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Sites of Interest
The Evils that Tongues Do Speak
IC Date: Day 14 of Month 3, 158 AC.
RL Date: December 13, 2006.
Participants: Aidan Dayne, called the Knight of the Twilight, Aisling Ryswell, Almer Connington, Carmella Dondarrion, Dagur Saltcliffe, called the Iron Serpent, Jonn Lannister, Jossart Vaith, Jyana Arryn, called the Jewel of the Eyrie, Liane Uller, Reyna Rowan, and Rurik Greyjoy called the Raven.
Locations: Red Keep: Eastern Outer Yard

Summary: A gathering of Dornish hostages playing a game evolves into some rather heated discussions, some a bit to crude for innocent ears.

In the grass between the Dornish tower and the Godswood, there appears to be a gathering of some sort. A noisy gathering, no less, but one whose shouts and screams actually contain a tone of cheer. This might be a subject of concern to the Gold Cloaks by the tower, were the participants not mostly under the age of fifteen. It appears to be a ball game of some sort, with hands clasped behind backs and a laundry basket at each end of the grass waiting to be the goal for a ball being kicked around the lawn. Some of the younger adult hostages stand nearby, watching, and every now and then one will be tapped in. Among this group, Liane appears more enthusiastic than amused, jogging in from the field to tap in a younger child with a laugh.

After an afternoon of watching squires and a few younger knights practicing on the quintain in some nervous anticipation of her own first attempts at the knightly game, Carmella feels the need to get away, escape to the rooftop garden she so enjoys, or perhaps a venture into the godswood for some peace and quiet. But as she enters the eastern yard, those decisions are quickly departing as she takes note of the activity among those gathered. The noise draws her first and Carmella draws to a stop a good distance away. There’s caution in her, for one look at the Gold Cloaks has her wondering if perhaps she’s walked into something less than appropriate. But as she attempts to sate her curiousity and have a closer look she learns that it is a game and not a fight that is going on. Slowly a smile emerges and she takes quicker steps towards the gathering and to Liane Uller in particular who she was quick to spot. She watches the game for a few moments before commenting. “They certainly look to be enjoying themselves,” she says to the Dornishwoman. “What are they playing?”

Liane looks over her shoulder at the observation, smile flashing. “Just a ball game,” she answers the question with a laugh, brushing her bangs from her eyes and taking a few steps away from the edge of the makeshift field to avoid being interrupted. “They’ve all been cooped up on those ships and in that tower for far too long. All of us have. So…a game,” she concludes.

Carmella’s attention is divided between the game and Liane, curious about the former but not wanting to look like she’s ignoring the latter. She can’t help but smile as she watches the younger hostages enjoying themselves. “I would guess there are few things to enjoy here,” she comments, her eyes following a couple of boys battling over the ball while some in the crowd yell encouraging comments. “It’s nice to see some smiles,” she adds, looking back at Liane. “Do you play as well?”

“I used to more, when I was younger,” Liane laughs, grin flashing broad. “Now…Well, it’s a game for children, and I don’t want to take all the fun from them. Wouldn’t be very fair if all the grown ups took over,” she winks. “Don’t you do anything of the sort here, when you’re children?”

“Mostly the boys,” Carmella says honestly, taking a step back as a couple enthusiastic observers of the game run by. “Aliona, my younger sister and I would play some games amongst ourselves, but Anders and Audrey were already six years old when I was born and when I was old enough to play they didn’t always want the baby playing their games.” Carmella shrugs a little and turns back to continue watching. “Aliona was born was I was only two and some of my first memories were being happy to finally have a sibling that would want to play with me. I’ve watched my brothers at play in the yard with their wooden swords, but those weren’t games for me.”

There’s an impromptu game of the soccer sort going on on the lawn between the Dornish tower and the godswood, comprised largely of the younger hostages. Liane and Carmella are talking nearby, both watching the game with smiles. “You should see the gardens not far from Sunspear,” she muses. “We were all too old for them by the time we came in from Hellholt, but…Well. Kids should have a chance to be kids. Even ones who are supposed to be hostages for good behavior.”

He’s been here all along, the feline imposition of a Dornish Knight amongst the younger prisoners playing their game of kicking the ball. “Now keep your attention on the ball!” Jossart calls out to one of the young boys, laughing as the tide of play turns in one team’s favour. A glance is spared in Liane’s direction, a moment before he’s skirting past the game and towards the chatting pair.

Carmella cannot help but laugh a little as she dips her head momentarily. “These gardens will need be another stop on my mythical tour of Dorne, should such a day ever come,” Carmella says, looking back up but unable to hide the glint of enthusiasm in her eyes as she speaks. “From Skyreach in the Red Mountains down to the Dornish deserts and the seaside castles, it seems I have quite a list of places that must be seen, if I have the opportunity to make that happen.” Enthusiasm there may be, but Carmella’s voice in tinged with a bit of regret, knowing such a thing might never come to be. “And a proper visit to my cousins at Yronwood, of course. It has been far too long.”

There’s an impromptu game of the soccer sort going on on the lawn between the Dornish tower and the godswood, comprised largely of the younger hostages. Liane and Carmella are talking nearby, both watching the game with smiles, and Jossart is just approaching the pair. “Well, I hold out hope that we’ll all be able to travel somewhere other than here eventually,” Liane admits, though she wrinkles her nose afterwards. She raises a hand at Jossart’s approach, smile quirking briefly. “Joss,” she greets, taking a step back to perform proper introductions, though there’s a wry cast to her smile as she does, suggesting some private joke. “Lady Carmella, this is my cousin, Ser Jossart Vaith, heir to Vaith. Joss, this is Lady Carmella Dondarrion. Her mother is an Yronwood.”

“A Yronwood?” Jossart’s lips curve in a manner most pleased, while he dips the perfunctory bow. Golden eyes glaze over the woman in assessment. “Pleased to meet you, Lady Carmella Dondarrion.” He draws himself up, the wide silk of his robe falling into place as he sends his cousin a grin. “Liane. Always an honor.”

Carmella turns and looks towards the Dornish knight at the introduction and for a moment she says nothing, though she blinks a couple of times. Suddenly remembering herself she blushes and murmurs a quick apology before answering. “A pleasure, Ser Jossart. Liane has told me some stories of your adventures when you were younger. It is nice to finally be able to put a face to the name,” she says, dropping a quick curtsey with the introduction. “And yes, my mother is Lady Loreza, aunt to the current Lady Yronwood.”

“I didn’t tell her the really good bits,” Liane assures Jossart with an angelic smile, hands clasped innocently in front of herself. “They have different standards for their women here, you know.” She winks to Carmella, then looks back to the game as a cheer goes up from one side, adding a sharp, approving whistle of her own before looking back to her conversation partners.

Her apology is waved away with a casual gesture, a smile remaining on the knight’s expressive features. “I hope she hasn’t told you anything too terrible,” Jossart tells Carmella, with a muted laugh. “Some of those tales are years old…” And presumably knighthood has sorted out some of youth’s lack of discretion.

Carmella laughs a little and shakes her head. “Oh, I imagine Liane’s tales were quite tame by your standards,” Carmella answers with an infectious smile. “We had been comparing childhoods and she seemed quite surprised as how closely I was watched. Even now,” she says, turning and pointing back a ways where a knight stands, his eyes on Carmella and her companions. “Liane told me stories of a group of you sneaking out in the middle of the night, and doing so quite easily.” There’s another laugh from the Dondarrion girl as she looks to Liane again. “I do believe Lady Liane was attempting to make me jealous of her freedoms. And possibly saving some of her better stories when she believes my sensibilities won’t be quite so shocked.” There’s another smile towards the Uller woman.

“I believe Lady Carmella may be right,” Liane agrees, trying not to let her smile break into a grin and keeping her eyes on the impromptu soccer-type game being held on the lawn between the godswood and Dornish tower by the younger hostages, overseen by some of the young adults of the Dornish contingent. “We may have more freedoms in Dorne, but some of those stories could scandalize even Dornishwomen. Not Tanyth, perhaps,” she chuckles. “But others. Maybe Lady Lanei.”

