Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


The Politics of Blood
IC Date: Day 25 of Month 9, 162 AC
RL Date: June 01, 2011.
Participants: Aryard Manwoody, Baduin Santagar, Caitrin Dalt, Galwell Dalt, Laurent Dalt, Liane Uller, Lilah Gargalen, Torren Blackmont, and Valerin Dayne.
Locations: Sunspear: Inner Yard

Summary: A leopard, a falling star, a dead man, a cockatrice, a burning woman, a vulture and three lemons dance the cautious courtly dance of establishing names and ties and status, and discussing the bindings of family.

The autumn morning is balmy and cool; a soothing breeze whispers among the towers and the verdant palms. In the shade of an orange tree, a little apart from the main paths, sits a slender, black-clad knight on a low marble bench. One foot is propped up on the bench, and the other prods a little dirt hill of ants. In his gloved hand is a brilliantly-polished dagger, and with it, and the sun’s shattered reflection, he is burning ants.

Beneath the gate slips Lilah Gargalen, speaking softly with a pair of guardsmen accompanying her, and a septa almost trailing like a puppy, engaged in conversation with another woman of the cloth, but with a weather eye on her charge. Lilah looks about curiously, pausing to one side, far enough away from the paths to let her trailing entourage keep out of the way, but enough so she can observe the ants, and their burning ends.

Nearby, making the most of the morning hours, is a small group of guardsmen. They’re practicing attacking and defending. Currently, a spear-weilding guardsman is attacking a defending swordsman. The swordsman is revealed to be their captain, Ser Valerin Dayne, who seems to be showing a decent showing of how to defend, parry, dodge and take certain hits. The captain is light, lithe and quick, making ducking between the spear-thrusts rather easy.

Liane stalks the yard, dressed in her sun-yellows and fire-reds. She seems to be enjoying the weather, even if it is somewhat cooler than usual. She seems to have shed her own Uller spears to have a bit of freedom, even if it is somewhat dangerous. Liane considers the black-clad man torturing ants, and then the lady with her people. She decides to head in their direction.

Turning the dagger from the ants toward the lady and her approaching retinue, Baduin sends the bright reflection up, up, and across the courtyard. The light dances across the practicing warriors, tiny starbursts flickering hither and yon, until it rests not on the knights and soldiers, but upon the cheek of the lady Lilah.

The knight in black, Baduin Santagar (for that is who he is) smiles mysteriously, and sticks the dagger into the dirt. Then lifting his hands in supplication, he calls to her. “I surrender, my lady. I am your prisoner.”

Lilah arches a brow, and chuckles, shaking her head slightly. “I would not boast of such a thing, ser,” she says wryly, taking a few steps closer to him. “My house is known for its fierceness, and I seem to have a reputation of it myself,” which is no untrue statement - she has been known to be fiercer than Wild Will, and that is a feat of some questionable renown. She turns, and smiles at Liane, eyes tilting to watch Valerin for a few moments as he spars, before turning back to Baduin. “Is there a particular offence those ants have caused you, to engender such violence? Or did they offer themselves affiliation with King’s Landing?”

A sudden thud, and a clank of armour, sees the captain sprawled on the ground, his opponent pointing his spear to his throat. Both men are sweating heavily, panting, and Valerin is grinning. “Good!” He manages between catching his breath.

Liane closes the distance. “Lady.” she says to Lilah, inclining her head. She glances back to the cockatrice’s ‘prisioner’ on the bench. “I was going to ask the same, or if you were practicing for their return on those little knights?” Once more, back to Lilah. “You’re well, I hope?”

“You -seem- fierce,” replies Baduin sardonically, his eyes half-lidded in amusement. “But I was more concerned about the army you brought with you.” He indicates Lilah’s train of guards and septas lazily.

“As for the ants… they have committed no crime, save the misfortune of encountering me this day. Death does not always come to those who deserve it, my lady.” He smiles at her, and it is not a particularly pleasant expression.

