The evening after the melee is a merry one. The feast was great and plentiful, featuring a roasted boar of truly stupendous proportions, and a spread of autumn fare that rivaled the King’s own table. Now the tables have been moved to the sides of the hall, the dais cleared of tables and chairs. A half-circle of chairs are arranged before the dais facing it; clearly this is where the ladies will sit in judgment of the singers. Some musicians are arranging themselves toward the back of the dais, ready for those who require their services. There is a lute and a lap harp, a pipe and a drum as well.
In the rest of the hall, some tables are set and benches scattered in haphazard rows. The court is entering the hall anew after departing for the necessary arrangements. Ladies enter with gowns brushed and hair tidied; the men have changed into clean tunics and combed their beards. Like butterflies who light and scatter at the whims of the wind, they move about the hall greeting one another and repeating the day’s gossip in a low buzz of constant sound.
Andorea is already seated in judgment at the center of the semi-circle. There is a small smile on her face but its obvious that she is still trying to recover from the strain of travel. She speaks with any that approach, glad of the company and the gossip.
Following the poor showing in the melee, Janden’s licked his wounds, so to speak. Some time was spent outside writing on parchment, briefly interrupted when Jyana Arryn showed up with her guard, the two from the Vale speaking about one thing or another prior to the feast. Once that’s over and done with and the room’s rearranged, he returns having changed into one of his better doublets. In ways he looks apprehensive. This is foreign territory for him.
Through the entrance, Jyana glides side-by-side with her septa; the murmur of conversation filling the room renders theirs unnoticeable. By the way each woman points to the different curiosities within the hall with smiles on their faces, it’s clear they’re noting approval of each detail in turn.
With her sun-kissed waves loose and freshly washed, Jyana’s tresses frame her slim figure like an exaggerated halo—floating behind her as she parts from her septa’s side. The older woman has found a similarly robed comrade, while the Jewel of the Eyrie mingles through the growing crowd in search of familiar faces.
“Lady Andorea,” she says as she approaches the seated lady, dipping a curtsey.
Entering the hall, Eon carries himself with dignity, though it seems that he lets his right arm swing a little less than his left as he walks. Wine and willow had done their work to dull the pain in his shoulder, though he still does not wish to harm it further. A piper follows him, though the Hunter knight says nothing to him, and vice versa. Seeing Janden, Eon walks over to him and says, “I hope you have recovered well enough, Ser.”
Jannia sits next to Andorea, invited to sit in on the judging the eve prior by the woman. “Splendid.” Jannia says cheerfully, “It would seem your tourney invitation was a success, my lady.” she says with a smile on her face. It would seem she is in quite the chipper mood. Still in her blue and red satin gown from earlier, she waves over Jyana, the jewel of the Eyrie from her place with the others. Her wave and smile to the woman begs her to come near “There are a few people I would like you to meet, Lady Andorea.”
Ammon Massey is one of the men in a cleaned tunic, though he has no beard to speak of. He makes his way slowly around the room, remaining silent where others exchange pleasantries, scowling where others smile. It is the wine that has this knight’s attention, not the decorations, or musicians, nor even the ladies. He makes his way to the nearest cup.
And then his eyes scan the room, taking in this detail and that. Ammon’s gaze flicks from face to face, impassively studying them all. From there, not finding who he is looking for, the Blackhand looks to the doorway.
Andorea smiles, nodding her head in a seated curtsey. “My lady, please be welcomed. Have you been enjoying your time here thus far?” Her head tilts to the side, her gaze shifting for a moment towards Jannia, “It seems to be. I am actually quite pleased the men have risen to the occasion.” She laughs softly looking once more to Jayna for her reply.
Wearing the same more formal red dress with yellow trim that she had on in the morning, Elrone Darklyn glides into the hall with a pleasant smile. The yellow ribbon cinching her waist has been straightened, and her hair freshly braided back from each temple to the nape of her neck, where the rest of the wavy copper locks are left to hang freely down. Her own septa peels quickly off from the girl’s side to join the other sisters of the Faith whose charges shall watch and judge the competition. With a delighted near-skip in her step, she moves quickly to join the other ladies in the circle of chairs.
“Good evening ladies.” She dips a curtsy to the other women. “Any bets on who among the men shall surprise us with their hidden talents?”
“I’ll be sore a day or two, but nothing too bad,” Janden tells Eon, though he rolls a shoulder a couple times before sipping from a cup of wine. “I thought I’d see if I could finish the day off on a low note by doing this,” the Melcolm knight adds with an amused, self-aware look as he takes stock of the others around, some seeming to be there with more elaborate setups than him. There’s nobody accompanying the Huntsman. Even Malwyn is just in another part of the hall.
Clad in his finest maroon doublet -the burning-tree sigil of House Marbrand sewn to the right breast - Jan holds a wineskin. He takes a deep sip before scanning the room, and his eyes settle on Ammon, of course. He unleashes a sigh as the Massey knight eyes the doorway, and approaches him before he can leave. “Ammon. I didn’t take you for the singing type,” he says, with no emotion.
“Ah, Lady Jannia,” Jyana says as she rises from the respectfully deep curtsey, her blue-green gaze flicking between both women. “The journey has been rather eventful, but it seems to have made way for a pleasant stay here at Acorn Hall,” she notes with a playful smile.
With Elrone joining them, Jyana forgoes a curtsey to instead reach a hand out towards the Darklyn lady’s arm—a friendly gesture, almost like the start of a hug. “It should be an interesting show,” she laughs, “I believe we’ll see the true merit of their bravery, should they actually muster the courage to step onto the dais.”
Andorea nods her head, “Actually ladies, would you three, in addition to my lady Tully, do me the honor of aiding me to judge this contest? I would like it quite a bit if we have an odd number of judges.”
“Welcomed I am, my lady. Your Lord-father has been most accommodating the food delectable, and the sport has been more than amusing. I couldn’t be pleased more, to be honest.” Jannia casts the girl a bright smile, “I am quite sure we will see some good talent. If not, well, I am sure we will be thoroughly entertained.” she says before turning to the approaching Jyana. “Agreed, my lady.” A soft smile and a dip of her head for the Arryn woman, “May I introduce you properly to Lady Andorea Smallwood.” Jannia looks to Andorea. “Lady Andorea, may I introduce you to Lady Jyana Arryn.”
The Massey knight’s eyes follow Elrone a moment, but soon flick back to the doorway. Then Jan enters, approaches him—and Ammon meets him halfway. “I’m not,” he says, matching Marbrand’s sip with one from his own cup. I’d speak with you in private, if you’ve a moment.”
Reyna Saltcliffe has come unobtrusively into the hall. She is wearing a pretty gown of russet wool over the a golden silk kirtle, and her hair is dressed into a caul of netted gold thread. It is understated and modest, the kirtle rising almost to her chin and the gown with only a little embroidery. She moves here and there through the throng, seeking a place to sit and watch and greeting people as she goes.
Eon nods, “That is good, I think I may try my hand at this contest as well, though I fear I am no bard. Surely it will be less painful than earlier.” Seeing the Melcolm knight look around, Eon does not stare, but also makes note of the surroundings, “Maybe I was wrong, this could be more painful.” He chuckles a little and sees others enter, nodding to those he knows.
Jan blinks at Ammon and tilts his head. “Will this be quick? If so, sure. If not, I have my own song to prepare for,” he says. Though he attempts to grin confidently, the perspiration on his forehead indicates his nerves.
Elrone matches Jyana’s warm greeting easily, with a broad smile in kind before she responds to the hostess’s offer. “Oh, I should love to judge, Lady Andorea! Thank you.” Elrone grins at the girl, though she steps aside to make more room for the more formal introduction Jannia has made between the Smallwood girl and the Jewel. In her turn she glances over the room- and her eyes land on a particular pair of men who appear to be speaking civilly. For once. A distinct look of concern crosses her face, though she keeps her smile up.
Elmer walks into the room, only a bit blurry eyed from having been knocked down in the melee, no other injuries apparent. And will the Crakehall knight compete in the singing? Apparently not and that’s a relief as some of the soldiers or people who’s seen hi drunk might testify to.
“You’ll sing?” Ammon asks, the corner of his lip tugging upward—a traitorous act for a lip, if ever there was one. “I composed something of a song as well, though mine won’t go over well.” Massey shrugs, spreading his arms out to take in the whole room. “It isn’t fitting for such festivities.”
