The day has been a rainy one, typical of the Stormlands. The rain continues, but has done little to dampen the spirits of the Stormlords gathered within their ancient citadel. Today they have come to celebrate a famous wedding between their most powerful knight and the lady of house of great wealth and power - the wedding of Sarmion and Lyrissa.
In a ceremony both rich in pomp and beauty, witnessed by the King and the Lord and Lady Baratheon. The prayers being said, the vows being spoken and the songs sung - Lord Lorent Hightower dressed in grey and trimmed in white presented his lovely, young daughter in her maiden’s cloak: an affair of grey velvet, white fur trim with pearls spread liberally around the hem, the white tower and beacon of flame embroidered with gold metallic thread.
Sarmion awaited her at the wedding alter, his giant frame wrapped in gold and trimmed in black. He retrieved the bride’s cloak from his Lord brother and shook the rich garment out with a flourish of his muscled arms. The wedding cloak is a fine garment of gold silk, trimmed in black. There the crowned black stag of House Baratheon pranced with its twin wrought in beads of dragonglass. Behind and between, cunningly woven into the fabric, images of prancing stags in black creates a subtle pattern only visible to those privy to a close inspection of the cloth.
Then the maid, in cool reserve pronounced, “With this kiss I pledge my love, and take you for my lord and husband.”
“With this kiss I pledge my love,” the Stormbreaker answered, “And take you for my lady and wife.”
Bending low to receive the kiss, their lips touched with slightly more passion than the bride’s detached visage had left to the imagination.
Ceremonies concluded, soon the call was made to adjourn for the feast, with time left for the guests to freshen up. All gathered in the great hall between the three banners of the great houses celebrated here: Baratheon, Hightower, and Targaryen before all.
The King’s Hand, the Lord Corwen and his wife, the bride and groom, the Lord Lorent, his wife, and Ser Ardon Tyrell were given seats upon the raised dias at the end of the hall. All others were offered places in the long tables below that stretch the length of it. Some offered seats of high honor, such as the bride’s brothers, sisters and close cousins of Hightower and the groom’s extended family, such as the Baratheon heir, Tancred. Amongst them was given seats to Seth Blackwood and his Stark wife, Marian, the Lord Kaeron Bar Emmon and the other great lords invited. Below them were sat whatever hostages had been allowed the freedom to travel here.
And still further down were those of less distinction but no less honor. Ser Ethos Mertyns was given a place here, as was Ser Orson Baratheon, the Lord Commander of the City Watch and his wife, Reyna Saltcliffe. Far beneath the salt, the less lordly of the company were set with the common soldiery given benches along the wall at the far end of the hall.
Throughout it all, the musicians play merry Stormlands tunes coupled with other famed melodies known throughout the realm and oft played at weddings.
Placed rather far away from her family, Reyna Saltcliffe sits in quiet piety with her husband, she in elaborate black and silver, he in unrelieved black. The religious observance has them both quiet, singing and speaking when required with grave piety, and otherwise silent.
Still considering herself something of a newlywed, Marian sat cosily close beside Seth - holding his hand throughout the ceremony, and doing her best to hide both the looks of amusement and of wide-eyed curiosity that crossed her features at various points. Those nearby might have noticed that she entirely refrained from participating in any prayers to the Seven, though she did hum quietly along to the hymns in a soft alto…
Clad in silver and black, perhaps as visible token of her frequent role as the representative of the Lord of Winterfell, Marian seems at ease with her prominent place at the feast. She lavishes a fair amount of attention on Kaeron Bar Emmon, but seems to be intent upon thoroughly enjoying herself and is happy to talk to any nearby who engage her in conversation.
Lars Umber sits near Marian and Seth, singing along with gusto to any song he knows. His face is suffused with a broad, homely grin ... though this is perhaps because he is, at last, on solid ground once more. Besides his booming voice tolling the storm songs, he keeps mostly silent unless spoke too. Weddings and ceremonies are not the northman’s expertise—his mind is filled with strategy and thoughts of battle, already preparing for the upcoming melee.
You paged Ethos with ‘They’re more or less on the same level. Buckler probably being seated higher than Ethos, but she could opt to sit with him, sure.’
With cool precision, Lyrissa Baratheon partakes of the meal, conversing softly with Lord Corwen whilst her new husband sits beside her. A Hightower cousin approaches, and she seems a favoured one - for the new bride smiles at her and leans forward for a brief whispered conversation. A kiss upon the cheek for the other woman before Lyrissa leans back - not so that her back presses against the chair - that would be unacceptable - but enough that she gives the impression of relaxing just a little before the sharp darkness of her eyes travel over the room
Tancred is with the rest of House Baratheon… His face is a fairly much an emotionless blank, and there is a cool look to his face. He is dressed splendidly in the colors of the House, his eyes never leaving the pair at the alter [and later on the dias].
