(514-03-24) Rescuing Ladies and Feeding Them Porkchops
Summary: Caerwyn and his squire ride unto a lady in distress - he brings her home and feeds her pork chops.
Date: March 24, 514
Related: None
caerwyn heulwen 

The hour is growing rather late, and although the sun is still visible in the sky, the dark orange sphere has begun its steady descent below the horizon. Streaks of pink and dark purple arc overhead, lacing the wispy cirrus clouds with the romantic shades of dusk. 'Tis not a time for ladies to be on the road between city and home, but alas it appears this one has been met with some dilemma.

That is to say - her horse has something stuck in its shoe. The lady in question, one dark-haired Heulwen, has manuevered the equally dark mare off to the side of the road, and is standing some few feet away while supervising the removal of a rather large stone. Her diminutive, fair-haired ladys' maid is hovering near her elbow, anxiously twisting her thin fingers in the blue folds of Wen's cloak while observing the helpful local lad who is currently bent over at the waist and tending to his manly duty. "Oh, Bree, do be still. You are making me nervous, and there isn't a reason to be," Heulwen mutters, nudging the maid with an elbow to get her to back away or at least stop fidgeting. Wen turns her head to gaze westward briefly, squinting down the long, wide road that leads toward home.

A storm of dust precedes the trot-a-lot of horse hooves pounding the poorly paved road to the western horizon. The stretch of road between the free city of Wilton and Castle Sarum is relatively safe. Relatively. This year's crop has been hard, given the sleet, and driven honest men to banditry. But no bandit prowling these roads would have a full set of rouncies. It's either a knight or a robber baron. It's at a loud shout ('Hail!') that the train stops, and it's clear that the invaders that have come are merely two men in armor. Dark of hair, pale of skin, Caerwyn de Burcombe sits atop his horse, studying Heulwen and her maid from a safe distance (within arrow point, but out of stone's throw), before inclining his head towards his squire. He simply sits there, mounted, silently surveying the pair, before he clicks his tongue against his teeth and guides his horse closer. "Maidens fair, need you any assistance?" His voice is a clarion call, crisp and beautiful, the slope of his eyebrows dark and curious. His eyes themselves are glowing emeralds. What manner of fae or man is this?

Heulwen checked her heraldry of 9, she rolled 8.

The sound of horses draws Heulwen's attention to the west once more, and whatever blubbering sentiment Briallen was offering to her lady dies on her tongue. The noblewoman is possibly of a slightly sounder constitution, for she doesn't descend into a wimpering mass of quivering feminine flesh at the sight of mounted men approaching. She counts the two, studies briefly their accoutrements, and then arches one thin eyebrow in what could be interpreted as a haughty manner. Her lips twitch as if perhaps she would offer a smile, but the expression dies too quickly to count. "You are kind to inquire, sir," she replies with a brief bob of her head, and her gaze lingers on Caerwyn's tabard for a few seconds more before swinging away. Instead, she looks back to her horse, which is still being tended to—no wait, scratch that.

The young man who had offered his assitance in dislodging the rock as either succeeded in his mission or decided it was much too late in the day to be bothered by everyone. Heulwen watches the dirty drab of his breeches as he scurries back toward Sarum and its perceived safety. Her shoulders hunch beneath her cloak, and she mutters seemingly nonsense syllables beneath her breath as she reaches for her mount's reins. One hand falls to the mare's wither, fingers tangling in the mane, and she turns back to Caerwyn with a decidely thunderous expression. Her tone, however, is cool and civil, if not particularly sweet and maidenly. "A rock, or so I was lead to believe." She gestures to the mount in invitation, should he feel so inclined to descend and double-check the stranger's work.

"What manner of rock is this that it'll unhorse a lady?" Caerwyn grins before dismounting with a swing of his leg over. He drops to the floor and then saunters with a slight swagger, covers the ground quickly. Spry, lithe and light on his feet, the knight leans forward and then glances at the rock, then the horse's shoe. He dips down on his knees and crouches, glancing at it. No permanent damage, it seems. "Shhhh, shhh," he calls, as he places his hands on the horse's muzzle, letting it breathe him in. When the horse gets acquainted with him enough, he dips down again and lifts one leg, studying the shoe. "… She stepped on what looks like a… caltrop?"

Immediately, Caerwyn unslings his wooden heater shield from his back and in one fluid swipe, draws his sword. "To arms!”

