(514-03-26) Scouting the Ground
Summary: Kamron, Arian, and Newt scout ahead of the party heading for Exeter.
Date: March 26, 514
Related: After In the Firelight and before Picts Outside Exeter
kamron arian jonnin 

Devon County is relatively similar to Salisbury, the terrain, the look of the people, the peasants' clothes (but who looks at those), and the architecture. But the accent is slightly different, there are a few little changes here and there. Enough to let the knights and ladies of Salisbury know that they are not at home. With so many knights and squires about, Kamron and Arian just happen to have drawn a patrol ahead of the group. Newt is with them as well, of course, but he's caught on just enough to give the two a little bit of space, trailing behind just enough to remain in view, but not in earshot. Kamron has been quiet thus far, for ten or fifteen minutes, but finally, he glances over to his fellow knight, offering up a little crooked grin, "Lots of land down here, isn't there, Rhi? Almost seems a shame that it's all claimed by someone or other and not being put to use."

Arian has found comfort in the silence. Her mulberry gelding trots along with the heavy fall of solid hooves, and his head bobs up now and then. Her fingers work into the black and red mane, showing her ease and relaxation as they move along the road. She glances up at his words, and she takes a quick glance of the land surrounding them as if she has only just noticed the meadows and trees. She laughs softly — almost sheepishly — and shakes her head. Guiding her horse up closer to his, she offers a faint nod. "It is a shame… but I'm not sure what you would want to do about it," she says wryly.

Kamron shrugs helplessly as Dancer ducks his head and nudges the mulberry's shoulder. Patting the dun's neck, he chuckles softly, "I don't know either. But…" looking down, the Dinton colors just a little, "…I don't know. I suppose it's a dream. Some day, some day I would like to hold my own manor. Protect the people beneath me… to reach the point where I can offer fealty and loyalty in both directions in stead of just upwards."

Arian looks over at him as he shares this confession. She tilts her head. "It is a lofty goal," she says softly. She looks down at her hands, working at the reins as they continue along the road. "Far higher than my own…" She casts a glance his way, almost shyly. "Do you think that you could achieve it?" It isn't a question of his ability, no, just of rational and logic. She glances across the neighboring meadow where a cluster of fat ponies chew at the soft grasses.

Kamron spreads his hands in a broad shrug, "I don't know, Rhi." Even out this far ahead of the rest of the group, Kamron keeps his voice quiet, "I think that if I can make Dinton great enough, great enough to hold multiple manors, I might prove worthy of one. If Deyr becomes a banneret, he will need vassals." Finally, he looks up again, turning his blue-gray eyes over to her clear gaze, "And you, have you discovered a worthy goal for yourself since last we spoke?"

Arian maintains a soft smile for the knight when he looks her way, but the question causes her expression to falter a bit. She looks down at her hands, and lapses into silence for several long heartbeats. Finally, she shrugs. "No," she confesses, shaking her head. "No, nothing… I suppose that makes me quite dull." She tries to make that statement light and carefree, but it carries a soft weight. "My goal was becoming a Knight, Kam… I don't know where to go next."

The Christian knight reaches out with one hand, bridging the gap between them for a moment to touch her shoulder. "And look there, you've already accomplished that. So that's something, right?" His fingers tighten a little, then release, "I don't think that makes you dull at all. I think that it makes you someone in search of your great life's quest. And I think that means that I get the opportunity to serve as your muse. Help you discover what means the most to you."

Pale, glass-colored eyes lift to meet his at the touch to her hand. Arian holds her gaze steadily with the Christian, and then she starts to smile. "Thank you," she murmurs. When his hand withdraws, she shakes her head as she pulls up her reins a bit, refocusing on their ride. "I can accept that." Her dimples deepen a bit. "You being my muse… you do inspire quite a bit." Her eyes warm ever so slightly, then she drops her gaze away once more. "Though perhaps I'm here to help you… to see that your dreams come to fruition."

