Dawn is breaking, across the land, spears are rising in every hand….children of the living and the ghosts of the dead…will wake to the thunder of the warriors tread…” the sound of singing comes across the yard from the south. It is a woman almost alone but for the accompaniment of a liveried guardsman. She holds a veil in her hands, and almost seems to skip to the beat of the lively tune. Thus comes the Penrose widow, Elanna, perhaps returning from an evening out with maids of the city.
The sound of singing is certainly welcome, and while it causes a small smile to curl on Jyana’s lips, she’s listlessly toying with the fabric of her skirt, situated in the benches close to the Quintain. Odd however, considering the late hour (she must be staying at the Keep again), the lists are vacant….indicative that she isn’t sitting there to watch knights play with their ‘big sticks’, as her half-sister would put it.
She is leaned forward, her arm propping up her chin, and she has an unreadable expression on her face. Her aquamarine gaze seems far away, but whatever she is thinking about must be something serious for the usual cheery mien to be replaced by something else.
“The blazing beacons have called the clans. The fate of our kindred is in our hands. Bound, to the land, by ties of blood. Bound to our brothers by oath and sword,” the song continues gaily, but fades as the Penrose widow espies the forlorn Jyana. With a swish of silk, she approaches and stands before the young girl with her hands folded. The Baratheon escort moves a distance away.
“Jyana, dear, whatever is wrong?” her words are warm and soft.
As preoccupied as she is, Jyana’s head lifts slightly to the direction of the Baratheon widow, and she smiles, faintly - with a twinge of sheepishness. “Good evening, Lady Elanna,” she says, standing up and doing the widow a proper curtsey as befitting her elders. Remaining standing, she pauses. How to answer? It wouldn’t do her any good to lie, the widow already saw the look on her face. Ever practical, she opts for a response that isn’t so facetious.
“I’m just puzzling over why human beings insist on making relations between them so complicated when everything else around them already is,” she responds, folding her arms behind her back and staring out at the opposite end of the yard.
Elanna gathers her skirts and draws them so she might easily mount the stands and come to sit beside Jyana. She gestures for the girl to take her place again and leans forward. There is silence for a time. Then she sighs.
“Human beings themselves are so very complicated,” she utters finally, “Each man or woman carries with them a vast array of all the different experiences and impressions they have made from childhood. What one man sees as important, another feels importance lies elsewhere and may condemn the other for his choice.” She rests her pointed chin on her hand.
“Is there any one particular relationship you puzzle over?”
She considers Elanna’s answer, Jyana slowly taking a seat next to the widow and folding her hands on her lap. She doesn’t slouch - in fact it was as if a straight, metal stick had replaced her spine to keep her sitting straight perpetually. “I suppose vessels of complexity can make anything complicated when the subjects themselves already are to begin with,” she muses. “I just wish others would recognize that certain things can be resolved so simply there needn’t be any complexity of any kind.”
At the last question, she hesitates. “Yes,” she says softly. “But only because…”
There is another pause. Longer this time.
“I know two different men who are more similar than they themselves think,” she begins softly. “They were present at the same place and at the same time, important participants in the same story which they both see differently. I know such a misunderstanding can be cleared up if one knew where the other was coming from, but I know pride has built a solid wall that renders such a thing nigh-near impossible. I don’t know….I suppose I’m stuck here wishing they’d meet in the middle, someday.”
“Ah, now you enter into that ephemeral world of the male,” Elanna smiles softly at that, “For there is pride, and status, and honour that one must cut a swathe through before coming to the heart of a situation. That we could shut them in a room givng each the other their own words, and not let them out until they have either spoken to one another..” a pause, and a wry glance.
“Or beaten each other bloody. But, ” she waves a hand and sighs, leaning back against the footrest behind her, looking up at the stars, ” thus we come to the complexity once again. That which we could deal with easily as children, in adulthood becomes more difficult, as I see you are coming to realise.” She tilts a gentle smile.
