Recent Statuses

4 yrs ago
Recruiting for X-Men. Original characters wanted. Will be kicking off a new original plot line!!! Don't miss this!!…
4 yrs ago
Two more days to a year that I'm not supposed to be counting. The little Tom Hanks in my soul is marking days without you. Castaway on an island surrounded by an ocean of tears getting deeper daily.
4 yrs ago
Want a Slice of Life? Sol City is your ticket! Large, friendly group always room for more!…
5 yrs ago
November 10th, 2017 4:30 pm CST. You let go and I wasn't ready. I'm still not ready. I miss you.
5 yrs ago
Two months and a week. I miss you. This sucks. Is it bad that I pretend that you PCS'd and will be back before long? Then I remember you're gone and won't be back even if I wished it. And I do. Daily.


Ugh...I hate this part. So I'm super into Sailor Moon...which no one else is...and that's okay. I also really love Items, Escaflowne, Vampire Knight, Fushigi Yugi, Ah My Goddess, K Dramas, Chinese and Tiwanise Dramas as well. I torture people by making them read the TV.

Oh this is where I tell you I'm American...and I just lost a few people but oh well. Trust me if I could afford to live overseas I would. So yeah...that's me.

Most Recent Posts

@CorinTraven@Vanq@Almalthia Still have CSs that need approval just when you get a chance. Mine not so important since my house isn't coming around till after the tourney.
@Sini & @Ruby

Edit: @Vanq has posted in CS Tab so nevermind about hers.
A Chance Meeting

The morning of the tournament before the sun was up Gwen was. Mentyr needed to be exercised daily and it was some alone time she enjoyed. She could put her thoughts together before she saw most anyone. She needed that time. With everything that happened last night she wanted some time to process. Without the She Bears.

Gwen had decided that she was not sitting side-saddle today so she wore the tunic and leggings that her family had sent to her. She pulled out a grass green tunic with embroidery. The thin silk was soft and slippery. The embroidery was of little buttery yellow roses, bright blue forget-me-nots and twisting vines that were a shade or two deeper green than the tunic. She grabbed a doeskin vest dyed a soft rich brown. The leggings were a soft buff color and clung to her long legs like a second skin. Her boots were gently worn, their color a brown so deep it was almost black and came up to the bottom of her knee.

Pulling on stockings before the leggings Gwen thought about the night before with Ashton and Arystide. Out of the two of them she had spent more time with Ashton and was going to meet his family this morning. That was exciting and terrifying all at once. Luci and Quinn had grilled her about what she thought of each and reminded her that there were more young men out there. Quinn had even mentioned Prince Aelor. After the rumors going around about Elayne Lothson being seen riding in his lap Gwen was very sure that he would be looking more in that direction rather than at her. She wouldn’t mind having a conversation with him or the Princess but Elayne was surely where he cast his eye for a marriage. It was rather bold but he was a Prince so his boldness was part of his charm.

Quietly pulling on her tunic and vest Gwen gathered her boots, belt and sword in hand. Rather than wake her Aunts she crept out of the room and into the silent hall. Slipping into the boots was almost comical as she attempted to be, if not silent, then quiet about it. She had already put two knives in the inside of her boots but she had to take them out as she put on the boots. Small little hops made almost no sound as she got them on and slipped the knives down the side. Then wrapping her belt around herself she adjusted it to where it felt most comfortable to draw the sword from.

Gwen was not Gryff but could hold her own with the blade. It was very plain looking because the lighter it was for her the better. She had limitations on how long she could wield the blade effectively. It wasn’t a great sword but it was modeled after a water dancer blade and sharp enough that it got the job done. She’d named it Riñnykeā or Lady in High Valyrian.

In the early half light of predawn the hall was nearly pitch black and Gwen struggled into the boots and started to braid her hair quickly. It was a loose braid from the back of the head. It would hold for now, and it was better than having it a snarled mess when she had to arrange her hair later.

Moving through the hall downstairs to a common room that was dimly lit by a banked fire Gwen smiled at the housemaid as her eyes nearly fell out of her head. “My Lady ya nearly gave me a fright. What in the name of the Seven are ya wearing men’s clothes fer?" The plump kind woman nodded at Gwen’s outfit.

Grinning Gwen bantered back with, “Oh just out riding is all."

“Is all she says like it’s a lark!? Ya be careful that the Demon Steed don’t get ya nor those She Bears who took the room across from you."

“Whist Mari don’t worry your pretty head. You did like I asked and put the power in the She Bear’s goblets right?" Mari nodded. “I’ll be back in an hour or so. Have a bath ready for me? Besides that Demon Steed in the stables is mine. He needs his lady and his exercise." Gwen snagged a piece of twine from Mari and grinned happily at her as Mari sputtered, crossing herself while Gwen tied up the end of her braid with a wink.

Scampering down to the stables Gwen wasn’t even out of breath when she got there. She hadn’t seen a soul on her way and the sky was just starting to lighten to a charcoal gray. She could hear Mentyr pacing in his stall and the whispers of the stable hands that were trying to calm him.

Gwen coming into the stables made Mentyr knicker like a young colt. “Miss me did you? You know they call you Demon Steed. One of these days you’re going to be far too interesting to a person of lofty interest and you inevitably will end up disappointing them."

Mentyr whinnied softly as if to say. “I care not, for they are not you, my love."

“Yes, yes you brute. They’re not me but you need to behave." Gwen knew she indulged the stallion but she couldn’t help it. She opened the stall door and he stepped out daintily. “Oh as if sugar wouldn’t melt in your mouth, eh? Keligon."

Mentyr stopped. She had given the word to stop him. She brushed him down and while he lipped her arms, leg, side and blew on her neck and she giggled he didn’t shift from his spot. Gathered a bridle that was bitless and put it on him. Tossing a saddle blanket over him she smirked and gave another command. “Obūljagon." Mentyr knelt smoothly at the command. She affixed the saddle to him and gave another command. “Sīmonagon." Rising smoothly he held his head high as she made sure the saddle was fitted properly. “Obūljarion." His front half went down and he waited for her to climb on. “Sīmonagon." He rose just as smoothly with her on his back as he had with no one on his back. “Memēbagon." He daintily danced forward and they were out of the stables.

Laughing Gwen rode hell for leather as she let Mentyr have his head.

Yet she was not the only one out whilst others still slumbered deeply. Another lone figure had risen early this morn, ignoring his guards' wishes for him not to go out alone. They were all such droll bores. But it was not an unusual sight, the young Lord had always been apt to awaken with the sun, leaving behind any warm bodies and thoughts of one too many goblets of wine. He enjoyed moments of solitude far more than he would ever let on, particularly given his late fathers propensity to encourage a near endless stream of guests, each as foolish and brown-nosing as the last. It had been lucky that Highgarden was vast and many did not know of its secret twists & turns. Though he was far from his home now and a tent, even one as extravagant as his own, left much to be desired in ways of entertainment.

His pace had reached a gallop when a sudden flash of white caught his eye. Years of instruction took over and he pulled on the reins, steering his steed in a wide arc, only narrowing avoiding what would have surely been a fatal accident. Hooves cast dirt flying, though thankfully there had not been a heavy rain and he was saved from the worst of it. He pulled back, his eyebrows furrowed as his heels dug gently into his steed's flanks, ceasing her unhappy movements.

"Calm girl." Garrett removed a hand from the reins, patting the ebony black mare firmly on her side. The horse responded quickly to his touch but gave a snort of annoyance, front legs stomping irritability against the wet grass, casting dew over its coat. His sharp gaze moved slowly over to the offending party, wondering which fool had decided to ride with such reckless abandon.

Leaning back in his saddle as easily as if he were in the finest chair, he looked the girl up and down. Red of hair but not Tully in her looks, and wearing what many ladies would refuse to ever place against their skin, she was somewhat intriguing, he'd give her that. He wondered if he recognised her, from the Pavilion last night, but there had been oh so many women. It was difficult to recall. A playful smirk played at the corner of his lips, his own hair lightly dampened by the fading fog of the early morning. "Do you always try to knock people off their horses at such an hour?" He raised a dark, mocking eyebrow, eyes glimmering, refusing to look away.

Preoccupation and letting Mentyr have his head was a mistake on her part. Gwen knew better and drew up sharply. Mentyr reared and Gwen growled at his juvenile attitude. Turning Mentyr back she brought him under control. "My apologies. I was preoccupied, which he took advantage of. But you are uninjured as is your animal. So the question begs, do you normally stand in the middle of a field wool gathering so that you cannot hear the world?"

The raised eyebrow over lavender gray eyes shot the snark back at the man. Her smirk was irreverent and in no way apologetic. He was as much to blame as she was. Handsome men, she was learning, had interesting and varied ideas on how to treat the opposite sex. "I am ready for your apology now. Unless of course you're not that good of a rider. Then as the superior rider I apologize."

Garrett steered his mare so they were beside one another, turning to face the woman once more. "I will not be goaded." He replied, a smile still painting his features. "I am happy for you to believe you are the superior rider, my ego is not so easily bruised." The lord leant in closer, or at least as close as one could safely do whilst atop a horse. "Though I do not think you could beat me in a race. I am rather wily and prone to cheating." Spoken with a stern seriousness it was difficult, as ever with the Lord, to tell whether there was any real truth to his words. "It really is an abhorrent habit." He smirked, feeling no unease in these lightly given confessions.

Keeping a serious countenance Gwen’s eyes sparkled with laughter at his wit. "Yes I could immediately place that about you. I said to myself 'There is a man who cheats'. Never play with a cheater, it spoils the game. Besides you have nothing I want. Your pride in tatters, as stunningly breathtaking it would be, I think not. There is no audience to witness your crushing defeat."

With little practically imperceptible movements Gwen ordered Mentyr to circle the man and his mare. For Gwen knew that Mentyr would never have let a male horse as close to him. "Besides that I have nothing you could want. Or were you looking for lessons?" She had finished circling and was back to where she had started, but closer. They were close enough to have easily reached out and touched the other rider.

"Hm, that is true, I have vowed to only embarrass myself when in the full view of at least a hundred other people." He quipped back, idly turning his head to keep her in his sight as her stallion circled him. "It is much too boring otherwise." His brown eyes glimmered with something darker as she continued to speak, though his countenance remained light. "Oh I would not say that. I'm sure you have plenty to offer. Perhaps a name would be an adequate start?"

Tossing her head Gwen smirked. “You would beg a name as your prize? What a funny little man you are. No harm in a name. Alright. To the treeline then."

Mentyr sprang into a full gallop at the touch of Gwen’s knees. The pounding of his hooves in a steady quick rhythm thrummed through her and she laughed freely. The treeline was, or rather had been a descent 200 yards from their stopping point.

Garretts jaw twitched before he cast after her, leaning into his mare. She was quick, very quick. Not built for war and no good at carrying a heavily armored knight, she was closely related to the sand steeds of Dorne. He had no temptation to let the stranger win simply because she was a lady and he gained on her, mud and broken pieces of hillock cast aside as he closed in. It was a small distance and just as it looked like she might win, he overtook her, pulling on the reins to pull his steed to a halt just past the first row of trees.

Jumping down, a cocky smile graced his features and he wandered over to her side, holding out his hand. "I believe I am owed a name?"

Laughing Gwen watched as the little mare put on a burst of speed and outstripped Mentyr. She pulled up and smiled broadly at the man who’d beat her fairly. As he moved to her side she whispered to Mentyr. “Gīda."

Mentyr steadied and stilled as the man came near him. He had gotten the look in his eye that he was going to lash out because the man was advancing on his lady love. He snorted as the man held out a hand to Gwen.

Gwen could get off Mentyr but it would require her jumping down exactly where the man was or getting off on the wrong side, which Mentyr wasn’t fond of. Gwen knew he wanted her name but she’d never promised him her name. “Mentyr." The steed flicked his ears and nickered softly. “You have your name, lit-uh stranger."

Garretts polite visage fell at her continued taunts. He stepped closer, grabbing ahold of her forearm. He paused as if in thought before, with a sudden yank, he had pulled her from Mentyr.

Gwen tensed as she saw the arrogant smirk fall from the man’s face. She had pushed too far. She felt Mentyr turn to lash out at the man and shouted as the man grabbed her, paused, then yanked. “Keligon!!" Her head was turned toward Mentyr who halted as she commanded.

The yank sent Gwen sprawling; she struck chest first into the man and gasped. Unconsciously and out of self preservation her feet had cleared the stirrups so the awkward position that he pulled her to essentially pulled her out of the saddle and on to him. Unfortunately she was off balance and totally reliant on him to stay upright until he let her go. Gwen blushed as she became aware that there was no separation but for their clothes and hers were summer thin. She could feel his body heat and it made her blush more as she realized that he was quite fit. “Unhand me or you will regret it."

Holding her against him, the Tyrell seemed rather comfortable with their closeness and made no move to let go. He leant closer, enough so that he could speak quietly into her ear. "Oh don't tempt me so, now I must see what you will do." He replied, his voice low and tender as if speaking to a lover, though his fingers were tightening around her upper arms. "Perhaps if you tell me your name then I will let go. Or perhaps not..." Garrett shrugged, "I did already point out that I am apt to cheat."

“Fancy to know the name of the female who undermined your manly riding abilities?" Gwen flushed angrily and struggled half-heartedly. She didn’t fancy a bruise and she was a little shocked at the words coming out of her mouth. “Gwendolyn. Now unhand me." Gwen narrowed her eyes on the man to cover her breathlessness.

"Thank you, Gwendolyn." Garrett smiled coldly before letting go, holding up his hands as one would if they were showing they bore no weapons. "But you mistake me. I do not care for my riding abilities, whether I have them or not is inconsequential to me. You are the one who was determined to beat me." He brushed a hand through his dark locks, shaking some of the moisture away. "I am now simply intent on never telling you my name. And I do hope you suffer because of it."

Gwen refused to rub her arms like she wanted to. To soothe? Yes to soothe the touch of the man who handled her with less care than she was used to. She glared at the man as she fought a shiver at his use of her name. It was intimate. “Did I ask your name? No. I did not. Perhaps you should have your ears checked or mayhaps it is your memory that is going. Besides, why should I suffer because I do not know your name? Believe me I will not." Her voice sounded husky and different to her own ears even as she gave him as good as he gave her. The excitement kicked up her heartbeat. She did not detest sparing like this; it wasn't really arguing.

He let out a bark of a laugh at her little speech.
"It would be a blessing for my memory to fail me, for then I would not have to recall this encounter." He quipped back. Stepping over to his mare, he opened a fine leather satchel on its side, pulling out a ripe green apple. "I am surprised, Gwendolyn Carmyne," He spoke as the horse took a large bite from the apple, blowing air through her nose in what one would presume was a gesture of enjoyment. Her last name rolled off his tongue as if he had said it a thousand times before. "I imagined being a ward of the Starks would make one droll and dull in conversation. I am pleased to find it otherwise."