Kamron crosses his wrists over the front of his saddle as they return to the casual, comfortable ride, his grin curling up at one corner in response to her dimples, "As flattering as that is, Ria, I refuse to think that you are simply my companion on this quest of mine…" laughter bubbles up in his voice evidently poking a little fun at himself with his wording, "No matter how delightful the idea is."

His response draws a warm, dimpled smile on her lips. She even seems a bit bashful at his compliments — but just a bit. She draws the gelding up close against his, settling in almost flank to flank. "I'm more than happy to be your companion, Kam… as I'm sure you are to be mine." Arian squints up at the sun that hovers just past the middle point of the early spring sky. It is cool and crisp, but there is no doubt that the world is reawakening after the cold stretch of winter. There is even the soft chirp of birdsong in the trees they pass under.

Kamron's rouncey makes it a step further than hers, the Dinton just a moment behind the Laverstock in drawing to a halt. He draws the horse back a step to settle in at her side, reaching over to rest his hand on her forearm, just re-establishing that connection for a moment before his hand drops away, aware that Newt is still within eyesight. "So what is it that drives you, Rhi? What is it that you desire?" He pauses a moment, then looks down, blushing to the ears, "You know what I mean."

The Pagan knight looks up as Kamron settles his hand on her forearm. Her gaze lifts, glancing over her shoulder toward where Newt remains a rather annoying shadow to this whole affair. His questions cause her brows to arch, and she casts her dear Dinton a rather impish look. "I do know what you mean, but surely you won't fault me in affirming that you are something I certainly desire." She laughs brightly, and shakes her head. "I don't know… my father's approval. He has always been a bit uncertain of this whole thing… Lainn was my biggest supporter, but even he has been overly cautious since my brother died."

"Well he will have to step aside, I'm afraid." Kamron's blush is even deeper now that she has confirmed what he was dancing around, and Dancer high-steps a little at Kam's own nervousness, embarrassment, confusion, returned interest… a great many emotions rippling through the knight. "Because I intend to be your greatest supporter, and when have you ever known me to be overly cautious?" Still, his blushing grin falters a little, "But your father's approval, I think that is a worthy goal, at least in the short-term. So what does your father value?"

Arian's smile redoubles at that wonderful blushing that her knight gives her. She bites softly at her lower lip as she continues to ride close against Kamron. "You're never overly cautious." She then sombers, clearing her throat. "You would have to ask him… I've never been able to figure it out. I know that me becoming a knight has been his greatest disappointment. He would have preferred me to be like my cousin… Gods, or like your cousin. I think he finds himself a failure at allowing his daughter to become a knight." She drops her eyes, though it is only a moment of self-deprecation. "I suppose… my father values valor, and smarts… he complains oft about stupid, bullheaded knights. He believes a knight is for the battlefield… that's where a knight is born, and that's where he should die."

Kamron considers her words, clearing his throat once to try to clear his head as well. That and controlling his gelding buy him some time to think, and he nods slowly, "Well, nothing says that you cannot be both a Lady and a Knight. I think you do it rather well, actually. And I'm certain that Lady Seren and Lysie would be happy to help if you asked. Although, if your father values a battlefield knight, then we'll have to make certain that you earn accolades and acclaim in the summer to come, won't we?"

Arian's lips thin slightly as she looks at Kamron. "Is that what you would like? For me to be more like a Lady?" She twists her hands up around her reins almost restlessly. At his last assertation, the woman offers a small shrug and an equally small nod. "In the summer to come," she agrees. "As long as I am permitted to go when the call comes." Something about all this talk has made her a bit moroes, and she wears it almost too well.

Kamron watches her expression change, and somehow, the uncertainty in the usually-bold woman helps clear the last of his blush, and he reaches out to touch her mailed forearm once more, squeezing gently, "No, I'm not looking to see you as some dainty flower. Your strength is one of your most attractive qualities, Rhi." Shaking his head as if tossing off a fly, he adds, "And whyever would you be stuck at home? You're a knight, are you not? Do you think that Earl Robert values you any less because you are beautiful as well as strong?"

