Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


Revelry and Revelations
IC Date: Day 15 of Month 3, 163 AC
RL Date: November 18, 2011.
Participants: Alek Reyne, Alyce Bar Emmon, Desmera Hightower, Elmer Crakehall, Fiona Crakehall, Janden Melcolm, Josmyn Reyne, Justyn Serry, Katla Serry, Luthor Rivers, Melene Darry, Reyna Saltcliffe, Talbard Storm
Locations: Outside the City: Rosby Road

Summary: An autumn-themed revel outside the city's gates in a cleared meadow begins with music and revelry, and culminates with a revelation of other promises of fertility.

The fields that for the most part line the Rosby Road are in a diverse set of states, each one in a different state of harvest. In some, crops stand a tall gold, waiting for the sickle. Others have big bales of goods sitting in them waiting to be carted away, while others still lie completely empty. The road has lost most of its solidity, for the autumn rainy season has converted its top layer to mud. The folk that pass by are usually quite rustic, save for the infrequent rider or wayn team from the north.

Nearer to the city of King’s Landing than Rosby itself, the Rosby Road nonetheless bears few of the hallmarks of urban living. Hamlets are clustered seemingly haphazardly along the road, their buildings tending towards quaint rather than impressive. Between these tiny villages are farms, lonely amidst oceans of fields. At its southeastern most point, the road finally comes to an end, halting beneath the Iron Gate of the capital.

  The sky is brilliant blue and cloudless, the sunlight is bright, and a brisk wind blows from the northwest.
A mile outside the city - far enough away that the stench and smoke wafts away - is a fine meadow, which has been confiscated today by the highborn of King Baelor’s court. A handful of brightly-hued pavilions have been struck, pennons waving in the wind. Cookfires have been set away from the pavilions, and even at the early hour, there are two pigs on spits already set to turning; the scent of roasting pork carries on the wind, along with hints of music and laughter. The front flaps of the tents are open to the meadow, and within each are small tables, rugs, cushions and camp chairs. A few figures mingle within them, and a scattering of children play at hoops in the meadow and rough-and-tumble games under the watchful eyes of septas. Some squires and older maidens find themselves engaged in awkward conversation, needlework, or other pastimes.

Musicians have spread themselves out on bales of hay covered by fine blankets, flute and fiddle and harp and drum to hand, quietly tuning. A cask of ale has been breached and rests near the musicians on another bale of hay, for whenever is a musician without drink? Bowls of fruit are set out within the pavilions; gleaming apples and autumn pears, branches of firm grapes both green and purple, as well as combs of honey, sticky-sweet and fresh from the hive. There are, of course, quantities of mead, spiced wine, and beer to complement the rest of the ostensibly rustic autumnal fare - though a glance towards the cookfires and cooktent shows it’s anything but poor: hand-sized venison pies, squashes halved and drenched in spice and butter, a river pike baked in a pit of earth….

The Lord and Lady Serry are not sequestered in a pavilion quite yet; they stand to one side, greeting the approaching members of the court. Katla’s attention caught by a servant who speaks quietly with her before scurrying back towards the cooking tents; the lady reaches up to touch the small red blossom tucked behind one ear, reassuring herself of its continued presence. Lord Serry stands nearby, engaged in conversation with one of the musicians. With a short bow, the minstrel steps away from the pair and leaves the two of them standing alone for a moment, until they turn to welcome the next arrival.

Attending, though here alone, is Janden Melcolm. The knight arrived on horseback, house colors represented in the doublet he wears, sword at his side. His mount left with others, he enters the area after a pair of couples are greeted, taking in the pavilions and other things set up for the enjoyment of those gathered. Greetings are handled with him mentioning it seemed a good idea to get out of the keep for a spell and focus on something other than what’s been going on within. Kept to himself, for now, is the thought that it might not hurt to have one eye on the proceedings just in case someone has trouble planned.

Elmer walks in with Fiona, the pair looking…a bit like the cat that ate the cream. Yes, they’re cute and beautiful together, but there’s also something else. A shared ...feeling of amusement. Elmer looks around, saluting those he knows and says, “I do hope you do not expect me to dance, my dear…I would squash your pretty toes very fast.”

Alyce arrives on a horse as well, her pair of mismatched men-at-arms (one Prester and one Bar Emmon) and her maid following. Once she is helped down, she leaves the others to see to the large creatures while she brushes off her skirts and cloak. Lowering her hood allows the sun to shine on her intricately braided hair, making it seem to be ablaze. As the small crowd grows, she finds herself curtseying or otherwise exhanging pleasantries every few paces. It is rather slow going to actually get to the hosts to greet them.

Her crooked grin, her stormy eyes, tousled curls beneath her veil, a flush of cheeks and the way her hand rests on Elmer’s arm, drawing her body closer instead of creating that space between, Fiona is certainly proper but just on the razor’s edge. Far too happy to be cool and benign, she looks around and then nods her head to her husband, “No squashed toes please, perhaps someone else will need a partner and if not, then I am ever content at your side.”

For the maester amid the meadows, a grey, rather absent mindedly looking mule - and much more donkey than horse by temperament, at that - suffices; though a surprisingly adequate rider, Talbard is not currently given to ostentation or expenditure. When he sidles down, in a flurry of grass and mud stained grey, it is with an apparent lightening of mood.

A little dazed in the clement air, he stares about him abstractedly, trying to take in any familiar faces, or perhaps eavesdrop his way into a conversation’s natural break…

Katla glances around, a hand raised up in greeting. “Lady Fiona, Ser Elmer. I am pleased the two of you could come. Lady Alyce.” She pauses, nodding to a Janden, whom she has met perhaps but once, and another nod to the maester. “Maester Talbard. A miracle you have been pried away from your quills and parchment, your mortar and pestle and your ravens.” She nods to others who arrive, including the Lady Reyna Saltcliffe, the Silver Rose, and her children and their nurses; they move towards one of the pavilions, and Katla turns back to the others, smiling, and jabbing an elbow not terribly subtly in Justyn’s side.

Elmer bows to Katla. “We’re grateful for the invite..this is…just what everyone needed.” He winks at Fiona. “of course you can dance with other people…I always like to see you dance.” He grins widely. “just don’t choose the prettiest squires around, you’ll make me jealous.” he laughs softly, teaisng her. “Shall we go meet Lady Reyna? her children seem a wonder…and I think she might welcome a breath of relief.”

The Lord of Southshield seems to be in a good mood, and why would he not? With the focus of the morning being upon music, dancing, and dining, it is almost as though the spirit of the Reach has come to King’s Landing. He gives an amiable nod to each of the nobles as they arrive, then suddenly gets jabbed by his wife. Lord Serry casts a brief look in her direction, puzzled, but simply chuckles. Considering the various people who have yet arrived, Lord Serry quietly remarks to his wife, “Well, it seems we should have an interesting contest, I do suppose.”

“Ravens?” Talbard responds at once in a tone of vague curiosity. “Perhaps I ought to’ve even brought one or two along. You’d be surprised; for all their livery, they aren’t as nocturnal as they look. They’d enjoy this. Especially Inkguts. I call him that because once he got into the library and…ah, anyway. Yes. Good afternoon, my lady! And, indeed my lord…”

As ever, the maester’s attitude towards Lady and Lord Serry is notably distinct; respect and fear towards the wife, and an amiability that it is almost avuncular towards her dashing husband.

Fiona dips a sweet little curtsy in greeting to Katla and smiles, “So happy to be here,” she answers then her smile quirks wickedly up at Elmer’s comment about other dance partners and she lids her eyes in a near cat-like manner. She nods and looks for Reyna in the arriving crowds, “Certainly we should say hello,” the Crakehall lady agrees. She looks toward Talbard and inclines her head though is upon Reyna and her brood quickly seeking them out.

An apparent latecomer to the party is Josmyn Reyne, who has made the long walk on foot, accompanied by his squire Billy. The two young men are chatting amicably as they arrive among the pavilions and start looking around for familiar faces. Josmyn is of course looking for one face in particular. Then he sees the Serrys and decides to steer there first. “Lady Katla. Lord Justyn. Good day.”

The musicians begin to play - loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to overpower the conversations. Drum and flute and fiddle for a span of moments and then the singer comes in, a man with a sweet tenor voice, and the beginning words of “Autumn of My Day” ring out.