“It may be quick word, it may not. It’s not a conversation either of us wants, but I think it’s something that needs to be said. Tomorrow perhaps, or another day.”
Andorea rises to perform a curtsey when she is formally introduced. She’s a bit stiff and sore but even still it is passably graceful. “It is a pleasure and an honour to make your acquaintance formally. I am even more pleased that you have enjoyed your time here at Acorn Hall. I hope tonight’s tourney will continue to make it time well enjoyed or at the very least well amused.” She seat herself once more, “Now we’ve only need of a fifth lady. Have you any recommendations?”
“Oh yes, well, now that we are /formally/ introduced,” Jyana flashes a grateful smile to Jannia, “I would delight in sitting with you to judge, Lady Andorea.” With her arm still slightly outstretched, the Jewel indicates the young woman beside her, “If I might say, I trust our Lady Elrone’s judgment quite soundly. Elsewise, my dear friend would not have chosen her as a lady-in-waiting.” Is she sincere? Her voice speaks so, but that playful sparkle remains in her eyes—especially as they turn out to the room to note the presence of the Silver Rose in the crowd.
“I see the Lady Saltcliffe, just over there,” she notes finally to Andorea, as if in answer to the question of a fifth.
The more people that show up the less eager Janden looks to do this, and he was already starting from the lower end of that spectrum. “It’s not too late to sneak back out,” he murmurs to Eon, though once one’s spotted that red hair of his it’s difficult to be too subtle in one’s motions. “I spent quite a while on mine,” the Melcolm knight adds, though it’s unclear what the result of that is.
“With introductions made for Jyana, Jannia turns her gaze to Elrone and after Jyana makes her greeting, another introduction ensues. “Lady Elrone, might I introduce you to Lady Andorea Smallwood, Lady Andorea this is Lady Elrone Darklyn.” She falls silent letting the girls make pleasantries; waving to a servant for a few cups of wine for the girls in the judging seats.
Noticing Ammon’s smirk, Jan only shrugs. ‘I don’t expect to win.’ He leans in towards Ammon and says in a hushed tone, “... ... ... you ... ... ... to ... knights ... ... wouldn’t ... ... to ... ... But ... /some. ... ... of ...” He steps back from Ammon and takes a sip from his wineskin. ‘Whenever you think is appropriate, Blackhand.’
“Lady Meria has already introduced us, actually,” but still Elrone dips another curtsy all the same. “And I agree, Lady Reyna would be a most excellent judge, especially with her own skill as a singer. Shall I fetch her for you?” The Darklyn girl grins again at Jyana’s compliment, but her eyes keep flicking over to the same pair in the crowd.
Andorea nods her head and performs her second curtsey in as may introductions. “Always the pleasure my lady of Darklyn.” As Reyna is pointed out her gaze travels in that direction, “Oh yes, I am told she is quite singer, with a voice of honey. I would be grateful if you did, Lady Elrone. It would make our five.” She smiles, a bit of a mischievous look in her eyes, her voice lowering so as not to carry beyond the ladies. “Perhaps we might have but a friendly wager upon which of our lords has a voice that would make even the strictest of septas break into a smile and which sound closest to a frog?”
“As my father would say, the die is cast. We had best make the best of the situation before us. Hopefully none of the others are bards as well as knights.” Smiling a little, Eon says, “What will happen will happen, what is the worst that can come from this, besides a little embarrassment.”
Elrone quickly makes for her lady as the other women chat, scampering over with a pleased smile. “Lady Reyna, Lady Andorea has requested that you join the panel of judges. Come, sit with us!”
As Jan whispers to him, Ammon’s eyes flick to the gathering ladies. “... ...” Massey says. “... ... ... ... might ... ... But ... Some -are- fond of ...” And here, Ammon looks to the women once again, and a smile cracks his stern countenance. ‘Now is not the time, Jan, as you say. We will speak soon enough.’
Elmer chuckles at Andorea’s words. “Thank the Seven I’m not competing or they would certainly peg me for the Frog part..” He says and smiles. “I’m lucky in my looks, martial skills and love…I can’t have everything, can’t I?” he says, apparently he’s also good with modesty
“Why do you think I’m about to get another cup?” Janden asks Eon, holding up his now-empty one. “In fact, that’s a fine idea. Pardon me.” The Huntsman wanders off for a refill before the fun begins.
Reyna looks around when Elrone comes, and a smile warms her face. “I should love to,” she says affably, slipping a hand into the crook of Elrone’s elbow and going with her to the half-circle of judges. There she makes Andorea a curtsy as hostess and daughter of the house. “Thank you, Lady Andorea. You honor me.”
Stiffly, Ser Cleyton Waxley enters the room with a clean doublet and trousers in his usual grey with black trim. Scanning the room he raises an eyebrow when he sees his cousin Ser Jan Marbrand speaking with his former friend Ser Ammon Massey. Cleyton doesn’t interrupt, instead he makes his way to his opponents from the morning’s melee; Ser Eon Hunter and Ser Janden Meclcom. “Good evening sers. You both fought well today, hopefully there will be another melee in the near future. I’m sure your luck will improve.” To Janden in particular he gives a slightly worried look. “And how are you doing? I hope this melee didn’t reopen any of the wounds you took from Bors.”
With a conspiratory glint in her eyes, Jyana leans in towards Andorea and murmurs, “How rich would you like to make the pot, hmm? Let’s have the terms, then—are we talking of spending stars or stags, my lady?” With a low chuckle, Jyana straightens her posture to accept a glass of wine from a handy servant—just as Reyna joins their circle.
“Rose,” she grins, and reaches out for a hug when the lady has finished her greeting.
“I will attest to that being a truth, my lady. A fine choice.” The Tully maiden says of Reyna’s singing. Jannia smiles and turns to where the ladies are looking, she chirps a bright smile for the named, Silver Rose. The servant who starts from the kitchens with a tray full of glasses, has a flagon in her hand to fill up any cups that need filling. A sweet Riverland red with a bite of an undertone is served from this particular servant, she comes by the ladies and deposits the cups.
Jannia procures one for Reyna as she comes on by, holding a cup out to the Saltcliffe woman after she has made her courtesies. “Lady Reyna, it is good to see you.” Jannia says sweetly.
“As you wish, Ammon,” Jan says, raising his wineskin and grinning at something the Blackhand had whispered to him. He offers Cleyton a nod as he passes by but, unsure if his cousin saw it, is content to lean back against the wall and wait for the festivities to begin. And, of course, he takes another gulp from the wineskin.
Andorea blushes hotly, not having noticed Elmer near enough to hear her comment. She takes a sip of wine, to help settle her complexion once more before Lady Saltcliffe arrives. She rises, curtseying. “My lady, it is you that do me the honor of joining our small band of judges.” She its once more, “Spending stars, I think. What say you ladies?”
Reyna kisses Jyana’s cheek, and, when she has taken the wine from Jannia, her cheek as well. Then she settles in to the chair indicated to her—and promptly pops back out. “May I steal a moment of the audience before we begin?” she asks Andorea. Then, without waiting for an answer, raises her voice to surprisingly ringing tones and raises her wine cup: “To the Princess Naerys Targaryen! May the Seven keep Her Grace!” so that all might hear her.
“I’ll live with being knocked off my horse in every melee if it means success when battle comes, ser,” Janden says to Cleyton while getting his cup topped off once more. “And as I told Ser Eon, I’m sore but it will pass. I probably should have stayed out of it today.” He does move with a general stiffness. “You all earned your whippings…or rather, your whips.” He then raises his cup with the rest. “To Her Grace!”
Late - but not too late for the singing contest, another knight of the Vale enters the Great Hall. Ser Astos Corbray walks slowly with a limp. He has changed into a grey doublet and black breeches. He tries to draw as little attention as possible from the rest of gathering as he makes his way over to Janden and Eon, his fellow knights from the melee and takes a seat, gritting his teeth from the pain this simple act is causing him. “Good evening, sers. Mind if I join you?”
Elmer is large enough to be normally recognized, but he likes blushing ladies. Reyna’s toast takes him by surprise, but he raises his cup. “To her Highness.” he drinks deeply before he catches Janden’s voice. “Oh, well, a whip’s an useful tool now and then.”
