A red sun settles over the western horizon, spreading flaming fingers across a pale sky. And with the setting of the sun comes the call to the evening worship.
As the service draws to a close, as the septon prays his last and spreads the scent of incense through the quiet sept, as the men and women worshiping rise to depart under the benediction..
A gold-and-red robed figure slips in through the door and, keeping beside the wall, a hand trailing lazily along it, makes his way past the Keep’s denizens wandering out and toward the alter of the Smith.
Carmella has been one of the faithful, attending the evening service with many other lords and ladies residing in the keep. There’s a few minutes of brief conversation; children are asked after, comments are made on new gowns, and brief talk of family is raised as she passes from person to person. But she doesn’t follow with the crowd heading back out, instead she has decided to remain in the Sept, needing, perhaps, something more personal from the Seven than what is found in the usual ceremony.
She lingers, eyes watching those who leave and not seeming to have any specific destination in mind. Her light cloak slips off one shoulder, but she ignores it for a time as her gaze brushes over the moving mass of people. Then she spots one that is moving in the opposite direction, coming in when others are leaving and she takes a few steps in his direction. Her smile is cautious, remembering the young Uller’s behavior the other day, but there is a smile there.
“Serion,” she greets, her voice kept low but with warmth in it. “It is good to see you safe and well. Your sister was fretting over your absence last evening. Everything is well?”
The younger Uller’s head jerks up at the sound of his name—he does not seem to notice the lady’s approach until she speaks. He spins, turns toward her—though backs slowly against the Smith’s altar.
“Oh. Lady Carmella. Yes, yes. Everything is well.” A pause, and—and is that a smile on his lips? If so, a brief and awkward one. “I was out walking. Don’t doubt that my sister gave me the rough side of her tongue when she found me.”
A pause, a wry cant of his head. “But—sisters are good at that, hm?”
Carmella’s first response is bright laughter. “Yes,” she answers after a moment, once the laughter has subsided. “We sisters are terribly troublesome creatures. I pity my brothers for having three of them.” She finally draws her cloak back over her shoulder. “But she’s just looking out for you. You have the Gold Cloaks and the King’s assurances that you are safe here, but I wouldn’t blame you if you felt less than secure at times.”
The smile fades and her expression turns apologetic. “If the situation was reversed I know I’d be concerned for my family. “It’s good that you aren’t here alone. You have your sister and cousins with you.”
“/Three/ of them?”
The words are almost a squeak, and Serion’s olive skin blanches. “Mother bless your brothers, and have mercy!”
The outburst earns a sharp look from more than one of the sept’s lingerers, but Serion pays them little mind—in fact, seems not to see their disapproving reaction.
Again Carmella laughs but quickly hushes it as those stern eyes are turned on her as well. Her hand covers her lips and her eyes squint in amusement as she tries not to let her amusement show too loudly. “It is not too bad for them now. My eldest brother is married with a family of his own, my sister Audrey is also married with children and has long since left Blackhaven. But there will always be the memories, yes?”
For once it seems that Carmella is unaccompanied; perhaps the good Ser Amond finally has been given a break from his duties? Whatever the reason it keeps Carmella in better spirits, to look over her shoulder and see no one there.
“Do you not attend the services, Serion? I noticed you entering as others were leaving. Or are you not one for such things?”
Serion also looks over Carmella’s shoulder—in fact, his gaze seems to linger there rather than on her face. “I do,” he replies, his own smile—or what there was of it—fading. “Sometimes. More often, I prefer the quiet. If the Seven hear prayers at all…”
His voice is soft, and flat. “Then they will hear mine better in the silence. Too much noise, too many voices, and everything gets confused.”
What was left of her smile fades as Serion’s words obviously have an effect on her. “I have not a Septa’s knowledge or understanding of the Seven to know why some prayers are answered and others are not. I believe there are lessons to be learned from their action or inaction, but ...”