Janden moves on to get a cup of mead that finds a home in his right hand while he gives a quiet hello or two to the random lord or lady on their way past. Then he sips while listening to the music starting up, the sounds pleasant to his ears.

Katla smiles back almost reflexively to Fiona, and nods to Talbard, seeming unaffected by his reaction to her - if she even noticed it at all. She looks to Josmyn, and his squire, and then back to the knight. “Decided on a walk this morning, hmm?” The lady raises a dark brow. “Well met, and go enjoy yourself - but not overmuch,” she adds, eyes narrowing slightly with a warning. “I would not wish to have you carted back, unable to walk. Or ride.”

Elmer waves to Josmyn, asmiling. “Good day, goodbrother…have you come out to charm the ladies again?” he miles, his brother seems to have already thrown a dart, by the way Katla is smiling. He leads Fiona to salute Reyna, and the big knight is a bit overcome by the assault of the children, who seem more forceful every day. Certainly his respect for the Silver Rose is increased.

“The problem with singers,” the maester breaks aside to ruminate to no one in particular, “is that it’s so difficult to make out their words. Alright, alright, one has a vague idea that they’re usually upset about some girl. Or fellow, if it’s a girl singing, even, or woman, rather - I once heard Seaspray, when I was very little, and, do you know, she wasn’t at all bad. But anyway, if they just *wrote things down* like any sensible poet, we’d have a better impression of what they were trying to *express*...”

“Thank you, Mylady, I shall do my best.”, Josmyn assures Katla, being vague whether he means the enjoying himself or the overdoing-bit. He smiles when Elmer approaches and bows to him and Fiona. “Darling sister. Coz. It’s good to find you here. Rest assured, I have eyes for one fair flower only and I hope to perhaps lead her onto the dance floor for the first time ever… if only I knew where she was..?” He looks around again.

Fiona grins at the ravenous pack of littles, ok so there’s a few of them, but, she shoos away a nurse and smiles, letting Elmer fend for himself with the children for a moment. She leans in to whisper to him then Josmyn arrives and Fiona smiles, “Brother,” she answers in kind before she’s drawn back to all the little Silver Rosebuds and grinning at her husband.

Lord Serry continues to greet the various guests as they arrive, and then comes his cousin. Justyn simply purses his lips as Josmyn greets the Serry couple, opting to speak to Katla first. As such, the Reyne knight simply receives a cordial nod from the Lord of Southshield, and fortunately a distraction comes in the form of the first song. “My, what an interesting choice to begin with. I wonder if he might sing ‘Let Me Drink Your Beauty’...” Lord Serry absently remarks, glancing over to his wife with a teasing smile.

Elmer leans down to hear some excited chatter from Fiona’s boy who’s explaning him how strong he is, with ELmer offering to take a blow in the stomahc. As he’s hit, the big knight bends over, rather convincingly, groaning and patting the young lord on his shoulder. “You have a strong arm there, my Lord, keep working on it.” he puts an arm around Fiona’s waist as the singing appears to commence. “Should we run now, my love?”

Lady Serry meets her husband’s eyes, one corner of her lips twitching as she resists a smile. “I’m sure he would if you asked. And I’m sure he wouldn’t if I told him I would drown him if he did.” She rocks back and forth on her heels, smiling then, ever so sweetly. “Not that I would do such a thing, my lord. I know it would dismay you so.” Her words are threaded with laughter, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the poor singer has already had his daily dose of threats from the ironborn woman. She turns a bit, accepting a pewter cup from a servant, and sipping from it. Other servants walk about, with trays of wine, mead, small beer, and handing them to the knights, lords, and ladies that so wish it.

While Talbard continues to hover about somewhere between the Serrys and the singer under their discussion, he divides his attention between the words of his hosts and the notes of the performer; both surveillances lead him into an unusual measure of agreement with Lady Katla.

His reflections on the subject, though, are curtailed by a childish wail, and a series of opposing, shrill intonations, from where the middle-ranking children were playing hoop-la.

“She’s sprained her ankle!”

“No, it’s broken!”

“You broke it!”

“Did not!”

The maester attends to the word “sprain” as it it is a summons straight from Clement…and is soon off, for as long as it may take to ameliorate this minor catastrophe…

Alyce finally makes her way over to the Serrys now that they are again free. After executing a smooth, deep curtsey, she intones, “Good day, Lord and Lady Serry. Thank you for hosting such a lovely event. I am glad the weather seems to be with us as well.” Her gaze meets each of theirs in turn, holding them a bit longer than a shallow greeting would require, and her smile deepens a few degrees as she murmurs something to the pair.

Fiona sidles up to Elmer and laughs a little, “Well they are fierce but I don’t think we need to run,” she says as they edge away a bit from the children and leave them in the care of the nurses. The squealing catches her attention and her head turns, watching for a moment, a wince at the prospect of one of them needing a Maester. Ick!

Alyce whispers to Justyn and Katla, “Thank you again for your words last night. I truly have taken them to heart.”

“And it isn’t long at all before the first casualty of the day,” Janden comments to a passer-by following the shouts from the kids about the angkle and what-not, though there’s only a faintly amused expression. Children will be children and all here were at that stage once. He returns to focusing more on the music after spotting the Maester in motion, one foot tapping to the rhythm.

Elmer leans in to kiss Fiona’s ear and whispers something in her ear, before laughing. “oh, no I didn’t mean run from the kids..but from the singing.” he sighs, in mock resignment. “if we cannot escape, let us go closer.” he chuckles and walks with her on the green.

Lady Serry looks to the young Bar Emmon maiden, and nods. “The weather is fine, but the guests make it the better. I am pleased that the weather has held for us, in truth.” In a strange show of affection to the young woman - for were they not hissing and spitting like two cats when first they met? - Katla raises her hands up, taking Alyce’s between her own, and holding onto them for a few moments before releasing them. “Go and enjoy yourself, you are well-deserving of it.”

For a moment, Lord Serry seems pleased. And then Katla threatens to threaten the musician. Still, the Lord of Southshield manages a laugh, though one might markedly notice that he does not move to make the suggestion to the musician. Spying Alyce Bar Emmon approaching, the Lord of Southshield greets her with an amiable smile. He gives a dismissive wave, replying, “Please, my lady, it is our pleasure.” He then nods his agreement with his wife’s words, seemingly pleased to see her encouraging the Bar Emmon girl so.

With nothing much to do and no one paying him any attention, Josmyn makes a beeline for the wine and finds a place where he can listen to music and watch the dancing.

Alyce gathers her skirts for another curtsey, departing the hosts with a smile. As she walks about, a rare breed of fig seems to appear in her hand from out of nowhere. However, just as she was about to savor it, she spies a vaguely familiar face. A warm smile is offered to the Melcolm and she heads past the refreshments to greet him. “Good day, Ser Janden. It is a pleasure to see you again.”

Fiona grins at Elmer and then blushes, surely at his spoken words and not the whisper. “Oh, dear of course the music..” and she laughs softly. She walks alongside Elmer and Josmyn is likely not too far off, maybe, but then again he already said he was in search of his beloved Alyce so, Fiona lets him be, the pair are bound to see one another from across the crowded green any moment. She grins.

The musicians strike up another tune, a children’s tune - but one with another set of lyrics known by the adults, a bawdy set. There is, notably, no singer for this, leaving the listeners to fill in which set of words they would prefer.

Janden turns when his name is spoken, at first unsure of who it is before recognition follows, along with a short bow. “Lady Alyce, the pleasure is mine. I hope the day has treated you well so far?” Then comes another sip of the mead, which is then held up a moment longer. “Nice to have something other than wine once in a while.”

Katla smiles blandly to her husband, as if she has not a thought at all in her pretty head, and watches Alyce go, her eyes glancing towards Josmyn, then back to the cinnabar-haired Bar Emmon. She takes a step back, standing a bit nearer to Justyn. “I’m certain you’ll have some requests for them, if you have not already told them,” she advises him, watching the group as they merge and mingle, mix and separate into their pairs and little groups. “Come then, my lord, and sit - we’ll watch the musicians, and any who choose to dance.”