“Jannia lifts her brow, “Stars, hmm?” Jannia curves her lips in a pleasant sort of smile. “Well, that should be easy enough they are nearly infinite.” She says with a smile as Reyna kisses her cheek. She raises her glass in the princesses name. “To Princess Naerys.” She echoes with a sip of wine, “May the Mother comfort her and keep her in the best of health.” Jannia adds to Reyna’s toast. She smiles to Reyna as the other nobles echo. “I am so happy for, Her Grace.”
Ammon mirrors Jan, leaning against his own portion of the wall. He stands easily next to his former friend—his current rival—and downs his wine in a gulp. “It’s a funny thing, Marbrand,” Ammon says. “Now that I’m committed to it, I’m as nervous as I am before a battle.” And he is sweating as if to prove it.
Blackhand is out of wine when Reyna makes her toast, but there is a servant with cups to spare! And so he takes another cup, raises it in salute, and drinks the princess’ health.
Elrone takes the offered cup with a smile, though all she drinks for now is a very small sip. A careful observer would notes she has actually had little wine the entire trip. “... ... ... ...” she says quietly to the other women, before raising her own glass with a grin in support of Reyna. “To Her Grace’s health!”
Janden squints at Elmer as he comes closer. “Tell me you’re talking about something other than the bedroom.” Might be the wine’s helping him relax, though he still comes off as awkward in this particular setting. “There are a lot more people here than I expected to see. They must love willingly public humiliation.” A nod follows to Astos. “Of course.”
Eon takes his place with the others and after receiving a cup, raises it to the health of the princess. The muttering of others is the object of his attention, though he cannot focus on one for too long before another catches his ear. He drinks the wine as he goes, enjoying the scene.
Jyana receives and returns her friend’s greeting in much the same manner, as comfortable with the habit as donning a long-worn and favored dress, then stands with her cup in hand. This she easily lifts when Reyna springs from her seconds-long seating to lead the room in toast. Her voice joins the chorus eagerly.
“Stars it is,” she nods after the moment passes, and folds her lithe figure into an endmost seat. “And as stars are kin to moon, I believe the deck is already stacked in my favor,” the lady notes, making a wordplay of her House’s sigil. Her gaze sweeps around the room again, then, looking for a likely man to bet on.
Grabbing a cup from a passing servant, Astos raises it as well. “To Princess Naerys.” he echoes Reyna’s words before he empties it.
When the toast is drunk, Reyna settles once more in her chair. “Thank you, my lady,” she murmurs to Andorea before sitting back to watch.
Andorea doesn’t get a chance to say anything but its not as if she were going to say no. She raises her wine cup in a toast, drinking to the princess. “To Her Grace, may the Seven keep and protect her.” Once the round of additional toasts are made she rises. “My lords, sers, ladies…I welcome you all to the Tourney of Song. We have seen courage and honour on the field of battle, now I ask you to show not only your courage and honour but test your cleverness. I call for our noble combatants to stand to the right of dais. Musicians are available should you require accompaniment.”
Jan still has some wine, so he raises the skin and grins. “To Her Grace!” he shouts, before taking another gulp. He looks at Ammon and smirks - but then wipes a bead of sweat from across his brow himself, his smirk dissolving as it becomes apparent he feels the same. “It’s a different intensity, but it’s intense nonetheless.”
At Lady Andorea’s announcement, Jan finishes the rest of his wineskin, hands it to a squire, and inches towards the right of the dais. “Best of luck, Ammon. I know I’ll need it,” he says as he departs.
Ammon doesn’t answer Jan; he merely follows the younger knight, snatching another cup of wine as he does so. And soon, the Crownlander finds himself waiting in line. To sing.
Along with the other soon-to-be crooners, Janden moves over to the indicated place to stand before his turn comes up. “No backing out now,” he says in a voice loud enough for most of the people close by to hear.
Andorea returns to her seat, speaking softly to the ladies. “Shall we make a round of it before each lord rises or shall we each pick but one for each?” She looks to Jannia seeming to defer to her judgment on this one.
As the men line up, the Jewel of the Eyrie whispers across to her fellow judges, “I’ve three stars on the Massey knight to croak,” she winks, smiling in particular to Elrone. “And two stars for my fellow Valeman, the Melcolm knight. to provide the wittiest lyric.”
Then, she rests back in her seat to await the other’s decision on order and such.
With Andorea speaking to her, Jannia looks away from the forming line of noble men. “Let us pick one each, my lady. The stars will wait, at least then they have time to choose their instruments.” She nods to the girl for encouragement. She grins back to the Jewel, Jyana before whispering.
Jannia whispers to Jyana, Reyna, and Andorea, “... ... lady!”
Jannia whispers to Elrone, “... ... ... my ...”
Having downed the first cup, Astos rises slowly and joins the line after a short moment of hesitation, a nervous flicker of doubt in his grey-blue eyes.
Andorea looks back towards the men and then back to the ladies. “True enough.” She whispers to the ladies before rising, “Sers, lords…will the first of you please rise to the dais that you might do combat.”
Andorea whispers to Jannia, Jyana, Reyna, and Elrone.
As the announcement goes out for the contestants to line up and be ready, Cleyton nods a farewell to the huntsman and makes a retreat towards where the audience will be seated. He passes his cousin Jan who is making his way to the front. “Good luck coz.” He says with a grin and then finds a seat. To watch and listen.
Elrone’s gaze narrows a bit as she watches the Blackhand and Jan talk- smile- and then, perhaps most dangerously of all, actually move into the line of competitors. She takes a deeper drink. “... Eon ... a ... ... for ... wittiest, ... ... from ... ...” Her eyes run over the competitors again. “... ... ... myself. ... ... ... ...” She blushes slightly, and takes yet another drink.
Andorea whispers to Jannia, Jyana, Reyna, and Elrone, “... shall pick ... ... to croak, Ser ... ... my ... ... Farin ... beautiful ...”
Reyna, who does not seem to understand what the other ladies are wagering, only shakes her head. “It would vex my lord if I were to wager, even in jest,” she says by way of demurring. “Should we not move forward, my ladies, and cease making our noble knights wait any longer?”
“Settled, then,” says Jyana with the air of finality after Reyna’s suggestion, though she rubs two fingers together to symbolize the other lady’s bets are duly noted. It would seem the general mood of the festive day, and the now near empty cup of wine, has had their pleasant and playful effect on the Arryn lady.
Jannia chortles at Andorea’s choices. “Yes, my lady. I think they may be ready now.” She looks up the men in question, waiting for Lady Andorea’s words to begin the contest. She smiles and gives the girl another encouraging nod.
Andorea rises and motions to the dais, “Ser Eon Hunter…”
Eon was the first to make his way to the dais. He is nervous, though he does have the piper to accompany him. In a clear, melodious baritone voice he sings,
O, my love is like a red, red rose,
That is newly sprung in spring.
O, my love is like the melody,
That is sweetly played on the wing.
As fair are you, my lovely lass,
So deep in love am I,
And I will love you still, my Dear,
Till all the seas go dry.
Till all the seas go dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun!
O I will love you still, my Dear,
While the sands of life shall run.
And fare you well, my only Love,
And fare you well a while!
And I will come again, my Love,
Although it were ten thousand mile!
Clapping lightly Jannia nods, “That was lovely, Ser Eon.” the Tully lady says with a light smile. “Do you not think, Lady Andorea? I particularly liked the bits about roses.” She says turning away from the knight and to the Smallwood lady.
Ser Farin Prester does enter the chamber as Ser Eon begins to sing, but does not take his place with the men in line. A young serving man follows him to a seat father away from them, instead. And then the servant is dispatched, gone off to go procure some wine for Farin to enjoy whilst he watches his fellows.
Andorea sighs softly, “It was truly beautiful, Ser Eon. I was fondest of the love enduring till the rocks melted.” She looks next to Reyna, “What say you, Lady Saltcliffe?”
With a glass of wine precariously balanced in the grip of one hand, Jyana lifts the other to pat a light clap on her wrist for Ser Eon’s efforts. “Quite lovely,” she notes, smiling mildly.
The Darklyn girl also claps for her good friend’s brother. “Well done Ser Eon.” Elrone glances to the other women with a smile as Andorea sighs, speaking her thoughts quietly. “... as ... ... ... ... ... A strong ... part, ... ...”
“The words were certainly lovely,” Reyna says to Andorea. “But I am not Lady Saltcliffe. That is my good-mother.” She says it gently, but with an air of having said it before, many times. “Lady Reyna will do.”