Heulwen watches carefully, and when Caerwyn draws close to the horse, she slides backward just out of arm's reach. Her hand glides down along the mare's back, and when she leans over to watch him lift the leg, locks of hair fall forward over her shoulders. "I was not unhorsed," she replies somewhat tartly, "but she was moving slowly and I could tell she had a limp, so I stopped." With a sigh, she straightens and throws back the folds of her cloak, fanning herself with a hand despite the cold spring breeze. Perhaps the delay in her travel has her flustered.

She turns away, glancing toward Sarum, and then back to Caerwyn as he announces his discovery. "Wait, she stepped on a wha—oh, Lord above preserve me!" The loud, telltale ring of drawn steel causes her to jump inadvertently and a series of events follows rather quickly. Her elbow bumps the horses in the rump, who proceeds to rear up in startlement. This then causes Briallen to shriek in a much more maidenly manner and fling herself to the ground (because that is the wise thing to do, obviously). Heulwen scrabbles backward, and then tries to leap for the loose rein. It slips out of her grasp, dancing off of her fingertips, and the mare takes the opportunity to depart. Dust rises in her wake, casting a gray cloud over the group and leaving Heulwen half-crouched and reaching toward Briallen.

"… Alecwin, go after that horse!"

Caerwyn tips his chin up and glances into the distance at the disappearing horse, before turning back to the squire. Judging the ride, and his squire and the possibility of bandits, Caerwyn decides instead to hold the line instead. He takes a step back, before assuming a crouch in front of Heulwen and her maid. His squire, a lad of fifteen with straw-colored hair and a sprinkle of freckles on his skin, races off like the wind to catch up to the disappearing horse. "… Worry not, m'Lady. Your horse shall be fine, and my squire is a fair rider. Are you in need of assistance?”

A flustered glance at the departing horse and his squire in full chase, and then back to the lady and her quivering feminine mass of a maiden (weren't those the words used?) and Caerwyn lowers his shield a tick. "… I might've mistaken the metal caught in your horse's shoe for a caltrop - it might just have been an arrowhead leftover from an old battle from Sarum proper, aye?" He sheathes his sword again and then wears his shield again, before dipping down into a bow. "Caerwyn de Burcombe, at your service. May I inquire your name, milady?”

There is rather a great deal of muttering and grunting as Heulwen manages to pry Briallen's hands away from her face. Another moment and she gets the maiden up onto her feet and against her side. With her arm slung over the girl's shoulder, the two back up another step or two - position as well behind Caerwyn as they can possibly be. She turns her head from side to side, neck craning and round eyes gone even rounder as she peers into the growing darkness for any shifting telltale shadows of the impending bandits. All seems relatively quiet, however, leaving the noblewoman rather nonplussed. She turns these same wide eyes upon the Burcombe knight, and - despite the dimness of dusk - a flush of irritation creeps its way up her neck and over her cheeks.

"An arrowhead?" she inquires, flummoxed nearly into speechlessness, and she shakes Briallen a bit in the hope that the girl will come to her senses now that the danger has passed; or rather, now that the danger has never been. "Sir Caerwyn," Wen continues, letting the name roll over her tongue. "De Burcombe." Mmhmm. With a barely restrained snort, she reaches up to push hair back from her face. "Heulwen—de Dinton. Are you sure your man will be able to fetch my horse? She's rather spirited.”

"… Yes, absolutely," Caerwyn says, before breaking into his usual smirk. He glances Heulwen up and down, before studying Briallen a bit. "… I suppose this is where I carry you off and make off with your innocence and your happily planned future?" He clears his throat and then glances into the distance. "M'Lady, I can promise that I will -not- do such a thing," he says with amusement, "But let's get your horse first and we'll talk about what the other Dintons say about House Burcombe then, aye?" He tips an imaginary hat in Heulwen's direction, before resting his hand on his hilt, looking into the distance. "I expect my squire to be back soon. I believe I have a pair of tongs to remove the arrowhead with. Are you Dinton-bound or Sarum-bound, m'Lady?" He curiously gauges the horse's direction, before regarding Heulwen and her maiden again. "… You can tell her she's safe. I may believe in the Old Ways, but even the Old Ways don't look kindly on carrying off your neighbors' sisters.”