“The stories are not so terrible,” Jossart insists, with a quiet chuckle. “I think Liane might be looking to draw your curiousity deeper then even she already has.” The tall Dornishman turns a smirk on his cousin. “Going on telling all sorts of stories. Really, Liane. You should know better.” His serious tone is, however, rather at odds with his amused expression.

Out of the tall tower set aside for various guests residing at the Keep steps raven-haired Aisling, for once not unaccompanied but with her step-sister, Sylvina, and a maid for the latter in her tow. With only a brief glance over her shoulder, she speaks to the former, her tone of voice vaguely irritable. “Yes, Sylvina, I know we were supposed to have lunched with your uncle today. But you were there, no? So, no harm done, I am sure. Lord what’s-his-name and his son were not really interested in seeing me, I am quite sure of that.” With a slightly annoyed gesture, she rakes back some stray wisps of hair—black and silver strands intermingled—and adds, “So, now hurry along or you will be late for the little gathering in the Old Keep. Some new minstrel from the Reach was supposed to entertain, no?”

The door to the Guest Tower opens again and a tall man all in black steps through—just in time for a kick, more enthusiastic than skillful, to send the ball astray and towards his head. He ducks under it with barely a moment to spare; it passes a hand’s breath from Aisling and skims his hair in passing. Straightening, he half-turns and catches it neatly as it rebounds from the wall behind him.

Weighing the ball in a hand, he stares at the players for a moment longer than is entirely comfortable, his face unreadable.

Then he shakes his head and tosses it back with a faint smile.

Carmella shakes her head in determined fashion, enough to spread her curled raven locks across her shoulders. “Please, there is no need to criticize Lady Liane. I fear she has simply stumbled across a failing of mine and sought to indulge my curiousity,” Carmella says, looking up at the Dornish knight before turning her attention over to Liane herself. “I am grateful that she has been so generous in her time with me and willing to speak of her home and all those scandalous customs.” The last is said in a teasing fashion that might merit a wink along with it, but Carmella offers no such gesture.

“I’m not /telling/ any of them,” Liane points out, flashing a wicked grin in Jossart’s direction. “For which you, I think, should be grateful. Oh, careful!” she calls out when the ball goes flying, turning to watch the trajectory and wincing when she sees the near miss. For a moment, the shrieks and laughter pause, even the children remembering just where they are, though they’re back soon enough once the ball is returned and the game can begin again. Liane manages a faint smile, taking a step back from her companions to nod to Dagur. “Apologies, Ser Dagur,” she calls over. “I hope nothing was too ruffled?”

“Lady Liane,” the ironman calls back in greeting. He glances at the now-resumed game, passing a hand through his hair, “Nothing to speak of. I might almost believe it was an accident.”

Again, that unreadable manner gives no indication of whether he is jesting or not. Drawing abreast of the northern women, he nods, “Lady Aisling.”

Jossart shakes his head in quiet amusement. “Have no worry, Lady Carmella… the day I am truly critical of my dear cousin Liane, well. That will be a dark day indeed.” His lips seem to favour a smile, and it is one more then polite. “Should you ever like to hear more tales of beautiful Dorne… feel free to ask. We’ve all kinds.” As the ball flies through the air and towards the Westerosi, Jossart takes a step towards the field and calls out to the children, “Watch the play, boys! Or we’ll call the game.”

Her attention on other matters, such as getting ready to counter whatever response her step-sister might offer, Aisling is caught by surprise and flinches away from the ball as it flies past her. A frown crosses her face as she regains composure, and she’s quick to direct the added annoyance in Sylvina’s direction as the girl seems set to object. “I am not coming along. Father may have sent us here on your mother’s insistence, but he said nothing to me of having to spend my time listening to the crooning of minstrels.” Her words spark a frown on Sylvina’s face, but it seems the younger woman knows this is a fight she will lose. And so, with a slight sniff, she sweeps off, her maid in tow. Leaving Aisling to take in the scene at hand, her dark eyes going first to the small gathering outside of the tower and then last to Dagur. “Ser Dagur, well met.”

Carmella laughs a little and looks away from the Dornish knight as her cheeks show a hint of a blush. “I shall hold you to that offer, Ser Jossart,” she says, eyes focusing on the more northern born that have arrived when she wasn’t paying attention. There is the briefest of nods directed in Ser Dagur’s direction, a smile comes eventually when the ball is tossed back into play, but otherwise she doesn’t say anything. Her smile retreats soon after than and the Dondorrian girl, who looked to have been having quite an enjoyable time only a few moments past, looks a little more uncomfortable, reserved perhaps.

Liane nods to Dagur, turning back to her companions. “Such a spoilsport he’s become,” she observes of Jossart to Carmella when the Dornish knight steps forward to tone down the game, though her own smile remains, amused. “I remember once, at Hellholt, the group of us were playing this game near the kitchen yard. Where there just /happened/ to be half a tray worth of lemon tarts cooling on the window, of course. /Someone/ managed to botch a kick and upset them all in the yard. I maintain that it was Joss, but Berec always swore it was me, and Utheryn wanted to claim it when we managed to slip off with a half a dozen of them,” she chuckles, seeking to lighten Carmella’s mood with the tale.

Jonn Lannister comes from the southern portion of the outer yard and pauses briefly to watch the spectacle in this area. As his sweeping eyes find Ser Dagur, his lips curl in distaste and he looks back in the direction he came, sniffing at the air, perhaps considering if the smell of Iron Islander is too great for him to bear.

“Well. Let’s be glad their let to churn the lawn with their game as it is,” Jossart remarks to the women behind him, his expression relaxing some as he looks back in their direction. “And really, it won’t hurt them to be a bit more cautious with their play.” His golden eyes dart across the field as the boys resume their play, and he watches them a time before he turns back to Carmella and Liane both. “Mmm. Lemon tarts sound good right about not.”

“And you have no interest in these crooning minstrels with their songs of brave knights in gleaming armour?” the ironman pauses a moment by Aisling. He glances at her departing companion—and then his gaze finds Jonn.

And there it lingers: “If there’s another woman in this Keep not swooning at their feet, I haven’t heard it.”

Carmella does smile a bit at Liane’s story, offering one of her own. “Oh yes, Aliona and I would sneak into the kitchens and see who could gather the best treats before we’d sneak off to one of the towers,” she says, though there’s still a bit of tension in her shoulders. Looking back to Jossart she provides an offer. “I don’t know what kinds of treats, of any, are provided by your kitchens here, but I could perhaps find an extra lemon tart or two.” Her dark eyes catch movement unrelated to the game and those shoulders go rigid at the sight of the Lannister knight entering the yard. “And it was looking to be such a beautiful day,” she murmurs, loud enough for the two Dornish hostages to hear her.

“They’ve been cautious enough of late,” Liane replies to Jossart, and there’s a hint of an irritable snap in the words, though she pauses afterwards to let it lapse, brushing her bangs absently across her brow as she looks towards the tower. “They’ll be called in to get cleaned up for supper soon enough,” she muses, though Carmella’s murmured words draw her attention to the latest arrival. “Jonn Lannister,” she supplies for Jossart in a lower voice, though she seems more amused than concerned.

Dark eyes briefly watch Sylvina’s departure, a faint but wry smile quirking Aisling’s lips, but then her attention is diverted as she finds herself addressed by the ironman. With a slight arch to a slim brow she casts a sideways glance at him, and says, “Neither have I, Ser Dagur, though I cannot imagine that I am alone in finding such ... overwrought chivalry rather ... tedious, at best.” She shrugs then, and gives her head a slight toss to deal with some persistent stray hairs still falling into her face. “But if I am, I do not mind it.”

Now the Lannister directs a flashing smile at Ser Dagur and makes his way closer to the gathered party. He pays no mind to Carmella’s distress, Liane’s amusement, or anyone else in particular—although Jossart does receive a fleeting moment of inspection, following which he nods nearly imperceptibly to himself.

“Ah, a face for the name,” Jossart remarks, his voice low as he glances in the Lannister’s direction, his chin dipping in acknowledgement of Liane’s soft-spoken words. A smile is reserved for Carmella’s offer, a more genuine expression then he wears when he looks towards the other Westerosi, Jonn in particular. “That is very kind of you, my Lady. I look forward to sharing a lemon tart with you, sometime.”