Elmer has been silent if close to the dais, and he smiles at Reyna’s words. “The Silver Rose will also do..though there’s nothing that just does about you, my Lady.” he says. Elmer’s always admired Reyna, despite not liking her husband very much. And as he is happily married, it’s a friendly admiration.
Andorea says, “Thank you Ser Eon. Ser Jan would you do us the courtesy?”
Bowing to the judges, Eon says, “Thank you my ladies.” He and the piper leave the dais and makes his way back to the table. Seeing Ser Farin, the Valeknight nods, “I hope you fare well enough, ser.” Eon flips the piper a stag and inclines his head in thanks. Jan’s performance elicits a nod of approval from the knight.
Jan eyes Eon as he sings, obviously jealous of the Hunter knight’s way with words. But then is own name is called, and he shakes his head and approaches the dais.
By the time he reaches the front, Jan is sweating so profusely it drips off the tip of his nose. He grabs a handful of musicians, whispers his tune into their ear, and approaches the judges. After a monstrously deep sigh, Jan closes his eyes tight and belts out his song:
Horses jump, and snakes, they slither
I’d rather burst than not be with her.
Badgers fight, but bears are stronger
I’d wait fifty years, or longer.
Frogs will hop, but boars are fatter
Nothing else but her can matter.
His eyes are clenched all the short while, and the song is comically out-of-tune. And, of course, the lyrics are even more comical in their childlike simplicity. But no one can accuse Jan of holding back. The words are clearly earnest, each one sung with evident emotion, and his voice un-self-consciously cracks at several moments. When he’s done, he releases another monstrous sigh of relief, bowing to each of the judges in turn with a genuinely beaming smile - though, the astute observer would note both his bow and his smile linger just a bit longer for the Darklyn lady.
A giggle comes from Jannia at Jan’s song. “How amusing, ser. I much like that one too. It has its charm.” She dips her head in thanks to the knight for sharing his song. “Well, this gets more entertaining as we go, what say you ladies?” Jannia asks as she casts a glance at her fellow judges faces taking a sip of wine at this transfer of eye contact.
Ammon watches with interest as Jan approaches the stage, coughs on his wine as Jan sings the words he does. And as Jan bows, Ammon looks away. What whisper of a grin the man wore is gone now.
Cleyton is tense as Jan performs his song. He struggles to avoid showing his dismay on his face, it’s a losing battle.
“Well done, sir!” the lady Jyana raises her voice for Jan’s attempt. Instead of clapping, however, she presses her empty hand over her heart—making the sort of face women do when they see something particularly adorable. “Wasn’t that sweet, bless him,” she comments idly, smiling to the ladies down the line of seats from her.
The Warden’s servant returns with the requested wine, and Farin does give a slow round of applause for Eon, and then Jan after that. He has no words for the men who have performed or those in line, he simply seems to be observing.
A more distinct blush rises on Elrone’s cheeks as Jan performs, and it seems she cannot quite suppress a grin, though she sticks to polite clapping instead of commenting for the nonce. She takes another deep drink, letting her gaze drift rather pointedly over to Jyana as she hides her mouth with her cup.
Reyna laughs heartily at Jan’s offering, her cheeks pink with it. “Oh, well done!” she cries with the rest; and indeed, the hall rings with appreciative laughter.
Andorea smiles and claps at Jan’s song, “Thank you, Ser Jan, for the wonderful song.” She looks to her fellow ladies, “I am in awe of how the evening goes thus far. It is better than I could have imagined.” Once the applause has died down a bit, she speaks, “Ser Janden you are to follow.”
When the judges release Jan from his duty, he makes a beeline for the front door. Those nearby may hear the faint sounds of someone vomiting outside. Not long thereafter, though, he re-enters and, spying his superior Ser Farin, he opts to take a nearby seat. “ser,” he says, grabbing a cup of wine as he speaks, “I hope I didn’t embarrass the Company,” he says, softly, but in a joking manner.
When it’s Janden’s turn to do this, he moves up to the dais with the same stiffness he had entering the hall and looks out over those gathered. “I hope you will all forgive me for the damage I’m about to do to your ears,” he begins with a light grin, adding, “Especially yours, Lady Reyna.” Sipping again from the cup of wine he’s had with him before setting it aside to pull out his piece of rolled-up parchment, rubbing his brow with the back of a hand, brushing red hair behind ears a few times.
Turning to lean closer to a lute player, he whispers some instruction about what to play. When the sign is given, a slow and subtle strumming begins, just a single low note repeated at a steady, plodding pace. The Royal Huntsman takes a deep breath, licking his lips to wet them, saying, “I called this ‘My Lady,’” then he begins, also a baritone. The whole thing is, unfortunately, out of tune and he seems to know it. Green eyes dart around the room then focus on something above the heads of the people there to watch and listen, but he gets through it. Some may even understand how the lyrics could pertain to him.
Oh my lady, will it be I you save?
With my lady, I can survive any wave.
Without my lady, I’m on my way down.
I’ll struggle along, no land in sight,
I’ll grow bone weary, no will to fight.
Without my lady, I will surely drown.
Then, from Janden, “..that’s all I have.” The lute player cuts off at that point, his final note going as flat as the Melcolm knight’s singing, the Valeknight grabbing his cup to down the rest of the wine within as he gives the men and women an apologetic look for the abuse he subjected them to.
A nod in thanks to Janden, “A lovely song. I should like to hear it again if ever you finish, hmm?” Jannia says with a reassuring smile. “What do you think, Lady Andorea?” The Tully maiden nearly elbows the girl.
Elrone also claps for Janden, with a light laugh as well. “Well done, ser.” She directs a smirk to the Jewel as well, and makes the same little gesture Jyana had made to the other women earlier regarding their bets.
This time, Jyana has a fair amount more sincerity in her response, “Oh, I had not quite expected that from him.” Ser Janden is then given her most winning smile yet; she even sets down her glass to fully clap her hands together for the Valeman’s effort. The lady’s glance turns to the others seated next her—she catches Elrone’s gesture and winks, “In/deed/.”
Andorea smiles, “Yes, of course. Should it be completed, I would hear it as well.” She makes a little gesture to the other ladies. “It was a wonderful song, Ser. Next we shall have Ser Astos.”
“I’m..I appreciate the thought,” Janden manages to say to Jannia, including Andorea in it, and in the aftermath of it all he comes off much like Ryckon around any woman. A quick smile follows toward the rest, murmured thanks following before he vacates the dais as swiftly as possible.
Astos stands there for a moment gathering his wits and his courage. Sensing an uncomfortable silence settle in the Great Hall, the Corbray knight clears his throat. And he begins, his voice shaking, only hints of a melody in his delivery, while a lute player accompanies him throwing in chords here and there.
“Fear comes quietly to the structured mind
You lowered your shield and crossed the line
Seeping into my soul like sand
Luring me to the forbidden land
Past events can not be undone
I fear the territory I tread upon
But most of all I fear for you
For all the dangerous things you do
For swords and lances not aimed true
And horses’ hooves directed at you
For fickle maidens who enter your heart
Taking all they can before they depart
I stand my faithful ground undeterred
In spite of all that has occurred
What is strange - I have finally come to see
The only one you fear is me.”
And Astos falls silent and inclines his head to the ladies on the dais, awaiting their reactions.
“Of course, Ser Janden.” Jannia says with a bright smile before turning her attentions to Astos, the lady’s personal pick. “How sorrowful, Ser Astos, but so well written. It flows prettily, ser, my thanks.” She nods to Astos before turning to Andorea. “So sad, it made me want to cry.” Though the look on the poor girl’s face made it look as if she wished to give him a hug instead. What a sad tune.
“Who knew the knights of our kingdom were so…” Jyana twirls a hand in the air as it will pluck out the word she’s searching for, “...poetic? That one was quite touching.” Her smile flashes to Ser Astos, and in the process of picking up her wine cup again—she salutes his performance.
A pleased smile crosses Elrone’s lips. She nods in agreement with Jannia. “I thought it was beautiful, Ser Astos.” She shoots a sidelong glance at Lady Reyna to see if she prefers this more tragic tune to the more romantic endeavors.
Andorea nods her head, blinking slightly shiny eyes. “Very moving and so very sad. It was lovely.” Her words fail her at least for the moment. “Thank you for such moving words. Ser Ammon, I believe you are our last combatant for the evening unless any of out other gentlemen present would wish to test their courage.”
Astos bows to the judges surprised that his performance was so well received - and flinches as the bruises from the melee make themselves painfully known. “I thank you, my ladies.” he says before he moves to the side, making way for the Massey knight.