"Oh what utter nonsense," Heulwen replies quickly - too quickly to be stopped - and although she looks momentarily mortified at having uttered it out loud, she straightens her back and follows through with the rest of the thought. "My apologies, Sir, if I inadvertently gave you the impression of fearing my end at your hands." She dips her head briefly, glancing sidelong to Briallen who has since shut her mouth and subsided into a wide-eyed silence at her lady's side. "Home, Dinton-bound. My brother…" Hmm. Rather than finish that thought, Wen flicks the fingers of her left hand dismissively before her arm disappears beneath the fold of her cloak.

Stepping forward, the noblewoman all but drags her maiden along beside her as she closes the distance with the knight. Propriety, of course, is observed: she remains perhaps within arm's reach, perhaps not. It does not seem she can keep quite so still, however, and she shifts from foot to foot as if she had a caltrop stuck in her own shoe. "What I meant was I hope your mounts were not winded already; Ffion is very energetic, and may give your squire a proper run through the brush. Thank you, sir, for your help in the matter. Are you bound for Sarum, or—?"

"I was bound for Sarum to deliver a message of middling import," Caerwyn says with a dismissive wave of his hand, to match her own dismissive wave. He pauses, before indicating the tiny speck galloping after the other tiny speck in the distance - "My squire can make the rest of the trip and I can escort you to Dinton Manor, if you'd like. We can stop at Burcombe Manor, restock on vittles, and water the horses for a rest, before we make our way to the Dinton lands proper, if you'd like? Hospitality is mine to grant, and happily, m'Lady." Why! Not the cad that he's reported to be, but Caerwyn's acting the utter gentleman. He presses his hand to his heart and dips down into a bow. "If you wish. These roads are not safe. Arrowhead or caltrop notwithstanding, reports of bandits in the forest south have been, alas, too common.”

Heulwen listens quietly to the offer, and she stares rather intently and unabashedly at Caerwyn. Her lower lip slips between her teeth, and she worries it briefly while considering her choices…but it isn't a very difficult one to make, family relations notwithstanding. "If you are sure it isn't an imposition—but of course you would know your own business best. Very well, I accept your offer, and please accept my gratitude for your hospitality." She dips her head again, and even stoops into a curtsey in response to his most courtly bow. Why! Not all Dintons must suffer from stick-up-the-backside syndrome after all. Briallen seems less inclined to view the invitation of an escort as the boon it is, and she tugs at her lady's cloak before leaning in to murmur something to Heulwen. Whatever is said, however, is not considered of much import; Wen shakes her head briefly, dislodging a lock of hair from her loose bun, and looks back to Caerwyn. "Perhaps we should begin walking that way, so as to meet your squire on his return?”

Caerwyn checked his flirting at 8, he rolled 7.

"As you wish, m'Lady," Caerwyn says, pressing his hand to his heart and dipping down into a bow. The pale knight - I looked and behold, an ashen horse, and he who sat upon it had the name Death - cants his head to stare Dinton bound. He stares back just as intently - perhaps a little longer than would be considered polite. He has these green eyes like hard emerald, bright with both intelligence and the sly promise of something else - which he uses to good effect. He finally glances away and holds onto his horse's reins, walking slowly down the hill. "Manor Burcombe is in that direction," he gestures, indicating a small tower in the distance prevailing over a few chimneys spouting smoke into the darkening sky.

Alecwin, the squire, is a prodigious rider indeed. When he comes back around, he's got the reins of the horse in one fistful, galloping to catch up with Caerwyn and company. He gives a wild whoop (pagan boys, crazy like none else) before kicking up a storm of dust and coming to a stop, both horses at his command.

Caerwyn upnods at the horse. "May I help you up on your horse, Lady Heulwen?" He holds out one hand and smiles.

She may be stoic, but she isn't dead on her feet. Heulwen is the first to break the stare, and she clears her throat quietly as a blush blossoms over her cheeks. Briallen's own eyes, a fine watery blue, narrow suspiciously. In order to brush away the moment, she glides forward briskly and falls into step beside the knight. The sight of chimney smoke curling into the twilit sky is like a domestic beacon offering the warmth and comfort of home, and Wen cannot help the smile that tugs at the corners of her mouth. "I do look forward to warming my fingers for a moment. In the giddiness of escaping winter, one forgets that spring nights can still be biting."