And at the northwoman’s reply—so cutting, in words if not in tone—the ironman’s gaze is drawn away from Jonn. He stares at Aisling for a moment—and then smiles in genuine amusement: “They breed you cold in the north. All those pretty knights would be heartbroken if they could hear you.”

As predicted by Liane, the group of Dornish children is called in from the tower, the ball and laundry baskets collected and brought along as they slowly make their way back inside to prepare for supper. Liane herself turns just a bit to look towards Dagur and Jonn, apparently curious about the new bad blood. Or old bad blood. Or just even more bad blood among the captors.

That seems to amuse Aisling in kind, for a dryly humorous chuckle escapes her. “How sad, Ser Dagur. I feel positively wicked now, to think I might have inflicted pain on a poor, unfortunate knight stricken with helpless longing for me.” By the sound of it, the idea may be both preposterous and highly entertaining to her. “My step-mother would, no doubt, agree with you though. She has often complained that it must be the temperature up in the North that is partly responsible for my lack of pleasant manners.”

Jossart spends a moment considering the Ironman and Aisling, before turning a glance back to his cousin. “Are you familiar with either of them?” he inquires, knowing Liane has the advantage of at least Ser Dagur’s name.

“Pleasant manners, yes.” The ironman glances again at Jonn, “They set great store by those here.”

“I visited Flint’s Finger in winter once,” he adds—an abrupt change in topic. And he makes no mention of what business it could have been other than reaving to bring an ironman to northern shores: “Your step-mother, whoever she might be, is right about the temperature, at least. Although I would brave it for a look at the Wall. It is a marvel, they tell me, even if it serves no purpose now.”

Carmella diverts her attention of the others to watch the kids trudge back towards the tower as the game comes to an end. Sher gaze doesn’t linger on any one child in particular, its the group as a whole she watches as her lips twitch, attempting to avoid the frown they’re trying to form. With a sigh she turns away, brushing her hair back over her shoulders as she takes in the covnersations going on around her.

“Ser Dagur Saltcliffe,” Liane notes to Jossart with a nod towards the Ironman. “And…” She frowns to herself, gaze narrowing on the northern woman as she wracks her brain for the name. “Lady…Aisling Ryswell?” She glances towards Carmella for verification, brows rising in silent question.

“Is there something amiss, Lady Carmella?” Jossart asks, his mein growing more serious as the jovial atmosphere of earlier seems to fade as quickly as the boys’ roughhousing game of kickball. He nods once at Liane’s names for the two unfamiliar faces, though his attention remains with the distressed-seeming Carmella.

“I would take snow any day over the wetness of King’s Landing and the Stormlands,” replies Aisling to that, still with a hint of that wry amusement in her voice. “Though that does not mean,” she goes on, now suddenly serious, “that I wish for a winter longer than a few months at most. We may not mind the shorter once in the North, but we all keep the Stark words in mind. There is winter and then there is Winter, after all.” Turning more fully towards Dagur, she gives him a thoughtful look. “As for the Wall ... I would not be so quick to discount its purpose.” No wonder that, from this one. If the rumours have it right, she is halfways or more to being a Maester on some subject matters. Magic being one of those.

Carmella provides Liane with a brief nod in answer while her focus is on the conversation in question. The mention of the Wall, something almost mythical to her, seems to have attacted her and she’s quite intent on listening, as it might provide yet another tidbit of information to be stored away. Ser Jossart’s question, however statles her from her deep concentration. Glancing up at him, she offers a smile, though it lacks that brilliance she had bore earlier, when the game was ongoing. “They seemed to be having so much fun,” she says to the knight, her tone subdued as she makes a brief gestures towards the tower, the children long sicne past. “I was just sorry to see that theyr play and enjoyment had to be ended. I don’t imagine there is a lot of that for them here.”

“I’m sure their game will continue into supper more than their parents appreciate, Lady Carmella,” Liane suggests with a swift, wry grin. “And now that they’ve had a chance to play once, I suspect they’ll be taking a chance to do it a little more often. Children adjust much more quickly than the rest of us,” she speculates, though she doesn’t seem as interested in the Wall as the other woman.

“Aye, I remember winter’s bite well enough. The sea is never an easy mistress even at the best of times but when the cold wind comes down from the north…”—the ironman grimaces.

But there is a skeptical cast to his face as he regards the northwoman: “And I have read the old histories well enough…if they are indeed histories and not fables. Brandon the Builder and all the cold Kings of the North before the Targaryen fires melted the ice in their veins. But that was then and this is now. The Wildlings are the worst of what the Wall keeps out, I think. And even they are ragged, pitiful creatures, the few captains who have seen them say.”

Jossart chuckles quietly, “Oh, those children will find time to have fun regardless. As Liane says…” He smiles for his cousin. “They’ll find chance for play and adjust here swift enough. Their spirits can’t be so easily tamed.” Nor can the rest of them, his words seem to seek implying. He glances over at the talk of the Wall, but it means little to him. A wall of ice? Snow is unknown to his eyes, the wall more abstract then he cares to muse over.

A brief glance goes to where Carmella stands with two of the hostages, perhaps drawn there by the looks cast in her own direction, and then Aisling turns to Dagur once more. “Fables? Oh no, not that, Ser Dagur. I daresay all but the most fantastical of stories have an element of truth to them, and perhaps even some of them.” A peculiar, distant look passes over the northwoman’s sharp-featured face then, and she is silent for a moment before she adds, “It would be dangerous to forget the past because we think it cannot become the future some day. The Wildings may be all we need to worry about today, but ...” She shakes her head then, still oddly thoughtful.

Coming out from the tower in which the Dornish hostages have been kept is Aidan Dayne, who pauses on the narrow steps to survey the area. Away towards the Guest Tower he makes note of a number of familiar figures. He seems to consider whether he should approach, and finally succumbs, descending and making his way over. Passing the noble youths who seem to have gotten some exercise, he pauses to exchange some greetings.

The doubtful crease of his brow, the questioning arch of his eyebrows—they indicate that the ironman is less than convinced of Aisling’s claim. But a fleeting half-smile takes him then:

“Have a care you don’t mention that in front of the Young Dragon when he returns. He has flown over the Dornish sun already. It might take him that the northern wastes need melting next.”

Carmella looks to Jossart and then to Liane and slowly a smile comes, thanks to their words of assurances. “You know them far better than I, I’ll trust your word on such things.” Her behavior and tone is still subdued, but since it was as such before the game was called, it may have something to do with more than just departing children. “What else could there be to keep out, Lady Aisling?” The question is asked in earnest without mocking in her voice. “Surely these northern Wildings can be handled well enough with the Night’s Watch, can’t they?”

Liane flicks a glance towards Jossart at the talk of invading the north, a brow quirking slightly in speculation, though she makes no comment. Instead, remaining silent, she simply starts to follow Carmella when the other woman starts asking questions. Who knows? There might be something useful to learn in this.

A shadow crosses Jossart’s expression as he listens to the others speak of the King. “The sun might set,” he murmurs beneath his breath, “But dawn always follows…” An exhaling breath seems to chase the darker thoughts from him, catching sight of Aidan out the corner of his gaze. He directs a nod towards the knight.

The look that passes over Aisling’s face upon hearing Dagur’s response appears tinted with more than a hint of displeasure, though her words do not make it quite so plain. “That would be, I think, an unfortunate ... whim,” she remarks in turn, her lips pursing for a moment. Fortunately, distraction is then provided by Carmella, as the Dondarrion lady speaks up. “The Night’s Watch would have a hard time keeping the Wildings out without the Wall to aid them, my lady. But it was not why it was built. The Wildings are simply people, but the stories tell us that they share the vast lands beyond the Wall with some things that are not. That is why the Wall was built, and why we should hope no one ever gets it into their mind to try to melt it.” It doesn’t quite come across as a lecture ... not quite.

Speaking of Legends—Lann the Clever’s direct descendant seems rather bored with this discussion, and masks a yawn by nearly jamming a fist into his gaping maw. “I thought it was built to keep out the grumkins, Lady Aisling,” he says, his voice still stretched by the yawn, a smile twitched his now closed lips.

“Ser Jossart, Lady Liane,” responds Aidan with a brief smile and a nod, after having left the youths who go on into the Dornish Tower. “Good day… and a good game, I gather?” He gestures back to where the others went, their ball gone with them.