Ethos Mertyns, Stormlander of Mistwood and nephew of Lord and Lady Baratheon is at the feast, as he should be. He was Sarmion’s squire for long years, serving under the Stormbreaker in the marches, and during the Conquest. His squire was with him during the ceremony proper, but the young boy has disappeared now to sit with friends from his wardship at Greenstone that made it here for the wedding.
The knight has often been seen exchanging quiet words with Orene Lefford, a few wry grins and jokes shared between them at various points through the event. She’s absent not, sitting elsewhere or mingling. Ethos is taking his seat at the table, giving Dagur and Reyna both overly-cordial smiles along with everyone else.
Ser Humfrey sits at one of the long tables, far from the raised dais where the bride, groom, and their families sit. To his left and right, sit house-hold knights in the service of Lord Corwen. The heir to the Crag’s rich attire places him at odds with the simpler garb of the hedge knights and household knights at his table but Humfrey seems perfectly comfortable, even at ease with the rough hewn rough speaking knights at his table, and the common soldiers seated near him on benches.
Seth, much like his northron wife, refrained from offering yet another voice in echo to the pieties of the wedding ceremony—though he blessedly refrained from offering his tone-deaf contribution of a hum, opting instead for a studied and respectful silence. Nephew to the Stormbreaker and kin to the Baratheon clan through his mother, the Blackwood has spent much of the before and after of the wedding engaged in casual (if effusive) banter and catching up with distant relations. Now he sits in total contentment beside his wife of seven months, a goblet of Reach red cradled in one hand.
The company upon the dais enjoy themselves. Many draw close to pay their respects, offering toasts that are answered merrily and with joy. Then the slight man in bright green known as Wat the Whistler approaches. He plays a lute and the musicians fall silent as he draws near.
“My Lords and Ladies! The Stormbreaker has commissioned this ballad in honor of his lady love, the beautiful and famed Lyrissa!”
Beginning to play a low key ballad, the musicians begin following the melody, filling the hall with song. Soon the minstrel in Sarmion’s employ begins to sing, his voice as rich and fluid as the flute-play for which he is famed:
One morning in summer as day was a dawning
I came to Storm’s End, my true love to see
I spied a fair maiden as she came a riding
Her bearing was proud she came to me.
Marian’s attention is caught by the minstrel. She reaches over to give Seth’s arm a fond squeeze, even as she leans forward a touch, head cocking slightly as she pays close attention to the intricacies of Wat’s music, frowning now and then as she attempts to memorise what she hears.
Reyna bends her head to Ethos and to everyone else who smiles politely and titters behind their hands to see her brought low. But she smiles, and she speaks, always the lady—and steals wistful glances at the small but merry party of Tyrell kinsmen seated farther up toward the dais. And when she does, anyone with eyes can see how keenly she feels this small but notable separation from them. The music does seem to please her, and she lifts her head to listen.
A love song. Lars closes his lips, whistling through his teeth contemplatively. Vaguely tapping a broad forefinger on the tabletop, he clicks his teeth. A pretty song, but not the type he especially cares for. He gives a quick, boisterous grin to Marian, seeing the look of intense concentration on her face.
Ethos has been reclusive over the last few weeks, after his scuffle with Dagur and other troubles he’s been spending most of his time out in the Kingswood. Between his duties as Royal Huntsman and overseeing the building of the hunting lodge, the Stormlander has had enough to keep busy and out of the Red Keep.
Now, here at a table amongst his own people in Storm’s End, well… a few digging smiles at the Saltcliffe’s is simply too tempting to resist. Mertyns does keep his thoughts to himself, though. When the song is announced, he takes up a drink and turns to watch.
Lyrissa smiles faintly at the minstrel, before turning her bright gaze upon her husband. No words are spoke - but the sudden faint flush to her cheek denotes her pleasure at the gesture, and she rests her hand lightly upon Sarmion’s own before turning back to listen politely to the song.
Seth’s Baratheon blues slide sideways towards Marian as she frowns, and the faint smile that plays on his lips has a bemused, knowing cast to it. The young man leans back in his seat as the singing begins, allowing the curve of his lips to show a hint of white in reply to Lars’ broad grin. Otherwise, his attention is trained on the singer.
The Stormbreaker grins, holding out a heavily muscled hand towards his bride’s slim own. The King looks down the dais and raises his cup to the groom, honouring him for the spectacle and Lord Corwen simply shakes his head and smiles, hiding his looks behind his wine cup.
