ꜰᴀʟʟᴏᴡ ʜɪʟʟ, ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪᴠᴇʀʟᴀɴᴅs
Dutifully following her father’s request, Ariella made her way from the stables back into the keep, heading toward her mother’s chambers, where she expected she might be spending the afternoon what with Ashton and Ser Baldric having kept such a close eye on things. On her way there, however, a servant girl informed her that Lady Priscilla was actually in the Great Hall. Right, it was probably time for lunch; Ariella had a bad habit of losing track of meals.
She adjusted her course to the Great Hall, but halted outside the door for a moment before entering, drawing a long breath. Something about speaking with her mother was always so… taxing,
that Ariella often took a moment to prepare. Rearranging her plaited braid and tugging at the slim sleeves of her plain green riding dress, she wondered if perhaps she should have changed into something a bit more formal, befitting of her station, before calling upon the Lady of the House. With a sigh, though, she simply smoothed her skirts and steeled herself for the conversation; it wasn’t as if her dress would change her mother’s opinion of her much, anyway.
Back straight and head high, Ariella entered the Great Hall wearing a familiar smile, though she was surprised to find her mother alone, and not eating. A bit strange, but her mother’s habits had always had just the slightest twist. She wondered if perhaps the stress of her father and brother’s absence was affecting her mother’s appetite, but decided she wouldn’t question it. For now.
Approaching the table, Ariella offered a small curtsy and a smile. “Good afternoon, Mother,”
she greeted warmly, placing a hand on a nearby chair back, “I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear, Father and Edmund have just returned, a little ahead of the retinue but both in one piece.”
The hall had been cleared out by now and the only thing that filled the room was silence. She had sat down in the chair that Ashton placed himself in moments ago and let out a brief sigh. So many questions were running through her head right now. How was Edmund? How was Edwyn? When were they going to return to Fallow Hill? When they be in one piece? Priscilla raised a hand up to rub her temples as her head began to hurt a bit. Another sigh slipped out but then she thought about Ashton rising up to take the reigns. It was really, really impressive to her and while she had that on her mind now, she couldn’t wait until she saw either Edwyn or Edmund first because boy, she was fuming and would really like to get her hands on either one of them right now.
Everything aside, she had finally straightened herself up in the chair, just as the doors opened up to the Great Hall. Her face had gleamed up because she had hoped that it’d be Edwyn coming to meet with her but it was Ariella instead. She rolled her eyes while Ariella was still at a distance then sat back in the chair and gave her the side-eye a bit.
Priscilla scoffed at the curtsy and smile and her warm tone. She was happy to hear the news but why was Ariella delivering this news instead of the Lord of the house. Why wasn’t Edwyn coming to her first? Sure, their marriage is basically at a dead end but he could’ve still had the decency to come and greet her, couldn’t he? Priscilla just placed that thought in the back of her mind and tried, yes tried
to make an attempt with Ariella while they had this moment alone.❝I see.❞
She spoke rather plainly but managed to smile at least. ❝But why isn’t Edwyn here to let me know about his return?❞
She had questioned then stood up to turn and face Ariella now with those piercing blue eyes of hers. ❝Did he send you here to let me know, Ariella?❞
Her question and tone were more direct now as if she demanded an answer from her, which she really did.
Ariella stayed in place, unflinching as her mother stood, affected only inwardly by her dismissive manner and remarks. She supposed she couldn’t expect much more than that. Her brow furrowed just a touch, but her expression remained amiable as she replied. “Yes,”
she told her mother, voice gentle. “I expect he went straight off somewhere to check on things. I’m sure he won’t be able to relax until he’s had a second look at everything that’s happened in his absence.”
Ariella’s voice took on a hint of amusement; despite urging the man to relax, the image of him poring over every Maester’s document for the past three months in the middle of the night seemed typical.
Priscilla's eyes were locked on Ariella and her mannerisms at the moment. She looked for any moment that Ariella would feel vulnerable before she’d go in for a strike but this daughter of hers was definitely her father through and though and nothing like her. It was quite obvious. ❝Even more excuses.❞
She said with the wave of her hand. ❝The man is seemingly filled with them.❞
Priscilla spat as she walked closer toward Ariella now and propped her elbow upon the back of the chair that she had sat in moments ago.❝Tell me, Ariella...❞
She had a smirk creep between her red stained lips now and her gaze was locked with Ariella’s. ❝Do you miss Morgain at all?❞
There it was. That dreadful question that Priscilla repeatedly asked Ariella on multiple occasions previously. ❝Think about him much?❞
She asked as she waited for the reaction from Ariella. It was something she was really expecting.