Rurik emerges from the direction of the Godswood hitching up his pants for some unknown reason. He contemplates the scene before him casually, walking in the direction of the Dornish tower before abruptly altering his step to make his way towards Ser Aidan. A beaming smile is affixed to his face.

Carmella could have almost forgotten the Lannister was there, but when he speaks up again Carmella’s attention drags over to him and any hint of a smile or any pleasant nature at all is gone just from glancing in his direction. The look doesn’t last more than a heartbeat or two and Ser Aiden’s approach helps to soothe that particular annoyance and allow her to think on other things. “Good day, Ser Aidan,” Carmella greets briefly, finding a quick smile for the Dornish knight.

As the northwoman mentions whims, Dagur shrugs, “He is a Targaryen and fourteen.”

Beyond that, even he does not go, listening in silence as Aisling speaks to Carmella. Ignoring Jonn then, he says at length: “I have read nothing but bare scraps of these stories you talk about. Is there anything more to them in the maesters’ holdings of the north?”

“One of them nearly took off Ser Dagur’s head…” Liane trails off with a wry smile at Aidan, a twinkle of amusement in her eye. “Yes, good game,” she agrees, failing at composing her features to innocence. The talk of the wall - now that it involves the possibility of the Targaryens turning their attention in the opposite direction of Dorne - seem to have her attention, though.

A cool, dark look is cast in Jonn’s direction as the Lannister speaks up, and a slim black brow arches pointedly. “Among other things. The snarks too. But I would be more concerned with the Others.” Aisling’s tone suggests that she, for one, is quite serious. It softens a little, though, as she looks to Ser Dagur and gives a slight shrug of her shoulders. “I do not know if that is so, Ser Dagur. Maesters in the North are trained at the same Citadel as everyone else. But perhaps they look more closely at what stories there are, and do not quite so easily discount the tales told by common folk as simply old wives’s tales.” She pauses then, and a fleeting frown touches her face, sparking a grimace. “Though, admittedly, many Maesters simply see value in preserving knowledge. They do not always put enough stock in it, even when they should.”

Aidan laughs quietly, just a passing chuckle, at the lady’s remark. His attention turning that way in any case, he pauses for a moment, seeing Saltcliffe in conversation with Aisling Ryswell and others before he offers a general bow in that direction, elegantly executed. “My ladies, sers,” the Dornish knight says, a flutter of long, trumpet-ended sleeves matching the motion. “I hope that day finds you well.” Intent on them, he takes no note of the approaching Greyjoy.

“Quite the game,” Jossart shares, as turns some in Aidan’s direction. “Seemed to work some of the energy out of the boys… I expect it will be a common sight, if they’re let to keep this up.” Liane’s let to be the one spending her time listening to talk of a boyish King and his whimsical nature. Aisling’s near-lectures do win a smile from the knight. He whispers a few quiet words at Liane.

Carmella laughs a little and shakes her head as she listens to Aisling, feeling like she’s just been part of a joke. “Others aren’t real,” she says, sounding sure of herself. “They’re simply tales told to scare children, that’s what my Septa told me.” Well, if a Speta said so, it must be true. “Wildings I’ll believe, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live in such conditions. But Others?” Carmella shakes her head again. Of course, she’s a Storm lord’s daughter, what fear would there ever been given to her of northern demons. “I’ve read some tales of htem, but that’s all they are is folktales.”

“If they put stock in everything they read”—the ironman nods in a neutral response to Aidan—“they would have little time to serve their lords, I think. Still…”

He glances at the looming, jumbled buildings that bear testament to the Targaryens’ mastery, his gaze thoughtful, “If there is anything to these stories, I imagine it will be found in the keep’s library.”

Liane looks completely out of her depth, but unwilling to ask a question and bring attention to her ignorance, so Jossart’s whispered words bring a brief, relieved smile to her lips. She rolls her eyes slightly at whatever the knight says, dipping her chin to murmur back to him.

Jonn’s eyebrows shoot upward as he hears Dagur mention himself and reading in the same breath. However, he does not seem put off by Aisling’s cool look. “I know what Others are,” he replies with a lazy smile. “But I know also of the great sea-dragon who prowls the wharf at Lannisport, which Lann the Clever tricked into believing he was a capering cow with thirteen udders. If the wind blows from a certain direction—” here his eyes swivel in their sockets, passing over Dagur “—you can smell the odor of this milk.”

He pauses, and shrugs almost comically. “Or so they say.”

Rurik comes up from behind Aidan, listening to the conversation at hand and mutters under his breath to him: “They say, Aidan, ... ... ... travel ... ... ... ... can ... ... that and ...” His smile does not fade as he peruses the assembled group.

A slight dip of her head is offering in Aidan’s direction as Aisling takes note of his greeting, though her eyes linger for but a moment on him before they settle on Carmella instead. “I would not wish to undermine your Septa’s wisdom in your eyes, my lady,” though, judging by her tone and her words she would like to do just that, “but what does she know of the North, I wonder? If the Others are merely an invention to frighten children ... then I am in awe by those frightened children who surely must have constructed the Wall, hundreds of feet tall, to keep those stories out.” Jonn’s comments are not dignified with a response this time around, just a look sharp enough to cut, and then she concludes with a nod to Dagur instead. “Perhaps so, though I daresay it cannot compare with what is kept in the Citadel. But maybe some King of the past hid away a few volumes for his own perusal.”

The unexpected remark, from an unexpected direction, quite nearly makes Aidan turn around. It’s all he can do to check the motion, and turn stiffly to Rurik the Raven. “My lord of Greyjoy,” he states flatly, with the barest courtesy in it. His violet-hued eyes practically glare before he offers, just as stiffly, “Have you made the acquaintance of Ser Jossart Vaith, heir to the Red Dunes, and Lady Liane of House Uller, heir to Hellholt?” His formal query, his spear-straight back, and his curt motion shows how discomfited he is by the man.

“Is that so?” Jossart asks his cousin, his tone going flat as he listens to what is turning into a scholarly debate. His arms fold together across his front, pinning the voluminous material of his robe into place. Aidan’s start, and his swift introductions, delivers Jossart something else to pin his attention on. “Good day, my lord,” he greets, golden gaze flicking over the ironman.

Liane hums an affirmative to Jossart, smile quirking at one corner of her lips with amusement, though she schools it to a more polite expression when Aidan mentions her name. Turning to find the subject of the introduction, she can’t keep that amused smile from returning. “Rurik /Greyjoy/,” she observes, brow arching slightly. “We’d met, but I don’t believe I caught a surname. A pleasure to meet you properly,” she says politely.

“Sounds like you’re playing marriage counselor now, Ser Aidan,” responds Rurik in something of a mocking tone. He then asserts in a voice of complete certaintly, “I haven’t met either of them properly, but the Raven never forgets a pretty face.” Rurik is not shy about taking a better look at Liane, or Jossart for that matter.

“If you’re interested in a second career after hostage,” he notes in Jossart’s direction, “For a small fee I can make sure you earn a few thousand a night in one of the pleasure dens of Lys.” He wags his eyebrows up for a moment and reaches to clap Aidan on the shoulder, “I have an offer for you as well, Ser Aidan.”

The ironman’ gaze meets Jonn’s and holds it for a brief moment, unreadable as ever—but only for a moment. For then it finds the Greyjoy as Aidan mentions him by name.

With a faint grimace, Dagur rubs his forehead; where one might not, both together, it seems, are enough to disturb him. “The Citadel will have to wait, I think. The keep’s library it will have to be,” he says to Aisling then. “Snarls and grumkins and Others…it will be a change from the minstrels’ yowling if nothing else.”

Carmella doesn’t appear quite certain of Aisling’s comments on the Others, she still looks quite skeptical about it. She opens her mouth to say something in return, but Rurik is quicker than her and while she’s not actively in the conversation she’s standing with the Dornishment. Her mouth drops open further at the Greyjoy’s offer towards the Dornish knight, her surprise more than obvious as she looks towards Liane and Jossart for a reaction.

Rurik’s comment to Jossart is too much for Liane. The Uller woman’s hand flies up to her mouth, and the turns away for a moment, red-faced and…coughing. Yes. Coughing. Certainly not laughing. That’s why she’s holding her ribs.