Gwen froze. He should not know her full name or who she was warded to. She recovered quickly, smirking as she looked him over, letting her eyes study his clothing. The deep rich marron leaning toward brown tunic was studded at the bottom with jewels. Peridot or so it seemed from the light green sparkles. Leather in a warm brown color with buckles that shone brightly in the morning light that was dappled due to being in the tree line. Some of them were open and she was lucky that she hadn’t cut herself on them when she fell. His tunic was open showing his undershirt that was an ivory colored silk and was open as well showing a small portion of his chest. Her focus wandered for an instant as she recalled the heat of him when she had fallen against him.

Her mouth tightened subtly as she refocused on his clothes. The cut was simple but the cloth was fine, again because she had fallen on him she noticed. His breeches were a deep brown and the weave an excellent fiber. His boots came up over his knee, the leather soft and brown so deep it was nearly black. It may have been simple but it was of excellent materials.

Looking toward his mare Gwen mentally calculated the value of the horseflesh and then the sword at his hip. Raising an eyebrow Gwen circled the man and moved to the mare. Mentyr nickered and snorted, stamping his foot at her giving the mare attention. “Lyka Mentyr." Stroking the mare she whispered soothingly to her, a murmur in High Valyrian. “Rytsas gevie riñnykeā. Ao dakogon raqagon se jelmio." A liquid string of words that was melodic and hypnotic as she told the mare she was a beautiful lady and ran like the wind.

“Nyke daor kesīr naejot kostilus ao." Was said to the man so that he could hear Gwen as she cast her eye in his direction letting him know that she was not here to please him.

Turning her attention to the man Gwen studied his face. “Your intimacies with my name and my place in a House not my own are fascinating." She tapped her chin with a single finger. “So you are one of three things. Possibly four.." She ticked off her thumb and first two fingers as she made her next statements. “An assassin from my Uncle. A scholar who knows house history. Or a lordling that has spies." She stroked the mare’s nose absently. “If you were the first, you're a poor assassin. Your clothes and horse are too fine to be a scholar so… a lordling that has spies. Spies that are well informed. Or you could be taken with me. Though that is laughable since you do not know me. No matter how intimate my name sounds coming out of your mouth..." She looked at the mouth in question and seemed to lose focus then blinked after a heartbeat or two.

Tipping her head Gwen felt the tendrils that had come loose from her braid slide along her neck and shoulders. She fingered the bridle on the mare’s head tracing the pattern of flowers embossed into it. Then she looked at the saddle which had the same embossed work on it. “Ostentatious in subtlety."

Gwen moved to point out the embossing in the saddle and along the bridle. She moved around to touch a lock of his hair. “Yes, your hair gives you away. Not to mention your subtle wealth." She let her fingers fall to the collar of his open tunic as she fingered the weave then the silk undershirt a moment before letting her hand fall. “Never put a puzzle in front of me you do not want to see puzzled out. ‘Growing Strong’ yes… I see… a Tyrell lordling." She smiled, flashing her dimples; it was that smile that charmed the North. She was mostly unaware of its effect on the opposite sex for it turned her from beautiful to captivating. She just knew that it caught people off guard unaware of why because she was unaware of her own beauty.

Garrett watched her silently, his dark eyes impassive as she picked out details that many others would not want, or be able to see. A glimmer of something flashed across his face when she delicately played with his collar and he was half tempted to grab ahold of her once more. She had done something rare - she had surprised him. Only moments before he had been ready to ignore her and leave, but now she had kindled a small spark of curiosity within him and it was that which made him stay. He was not ready to stop this game quite yet.

"How very astute. I did think I had dressed subtly but you have caught me out." He admitted with a wry smile, "I suppose I cannot deny that I am a Tyrell now or it might seem that I am ashamed of myself." The lord's words were playful as he closed the gap between them once more. As she had done him, he moved a hand to her head, catching a strand of vivid red hair and curling it about his finger. Her height was less than his own and he had to look down to face her when this close. "It is so unusual for a woman to inherit. Though perhaps it is becoming fashionable in the Riverlands?" He pondered idly, "My maesters think such things are a portent sign but I think they are old fools."

Opening her mouth to let him know that he had dressed subtly Gwen's eyes widened at him stepping near. Her eyes dilated as his scent teased. A sharp tang of apple crisp, sandalwood, warm leather and man. She almost backed up but stubbornly held her ground.

Straightening at the inherit comment She blinked and swallowed. He stirred things in her that were half frightening, half exciting and Gwen was a nudge away from listening to that impulse. Her lavender gray eyes flashed with a bit of temper and she adroitly retorted. "I do not know why you or your Maester would find this surprising. After all, did the Tyrells not support Rhaenyra's claim? Why should my sex matter if I inherit or not? Do you ask the Seven why you inherited your locks?" She reached up and caught a soft curl and rested her wrist on the bend of his shoulder and neck. Placing her wrist there she could feel the satiny smoothness of his skin and the beat of his pulse. Conversely, so could he monitor her. She ignored this as she combed her fingers through the curls at the nape of his neck.

Gwen's eyes went soft as she envisioned him pulling her closer…

Blinking Gwen brought herself back to the present. Blushing, she removed her hand from his hair and his person. "And why should you feel they're fools…?" She let the question hang hoping he'd give his name.

"Because they are." Garrett replied bluntly, never one to shy from the truth. Or at least what he perceived as true. "I do not believe the Crone knows our fates and guides us, as some of my maesters would like to convince me." His brows furrowed for the briefest of moments, annoyance spilling over until he quickly reined it back in. "It is natural therefore that I have no qualms with you inheriting your house. It does not affect me." Garrett stepped forwards, the trees closing in behind Gwendolyn and leaving little room in the way of a retreat. He would oh so like to see her ivory skin alight with a blush once more.

"Unless of course your plan all along has been to woo me in the hopes of a betrothal?" He grinned wickedly, knowing he was stepping into territory that might be apt to upset her but enjoying it too much to stop. "No...I do not think that was the case, which is lucky for I am awfully selfish and cruel, and I would make for a terrible husband." A hand came up to rest on the tree trunk behind her, blocking the path to the open field beside them.

He advanced, Gwen retreated… into a tree. His comment about her wooing him made her burst out laughing. Her laugh was not the courtly affectation most women had. Gwen's laugh was pure joy and full of bright bubbly sparkling happiness. She laughed all the more at him saying he was cruel, selfish and would make a terrible husband. She laughed so hard that she thought nothing of leaning her forehead on his chest since she couldn't bend in double. Her arms held her sides as she finally wound down to little giggles. She was flushed and her eyes sparkled and she attempted to cover her mouth.

"Oh excuse me, I found those last few statements more than uncommonly funny." Gwen cleared her throat, grinning. "Me woo you?" She giggled. "One moment." Tipping her head back and sucking a breath in for control; she'd inadvertently shown off her long vulnerable neck, arched her back and pushed her breasts forward. It was but a few seconds then she cleared her throat and returned her sparkling attention back to the man who'd made her laugh. "I find me wooing you, not knowing your name and yet pursuing you… I cannot get past how hilarious that was but then you said you were selfish, cruel and a terrible husband." She barely got through the whole thing not laughing.

Breathing deeply determined to get through the rest of her comment Gwen continued on. "If you were any of those things that beauty there would not respond to you in such a manner. Her coat would be littered with scars or she would fear your slightest touch. She does not move because you ask her but because it is pleasing to you." Gwen had abandoned her laughter as she indicated his mare. As she spoke she began to feel a kinship with the mare and it made her feel peculiar.

Gwen realized how close he was. "You crowd me. Step back." She didn't want to sound panicked but she was starting to feel peculiarly warm as if the sun had been high in the sky and she'd been in it for far too long.

The lord seemed momentarily nonplussed by her laughter, staring at her even when she leant her head against his chest, his gaze passing over the fine curves of her body. She was undoubtedly a beautiful woman though she did not appear at all aware of her impact on others.

It was only when she took a hold of herself that he shook himself out of his reverie. His name nearly slipped from his lips but he stopped as she spoke of his horse, the amusement falling off his face like leaves from an autumn bough. "There is more than one kind of cruelty." Came his simple answer, though it irritated him that she spoke words which he could not refute. It was true that he saw little use in harming an animal. What purpose would there be to that? Especially when the mare had cost him more gold than most would see in the entire span of their lives. How dare she presume not presume. How dare she read him so well? It infuriated him. And when she asked him to move away his eyes narrowed and for the first time it did not seem like he was simply playing a game. "Make me." He muttered coldly.

Gwen blinked then tilted her head. "I will in a moment, and I cannot say that you will like it. But tell me why you do not wish to."

Her words were a taunt, one Garrett refused to rise to and though he smiled, it did not reach his eyes.
"Never." He snapped back before turning on his heel and striding over to his horse, who gave a gentle whinny of greeting. Rubbing a hand against the soft hair atop her nose, he took the reins, making to swing himself back onto the saddle.

Gwen blinked. "That was far too easy. By the Seven you swing as hot and cold as we women are purported to do." She was right behind him. "For being selfish and cruel you most certainly did not do the one thing you wanted to do this whole time. You'll regret that later." She stalked away toward where Mentyr had wandered off to. She had no intention of mounting; she was far too keyed up to ride Mentyr without risking his, her own or both their lives.

Frustration welled up inside her. So much frustration she wanted to scream but knew that wouldn't help. No one had ever frustrated, irritated or gotten under her skin more than this Tyrell boy. She turned and in an insulting tone shot at him. “Ao issi nykeā gevie vala! Sīr gevie ziry ōdrikagon issa naejot daor gīmigon aōha brōzi! ōdria issa!" Her tone was all fire and blood, however the actual translation was far from an insult. It spoke of him being a beautiful man and that to not know his name hurt her, wounds her. She meant it as a way to vent her frustration with the truth.

Friendships and Feasts: Northern Camps the Night Before the Tournament

The Feast of the Northern encampment was into full swing, food and drink flowed in great amounts. The table of House Stark was hosting some of their greatest friends and family from the Mormonts of Bear Island, to the Boltons of the Dreadfort. Sasja Reed and Gwendolyn Carmyne were seated with the Stark children. Though Ashe had been moved to sit next to Raelith so the couple could catch up after her arrival. Around the room food was simpler than their southern counterparts but far more hearty, though wine could be had. Brown and blacks beers were passed out. Honey meads, liquor, and more were had Brandon had spent a good deal of his investment on this feast.

He’d let it be known among the lords that this night was for them, not a feast honoring some great deed or great hero but as thanks for all they had done. For what all they could do together in the years to come, the North remembers and when kindness is done rewards would be given. Brandon would use tonight to hear from the Houses and their heirs to determine what course he might take as their Lord in the coming years. He was not the most skilled leader, nor did he have Barth’s abilities as a peerless warrior and tactician. Even Edric had fought Dorne in the conquest and against them when rebelled. He at least had the fame and honor of bringing Rickon’s body home after he’d been killed by the Dornish.

However Brandon had his fame as Cregan’s avenger, as one of the most capable warriors to ever take his blade southward. He had the support of his sisters and finally the blessing of the other northern houses for him to inherit over. Edric especially after his fuming. They did not trust his desires for more Northern influence over the crown especially with his grumbles over his father never receiving the Targaryen wife promised to Rickon which would have gone to him instead. However tonight was a celebration not brooding over love lost between brothers.

Sipping on the wine that had been placed next to her, Gwen looked around. She was going to play the part of a bright Southern jewel surrounded by Northern stark metal. Brushed and polished metal was still glorious, jewels just enhanced the metal making it more valuable. Saying little would hopefully appease the harsh reprimand that had been handed down from Sylvara, though Gwen doubted it. It would have been better to have fought it out with her foster mother but that was never really Gwen’s way. She loved her fiercely and all the other Starks and people of not only Winterfell but the North. She had never been made to feel apart from all of it.

Never having been in as much trouble as she was now, Gwen defaulted to silence, though not sullen silence for the atmosphere was to merry for that. Pondering what exactly was in store for her was more torture than Sylvara could come up with and it gaulled Gwen to know that was exactly what her foster mother wanted. But once one knew what was expected of oneself it was easy enough to let it go and just enjoy what she could at present. Though the cousins were not going to get her to sing. That was something she really only wanted a select few to know. Those who called Winterfell home knew but also knew that she was shy about it. So she sat and sipped her wine eating and speaking softly to those around her be they servant, knight, sworn sword or family.

It was one event after another since she arrived down south. So unlike the dreariness and staunch stoicism of the North - though not completely unwelcomed. After arriving at Summerhall, Raelith was bombarded and approached to attend some gathering that was held only for the ladies in attendance. Most likely in hopes to incur some sort of bonding between the women there, an experience that the Bolton didn’t see the point in.

Alas, she attended, if only for a moment and only for the purpose of gaining information to use against them at some point. It was the part she could play in the South and she played it well. Of course it was a lot easier when those she decided to extort knew not of her true identity. Once it was out that there was a Bolton in the midst of something, lips seemed to tighten and it was more difficult to pull secrets from them.

So there she sat, beside her betrothed, looking out over the feast that was taking place for the houses of the North. Another show of comradery and bonding. The entirety of it felt… theatrical. A means to show off before the others; whether good-naturedly or not it did not matter to her. It was all the same. Raelith took notice that although they were friendly towards one another that her dearest husband-to-be had his mind elsewhere. Clearly wanting to be somewhere other than atop the dias. She would have been hurt by this observation but it wouldn’t do her well to let something as trivial as this bother her and instead sipped on her goblet, eyes scanning the hall once more.

Jornar set his mug down having downed another of the northern ale he had been left without for so long. Though he had acquired a taste and appreciation for the southern food and drink, nothing could beat the taste of home that came with the bitter taste of most northern choices. Besides the welcoming food and drink, Jornar was happy to be amongst family and friends again even if it was for a short time. He did not envy the duty of his lord uncle in having to rangle the northern lords and keep them in line. Of course Northerns would never disobey a command from the lords of winterfell, but they were also a proud kind of people and when ale flowed tempers usually followed.

But that is what truly made for a proper Northern celebration. Drinking and eating with family and friends while telling grand tales of adventures and battle past. And should a fight break out the two parties would end it quickly and be friends by morning nursing their headaches. Jornar couldn't help but smile at the thought of how things were so different yet similar to the other feast he had been to in the south.

As he finished looking over the guest of the celebration Jornar turned to face a friend he had not seen in many years even before he left to travel the south. The little girl from winterfell with the fire kissed hair. Though she was a small scrawny thing back then, now she threatened to stand even taller than he was. “Why the long face my lady? This is supposed to be a celebration after all." Jornar paused for a moment as his eye flicked between Gwen and his aunt. “Ah let me guess you got on the bad side of the bear again." He finished with a smile, hoping to lighten her mode a bit rather than worsen hers.