Ammon mounts the dais, sweat beading upon his brow—either from the act of performing or due to his competitors’ prowess. He approaches the musicians, but instead of asking their accompaniment, he takes the lute for himself. “This is a love song, of a sort,” Massey says. “This is a song about the man who murdered my sister.” He begins with a few chords, to set the tune.
Those that knew Ammon in years past knew a man who could -play-. His fingerings were precise, his strumming efficient, even elegant. But not so with his hand as it is. Not so for Ammon Blackhand. He stumbles over the strings, scowls, begins again. But it is enough to give a hint of the tune, just a few simple chords.
If his playing is bad, the man’s singing is worse. He keeps the tune, to be fair, but he doesn’t strain himself, singing the song in a lower key than it perhaps should be. But for all that, Ammon’s voice is clear. And this is what he sings:
“Dashing and daring,
Courageous and caring,
Faithful and friendly,
With stories to share.
All through the forest,
We sang out in chorus,
Marching along as our song filled the air.
Sullehman! Slaying here and there and everywhere,
Stab-bing, raping and en-sla-ving,
He’s Cap’n Sullehman!
A dastard! A bastard! A black-hearted master,
A swashbuckl’in’ dandy, with sapphired ears,
His legend is growing, he takes pride in knowing,
We’ll hunt him and catch him, whatever we do.
Sullehman! Slaying here and there and everywhere,
Stab-bing, raping and en-sla-ving,
He’s Cap’n Sullehman!”
And then, so finished, Ammon hands the lute back to its owner and strides from the dais. It appears Massey alone will not wait to be judged.
No matter the amount of wine Janden’s had so far, his jaw simply drops at the thing Ammon sings, hand dipping to the point his newly-filled cup of wine spills out.
Elmer has been listening to the songs , rather hard to impress, he’s probably not a great judge of music, but the color drains out of his face at Ammon’s song. “He didn’t..” he says, looking as if he’s ready to take out his sword and hack Massey into pieces.
Jannia sits, unsure of what to say or do, oddly silent. “I.. I don’t know whether to laugh because it was such a jolly sounding tune, or nothing at all for who it was about.” Jannia ops for the latter and continues to sit with her mouth agape before snapping it shut and looking to her other companion. “Ladies?” She says awkwardly with a bit of a cough.
Andorea was taking a sip of her wine, when Ammon reaches that part of slaying, stabbing and the like. She starts to cough and sputter, then cough some more. It takes her a small bit to recover the power of speech, “I can honestly say I do not know what to say.”
Elrone appears a bit nervous as Ammon mounts the dais, and perhaps to hide any involuntary flicker of expression she would have during the song she takes a long sip of her wine- a sip that she quickly chokes on when she actually hears the lyrics. The girl’s cheeks turn bright red as she turns into her sleeve to continue coughing- glancing toward Reyna and the other ladies with watering eyes as she does so.
Reyna looks as if she’s been struck. She stares at the dais where Ammon is singing, her lips parted in dumb shock. By the time he has finished, she is on her feet. “I… forgive me…” she stammers, not at all composed or like herself. “I cannot…” She starts away, moving like a blind woman away from the dais and searching the crowd for someone who is not there.
Some dear retainer has seen fit to fill Jyana’s glass again—but just as it reaches her lips, Ammon begins his song. The cup slowly lowers to rest upon the hand in her lap. She listens, silent, and it’s not until a full beat after the song has finished that the lady comments ever so quietly: “I believe that’s my bet lost.”
Jan applauds genuinely at each of the competitors, in turn. And when Ammon performs, he can’t even suppress his appreciation, even breaking out in a grin that surprises even himself. He pauses for quite some time but, noticing the relative silence, takes a long sip of wine and shouts, “Well done, Blackhand!” before going back to drinking.
Abruptly, Jannia stands up and goes after Reyna quickly turning to Andorea and curtsying, shooting her an apologetic glance. She goes back to task for the Lady Reyna, knowing what upsets her so. “My Lady Reyna, wait. I will take you back to your tent.”
Cleyton’s jaw drops as he listens to Ammon’s song. “What the fuck was that?” He mutters to himself, and then just sits as if in a daze.
Nothing like a shocking song to clear the senses, along with wine splashing around a boot. Janden shakes his head as Reyna’s reaction is witnessed, tossing his empty cup toward a nameless servant as he steps in the direction of the Silver Rose. “My lady, come with me and I’ll see you out. I don’t care about the prizes or awards for this.” Not that he expected any. A hand is offered to her as Jannia begins to move that way as well.
Ser Farin, having watched in silence until now, does finally turn to Jan to answer the man. “No, ser, I think even if you had, it will be forgotten.” And then the Warden offers his officer a glass, and continues to watch as though naught else were out of place.
Andorea nods her head at Jannia, giving her hand a squeeze before Jannia darts off. She may not know the back story but she knows upset when she see it. She rises finally having regained her senses, “I believe the tourney has ended unless any other would follow such a song.”
“No, I… it’s all right,” Reyna says to Jannia, though it clearly is not. She seems rather confused, casting about still for someone who is not in the hall. And then Janden is there and she nods. “Please, Ser Janden. Will you help me find my lord? He did not come.”
The bet is not the only thing Jyana is losing; her friend stutters past and the lady half-rises. Jannia is faster, however, and the Jewel merely stands next to her own chair—watching Reyna, first, then dropping her gaze to Elrone with a worried frown.
Elmer nods towards Janden as his erstwhile opponent in the earlier tourney moves to Reyna’s side, saluting him. The Crakehall knight is still shaken. “Ser Ammon, what in seven hells…..are you thinking?” he asks, moving forward.
Through her coughing fit, Elrone watches Jannia and then Janden rush to comfort Reyna- something Elrone would normally jump to, but on this occasion perhaps she already has enough hands to help her. Instead Elrone turns to Andorea and Jyana with her own worried glance as her coughing subsides. “... we ... ... awards? ... ... some sort ... ... ... ... ...”
There is a stir in the back of the hall, where smoke from the fires linger and dogs lick and gnaw at the bones of the feast. A tall, golden-haired young man appears amid the haze, and him all in white finery that needs no introduction.
Ser Jaesin Lannister bears no instrument, and those who know him will be quite grateful for that. But he has come nonetheless, pausing and squinting against the smoke and the din alike while seizing a flagon of ale from a passing servant.
Waiting for Reyna to reply she raises a brow to Janden, unsure if Ser Dagur would appreciate it, but shrugs to the man all the same. Speaking softly to the Silver Rose, the Tully girl shakes her head and sighs. “As you wish my lady.” She smiles unsurely at Janden, “You will make sure she arrives safely?” the concern is clearly etched on her brow.
Chuckling to himself, Jan takes the offered glass from Farin and takes another deep sip. “Fair point, ser. I believe /Ser/ Ammon just outshone all of us,” Jan says softly, taking another sip, though he grins still. “As I suspected he would.”
Janden’s soreness also seems forgotten at this point, reaching Reyna’s side to give her a hand or arm as needed. “Yes. Let’s be off. She’s safe with me and if the Iron Serpent takes issue with me helping her back, so be it.” It’s what he should do, regardless.
Ammon nods to Jan on his way to the door, his emotions impassive. He seems oblivious to the tumult behind him, with ladies dashing to and fro. He is almost at the door, just making his way past the arriving Kingsguard, when Crakehall catches him.
Blackhand turns, brow furrowed. “What?” he asks. “They wanted songs; I gave them a song.”
Glancing between Elrone and Andorea, Jyana nods and says, “Perhaps a small intermission?” Torn between her friend’s distress and her inherent duty to maintain an air of calm, the Arryn lady seems stuck standing by that chair. Even the stir of the Kingsguard knight’s entrance fails to pull her attention as the Jewel frets.
Reyna nods distractedly at Jannia. “I just… I cannot,” she repeats, then darts in to say something into Jannia’s ear before she allows Janden to escort her away. “He won’t… promise,” she mumbles in her haste and distress.
Elmer nods towards Ammon. “You gave a song indeed…one that did not have its place her, or anywhere else.” He looks around. “I thank the gods every night my Fiona did not choose to hunt that day…and your sister deserves more respect as does every brave woman who survived that ordeal. Will you apologize to them?”