“A few thousand, is that all?” Jossart asks flippantly at Rurik’s offer. He’s not interested in rising to any sort of bait, if that happens to be what the Greyjoy is all about. “I think I’ll hold out for a better offer, but thanks all the same.” He sends a look at Liane. “What do you think, cousi- Oh.” Her laughter seems to amuse him. “I guess you like.”

In the distance, a leaf rustles and falls to the ground. Presumably due to Aisling’s sharp look bouncing off Jonn Lannister and careening off toward the tree. Indeed, he seems little fazed by the look at all. He turns his attention now to Rurik and the Dornishmen, the subject of money and whorehouses more to his liking than Northern fancies.

Responding to Rurik, Ser Aidan says with curtness wrestling with courtesy, “You are kind, my lord Rurik, to think of me.” It doesn’t seem like he means it, for his eyes are hard. “But I cannot accept whatever kindness you’ve in mind to do for me.” He stands very straight indeed, doing his best to look down his raptor’s-beak of a nose at the Raven.

Aisling cannot help but to overhear Rurik’s comments to the hostages, and like Carmella her reaction is—at least initially—one of surprise. Her jaw doesn’t quite drop, but her eyes certainly widen, and after a sharp, appraising look at Rurik she is quick to turn back to Dagur. “I have only had a brief look or two at the keep’s library myself so far, but some day perhaps I can be of some assistance in pointing out any volumes that might be of interest.” Even as she speaks to him, however, she cannot keep herself from casting a curious glance over at the Dornishmen, no doubt wondering about their responses to the other Ironborn’s offer.

“Oh, I’m sure you could do better than a few thousand a night, Joss,” Liane assures Jossart, reaching out to clap a hand reassuringly to his shoulder as she continues to ‘cough’. “So long as it’s not Ironmen you’re working with. You’d have to be dealing with people who pay their bills, after all,” she says with a cheerful smile towards Rurik.

Rurik says, “That’s a pity.” Rurik’s mocking tone towards Aidan holds. “The raven went scavenging and came up with two things that may have interested you. A master chef from Dorne and one of those especially piquant spices you mentioned.” The Raven prefers to refer to venom obliquely. He shrugs playfully, his smile acquiring all the more mischief for Liane’s coughs. “I’ll have to consider some interesting way to combine those two now superfluous elements.”

He allows the threat to hang for a moment before japing at Jossart: “Good ser, I can assure you I know the market quite well. Unless you’re short a rib, your price won’t be going any higher.”“

Eventually Carmella remembers to close her mouth so that she’s no longer looking like a fish stranded on land. Liane’s coughing and - is that laughter? - are a surprise to the Dondarrion girl, but only until she remembers that Dornish are far more open about such things. She even reaches over to pat Liane on the back before realizing that it isn’t just a regular cough. her hand is pulled away with a look of embarrassment at her ignorance. Her dark eyes travel back to Jossart, ears open to what Rurik is saying and for a long moment she seems to be studying the Vaith heir, as if she would have any idea what a pleasure slave would bring in.

“I will take you up on that, I think.”

The ironman glances at the cluster of people and adds drily, “Your step-mother would have approved of Ser Aidan, I think. The man is likely to burst if he has to force himself to be courteous much longer.” And nodding a farewell to Aisling, he turns and makes his way towards the southern yard.

A quiet chuckle wins free from the Dornish knight. “I’ll keep your business acumen in mind, should a career change ever strike me, my lord. Thank you.” Jossart’s gaze turns towards Carmella and Liane, a knowing smile given the former. “I have a thing or two I am meaning to do this evening… would you forgive me if I left you both a while in Ser Aidan’s fine company?” He smiles towards the mentioned knight.

Liane flashes a swift grin towards Carmella, reassuring, before Jossart mentions departing. “Going to go check the market price?” she teases her cousin with a grin before giving his shoulder a squeeze. “Take care, Joss,” she says good-naturedly, looking back to Aidan and Rurik. “I’m sure we’ll be all right.”

A moment’s hesitation, when Greyjoy reveals what he was willing to bargain, and then Aidan repeats stoutly, “Kind of you, my lord of Greyjoy, but I cannot accept. Yet I am not the only hostage, and it may be that some others have greater means than I.” His eyes turn to the snickering Vaith and Uller, and his dark brows rise briefly, a question—although then he must bow his head, and look vaguely disappointed; after all, one less person to distract Rurik. He bites at a lip momentarily and then says, “Or perhaps you yourself, Lady Carmella? I am sure your lady mother made sure you had a taste for Dornish meals; they are hard to come by here in the Red Keep, I’ve found.”

Dark, purple-tinted eyes—still a little wide—swing back to Dagur just as he moves to leave. “Other than him being Dornish, a grave fault in Lady Tilly’s mind I am sure, I fear you may be right,” Aisling remarks, then nods her farewell to the Ironborn before shaking her head both once and twice as she now looks back over at the gathering consisting of the hostages and the so-called Raven.

Involuntarily at the mention of Dornish meals, Jonn’s pupils dilate.

Surely, Dornish wine is served with Dornish meals—or so is the fervent prayer in his eyes.

Carmella blinks and the assessment, such as it was, is over just as quickly as the first words fall from Jossart’s lips. “I am sure we could find it in ourselves to forgive you, Ser Jossart,” Carmella says, smiling as she does so. “It was a pleasure to have met you Ser and no doubt we shall do so again. Don’t let us keep you.” She gives him a nod with the farewell and turns to look at Aiden. “Not as much as I would have liked, Ser Aiden, though she did offer some dishes from time to time. I imagine it was more for her own desires for the tastes of home than to make them regular meals in the Dondarrion home.” She eyes the ironman warily though as she speaks. “But no doubt there are hostages here who would greatly desire some of those spices and a cook who knows the proper use of them.”

“Yes, something like that,” Jossart says, chuckling, at Liane’s suggestion. “It was a pleasure meeting you as well, Lady Carmella.” He claims a step back, and offers a bow to the gathered about him before he turns on his heel and departs in a rush of colorful, Dornish silks.

Evidently, rather than being possessed of much aristocratic decadence, the pervasive morality of the group is thoroughly petit bourgeois. Rurik has no such defect. “It is a great shame indeed, Ser Aidan, for I am so sure you would have enjoyed the cooking greatly. The Lady Carmella’s mother also Perhaps I shall have to install the chef in my apartments and have the ladies-in-waiting there feed me.”

The thought of his whores tilts the direction of his thought. “You should come visit my ‘villa’, Lady Liane. You would fit in perfectly.” He adds to Aidan, “You could certainly use a visit, Ser Aidan. Captivity seems to be greatly stressing you.”

“Should I ever be riding in that direction, my lord, I am sure I shall pay you a call,” says the Knight of the Twilight, sounding quite stressed indeed. His eyes turn this way and that, perhaps looking for some escape that would be gracious, but nothing so obvious is forthcoming. “I am sure there are others who should be glad of your hospitality,” he offers in the end, sounding dubious of the prospect.

“A tempting offer, but I think I’ll have to pass. No doubt my Gold Cloak escort would ruin the king’s coffers with amusing themselves while they waited for me to finish,” Liane replies smoothly to Rurik’s invitation, wry smile remaining. “Not that that doesn’t have its own temptations.” She finally seems to take pity on Aidan’s discomfort, clearing her throat and searching for a change of subject. “Ser Aidan, I’ve taken to riding through the city now that we have some freedom, but I can’t seem to find a horse to compare to our sandsteeds here. Might you have any suggestions?”

Though she has hardly overcome the initial ... surprise presented by Rurik and the things that slip past his lips, Aisling does find herself vaguely amused by the man’s comments now that she has been left alone to simply watch and listen, a feeling betrayed by a certain gleam in her dark eyes. The hint of colour on her pale cheeks does, however, make it plain that she’s still rather scandalized by the man’s suggestions, and so she is left making a valiant effort to look neither too shock nor too entertained.

“Strange you should speak of sandsteeds, Lady Liane,” interrupts Rurik deliberately. “My contact was intimated he had more than just a few spices for sale.” He lets out a mock sigh, “In troubled times like these, many are forced to sell just to make ends meet.” Rurik’s near permanent grin returns, “And others still are too spent from the conflict to adequately protect what is there.”