Elmer holds his wife’s arm gently the two of them content, and happy together it seems, and he gives her arm a squeze, palyful and kind, leaning in to kiss her cheek too. There’s no one to close to them, but still, his lips brush against her earshell as he whispers again.

Fiona is arm and arm with Elmer and when he leans in to whisper she splutters a laugh then flashes a look at him, leaning in to whisper in return.

Another switch, another song - one of Ser Galladon of Morne, one of the heroes of the Stormlands. A pair of squires strike handsome poses - or, at least, poses they *think* are handsome - before sitting down beside a pair of wheat-haired maidens, too shy to ask them if they might wish to dance, but not shy enough to avoid speaking with the fairer sex.

“I’ve confided in them a few…” Lord Serry replies to his wife, casting a brief glance over toward the musicians. Then looking back to Katla, Justyn continues, “And yes, I suppose we may sit for a time, but do not think you shall escape having a dance or two, my dear lady.” He gives Katla a grin at that, then looks quickly over to the musicians as they begin to play a different song, apparently one that delights the young Reachlord immensely. Casting a grin over to Katla, one who was privy to that conversation may well assume this was one of Justyn’s requests.

“Indeed it has, ser. I hope the same can be said for yourself.” Alyce shakes her head a bit. “Perhaps for the men, but the ladies I know would much prefer wine over ale any day. The smell is enough to quench my curiosity over its taste.” Her nose wrinkles gently for emphasis as her maid takes the hint and heads over to the drink table to procure some some for the lady.

After a moment, Alyce glances over toward the Crakehalls and beams at their adorable display. After offering them a deep inclination of her head, she sighs a touch wistfully. “Ser Janden,” she queries while watching the happy couple, “Have you any intention to join either the musical or dancing contests this day?”

Elmer gulps as he hears his wife’s words and the big knight almost stumbles for a moment, but he catches himself, then inclines his head towards Alyce who might have been looking their way. And then one of those handsome squires comes to them. “Ser…may I steal your beautiful wife for a dance?” Elmer laughs as the songs begin and he nods. “Yes, but I shall want her in the same condition I gave her to you.” His white teeth flash evilly. “I might have to inspect, you know.”

Josmyn watches the squires head off to dance and nods his permission to Billy to join the other youths for merry making. He sees Alyce, who apparently doesn’t see him and fixes his green-eyed gaze upon her, remaining where he is though.

The kraken dressed in red and white moves slowly towards one of the bright-hued pavilions, proffering a smile, a nod, a touch on shoulder or hand or - in the case of children, which seem to find her a mixture of fascinating and terrifying - atop the head. Slowly, Katla drifts towards a chair and settles in it, smoothing her skirts. She is near enough to hear the song and merriment, but seems little inclined to rise to dance, and more to simply watch. A small knife appears in one hand, a fig in another, and she uses the former to halve the latter, proffering one half to Lord Serry.
Leading his wife with a linked arm, the Lord of Southshield retains his enthusiasm for the affair, heartened to see so many people joyful and merry. Allowing his wife to take the chair while he stands beside, Lord Serry glances curiously down to Katla as half a fig is offered to him. With a little grin, he accepts it and takes a small bite. He then leans close to the Kraken’s daughter to whisper, “Do you happen to have the claret upon you, love?”

Janden replies, “I’ve been well enough, just busy with this and that.” Truth is, he hasn’t been around court quite so much the past week or so, but he did make time for today’s gathering. Then comes a half-smile. “Wine is easier on the throat, I think, and usually has more flavors than ale.” Briefly, his gaze shifts past Alyce to look at someone or something behind her, ending up in the direction of where Josmyn stands, then his green eyes return to the woman. “I don’t think anyone would appreciate me in a musical contest, and if I do dance it would just be for the enjoyment of it.”

Josmyn talks to Melaen briefly, then casts a thoughtful glance over towards Alyce and decides to get himself another wine. He might need it.

The small knife, sharp enough to cut the wind, disappears from wherever it came, somewhere hidden in the Southshield lady’s attire. “Tucked away,” Katla says simply, nudging an earthenware container stoppered with cork towards her husband. “My words to Ser Josmyn are the same for you - you’ll not be carted home if you drink overmuch. I shall leave you here if you cannot manage to ride.” She nibbles on the fig, enjoying its sweetness, and calls out. “Ser Elmer - since your wife has abandoned you for a younger man,” she says teasingly, “would you wish to have a cup of wine to mourn her absence?”

“Ah, then have you my curse, ser?” Alyce laughs, a warm, open sound. “Birds would surely fall from the trees were I to sing, but it has been months since I last was able to dance. Even then, it was for only a few moments. Before that…” The young woman purses her lips, then shyly admits, “Years, unless I include my father’s household in the count.”

Following her companion’s gaze, the Bar Emmon slowly turns around. Her smile fades a bit, although it remains more than strictly courteous, as she spies the Reyne knight staring at her. “I realize you two were off to an unpleasant beginning, Ser Janden, but might I invite Ser Josmyn over? He seems lonely.” She takes the wine from her returning maid, sipping a bit before finally taking a bite of the fig. Her brow lifts with delight at the combination.

“Why do you think I have been practicing my horsemanship, love?” Lord Serry counters with a grin. Looking over to his good-cousin, the Lord of Southshield urges him to approach, “It is a rather fine vintage. Or perhaps you might prefer a bit of hippocras?” Lord Serry gives Ser Elmer a kindly smile. As he waits for the knight to approach, he comments in an aside to his wife, “A shame the Rosby girl-” He pauses a beat, seems briefly pensive, then laughs, “My, I’ve taken to talking as if I were a decade or two older since I’ve wed, have I not? I simply must change that.” He shakes his head derisively at himself, pouring himself some of the fine wine and taking a drink to recover.

Elmer smiles at Justyn and he approaches. “A fine party, my lord..” he says, extending a strong arm and he laughs. “You were saying something about wine?” he inquires, looking at his wife obviously enjoying herself as she dances with a handsome boy who at leats has the gift of dancing.

Janden pretends, for the moment, that Josmyn is not over there or getting wine for himself, but the further mention of him ensures it really is only for a moment. “My lady, I am a knight, not a musician. You can guess where most of my time was spent in training,” he explains with a thin smile, adding, “But being good on my feet helps in other ways, including knowing a few steps.” At the prospect of Josmyn joining them he gives her a shrug, explaining honestly, “He’s tolerable when he’s not trying to upstage others around him.”

An eyebrow arches as Katla leans back, looking up at her husband. “And I have three years on you, my lord, so you had most certainly not call yourself old. Else you will find yourself with a rather large bump on your head, wondering where your horse and finery is, and whyever you’re on the muddy shore of the Blackwater.” Her voice is honey-sweet, and her thick lashes flutter, before she turns her eyes back to the collection of highborn, her gaze picking out Alyce, Janden and Josmyn and wandering back there periodically, as if gauging the tension. “Hippocras, Ser Elmer, claret - or the other wines? We have but a bit of the former two; enough for closer kin and friends, but not enough to pour in a trough for greater consumption.”

Josmyn still lurks and watches from his far corner, waiting for a gesture or at least a smile.

Alyce laughs at the Melcolm’s words, assuring him, “Then I shall not bring out his competitive nature by smiling at you overly much, ser.” She lifts her cup toward the Reyne and tilts her head in invitation. While waiting, she queries, “How have you fared of late, ser? It seems our paths cross so rarely, I have not had the chance to inquire about how well you are settling in.”

Josmyn takes the gesture as a sign that she does want to see him (without having a dagger hidden in the folds of her dress) and finally ambles over, bowing. “Lady Alyce. Ser Janden. I hope you are enjoying the festival?”, he asks politely, “It is a rather lovely idea, is it not?”

There is a pause as a woman moves up to speak with the musicians; they stop after their tune ends. Reyna comes forward to face the waiting throng, having been convinced by her companion, Lady Miranda Fossoway. The golden light of the sun makes her the very image of autumn in her green and gold, her roundness somehow well-suited to the season and its promise of fat harvest. She speaks to a flute-player for a moment, and when the haunting tune swells around her, begins to sing in her clear, high voice:

“She fears him, and will always ask
What fated her to choose him;
She meets in his engaging mask
All reason to refuse him.
But what she meets and what she fears
Are less than are the downward years,
Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs
Of age, were she to lose him.

