(514-06-10) A Favor Offered to a Knight on a Mission
Summary: Before departing on the mission to Marlboro, a Laverstock receives a favor.
Date: June 10th, 514
Related: Marlboro Mission and Marlboro Mission Part 2
eirian elrick 

With Beltaine and the Wedding Tourney past, Elrick knows that he has to return to his duties as a knight of Salisbury, though now his goal is different, priorities have shifted to a different direction. However, the way to obtain the goal he wishes is still to make his name known, with glory and honor, but it is no longer for just himself. That is when he met Sir Acwel when he returned to Sarum, a knight of House Woodford, who was recruiting knights for a task assigned to him by Earl Robert. It would be a long trip, though one of peace and diplomacy, and that is where the Laverstock chose to begin.

It is now the day that the knights are to meet at a predetermined location and Elrick had let Eirian know, as they both are in the city proper. Without a squire, he had saddled his charger himself as well as packed his gear. Already in the uniform of a knight, his reinforced chainmail with the Laverstock surcoat draped over it, he is the proper image of that a warrior of his caliber should be. But he delays his departure, as if waiting.

A long trip in the name of prosperity, and a united Logres is sufficient to bring out a maiden in all her finery to the threshold of Laverstock territory. Territory of a shadow spilled over the ground, at the very least, lengthened by the balefires and torches burning to herald the breaking of the dark. For surely such a journey begins at first light, though it may be said Eirian keeps strange hours. The night claimed her on Beltaine. Visions bestowed by the flower goddess no longer permit those heralded hours to escort her into slumber. For her blissful ignorance pierced, she must suffer the discomfort of dayborne dreams more potent than anything conjured under the moon's thin light.

At some distance stands a young, sturdy woman of roughly twenty-five or so, pointedly looking aside to the horses. Ffionn, her companion, serves only in the barest form as a chaperone and looks every bit the daughter of the West Country where it meets the Welsh hills. Ffionn's unimpressed expression isn't aimed at the pair so much as someone leading a cob along, the spavined thing favouring a forward leg.

Past her moves the girl in her long bliaut and the dark cloak that shelters her from sight, her dusky hair arranged into the simple plaits of a maid of no consequence instead of a low noble's extra mouth at the table.

The Laverstock Knight must have checked the straps to his saddle, the packs that are secured to said saddle, a number of times. One can see that he is a touch anxious, which is unlike him. Though it isn't the upcoming mission that causes him to be restless but who he is waiting for. It is indeed first light, the rays of the rising sun having just crested the horizon, ushering the purple in the sky away.

The arrival of the two young women catches Elrick's attention immediately as not too many would be out at first light. When the one with dusky hair approaches, he can see the pale blue eyes, one of her most attractive and striking features, and that brings a smile to his lips. When she nears, he offers a legitimate bow of his head, though his voice low for just the two of them to hear, "My Lady Eirian, to see you here brings joy and warmth to my heart."

Ffionn holds back and examines the horse flesh as much as the first inklings of the activity towards the marketplace. It hardly stands anyone cares about a common woman with a bag full of produce to deliver when stalls open and stands favour goods. The very one lies in a handcart acquired for the purpose or simply left by some unfortunate runner the eve prior. With a Burcombe, can anyone truly be sure to the depths of their designs?

Eirian rubs her throat with her fingertips, leather gloves drifting against moonpale skin. The middle finger she plucks straight and then tugs away, stripping off the garment with slow deliberation. Next follows the opposite hand with the same methodical purpose, though she places herself within arm's reach of the Laverstock knight, shielded by his horse from the dawn. Thus copper finds her only briefly, the merest hue of gold on her lips, her eyes transcending to fire opals. Dipping at her knees, she sinks several inches in curtsey and straightens again. "Sir Laverstock, 'tis a pleasure to break the morning's fast in such company."

With the assignment taking him pretty far north to Marlboro, Elrick knows it will be a few days before he will have a chance to see this Burcombe Maiden again, if things went well. It does sound like a milk run of a mission, with Sir Acwel taking charge, through friendly lands. Only a slight rumbling of Saxon incursion to complicate things but who knows? However, knowing that he will be away for a brief period of time, the Laverstock Knight takes this time to study the beautiful features of Eirian as she performs the proper curtsey, one with fluid grace.

"The pleasure is mine, I assure you." Elrick says rather easily, though the edge of one side of his lips quirk up as if there is another meaning to his words, perhaps thoughts briefly drifting back to memories of Beltaine night. "Thank you for coming, to see me off. All any knight can ask is for a beautiful maiden to come bid farewell, offering said knight a radiant image that he can recall on cold nights and difficult times."

Friendly lands with friendly horses, capable knights and smart mounts. Surely there shall be little report but the usual array of news about carts, farmers, and the odd bandit. Little will they be aware that within a day, one rides headlong into Saxon fury and the other points towards a miscarriage of the king's justice. Two names will burn their way into their lives, Marlboro and Buckholt, both to be the precursors to inevitably more.