“And what seems is sometimes true, and sometimes but a guise for hidden weakness,” she says with a hint of cheer in her voice. She pauses, looking to Liane, and nodding with another smile. “I am. My brother has neither spent the night before my door or in a window, watching for suitors to club over the head with his warhammer, nor has my princess,” she adds with a quirk of the lips, amused, “had demands much beyond discussing the tourney and other such events.” She looks back to Baduin. “I am Lilah Gargalen, currently serving as one of Princess Ariana’s ladies in waiting. I do not believe I have made your acquaintence yet.”

‘Dressed in heavy leather and sweating heavily Aryard Manwoody arrives from the outer yard. It is no secret that the young Lord is often found outside the castle walls during the morning. Mostly training himself in different disciplines of spearfighting whether on horse or on foot. Today the heavy cuirass and breathing reveals that training stamina was probably the goal for today. Once they enter a servant in Manwoody colours quickly approaches to hand over a skin of water. After a few gulps Aryard passes the skin and accepts a small bucket of water that he throws over his head. As he grabs a small towel he starts wipping most of the water of his face while another servant unties the armor. Once released from the leather one can see an athletically built upperbody with strong shouldermuscles as he rolls them to ease them up. Noticing Lilah he waves to the lady grabs the fresh tunic and crosses the yard to meet her. As he moves the soft linen over him he passes Valerin - throwing an amused look to the Captain. ” Feeling tired Captain?” he jests. Eventualy he arrives in front of Lilah and bows gently. ” Lady Lilah.” And as he rises he glances to Baduin. ” Ser.” before reserving another bow for Liane as she approaches.’

The captain is helped to his feet by his opponent, who starts whispering something to Valerin, nodding to Aryard’s back as he passes. Valerin grins at the man’s words, but pats him on the shoulder. “That’s enough of that, man.” He says, pointedly ignoring the Lord of Kingsgrave’s jest. “Okay, split up into groups. Work defending and attacking until one of you falls, then swap roles.” The captain dusts off his orange cloak, moving off from the group slightly, casting his voilet gaze towards Lilah and her entourage. He takes a few steady gulps from his waterskin, pouring the rest over his head to help wash the sweat clear.

“I am Ser Baduin Santagar, currently, and always, serving myself.” Baduin gives Lilah a curt nod, then tugs the dagger from the dirt and wipes it on a dark trouser leg. “Some call me the Red Spear, perhaps because it sounds terrifying.”

He glances over at Liane, a flicker of faintest recognition in his eyes as he gives the Fowler lady a once-over. He looks over at Aryard, nods, and then begins sharpening the blade with a small oilstone.

The captain is helped to his feet by his opponent, who starts whispering something to Valerin, nodding to Aryard’s back as he passes. Valerin grins at the man’s words, but pats him on the shoulder. “That’s enough of that, man.” He says, pointedly ignoring the Lord of Kingsgrave’s jest. “Okay, split up into groups. Work defending and attacking until one of you falls, then swap roles.” The captain dusts off his orange cloak, moving off from the group slightly, casting his voilet gaze towards Lilah and her entourage. He takes a few steady gulps from his waterskin, pouring the rest over his head to help wash the sweat clear.

“I am Ser Baduin Santagar, currently, and always, serving myself.” Baduin gives Lilah a curt nod, then tugs the dagger from the dirt and wipes it on a dark trouser leg. “Some call me the Red Spear, perhaps because it sounds terrifying.”

He glances over at Liane, a flicker of faintest recognition in his eyes as he gives the Fowler lady a once-over. He looks over at Aryard, nods, and then begins sharpening the blade with a small oilstone.

“Hmm. I have wondered sometimes what a princess’ demands are on her companions. Doubtless it is very interesting.” Liane says, but her voice don’t quite match the words. She looks again at Baduin. “My cousins were called terrifying names… ‘the Hellknight’, ‘the Knight of the Flames’. A lot of good it did them in the end.”

“Soon, gods willing, you will have a son, Ser Laurent, and I a nephew. We should plan a feast for your wife. It will mortify her.”