Between a blurred sagacity
That once had power to sound him,
And Love, that will not let him be
The savage that she found him,
Her pride assuages her almost
As if it were alone the cost—
He sees that he will not be lost,
And waits, and looks around him.”

There is a pause as the music rises and falls before Reyna sings again, completing the ancient song that smells of Old Valyria and the strange music still left from that age.

“A sense of roses and old trees
Envelops and allures him;
Tradition, touching all he sees,
Beguiles and reassures him.
And all her doubts of what he says
Are dimmed by what she knows of days,
Till even Prejudice delays
And fades, and she secures him.

The falling leaf inaugurates
The reign of her confusion;
The pounding wave reverberates
The dirge of her illusion.
And Home, where passion lived and died,
Becomes a place where she can hide,
While all the town and harbor side
Vibrate with her seclusion.

We tell you, tapping on our brows,
The story as it should be, As if the story of a house
Were told, or ever could be.
We’ll have no kindly veil between
Her visions and those we have seen—
As if we guessed what hers have been,
Or what they are or would be.

Meanwhile we do no harm, for they
That with a god have striven,
Not hearing much of what we say,
Take what the god has given.
Though like waves breaking it may be,
Or like a changed familiar tree,
Or like a stairway to the sea,
Where down the blind are driven.”

Reyna makes a curtsy to the crowd then resumes her place, her cheeks flushed with her bright smile.

Lithe and graceful, the Lord of Southshield grasps the proffered hand of the much stronger Crakehall knight, grinning to his good cousin. “Indeed, we even saved a bit for you,” he replies, allowing his wife to explain in further detail. He then adds in an aside, “I’m rather fond of the claret, myself.” Then a thought strikes him, and after a moment of pondering it over, he asks of his wife, “And would that be the Blackwater Rush, or the Blackwater Bay, dear? Naturally one would be far worse a fate than the other.” He gives Katla a grin, waiting to see if she might continue the jest further. Or is it a jest at all…?

And then Reyna Saltcliffe steps forward. Lord Serry falls immediately quiet, watching as she converses with the musicians during the lull. Then, surprisingly, she sings, and in a tone that is pleasant to the ears. Brow furrowed, the Lord of Southshield tries to discern if the song is a unique composition or not, but seems to have drawn no conclusion. Regardless of it, Justyn is surely one of the most enthusiastic in applauding for the woman formerly of House Tyrell. He makes an aside to his wife, “My, I didn’t expect Lady Reyna to be quite so talented a singer. Most impressive.”

Elmer nods. “Hippocras will do great, my Lady Serry..” he syas and accepts a cup when Reyna steps in front. His cheeks warm up, he admires the Silver Rose and now..that admiration is even more clear as she sings. he is breathless, and looks filled with love towards where Fiona is dancing, then his hands rise over his hands and he claps loudly.

Standing on the outskirts of the festivities is Desmera. She appears to have arrived just as the song begina and stops to listen, head tilted slightly in enjoyment, before adding to the round of applause and moving closer to the group.

As Josmyn approaches, Janden first handles the questions from her after a chuckle at the mention of not smiling too much. “I’ve been well enough, though I’ve been around the keep for at least a few months now. There are a couple things I’m involved with that keep me busy, but there’s still a good deal of time left over to train.” When Josmyn reaches the two he nods to him and returns similarly, “It’s a fine day for the season, good food, drink and enjoyment so far.” Then he listens to Reyna’s song and offers sincere applause along with many others, though some of the lyrics leave him appearing thoughtful and quiet, eyes passing over other couples gathered about.

The ironborn woman sits quietly, and then claps with the rest, her enthusiasm unfeigned. “She is a woman of great skill. She was,” Katla says to Justyn, “raised as a rose of Highgarden, you will recall. What better family to learn the fine arts you so value, you Reachers?” She sips from her own cup as Elmer receives his. “If ever I dare wish to sing,” Katla mutters, shaking her head in pleasure, “I know to whom I will have to beg lessons from.”

The musicians pause, none of them quite sure how to follow the performance by the Silver Rose. Bending heads in brief conference, they immediately strike up a merry tune the smallfolk are fond of, most suited to dance.
“Good day, Ser Josmyn. I am indeed, and you?” Alyce has barely finished exchanging pleasantries when a lovely voice reaches her ears. Looking over to find Lady Reyna the proprietress, she very nearly gapes. Yet, the lyrics are what cause a range of emotions to play over her face as though it were yet another instrument in the song.

Apparently connecting with the words quite closely, the Bar Emmon shows recognition, sorrow, resignation, hope, and finally… that entirely unreadable expression which women have mastered over the millenia. Her gaze does shift subtly toward the Reyne knight at the line about love breaking the savage within the man in the song. At its conclusion, she hands her fig and wine off to her maid and applauds louder than she truly should, not noticing the moisture in her eyes.

With the end of Reyna’s song comes the arrival of Ser Luthor Rivers, the Warden of the Kingswood, swings down easily from his mount his dark green cloak fluttering briefly in the breeze before he rules it and pulls it around him against the autumn wind. Then, he smiles stalking the edge of the gathering watching as the dancers dance to the cheery smallfolk tune. Finding himself next to Desmera, a woman he knows in passing at least even if his mind cannot summon up her name, he nods his head respectfully to her and smiles. “My lady,” he says in quiet greeting.

Elmer holds his cup of hippocras and finally takes a long sip of it. “That IS going to be a difficult act to follows. But he smiles as he sees the looks between Alyce and Josmyn, maybe there’ll soon be another couple as cute as he and Fiona. He smiles towards Luthor, one of his good friends, though the warned seems to have approached a pretty girl.

“That’s true enough,” Lord Serry comes to agree with his wife, “But still, I have not had the pleasure of hearing her sing until now. Truly impressive.” At Katla’s murmured remark, Lord Serry pauses a moment, then grins. “Perhaps we may have to arrange that, dear. You would like to sing, would you not?” His gaze then shifts away from Katla, glancing to a little box, then back to his wife. “Though, I suppose you -do- have your fiddle… Did you intend to play, love?” As he awaits her reply, he hears the arrival of some several others, and he greats Alek and Luthor both with sincere smiles.

Desmera turns toward Luthor, her long brown locks flipping back casually over her shoulder. “Good day Ser.” The greeting is performed with the right amount of maidenly shyness. “A truly lovely day for such festivities.”
Josmyn has disconnected.

“Maybe,” the ironborn lady says carefully. “Perhaps after there’s been more wine and food, and everyone is far too sated for me to be able to ruin the mood.” She smiles wryly up at him from her seat, and glances down to the fiddle in its wooden case, before letting her eyes skim over the crowd again. Her fingers twine together, both hands loosely laced, and rest against her belly. “My songs are also much more of bravery and deeds of wild valour… so perhaps I should not wait too long, lest some knight or squire get inspiration from them.”

Luthor nods pulling back his hood and smoothing his black hair as best he can. He spares a glance at the festivities and nods. “Fine day, yes,” he agrees. “Forgive me my lady, I’ve seen at court, but I don’t think we’v been introduced, Ser Luthor Rivers,” he says with a fair approximation of a courtly bow.

Fiona is all smiles with her dancing squire though her eyes seek out her husband on the sidelines as often as possible. The end of the song draws her feet to a stop and she applauds Reyna, her smile broad, proud of the ladies talent. “Thank you for the fine dancing,” she says to the squire upon whose arm her hand rests then she curtsies too him most properly and rises, “I do believe I shall return to my husband so that you may delight another lass,” she says to him then she’s exiting the dance area to find Elmer.

Elmer watches his wife head towards him, the squire heading off, his cheeks blushing, and he extends a hand to welcome her. “You were a gorgeous sight, my love.” he says, grinning widely and offering her a cup of wine. “Drink…” he smiles then raises an eyebrow. “Hmm… is that rosewater I smell on you, my sweet?”

“There’s nothing to forgive. I’m afraid I’ve yet to do much mingling at court.” The petite young woman curtsies gracefully in return with a rustle of blue fabric. “My name is Lady Desmera Hightower.”

Catching Justyn’s smile, Alek proceeds to make his way over to their little gathering. “Lord and Lady Serry, good afternoon.” The Commander says, bowing slightly. “Quite a decent turn-out, I do say. I trust the both of you are well?”