Arian halts their slow, meandering ride with a sharp little tug of her reins. She turns in her saddle a bit to face him, simultaneously tucking some dark forelocks behind her ear before the breeze can toss them across her forehead. "I'm glad," she says softly. "I've never been good at the dainty flower role… even in my childhood. I don't see how I could just grow into one now." She settles her hands on the pommel of her saddle, looking down thoughtfully. Then she shrugs. "I don't know… this last fall, coming home… Lainn even seemed overly worried about my well-being out there, regardless of what Earl Robert values."

The taller (in this rare case) knight circles his horse around hers so that he comes up on her other side, facing back the way they came and watching her. His hand raises to help brush aside those wayward forelocks, then pauses, caught in the act by his own morals. Kamron flushes a little again, then shrugs a little and finishes the motion, "That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see you in something beautiful. Although the Imbolc robes were… memorable." His eyes dart away as memories crush in on him, and then he clears his throat and looks back to her, "Your brother has no call over what Earl Robert orders, Rhi. And if he tries to get in your way, just punch him in the face."

Arian catches his hand before he can completely withdraw from that desired touch. She cares not if Newt sees her draw his hand to her cheek, and there she nuzzles with his palm gently. Then she looks up to meet his eyes, and her smile broadens a touch. "You can see me in them again if you come to Beltane," she promises softly. Then she releases his hand, allowing him to reclaim the moral high ground. She drops her gaze at his words, and she nods gently. "You are right, of course, Kam."

Kam's fingers curl against her cheek, and then he grimaces and draws his hand back, his thumb brushing over his fingertips as if testing a burn. A very pleasant burn. "I've heard a lot of things about Beltane." He clears his throat again, his shin just barely touching hers where his horse stands beside hers, "Mostly stories told by other squires and pages. The Pagans bragging, and the Christians wondering. So how many of them are true?"

"I need you to be more specific," Arian laughs brightly at his reaction. She does not continue them down the road, but merely waits, her horse parallel to his. Her pale eyes weigh his expression carefully, waiting to see where he is bound to take his own quest for answers. "What exactly do Christians say about the Beltane rites?" She tilts her head, and her lips threaten to curve with an impish grin.

Kamron brings up his right hand to rub at his hair, digging into the tossed locks with his short nails, "Uh…" If he was red before, now he's crimson, including his ears, "It's not everyone, of course. That says things. Just the stories…" He shifts, and Dancer lives up to his name, breaking the contact between their shins unintentionally. His voice hushes a little, as if embarrassed, "That there are rituals, involving men and women laying together." Which is about as delicately as he can put it without going way into euphemisms.

Kamron's shyness seems to rub off on her, and Arian pinks at the height of her cheeks in response to his own crimson coloring. She brushes her fingers back across her ear and hair, trying to keep that stray lock in check. "I wish I could say that it was all false, Kam." She lifts her gaze to meet his. "There is a rite… but it is very… sacred." Each word seems to make her more and more nervous. Her horse shifts underneath her, shuffling from hoof to hoof as if feeling her rider's shyness. "And so, if I tell you, I do hope you will… see that it is a very… blessed thing…"

Well that's plenty for the Christian knight right there. He blinks once as she more or less confirms the rumors, and once more Dancer betrays his master's nerves. "Um." He buys time be scratching at his scalp a little more, but he doesn't buy enough to afford wisdom or clarity. "I don't know what to say." Shaking his head, he nudges Dancer into action again, to circle back around to Arian's right side, glancing away and touching the iron cross beneath his tunics, "I shouldn't even be asking about such a thing."

"It isn't as though everyone goes off and beds one another." Arian sounds quite defensive, but she tries to smother that reaction down. She reaches up to rub at the back of her neck, looking away a bit. "Kam…" Her jaw tightens. "This is who I am…" She drops her hands to her pommel, working her fingers together. "I am a Pagan… I hope you understand that… that strength that you adore about me also comes with pride in my Gods… my faith…" She looks up at him now, reading his expression.

