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The common rooms of the Guest Tower were quiet. Strangely enough, Jyana has opted to stay in the Red Keep despite the perfectly good Arryn Manse located in one of the better areas of the city. Her brow is furrowed just a little bit as she hunches over a low table in the middle of the room, a map of the six…no, seven kingdoms now, spread in front of her, having managed to borrow one from the Royal Library.
There are colored stones on the spread-out scroll, pinned down in four corners carefully by heavier gray, flat pieces. Black, white, and red, they are strategically placed all around in the single area denoting the Reach. The book laying close to her which she picks up now, once the cover is lifted to view, is entitled ‘The Wars of Conquest.’
A finger drops to slide down over the page, tapping on the passage she is looking for, before she moves a piece or two around the map, visually re-creating one of the battles that has managed to catch her interest. Her face is serious, and studious, and when the pieces are rearranged, she leans back to study the new configuration.
Golden doors open and shut, briefly admitting the night sounds of the castle outside. A tall, grey eyed young knight, darkly clad and wearing a cloak emblazoned with twin griffins, pauses at the threshold, presumably to allow his vision to adjust to the light here inside.
The few who yet linger in the common quarters would likely recognize Ser Almer Connington, and might note the restless weariness that marks his hard, handsome features. He seems troubled, and as yet, oblivious to the young lady hard at her studies.
A hand moves to poise over one of the pieces on the map, Jyana pausing so she could look it up when the breeze from the outside heralds a newcomer, and she cannot help but look up to see who it is. The twin griffins are unmistakeable, and so is the short-cropped hair that defies the normal convention for most young knights. Under the firelight, he looked almost obsidian to her - dark and dour with the hard expression on his face.
“Good evening,” she greets softly, but with a cheerful note and a quiet smile. She recognizes him, despite the lack of the gallant smiles flashed to all the evening before.
Almer’s dark manner is fleeting before the simple grace of the lady’s salutation. He straightens, studies Jyana with an interested smile, and approaches her.
“The Jewel of the Vale,” the stormknight replies with a trace of his prior gallantry. “Or is it of the Eyrie? I forget which. The jewel part is the most important, I suppose, and the most apt.”
Connington is, per usual, direct and completely self-assured; when he has finished studying the lovely Arryn maiden with unabashed admiration, he peers down at the maps and tome with interest, and a spark of familiarity. “Not content to conquer only hearts, eh, my lady? Do you have aspirations toward the field of battle as well?”
Observant, aquamarine eyes scrutinize the young knight quietly while he stands there for a few moments, letting his eyes get used to the different light. Jyana opens her mouth, with every intention to inquire if something was wrong - but the dour expression fades with his smile and a small, puzzled look etches upon her delicate features.
This, too, fades at his address. She can’t help but smile back yet again. “I tend to get confused about it myself, wondering which is which for I’ve heard both spoken or used quite interchangeably. Back home I am just ‘Jyana’ however.”
A glance to her map and pieces, and light, crystalline laughter escapes her, her hand coming up to bashfully rub her fingertips against the back of her neck. “My grandfather and cousin would never allow it - perhaps I’ll be able to test my own mind against seasoned tacticians another time. I cannot help but be fascinated. I was weaned more on war stories than great romances. This is the battle of the Reach, during the charge of the Two Kings. I think judging by your face just now that you know that full well, m’lord.”
“I do know it well,” Almer replies, leaning over the map to get a better view. He pulls off a black leather gauntlet, then traces his forefinger lightly along the line of the Mander. “Whilst I fostered at Highgarden, my maesters would take me riding on the old battlegrounds.”
He seems relieved, almost, to be having this conversation, as if it provides him with a welcome sort of distraction. “I see you have some sense of the armies’ dispositions as well,” the knight observes, visibly and sincerely impressed. “You must be a remarkable young woman. If you’ll pardon my saying so, most of the ladies I know of your age are more interested in songs, and gowns, and the latest gossip, than in ancient battles.”
“You were fostered there?” Jyana asks, listening with interest and shifting slightly to the side so he could have some room to maneuver around the table to look at the map. “I’ve heard stories about Highgarden as a child and oftimes I wished that I could visit and see its charms for myself. That wasn’t exactly possible though, in those days. But you’ve been to the actual battlefields?” Her expression brightens. “Ah, what a sight those must be…”
The relieved expression doesn’t escape her, gladly putting herself to the task of making him at the very least feel at ease. “Well, I really could only do so much with maps and a few stones,” she replies, glancing at her configuration. “I have no knowledge of the weather conditions in that particular day, and I know that even the terrain changes over time. I believe I’m missing some details as to the exact movement of some of the freerider companies that King Mern had employed…I can only go by what was recorded in historical accounts so I try to fill in the gaps as best as I can. Which is why this is here….it’s helpful to me to actually see it.”
She blinks at the sincere compliment, and strangely enough she flushes a bright crimson at that. She laughs it off however, and meets his eyes easily. “I am partial to song, so I cannot be -too- different,” she replies with a teasing grin. “But…I don’t know. In a sense doing this makes me feel at ease. Whenever my grandfather would visit me, he would tell me these stories and bring them to life with this very method. I suppose he, and then my cousin, fostered my interest in such.”