The Raven notices Aisling noticing. Any northerner brings the thought of creative uses of ice to Rurik’s mind, but while none can read his thoughts his expression is not nearly so opaque.

Carmella isn’t actually sure what to say, if there is even anything to say at all, as she watches Rurik, her expression still wary and grows even more so as he continues to speak. “Stolen ... horses?” she finally decides to ask, the question hesitant and disbelieving at the same time.

At last, someone else to speak to at length. After Rurik makes his suggestion, which earns the man a frown, Aidan leaps on Liane’s question, even if it turns out he hasn’t an answer worth mentioning. “A good question, my lady,” he states, and continues on with a certain unseemly haste to make sure the Raven doesn’t get a word in edgewise. “I’ve only made use of horses borrowed from the stables, and the finest are not available to us; and some are very fine, indeed. But if you wish to patronize a horse dealer of the city ... why, I couldn’t say, truly.”

Another pause, and then he smiles. “But perhaps Lady Aisling might have a suggestion ... ah, if my lord Rurik’s acquaintance proves unprofitable? She has a good eye for horse flesh, and may well know what the city has to offer.”

That expression is, indeed, not very difficult to read. The colour already on Aisling’s cheeks is intensified, and that in turn seems to spark a flare of temper that heightens it a little further. If the look directed at Jonn earlier was sharp, then this one is made of Valyrian steel and aimed to cut Rurik, surely in some very unpleasant place. “I would wager they are,” she interjects. “This ‘Raven’ here seems to be a man who would deal in such matters.” She likely had more on her mind, too, but then Aidan speaks up and makes a mention of her. With some effort, the fierce scowl is muted, and she says, “I do not think I am much more acquainted with what King’s Landing has to offer, Ser Aidan, but I suppose I might find an easier time dealing with the merchants.”

“I don’t feel comfortable sending home for mine,” Liane explains to Aidan, a flicker of a grimace crossing her features. “And for now, for simple rides through the city, it’s of little enough concern. But I hope we’ll be free to hunt one of these days, and in that case, I would appreciate a decent mount.” Rurik’s words are met with only a wry smile and a shake of her head before she looks to Aisling, brows rising with a more polite smile. “I will keep that in mind, Lady Aisling.”

Rurik nods to Liane and interprets her words selectively, “Indeed, you look like you could stand to be fucked in half.” He winks at Lady Liane and Ser Aidan each in turn, clearly very much enjoying himself. Now, false sadness enters his voice, “It must be very dull to be a hostage.”

This time Carmella’s mouth doesn’t drop open in shock, but her cheeks flush at the language being used. Obviously the Dondarrion girl isn’t used to such talk and she’s quick to look away, it doesn’t really matter, just so she’s not looking in Rurik’s direction.

That seems to be enough for Ser Aidan Dayne.

“That’s enough,” he says, biting the words off. “This isn’t the deck of one of your ships, and we are not your crew to hear such language,” the Dornish knight says. “You claim some skill with your tongue. Use it to mind it, or we shall have more words, and mayhaps they’ll be less to your liking.”

“Quoth the Raven,” says Jonn, clearly amused, “‘Nevermore.’”

“Wouldn’t you like to try,” Liane replies to Rurik with equanimity, apparently unruffled by the language, but whatever else she might say is interrupted by Aidan reaching his limit. She sighs when the knight snaps, but doesn’t try to stop him. “I’m fine, Ser Aidan,” she assures him in a low voice, forcing a faint smile. “Really. I don’t generally worry about the opinions of jumped up pirates.”

Behind her embarassed friend, there’s no telling when Jyana had arrived just in time for Ser Aidan to confront Rurik the Raven, and while she is only barely familiar with both, they aren’t her focus. She rests a hand on her friend’s shoulder, taking a step next to her and inspecting her color with a hint of curiosity. “Carmella?” she asks softly, a tilt of her head sliding her glance over to the others at the center.

Still rather flushed, Aisling does not colour further upon overhearing Rurik’s comment to Lady Liane, though it does bring that scowl back onto her face. Perhaps because she imagines she might easily have been the target of that particular joke herself. Once again, however, it is Aidan who provides the distraction, and his ... ‘outburst’ brings a thin smile to her lips. But for some reason, he also receives a look of disapproval from the northwoman.

“Were this my decks, Ser Aidan, rest assured that I would not be nearly so decorous. Salty language for salty water. It sounds as though the Lady Liane would like to be acquainted with the pirate’s peg leg.” His brow furrows, but otherwise he does not give any hints as to being troubled by the knight. “I did not know the women of Dorne to be the sort to hide behind their men, brave defenders though they might be.” Evidently, the sauce continues.

While she had been looking around at anything but Rurik, Carmella missed Jyana’s approach, her focus towards the hostage tower at that particular moment. Aidan’s curt reaction towards the pirate had drawn a faint smile from the Dondarrion girl but before she can say anything to him she finds Jyana’s hand on her shoulder. There’s relief in her look as she turns towards her pale friend and the Arryn girl’s whisper is met with a small laugh and a shake of her head. “I don’t even know where to begin,” she says, while watching Rurik out of the corner of her eye.

“I could not countenace that any woman would need defense from you, _my lord_. Why, you are as toothless as your namesake among these good ladies, I am sure,” is the Knight of the Twilight’s heated response, moderated only by the fact that even now he cannot bring himself to leave off a courteous title. “We are at court, among noble company. Mayhaps customs are different at your court in the Iron Isles; I suspect they are. But such manners ... they will not do, my lord of Greyjoy. You sully the air with it, and trouble our ears.”

And then, as if to emphasize that the matter goes beyond the gentler sex, he repeats, “_Our_ ears.”

Liane rolls her eyes at Rurik’s words. “I assure you, should I decide to go in search of ‘peg legs’ as you so delicately put it, I will be sure to consider all possibilities. Thank you kindly for your concern for my womanly urges, though,” she adds, as though Rurik had offered her a glass of tea.

Jonn considers Liane for a moment, shaking his head as she speaks. There is some small admiration in his eyes—though not the same sort that Rurik displayed moments earlier.

He turns just so, noticing Jyana for the first time. “Cousin,” he says with gravity, “you do have a knack for thwarting mine and your uncle’s maintenance of your innocence.”

Left out of the ‘conversation’, such as it is, Aisling appears indecisive. Rurik clearly has earned himself both cold stares and fierce scowls, but she doesn’t seem quite clear on what Aidan deserves at the moment. In the end, she settles for a sharp, scrutinizing look his way, and a dryly spoken remark, “I would not waste my breath on trying to educate this particular bird, Ser Aidan.” She moves away from the tower’s entrance then, seemingly set to resume whatever path she was on when interrupted earlier. “Good evening, my lords and ladies.”

She smiles at Carmella’s reply, before the golden-haired Arryn maid turns to blink at Jonn at his chastisement. Aquamarine eyes blink at him slightly, and she smiles. “But you’re around, Jonn,” she says, her smile broadening into a cheeky grin. “That ought to entail that I shouldn’t worry so much about that, should I?” She inclines her head. “Unless of course you’re aware of certain questionable threats I’m not aware of and in which case your presence soothes me immensely.” She folds her arms behind her back, the slight incline of her head emphasizing her impish appearance.

“In the Iron Islands, we have a saying, -Ser- Aidan. Nothing sullies the air quite like your obese old aunt’s farts.” The Ironborn reaver smirks, “If we do not like a tongue, we bring out our axe. We do not stoop to describe the arts of deception and dissembling as etiquette and chivalry.” His hand traces a grand, sweeping circle, “Perhaps you would not be so stiff if you were able to dislodge that scorpion from your bunghole.” He pauses and presses his palms upward with a look towards Liane, “As always, at your service, my Lady.”

Carmella’s expression sours again at the sound of Jonn’s voice when he calls out to Jyana. While the blonde might give the knight kind words and a smile, Carmella does no such thing. With a sniff of disdain she turns back and nods towards the northern woman who voices her departure. “A good evening to you, Lady Aisling,” Carmella says with as much warmth as she can muster at this moment, which isn’t a great deal.

Jonn considers Carmella with much amusement, but leaves her to her own devices for the nonce. Still, he does flash his Lannister smile at her, for good measure. Then, to Jyana, holding his hands up in a helpless gesture: “Fortunately, my hair is golden; so the white you worry into it will not bear much notice until it is too late to matter.”