Wat the Whistler plays on, his lute setting the rhythm for the song and his voice carrying high over the murmur of the assembly, a voice long trained for being heard while on the march over a line of hundreds.
I stood in amazement, said I to the fair maid,
“If you would come back to Storm’s End with me
There’s ne’er been a lady set foot in that castle
There’s ne’er been a lady more fair than thee.”
“A coach and six horses to go at your bidding
And all they that speak shall say ‘Lady’ to thee
Fine servants to serve you and go at your bidding.”
Her bearing was proud as she answered me.
Ethos Mertyns may smirk as much as he likes; Reyna does not see him. She watches the singer with a half smile on her face; no daughter of Highgarden can sit long untouched by so high-flown a love ballad. Dagur glances at her once and sets his face in tolerance as if anticipating much approbation of the song later.
Pausing to let go the lute, the Whistler takes up a flute while the musicians take up the rhythm. He plays an air in time to the melody, it catches on the air and flies over the high arched hall and is clear far down the hall. It catches at the heart of those in rapt attention of the song and even the most callous would be drawn by the sound.
Then, taking up the lute once more, Wat’s voice raises in pitch, emulating more a woman’s tone as he sings more powerfully, to match the magic of his skill with the woodwind.
“O, what do I care for your castle and coaches?
And what do I care for your gay conjuring?
I’d rather be home at Oldtown or King’s Landing
Or riding my horse in the wood with none but me.”
Lowering the pitch of his voice, the Whistler returns to the male part of the ballad, singing:
“Away with such nonsense and get on beside me!
Ere summer is done, my sweet bride you will be!
And then in my arms, I will gently caress thee.”
‘Twas then she consented, I took her with me.
Ethos doesn’t seem to mind the song, but does lean over once or twice to whisper to some people around him, grinning. All around, the knight is in a good mood, happy to be back in the Stormlands and happy to see the Stormbreaker wed.
Marian can’t help but crack a grin at the notion of Sarmion’s “gay conjuring”, flashing a swift glance along the table towards the Stormbreaker, before looking to Seth and Lars as she stifles a chuckle.
Lars has to contain himself from a belly-laugh, giving a quick glance up ath the figure of Sarmion under a high brow. He’s more inclined to think along the man’s line in the ballad - though, perhaps, that it is because he is in fact a man. Finguring his belt, he mutters a slightly indecent joke under his breath, hopefully not loud enough that the general public can hear.
The ballad finally drawing to a close, the Whistler’s lute continues on alone, the musicians having stilled. Still awaiting the end of the song, the hall grows hushed, waiting to hear the final line.
Wat draws up his voice and in the slightly sorrowful melody this song presents, his voice rings high and alone save for the faint chime of his lute:
Seven years have gone on, since we were united.
There’s many the change, but there’s no change on me
And my love is as fair as that morn in the Stormlands
When I plucked me a proud flame just by the sea…
Drawing out the last note in the song, the minstrel lowers his head. Then, bowing, he raises with a flourish and gives a merry grin to The Stormbreaker and a wink to his bride.
Sarmion rises to his considerable height and grinning broadly claps his heavy hands which is followed close upon by his brother, but rather more reservedly by the Hand and the other’s on the dais.
Humfrey turns from the minstrel to stare out through the gates leading from the great hall to the outer yard, now a morass of mud. Humfrey broods upon the grey-black sky, for a time, before turning towards the minstrel again as he concludes his song.
Seth does have to swallow a smile at some of the verse, setting down his goblet to bring one hand up to rub behind his neck before bringing it round for a sound and politic clap. “‘Away with such nonsense and get on beside me!’” he echoes archly to his wife, blue eyes suffused with mirth. “Very efficient. Perhaps that’s what I should have said at the start.”
Lyrissa lifts her fingertips to her mouth and laughs briefly behind them, her eyes twinkling with amusement at the ballad.
“Oh dear,” she murmurs, before adding her own applause from her seated posture, “Masterfully sung, Whistler, and much appreciated, my husband.” The faint flush still coloured her fair cheek, and she covered her small discomfiture with a sip of wine.
Marian applauds, rather more sedately but not much less appreciatively than Sarmion - before laughing at Seth’s words. “I was offered something somewhat similar in the Kingswood, as I recall”, she responds teasingly.
Lars does chuckle this time, though he gives the minstrel a quick bout of polite applause. Turning to Seth, the Umber flashes another grin.
“Oh, yes, a proud flame. Fiery, eh? Well, that’s something for ‘er.”
