Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


Sharp Words at Midnight
IC Date: Day 5 of Month 2, 158 AC.
RL Date: November 04, 2006.
Participants: Dagur Saltcliffe, called the Iron Serpent, Jonn Lannister, Liane Uller and Sarmion Baratheon, called Stormbreaker.
Locations: At Sea: Ser Artys's Falcon <Deck>

Summary: Late at night, Liane Uller -- one of the Dornish hostages -- encounters three of her charming 'escorts'.

It’s late for most people to be out on the deck. Most of the hostages on the ship are sticking together, still trying to reconcile their new place in the grand scheme of things and taking advantage of the relative solitude of their rooms on the ship to do so. One, however, seems to have other plans. Liane stands near the rail of the ship, arms crossed tightly over her chest. Oddly enough, she seems to have picked a spot almost exactly between the forecastle and the awning to the aft, where there’s almost some open space on the ship. Despite being out in public, she seems intent on the water and the dark sky beyond the ship, doing her best not to think about where the ship is heading.

Step, step, step.

The bootsteps that approach Liane’s location are even and light, yet restless all the same. Now and again a flash of golden blonde hair is visible through the mists, though the face itself remains shrouded by shadow and fog.

The steps halt suddenly and a low hum comes from the man. He seems amused by something.

Liane shifts her weight from one foot to the other, recrossing her arms as though to tacitly reaffirm to the presence at her shoulder that she is /not/ paying attention. Still, there’s a slight hunch to the shoulder closest to him, and she turns her head to try to avoid even a sidelong glance. Her attempt at dignity, however, is somewhat tarnished by the wind that blows her bangs into her eyes when she turns her head. On the up side, the hair hides the wince that comes from the realization of bruised dignity. On the down side, she’s forced to uncross her arms to push it away, and turn back into the wind, not quite facing away.

Were the fog less, the wind not as biting, and were the young woman looking at the man, she might well notice the merry glint that sparkles in his deep green eyes. She might note the half-smile that twists his lips—but not in mockery, like the smile might seem on others, oh no, for this expression is perfectly natural.

But that is lost as his lips purse. “An Uller, I suspect,” he says to no one in particular, his tones somehow deep and lyrical at the same time. He makes to lower his voice, but either forgets or the wind sustains its volume: “Though she is less like a snake a more like a sow, really.”

He turns achingly slowly as if to leave… but does not take the first step yet.

Now /that/ draws Liane’s attention, brows coming together in a sharp frown as she turns to face him, setting the silk of her robes to fluttering around her. “Excuse me?” she says, trying to cross her arms again. It results in more hair being blown into her face until she adjusts her angle, raking it away with that same frown. It’s late, and she and Jonn are standing near the rail towards the center of the ship.

Light laughter comes from the Lannister—for truly, what else might he be? “Definitely an Uller,” he says with a swift nod, raising a bottle of wine to his lips with one fist.

“Which has nothing to do with either snakes or sows, thank you,” Liane says with as much dignity as she can muster, eyes narrowing on the wine bottle. She sniffs, watching another moment longer. “Lannister.” It’s late, and she and Jonn are standing near the rail towards the center of the ship.

Without another word, the Lannister—Jonn, without a doubt; the wine is a dead give-away—squints one eye and peers gravely down into the wine bottle. “Empty,” he mutters, giving it a casual flick over Liane’s head, spinning, spinning, and barely missing the railing before splashing into the dark sea.
“What were we talking about?” he asks Liane then, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

Liane flinches slightly as the bottles flies over her head, though she doesn’t step back, squaring her shoulders again and tipping her chin up. “Snakes and sows, I believe,” she replies cooly.

Jonn blinks once, and then a light of understanding infiltrates the golden flecks of his eyes…

“Now that you mention it,” he says, his half-cocked smile returning, “you do look rather like a sow.”

“Aren’t you charming,” Liane observes dryly. “Missed out on the lessons about proper poetic comparisons, did you?” She smiles back, a saccharine expression. “Poor thing. I’m sure your brother could clarify.” The smile holds even as she turns back to the rail, though it fades away swiftly enough once it’s out of sight.