“Good evening, m’lady,” Jyana says in parting to the Lady Aisling, for it was the polite thing to do, dropping her a curtsey as she passes. Straightening up, this gives her a chance to take notice of Carmella’s sour expression, even while Jonn smiles that Lannister smile at her. She flashes Jonn a look, but then she shakes her head. “Oh? I think that makes us quite even, cousin. I’ve thought the same about you several times, only for different circumstances.” She reaches out to pat his forearm affectionately.

“You can thank the gods I’ve no axe, nor leave from the Hand to fetch one, Greyjoy,” Ser Aidan says, all semblance of courtesy torn away at last. “You’ll learn a different song the day I do.”

With that he gives the cut direct, forcing the Raven from his thoughts, turning away to regard the others present—including the newcomer, Jyana, whom he does not seem to know—with a cool gaze that passes them by quickly. “My apologies, my ladies, ser, but I shall take Lady Aisling’s advice.” The bow he offers is a trifle, barely sketched, and then he’s leaving back to the Dornish Tower.

“I’ll bear it in mind,” Liane assures Rurik with a dip of her chin, though she seems more than willing to let the subject drop for now, in the interest of Ser Aidan’s sanity. She nods to the man, murmuring his name in farewell, before watching him back towards the tower with a faint grimace.

Carmella ignores the conversation between Jyana and Jonn as much as she can even with it in such close proximity. Aidan’s farewell affords her the necessary distraction. She offers the Dornish knight a smile and a nod in his direction with a brief, “My thanks, Ser Aidan,” before the man slips off towards his quarters in the hostage tower. But as soon as the farewell is past her lips and his back turned, her smile melts into that earlier look of subtle distaste.

Rurik cannot help but chortle at the sight of the infuriated Aidan as he leaves. Baiting the hostage is clearly rich sport for him. But a sour note takes him. “Next time,” he spits out, not without some hostility and his back stiffening, “He would do well to accept my generous offer.”

Rurik purses his lips and squints slightly at Liane, “The same goes for you, my Lady.”

“A horse I’ll take. Your peg leg, I’ll pass on,” Liane replies to Rurik with a faint, wry smile. “If you come across a decent sandsteed in a slightly legitimate manner, we’ll talk.”

The ironborn is scrutinized from where she stands, though Carmella’s discomfiture of Jonn is detected by Jyana. She glances over at her friend, and smiles at her reassuringly. Inclining her head, she murmurs at her, keeping her voice low while Jonn seems preoccupied for a few moments with his own thoughts on the scene.

Rurik taps his nose with one of his fingers. “You shall be seeing more of me much sooner rather than later.” As the pirate lowers his hand, he rubs his thumb and forefinger together in the prospect of acquiring coin. “Perhaps I will trade a magister of Braavos the price of a sandsteed for one of my songs. Or perhaps I will just steal one. You’ll have to assume the first.”

Jonn ignores the whispering with arch nobility—eyes forward, back straight, chin accusatorily stabbing the air. He listens in on Rurik and Liane’s conversation. At the mention of sandsteeds, he frowns as though recalling a disturbing memory. Then, his eyes swivel to look upon Carmella and he cannot hold in the involuntary snort of laughter that follows.

Carmella turns and looks at Jyana and slowly there’s a friendly look in the Dondarrion’s eyes. Reaching over she pats Jyana’s arm and gives her a nod before leaning in and whispering a quick response in return. Whatever is said is quite brief and soon Carmella’s head moves away from Jyana’s just in time for Jonn’s unamusing snort. Whatever smile she held for Jyana fades quickly again as she makes a pointed effort not to look in the Lannister’s direction.

“Pity, that. I’ve been thinking about the potential for trade between Dorne and these lands, but I couldn’t work with a captain I couldn’t trust,” Liane shrugs one shoulder to Rurik with arch disappointment, though the slighest hint of a smile lingers at one corner of her lips. “Buy a horse, maybe, but not much more.”

The friendly look causes Jyana to smile cheerfully at the Dondarrion girl, and when…well, there’s the snort, and there’s the fading look on Carmella’s face. She could only sigh inwardly, a neutral look directed at the exchange - but she says nothing for now. “I hope you’re not too upset,” she directs towards the Lannister. “For being here, being so stalwart in your attempts to protect my innocence.” She keeps her voice light. “I take it you’ve been occupied with the view?” She does not address the Lady of Uller, she being so preoccupied with Rurik, and it would be rude to just butt in the conversation.

Rurik makes his best attempt at mirroring Liane’s countenance and tone with his own. “I too have given a thought to trade with Dorne, but maybe it would be more interesting to start some trade between Dorne and Myr.” The reaver refers to the most notorious slave-trading hub of the Free Cities.”

“You are clearly too wise to trust a man with my reputation, my lady. But know that if the coin or the cunt is sufficient, I will deliver…” A twinkle crosses Rurik’s eyes, “Unless I get a better offer.”

Archly, for he is gifted with a certain air of nobility when it suits his purposes, he informs Jyana that “It is impolite to whisper.”

Jonn allows his mock wounded look to penetrate her defenses for a moment, but smiling and bowing his head in another display of his hidden chivalry. “I am a Knight, cousin. It is my duty to protect you from offenses of the mind and body.”

Liane laughs, shaking her head. “You could find better subjects for trade with Myr than Dornish,” she says with some amusement, smile remaining at his last. “And alas, the danger of all men for sale. They’re more difficult to buy than it would seem.” At that, she seems ready to close the conversation with the Ironman, turning towards Carmella and blinking as she finds Jyana and Jonn there as well. “Ser Jonn, Lady Jyana,” she greets with a small smile.

This time it is Carmella’s turn to snort, though hers is a sound made of disbelief and disgust. “Unless the offense comes from your own lips, then it matters not,” she scowls at him, unable to believe what he’s just claimed.

“And here I thought it would be the polite thing to do considering there are other conversations about in which I would be loathe to interrupt,” Jyana remarks easily with a small smile. She leans in to murmur softly in Jonn’s ear.

Pulling away at that, and she reaches out to touch his forearm lightly. “I know,” she tells him with a quieter smile, and an undisguised fondness in her gaze. “But I like to think that you protect me because you want to.”

She would say more, if it weren’t for Liane coming to greet them. She curtseys. “Lady Liane,” she greets. “Once again I must thank you for your assistance the other day with my little sister’s cat, yours and your cousin’s, Ser Jossart.” The snort from Carmella causes her to look in between the dark-haired maiden and her cousin, a perplexed look on her face.

Rurik does his best impression of a gracious nod, his mirth obvious. He turns about and begins to exit. “Come drink, whore, and gamble, Lannister…if you are man for it,” he offers Jonn on the way out of the stuffy ambiance of the Targaryen stronghold.

“Surely,” Jonn says sweetly to Carmella, his teeth flashing white behind his curled lips, “I needn’t remind you about Lannisters and debts?”

He watches Rurik go, considering the man’s offer—but at last turns his attention back upon the women. “Lady Liane,” he murmurs by way of greeting, eyeing Carmella the whole time with something a little less than malice.

Exeunt, Ser Jonn; Enter Black Jonn, stage left.

“They always pay them, apparently,” Liane informs Carmella with as much sobriety as she can summon. “I suspect it’s a side effect of all the gold in Casterly Rock. I would pay all of my debts as well, if I could afford so much.” There’s a glint of humor in her eyes, though her expression is /mostly/ polite when she looks back to Jonn.

Carmella returns the look to Jonn, dark eyes sparking with her a malice all her own. She doesn’t look to Jyana, though most of what she says is meant for her ears. “Did you know that your cousin, who I no doubt you love dearly, has quite a creative imagination, Lady Jyana? He tells the most amusing tales to his men, tales of maiden and farm animals that are anything but innocent.” Her lips pull into a smile, but there is no sweetness in it. “Pay whatever debts you have, Ser Jonn,” she continues, a stress on his knightly title, “but see that they are paid to those who are owed. In case you have forgotten, I am not my brother.”

There is silence, from her end. At least for a few moments.