Turning slightly as Fiona joins in the group. “Ah! Fiona, it has been so long since I saw you last! You seem to be keeping well.” All Elmer receives in recognition is a curt nod from the elder Reyne knight.

Alyce blinks, surprised to find it takes a bit of effort to dry her eyes. With a blush, she reclaims her items from Melaen, then motions for the maid to go off and enjoy herself. After bobbing a curtsey, Melaen’s eyes alight and off she goes to entice some squire or other into asking her to dance. With a grin, the Bar Emmon finally finishes her fig and washes it down with a swallow of wine. “I do not believe I have ever heard that one, have you?” She leaves the question open for both Janden and Josmyn to answer.

Indeed - in one hour, perhaps two, once the food and drink have made folk merry - Lady Serry will take a turn with the musicians, playing fiddle in something bright and quick and fierce. There is perhaps more enthusiasm than greatest skill, but any missed notes are brief, caught and corrected. It is no green-lands song, but carries the sort of tune that any sailor would be familiar with, especially one who has dealt with the Iron Islanders. It will take coaxing—and quite a bit of it—before she agrees to dance, but proves to be light-stepped and graceful, but little more than that. Still, she is a famous artisan - not musician or dancer - and she is more than willing to let Lord Serry, or another, lead in dance.

Fiona beams at the compliment from Elmer then takes her cup of wine, “Why I believe so,” she answers him, grinning. To Alek she smiles and reaches to put a hand on his arm, a fond greeting, “Uncle, hello, I am well yes, we are well,” she says to him, her expression nothing short of sunny.
Elmer inclines his head politely at Alek, and smiles at at least Fiona can be warm to him, after all, whatever is between he and the older knight is purely personal. He does smile as Katla’s fiddle playing. “That is original indeed….you are a lucky man, Lord Serry.”

Melene Darry is also present, she in her blues and reds, her eight year-old daughter in Darry browns and blacks with red and blue ribbons in her hair. The girl has been free to play with the other children while the mother took at turn playing a song on a harp provided for the occasion. Her playing is only passable but she does succeed in not embarrassing herself in the process. That done, she moves about the festival clearing, greeting people as she goes.

Janden shakes his head to Alyce’s question. “It’s unfamiliar to me,” he answers, excusing himself long enough to go get an apple. When you have no servants or squires… It gives him a chance to note other groups gathered nearby, though he’s not lingering to pick up on any conversation. It’s just to get the apple and be aware of, well, who’s where.

Josmyn has apparently been rendered speechless by the Lady Reyna’s beautiful song and shakes his head to Alyce’s question. “I’m afraid not, but it’s a truly wonderful song, sung with much affection. Does either of you sing?”, he inquires politely.

“Good evening, uncle,” Lord Serry replies with a graceful bow of his own, “Yes, I’ve been faring well, and my dear wife has as well.” He takes Katla by the hand, squeezing it fondly before he continues, “It truly is a delight to see so many in attendance. Hopefully this may lighten that dreary mood that has overcome the Red Keep as of late.” Then overhearing Elmer’s compliment, the Lord of Southshield smiles genuinely and replies, “Truly so. I can only thank the Seven for blessing me so.” And then comes Melene’s harp playing. Falling quiet to admire the talent of the eldest of the Tully girls, the Lord of Southshield nods along. As expected of a man of his station, Lord Serry politely applauds, seeming quite delighted with the song, though his fondness for the harp may be to blame for that.

Alyce almost chokes on her wine at the question, for she finds herself attempting to laugh and drink all at once. After a moment, she replies, “I was better at archery the first time I ever lifted a bow and arrow than I am even now at singing. Although the former undoubtedly would have fewer casualties.”

Applauding with the rest of them, Alek turns to Fiona, smiling. “It is good to see you.” He says, before turning back to Justyn, taking a step back so he can get the whole group into his line of sight.

“Yes, my lord, it was a splendid idea, no doubt. Morale has been at a low, recently, I will admit.” He spies a few familiar faces out amongst the smallfolk. “I see some of my off-duty watchmen are taking the time to enjoy the festivities, also.” Albeit, not in uniform, like their Commander.

“You won’t find me singing,” is Janden’s simple response as he bites in to the apple, still holding the cup of mead in his other hand. “But I’m content to listen to the ones that can do it well.” In spite of his mostly relaxed state, there’s still a part of him that seems on edge, as if waiting for something bad to happen. Hard not to expect it.

“It is quite wonderful,” Fiona agrees of the fiddling and then she looks to Alek and then to Elmer, her sunny disposition bearing evidence of a brief covering of clouds. It passes soon enough and she answers her uncle, “And you,” then she releases his arm as he shifts his position and her hand comes to rest upon Elmer’s arm instead. Her other hand lifts the cup and she sips, though not much, before she simply stands and holds it, the crisp autumn air giving her cheeks a hint of color.

“Ah, what a shame.”, Josmyn sighs and tilts his head to the side a little, as he gives Alyce a look. “And what about dancing, Mylady? I am sure that was part of your lessons at Massey’s Hook, was it not?”

Elmer gives Fiona’s hand a squeeze and nods. “Very lively , almost inspired me to dance too..” he laughs and makes a warding off sign, that’s truly not something recommended.

Introductions completed, Luthor takes his leave of Lady Desmera and begins to circulate through the crowd greeting friends and acquaintances as he listens to the music.

Some several minutes after Melene has concluded playing, the musicians strike up another song. With the flute leading the way, the song takes on a spirited air, reminiscent of the many-colored leaves blown around by a cool autumn wind. Many of the smallfolk present are stirred into action and join in dance, laughing as they twirl around in their circles.

“It was, by large, my wife’s idea,” Lord Serry admits, “Though as you may well tell, I managed to get some influences of the Reach in.” He shares a grin with Alek, then continues on, “I imagine, though, my wife would have been pleased if we could have taken a brief journey up the Blackwater Rush.” He gives a mild shrug, then sighs, “Well, I suppose that may come another day. So, come, tell me, uncle, how have you been?”

“I have been well, given the circumstances.” Alek says, “Of which, I have no doubt, is a topic we wish to avoid this morning.” Alek says, smiling. “Tired, mostly, but determined nonetheless.” Alek then shifts a bit closer to Justyn. “Have you seen my nephew, Josmyn, about, my lord?”

“I learned to dance at Sharp Point, yes,” Alyce corrects, managing to keep the annoyance out of her voice, if not her eyes. Enjoying the light wine and happy music, she comments, “If we can find another lady, we might dance one of these merry quarters. What say you, sers?”

Josmyn nods towards his sister Fiona who’s standing around with her husband and looks at Alyce. “Shall we ask Fiona and Elmer, Lady Alyce? Or perhaps Ser Janden would like to find another lady to complete the quarter?”, he wonders, looking at the other knight.

And there is where Janden is reminded of his current situation, a man without a lady to accompany him. “I don’t mind if you’d rather ask a couple,” he suggests with a shake of the head and a brief smile - one that comes in spite of himself. “But I’ll be happy to reconsider once I’ve found someone of my own to go around with me.”

“It would be pleasant to avoid,” Justyn agrees with a faint smile, “And I am glad to hear you are well regardless.” As Alek leans close to inquire into his nephew, the Lord of Southshield’s gaze shifts toward the crowd of people, trying to spy Josmyn… but failing. Eventually he replies, “Yes, he greeted my wife and I. He… should be about. I suppose if you find Lady Alyce, you might find Josmyn nearby.” Lord Serry gives a helpless shrug at that, unable to offer much else.

Fiona hears her name and her head turns so that she can smile toward Josmyn and his group though her expression bears no realization of what they are discussing. She looks back to the green and smiles, taking another sip of her wine before setting the cup aside.

Elmer slides his hand down Fiona’s back, stopping it just a couple of inches before it would be improper in public and his head turns with Fiona’s. “Ahh…I am sure my sweet wife might be pleased in whatever you planned, but unless it’s a cavalry charge you have me as the wrong man in it..”

Alyce’s smile falls to a sympathetic one. “Are you certain, Ser Janden? I imagine a knight with your known skill shall have little trouble capturing a lady’s feet for a time. Do seek us out when you have found one who captures your eye.” She nods at Josmyn’s idea of nabbing the Crakehalls.