Kamron's hand goes from cross to the back of his neck as she defends herself and her religion. "I didn't think… well, not really. I didn't think it was anything like that." He draws in a long, slow breath, trying to cool the heat flooding his face. After a long moment, he nods, "I understand that, Rhi. I'm…" He hesitates then, considering, and he seems to come to a decision, "I'm not trying to change that or you. It may not be something I'm entirely comfortable with, but I'm not trying to change it." Not in a romance, at least. "It's just… not what I'm used to. At all."

A sudden weight drops her shoulders, and Arian nods soberly to his words. Her words are tight. "You came to Imbolc… offered a favor, and spent an evening with me at the bonfires… I am not expecting you to come to my festivals." She drops her head now, looking away as she starts to heel her rouncy forward. She almost misses the spirit of Banshee, but had given the horse a needed rest after a long ride. The horse starts to resume its walk, moving steadily forward to open the space between them.

The Dinton flinches a little at the weight settling on Arian's shoulders, and he looks down at Dancer's neck. It takes him a heartbeat before he spots that she's headed off again, and he has to give the reins a twitch to catch up. He sighs heavily, "And are you disappointed because I came to the festival and did not convert, or because I am wary of a second one?" He pauses, then admits, "Or some other reason?"

Arian wishes he would not continue, wishes he would just let them ride in silence for a while, but there's the questions. She does not look up, holding tightly to her reins as they continue down the road. She shakes her head slightly. "You will be married one day… to a fine Christian woman… and I will be married to a fine Pagan man." She reluctantly looks at him. "We know this… don't we?" With a deep breath, the knight turns her gaze back to the road. "I did not want to convert you, but I wanted you to see that there is joy, and passion…" Her words falter, and she shakes her head.

Kamron is surprised by the way his heart beats faster at her first words, missing something in them. And then she continues, and he nods slowly, drawing in another breath, "My family will make sure that anyone I am matched with is a Christian, yes. Assuming I am ever matched." He gestures toward her with one hand, "And you obviously think that your family will be as strict." For once, it's the male knight nibbling on his lips, and he admits, "I did see the joy. And I saw how much they believe. How much you believe."

Abruptly, without any warning, Arian pulls her rouncy off the road and into the new spring meadow. The rouncy trots a few paces before stopping at the sharp tug of the reins. "Is that what I must do?" The question is spoken more to the meadow than the knight. Arian pulls herself free of her saddle, landing heavily on the grass with a jangle of her mail. She turns her thoughts inward, hands at her hips and her eyes out at the horizon. She breathes deeply. "I would never believe in your god," she says in a hush, looking at her feet.

Dancer is directed off the road as well, with only the briefest glance from Kamron back behind him to where Newt is still doggedly doing his duty. And then his attention is back on Arian, and he draws up alongside her horse, watching as she dismounts, still thinking over the first half of that exchange with herself that he heard. Finally, he sighs out a breath, "I don't care the God or gods you put your faith in, Rhi. Not in the woman I love."

Arian turns around to him, looking up into his eyes from his far greater perch on his horse. She is fretful, worrying at her lip with her teeth and clenching and relaxing her hands at her hips. "And you mean that… that you love me?" She takes a half-step back, widening the grassy gap between them.

Kamron kicks a foot free of his stirrup, swinging his leg over his saddle to dismount himself. Keeping Dancer's reins in one hand, he steps around before the rouncey, squaring up with the female knight but not attempting to breach that distance that she has created, "I have said it thrice now." His heavy eyebrows lift, "What proof do you require of me that I mean what I say?"

The Pagan intakes a breath as he steps around toward her, only to stop. She stares silently for several long moments, and then she turns her gaze aside toward the sky and its sun. She thinks, letting her thoughts toss and turn about in her head. Quizzically, she glances sidelong to him. "I don't know, Kamron… I would have to think on it." She resists the urge to cross her arms, and thus further closing off from the knight. Her hands continue to flex nervously at her hips.

Kamron nods slowly, stepping forward finally to close that gap, his hand rising to rest along her upper arm if she'll allow it, "When you know, you have only to speak the command, and I will obey it." Offering up a little smile, he shrugs, a hint of his usual boyish mischief playing at the crooked corners of the smile, "Until then… trust that I mean what I say. Please, Rhi."