Gwen smiled at Jornar. "That I did. I'm still convinced she shifts into a bear. Still wandering around the seven kingdoms toppling knights like block towers? Any predictions on who might win the competitions?" She was glad for the interruption in her silence and the excuse Jornar made for it.

Leaning over Gwen gave all her attention to Jornar. She normally did anyway because of the interesting dichotomy of Northern Hedge Knight that toured the South. She was eager to hear more about his time away. Her excitement in hearing his recounting made her smile lift on one side and deepen her dimple on that same side.

Jornar smiled at the theory of his dear aunt and the hidden talent it seemed all mormont women had of scarring those around them. “I would be surprised if she did. Of all the foes in the kingdom she is the last one I would want to fight." He paused for a moment giving a glance towards his aunt and giving an exaggerated shiver of fear at the thought. “But Aye, I'm still touring through the many keeps of the south. Doing my part to ensure some of these upstart knights remain humble in their careers." he ended with a smirk at his rather good record of tournament entries. He thought for a moment though at the amount of competition that would be present for this grand occasion. “I would like to say myself of course but nearly every knight and warrior alike will be present so things should get interesting." Just the thought had already begun to get Jornar excited for the following days to come and the true competition it would bring. “The grand Melee though should be when us Northerners truly shine. I imagine most of the fresh knights will be too disoriented in such an unorganized scrap. But what about you my Lady have you placed any bets on the competition thus far?"

Grinning Gwen picked up on his excitement and bandered back. "I have. I put my money on my cousin Ashe. If any of the Princes decide to take the field I will be betting on them. Baelor after all got his name by being the only one to beat Deamon."

Taking a sip of wine Gwen looked over the festivities and nodded at Mathias. “Maybe Mathias would do well but the melee isn’t Ashe’s forte. Hit and run is more his style. Gryff might do well if he isn’t overwhelmed. I can understand if certain houses agree to start out together to take out other houses and leave a good fighter for the last man in the group. I would think it is more political if done right than just a mere chance that your skill can beat another." She smirked, intent on drawing him into conversation about tactics since he had fought in tournaments before.

Mathias chuckled. “I’ll do my best in the Melee dear cousin but in truth I’m more likely to do well in the joust than the melee. For all my size and strength I do not have nearly grace of Gryffith." He added chuckling as he looked down at the quiet lad who had barely touched his beer. “Perhaps you two have some good stories to share from all your time traveling? I admit I’m curious. Uncle and father rarely talk much of the Southern lords.”

“Well... Don’t discount yourself too much Mathias. You are coming along well. You don’t have my foot work or finesse but I doubt I could stop your blows dead on." He reminded his cousin before turning towards their Mormont family. “Though I don’t have nearly the experience fighting southerners like Jornar, perhaps you can help me prepare for what the melee will be like?" The massive bastard son of Barth asked as he then ripped the meat from a chicken leg in one bite as his cousin talked.

Brandon chuckled as he looked at the boys. “Gods, reminds me of when I was young. Dragged Barth down to one of these... Man went into the melee when about a dozen knights turned to try and stop him didn’t want him winning the coin I guess. I went to help my brother... Only to find he bashed one down on the ground then picked him up to throw him at the others!" He laughed while lifting his beer. “Barth laid into them one after another, he was a right demon in the center of a melee. When he lost his sword he went to punching and grappling them. You’d never seen knights so confused." The usually more quiet and careful lord enjoyed the night of his family all around to loosen up and tell stories it seemed.

Sylvara elbowed Ashe. “I would have paid to see the looks on their faces. I’ve seen that painting of all the boys before they went off to Dorne. Barth must have been like fighting the mountain itself even though I am loath to channel our Lord, even if I didn’t threaten to deck him in the face if he didn’t approve of our marriage." She leaned on her husband's arm happy they were finally in their own element.

Ashe shifted quietly, the others talked of melees, honor, and glory... He had little of that. He was not a great fighter certainly he could use a pair of long knives as well as any other, even hold off Mathias or dance around Gryff but he was some great warrior or respected son. Yet here he sat next to one of the most radiant women in the North, a Bolton, one of the most important Bannermen in the North. He wanted to show her how skilled he was, how would honor and care for her... But he had little to offer save for the chance of winning the competition tomorrow and the promise she would be Lady of Winterfell when he ascended. He spoke quietly just to Raelith. “I hope you had a pleasant trip... I am so happy you are here. I’ve been wanting to see you for a while. I brought you a gift for later." He added before giving a small blush and staring down into his tankard.

Beylee for her part tried to reach over and swipe something from the deserts before she had even touched any of the food. The girl looked towards the instruments as she thought of trying to convince her siblings to play and sing, it had been so long since they had performed for anyone together.

The raven haired beauty turned to her husband to be, the smile on her face didn’t quite reach her eyes, though it was perfected enough it could fool even the most cunning of folks. “It was… as pleasant of a trip as it could have been, traveling with my green nephew and Brachyllo. The two of them together spell out disaster if I am not there to cull the pissing contest," this time her smile was genuine.

It always was when speaking of things that made her pulse pick up.

Raelith took notice of his squirming, of the way he listened on to his cousins speak about melee tourneys and events. It was no secret that Ashe wasn’t the most combat forward of the Starks, his methods teetering on more small bladed works and archery. It meant little to her, she herself knew only to wield blades and Gods was she skilled.

Placing a hand on his shoulders, lithe fingers dancing along the fabric, she leaned in enough for only him to hear, “Concern yourself not with their fanciful talk. Anyone can swing a sword; it takes a master to let loose an arrow successfully." Hands running up and down his arm, squeezing and kneading the flesh beneath her palm every now and then, as if to punctuate her words, “A wolf doesn’t not concern himself with his prey.”

Sasja was doing her best to covertly slip little bits of meat to her newly acquired pet, a ferret she had immediately dubbed ‘Ser Minkens’ after his energetic, friendly face and sharp teeth had caught her eye out at the markets. She’d heard that some people used such creatures to hunt rabbits and other small game, and besides that he seemed too cute and energetic to ignore and leave trapped in a cage. Her other gift from the market was from Gwen, a beautiful Dornish recurve bow she planned to put to use in the archery tournament tomorrow. Wait til Ashe got a look at that, ha! She’d tested the draw and found that for her size, it was better and more manageable than any longbow. She might even have a chance to win it all! At the least, that’s what she told herself. She was probably a few years yet from being good enough, even if she was a remarkable shot for her age. After a few minutes of fussing over Ser Minkens and letting him burrow into the hood of her cloak, she was distracted from her dreams of glory and her new pet by Beylee’s pastry thievery and decided to join in, only pausing to tuck some of her meat away to try and train her ferret with later.

Jornar looked between his extended family, happy to have finally been around familiar faces and able to enjoy the company of family. To add to this fact was the idea of being able to potentially compete both with and against Gryffith and Mathias just like the days back at Bear Island and Winterfell when they would visit each other. “We should still have some time to spar before the real events start. Between the three of us we should stand a decent chance of bringing some glory to the north." he finished as he triumphantly lifted his mug in the air chugging the rest of its contents.

As Jornar let the mug hit the table he contemplated what Gwen said about the grand melee and the ideas of politics and alliances. Though he was not one for the battlefield that took place in court halls and behind ones back his time in the south taught him she was most likely right in her assumption. “Gwen speaks the truth about how the melee will go. It won't just be a chaotic mess, though it may seem like it when it all starts. Some of the other houses will start working together trying to clear out the competition to help their chosen fighter win in the end. It would be in our best interest to watch each other's backs, at least at the start. Our main threats are going to be the dragons and whatever house tries to gain favor by protecting them, not that they need any."

“Either way, it will be good to see how you both have grown since the last time we sparred." he said as he leaned back a bit in his chair relaxing a bit more. “And besides, tournaments like these are always a good way to show off for the fair maidens watching from the crowds." as he finished Jornar let out a wince as he felt a sharp pain from where his sister Janas had swiftly placed her elbow. “What did you do that for? I was kidding…. Mostly."

Pressing her lips together Gwen hid a smile and contained a laugh at Jornar's reaction when his sister elbowed him. "Thank you Jornar for the compliment." She’d noticed Ashe being quiet which she thought was out of character for him. Possibly because Raelith was paying him her undivided attention. Drawing them into the conversation she brought up the archery contest. "I for one would bet that Ashe is the greatest archer in all Westeros. Woe be the person who bets against him."

Ashe blushed a moment at Raelith’s words then gently moved his hand into her own to hold it. “Thank you... It’s nice to have someone other than Gwen and Sasja tell me I’m more than just a wild wolf causing my father no end of grievance." He then took a breath focusing himself, calming down before his betrothed got too worked up. As he opened his eyes he caught Gwen’s boast of his skill before chuckling slowly easing into being around the others and Raelith. “I may be... But Sasja’s twice as good as I was her age and far quieter. I wager that within a few more years we’d be the most deadly marksman and markswoman in all of Westeros." He spoke with a smile, proud of his little cousin as he held Raelith’s hand face still aglow but clearly more comfortable.

Griffith laughed, knocking back his mug finally. “My brother had a bow since he was strong enough to pull one back. Mom always said it’s why he’s got arms like a bear." He teased as he nodded. “I’d like that Jornar, though I’ll pass on the maidens I don’t need the attention... But we ought to take some money home... Maybe spend it on getting some proper boats to and from Bear Island?" He chuckled knowing while many Southerners would spend it on women and wine Northerners learned to... Practical in their spending or at least make sure they got a damn good deal.

Sylvara chuckled as Jornar was elbowed. “Leave him, boys will be boys. After all they can chase dainty southern lasses, real North men like their women with a bit of fire in their soul and blood on their hands. Only place to get that is beyond the prissy southlands, no wonder you spend so much time here probably have enough gold to rebuild the hall when you get home." She locked Brandon’s head as gasped and tried to pull away as he grabbed at her arm clearly both were playful more than serious.

Brandon pried her off from around his neck rolling his eyes. “Just don’t be like Barth, no woman to keep him company or tell him off when he’s got a bad plan." He rolled his eyes. “Man hears there might be a rebellion from Edric and starts putting together our entire army." He put an arm around Sylvara as the pair kept drinking. “He still acts like the young man who went off to conquer Dorne with his brothers.”

Mathias spoke up next, curious. “Do you really think that many women will be interested in us just for fighting well?" He asked clearly that Mathias had little idea what to do with noble women and even less how to handle the proceedings when approached by one. He was Barth’s son and one who assumed few would care for a bastard line with little to gain especially thanks to his lack of ambition and love for his family. He would not be a usurper even if he had a legitimate claim to the throne.

Ashe chuckled watching Gryff a moment before adding in a whisper. “Personally I think he’s already got a girl he’s chasing after... Betting it’s a southern born lady from a powerful house, he’s giving dad a headache with that I’m sure.”

Beylee of course flashed a grin as Sasja joined in and she passed over a sweet roll with raspberry filling and thick honey glaze. Before she set her sights on something bigger, namely still steaming hot nut log with a glaze made from honeyed apples poured over it. Expensive and delicious treat no doubt was far rarer to the pair than the meats before them.

Jornar couldn't help but laugh as he watched his aunt grab his uncle in a headlock with little effort as she continued to talk to the rest of the family. In any other hall such an act would have been considered a taboo, but here it was almost a sign of love and affection between the couple. It also served as a reminder that any women from the north, especially one with a Mormont name was not to be taken lightly.

Jornar then turned his attention to Mathias and his questioning of the effect knights had on the ladies of the realm. “Well you do need the looks to back it up, but being the knight in shining armor that wins the tourney pushes ahead of the rest. Of course embarrassing the competition on the field also helps your chances." he ended with a smirk before he looked towards Griffith. “But that is a good idea for the money, I'm sure my father would be more than happy to see that happen. But speaking of a bear with a bow I must warn you my sister has come a long way since we were kids." as he spoke he placed a hand on her shoulder shaking her a bit as he leaned forward in order to see the young heir to the north. “I dare say she might even challenge you soon."

Smirking, Gwen set down her wine that she had barely sipped and decided to eat more of her food. She cut pieces of venison and chewed thoughtfully as Ashe praised Sasja. She did and did not like being overlooked when it came to her abilities. She liked being overlooked because then no one expected you to perform at the level you did. She did not like it because it made her an outsider.

Gryff’s comment about not needing maids after him made Gwen glance over at him quickly as she took a small forkful of greens.Oh no, of course not. You have your betrothed all picked out.

Gwen did not believe that they did it on purpose just like Aunt Sylvara’s comment was not really about her, yet it was. She was a North girl but she was not all at once. Or perhaps she just felt like no one fully saw her. Ashe was the closest and she wondered if anyone really did. Uncle Bran and Uncle Barth most certainly did not. Uncle Edric had likely discounted her early on. More the fool he was. Mathias kept to himself a veritable giant that was constantly looking to make his father proud and have the attention he deserved. Gryff… blind to things around him, if her experience was anything to go by. If not blind then too noble to admit that he knew she had been infatuated with him since she was eight. And that was just as bad, if not worse. Beylee was a damned goody-goody who was going to wind up the size of a bear if she did not stop eating everything in sight.

The bloody twins, as Gwen thought of them, stayed away from her thankfully as did Gwen. Not being around for their tempers after one time seeing the display was more than enough for her. Aggie was everything Auntie Syl hated about Southern women but without the full polish of one. The old maid of the house. In her thirties and still not married off. It was her superior attitude. No man wanted a viper to house. Araya was the only one that Gwen could stomach. A quiet intelligent woman who, had she been a man, would have been content to be a Maester.

She supposed it was really her fault for being so… changeable. She caught the tail end of Uncle Bran’s statement about Edric and a rebellion and Barth gathering up men. About gods damned time someone took him seriously. The bloody knife you do not expect is the one that will end you. Historically men passed over for a younger sibling did not take it well. I really do not want to ever be right about that or my Uncle Tobias.

Finishing off her food with a soft yeasty roll Gwen tapped her plate with the sauces on it taking bites that filled her mouth so she would not be tempted to speak. Raising her eyes and an eyebrow she regarded Mathias as he puzzled about women. Really? Did he not remember the fact that the last woebegotten Bard that came near Winterfell was loose of lip? Though perhaps Mathias was not listening as closely to the stories as others were.

Finishing off the roll Gwen narrowed her eyes as she saw Ashe whisper but did not catch what he said exactly. Movement caught her eye before she should poke at what Ashe had said. Beylee. Beylee stuffing her face with sweets. She rolled her eyes as she watched Beylee passing them on to Sasja. Sasja who could use a few to be honest. “Beylee you’re being greedy. I see you eying that nut log. If you eat the whole thing, along with the rest of the desert table you’ll get a bellyache. Besides being too much for your horse, gods forbid the wagon.”

