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It is a dank and clammy day; a heavy fog has fallen on the city in the wake of a cold rain, with the promise of more to come.
A grey light mingles with the amber of the hearth in the high suite of Lord Connington; within, through a slightly-ajar door, comes the busy sound of preparation.
“Heavier gloves,” Almer Connington is saying. “And an extra pair of boots.” The grumbling of his maidservant, Old Nan, is audible in the hallway.
There is a rapping at the exterior door, and a muffled exchange of words from the next room. Momentarily, a servant is announcing, “Ser Jaesin Lannister of His Grace’s Kingsguard, m’lord.” And sure as the sunrise, the white-clad knight enters in the announcement’s wake.
Sharp blue eyes take in the look of Ser Almer’s preparations. Smiling grimly, Jaesin greets his kinsman. “Almer. Her Grace learnt of a raven.”
Tugging at the straps on a stubborn bed roll, Almer glances back over his shoulder. “Seven hells. Jaesin.” His voice and manner are gruff, but this seems due more to his recalcitrant equipment. “Pray pardon the mess,” he adds with a grim smile of his own. “We weren’t expecting the White Swords today.”
The knight tosses aside the bundle and buckles on his longsword. “We’ve had a plague of ravens these past days, coz. Each one worse than the last.”
“Dark wings, dark words,” murmurs Jaesin automatically, reflexively quoting the old sooth. “I’ve heard tell of these ravens and their messages.” Idly, he strips off one of his own bleached gloves, slapping into his other palm in rhythm to keep a soft beat of motion in place.
“More pointedly, so has Her Grace the Queen,” the Kingsguard knight says at length. “Almer, two of these missing women are well-loved in Maegor’s Holdfast for their service to House Targaryen. Queen Daena has asked me to assist in their safe return.”
Pausing in the act of packing a satchel, Almer eyes Jaesin. “Her Grace has a tender heart,” he says flatly. “I’m sure she is wise to place her trust in your efforts.” He resumes his work.
“Lord Oakenfist will no doubt give you his best ship, and a strong force of the City Watch to man it.” He finishes, throws the satchel on the pile, and glances around for the next task. “Good luck. Perhaps, if they work fast, they’ll fit it out and be ready to sail by the end of the week. I’d offer to join you, but I suspect those ladies will be dead by then.”
“You miss my point,” says Ser Jaesin dryly, a corner of his mouth quirking up in a shadow of the old smile. “I’m not here to wish you well, cousin. I’m here to ask a berth upon your ship. Her Grace has been quite clear that no expense will be spared, nor any delay brooked—”
“And I believe your vessel sails at dawn?” Ser Jaesin should not know that, of course; under many circumstances, he might not. But the Kingsguard are the catspaws of the Targaryen dynasty, and the Lannister is not acting for himself.
The Connington knight’s eyes narrow at Jaesin’s revelation. “It does; though how you know that is beyond me.” Almer moves over to perch on the edge of a table, arms crossed and scowling.
“Jaesin, under any other circumstance, you know I would agree without hesitation,” he says uncertainly. “But what I plan to do… some might call it a fool’s errand. I have no army at my back, nor White Cloaks at my side, nor royal commission. It is only me, a handful of my Dorne veterans, and a sellsail crew I’m not sure I trust. I go to fulfill a promise to a young maiden, and for the love I bear my cousin; and I have no idea if I will even find them. “
He attempts a smile. “So. Do you still wish to go?”
Jaesin Lannister’s grin grows slowly at Almer’s careful recounting of the various odds and circumstances stacked against his mission. By the time the renowned Connington knight asks the question—do you still wish to go?—it is a broad, open smile, though Jaesin’s eyes sparkle with the lure of adventure.
“You’ll have one white cloak at your side, at least. The maid of my promises remains here in the Red Keep,” Lannister chuckles. “I join you because it’s my duty, old friend. And because someone might need to get -you- out alive.”
“Very good,” Almer answers, his manner easing considerably. “Very good indeed.” He rises, claps Jaesin on the shoulder, and smiles. “This is a relief, coz. Perhaps they’ll write a song about us. One of us might even live to hear it.” He gives his gear a quick once-over, nodding.
“We leave on the dawn tide,” he tells the Kingsguard. “I’ll send word to my sellsail. His ship is the Nighthawk, a shabby little caravel out of Oldtown.”
Old Nan peers around a corner, and seeing the two knights still talking, retreats. Almer ignores the servant. “The Nighthawk may not look like much,” he adds, “but I am assured that she’s got it where it counts. Her captain is a rogue, but he tells me he’s made a number of special modifications, and routinely outruns Lyseni warships.”
[+POLL] Almer (#2438) changes the poll to: Who’s scruffy lookin’?!
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Ser Jaesin claps his hands together once, loudly—the gloved and the ungloved coming together with a loud crack. “Excellent. And if your captain can be sped any further by a bit of extra coin, well,” here he smiles wryly, “it never hurts to have a son of the Rock aboard.” He glances to the door, lifting an eyebrow at the old maid’s appearance and disappearance. “I suppose I’d best see to my own gear. I might bring a squire, but only one—Alaric, perhaps.”
“I’ll see you on board,” Almer answers Jaesin, clearly heartened by his kinsman’s enthusiasm. “And thank you, my friend. Remember… we sail at dawn.”
The servant at the door bows his head and opens the way for the Kingsguard.
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