(514-03-27) Saturnine Reflections
Summary: On a foggy evening, Gideon and Adwen meet on his return from Lonazep. The houses perception, its troubles, and its future are discussed.
Date: March 27, 514
Related: None
gideon adwen 


Silence reigned in these lands. Fog rolls through reeds, pulling off of the river in this late evening. The moon shone through the fog, muting its light upon the countryside. And atop a crag stood a figure. A woman - moisture collecting on her dew frizzy hair - and a horse feeding itself upon the grass by the riverside. A sword shone - catching the diffuse light of the evening. A pair of boots lay upon the river bank, but her feet lay upon the rocks by the side of the river, the cold water lapping at her toes. She had an expression of thought - eyes focused on something far away, although the river was near - but her fingers tap against the hilt of the sword she wears - the only thing breaking the silence beyond the babbling of the river.

Silence and shadows, even when the sun is high in the sky. In the twilight, the predators in the shape of men and beast are far more at home to come out on their saturnine errands. Atop his own steed he trots down the riverbank, bearing a shallow scar from a Saxon axe received from his mission to Lonazep. Behind Gideon rides his squire Alec, who occasionally peers about himself with a shiver or a frantic burst of movement. He is still not comfortable in the shadows it seems, and Gideon has had to stop more than once to confirm that he has not gotten lost or seperated. His boots hitting dirt almost soundlessly, he looks upon his cousin with something in the vauge approximation of….amusement? Pity? Something in the nebulous between? Despite the initial lack of weight behind the impact his steps are far more pronounced, a spear far more appropriate for hunting of boar than the traditional lance so romanticized by bard and tourney slung across his back. The moonlight catches frost blue eyes that study Adwen in that pose, and an almost lupine bark of laugh ruins the still serenity. "Couldn't sleep, or hoping to feed the mystique?" He asks, dropping to a crouch beside her, a hand bringing a cupful of water to splash across road dirtied face.

The sound of a horse breaks her reverie. And the hand that was once tapping fingernails against the hilt pauses - and grasps the hilt firm. Strong. Narrowing her eyes, she lifts her chin. Adwen had left her own guards and handmaidens behind, the young women and the grizzled old fighter Moris that served as her guard no doubt blissfully unaware of her absence in the woods beyond. Moris in particular got cross more often than not, but… there was only so much cross you could give a Stapleford woman before she crossed it. The grip on her sword relaxes as Gideon speaks, and she releases a sigh - a sigh that brings with it a loosening of the tension in her shoulders and arms, the woman lifting her head up and glancing across the way towards Gideon. She cared not that the wind and wet splayed her hair across her features, her brown eyes steady upon Gideon. "If we are to be called witches, and necromancers," says Adwen. "Occasionally we must do things that match that role, no?" she asks. Turning more fully towards him, she steps up towards the shore - away from the smoothness of the stone. "Or perhaps I hope for this dress to catch the river, and weigh me down into its icy grasp," she adds.

"Or yet perhaps…" she says. "I am out here seeing what sort of man and beast walk these lands at night," she says, teeth showing with a smile - a smile that she trains upon Gideon's squire. "Of course, with that question answered - why do you two roam this darkness? Do you hope to hunt for the boar that shirks from the light?"

He does not begrudge her skill with the blade. In fact, with his own preference to reach over style she is far closer to his equal. He meets her gaze without the slightest hesitation, his shrug fractional but probably not missed by her own gaze. Answer to his own roaming of the darkness, or perhaps in a sort of benign resignation to her statement of being a witch or a necromancer. The hand that is not washing his face rests on his knee, the shorter knight finally setting his face into something resembling the Lord of the manor. "There is a difference between weathering the slanders of others and adding tinder to the flame. And do not forsake your escort, contrary to the rumor we do not have the eyes of cats or weave shadows into our arms and armor."