Sasja froze when she heard Gwen call out to Beylee about the sweets, midway through the raspberry jam filled pastry. She visibly relaxed when she wasn’t included in the reprimand, though she was more confused than relieved. Maybe Gwen hadn’t actually seen her? Still, she couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. As she finished off the treat in her mouth she slipped a dagger from her boot and cut off a slice of the nut log, wrapping it up and tucking it into her cloak. Ser Minkens squirmed and hissed in surprise as the maneuver put the little parcel a little too close for his comfort. She shushed him and glanced back over at Gwen warily. With luck, she’d sneak part of it to Beylee later as thanks for the distraction.

Sasja hadn’t been paying enough attention to catch the discussion of possible rebellion, too fixated on her ‘mission’. Her ears weren’t so dulled from the task at hand that she was completely deaf though. She grinned through a mouthful of raspberry sweet roll and swallowed, doing her best to ignore her own blushing with a boast. “We’ll see Ashe! Come tomorrow I could finally beat you!" She hadn’t shown him the new Dornish bow yet. Let that be her secret weapon in the coming contest. But really? Greatest markswoman in Westeros in a few years? If that wasn’t empty boasting on Ashe’s part, then perhaps she’d been underestimating herself. Or else the Southron lords weren’t much for archery. War and tourney glory were tomorrow’s concern though. For now, maybe she could sneak another slice of the nut log, less to share with Beylee…

The Sea, The Keep & The Beginning

A cool sea breeze blew in from the Narrow Sea pulling tendrils of red gold hair across the profile of a petite young woman. Her blue green eyes took in the sight of The Red Keep and Kings Landing. She wrinkled her nose at the thought of the smell of the city itself. They would not be there long. Perhaps a night and they would stay in the Red Keep itself. Many of the men had taken the opportunity to throw in and assist the crew to make things go faster.

“Jassy you will at least stay out of the sun. If not, you will look like a cooked lobster." A very pretty woman with deep auburn hair and golden green eyes with striking brows that were currently drawn together in worry.

Moving back into the meager shadows cast by the afternoon sun playing across the deck and the lee of the steps up to the stern Jaslyn Arryn, known as Jassy to her family and close friends, looked back then up at her cousin Ysolde. Jaslyn hated that she was so tiny. It made people assume she was much younger than her twenty years. Sometimes she felt older than Arthyr, her older brother who was three and twenty. Ysolde is sure to catch a husband, she looks old enough. Unlike me I still look like I am but two and ten… mayhap four and ten if I am being generous.

“Yissy it is unlikely any man will be looking at me. I look like a baby compared to you, or any other woman. No one will care." Jaslyn mused her voice heavy with irony.

“You will care when you blister, daughter." Brighid Arryn intoned with just as much irony as her daughter. As the woman strode down the stairs from the stern her shadow fell over the two young ladies. “We will be pulling in soon and I want nothing to hinder getting a room with a bath. Sea water baths just do not wash as well as I like." The younger women agreed with vigorous nods as they went inside the captain’s cabin to await the ship pulling into the harbor at Kings Landing.

The company of men scurried like ants when a nest is kicked after they’d secured the cog in the harbor. Jaslyn had charge of the foal that was the gift to Prince Daeron as well as charge of the items that were to come with the spirited little stallion. He was one of the noblest lines of Vale Destriers, his sire being Donnel’s own stallion and younger brother to the Heir of the Vale, Arthyr’s colt that he would be riding during the tournament. The boy was weaned and had a high spirit but was turning out to be a steady proud destier like his older brother and sire. As Jaslyn led him down he clattered noisily, surprisingly not skittish at the noise he made nor the noise of the harbor.

Smiling at Ysolde who raised her eyebrows in surprise Jaslyn laughed softly. “I began conditioning him to noises made by men when he was still young. We wanted the Prince to have a steady companion even if he is never ridden in his life."

Tipping her head Ysolde followed Jaslyn to a pace away from the ship and the men clamoring all over it and the harbor as Brighid directed without a raised voice. The woman was just listened to, not questioned for no one wanted the glare from the formidable redhead. Jaslyn took her looks from her mother but with a touch of her father’s golden hair tossed in to lighten it to an interesting rose gold rather than the auburn of her mother’s hair.

The Braavosi Water Dancer pair swaggered off the ship. Father and son, Tybalt and Bastian Forel, had been with House Arryn for about twelve years now. Having traded Braavos for House Arryn the two never regretted it in the slightest. They were loyal to the power couple that had found them and offered them a position in the house to teach their children water dancing if they were so inclined. Tybalt recognised quickly that this position was a much better position than that of First Sword for he would likely live longer as would his young son.

Bastian smirked as he caught sight of Jaslyn and Ysolde. Tybalt sighed and shook his head. “I tell you boy that way lies trouble."

“I have done nothing." Bastian countered innocently. Too innocently.

“Yet. I warn you if you do I will personally make sure you can join the Unsullied." Tybalt hissed. “Lord and Lady Arryn are here to present Jassy and her cousin to the royal court and look for matches for them. You are not one boy."

“My heart goes out to the man that chooses to court his death." Bastian’s arrogance was obvious in those words as he looked at Jaslyn who had noticed them and smiled sweetly.

Tybalt rubbed his temples. Jaslyn out of the three Arryn children showed the most promise and interest in water dancing. The petite girl was quick and ruthless with the blade. She had a way of looking into one’s soul and knowing what you were going to do before you did it. He loved the girl like a daughter and would have happily wed his son to her but he had not broached the subject due to his certainty that her parents were looking elsewhere. Her mother, Lady Arryn was not stupid and had seen that Jaslyn and Bastian had grown close recently. The closeness was not the closeness the girl had with her brothers. Had it been that then the look and nod Brighid had given him a week before they set out for the tournament said it all. That woman could say more in a look than the most trained courtesan in all of Braavos and she was much more intimidating.

The men fell into step with the young women as they attended the foal and their own palfreys Gemma, Ysolde’s mare and Dusk which was Jaslyn’s gelding. Jaslyn was in favor of walking them to the stables in the Red Keep. River Row was busy and they decided to wait for Lonald Royce and a few of their guards that had come with. Catching up with them were Lyndsay, Khloe, Serah and Septa Leynara along with just the people that they had been waiting on.

The men easily parted the crowd as Brighid, Donnel and Arthyr came leading their horses as well. Few in the Arryn entourage did not lead at least one steed. “I understand the reasoning behind not wanting to ride until they have their legs under them Jassy but this would go much faster if we do not walk them." Brighid stated as she lead her stallion Snowfall. The comment was more ironic because she had not saddled him nor did she want to do so. Knowing it was not a set down but merely the way her mother communicated for the guards to be on alert and that she expected them to be so, Jaslyn nodded as they continued up the River Row past inns, and houses of merchants and smallfolk alike.

The incessant chirping that the ladies maids, whom Jaslyn referred to as the doves, made about who would be at the tournament and who would win and crown some lucky lady the queen of love and beauty was almost more than she could stand. Jaslyn, like her mother, wanted a bath and a bed that was not rocking.

As the Arryns made their way up River Row to the Red Keep they had people make way for them. All in all the journey was a brief one. The animals were tended to and the entourage was taken up to the rooms in the Red Keep that they normally inhabited when staying there. Their visit was brief and hardly worth note as it was expected that they would spend some time within Kings Landing after the tournament.

Crossing the Blackwater Rush in barges the Arryns set out for Summerhall…

At long last the troop of Arryns had arrived. They had not set a hard pace from Kings Landing, rather an easy one that was not hard on any of the entourage, including the foal that was a gift for the Prince’s Birthday. Granted it was sunset the day before the start of the tournament by the time they arrived at Summerhall. Brighid had decided that sleep was more important than hauling everyone in front of a young Prince who would likely be settling down for the night. She remembered when her children were the age the Prince was now. The tender age from infancy to wanting to be more independent and yet needing help. She smiled to herself absently as they were getting things together in their rooms at Summerhall.

There was a splash of water and Brighid looked over with a raised eyebrow. Donnel had splashed himself with water from a basin.

“How do you explain your current shenanigans?" Brighid questioned as Donnel sputtered. “Well, speak up."

“Someone set me on fire and I had to put myself out." Donnel replied.

“I see and who put the torch to you?" Brighid asked, slightly amused.

“A sunbeam." He grinned with a wink.

“A sunbeam?" She was doing a good job of keeping a straight face.

“A sunbeam disguised as a fairy queen. But you can not fool me, I know a sunbeam when I see one."

Grinning Brighid moved closer. “That was very poetic, Donnel." Her eyes sparkled as she stalked him toward a bedroom that the servants had set a bath in.

Backing away Donnel smirked and grabbed the pitcher of water. “Don’t come too close or I’ll have to do it again." Brighid laughed and Donnel joined in as they left the rest of the entourage in the sitting rooms taking a bedroom.

Shaking her head Jaslyn marveled at how her mother, a normally very stoic and serious woman, could turn into an excitable teenager at the sight of her father or the flirting that the two of them did. She supposed it was much like her closeness with Bastian, which they had not had a moment alone for over a week now. Her water dancing was improving slowly and she was frustrated because she felt like she was just about to where she might just be able to beat Bastian and then possibly Master Forel. Granted Bastian had almost kissed her. Or she thought he had almost kissed her. Perhaps she was wrong. He had avoided her or someone had been with them since the start of the journey. Sometimes she lifted her eyes and saw the heat there that seemed to melt her inside. Which she could not decide if it was exciting or not or just slightly frightening

Moving to a bedroom the ladies in waiting and Septa Leynara all followed along and directed servants on where to put things. There was an attached room for the ladies and the Septa would take a room across the hall in the wing. The room was beautiful and Jaslyn was content enough to watch the twilight shadows fall over the gardens as she got ready for bed. She yawned as Lyndsay was pulling a brush through her hair. “Almost done. Just a few more and we can braid it so that it will not tangle." Humming Jaslyn yawned again as Lyndsay’s quick fingers made short work of two thick braids tying them off with ribbons and tucking in Jaslyn who was practically asleep before her head hit the pillow.

A Mummer’s Farce, A Reunion & A Dance Part II

There was a cough and rustle nearby, as Ashe Stark stepped out from the shadows. “Alright, alright I believe that’s enough of the things Gryff sings about in long laments and whines. Howling Wolf he is... Ashton! Gwendolyn! We have a party to get to. I've got more beer than you could drink in a Dornish desert. Not to mention Gwen, it’s time to introduce you to Raelith... Also the She-bears have already gotten into the beer and started arm wrestling. We should hurry before they break everything." He explained rather quickly walking up and clasping both on the shoulders. “After all... Father should know about your betrothed dear Gwendolyn~” Ashe gave in a sing-song tone, his bow traded for a lute trailing behind Beylee with a violin skipped in, she could hear Gryff picking at his Viola in the distance.

Clasping Ashton’s hand Gwen narrowed her eyes at Ashe. “Your wife will need to repeat herself often for you to absorb anything she says. You have selective hearing and it only gets worse with your decrepitude. I’d love to see you tell Uncle Bran about it and see how far he tosses you. Shall we place bets?"

Gwen pulled Ashton along and motioned Bennifer to sit with them at the table she indicated. She pushed Ashton down into a chair and sat next to him so close that her right side pressed to his left.

Ashton followed along dutifully, his attention almost entirely on Gwen. He did chuckle a bit when she addressed Ashe but for the most part he didn't do a ton. The closeness was intoxicating to the young man and instead of awkwardly sitting shoulder to shoulder his arm moved around her to side hug and he smiled over to her.

Rolling her head toward Ashton as he moved his arm around her more comfortably Gwen grinned at Ashton. “They’re about to play and you still owe me a dance, Hightower. What say you can you keep up? Cause I will wear those shoes out." She leaned in and tapped him lightly on the nose, winking at him.

Ashe chuckled as he took a seat across from them, with a grin as he stretched. Faiel came over placing mugs of beer on the table for the boys. As from behind Ashe appeared two She-Bears eyeing Gwen’s suitor. Ashe for his part had drawn his knife playing a game of jamming it between his splayed out fingers getting faster and faster, passing time of his looking away from it as he spoke at Ashton. “So I heard Hightower here is a Squire?" Ah the Knight’s Bane was at it again, she could hear a snicker of laughter from Junara, one of the She-Bears. “You fight any campaigns for Hightower or them Dornish bastards?"

The Stark tent was massive; laid out with rows and rows of tables. Each one had a keg of beer servers, sometimes even highborn helped bring out platters of food. Feasts of meat, chickens roasted with veggies, boar haunches cooked whole in their own fat, and even fried sheep stomachs stuffed with a mix of veggies. All of it would make you fat... Or keep you alive through harsh winter with calories to burn. The northern diet it seemed was different from the southern by a wide margin, few greens were even noticeable among it all.

Ashton for the most part ignored the looks and chuckles. He had heard them a lot growing up in court. He wasn't the best at making friends and he was whispered about and teased quite often. Though it usually stopped when his sister found out. As such, he just kept his eyes on Gwen and smiled at her, enjoying the time he had. Even when he was addressed directly by Ashe, Ashton simply shrugged and nodded. "Still a Squire, yeah. I could have gotten it after a raid a year ago but I don't mind it, plus the more actual experience the better Knight you'll be. No sense in rushing it, and I want whatever action I do to get Knighted to mean something."

He finally averted his gaze to peer at the woman, unimpressed really. I mean, certainly they were large women but to Ashton they were simply fellow warriors. If anything it made it easier. "I've had plenty of practical experience if that's what you're asking."

“Knighthood bah! Never needed a title to kill a man. Only thing it does is tie you to that damn church of the seven." Ashe muttered as he buried the knife in the table hard. “I never understood that idea of virtues, honor, and holier-than-thou shite. Knight’s a title for a man who murders bunch a folk for their lord. Why should we honor a man for doing what’s expected of them, loyalty is loyalty and shouldn't have to bribe and lay gifts at their feet to get it." He answered leaving the knife there in the table as he leaned back taking up a mug of beer taking a long deep drink. “I’ve been dealing with wildling raids and organizing the troops for my uncle. I would have liked to stay, meet this ‘Skag King’ myself sounds like a right proper bastard. I put arrows in bastard's eyes, and can even hit the slit in a helmet... Or when it comes to wildlings, split their cock down the middle with an arrow." He chuckled.

“You know, you want proper practice for the tourney and ought to find Gryff! Little brother’s swordplay is unmatched by North men, could even be a match for your Sword of the Morning." Ashe knew far more and played far dumber, “He’ll be in soon... Got your blade with you lad? I’ll make the introduction then you can let some steel sing us a few ballads!" He spoke adding a cheer, what Ashton didn’t notice was the crowd that had gathered when he cheered plenty of the Northmen cheered too clearly enthralled by the idea of seeing the two duel.

Gwen narrowed her eyes at Ashe. “I swear… you know what no." She had prepared to launch into a speech and instead reached over and popped the bottom of Ashe’s mug spilling the ale all over him. “Back off. He’s got guest privileges."