Ethos applauds the song along with the rest, grinning at the lyrics. Then he’s standing and easing away from the table. The pale blue gaze of the Stormlander is picking out someone specific, Seth. He approaches the table, greeting cheerfully, “Good evening, sers!” Mostly his eyes are on Blackwood.
Reyna Saltcliffe looks a bit misty-eyed as she claps her hands, then murmurs into her husband’s ear. Whatever she says makes him wince and roll his eyes heavenward, then look askance at her.
Though doubtless for different reasons, Seth Blackwood is likewise prompted to roll his eyes at the prompt of his wife—though the approach of the Mertyns spares him any further commentary on the subject of the Kingswood. “A good evening to you as well,” the lancer answers in similar cheer, lifting up his cup affably to the approaching unfamiliar. “A fine feast, no?”
Marian also rolls her eyes, though this time in playful response to Ethos’s greeting. “When will these Southrons top seeking to impose their new-fangled titles upon us?”, she mischievously asks her fellow adherents of the old ways, before offering Ethos a quick smile.
“My gift to you, love,” Sarmion says settling back in his high seat. He leans over to whisper something to his bride and offer a surreptious modicum of affection.
Looking over at them, Lord Corwen rises to his feet and motions to his brother with his cup. With a voice as deeply timbred as his brother’s own, he announces to the Hall, “I welcome you all to Storm’s End! And with special gratitude do I welcome our own King’s Hand, who has made the long journey south. Thank you, your Grace,” he says, bowing to Viserys, who nods his welcome.
The Lord of Storm’s End then turns his attention back to the gathering, saying, “A toast! May Sarmion’s sorrows be at an end and may the flames of his Hightower bride light his way from the furies of his past!”
As one, following the Lord Hightower, the entire house lifts their cups and shout, “WE LIGHT THE WAY!”
Lars bangs a fist on the table, shouting lustily along with the rest of the house. Lifting his enameled goblet, he takes a long swig. Fire pours down his throat and into his belly, and he leans forward, obviously becoming more jocular and looking for a conversation partner.
Humfrey Rises to his feet, raising his goblet as the Lord of Storm’s End calls for a toast. Drinks deeply of the Dornish red in his silvered cup, he drinks deep but his cup is far from empty when he sets it down and returns to his chair.
Leaning back in his chair upon the dais, Ardon Tyrell crosses his long legs beneath the table. He nods politely at the toast, drinking as the others do, but his smile is reserved. A squire in the emerald livery of Highgarden stands at his elbow, leaning forward to whisper something in Ardon’s ear.
Reyna and Dagur raises their glasses, Reyna with a practiced smile that hides whatever she feels. She drinks as well in salute to the bride and groom, though whenever she looks on the bride, her eyes gleam with passing pity.
Ethos grins at Marian’s words and bows to the woman, ‘Always a pleasure to see you as well, my lady.’ He offers with mirth in his gaze. Then it’s back to Seth. ‘Blackwood, I’m Ethos Mertyns. I’ve been hoping to get the chance to meet you.’
He says cheerfully. Then is looking back at the dais to raise his cup to the toast.
When he turns back, Ethos leans in to speak a soft whisper in Seth’s ear, “... was ... ... to ... ... ... ... we share ... common ... ... ... ... backs, ... ... the ...”
Lyrissa smiles sweetly, her head tilted proudly. Baratheon and Hightower, a politically astute match. The steel in the spine of the young bride is apparent in the aplomb that she handles this gradiose situation.
“I shall pray to the Seven for guidance,” she replies softly, and at the shout from her kinsfolk, a laugh bubbles from her lips, “Aye, chasing back shadows is my gift.” And she drinks with the rest.
“I’ll try to take as much umbrage as I hope an understanding and equanimous southron traveling in the North that is /not/ greeted with the appellation might sensibly take,” Seth quips in good natured reply to Marian. And then uncle Corwen is toasting, most graciously, to the house of the bride. “Here here!” the lordling calls out with a broad grin, a lift of his goblet and a full swallow taken besides. He turns his attention back to Mertyns then, that swath of white undimmed. “Ser Ethos,” he answers with a rise from his seat and the extension of a hand for clasping. “A pleasure. It seems as if you have met my lady wife, so I’ll refrain from introductions.”
The Blackwood leans in to hear those whispered words, chin tipped thoughtfully downward. His smile turns into something more subtle and subdued as he makes his own quiet reply.
Marian joins those rising to their feet for the toast, once again smiling along the table towards Sarmion and his comparatively diminutive bride. Ethos’s conspiratorial gesture earns him a distinctly curious look, before she refocuses upon the formal proceedings.
Seth whispers to Ethos.