Ariella’s smile faltered to a more neutral expression, as it often had before, and her eyes hardened. Seven Hells, why was this woman like this? Was she having a bad day and wanted someone to take it out on? It was as if she got some sick pleasure from her daughter’s grief, a grief she
should have shared in droves. According to that little smirk, though, apparently, the disappearance of her firstborn son
was little more than a game to Lady Landry.
Composing herself, Ariella offered a sad little smile, loath for her mother to bring out the worst in her. “Every day,”
she replied calmly, not looking away from her mother’s gaze. “Don’t you?”
Priscilla’s head snapped over to Ariella as she turned the question back to her. How dare she ask that? She did bore him after all. She had missed Morgain since she had heard and learned of his disappearance. She cried herself in the confines of her room but remained strong in public for the family but of course, Ariella did not need to know all of that, so she just gave the nod of her head as a response then walked past Ariella to walk down three steps.
She had sighed when her feet reached the floor beneath her now, remembering seeing little Morgain run around this hall. Her eyes briefly closed and a smile wandered over her lips but she soon turned heel to face Ariella again, a sigh escaped over her parted lips now. ❝He was my firstborn son, after all. Heir to Fallow Hill.❞
She spoke with a little glee. ❝How could I not miss him? Do you think I am that cold, Ariella?❞
The first question was obviously rhetorical while the other question was meant for a response. No matter how truthful Ariella might’ve given her one.
Ariella stayed in place, following her mother with her eyes. Oh, how quickly she changed her tune. After all this time, so many repetitions of that awful question, Ariella couldn’t tell if it was sincere, or all an act.
Of course, she couldn’t just snap, tell her mother what she really
thought and run off in a huff like a child. It was unbecoming of her station, and like it or not, disrespecting her mother so blatantly was a crime she couldn’t bring herself to commit.
So, she just took a tired breath, and sighed. “Grief weighs on us all,”
she replied, glancing down in concession and hoping her response was demure enough to quell her mother’s apparent upset.
That reply of Ariella’s bothered her but she did not show it, really. Priscilla just stood there still on the bottom floor from the steps and eyed her only daughter with the shake of her head. ❝Ariella, you are too young to know what real grief is like.❞
She commented with the flick of her hand in the air then stood up, a bit stiffened. She had shrugged her shoulders, completely wanting to forgo the whole conversation and quickly changed the subject matter onto something that was on hand.❝Where is your father, by chance?❞
Priscilla asked as if she didn’t want to continue their previous conversation, which she really didn’t but had her own way of deflecting things. ❝Do you even know?❞
She questioned her with a huff then rolled her eyes as if Ariella had already answered that she had no idea. Priscilla was fuming but it wasn’t directed towards Ariella, who was just really caught in the crossfire right now. She did feel bad but at the same time, she didn’t feel too bad. It was all a toss up for her right now.
Ariella somehow doubted that response; two years into Morgain’s disappearance and the thought of it still opened a fresh wound each time, as if some phantom had come and cleaved off a piece of her. Sometimes it troubled her so that she could scarcely breathe; no wonder, for she was certain Morgain had taken one of her lungs with him when he vanished.
But there was no talking to her mother when she was like this. Suppressing another sigh, Ariella simply folded her hands in front of her, replying, “If I were to venture a guess, I’d say he’s in his study.”
When Ariella gave her response, she’d nod her head then turn heel to walk out of the Great Hall. No bye, see you at dinner or anything and honestly, that was the type of relationship that they shared with one another. While it pained Priscilla internally, she had to act like it didn’t. Outwardly, she showed that greatly. Almost too great to make Ariella actually believe it. She did as Ariella had said then stood before Edwyn’s study door. Her stomach tossed and turned and her throat gulped as she raised up her lightly closed fist then knocked on the door. This might’ve been a mistake.
Priscilla couldn’t help but think as she just stood there, waiting.