerned that he didn’t hear her quite correctly.
Aurana repeats herself, sort of, mistaking his confusion for his hangup with titles. “More wine, Ser Farin?” she asks once more, taking the bottle between her fingers.
“Ah, of course. By all means, my lady,” The Prester knight replies, seeming to come out of his trance. His eyes lock to hers while he speaks, but abandon that post for her cleavage again, as soon as the need for courtesy is fulfilled.
She rises from her seat and refills his cup dutifully, smiling up at him. “I would have come by last evening, Ser Farin, but…” Resettling in her chair, she chuckles, the faintest of flushes touching her cheeks. “I thought… Well… I am certain there was… um… you probably wished to spend that first evening… out. Enjoying what certain streets had to offer and all of that…”
At this, Farin throws his head back and laughs, the same kind of malicious-less laughter that she heard in the hallways before. “Aurana!” he exclaims, forgetting her title in his mirth. “I am shocked, my lady! To think that /I/? Nay, I had my fun. Nor am I usually wont to paying for it. With gold diggers aplenty, where is the need?”
Her blush deepens at that, though her smile widens a bit more as she chuckles. “Well, forgive me, Ser, but… It is what most of the men here do. Well, save for Janden. I’ve told him that he’s welcome to do so but…” The lady shrugs and then leans against the arm of the chair eagerly once more. “So… come now… How many of these modest maidens are only pretending now?” she teases.
“If any pretend,” he says, leaning onto the arm of the couch in a most un-Farinlike slouch, “It is not because of me. Gods no, the maidens squeal too loudly and know not what to do. Training one maiden was enough for me. Though I’ve been known to teach a serving lass a trick or two,” he admits, with a sloppy grin. “It makes the ladies jealous, if anything. And then the come for what they think is rightfully theirs…” A wink. “What was that about seeds well planted…?”
She can’t help but laugh, perhaps a little past tipsy her own self. “But… So… what of your wife?” she asks, her forehead creasing just a bit. “You don’t want your wife to come to your bed a maiden?” Her grin turns wicked. “Or is that alright so long as her maid doesn’t come to your bed a maiden?”
“My /wife/ is excused from such a discussion,” he says simply, though his tone is edged without deviance, as he grins at the sight of a wicked Aurana. “For any skills she comes to my bed lacking, she will find there, in due time.” Another grin, and another sip. “The maid,” he adds. “Will have to watch, the poor thing, though she shall ‘on substitute’ if Lady Prester has not yet found her bed legs.”
A hand lifts, one finger pointing upwards. “See? That’s why I would insist on an unattractive maid,” she offers up. “Unless, of course, my husband were unattractive. Then I’d have a very attractive maid to get me out of the bed as much as possible.”
“So keeping Humphrey on will be fine then?” Farin asks, and lets out a laugh himself, as though he were terribly funny. The rest is said to his wine glass, and its contents.
“I think,” she says at last after she’s giggled for a bit. “I think that I shall wind up betrothed forever.” Another deep drink of her wine. She stretches out a bit, sitting sideways in the chair with an elbow hanging over the arm, her chin resting atop her forearm.
“I beg your pardon?” The Prester lordling asks with a grin. “Is he still waiting for a better dowry?” he grins. Wine makes the most terrible things amusing. He is still slouched, though he begins sliding forward. He noticed just in time to save himself from slipping all the way off, and reasserts his prop farther up the arm of the couch.
“Oh… Well… Considering what he doesn’t have to offer, my own dowry is a pittance,” she admits, pouting a little. Aurana shifts in her own seat, not noticing how he’s having difficulties himself. “No… Janden isn’t like that. He doesn’t… He doesn’t want anything but to do what he does now. Well… maybe Warden of the Kingswood but… other than that… Nothing at all… He just… That’s where he always seems to be. He’s never here. He never presses the wedding…” The lady shrugs and takes another drink of her glass.
“Aye, strange indeed, for a man who has all he wants not to solidify his hold on it,” Farin muses abstractly.“Though your dowry being a pittance is surely nothing compared to your heritage,” he offers sincerely. “Velaryion blood, with the hair to prove it. And if beauty isn’t enough, she has a tongue so silver she can talk a Greyjoy into a doublet. Gods hope she never talks him /out/ of it!”
He is granted a look of pure gratitude from the woman for his kindness, though the last ruins it. She tilts her head back and laughs. “He’s a bit young for me, I think,” she murmurs softly. “And… blood and hair are all very well… But… There is Colton and… how father got his bride and… Ah… It matters not. Janden was smart enough to catch me when I had had it with the nonsense these men of the court dole out. That is that…”
“Catching a horse is one thing. Getting it to the stable is another, and fitting it for a saddle even more so. But surely you can’t sit in the stable waiting for your bit forever…? And if you could, would your father let you? If there’s no trade, then it’s just bad business, at least,” he adds, “From that angle.” He shrugs, which makes him lose his grip on his head, which he has to catch and reassert. “Either way, I hope you are not so fed up with the court’s nonsense now. Janden would be smart to saddle you soon, lest someone show you the door to your stable.”
The lady sighs, letting her head lean against the chair as she listens, watching him. She smiles as his head slips. “Thank you,” the lady murmurs. “I intended to come cheer you up and instead you have done so for me. But I am being unking… And I think that we are… a little more into our cups than we should be,” she admits with a wry grin.
“We have earned it,” Farin asserts, picking up his glass again in defiance. “Besides, I have a man to make sure that we do nothing unseemly just because of a little wine.” The sounds of Humphrey’s slight retreating steps can be heard from the doorframe to the next room. “Not that we would,” he grins. “As I assume my fair Lady is still a maiden, and thus unqualified?” he asks in a tone that asks instead “Are you sure you do not want to?”
“As I recall, I warned you earlier that father would kill both of us should we give legitimacy to the name you wish to give this wine. Ah yes… I can see it now,” she returns playfully. “Abandoned by my betrothed, turned aside by my family, shamed before the court… Just another marking on Ser Farin’s bedpost. Oh! And saddled with a babe to boot… Such an appealing painting that is…”
The Prester knight scoffs a laugh. “A vibrant painting indeed! I can see how Urron has fallen for your charms,” he grins. “But I fear we both know that that won’t happen. Especially with my lady’s maidenhood intact. Tsk. Go get that taken care of, and maybe we can talk,” he teases her, motioning for her to leave.
The lady chuckles over her wine, taking another sip and then shaking her head. “Ah, my lord… I have no desire to be but a notch on any man’s bedpost. I will not be lumped with maids and serving wenches and whores,” she assures. “*I* am entirely worth the wait.” The last is uttered with absolute certainty and she marks it by taking another sip.
. “It is all too much a shame that you are already had, then,” Farin seems to grumble. “Ser Janden ought be informed of the extent of his fortune. It is not often that Farin Prester yields a man a treasure not yet taken.” And his glass is empty again. What a pity, someone just might have to refill it.
She polishes her own glass off. The more she drinks, the more able she is to keep pace with him. Though, it is certainly unwise. Both glasses empty, she rises to her feet. It is with a little more effort than the previous times but she still manages. Taking up the bottle, the lady makes her way to where he sits. This time, she must hold the glass steady as she pours, chuckling as she recognizes the signs of her own drunken state. “I shall tell him you said so,” she assures. It’s then that she realizes that her own glass is still on the table all the way over by the chair. Ah well. “I think, my lord, that it is long past time I do return to my quarters. Davi will have a difficult enough time herding me to the door as it is. Any longer and… well… think of the scandal if he had to carry me… Forgive me, Ser Prester. Once again, welcome back.”
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