The room burst with laughter then went silent as Ashe was soaked. “...Alright that’s it Gwendolyn Carmyne." Ashe stood up and stared. “I challenge you!" Ashe yelled in over dramatic fashion tossing down one of his leather gloves onto the table. “For I demand satisfaction!" Gwen knew the tone, as serious as it sounded she had played this game many times at Winterfell. It was mocking Southern traditions of how to ask for duels, of course only the Starks knew that. “I shall choose the weapons, for you have mocked me the last time!" He dramatically pointed the finger at her, something dawned on her... Ashe wasn’t doing this to be mean, he was doing this to get Ashton accepted in with the rest of the northerners here to try and get everyone feeling more open and talkative. For ale to flow you need good entertainment after all.

Gwen smirked. “There are plenty of women here who can attest to the fact that you always get yours but they very, very rarely do when it comes to you." She knew he was kidding and being dramatic. The laughter made her grin all the more. “However I accept."

Turning her face up to Ashton she batted her eyelashes. “Be my champion?"

From the crowd they heard one of the She-Bears yell. “That is if Gwen knew what was satisfying heard she got her first taste of man today!"

Gwen’s head snapped to She-Bear, her eyes on fire. “Or maybe my source was just jealous because she can’t seem to give as good as she gets? He walk away from you one too many times for someone else, humm?"

The Ursa Major, Eyrna Ord, herself stood up throwing back her entire tankard then looking at her charges then Gwen. “Gwen... You cut with words, it's true... We cut with fucking steel and I can’t stop them all." She added glaring at the other bears who suddenly found interest in their mugs. “Now... Ladies, leave the little river twerp to her man or I’ll wipe the floor with the lot of ya!" She snarled and threw her tin mug into the ground hard enough to break the base of it. They all had their warning from the Ursa Major herself... Who stalked over to stand next to Ashe taking his mostly empty mug for herself as he smiled at her.

“Thank you darling, do drop by later to meet my betrothed." Ashe’s teasing got a single middle finger back as she walked away, the resident babysitter for Sylvara and Brandon’s brats... Even the adopted ones.

Gwen inclined her head to the Ursa Major as if she had asked Gwen something casually conversational. She was nipping at Ashe. They should know better than to get involved. With anyone else blood would flow. With Ashe they might bruise each other but they stopped shy of real blood. Besides, any rumors like that would ruin any more chances of her getting a good match, including Ashton. She smirked good naturedly at Ashe but her heart wasn’t in it anymore.

Ashton sighed, keeping his calm and simply giving Ashe a smile and shrug. "I have yet to insult your ways and beliefs. Why did you presume to insult mine own? Worship who you want, fight who you want, but who is anyone here to tell anyone else what they should do or judge them because of it." Ashton didn't raise his voice whatsoever, his tone more questioning and curious. "Like with any other type of person there will be terrible Knights but also very good ones. They're supposed to be more than a simple soldier or butcher, and the ones that are tend to be well remembered and spoken of. Empathy, understanding, and understanding why you draw a sword is far better than drawing it without cause. Something even I am struggling with."

He nodded to Ashe, the heir of House Stark and then to the she-bear who spoke. "Regardless, I have no desire to fight anyone tonight. If someone wishes to cross blades with me then tomorrow would be the best time, I will be looking forward to it. Until then I will be sitting here enjoying good company, a truly amazing person sitting beside me, and good food." He then watched the rest of the back and forth and sat contended, though his eyes took everything in. Every voice was assigned a mental picture of their appearance and more important people were even given some extra details. He learned quickly, and he was finding attributing things to sword lessons made things a lot easier. Too bad the Maesters didn't know this back when he was growing up.

When things settled down, Ashton squeezed Gwen a bit and chuckled. "Hopefully meeting my family will go a bit easier and with less threats of violence."

Gwen looked up at Ashton. She had noticed that he was even taller sitting than she was. She’d never realized that she had most of her height in the length of her legs. “It’s a compliment in the North. Plus it is a game. One that Ashe and I excel at. A mummer's farce if you will. It is entertaining."

She looked out at the crowd. “Well we have an answer, no blades but perhaps some dancing? Will that do?" Looking back at Ashton. “Does that satisfy?"

"I see, well I suppose I should be thankful for the compliment then. And I am, it will just take me some time to adjust to these things. But I guess it's sort of nice in a strange 'I never know when I should be ready to fight or laugh' kind of way." Ashton chuckled and then sighed, closing his eyes and wondering just how all of this had happened. The night prior Ashton would have never expected such a thing could ever happen, except in the stories that he had heard. But here he was, sitting beside a truly amazing girl who seemed to like him as much as he liked her. Suddenly even the tourney didn't matter anymore… Oh!

Suddenly all of the past year spent training came rushing back to him. He had been dead set on some day joining the Kingsguard and serving as best as he could. But even the realization didn't spoil Ashtons mood and if anything he was able to move on quickly, so what he wouldn't be a Kingsguard, he could still strive to be like Aemon without that title. Who knows maybe he could form a group of Knights that wished to do things the right way and form his own thing. He chuckled to himself, anything was possible if the last ten hours were any judge.

“I’d offer a groat for your thoughts but I don’t currently have one on me. Any idea what I could offer?" Gwen blushed prettily and bit her lip laughing silently; the shake of her shoulders gave it away.

Realizing he had zoned out Ashton looked to her and shook his head. "I was thinking about how quickly life tends to change. This morning I was laying in the grass, staring up at the sky and dreaming of becoming a Knight of the Kingsguard and now I'm sitting beside the most amazing person in Westeros. Now, you owe me a dance. Come on! And sorry in advance for any toes stepped upon. I'm a fighter, not a dancer. You have been warned."

Gwen grinned. “I’m quite light on my feet. You won’t step on me." She pulled him onto the floor and when the musicians decided to play a reel she almost rolled her eyes. They wanted to see the Southerner try to keep up.

The song had started out slow with the fiddle in a cyclical melody which Gwen led Ashton in a back and forth easy step and was rather romantic. Then the fiddler started ad libbing and flying over the strings. The claps and stamps of feet kept time as the pace quickened. She grinned as he kept up with her.

Tossing her hair Gwen grinned and had Ashton spin her and as the music ended he bent her low, leaning over her with his hand supporting her off the ground. Gwen had never had someone do something so daring during a dance. She clung to him as he held her suspended and off balance.

The dance was exhilarating, Ashton had never been big on it since it usually required a partner and well… Either way he wasn't an experienced dancer. But what he was, was a very good fighter and his footwork was just as good as a dancer, perhaps even better in some aspects. And so he watched Gwen for cues and let her lead him.

The start was nice, Ash clinging to the Carmyne and shifting occasionally as he rested his head against hers and stared into her eyes. And then things got faster, and it took all of Ashton's perception and dexterity to keep up. His sword cranked against his thigh as he moved and by the end of the song he was out of breath. But still he held Gwen suspended and as he stared down at her he suddenly didn't care who was watching. He leaned himself down and moved in for a proper kiss.

They were both excited hearts pounding and his eyes deepened and Gewn’s breath caught. He was looking at her a bit differently, no this was very different. An exciting difference. His eyes went to her mouth and she started to say his name when he kissed her.

Gwen was still off balance so she clung to him with her eyes closed. Her hands slowly shifted from clinging to his shoulders to behind his neck. Her finger curled into his hair. His hair was soft. Softer than she expected and she sighed contentedly.

Did it suddenly get hot? The winds of Dorne blow into Summerhall? It certainly felt like there was suddenly a fire raging right beside him, enveloping him, making his breathing erratic and quick. His kiss was by all extents a quick affair as he needed to breathe and so as he came up for air he opened his eyes and smiled that smile that you can only see when a person has had their first real kiss. He was practically glowing, his tanned skin now looking like some sort of God like energy was being emanated from it. His eyes somehow shone brighter and his smile widened.

"Wow." Was the only word he breathed out.

It was over too soon. Gwen made a small whimper as his lips left and she opened her eyes. Ashton’s smile made her heart skip and she felt a flame with a tingle as if she had lain on her whole body and it was waking up. She knew she was blushing and ducked her head into Ashton’s neck. Her breath quick soft puffs across his skin.

"And the proof proves out truth!" Perhaps there was some philosophy in the great bull of a man's words, as he laughed in a fairly victorious fashion. “Let all the North see this man was favored by their ward and who was to gain say an honest youth and his lady love?" Bennifer's own marriage had been something less than pleasant at the start, now? He held a fondness for his wife, though perhaps it was more their son that had brought them together. "Hah, I'll speak for the Blackwood cousins to support you lad if you have to take them to duels one and all under the weirwoods!" He slapped a measure fist on the back of a she-bear speaking of the Starks.

Ashe would have raised concern if not a moment later entered Brandon Stark, causing silence to spill across the room. As he glanced at Gwen, then at Ashe then jerked his head towards the table at the back of the tent. Where the Starks would sit along with their honored guests, they both knew what this meant. The Bannerlords, their children, and the many houses who had made the long journey were all going to be here in a moment. They needed to be united as a family together at the table. Sylvara enters with roasted boar freshly made on a serving tray... Two of them, one each supported by a single hand. Behind her Mathias with two full size kegs the runt barely strained as he supported them.

Finally Gryffith entered with a stunning variety of flowers from the glass gardens he began to lay out in vases across the tables to decorate the room. The smells reminding the northmen of their homeland... And on the Starks table a small bundle of Winter roses.

Pulling back from Ashton to look into his eyes Gwen saw the movement of Uncle Bran and was distracted from Ashton. She saw the head jerk and swallowed. “Set me upright. I have to attend my Uncle." If there was an inopportune moment it was now. As Ashton set her upright Gwen smiled at him. “Did you want to stay a while or did you need to leave?"

Having been lost in such a nice world it was almost a case of whiplash to be brought back to the real. His eyes followed Gwen's own and he noted the various Starks all congregating. His curiosity had been piqued and he gave a smile and nod to Gwen when she asked her question. "I don't have to go anywhere quite yet, but I'll need to head back to the Palace here in a bit to rest for tomorrow."

Gwen’s eyes lit up at Ashton’s response. "Well this is fate working it's magic. My Aunties and I are staying at Summerhall as well. I'm sure we'd be in need of an escort." She squeezed his hand and smiled warmly.

Making sure Ashton knew that she was reluctant to move away Gwen’s hands lingered and she sighed as she had to let go.

The She-bears formed a guard for the Starks and the Ursa-Major walked up to Gwen. “Gwendolyn you're expected at the table... And for the rest of the trip myself and two bears will guard you round the clock. What shit did you step in, girl?” Asked the veteran She-bear as she moved to walk Gwen up to the tables. To escort her up as the announcements came from the many lords arriving, Gwen realized she’d be meeting the Bolton girl Ashe had been betrothed to and the Mormonts family through her aunt.

"Then an escort you shall have My Lady. It will be as you wish." He gave her a quick smile, loosening it as she let go and moved to walk off. He followed behind, glancing at the woman who had formed a protective formation around her, a sort of awkward triangle. He said nothing, did nothing, other than walk politely, arms crossed behind his back and away from the pommel of Vigilance. He seemed quite at ease at this point, and didn't seem like he was going to leave Gwen's side unless she asked him.

Raising an eyebrow at the Ursa and smiling, Gwen tipped her head. “I did no more than what you or any other She Bear does when they need to make themselves understood. Rather than a point of a blade, a fist or spilling blood my weapons were words. Sadly for us, rather than send out a single shepard for a lost lamb they sent out the whole of Winterfell to find a single lamb." Gwen tried to express how it wasn’t exactly her fault but she stopped and shook her head. No one would believe her anyway. All the guard was going to do was draw more attention to her. “Never mind. You’ll refuse to see it anyway but your own way. And that’s not your fault."

Turning toward Ashton she smiled and shook her head. “If we wish any sort of illusion of privacy then we cannot push my Uncle farther than this. I will be the good little girl he doubts I still am. I would appreciate it if you kept mine kinsman Bennifer company until I come to you. If that is alright?"

Ashton gives her a soft smile and then bows. "As you wish. I am yours. Until you are finished I shall remain here and await your return so that I may accompany you to the Palace. And until I see you again my heart will ache for just a glance of you."

Gracing Ashton with a smile that would warm and thaw the most frozen hall of the North. Turning Gwen made her way to the table and sat in her normal seat next to Mathias.
Food, Wine & Flirting: Part II

Serenei meanwhile had been rather bored, she hadn’t seen her twin for a while now, last she saw her she was talking to one of the Fangs. A wolf of the House Stark. Well, if that was up to her taste then who was she to deny Rowenna her fun. She on the other hand wanted a little more Southern pleasantries, as her eyes fell upon the hunched form of a Tyrell lad who had a couple of cups surrounding him, his aura oozing gloominess. Such things would not do.

She took a good look at her approach and made sure she timed her stumble just right, scooting up the bench and practically draping herself onto his lap with a suppressed giggle and laugh. "Oh dreadfully sorry." She laughed looking up at him as her head rested in his lap. "But I am glad you were there otherwise I might have bruised something or worse." She said breathing heavily for a moment, as she tried to catch her breath. "Thank the Seven for such a handsome rescuer." She teased in good nature, giving him a sly wink.

The Tyrell in question glanced down at his lap, gaze slowly drinking in the girl who had draped herself so gracefully atop him. He bore the expression of someone who had experienced such inconveniences before. He raised a dark eyebrow, even darker eyes passing over the striking red hair and pretty face. A Redwyne. They were not difficult to spot amongst a crowd and he appeared to have attracted one, despite his attempts otherwise. He could not help but ponder mirthlessly on whether such an encounter would please his sister and grandmother.

"I suppose I should feel blessed that you chose my lap to fall into." He replied nonchalantly, taking a long drink from his deep cup, idly pondering on the beauty of an arbor wine. "Though I have no desire to tell you to move. Will you stay here all night perhaps or did you have some other intention when you stumbled over here?" Garrett smirked, "I am determined to wait here idly and watch what you shall do."

Serenei grinned smiling as she took his cup from his hands gently. "I was actually eager to find a new partner to twirl with across the dancefloor. So pardon my eagerness to snatch a flower from his flowerbed. You cannot spend the entire evening languishing in our wine and yet never take a turn yourself. After all I was told you dance a volta rather well." She replied. "So if you would be so kind as to accompany me, I know one person, at least who would be most pleased. You would save me from an evening of brutes and other hungry eyes." She added in a conspiratorial whisper.

Garrett leant closer as she spoke, noting the feel of her soft breath against him, everything about her speaking of a simple ease and grace. A hand came to slide down her arm, gently caressing her smooth skin, moving as if to take her hand, to entwine their fingers together. His lips were close to her ear, her scent pleasant amidst the throngs of warm bodies surrounding them. "Such a tempting offer." He muttered, his words only just audible above the sounds of laughter and singing. "But..." He paused to smile down at her. "I'll pass." It was rude and haughty and mean. But Garrett did not care, for he had earlier seen something that had piqued his interest and he was unwilling to divert from this current preoccupation. With this thought in his mind, he nudged the Redwyne to her feet before finding his own. "I must say though. You old beggars do make a splendid wine." He smirked, before making his way through the crowd in a manner that only a Lord can.