"What wrests you so early from your berth at the inn, that you must gallop out for the far horizon?" A query lilts from her lips, evincing only the slightest traces of sleepiness as one might expect for a girl up hours past. If she slept at all, which is to say, unlikely. Ffionn clears her throat briefly and engages with a lumbering ox of a man headed in with bags of what's likely wheat, earning her curious inquiries. The conversation is a slipshod affair over the sound of their own. "What darkness shall touch upon the chosen of winter? Surely you mock the stars themselves."

Noting the touch of weariness, Elrick offers a light 'tsk' at what he sees though more in a teasing manner than one of reproach, his hands daring to rise up to brush at her cheek, perhaps unaware of where they are or not caring. "A mission, being led by Sir Acwel de Woodford, has me ride north to Marlboro with them. It is one of diplomacy, we are to request the Count there to send men down to help defend against the upcoming Saxon incursion." It sounds more like a mission fit for a courier but sending knights will impress upon the Count of Marlboro the urgency and need of such reinforcements, at least that is the sentiment. "As for the darkness, the only thing I have to endure would be leaving your side, my most precious queen."

Tipping her head slightly into the touch offered, Eirian shares that painful whisper of connection that barely serves what more be desired to quench the flame leaping to the surface. Smoldering focus sears in her pale eyes, adding heat to the golden shade. Steep contours of her cheekbone skim against Elrick's palm. "Sir Woodford seeks your assistance?" An echo, measuring something in his response that the turn of events bodes weal rather than woe. Lips part, giving a breath to pool in his palm, warm and moist like a fine perfume. "No doubt the Count sees a threat from the Saxons as threat to us all. I doubt you should be required to parlay long or hard with him." Far be it from her to tell him how to do his business, though in those waning hours before the court rises in horror in the great hall, she too will be reaffirmed by Guenever's own promise and again by the Earl as an envoy of sorts.

"I have every certainty success will bring the Count's men and you will play your part in that." Confidences are not flatteries where she is concerned; though she can speak well to the ego, it's rare she does so without purpose.

"Not just mine but a few other knights as well, an honor guard of sorts, I believe. It was a general call to see who was interested and I voiced my name." No doubt the reason he did so was present at his side right now. His voice grows quiet as his eyes studies the delicate fey-like features she poses, ones that draws him like a siren's call. With a final caress of her cheek, his hand lowers to her chin, gently tipping it upwards slightly so that her lips rise like a sweet offering to the gods, one he dares not take right now. "I too am certain we will be successful in our endeavor, we will return with the men we need, and I to you before we are sent out to repulse the Saxons. Teaching them a painful and bloody lesson of what happens when they step onto our lands uninvited."

"Very well done, Sir Laverstock. May the road rise to your horse's hooves, and whisk you upon your way at speed." The benediction tumbles from her lips even as she turns her chin upwards towards Elrick, the difference in their height — and doubly, were he mounted — etched out in simple fractions. Enough even the slightest brush to the corner of her mouth gives favour to him, imparting a whisper of pressure when they engage with one another. If only they might linger longer, shift to the tides and allow for the graze of her teeth against his palm, the heat of breath a substitute for far more. Those opalescent eyes dispel all dreams in a violet blink, pale shreds of dawn transcending blue to the brighter end of the spectrum. "They deserve nothing for invading. Would that all the fighting men and women of Logres could drive them into the surf and repulse them onto the distant shores where winter reigns eternal. No such light deserves to shine upon those wracked in death."

With no kiss being offered, the alternative that he offers to her is to gently caresses his thumb across her soft lips after she speaks of Saxons, as if to brush away the thoughts of the invaders from voice and thought. "Before this knight departs through the main gates north, would My Lady be kind enough to grace him with a favor? Your beauty is forever etched into my memories, but I wish for something that will remind me of your closeness on the nights we are apart." The request now made, he awaits her answer.

Rescue her from the perils of desire and she shall make him burn. Cooling to the moment of that gentle touch, her lips conform to the pad of his thumb and purse slightly to trap the whorled imprint against ever so smooth silk. The faint hint of warmth pools behind when she exhales, her breath fitful upon his flesh. Hands rise to her throat and pause, then whisk away under her ground length cloak. It matters for she has to brace herself there upon the fringes of the wall, reliant upon her own good gravity to keep from toppling. Movements come furtive and quick, the heavy wool blotting from sight what she does. Then a whisper of action brings up the long length of plain silvery grey linen, fair enough to be transparent, etched by woad. Its scent conveys rosewater and honey, a dollop of it, worked into the fabric.