Silence follows for a moment, but is quickly broken by Alecwin's approach. This stops Heulwen, and she half-turns to watch the approach. It is easy enough to admire the grace and skill of a fine horseman, and she does so with a lift of her chin and an amused smile. "Yes, thank you," Wen murmurs, accepting the offered hand without a thought in order to mount her now docile mare.

With a light touch, Caerwyn helps Heulwen onto her horse - his touch lingers there for a second and he helps her up… and then that touch is gone just as quickly. He doesn't blush - fair hand at this flirting game as he is - but instead, quickly hops aboard his horse. "Your maiden can ride with my squire. He's a bonny lass and his mare is a strong one. If that is alright with her." Without waiting for approval, Caerwyn clicks his teeth and rides ahead, only turning back to lure Heulwen with that emerald gaze again.

Behind, Alecwin offers one hand and a lackadaisical grin. On his horse, or you walk! A 6th century version of 'My Way or the Highway', apparently.

Heulwen takes up the reins in one hand while using the other to smooth down her dress briefly. She nods to Briallen, stemming the tide of complaint that was rising - if the girl's open mouth were any indication. Thus the maiden is left to squirm shyly for a moment before reaching up a tentative hand to accept the squire's offer. She belts out a high-pitched squeak as she is hoisted into the saddle. With a click of her tongue, Wen nudges her mare into a trot in order to bring her up alongside Caerwyn's mount; whether she is lured by his gaze or not, however, is a matter of some debate. "I am curious, Sir Caerwyn," she calls across the gap between their horses while keeping her gaze trained upon the road ahead; "Do you make a habit of rescuing young ladies from terrible predicaments? I observe that you are rather practised.”

"Moreso than of putting young ladies in such terrible predicaments, I wager," Caerwyn says airily before urging his horse into a mild canter down the road towards Manor Burcombe. "But no. I'm too often tending home and hearth to be on the road often enough to rescue ladies - I am rather oft tending to lordly business. Parties, treatises, accepting counsel from the local mercantile interests. It's much wine and a few jousting lists - I get most of my practice on the sword whalloping other knights rather than bandits," he says with amusement. "I'm sure they appreciate the practice just as much I do." He pauses as he slows his horse with a tight pressure applied to the reins as they slowly ease downhill. "I apologize that a more blooded knight were not here to rescue you from your predicament. Between Alecwin and I, I believe we do fairly in our rescue, no?"

A soft laugh escapes from between Heulwen's teeth, whistling lightly. "We are products of our experiences, my lord, and each one is valuable no matter its circumstances," she replies graciously, dodging the apology just as neatly as she guides Ffion to dodge the ruts in the road head. With a gentle pressure on the reins, the mare peels away for the duration of several steps before given her head and drifting back toward the center. The edge of Wen's cloak flutters in the breeze, reaching out toward Caerwyn and brushing his leg. She twitches the garment back against her side impatiently and continues the briefly broken conversation. "Your rescue was quite fair. It was both timely and - thank Him - without violence. I do not think a lady could ask for more.”

"Bottle service, a carriage, and a hot bath upon arrival? Preferably all at once?" Caerwyn stares mirthfully forward, trying to avoid looking at his rescued lady. He guides his horse lightly around a fallen log, before turning back onto the right path. He comes to a stop and slowly makes his horses swing around a few times. "Heel, Harlowe, heel!" The stallion rears up a bit before Caerwyn glances around. "M'Lady? Shall we cut through the grassy field yonder and make for Burcombe Manor this way? My horse acts like this only when there are wolves, bears or lions nearby." That there would be -lions- in England would probably be an anachronism. He probably just means wolves and bears, but it always adds Heroic Points (TM) when you increase the threat category up in front of the ladies.

"Can you imagine a carriage sturdy enough to carry a hot bath?" Heulwen laughs a second, a loud rich sound from her diaphragm; it is the laugh of a lady who carries no burden on her back just yet. "I would settle for supper, at least." Still fizzing with mirth, she lets the reins go slack as Ffion follows Harlowe around the log, but her grip tightens when the mare shies in response to the stallion's sudden temper. Her mount's nostrils flare as if scenting the air, but perhaps her senses aren't quite as sensitive.

Heulwen half-rises in her saddle, turning to gaze southward over a stretch of empty landscape. Night is fast approaching now, and the cold wind of spring kicks up, stirring the loose tendrils of her hair until they spill free from the tenuous grasp of the pins. "Lions?" she echoes in a half-amused tone, shooting Caerwyn a somewhat suspicious glance as she considers her choices. "Fine, I will follow.”