Serenei's face fell as her smile disappeared. She stood quickly enough, letting the Lordling talk as he more or less pushed her to her feet. She eyed him icily, having a mind to pay the Lordling back in kind. The smile she gave him was as fake as could be before she watched him saunter off leaving her with nothing but a veiled insult. "Too bad we can’t drown you in it." She whispered, before her eyes scanned the crowd for a new target.

Deciding that her input verbally was not necessary Gwen watched as the couple, Nyla and Loreon, walked off. She caught Luci and Quinn already dancing but keeping an eye on her. The maids that the Aunties had brought were sitting with some men giggling and Gwen rolled her eyes knowing that her Aunties had brought those two because they wouldn't be a real deterrent. Roze and Tansy were not the best chaperones.

Looking back to Arystide who still had her hand Gwen raised an eyebrow a teasing twinkle in her lavender gray eyes. "Do all Southern men jump like frogs in the Neck whenever they think a lady is in trouble, or was there an underlying motive for you inserting yourself?" She gasped playfully, her free hand coming up only to partially cover, highlight really, her mouth. "Oh dear there was a motive. Something about a dance? I think I should be careful lest one of the many fair ladies I see gets jealous of the Northern girl occupying her Captain."

Pointedly looking at Arystide's hand still holding hers, Gwen smirked at him. "Dare I say, I shall have to add your name to the list of all the Northern boys whose hearts I have won." There was no such list, if there was, Gwen was unaware of it. Though Ashe's comment about breaking hearts seemed to have fallen too easily from his lips earlier. Perhaps there was a ring of truth in there somewhere but Gwen refused to really believe it. Had Mathias, Gryffith, Sasja or even Beylee said it then she'd believe it.

Gwen had decided that any interest in her was because she was so unusual with her bright hair and obviously Valyrian eyes. Odd. She was just odd that was all. Add in her height and she stood out. Her height and pale skin said Northern Lords. Her hair coloring said Riverlands with a touch of the Westerlands gold. But her eyes said Valyrian. Her family was distantly related to probably every kingdom, save for Dorne, somewhere down the line. A melting pot that had molded her physically.

Arystide laughed heartily at her accusations, amused with her wit. “My Lady, I fear I am too warm blooded to allow some conceited fool to insult any woman, regardless of their standing. When one travels between both worlds you tend to see the world more nuanced in terms of ‘worth’. Just because he attempted to veil his deceit in order to gain some more self worth by belittling others, does not mean he should be allowed to get away with such things." He easily plucked another cup from a tray, gaining a laugh and a smile from the serving girl at his antics.

“Here…if you will not dance with me, then drink." He offered. "And for the record you need not add me to your lists of conquests though perhaps should I go up to young Hightower and demand satisfaction or should I congratulate him for stealing such a fine Lady?" He asked with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “Oh and my lady I have eyes and ears everywhere. If I find something of interest I tend to keep a close eye on it and you certainly are always a lovely sight for these eyes of mine. The heart however is another matter..." He spoke offering her some wisdom.

“Whilst I am a passionate man, I find that the love for one’s heart is deeper than most affections. It surpasses reason and reality. It causes oneself to submit themselves to the other, without thought. To jump into the deep unknown and face whatever odds, only for the other half of their being." He took her hand and kissed it again, longer this time, before eyeing her somewhat melancholy. "Answer me now truthfully…could you proclaim your heart was mine?" He eyed her seriously knowing that such a thing was impossible after so short a time.

"Why my Captain, you sound positively melancholy. If my heart was fully won then you'd find me boring and quite dull. I intend to take my time getting to know any suitor before I choose. After all, if I fell at your feet I'm sure I'd be unremarkable and utterly forgettable. And I would be heartbroken." Gwen shook her head. "I never said I didn't want to dance. I do have a purpose for coming back though. I do wish to speak with your sister."

Swatting Arystide on the arm, Gwen narrowed her eyes on him. "I'm not a prize to be won! Satisfaction indeed! Shall I ask you how many women you've kissed and judge you by the same stick? If your affections were so engaged why did you not say something humm?" She was worked up now. Her eyes snapped, her breathing quickened and she flushed a becoming rose pink.

Arystide smiled at her, warmly allowing her emotions to be outspoken, raising a quizzical eyebrow. "I could answer your demands, but would you truly want to know? Neither did I ever compare you to a prize. Such is for men that play in tourneys and care only for wealth or prestige." He told her.

“Also I would not allow you to fall at my feet, as a dress so pretty as yours need not be stained." He had allowed her to swat him, he was used to women expressing their anger or displeasure. Such was the way of jealousy and vibrant emotions. They needed an outlet and a punchbag.

“My lady, you are hardly forgettable or boring, all I am offering you against my better judgment is some wisdom not to sell your heart too lightly. Not even to me. Say what you will of my intentions, but at the least I have always made mine clear to those I took to bed. Much to the chagrin of their husbands to be." He told her honestly as he straightened a little.

“Yes I am a passionate man who enjoys the company of beautiful ladies such as yourself. I hardly consider that a crime, but none have yet ever attempted to capture the heart within the man, nor did they try. Can you confess otherwise?" He asked honestly.

Gwen looked at Arystide thoughtfully, pausing. "Firstly, my intentions are, as far as I know, the same as any other girl my age. Secondly, I have no intention of selling myself lightly. Thirdly, I truly wouldn't know how to capture a man's heart. Is it a crime to want romance, affection, love and friendship from the one you want to spend your days with?"

"You wouldn't know how to capture a man's heart?" The amusement was audible in his voice. He shook his head at her final words, taking a moment to take her small hand in his. "It is no crime, but in this harsh world such things are not always a given and rarer still with those of standing. It was not my intention to anger you my lady, the opposite in fact, but I fear I will have to contend myself with the fiery twinkle in your eyes instead of the radiant smile I hoped for, for my undesired rescue attempt."

He laid a hand gently against her cheek caressing it with the lightest touch. "May you stay ever vigilant my lady." He offered before adding. "My sister can be found in the back, I believe, should you still wish to converse with her." He told her before releasing her and bowing graciously. "I shall not taunt my lady with my presence any longer. Say the word and I'll take my leave." He said offering her a choice whether to remain or leave.

"You don't have to physically carry me to the pavilion you know! I am capable of walking." Ashton's voice was resigned and annoyed, almost like a parent who walked in on their child doing something they knew they shouldn't. His companions, the young Daynes of Starfall, simply chuckled and ensured that Ash was placed into a chair and given two large cups. With a sigh, the Hightower squire realized he was going to have to drink what was put in front of him. His Knight quite literally ordered it of him. As he moved to pick up his cup his eyes began to move about the room, catching glimpses of various sigils, and various servants all rushing about. Ash wasn't terribly good at the sigil game but he did recognize a good few. Lannister, and Redwyne at on- oh there was Gwen

Just looking at her took Ash's breath away and he coughed into his wine cup as he saw her speaking to a Redwyne who seemed quite dashing and sure of himself. Ash slowly looked down, trying desperately to not compare himself and instead took a long swallow of wine and nodded. Made more sense why people liked it so much.

Gwen muttered after Arystide made the comment about his rescue attempt. ”I can handle myself.” She blinked at Arystide,as he touched her cheek, confused at his comment. Tipping her head Gwen watched Arystide bow as she blushed.

Glancing around Gwen saw Ashton with his head hung. He’d seen her talking to Arystide from the melancholic look he had poured over his face. She wanted to cheer him up. Arystide had mentioned dancing earlier before he’d trotted out what sounded suspiciously like jealousy. Dancing couldn’t hurt, unless someone stepped on your toes. Maybe Ashton would ask. She loved to dance and would with anyone.

”Even if I knew the word I would not speak it. You’re welcome to keep me company at any time as is Hightower. I will not deny anyone the ability to come to know me nor I them. Otherwise how am I to make the best decision for my future?”

“Now I do need to talk to your sister but someone said something about dancing.”

Arystide crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at Gwen’s response, amused by the foolish attempt to appear grown up.
“How will you make the best decision? My Lady, that question would be answered differently by all. The more romantic would cry out to follow your heart, the wiser would advise caution and the opportunist would seek out the most advantageous match with the most to gain. If you expect me to push you towards potential competitors then I am sorry to say that I am not that noble or that generous.” He told her before adding. “If you wish to dance I will most happily offer myself as a dancing partner. Provided of course you wish to dance with me," He offered. “And did you wish to do this before or after you have talked to my sister?” He inquired.

Liquid courage was a funny phrase when one thought about it. Liquid giving anything other than sustenance didn't make a lot of logical sense, but, as Ashton finished his second full cup he would be lying if he wasn't feeling braver. Gwen was still talking to the Redwyne lad and seemed animated. His eyes had never left her and as his hands placed the mug down he took a deep breath inwards, and then out before standing, and making his way straight towards the duo. As he arrived Ashton gave a soft smile to Gwen and then a polite nod to Arystide. "Excuse me for interrupting but I was hoping to ask the stunning lady here to dance."

About to answer the question posed by Arystide, Gwen was stalled because she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Her eyebrows rose slightly as she realized he was headed toward Arystide and herself. She blinked and smiled slightly. She had thought she would have to approach him. The soft smile Ashton gave her was contagious.

As per normal with Gwen she could never fully contain any sort of happiness and she smiled broadly. "My cup runneth o'er'" was every sort of positive emotion that she had at any given moment. She'd never really had to deal with any truly negative emotions and apparently desire baffled her? Pushing that realization to the side to examine much later Gwen looked over her shoulder to see the "stunning lady".

"I see many stunning ladies, Ashton. Which one do you mean? You know, all stunning ladies love to dance." Trying not to grin lavender gray eyes sparkling with laughter. Keeping her eyes on Ashton the question that Arystide had asked was answered. "In answer to your question Arystide, before and after."

There came a rustle of wind, as the tent flap opened slightly standing in the opening was the form of a stocky, well built woman. Her hair pulled back in a tight bun, a frown crossed her face, arms folded across her as slowly stepped into the tent. A low, soft voice controlling its anger with the woman in question spoke up. “Gwendolyn Carmyne, I do believe we need to have a talk about heeding your elders...” Sylvara Stark, the wife of the Wolf Lord, a she-bear, known for the fact that she had fought side by side with her husband in brawls and battles. Bear island women were like that, as Sylvara put it they were all more woman than any southern born man could handle.

She stepped in at a jog behind and entered her two of the Wolves, Griffith Stark, one of the finest swordsmen the North had produced, glancing around the room he had come running over from training. His chest bare save for a vest loosely pulled over it, skin glistening, the two had been washing up after getting dirt kicked all over them. Mathias unfortunately hadn’t had time for even a vest or jacket, the more impressively muscled young man stood. Both had their practice swords, though Mathias’s more resembled a shaved down tree trunk for the size and weight of it were based off of Ice. Gryff’s choice in blade was a more reasonable bastard blade meant to pair with a shield or used alone. The pair are clearly unaware of the purpose of their visit, only being summoned by the matriarch to help ensure Gwen went back to their camp.

Sylvara goes to speak, once again when rolling in through the tent trying to stay ahead of the rather irate looking Wolf Lord himself is Ashe Stark, the infamous Knights Bane. “She’s just exploring a little... Hell I’m sure she didn’t mean to end up back here... Oh maybe someone talked her into I mean...” He turned only to see Gwen’s situation. “Gods dammit Gwen...” Came the sound from the shortest of the Starks presents though his arms gave away his strength as an archer, a sling at his side and his bow string hanging across him he’d clearly been at archery practice. He had quietly hoped to do well enough to give Raelith something... She had to be disappointed marrying into the least noble of the boys in the family.

Brandon didn’t say a word he stared into Gwen’s eyes a moment then raised a hand slowly waved for her to step towards him. The Wolves of the pack were here with one intention to bring back the wayward pup it seemed. Unlike Sylvara he wouldn’t degrade Gwen where others would hear it or humiliate her but she had to learn to mind the intention of the words, not the letter of the damn thing. Too many times she had done this and gotten away with it, she had to be reminded she was his ward not his daughter. No matter how much he treated her like his own she was not and she had to learn to respect the difference in it.

Gwen froze for a moment, her eyes flying wide at the voice of Auntie Syl. Momma Bear was pissed. She wondered if her Aunt would turn into a bear just like Ashe told her when she was eight. She did not want to see that, besides she’d be a small bite size to the massive bear that Auntie Syl would turn into. Turning around Gwen’s eyes went wide as she noticed how pissed her Aunt really was.

Looking at Gryff and his state of undress nearly made her eyes pop out of her head. Jerking her head away while turning crimson only to have them land on Mathias. “Good Gods…” Pulling her eyes away from the obscene amount of extremely attractive male flesh on display to see Ashe. Gwen’s hand flashed in quick sign. ‘What happened to clothes?! Are you insane? Why didn’t you warn me?’

Then Gwen caught Uncle Bran who held her gaze and motioned her to him. Stubborn temper flashed in her eyes and she straightened. She had reasons that she was there and neither of the men at her back were the reasons she had gone back. But now no one was going to listen to her because she’d been out of male sight for less than three quarters of an hour. She might not be a bear or a wolf but she was a swan. People underestimated how dangerous a swan could be. Just because they were pretty didn’t mean they were defenseless. “I’d be happy to talk at length about heeding my elders Aunt Syl as a matter of fact I was here to do just that along with my Aunt Luci and Aunt Quinn. My Uncle Tobias asked that we place a wager for him on the tournament.”

Luci and Quinn were close enough that they came up to the group. [color=#]“Hello Uncle Bran and Aunt Syl.”[/color] The women raised their eyebrows at their cousin's lack of dress. [color=#]“Looks like they feared for your honor niece. Must have pulled them from practice to storm in here.”[/color] Luci offered up.

Honora had been warned by one of the serving girls that a group had entered in a rather unusual manner and that she had seen Lord Arystide near them. Fearing the worst, Honora had quickly moved into the described direction, having no real trouble finding them. As she broke through the crowd and found the familiar redhead that was her brother, the scene that she stumbled into nearly made her turn around and run.

She angrily eyes Arystide and mouthed. “What did you do?”

Arystide however frowned back at her and snarked back. “I didn’t do anything THIS TIME.”

It cooled her ire somewhat as she gave Gryff a speculating look. The question was clear in her eyes. What on earth were they all doing here? Realizing she would not be getting any answers unless demanding them she thus straightened her spine and took up her mantle of duty once more. “Now, what is all this?" She demanded to know, pulling the attention away from the young woman, a Carmyne, she believed.

“Lord and Lady Stark to what do we owe….” her words trailed off realizing Mathias and Gryffith were bare chested, though the latter had at least attempted to find something to put on. She flushed bright red for a moment before attempting to find her tongue again. “...this particular pleasure?”