Carmella sighs and glances towards the door as a couple of young septons go about tending the sept. She keeps her voice low, now both from respect and for the conversation itself. “I don’t know what kind of lessons the Seven might wish you and yours to learn.” Again her gaze wanders, this time over the images of the Seven, silent and almost serene now. “There is something, though, about speaking with them privately. I hope it will help you, Serion.”
“In ten years, they haven’t listened.”
Bitter words now—more akin to the words he spoke the afternoon past, in the Stableyard—and Serion�s thin lips press together in a bitter smile.
“Do they listen to you, m’lady? Your brother is famous for his devotion—do they listen to him?”
“I don’t know what my brothers asks the Seven for, Serion. That is between him and them.” Carmella’s response comes quickly, but the words are spoken with great care. “As for myself, sometimes they do, sometimes they do not. I asked that they see my brothers though this safely and they have done that. But ...”
Carmella shakes her head, dark curls spill over her shoulders. “The Seven do not grant every wish we ask of them, nor should it be expected. We sometimes assume that they see things in the same way we do and when prayers go unanswered we feel they have deserted us. But for every prayer that was offered for Dorne’s safety there was a prayer from the rest of Westeros that their knights might succeed. What are they to do when their faithful are hoping for different outcomes to the same event?”
Her gaze had strayed a bit as she spoke, but now it makes its way back to the young Dornishman. “If I had the answer to that then I would be a much wiser woman than I am.”
Silence lies in the wake of Carmella’s words, and in that silence the sounds of soft words from others of the faithful—soft words, mostly, whispered words.
But even those are louder than the silence from Serion, who with a long breath looks aside, left-eye narrowing sharply on the girl. He frowns. “Of course. If they granted every wish, who would believe? But if they grant none—who will believe? You say they have a lesson for me and mine. I think it’s not a lesson I wish to learn.”
Carmella holds out her hands, palms up in apology. “As I said, I have not a septa’s learning, I can only speak of my own impressions on the Faith, Serion. I apologize if those have caused insult.” The girl who had been warm smiles and bright laughter earlier is gone and in her place is a subdued and cautious creature.
“Perhaps I should leave you to your prayers, Serion. I do hope that the Seven will answer your prayers soon. We all should experience the blessings they can offer, left we be left in the dark, without their love.”
Again, Serion’s only reply is silence. A silence that weighs heavily on his gaunt shoulders, it seems, as he turns his face toward her once more.
“Tell me, m’lady,” he says, voice subdued. “Tell me—what color are your eyes? Your hair? Your gown? How many people remain here? Where do they sit, what do they do? I hear their prayers, those who whisper them aloud but—” He breaks off, a dark smile pressing his lips. “You needn’t speak to me of darkness.”
“I ...” Carmella’s answer is stopped before it has even begun but in that single letter of that single word there is unease. She shuffles where she stands and her gaze drifts away again. “There are eight still here,” she says, looking back to Serion, but the answer is given with hesitation. “But I might guess you weren’t really looking for an answer, were you Serion?” She sighs heavily. “I wish I had answers for you Serion, but I do not. I only hope the Seven will provide some for you. If they have been silent for so long, I would think that you deserve them. But when they will come?” Carmella can only shrug.
“No,” Serion admits, agrees, his voice soft. “No, I wasn’t looking for an answer. I’ve learned that most questions don’t have them. And so they never come.”
A pause, and he offers a shrug of his own. “But, fool I am, I keep asking. Forgive me, m’lady—but I would beg you to leave me to my prayers. I’m told the Smith fixes broken things.”
That said, and with a hand still on the alter behind him, he turns around—slowly, with cautious movements—and lowers himself steadily to a knee.
“I hope he will hear you,” she murmurs quietly after a lengthy silence, her dark eyes fixed on the Dornishman as a wave of sadness washes over her. She does as he asks though and leaves him to his prayers. Wrapping her cloak around herself she gives Serion a final glance before she turns and leaves the Sept. Her own prayers can wait, there is no need to fill the Seven’s ears with her pleas when there is one who needs their attention more.