"Lions," Caerwyn promises with a wink and then in the open grassy fields, he races through the field atop Harlowe. The stallion stops, neighing irritably, at the edge of the creek - the River Nadder, lifesblood of this neck of the woods - and slowly wades across. Caerwyn himself glances back briefly at Heulwen and arches a brow, as if tempting to follow. Soon enough, he's on the other side of the river, having only wet a little bit of his boots. Dare Heulwen follow? For across the river is Burcombe land, and for a lady to flee back to Baverstock and Dinton land, she need wade across the river! He gives a wave at Alecwin, who ploughs straight ahead through the river, slowly wading. His pony is smaller than Caerwyn's, so the water wets the edges of poor Briallen's dress or skirt (probably causing her to shriek some more!), but soon enough, he's on the other side as well. One must imagine the conversation back at the manor: 'What did you bring back, Caerwyn?' 'Two fine Kuh-ristian lasses, still in their youth!' And depending on what 'fine Kuh-ristian girls' think of Burcombe pagans: 'Good eating, m'Lord Burcombe!’

Heulwen's mouth widens into a responding smile, most charmed by Caerwyn's sharp wit and manner, but as he turns away she reaches up to cover her lips with her fingertips. It takes a moment of Ffion prancing in place for the woman to collect herself, settling back into the sober mien she deems most appropriate for gallivanting about in the fields with a bloody pagan. Her eyes roll upward to view the sky, and she mouths a soundless prayer for her soul before nudging her horse into a trot and then a gallop, trailing rather far behind the spirited stallion.

The race, if that is what it can be called, is exhilerating; both horse and rider seem to enjoy letting loose and expending some of that bottled up energy. When they approach the small line of water, the horse slows gradually before drawing to a stop on the same side of the river. Ffion snorts anxiously and trots first upriver a few paces and then downriver, obviously eager to cross. Panting a bit and flushed with exercise, Heulwen considers the crossing for a moment. It does not seem so deep, and if the squire's smaller mount can make it… Clicking, Wen encourages Ffion to take to the watery passage, although she keeps a steady grip on the reins just in case. "You area finerider, my lord!" she calls out, pausing between words for a moment as if distracted.

"There is a woods south of Burcombe," Caerwyn says as he slows his horse to an amble. Coming into view are the barley fields that keep the villagers fed, and the warm thatched hovels which each puff smoke out of small clay chimneys. Domesticity. Home, hearth and a table. "The Witchwood, we call it. The will o' the wisp flicker there, but some bandits have taken refuge there. It's why we have the call and response. To ascertain that it's me, and not just bandits. We have a complicated system of notes, to be able to tell who is coming or going. As I said, reports of banditry is all too common nowadays," he says before he rides forward again, pressing forward. "I will deliver you unto Dinton lands, but first, supper. Pork chops and barley is being served tonight, m'Lady. Come along!”

"It was a sparse winter," Heulwen observers in a low murmur, refusing to look to either side to check for bandits. As they meander deeper into Burcombe territory, the sight of the huts, the fields, the proof of civilization, all combine to resemble a homefront similar to her own. She finds herself relaxting despite her best efforts, and the combination of frayed nerves and delayed travel are beginning to take their toll. Heulwen leans forward in the saddle, shifting and moving to keep herself from being lulled into a doze. One hand reaches out to rub Ffion on the neck affectionately in a silent thank you for her help this day; meanwhile, she casts a prayer upward for the protection of her soul, muttered beneath her breath as she nudges Ffionn into a trot once more to follow closely behind Caerwyn.

Nothing can be said against Burcombe hospitality - even with the Saxons or Picts, in times of peace and peace-making, Burcombes have opened their doors and cleared their tables for enemies. The rule of hospitality is firm here. Fine pork chops, laid with stew of barley and ox-bone, paired with a light salad. By the time the Lady Dinton is ready to leave, Caerwyn has perhaps convinced the lady to stay Manor Burcombe for a night - the night is cold, and the lions are many, he says with a small smile and a twinkle in his green eyes - before in the morning, when she embarks, her horse is well-fed and she is accompanied in number by Caerwyn and a company of footmen. The spring air is crisp, the sky is so blue it hurts, and when he delivers her into Dinton hands, she is safe and well-fed.

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