These words are spoken by Ser Torren Blackmont to his good-brother, Ser Laurent Dalt, as they enter the inner yard. It is clearly a topic that they have been discussing on the way, and the amusement in his tone and on his face shows that Torren enjoys tweaking his sister’s nose. Ser Torren is in his customary leathers and silks, with a Martell badge about his cloak. He carries an unstrung bow and a quiver half-filled with arrows, apparently meaning to work on his aim.

Lilah smiles warmly at Aryard and Valerin both, favouring each with a smile. “How was your sparring, Captain? And your practise, my lord?” A moment as she considers both Baduin’s words, and Liane’s. “A pleasure to meet you, Ser Santagar. I have… fond memories of some of your house. Ser Madyn Santagar and I were close, some time ago.” There’s a hint of something in her voice, amusement, allusion. “And the requirements of a princess’ companion are not nearly those required for keeping up with a knight or lord, but are a change of pace. She has expressed an interest in learning small bladeswork, which I am more than happy to aid her with.”

] A turn, and she nods to greeting to Ser Torren and Ser Laurent both, when he does arrive.

Valerin grins lightly. “If it is names we are talking about, then I must say that my cousin is the famed Knight of the Twilight.” He moves forward into the group, nodding to each in turn. “Lady Lilah…” A pause. “Lord Aryard.” The last word is a tad frosty, but polite, nonetheless. To the others, he smiles, bowing. “I do believe we haven’t met yet, my lady, ser.” He says, “Ser Valerin Dayne, Captain of the Guards here. A pleasure.” He then looks sidelong at where Laurent and Torren are emerging.

“Ah. You must be a Fowler, then,” Baduin surmises, studying Liane with renewed interest. “I squired for Falconhelm when I was a boy. His name didn’t help him, either.” There is no sorrow in the jape; indeed, the Red Spear’s smile fairly drips with irony.

He looks to Lilah. “Madyn. Right. Haven’t seen him in some time.” Baduin goes on whetting his dagger, his expression unreadable as Valerin mentions his cousin. “Colorful names make for good songs, but are a poor substitute for a sharp blade and a steady hand, I find.”

” Exhausting. Your interest in my condition honours me, my lady.” Aryard answers, sending an amused wink to the lady before he introduces himself as he’s not familiar with the Uller lady and the black knight. ” Lord Aryard Manwoody ” he simply says smiling mischievously to Liane. “Apologies for the appearance.”

Liane frowns at Baduin, then. “Uller. I am Liane Uller, and I am heir to Hellholt.” She glances at the other men, as her declaration anwers his question as well.

Lilah purses her lips, looking to Liane. “I must invite you back to the Gargalen residence some evening, Lady Liane, so that you and my cousin Joleta can converse about the struggles of being female heirs in a time when men are slavering over everything,” she quips. “And, perhaps, we ladies can gossip about the men, without them hovering. Some of the Dalt cousins do tend to visit, so we may need to lock ourselves up and let them wonder what we’re up to.”

Lilah favours Aryard with half-lidded eyes, her expression mild but unreadable, before turning back to Baduin. “A pleasure to meet you, regardless. And I do agree—pomp and circumstance, pride and belief, have only so far that they can take one, before true skill, or true mettle, is shown.”

“Gods,” comes the Sand Dog’s reply—elegantly garbed as ever, over-robe of purple sandsilk flaring with the lemon-scented breeze—his expression vaguely queasy, “she would claw your eyes out. And mine. Alright, you do it. I’ll be in Planky Town.”

The jewelled dagger at his belt glitters blindingly as he checks, taking in everyone there, and it catches the light: “A leopard, a falling star, a dead man, a cockatrice and a burning woman. Bend the knee, brother. We’re in noble company.”

The captain, standing somewhat behind Aryard, actually rolls his eyes at the young lord’s actions. It seems the two are not on the best of terms. He does, however, smile and nod to Liane. “A pleasure, my lady.” He says. He smiles to Lilah. “The men are improving, my lady, though I do prefer not to end up in the dirt.” He regards Baduin for a moment, nodding. “Aye, of that I agree, ser.”

Then, Laurent makes his entrance to their little group. “Ah, Ser Laurent.” He grins. “And we are in the company of fame!”