Jannia lifts a brow to Janden and nods. “It is not her husband I worry for, ser, it is her safety, but if you assure me that she will be safe then I am contented.” Jannia leans in to listen to Reyna’s words, then her whisper. “Go, my lady, get some rest. Be well.” She leaves the pair and walks back to the judges. Whispering something to the ladies before taking her seat.
“It’s of no concern to me,” Janden answers reassuringly for both ladies, and in passing on the way out the door he gives Jaesin Lannister a brief nod. Those closest to the exit may catch him muttering, “What a stench!” Seems the Melcolm knight’s noticed the thing Jan left behind after his song.
Andorea draws in a breath making a small motion to the servants refill wine glasses for those that wish it. “A small intermission….lords, sers, ladies, if you would indulge us but a few moments.” She rises to meet Jannia, her hand going out to her. There is a look of concern towards Lady Reyna and a small smile accompanied by a nod of thanks to Ser Janden.
Jannia whispers to Jyana, Elrone, and Andorea, “Ser ... is ... ... in ... ... she assures ... she will ... ... casts ... vote for ... ... ... ... wholesome ...”
Found speechless by the song, for even being so new to King’s Landing, Eon knew not to broach that topic. During the intermission he is able to grab a quick refill of his wine and mutters to himself as he watches the chaos try to resolve itself in the room.
Finding himself on the edge of… chaos, perhaps, Ser Jaesin’s tactical sense gets the better of him and he remains on the periphery. He offers a puzzled, dispassionate nod to Ser Janden as the man passes by, but otherwise divides his attention between a study of both the singers’ ranks and the ladies who judge them.
Astos is back on his seat by the table, his cup having miraculously refilled during his performance. He raises it in a toast to Ammon, as he passes him. “My bet is on you, ser. I touched them with my song, but you got the more emotional reactions.” And he downs the wine with a wry grin watching to chaos around him with amusement.
Ser Farin continues to sit in the middle of the room, now being identified often as ‘chaos’, calmly sipping at his wine and simply seeming perturbed that there is an intermission at all. “If they think that is bad, they should hear my song. Or whichever one Ser Dermett would have brought. I am quite certain it would involve the smallclothes of half of the ladies present,” Farin drolls idly to Jan, and sends his servant away for more wine.
Because she watches Reyna’s departure in the escort of her fellow Vale native, Jyana finally catches sight of Jaesin’s presence in the hall. Her hand lifts to wave—a smile begins to form—but Jannia’s whispering pulls her scattered attention back into that circle of ladies. She turns, whispering quickly.
Andorea whispers to Jyana, Elrone, and Jannia, “... ... ... ... has ... ... ... ... heart, ... ... innocently ...”
Jannia tries to not look cross at Jyana, struggle as she may her brow still furrows lightly. She whispers in reply as the girls talk on.
Jan arches an amused eyebrow and nods to Ammon as he passes, looking curisouly as he speaks with Ser Elmer. His attention is briefly drawn by Ser Janden, and he chuckles at the Huntsman’s protestations, knowing himself to be the guilty. But he turns back to Farin, and guffaws at the Warden’s jest. “I’m the first to admit that, had Ser Dermett appeared, we might have well have all gone home. But I didn’t come here to win the competition,” he chuckles, before tilting his head at the Prester knight. “You had a more controversial song than Ammon, ser?”
Jannia whispers to Elrone, Jyana, and Andorea, “... ... realize the ... he ... ... is ... ... the ... ... ... Lady Reyna, ... ... ... ... ... ... of ... ... Lady ... ... ...”
Ammon begins to speak, but only watches Elmer for a moment, mouth agape. “This is a jest, is it?” he asks finally. But it would appear Ser Elmer is not jesting, and that Ammon knows it. When Ammon continues, his voice has dropped to near a whisper. One long finger of his maimed hand taps the hilt of his sword.
“You think I sang what I sang as some kind of jape? That I hoped to offend them? Did you know my sister? Were you with us when Saan cut her heart out? I don’t remember seeing you. I don’t remember you on the ships, fighting to rescue the survivors. I relive that day every night, ser. Every -fucking- night. I don’t remember you on the hunt, when we fought for our lives in the woods around Storm’s End. And you ask if I will apologize?”
Ammon spits on the ground at Crakehall’s feet. “There’s your apology. Go bugger yourself with it, for all I care.” Massey turns his back on Crakehall then, and storms from the room.
A white shadow drifting languidly about the hazy periphery of the room, Ser Jaesin’s eye is caught by a wave from the dais. He pauses, brightening slightly, and smiles across the hall at Jyana Arryn. Lifting his flagon in her direction, he quietly offers the toast:
“To Princess Naerys and her health!”
Some few in his immediate vicinity overhear, and take up the call, but they seem half-hearted at best.
The conflict from Ammon and Elmer reaches the ears of Eon, but the Valeman does not wish to interfere, lest he get himself caught up in more trouble. An outlet, and a hope, for the chaos is heard by the Hunter knight as Jaesin raises a toast to the princess. Eon raises his half-filled cup and joins in it, “To Princess Naerys!” Though he does not seem pleased to hear his voice is only one of the few who join the toast.
“I ... ... ... ... return- ... ... ... ... ...” Elrone whispers quietly to the other women, her eyes trailing Janden and her lady out of the hall. “Perhaps ... ... ... ... for ... yes?” She looks at Jyana. “... in ... ...” She chews her lip nervously, an eye on Jannia as she whispers.
Andorea whispers to Jyana, Elrone, and Jannia, “... ... ... of that ... despite ... ... ... sing ... ... Reyna so ... can ... cast ... ... for him. ... ... Ser ... prepared ... well. ... ... might lighten ... ... before ... ... ...”
The Warden smirks. “We shall see,” he offers his officer, and stands, raising a hand to the ladies to announce his intention to sing - before Ser Ammon’s words reach his ears. Instead, he removes himself from the table and picks his way across the chamber to where the ladies sit. “....aerys and her health!” he joins in as he approaches, only just catching the toast. “Ladies I…have a song, but…perhaps it might be prudent to let your intermission continue until they -” he gestures towards Ammon and Elmer “- have had their fill.”
Andorea whispers with the ladies, shaking her head here of there. At one point she looks to Ser Farin before continuing to whisper with the ladies.
Jyana lifts one shoulder in a shrug and leans back from the whispering throng. “We were to judge bravery, but it is your contest, my Lady Andorea.” Her smile is not as warm as it has been elsewise, but she looks unlikely to continue debate. “Another song might render this conversation null—who did you say may have one?” Again, the Arryn lady sweeps her gaze across the room.
Jannia nods to Elrone and looks to Farin and smiles before nodding to Andorea as well. “Yes, that sounds pleasing.” She says waving a hand for more wine.
Hearing a few voices at least take up his call, the only White Sword in Prince Aegon’s party turns an approving look on Ser Eon Hunter. Then Ser Jaesin glances to his right, his mouth turning down at the corners in a small frown of disgust.
Perhaps the Lannister knight has not failed to note the… confrontation… between Crakehall and Massey, but now, at long last, is the first time he gives it his full attention.
Jan watches with amusement as the Warden gets up to announce his own plans, and instead the Marbrand knight arises to approach Ser Eon. “Who would have thought singing a song would cause such turmoil? A joust would have been much simpler, hm? Although, even I can admit the change of pace was warranted…” Jan poses, softly and light-heartedly.
Elmer nods towards Jaesin. As Ammon does not give him a chance to reply, he stands straighter. “To Princess Naerys!” he says, the same toast that was called before by Reyna. Elmer is still pale as a ghost and he frowns at Jan. “Massey I shall deal with..even if he has left for now.” His voice is dark, the big knight clearly ina rage
Turning to Jan, Eon says, “It is not the first time that a song has caused such problems, remember some of Ser Dermett’s melodies?” The Valeman seems calm enough. “I doubt that the joust will cause such problems, though anymore I never can be sure.”
A light sigh as she takes a seat, Jannia looks to Lady Jyana and pats the girls hand and leans in for a whisper.
Astos joins the toast after having his cup refilled. His eyes are on Farin as he approaches the ladies. Arching an eyebrow the Corbray knight remarks to the Hunter knight: “Will the Warden of the Kingswood indeed honour us with a song?” He does notice the commotion surrounding Ammon and Elmer but remains where he is, staying silent on the matter so far.
Andorea nods her head, “Thank you, cousin. I hope that your song is able to lighten the mood.” She turns back to the ladies, whispering once more to them.