“I’m certain he could,” Jonn says waspishly, “but he’d need to gut some more of your cousins for inspiration.”

Liane’s shoulders tighten, but after a deep breath, when she turns around again, that smile is back. “I’m not sure if there are any left, but I’m sure the rest of the knights of your land would be polite enough to stand back and let him have first chance before they went back for seconds,” she says sweetly, as if it were nothing more than a dinner buffet.

The half-smile returns, along with the laugh.

“There are always some left,” he says, followed by a dramatic pause and—

“As long as you maintain your good behavior.”

“Is that what that oath I took meant? Goodness, I’m glad you cleared that up before I did something foolish. Perhaps you’re more chivalrous than your lack of poetic simile would imply,” Liane replies, voice dripping with false innocence. This time, though, she doesn’t turn back away again, waiting with arms crossed and jaw set stubbornly.

The creak of wood, the groaning of ropes, the whiplash of sails as they catch the wind; these and a hundred little sounds are constant companions aboard a ship. Yet, there comes another now that falls differently in the still night—a firm footfall and a low murmur muffled by the fog.

Moments later, a shadowed figure emerges from belowdecks. He is but a vague form masked by the night; all that can be clearly seen of him is the gleam of a silver device upon his breast.

Jonn cannot speak on account of flooding the night with his laughter.

And after him, into the still, midnight air a massive figure emerges upon the deck amongst the oarsmen beating the waves into angry foam and speeding on the ship. Clad and cloaked in black and crowned with dark hair, the broad-shouldered figure towers over most. His boots thunder on the planks beneath his feet, ringing even above the oarmaster drumming out the beat and the creak of the oars been twisted in their locks.

Silently, he ducks his head beneath the boom and heads towards the prow, he steps to the windward rail and stares out into the sea. Idly, he looks on the conversant pair with a glance hidden by the night, saying nothing. His gaze rakes the men plying at their oars and then returns once more to the waves.

Liane doesn’t quite look amused, expression flat. “Truly, a knight among knights,” she drawls, turning away from the Lannister to face the water again, arms crossed over her chest. The emergence of more people is noted, though for the moment it seems that her only response is to straighten her shoulders and hold her chin up.

In the giant’s wake follows the first man—intending, it seems, to find his own place by the rail. But then laughter floods the night and he pauses, glancing at the knight and the woman. The starlight falls full upon him now, revealing dark, angular features that seem less than pleased.

The laughter dies on the air, falling into silence.

The Lannister tenses, his eyes moving from the giant to the other. His eyes narrow, but he says nothing.

The large man continues staring out to sea, despite the laughter and the woman’s shrill protests. Grimly, he seems to search for something, his face wrapped in darkness, though few could fail to guess who this man was. The sheer dimension of him a tell-tale sign.

The black cloak hangs from his shoulders in the heavy air. Suddenly, the great man rises to his full height staring at the Lannister. In a deep voice, he offers, “I welcome your silence.”

There’s a faint murmur of sound from where Liane stands, a snort followed by quiet words. “You’re not the only one.” She flickers a brief glance towards the latest arrivals, a moment’s curiosity allowed before she returns to looking out over the water.

For a long moment, the silence stretches; if the Lannister does not speak, the other man does not seem overeager to do so either. But then, the giant’s voice comes between them—and it brings an unbidden flicker of amusement to his lean features.

Whatever held the two men is broken now. He nods to the golden-haired Knight curtly; his gaze turns to the woman and he says merely, “Lady Liane.”

And he turns away then, the serpent on his breast rippling as a faint breeze plucks at his tunic.

“One of the hostages…” The towering figure says, his face turned toward the woman as the serpent knight mentions her name. Hidden in darkness, the meaning behind his words is unrevealed. A large hands falls on the hilts of his sword. Gold glints from the many points upon the hilt.

A calculating look passes through the Lannister’s eyes as he glances first to the giant, then to the lady, and at last, returning the man’s nod in kind, to the Serpent.