She made a courtesy to the both of them before stating. “Though next time if you please, when you visit us, I simply ask you to come ‘fully clothed’, we don’t have any clothing regulations as of yet as we believe they are simply unnecessary, but this should not be the norm, I hope?”

She watched Serenei practically do a mad dash towards the brick wall, that was Mathias Stark.
A groan escaped her lips, she felt another headache come up. “Now if there is any way I could be of assistance I would be most happy to help." She suggested as she stepped towards them placing herself in between the young girl and the Stark elders.

Meanwhile Serenei eyed poor Mathias like he was covered in diamonds. She fanned herself as she leaned against him. “Oof, is it hot in here? Or am I just lucky today? Hellooo, big boy. You look thirsty…how about we get ourselves a glass of red or two? And if I am not mistaken, this gorgeous body has been put to work..." She said as her hands touched the muscled stomach.
“But then you must be hungry too. I know where to get some proper food to satiate your appetite and perhaps afterwards, you can satiate mine." She said with a wolfish smile and a wink, quite ready to drag him off.

Honora hissed soft, but threateningly. “Serenei!"

That hardly impressed the twin, she quickly, teasingly licked her upper lip, before offering Honora another cheeky wink as her hungry eyes settled on the poor man again.

Ashton had only had time to affix Gwen with a smile and murmur, "if there are other stunning ladies they must be hiding behind the brilliance that I see when I look upon you." And then everything went Stark raving mad. For his part, Ashton simply remained quiet, standing respectfully near Gwen and offering small nods of hello to all the figures that had suddenly just assembled. And while internally his heart had suddenly begun a rapid military March, outwardly he did his best impression of his older brother when in court. Attempting to keep his face neutral and only give bits away. He paid close attention to everyone and applied names to the things he had heard about them and took away what observations he could on their own reactions. In all reality, he was beginning to see a lot of similarities to court and the art of the blade.

Sylvara answered before husband, staring daggers at Gwen. "Gwen... You could have asked or perhaps let us know. After one incident already, you are smart enough to know better if you had legitimate business. No, you're here to circumvent rules as usual and claim innocence." The woman from Bear Island knew Gwen's particular brands of half truths well. "Now, wanna try again or shall we continue Ashe's little game you are so fond of?"

Brandon meanwhile pinched the bridge of his nose. His headache was returning, a nap had not done anything, the headache was still there, it had a name now, Gwendolyn. "Gwen. Please, I am not in the mood for you and Ashe's games please." He was mad but he had a hundred other things to do. This was not where he should be right now. "Humor me, for a change of pace please." His wife's anger and his own growing exhaustion were seen easily.

Gryff for his part did his best to avoid looking at Honora; he wore a light blush, his fingers dancing along the hilt of the practice blade. Of course for the more observant they would see his eyes wander the room only to dart back to Honora and stare a few seconds.

With his father more occupied with Gwen's continued antics, that would no doubt lead to him getting an ear full later. The bad influence and heir spoke up, Ashe Stark the 'Knights Bane'. "Lady Redwyne... Sorry for the intrusion. See my father plans to welcome all of friends, bannermen, and champions from the north in our camp and Gwen is expected to help so we were just retrieving her." The troublemaker acting as the diplomat.

Mathias poor, Mathias the bastard son the Blacksword himself was blushing like a child. It was the first time he'd had to really deal with flirting. He'd never found himself in that position in Winterfell and he'd never pursued a real lady before. He never thought one would want a motherless bastard from an unmarried Northern Warden southerners thought of them all as barbarians. He was redder than an apple as he tried to turn away, turning to look away from the woman. The runt as he was called was far from the practiced flirt barely muttering an answer. "I... I am alright my Lady... Please don't trouble yourself over me."

Brandon paused then did something unexpected, he bowed to Honora slightly. "Sorry to intrude but I require my niece. My son is correct, in fact I planned to offer an invitation to your father." The Wolf Lord sighed looking at his family. "Sorry to bring my family matters to your door." He gave a sad smile as if he hoped the apology would be enough.

Sylvara for her part looked the part of the angry bear treeing a raccoon. The woman was clearly the rock of the family who kept order, Mormont women certainly different from their southern counterparts. "Aye my husband is right... Gwen, maybe we should see a little more practice?" She wore a smile that some would call sinister. "Please forgive the boys, Lady Honora, I forget the southern are easily caught by men's good looks."

Honora had listened quietly and had kept her smile for most of it. Cordially acknowledging Ashe and Lord Brandon. “Well if that is the issue, then maybe we can help matters along. No need for such a display, Lady Gwen wishes to place bets, we can arrange such matters for her. In fact I shall see to the matter myself, if only to accommodate her. As for the matter at hand, you can drag her off now, but this would set a poor scene regarding the young lady’s reputation. Would it not be better if her brother escorted her later when business was concluded? I am certain such matters need not take long and they both should be back at your encampment for the celebration."

She offered to try to soothe the tensions and make an agreeable outcome for everyone involved. “And unfortunately Lord Stark, my father will not be able to attend as he is not here. He was too ill to travel and I speak truly as the matter of giving away ‘the apple of his eye’ had been something he had wished to do himself. Alas, he would have for certain accepted your invitation, knowing of your good name and standing, so my apologies for not being able to accommodate you in this." She had kept a warm countenance and a smile that had never wavered until Lady Mormont’s final words. It was instantly wiped and a very dangerous glare had settled on the shebear.

“Serenei. Leave the poor man be. He isn’t up to dealing with ‘our Southern ways’ you might break the poor boy." She spoke icily.
Serenei moaned in protest. “Oh but Nene, I love a tight man, one with cast iron pecks, thighs that could choke a bear and a butt you could eat breakfast off." She teased with a laugh, hanging onto Mathias for dear life.

“Now." The words were spoken so coldly that the Starks must have thought winter had come.

“But Nene…” The depths of the frozen waste stared back at Serenei who knew never to test Honora when she was like that. “I’ll be seeing you on the field, pretty boy." She whispered, slinking off rapidly.

“Begging your pardon, our Southern hospitality must have unnerved you, young master Mathias." She offered though there was a dangerous edge in her voice. “We usually try to be cordial at least, avoiding the more unbearable behavior. After all, Northern manners always seemed quite cold and grizzly. But perhaps that is just an Islander thing."

Gwen watched the two go back and forth, nearly seeing red as Serenei moved on Mathias. Gwen nearly snatched the girl but Honora spoke to her and Gwen let it go. What started out as wanting to talk to and get to know Honora and possibly a bit more about Arystide as well as fulfill what her Uncle Tobias asked of her would be easy. An hour and back to the camp. Now there were accusations and insults were flying. The emotional roller coaster that was this trip.

She. Was. Done.

Tears welling up born of frustration and anger in Gwen her vision blurred. She hated getting angry so the more she tried to shove it down the more she got angry and more tears in a vicious cycle. Nothing was going right and she knew she was partially to blame but this extra hounding wasn’t normal. This wouldn’t have happened in Winterfell. What was it about being here that suddenly everyone in her family lost the ability to remember that she was trained by them to handle herself. It was as if the last 10 years never happened.

Taking a breath that shook Gwen blew out a breath and raised her face to her Aunt. “Thank you for coming to get me Lady St-Stark. Allow me to accompany you back.” She did not turn around but addressed Honora. Gwen did not want anyone else to suspect she was as upset as she was. “Lady Redwyne my a-apologies I had no idea that you would make it as e-easy to place a wager as all that. I would have just sent someone in my stead rather than drag my… family from their duties much less attire than normal, So very sorry that your father was too ill to attend Lady Redwyne we will be sure to share any curative recipes to help speed him along to health.” Keeping her eyes downcast lest anyone, namely Honora, Ashton, Arystide, Luci or Quinn see how close she was to tears spilling down her cheeks.

Turning to Honora and placing her 30 silver moons that were in a black velvet bag in Honora’s hand. Gwen kept her voice low. “I had hoped to ask you who you would favor to win but it seems that I would leave it in your hands to place this wager for House Carmyne. Again my apologies and my thanks.”

The respectful courtesy was made smoothly but the low tone belied the fact that Gwen was having a hard time keeping it together. She waited for Honora to acknowledge her and release her from the formality hoping that this would soothe things. Once Honora released her she had every intention of walking away and damn any of her family that decided to talk or touch her before she calmed down. She knew she wasn’t going to make it far before her frustration and anger spilled down her cheeks. Maybe it was dark enough that no one would notice.

Not bloody likely.

As the slights continued to be slung, Ashton said nothing. There were multiple reasons why, the first being that he was able to tell much more and to come to far more conclusions while being silent, and the second being that he didn't really have anything to say nor the capability of verbally sparring with anyone present. So, his eyes just continued to watch. Finally when Gwen started to move, Ashton stepped forward to walk with her. "Allow me to escort you to the tent opening Lady Carmyne." He glanced briefly at her family as he did so, a respectful nod of his head given towards the Stark delegation.

“This is what I attempted to prevent." She spoke softly, her voice warmer and more soothing, noticing the Hightower lad’s gaze, but shook her head slightly in an attempted warning. The last thing the girl probably wanted or desired was for them to see her in distress.

Honora took the bag, noticing her downcast gaze, recognizing the attempt to save herself more embarrassment and sighed. “I shall make the wagers for you, Lady Carmyne. And also please know that you are always welcome to return to the pavilion. If only next time as an honored guest of Lady Honora Redwyne, for I am certain I would enjoy our conversations very much."

She gave a well hidden soft squeeze to her hand as she took a step back and addressed Lord Brandon. “I believe you best escort your lady back, I assume not the entire family will be necessary to bring home one wayward ward? Especially not when the same display is used in the treatment of criminals and I hardly doubt one would wish to gain this particular comparison, as it would cast a nasty blemish on both Housebanners.”

The fact that Honora was willing to even speak so kindly to her made Gwen all the more frustrated and angry at the Starks. But even angry she noted the exchange between herself and Honora and her estimation of Honora rose. Gwen reached out and accepted Ashton’s escort to the end of the tent.

Gwen could make this work. She could. The fact that it was already commented on that it took a whole host of Starks or Northerners to get a single Riverlands girl would give more weight to any interest to anyone who took notice. They’d see a Northern house wanting to hang on to an eligible woman and wonder why. Gwen certainly had no clue and typically Uncle Bran didn’t play politics so she had no idea if he knew what to do with this situation. She was not going to relish that conversation. Mostly because he won’t see it the same way that a Southerner would. Gods dammit I am going to have a headache to rival the size of the North.

Brandon spoke first, with a slow answer as he released his temple. This was not his idea, but wolves had little say in the anger of bears. “Lady Redwyne, thank you for your attention. However, I may stay a moment longer. Your father is not present but I have matters to discuss that you could perhaps deliver to him on my behalf or at least arrange a meeting with us both after the tourney?"Gryffith turned to look at his father a moment raising an eyebrow, his father turning giving him a curt nod. Without a real look or hissed word they understood each other. “Gryffith will come with me for the time being."He shed the cloak he wore and passed it to his son who wrapped it around himself covering up what the vest did not.

“Ashe you will see our encampment is prepared for tonight... Time you took on your duties as my heir more seriously. You will see to Gwen's safe return and finally introduce your siblings to your bride to be." He spoke turning to the usually roguish and roughspun heir, yet his voice was steady and he showed no shock in being given the task.

“Understood, I’ll have everything done by the time you return." He bowed before his father, another shocking turn from one known to so openly cause trouble. He turned and left the tent, of course as he did he ascended on to the side of a passing cart then jumped onto crates.

Sylvara spoke next, she had not truly caught the more harsh insults woven into Honora’s speech. Northerners spoke plainly, ignoring the double speak of the courts and their games they had little use for. Grievances should be laid bare not hidden in speech or muttered in between niceties she looked at Mathias jerking her head back towards the entrance. “Come on Matty, if the little Wolf wants to borrow your training partner I’ll spar with ya! Too bad they don’t let women into the fights here. Bear island women be down here adorning men with pretty flowers and knocking southern lads into the dirt." Her culture and people were very different from many others.

Mathias however, his eyes wandered back to the woman who had clamored all over his body. He felt strangely wrong but excited as he repeated her words trying to understand why she might show interest in some bastard son of a barbarian northerner... Perhaps they didn’t see bastards the same way down here? “I... I thank you for the hospitality of your house." Mathias gave a deep and long bow before turning with his training sword and leaving.

Gwen might hear the wind rustle in trees or occasional out of place footsteps not in time with the rhythm of traffic. Knowing Ashe was following not trying to push but keeping her in sight and safe from shadows, or above, or elsewhere.

Honora curiously nodded in acceptance at Lord Brandon’s words. “For certain. I shall offer father your words as soon as I am able."

She turned to Arystide who stepped up and handed him the purse of coin. “Hold onto this for a moment. I trust you won’t take advantage of this rather opportune situation, if only because I will let slide the fact that I saw the sinister glare you cast at the poor Hightower lad. Be a good brother so I may depend on you for now." She demanded.

Arystide did nothing but nod with a low bow taking the bag over from her so she might focus on the remaining Starks, he stepped away nodding in acknowledgement to the Stark men, before leaving Honora with them.

“Well, you have my attention Lord Brandon. What words do you wish me to confer to my father?”

Are people ready to move on to boys beating one another or are their storylines requiring some tying up still?

We can wrap up the Redwyne pavilion in the next couple of days.
Food, Wine & Flirting: Part I

Below a midday sun, the Redwyne pavilion continued to attract a fast growing crowd. Knights still donning their armor, nobles in their finest and travelers from across Westeros had found their way to drink and make merry. Groups were spilled outside the pavilion which had by now, filled far beyond capacity, though none seemed to mind. The wine still poured, and the atmosphere was lively with the sounds of cheers, songs and boisterous laughter. Amidst this, the young pair of Loreon and Nyla had found space at the edge of a table. They sat beside one another, rather than across, and shared the table with a group they had so-far managed to avoid interaction with beyond a few glances and smiles. Perhaps it was improper that the two sat so close. Loreon didn’t care.

They were enjoying their second round of Arbor Reds, with a third drink on the table before them, too, but not a goblet of wine - instead, it was a delicate and wide glass with clear liquid. A ‘dornish kiss’, or so they had been told when the wine-pourer insisted they also take a glass. They had agreed to share it between them, a strategy that was from now to be employed on all unique offerings at the pavilion bars. "You ought to try it first, you’re braver than me.", he spoke through a grin while raising a goblet to his lips. The wine was going down well, and their promise of pacing themselves seemed weaker by the goblet. The pair had spent the time till now catching up on their lives, and Nyla had no shortage of courtly gossip to spill.