“Are you?” Baduin looks perplexed at Liane, though it is difficult to tell if he is feigning or not. “For a moment, you reminded me of someone else I knew. You have her look.“He goes on sharpening the blade, the sound almost musical in the still morning air; his lips tighten in another of his strange, self-referential smiles. “Congratulations on your heirship. I’m sure it is well-deserved.”

Baduin turns from Liane to Lilah then. “You are agreeable, my lady. I think, perhaps, that I like you.” His eyes go beyond Lilah to where Laurent and Torren approach. “A dog and a nephew. But which leads which?”

“Or else the beginning of a tavern joke,” Torren laughs, thumbing the end of his bow as he rests it on the top of his boot. “Good morning, ladies. Sers.”

The Blackmont knight bows slightly to all at once.

Aryard looks amused at Baduin as the knight aims his sarcastic remark at the approaching Laurent. ” I’m sorry ser. I must have missed your introduction. You are?” he asks, meanwhile sending a friendly nod to Torren. ” Ser Torren.”

Liane shrugs lightly at Baduin. “Who deserves the family they were born into? It is just the life we live.” Then she smiles at Lilah. “I hope I can accept your hospitality soon enough. I would very much like to speak to the two of you about a number of things. It should be quite an enlightening discussion.” She looks to the newcomers. “Sers. Welcome to our little gathering.”

Careful, sweet coz,” Laurent notes to Lilah. “He bites. But only if you ask nicely, the girls down at the pillowhouse tell me.” He takes her hand, then, if she will allow it, for a kiss; it seems to be something of a private jape to judge by the way his mouth quirks.

He glances at Valerin, then: “Are you? I’d deny it, but I fear I’m not great enough to be modest.” And to Liane: “My lady of Uller. Well met.”

The captain raises a brow. “It was you I was referring to, ser.” He folds his arms, still grinning, “I fear I haven’t done anything to warrant fame.” Another pause. “Yet.”

Lilah meets Baduin’s eyes for a moment, the bright green a challenge, and then she smiles broadly at her cousin Laurent. “Good morning to you, coz,” she says, letting him take her hand. “Ser Torren. Aye, Lady… you’ll be welcome any time, I’ll make sure of it.” She watches quietly at the bunch, as they interact. “I wouldn’t mind the biting - I loathe the meek milkmaids some men seem to be.” She shrugs slightly, and shakes her head, remaining quiet.

“I know,” the Sand Dog replies blandly. But he saves it from being an insult with a quicksilver smile, “But I’ll admit I didn’t feel very famous when Aidan Dayne knocked me on my arse. That’s an awkward cousin you have.”

At Lilah’s comment, he laughs outright, nodding to Torren: “There’s your cue. Show my cousin what Blackmont men are made of.” He eyes Lilah, “But if the man’s too craven, I’ll be glad to uphold Blackmont’s honour instead. You must invite me to this manse you and Joleta have taken.”

Valerin grins. “We Daynes have a penchant for being awkward, ser. All you have to do is ask Prince Rhodry about my dear cousin Elysa.”

I don’t deserve my family, my lady,” Baduin answers Liane; though her question may have been rhetorical, that never seems to stop the Red Spear’s fancies. “Or rather, they don’t deserve me. Poor things.”

He smiles slyly at Laurent’s jape, his eyes still locked on the Gargalen lady’s. “He’s the biter, my lady, not I; that’s why he’s the Sand Dog, after all.” He inspects a loose thread on the finger of his glove. “Not all milk maids are meek, you know,” he adds.

Ser Torren, meanwhile, has set about stringing his longbow, idly listening to the conversation until he hears something of interest, before his good-brother draws him back into the conversation.

“Vultures don’t give milk to their children, my lady of Gargalen. Perhaps you require proof.”

Aryard looks amused at Baduin as the knight aims his sarcastic remark at Laurent. ” I’m sorry ser. I must have missed your introduction. You are?” he asks, meanwhile sending a friendly nod to Torren. ” Ser Torren.”

Liane has a step away from Baduin and just watches for a while as people speak around her.