“Lighten the mood, eh?” Farin echoes, considering for a moment. He turns to look at Jaein, then back to Andorea. “Well, if mood lightening is what you ladies are hoping for, I can offer you nothing in that regard. Mayhap my tune is better left for a time when heads are not so heated already,” the Warden sighs.
Jannia whispers to Jyana, “... bravery ... ... ... was ... ... to ... ... So ... in ... ... ... ... have ... ... not ... chivalry ... to ... ... ... protect ... ... he ... ... Lady ... her ... ... Jan, he did. Ser ... song ... sad, ... ... a ... ... ... good for kindly ... ... ... ... ... my ... ... ...”
“Good point, Ser Eon,” Jan says with a smile, before leaning in to speak more softly. “... ... winner ... ... ... simple. ... ... ... much. If ... ... honest, Blackhand’s ... ... And you know ... takes quite ... me ... admit.” He steps back and pats the Hunter knight on the shoulder and grins as refills his cup.
Aside to the nearby Ser Eon and the approaching Ser Jan—but truly, to any ears who might hear in the vicinity—Ser Jaesin muses, “Seven hells. Some minstrel grab a lute and give us ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’, at least.” His tone is mildly acerbic—
Yet even as he speaks, Farin catches his eye, and the Lannister sends the Prester a nigh-imperceptible shake of his head.
Andorea whispers to Jyana, Elrone, and Jannia, “... ... ... I ... hurt in ... ... My ... ... to ... ... ... such ... ... his ... ...”
Andorea turns to look to her cousin once more, “We would hear your song, cousin. I can not think it would cause more pain than the one previously sung. When you are ready, please take the dais.”
As Jannia whispers into Jyana’s ear, the Arryn lady smoothes the grimace from her features. She returns the comforting pat and, though she does not choose to whisper it, simply says: “I take no offense, ladies—you make valid points, every one.”
Farin’s words are lost on the Jewel’s ears, so wholly had she diverted her attention to Jannia, and so her gaze searches out the Warden expectantly.
While Jannia whispers privately to the Jewel, Elrone takes note of the conflict between Ammon and her Crakehall cousin before the Blackhand storms out. The girl continues to chew her lip, though she nods to what Andorea says, and murmurs quietly in return. “I will ... vote ... Lady Reyna.”
Turning to Astos, “If he does, I hope it is a peaceful tune.” Jan’s whispers elicit a sigh of frustration, “We will see, we will see.” The Hunter knight listens and looks about for a minstrel to follow the suggestion of Jaesin, though the notion of Eon picking up a lute does not cross his mind, “Maybe we will have peace soon enough.”
“Very good, ladies.” Jannia grabs a cup of wine from the servant, the other one she had has been misplaced. She beams a smile at Jyana’s pat, she mouths the words ‘Thank you’ to the Jewel as she casts a sidelong glance to Andorea before giving the Smallwood girl her full attention. “Yes, Ser Farin. I would like to hear whatever song you can proffer.” An amused looks sits on Jannia’s face as she searches out Farin turning slightly in her chair, clearly she is glad that mess is over for now.
The Warden nods to the ladies, and looks for Jaesin as he turns towards the dais, wine glass still in hand. A simple shrug is given, and he marches up. When the Prester lordling does reach the dais, he turns to face the crowd at large, and clasps his hands behind his back. “This song was inspired by my mentor, and it is my sincerest hope that its message is well received,” he offers, before he clears his throat to begin.”
When he sings, it is very clear that he has no formal training in song whatsoever. What he draws upon instead is the clear, crisp, cadence of military commands, which allows the ‘song’ to be done more like a marching tune. There is hardly any melody at all, replaced with a simple adherence to rhythm above all else.
The Lion has no peers, my lads, no,
The Lion has no peers.
It’s been this way since time began,
But when e’er they conquer their fears,
The others all learn, yes, they always do,
That the Lion has no peers.
The trouts: they trust,
Their hasty thrusts,
To keep them safe away,
But when they come to meddle, well,
No river keeps lions at bay.
For the Lion has no peers, my lads,
The Lion has no peers.
And those that flee,
May be left be,
But a lion will hunt for years.
The stags: they rage,
And rattle the cage,
And trust that all will heed,
But turn that fury to lions,
And the lions turn to feed.
For the Lion has no peers, my lads,
The Lion has no peers.
And they have no fear of horns of stags,
Or their sons, the bucks and deers.
The Lion has no peers, my lads, no,
The Lion has no peers.
It’s been this way since time began,
But when e’er they conquer their fears,
The others all learn, yes, they always do,
That the Lion has no peers.
When he has finished, the Warden simply takes a sip more of wine. “There are more verses, but I was assured that these are the most pertinent.”
As Farin’s song begins, Ser Jaesin Lannister’s eyes brighten in recognition and a bright grin suffuses his face. “That’s my uncle Landyll’s words set to rhythm, or I’m a Stark o’ the North,” he laughs aloud—then lifts his flagon in salute!
“Hear! Hear! The West! Well done, Prester,” Ser Jaesin calls, clearly enjoying the song.
Unsure of Ser Eon’s reaction, Jan merely shrugs and grins as Ser Farin approaches the dais himself. “Ahem, this should be interesting as well,” he jests, reaching for yet another cup of wine. He takes a sip and settles into his seat for the Prester’s song. He smiles in admiration, clearly impressed by the presentation, but nevertheless he can’t help but suggest, “Where do you all find the time to write such lengthy songs?” He shakes his head, though, and raises his cup. “Here, here! Well done, ser!”
Andorea closes her eyes just a moment before lifting the glass of wine to her lips and taking a rather longer than usual sip. She looks to Jannia and whispers to her.
Andorea whispers to Jannia, “I am sorry, ... Jannia. If I had ... ... would ... ... encouraged ... ...”
Elrone smiles and claps politely, even as she leans toward the other women. “... ... ... So- ... ... ... ... ... ... I ... ... Ser ...”
Whatever lingering tension Jyana carries from the ladies’ hushed conversation seems to melt away as the Prester lordling sings—or rather, recites. By the end, with her wine back in hand, the Arryn lady smiles—a smile that disappears into her cup as the ladies beside her seem less than impressed by the nature of the song. Swallowing a laugh alongside a sip of wine, the Jewel refrains from immediate comment.
Finally, after Elrone ticks off the votes, she shrugs, “I vote for Farin—though it seems I am destined to find favor for the underdog, tonight.” A toothy grin flashes to take any sting from her words.
The Tully girl sighs once more as she settles into Farin’s song. She listens, lifting a brow that creeps increasingly higher until the song is at an end. She sits a moment staring at the Prester knight, then out of nowhere a riotous giggle comes sliding from the Jannia’s lips. “How clever, ser.” She says to Farin looking to the ladies around her. “Well, Ser Farin has my vote.” Jannia stands and curtsies to the Smallwood girl. Raising a hand to Andorea, Jannia shakes her head with a smile.“No, no, my lady. I am well. I have cast my vote, the rest, my lady, is up to you and your fine companions. If you will excuse me. All this fun has found me at a loss of breath, I am stifling.”
Jannia carries her cup of wine to where her maid stands and takes her hand. She stops and curtsies to Ser Jaesin, “Good eve, ser.” she says with a bright smile. With that she is out of the hall and into the fresh air. You cannot damage that which is already broken.
Elrone smiles with a nod to Jannia as she departs, then adds something more to the remaining two ladies. “If ... ... that ... ... as well. He has ... ... ... you?”
A vague, inscrutable glance from Ser Jaesin briefly follows the Tully girl as she swiftly curtseys past him. After a moment or two of puzzlement, he shrugs his shoulders and looks to the other knights nearby, Hunter and Marbrand. “It’s an old song,” he says. “Poor girl, it had nothing to do with her.”
Then, as his gaze drifts back to the dais, the Lannister quips in a dry, self-deprecating tone to the men around him, “Praise the Seven -I’ve- not had to sing a note, or the lot of you would be running for the battlemets.”
Jan can’t help but smirk at the Lannister’s remarks. “You’ll have no debate from me, ser. I’m only thankful the judges didn’t run me off with lances of their own,” Jan remarks, taking another sip of wine. “Somehow I sense you are not that disappointed, however,” Jan continues, grinning all the while.