“And if the two men you speak of are kin, and are at odds, I fear that it will be a long travelled twain of roads before one or other of the men deigns to cross and walk the other’s path.
She laughs. “Ah I wish I had the physical strength to force them to do such a thing,” Jyana states with a small grin. She relaxes then, leaning her back against the bleacher behind her and looking up at the stars dotting the dark sky. “....I really shouldn’t care so much as it is a quarrel between the two of them.” She leaves it at that, not explaining why she -does- care, otherwise she wouldn’t be thinking about the conundrum to begin with.
Her face does not betray any expression at Elanna’s further words, for her eyes are directed to the stars. “I don’t see…” she begins softly. “Why the good things about childhood ought to be forgotten just because one gets older.” She chuckles and inclines her head to the lady widow, her chin angled up slightly and forcing that framing curl to brush delicately against her cheek. “Basic life lessons are learned at that stage.”
She doesn’t say anything, neither confirming or denying if the two men she speaks of are kin. “Kin or no,” she states quietly. “I don’t even think that is necessary, to walk the other’s path, so long as both recognize and accept it.”
Elanna utters a soft sound, “Ahh, the world of the child is different to the adult though, Jyana. So very different. There are different expectations upon us as children, fewer responsibilities. Certainly we learn so much, moreso than we ever do as adults, I believe, but suddenly there is a whole new world thrust upon us when we come of age. You are young yet, Jyana. Intelligent, yes, but young.” She rises then, her skirts settling around her and floating in the gentle zephyr that tangles the folds about her limbs.
“And we all walk in each other’s paths every so often. We are walking in each other’s right now. We would be very lonely people without the understanding of what it takes to walk but a few steps in those paths. These two men, they sound like they have not done that in a long time and have lost that understanding of each other…or at least, if not lost, certainly have forgotten it.” She takes a few paces down the stands.
“Think not too heavily on it, my lady. Contemplate yes, but if you are drawn in too deep into the roiling river, it can be very very difficult to come out the other side unhurt.”
Intelligent. It was the one word that has stayed with Jyana since the moment she opened her eyes to a new world. She listens now, contemplative still, letting Elanna’s words sink in and percolate within her head. She links her fingers together, then they seem to change their minds on their own. One set of digits come up, to toy with the chain around her neck and closing her fingers around…whatever remains hidden in her bosom always.
She stands up when the widow herself stands. “I know that much, I promise,” Jyana remarks, saying little to the rest of what Elanna says, save the advice she gives in the end. “It would be detrimental to everyone involved, should I do more than contemplate on the general issues. I am not afraid of pain, m’lady…but I do abhor the idea of hurting others.”
She dips a curtsey to the widow as she makes her leave. “Goodnight, Lady Elanna. Sleep well.”
The sapphirine regard does not change, her features are still as she watches the maid thoughtfully. “That is wisdom that some find difficult to learn, I am glad you know it already. Good night, Lady Jyana. You also sleep well, stay not overlate out here,” Elanna replies, gesturing to her guardsman to follow. And thus the Penrose widow slides into the darkness, no doubt to her home. Warmly perfumed air coils about the yard, setting lanterns to squeaking in protest and the distant hum of familial celebration in one keep or another.
Her own, blue-green stare follows the wake of silk and perfume as the Lady Elanna as she departs. Jyana remains standing there for a moment, her loose, golden waves tousling in the air and curling around her face and shoulders. When the widow has vanished, she slowly retakes her seat, toying, still, with the thing that hangs on the chain around her neck.
She slips it off momentarily, letting the delicate piece of metalwork dangle from her fingers, unclasping the golden, flat oval and turning her eyes down what lay within.
“I keep you with me,” she tells it softly. “To remind me of that, and what I cannot bear to do. I am more selfish than they know, and far from wise.”
There is no response, save for the silent eyes of the image of Alianne Arryn staring back at her from the metal keepsake.
“Would you have that of me, mother?”