“I am Ser Baduin Santagar, the Red Spear, defiler of chastity and debaser of all that is righteous and pure.” He eyes Aryard sidelong. “And there is no need for you to apologize for not knowing that. I don’t know you either.”

Lilah chuckles, and mimes receiving a blow to her chest, clapping a hand on her bodice. “Wounded to the quick, ser,” she says with a grin. “Actually, I’d be more indebted to you if I could convince you to help me with target practise. My goal is to hit the broad side of the Sandship, but I’m afraid I’m more along the lines of not hitting my feet, at the moment, or bruising the inside of my arm.” She glances to Laurent. “Absolutely, you are welcome. We are, after all, family. It’s a bit heavy on the Gargalen colours - you’ll need to leave us some lemons for adding to the decoration.”

Ser Torren nods to Ser Aryard, friendly enough in his manner, before Lilah speaks. “My father would be cross with me if I allowed you to put arrows through his beloved Sandship, my lady. Perhaps the Tower of the Sun. Rhodry is not using it anyway, I hear. I could be persuaded to take you under my wing, I think.”

Liane looks finally to Lilah again. “If you like, lady…. when I come to visit, let’s set up a target or three. I can help you with the shooting. It is even better on horseback,.” She nods to everyone, then. “Do try to manage without me, everyone.”

It is not waddling that slows Caitrin Blackmont’s progress into the yard as it would so many women in her condition. It is, perhaps, simply aches and pains, presumably the reason for the silver-filigreed walking stick she is using. Whatever the cause, her face is a mask of displeasure to find herself unable to proceed toward the Sandship at anything like her usual pace, and she says something so venomous to one of the maids that the girl bursts into tears on the spot and run off with her apron over her face.

Aryard raises an eyebrow but then laughs. ” Well… that’s a whole lot of titles you got there, Ser. I fear I have to bow to such… illuminating title… ” he says amused, the irony dripping from his voice. Throwing a last amused look to Baduin he turns to Lilah again. ” Do warn the court when you do. I don’t think alot of us would like to endeavor the life of a porcupine.”

And every one of them hard-earned.” Baduin turns dismissively from the still-unknown-to-him Aryard, yawning and watching Liane depart.

The sound of weeping seems to cheer the Red Spear. At the least, it saves him from boredom. “Hark. Someone approaches, and sorrow is her retinue.”

Lilah chuckles, watching Liane depart, and watching Caitrin arrive. She simply stands off to one side, observing quietly, for a time.

Perhaps Caitrin’s sharp voice drifts on the wind, or the maid’s weeping. Whatever it is, the Sand Dog half-turns, eyes narrowing as he watches her approach and the maid flee. A courteously inclined head to Liane as she leaves, and she glances at Torren: “There’s your chance. Go on, now. Tell your sister your plan.”

“A bard amongst us,” he observes drily at Baduin’s comment. “And I had heard you could make poetry only with steel and blood.”

Torren finishes stringing his bow, directing his eyes towards Caitrin at Laurent’s prompting. “Allow me to nock an arrow first, brother. She seems in rare form today.”

He watches the Uller woman leave before calling out to his sister. “Caitrin! Come say hello.”

Taking a few steps aside, Aryard ends up next to Lilah and uses the arrival of Caitrin to whisper ” This is going to be fun…” throwing a meaningful look to the crying maid that disappears behind a corner.

Caitrin does come, but with the expression still fixed on her face. “What are you planning all on your own, Torren?” she asks, her voice sweet enough to sugar lilies. “Thinking again, are we? Good morning, uncle. Lord Manwoody. Lady Lilah.” She draws this name out as if tasting it on her tongue, then looks sharply back at Aryard. “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

“You heard wrong,” Baduin answers Laurent with equal dryness. “Some of my greatest utterances come at the bottom of a wine-tun, or better yet, between silk sheets.” He sheathes his dagger. “Buy me a drink or a whore, and I’ll make your head spin with my lyrical genius.”

He watches Torren with interest. “Hmm. Is someone about to die?”