"I'm only brave because you are by my side." She grinned before pulling the glass closer. It smelled like her childhood. Like water gardens and orange groves and the hot beating sun. Not home though. Dorne had not been her home for a long time. Eyeing Loreon, she shot him a playful smile. "If I die, you can't have my dresses." Nyla laughed before taking a generous drink. She felt a warmth spread throughout her body, racing across her skin, all the way to her fingertips and her toes. Her nose scrunched up at the strong hit of alcohol, ruining any attempt to appear unfazed.

A new bard, one she did not recognise, had begun strumming a jaunty tune, darting about the crowd as his voice began to rise over the exuberant chatter. How much she wished to dance. She laughed once more, eyes lighting up at the lively ballad before holding out the glass to her companion. "I believe it's your turn Ser Loreon."

Accepting the drink, the pair took the discreet opportunity to press their hands against one another. Her skin was soft to the touch, warm and unblemished by the labours of life - but, as were Loreon’s. Unlike many of his counterparts, swordplay was yet to leave his hands coarse or callused, and the blessings of youth still lay upon him. As the veterans of combat in the marches would disparage, he remained a summer knight.

Swirling the drink, Loreon brought it up to his eyeline. "They say the Dornish Kiss is sweeter than the fruits of summer. Impossible to forget.", he locked eyes with her thereafter, the curl of a smirk in one corner of his lips before his gaze snapped back to the drink. In one effort, he shot the remainder and set the glass down. His posture straightened immediately as the sudden warmth and strength of strong alcohol traveled through him. A contented sigh fell from his lips, as he folded his arms onto the table, leaning forward and into her. "I’ve missed this, Princess.", he locked eyes with her. Emerald green against the perfect shade of her own, dark eyes. "I should have made for the capital sooner and, in future, I will." He leaned closer still, "For now? … we’ve a lot of time to make up for."

Serenei was hounding her little brother who in turn sought refuge with Arystide and Finnegan. "Manny dear, come on, play me the Star of the Summer Town, you’ve been hiding yourself from me and you know you sing better than whatever that current fool is singing."

Armand however, had no interest in pleasing his sister at the moment. He wasn’t keen on making a fool out of himself for all those people and Sissi had always been too pushy that he’d rather not give her the satisfaction of convincing him now.

Arystide and Finnegan grinned at him, shrugging their shoulders as they drank. “She’s right, you know." Arystide told him.

Armand gave him a glare that told him to keep his blathering mouth shut and not give Serenei more ammunition than she already had. "I am my own person and I will decide whether I am going to play or not." He told them off, brushing past Finnegan, who tried to keep his wine in his goblet by rebalancing and adjusting his posture. Arbor Red left notorious stains when spilled. Casting a warning glare at Armand, he quickly took a good swallow out of it, to avoid further dancing around.

As the hours passed and the sun fell gradually to dusk, the low fires of braziers and torches lit the pavilion grounds which were, by now, impossibly full of drunken revelers. Wine was being spilled, dances had and rowdy laughter shared. A troupe of minstrels was performing a popular rendition of the Bear and Maiden Fair, with eager participation of the crowds at the chorus, “The bear! The bear! / All black and brown and covered with hair?".

Sat in the same spot as they had been for hours, Nyla and Loreon found themselves in one of the less well-lit areas of the pavilion, luckily for them. Lucky it was, for the fewer who saw their present transgression, the better. Their lips were pressed against one another, Loreon’s hand at the side of her neck and his other caressing her cheek - her own arms brought around his back. The spontaneous moment, driven by wine and years of restraint, lasted only seconds but felt an eternity to both. In that fleeting moment, the noise of songs and yells was silenced, their stresses and worries cast aside. For those precious seconds, they only felt one another.

As they broke the kiss and brought their foreheads together, any continuation of the moment was rudely interrupted by a call of Loreon’s name. They acted instinctively, releasing one another and shifting to a more respectable distance, though any worry was soon eased by the figure that approached. Ser Jon Heddle - a hedge knight and friend of Loreon’s - stumbled toward them. The rest of his words were spoken in a tongue known only to the drunk, and as soon as he had appeared, he had vanished into another crowd. A quiet laugh escaped Loreon as he witnessed the spectacle, and he soon after pressed himself up from the bench, offering Nyla an arm and invitation to wander the crowd.

By the time that the sun touched the horizon and the sky lit up like dragonfire Gwen and her Aunts, along with a couple of maids, had decided to go to the Redwyne pavilion again. As Luci pointed out, they had not placed their bets on who they thought would win the contests at the tournament. Gwen had decided to take a page from her Uncle and Aunties books and lay down. Sleeping she knew that she dreamed but not what she dreamed about. Gwen smiled, chalking up to normal girlish dreams about knights in shining armor and dashing young men.

The Aunties chatted with the maids as Gwen stayed silent marking phrases that set off her curiosity. Phrases like who was looking for a wife, who had come into a title, Ser Hogg. From what Gwen could tell the knight was not looking for a wife and so rolled her eyes each time that the Aunties and maids brought him up in conversation. There is no way he is better looking than either Arystide or Ashton. She blushed thinking of the two.

The pavilion occupants had swelled to at least twice, maybe thrice what it had been when Gwen had been there earlier. Looking around she saw a couple that looked as if they were deeply in love. The girl had a flowing beautiful blush dress that complimented her tanned skin. Gwen couldn’t help but compare herself to the girl. Her deep brown hair caught the colors of the candles and brought a warm glow of a golden hue. The man beside her was a handsome man and clearly taken with her. Gwen smiled and cleared her throat. "Hello." Granted it was simple but sometimes to meet new people, one she might be distantly related to if his belt was anything to go by.

As Gwen spoke, Nyla suddenly stopped in place, halting the pair's slow meander over towards the throng of dancers. "Oh hello?" She chimed back, mimicking the woman's greeting albeit with a greater, and decidedly intoxicated, enthusiasm.
People swum by them, each party too absorbed in their own enjoyment to pay attention to that of others. It was only the bard's music and the promise of more wine that led them in any meaningful direction at all. Some, despite this, had still managed to end up on the floor.

Equally oblivious to any outside their small circle, Nyla's dark brown eyes roamed over the strangers face. It did not concern her that they had not met before and she was not the type to worry over the proper formalities or civilities. "I don't think we have met before..." Nyla smiled. "But you are very beautiful! If you don't mind me saying. Though I already said it, so I suppose it's too late..." She gushed happily, a hand still resting easily against Loreon's upper arm. Her face was flushed pink, possibly from alcohol or possibly from their earlier indiscretions. Both were most likely to be the case.

Gwen blushed at the compliment. "Well someone as beautiful as yourself would be the authority on beauty. We have not been introduced sadly, but let me rectify that. My name is Gwendolyn Carmyne. My friends call me Gwen." She turned to her Aunties. "This is my Aunt Luci Carmyne." Luci smiled sweetly and nodded. Gwen then turned to indicate her other Aunt. "And this is my Aunt Quinn Carmyne. We are all of House Carmyne of Redfield." Looking back and forth between the couple she finished with, "I am the daughter of Mina Carmyne née Lefford and Bram Carmyne."

The smile took on a self deprecating twist. "Not that you'd have cause to note it. I'm afraid that I don't know my cousins on my mother's side as well due to being a Ward of House Stark."

Loreon couldn’t place House Carmyne, but vaguely recognised the name. So many nobles, how could he be blamed for failing to keep track? Instead, his attention was caught by mention of the Starks. "A ward of House Stark?", he asked wryly. "Pray tell what grievous sins you are guilty of, to have deserved such a wretched fate." He couldn’t mask the faint, condescending laugh. Nyla squeezed at his arm subtly, encouraging him to play nice.

“I know the Leffords.", he spoke through the shadow of a smirk that still remained. "Lucky thing that you haven’t inherited their looks." Inclining his head thereafter, the knight finally introduced himself. "Loreon Lannister."

Nyla was unable to suppress a giggle as her companion spoke of the Starks. "So cruel Loreon." She quipped teasingly before turning to address Gwen once more. "Do you not miss the sun in the north? I think I would be very sad without it! Even Kings Landing is not hot enough for my liking." The young girl shrugged her shoulders lightly. "Though I suppose that is a given for anyone born of Dorne….I'm Nyla Martell, by the way." She added as an afterthought.

Arystide couldn’t help but circle around the tent, spotting familiar knights, lords and certainly their ladies. Here and there he joked with lowly hedge knights and caused quite a ruckus when he asked an elderly lady for a dance, much to the chagrin of her drinking husband. Still aside from the silent threats, the Lord remained seated and Arystide behaved like a perfect host, his eyes catching sight of his sister dropping herself in Tyrell’s lap and seeing Armand enter with a young lady at his arm. Hightower? The spin had been too quickly to have noticed the sigil.

Still as he ended the dance, kissing the lady’s hand and thanking her for graciously accompanying him on the dancefloor, she in turn slapped his arm, stating he was a handsome devil that would one day be the bane of his lady. Arystide bowed to her before retreating like a grinning madman. A flash of red caught his eye. Instinctually he perked up, seeing the familiar face of the fair Lady Gwen Carmyne. With her stood the bronzed skin of what could only be a Dornish Lady, a Martell if his eyes did not deceive him and rather close to her was the familiar blonde of Lannister Lions.
Though this one was…this wasn’t the heir…then he had to be the second son and tourneyknight. If anything it was all the same to Arystide as a grin graced his lips.
‘Time to have some fun.’ He thought as he approached them.

“Well, well, well, what a merry party we have here, hmm?" He asked, slapping Loreon on the shoulder with a little more weight using it to come between them. “I thought I smelled Blood Oranges…or was it Lemons? Anyway…the sweet perfume of Dorne as always rises to the occasion." He said before taking Nyla’s hand and kissing it.

“I hope the man has not mistreated you, fair ladies." He said winking at Gwen as he released Nyla’s hand and moved over to her.

“I haven’t had the pleasure of dancing with you yet, my Crimson Lady." He stated, taking her hand in his and kissing it as well, though this time on the inside of her wrist.

“I am sorry sweet lady Martell, but alas I have but one pair of arms and one pair of feet. Whilst I would gladly offer you a dance as well, I am certain his blonde Lordship would not approve. Why as he glares at me I can only hope for you that the Lion proves less sour of a puss in when he kisses you." He asked with a good deal of cheek, grinning like a mad cat.

Gwen's blush deepened and her breath caught as Arystide kissed the inside of her wrist. She swallowed and cleared her throat smiling. "Captain behave." She allowed him to keep her wrist but stayed her ground rather than moving to his arms. Gwen quickly realized how awkward it would be to have her wrist captured while ignoring Arystide.

Fighting not to blush at the racing of her pulse when Arystide placed his lips there. Gwen was losing beautifully, and decidedly ignoring the awkwardness as she addressed Loreon. "Thank you for the compliment My Lord. My grandmother always said that I took after distant cousins. I assumed it was on my mother's side. Possibly very distant relations. I don't believe I have committed any grievous sins. My parents are dead and my grandmother was a Stark so perhaps it is that?"

Turning her head toward Nyla and grinning, Gwen stated. "We still see the sun in the North. But the sight of sparkling snow is worth all the cold."

“Both parents dead, and sent to the North? The Gods don’t like you, do they. It’s a wonder you haven’t followed your parents. I would, if I was cursed to that frozen waste." Loreon didn’t bother to inquire to the fate of her late parents. In truth, he didn’t much care - nor did he care for the redhead that had thrown himself into conversation with less grace than an auroch, who he had opted simply to ignore. The redhead was, in fact, a prime example of why he was never fond of socializing. Most people were just insufferable.

He ran a hand through his hair idly, with a look about for the nearest wine counter. That was their plan after all, before they found themselves intercepted. Now, his prospects had fallen from more wine - and whatever else - with Nyla, to being a prisoner of smalltalk. The Gods were cruel.

“And, I’m not a Lord. That’s my father.", he offered with some condescension. The kind reserved for northerners. His gaze moved slowly to Arystide, who was still clutching her wrist. "… what was that about no sins? Seems our Crimson Lady’s just found one."

Arystide kept a close eye on the Lannister, smiling politely. If the little snark wanted a fight he would give him one. "Assuredly, now you say so, I see you’re neither the old Lion nor his heir. Which brings you into my territory, a second son." He moved over to Gwen’s side, partly to put himself between them and also give himself some space should things turn ugly.

Turning first to Gwen again gently turning his grip to hold her hand tenderly in his.
“Please my lady, for you I would sail to the far ends and bring you the sun. But I beg of thee, a dance tonight. So people know, this poor, lucky sinner caught the notice of a star from the heavens." He spoke gently to her giving her his full attention and kissing her knuckles again, before lowering her hand a little so she could pull hers free if she so desired. His expression hardened, the smile turned sharper as he turned to Loreon, giving back what he received, without fear.

“Still, one would expect some polite conversation, no matter whether one is capable or not." He spoke with an air of lighthearted indulgence, before his tone of voice slowly grew more menacing, carefully balanced shifting from carefree to severe for those that paid attention. "I see you seem to find it particularly hard. Offering them naught but a slashing of your sour temper and veiled pretenses. Is it the lack of wine? Or are you suffering from painful bowel movements? Which I imagine can be tough if there is truth in your saying: ‘Lannisters shitting gold’." He clapped back, his eyes had turned as sharp as a sword edge and the glare in his eyes was prevalent, while his smile remained.

“Is that why you are so desperately glancing around? If you need directions, I am more than happy to oblige, wouldn’t want to cause a scene now would we? Not in front of the fair ladies."

At the mention of fair ladies Nylas attention was pulled back to the small party. It had not taken her long to become disinterested in the tense back and forth. Yet she did not deign to add to the conversation, simply offered a yawn and stretched her arms languidly above her head. It was men like this that made Loreons forthrightness ever more appealing. She did not care for silver-tongued speeches that, at least in her admittedly very limited experience, hid the true character lying underneath. There were many many men at Kings Landing who were full of soft and beautiful words. There were fewer still who seemed truly kind.

"I'm bored, Loreon. Will you come and dance with me? Or shall we get some more wine?" She finally announced, firmly taking a hold of his hand. The warmth of his skin next to hers was pleasant and she found that she would be happy to not let go for a while. "It was lovely to meet you Gwen. We should sit besides one another at the Tourney on the morrow. I think I would like to hear more about Winterfell and its sparkling snow." The young Martell shot her a bright smile before disappearing into the crowd, pulling the Lion along with her.

The tension between the men was thick enough to choke. Gwen tilted her head at Arystide. He is being rather protective. Not that I mind but I don't fancy a fight. Besides, drinking makes tongues lose and inhibitions even looser. I came to help Gryffith and place wagers with my Aunties on behalf of Uncle Tobias for the House. Eye on the target. Speak to Honora. Place wagers. Then a dance or two won't hurt anything. Right?

Squeezing Arystide's hand that was holding hers, Gwen smiled at him. Nyla yawned and spoke up inviting Gwen to sit with her during the tournament. Gwen catching Nyla's eye nodded eagerly, smiling as the beautiful Dornish girl spoke.
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