The Lord Corwen’s toast completed, he retakes his seat and shares a private word with Prince Viserys who sourly nods and arches his brow. It is then the Lord Lorent Hightower rises to his feet and motions towards the bride and groom seated to his left.
To the couple, he says, “Being father of the bride, it is my place to offer my congratulations to her and her new husband.” Looking on the Stormbreaker, he bows his head, “There is no other in the Realm with whom she would be safer, if the rumor of your strength is to be believed, Ser Sarmion… And indeed I can see that it should be.”
Then to the crowd, he lifts his cup high and says, “Join me in a toast! May Sarmion and Lyrissa prosper and bring their strength of body and strength of will to the profit of both houses!”
“To Sarmion and Lyrissa!” cries many voices, Dagur’s and Reyna’s among them. They lift high their cups and drink.
Lars leans back in his chair, stocky legs extended as he lifts his goblet once more. He lifts the glass to his lips, taking a slightly shorter gulp of the strong wine.
“And may they find pleasure in one another ‘till the end of their days!” he shouts, the obvious good spirit and delectable drink encouraging him to speak up.
Humfrey stands as Lord Crowen comes to his feet, raising his goblet once more he drinks to the prosperity and strength of Sarmion and Lyrissa’s houses
Ethos shakes Seth’s hand firmly as Blackwood rises and greets him. When he gets the soft response there’s a grin and a nod. Then he looks towards Marian, catching her curious gaze, “I have met your wife before and she’s proven one of the sharpest ladies I’ve met.” He gives her another bow. Then he’s turning his attention back to the dais for the second toast, joining in with a rousing cheer of Stormland pride.
The Lady Hightower rises to her feet, her Reyne birthright clear upon her. Smiling, he sweeps her slender arms in their fine gown towards Sarmion and Lyrissa and says, “I shall speak as well!”
Her lips curled in a smile, she pronounces, “Proud I am that my daughter has made so great a match! And to honor the man to whom she is now wed, I offer this gift - may it serve you well in the melee on the morrow and in the joust that follows.”
The side door is opened just to the left of the dais and a stand with a tall suit of armor is wheeled into the hall. It is a glorious thing to behold!
Gold plate with black trim and fittings, the prancing stag splendorous upon the breast. But what catches the eye most is the helm: A black enamelled greathelm wrought in the shape of a stag, the eye slits lined in gold and golden antlers stretching from the brow.
After Lord Lorent toasts his son and new good-daughter Ser Humfrey quietly slips out to find his squire and make sure he has Lyrissa and Sarmion’s gift have been unloaded.
“I will not gainsay you there,” comes the Blackwood’s rueful reply to Ethos on the matter of his wife’s intellect before likewise joining in the evening’s second (though surely not last) toast. The cup is downed and awaits replacement by one of the dozens of dutiful attendants in the Hall. He casts an askance glance to Marian before leaning in to whisper in her ear.
Seth whispers to Marian.
Marian takes another sip to join in this toast, though she seems to still have plenty of wine left in her own goblet. Glancing to Seth, she smiles and nods, expression somewhat amused - before signalling to an attendant in the red and black of her current house to hurry forward from the edge of the room as surreptitously as possible, passing a flat rosewood box to her and a much thicker ivory-decorated case to Seth. Focusing upon the couple and the father of the bride once more, she awaits a signal to move forward to present their gifts in turn.
Lars raises a broad, short-fingered hand and gives a signal. A footman, dressed in wool livery of the Umbers, quickly makes his way through the guests to the northman’s table. With a bow, he passes Lars a plain pine box, it’s only decoration a black iron chain from which it can be held. He stands, awaiting the signal to present his gift.
One by one those seated on the dais present their gifts, each as remarkable as the Lady Hightower’s first. Sarmion offers thanks to each of his kinsmen and new good-family as their gifts are presented. The Hand himself makes apologies that the King’s gift will be presented at the melee on the morrow.
Then, Lord Corwen makes it clear that the gathering may present their gifts as they feel free. Catching Marian’s eye, the Lord of Storm’s End sends his steward to arrange the queue for those to present.
The first permitted is that of his good-niece, Marian Blackwood.
At a signal from Reyna, a long polished box of—what else?—rosewood is brought forth, as well as a smaller, square box of the same. The footmen, three men in Tyrell livery, stand ready behind the lady and her husband to wait their turn to present their gifts to the bride and groom.
Ethos eyes the gift of the armor with admiration, this brows lifting appreciatively. Then he glances, searches… ah! He gestures to his squire, beckoning the young boy over. A quiet word and then the youth that wears the colors of his knight hurries off to fetch that which Mertyns brought for the new couple.