Aryard presents the grumpy lady one of his most innocent smiles - having alot experience in that due his prank-loving nature- before he speaks. ” That you look just /magnificent/ today, my lady.”

] Lilah nods a greeting to Caitrin. “Good morning, Lady Caitrin,” she says politely, watching Caitrin, and looking at Aryard, now beside her, for a few moments. “I have been meaning to ask you—where did you come across that… ferret, was it?... that I saw you with some time ago? I will admit I’m unfamiliar with them, and it was rather an unusual creature. Has she escaped on you again?”

“Oh, I was just remarking to your lord husband that once your ordeal is over we should throw a feast in your honor,” Torren states. “Skewered boars, a mummer’s farce, everything. Father will be overjoyed to have a grandchild; I was going to bring it to him when I lunch with him today. I am quite certain he will be thrilled.”

“I’ll buy you a drink. The whore you’ll have to get on your own. I have no desire to sit and watch you create your poetry between the sheets.” The Sand Dog’s amusement fades just a touch as he half-turns to watch the interaction between the others. “Although I’ll let Rhodry know in case he is minded to indulge you,” he adds, but absently. Then, louder, to Torren: “And I thought the feast -was- the mummer’s farce.”

“You don’t know what you’d be missing, Laurent.” Baduin smirks a bit at the notion; it seems to amuse him inordinately. “But I can understand why you’d be so intimidated.”

He whistles smugly, following the Sand Dog’s gaze toward the interplay between his niece, his nephew, and the still vaguely-interesting Lilah Gargalen. “I like feasts. I’m invited, of course, am I not?”

“You lie, my lord,” Caitrin replies, clearly in no mood for such japes. She looks at Lilah then and her expression softens a trifle. “A sand ferret, or so my cousin Valeria told me. She sent it from Yronwood as a gift for my wedding to my sweet lord and husband.” She flashes Laurent a simpering smile before nodding at Baduin. “We have to invite you. Mother makes us.”

At that, Baduin has the Sand Dog’s full attention again; it’s a considering look the other man gives him, lips pursed. In the end, he smiles, easy and charming, and it never reaches his eyes: “Pissing myself. I like to leave the bedchamber with all my parts attached. From what I hear, your entertainments don’t always allow that.”

He seems about to say more when Caitrin answers the Red Spear’s question again. To that, he only adds gently: “And remember. The knives are for the meat.”

And Caitrin earns a sour look: “I should have guessed. Did you teach it to shit in my boots or is that a natural talent?”

“It seems like a beast which will keep its owner on its toes,” Lilah responds, “and certainly a unique one. I hope she,” there’s a rise in pitch, making sure of the animal’s gender and not entirely trusting her memory, “is a bit less troublesome in the future.” At Caitrin’s other words, she chuckles. “I am well aware of the troublesome kin one can have, my lady, and the strings parents tie for… well, good behaviour. Or at least not appalling behaviour.”

“I never lie. Unless it seems prudent,” Torren remarks, looking to his uncle. “Oh, of course you will be uncle. ‘Twould not be a feast elsewise.”

“Of course she does. She’s a good sister.” Baduin seems pleased at Caitrin’s insulting retort. He glances over at Laurent, mildly amused.

“You certainly seem to hear a great deal, my friend,” he mentions, his voice no more than an urbane purr. “Ears in every wall, and all that, I suppose?” Baduin picks at a bit of lint on his dark doublet. “Funny. I never pictured you for peeking through keyholes and what-not. But have no fear. I always pay for the things I break.”

Aryard grins. ” Well. Ser Tarion always said to me: A man who will not lie to a woman has very little consideration for her feelings.” Glancing to his retainers a bit further, the Lord of Kingsgrave then faces the others again. ” Anyway… I’ll leave you to eachothers company then. Sers, ladies.” With that, the Manwoody leaves probably getting a bath first before he’d be around again.

“I did not accuse -you- of lying, brother darling,” Caitrin replies. “I said our good Lord Manwoody does.” She gives the man a fairly withering look, then bends her head to see him off. “Don’t drown, my lord,” she calls in a voice that is all maidenly twitter.