It isn’t Sarmion’s hand on his sword that breaks through Liane’s careful mask of polite neutrality, but rather the more simple acknowledgement from Dagur. She uncrosses her arms, but it’s only to wrap her hands around the rail, closing her eyes and ducking her chin, letting her hair fall over her shoulder to hide her expression.

“The Uller woman,” the serpent knight confirms turning back to the railing. Leaning against it, face to the sea, he does not see the large man’s hand move his sword hilt.

As the woman says nothing, the large man turns back to the Lannister. His eyes glint blue in the dim light.

To the Westerman he offers, “And you… It is a wonder that now you seem as chided as a kicked cur, when you crowed so loud before.”

“Chided, crowing?” Jonn Lannister inquires, even as his face screws in concentration, and a rumble emits from the back of his trousers.

“No such thing, Stormbreaker.” He reaches behind him and makes a fanning motion with his right hand.

Liane’s fingers tap along the rail, a deep breath taken and released slowly before she looks up again. While she avoids looking at Dagur, the moment of discomfort caused by recognition is instantly dissolved at Jonn’s motion. Flabbergasted, she twists to stare and blink.

“A fool then,” the tall man offers with a humorless smile, “I was wondering when some entertainment would be offered.” Leaning back against the rail, he says, “Caper for us… Where is your motley and your cap of bells?”

The serpent knight glances over his shoulder at the Lannister—and then, turning back to the sea, spits over the rail.

Without deigning to wait for a reply, the Baratheon calls out to the other black-clad knight, “What about this Uller woman, ser?”

His dark blue eyes regard Liane, he offers, “She keeps queer company, if she were sporting with this… one.”

“The Hellknight’s cousin, they say,” replies the serpent knight without turning, his elbows upon the railing. “After that one, even the Lannister cub may be pleasant company.”

“I did not meet any Ullers while in Dorne,” the larger man replies, looking on the Dornishwoman. “Pity, I hear they die easier than other men… or perhaps there were just fewer of them to die.” With a shrug, the Baratheon knight looks on the Lannister expectantly.

“You didn’t know him.” Liane, silent at accusations of ‘sporting’ with Jonn, speaks up in a hard, gravelly tone when her cousin is mentioned. “And now you never will,” she adds before someone else does, grimacing and looking up towards Sarmion, still avoiding looking at Dagur. “I believe he may be drunk, /good/ ser. My luck is ever increasing.”

The Baratheon knight regards the Uller woman once more, but says nothing. Looking back toward the Lannister, he offers to no one in particular, “If drinking gives him courage, then sobeit. Let him drink. Had he courage he may not hide himself in silence or drape pale wit over cowardess.”

“I didn’t know him,” the serpent knight agrees mildly. “A good man with a sword if nothing else, they say.”

And he glances briefly at Sarmion, “He and his brother both. You heard wrong.” That much and no more; he rubs absently at his side even as the giant heaps more scorn on the Lannister knight.

But the Lannister knight bears all in silence, smiling his sardonic half-smile the whole time.

Liane flickers a distrustful glance towards Dagur, crossing her arms over her chest again uncertainly. “Courage for what?” she asks with a soft snort, taking a step back from the rail. “Shepherding women, children, and unarmed men? Yes,” she drawls, “We are a terrifying bunch.” Carefully she tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, looking between the three men. “If you gentlemen will excuse me. It grows cool out here.”

“Good,” Sarmion says in answer to the ironborn, “It is good a man not sell his life too cheaply. Boasting more with deeds and less with words.”

Nodding his head in the Uller woman’s direction, he adds, “She should have pride that men still speak of her cousins without disdain. Though being Dornish I do not disdain them any less.” His dark gaze is turned upon Liane with his last words as she leaves. His left hand still resting on his sword hilt.

“Dorne will always remember them well,” Liane replies to Sarmion, chin rising once more before she turns to step belowdecks. The observant may note that she lingers at the top of the ladder, looking up towards the sky for a long moment before disappearing beneath.