“....I don’t understand,” Jyana offers slowly. “What do maidens have to do with farm animals? Were they milking them?” Perhaps Carmella will explain it to her, perhaps not, but she’s certainly seems not to have heard of those sorts of activities. The poor, sheltered maiden. Still, her eyes fall on Jonn, and then at the wary, cool, or outright disgusted look on the others’ faces when faced with her cousin.

Black Jonn smiles, which swiftly turns into a laugh.

He says nothing for a long time.

Then, “The question is not is my young cousin aware of my creativity, but are you?” A strange question, since obviously the Dondarrion woman is well aware—or does he speak of something else entirely?

Carmella breaks her stare with Jonn with a sigh and looks to Jyana. “No, Lady Jyana, not milking them,” she says, completely missing how humorous that statement is. “Your charming cousin, because of some argument he had with my brother seven years ago, decided that he would entertain his men with tales of wanton behavior, using my honor for his and their amusement.” She pauses there, looking uneasy about speaking of such to a girl who obviously is clueless on the matter, but she sees know way out of it. “In his fanciful tales, meant to keep his men�s morale up, I am familiar with horses in a way a lady wife is familiar with her lord husband in the marriage bed.” The words come swiftly, for she’d like to get past them as quickly as possible, but there’s strength behind them to, sprung from her disgust with the man in question.

Jonn smiles expectantly even before Carmella speaks, his eyes bright with mirth, his head nodding up and down with each point she makes. Then he folds his arms and waits, leaning back on the heel of one boot and tapping the toes of the other insistently upon the ground.

Liane presses a hand to her cheek, just…looking towards the sky.

“I see.”

There is a brief pause from the Jewel.

“From what I understand, men at war typically use whatever they could imagine to goad the rest into a fighting mood,” Jyana says when Carmella explains, though she looks resigned upon saying so. “While I know little of such things, I’ve been around enough of Uncle’s men to know that they could be quite ribald with their tongues when with each other’s company.” She inclines her head. “That doesn’t mean, however, that it ought to be condoned just because the machinations of reality entails for it to happen, and they rightfully ought to suffer the consequences once word of it travels back to places like the Keep.” A glance to Jonn at that. “I’m sure my cousin is man enough to take them.”

Making his way along the wooded path toward the Guest Tower, Ser Almer Connington seems part of the fabric of the night in his dark riding leathers. The sound of voices in mirthful conversation garners a tired glance from the tall young knight, but little else. He is alone, and sweaty, and weary-looking; and the look in his cold grey eyes betokens a reserve of patience that is all but empty.

The tapping foot draws back to meet the other, and Jonn leans back on both heels. He seems to nearly bounce up and down on them, buoyant and excited in an almost childlike fashion. But there is still distaste in his eyes as he looks on Carmella, waiting to see if she has any further words.

He notices Almer’s arrival out of the corner of his eye, and also notices the look in his eyes, and so makes no move to beckon him closer.

Carmella watches Jyana, stunned. Obviously that was not the reaction she had expected or wanted. Silent for a long while she looks at her friend, ignoring Jonn as well as she is able before she exhales to say something. “Well.” There is another length of silence before Carmella continues on, hackled raised. “I see I lack such an education. Thank you, Lady Jyana, for the informative lesson.” Carmella sounds anything but pleased as she says that. With a turn of her head she nods towards Liane, offering a tight smile for the Dornishwoman’s benefit. “Lady Liane,” says with a nod before turning back to Jyana breifly, but saying nothing else as she sweeps by the Arryn girl, chin held high and her back impossibly straight as she strides in the direction of the Holdfast.

Liane nods to Carmella, expression sympathetic, before turning a chiding look on Jonn. “You know she doesn’t deserve that,” she notes quietly. “If you want to pick on someone, at least pick on someone who can handle it. Or expects it.” Jyana is spared any of the chiding, but the look the Dornishwoman gives the Jewel is just a bit disappointed for her defense of Jonn’s slander.

Jonn deflates a little—for it is not often that the audience disperses ‘ere he has had the opportunity to deliver the punchline. He watches Carmella sweep past, his lips pursed in thought. “No matter the reputation that precedes me,” he notes, his head shaking almost in disappointment, “those Dondarrions have never doubted the veracity of my remarks toward them. Sad, really.”

Then he frowns, looking between Liane and Jyana, as though feeling guilty—a problem he never had before the business with anointing with oils.

The Dondarrion lady’s path carries her past Ser Almer, and he steps deftly aside to let Carmella pass by. He glances after her, curious at the dark cloud of displeasure that is almost palpably trailing in her wake. Then, seeing Jonn Lannister and the two other ladies, his eyes narrow.

She says nothing else when Carmella sweeps past, Jyana’s eyes staring straight to the front and her lips…well, it’s not frowning, but it’s not smiling either. For once her expression is blank, including those expressive eyes. But what else was she expected to say? Was she supposed to lie in not knowing that such slander -doesn’t- happen? The disappointed look is borne with good grace, accepting it as it is - for it was what she knew honestly.

She turns to Jonn then. “Everyone has their pride, Jonn,” she replies simply. “I believe the two of us are familiar with ours quite well.”

She takes a step away. “I also recall telling you once that she is my friend,” she says quietly. “Does that really mean so little to you that you couldn’t spare her your tongue just a little?”

She watches him then, and she looks exhausted. She drops a curtsey to both of them. “Goodnight.” And turning then, she starts heading in the opposite direction from where Carmella disappeared to.

Liane looks less disappointed when Jyana adds her chiding, nodding politely to the younger lady when she turns to depart. She’s quiet for a long moment, not saying anything, before she looks to Jonn. “I know, it’s not fair,” she murmurs, a note of dry amusement entering her voice. “The Raven makes rude comments to me and none of the women can pick their jaws up off the floor. Lady Carmella calls you on yours, and everyone gives you dirty looks. But she has friends,” she points out, helpfully.

“What in seven hells was that all about?” Almer’s weariness gives way before his curiosity, and he approaches the others. The knight nods to the Dornishwoman with only a semblance of courtesy, before turning his attention to Lannister.

“Up to your old tricks again, Jonn?” he asks, none too gently. “Wasn’t that your friend Blackpate’s sister?”

Jonn endures the soft rebuff as he has done his whole life—silently, and with properly displayed chastisement. He exhales gustily, rubs the side of his face with his open palm, and grimaces appropriately.

“Tricks?” he scoffs, “Hardly. She made the critical error of assuming I was telling the truth.”

Liane rolls her eyes at Jonn. “She’s a woman, I suspect she’s upset enough that you came up with it and tossed it at her anyhow,” she points out, shaking her head as she takes a step back. “There are many innocents here, Ser Jonn,” she notes. “And many who aren’t. It’s the latter who are fair targets.” She takes a few steps away then, arms crossed loosely over her chest.

“One of these days, cousin,” Almer interjects mildly, “I think your tongue is going to cause you some trouble.” He gives Jonn a meaningful look, and then shrugs and looks at Liane again.

“Am I one of those innocents, my lady?” the Stormknight asks innocuously. “Or am I fair game for rumor and innuendo?” There is a subtle chill in his words, but his tone is offhanded and conversational.

Laughter. Soft, true, and not invasive, but audible just the same. “...never laughed so hard in a sept before!” comes the voice of Reyna Rowan, a tone not often heard from her. With her is her new riding master, her hand on his arm and his head bent solicitously toward hers. But the folk gathered here are in their path, and Reyna draws them up short as she takes her hand away. “Rumor and innuendo, cousin?” she asks, moving to Almer’s side. “Who would dare?”

“I couldn’t tell, Ser,” Liane replies to Almer with a faint, tight smile. “But I shall refrain from judgement or action until I can. I hope you all will excuse me.” With another small smile towards Reyna, and a polite nod all around, she turns and starts towards the Dornish tower.

First, to Liane, with an irritated shrug: “How should I? Do I look like the Scales of Justice to you?”

Then, to Almer with a crooked smile: “It already has, coz, it already has.”

He expounds no further, instead turning to come face to face with Reyna. He forcibly—evident by the twitch of his neck—schools his face to calm, and nods politely at her. “Lady Reyna,” he says, his head bowed with the proper respect, “please pardon my rudeness, but I’ve no desire for our dear cousin to tie me to the whipping post tonight.” And then he follows Liane’s example.

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