Hand departing from her chin, thumb away from her lips, Elrick watches in anticipation and also curiosity when she turns and begins working on something bneath her cloak. When the long, silvery grey fabric is produced, his eyes fix on the favor she is granting him, almost afraid to touch it. Finally a hand reaches up and touches the fabric, feeling the softness. Then he lifts up her hand, the one holding the linen, to his lips where he graces the back with a kiss, the scent of the favor inhaled as well. Eyes close for a moment before they reopen in narrow slits, "As beautiful as the lady herself, a scent I never forget." Instead of taking the delicate fabric in hand though, what Elrick does next is reach down with his hands and unclasps his sword belt, holding the hilt of his sheathed blade up, "Would you honor me by wrapping it around my blade? So that if I ever need to draw it, I know you will be there to protect me."

The fabric is light and surpassingly simple, still lightly crumpled from being used for whatever cause. The warmth imparted into it suggests the favour was close to her skin at any rate, and the surprising softness would imply it's been worked repeatedly or woven with great care, not the typical object chosen for outerwear. She shifts her stance, favouring her right foot over the left. "It rather suits you. Should it ever become the fashion you might wear such a thing around your neck, tucked into your tunic, and none would be the wiser, I must imagine." The soft candor of her words ripples with a hidden seed of mischief among it all, slanting gaze trailing over him in a rare hint of devilry in the maiden who believes not in such things. She reaches out for the length of cloth at both ends, glancing over the hilt. "I will wrap it, with the understanding you will unwrap the other upon your return." That promise required, she cinches the cloth about halfway around the sword's pommel. Then she starts to deftly overlap the ends, folding them into a fishbone pattern that divots down towards the guard.

"None would be the wiser indeed… though I have no fear of anyone discovering that I have a lady that favors me." Elrick says with an amused smile at the thought of a hidden favor that was blatantly only display. Though to wear it on the hilt of his favored weapon would be a sure sign to all that this particular Laverstock is possibly spoken for, even if the details are not known by any, perhaps that is one of his intentions. When she agrees to wrap it, he starts to nod his head until he hears her finish her words, puzzled as he tries to figure out her meaning. Then the thought continues silently as he works out potentially where it may have come from and one side of his mouth curls up to a smile, "Very well, My Lady, you have my word."

"You surely must not have brothers and bored sisters or speculative relations awaiting your every move." Eirian smoothes out the cloak with a tug on her cloak, and she surveys Elrick with one of those imperious looks favouring young women since the hour of their birth. Even the meanest of them can perform it, properly trained on innate skill. The blue woad marks the pattern painstakingly applied in so many knots, disappearing into the silvery embrace spreading down the length of the handle to some extent. Knots at the bottom on at least three points help secure the object well enough, though the loose ends can be untucked and made into a nuisance for courtly battle. "Very good. I shall endeavour to hold you to it. And when you return, I ought to tell you of the grand plan fomenting in my thoughts. Something within your world and not mine, for ladies do not start fellowships of a sort but merely plant the seeds of them."

Laughter follows the words that Eirian speaks of when mentioning the lack of brothers, bored sisters, and cousins, Elrick can only shake his head in amusement as he knows his family very well. It is a risk he has to take, one he is most willing to take, displaying such a prize so openly. He maintains his silence though as he watches the Burcombe neatly wrap the favor around the hilt of his blade, his gaze sweep slowly over the design with a look of impressed admiration. "It should take a couple of days, as it is a simple diplomatic mission. Upon my return, I will seek you out in haste, My Lady, so I can fulfill my promise and to hear the thoughts you wish to share with me." With the favored secured, Elrick brings his sword to his lips and kisses the favor on the hilt, as if sealing the intimate piece to his blade. Then he wraps the sword belt around his hips once more, securing it in place, preparing to depart.

She shakes her head slightly. "Human hearts and human spirits are not simple things, Sir Laverstock. Even the plainest mission can go astray and one wrong word might scuttle the whole reason you set out. Ambition cannot be trusted to keep to a straight and narrow path." Tilting her head up, Eirian pulls the cowl over the coronet of flowers probably added some hours ago by Ffionn, her trusty maid still haggling over the possibility of flour and grain from the poor man under her focus. "Accept not every man or woman will show the truth in their heart. Listen to them with open ears and never close your mind to the notion that you might be played to hear only what they wish you to hear, and tell you a collection of half truths. It may not seem so. Instinct is a fine guide. Ceridwen's wisdom and Arianrhod's sight be yours to guide you."

The wisdom that Eirian is imparting on Elrick is taken very seriously as he turns from his steed to provide her with his attention. "Thank you, I will take your words to heart and take caution on this task I have been assigned to. You are right, overconfidence has been the downfall for many men, and I will not number myself amongst them. I will also try to guide the group I will be joining with the same wisdom you have shared with me, so that we may all return safely." With the cowl raised by the Burcombe, Elrick turns back to his trusted charger, Havok, and with practiced ease, mounts the steed.

Vigil is the task of those left behind: they stand on the wall or by the gate, and observe the wanderers on their far-ranging pathways. Without torch or spear, Eirian is a small figure who will be swallowed by the growing distance between them. "Road rise to meet your feet, and the gods ride with you." Benediction offered, she will remain where she is to see true to that long wait, the young Penelope of another world, another story.

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