Marian steps forward when signalled, intending to approach alongside Seth. She moves to present her brightly-polished box to Lyrissa. “A companion to our gift to your husband”, she says with a smile. “Carved from the same ivory - that the merchants would have you believe comes from a mythical ice drake slain beyond The Wall. The game is strange to these parts, but we included scrolls with the board and pieces to illustrate how we play it.”
“You are too kind, Lady Marian,” Lyrissa smiles at the woman, accepting the gift, and laughs softly at her explanation, “Then I shall pass along that same story of its origin to any who ask.” Her eyes twinkle with amusement.
Seth does indeed stand beside Marian, his larger case held in both hands. The Blackwood bows his head to the happy couple, though the muted but entirely genuine smile belies some of the nod’s formality. “And for you, uncle,” he says as he unfastens the box and reveals its contents, “matter carved from the self-same beast—whatever its nature or origin. I think, paired with the power of your lungs, people might believe it come from a drake indeed.” Inside is an exquisitely crafted hunter’s horn of pale ivory, its silver bands engraved with what are undoubtedly heathen, hippy runes.
Taking the box in his large hands, the Stormbreaker looms over the horn as he lifts it from the case and raises it before him for all to see. Nodding to his nephew, the Baratheon knight bows his head saying, “A fine gift, cousin! No doubt those tinker deer-thieves in the Kingswood will quake at the wind of it, soon enough!”
He grins and winks, then places the horn back in the case and retakes his seat. The steward waves for the next gift giver to approach.
When Ardon makes a sign, Reyna rises and leads the footmen forward to the foot of the dais, where they are joined by a fourth with a far more ornate rosewood box. It is this ornate box, with a twined S and L chased in gold on the lid, that is brought forward first and opened. Inside, in a nest of cloth of gold, lie a pair of goblets. They too are of gold, one significantly larger as if made to Sarmion’s hand, the second daintier. On the side of each is inlaid a crowned stag in ebony. “From the House of Tyrell and my lord brother, on whose behalf we wish you all joy,” Reyna says, a gesture bidding the footman to present the goblets to the bride and the groom.
“From myself and my lord husband,” she goes on, waving the other footmen forward. They place the long box on the floor, raise its lid, and unfurl a tapestry, ready for hanging, depicting the high tower of Oldtown with its light piercing a storm to illumine the way for a crowned stag to emerge from among a forest of sharp rocks. It is discreetly marked in such a way as to indicate that the lady herself had significant hand in its stitching. “May it grace your walls for many years, and give you cause to remember the day you were wed with joy,” Reyna says. Then the last box is opened.
It is a lamp of ornate wrought iron, attached by a ring to a coil of slender chain within the box. This is presented to the bride alone. “A Crone’s lamp to light your lord’s way when he must be parted from you, in peace or in strife. As did my lord father gift me with such a lamp when I first was wed, so do I gift one to you who must now make your home away from the Reach. I pray it will bring your lord home to you whenever you light it,” Reyna says to Lyrissa, her eyes all sincerity.
A young boy dressed in a pale gold dublet runs up to Humfrey and whisphers single word in his ear. Humfrey nods to the boy and the boy runs back out of the Hall.
“A thoughtful gift, Lady Reyna,” Lyrissa replies with all grace, “We shall see if he pays attention.” A small smile, her eyes crinkling at her little private joke. And to the table of Tyrell does she bow her head in thanks to their rich gift of golden cups.
“You have all done us great honour by your presence,” she speaks finally, “My thanks for the long journey you have made.”
Taking up the smaller cup, the Stormbreaker presents it to his wife, then takes the cup made for himself and turns it in his hand. He bows his head to Ser Ardon down the dais and then to Reyna. To Ardon, he says, “Bring your Lord father my thanks, Ser. I am glad you could make the journey as well.”
Examining the tapestry, Sarmion remarks, “A beautiful work, lady. It shall adorn our house when we make our homecoming.”
He then retakes his seat and the Steward motions for Lars Umber to approach.
Pushing his chair back, Lars slowly makes his way among the guests, approach the dais and climbing to the bride and groom. Placing the long box in one large hand, he grips the iron chain and lifts back the lid.
“My Lord [of] Baratheon, a gift from the House of Umber and the north. May your cup overflow and your wealth be plentiful.”
Reaching into the box, he removes an elaborate drinking horn. The base is a stern, hand-molded bronze, caste with delicate and myriad flakes of diamond for snow. The horn tapers and becomes narrow at the center, then widens in a bright funnel.. The top is a hammered, filigreed gold, simple but beautifully elegant.. Surrounding the broad top of the horn are five widely-spaced carved bear heads, the moulding exquisite, with tiny ruby eyes and long, beared fangs. With a bow, he offers both the box and the drinking horn to the Stormbreaker.