Since Alyce does not protest and Janden declines (sort of), Josmyn wanders over to his sister and smiles warmly. “Dear Fiona. Elmer. Would you like to join Alyce and me in a quartet? I admit, my feet are itching to dance and you look like you’d enjoy a turn on the dance floor as well?”, he asks hopefully.

And Alek, by chance, follows his niece’s gaze. “Not to worry, my lord, I do believe I have located him. If you will excuse me.” Alek bows slightly, before making his way toward Josmyn and his companions.

And a hand falls on his nephew’s shoulder. “Ah, Josmyn. There you are.” Alek’s tone is jovial enough, but those who know the elder lion well may detect something else in his voice. “I would like you to come to me, at your earliest possible convenience. We have familial matters to discuss.”

And, with that said, Alek lets go of his nephew’s shoulder.

“Skill is one thing, but status is another,” Janden says to Alyce with a faint shrug of one shoulder. To be sure, there are many different levels within noble houses and he is not of a particularly high station even within his own. “But we’ll see what comes of it. You enjoy yourselves.”

Fiona smiles at Elmer then she looks to her brother, “Well, Elmer would likely prefer to watch,” and she spies Alek making a get-away and reaches for his arm, “Uncle? DO me the honor of a dance?” she asks.

Elmer nods at Alek with at least a courteous smile. “Take good care of my wife, Ser..” he laughs a little at Fiona. “i’ll want her back soon.” He doesn’t dance indeed, so he’ll just sit there, drinking slowly..unless he is approached by someone.

Alek’s arm is caught by Fiona’s. He pauses for a second, considering. “Of course, Fiona. I would not be a gentleman if I denied a lady a dance.” He shifts his grip to take Fiona’s hand in his own gloved hand to lead her.

Josmyn looks pleased when the quartet turns into a family affair and returns to Alyce’s side with his sister and uncle in tow. “Well, Lady Alyce… come and dance with the lions.”, he winks and bows deeply, offering her a hand to lead her onto the dance floor.

Sometime after Luthor leaves to circulate, Desmera plucks a glass of wine and walks over toward the crowd of people. As she strolls she sips and quietly takes in the various sights and sounds of the party.

Fiona whispers to Elmer.

Alyce grins and notes, “A swordfish surrounded by lions. I fear I may become supper ere long.” She gives Josmyn her hand, happily allowing herself to the led to the dancing area.

Somehow, that statement makes Josmyn blush.

Fiona leans to kiss Elmer on the cheek and whisper something to him that makes her grin at him as she’s pulled away to the dance floor. “You might even enjoy it, Uncle,” she says to Alek as they take their places for the quartet.

Janden may not be dancing with a lady at this point, but as the music pics up he does decide to cut loose, so to speak, and show others how nimble he can be on his feet. After discarding his sword to have it watched over by one of the servants nearby, he joins a circle of clapping and bouncing people and soon finds himself in the middle of it. Light steps lead into a more energetic jig, turning this way and that as he keeps to the rhythm of the instruments. He’s not great at it, but clearly good enough.

Casting a glance over to his wife, Lord Serry purses his lips, conflicted upon if he should dare to ask her for a dance. glancing to his glass of wine, now mostly empty, he finishes the claret wine and hands the goblet to a servant. For now, he simply allows himself to appreciate the music, standing off to the side by his kin.

Seeing more of the nobles join in the dance, the musicians continue on the lively beat, the rhythm driven onwards by the tapping of drums and tambourine. Flutes, harps, and horns provide a pleasant harmony to the tune, which continues joyfully along in celebration of the harvest season.

“I have no doubt I may enjoy it.” Alek says, smiling. “It is just that an armoured boot coming down on someone’s foot isn’t what I would wish on anyone.”

As it happens, Alek is a rather decent dancer. It seems that Ameria has trained her husband rather well in the act. “Besides, I need to get my practice in. Your aunt will wish to begin dancing at public events once she has finished her labours.”

“We’ll talk later, uncle.”, Josmyn remarks quietly to Alek as he follows uncle and sister towards the dance floor, his cheeks glowing with the fact that he can officially and in public dance with Alyce without having Ser Farin murder him. It brings an extra swing into his step and ‘lo and behold, the young Reyne lion dances fairly well, moving with graceful ease.

Fiona grins at Alek, “Well then keep t hem to yourself!” she chirps at him about his heavy, armored feet. It must be an epidemic with the Reynes as her cheeks are aglow as well, her stormy eyes bearing a warm depth as she dances with the others, grace shaping her steps.

Elmer smiles as he sees Alek dance with Fiona, he’s her uncle after all, so he does’t worry, not that he worries too much anyway since they’re madly in love but…well, it’s good to see her flushed in pleasure like that.

Fiona whispers to Alek.

As they come together, Alek is rather surprised at the whisper by his neice. He frowns slightly, leaning back in to whisper back.
Alek whispers to Fiona, “... And ... ... that ...”

Fiona whispers to Alek.

Apparently, Alyce’s feet are also fairly skilled, as is expected of any lady at Court. She moves through the prescribed steps with ease and grace, switching between the other partners in the quartet over and over as the lively beat continues. It seems all four are spared ruined toes. During one particularly exuberant spin, however, Alyce’s thick, long braid manages to whip poor Josmyn hard against the cheek. Laughing too hard to be truly embarrassed, she apologizes and continues along without missing a beat.

Again, looking a bit concerned at his niece’s words, Alek continues their hushed conversation amidst their dancing, still managing to keep near-perfect timing.

Alek whispers to Fiona, “... ... ...”

Fiona grins at Alek then whispers in return, her expression not worrisome at all, that might keep him from being concerned and frowning like a sourpuss. Her skirts swish and her hair veils flutter atop her curls, “What a lovely day.” She looks almost amused at his reaction then nods her head and leans in to whisper once more.

Fiona whispers to Alek.

Josmyn doesn’t seem to mind to find Alyce’s braid in his face, and he even resists temptation to tug at it as he would have tugged his sisters’ braids in their childhood. He frowns a little bit at the whispering, and as the quartet draws in once more, asks: “What’s so secret that you can’t share it with us?”, looking between Fiona and Alek.

And the elder Reyne seems to relax slightly enough, smiling a tad embarrassed to his niece as he moves to reply.

A somewhat unexpected figured plods along down the Rosby Road and to the festivities, stopping short of the dancing, and taking a few steps back to watch the youngsters at their play. He is an elderly man, of middling fifties, and is clearly garbed like that of a nobleman’s groom. The servant’s gear is colored in the fashion of the Presters, crimson and ermine, though the whites of his clothes are merely ermine patterned, and not true fur. His posture is unerringly rigid, and he has a dour look about him, though for some reason he is here, and for the moment, does not seem to be on a mission of any particular import. Those who have visited the Prester appartments before might know him as Humphrey.

Alek whispers to Fiona, “... ... myself ... ... such; ... ourselves. ... am ... for ... ... ... ... the ...”

Exuberant and mirthful, the musicians continue on the current tune, having gone through the various refrains some several times by now. With harp and flute, horn and drum, and even a hurdy gurdy to provide a bit of a pleasant buzzing undertone to it all, the music certainly seems to delight the smallfolk, who may now begin to feel the first inklings of fatigue as they dance and celebrate the season.

Alyce’s brow quirks at the young Reyne’s question. Although curiosity certainly shows upon her own features, she primly chides, “Ser Josmyn, a lord ought never inquire as to a lady’s secrets.” With a wink to Fiona, she adds, “After all, she just might tell them.”

“Lady Alyce is correct, nephew.” Alek says. “I am sure that, if your sister would wish you to know, you would know.”

Elmer is tapping his foot almost restlessly, drinking at his hippocras, a perfect target if someone’s maid wants to accost him. he smiles at Fiona, and as she whispers a lot with her uncle he raises an eyebrow. Yeha, he’s a curious, curious man.

Fiona smiles at Alek’s whisper and her head nods, “Thank you,” then she looks to her brother with a fond smile. “All in due time, brother..” she says softly then her eyes fall to Elmer and she grins a crooked grin. “There is a proper order to things, after all,” she adds, her steps lively, smile bright.