The squire shrinks back a bit, quite aware it is best not to tempt a lioness in what by all appearances is her den. Alec is one of Diana's brood. Mild mannered, quick of foot, intelligent. One day he will make a good Stapleford knight, though he will probably need to work upon his courage and valor. Very much a work in progress. As Adwen poses her last query, Gideon grunts in lingering pain as he shifts his weight. "Just got back from Lonazep, errand for the Earl. Apparently the Count had a stray crop of Saxons. The results required me to stay in Sarum for a few days while I recovered. And you know I find little difference between man and pig in terms of combat. The man is just smarter and often far more poorly mannered."

"I shall cease forsaking my escort when a Stapleford man proves to be of worth," says Adwen at that point. Taking a step towards her horse - tied in place with a strap, she picks up her boots, brushing off the muck from her feet with the side of the thing, before sliding it into the boot proper - before doing the same with the other shoe. "And while Moris has fought a great many battles for our banner - he could yet improve," she says, waggling her finger at the Lord of Stapleford.

"But yet - speak for yourself as well. I wear the shadows like a cloak about me," she says, plucking up her black cloak and throwing it about her shoulders with a bit of flourish, the hood of the same hiding most of her hair from view.

"I have come here to think, and ponder things. No man would come out this far in the dark - unless the same man had evil on his mind," she says, canting her head just so as she turns her gaze towards Gideon then. When he deigns to explain his return, she inclines her head. "There was pig roasted for dinner - mayhaps with a bit of old bread, and some broth, it might make a fine late night meal - if hunger takes you, Lord cousin," she says, frowning a bit to herself as her eyes do not return to Alec. She would no doubt ignore him the rest of the time, unless the lad makes a nuisance of himself. "While you recovered?" she asks, glancing Gideon up and down, her eyes narrowing some. She catches that scar mentioned before, and clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "Pity that blade did not bite deeper - I would have made your favorite dish for the funeral - the crop and meat that go into it are utterly superb this year," she says, grasping the horse's rein. A short laugh at the last thing said. "Lucky that the man isn't slaughtered as readily as the pig," she says. "The meat is far less edible," she says, that wicked grin returning.

Gideon cocks his head from one side to the other, hand wiping away the dirt and grime of the road so he is nearly presentable. That being said it doesn't make him the flower of chivalry that some houses seem to be producing by the bushel. His nose crooked, his ears bearing an obvious cualiflower. "The bones are worthy but are poor wielders of sword, spear, or axe. Any fighter can improve, but I wish you would trust that what I leave you is good enough." He remarks dryly. He mounts up as well, thouh knighthood seems to have given more facility than empathy for the beast. It snorts and looks up at Gideon, but the Lord of Stapleford looks down with if not nobility than at least a dim allowance for treachery.

His tunic is open enough that the place where the Saxon axe cut deep into his left torso is still exposed, the flesh pink and healing well for the former severity of it. "I have no doubt that the Archangel would have been pleased with your offering, but I still have work to do yet before my bones are allowed their rest." He takes a deep breath of that misty air, turning on the beast to give Adwen a weary smile. "Food does sound good, though." Alec for his part trails behind the two as a rearguard of sorts.

A sparkle in her eye. "My own blade bites deeply enough if the situation needs," says Adwen, her tone of voice rich with something approaching play. "And if it bites too shallowly… well, I have plenty other sisters and cousins alike. I could use the rest," she says, the wolfish grin again appearing upon her lips as she mounts the animal properly. A cluck of her tongue, and the horse starts a quiet walk around the bit of tree to one side. That little grin of hers dances brighter when she notices the cantankerousness between knight and beast, but one step at a time. "If you were to leave, another would take your place - you are not so vital to the family - more vital than most, no doubt, as it would take time to train your heir, so…" A beat. "It is best that you avoided the Saxon axe for now," she says, her tone of voice perhaps oddly jolly with the little jabs.