Reyna makes a pretty curtsy to Sarmion and Lyrissa. “Thank you, my lady, Ser,” she says and moves away, exchanging a glance with Ardon as she goes. The boxes are all born away, lacking only the cups, and given into the care of the Baratheon steward. Reyna returns to her place beside Dagur and is again quiet, making merry in subdued fashion as she has since the day began.
Laughing, the Stormbreaker takes the horn from the box and lifts it up. To Lyrissa, he remarks, “I think our friend Umber thinks I’m an aurochs.”
Grinning, the Baratheon knight bows his head, “You have my thanks and welcome. I hope the long journey from the North will prove worth it with the melee tomorrow.” He laughs again and sets the vessel back in its case and retakes his seat.
The Steward motions for Ethos Mertyns to approach.
Ethos watches the procession of gifts, in no hurry to join the line while he waits for Halyn to return. He cheerfully greets family, a great many present for the occasion. The squire does finally rejoin the knight, carrying what looks to be a very heavy, cloth-wrapped box. Mertyns quickly relieves the lad of the weight, giving him a nod of approval, then moves forward when he is granted leave.
He approaches the Stormbreaker and lady of Hightower, bowing to both. “I congratulate you, Ser Sarmion and Lady Lyrissa.” A simple greeting, Ethos has never been known for etiquette.
On the dais before them he sets down the weighty item, then pulls away the wrapped cloth. It’s a book, and not even anything especially new or splendid by the looks of it. The cover is worn and unmarked, the binding worn. “Over the years you tried to beat a lot of strategy and tactics into my head, Ser. This book is a collection of such knowledge from regions all along the eastern coast of the Narrow Sea. I can’t say if any of it is worth anything, since everything you taught me on the subject went in one ear and out the other,” there’s a wry grin, something personal in the joke, “and a great deal of it is written in languages I’m not well-studied in. It seemed to me that none would be more able to spend time translating and reading through it with you than a lovely, intelligent new bride of Hightower.”
Lars offers the bride and groom another short bow before departing. Leaving the dais, he returns to his table, sitting once again near the Blackwoods. Gripping his goblet, he downs more wine, with a ry glance at the Lord Baratheon.
“Wish I could’ve drunk out of that horn myself. The finest workmanship, I can tell you. Real treasure. Ah well—this sweet wine makes up for it.”
“No one would mistake you for an aurochs, husband, at least…not twice,” Lyrissa replies with airy grace, before bowing her head to Lars, “Thank you, my lord.” And to Ethos she gives a faintly more genuine, crooked smile, as though she had heard a little more of this man than others suspected.
“A gift valued for its knowledge of my husband,” she laughs as the book is given a visual inspection, “I shall enjoy its reading myself.”
Rising to his feet once more with a smirk and his eyes narrowed, Sarmion takes the book from his former squire. Opening its cover and paging through it, he shakes his head, then puts it down with a warmer smile.
“A very thoughtful gift, ser. You have learned well enough by me to find such treasure buried in some dusty tomb somewhere. Thank you.” With a nod to Ethos, the Stormbreaker retakes his seat.
The Steward motions for Ser Humfrey Westerling to approach.
Ethos bows again to the both of them, obviously pleased that the gift is well-received. He moves away then to seek out his cousin, Tancred Baratheon. There’s a lot of wine to get through and the night is very young yet.
Brings two fingers to his lips and blows emitting a sharp whistle, the knight turns his brown eyes toward the gate leading from the Great Hall out into the Outer Yard, the sound of hooves on stone echoes from the passageway through the great hall and a boy atop a mare rides into the floor of the Great Hall where moments ago the Minstrel Wat sang a love ballad. The mare’s coat is pure white like the towers of the great beacon of Oldtown, the boy rides side saddle in a magnificent saddle of tooled leather chased with silver bindings, the horse-cloak streaming down the beasts flanks is cloth of silver emblazoned with the Hightower of the Lady Lyrissa’s new maiden house. The boy reigns his horse and halts just before the great dais where the Ser Sarmion sits with his Lady wife, tugging on the reigns the boy whispers a single word in the mares ear and she side-steps, nimble as a dancer.
Ser Humfrey utters a second whistle and a loud deep neigh fills the halls, a taller boy rides in on a fully barded warhorse a massive black stallion, even under it’s heavy golden and ebon plate and mail barding, the shape and definition of the warhorses muscular neck and flanks can be clearly discerned. Emblazoned upon the plate round the horses’ flanks, the crowned stag of Ser Sarmion’s house; the elder boy reigns the beast up beside the mare but the warhorse is willful and shakes its head and stomps its hoofed feet loudly upon the stone floor, it bucks once nearly throwing the boy atop it until Humfrey rushed forward, taking the horses reigns in hand and tugging them forcefully. “A willful, unruly stallion, Ser. The mare’s disposition is sweeter.”