The Warden looks almost genuinely surprised that his song is well received by some, but they are mostly, of course, Westermen. He raises his wine in silent toast to those who cheered for him, bows one more time to the ladies, and steps down from the dais. “We consider doing that whenever you come near anyway, Ser, though for other reasons. I trust you liked Ser Landyll’s lyrics? They did well in song, I imagine,” he chuckles, not having been able to hear Jaesin’s comments whilst he was singing himself.
Andorea looks to Jannia, concern on her features. “My lady….” She looks to Elrone as she speaks, blinking before she whispers. “Oh yes ... ... ... two ... ... ... Ser ... ... ... must cast ... ... ... bravery.” She looks to Ser Ammon, not seeming to know what to say.
Jaesin steps forward to clap Farin on the shoulder, genuine good feeling in his open expression. “They did well indeed,” he agrees, also chuckling at Ser Jan’s assessment. “And better than -I- could have done, as I’ve just assured Marbrand and Hunter, here.”
“My uncle was a good man, slain too soon by those Dornish cowards,” the Lannister says, though without rancor; he seems more lost in fond memory. “You did him justice, ser.”
The Hunter knight says, “Oftentimes it does not need to be intentional for insults to be given.” Chuckling at Jaesin’s comment on singing, “Well if you feel that way, though you may add it to your arsenal of weaponry.” As the Kingsguard continues, the Valeman frowns, he continues, “I am sorry to hear of you uncle, ser. I also lost mine in Dorne, too many did not come home.”
Once Andorea makes her votes known, Jyana merely repeats herself: “Truly, ladies, Farin’s showing outstripped the others—as fond of them all as I was.” She sips again from her wine, watching the Westerman speaking together.
Elrone thinks a long moment. “That’s ... then? I ... ... shall ... ... first ... ... ... have ... ... say, ... ...” She says the last gently with a supportive glance toward Andorea.
Blue eyes drifting to consider Ser Eon, the Lannister’s tone grows slightly more solemn, and perhaps gains a touch of intensity. “We killed them all, every last man,” Jaesin says, almost a whisper of a sudden. “Jonn and I, our command, after Landyll flushed the ambush. But too late to save him. Gods. So many dead. That didn’t bring him back.”
Shaking his head in sudden disgust, Jaesin takes a long draught from his flagon. The talk of the Conquest is drowned—momentarily at least, perhaps longer—in the good Crownlander ale.
Jan just sits back in his seat, chuckling all the while. “I prefer a competition where the outcome is clearcut,” Jan says, finishing his cup and quickly signaling over a servant for yet another. “To be frank, everyone’s singing was equally terrible. We should stick to knightly pursuits, gentlemen, and not subject the ladies to this,” he jests, clearly in a good mood. “But as long as a Westerlander wins, I’m content,” he adds with a wink towards Farin.
Andorea whispers to Jyana and Elrone, “I believe ... ... should ... the ... for ... ... to ... ... Ser ... ... singular ... gave ... and ... Astos ... his ... sadness. ... ... all but ... ... ... pic. ... ... ... all ... for ... ... ... courage, ... ... for Chivalry. ... ...”
“Agreed.” Elrone nods to Andorea, not trying to keep her voice quiet this time. She downs whatever wine remains in her cup.
“Too soon indeed, Ser,” Farin agrees with the White Knight, grinning as he’s clapped on the shoulder. “The man taught me everything I know. He did himself justice tonight, if that is the case,” he jests, and raises his wine glass up another notch before knocking some back. “Though do not pretend to tell us you cannot sing, ser. Landyll also used to say that a Lannister is poor at no task, because a Lannister is never poor. Surely, you /must/ sing w-” he begins, but cuts himself off as Jaesin tapers into his tale of the war.
“We got them all, Jaesin,” Farin echoes, slipping into using the knight’s given name. “And then Jonn took command, and we did Landyll proud every day until the end. That is what I remember.”
Janden finally returns to the hall after safely seeing Reyna back to her tents, the redhead a quiet presence toward the back of the room while he looks to figure out what’s going on now.
Jyana nods with finality, turning her gaze from studying the clutch of men around the Kingsguard knight to flash a smile at Andorea, “Agreed, my lady, indeed.”
Noding grimly, “I understand entirely,” he does not continue, lest he break open old wounds among the fellow veterans. “I hope that we may know the victor soon, though I do not think that we all fared poorly, ‘tis an honest competition, and no one expected us to be bards.”
Andorea nods her head, the ladies deliberations final. She rises, moving towards the dais, “Lords, Sers, Ladies…after much deliberation we have decided upon our champions of this Tourney of Song. There was great courage, honour and wit shown this eve. There were songs of love and those that shared hurts. But alas there can be but one winner in each of our categories.”
Andorea continues, a servant unobtrusively coming closer with the prizes. “Our champion of courage….Ser Jan. Our champion best capturing the chivalric ideal….Ser Eon. And finally our champion, his lyrics most witty, Ser Farin.”
“Huzzah! The West,” Ser Jaesin calls, lifting his flagon up toward the dais in honor of his father’s liegemen and their prowess this night! A broad grin is on his face, pride and joy and even a Lannister’s wry, devilish amusement.
Jaesin whispers to Jyana.
Gently, Jyana sets down her wine glass just beneath her seat so that she may clap appropriately for each winner. Ser Farin’s win, however, earns the loudest of her applause.
When Ser Farin hears his own name called, he bursts into laughter - something of a rarity for the Prester lordling. “My thanks, my thanks!” he calls out to the table of ladies. And then to his fellow Westerman, he raises a toast. “To Landyll Lannister, the Lion who died too young!”
“Uncle Landyll,” Ser Jaesin agrees, lifting his own flagon once more to crash against Farin’s. He tosses back what remains of the ale within in one last swallow.
“/Each/ of our categories? What is this…?” Jan wonders, but before he can finish, he is announced as a champion of courage. Shrugging his shoulders to his present company, he fails to hide the unmistakable grin on his face, and Jan approaches the judges. He gives them an exaggerated, yet wholly sincere, bow towards each of them. “Thank you, ladies. I only hope to live up to your designation in the future, when it matters most,” Jan announces, though again, he saves his deepest bow and brightest smile for the Darklyn judge.
Elrone joins the others in applause, though hers seems almost pointedly measured to treat each victor equally- save the smallest twitch of a grin when the champion of courage comes to thank them. She again leans to the ladies, but does not lower her voice so as to ensure she is heard over the rest of the celebratory noise. “Forgive me ladies, but as soon as our victors have all received their prizes I will run to look in on Reyna. I fear I should have gone to her already.” She grins to the other two. “Thank you for a… very entertaining evening, Lady Andorea. It will surely not be forgotten anytime soon.”
Hearing his name called, the Valeman nods to the other victors. Leaving his wine on the table, Eon quietly makes his way forward, and says with a bow, “My ladies, I thank you.” The Hunter’s face is grim as the another toast is called for. Since he has no cup he does not join the salute, but any sign of a smile is gone as memories of Dorne return.
Jyana whispers to Jaesin.
The prizes truly are but small things, the first to Ser Jan a silver cloak pin with the word “Courage” worked into the design. The second comes in the form of a knight kneeled before a lady, her hand extended and he kissing it. The third comes in the shape of a drum and pipe made of gold. Each is presented to the winners in turn
Setting his empty flagon down on a nearby trestle table, Ser Jaesin folds his hands before him and casts a last, weary glance toward the dais. Moments later, a tired smile on his lips, he turns to the men beside him and says, “I fear the hour grows late for me. Fare you well, gentlemen, and again, congratulations.”
Then he is making for the exit, and soon gone from the hall.
Janden lifts a brow as Farin is awarded a prize. He missed the Warden’s song but the Huntsman rolls his eyes and applauds quietly all the same, likely more for Eon and Jan. The Melcolm knight could not have expected to actually win anything, given his inability to sing. All the same, there’s a subdued expression from the things that took place earlier and he moves back out into the night for his own tent without a word. Malwyn, who’d remained the whole time, catches sight of the red hair moving away and rises to follow.
Andorea whispers to Elrone, “... ... lady, ... not ... ... ... well. ... ... blow ... this ... I offer ... ... ... a ...”
Jaesin whispers to Jyana.
With a final smile, Elrone stands and curtsies to those fellow judges, offering a sympathetic squeeze of the hand to Andorea, and a final low response to the girl as well. “... ... not responsible ... ... but I shall ... her all the ... Good evening.” And the girl moves quickly to the door, barely taking the time to reacquire her septa for she rushes to see to her lady’s well-being.