"If food sounds good, however, food is what you should have," she says, flickering her eyes towards the man, wearing the black cloak like a veil. "And your squire? Did he see a Saxon blade, or did he cower behind with wide eyes?" she asks, her tone of voice lifting.

Gideon grunts, clutching his chest, though it seems more in dramatic gesture than in actual discomfort. He leans back in the saddle, following his cousin at a leisurely, almost spectral pace. His own gaze is ever forward, and also just slightly to the flanks, as if the very beasts of the night might forget to whom they owed their dominion. "I think you are a romantic, dear cousin. Which is not without its charms, but can be prone to…dangerous excess." His horse eventually coming to join hers, and his head actually comes to rest on her shoulder for the barest of moments, the slightest brush of cheek against her arm as he eventually straightens up. A touch of home perhaps, a lingering shadow and an injection of venom to keep him going as they travel up the dark ford towards home. "I am the King on the board, as ill prepared as I am for it, and our pieces stand between being few and being scattered across the board. So for now at least I would prefer not to need replacing. As for Alec….he is a better eye on the flank or shield to the left. He is not without his uses, but give him some time. Let him have time to build a worthy death for himself."

"Romance?" Adwen seemed incredulous. "Whyever would you slander me so?" she says. The brushing of his cheek against her arm - and the thick material of the dress that she wore, draws her eyes down for a moment. She brings a hand up, just to touch the top of his head - not in a pat, just in a touch, before she pulls her hand away again, her hands seizing the reins of the horse all the tighter. "Time is not something the family has in excess," says Adwen. "No doubt the other houses chomp at the bit to find some offense against our knights and ladies - sooner or later, someone is going to do something foolish, and swords will be drawn," she says. "There will be no time to be a child then," she says, flickering her eyes back towards Alec.

"But listen to the words of your master, squire. All of us - lord and lady and peasant - build ourselves a death by every action we take, every day," she says, her eyes turning forward again. "A good life leads to a good death," she says, clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "If you are ill prepared to be Lord, you must make yourself more prepared to be so. What weaknesses do you have? Beyond a weakness for seeing romance in a barren, snow-covered plain?"

Critical Fail!
Gideon checked his Modest at 16, herolled 20.

Gideon stops in the saddle. Maybe its the touch, maybe its the wound. More likely he's just had enough. "In all honesty? I don't know if its the death of your husband, or if it was always the case but you do seem overly enamored of death. You gild the lily when it is beautiful and sincere enough as it is." As she makes statements toward Alec he recoils as if struck, but does manage to stand his ground. He shifts his horse to put space between them, his eyes meeting hers. "I am strong, I am stout, I know myself to be more cunning than the vast majority of my peers. If anyone is suited to take hold of this manor where my father selfishly committed his bones before I walked or spoke my first words, it is I. Yet you know I cannot say as such, or that in our Houses reduced state it may still not be enough. One could be God himself and still despair at this motley assembly." Said with a hearty chuckle, which masks a fraction of his vexation. "I suppose I'm just more honest about my limitations than even you seem to be."

Failed.
Adwen checked her cruel of 7, she rolled 12.

"If it was anything, it was the death of my father more than my husband," says Adwen, a little serpent's smile dancing at the side of her lips. There seemed to be a joy in her with this fencing - especially when it seems to draw heartsblood. Perhaps she was just cruel, in the end.
But not in this, not yet - the smile - loses a bit of its strength, and her head turns forward again. "If you believe that yourself, why does it wound you when I say it?" she asks. Clucking her tongue as her horse stumbles on some stone, and swiftly rights itself again. "You know God has a plan for us. Whatever that may be, I could not say at this juncture," she says. The last thing said draws a snort. "Honesty is the luxury of men. A mask and a sweet smile is our weapon - to conceal the poison upon our lips, or the dagger in our sleeves," says Adwen at that.