“I suppose, forgive me my inane curiosity, dear sister.”, Josmyn apologizes and as the quartet separates again, he faces Alyce once more and smiles warmly. “So, are you enjoying our first dance together?”, he asks softly.

Before too long Janden finishes up his dancing, giving a few over-exaggerated bows to those in the circle that compliment him. He’s actually smiling again for more than just a couple seconds, but it’s time for him to get more food and drink, and to retrieve his sword once more. The Melcolm knight makes the rounds again, more to himself.

Alek’s eyes remain on Josmyn’s back for a moment before returning to his partner. “You have to forgive my seriousness, Fiona.” He says, smiling. “The only news I have had of late is of a conspirational matter. Frankly, I tire of the inane chatter of nobles who think they know who this murderer is.”

The elderly servant continues to watch the dancing, apparently keen on waiting for it to end. The other servants pass him by, and once or twice one asks him to pass something on to a noble that they’re afraid of interacting with - but always, when he is finished, Humphrey comes back to the same spot to wait for the dancing to be concluded.

Alyce does not miss the look between the Crakehalls, only heightening her curiosity. Yet there is a hint of knowledge in those eyes, as though she suspects what this bit might be about. Just as Josmyn’s query reaches her ears, she smiles enigmatically, then looks to Fiona. As though the pair shared a signal, they suddenly change partners and she finds herself paired with the Old Lion. “Ser Alek, please do try to smile. This is a fete, after all.”

Melaen—or Melons, as some of the boys snicker when they believe she is out of their hearing—has finally tired of the squires and servants enough to pour herself a drink. She spends the time longingly looking over the rim of her cup at the clean, polished, handsome knights all about… those well out of her league. Still, being the maid to a lady allows her to dream and her gaze lingers on two in particular: Janden and Elmer.

Fiona shakes her head, “Nothing to forgive Uncle, you bear a heavy burden,” she says gently then her grin appears again after a look from Alyce, “It may be you who forgives me..” and she pulls from his dancer’s embrace to turn for her brother. “Try not to step on my toes overmuch, hmm?” she asks with a teasing smile, then the whispers are for him.

“Oh Fiona, you know I had the same excellent dancing teacher as you had!”, Josmyn smiles as he partners with his sister, leaning in to finally become part of the gossip.

Fiona whispers to Josmyn.

Alek does smile at that. “I will try, my lady, but I make no promises.” He keeps up with the dance rather effortlessly, occasionally glancing down to make sure he doesn’t tread on Alyce’s toes.

Elmer watches Fiona switch her partner and he raises his cup towards Josmyn, pleasantly, though the young man has been deprived from dancing with his beloved, and while Fiona’s a peach, it can’t be so enjoyable when she’s your sister. He does feel a bit of an odd glance on him and he turns his head to see Lady Alyce’s buxom maid making eyes at him. His eyes slide down and they widen a bit at the way that bodice swell, then he raise his cup towards her.

Josmyn stares at Fiona for a moment, then he does trod on her toes and blushes. “Oops, sorry, but… wow.” He remembers to lower his voice and smiles warmly at his sister.

One by one, the instruments begin to drop out - first the hurdy gurdy, then the tambourine, slowly but surely making it known that this song is drawing to a close. Still, the flute, harp, and drums soldier on, keeping that vibrant beat alive. Taking the hint, some several of the smallfolk bow out of the dance, going to the tables to relax and enjoy some of the fare the Serrys of Southshield have generously provided.

Josmyn whispers to Fiona, “You know how much I love Eleyna… oh Fiona, this is wonderful news! Elmer will be so happy!”

As the song finally comes to an end, Alyce slows her steps before slipping into a deep curtsey to her current, then former, partner. Watching the sibling interaction, namely the fact that Josmyn’s face can’t hide an emotion to save his life, the knowing light in her eyes only deepens along with her smile. She focuses a bit upon Fiona and slightly tilts her head in silent query, a hopeful expression upon her visage.

Perhaps Janden becomes aware of Melaen watching him, but if his attention passes over her it truly does just that, not lingering more than a moment or two with a simple nod of acknowledgement at most. He gives a bit more attention to those on the dance floor, back to being an observer.

Poor Josmyn blushes brightly when the music dies just as he’s trying to whisper to Fiona, while at the same time shouting above the music. “Dear Gods. I’m so sorry, Fiona, I didn’t mean to ruin your surprise…”, he mutters and looks for a hole in which to hide.

Fiona is grinning at Josmyn and it’s all just fine until the music dies off and they are so caught up in their conversation that he apparently hadn’t noticed, judging by the volume of his whisper. The Crakehall ladies eyes widen some and she giggles then looks toward Elmer to see if there’s any sign that he heard it. Ahem. She glances sidelong at Alyce then grins and releases Josmyn, “YOu didn’t.. you helped me with it.. I wondered how..” and she just slowly walks toward Elmer, grinning like a cheshire cat.

And now that the Lady Alyce has concluded her dancing, Humphrey glides up behind her in that creepy fashion that grooms tend to do. “Lady Alyce,” he calls softly, waiting for the young woman to turn around. “Might I have a word?”

Alek returns to the curtsy with a deep bow. “You are quite the dancer, my lady.” He replies, catching sight of Humphrey and frowns slightly. “I shall leave you to your business, my lady.” And with his cloak sweeping unintentionally as he turns, Alek walks off to the side.

Melaen seems just about ready to head toward Elmer when the Seven are so cruel as to make his -wife- suddenly reappear. Really, the nerve of that Lady Fiona, ruining her flirtatious fun! As she sets her cup down, her gaze finds a new target: the handsome host. Yet it quickly moves on when she catches sight of the ironborn lady by his side. Apparently, she is not entirely suicidal.

Josmyn seems ready to head back to Alyce’s side when he notices someone in Prester livery there and frowns slightly. But Fiona’s news make his big goofy smile reappear and as he watches his sister approach Elmer, he starts walking backwards and promptly bumps into The Melons.

Elmer is a man who likes a bodacious chest, so he does crook a finger towards Maelaen, as if to beckong her over when he hears Josmyn’s words. His eyes widen a little and he looks at fiona in surprise as she bounces towards him. “A surprise, I hear?” He laughs, his dark eyes dancing.
Cheeks reddened and chest heaving a bit as she tries to catch her breath, Alyce beams at Alek. “As are you, kind ser.” Hearing her name called from so close behind her, the Bar Emmon jumps a bit and whirls, hand to her heart. “Oh, Humphrey… you startled me.” She inclines her head to the departing Old Lion before giving the groom her full attention. “Yes, of course. Shall we?” The redhead begins to walk away from the main circle for the private conversation.

Desmera is observing as well. She nibbles a little on some of the food that has been laid out while watching the dancers. The accidental exclamation catches her attention and the young woman stares at him quizzically for a moment while the motions of her head betray she’s following the action.

Fiona nods her head slowly, apparently he was too overcome with breasts to hear it, whew. She smiles at Maelean as she changes her target, seemingly unbothered by the little flirt between the two, her focus is singular. Well hopefully singular, not sure she’s ready for twins. “I suppose you should congratulate Josmyn,” she says with a sagely nod. “He is about to become an Uncle..he is rather excited..” she continues, then pauses and grins at the Crakehall Knight.

The Staunton little girl’s ankle’s plight had, the maester found, been much exacerbated by her and her friends’ vivid imagination and slender sense of proportion, but still it was a nasty twist which had required a healing unguent back at the Red Keep, amid the invalid’s entire clan of worried matriarchal relations.

He now returns to the meadows on the way to Rosby with an appetite and a vengeance, wondering if he has missed the musicians…

Smiling placidly as he continues to idle about, the Lord of Southshield arches a brow as the Reynes make their way toward their Crakehall kinsman. Josmyn? An uncle? Lord Serry blinks in some mild surprise, and leans just a little bit toward the conversation to see just what is going on.
Having played their hearts out, most of the musicians take the opportunity to get some refreshments, allowing the harpist to play a much more sedate tune, hands languidly moving along the strings to produce those heavenly notes.

“Ser Farin sends his most profound apologies if I was to pull you away from anything overly critical to your pleasure, my lady,” Humphrey begins, as they move away. “He simply wished to send you a reminder of sorts, is all,” the groom continues, producing a small cloth sack, for the lady to take.