“The mare is daughter to the horse I rode as a boy… the stallion comes from my Lord father, he regrets that he was not able to journey to Storm’s End for the wedding but wishes you and your lady wife a long and happy union”
Lyrissa’s eyes widen at the approaching spectacle, her mouth opening despite her usual collected calm. She reaches out to lay a hand upon her husband’s arm.
“My goodness,” she breathes finally, before rising, “A kingly gift, Ser Humfrey,” she utters, “...truly very generous.”
In shocked amaze, the Stormbreaker rises to his feet slowly his brow lifted. Smiling, perplexed, he shakes his head and says, “Ser… The Crag is either rich or you are more generous than we deserve. The stallion will sit well tomorrow in the melee and I hope the joust. Handsome barding. It matches my good-mother’s gift as well!”
Raising his hand, Sarmion says, “You deserve a place of honor in the box, tomorrow, ser! Unless you choose rather to compete.” He then motions to his Lord brother in unvoiced request, to which Lord Corwen consents with a nod.
Smiling, then, the Baratheon knight bows his head to Ser Humfrey and retakes his seat.
Smiles depreciatingly at the Lady Lyrissa, “The generosity of the Crag pales in comparison to the bounteousness Houses Baratheon and Hightowers, my lady your generosity is known across the realm.” He turns then to the Stormbreaker. ‘You Honor me my lords, but I shall enter my name in the lists on the morrow, I pray that this stallion serves you well Ser Sarmion and it’s said that you are one of the finest knights in the relm, I shall look forward to breaking lances with you two days hence.”
Marian flashes a swift grin at Lars. “You mean that you didn’t try it out to check for leaks?”, she asks sotto voce, before looking back to the array of gifts - laughing and clapping when horses are brought in. “I fear my king-set has been ever so slightly upstaged”, she murmurs to her neighbours.
Someone in the Baratheon side of the tables shouts, “Time for the bedding!” And soon the call spreads like wildfire. The Stormlords rise to their feet and climb the dais reaching for the bride. However, Lord Corwen comes to her rescue. Rising from his throne, he puts out a hand to keep the crowd at bay and holds out his hand for her to take in the courtly manner and escorts her from the hall.
Meanwhile, the Baratheon women rise nearly as one and approach Sarmion, chief among them Seth’s own mother, Esme Blackwood. “Alright! On your feet, you giant lummox! Time to get you bedded,” she orders her mountainous brother as if he were still the boy she grew up bossing around. So the Stormbreaker is ushered from the hall in a wave of golden-gowned women, black of hair, blue of eye, joined on the fringes by the Hightower women whose own pale dresses gleam like stars in the sea of Baratheon colors.
Through the doors the wedding party passes, looking for the stairs that have climbed to the lord’s dwellings in the floors above for tens of centuries.
The bedding of Lyrissa Hightower has begun.
Seth’s grin is a broad thing as the horses are produced, a genial shrug greeting Marian’s mock-complaint about being upstaged in the matter of gifts. But then, of course, it’s time for the bedding. The Blackwood brings a hand to his mouth to stifle a chortle as his mother, perhaps the one woman who could ever command the Stormbreaker, does so with her characteristic aplomb. “Good bloody gods,” he murmurs, hazarding an askance glance towards Marian. “I suppose I do count as family… but I will forbear.”
Marian giggles, shaking her head at Seth. “Are you sure? It would be a… once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’m sure”, she teases. “So… how soon do I get to show you off in the dancing, do you think?”, she muses.
A quiet puff of breath somewhere between a scoff and a chuckle greets Marian’s suggesting of the bedding as a singular experience, as her mention of dancing draws up one of Seth’s dark brows. “No time like the present, my lady of Blackwood. Someone must get this affair started off properly, after all.” The sable-decked lancer comes to a smooth rise from his seat and extends a hand to his wife in invitation to do the same. “Shall we?”
Humfrey slides from his chair, clasping the shoulder of the house-hold knight to his right. Humfrey nods the man “Good luck on the morrow Ser.” Moving towards the door he’s joined by his young squire, and the younger boy who rode the mare, a page from the Crag. Humfrey moves across the floor of the great hall, a nod to Ser Seth and his lady Marian as they dance. Other nobles are given nods or bows as their station and rank require. As the knight departs through the great halls massive doors he can be heard speaking in low tones to his squire about preparations for the melee on the morrow.