"Which one?" Tit for tat, after all, though it is a serious question. None of his aunts save Diana have been particularly shy about marrying…and remarrying. And remarrying. Legitimacy is often dictated just as much by debate as by genetics. His jaw sets and he looks off into the distance, silent for what seems like an enteranl moment. "Because I am tired, Adwen, and because I /am/ Stapleford. Perhaps if Barrett had a clutch of bastards I didn't know about I would be more at ease, but since there isn't, I get the supreme pleasure of trying to avoid our extinction. Even with the fecundity of my aunts and our prodigals returning there are not so many males in the bloodline that I can be callous or overconfident, particularly since I seem to be the only one not currently chasing the safety of the realm or a gallant, unsung death." His fist clenches and then relaxes, the chewing of his lower lip ceasing. Alec has very wisely decided his master and the Lady are not to be disturbed. "Cousin dear, you have been kind at least to not bother to wear your mask, or dab the poison from your lips. Your candor is always…..useful."

The snap to her father does draw Adwen's first sharp gaze of the evening, the woman pursing her lips tightly. It was a question that she did not answer - the one that raised her. Not the one who gave the seed, really, but in the end - it did not matter. "Then perhaps you need to have a clutch of bastards - marry whatever crone looks at you first that is the strongest, sturdiest, and will not wilt within our halls, and create heirs - and we will limp along another generation or two," she says.
"Our struggle lasts until the grave claims us - as you know," she states, pursing her lips and flickering her eyes towards him. Alec remained silent, so the woman in the black hood does not glance his way. "But if it is our fate to go extinct - I would tend the mausoleums until I joined your rest," she says, a smile touching her lips again.
Not vicious as before, or even impish - but certainly not… maternal.
"If we should be joined by others from outside our house, you know I would not harry you so. A lord should appear a lord to the realm, even if he worries that he will falter," she states.
"And besides," she says, on the heels of the last thing he says. "I only harry those worthy of such - and if I draw blood - you have far more left to give, dearest cousin," she states, straightening up again.

Gideon brings his horse alongside her once again, and lays his hand upon her cheek. To make sure she is keeping her gaze upon him, or some gesture of reassurement? The answer is in the length of the gesture. That it is not quick to withdraw. The linger caress of family, so rarely reserved for anything but the tomb or those brought into the world. "As we tend to do." He notes, at least on the subject of struggle and the tending of the mausoleum, a slight smile flicking across his otherwise impassive features. "And you know why I can't do that as well as anyone. We do not limp. We will always stand, even if it is in the darkness. A generation or two is not worth crawling on our belly." The rest of it just gets a shake of his head and a smirk. "Though I suspect grandmother will outlive us all, in one form or another." Her comments about harrying produce a snort of his own. "Nonsense. You were a lovely, blushing bride, and a lovely child." Says the man her exact age. "Your occasional forays into sadism are just a part of your charm I am sure a certain breed of knight enjoys. I just happen to be related to you. And in firm possession of my sanity."

Adwen does keep her gaze upon him - even after his gloved hand leaves her cheek. At least, until he finishes what he says. Attention is the least of things she could grant him. "As we tend to do," she repeats, turning her eyes forward at that. At the bit about them not crawling on their bellies, she lifts both her brows, nodding her head at that. "Perhaps there is hope for you yet," she says, her tone drawing a bit low and thoughtful with that. She draws in a long breath, and any lingering tension that remains is dissolved with a breath. "Indeed she will, I think. Or perhaps she died long ago, and the Lord keeps her with us to keep us upon the straight and narrow path to salvation - at the end of this long path," says Adwen at that.

"I'm not altogether certain what my loveliness has to do with anything - I am grateful your struggles have not driven you insane as of yet, as well," says she, quirking her brow and turning her eyes back to him. "I am certain there is a woman out there that you will find tolerable, at least, and if I do not find a man, well," she cants her head and lifts it.

"Perhaps I shall leave the tiresome job of breeding to my dearest of sisters and cousins alike. We could use more nuns in the realm, can we not?"

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