Elmer has indeed been rather oblivious, and well as he banters with Fiona, he first looks to Josmyn, no one ever claimed the boar knight was the smartest pea in the pod, but then his face goes white and he looks at Fiona in shock. “An..uncle?” His smile blooms on his face and his large hands grab Fiona’s waits, lifting her in the air and making her skirts whirl too. “My love..” he beams in happiness, his laughter booming.

Alek makes his way toward Justyn, taking a spot nearby to the young lord. “I take it you have pieced together the news, my lord?” Alek asks, smiling.

As the news begins to travel around the assembled nobles, Josmyn slips away from Melaen again briefly to whisper something to the musicians. Hoping they have a celebratory tune ready for this particular occasion.

Fiona smiles, wait for it.. wait for it. There, realization. It dawns on the knight like a blazing sun, which any good poet would claim that she is to him, his golden sun and he her sky. Someone write that down! She nods, “Yes..” she answers then her arms encircle his neck and she hugs him, “I guess you are happy then,” she says, as if that was in question. She looks to Alek, beaming then around, cheeks flushed still yet, “I hadn’t really found a way to say it.. so, you may thank Jos later.”

Elmer pulls his beloved wife to his chest, holding her tightly, and he looks down into her eyes. “I love you, Fiona..” he says simply and warmly, he can be a good orator, especially when drunk, but..he doesn’t need to say more, does he? He runs his hand through her golden hair.

The maester is not the slowest to infer the ‘happy event’, nor the least gratified; the Crakehalls seem quite a touching couple from what he has noticed so far. But feeling something of an outsider from the network of congratulation coming from the highborn cousinage, he contents himself with smiling towards them - and at Ser Josmyn - on his way towards the harpist. Whatever he said about singers earlier was probably motivated by envy; music interests the maester as much as any discipline and more than most…

Alyce’s head tilts her curiosity as she takes the small bag and opens it. All her mirth is gone in an instant, jaw tightening and lips pressing into a thin line as she quirks an eyebrow. Handing it back as though it were filthy, she replies in immense irritation, “Bored, is he? If there is naught more to the message, I shall return to my pleasure, Humphrey. It seems I have a couple to congratulate.”

The Lord of Southshield clears his throat and replies to his uncle, “I… do suppose so. My Lady Fiona is pregnant? And… with a daughter, I believe?” He arches a brow inquiringly, then looks over to the happy couple. With a faint smile over to Alek, Justyn then adds, “Well, my congratulations to you, ser, on becoming a grand-uncle.” He grins to the Commander of the River Gate, teasing and light.

As Josmyn approaches the musicians, they exchange looks. Setting down their goblets and tankards, the musicians manage to rally themselves together and, with a second wind, manage to stir up a vibrant and joyful melody to underlie the news and congratulations, with the horns appropriately at the fore.

“As if I did not have enough neices and nephews, eh?” Alek says, grinning a bit wider as he catches Fiona’s eyes. “I’m happy for her. And I am glad that all my work to convince her father was not in vain, either. Love won throughout in their case.”

As of yet, not a drop of alcohol has crossed the Commander’s lips. Alek seems to be contenting himself with draughts of water from a flask at is belt.

Fiona looks around and smiles, seeking out Josmyn who is at the musicians, then Alyce who looks perturbed, hmmm. She smiles anyway and nods her head, “Well I hope for a son, but shall be happy with whatever he or she may be,” she says. She fans herself a little and inhales, “I think I’ve surprised myself too, I didn’t expect to do this so publicly, please forgive all the excitement.”

Josmyn watches happily as everyone cheers his sister and the musicians strike up a fitting tune, then he slips away unnoticed towards the drinks’ tent to get plastered.

A little ruffled by the concerto of musicians’ celebratory new arpeggio, (he preferred the melancholy harp stuff), Talbard drifts back towards the joyous family group. He laughs at Lord Justyn’s reference to Alek’s new ancient, grandavuncular status, and also at the young lord’s apparent powers of prophecy.

“Your intuition leaves the Citadel quite behind, my lord. Allow me to defy it, though, and wish Ser Elmer and his beautiful wife a son and heir, another knight to defend the west…”

“More thorough than bored,” Humphrey drawls, collecting the bag. “But, if I may, Lady Alyce? This is from myself, not Ser,” he adds, in his most paternal tone…which is rare for him, dour as the man usually is. “It is at times like this when youth is most lax. One mustn’t let a reminder ruin their hapiness, not their happiness ruin their thoroughness. Ser may have chosen a more polite method, but it is all the same, isn’t it? Please, do go enjoy yourself…just don’t forget.”

While she doesn’t know Elmer and Fiona, there’s just something about a baby that compells ones to celebrate. Desmera lifts her glass to the couple and smiles widely, joining in with the congratulations from a distance.

Elmer kisses his wife’s lips hungrily, not caring who’s watching. He nods his head at all the wellwishers and even goes so far as to clasp Alek’s arm. “Ser….we’ve had our differences in the past, but…I apologize if I was out of line.” There, a public apology no less, the man must be truly besotted. He taks Fiona’s hand and he kisses it. “My love..a son or a daughter from you…will make me..” He looks up at her “Would make me the happiest man on Earth, if I hadn’t already been so since you accepted to marry me.”

The Lord of Southshield blinks a moment, then inquires, “Was it not said that she was expecting a daughter?” He glances to Alek, then back to Talbard, continuing, “Usually these new mothers get so excited they speak to some matronly woman for some folklorish prediction, no?”

Alyce takes a calming breath that only partly works, even as she blinks in surprise. Did Humphrey just… give an opinion? “I could not forget even if I wished to. I assure you, the knowledge invades my sleep, so that even my dreams are restrained. And if I were to miraculously have a lapse in memory, I need only note the Prester garb upon one of my men-at-arms to recall. Thank you for your advice, but Ser Farin knows well the reminder was unnecessary and tactless. Just as he knows I am unable to call him on it. Perhaps one he trusts might remind him that, when dealing with ladies especially, one catches more flies with honey, hm?”

Good gravy he’s a handful that Elmer! Fiona is kissed then laughs as he pulls away, shaking her head at him. She does get the most adoring expression when he apologize to Alek and she looks so very hopefully to her Uncle then bites her lip when Elmer takes her hand. “You honor me, ser, with such sweet sentiment, thank you,” she says to him all proper in word even if her eyes betray nothing but the purest of emotions for the Knight. She looks for Alyce again, concerned at the demeanor of the exchange and Josmyn is gone too, oh deary dear.

Returning the lord’s polite supposition with a new edge of banter, (how Talbard does love to forge such edges, more in truth than he loved forging his links), the maester ripostes, “Oh, aye, my lord. Or perhaps even some wise maester, eh. I still say it’s a boy; look at the fierce flash in his mother’s emeraldine eyes…”

There’s something that glints in the older lion’s green gaze as Elmer makes his apology. “And, for the sake of your new child, it would not do to keep your family at odds, no? Your apology is accepted, ser.” Alek says, before Elmer moves off. He catches Fiona’s eyes and smiles back before turning to Justyn and Talbard.

“Eleyna is the name of my other grandneice, my lord.”

Humphrey emits a short, gruff chuckle, and leans in to whisper something to Alyce, before bowing and taking his leave.

Elmer is charmed by her nose wriggle and she makes him melt with her teary eyes. “Come love….” he holds her. “Let’s not upstage our lords of Serry’s beautiful party..” he holds her in his arm,s one would need a crwobar to pull those arms apart, the big knight shaking, like he hasn’t been when he’d face a Dornish charge.

The Lord of Southshield nods ever so slightly, giving Fiona a considering glance as Talbard makes his guess. “I suppose time shall tell,” he replies, “Though certainly one must hope it will be a son. It would be a shame, after all, for so noble a knight as Ser Elmer to not have a son to pass his talents and knowledge on to.” At Alek’s offhand remark, Lord Serry arches a brow, then simply gives a nod. What else could he have to say in being reminded about his seven-year-old niece?

Fiona nods to Elmer, “Yes certainly,” she says with a soft smile toward the host before taking her leave with her husband.

Elmer takes his wifes’ hand and he nods too. “Thank you for an excellent party..” he whispers to the hosts, and well, no one will blame the happy couple for slinking away now…they have much joy to share.