Arian does not shy away from his touch. In fact, she turns into it. "You will, won't you?" The question is almost entirely rhetorical as she can see the honest drive in those gray-blue eyes of his. So, she just sighs and nods gently at his soft plea. Her own smile is offered, though it is a bit brittle. "Alright, Kam… as you say." She steps closer to him, aiming to tuck her head against his. Her hands slip down to collect his own, hers skin far from the soft appeal of a common Lady. "Will you kiss me once before Newt comes along? Then we can go back to our secrets."

Kamron can see the delicacy of her smile, and he nods at the rhetorical question, his fingers curling instinctively around her hands as they meet, calloused digits entwining. The fragility of her expression, and the desires of his own heart, cause him to nod again in response to the question, not even checking to see if the horses are between them and the squire. Instead, he simply ducks his head, and for a moment it looks as if he might place his lips to her brow, and then he sinks lower, aiming to capture her own lips instead in a sweet, soft kiss.

His silence and mere nods are welcomed, and Arian relaxes with each passing moment. When his fingers curl around hers, she draws herself closer. When he sinks down to her, she closes her eyes to accept the kiss to her forehead. She is instead rewarded a kiss to her lips, and she only sinks further. There is a stir of desire in that soft, sweet kiss, but it is carefully tamped. Her fingers tighten around his with each passing moment of the kiss until its inevitable end. She sighs, though her small smile returns. "Thank you," she murmurs.

He doesn't want the kiss to end, but all too soon, Kamron straightens up, letting out a little breath. Swallowing a little hard, he finally opens his eyes again, meeting her gaze from a heartbeat away, his words a whisper, "The easiest request I've ever granted, Rhi." And then there's a call from the other side of the horses as Newt stammers, "I — I — Is everything alright with the horses, sirs?" Kamron abruptly blushes again, although he doesn't retreat immediately, instead squeezing her hand lightly before he takes a half-step back and calling tightly, "I think we're alright, Newt. Thank you."

Her pale eyes are warm and soft — like sunlight filtering through a wintry window. She brushes her fingers up into his palm, tickling the lines of his hand. "Then it wouldn't be too hard to grant it again — " But then there's Newt. Arian breathes out a sudden exhale, and her smile falters just a touch. She bows her head, offering a soft nod in agreement to his words to the squire. She looks over his shoulder, casting a dangerous look that dares the boy to tattle on what he has just witnessed. Then she squeezes Kamron's hand once more.

Newt totally didn't see anything. He's still on the other side of the horses, although he is approaching the pair. Quite slowly, actually. Apparently he doesn't want to be a line-of-sight recipient of the Lady Knight's scorched earth look. Kamron shivers lightly at the brush of her fingers on his palm, his crooked grin splashing across his lips as he opens his mouth to respond — only to be cut off by his loyal squire. Even as he turns back to his rouncey, he murmurs quietly, "I will again, I promise." And then he's coming around her horse to offer her a hand up. She obviously doesn't need it, but it does provide a socially-acceptable excuse for contact, his voice rising back to its normal volume, "With that sorted, My Lady, shall we continue scouting?"

Arian dips her chin, nodding solemnly before she steps up to her rouncy. She moves her hand from his to his shoulder, using the armored slope to pull herself up into the saddle with a jangle of mail. She smiles ruefully at Newt and then at Kamron. "We shall… take much longer, and we might be missed." She draws her reins back into her hands, settling into the saddle. A kiss can cure quite a lot, but there still seems to be a weight around her that she cannot fully shake. She waits for Kamron to be mounted before heeling her horse along to the road once more.

Kamron serves as brace and support for the mounting knight, using the bulk of her own horse to pat her calf lightly once she's settled, then cross before the horses to haul himself up into his own saddle. "Well that would never do. Neither would putting my cousin or Lady Seren in danger by missing something." Flashing a smile over to the Lady Knight, he adds, "Or, you know, the rest of us who can fend for ourselves quite well."

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