“Highgarden is lovely,” Almer replies, his smile thin and a touch begrudging. “You would like it. But alas, the site of that battle has long since turned back to field and forest.”
He leans against the edge of the table, his eyes still lingering on the map. “Your grandfather? And your cousin? Forgive me, but an audience with the Hand is a wearisome thing, and my mind is turned to clay tonight. I think that I don’t know them… who are they?”
“That’s what I’ve heard…I’m actually a little bit relieved to hear that,” Jyana says thoughtfully. “The Dragons ravaged the landscape terribly in this particular battle. I’m glad that the land has managed to heal completely, if not flawlessly.”
She nods, smiling with pride when he asks for the identities of her cousin and grandfather. “My grandfather is Josten Arryn, the Knight of the Moon. He used to be the Knight of the Bloody Gate before my cousin Conrad. And the cousin I speak of is Lord Jonothor Arryn. Both of them have been like fathers to me. It’s as if the gods have blessed me with two more to compensate the lack of a mother.”
“Ah, yes. Lord Arryn I know,” Connington replies courteously. “I fear I do not know Ser Josten, but if he has ridden in the lists much, doubtless I encountered him at some point.
He removes his other gauntlet and tucks the pair into his swordbelt. “And the little lady with you yesterday? Alyse Stone? She is your… natural sister, I take it?” There is mischeif in Ser Almer’s query, but also a hint of curiosity, as if he wishes to gauge Jyana’s reaction.
“I know both of them to be fighting men and soldiers…I’ve never seen them participate in a tournament. Then again I’ve never seen one to begin with all my life.” Jyana’s smile turns somewhat sheepish. “I must sound very sheltered, but that is the truth of it.”
She blinks a little bit, and she nods. “Yes. My father’s daughter, from a different woman. She has been my companion since childhood.” Any censure of Ser Ober isn’t evident in her expression, but she does sound a touch awkward in discussing it - more for Alyse’s sake than her own. “She is a very curious girl. Please forgive her many questions last evening.”
She links her fingers together on her lap, watching him inspect the map. “...is that why you looked so exhausted earlier?” She refrains from saying ‘troubled’. “You’ve just met with the Hand?”
“Lady Alyse is charming,” he says generously. “Arryn men are soldiers, you say?” Almer echoes, and his laughter is wry. “Then they are knights after my own heart. But I should be careful, fair lady, in implying that tourneying is not fighting… some of these swaggering lance champions are notoriously touchy about their little games.” Says a knight who is famous for his prowess both in war and in the lists!
Connington turns sober then at Jyana’s latter enquiry. “And yes, my lady. I have just spent the better part of the evening with Prince Viserys. He is meeting with all the commanders, recounting our deeds down to the smallest detail. For future histories, I suppose,” he adds, nodding toward the book on the desk. “The Hand of the King is a strange man, and more curious than your sister by tenfold, I should say.”
A brighter smile lights up her face then at Almer’s generous comment towards her sister. “I am glad you think so. She’s delightfully clever, and witty. I wish I was a little more like her, to be honest,” Jyana states honestly. “And most of them are, yes…of those of my acquaintance anyways. And I certainly wouldn’t imply it at the very least.” She laughs lightly again at his teasing. “I’m almost certain some of the same principles apply in a tournament, but I’ll definitely have to witness one for myself. I suppose this is why I’m so talkative tonight…I’m more accustomed to conversing with men such as yourself, if my cousin’s men are indeed knights after your own heart.”
She nods, her expression falling serious at that. “It must have been an exhausting meeting, to give so many details all at once. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Hand of the King only once…during the Feast. My cousin brought me up the head table and introduced me. But while I’ve seen him, I’ve not spoken to him for any good length of time.” She searches his sober expression for a moment, and she smiles. “I can call for a servant to have them bring something to ease your fatigue, if you like. A glass of water, or wine?”
“You are very kind,” Almer answers with a tired smile. “And in the last year, kindness has been a trait scarce as green hills in Dorne, for myself and many of my friends. You have my gratitude.”
He pushes away from the table then, albeit reluctantly. “And my regrets. I would like few things more than to share a glass of wine with you, Lady Jyana Arryn. But I fear I will be no fit company in a short time, for I must either seek my bed, or fall asleep on my feet.”
“Another time, perhaps,” Almer says, offering her a polite nod of farewell. “Goodnight to you.”
“I could only try, of course…” The last is spoken softly by the Jewel. “So many men have gone through such trying times in the past year…”
She shakes her head slightly, and she stands up slowly once he makes the move to get up to see him off properly. A few things more? She could only blink once at that, not quite understanding what he means. “Well I meant the wine more for you than I,” she quips. “I’m still developing the taste for it.” Her face softens into concern. “But yes, by all means, if you must. You do look exhausted, and I apologize from keeping you from a good night’s sleep….I should’ve been more considerate.”
She drops him a curtsey. “Goodnight to you as well, Ser Almer. Rest well.”
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