When he is gone, she exhales. “Odious little belly-slider,” she mutters. “I bet he thanks his whores with as much conviction.”

She smiles at Lilah. “The ties of family are many and knotted,” she agrees. “It is amazing the lengths we go to to keep them as they are. Including inviting Uncle Baduin to parties.”

Lilah nods to Aryard, watching as he departs, then looking to Caitrin with an expression of cautious understanding. “Agreed,” she responds simply. “If one could choose one’s kin, it would be a far different world, I think.

Galwell enters the inner yard with his steward in tow. The servant has a writing case under one arm and holds numerous sheaves of parchment in the other. Galwell himself in his usual purple and black, read while he walks, but the sound of familiar voices causes him to pause in his steps and look up from the parchment. Seeing who has assembled, he nods absently and passes back the parchment to his steward. “Carry on,” he instructs the servant, before he approaches the assembled kin and courtiers.

“Friends in low places,” the Sand Dog corrects Baduin. “And you would be amazed at what one can learn, peeking through keyholes.” He pauses a moment to consider, “Or perhaps you wouldn’t. And I fear some prices might be too high for you.”

He glances at Lilah, eyebrows rising: “So tell me which kin you would disown, coz. Never fear, I’ll carry no tales.”

Another smile, and a slight wave of the hand to Galwell, and Lilah looks back to Laurent. “Now, now. I’d rather have to think about that, and I dread to think of the swelling of rumours if I even risked mentioning a name, or two, even in jest.” She clucks her tongue in feigned dismay.

“You have me there. Amusing myself has become an increasingly expensive proposition, particularly lately.” Baduin shrugs at Laurent, then falls silent for a moment, listening to the conversation between the two ladies.

“I would only be rid of the dull relations,” Caitrin says, leaning a little more heavily on her stick. “But here, look at my uncle. He is as like to put a blade to my neck as to kiss my cheek, so he is never boring. Bored,” she observes, tilting her head, “but not boring. Come, nuncle. Tell your little Cat why your amusements cost too much? What say you to killing troublesome hounds?”

Galwell steps to Lilah’s side. “Good day, coz,” he greets quietly before looking at everyone else beneath lofted brows. “And you others as well.”

“There is little sport to be found now in the Street of Sighs,” Baduin laments in reply to Caitrin. “And no challenge. The leopard must hunt, or he will die of lethargy and ennui. And the challenges I seek cannot be bought for love or money, I fear.”

He stifles another yawn. “Hounds? What am I to you, a dog-catcher?” Baduin grins at Laurent. “You seem to have already accomplished that feat, little nieceling.”

“I’ll have them out of you, coz, one way or another. Some secrets are meant to be shared,” the Sand Dog replies, dark eyes amused as he counters Lilah. “Besides, it would be a dull life without rumours to keep the court entertained.”

“Galwell,” he nods to his other cousin as the man arrives before giving Caitrin a pensive look and shaking his head: “And that, my lady, is a higher price than you could afford to pay. Blood is cheap, and kisses even more so.”

He seems as if he might say more, but checks, half-grimacing, half-laughing at Baduin’s answer.

To Laurent’s comment, Lilah offers only a wink in response, watching him respond to Caitrin, and greet Galwell. “You will have to catch me later for them, if you so insist,” she finally answers Laurent. “Though, as it stands - I must depart, and find the princess Ariana, and see what adventure she has proposed for the day, or if we will find ourselves dueling with wooden daggers or harrying someone for something else.”

She drops a polite curtsy to the group. “Good to see you, Lady Caitrin, cousins Laurent and Galwell, and a pleasure to make your acquaintances, Ser Baduin and Ser Torren.” She slips off to one side, and heads towards the winding ways towards the Sandship.

Caitrin turns an aggrieved look on both uncle and husband. “Nevermind, the both of you,” she says patiently. “I will spell it out for you later. When we are private.” She bends her head to Lilah, but her attempt at a curtsy only has her leaning still more heavily on her stick and listing a bit to one side as well. “Hello, Galwell,” she offers finally. “It’s been a long time since I saw you last.”